Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mythbusters: The End of an Era of Calculated Chaos, Maniacal Mayhem, and Blowing Sh*t Up

As with any good television series, an audience is dragged in kicking and screaming, or at least, being anchored with high expectations for some damn solid entertainment. Few shows last more than a few years, as their premise wears thin, or their cast or production team changes. Enter unto the world of television, Jamie Hyneman (below, right) and Adam Savage (the other guy). Together with the help of narrator, Robert Lee, the Mythbusters were unleashed.

The balls to the wall insanity through science long term adventure (B2WITSLTA for short) began in January of 2003 with, of all things any male human of any age will eat insects to see, jet engines strapped to a Chevy Impala. From there, the first season kept me stupidly hysterical while at the same time educating me with...say it. SAY IT! Science! That first season set the formula for years to come: Myth explained, problem described on blueprints, sometimes solved on said blueprints, then to the build, and onto experimentation, where we were shown whether the myth was 'Busted', 'Plausible', or 'Confirmed'.
Season one's jet car, exploding toilets, pissing on the third rail, the escape from Alcatraz, and other things that may come in handy in a pinch, were covered that magical year. Season two carried right on with the carefully calculated madness. The ancient death-ray, beating a radar detector, salvaging a pleasure boat with ping pong balls and other things that made you smacking your forehead for not discovering, hypothesizing, and solving the issue yourself over the weekend came to our television screens. It was freaking magic!
On it went. The adventure and excitement, the running for cover and blowing sh*t up, and the education-almost-by-accident formula kept us all enthralled.
Then, 2005 happened.
For the first time at the forefront, the trio that were only seen in glimpses and credited as 'builders' in the credits, were knighted and given magical hosting powers. Kari Byron was there from the beginning, floating in the background and doing a lot more than just tinkering like Tinkerbell. Tori Belleci was also a builder from season two on. Then, there was Grant Imahara, another builder brought on in season three.
Viewers that paid little attention to these three were taken aback by this sudden stellar propulsion. I remember thinking something like...
Little did we know at the time that true scientific magic was going to come together to make the already amazing show something really special. While Jamie and Adam were the obvious head honchos, Byron, Imahara, and Belleci were never pressed into the background again. While their tasks may have been considered secondary to any given episode, they quickly made it clear that they were every bit as mythbustery as a mythbusting Mythbuster could become.
The series carried on with the five and we tuned in faithfully to see our favorite quintet play with the laws of physics, gravity, chemistry, aerodynamic principals...and blow sh*t up. They sparked the imagination of countless people, hopefully more in the positive sense, and became themselves, a linchpin of pop culture. So popular and quotable had they become, that even I got into the meme game, where I mashed Mythbusters in with a heavy dose of "Star Trek".
We Mythbusters Faithful were blissfully happy in our accidental education.
And then people happened.
In 2009, the Mythbusters set off a mass amount of a high tech explosive that shook the town of Esparta, California and broke some windows. Big Boo-Mother-Flippin'-Who! Am I right? What's a little broken glass in the name of science?
In December of 2011, there was a minor incident involving a cannon. It was the result of a great many variables lining up to kick the show's ass and again blemish their reputation. A cannonball was fired in the wrong direction, blowing through a house in Dublin, California and damaging a minivan.
Okay, so, no joke, I guess, but mistakes happen, and Mythbusters was always a game with high stakes. Perhaps these incidents were the beginning of the end of the era, or perhaps it was the rising cost of the cast, and/or insurance, but whatever it may be, all things must pass. At the end of the August, 2014 episode, "Plane Boarding/Bite the Bullet", it was formally announced that Byron, Imahara, and Belleci would not appear again. I remember being shocked, upset, and rather beside myself over this hammer-blow of an update.
With the three 2005 additions now gone, the thirteenth season of Mythbusters seemed like an empty nest. While there were glimmers of the original greatness, "The Hyneman and Mister Savage Show" seemed off. It started wrong, with a poor premise of testing stunts from "The Simpsons" and misfired throughout the rest of this year. For crap's sake, the 6th episode was testing the stunt featured in "The Blues Brothers", where they spun the car in a 180 to park in front of the Chez Paul and whether or not drift racing was quicker than traditional racing.
This went on for the entire hour.
Still, even that episode was fun to watch. It was like spending time with your grown-up high school friends after they sent their kids to bed. They had to be quiet to make sure that they didn't wake anyone up, but they're still your friends and still fun.
No, there won't be another show like it unless a miracle happens and everyone is hired back and allowed to party like it's 2-0-0-5, but what are the chances? Not good.
After fourteen seasons, the show will end where it began, with our dynamic duo of utter madness and nearly fearless shenanigans at the helm. So, for the Mythbusters Faithful, we'll watch and hope they go out with a bang, not a whimper. In any case, we are better, smarter, and more inquisitive people because of them.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Teenage Christmas Ritual

