Monday, December 31, 2012

NJMP Rallycross Video...

This is just a short video summarizing the last event of the NJMP Rallycross series in 2012.  After Rally America dropped out of backing the event a number of the competitors joined together to keep the events going and this is the result.  Hopefully this series will be back in 2013 with continued support from the the grassroots rally community.  The video looks great and is well put together.  Well done by all....

NJMP 2012 Fan Appreciation Day from JOHNNYPICTURES on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Film Review: Treasure of the Sierra Madre

My father grabbed this film for me as a recent Christmas present, likely as a result of my prior stating that I enjoyed Casablanca and that we both often enjoy similar films.  While I feel that Casablanca may be the more "fun" better known film, Treasure of the Sierra Madre may be the deeper and more intense film.

Bogart does not here play the good guy and instead plays a character that in retrospect was a scumbag from the very beginning.  What at first comes off as harmless begging for money from better off ex-pats in Mexico later reveals itself to be evidence of a lack of work ethic, selfishness and greed.

And this gets at the heart of the film as its three main characters in Fred Dobbs, Bob Curtin and Howard represent various shades of human character as brought to the light by the discovery of gold in the desolate mountains of our southern neighbor.

Other than for a moment near the beginning of the film where Bogart uses his begged funds to get himself a shave vs. some food, his Fred C. Dobbs character is as dirty and bedraggled as any of the "banditos" they are to meet later in the film, serving to further underline the character's closer relation to the criminal element than to any in the more civilized world.

What greed and materialism does to the average man and their relationships with other average men is at the heart of the film.  Betraying your partners, the killing of men who have stumbled upon your findings, all is fair game as Dobbs devolves further and further from that which one would think of as a civilised man.

Treasure is a film that demands multiple viewings as there is a great deal here to delve into--including the fairly long introduction of the film where Dobbs and Curtin spend time in the city of Tampico trying to make a Peso and come into contact with Howard.  Their interaction with the rich, successful ex-Pats and the hustling Barton MacLane is particularly insightful.

This a great, not just "good" film.  I enjoyed nearly every moment. Oh, and as an added bonus, you get to see exactly where the "We don't need no stinking badges" saying comes from.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Bumper Coming to a Nissan Frontier Near You...

well, closer to me than you actually...but you get the drift.

Brandon over at BTF Fabrication has the frame horns done at the moment and is finishing up the rest of the bumper currently.  It should ship within a couple weeks.

The 32" LED lightbar I showed a couple weeks ago will be mounted on the top of this bumper, as will two HIDs, ensuring optimum lighting and providing a bit of protection to my radiator/underside that I have previously lacked.  The front of my NISMO Stuff Racing Frontier is completely bare at the moment--no skid, no lower bumper cover, nothing...just the bare steel bumper...

As always, Brandon's work is top notch and beautiful to behold.  In the end, the bumper should look quite similar (though not exact) to the one seen on Gil Green's Frontier seen below except with a lasercut BTF logo in the front skid.

Film Review: Miller's Crossing

The Coen brothers have produced a number of extremely memorable films (Fargo, True Grit, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, etc.) and now I've seen three of them (No Country for Old Men, True Grit and Miller's Crossing).

Miller's Crossing may be my favorite of these as this prohibition era gangster tale is an incredibly well done piece with great acting and a fantastic story.

Gabriel Byrne plays Tom who serves as the right hand man for his Irish crimeboss, Leo, portrayed by Albert Finney.  Complications ensue when Tom begins a relationship with Verna who has already latched on to Leo while the fast rising Italian organization lead by Casper (the always slightly nutty Jon Polito) begins competing with the Irish and looking to eliminate the Jewish bookie Bernie (a career defining performance by John Turturro), who happens to be the gay brother of Verna.  Got that??

The story is complicated but well thought out and contains no obvious holes and demands a viewer's attention in order to keep up.

Fortunately the competition and language between the Irish, Jews and Italians is brilliantly crafted by the Coens.  Violence is a typical Coen highlight and it is no exception here.  The blood flows, faces are smashed and brains are blown out but its not gratuitous (at least not to me), its just a typical a gangster film in that regard.

Watching Tom manipulate all those around him with his brain rather than his gun is great fun though one is left thinking that the only honorable person in the film was Casper who stubbornly sticks to his "ethics" throughout, leading to his eventual death.

