Thursday, November 26, 2015


One of my favorite traditions is running this bit:

"With G-d as my witness I thought turkeys could fly." - One of the greatest lines in television history. Yes, wild turkeys can fly for short distances. No, turkeys raised to be food cannot.

There's just so many great quotes: "They're hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement!" "It gets pretty strange after that." "It's like the turkeys mounted a counterattack."

And another Thanksgiving Day tradition:

Hard to believe that in a couple more years, that recording will be 50 years old. Yikes. Arlo Guthrie recorded this when he was 18 years old.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Remember what's important, and everything we have to be thankful for.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Saw this video on Facebook yesterday:

Now, there was a lively discussion on whether the guy was a loon, or trolling. I think he's trolling. There's a couple times in the video where he cracks himself up, you can hear him chuckling. When he gets to the end of the first verse in "Rudolph," he has to pause to compose himself.

"Thank you lord, for the cars he did not jump in front of" - that does not sound to me like someone that's honestly upset about a deer tied to the back of a truck...

As for the transport of the deer, well, all I can say to the driver of the white suburban is enjoy your exhaust. You're out on the highway with your deer pretty much hanging right over your vehicle's exhaust pipe, so that yummy venison is getting marinated polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Yum, yum. 

So, what do you think - is the guy serious or cracking wise?

That is all.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #106

In keeping with the theme...

2006 Toyota FJ. I still don't know why this didn't do better than it did. With the storied FJ heritage, unique quasi-retro styling and Toyota name behind it, I would have thought this would have sold like crazy. From what I recall, the price wasn't too exorbitant, either -- certainly in line with other "fun-sized" SUVs like the Nissan Xterra and Honda Element.

Then again, Toyota has been pretty psychotic with pricing - I distinctly remember shortly after my son was born, when I was looking for an Explorer-sized SUV, I checked out Toyota and got one hell of a sticker shock. In 2001, when a low-end Exploder was going for low $20K (I got my Durango with third row seating, full power and a V8 engine for $22K), the 4Runner was selling for $38K. And it wasn't even that well equipped.

But the FJ Cruiser, well... When it was shown at the 2003 North American Auto Show as a concept, I was intrigued. When it was released in 2005, I wasn't yet in the market for a new vehicle, and in 2007 we found ourselves looking for a full-size pickup truck (and I've detailed my disappointment with the local Toyota dealer when we looked at the Tundra...). Now the FJ is gone, and I don't do used cars (*especially* SUVs/off-road/etc.).

Oh well; I'm sure there will be *something* down the road...

That is all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Boy. TheBoy.

So, I took TheBoy to see the new Bond flick Spectre this past weekend. Short synopsis? It's a Bond flick. If you like Bond flicks, you'll like Spectre. There's nothing terribly different or innovative in Spectre, almost a dearth of gadgets, and the brooding Bond as portrayed by Daniel Craig. Again, it's not a bad movie, especially; it's entertaining enough and there's just enough special effects to make seeing it in the theater worthwhile.

I did find it especially telling that, on its second weekend in theaters, that we walked in 10 minutes before it started and there were only about a dozen people there. More trickled in, but I was rather surprised to find the theater so empty. We are fortunate in that we have a Regal Cinema not even 2 miles from the house here in VA, and an IMAX theater only 5-6 miles away.

And yes, we will be seeing the new Star Wars movie in IMAX. But I digress.

Anyways, TheBoy is quite the Bond fan now. He's seen all of the Daniel Craig Bond movies, and we're going to start filling in the gaps in his Bondian knowledge with DVDs and Friday night movies. I love this plan. I was an unabashed Bond fanatic growing up, seeing a succession of campy, Adam-West-as-Batman-style Roger Moore James Bond movies in the 1970s and 1980s. Once we got a VCR in the house, I discovered just how much better Sean Connery was, and Bond will, for me, always be a mishmash of the two actors.

Dalton was wooden; he played Bond like a brooding teen and his tenure was mercifully short. Brosnan was seemingly born to play James Bond and landed somewhere in between Connery and Moore for how Bond should be played; more jocularity than Connery, more serious than Moore. Daniel Craig--his views on firearms aside--played Bond more true to Fleming's gritty version than the campy Moore Bond of the '70s and '80s.

Permit a nerdy aside - Craig is to Bond, compared to Moore, as Christian Bale's Batman compares to Adam West's. 

So, I have several months of Friday night movies with my son watching James Bond flicks from the 1960s through the 1990s. Yeah, I'm pretty damn excited about this. The big question is whether we rent from RedBox, or buy through Amazon/WalMart, etc. Part of me wants to pick up the movies to have available - one enduring theme throughout the Bond universe is the Cold War that comprised my childhood, and the movies are an almost quaint reminder of when we had a singular, identifiable enemy.