Born in 1970, it certainly takes minimal mathematical skills to come to the conclusion that I was a teenager in the 1980's. It was a wonderful, strange, confusing, stressful, and often, heartbreaking time of my life. I'm glad for it, I sometimes want the magical ability to go back, and I'm glad that I can't.

Having lost my right eye in a household accident when I was four meant that I did not play sports in high school, stood out from just about everyone else and, therefore, was about as popular as rabies. I did manage to get along with just about anyone that bothered to speak to me, though that happened rarely, as I kept to myself. There were a decent amount of people I considered my friends at the time, mainly because they would have a decent conversation with me, or allow me to be funny. The pretty ones known as, 'girls', would usually just smile and nod politely.

There were a few bullies here and there, mostly left over from 'Junior High', which is what the kids today call 'Middle School', but they never caused me as much trepidation as the ones that seemed to waver back and forth between being friendly and being asses. I never knew where I stood with those people and they added to my stress greatly.

As for dating, I didn't. I had asked a few girls out early on in my Froshman (Yeah, I used an 'o' in that word. Deal.) and Sophomore years and quickly got the weirdness out of the way once I got shot down. Then, I just sort of gave up. It's not like I knew what in the world I would have done if one of them had answered in the affirmative.

Anyway, when the weather turned cold and the "Big Four" happened, attitudes of my schoolmates would change. There were smiles, costumes, gags and candy at Halloween, extra days off and family trips around Thanksgiving, the same around Christmas, but with gifts, and the anti-climatic, but still joyous New Year's Day. Even my fellow students who were on the fence with me as to whether they were dicks or not, generally weren't for that time, and the stress was off. We could smile, laugh, be stupid, and go home at the end of the day.

Christmas vacation, to me, meant a lot of time without my friends, save for one, and that was only for a brief time, as his family spent time elsewhere for Christmas. Yes, Gianfranco (a.k.a. John) Del Core, I'm lookin' at you, my bruddah. Love you and miss you. How's Canada? :D

Anywho...I got through the quiet times during the Christmas holiday with the help of music and video games. Mostly music. I listened to a great variety of things in my teenage years and still do. At the time, the '80's pop, hard rock, and metal got equal attention, but I spent a lot of time with the oldies as well, primarily The Beatles, especially around the holidays. I spent a ton of allowance money on vinyl records and many of them were of The Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, and pretty much the usual suspects. There were a lot of Beatles albums, too. These artists would come to my rescue, soothing that feeling of belonging nowhere. When I was at school, I wanted to go home, when I got home, I wanted to be at school. I think we all know that feeling.

In my little bedroom in the townhouse in Schiller Park, Illinois, I hung a string of Christmas lights, using paint-destroying Scotch tape, which was the standard at the time for my collection of posters and such. The string would start from one wall, dangle across the doorway, and continue around the head of my bed. It was an expensive string at the time, being about $15 for the 100 lights with every other one being a randomized blinker. It gave my little room a festive, if not a little bit melancholy, fluttering glow that I reveled in as I listened to whatever it was on my headphones while I cranked away at some Colecovision game, seated in my brown bean bag chair.

Invariably, late into night, I would move to my bed and listen to music on my big bulky Realistic Nova 16 headphones until I fell asleep. Usually, I'd get in a couple albums of some kind, before passing out completely. But, on Christmas Eve, if it was spent at home, I would pick a quirky little Beatles collection, entitled: "The Beatles Reel Music".

