ShadowTwin Home

Site Links:
Arthur Witles
Who I am - Site info
Music Lost to History Archive
Horoscope Archive
Original Poetry
Pre-Blogger Archives
Stuff I Made
Vacation Photos
My coming of age story.
Programs I use for the site
Email me

Latest Humorous T-shirt Slogan:
"You Wish!"
This one has to be taken in context to be appreciated. The girl wearing this belly shirt was maybe 5'0" tall, with a muffin top going on, despite the fact that she was clearly in her third trimester of pregnancy. In addition she was wearing a thong that came up past her low-rise jeans and pushed her muffin top down over the edge to really emphasize the roll. I'm not in perfect shape so I don't expect that others should be, but when you are wearing that shirt, along with the rest of the outfit, you open yourself to scrutiny (and perhaps random looks of horror).

It's fun to hate:
The Soccer Moms who insist that they drive gas-guzzling SUV's for the safety of their children despite the fact that they are 6 times more likely to be in a rollover accident than any other vehicle. It's like beating your child unconscious with the butt of your gun so that he will remain on the floor, thus making him less likely to be hit by a random bullet coming through the front window.

When Shadowtwin reigns supreme:
There will be mandatory, passive birth control required to participate in any form of government assistance. If you can't afford to raise your child on your own we are here to help you, but we must first make sure that your reproductive organs are adequately contained. If you don't like that policy all you have to do is support your kids your damn self!
Vote Shadowtwin!

Wildly inaccurate, yet shockingly precise, predictions based completely on happenstance and arbitrary universal fluctuations.
Your Horoscope:

Sagitarius: 11/22-12/21
A typographical error in your Church's newsletter will lead to you performing sex acts on dozens of anonymous strangers in your pursuit of "oral highground."

Capricorn: 12/22-1/19
The stars did recently tell your wife to "listen to her heart" regarding whether or not she should leave you. The stars did not intend for you to listen to her heart. But once you used that bonesaw on her sternum (not trusting the stethoscope which just responded with a cryptic thumping sound), we're pretty sure she made up her mind anyway.

Aquarius: 1/20-2/18
The stars would like to apologize for stating in their last prophecy, "Be wary of the stranger you meet at beach this weekend. The stars aren't sure why, but they don't trust him." Through a cosmic hiccup, that information was supposed to be released this month. The August prophecy should have read, "A dark and handsome stranger will approach you on the beach, profess his love for you, and sweep you away for a jetset marriage. After which you will lead a long, happy, prosperous, healthy life as the Queen of a small island nation." We apologize for any inconvenience this error may have caused.

Pisces: 2/19-3/20
Your new stopwatch will allow you to time how long you can hold your breath underwater down to the thousandth of a second. Unfortunately, poor planning will mean that you are not able to actually share the information with anyone.

Aries: 3/21-4/19
Your innovative new device for beauticians to use while giving pedicures can be wildly successful and make you quite wealthy IF you change the name. Trust us, no one is going to buy a "Ped-O-File".

Taurus: 4/20-5/20
Your Mother always told you to wear clean underwear just in case there was an accident and paramadics had to see them. But as you board that plane today, the stars want you to know that you needn't worry about it. The debris field will be more than 8 square miles, making it impossible to find most human remains. Not to mention that the ensuing fire burned so hot that it disintegrated not only all fabric, but most of the thin metals aboard as well.

Gemini: 5/21-6/21
You just had to get that genital piercing, didn't you? The stars tried to warn you not to, but you went ahead and did it anyway... Now all your worst fears will come to bear when, at a campground this weekend, you run afoul of this guy:

Cancer: 6/22-7/22
The less traveled by areas of the Grand Canyon's north rim offer some of the most breathtaking views of this natural wonder. You will soon find out they also include some of the worst footings and none of the handrails. They do, however, provide equally awe-inspiring, terminal velocity impacts.