And part of me realizes that one can only watch a Roger Moore Bond flick so many times...

That is all.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #105

Only ten weeks left and I'll have to think of another schtick for the Friday car pic...

"Bugatti Veyron 16.4 – Frontansicht (1), 5. April 2012, Düsseldorf" by M 93. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Commons.

2005 Bugatti Veyron. Recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest production car in the world. Also Top Gear's "Best Driven" car award. And of course, it's a Bugatti - Italian-sounding name, French manufacturer designed by a German firm. EU!

Probably the most amazing thing is how, inside of a year or two, the Veyron managed to eclipse cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and other exotics. A brand that went extinct in the 1940s was resurrected fifty years later and, in less than decade, produced a vehicle that quickly became *the* supercar di tutti supercars.

It'd be similar to someone bringing back the Duesenberg marque and having it be a luxury car that out-shined Rolls-Royce, Maybach and Bentley. And it would be doing so with a Chevrolet power plant, to boot. Given the Veyron's ubiquity in video games and popular culture, I'd be surprised if it were surpassed in the near future.

That it's top speed is somewhere north of 250 MPH out of a 1,200 HP engine doesn't hurt, either...

That is all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


I like what I wrote last year so much I'm running it again...

Veteran's Day

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
Memorial Day commemorates the soldiers lost. Veteran's Day celebrates all who have donned the uniform of our armed forces.

I know there are many veterans represented in the blogrolls to your right. To all of you, and everyone who reads MArooned that has worn the uniform of the American soldier, I offer a simple word of thanks. You did - or are doing - a job I was not brave enough to do. I regret not having served; possibly my one true lifelong regret. 

Thank you, all. Even if you never saw a single second of combat; even if your time served was the minimum required to qualify for the GI Bill for college; it doesn't matter. Even if you never went overseas or were in any danger other than getting run over by an inattentive buddy in a Humvee. You were there. You put it on the line when many didn't.

Thank you.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Boosting the signal for a friend...
Come hang out with us on Veteran's Day!

Dragon Leatherworks, a veteran-owned gun store on the west end of Oak Ridge, is hosting any local veterans who just want to hang out and shoot the breeze for a while with Brothers in Arms! There are so many awesome men and women in the area who have served their country honorably, and we would love to get to know you better! We're in the Four Oaks Center, and will bring in some pizzas, soda and munchies to share between noon and 7:30pm.

Dennis J Badurina's photo.

If you're in the area, swing in and say hi to Dennis.

And thank you, Dennis, for your service.

That is all.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #104

Today's car pic is yet another GM story. In the hallowed GM tradition of recent memory, here is yet another car that Government Motors got right - just before they killed it.

2005 Pontiac Solstice (it was released in 2004, so it counts...). What's not to like? A two-seater, turbocharged roadster? 260 horsepower in a light, nimble car? With decent styling and an affordable price? That sounds like a winner no matter who you sell it to. Oh, sure, they're 15 years behind the Mazda Miata and even 5 years behind the Honda S2000, but this is the first American coupe since, well, the 1953 Corvette...

So, naturally, they got a few years out of it and Pontiac ceased to be...

It's like the Cadillac Allante. The last couple of years, they wised up and dropped the monstrous Northstar V8 in the Allante, giving it respectable power and the oomph to compete against the Mercedes 500. And then killed the model. Hell, the entire Pontiac division was just *crushing it* in the waning days - the renovated GTO, the G6, the Solstice; Pontiac really was making good on the 1980s slogan of "We build excitement."

Which, in the 1980s, was immediately bowdlerized to "We build sh*tboxes. Pontiac!"

That is all.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Why Jay Doesn't Buy Used Cars, Part ???

Because I know my luck. I would wind up buying a used car from this guy:

Yeah. There's so much wrong with that, I honestly don't even know where to begin. Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. Look at the trailer. Look at the angle at which that trailer is being towed. Notice that the front axle wheels are off the damn ground. That effectively doubles the tongue weight, which is pressing directly on the roof of the unibody compact car.

It reminds me of a story from my younger days. A friend of mine was looking to buy a new-to-him vehicle, and was looking at a 2-3 year old pickup at a local car dealership. Knowing I was a car nut, he asked me to come with him to check it out. From the outside, it looked decent, no dents or dings. It had reasonable mileage, and the dealership was asking a fair price...

You can see where this is going, don't you?

Well, I crawled underneath this truck. The exhaust was completely rotted out - no wonder they were reluctant to let my friend perform a test drive. The entire suspension was suspect - the leaf springs looked like hell, and the rear drums were about as iffy. I checked, and sure enough there was a Class III hitch. I looked at the salesweasel and simply asked, "So, how big was the boat this truck was towing?"

