Top Gear On The Mother Road

Get Your Kicks . . .

Get Your Kicks . . .

Top Gear is a BBC car review show. Sort of. It is easily seen in America as it is also on BBC America, which is not owned by the BBC but still carries a slew of British programmes. See what I did there? Programmes? The three men who star on and review the cars have done some remarkable trips in their time. The first one I saw was a trip across equatorial Africa that nearly destroyed their automobiles. But, none of them had to use the VW Beetle which followed them and had no trouble. (Moral: in a tough situation, use a VW Beetle.) But now they’ve gone and travelled the whole way from Chicago to LA; more than two-thousand miles along the way. Yowsa! The Mother Road, Main Street of America, The one, The only, Route 66! They took seven days to do it, and kept a photographic journal of the trip. Here is a link to the photos from Day One.  From there you can easily find days 2 through 7, plus a link to Top Gear Magazine Adventures Issue, which has a longer story about the trip. I just hope that they put it on the telly!

Super Summer Theater

Over the weekend we went to see “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park’s Super Summer Theater. I was going to review a reviewer of that production, who shall go nameless, because the reviewer complained about anachronisms and other things that are easily explained by the fact that It’s A Comedy, Fool!

But then I decided to review the Super Summer Theater instead. Heck, I’ve been to one whole production, so I’m qualified, right? What’s that? You want my review of “A Funny . . .?” Okay, it’s funny as hell and you should go see it. Now, on to business.

This is the thirty-ninth year for Super Summer Theater, which would surely surprise those who say that Las Vegas is nothing but commercial and crass. It costs just under $13 to get in. We had a genuinely handicapped person with us, so we got to park less than a quarter mile from the meadow where they present, but even if you have to walk the quarter mile, it’s a great time.

They have a concession stand. Hot dogs, ice cream novelties, candy, you know. And on weekends they sell sandwiches from Honey Baked Ham, including a veggie number for those so inclined. The bad part is that parking and seating are first-come, first-served, so it behooves anyone wanting a decent seat to get there pretty early. We arrived at about six for an 8 PM show, and got good seats. It’s bring your own seat or blanket, by the way, or you can rent a chair for a buck. The rental chairs didn’t look all that great to sit in for four hours (two before, two during the show) so we were glad we brought our own. Half the meadow is chair seating, and they have a pattern of lines drawn to help patrons set up in neat rows. It works. Prior to the show I partook of a ham sandwich along with some fruit and cookies that we’d brought along (you can bring in any food you wish, apparently.) The grass got damp as the evening progressed, so I’d say if you use the blanket on the lawn option, make it waterproof, if you can.

The show started promptly on time. The players ranged from good to expert (in a couple of cases) and the production was smooth and easy to enjoy. (Not reviewing the play here, just the theater.) Next month they’re playing “Shrek the Musical” and in September “Arsenic and Old Lace,” one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to see the play.

What you need to do now is visit their website, which you can do by clicking this link.  Now, seriously, you’re still reading this? Click the darned link, will you?

What In Tarnation?

We at MegaPharm Ltd. are proud to announce our latest product designed to Make Your Life Better! I refer, of course to New and Improved Damitol ™! Damitol™ may or may not be addictive, but who cares? Damitol™ may make you live your life in a completely different way, but it doesn’t matter! That’s because Damitol™ does what no other drug ever invented has ever done! It actually cures every single bad situation in your life in an easy and effective manner!

Damitol

Damitol, the Key to Unlimited Happiness and Stuff

 

  • If your kids just won’t sit still and eat their dinner, Damitol!
  • If your spouse is stepping out with someone else, Damitol!
  • If you spill bleach on your best pair of jeans, Damitol!
  • If your teenager wrecks the car while getting his girlfriend pregnant, Damitol!
  • If you run out of clever ideas for your bulleted list, Damitol!

You get the idea.

And now, for the first time, there is a way to get the many beneficial effects of Damitol™ without a prescription! In fact there are two ways!

  • For amazing relief from everyday frustrations, try New Consarnitol™! Just one dose of Consarnitol™ and you’ll say, “Man, that’s good french fries!”
  • And for children under 12, we’ve developed our patented, over-the-counter version for the younger set. New fruit flavored Darnitol™!