With the lights twinkling, I'd lay serenely, listening to the fourteen tracks and contemplating all sorts of things, like what my friends or perceived friends were doing at that moment, or perhaps what the girl or girls that I liked were up to. I would think about my distant future, my meager past, and wonder what I was yet to receive for Christmas. You know, all that teenager stuff.

Ah, those fourteen wonderful tracks. Amidst all the Christmas music on the radio, these classics I clung to like a child would a teddy bear.

I never felt more at peace.

Now, I'm 45 years old and life, of course, is a lot more complicated and dynamic in its ups and downs. Successes are celebrated no matter how small, and losses felt more deeply than ever before. There's a lot going on in the world, much of it wonderful, the rest horrifying. We're inundated with bad news on the television, mindless crap on the internet, and all on top of our daily routines, all of which are stressful. I highly recommend taking an hour or maybe an evening, picking out your favorite classic album or albums, a nice set of headphones (ear buds if you have nothing else), and let yourself go back to a time when your world was mostly unexplored. Do it this Christmas time. Just a little time for yourself. You know you deserve it.

May your holidays be peaceful, joyous, and full of love.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Say 'Hello' to Deborah Melanie

Hello, everyone! On the blog today, I am featuring author Deborah Melanie her latest novel, "Vivian's Vampire". Please welcome her and have a read of the exciting excerpts.


She’s got a scythe, a severed head and she’s looking for love. 

Waitress Vivian Shawcross loves a costume party. When Halloween comes along, she can’t wait for the spooky fun to start. However, a mix up over her costume and a road diversion, are just two of the mini disasters she encounters en route to her ghostly night out. Stranded in a remote English village, isn’t her idea of fun, but when a gorgeous vampire is thrown into the equation, Vivian discovers that her fun night out has only just begun.

Excerpt One

 “Would you like a scythe? I’ve got a beast of a one here.” She watched him hold up the gleaming article, its silver blade, a fitting embodiment of cut and thrust. “It’s the best I can offer at this stage.”  She pursed her lips together in what she hoped was a display of annoyance.  He sighed. “A bloody head and the scythe? I’ve done a great trade in bloody heads this week.” She watched him reach under the counter, before holding aloft a bearded man, his mouth held open in a gaping ‘O’ shape. Proudly he displayed it to her, the blood dripping from the neck area, as it swung to and fro. “Personalise him. Give him a name. Let the accessory work for you. Picture it, scythe in one hand, head in the other. Don’t tell me it’s not a look the men folk wouldn’t clamour for.”  She felt her face flush red with frustration.  “Right then, scythe, head and I’ll upgrade you to the black velvet, hooded gown, with inside iPod pocket. Now I can’t say fairer than that.”  “Fine.” Vivien tapped her foot, her impatience obvious. “It will have to do. You need to know something though, Alex. I’m not happy. I’m your best customer. In fact, sometimes I think I’m your only customer. There’s never anyone in here, apart from me.” “That’s because I’m a discerning shopkeeper. I’ll have you know, I’m rather choosy when it comes to my clientele.” 

“There’s a recession on. You can’t afford to be choosy. You know I have great faith in you, Alex and I’m here without fail at all public holidays and celebrations, yet I can’t see how dressing as Death will win me over more men than the Sexy Black Cat costume. I had my nails painted in gothic black and even bought some PVC boots from the kinky shop around the corner. Even the boots won’t save this outfit. ” Shrugging his shoulders, Alex escorted Vivian around to the dressing area of his costume shop. “What can I tell you, Darling? It was an honest mistake. Rest assured, you’re going to rock this outfit.” “And how can you be so sure?” Vivian felt defeated, even before she tried the costume on. Her heart had been set on being dressed as a Sexy Black Cat and hopefully landing herself a gorgeous hunk of a date for the evening. “I know because you’re the sort of girl who can turn a disaster into a triumph. Any man worth his salt is going to love you in this outfit. There’s much more to you than PVC. Don’t sell yourself short.” 

