Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NISMO Stuff Racer--Light as a Feather it is...

Went and gave the truck her official weigh-in today.

I had heard a number of concerns as to the total weight of the vehicle likely breaking the 4,000 lb. barrier and thus requiring (in SCORE) 2 inch tubing vs. the 1.75 I had chosen.  Boy would that have been a kick in the pants!

Fortunately my initial weigh-in of the vehicle, oh so many months ago, gave me a good baseline to work with and I felt comfortable (as did the cage builder) that the truck would not cross the 4,000 lb. mark.  Today, however was the true test.  Honestly, approaching the scale at my local transfer station my stomach was a bit jumpy and my heart beating faster.  Had I made the wrong decision?  Had I underestimated the weight of all the modifications?  Would I be stuck with a truck that would never meet SCORE and other desert racing sanctioning body's rules?

Stepping out of the truck and running up the stairs to the office of the transfer station manager, I almost didn't want to know...

He hands me the sheet and I almost jump through the ceiling with delight. 3,880 pounds--wet...

Figure I have about 20+ pounds of fuel on board and thus have about 140 pounds to spare.  Not bad...not bad at all...

The truck was fully kitted out at the time of the weigh-in--full spare, spill kit, medical kit, 1/2 a tank of fuel, all radio and electronics installed.  Pretty much the truck is ready to race from the cab backward.  There does remain the front suspension and engine cage to install but given the relatively minimal additional weight taken on by the suspension (taking off stock parts and adding aftermarket parts will be more than a wash but not THAT much more) and the engine cage itself will use smaller tubing that the cage itself and will be kept very simple.

In the end?  I will likely be up around 3,950 lbs. when all is said and done.  Close...but good enough for government work as they say!!

NISMO Leaf RC Video...

So we saw the static images of the NISMO Leaf RC concept the other day and while it looked interesting, one always has to wonder about "concept" vehicles.  To show that its not just a shell on wheels and incapable of moving anywher, NISMO has released this video...While it doesn't pit the NISMO Leaf RC up against a Porsche or anything, at least it shows that the can move and look good doing it...Now if we can only do something about its range and 93 mph top speed...

Factory Effort Rally Datsun for Sale...

If you live in England or want to have it shipped over here to the States.

Originally a factory race Datsun Stanza and run in stage rallies in Australia, this car has been wonderfully restored and has an excellent pedigree while carrying the appropriate red, white and blue livery.

Sale info: here...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chad Hord and Nissan Leaf to Race Pikes Peak...

No, the picture to the left is not the car Chad Hord will be racing up Pikes Peak come June, but I am just so sick of seeing that light blue Leaf model everywhere I just can't take it anymore...

To the story itself--Chad Hord, once again Nissan sponsored in the TORC short-course series will be entering a stock Nissan Leaf in the electric vehicle class at the 2011 Pikes Peak race.  Right now there are only two entries and Hord's Leaf is the only production vehicle of the two.

With the recent showing at the New York International Auto show last week of the Leaf Racing Concept vehicle and now with the Leaf in its stock form to at least enter a world class race I think Nissan is attempting to show that electric vehicles can be more than just the newest toy to be shown off at the local PTA meeting or "green" showpiece. betters the breed.  Putting the Leaf through a demanding event like Pikes can only help Nissan learn more about the improvements needed for later generations.

Press release as well as pictures of Hord's Nissan Titan Pro2 that will be racing in TORC this year and recently saw updates to give it the proper Nissan look.  Lastly is the soon to be released Traxxas body for the Slayer and Slash that will mimic Hord's ride--it will be the first Nissan body (though the grill is not a Nissan match, to come out for the short course R/C racers...

Chad Hord Will Pilot New All-Electric Nissan Leaf At The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb On June 26

Colorado Springs, April 25----------With electric automobiles popping up like dandelions across the landscape of American driving, it's no surprise that they will be part of the field at the 89th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 26.

The latest entrant in the Electric Division is professional racer Chad Hord (Felch, Michigan), who will be driving a stock 2011 Nissan Leaf at Pikes Peak, with its high response 110 hp, 80kW AC synchronous electric motor capable of delivering speeds as much as 90 miles per hour.

The all-electric Nissan Leaf was named the 2011 World Car of The Year at the New York Auto Show on Thursday last week.

The Leaf, which went on sale in the United States in December and is also available in Japan and Europe, beat the BMW 5-Series and the Audi A8 for the top spot.