Leo: 7/23-8/22
The stars heard your pleas, begging for someone who you could share your love with and embrace for the rest of your life. If you are still single, throw your arms around the closest person to you at 3:44pm GMT on Dcember 9th -That'll be the one. Trust us, you won't have time to be picky...

Virgo: 8/23-9/22
The stars have piled up most of your things on the front porch. You can stay at a friend's house, but you aren't coming back home until you admit what you did and apologize. The stars' Mother was right about you... (you must have really pissed them off; the stars were in tears while they told me this)

Libra: 9/23-10/22
The stars have been doing a little thinking and a lot of math. The population of planet earth is roughly 6,796,590,704. That means that roughly 566,382,558 people share each astrological sign. About 18,620,796 have the same birthday. Based on average life expectancy as many as 248,277 people were born on the same day, in the same year, for every zodiac sign. How can one statement possibly predict the future of all of them? Ehh, fuck it. "A full moon while Venus is rising is an omen of good things to come."

Scorpio: 10/23-11/21
They say you never know how you are going to react to a crisis. After a home invasion this weekend you will: You will scream, "Do whatever you want to my wife, but leave me alone!" You will then create a distraction by throwing your newborn at the assailant as you dive through the window to safety. Now you know.

Music lost to history:

Aerosmith - Dream On When I started doing these, I could never have imagined that I would be putting an Aerosmith song here. Since I was born in 1974, this song is well before my generation. It was recorded in 1972 and released in 1983 on Aerosmith's Self-Titled Album, but to read the information on it at Wikipedia most of us would become familiar with it from a re-release in 1976.

Like most of the music being released in the late 60's/early 70's that was pushing the rock-n-roll envelope, Dream On relies heavily on solid composition and and melody. Before the era of the modern effects processor, these bands had no distortion to hide behind (or very little), and synthesized instruments hadn't yet made their way into music. In that way the music always sounds more raw to us today because, quite simply, it was. While it seems laughable to think about today, music like this was so far removed from the bubble-gum pop of the 50's that it still wasn't accepted into the mainstream. As the baby-boomers became the target demographic, the rock-n-roll movement really started to pick up speed, with bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith clearing the path for the much darker and heavier bands like Black Sabbath.

While I (and most of my generation) are probably far more familiar with the Aerosmith of the late 80's and early 90's, the reason this song makes it onto my MLtH page comes down to one thing: Age. Not necessarily the age of the song; In fact, as I sat down to do the research for this today, I had no idea when it was released, but would have guessed (closely) the mid 70's. Tyler was born March 26, 1948, meaning that this song was written when he was only 24 years old. I'm not sure why, but I have always thought this song was pretty amazing given his age at composition. I suppose it is human nature to wax poetic about the days of yore and the imminent passage of time, but the melody sets a mood that makes you feel it right along with him. As the song nears the end and his lyrics become more more frenzied, you can almost feel the pain (longing?) in his voice. Listen to it with headphones and no distraction sometime, you'll see what I mean.

I wrote a short bit some time ago about Kelly Sweet's cover of this song (see the video on Youtube). While I have since gotten over the initial hatred I felt towards the cover of the song, I still just can't like it. The words are there; she hits the notes; but I just can't hear it in her voice. As if there is somthing very personal about the song and Tyler's deliverance of the lyrics that just can't be duplicated. At least to me.

That said, I have heard Aerosmith doing the song with an orchestra, and it also seems to lack the passion of the original. So perhaps the thing that I like so much about it is the under-produced, raw sound of it, or it may be that I am still hearing it through the ears of that impressionable youth that heard if for the first time in a dusty old Van with my Uncle Art. Either way, it seems it is Lost to History.

Music Lost to History Archive

I Can't Believe it's Not Porn!
WhorePresents.comYep, it's not porn. It's not a site with gifts for sale either, which is probably a good thing since I can't imagine that any woman would be at all flattered to get a gift -no matter how nice- in a box that says "Whore" on it.

