Monday, March 28, 2011

England Landscape

Just plain ole "Wow."

shifting light below the Roaches, Staffordshire

Found this guy via Warren Ellis. You can view his photos here. Pure magic in his landscapes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Real Life Crime Drama

Today, around 1030, the Charlotte Mecklenburg police department set up a license checkpoint literally at the entrance of our drive way. I went out to rubber neck and found myself getting some needed yard work and car cleaning done. I saw them exchange pleasantries with citizens and pass out a few citations. They even arrested one guy right before they packed up and went to lunch. It was a Hispanic gentleman driving a pickup truck. I wish I could show this photograph I took from my office window to the right wing commenters on the Charlotte Observer's website and get their opinion on it.

About half an hour after I took this photo his family showed up and before they could remove the truck they had to change the driver's side front tire because it had gone flat. One of them came to my front door asking to borrow my jack. I let them use it, of course. I did feel a little weird interacting with the family of the man who I just laughed at as he was arrested.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ed and Chris go to Darlington

Last Saturday night by buddy Chris and I drove down do Darlington to see NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series race 200 miles at Darlington Raceway. I love Darlington, it feels like an old baseball park to me. They've been racing there since the early 50s, it's in the middle of nowhere and doesn't have the crushing crowd like at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It's also rednecky as hell.

Chris at our campsite

We had good seats. That is another nice thing about the truck series. We paid $25 for seats that would cost around $100 for a cup series race. We had a real nice view of the racecars coming out of turn 2 and a good view of Kim Lopez, the chief starter and/or flag waver. You can see her here telling the field they got one more parade lap before they go green.

People watching at Darlington is the best. This guy was toasted and was fun to watch all evening.

I'm still shocked by how many kids I see at these races without ear plugs.
Truck Race is Loud

The best seat in the house, where the spotters stand.
Spotters' Nest

Chris and I in our seats. Pro tip: rather than purchase your race tickets online, call the race track and talk to a ticket seller. You get better seats that way. I got aisle seats via the nice lady I talked to on the phone. Thank you, nice lady.

Generic fans-in-the-sunset picture

Drunk Chris made friends with the drunk couple next to us. They were fun. I always meet fun and interesting people at the track. This is one of our new friends popping out of her seat when I was taking a picture.

Cute kid (no earplugs)

Johanna Long and Ricky Carmichael had the only wreck I saw where it appeared there was a pretty big hit. Carmichael spun out and Long plowed into him. Video here.

I'm pretty happy how this pit road action shot turned out. That's Ron Hornaday in the #33 vehicle.
Ron Hornaday Pitting

Naturally, I took a panorama shot. I need to remember to use the manual setting on my camera so I get a more even distribution of light across the sky. Those vertical bands you can see where the two photos overlap are distracting.
Darlington Raceway Panorama

Thanks, Darlington. See you in May.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Radical Islam and U.S.

May I present a rational view of this by Josh Marshall.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Why so Mean?

Last night Melanie and I watched the Christian Bale/Marky Mark movie, The Fighter. Quick review: Surprisingly sad early on and builds to a nice satisfying ending. Watching that movie caused me to think of another boxing movie that features an older boxer making a comeback, Cinderella Man. I really enjoyed that movie too but I was disappointed later to find out that the film portrayed the boxer, Max Baer incorrectly as a total bastard. He's actually a sympathetic character if you read about him. Killing opponents in the ring almost destroyed the man's career. Like any decent person.

After I discovered that fact the scenes concerning Max Baer almost kill the movie for me. I guess they decided they needed a villain. I don't see any reason that Max Baer couldn't have been displayed has a tough and dangerous fighter. The nature of the fight game is that if you are good at what you do you are a potential danger to your opponent. You are, after all, attempting to punch them as hard as you can at spots on their body that will cause them the most pain and debilitation. A 144 minute movie could certainly create a heavy that is more than merely a two dimensional villain.
Funko Purple Haze Figurine

Funko Purple Haze

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Me and Charlie Sheen
Updated 3/3/11

In order to cash in on the recent interest in Charlie Sheen I thought I would tell the story of my one encounter with the man. Several of my friends have heard this story before. If you have, move along, nothing new to see here.

During my two years in, mostly, Okinawa, I spent around three months at a camp on the mainland of Japan called Camp Fuji. The camp was at the base of Mt. Fuji. Everyday for three months I saw Mt. Fuji. Seeing Mt. Fuji turn pink at sunrise while the rest of the world was dark is still one of the most beautiful sights I have seen. This would have been, I guess, spring of 1988.

While there we were offered a chance to spend a weekend in Tokyo. I jumped at the chance along with several others in our company. We stayed at a nice hotel in the middle of the city that was owned by the Department of Defense. We saw the sites and stayed out late and got drunk. Our base of operations, for some reason, was the Tokyo Hard Rock Cafe. What I remember most about that place was the King Kong thingy hanging off the side of the building.

I met Charlie Sheen during the last night of our two day stay. The night before my friend Roger and I had met a couple of girls and we were supposed to call them to meet up again the following night. While we were out site seeing the maid service had thrown away the paper with the numbers on it. We were devastated and I ended up getting royally pissed that evening on the whiskey I bought in the hotel's package store. Like David Cross says in his "answer your telephone" routine, I'm not bragging about getting blind in Tokyo but that fact is necessary to know for this story to work.

I am at the Hard Rock Cafe completely blotto. So blotto was I that not too long after I arrived at the bar I went outside to hurl. As I was going out the door a corporal from my company saw me and said, "McDonald, where are you going?"

I said, "I am going outside and throw up." I let loose in some bushes and went back inside. From then on this corporal called me Drunk Boy. Nicknames must be earned.

A while after that this meathead sergeant came down from the small bar upstairs and he's pissed off. He comes up to me and says, "Hey McDonald, you know what? Charlie Sheen is at the upstairs bar and that guy is a dick. He won't talk to Marines." This sergeant was one of those Marines with the high and tight haircut who was all about being a Marine. Loved the Corps, it was his life. Nothing wrong with that, the Corps needs barrel chested motor pool sergeants with big square heads. Why would he leave an encounter with Charlie Sheen all pissed off, I thought. Then it hit me, I just knew that sergeant was up there bugging Charlie Sheen about the movie Platoon. Platoon was a big movie in the barracks. Guys loved it, it was realistic in its portrayal of basic military life. And it was violent.

I went up to where Charlie Sheen was sitting and walked up and said, "Charlie Sheen, oh man, it's awesome to see you here. Dude, you were in that movie and it changed my life and helped make me what I am today."

He shrugged and said, "You mean Platoon?"

I said, "No man, Ferris Bueller's Day Off!" He laughed and invited me to sit down. That is all I remember.

The next morning we are on the bus waiting to head back to Camp Fuji and I'm in the back holding my head. A couple of the guys boarded the bus saw me and said, "Hey McDonald, you were up there talking to Charlie Sheen last night. What's up with that?"

I said, "I talked to Charlie Sheen last night?"

They said, "Yeah, you talked to him for almost an hour."

I thought about it real hard and my pick up line came back to me. "Oh yeah," I said, "I did talk to Charlie Sheen last night."

"What'd y'all talk about?"

"I have no idea."
A few more recent photographs

The intersection of Sharon and Wendover around sunset

The statue at the Queens University sports complex on Tyvola. Supposedly it's the largest standing lion sculpture in the world

A duck!

The stone bridge at Freedom Park