On generosity.

A novel I read once — can’t remember which one — described a woman in a blouse with one too many buttons undone over abundant cleavage. The wording is lost to me, but it said something about the picture she made, somewhere between maternal and sexy, a suggestion of warmth and generosity. That’s always stuck with me, and not as an excuse to leave an extra button open. One of the advantages of having a bosom, after all, is its invitation, not to grope but to comfort. Children, friends, amusing pervs — women have been holding them to their chests throughout history. It’s just fun to say: “Come. Let me clasp you to my bosom.” Try it on a friend today. (This works for men, too.) Share the warmth.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about generosity of late, as the bad news piles up like an avalanche. There’s a meeting scheduled for early next week that could settle a few things in our household, in the sense that when a roof falls in, it eventually settles somewhere. Every time I hear another story, I find a Salvation Army bell-ringer, a help-the-homeless collection jar or someone to tip. And I stuff another bill in. It’s disgusting.

Disgusting because it’s so nakedly craven, so plainly rooted in self-interest. On the other hand, I know others who go to church, light candles and send up prayers when they find themselves under siege. After the L.A. riots in the ’90s, rich west siders poured into South Central to sweep up broken glass and do good works. Is this so different? It’s hope for a little good karma, mixed with a realization that there are others who have it far, far worse, and gratitude is called for. The stock market falls 700 points, and I know I’m about to be $5 poorer. A 700-point drop calls for a fiver in the bucket. Two hundred points and I can get away with a buck. Now that the Senate has killed the bridge-loan package for the Big Three, I might as well sign over title to my house. It won’t be worth much soon, anyway.

And generosity, even generosity meant to deflect the Evil Eye, is better than the other impulse that fights with it at the moment — incandescent anger. Apparently the Senate finally called it quits when they couldn’t agree on when American auto workers would accept the same wages paid by foreign car makers doing business here. These men and women have never accepted a pay cut in their lives, never saw a deal they couldn’t sweeten for themselves, think organized labor should be taken down a peg and start accepting shitty health care and salaries under $40,000 a year, not that any of them would consider such a thing.

I really don’t know what’s going to happen now. No one does. But the next time a hurricane comes ashore in Alabama, they can figure it out themselves. I’m feeling all out of generosity at the moment.

So what else is happening here? The New York Times liked “Gran Torino” pretty well. That’s the movie that was shot in and around Detroit and the Pointes last summer. Oh, wait:

Despite all the jokes — the scenes of Walt lighting up at female flattery and scrambling for Hmong delicacies — the film has the feel of a requiem. Melancholy is etched in every long shot of Detroit’s decimated, emptied streets and in the faces of those who remain to still walk in them. Made in the 1960s and ’70s, the Gran Torino was never a great symbol of American automotive might, which makes Walt’s love for the car more poignant. It was made by an industry that now barely makes cars, in a city that hardly works, in a country that too often has felt recently as if it can’t do anything right anymore except, every so often, make a movie like this one.

Well, OK. Seems like a good note to knock off on. I’m off to prepare for yet another job that promises little other than a heapin’ helpin’ of not cash, but personal satisfaction, i.e., citizen journalism. FTW.

Posted at 9:31 am in Detroit life, Movies |
 

74 responses to “On generosity.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 12, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Well, charitable giving has an interesting psychological component that’s pro-social as well as theologically affirmed here – http://www.zenit.org/article-24531?l=english

    (In my neighborhood growing up, a Grand Torino had plenty of cachet. I guess Manohla bought the sizzle about muscle cars and Caddys being the heart of Detroit. Walt, don’t ask what’s in those tasty Hmong spring rolls, just enjoy the translucent goodness.)

  2. brian stouder said on December 12, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Well, today I learned about the odd term “ftw”

    But I don’t know if the Proprietress meant it in the positive sense (“for the win”) or in the older, negative sense (“f*ck the world”).

    But the Republican party and conservatives are being too cute by half with this garbage…and I begin to think that the calculous is – Vote NO on the bridge loan; make the literally discredited REPUBLICAN president WHO RAN TWO NAKEDLY PARTISAN RIGHT-WING ELECTION CAMPAIGNS take the hit for doing the actually prudent, responsible thing (ie – spending money appropriated to the glass-tower bankers, to keep the big automotive companies alive) -and then label Obama as a raging socialist when he leads the new Democratic congress in forthrightly dealing with these problems in 2009 and beyond….and work to obscure the naked truth we see right now, today, about the Republican party’s “values”.

    I think that for the next 25 years, all the young voters of today will vote based on the impressions (and gaping holes!)that this crash is making

  3. coozledad said on December 12, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I hope you’re right Brian. People should be apoplectic about this.