Excerpt Two

She turned to the severed head on the passenger seat. “Looks like it’s you and me then, Bob. How are you at witty conversation? Not so hot eh? Well, that’s all right. We’ll be boogying the night away before you know it. And if you’re a good boy, I’ll even buy you a drink.” She turned the wheel to the left and saw a speed sign for 30, indicating that yet another village was around the corner. “I should have invested in Sat Nav, Bob,” she informed the head. “How’s your map reading? Ah, no need. I can see the sign. We are currently traveling through…” she squinted at the “Welcome To” sign. “Hell. Hell?” She stamped her foot on the brake, checked her mirror and reversed. Winding down the window confirmed her fears. Sure enough the cheerful road sign, decorated with seasonal hanging baskets, informed her that she had arrived in Hell.

Deborah writes stories describing life in England, with a backdrop of rolling hills and beautiful landscapes. She loves to write about small market towns and close knit communities .

Her stories are contemporary romance, with a little sugar and a little spice. Her stories often combinine her interests in the paranormal, comedy and food. 

Deborah is a keen photographer who loves to be creative and has designed many book covers, for independent authors and an established publishing house.





Click the flags to purchase the book in the US  or UK
 Click the flags to purchase the book in the UK or US

Thank you, Deborah Melanie for being on the blog today. This looks like one fun read, guys. Don't pass it up! Until next time, take care, everyone!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Should Be Bothering VW TDI Owners

I woke up this morning to find a Volkswagen ad on my Fb page. I noticed the '3.3k' total of comments and became curious about what was being said. I was horrified to see all the pro-VW and 'f**k the EPA' comments among them. It's terrible to see so many people missing the point on this deceptive software issue. A lot of comments were from owners bragging about some pretty impressive MPG numbers. While it may be true that the cars use the diesel fuel more efficiently, the end result is the introduction of NOx in the atmosphere, which is BAD for ozone, contributes to visible smog, and is BAD for people with emphysema or chronic bronchitis (me being part of the latter).

Now, anyone that knows me understands that I love cars and am extremely loyal to my American-built Subarus. I love my ridiculously reliable, comfortable and indefatigable AWD Outbacks, but even I would question my loyalty if they had pulled such shenanigans. I believe VW to be an overall decent company that has made some fantastic cars over many a decade and I sympathize with loyal VW owners that bought one of these NOx-ious vehicles (even some diesel Audi owners are getting the news that they have the bad chip---Yes, they are the same company), but if they don't understand the horrifying implications of such a deep level of corporate fraud that allows dangerous pollution to be added into our atmosphere, I have to wonder about our future.

I admit, great fuel economy would be hard for me to turn my back on. I love my car, and it would be fantastic if its range would be greater. However, it would be devastating to me if I found that the company was buying my loyalty through fraud and damaging the air that everyone depends on to live. All car companies want to make their owners happy by delivering more than what they promised. They want to make that car that delivers magical gas mileage, incredible reliability, and heart pounding performance. At the same time, they have to sell enough of them to stay in business, so they have to deal with a bunch of different countries with a dizzying amount of different, perhaps conflicting, laws.

It's impossible to please everyone on this rock, but a company shouldn't resort to fraud to circumvent laws created for the good of the Earth and the quality of human health. VW TDI (diesel) owners need to understand the seriousness of the issue and become educated on the particle, NOx, that their cars are exuding. Please check out this link and read the section, "Environmental effects".

Also, check out this article by Forbes:

I give VW of America a lot of credit for taking responsibility and promising to take action to correct the issues. See the link for a word from the CEO:

So, there you have it from every side. I believe the problems will be corrected and that the majority of the VW organization wants to do business ethically and has been for years. For those owners that wish to remain ignorant or evenly oddly defiant of the issue, well, that's up to you.

Peace, kids.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Jennifer Foxcroft with Her Debut Novel

On this Monday blog, I am happy to welcome Jennifer Foxcroft and her first novel, Sanquine Mountain--Book One in the Camazotz Trilogy
Author Bio:

Sanguine Mountain—Book One in the Camazotz Trilogy—is the debut novel of Jennifer Foxcroft.