Daily Reading:
Magazine Man
Shane Nickerson
Wil Wheaton
Hoyazo's Poker Blog

My reading list changes from time to time, and there are many sites that I visit that are not on the list. They are listed in the order that I visit them, enjoy!

Locations of visitors to this page

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? August 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bubble bubble toil and trouble

I played in the Mondays at the Hoy tournament last night, marking only my third poker tournament in the last month. I had made a decision to distance myself from the game a bit, because when I was playing several MTTs a day I found that I was making poor calls in an attempt to make something out of nothing. The only reason I could come up with as to why I was doing it was that I was making the cardinal mistake in a card game: letting the results of previous hands influence my decision making on future hands. That is, my A-8 diamonds missed the flop completely last time, therefore if I play the A-8 diamonds again it is likely to catch a piece of it. I wasn't actually thinking that, but as I look at the hand histories leading up to my hiatus, it was pretty obvious that such decisions were making it to the felt at least on a subconscious level.

The time away seems to have had the intended effect, as the last three tournaments have all yielded favorable results. Unfortunately, favorable and profitable are two completely different things. There was an 8th place out of 38 players in the Mookie, 9th out of 18 in the WWDN: Not, one which I made an extremely questionable call against a bluff by Hoyazo, where I correctly read the bluff, but alas didn't have a higher crap card to take down the pot, and finally a 4th out of 22 in Hoy's tournament.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, these blogger events have the toughest competition you are likely to find in an online poker game. The level of play is so much better than your average sit and go that after a few blogger tourneys you can join a random sit and go and pretty much sleep your way to the money. The blogger competitions also have the same people in them; in any given event, you are likely to have played multiple times with about three quarters of them. That adds yet another dynamic to the game, since you know their playstyles, and they know yours, it is difficult to make straight bluffs, and when you do you have to be ready to get called on it.

The 4th place in the tournament last night really hurt. To play the game for 2.5 hours, 214 hands, only to finish one away from the money is just brutal. For me, this is by far the largest buy-in tournament I ever enter. I play in the blogger ten dollar buy-in ones, but only I have managed to win enough money at the low limit cash table to afford it. It was the same way with this one, and I think this was the second time I have played in it. With the higher buy-in, the bloggers really seem to bring their A game, and it is even more difficult than most of the other blogger tournies. I certainly didn't expect to last as long as I did, which probably adds a lot to the sense of defeat.

I had to get lucky a couple of times to make it as far as I did. In one instance I had A-Jo and got into a hand with Kat. When the flop came up J-9-8, she bet 300 at it, I raised it to 900, then she pushed. I called that one pretty confident that I was going to eliminate her, but she flipped over a pair of 8s for the set. The turn card was a 7, meaning if the river was a 10 we would split the pot, if it was a jack, I would take it down, otherwise I would have lost about half my stack and been back down to below average on the chip stack. The river bailed me out with a ten. I think Kat must hate me at this point, as that is at least the third time I can think of that she got into a pot with me when she was significantly ahead, yet I have been bailed out each time. Sorry Kat.

Another hand came actually a bit before that one, where I got dealt Kings. I was first to act and raised it 3x. The only caller was the big blind. The flop came up raggy with a couple of diamonds in it, so I pushed hoping to end it right there. Unfortunately he called me and flipped over a 5-7o which happened to be two pair. I don't know how you call a 450 bet pre-flop with a 5-7o, but call it he did. The board paired on the turn to give me a higher two pair. I really dodged a bullet on that one. That was also the highest pocket pair I would have all night. In fact, I only had two other pocket pairs with faces all night, both of them were jacks. Once it folded around to me, the other time I had to lay them down to pressure on a flop with an Ace and a Queen in it.

I won a race to knock out Jules a bit later. I had about 6000 in chips and called off about 2000 of it with an A-Qo when she pushed. She had Jacks, leaving me a bit further behind than I had hoped, but I hit a queen on the flop and she never improved. Sadly, that was the last race that I was going to win on the night.