  4. whitebeard said on December 12, 2008 at 10:59 am

    There seems to be a chance that the President will dip the bucket into the financial bailout money to help the Detroit Big 3, well, at least GM and Chrysler, and effectively tell the offensive Repugs blocking automaker loans in the Senate to clean up the messes their horses left in Washington yesterday (or was the mess from Wall Street bulls).
    Now, if there was an almighty responsible for ice storms like we are having in New England, a little shift to Alabama and Kentucky for a week or two would be most gratifying as long as the senators for those states know why it is happening. They have to be told, however, in small words because they are too blindly stupid to get the big picture.

  5. Catherine said on December 12, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Gee, I thought it stood for Forever Two Wheels.

  6. alex said on December 12, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Ah, the Gran Torino. Actually it was a pretty unremarkable car except for the fact that it had no rear leg room. It was unacceptably tight even for a small child, as I remember. In ’74 or ’75 Ford rechristened it the “Elite” and raised the claustrophobia level up another notch by putting “opera windows” in the rear instead of something you could see out of.

    Haven’t seen the movie or read anything about it, but I suppose the Gran Torino is emblematic of exactly where Detroit went wrong. It was impractical and tacky and made to disintegrate quickly in the hope that you’d be back to buy another.

  7. Connie said on December 12, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Completely unrelated: The Elkhart Truth’s list of ten ways Indiana governor Mitch Daniels is not like Gov Blagojevish; http://www.etruth.com/Know/Opinion/Story.aspx?ID=469557 My fave is number 10: 10. If the FBI ever comes after Daniels, we won’t have to worry about him hiding things under his hair.

  8. Dwight said on December 12, 2008 at 11:52 am

    If they wanted good health care, benefits, a pension, and a salary in excess of $40K, they should have made better life choices.

    They should have valued the educational opportunities that were laid before them.

    They should have gone to college. They should have made sacrifices like the rest of us. They should have chose a career complex enough that they couldn’t be replaced by another high school drop out with 3 hours of training (or a Mexican peasant who never set foot in a school in her entire lifetime).

    They aren’t entitled to doctors’ wages just because their union rep can legally extort company management.

    They ARE. NOT. ENTITLED.

    They aren’t entitled to anything more than the equivalent global labor rate for unskilled labor.

    You want to tell doctors and chemical engineers at big pharma they are paid too much.

    And then you want to tell the American car buying public that uneducated unskilled labor is paid too little.

    You are a proud, middle-finger Darwinist when it comes to the Governor of Alaska.

    And then when Darwinism comes for the union after 30 years of bad choices… Mmmm. Not so much into Darwinism then.

    This is a rare opportunity for big business and their govt counterparts to break the auto union. Bet your bottom dollar that they will take this all the way to bankruptsy restructuring. Five years from now when the population of Detroit has adjusted to long term job security and lower wages, it will all make sense. And you can move on to other injustices of logic, like why Detroit doesn’t have weather as nice as San Diego.

    After all… YOU ARE ENTITLED to that nice weather.

  9. Jeff Borden said on December 12, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Dwight,

    Your view on traditional blue collar jobs reeks of classism, which I guess is your intent. I guess you’re a big fan of “Atlas Shrugged,” eh? But you are divorced from reality in your dismissal of all these workers as “unskilled.”

    Mechanics, for example, are no longer grease monkeys wielding wrenches. They’re using computers, diagnostics, specialized tools and training to keep the increasingly complex machinery in modern autos humming. On the assembly line, these men and women are using extraordinarily complex machinery and robotics to build cars that far exceed the quality of automobiles of yore.

    Whatever your profession, Dwight, I sincerely hope you never have to face the kind of epochal changes the manufacturing sector now confronts because I will be there to lecture you on your poor life choices and your inability to properly exploit the educational opportunities laid before you.

  10. Julie Robinson said on December 12, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    No comforting bosoms for you, Dwight!

  11. Catherine said on December 12, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    My husband just told me he’s invited to the dreaded all-hands meeting this afternoon. Happy Christmas! PS, there will be layoffs. I could write the agenda in my sleep.

  12. Jeff Borden said on December 12, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Julie,

    I’m sure Dwight will be criticizing you for the life choices your bosoms have made in rejecting him, LOL. Sheesh, this guy makes Mr. Potter look like Santa Claus.

  13. beb said on December 12, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    More than ever the Republican party is only about getting power, keeping power and prevent anyone else from having power. Has there been a Deocratic proposal that the Republicans have gone along with? I don’t think so. They don’t care for the good of the nation only the good of the party.

  14. beb said on December 12, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Any one know of a doctor making $55, 000 or less a year? Calling UAW wages “doctor’s wages” seemes pretty unrealistic.

  15. Danny said on December 12, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    beb, I really don’t mind criticism of the Republicans, but your statement ignores the simple fact that there ain’t a dime bit of difference between the two parties. When it comes to what is good for the party versus what is good for the nation, the former is the goal and the latter is only the rare coincidence… for both parties.