Hord's competition on the mountain this year is the returning Electric champion, Ikuo Hanawa of Japan, who will drive his Concept two-wheel drive 2010 Custom Summit HER-02 model again this summer.

His Yokohama tire equipped EV won the Electric Exhibition class with a time of 13:17:575, a 93-second improvement over its time from 2009. That mark shattered the previous Pikes Peak EV record, set by Jeri Unser in 2003, by 65 seconds.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which began in 1916, is America's second oldest motor sports race behind the Indy 500. The race is staged on a 12.42 mile course with 156 turns. It begins at 9,390 feet and ends at the famous mountain's 14,110 foot summit above Colorado Springs.

A featured event along with the race, is the popular "Fan Fest," which takes place on Friday evening, June 24, in downtown Colorado Springs, with more than 30,000 fans on hand to meet the competitors, see the autos and motorcycles, and enjoy music, food and entertainment.

Ticket prices begin at $40.00, with a Family Four-Pack available at $125.00 and VIP admission priced at $80.00. Tickets, limited camping permits and all other race information is available at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Fighter: A Film Review..

The Fighter was nominated for numerous Academy Awards this past year (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor being four of the seven it was nominated for) and I can't think of a single one it deserved, though it went on to win both of the supporting acting categories.

I came in thinking I would really like the film--Boxing??  Cool...True story??  Cool...Boston (or nearby) based??  Cool...

Oh how I was surprised--particularly given the massive amounts of praise heaped upon it--Cover of Sports Illustrated which called it the best boxing film since Raging Bull.  And how bout Mr. Wahlberg himself saying that the boxing filmed in Raging Bull and Rocky wasn't realistic enough for him and that they went really over the top to get it right here...

I'll come right out and say that this film is an outright disaster.  I can't think of a single part of the film I really enjoyed.

Wahlberg's acting has always been subpar, consistently playing a one string monotone fiddle.  Give him some steroids and an AK-47 and Wahlberg could be the next Sylvester Stallone--and I'm talking the Rambo 3, plastic surgery, HGH Stallone, not the slightly more tolerable, late 70's, just out of pornos, Stallone.  The boxing sequences?  Truthfully, your average WWE match is more "realistic" than any of the pitty-pat sequences herein.

Christian Bale won an Academy Award for his supporting work here and also didn't deserve it.  There really isn't anything here (Bale plays a crack addict) that rises above an Afternoon Special on cable TV.  We've all seen crack addicts on the big and small screens and Bale doesn't come up with anything new or memorable.  Yup, he's a wacky junky...sometimes funny, sometimes pathetic, always looking out for himself--until that is, he goes to prison, sobers up, learns the importance of family and loyalty.

Cliche??  Yup, but so is the whole film.  Down on his luck boxer with overbearing family finds a good woman to set him straight and who, in turn, he rescues from being a bartender.  Boxer rises to prominence via hard work and learning to push aside the negative aspects of his family only to succeed at the highest level when those family members mend their ways and make peace with the Boxer.  Ho...hum...

And no, it doesn't matter that this is a true story.  Directer David O. Russell, who crafted Three Kings which I think is fantastic, might as well be asleep at the wheel here.  For the entire movie I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at his characters--it often felt like the director didn't know what he wanted his audience to do either--particularly when dealing with female characters.

So if you want to see another fine example of cliche American drivel being shoved down the movie viewers throat as being the most wondrous thing since sliced bread give it a try, just don't say I didn't tell you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Andrew Ference Gives the Finger to Habs Fans...

Single best thing (other than the goal that preceded it) that Andy Ference has done for the Bruins.

Well, not really...he has been quick to jump to the defense of other Bruins after cheap shots this year and has been more than happy to throw down the gloves when necessary.

Here I'm just glad he pissed of the troglodyte Canadian fans by giving them what they deserve.  Now go call the Police you fraudulent frogs!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lower Arm and Spindle Now Mounted...

The upper arm is on the jig currently and being fab'd as we speak.

This is how the lower arm and spindle look on the truck that is being used as a "model" for this kit and is identical to mine.  Again, as each piece you see is being made, an identical one is being created for me and BTF Fabrication will be keeping the design on hand should you want the kit for your Frontier...or Xterra...

I am sooooo hoping this will be done in the next few days as I now have my fabricator for the engine cage and suspension install on tap and just waiting to get his hands on these parts.