Jennifer was born and raised in Australia. She spent her youth dreaming of far away lands and the crazy critters that inhabit them. When she wasn’t swimming in the backyard pool or training the family pet to ride a bicycle, she would visit those magical lands and accompany her characters on their exciting adventures. Even as an adult, her daydreaming of fanciful lands never ceased. To this day, she regards herself as a teenager trapped in an adult body. This series is a glimpse of the characters and places she often visits.


Jennifer adores animals of all shapes and sizes, so it’s no wonder her first series features shape shifters.



Sanguine Mountain blurb:

Connie Phillips has never told a lie—until now.


An anonymous letter shatters the world Connie thought she knew and trusted.  The news that her parents aren’t really her own leaves her angry, devastated and alone.  The search for the truth leads her down a dark, desolate forest road where she meets a boy in the shadows who has secrets of his own.


Rockland’s life has been ruled by an ancient curse since the day he was born.  Forever labeled a misfit and a rebel, he is desperate to convince his leaders that integration with the modern world will be the salvation of their kind—not their demise.


After their worlds collide in the middle of a dark forest, Connie and Rocks strike a deal to help each other find the answers they both need—away from her lying parents and the judgmental sneers of his colony.  But can they find love on their journey to discover who they are and where they belong in the world?



Teaser from Sanguine Mountain:

We stay holding each other for a while and it’s nice. He’s warm. It’s so easy being with Rocks even though I barely know him. He smells of the forest or the moon. It’s weird to think he could smell like the moon, but his scent is clean and fresh. I bite the inside of my cheek and pray he can’t read my mind. The last teenage boy I was this close to didn’t smell this good.

Rocks suddenly jerks back. He’s out of my reach. His eyes are giant and dark, full of fear and something I can’t describe. He grabs the fob watch from his waistcoat pocket and the silver lid clicks open. The noise seems loud against the night.

“What’s wrong?”


“What?” My blood pressure is suddenly at ‘run, girl, run’ level again. Regardless of the connection I feel, I don’t know this boy at all.

Anguish is the only word that I can use to describe the look contorting his features. I want to tell him he’s scaring me, but I think he knows.

He grabs the back of his neck with both hands and looks up at the sky before squeezing his eyes shut. His muscles are taut in his arms as though he’s trying to hold on to something invisible I cannot comprehend. What the hell?

He twists at the waist left and right, repeatedly. He’s breathing loudly in through his nose and out through his mouth. He folds his bent arms around his head, but the tension is still visible. Then he doubles over and takes a loud deep breath. When he stands, he flicks his hair back and looks deep into my eyes. I can’t breathe.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers, and then he’s gone.

Rocks has vanished.

He was standing in front of me a second ago; now he’s gone. Simply vanished into thin air before my eyes.

I look around. No hot, Goth guy to the left, or right. Jumping off the car, I peek around the bumper, expecting to see him crouching in the darkness. But he has simply vanished—without a trace. This isn’t possible.

Am I losing my mind?

I’m suddenly aware again of the isolation of this dark stretch of forest road. My parents think I’m at Tiffany’s house painting our nails, and I just revealed a hell of a lot of personal information to a complete and utter stranger, regardless of whatever my gut was telling me. I can almost feel Horror Movie Girl’s disapproving glare.

My chest tightens indicating a need for my inhaler, but my lungs aren’t wheezing. Where did he go? How could I be talking to a six-foot-whatever giant boy and have him disappear INTO THIN AIR?

“Rocks?  Rocks, please.”

An owl hoots overhead.

The cool air chills my skin. All I can hear in my ears is the hammering of my heart. I close my eyes and focus on my breathing.  Something isn’t right. I need to take control, fill the water tank, start my car and get the hell out of here. Now that I’m still and a smidgen calmer, I swear someone is watching me. Spinning around, I’m convinced I’ll come face to face with Rocks. Mere inches from my face, movement catches me off guard and I scream.










Thursday, May 14, 2015

Saying Goodbye to the Last King of Late Night Television

I was born in 1970, a year where late night television belonged to the late, great Johnny Carson. Now, my parents weren't exactly night owls when I was growing up, so my interaction with "The Tonight Show" was intermittent and limited to listening to the man's voice from the safety of the staircase, just above the living room television. While I was too young to understand much of the humor, the very formula of a late night talk show was forever branded into my mind. Not to mention, though I will, so I don't know why I bothered typing that, it felt pretty cool getting away with something like staying up late and spying on what the grown-ups watched for entertainment.