So, whatever is bugging you, or your family, you can cure it right up with new Damitol™ or one of it’s non-prescription strength cousins, Consarnitol™ or Darnitol™.

Ask your pharmacist to fill you a heaping prescription of Damitol™ today! We’ll be glad you did!

The Book Of Mormon

It’s easy to tell that this is by the South Park Guys. It’s really funny. I do short reviews, but here’s one quote, from the song “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream:” “I can’t believe Jesus called me a dick!”

Baseball is for Optimists

This morning I was thinking about John Fogarty’s song Center Field. You’ve probably heard it, maybe on opening day of baseball season. And the rhythmic clapping part is replayed at virtually every professional baseball game ever played. I’ve called it “The Best Baseball Song Ever” and I’m not alone in that sentiment. Consider the first verse: “Well beat the drum and hold the phone, the sun came out today. We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field. Rounding third and heading for home is a brown eyed handsome man. Anyone can understand the way I feel.” That’s the thing with baseball. On opening day nobody has flubbed an easy catch and let a runner score. Nobody has unintentionally walked in a run. Nobody has watched the third strike without trying to at least foul it off. Everybody has the same batting average, the same era, the same fielding percentage, everything. Even a Cubs fan, long suffering as he or she must be, can look down at that beautiful manicured greensward and feel that, just for then at least, everything is perfect.

Objectively, that’s crazy, at least for a Cubs fan. I mean, Wrigley Field is 100 years old. How many World Series have the Cubs won since they started playing there? Can I count it on one hand? What’s that? I don’t even need one finger? Oh, man! But still, there’s that manicured grass with the cool pattern cut into it, the fresh smooth infield with brilliant white lines, and heck, you can even see the catcher’s box (yes, there is one but it doesn’t last long.) Only an optimist could do that every year even after a century of losses. Baseball is the only major sport I know where “It ain’t over ’till it’s over,” as Yogi says. And he’s right. In baseball, no matter how grim things look, it’s still possible to find redemption. Ask the ’86 Mets if you don’t believe me. Which may explain why baseball has had a relatively bad few decades. My generation likes sturm und drang, and disaster, and horror, and thinking that everything is the “worst, biggest, awfulest ever.” Whatever it is. But now baseball is starting to come back, probably because unlike us old farts, there are people out there who know that you can go out and win even when it looks like you’re losing. Just like life, there’s no definite timer on baseball. You play until the game ends. Which, if you think about it, can be taken as pretty good advice for living.

Here's the Pitch

Inside Busch Stadium, May 17 2014 Photo by Steve Fey

 

Deletions

There have always been spam comments on this blog, but of late many dozens of new users have been showing up every day. I think a few subscribers actually were legitimate, but I didn’t recognize any usernames, so I took the drastic step of eliminating the chance of signing up here without my doing it for you, and deleting all subscribers. If you really do wish to subscribe, just ask me and I’ll put you back in. If you ever read this, that is. Sorry for any inconvenience.

St. Louis Antiques

This post is related to the Ted Drew’s post, in that the second store is just up the street from Ted’s custard stand, on Chippewa, Historic Route 66. The first store I’m talking about here is in Creve Coeur, about 20 miles West along US 40, maybe better known as Interstate 64. I’m not here to plug St. Louis today. I’m here to plug a couple of antique stores in the St. Louis area. But I will mention that there are a whole passle of antique stores in St. Louis, and although I haven’t visited any but these two, I’ll bet that the town is fairly crawling with Mid-Mod stuff. These two places I know darned well are crawling with Mid-Mod stuff.

We stayed in Creve Coeur, an old town that is now a suburb of St. Louis. St. Louis is 250 years old, and Creve Coeur isn’t much newer, so it makes sense that there would be a lot of antique items lying about. And after WWII, returning GIs, Boomer Babies, place in the ‘burbs, hey but there was a lot of mid-modern stuff sold in those days, much of which is still around, discarded by an intervening generation. This is a report on what we found in two stores that take advantage of St. Louis’s age. The first is Antique Mall of Creve Coeur, at 1275 Castillion Arcade Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63141 313-434-6566. Their website is a Facebook page.