The bubble in this one lasted for a long ass time. We were to the bubble before the second break, and it lasted about a half an hour after the break. Each of the four of us had the chip lead at some point during the 4 handed play, and it was pretty clear that no one wanted to be the one to fuck up and bubble out of it. I was in a pretty bad position since the guy to my right was raising damn near every time I was on the button, effectively killing any chance I had to make a steal. I called him on a couple of occasions and got him to lay the cards down, but only once did I have the balls to do it when I didn't have a hand. I pushed all my chips in on a 3-9o, to a king high flop, when I had no pair, straight or flush possibilities. I was hoping that I had been playing tight enough to scare him out of it, and I must have been, he folded.

When the blinds got to 400/800 and the antes were 50, a blind steal was enough to change position from 4th to 2nd for a while. Unfortunately I wasn't finding the opportunities I would have like to make that move and I eventually found myself with only 3000 in chips. I was on the button with an A-10 spades when the first guy pushed. I thought a lot about this one before I made the call. The guy who pushed was the next shortest stack and each of the other guys had him covered. I figured it was possible that I could lay down my hand and let one of them call it. If they eliminated him, I would be in the money and could lose on the next hand. No sooner had I run that scenario through my head, some part of me started kicking my ass for even thinking it. I signed up hoping to win, not hoping to make third place. If I layed it down here I might squeak into third, but I was certainly not going any further with less than 3000 chips and the blind hitting me on the next hand. I had to call this one, I had good cards for a shorthanded game and figured I was probably going to be a coinflip to a mid pair. Alas the pair was jacks, making me a huge dog, and the flop missed me in every conceivable way. In my anger and frustration at losing the hand, I subjected the table to the most vulgar, tilt-induced line I have ever uttered in chat. I said "well poo", and I stand by that statement. After two and a half hours, busting out on the bubble made me think that very thing, and if you can't handle such harsh words in the chat, you shouldn't be playing the game.

The one thing that I can take away from this is that I played really well. With one key exception, I think I played the cards I was dealt as well as they could have been played. My reads were right in nearly every instance, and my bluffs got the desired result every time. In 214 hands, I was dealt exactly 16 pocket pairs, only three of which were face cards. I had to play a lot of crap hands because that was what I was getting dealt. The A-Jo that I normally stay away from was the hand I was playing the hardest last night, simply because that was the best that I was getting. In the last hour I didn't get anything better than that. I really think if I could keep my play at the level I was playing last night, and caught a few hands along the way, I could realistically take one of these down.

A question for those of you better than me. The call that eliminated me from the tournament, how bad a call was that? A-10 spades on the button, 3000 in chips. First to act pushes, he is second shortest with 4800. Blinds are at 400/800, antes are 50. 4 handed play. I will blind out in six or seven hands. That is a call I have to make, isn't it?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

George Bush doesn't care about poor people

As the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina nears, The Discovery Channel is releasing a documentary called Surviving Katrina. In what is probably the ultimate in ironic detachment, it appears to be a show focusing on what people did to help each other in a time of crisis. Now I am all for a good story, but if that documentary focuses on the good aspects and ignores all of the negative aspects, I am going to start looking to see if it was funded by a GOP contributor.

I don't live in New Orleans, of course, so I can only base my assessment of what was really going on down there on what I saw on the internet (I do refuse to watch television news, you are better off just making things up and calling them the truth). Because of an absolute lack of any immediate help, many of the residents (particularly those in the low income areas who couldn't realistically afford to evacuate) were forced to extreme measures to survive. I don't mean to say that all the looting and the such actually happened, I want to focus more on the assisted evacuation, some week after the initial tragedy. Think about it, and use common sense. You are trapped in a flooded home with no electricity, food or running water. A week later, buses show up to start evacuating people, but not nearly enough buses to get everyone out. Do you really think people just lined up in an orderly fashion, then said "too bad" as the last bus drove away without them? Hell no, I am willing to bet they fought each other for seats on those buses, because that is exactly what I would have done.