  16. John c said on December 12, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Certainly the unions have pushed too far, Dwight. But I’m curious, where do you want to stop? Will you be happy with six-day-work weeks? How about all those expensive safety measures? Clearly we shouldn’t care if a worthless slob who couldn’t even hack college looses an arm or a leg, or their life.
    And when you say “lower paying job security with lower wages,” what exactly do you mean? Toyota and Honda are non-union, with lower wages, and they’re shutting down North American plants like mad these days, because no one is buying cars.

  17. John c said on December 12, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Also Dwight, people often confuse the $74 per hour US companies pay on average for the typical worker wages. That number is the total cost for labor. It includes huge amounts for pension and health care. GM, for example, has about 180,000 employees and dropping. It provide health care, however, for more than one million people.

  18. Gena said on December 12, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    It’s one thing for the union to get busted. It’s another for it to be busted by the US Congress.

  19. Danny said on December 12, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Gena, it’s probably more accurate to say that the UAW is going to be busted by the convergence of its own greed, the greed of management and the spiralling economy. Congressional action would probably only delay the inevitable. Congressional inaction would probably be the quickest path to an eventual turn around.

    Of course, all may be rendered moot by executive action. TBD.

  20. moe99 said on December 12, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Danny, I would have agreed with you in 2000 that there was not a dime’s worth of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. After 8 years of the cravenness and mendacity of Bush, I KNOW BETTER. You are profoundly mistaken, my man. But I find I repeat myself.

    Edit: Danny, here is something from Josh Marshall that illustrates why Repubs are different from Dems:

    What Happened
    12.12.08 — 9:48AM By Josh Marshall
    A quick update from a knowledgeable source who works in that big building with the dome …

    I don’t think it’ll be hard to explain why Senate Republicans had the final say: that’s what the Constitution and Senate rules require. How else would we have passed anything?
    I do think it’ll be hard for Senate Republicans to explain themselves.

    They were invited, repeatedly, to participate in more than a week of negotiations with a Republican White House. They declined.

    They were asked to provide an alternative bill. They refused.

    Finally, one of their members – Senator Corker of Tennessee – participated in a day-long negotiation with Senate Democrats, the UAW, and bondholders. Everyone made major concessions. Democrats gave up efficiency and emissions standards. UAW accepted major benefit cuts and agreed to reduce workers’ wages. Bondholders signed off on a serious haircut. But when Senator Corker took the deal back to the Republican Conference, they argued for two hours and ultimately rejected it.

    Why? Because they wanted the federal government to forcibly reduce the wages of American workers within the next 12 months.

    Heard this morning that President Bush may still use TARP money to rescue the automakers. He reportedly doesn’t want to end up as the next Hoover.

    Oh, and when have the Republican Senators ever agreed to take a pay cut of their own for the public good? Thought so.

  21. jolene said on December 12, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    It’s a while since I’ve read anything as dominated by meanness as your post, Dwight. Certainly, I’ve never read any such thing here. Your attitude toward the autoworkers seems to go well beyond anything associated with business decisions. Sounds like you think they don’t deserve to live.

    Even if you felt the only economically rational thing to do is allow GM to collapse, a little compassion for those who will suffer most is in order.

  22. Danny said on December 12, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    You are profoundly mistaken, my man. But I find I repeat myself.

    Hee! 🙂

  23. brian stouder said on December 12, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Leaving aside Dwight, and thinking more of our national government:

    didja notice the stark contrast between the microcosm that the Proprietress illuminates, wherein her reflexive response to hard times is to GIVE a buck (or five) to some worthy cause – and then label her act “craven”(!!); whereas, in the macro world, our GOP members of congress respond to hard times with a “go to hell” “bankruptcy ain’t so bad” “let’s kick the blue collar guys in the teeth” attitude, and then thump their chests with a bursting sense of pride at how upright and pure and realistic they are acting?

    By the way, Fort Wayne’s relatively new GM pickup truck plant is shutting down; the company attributes the closure to the speed and severity of the plunge in auto sales.

    Aside from that – here’s a little bit of holiday sweetness, from the viewpoint of a 4 year old

    http://www.scrapsoflife-pam.blogspot.com/

  24. John said on December 12, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    The lady in charge starts by talking about bosom-y hugs and everyone wants to talk politics and union busting? Something is wrong in here!

    I, for one, remember that summer when I changed from trying to escape bosoms to actively pursuing the clutches of a well-rounded woman. Some 40 odd years later, I still welcome the warm hugs.

  25. Gasman said on December 12, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Dwight,
    You betray your sentiments when you resort to the tired old chestnuts of the anti-unionist crowd. You speak as one who has much contempt for unions but scant direct experience with them. I know of the abuses that have plagued the reputation of unions, but I have also been a member of a union. I know how important they still are in today’s workplace.

    I worked two different jobs for the same company, one was a union job and one wasn’t. There was absolutely no comparison as to which was the better position. In the non-union position I was salaried, so I got no overtime, even if that meant working 90+ hours per week. In the union job, my time was meted out humanely, with no unscheduled overtime. I earned my pay in each position, but the company showed much more respect for me in my union position.

