Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No Doubt

So Monday night was the Paramore/No Doubt concert. My brother and I were probably the oldest and largest guys there until No Doubt took the stage (when the rest of the 30-somethings showed up). The Paramore crowd were a few thousand 4-foot high, 15 year old girls and a couple of 4-1/2 foot guys. I began to wonder if Paramore somehow resonated with the horse jockey crowd.

Thus, we were feeling a tad out of place (I’ve never heard of Paramore until I knew I was going to the concert), though our little neighbors on the floor loved that we formed an impenetrable Great Wall of Easton. We skillfully repelled many an ale-swigging Mongolian trying to make their way to the front.

One of the funnier moments was a poor teenage guy who was there with his twin sister (they didn’t speak to each other the whole night, my guess, for fear of breaking his coolness). I knew this was his first concert, as the usual jostling in general admission clearly annoyed him. But he enthusiastically sang along to the Paramore lyrics
That’s what you get when you let your heart win. Whoa!
I drowned out all my sense with the sound of its beating
I wanted to tell him that real men don’t let their hearts win. EVER. But it was loud and he probably would have only heard "real men [muffled noises] clever.” I also wanted to add “if you can’t willingly silence the sound of your heart you will never amount to anything, let alone qualify for advanced training in the Ninjitsu Ryu (a long story, for another time). You have a lot to learn, buddy.”

But I started to listen to my conscience: “who am I to point out one’s shortcomings?” Just as quickly I shut it up so that I could sing along to that one Twilight song:
Do you see what we’ve done?
We’ve gone and made such fools
Of ourselves.
Man, that’s the soundtrack of my life. Anyhow, the moment No Doubt took the stage, they smashed any thoughts that they may have lost their edge. That was truly one of the great concerts I’ve seen over my 20-year money-wasting (well, this one was free) concert-going career. Great set list, amazing stage presence, high energy, and the sound was as perfect as one could expect.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Learn from Rooty-Toot Jasperson

So I've been a bike commuter for a while. I started riding while I was a college student in the early '90s because a parking pass cost way too much, I made way too little, and walking to classes often meant being late due to the vast distance between them. I remember the first time I rode to college was a vastly liberating experience. I just got a new Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo, and I was especially proud of the front shock (a shock on mountain bike was a luxury item for the time, rear shock was unheard of). I commuted to campus through stopped traffic (holy crap, I'm actually moving!) and then blazed in between classes with time to spare. Truly, a bike was superior to both car and legs, I reasoned.

That first Fisher bit the dust about 6 years later when I found myself caught in a pickup truck's wheel well and vaulted slo-mo into the air, coming down headfirst into an intersection during rush hour. While I was in midair I remember thinking so clearly "Dammit! This is going to ruin my ride, and probably my bike." My helmet sacrificed itself to the greater good but my right clavical (aka collarbone) was pissed. I crawled out of the intersection thinking I was going to get run over and learned that my right arm wasn't going to cooperate. Everybody was shouting for me to lay down. I was no longer feeling well, so I did.

My commute has varied between a 4-5 mile round trip all the way up to a 30 mile round trip. Currently I'm putting in an enjoyable 17 miles a day.

Since that fateful bike/truck collision I've learned a few more defensive tactics. Among my arsenal is lots of hand signals to let everyone know, I AM NOW TURNING. However, no matter how much eye contact, hand waving, lights, and signals, some folks still don't get the message.

Last week I attempted my usual left turn onto the home stretch (toward the office, not home, so I guess I should call it the "office stretch" but I thought that might confuse all of you, which of course is none of you since no one really reads this blog) at about 7:20 am. I had the right of way as there were no stop signs or signals on my road, and no oncoming traffic. A few cars were waiting the stop sign to turn left onto my road (and I was turning left, onto theirs). I began my turn after signalling as many times as I could prior to the turn. As I approached the front of the waiting cars, one of them began to accelerate right in beside me. Fortunately he stopped before I was T-boned. I too stopped before proceeding just to make sure he wasn't going to hit a moving target but a fixed one. Why not make it easier for him?