There was relief from non-governmental sources during the whole fiasco; I remember reading that Wal-Mart (how I loathe that corporation) actually had semi trucks with bottled water on site in less than 24 hours; There were many other organizations that also provided much needed support, things like food, blankets, and personal hygiene products -again, all private organizations- Once the evacuation was complete (at least 10 days after it should have been), the people's good nature got a chance to shine through.

The Red Cross raised an astronomical sum of money to help those left homeless, as did many other organizations. Many foreign countries even made substantial donations to the relief effort; Kuwait alone donated 500 Million dollars, many other countries joined in with multi-million dollar donations. Eventually, television news stations quit running stories about the affected area, so, in the eyes of the average US citizen it was over. The problem is that the average US citizen doesn't actually live in New Orleans.

When Katrina initially hit, I remember thinking to myself that it was tragic that a city with such history could be destroyed. But that got me to thinking. A city with that much history has something else that many cities don't have: old, privately-owned homes with extremely poor residents. I don't know this to be true, but I am not actually going to look it up either, as such I am just guessing. Many houses in the New Orleans area were old, it is fair to assume that many of the houses had been privately owned for decades, and that the owners of the homes could certainly not afford to buy a new home on today's market. Since the homes were already paid for, it can fairly be assumed that many of the poor residents may also have quit carrying homeowners insurance, as it is not required unless you have a mortgage. Do you see where this is going?

In addition to these low income homeowners that are now displaced, there will also be low income tenants that are affected. Certainly there were many old homes that were being rented, the type that barely made it past inspection, and probably wouldn't even do that were it not for the area they were located in. These run-down homes would have been renting for far less than fair market value because their condition would have required it. Again, the only people this would be affecting is the poor. Aunt Nellie (even though she wasn't really your Aunt, that was what you always called her) had been renting you that house for the last 11 years, you could barely afford to make the rent, but Aunt Nellie was compassionate and would let a little slide so long as you helped her change the shingles on the roof to keep it from leaking.

A lot of these houses should probably have been condemned a long time ago, but the city had let it slide, knowing the situation and not wanting to start a fuss with poor communities. Unfortunately, now there are building inspectors rolling in and checking over all the structures. These houses don't stand a chance. Aunt Nellie certainly can't afford to build brand new houses, and even if she could finance it, she wouldn't be able to rent them so cheap, since she would have to make mortgage payments. Even if 10% of the Aunt Nellie's out there are willing to be so philanthropic as to rebuild on their own dime and keep the rent the same, that will still leave the vast majority of the poor without an affordable place (affordable to them) to live.

So now to do a quick news search.

Here is the first story I found that matched my search criteria:
Report: New Orleans lacks affordable housing

The news stories that I am reading don't go into a lot of detail, but I think it is fair to assume that the very poor in New Orleans are the ones affected by this the most. It is sad that as the city tries to rebuild, the struggle of the displaced poor doesn't get any sort of national attention. As the outpouring of support when the hurricane actually hit shows, the American people really will help those in need, as I am sure they would help now, if they only knew that for the poor in New Orleans this ordeal is far from over.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Free Speech T.V.

Sometimes when it is really late at night there is very little on television worth watching. On one of those nights, I happened to flip way to the high end of my satellite's channel listing and came across Free Speech T.V.. I was unimpressed at first, since I happened to flip to it when the show on was 5 minutes of a cricket standing on a pocketwatch (no kidding). But I left it on that channel when I turned the T.V. off. The next morning when I flipped the T.V. on, there was a documentary showing called Toxic Sludge is Good for You. Now that was a program.