    You seem to assume that unions are wholly evil, that union members are lazy hucksters that are scamming the system. If indeed that is your position, you are being ridiculously over simplistic and tarring a whole swath of the American labor force with very broad brushstrokes. Union members should and will take a hit in solving this crisis, but they bear no more than a share of the blame.

    If our current financial crisis has taught us anything it is that no, the market is not naturally self regulating. Free markets are wonderful concepts on paper. In the real world, however, real people exercise real greed. Why are you so hard on union workers and not the obscenely paid CEOs and upper management of the Big 3? You’ve heaped an undue share of blame on the working stiffs who have actually gotten their hands dirty turning out products rather than those running the company. If the ship runs aground, don’t blame the deckhands, look to the wheelhouse. The captain calls the shots.

    You admonish that “They ARE. NOT. ENTITLED.” Are the CEOs entitled to being given bonuses when their companies stock values decline? Are they entitled to not being held accountable for their job performance? Are they entitled to retain their jobs when they so hopelessly misread the market in terms of what products they offer? You wax apoplectic about union members entitlements, but when was the last time you ever heard of union member screwing up his job miserably for years and then getting bonuses that equalled or exceeded his salary?

    Free markets are only truly free if all parties at the table are equally represented; both management AND labor. The last 30 years has been this experiment in management chasing the lowest cost labor around the globe while simultaneously shipping both blue and white collar jobs overseas. This is an unsustainable experiment whose results are now being felt. You cannot destroy the earning power of the working class without creating catastrophic results.

    Your admonition to union members is that “ They should have valued the educational opportunities that were laid before them” is also over simplistic and naive. I’ve got a doctorate and 7 years ago I was laid off from a tenure track college faculty position. I am extremely educated in a very narrow field. There were no positions available nationally in my field for years. I then tried to get work outside my field, but I was usually considered overqualified or it was assumed that I would leave at the earliest opportunity. The real world is often not a meritocracy. Believe me, educated people are also vulnerable to the vagaries of our present economic turmoil.

    If you think that our economic woes are limited to only the uneducated, then it is you my friend that is in need of an education.

  26. Dexter said on December 12, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I have been dealing with assholes like Dwight for decades…I am a retired UAW worker and I served on union committees and was trustee for our local.
    There will be no changing his mind unless he wants to see the light, but I know from experience these people are just plain hard-asses. No pissing-match with me, scumbag. You are a fucking moron.
    I hope some of you fine educated folks saw our President, Ron Gettlefinger today in the late morning; msnbc and cnn covered his presser…that might have been a first for Gettlefinger.
    I won’t go over the transcript, but of interest to this topic, Ron produced a document from Toyota which showed that Toyota pays about $30.78 per hour (based on the Tennessee Toyota plant) while GM workers were at $28.45.
    Got that? TOYOTA ALREADY PAYS MORE!
    Gettlefinger reported that if these Senators demand wage-parity with Japanese-American plants, they better be able to open their books and have the UAW team see the documents on compensation, and other factors, wage structuring plans for the future….everything.
    Subterfuge also entered his report…the UAW was being set-up by the Republican southern senators yesterday…thank God we have Ron Gettlefinger and his team on guard for the union . Oh…Ron reported that GM executives are getting a healthy pay-raise in January.
    I have met Ron a few times (he was our Region Rep for a term) and I have marched with him in a parade. He’s “good people”, and he’s smart and he don’t take no shit.

  27. jolene said on December 12, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Aside from that – here’s a little bit of holiday sweetness, from the viewpoint of a 4 year old

    Adorable, Brian. Sweet, indeed.

  28. Julie Robinson said on December 12, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Thank heaven for little girls, and not in the dirty, Maurice Chevalier way. May Chloe ever stay that sweet. Reminded me of another sweet 4 year old a few years back. We have Sarah on video singing a verse of In the Bleak Midwinter and being mightily distracted by a candle’s escaping spark. It’s worth quoting in this present bleak midwinter: “What can I give him, poor that I am? If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb. If I were a wiseman, I would do my part. Yet what can I give him? Give him my heart”. We will all need to give our hearts (read compassion and help) to each other to make it through this mess.

  29. alex said on December 12, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    We will all need to give our hearts (read compassion and help) to each other to make it through this mess.

    While we’re at it, anyone have some brains to spare for our neocon friends?

  30. MichaelG said on December 12, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Jeez, Alex. I need all the brains I’ve got. I’m barely getting by as it is.

  31. del said on December 12, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    What Gasman said.

  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 12, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I assume the southern R senators are trying to get a concession on card check before they approve anything. Realpolitik, y’know.

    But i did think Dwight’s piece was ironic parody until two-thirds through. Someday i’ll quit starting from the baseline assumption that everyone wants to share information and come to reasoned disagreement through constructive dialogue.