Miller's Crossing didn't leave me cold the way Goodfellas always has and I enjoyed this one much more.  In the long run I thing Miller's Crossing will be viewed more favorably and Goodfellas, less so--particularly in regards to the acting as Goodfellas seems overwrought at times and cliche at others.

I wouldn't put this up there with my favorite movies of all time but its eminently watchable and contains numerous famous sequences and sections of dialogue.  "What's the rumpus?" anyone?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Great Story on

This is a great little article on and nearly everything that a good vehicle related article should be.  Its not the common, hum-drum review of a Toyota Camry.  Its a bit off kilter.  A bit different in its choice of vehicle and use.

It has breakdowns and adventure, humor and comradarie.  In a short little piece it lifts the spirit out of the cubicle and into the desert.  I couldn't recommend it higher.  Might be the best 5 minutes of reading I've done today.

400 Miles on a Minibike...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

At the Mountains of Madness--Antarctic Drilling High Point

A number of international teams have been drilling in the Antarctic recently, among them British, US and Russian teams.  While the British team is evidently done for the year the US and Russians are pressing ahead with their efforts to drill into and sample the several mile deep under the ice lakes.

These are bodies of freshwater that have been shut off from light and the rest of the world for hundreds of thousands or millions of years.  What microbial and other life exists under the ice is a wonder.

It also brings back all sorts of great sci-fi novels of the early 20th century and the fears they contained around the unknown present at that time in Antarctica.  The article linked below goes into specifics of the drilling as well as some of the aforementioned novels.  It also details some fears of the Antarctic that I had not thought of.  I had wondered what if there is a microbe under the ice that the human body is not prepared for and which could cause a catastrophe but I had not thought of the hypothesis that the ice might actually be capping huge amounts of methane gas generated by all the sub-ice microbes that have been feeding, living and dying for millions of years and what the release of that gas could do.

It'll be interesting, and likely a lot less exciting, to see what the explorers find and even more fun to speculate what might be trapped under the ice--out there.

Wired Article--Antarctic Drilling...

Nissan Navara as Service Vehicle for Rainforest Challenge

 Building upon its reputation in Australia and elsewhere in the Pacific, Nissan promoted the Navara (Frontier) in Malaysia recently with it acting as the official service vehicle for the annual Rainforest Challenge event.

These Navara's come equipped with a snorkel, ARB bull bar, WARN winch, OME shocks, IPF lights and Eaton Diff Locks amongst other goodies.

The event itself was won by (actually all three top positions were taken by) a Suzuki Jimny which, though not sold here in the US is still a fantastic little offroader and available in numerous markets throughout the world.

Rainforest Challenge...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Awesome Nissan Lego Dakar Truck...

This is just awesome.  This Nissan truck model is incredibly detailed with shocks and engine components, working doors, working hood, spare tires, removable body, roll cage, etc.

I have no idea how much time was put into this but it had to be an extensive project.  The author put up a website posting as well as numerous photos and videos of the vehicle as well.  Wonderful creation here.

Lego Nissan Navara Dakar truck...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hot Wheels Citroen C4 Rally

I'm not a big Hot Wheels collector or anything, I just can't help but take a peek at the Hot Wheels (Matchbox cars generally suck, aren't named according to their model and offer a much smaller selection) section of the toy store whenever I visit.

About one time in 10 I come across a car model I'm interested in--an old Datsun, a sweet GT-R, a Ken Block rally car, etc.

This past week I came across this Citroen C4 Rally car.  The cool teal color is different than most Hot Wheels and really caught my eye.  Add in the hood louvers, the roof mounted air scoops and orange tinted windows and you have a sharp little car--even if it is based on a French manufacturer's product.

A $1 Xmas gift for myself!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

NHL Lockout = Fiscal Cliff

I got to thinking today about the impasse in both the NHL and our federal government and how similar they are.

Both are at the "drop dead" point of negotiations.  If the NHL owners and players cannot come to an agreement in the next two weeks or so, the entire NHL season will be cancelled, the players will go without pay, the owners won't have any games in their arenas and ancillary businesses like bars, restaurants and souvenir shops will be severely impacted.  If the White House/Senate cannot come to an agreement with the House of Representatives within the next week then taxes are going up on everyone in the US beginning 1/1/13 and government spending will be slashed--both having significant impacts on the US economy, likely plunging the country back into a recession if it goes on for very long.