If you have ever been in doubt as to whether or not your local news stations are reporting actual news or not, you really should watch that documentary. It goes into a great amount of detail about what isn't actually news, how and why it is on the local news, and who is paying for it. I think everyone knows (even if they hate to admit it) that some of the stories that make it onto the six o'clock news aren't really news, but advertisements. This show details how the ads make it onto the news in the first place. Even if you think that such an idea is a ridiculous lie, you should still watch it, just for the differing view.

The next show to come on was Liberty News. Liberty News is political news with less spin than I have ever seen. While I am pretty sure that it is definitely a product of democrats, I think that is only because there is no news channel in the nation with the balls to show anything even remotely critical of the Bush administration. To those who would disagree with that statement, making the argument that Rove, Delay and Santorum (among others) have taken a beating in the media, I have to point out that they committed jailable offenses and the so-called "liberal media" is calling pursuing charges a witch hunt. Clinton got a little head in the white house and people were calling for his resignation, yet even mentioning the charges against Bush administration officials(I just had to) is considered taboo. I can't say that Liberty News is actually politically left though, since they also took Hillary Clinton to task for her campaign statements not meshing with her voting record. Showing the truth about both sides and letting you form your own opinion? What a novel concept.

If you have FSTV on your channel line-up, I urge you to flip it on and watch a couple of shows. Much of what is on does look like it was made by college students who were really stoned (a cricket on a stopwatch?), but when it gets to the documentaries and news, you are never going to find an outlet that is as critical of both sides. It certainly is a welcome alternative to the Rush Limbaugh and Larry King crap that fills the airwaves now.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Roseburg Nights: The Ballad of Nameless Racers

My wife and I are probably looking forward to seeing Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby more than most. Sure, we are well aware that it isn't going to be taking home any oscars and the plot (insofar as there is one) is going to be simply ridiculous, but sometimes it is nice to just go to the theater and laugh at the spectacle.

This movie has gotten me to thinking of my youth, and how close I came to going down the road to calling myself Donnie Joe. It's probably not much of a story, but it is what I am thinking about, and thus it shall be typed.

Roseburg, Oregon doesn't really have much to offer. It has gotten a lot bigger since the time I spent there as a child, but it is still nothing more than a fuel stopover on your way from California to Eugene or Portland. The population began to boom when I was a child, as that was the time when Roseburg Lumber (which is actually located twelve miles away) was the best paying job in the county, and every able-bodied man was taking up a job there. They began to marry off and start families in the Winston and Roseburg areas, and somewhere in the early 1970's the population of children was probably larger than that of the adults.

It was fortunate that there were so many children though, since there really wasn't anything for us to actually do other than play with each other. Since Roseburg Lumber was such a large supplier of forest products, there were train tracks criss-crossing the town that effectively cut it into zones (at least for the children who weren't allowed to cross the tracks without a parent -that being all of us-). Roseburg was actually quite a beautiful town, with many lush parks for the children to play in, all connected by miles upon miles of paved bike paths. All of which were also across tracks, so most children weren't allowed to tread them without an accompanying adult.

When I was around six years old, a rumor began to circulate among the kids that a girl was murdered on the bike trail. I was never able to actually confirm the information through my parents, but the fact that they wouldn't actually deny it either led me to believe that it was probably true. After that point no kids were really allowed on the bike trail without their parents. Not that it was a law or mandate, unless you consider boundaries established by parents to be such. This turned the whole town of Roseburg into no more than one block to me; bordered by railroad tracks to two sides and major (4 lane) streets on the other two.

If I would have been older when I lived there, I would have had access to a car and a little bit more freedom. In that case, I could have seen how big it really was. The town went on in fits and spurts for miles. The names would change as you left the city limits, there were names like Green, Melrose, Winchester, all still part of Roseburg (at least most considered them so), but just on the outskirts. All of them were small, and the citizens were pretty territorial, but we were all part of that wonderful little community. A community that was exactly one block to me.