    If the boards and management of the auto companies don’t get tossed as a condition of getting the cash, it’s a missed opportunity — yes, they should have required that on Wall Street, but it’s not too late to get smart (and they do all kinds of retroactive stuff on Capitol Hill, why not on that bill, too). Those board members should have to pay back their honoraria to shareholders IMHO.

    (And there’s still the awkward question of which company goes, because i just don’t see how all three can be saved.)

  33. Dexter said on December 12, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Jmmo: It won’t be Ford…they still have cash.
    Here’s some video of Gettlefinger’s presser.

  34. Jeff Borden said on December 12, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Poor Detroit. Check out this story . . .

    “The publisher of the Detroit Free Press, the country’s 20th largest paper by weekday circulation, is expected to announce next week that it will cease home delivery of the print edition of the newspaper on most days of the week, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking.
    The publisher hasn’t made a final decision, said this person, but the leading scenario set to be unveiled Tuesday would call for the Free Press and its partner paper, the Detroit News, to end home delivery on all but the most lucrative days–Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On the other days, the publisher would sell single copies of an abbreviated print edition at newsstands and direct readers to the papers’ expanded digital editions.”

    Well, as our buddy Dwight would probably note, it’s the fault of these journalists/pressmen/salespeople/etc. for making bad life decisions and not availing themselves of the educational opportunities presented to them.

  35. LA Mary said on December 12, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Dwight’s troubled teen years have left him bitter.

    I tend to give money or things away when the going gets dicey. After the 94 quake, I handed a 20 to a homeless guy, just becuase I could.
    You have to toss some good karma into the universe to hope to get any back. Listen to me Dwight. I’m far from a teen and I’ve been through a lot. Lose the bitterness now while you’re young and you’ll get laid a lot more.

  36. whitebeard said on December 12, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Re Dexter says: “I have been dealing with assholes like Dwight for decades…I am a retired UAW worker and I served on union committees and was trustee for our local.”
    I quit high school when I was 16, joined the Steelworkers Union a few years later and was amused and amazed at some of its antics but I was never an anti-union hard-ass like Dwight.
    Then, after I left to enter the news reporting field, that Steelworkers Union, Local 2251 if I recall correctly, created a group health center for union members and their families that was a model for health care in Canada with its own doctors and specialists that turned the greedy, evil conventional insurance company/private doctor model on its ass and won my praise forever.
    Unions have done immense good work for worker health, worker safety and worker earnings that have spread to many in the non-union population, but not far enough as long as anti-union, anti-fair pay Draconian thugs like Dwight still breathe.
    I never officially joined a union again and have done a stint in management but I believe in the right to form a union to oppose management greed, does WalMart ring a bell?

  37. caliban said on December 12, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Vittera? What the hell is wrong with people? Here’s the deal. The car companies are asking for one in 50 compared to the 700bil no strings apparently attached. Manufacturing juobs vs. pirates and crooks.

    If those senators aren’t in the bag, what the guck are they talking about? When they run next, will they sport VW and Nissan logos? The idea that there are US Senators that would like to promote a Depression for political and their Parties gain at evereyones detriment, well, that’s what Cheney pulled.

  38. beb said on December 12, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Just how long does the Free Press expects to live without home delivery? Mostly today home delivery is for delivering all the advertising suppliments. Without home delivery all those stores are going to find some other way to distribute their ads — and there goes all the Freep’s advertising revenue.

  39. caliban said on December 12, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    When I was a kid, I delivered the Free Press. Mitch McConell has some typically Republican mindless thing about the UAW. His wingman is Vitters. Couple of zombies that characterize culture of corruption. Mitch believes that filling creeks with slag is good for the Eastern aquifer. He’s what amounts to a war criminal.

    Blaggo is pretty bad. Do his transgressions come close to the Project for the New Century weasels? Not close. These are aholes that think the only thing wrong with Nixon was that he didn’t get away with it.

    And that mother cum sex thing, that’s Montana Wildhack. Sometime the big brain is just the big brain.

  40. MichaelG said on December 12, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Politicians have been known to withstand sex scandals, $$ scandals, nepotism, influence peddling, doofisism, you name it. The one thing a politician cannot survive is becoming a laughingstock. Blago is a laughingstock. He’s toast.

  41. caliban said on December 13, 2008 at 12:01 am

    It really does seem as if some rich Republicans want to start a depression. I’d say that makes them traitors.

    What we’re all left with is this: Detroit may have made really stupid moves. Wall Street robbed everybody blind. So let’s give Wall Street $700billion with no controls and fuck over the car companies and the several million people that depend on them for a livelihood. This is bullshit.

    Way back, HW bush set up a tarbaby in Somalia for Clinton. It’s tje kind of creepy vindictive things these people do. They deal in innuendo, and they set booby-traps.

    Swiftboat was 100% bullhit and the PNACenturions hated Kerry because he exposed their crooked ases inluding Raygun. Please. W’s dad pardoned his own guilty ass.