In both cases, the opposing sides aren't event talking to one another.  The NHL owners broke off all talks after the players union made a counter proposal to what the owners had said was a take it or leave it offer a couple weeks ago and no progress has been made since.  Supposedly they are going to be back in contact after 12/26.  The White House and John Boehner haven't really been in contact and exchanging ideas for about a week now, ever since Boehner's Plan B proposal fell through.  The Congress has all gone home for the holidays and the President is off in Hawaii.  No serious talks are forecast for the next week.

In both these cases it is likely that one side or the other (if not both) doesn't want there to be a successful resolution.  The owners at a minimum in a significant portion, don't want the NHL negotiations to work (or at least be a real "negotiation" with compromise on both sides).  I've seen the internal numbers.  The weak teams (Columbus, Tampa Bay, etc.) are BETTER OFF when there is no hockey.  They lose far more money when the teams actually play than if their arenas just sit there unused by the team.  The owners of the stronger franchises want to break the back of the union and reduce their costs further--with ownership like the Jacobs' in Boston not caring if the team plays or not as they are almost a rounding error on their financial statements.  There is little to no impact to their well being when the Bruins don't play.  In Washington the White House and Senate are dying to raise taxes and increase spending on the backs of EVERYONE as that's the only way to move their Socialist agenda forward given the debt we are already in.  If the entire country is bankrupt, Socialism looks pretty good!!  The Republicans in the House meanwhile are significantly beholden to their "no tax" pledge and they only way they can get around that pledge and compromise in some fashion is if the tax rates GO UP FIRST.  Going over the cliff will raise rates automatically and then those same Republicans can say they voted for tax CUTS, despite the resulting rates still being higher than what they had been on 12/31.

These are all cynical arguments I realize but they're about spot on.  In the end I seen the NHL season being cancelled outright and the US going over the fiscal cliff with a slipshod, short term resolution being put through sometime around the end of January.  Enjoy your holidays!!

SpaceX Grasshopper Test Video

SpaceX continues its march forward.

While its commercial flights servicing both governmentall and private business demands via its standard launch systems it is also working hard on its Grasshopper program which will eventually (hopefully) result in a completely vertical take off and landing program designed to return the launch vehicle to its launch site autonomously upon completion of its mission.

SpaceX has been ramping this program up bit by bit with short test flights.  This most recent test took the Grasshopper up to 12 stories and then returned to its platform.  Its funny to watch as at any moment I expect the rocket to turn sideways and explode as was often the case with many Nazi and Soviet (and a few US) launch attempts when they were first starting out.  It almost seems unnatural for a rocket to not either shoot skyward or else end in disaster.  Watching it land on its gear so softly and without a fuss is an odd thing.

The ability to return to its launch facility in this manner is designed to cut costs and increase the speed at which launches can occur--a necessary step for sending large amounts of equipment, supplies and people to Mars.
SpaceX Launches Grasshopper Rocket 12 Stories High...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Datsun 510 Racecar For Sale

I'm always perusing Craigslist for classic Datsun vehicles despite the horrific death I would suffer at the hands of my wife should I ever choose to purchase such a project.

This doesn't keep me from dreaming however and this recently available vehicle (currently listed on Craigslist in Vermont) is one such car that has my mind wandering off into the clouds.

Though this is advertised as a "barn find" I don't think you could classify this as a "find" given the owner knew it was there all along and just hadn't touched it in year and the cage certainly needs updating to make it truly race worthy.

That being said, the car looks like it is in great condition compared to most 510s found these days and could translate into a wonderful hillclimb or tarmac rally car in short order.  $8000 is a bit steep for a car needing a fair amount of work but if the buy could be talked down to about $5K, it would be a great pickup for someone.  It already has a host of upgrades including a fuel cell, upgraded brakes, a fire system, performance engine changes, etc...unfortunately not me...sniff...sniff...

Datsun 510 Up for Sale in Vermont...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Nissan Only Sportscar Series and Japan Auto Salon...

Two fairly noteable announcments from Nissan today.  The first and more interesting is the announcement of a 370Z only series.  Dubbed the "Nissan 370Z Nismo Z-Challenge Spec" indicates that it will also be a spec series with cars likely all being produced by Nissan in house and sold to the race teams.  At $165K a pop for the 370Z racecar shown by Nissan in '12 it won't be cheap and I don't think it will be in the US either given the photos of the car given as an example are right hand drive.  Additionally, Nissan already has the NASA 350Z series here in the US so adding a 370Z spec series really wouldn't make much sense.

Where more details and an example of the 370Z racecar will be found centers around the second piece of Nissan news.  The 2013 Tokyo Auto Salon will see Nissan bring out a handful of custom vehicles for display.  This years Nissan provided vehicles will include 10 vehicles to include the Deltawing racer making its Japanese debut, a Leaf with a NISMO performance package, the Motul Autech GT-R racecar, a GT-R GT3 race car and the aforementioned 370Z spec series racecar.

Catch it if your in Japan and we'll see where this 370Z series ends up.

Nissan Announces 370Z only series...
2013 Tokyo Auto Salon lineup...

Monday, December 17, 2012

In the Dirt...

2012 saw Nissan continuing to ramp up its support of short course off-road racing in America.

Nissan expanded its corporate sponsorship to a number of efforts in both the TORC (The Off Road Championship) and LOORRS (Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series) series of events. While still the rarest of manufacturers seen in either series (typically dominated by your usual Ford, Chevy, Dodge and Toyota) Nissan chooses well when selecting those to whom it will lend support, and the results prove it.

In the 2012 TORC series (mostly mid-west located events), Nissan lent its support to long time driver Chad Hord and relative new comer Brad Lovell. Hord has won numerous events with his long time sponsor Boss Snowplow and had a prior history running under the Nissan banner. Hord’s 2012 season was nothing if not consistent as he took his big Pro 2 (full size, V8, 2WD) Nissan Titan to a third place finish in the overall standings for ’12. Of the 14 races this year, Hord would grab five 2nd place finishes and two thirds, only finishing lower than fifth, three times.

Brad Lovell does not have nearly the history in short course racing that Hord possesses, being more known for his rock crawling efforts. That did not stop his relatively new operation from reaching for the golden ring this year, and grab it he did. Lovell has quickly learned the rough and tumble style necessary to drive these large and fast trucks through jumps and tabletops weekend after weekend. Between Lovell’s skills and the incredible reliability of his Pro Light (mid-size, V8, 2WD) Frontier, he would win the fourth and fifth races of the season while finishing as the runner up in three others. Similar to Hord, Lovell would constantly appear at the top of the leaderboard, never finishing lower than sixth in any race. Brad and his Frontier locked up the season Pro Light championship on the last weekend of racing in ’12 exclaiming “This is a testament to a lot of hard work from our crew. I can't believe it. Awesome”

Over in the 2012 LOORS series the big story was Carl Renezeder, who has had a longstanding relationship with Nissan, was driving a V8 Titan in both the Pro 2 and Pro 4 (full size, 4WD) classes. At the beginning of the 15 race season Renezeder stood only a handful of race wins away from the amazing total of 100 short course wins in his career. His season started off slow with little to show for his efforts but really turned the corner during the final eight rounds of racing in both classes. With two wins and a third in the final eight races of the Pro 2 season and three wins and a second in the last nine races of the Pro 4 season, Renezeder showed that his Nissan was a force to be reckoned with. He would finish third in season points in Pro 4 and sixth in Pro 2—and yes, he did crest the 100 win marker, finishing with a total of 104 short course wins when the season was over.

Also involved in Nissan’s GT Academy driver training program, Renezeder has taken off for England during ’12 to England in order to assist racing contestants on their off-road driving techniques. Says Nissan’s Senior Manager of Motorsports Marketing and Operations in North America, Ron Stukenberg, “Working with Carl is a sponsor’s dream…Carl is articulate, knows the sponsor’s product and believes in it.”

Finally we have a Nissan backed racer who split time between both the LOORRS and TORC series bouncing back and forth across the country. In truth Casey Currie has been at home in the Pro Lite division of both series for a while now, likely racing more short course events over the past four years than nearly anyone else, having Nissan vehicles beneath him for the majority of that time. Currie ran the full 15 event LOORRS schedule taking two wins, four seconds and three thirds, finishing just off the season podium in fourth overall.

Over in the TORC series Currie did not run a full season but in running half of the 14 races he garnered three wins, one second and one third. To say he was a dominant force in when running in that series is a substantial understatement.

With both the Titan and the Frontier being a bit long in the tooth (OK, more than a bit) and complete redesigns likely to be introduced for 2014 Nissan is likely to continue ramping up its support of these efforts so that 2013 may bring even more impressive results.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Film Review: The Hobbit--An Unexpected Journey

As we rarely get out to see movies, my wife and I usually reserve it for relatively special films that we particularly want to see in the theater and either not wait for or not experience at home.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is one such film.  Some eleven years since The Fellowship of the Ring came out The Hobbit continues Jackson's connection to Tolkein's works.

Much of the look and creation of the film will seem familiar to those who have seen the prior Lord of the Rings works.  The world created by Jackson looks and feels the same in the Hobbit as it did in the earlier works.

The big change here and unfortunately, what much of this review will focus on, is the addition of a couple technological "wonders" that are supposed to improve the viewing experience.  When those first works cam out 3D movies had last been seen in the 50s and 60s and films were only shown in what was considered the industry standard 24 frames per second.

The Hobbit is being shown in a bothersome array of versions from the simple 2D, 24 fps up to the full 3D, 48 fps while throwing IMAX versions into the mix as well.  With Peter Jackson stating that his personal vision of the film was the 3D 48 fps version (Jackson is the first director to film in 48 fps and the Hobbit is the first film to be shown in this format) this was the version I wanted to see.  Much has been made in the press leading up to the release of the film in this format as early screenings of the film did not receive the greatest of reviews because of it and more ink has been used to deal with the quirks of this format than to the actual content of the film itself.

I'll start off with my views on the content of the film and move on to the technical stuff second.

The film itself at near three hours in length does feel a tad bloated.  Lots of long takes and dialogue take up significant chunks of time.  Jackson has also added a lot of content here that is not included in the book itself.  Some of it good, some of it not so much.

Overall however, its certainly not a bad way to spend three hours.  The characters are well done, Ian McKellan returning as Gandalf is excellent and Richard Armitage as Thorin is fantastic.  While all the other dwarfs are goofy and oddballs--closer to the seven dwarfs of Snow White than grim, hammer wielding miners, Thorin carries a darkness and weight that carries this first film.  Martin Freeman is adequate as Bilbo but I'm not blown away by him.  Andy Serkais as Gollum is even better now as computer graphics have advanced another generation and the other enemies of the film are even more grotesque that before.

The battle scenes should seem familiar to viewers with lots of bloodless hacking and slashing and lots of improbable jumping and rolling.  I do wish it was a tad more realistic but, what can you do...its a fantasy epic.

So if the story was good, the action was good, the characters were good and it hewed fairly close to the line created by the prior fine films it must be a pretty darn good film then right??  Well, yes and no.
I will watch the next two editions of the Hobbit film series (coming in '13 and '14) back in regular old 2D and 24 fps and here's why...

I've always hated 3D and this film doesn't change that opinion for me.  This is the best 3D you will see and it still sucks.  My initial complaint is in the coloring of the film.  The 3D glasses here, as in other 3D films change the color of the movie.  They have a darkening effect as well as a grey-blue tinting effect.  White's are no longer white...they are a steel blue-grey version of white.  This tinting affects all images and scenes, there is no escaping it.  Secondly, the 3D effect is not one that impresses me.  It's never truly a 3D image.  It merely moves cardboard cut out versions of various people and objects into the foreground or background.  This isn't improving upon the 2D image, its distorting it and ripping it apart for the sake of an effect and a "its cool" factor.

Lastly you have the 48 fps issue.  Creating a film with double the images of a regular one does assist greatly with the 3D images making them clearer and more distinct than ever before...but there's an issue with that.  The images can be so clean and clear that you lose the ability to "believe" in the film and instead end up viewing a bunch of men running around in prosthetic noses and wigs.  When you can see that the actors are wearing makeup, that the hair is fake and the weapons not made of heavy, weathered steel it is hard to become lost in a story about an imaginary realm of wizards and dragons.

The second issue with the 48 fps feature is the way in which it makes the characters APPEAR to be moving too quickly.  I did get a tad used to it after a while but right to the end it would appear to me as if some moments of the film had been sped up to about 1.5 times normal speed.  It is a very jarring effect and one that has had people leaving theaters to ask management if there was something wrong with the projectors.