Brad Lovell Joins Nissan Motorsports for TORC Series Effort...

And so the Nissan Motorsports resurgence continues.

Today it was world class rock crawler/racer Brad Lovell and his Lovell Racing short course effort partnering with Nissan for it's Pro Lite.

That now makes two Nissan Frontiers in TORC (Casey Currie and Brad Lovell) as well as the TORC Pro2 Titan of Chad Hord.

Certainly Nissan is pushing back into the offroad world and I could not be more excited!  Press release below...

Lovell Racing today unveiled the redeveloped AMSOIL Nissan Frontier Pro-Light in preparation for the opening rounds of TORC in Red Bud, MI May 28th – 29th. The partnership with Nissan Motorsports is a highlight in the team’s preparations for 2011 and team co-owner Brad Lovell expressed his enthusiasm, “The racing heritage at Nissan runs deep. They have amassed plenty of championships and we are proud to be on the team. Nissan is passionate about racing as has some really exciting things in store for 2011.”

A year ago, Lovell had a tough start adjusting to the breakneck pace and intensity of short course racing but returns stronger and better prepared. The team has completed hundreds of test laps, built a barrage of spare parts, and finely tuned the truck. 2011 will take every bit of grip the team has as the burgeoning TORC Pro-Light class continues to draw new talent. Lovell added, “Last year was pretty hectic for us and I was not satisfied. We have been focused all winter quietly preparing to come out of the gates strong.” Nissan Motorsports Manager Ron Stukenberg commented, “We’ve followed Brad’s activities for the past few years and have been impressed with his performance and team operation. Nissan is thrilled to have Brad and Lovell Racing as part of our Nissan Motorsports team in 2011!”

In addition to the regular TORC schedule, Lovell will pilot the #44 AMSOIL Nissan in the 89th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and attempt to better his 3rd Place effort of 13:17 to the top of the 14,110 ft mountain. Roger Lovell will headline the team’s rock racing effort by chasing Ultra 4 season points and joining Brad for various rock crawling, desert, and short course events. Additionally, Brad will continue to pilot the #232 rock racer in choice rockcrawling, desert, Ultra 4, and hill climb events.

AMSOIL returns as the team’s title sponsor along with BFGoodrich Tires, Torchmate CNC Cutting Systems, Spidertrax, and 4 Wheel Parts. The team’s sponsors include TrailReady Wheels, Aeroquip, Fox Racing Shox, Eibach, FK Rod Ends, Dynotech Driveshafts, Howe Performance Steering, Motive Gear, Powertank, Proformance Unlimited, Robinson Construction, and WARN.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Restrepo Co-Director Dies in Libya...

Tim Hetherington, the co-director of the film Restrepo, a Oscar nominated, director with Sebastian Junger (Junger on left, Hetherington on right in picture here) has been killed in Libya in the last day or so.

Restrepo is/was an excellent first hand account of our soldiers at a firebase in Afghanistan's Korengal valley showing the soldiers there, warts and all.  Its a truly picture that fills an American with pride, laughter, sadness, anger, and frustration--all emotions driven by great works.  If you haven't seen it, Netflix it or stream it or whatever.  It's worth it.

Hetherington (an Oxford educated photojournalist) has a long history of going where others fear to tread including behind rebel held lines in the Liberian Civil War in '03 and Chad/Darfur in '06.  He was killed by an RPG in the Libyan city of Misrata.  With evidently Internet/cell phone access still up in Misrata, his final Tweet was a chilling "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."

He was knowingly taking big risks to bring back stories and images that no one else was willing to.  He paid for those risks with his life but as a race we should be proud of people who take risks and go beyond the humdrum of everyday life to bring back stories and take actions that the rest of us can or will not.

Tim Hetherington, co-director of 'Restrepo,' killed in Libya...

Buy Apple...Stock That Is...

So, if you've been following along with me for a bit you'll know that I have on occasion, proposed a few stock picks.

Here are the picks and results to date:

Ford [F] on 2/24/10--Up 30% since purchase...
(vs. +19% for DJIA, +23% for NASDAQ and +19% for S&P 500)

Yoox [YOOX] on 12/2/10--Up 54% since purchase...
(vs. +11% for DJIA, +10% for NASDAQ and +10% for S&P 500)

Orbital [ORB] on 12/2/10--up 8% since purchase...
(vs. +11% for DJIA, +10% for NASDAQ and +10% for S&P 500)

So all in all, not bad and well outpacing the major averages.

