Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Boring Golf stuff

I had one of my better rounds of golf the other day. Well, I should say that I had one of the better front nine rounds I have ever had. I forgot to add up the front nine but I had two birdies and a par and I didn't have anything other than a double bogey on the holes I messed up. I think I show a 45, which really isn't too bad when you are shit at golf.

Overall, I drove the ball really good. I have found another way to help with my drive other than slowing my backswing down. I have found that if I extend my backswing then this makes my swing longer and this gives me time to break my wrists and close up that club face. On the 295 yard hole #8 I hit the ball just off the green to the right even with the middle of the green. That is almost 300 yards with no wind help. Golf gets easier when you are chipping onto the green.

Naturally, on the back nine I scored three 8s in a row and totally hosed my score card but for the first time in a while I really felt happy with how I played a round. Golf is hard.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

1991 Mello Yello 500

I was working in a convenience store in 1991 with a sweet lady in her late 50s. She was married to a gentleman who was pushing 60, he worked for an automobile parts company and he was really into racing. The couple made an annual trek to Indianapolis for the 500 every year. I joined them in October that year for the race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. I had been to a Busch (now Nationwide) race the year before, this was my first Winston Cup race.

I don't remember anything really about the race itself. A few events from the day stand out. I was really tired from lack of sleep. I must have fallen asleep well after 1am and I had to be at my coworker's home sometime in the six o'clock hour. If you aren't camping and you want to get to the track early enough to tailgate for a 1pm race you had to be on the road by 7am in order to beat traffic.

When we arrived and set up the group I was with started to make their choices for the race pool. I was pressured to participate and I was really reluctant to do so. I think you had to put $10 in to get a driver and at this time I was living on my own and making $5 an hour. I was also in school. I couldn't even really afford the $50 for the ticket and this was really putting the squeeze on my budget. I went ahead and picked a driver and paid my $10. I picked Kyle Petty. Kyle finished 15th, 7 laps behind the winner, Geoff Bodine.

When we were packing up to go inside the husband of my coworker couldn't find the soda bottle he had filled with a liquor drink. That was his thing at races, he would mix a drink at home in a plastic soda bottle and take it inside the track. It may have been a two liter bottle. This was back when cooler restrictions weren't as strict as they are now. His wife told him she purposely left the bottle at home because she thought he drank too much. Wow, did he get mad. He got quiet and his face turned red. Their friends all got very interested in what was taking place outside our area. I still sympathize with the old guy. He may very well have been drinking too much but I think a passive-agressive move like that on raceday is just not the best time. Telling someone they party too much while partying with them is not a effective strategy.

Our seats were pretty good. We were about halfway up in the lower deck right near the exit of turn four. Turn four in Charlotte during this time was one of the hairier turns the drivers encountered all year and the people I went with picked our particular seats because they offered a great view of this tough turn. I remember seeing two wrecks. One I managed to capture on film the other I didn't see, I heard it. That wreck happened when I was looking to my right down the front stretch and I heard in my left ear a sound like a shotgun going off just a few feet away. Someone had spun out in turn four and another car had plowed into his side. I had never heard a sound like that before and I couldn't believe both drivers climbed out and walked away. It was really scary. That was my first experience with the danger in high speed racing. Up until then I hadn't realized that these drivers were risking their lives. It was all just fast, loud and exciting before. Now it was dangerous.

I wish I remember more of the experience. I do remember that Dale Earnhardt left the race early with car trouble and I was very disappointed about that. But that was the day I first got to experience the spectacle that is a NASCAR race day and it hooked me. Once you see it live it makes watching it on television much more interesting.

I did take a few pictures with my step Dad's Pentax camera. It has a nice 200mm lens and most of these were taken with that. The full set is here

Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Davey Allison, Geoff Bodine, Kyle Petty in turn 3
Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Davey Allison, Geoff Bodine, Kyle Petty

Richard and Kyle Petty in turn 4
Richard and Kyle Petty

Eventual race winner, Geoff Bodine exiting turn 4
Geoff Bodine exiting turn 4

Pretty big wreck in turn 4 Trouble in Turn 4, Early 90's NASCAR mayhem

Good Harbor Sunset

Going through my Flickr feed I came across this shot from 2007.

Good Harbor Sunset

Thursday, May 24, 2012

September 2007

Back in September of 2007 I took a drive by myself around the Leelanau Peninsula. I drove up past Suttons Bay and down the west to Leland. It was a blusterly and cloudy day and it was just perfect out. I was looking through the pictures I took that day and decided the one below needed to be adjusted a bit. I like how it came out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Flickr Finds

It's been a while since I posted some stuff from Flickr that has caught my eye.

A billboard from Hollywood in the mid 70s. You can see the whole wonderful set here
Billboards on Sunset #44

Prom 1970
Kathy - Prom - Jun, 1970

Unknown women from 1970
people who know people I'm related to and might even be distant cousins part 2

A tank the Marines left at Tarawa
Tank from WWII - Battle of Tarawa

A female Boba Fett
Young Clone trooper, Slave Leia, & awesome female Boba Fett (aka: babe-a-fett!)