Beginning back when I was seven, I was allowed to visit my grandmother for a week or so, sometime during the summer. She lived in New Buffalo, Michigan, a small, then sleepy and as yet undiscovered and mostly undeveloped town just over the Indiana border. Often times during these visits, I would tire her out from making her drive me from place to place in her giant 1971 Impala, a coupe with doors heavier than two of me, and she would head to bed, leaving me with control of the television. Among the mere handful of channels available, the one signal I hoped would make it over the lake from Chicago was NBC's. Most of the time it would, but sometimes "The Tonight Show" was nearly indiscernible from a blizzard. For all you kids out there, that was before your monitor would go black if it didn't receive a signal. Anywho, watching Johnny Carson with a cool breeze on a warm Michigan night was unbeatable. I was hooked. I loved the actors that visited Carson and the interaction with some guests, who remained on set until the end, could sometimes be out-of-control hilarious. Many of these people are gone now, but search YouTube for some of these visits. Turner Classic Movies sometimes runs some supremely classic interviews.

One summer evening at my grandmother's home in 1982, she went to bed and I stayed tuned after Johnny had signed off, determined to live up the night life and venture beyond "The Tonight Show". I found this guy:
Immediately, it was evident that late night television had changed, at least from my perspective. Dave was different, more relaxed and sometimes flippant. Perhaps you could call him edgy for the age. There was a "Top Ten List", fictitiously sent from "The Home Office in Milwaukee", as he would say for a time. The cards he read from were flipped through the glassless window pane behind him, accompanied by the sound effect of breaking glass. With this casual and repetitive gimmick, this man made it okay, in a weird sense, to break stuff on purpose.
In 1983, for Christmas, I received my first television. I was 13. Immediately, Carson and Dave were there for me just about every week night. It was a routine that became as life giving to my comedic mind as water gives life to my body. Yes, I delved in "Saturday Night Live" and "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and so many others, but to an insecure and lost teenager, Johnny Carson and David Letterman made me smile, laugh and feel better about whatever stupid crap happened that day at school.
I'll never forget David's bit actors, Larry "Bud" Melman, for instance, seen here dressed as Roy Orbison.
Melman was the go-to man-on-the-street guy and utility bit-man for the show, played by actor, Calvert DeForest. He never failed to make me laugh. The man didn't even have to say a word.
Then there's Chris Elliot, a man that I'll never forget as, "The Guy Under the Seats". He would pop up from a hatch in the floor amongst the audience and his maniacal behavior always cracked me up. He did a lot more than hang out down there, getting into a multitude of costumes and characterizations, but it began under the seats. You've got to visit YouTube, kids. There's tons of these bits to relive and laugh at all over again.
Since the beginning, David had Paul Schaffer and "The World's Most Dangerous Band" as it was once called during the NBC years. Unbelievably talented and intuitive, the man more than just picked up where Carson's Doc Severinsen left off. He brought Rock 'n' Roll to the forefront of the late night talk show and is a musical god. Honestly, the man must have every tune ever written emblazoned upon his gray matter. Genius.
So, throughout my teenage years and into my young adulthood, there was this magic that I took for granted. I was foolish enough to think that my late night entertainment had some sort of permanence and that Johnny Carson was the immortal king and David Letterman, his permanent prime minister.
I was wrong, of course.
May 22nd, 1992, saw the last time Johnny Carson would sit behind the desk of "The Tonight Show". I cried just as hard as everyone else, though I'm sure I was a lot younger than the target demographic. [P'tui! (Marketing Term. Ick!)] Carson was 66 and I was 22. Who can forget that Bette Midler tune?
I don't know whether it would have been a good or bad thing if David had taken over "The Tonight Show" when Johnny stepped down. I really appreciate the fact that "Late Night" and then "The Late Show" was his and his alone.
The show had some wonderful and sometimes weird moments, like the time in July of 1982, where actor Andy Kaufman and pro-wrestler Jerry Lawler tussled, for laughs or for realzies, that is still up for debate.
The incident I will always remember happened in July of 1987, when Crispin Glover, upset over some type of audience heckling, tried to kick Dave's head off. David got up, left and the show cut to a commercial.
These incidents pale in comparison to the good times, of course, so I won't speak much about the time Cher called him an asshole during her first visit in May, 1986. Since that time, the two have more than made up and, in fact, Cher was on the show last week for a farewell visit, as have a lot of other celebrities. In these final days of the show with Letterman at the helm, it's been a whirlwind of big guests trying to get in their well wishes and last appearances. Every morning, I watch the show recorded on DVR and can't help but tear up a bit with my coffee as celebrities reminisce with David. He takes their compliments with a humble downturn of his head. He needn't do so, however, as he earned his place on television 33 years ago and has remained for a reason.
So, with the exit of this man from his daily visits to our screens, this leaves us with some very talented choices. Conan and the two Jimmies are doing fine and are comedic geniuses in their own right. I'm looking forward to what Stephen Colbert does with the show and I hope the sacrifice of "The Colbert Report" will bear fruit.
I can only speak for myself when I say that his departure is going to hurt. To me, David Letterman is the last anchor that ties me to my past. For a long time now, I've taken for granted that feeling I get whenever I sit down to watch the show. When I do, I feel a bit like that twelve-year-old that discovered him so very long ago. I will miss the monologues, the "Top Tens", the guests, the bits, and the musical guests (most of them, anyway).
His last show is scheduled for May 20th. That's next Wednesday. He's 68 and I'm 45.
I'm going to be a bit of a mess next Thursday morning. I'll forever miss this man's presence. Hold my calls, please.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Top Ten Police Cars from Movies & Television