Of course this is a small sample so it likely could be just luck and good timing and nothing to do with anything except throwing darts at a board in a time that the market has performed well.

Never the is my new purchase/pick.  Apple [AAPL].  Why?  and Why now?  Simply because the stock is relatively cheap (P/E ratios equal to Google and Adobe and less than hosts of smaller, high growth companies), generates cash like almost no one else, possesses an unparalleled image, could see a stock split in the near future and is constantly bringing new products and ideas to the market.

Apple is priced like a company in a newly mature phase.  I believe it is only in the beginning of its growth with products and services not likely to be replaced or substituted for.  As the desktop and laptops die, so Apple picks up more and more share.  The iPhone is ubiquitous and continually releasing new versions of it will feed an ongoing revenue stream at a rate faster and perhaps greater than the good old "Windows" updates from Microsoft.  Apple does stand to be hurt in the changeover from "iPods" and the like to cloud storage of media and that is where they could loose an edge.

But with Q1 earnings coming out today, Apple on a roll, the economy picking up a tad bit of traction, and the next iPhone due in September, I'm betting for a significantly positive one year return.  As always...Buy early and buy often...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Entry Into the Soda Wars...

As the remaining details come together (never mind that whole engine cage/front suspension that is left to be done, I'm sure that will go REAL easy...uh, yeah...) some other items are being taken care of.

Such as the new vinyl courtesy of AMI Graphics and Signs For Minds, both out of NH and first class operations.  They combined to produce and install the new vinyl which encompasses the new logo on the bedside you see to your left.

Gamer Soda (also a home grown NH entity) is the original soda produced and marketed for video game fans.  All the flavors (I can personally attest) are excellent.  There is no compromise here between tasted and "energy" as even their caffeine infused lines taste nothing like any energy drink you've ever had and the carbonation is kept nice and light for easy drinking.  Currently available throughout NH (see where on the Gamer Soda home page...) and oddly enough the West Coast, Gamer Soda is an up and comer in the world of beverages and I'm proud to carry their brand--I only hope to make the brand proud in return.

Super Street Magazine and 1974 & 1979 Nissan Sunny B310 Article...

I am not a big reader of Super Street Magazine.

I might fit their demographics but I usually have no interest in "tuner" cars.  Modern cars with wings and lights and expensive stereos don't appeal to me.

A classic piece of Japanese motoring history though?  I'm defiantly a big fan of that.

Here we have coverage of Super Street Magazine's visit to Japan and a famous, old school builder's shop.  The cars here are beautiful examples of vintage JDM speed--almost as wonderful a creation of a BRE edition 510.

The article is well written and photographs wonderful with an appropriate, "washed out" look.  Well worth the time to read and consume.

Super Street Magazine's Sunny B310 article...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

NISMO Leaf Racing Car Revealed...

So this is what Nissan had up its sleeve for the NY International Auto Show.

Set to debut both the next generation Versa (the Sunny in foreign markets) and a reportedly brand new entry for Infiniti, Nissan had recently mentioned the debut of a zero emission motorsports vehicle--and this is it.

Maintaining the front lights, battery packs and most of the front perspective look of the Nissan Leaf, the rest of the vehicle is all custom.

The battery packs have been moved to amidships, the vehicle shortened and widened.  Carbon fiber, two door body created, and obviously a more aerodynamic package created.  It will reportedly be shown off in various expositions at motorsports venues around the country in 2011.  Not exactly a pavement burner--going from 0-60 in a little under 7 seconds and a maximum speed in the low 90s, the Leaf NISMO RC is not going to be found setting any speed records but, there is some minor rumbling about a spec series for electric vehicles, which, at the very least, would go to show that going zero emission doesn't HAVE to be boring.  This is more proof of Nissan's current outside of the box thinking and I applaud them for taking the time and resources to develop this unique vehicle.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Pro-Lite and New Manufacturer Entry for LOORRS??

Yes, just a single shot "stolen" from the competitors Facebook page...

If you can't tell, it will be a Honda Ridgeline and will be running a version of Honda's K24 engine.  Not sure which one.

Not sure what the individual is doing with his Nissan Pro-Lite or if he just engine and body swapped the vehicle and kept the frame and suspension but this will certainly draw attention to his effort.

Kudos for thinking outside the box on this one--even if it does mean one less Nissan running in LOORRS than did last year...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bill Rhoden and Another Dumb NY Times Article...