As I passed him, he was yelling at me behind his rolled up window while he was talking on his cell phone. I too felt the need to express my reasoned position on the incident by making sure he knew that I was signaling and that driving while talking on a cell phone can certainly be a distraction, my good man. Feeling satisfied that he learned what he needed about bike safety, I rode on.

I have since discovered a gem of a cycling/LSD public service video made in the early '60s (actually, I hijacked it from one of my favorite sites). But there is one flaw. Sometimes, Rooty-Toot Jasperson, it doesn't matter how many times you signal, there will be drivers who are determined to remove you from the road.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

SNIKT!! X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the Easton Movie Review

“My claws are adamantium, the strongest metal known man--capable of slicin' through vanadium steel like a hot knife through butter…”

In the ‘80s-era X-Men comics, either the narrator stated it every time you read SNIKT, the “sound” Wolverine’s claws make when they extend, or Wolverine was thinking it while he flew through the air on his way to some “slicin’ and dicin’, bub.” I always loved that in comic books the hero’s inner dialogue was three paragraphs long during a split-second event. Unfortunately, that’s detail that can’t be captured in a movie. And one would be remiss in expecting that from Hollywood. One would be remiss in expecting much at all from Hollywood.

So yesterday, a friend of mine and I went and saw the Wolverine movie. As a mature human being, I didn’t go into the movie, thinking (to be said in a pinched and nasally voice) “I hope they get this movie right and stay true to the comic.” I think all us geeks were shaken out of any remaining naiveté that Hollywood would be interested in staying true to our childhood heroes when we saw the new Star Wars movies.

It was very cool to see this movie with the dude I did, because he’s about 12 years younger than me (he’s our neighbors son), and is pretty much me, just younger. Since I stopped mentally maturing about 15 years ago, it works great. He's already my intellectual elder. He collected X-Men during the ‘90s and so he caught me up on all the characters I missed, that make up most of the characters in the movie (i.e. Gambit and Deadpool).

So how was the movie? Not bad considering it’s an action movie not made in the ‘70s and ‘80s, so you can’t hold it too high (but I do anyway).

First, the good:

The opening scenes with Wolverine (Jimmy/Logan) as a kid were great, and played by an excellent young actor to whom you immediately relate. Sabertooth (Victor, his brother and nemesis) is also cast well, and you can see that they could easily be brothers. The scenes of Wolverine and Sabertooth fighting together during every war since the Civil War is very cool and is a great way to show his history in a very short amount of time, though I wished they would have shown us more of each time period. But that’s just me being a history nerd.

The relationship between Logan and Victor is fun to watch unfold, and seeing Victor turn more and more ruthless is a bit unnerving, but understandable considering what he’s required to do under Stryker’s command (a secret paramilitary leader who uses mutants to do his double-secret eeevil bidding).

Ryan Reynolds needs to be in more action flicks. His delivery of humor and sarcasm and his ability to look like an action hero was excellent, and brought more personality to the movie, not that personality was lacking, but really, can you have too much? Verily I say unto you, nay.

Besides the casting, I can’t think of any other good things to say, except that the first hour is just fine. I have almost no problems with it, almost. It’s not amazing, it doesn’t blow me away, but it’s fine and entertaining and all that.

Here are some things I’m getting tired of seeing in the movies, which were on display a-plenty in Wolverine:

People just the right distance from explosions that it actually propels them through the air fairly unscathed;

The slo-mo scene where characters walk calmly and coolly away from explosions as if to say “I just blew all this stuff up, and it will totally ruin my swagger if I act natural” – it’s just so affected and tired;

The good guy and the bad guy seeing each other from some distance, exchanging sarcastic remarks and then running at each other full speed to the EPIC clash – I think I counted this three times during the movie. Besides, don’t they know that sarcastic exchange is supposed to happen during the EPIC battle?!

Shaky camera during the fight scenes to make it look more EXTREME. The best fight scenes are those that are clearly shown, and that actually slow things down. Fast doesn’t mean suspenseful or intense.

“Wire-Fu:” Ditch with wires! Watch any Bruce Lee movie or earlier Jackie Chan and marvel how cool it is. No wires.