This is not a Mid-Mod store per se, but they do have quite a bit of good mid-mod stuff. There was a table we’d have bought except it wouldn’t fit in the overhead bin, so to speak. They also have a lot of stuff that is prewar, depression glass, 30′s dressers, stuff like that.

The other store we visited is on US 66. Their business card says T.F.A. The Future Antiques Your Retro Plex. What do you suppose they carry? Hmmm. They are just East of Ted Drew’s (see my immediate previous post) at 6541 Chippewa, St. Louis, MO 63109 313-865-1552. Not every item is mid-mod, but most of them are. To wit:

And here’s the thing. Tami bought a mid-mod ashtray for our patio (I think) and the woman asked us where we were from. We said “Vegas” and she told us about these two guys from “Retro Vegas Something or Other” who came by every so often with a truck and clean them out of furniture. Hey, guys! Gotta love that I-70, huh? So, if you’re wondering where Retro Vegas gets all that neat stuff, here’s a clue. (No, that isn’t the only place, I know that for a fact.) It is 1599 miles from the center of Las Vegas to the center of St. Louis. I’ll leave it to you to calculate the cost of driving there to buy furniture. But I do want to share the excellent experience we had visiting only two of the dozens or more antique stores in the St. Louis area. Hope you like the pics!

Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard

2012-09-01_07-40-26_142

I promised that I’d do some reviews of things that aren’t in Northern Arizona. Like, for instance, in Missouri. Like the song says, “You’ll go through Saint Louie,” and there it was, just yesterday, Historic Route 66, cruising along, among other streets, Chippewa. There isn’t a lot of historic route 66 stuff in the city, because the street continues to be a State highway, and major artery, and it’s changed a lot with the times. But one that is still there is Ted Drew’s Frozen Custard. The place has apparently done okay over the years, because there are now two locations. If you are into Historic Route 66, though, you’ll want the one on Chippewa. The other one is probably great, too, if you’re spending some time in St. Louis, but that’s another post.

Ted Drew's Roadside Attraction

Here’s the official marker for the Roadside Attraction. This really is an attraction. I’ll bet that when vacationers, regular ones that just wanted to go to the Grand Canyon or whatever, passed by, it was one heck of a treat to get this confection. If you’re from back East, you should know that most of what is commonly called “custard” in that area is really just soft serve ice cream, or ice milk even. Real frozen custard is basically premium or super premium ice cream with raw egg yolks in it that is severed soft, and that also has never been hard frozen. From the rest of the country, well, you know that other stuff ain’t custard in the first place. Ted Drew’s serves a really great frozen custard. I had a banana split. Tami had a small chocolate/banana Concrete, which is pretty much the same sort of thing as a blizzard. Instead of ice milk, though, the base is frozen custard. Popular? Yes it’s popular! Here’s a photo of folks lining up to order some:Lining up for Custard

A popular item yesterday was a cherry/chocolate Concrete. It sounded good to me, too, but I wanted that split. As to the menu, if you can think of an ice cream item, they have it. On the board. On the side of the building they also have a bunch of hats signed by all sorts of celebrities. But don’t go there because of hats, go there because I said so! I mean, go there because it’s some of the finest frozen custard you’ll find. St. Louis people agree that it’s wonderful. Here’s a close-up from right outside the ordering windows:

Waiting for the good stuff.

Don’t those people look happy? You would be too, if you were there. The disappointing thing about 66 through St. Louis is the lack of anything authentic to the road’s heyday, outside of this custard stand, that is. But there are some good antique stores, lots of contemporary restaurants, and St. Louis is a charming city of 250 years age as of this year. So, what the hey, be sure to stop at Ted Drew’s on your way to Merrimac Caverns, 20 miles further West. You will be glad that you did. Here are two final photos to show what I mean in this paragraph. The captions explain themselves. Note, not one single Historic Route 66 sign.