Yeah, that was the end of that...

That is all.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n Number 103

Now things are starting to get interesting. Pretty much all cars from here on in are going to be current models likely to be seen driving around.

2003 Nissan Titan. The Titan is of note because it represents the second--and final--Japanese attempt at a full-size truck. The Toyota T100/Tundra was first time one the "Big Three" had been challenged, bringing a Japanese offering to the table. The Titan upped the ante, offering a 5.6L V8 engine with more towing capacity than the Tundra at the time.

Unfortunately, since 2003 we haven't seen any new, larger trucks from any of the other Japanese/Korean manufacturers. The emerging competition from Toyota and Nissan brought GM/Ford/Dodge kicking and screaming to the future; with the increased options for American consumers, the American trucks had to not only improve reliability but also offer more amenities and creature comforts.

In 2007, when we were in the market for a full-size truck, we looked into the Titan along with the Tundra. While the Titan had a lot to offer, it was also priced accordingly (as was the Tundra, which had been updated for the 2007 model year). Ford and Dodge were far more affordable, and it was the better deal from Dodge that wound up getting us the Earthf**ker.

As nice as the Tundra and Titan are/were, they weren't *that* much better...

That is all.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Why Can't I Find These?

FarmDad sent this in (a while ago, I shamefully admit), and it's a doozy.

A Buena Park plumber's death left behind 69 cars and one big mystery
The Orange County Public Administrator’s Office has dealt with its share of unusual inheritances.

There was the protection they once had to arrange for a $500,000 ring. And there was the pet eel.

But even for the agency that takes care of a decedent’s assets when no one else can act on that person’s behalf, the upcoming estate sale of Gerald Willits, a Buena Park man who died in August 2014 and left 69 cars in his yard, is “very unusual,” according to Elizabeth Henderson, chief deputy public administrator for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
It's not so much a "barn find" as it is a closed junkyard. Most of the vehicles are in pieces, disrepair, or advanced rot. Some, like this Model A, are salvageable; others are little more than a frame and a vague suggestion of what the vehicle once was. Others, puzzling, are more modern vehicles like a '93 Toyota pickup and a '99 Saturn; these I can only assume were the owner's daily drivers.

Take a moment and flip through the slideshow, though. There's a real walk through memory lane with work trucks; obviously trucks used by journeymen and other tradesmen were of importance to the man who collected them. He had an affinity for tractors as well; collecting numerous brands with multitudinous purposes represented. It would be absolutely fascinating to know what drove this plumber to collect these vehicles.

I'd sure like a crack at some of them, though...

That is all.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #102

Might as well continue this theme right up until 2016, at which point I'll have to figure out another schtick...

Lamborghini Murcielago. The successor to the Diablo, which was the successor to the Countache, an '80s staple, the Murcielago debuted with a 572 horsepower 6.2L V12 engine. Ten years later, displacement would grow to 6.5L and put out 670 horsepower, on a par with the engine output of a stock car.

With a cost roughly that of a 4 bedroom home in a metropolitan suburb, this was obviously not a car aimed for the masses. Just under 4,100 units were sold over the car's 10 year span. "The bat" could move from 0-60 MPH in 3.8 seconds and had an official top speed over 200 MPH. Naturally, a model was chosen for Bruce Wayne's ride in the 2005 "Batman Begins" movie.

Ah, Lamborghini, continually proving the Robert Browning quote about a man's reach exceeding his grasp...

That is all.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Never Ascribe to Malice...

...that which can be ascribed to stupidity. Yes, I know the trope. However, I don't think this is stupidity:

First off, someone else in comments on FB pointed out that the interest rate on a student loan is something like a third of a percent more than the going rate for a car or mortgage. So right off the bat Sanders is being disingenuous - while, technically, what he said was true, it's rather misleading. Second, comparing *anything* to car loans is specious at best - I got a 0% rate on my new car, so by Sanders' "logic" pretty much *anything* is worse than that.

And, lastly, as thousands have already so rightly pointed out, he's comparing a loan that has no collateral vs. a loan with hard and fast physical objects. Um, duh. Of *course* the college loan is going to be a higher risk - there's literally nothing backing it up should the loan recipient default. I take out a car loan and stop making payments, the bank at least has a car. Ditto a mortgage. But if I get my degree, then default on my loan, what can the bank do? Sure, it can ding my credit and all, but it wouldn't stop me from working for the New York Times...