CGI: Special effects are no longer special. We are so inundated by them in action movies that we are numb. Aldous Huxley’s “Feelies” in the book Brave New World is ever more prophetic.

Darkness does not equate with coolness. Nerds everywhere will say “That movie was so cool, it was so dark.” Nerds, c’mon. Hollywood seems to be listening and now everything has a dark, bleak tone, and it’s getting old.

And one thing these superhero movies have forgotten is how cool it is to see a superhero hunt down some random thug, and watching the thug get his due. Instead, superhero movies always focus on EPIC battles between other superheroes. When did Jimmy (Wolverine) change his name to Logan (not that the change is unwelcome, or anything)? Either I blinked and missed that part, but all of a sudden everyone is calling him Logan, or I don’t recall where he got the name, or why he decided to adopt it. And he was being called Logan before he lost his memory. Nonsense!

I always thought he lost his memory due to the adamantium infusion process not due to two adamantium bullets to the skull. How convenient it was that two bullets to the skull wouldn’t kill or cause any other brain damage other than memory loss. That is soap opera logic, and this nerd is not buying it! You’re better than that, Hollywood! No? You’re not? Oh.

Now, suspending some reality is fine, but more nonsense ensues when Stryker said “erase his memory” while he’s in the adamantium tank. That’s what caused him to freak out and kill a few rubber-suited techies? So just getting your skeleton laced with a metal that can cut through steel like a hot knife through butter isn't intrusive enough to cause mental instability? And how was Stryker going to just erase memory? I know, I know, I’m getting all worked up about that and not about how preposterous it is to get adamantium injections to his bones, but they had all this shiny equipment, wires, tubes, needles, buttons, lights, teams of doctors, and rubber suits around which makes me believe anything. Where was the shiny equipment that was going to erase his memory? Nada. At the very least, show some menacing probe moving close to the tank or into the water, or something.

So in essence nerd logic can be summed by this equation: shiny equipment with lots of wires and tubes = believable, sound medical science. No shiny equipment = bullpucky.

One thing that has always bugged me about the X-Movies is Cyclops’ red eye blasts. It’s constantly blasting through steel, concrete, trees, seatbelts, you name it. But when it hits a person, it just pushes them back, and they are able to continue the epic battle. One doesn’t have to see it do its damage, but it should certainly live up to the hype and off those perpetrators!

Deadpool came long after I stopped collecting comic books, so I had no background on the character. Apparently he is loved because he’s got such a witty, sarcastic dialogue. It was too bad that Stryker sealed his mouth shut. I guess it was done for creepy effect and to darken the movie even more, but that’s unfortunate. He was almost the only comic relief in the movie (Wolverine cracked a couple of amusing lines). The idea that Stryker can take mutants powers and combine them into the perfect fighting machine was lazily borrowed from every video game since the early '80s. How many times have we seen the good guy have to fight through all these lesser bad guys only to face the “boss mob” (as gamers call them) at the end? Another stale effect. And how in the world can Deadpool bend his arms when he’s got 3 foot retractable swords implanted in them? It’s beyond the acceptable norms of preposterous movie-making!

Finally, applying the nerd equation for sound believable medical science, there were very few shiny machines, tubes, and wires to tell us that mutant power extraction and implantation is possible. All we had was Stryker saying “release Mutant XI!” and a doctor standing next to a couple of wall-sized machines, and a holding a syringe saying “it’s too early, it hasn’t had time to take effect!” or some such nonsense. Frankenstein-like, Deadpool arises, looking like something from a horror movie (dark!) with all of the cool powers. But instead of it being cool, it was so far from the Nerd Preposterosity Threshold that the viewer is left wondering if any laws of reality apply. So the final 30 minutes were pretty messy.

Two Stars. Why did I spend $7.50 on this? Because it's Wolverine, watching claws come out of fists (I draw the line on 3-foot swords - hey you gotta have standards), and ceaseless mutant mayhem is worth $7.50. Feelies, yay!


So I saw the Wolverine movie last night with a great friend of mine. The movie was alright, as far as movies go. Actually the first hour was pretty good. It was the last 45 minutes or so that it lost me. More of that in the next post, but first, a little flash back, comic book style (but with a lot less super powers).