    Blagojevich. Petty crime. Cheney and his henchman, major leagus corruption. To the yune of th entite deficit. It was $5tr4illion in the black when these crooks took over. They didn’t make government small enough to drown it in the bathtub, they just ravaged it for all it was worth.

    Andd the rest of us, and the future we have to live in, sorry.

  42. MichaelG said on December 13, 2008 at 1:29 am

    Some thoughts about cars: I’ve been a car enthusiast for fifty years. At present, my job has had me driving a minimum of three or four rental cars a month for the last five or six years. That means I’ve tried lots of cars.

    Advances in safety and fuel efficiency in autos have come about because congress mandated them. Detroit fought each advance tooth and nail. The Japanese and the Europeans (where European is spelled G E R M A N Y) just buckled down and made the cars.

    Detroit made shrunken versions of their full sized cars rather than genuine small cars and then discovered that they could sell pick ups and SUVs. Review ads over the last twenty years and look at the ratio of ads for large vehicles to cars. Uh-huh. Detroit was committed to the big stuff and only made the small stuff as required.

    Does anybody even know how many SUVs Ford makes? Other than the Focus, Ford doesn’t even have a Ford car in its inventory anymore. All the other cars in the FOMOCO line-up are tarted up Volvos or Mazdas.

    Honda and Toyota have been making Accords, Camrys, Civics and Corollas for what? Twenty, twenty five years? In that time Ford and GM have introduced and discarded dozens of models. When you bought a GM or Ford auto in the last couple of decades it was guaranteed to be an orphan by the time you wanted to sell it. So much for resale value. So much for brand loyalty and continuity. Oh, and yeah, check the prices for used Hondas and Toyotas. Too bad about the resale value of your Detroit iron.

    Both Ford and GM manufacture excellent cars in Europe and Australia. Why aren’t they taking advantage of those autos and saving zillions of dollars by developing a car for all markets and making regional modifications as necessary? Every other manufacturer in the world does.

    I saw an article a few years ago that featured a comparison of dollars spent on engineering versus marketing. It was astounding. The small three were spending far more money on peddling the cars (this includes rebates) than on designing them and making them right.

    Over the last couple of years it seems that GM has been beginning to get it but we’re talking about turning the Titanic a quarter mile before the berg. This has to be the influence of Bob Lutz. A car guy. Waggoner’s a finance guy. Nardelli at Chrysler is a guy who was fired for running Home Depot into the ground. Mullaly at Ford is a production guy who is noted for taking the Boeing 777 from the drawing board to the air. None of these champs has a background as a business manager or as somebody who has any knowledge about or interest in cars.

    My point? Detroit has done everything possible to shoot itself in the foot. Over and over and over.

    In recent years GM has started to get it and has begun to field a range of cars that is respectable on the world stage. They still need to dump two or three dozen SUV models.

    Ford needs to develop a car. A FORD that is competitive on the world stage. They need something analogous to the wonderful “shoebox” they debuted in 1949.

    Chrysler was a prosperous and forward moving auto company when it was sold to MBZ. A tale all by itself. MBZ raped the company and dumped it. The current owner of Chrysler is a corporate disposal outfit, not a car company. Chrysler’s demise is a foregone conclusion.

    There has been a certain interest in Chevy’s Malibu expressed here in NN.c. Particularly in the hybrid model. In my unceasing efforts to serve the NN.c community, I undertook this week to test a 2009 Malibu. It was the cheapo model with a four banger gas engine. The car has the current arched body style that looks so gorgeous in the one MBZ model but does not work well on a cliche basis. The A-pillar is thick, the top is low and the sill high so that one has the feeling of being in a tank. Other than the basic criticism, it is a particularly attractive example of the genre. The proportions are right and it has a good stance. Inside, the drab, monochromatic GM gray has given way to a three toned gray. The once glaring dash-top is now non-glare (a big deal, believe me). There has been a conscious effort to style the interior and it shows. It has gone from stupidly cheap to merely chintzy. Drive one and check out the green highlights on the gauges, the plastic chrome on the heater controls. Whatever, it’s a major improvement.

    The driver’s seat was excellent. Let me repeat that. The driver’s seat was excellent. It was comfortable with good lumbar support and just the right degree of firmness. The driver’s position was also excellent. The wheel was large for a contemporary car but that’s fine with me. I like a big steering wheel. The radio had real knobs.

    The car tracked well and felt comfortable, smooth and quiet on the freeway. The steering was weighted to provide feel but what felt great in town felt heavy on I-5. I wish I had had the opportunity to try the car on the twistys but from what I did feel, I would expect the Malibu to be very competent on a winding road. I didn’t check the back seat or trunk.

    Bottom line? The car was a dramatic improvement on previous iterations of the Malibu. Beyond dramatic. This car is worlds beyond previous Malibus in looks and performance. I’ve driven them all.