I don't think this is stupidity, though, or even ignorance. No, this smacks of the ubiquitous class warfare rhetoric that the Democratic party has been famous for spewing for, well, decades, if not centuries. Sanders is clearly targeting Millennials, who are watching the piles of student loan debt they accumulated in search of their "Fourteenth Century Art Appreciation" degree, are just ripe for the "Wealthiest One Percent" garbage the left so loves to spew (even if they are absolutely part of that one percent).

Sanders would have to almost literally be a drooling idiot to not know why a student loan would be a higher risk (therefore incurring a higher interest rate). He's obviously not, having managed to eke out a fairly good living as a politician -- he's been in public "service" for 34 years out of the 51 years since leaving college. Even if Sanders honestly does believe that a student loan should have a lower rate than a car loan, shouldn't he have an adviser or advisers who would say, hey Bernie, this is economic illiteracy here?

No, this is plain ol' class warfare, the likes of which we've seen since the turn of the century. The *last* century. Sanders is counting on the media not calling him on this BS and the message of "Bernie's looking out for the poor college students" coming through. Of course, no one's asking questions like "Gee, Bernie, why *are* college tuitions so high?" because then we'd have to risk the wrath of the ivory tower denizens and point out that, gee, maybe "professors" like Elizabeth Warren making a third of a million dollars a year teaching a single class might be the reason for that exorbitant college cost?

It's just *SOOOO* much easier to insinuate that somewhere, somehow, in a smoke-filled room, a bunch of eeeeeevil bankers have gathered to discuss ways to screw poor Millennial barristers with 14th Century Art History degrees...

That is all.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #101

What the heck. I'll continue through the current year. In the same vein as we've been doing for quite a while now, here's the car pic of the week featuring a car introduced in the year of the same two digits as the number (2001).

Chevrolet Avalanche. Introduced in late 2001, the Avalanche started as a 2002 model and had an 11 year run, ending production in 2013. Comprising two different iterations of the GM light truck, it attempted to fuse the utility of a four-door pickup truck with the unibody of an SUV. GM gets points for thinking outside the box, but the execution left much to be desired.

The "midgate" section that separated the interior from the exterior in the bed allowed the rear seats to be folded down and yielded the equivalent of a long-bed pickup. Problem is, it's open to the elements, including the cab. It also involves removing the rear window, which is glass, and if Murphy taught me anything, it's that a big, heavy sheet of glass that pops in and out of a plastic housing is just begging to be dropped...

Speaking of heavy glass and plastic, I'm genuinely curious how the Avalanche held up over the years, particularly in places like New England and the upper midwest that see significant cold in the winters and hot, humid summers. My experience with GM - well, with all American vehicles, really - is that over time, anything that you move repeatedly is going to loosen and wiggle. Not terrible when it's a console cover; less good when it's the only thing separating your back seat from the elements.

Please, whatever you do, don't get me started on the Cadillac Escalade EXT, though...

That is all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oh Yeah! I Have A Blog...

So, yeah, last week totally sucked. What helped bring a big heaping helping of extra suck to an already s**tty week was the drive home from Massachusetts. Between the MA Pike, route 84 in CT, and the NYS Thruway, we ran into traffic from hell, which was somewhat unexpected for a Saturday afternoon. Granted, it was a long weekend, but I'd have guessed that by Saturday afternoon the bulk of traffic would have abated.

Over an hour in traffic to go five miles on the Tappanzee Bridge says otherwise.

It got me to thinking, though. Here I am, in New York, a rather liberal state. We're always hearing about "Global Warming" and all, yet there are thousands of cars polluting the air because the state can't get it's collective s**t together on traffic. On a Saturday, of all things. Now, I expect a bit of traffic over the holiday weekend, sure. But the Tappanzee is generally pretty good; certainly better than the GW Bridge; that's why I go the long way around NYFC.

Now, I grok that the same people that decry Global Warming are the same ones that want us all taking public transportation. It stands to reason that their response to weekday traffic is to tell us to take the bus/subway/train. But what about on weekends? While there may be a bus that runs from Northern VA to northeast MA, it's not convenient for us to take. I've looked into taking a train, and it's just as expensive as flying - but with the same time constraints as driving. In short, it doesn't work.

So, then, the question comes back around. If they're so concerned about global warming, why aren't they doing more to relieve traffic congestion? While it's great to incentivize people to take more public transportation, that's a long-term solution. Right now, there's a need to alleviate the day-to-day wasting of resources sitting in traffic on roads that were never designed for the volume of cars they see. While the ivory tower eggheads clasp their hands worrying about global warming, the proles are sitting in their shiny metal boxes throwing CO2 into the ozone layer by the bajillions.

Give us another 2-3 lanes on pretty much any major highway and this will stop being such a problem - or is that too simplistic a solution for your liking?

That is all.