In the early 80s, I entered Junior High School, or Middle School as it was more appropriately called in my case. Middle School meant serious maturity. It was time to put away those childish Elementary School things and grow up. No more Spiderman, Captain Marvel, and Isis. My superheroes (the thought of no superheroes wasn’t even on the radar) had to reflect a newfound maturity. Of course the only place to adequately feed after-school imagination was that hotbed of creativity: the Save-A-Step convenient store on the corner of Moser and Shelbyville Road in Louisville, Kentucky.

As frequently as our meager resources would allow, my friends and I would take a pilgrimage to the ‘Save-A-Step’ (it’s long gone now). I recall the store sign was a huge orange footprint with Save-A-Step written inside. It was your typical convenience store with lots of candy, magazine racks, and the all-important comic book rack. On a fateful day in Fall1985, I picked my first copy of The Uncanny X-Men.

It was a revelation. To my 12-year-old-mind, this was a very intellectual comic book. It almost didn’t deserve to be called a “comic” but unfortunately that was its pedigree. And it would be a few years until the term “graphic novel” was adopted to describe an extra long, extra special comic book (I think it was adopted because adult collectors wanted to be taken seriously - and don't worry guys, we take you seriously. No really). The word “uncanny” wasn’t a usual entry in my personal glossary so I read in my mom’s dictionary: “having or seeming to have a supernatural or inexplicable basis; beyond the ordinary or normal; extraordinary.” After I looked up “supernatural,” and “inexplicable,” I began to read the book itself. That dictionary would be a companion to X-Men until I had caught up to the vocabulary about 10 issues later.

Number 200 was the first issue I bought. It was a double-size special issue, and Magneto (I wasn’t sure who he was, but he seemed like a good guy) was on trial for crimes against humanity (again, I had to catch up to what these were, having not had much exposure to World War II history). Apparently he’d reformed his evil ways, gave up his helmet, and turned himself in to a tribunal. And ironically, he was on trial for the very thing the Nazis that he hated were.

At first, I wasn’t a fan of Wolverine or of any superhero in particular. I was just trying to figure out the storyline. Soon all the characters were increasingly interesting, especially their backgrounds. Also, all of the main characters had totally diverse backgrounds which added immense color to the story lines. Rogue was a southern gal, Wolverine was Canadian with a very hazy past, Colossus was raised on a Soviet farm commune, Storm was Kenyan (I think) and was personally detached, Nightcrawler was German. Each character had their accents written into the text, and frequently reverted to their native languages, and used native terms of endearment for each other. Also, as frequently, stories took place in their homelands, which exposed the reader (however best a comic book could) to these regions of the world.

One character that deserved everyone's admiration was Cyclops/Scott Summers. He was the leader of the X-Men, due to his talent at distilling murky situations down to right and wrong, which allowed the team to act unanimously. He was never an ambiguous moral figure as was Wolverine, but more often than not, his actions led the team to doing the right thing. That is rare in real life.

The comic constantly explored civil rights between mutants and humans. I’ll never forget a short episode where a couple of X-Men saved a man from a brutal beating from two thugs. It turns out the man they saved was spray painting “Mutants Die!” on an alley wall when he got jumped. He was horrified at his rescuers and fled.

Wolverine easily became my favorite, but he certainly wasn’t an object of attraction (as portrayed in the movies). In the comic, he was much shorter than a normal man, and was quite hairy. He had a foul mouth, smoked cigars (since they didn’t affect his health at all), flirted with every female member of the team, and had other unsavory habits. But he was the one with the most personality, not to mention he had claws that came out of his hands. Just think what a 12-year-old could accomplish with those. Although, in the X-Men of the ‘80s, Wolverine rarely used his claws against either mutants or humans. You almost never saw blood, but there were always other uses for them, plus plenty of mechanical bad guys needed slicing and dicing.

By my sophomore year in High School, comic books were deep-sixed, and it was time to concentrate on the next big thing: girls and music. I think there was a distinct down-turn in my grades from that point until my senior year as a result.