    And yet, GM still can’t help themselves in cheapening the product. No passenger grab handle. The door, when open, requires the driver to lean way our or to put a foot on the ground to retrieve it and . . . All I can say is drive a small three product and then drive a Honda or Toyota. You’ll see what it’s all about. There is much more to a car than simple reliability which all cars have these days. There is the list of amenities, of comfort features, of things on which the small three has decided to save three dollars per car. I recently drove the current generation VW Passat which looks exactly like a Malibu. Between the Malibu and the Passat, I’d take the Passat in a heartbeat.

    Sorry to take up so much space. I try to keep my comments light but every now and then I can’t help putting my two pence in.

  43. Gasman said on December 13, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Only 3 puppies left on the puppycam. The rest may be moving on this weekend.

    Bonne chance et ont une bonne vie mes amis! (It’s a little known fact that all puppies and birds understand French.)

  44. caliban said on December 13, 2008 at 3:43 am

    Well, there’s mes amis and there’s mes vieux. The former are more likely to be puppified. The latter will be around when the petite hounds are pissing on your rugs. It’s not a monde de chien, but it should be, if nobility, bravery and a handshake meant a damn anymore.

  45. caliban said on December 13, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Profiles in snuffling for corporate truffles on the end of a leash with an obscene choke collar: Shelby, McConnell, Vitter (why ism’t this ahole relegated to Fox Network with the rest of the sex for cash loofahs?). If these recalcitrant assholes think the UAW is the villain, I guess they think the Frist Family holds the key to health care. If Americans are buying this bullshit while the corporate criminals run amuck with the $700billion, they get what they deserve, and I say ‘they’ because I’ve had it and I’ve resigned my citizenship.

    Blaggo never dreamed of the kind of cash that Mercedes-Benz has pumped into Shelby’s campaign fund, and the tax breaks would pay for the entire Chrysler bailout. I fuess thiis is like a lot of things It’s painful to think people are just stupid. If a man doesn’t care about another keeping his jpb, well, that’s time to resign from the human race and just take the cash. That’s what these asshole Southren Senators have done.

    It’s a time for statesmanship. Way back in about 1963 Republicans abandoned patriotism gor partisanship, and they’ve been waging war on Americans ever since. That overpaid union autoworker? She is making pennies to the $100 dollar bill being paid the crooks that devised the economic decline. $700 billion for the rapists to spend however they like. Nothing for the worrkng man.

    First thing, we kill all the argatrageurs. Adam Smith didn’t reach down a benevplent hand and tell all those hedge fund criminals there was some sort of bounty. They stole everybody’s money. They stole everybody’s money. And Henry Paulson and Bernanke say give ’em another $700ni;;ion with np forseeable restraints. But ONE FIFTIETH of that to save manufacturing jobs, well, we step aside and get fahrvernugen. What’s the total on the tax breaks for VW and Mercedes and Nissan, et al? Boy I bet it beats that $14 villion by a long shot.

    This is a case of ridiculously corrupt Republican Senators serving cor[prate masters and tucking it to people that work for a living and belong to the UAW. But. I mean, if you hold with unions then you must be a fellow traveler so we’ve got all your phone conversations on file and it’s only a matter of time till your ass is in Guantanamo and if you don’t fess up we’ll ship you to Syria
    , which is a terriss state but they’ll ignore human rights when we want them to.

    In 1998. the disgusting weasels of the Project for the New American Century tried to talk Clinton into invading Iraq. Then they became the Stovepipe Gang. It’s entirely possible that this whole thing was meant to enrich Dickless Cheney. We’re confronted with a bizarre world in which Blackwater shackos can shoot innocent people because they feel like it, and incurious George will give one of those murderers a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Or Chuck fucking Colson, who walked over his grandma to get that spectactularly devalued award. Chuck Colson? Now W is a nitwit, but those oeople getting paid obscene cash to try to create a legacy? Chuck Colson?

    What I think about this may be illuminating. Republicans, and specifically those William Kristol and George Will andwhoever, goddamn they hate this. Whatever he says, George Will believes the presikdent is supposed to be a white guy. Mo he’s Tiger Woods. I don’t know, their grammar’s marginally better but can ypu actually tell them from Jonah Goldberg? We now they’re not that Lowry guy, because nobody seems to be rubbing one off amd imagining Ssrah Palin.

    Now, who’s the moron that thinks George Will knows dick anout baseball. George Will actually believes people gibe a fuck what sort of eelyomynarycrap passes his liver-lips. Jesus. He stole the debate book. Does he think that makes him a hero? Saving plebeians from not having a Sundowner president.

    The second

  46. Terry WAlter said on December 13, 2008 at 7:54 am

    I get tired of hearing about the education cure-all for un-underemployment. We all know how manufacturing has been shipped across the border. But now engineering and computer jobs are being sent away too. Or at the prodding of a-holes like T.J. Rogers at Cypress Semiconductor, give them visas to come here & undercut us. Just what is it that we’re supposed to get educated in that our ‘leaders’ won’t blindly or willfully torpedo?