I know...saying "dumb NY Times article" these days is a bit redundant...

But this one I felt I wanted to comment on as it comes from one of sports' preeminent writers--supposedly.  I'll cut and paste the email I sent to Mr. Rhoden today and also link to his "article" for those who want to read it.  In Mr. Rhoden's advancing age he is falling back on the ideas he knows best--the putdown of the African American athlete by those white individuals in positions of power.  Unfortunately for him, his current lack of brain cells no longer allows him to view any matter in terms outside of this.  Alzheimer's is a bitch I suppose...

My email:

Mr. Rhoden,

You are blatantly showing your own bias by taking up Bonds' cause. Bonds is on trial for and demonstrably (though the jury may be so dull-witted to rule as such) did lie to a grand jury (much like the cause of Bill Clinton's impeachment had nothing to do with his actions with Ms. Lewinsky but instead with his false statements to that jury). No one with a centillion of common sense thinks otherwise.

If you want to argue simply that you want Barry acquitted just because he's black--have at it...but don't couch your opinion behind a pretense of pseudo-intellectualism.

The best sports writings, that which tries to tie topics that lie within the lines of play to those of the real world, can and do make a reader re-evaluate their normal ways of thought. I am assuming that is what you are attempting here. Unfortunately you mailed this article in without legitimate thought or reason. Shame on you.


Daniel Spalinger

Mr. Rhoden's article: Here...

To send Mr. Rhoden your own thoughts on the article go here:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Infiniti Goes Rallying...

Well, kind of...

What you see here is the "sweep" car for the Spanish Rally Championship.

With Infiniti boosting its presence in Europe via its sponsorship of the Red Bull F1 team and trying to make major inroads vs. BMW, Mercedes and the like this is a great extension of the brand and a very low cost.

I'm really digging the workup here--now if only Nissan would run a factory or semi-factory Rally team either in the WRC or Stateside...

Infiniti builds safety/sweep car for Spanish Rally Championship...

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Riddle of the Sands: A Book Review...

Declared on its cover as the "first and best of spy stories", Erskine Childers' novel has a lot to live up to.

Fortunately, the author was a doer and not a watcher having taken part in the Boer War, sailed the Baltic, and helped the Irish Independence movement among other activities.

Mr. Childers would eventually be executed for his part in the Irish Independence movement but fortunately he did complete this novel before his death and in it he is able to convey all the intricacies of small boat sailing within the confines of a "spy" story.

The discovery of early preparations on behalf of German forces for the land invasion of England and their discovery by two young, former college chums is the force behind the action.  If you are used to "modern" novel pacing and expecting as much, you will be disappointed as roughly the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the book details the friends' voyage throughout the coastal North Sea.  There are no explosions, no spy devices, no nuclear threat of annihilation.

This book, crafted just after the turn of the 20th Century comes from a much simpler time in which the interactions between opposing forces are gentlemanly in nature despite their deadly seriousness.  While the language and descriptions of sailing held my attention throughout, the "spy" part of the novel left me wanting more.  Maybe I'm too used to modern spy/military stories but it felt at least here, that Childers would have been better off writing a novel surrounding sailing alone and left the military action to someone else.

Its not that his story is unbelievable--in fact it was likely closer to the truth than either German or English authorities would have liked, with even Winston Churchill taking notice of the tale and some using it as a propaganda piece with which to raise funds for English home defense.  Its just that to me, Childers' writing seems far more "excited" in describing the action of the little ship tacking back and forth to the wind and navigating treacherous sand flats than it does dealing with conspiratorial English traitors.

The Riddle of the Sands is well worth reading to see the beginnings of the modern "spy" novel and is wonderful seafaring yarn.  Its just that, for action, The Sum of All Fears (just using this as an example--not referring to it as a superior novel) this isn't.

Regent Racing Nissan Wins Toyota Dealer 400...

And this is why I've grown to love and admire off-road racing in South Africa...

Where else will you get this variety in conditions?

From desert sand and silt to forest paths to window high mud and swamps to rocky savannah, South Africa has it all.

In the case of this past weekends ABSA Toyota Dealer 400, it was two ex-factory Nissan Navaras (Frontiers) that would survive the conditions and take home the win and a second overall.

It was the Regent Racing Navara of Mike Whitehouse and Matthew Carlson that ran a steady race avoiding the pitfalls (rollovers, stuck in the mud, unfordable river crossings, etc.) while their fellow Nissan drivers Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr suffered some minor issues (puncture, misdirection) and finished 2nd.
Rundle and Mohr's 2nd place finish was their second in a row to start the year in the ABSA series meaning they are now leading the series in points. Check out the pics of the Nissans on this page and the recap of the event here: ABSA Off-Road Toyota Dealer 400

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Two for Two...Infiniti Wins in F1 Again...

Ho hum...another race, another pole, another win.

The Red Bull F1 team is making Infiniti look brilliant for having signed on to support them for at least the next two years.

This week at Round 2 in Malaysia of the 2011 F1 season it was once again Sebastian Vettel as the winner and again it was essentially without the use of his KERS system.  The other Red Bull effort of Mark Webber would finish fourth.

Behind the Infiniti of Vettel would finish the McLaren Mercedes of Jensen Button and the Renault of Nick Heidfield.

As always with F1Autoblog provides an excellent recap for those unable to DVR or stay up to catch the action on the other side of the world.

Autoblog F1 Malaysia recap....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Alex Fishgoyt--Artist...

Sometimes I run across things that just pique my interest and feel like sharing.

This is one of those cases.

Came to know of this artist today, purely at random.  I normally can't stand most "modern" art simply because many "artists" think that creating something totally incomprehensible to anyone else  and then giving the work a funny name or a number just goes to show how post-modern they are.

Then all the art "consumers" look at the dots or squiggles and say "Ooooo...This doesn't look like or remind me of anything and it doesn't elicit a single emotion in me, so it must be so good that I can't understand it..."

Maybe its just because, like with much music, nearly every sound or every object that can be produced/drawn/painted has been produced/drawn/painted.  But that's a REALLY depressing way to look at things and though I tend to be the most cynical of cynics, at my heart I'm an optimist.

Which is why, when I came across this artist something resonated within me.  Yes, if you look at his website and his other works he seems a bit overly focused on the female breast and in some of his work he seems a bit too Dali-esque.  It is paintings like the one above though that strike me as a unique talent.  I am not an art major, nor do I pretend to be an art aficionado.  I just know things that catch my eye and ear as singular works and not likely to be produced by any other individual or group of individuals--one of my requirements for determining talent.  And this, to me, is one of them...
Alex Fishgoyt website...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

SpaceX Announces Most Powerful Rocket Since Saturn 5

Another day, another world beating accomplishment for my current hero Elon Musk.

Today its the announcement that his firm, SpaceX will be launching the test flight of the Falcon Heavy in 2012.

The Falcon Heavy will lift over 53 metric tons (117,000+ pounds) into low earth orbit.  This is more than twice what the Shuttle could carry and it will do it at 1/10th the cost--approaching the magical $1,000 per pound to place an object in orbit.

This is no mere cargo carrier though.  It has been built with not only safety in mind with numerous redundant systems--able to complete its mission in spite of the failure of multiple engines and compartmentalized, protected engines that would contain fires or compartment ruptures from affecting the other parts of the rocket.  The Falcon Heavy also meets NASA's standards for human safety going FAR above and beyond any requirements for non-living payloads.

Get the feeling Mr. Musk is looking down the line?  Me too...Even in its initial press release it mentions its capability for carrying interplanetary spacecraft.

Watch the Heavy Falcon video and get more info here:

127 Hours: A Film Review...

I knew the story of Aron Ralston before this film came out and knew of it well before Ralston's account of his canyon entrapment came out in bookstores (Between a Rock and a Hard Place) and thus came into the film looking more at how the story was portrayed rather than being taken in by the story itself.

Additionally, I have been a long time fan of the director Danny Boyle and a number of his works (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionare and to a much lesser extent, The Beach).  Boyle has covered a wide range of topics and genres and has a fantastic storytelling ability.

127 Hours I would put in with his lesser works.

It is an even, if predictable film that is perhaps constrained by the limited scope of the material.  James Franco as Ralston goes canyoneering, gets trapped, becomes more and more despondent, cuts off his arm, gets rescued.

The story is very linear in that aspect with typical Boyle flourishes of flashbacks and dream sequences that round out various aspects of Ralston's personality.  Unfortunately we have the typical story of someone who has (per the film) pushed others away in order to escape the modern world only to wish he had them back to help him or to spend more time with the ones he loved.  There is nothing here that hasn't been done before and even Boyle's ability to transform ideas and scenes we've seen before into something new and unique is stretched.

Yes, the extreme measures Ralston goes to in order to save himself are amazing, horrifying and grotesque to view on film and Boyle spares the viewer no detail.  The audience comes away with the reasonable question as to if they would be able to complete the same actions Ralston does, even with their life on the line as I'm sure was intended.

I'm glad I saw the film as a fan of Boyle's and a fan of outdoor adventure stories in general.  Unfortunately there isn't much here that you can't get from your typical Saturday afternoon TV matinee.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nissan Takes a LeMans Win...

This time over in France at the opening round of the LeMans Series.

Confusing isn't it?  There's the ALMS (American LeMans Series), the ILMC (International LeMans Cup), The 24 Hours of LeMans itself and here, the "LeMans Series".

The LeMans Series is a five event championship running 6-Hour long endurance racing events at some of the best tracks in Europe.  This weekend's opening round was the 6-Hours of Castellet at the Paul Ricard track near Marseille.

Nissan driven vehicles were contesting the LMP2 class where the two Oreca chassis Nissans ran out front for much of the day but one suffered a brake failure taking it into a wall and the second had battery issues that put the vehicle down a number of laps.  And so it was left to Zytek chassis, VK45DE powered vehicle of Greaves Motorsport that would run a consistent, trouble free race to take not only the LMP2 class win third place overall at the event.

With the top two finishers in each class in the LeMans Series getting automatic entries into the 24 Hours of Lemans.  Greaves Motorsport and Nissan are well on their way to putting another solid entry into the field of that world famous race.

Results and story for the 6 Hours of Castellet...
Greaves Motorsport Homepage...

There Will Be Blood: A Film Review...

Sat and watched this film last weekend and its taken me until now to work up enough feelings about it to write anything.

Really its not a bad film.  In fact its fairly good from a "film" standpoint.  Its just not nearly as good as modern critics like to think.

The director, Paul Thomas Anderson (he of Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love) is something of a critical darling as is Daniel-Day-Lewis.  They both make films that straddle the line between off-beat independent enterprises and mainstream movie making.  "Critics" love this as they can pretend to maintain their "credibility" with positive reviews of such efforts while not teeing off the studios or public by disparaging a beloved or investment heavy enterprise.

Such is the case here.

There Will Be Blood has been ranked by many reviewers as not only the best film of the new century but as one of the best of all time.  Some in in fact place it up with Citizen Kane for THE best film of all time.  Really?

While the photography is quite good with the film looking amazing and Day-Lewis' performance quite strong, TWBB has some major issues.

Foremost amongst which is its difficulty portraying the passage of time.  Like all films TWBB has problems as it tries to cover a large period of some 30 years.  As a visual medium it simply can't handle the weight of all that can be encompassed within such periods.  In cutting from one period to the next Anderson and Lewis try to convey the changes that have occurred in these off screen moments and fail.  I constantly felt as if I was only getting snippets of time and not feeling as if I was within a cohesive narrative.  It makes for very choppy storytelling--as if I was missing important chapters and guessing at the intervening action.

Secondly, and maybe its the result of the aforementioned problem with the coverage of time, the story just isn't that interesting.  Sure, individual scenes are well done and some of the acting spectacular.  Yes, the characters are multi-faceted and interestingly flawed.  Again though, its like watching a number of disconnected short stories rather than one cohesive narrative.  The viewers perception of Lewis' character swings so wildly from one scene to the next, it is hard to become emotionally invested in the film.  The character I felt the most for was "HW", Lewis' adopted son in the film, who, if he had been made the focus, I feel could have carried its weight much better than that of his father and oil-man Daniel Plainview.

Which brings me to a last point.  Filmed during the heart of the GW Bush administration, released in late '07 and dealing with an "oil-man", numerous critics looked at the film as an allegory to the Republican administration of the time.  With Lewis' character of Daniel Plainview using questionable methods to enrich himself and his enterprise, critics jumped at the chance to draw correlations between the fictional and the real world.  As usual, given time and distance from those events, these comparisons seem silly and sophomoric in retrospect.  Our current democratic president is now overseeing oil prices as high and poised to go higher than they were under GW while invading an oil rich, Muslim country that poses no risk to American security.  Will these same critics now go back and say that this film foreshadowed the questionable actions of our current president?   I'm guessing not.

So watch the film if you will.  Its likely worth it.  Its just not one of the best films of this or any other century and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.