While I think my wife is smarter than me in probably every aspect of life, she sometimes asks me where I learned certain vocabulary, or even geography that she missed. I have to laugh, but she missed it because she wasn’t reading X-Men.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Locked and Loaded... Nerf Style

As a trained anthropologist and a dad of three, I’ve learned that one can know your children best by watching them in their element (actually, you don’t have to be an anthropologist to do that, I just thought it made me sound more important – ego thing, just go with it). It’s amazing when you put something in their hands how the object can reveal previously unseen personality traits like the sun shining through the parting storm clouds.

Against my wife’s better judgment (and maybe mine), Santa brought the kids a lot of guns and ammo last year - we discovered the wonders of Nerf dart guns. I’m telling you, these aren’t the guns that you and I played with. Remember when the game TAG (The Assassination Game) was all the rage in school (I’m talking early-80s), and was played with dart guns? Remember those guns? They shot a pathetic plastic dart about 10 feet. Remember trying to stick them to windows by gobbing a bunch of spit at the end of them only to result in a nasty splatter on the window?

Well, not anymore. Behold, I give you my three mercenaries wielding the power of Nerf:

Don’t let their cherubic faces fool you. Behind those unassuming doe-eyes lies the hearts of merciless killers. First to their weaponry: the intro level gun is what Alec, the one on the left is holding in his right hand. The finger hook at the back end of the gun (the “hammer” or “slide” if you will) makes it easy for a 5 year old to lock and load. The only draw back is that you are constantly loading, and for Jack (on the right), my oldest and most competitive child, that makes for some unnerving down time.

So he prefers the Maverick. It’s the other one Alec is holding, and Emma has one too. This is by far, the most superior weapon of the arsenal. Its six shooter barrel allows for repeated fire, and it holds every kind of dart that Nerf makes. A massive advantage when everyone is shooting mixed ammo – you can collect spent rounds and fire them back. The Maverick can take a beating too, holding up to countless drops on ceramic tile.

Now I know you are all staring at the big one Jack is holding. Yep, it’s inspiring. It’s a sniper rifle that I – I mean Santa bought – I mean built - in his workshop for me. Despite the looks, it has several disadvantages. It only shoots one kind of dart. So if when you run out of ammo, you have to stop the massacre to pick up your darts, then you have to reload, then you give the ok, and you’re ready to go. It doesn’t shoot any further than the Maverick (that I’ve noticed), and it jams too much, and when you are taking a barrage of fire from some toddlers with blood-lust and poor aim, that means ignominious death. Bottom line: the first one who successfully dives for an unused Maverick will prevail in the firefight.

And the darts – they stick to everything without any help from saliva glands. Textured walls and ceilings from 30 feet away are no exception. Nothing is more fun than seeing a narrow miss stick to the wall behind the intended target.

So much for armaments. How does this play out in the hands of my little gunnies?

Jack is a sniper by nature. His tactic is to hold his ground with intense ferocity. He loves bridging the distance between himself and his foe with only a well-placed dart (shots to the behind illicit endless glee). He is careful to choose ground with a lot of shelter forcing his foe (me) to either wait until he comes out or to break the only cardinal rule of NO HEAD SHOTS. Of course if I break the rule, the whole thing comes to a screeching halt, so I have to wait until he reaches for a stray dart and take out his wrist. I know, it’s mean and painful, but what else does he give me?!

Alec, true to his character, cares little for his own life and limb. He prefers close combat (running and gunning) to ensure his target is neutralized and is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. No matter how many rounds I empty in his gut as he runs directly at me, he shall never be destroyed. He prefers point blank shots to the face, but my desperate commands to “aim down, Alec, aim DOWN!” are eventually heeded and I take it in the chest. I see Alec as the cigar smoking, pragmatist superhero archetype (think Wolverine).

Emma was truly born with knowledge of her feminine powers of manipulation. Like the sirens who lull Odysseus’ sailors to crash into the jagged rocks, she will bring you near with the seemingly innocent request, “Daddy, how do you schock it?” Once you show her how to “cock it,” she turns the gun on you, and down you go. She repeats this process with each dart until the victim (me) declares a cease fire.

Heraclitus of Ephesus (ca. 535-475 BC) said "war is both father of all and king of all: it reveals the gods on the one hand and humans on the other, makes slaves on the one hand, the free on the other." Too true.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Big Love and Its Alcibiades

So I told my family that the next post would be an update on the kiddies, but there’s a far less important subject that’s been in the news and on my mind so I thought I’d jump on that before no one cares anymore. Hey, this is my blog – get your own!

Let me tell you, it’s been a real treat to read the news lately especially the stuff that’s on the net regarding my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The latest episode regarding the HBO series, Big Love, has certainly held my attention. If you don’t know the details, sorry, I’m not going to go through it here. I prefer to keep this site at its currently dignified, lofty, and majestic level. You can check that stuff out on your own. It’s everywhere.

There is of course an ancient precedent to the events happening in our society; and one from which I think we could learn quite a bit. While you probably will, I usually never tire of putting things in an historical context. This particular ancient episode is a small footnote in history that is probably overlooked by most historians as unimportant. That’s because in the realm of religious history, most historians have no idea how to relate.

As I recall, the year was around August of 415 BC – ahh I remember it well (you should be seeing a wavy image on the screen as I rub my chin). There once was a very impetuous, but well-loved and heroic Athenian general named Alcibiades who was fond of the booze. While on a leave of absence from the campaign against the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War, he got a little too wild at a party. Wild parties among the elite were pretty normal and a great deal of bacchanalia was usually tolerated. But Alcibiades crossed the line and did something so bad, so irresponsible, and so disrespectful, that the Athenian people allowed the accusations of slaves and resident aliens to determine the fate of Athens’ great general, and also the course of their history.

Now before I tell you what he did, you need to know a little about Greek culture. The Greeks aren’t easily offended. These are the guys that invented freedom of speech, that allowed regular, non-royal guys like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Thucidydes, and Xenophon a voice. They even insulted kings, political leaders, and religious followers as part of a sacrament to the Gods in their yearly religious ceremonies. So what did Alcibiades do? He made a mockery of the Eleusinian Mysteries by donning the robes of the High Priest and re-enacting the ritual at his own home during this party.

Your next question should be (no, not “when is he going to get to the point?” but…) “what are the Eleusinian Mysteries?” I’ve only been waiting for you to ask that question for years, but I’ll try to keep this short. The mysteries of Eleusis are sacred rituals named after their location near Athens, Greece. The best way to get up close and personal with God (which was difficult for Greeks back in those days) was to be initiated into these mysteries. That involved entering a temple built on that site (and which stood for hundreds of years); ritual cleansing; taking oaths of secrecy that expressly forbade talking about or showing the rituals to anyone outside the temple especially the uninitiated; re-enacting mythology; and at the end being taken into the central room and introduced to the highest mystery. There are a few other details that exist, but since oaths of secrecy were taken seriously, we don’t know much more than that.

[Above is the location of the Anactorion - what would have been considered the Holy of Holies - at Eleusis, where initiates were revealed the mysteries of the goddess Demeter.]

Alcibiades was condemned to death, his estate was confiscated, his name was decreed a public curse (interestingly a priestess refused to curse him, on the reason that her voice was devoted to prayer not curses). He fled Athens to avoid execution.

While I’m certainly glad we live in a more free society than 415 BC Athens, and that no American court condemns people to death for revealing sacred ceremonies, I’m dismayed at how quickly Americans break oaths. Furthermore, it’s amazing how readily the oath is broken when money is offered (Big Love stated that they had an ex-Mormon “informant”). Secular humanists or atheists might say that an oath to a god that doesn’t exist isn’t really an oath, or has no efficacy. But oaths made in the temple are not just between God and the individual but include numerous witnesses – other people. An oath between humans should be one of, if not the highest measure of trust among those who deny the existence of God - what else is there?

Ultimately, there is no logical excuse for breaking an oath regardless the individuals or entities with whom the oath is made. As a kid, I was always taught that “a man is only as good as his word.” I wonder when and how it became acceptable to not worry about that.

Speaking of which, I guess I’d better get on that entry about my family!

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Vintage Brits Metabolic Depression is Ending!

Here Beyond Thunderdome, the snow is finally starting to melt, the air is clearing and smelling much better, we are starting to see asphalt and the BTDOT is beginning to drop their orange barrels so they can fix what the freeze-thaw cycle has ravaged. All of this means only one thing. It’s car season. Huzzah, huzzah!

What? You’ve never heard of car season – that joyous time of year when the vintage cars wake from their long winter’s hibernation, rub their headlights, and begin to poke their sweet little heads out of their garages? What’s that you say? A car is only a tool by which you move from point A to point B? Who cares what it looks like, so long as it works, you say? Who cares how it runs, so long as it does? What’s that? Cars are little more than headaches and bloated money-sucking leeches?! Oh, dear readers, as I stand agape at such appalling but understandable notions, I thank goodness I found you when I did before any additional motoring hate speech entered your otherwise untainted, God-given intellect.

I once thought as you do now, but something in the back of my mind kept whispering that such corrupt notions weren’t accurate. And in fact were the result of bad PR on the part of the car culture, underexposure, and of course, a barrage of horribly uninteresting automobiles.

Allow me to explain.

You see, when we were kids, it was all about cool cars. We had Hot Wheels and Matchbox collections, Transformers, the ubiquitous Lamborghini Countach poster, James Bond (Lotus Esprit submarine, anyone?), Mad Max, cartoons in which our superheroes drove magnificent cars, … you get the idea. Then in Junior High, the Countach poster came down, and the Van Halen, and Def Leppard posters went up (or maybe The Cure depending on how you felt about your parents). By High School, girls, sports, and music took all the time, while school was squeezed into whatever space was left. Cars were interesting, but you wished you had something else drive the date around besides mom’s ’88 Mercury Sable. And then the college years - forget cars – someplace to live would be nice.

With college graduation came the gradual sluffing-off of the politically radical elements we eagerly sopped up in our early years. We get into a profession and that with money and the commute, we start thinking about cars again. Unfortunately the scenery is anything but pleasant. The cars have become huge, heavy monstrosities, without elegance, grace, or simplicity. Driving assists are so common that the driver feels no connection with the road. On top of that, it’s difficult to escape the feeling of alienation when you don’t have a sleeve of tattoos, an ample goatee, and deep affection for Mötley Crüe.

Simply put, a true motoring enthusiast is not a mere poseur: a poor soul whose fragile ego must be compensated by large engine size; or the volume produced by a beautiful powder-coated manifold, headers, and glass-packed exhaust system. NO! A true motoring enthusiast cares little for these shallow trappings. Actually, by “care’s little,” I mean cares a lot, but the true enthusiast is not defined by these things.

So dear reader, I understand your lack of interest. May I offer something that might pique that interest once again? Allow your eyes respite here -

I know. A moment of silence is certainly appropriate. Allow the awe to pass, and read on.

What you are seeing are the wonders of vintage British engineering. Notice the backdrop of classic stone architecture, lack of sleeve tattoos, the plethora of vehicles whose proportions suggest speed, taste, and simplicity; notice there is something intrinsically right about that design.

This phalanx of Austin Healeys represents one of the great British sports cars of the 1960s. Amongst this stately lot you’ll see Triumph, MGB, Jaguar, Lotus, TVR, Morgan, Cooper and others. This was the last time in motoring history that designers could design without the suffocating restraint of legislation. Most are convertibles. They were built before the Interstate system became the main arteries of transportation. Therefore you moved at a much more leisurely pace not being beaten senseless by the wind at 75 mph. This was driving the way it was meant to be: as much for recreation as for necessity.

You might be thinking “ok, I get it, no Mötley Crüe, no big block bad boy attitude, but a lot of stuffy old, rich folks.” That’s certainly an impression one gets at first glance. But remember, these are British cars, many didn’t make it there under their own power, and those that did left a few liters of oil behind them (to find their way home, of course), and others are held together with duct tape and bailing wire. That’s just part of the charm, and all British motoring enthusiasts recognize that. It keeps us a titch humble. Despite that, they can still perform well against something modern (ever seen gearheads sipping tea?).

So this summer, keep you’re eyes out for these beauties. You might see one archaeologist with a permagrin behind the wheel of a red TR6.