Looking East from Ted Drew's

Looking East from Ted Drew’s

Route 66 West from Ted Drew's

Looking West from Ted Drew’s

 

 

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
6726 Chippewa
St. Louis, MO 63109

HOW TO LIVE IN A DECENT WORLD

Many members of my generation seem to be upset at the way the world is going. Much like our parents before us, they complain about the decline of civility, erosion of freedom, and most of all a general lack of decency. I understand how those things are upsetting. If they’re really happening, that is. But I am posting this little article in order to spread the news that it is still possible to live in a civil, free, and decent world. Here’s how.

First and foremost, you need to be mindful of rule number one of human interaction. Here it is: 1.The way the world generally treats you is the way you generally treat the world. That isn’t a religious precept, even though a lot of religions have figured that out. Jews remember Hillel saying something about not doing to others what you don’t want them to do to you. Then Jesus flipped it over and said to do unto others as you would have them do to you. Hindus speak of Karma, although I imagine that they’re more concerned with long-term results. Confucius said that if you want to live in a peaceful world you must live peacefully. Put simply, if you want to know how you are perceived, all you have to do is look at how you perceive other people. Are they assholes? Hmmm. (There are other rules of human interaction, but they don’t matter to this post.)

Here’s a good number two: 2. Don’t watch cable news. Ever. That stuff is poison for the mind. I don’t care if they’re ranting for the left or for the right, they honestly have no idea what they’re talking about. They do use a lot of cool, emotionally charged words, which can be fun to listen to. Unfortunately, all that hyped up emotion keeps you from calmly looking at reality. This isn’t a new idea. Newspapers use emotionally charged words, too. It’s easier to find them in a newspaper. You can just read along and highlight any word that carries an emotional jolt. Then you translate the word into a non-emotionally charged equivalent. If that’s not possible, you ignore it. That will let you know what really happened. You can do the same thing to a television report, but it is a lot more difficult. It is amazing how many times the actual content of a news story, especially on cable, is zero. What I mean by that is that if there are no non emotional equivalents, then there is no actual meaning.

Number three is sort of a subset of number two: 3. Don’t watch network or local news either. While no network or local news is as purely awful as cable, none of them are terribly good either. It don’t think it’s intentional, but research also shows that upset people buy more, so it behooves the news programs to keep people upset by using emotionally charged speech. In contrast, guess where there are no upsetting words or images? Where do you think? Got a guess?

Okay, it’s in ads and commercials! Wow! You’re upset! You need relief! Buy this! Buy that! If you simply skip the news on TV, you’ll feel better right away. And spend less to boot!

Number four is strictly for print material: 4. Read newspapers and magazines critically. I mean watch for emotionally charged words and then translate or ignore them when you see them. Most print stories have at least some actual news in them, but a headline like “Fifty Students in Fight at High School” has a lot different impact than “Fifty-Student Rampage Shuts Down School.” Those two headlines could refer to the exact same event, but look how much less upsetting it is just to read about a “fight” than it is a “rampage.” And the truth could be that the students were sent home early because the disruption caused by the fight went on into the last period. This is a lot less upsetting than hearing about a school closing.

And, here is Steve’s Rule for Deciding if a Posted Story is True: 5. If it is simple and easy to understand, and it gives you an emotional jolt to believe that it is true, then it is simply false. It might be simple and easy to understand and be true. It might generate a strong emotion and be true. If both of those conditions are met, however, it is never true. You can take that to the bank.

And that, believe it or not, will do it. Instant reasonably civil, decent and nice world.

Look Inside My Head #10

Last one. Hope you’ve enjoyed them.

A reminder of the rules:

1) Post ten of any pictures currently on your hard drive that you think are self-expressive.

2) NO CAPTIONS!!! It must be like we’re speaking with images and we have to interpret your visual language just like we have to interpret your words.

3) They must ALREADY be on your hard drive – no googling or flickr! They have to have been saved to your folders sometime in the past. They must be something you’ve saved there because it resonated with you for some reason.

4) You do NOT have to answer any questions about any of your pictures if you don’t want to. You can make them as mysterious as you like. Or you can explain them away as much as you like.

Remember that you can click the picture to see it if it doesn’t fit into the frame.

Today’s Picture: