Random Blatherationings for October 20th

How ranty and silly and stupid can we be with a headache tonight? Let’s see. (If you’ve forgotten the rules, they’re here.) Tonight’s three random seed words are “wine”, “trick”, and “limit”.

Wine – OK, first of all, putting this into Google generates an estimated 620,000,000 results. That’s just a bit nuts, no? Anyway, more randomization to cut it down to a more manageable number leads us to the web site for the Napa Valley Wine Train. We’ve never been on this one specifically, but we went on something similar that heads off out of one of the Seattle suburbs a few years ago. It was a fun experience as I remember it, and I don’t doubt that the Napa Valley train is also fun.

What I haven’t ever quite “gotten” is the snooty connoisseur view of wine. I guess it’s like trying to explain rainbows to a blind person. We’ll be generous and allow that the folks who can tell an ’85 Whatchamallit from an ’83 Thingamading blindfolded by smell only just have some superpower that I don’t. On the other hand, it might just be that the emperor has no clothes and the whole wine snootiness thing is bullshit.

Which is not to say that I don’t like wine. A glass here and there, once a month or so at most, works fine for me, as long as it tastes OK. I don’t care about “fruity”, “full-bodied”, “nutty”, “aromatic”, or any of the other thousands and thousands of adjectives that get bandied about. I just like it to not taste like turpentine and give me a bit of a buzz. (As long as I’m not driving. NEVER have a drink and then drive!)

Trick – Aside from the simple dictionary definitions, movie titles, and music albums, apparently filmmakers like the word “trick” in their names. I see “Trick Dog Films“, “Cat Trick Films“, “Trick Pony Films“, and “Dark Trick Films”. This last one has me the most curious, since it doesn’t seem to have a web site (hell, even a simple dude like me has three of them!), just a Facebook page (with almost no traffic), yet seems to be talked about now and then by almost every trade publication in Hollywood.

When I think of Hollywood and tricks, I think of The Magic Castle. It’s a bit hard to get into (you can only get an invite if you’re with a member, and you only get to be a member if you can qualify as a performing magician) but if you ever get the chance, TAKE IT! We’ve been there two or three times (one of Ronnie’s former co-workers is a member) and it’s spectacular. We’ve seen a few of the stage shows there, but the best I’ve ever seen is in one of the close-up magic rooms, where there are only ten or fifteen seats and you’re within arm’s reach of the magician. Even when I saw these tricks that close, I was baffled. An incredible treat!

Limit – Lots of links (millions and millions) to articles about the “debt limit”, many about the mathematical term “limit” used in calculus, but my favorite is the speed limit. I’m a really good driver and have the record to prove it – not a single ticket or moving violation or accident that I caused in over forty years of driving. I’ve gotten two or three parking tickets for expired meters or parking in a marked zone – but no moving violations or tickets for speeding, running a red light or stop sign, reckless driving, drunk driving (see above), texting while driving (ditto!), or any of that. I’ve been rear-ended by someone else three times, each time while I was stopped in traffic or at a red light – but the closest that I’ve ever come to causing an accident was putting a dent in the Long-Suffering Girlfriend’s car in a parking lot at some point before she became the Long-Suffering Wife. (The kids were in the car and laughed their asses off, and still give me grief over this incident, so I have to include it here.)

But the speed limit? One of my pet peeves is people who drive at it in the fast lane. On the Los Angeles freeways, nothing screws up traffic more than some clown doing exactly 65 MPH in the fast lane on a wide open, traffic free freeway, while everyone else is trying to 70, 75, 80…

Even worse, on the I-5 between LA and San Francisco, for over 300 miles it’s two lanes in each direction with tons and tons of traffic. The right lane is full of trucks, doing 55 MPH (or less on hills). In the left lane are the folks in cars who just want to get from place to place. With 300 miles of straight, dry, flat, and BORING in front of us, we just want to make tracks. These folks are usually doing about 80-85 MPH, despite the 70 MPH speed limit. At least, until they get behind the yahoo doing 69.99 MPH because it’s the law.

Who died and put these folks in charge? Who deputized them? Do they not realize the incredible hazard that they represent as one car after another has to try to find a space between the trucks to pull over into the slow lane, gun it, and slip past them? Even the CHP says that they need to move over, and I’ve heard (it might be an urban rumor) that the CHP can and will ticket someone doing this for reckless driving.

I’m not saying that you need to be driving at 90 MPH, 95, 100+! That would be even more dangerous and stupid. But the 65 and 70 MPH speed limits are politically based, not engineering based. (Jerry Ford’s 55 MPH speed limit was even more so – I’m with Sammy Hagar on this one! Especially if I get to wear that jumpsuit…)

As a side note, when I ranted about these guys on Facebook a couple months ago, my brother pointed out that my dad would have been one of those guys, and probably actually WAS one of them. That’s true, he probably would have been. But that’s one point where he and I would have to agree to disagree. Vehemently. Honking and flashing my lights in his rear view mirror.

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