So all this said, why would Jackson choose to release the film in this manner?  Ego.  Back when Jackson was creating the LOTR series he was a relative unknown filmmaker looking to get his big break and accolades.  Now his films have grossed over a billion dollars, he's won Oscars and been lauded as a visionary.  Jackson has always been one to push the technological limits and this is no exceptions.

Jackson got his hands on a couple new toys in the form of 3D film and 48 fps filming and he thought it would be the next greatest thing.  In fact, even in the face of mounting criticism he has continued to claim that the 3D 48 fps version is the superior one and the one he wants everyone to see.  The fact that its not superior in any way shape or form and actually detracts from the moviegoing experience (I've yet to hear ANYONE claim that they think this version is worth the effort, expense or hype) only goes to show how blinded one can be in viewing their own creation.

I would recommend seeing The Hobbit to nearly anyone.  But I'd only recommend seeing it in the old plain Jane, 2D, 24 FPS.  Sometimes more is not more and newer is not better...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Coming Soon to the NISMO Stuff Racing Frontier...

Tis the offseason...and in the offseason, what do we do?  We look to make our race vehicles better.  Not just faster, but better. This addition to the race vehicle definitely falls into that category.  While not making the vehicle faster it will VASTLY increase the speed and safety at which the truck will be able to travel at night.

Until now, for the first full year of racing, I have relied solely upon the Frontier's stock headlights for illumination.  While the standard headlights are more than sufficient for highway and normal driving, they don't have nearly the distance and definition I would like for racing.  Instead of being able to gauge the road and terrain hundreds and hundreds of yards in advance as I can during the day, night time closes that distance down to say 50 yards, maybe less given the conditions.  When trying to go flat out on a road sometimes barely as wide as your vehicle, this is a major issue.

The 32" LED bar seen here will be mounted on the truck in the near future.  I won't give away how it will be mounted but that will be forthcoming soon.  Throwing out over 11,000 lumens this lightbar should provide plenty of light for me to navigate the forests at speed.  LED lights do have a reputation for being great at near and intermediate distance illumination but slightly lacking in their ability to light up objects at a distance.  Therefore the lightbar won't be the only additional lights.  Two eight inch HIDs will also be joining this lightbar to make sure I have all areas covered.

The light here is from who has a working relationship with my favorite fabricators over at BTF Fabrication.  Hit 'em both up for great stuff at great prices.  Look for some more BTF work here in the near future.

McCartney and Nirvana (?) Have Still Got It...

Fortunately as a fan of both the Beatles and Nirvana, last night's performance at the 12/12/12 concert at Madison Square Garden was not signalling the end of the world for me.

Yes, you will hear whining from Beatles fans about McCartney playing with the remnants of a band they never accepted and never understood (let alone appreciated) due to their 40 year age removal and cultural differences (though lets face it, the Beatles were revolutionary but no one would put them at the top of the instrumental skill pyramid, so please spare me the "talent" argument) and you will hear bitching from Nirvana fans asking why they are playing with this old, womanly looking (Paul, stop with the plastic surgery....age gracefully like Clapton and Waters) singer of a band who has never played a lick of feedback in his life.

But what came out of this perhaps odd joining of trans generational touchstones was an excellent, truly hard rocking, bluesy and original piece.  Beforehand many were wondering if we'd be hearing McCartney belting out "Rape Me" or "Territorial Pissings"

The track that McCartney joined Dave Grohl (on drums) Kris Novoselic (on bass) and Pat Smear (on guitar) for (providing his own guitar work as well as vocals) was Cut Me Some Slack.  Grohl's hammering drums are as brutal as ever and haven't suffered a lick during his time fronting the Foo Fighters (who often contain Pat Smear on guitar).  McCartney rages and howls through the number in a way that should make clear that you can be heavy well into your 70s with no need to continually regurgitate the same soft pablum that you believe your audience will want to hear (see Neil Young).  The song will be the first released off of Grohl's Sound City documentary film soundtrack (though I'm unclear on whether the soundtrack version will be with McCartney doing vocals or Grohl).  Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dark Chocolate Snickers

Rite Aid was having a "Buy Two Get One Free" sale on its stock of Snickers bars the other day so along with my favorite Almond Snickers bars I grabbed a free Dark Snickers bar to try in hopes that it would be just as yummy as the Almond or regular versions.

Close, but not quite.  I found that the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate not to be the best mix for the caramel, peanuts and such.  It wasn't bad but it did not hold the creamy-ness that the milk chocolate versions do.  I'd give it a 4 out of 10.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Syrian Rebels and Their Homemade Tank...

Well, "tank" may be a bit over stated.  Perhaps "heavily armored car"??

This rusty behemouth controls its machine gun with a Playstation controller and looks about ready to take on a local Boy Scout troop and that's about it.  But hey, give them credit...the Syrian rebels are rolling up the Syrian "army" like your Persian rug.

WIRED article on Syrian rebel "tank"...

New "Easier Said Then Done" Trailer

This Easier Said Than Done trailer came out today.  This started as a personal project by Matt Johnston, turned into a Kickstarter project that raised over $60K to complete and is now in its final stages.

Reportedly it will be coming out in Q1 '13 and as an "investor" in the project (OK, I gave like $100 to the effort) I will get a DVD of it upon its release.  I really couldn't be more excited.  The photography looks spectacular.  For under $100K this looks as good as ANY professional production I've seen.  Even if I do have to put up with seeing Ken Block and his uber-dork Monster Energy racing outfit and his flat bill, sideways hat.  Its painful but for something this good I'm willing to put up with it.

Why I Won't Buy a Chrylser/Dodge/Jeep/Fiat, etc.

reason number one.  Any company this beholden to the unions is not a company I want to support.  Perhaps its short sighted by me but so be it.  A company who willingly hires drunks and dope-heads to build complex machinery and does not have the stones to tell the unions to pound sand when it comes to rehiring such individuals is not a company of which I want to knowingly buy its products when other offerings are out there.

I deal with this crap every day in hearing tales of my wife's place of business where she is hamstrung in implementing any sort of disciplinary action against employees who continually put their coworkers and patients in danger by their actions and that's enough for me to harbor a deep seeded and first person perspective hatred for what unions have become.  Unions were once created to protect the worker against mistreatment by an employer.  Now they serve the exclusive needs of morons and malcontents.  A saying frequently used regarding teachers can be quickly modified to fit the vast majority of union supporters (of which not all union members are part of).  "Those who can--do.  Those who can't--join a union"

Now if we could only get all states to be "Right to Work" states we might get somewhere.  Good on Michigan, where these morons are gainfully (is that the right word for these people?) employed, for becoming just such a state recently.  Hopefully it moves Chrysler and all the auto companies in the right direction for once.

Chrysler has to rehire idiots...because of union idiots...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Todd Shelton and a B210 in Baja...

This is a very limited post as unfortunately there isn't much to go on.  Just a quick Facebook post by the website Off Road Action, which is a vintage offroad site based in Canada.  Evidently the driver/owner of this vehicle is/was one Todd Shelton which, unfortunately, is too common of a name to track down on Google and doesn't come back with anything connected to Baja or Datsuns.  He supposedly raced this vehicle in the B1K in the early '80s.

This B210 looks pretty cool all jacked up and ready to go.  I'll try and track down some more info on it if I can.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Forge Motorsport Juke Intercooler

As more and more aftermarket products come out for the Juke they become more technical and specialized beyond extra plastic body molding or a new air filter/intake.

This new intercooler by Forge Motorsport in the UK is one such example.  While the new part will bolt up in the same location it provides substantially more cooling capability than the stock version and can assist in horsepower production and overall engine cooling.  At 499 GBP its not cheap...but then again, horsepower usually isn't.

Forge also makes an upgraded blow off valve and recirculation valve for the Juke as well.  All can be seen at the link below.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Road & Track and John Buffum

Road & Track has from what I have read lately, been trying to get back into the REAL car magazine business.  Rather than the same article written in the same style with the same anecdotes going over and over and over whatever the new vehicle of the month their sponsors pay them to talk about, they've actually begun using their brain and begun writing STORIES that include cars and information about them.

One such example is linked here as R&T discusses both a new Audi and the greatest rally driver ever to come out of the US.  A local (to me) boy, John Buffum still resides in Vermont and still runs a rally effort (Mitsubishi based).  Glad to see him getting some always deserved publicity.