Hello everyone and welcome! I thought I'd have a little fun with this week's blog and count off my top ten favorite police cars from movies and television shows. Time for a little mindless entertainment.

Okay, so, I'm thinking that the list should include cars that are obviously police cars. For instance, you won't find Frank Bullitt's 1968 Ford Mustang on the list because it was the character's personal car. It had no lights or sirens. I've focused on real car models here, so I'm not listing the flying police vehicles from Blade Runner or The Fifth Element. Finally, I'm only including cars from movies and television that I've seen, so I'm sure many of you have different ideas.

Feel free to comment with your favorites at the end. I'd love to read your choices.

10) Okay, so in the number ten slot I have the 1965-1970 Plymouth Belvedere from Adam-12.
Powered by a 340 cubic inch plant, the mid-sized sedan was heavily relied upon by the show and in real life by many police forces. The lights on the one in the show were rather simple, shining a solid red in front and alternating flashing yellow at the rear when they were in pursuit. The Belvedere was later replaced by the 1972 AMC Matador, which, even though it was used by the show far longer, was just not as cool looking.
9) Here I have the 1976 Ford Gran Torino from the show, Starsky and Hutch. Who could forget that bright red two-door with that out-of-sight, roof-wrapped white stripe that came to a point on the front fenders?
With Ford's famous 351 block, this car had some punch, but it's weight didn't make this a truly fast car. It sure looked great on television in the '70's, where form almost always exceeded function.
8) From the movie, Smokey and the Bandit, we have Sheriff Buford T. Justice's 1977 Pontiac LeMans.
Sort of an odd-looking duck and certainly huge, this car really struck me as interesting when I first saw the movie because I had never seen a Pontiac police car before. The idea that any company beyond Chevy, Ford or Dodge would build a vehicle meant for public service had never occurred to me. In the '70's and from a child's perspective, Pontiac was halfway between Chevy and Cadillac and considered a luxury brand. Watching it chase another Pontiac product, the Bandit's Trans Am, pitted the bigger, bumbling oaf of a car against its smaller, more nimble little brother. I couldn't help but cringe in delight when Justice's car lost its roof under that truck trailer.
7) On the subject of Pontiac, number 7's slot belongs to the 1980 Pontiac Firebird Highway Patrol car featured in the beginning of 1981's, The Cannonball Run.
I was a huge fan of Trans Ams when I was young. I mean, I just didn't know any better and when I saw this thing chasing the much more powerful and agile Lamborghini Countach, I thought it was fantastic even though its butt was kicked. Pony cars, as they were called, were only meant to have a top end of 120 to 130 mph, as they were intended for short tracks. By 1980, the Pontiac blocks were notoriously anemic due to the environmental control devices they were forced to strap on, so much so that during the filming of Smokey and the Bandit Part 2, the car wranglers were forced to add NOS to an already turbocharged model to achieve some decent performance. The capabilities of foreign exotics really were allowed to shine in "Cannonball" as they cranked along at effortless, blistering speeds.
6) At a respectful number 6, I have placed the 1961 Ford Fairlane from The Andy Griffith Show.
Now, there were plenty of different Fords used in the show, but this one's curvy sides and wide grill stick out in my mind. The single rotating light on the roof was almost never used, except when Barney drove the thing. If Sheriff Taylor had the lights and siren going, you knew there was some serious shit going down in Mayberry.