Roseburg had a drive-in movie theater, as well as a traditional one. Some of my greatest memories involve watching movies there. I watched E.T. at the traditional theater, on opening weekend. It was during a canned food drive, so the entrance fee was literally a can of corn (creamed in my case). I watched a double feature at the drive in with my Mom and Brothers. The movies were Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn, and Beastmaster. I actually watched Beastmaster, but fell asleep during Star Trek. The only thing I remember about that one is the I had nightmares about earwigs (slang for a type of bug) for weeks afterwards. The drive-in has since closed, and was subsequently replaced by a warehouse foods store. The other theater may still be there, but I think it only had two screens, so it probably lost in competition to AMC or Harkins by now.

A trip to the movies was the ultimate night for a kid, but it required extensive planning and willing parents. My parents were willing to go to the theater, of course, but for reasons that I couldn't understand back then, they didn't want to see the same movie 9 times. Roller skating was another popular activity, but it also required willing parents. This one was easier achieved though, since they could just drop us off at the doors and pick us up three hours later. The skating rink was managed in a way that it was not possible to get in without a ticket (exceptions were made for parents), and the doors were locked to keep out any unscrupulous, bike-trail murderers (of course you could get out from the inside, you just couldn't get in. It was effectively a large baby-sitting room for the three hours that we were there).

The only other forms of entertainment were the ones that we created ourselves. Every kid with any sort of a reputation had an obstacle course for bicycles in his back yard. If your yard was too small, you could still be one of the in kids so long as you took the time to build a nice little action figure war zone for the myriad G.I. Joe, He-Man, Transformer, Go-Bots that we all had. As I say, we were all limited to that one block, we really had to reach for entertaining things to do.

Roseburg did have one event that parents as well as children really enjoyed though (and I probably should put fathers and sons, but I don't want to be sexist): Racing. Every Saturday night (I am sure there was actually a racing season, but in my memory it was every Saturday), drivers would flock to the local fairgrounds to battle it out for nothing more than bragging rights. I don't think there was a trophy or a points system, just a bunch of guys who wanted to race and took advantage of the opportunity.

The race track was small, I think it was a quarter mile. The 8 cars would line up to start and the rear cars would be in the final turn. They would go around a lap or two awaiting the green flag, then the engines would roar in the way that only a racecar (or the amplification from the covered grandstands, not sure which) could. The night would disappear in the smoke of the tires and thunder of the engines as the cars tore through the turns at speeds possibly in excess of thirty miles per hour. To the strightaways, where the drivers would again gun the engines hoping to pass the guy in front of them, or stay ahead of the one behind them, before the next turn, which could really only be taken in single file. After some amount of laps (or when the audience got bored), the checkered flag would come out and a victor would emerge. Until the same time next week when it all happened again.

That was the stock cars though. And the stock cars was by far the least exciting event. The stock cars all had logos covering their freshly painted bodies, and many of the drivers were not local boys, we wanted to see the real racers. The real racers (in my eyes) were the ones the competed in the other two events: J-cars and Sprint cars.

The sprint cars were a hell of a lot of fun to watch (if you are unfamiliar with them, you can see what they look like here). Sprint cars really thrive on small tracks like that. They are small and nimble enough that they don't have to lock up their brakes before the turns, and because of that, there was a lot of edge-of-your-seat action as you watched. You would be praying that they made it through the turns without rolling over, but at the same time hoping that they would roll over. The crashes were amazing to watch, as there was never a minor fender-bender with a sprint car, it was pretty horrific if they missed a turn or rolled over. There was one event where we watched one of them miss the corner, crash through the wall, and tumble several times before stopping several hundred yards out of the stadium. Always fun to watch, the sprint cars.

The J-car event was always the local favorite though. I think J-car is supposed to stand for jalopy, and these cars definitely fit that bill. The sprint and stock cars were mostly in actual racing circuits, and Roseburg was small potatoes to them, but the J-cars were all local boys, none of them sponsored, all racing just to race. The cars were as varied as they could be, since anyone with an old Ford Fairlane and a roll cage could sign up. We all had our favorite local driver, and though I have long since forgotten his name, my favorite was the one that drove the 07 car.