An aerial shot of Dubia

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Las Vegas from the Air

I am a sucker for aerial photographs and this one of Las Vegas is a beauty.

the brightest spot on earth

The photo is by this guy. He does good work.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Darlington Arrests

Last weekend in Darlington there was a sheriff's station set up right next to the souvenir stands. As Jeff and are were heading back to our camp site after doing some people watching and shopping we saw some guys in handcuffs being processed by the police.

A group of prisoners

I saw something that I had never seen before. Leg irons!


After taking a few pictures the officer below announced, "Alright, you got your souvenir pictures. Move along, it's against the law to photograph inmates." Jeff and I were confused. How can it be possible in the land of free and the brave to photograph the police as they put fellow Americans in chains, whether it's warranted or not? Also, how can they be inmates if they are just being arrested? Obviously I put away my camera and we moved on. I didn't drive two hours and pay big bucks for a ticket to the race to argue the constitution with the Darlington Sheriff department.

One thing we did notice, and you can see quite well in the first picture, was how well the arrested were taking to their arrest. They were laughing and joking the whole time. I figured the were more than likely quite drunk and would be laughing a lot less in a few hours when they sobered up in the can.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Amy Ray at the Visulite

I don’t remember how I heard about Amy Ray’s 2001 solo album, Stag. I wasn’t a fan of the Indigo Girls. In fact I hardly listened to any of their stuff. I must have read a description of the album somewhere and I bought it right when it came out. I even wrote a positive review for it in a local music weekly. I think it was called Indie File. Is that it? Dang, I really don’t remember. I loved the album right from the start. It opened with a vicious song with Amy Ray accompanying herself on the mandolin. It starts out like this:

“Yeah, when I go over yonder
I will see my mother
my sister and my father
but my brother is going to hell.”

Even now, eleven years later, the song has an immediacy and it really grabs you, it’s a great, great opening track. It’s a perfect set up for the slow burn of Laramie. Laramie is inspired the murder of Matthew Shepherd. The strength of the song is that it doesn’t really directly address Shepherd’s murder. It’s about the threat that hangs over anyone who is different is a redneck nation. Like all great poetry it finds its power by working the edges rather than hammering it directly.

In 2004 she released a similar album that was just as good or better called Prom. I love these two albums, I still play them and for the first time I got to see Amy Ray’s rockshow at the Visulite last Friday. I had been waiting a long time. I was wondering as the show approached if I had missed her rockshow coming to Charlotte in all these years or if this would be the first time she had played here with her band. It can be easy to miss a show if you don’t keep up with the listings. I don’t know, but if you judge from the reaction of the crowd and Amy’s apparent surprise by our enthusiasm maybe I wasn’t the only one seeing her with a band for the first time.

My first impression of the show was the power of Amy Ray’s voice. She opened with two songs on the mandolin and she displayed a rich and very strong voice. A voice that stayed strong all night long. She has a talent for letting her voice break at the right moments. It's an effective way to put some extra emotion into a song.

I went to the show not just to see Amy Ray, I went also to see the Butchies. The Butchies were a power trio out of Durham and a few years ago they put a on a fantastic club show at the now defunct Steeple Lounge. I especially enjoyed the crazy drummer, Melissa York. At that show she gave me a high five as they walked off after the first set. I remember being surprised that they were finishing and I said something like, "What, you're done already?!" Melissa, as she was bouncing past me said, "We'll be back out. High five!!" We high fived. What is it about really great drummers being half crazy? The band was hitting all their marks for the whole night, they drove the music when it needed and also knew when to pull it back. One of the nicer moments of the night happened when Amy introduced the band. She said something along the line of, “I want to introduce the band, the Butchies...” and before she could start introducing them individually the crowd started clapping and cheering. It was like we were all saying, “Yeah, we know the Butchies, they’re incredible.” It was nice genuine moment.

Late in the show Amy allowed Kaia Wilson, the guitar player, to sing a song by herself. She sang a loose and funny version of her song When my Hair was Long. I purchased her album Two Adult Women in Love after the show.

The intensity really picked up fairly early in the night with a powerful version of Laramie. The intensity was provided right away by the crowd. You could tell this was a song that was important to many people there. Later in the evening the song Put it out for Good really put a lot of energy in the room. It’s a song for anyone who has ever stood out in someplace it’s not safe to do so.

“I hear the rock show winding down at the high school
Kids out on the sidewalk, waiting for a ride
All the punks and the queers and the freaks and the smokers
Feel like they'll be waiting for the rest of their lives

Alright I hear what you're saying to me
Alright I hear what I just can't do
But I got this spark I got to feed it something
Or put it out for good.”

After a quick encore the show ended with a blazing version of Let it Ring, once again done solo by Amy as she played her mandolin. The song is an answer to right wing people who protest in the streets against gay rights. She played the song right after Melissa York asked the crowd to be sure to vote against the stupid ass (my words) amendment that eventually passed. Melissa was close to tears when she spoke and Amy played the holy hell out of that song and walked off the stage. Amazing.

Amy Ray late in the show
Amy  Ray at the Visulite