5) While I am no Jeep fan, I have to mention the 1994 Jeep Cherokee used in the Sci-Fi (I refuse to acknowledge the new logo, SyFy) original series, Eureka.
This poor thing was destroyed so many times, it should have been named Kenny. Sheriff Jack Carter, played by Colin Ferguson, never failed to get it wrecked in the most hilarious fashion. It was the perfect mechanical sidekick for Carter. After a few seasons of the show, the perpetually doomed Jeep endeared itself to audiences.
4) Sideswiping its way into 4th slot is the 1977 Dodge Royal Monaco that was driven by Illinois State Troopers Daniel & Mount from The Blues Brothers.
There must have been a hundred of these heffers destroyed in the movie, but watching a pair of them go slip slidin' away through that mall, chasing an older version of itself driven by the infamous Elwood Blues, was epic. One can assume that it had Mopar's famous 440 cubic inch motor, but it must have needed it to move this land yacht.
3) For number 3 on the countdown, I turn back to Eureka. The other police vehicle in town was a 2012 Subaru WRX hatchback with a 265 hp 2.5 liter boxer 4.
I'm a huge Subaru fan and have been since our first one back in 2001. This little car is a real beauty and I loved it when they added it to the show.
2) I like this one in some ways even better than the number one car on the list. It is Max Rockatansky's interceptor, from the 1979 movie, Mad Max, a 1974 Australian Ford Falcon XB Sedan.
I just love this car. The red and blue 4 element lights are almost too big for the thing, but the dual siren makes it work. I wonder how many of our American cruisers would look with their light bars set back on the roof like this. The high rise hood featured here is custom, concealing either a 302 or 351 cubic inch plant. I like this car so much, here's another picture.
I love the spoiler on the roof. Just check out that body shape. Unlike here in America, the Aussies never got into Mustangs. Instead, they make everything they can out of a Falcon. For those of you that have seen Mad Max, even the white truck towing the camper that gets destroyed near the beginning of the film is a Falcon pickup.
1) Now for the number one police car in the countdown. Also from the movie, Mad Max is another Australian Ford. It's also a Ford Falcon XB, but this one's the 1973 GT351 coupe version.
It's no wonder the Aussies don't have Mustangs. They don't need 'em. Look at that monster. Now, it's mentioned in the movie that it had 600 hp at the rear wheels, which is a big deal when one considers that some power is lost through the drivetrain. This means that we can assume the motor possessed around 640 brake horse power. For the purposes of the movie, it has been said that they never bothered connecting the Weiand supercharger that we see sticking out of the hood.
Ain't it purty? There are four exhaust pipes curling up from underneath this car, as can be seen in both pictures. This implies that there is one pipe per cylinder and no mufflers. The front clip is not stock on this car, but comes from a Monza race car, similar to the one pictured below.
There are a good number of these Ford Falcon XB coupes built with fully functional superchargers. You have to hear this car to believe it. I've included a link to a YouTube video of someone driving alongside one at near highway speed. You'll hear the whistling of the supercharger and the exhaust notes. Simply wonderful!
So, there you have it: My top ten movie and television police cars. I'd like to know what your favorite cop cars are. Feel free to comment and say hello!
Thanks everyone!