The J-cars weren't meant to be a demolition derby, but since the cars were all just beaters with horsepower, and the drivers were a proud bunch, they often became little more than that. The drivers weren't afraid to trade paint (well, primer) in the turns or gently nudge someone (read: push them off the track). The cars didn't go very fast, I don't think they had anything more than the dated stock suspension, but the drivers didn't let that keep them from competing harder than the drivers in the other events. At the end of the race, whoever was ahead (or whichever car was able to finish under its own power) would get kissed by a pretty girl. I really think that was the only award for winning: a kiss and bragging rights.

Something about the J-cars captivated me. I really wanted to be one of the drivers. It had to be a J-car though. The audience would actually boo most of the stock car drivers, and the sprint cars looked like toys (although with adult eyes, I can see that they were easily the fastest and most dangerous of all). The J-car was what I hoped to someday race. When I put a numberboard on the front of my bicycle, it wasn't because of any bicycle or motorcycle racing I had seen, it was to emulate the J-cars. Each time we went to the races, I would patiently wait for the J-cars to come out before starting to cheer like only a child can. That was truly what I hoped to do with my life.

Perhaps I should be thankful that my childhood innocence (at least as far as racing goes) would be stripped from me before it became an obsession. During one of the J-car events, there was a crash. One of the cars smashed into the the tower that the guy with the flag stands in (which is obviously made of reinforced steel) and caught on fire. The driver was knocked unconcious on impact and it took rescue crews a couple of minutes to get him out of the car. I am not sure about the severity of his injuries, but I do know that that was the last time I ever saw his car racing at the fairgrounds (to be fair though, he wouldn't have been able to race that car again anyway). That was the very first time that it ever occurred to me that you could be injured while racing. And that effectively ended my racing career long before it ever got going.

The racing continued after that horrific crash, and following the pattern of racetracks being reactive about safety (as opposed to proactive, which would save a lot of needless injury), the flag tower would be surrounded with a whole bunch of car tires. Think about that. All it would have taken to keep this guy from impacting the tower and getting (possibly) horribly injured was a stack of used car tires, but no one took the time to wonder what would happen if a car hit the reinforced steel tower at full speed. I continued to watch the races, but with far less enthusiasm than I had before I saw what could happen when things go really wrong. So someone else's misfortune probably saved me a great deal of my own.

As we step into the theatre to watch Talladega Nights, I have no doubt that it will bring back memories of those nights spent at the racetrack when I was but a lad. No doubt Will Ferrell will be playing a character that sees racing much as I saw it when I was so youth, and I am sure it will be fun to watch. If it does nothing else, it has already made me recall something that I hadn't thought about in twenty years: a happy memory of time spent with my Father. If you have read many of my posts, you know that I am always trying to come up with examples of those, but they always escape me. This is one of them. Those nights spent at that little racetrack in Roseburg, Oregon. I felt like we were friends, not Father and Son. We would talk about the drivers and the cars while we shared a popcorn and a soda, and basically just left everything else behind. Tomorrow would be different, he would be the Father again, but for that time spent under the grandstands, we were just a couple of guys watching a race. Maybe that is why it is so difficult to think of specific examples of happy memories spent with my father; it's not as though there aren't any, it's just that I found happiness in such mundane activities.

But for the love of God, did we really have to wear matching Goodyear ballcaps when we went? Sure, I did it because I wanted to be like my dad, but imagine the crap he probably got from his friends for sitting with his son -in matching caps- and sharing a popcorn and a soda, instead of drinking beer and hanging out with them. I guess he really did just want to be a good dad sometimes.


June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   July 2007   October 2007   December 2007   February 2008   August 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   July 2009   August 2009   October 2009   November 2009  

All site content is © Donnie Burgess 2006-2009
Site design was stolen directly from Blackchampagne.