  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 13, 2008 at 8:16 am

    MichaelG, thank you. Interesting. I need enough room to not bang my head on the door frame every time the car hits a bump, and since the Neon went to its second generation, i’ve had to bump up a size, so my knowledge and understanding of sub-compacts and compacts is minimal. Ford’s Country Sedan, Granada, and last gen Fox type LTD all served me well – the Taurus started well, but quickly went cheap the way you describe, in odd bits and pieces that left you feeling like you were in a very large toy, when the frame and engine and all were just fine.

    We’ve been very happy with Impalas lately, and i dread the idea of creeping back down the size ladder (the Saudis may have a vote on that in the next decade, tho’), and that’s where i wonder about what the overseas market can provide. I don’t want an SUV or an Escalade let alone a Hummer, but i don’t want to get in and out of a Malibu seven times a day at 6’5″, so if there’s no more sedan/mid-size cars in a few years, what’s going to be the choice?

    Clearly Ford is proving business-model-wise that this is not an unavoidable crisis, which is an issue if you buy the “only two can survive” theory. That means somehow Washington has to decide between GM & Chrysler — i can’t imagine that the choice is other than GM, with piece of Chrysler bought and folded in, so are there corporate interests fighting off that outcome behind the scenes (i.e., Cerberus, Snow, Quayle, Feinberg), leading to public stalemate and ginning up the distraction of setting union folk against southern R senators (which is real, but not the actual deal stopper/breaker)? That’s a high probability scenario in my guesstimation.

  48. deb said on December 13, 2008 at 8:42 am

    nance, i just wanted to say that i think your approach to all this — the worse it gets for me, the more i reach out to others — is not only noble but a good way to keep ourselves sane. i was so, so impressed watching your governor yesterday. she could’ve ripped congress from stem to stern. instead, she suggested we do what we can to help each other through this. she and her husband bought automotive stock as christmas gifts for their grandkids. she encouraged everyone who can actually get credit to buy an american-made car. i know some will laugh at these suggestions (greetings, dwight, and god help me if you’re ever in a position to affect the lives of people i care about). but there is something deeply moving about this approach. times like this should speak to our better angels, not inspire condescending pot shots at hard-working people who are performing jobs that dwight would never, ever deign to do.

  49. Jolene said on December 13, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Terry:

    Good on ya for resisting the idea that more education is the answer to our problems. It can’t hurt, but, to point to the obvious, being really good at her job didn’t help Nancy keep it. Same for the thousands of people w/ master’s degrees in software engineering who’ve seen their jobs go to India. I could go on, but it’s not a difficult point to understand.

    And yes, thanks, MichaelG, for the straight-on comments re the resistance of the industry. As so many have said, it’s not the UAW that has made these maladaptive design decisions over and over. Seat belts, air bags, fuel efficiency standards and, I’m sure, standards for occupational safety and environmental protection. They’ve resisted it all. A couple of weeks ago, I read an interesting article about design processes in Detroit vs. in the Japanese firms, and I felt as if I were reading one of the articles I read in the ’80s re what the Japanese did to ensure quality vs. us.

    I know they have made a lot of changes in the past few years, and I hpe that having looked death in the face will keep them focused.

    And, yes, the difference between listening to Granholm and listening to Shelby is remarkable.

  50. Danny said on December 13, 2008 at 10:39 am

    MichaelG, that was an awesome review. Very thoughtful. Thanks, it made me look at a few car ads. We’ve discussed pulling the trigger on a new car for our household. May have to consider an Impala.

    A couple questions: First, what is an A-pillar and second, how did you find the visibility through the back window? Some vehicles have such an angle on the back glass that the projected plane view is too small.

    Jeff, 6’5″? Watch your head, you big freakin’ oaf!

  51. crinoidgirl said on December 13, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Danny –

    The A-pillar is the part of the vehicle between the windshield and the side window. (The B-pillar is the section between the two side windows. Etcetera.)

  52. Colleen said on December 13, 2008 at 11:23 am

    One of Husband’s complaints about his former car, a PT Cruiser (which was actually a very practical vehicle) was that cars would seemingly come out of the A pillar…there was some kind of weird blind spot…you think it’s clear and then…AAGH…where did that guy come from?

    Interesting points being made in this thread. I will admit to being no fan of the UAW. But at the same time, the leaders who led the companies down the wrong path DO bear the brunt of the responsibility, and yes, they should pay.

    News yesterday that the FW GM plan is being idled for a bit. I just keep flashing back to Harvester. Good god. If that happens again….

  53. MichaelG said on December 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    C-girl has the A-pillar, Danny. Rear vision in virtually all cars is obstructed by the rear seat head rests. I would remove them. The C-pillar (the rear most roof support at the back widow) tends to be wide on these cars as well and the roof slopes down and with all the headrests tends to impede views over one’s shoulders, right or left. Like peering around trees.

    One thing the manufacturers could look back to the ’50s and early ’60s for is the design of the greenhouse and interiors. In those days they strove to make all the roof supports (the pillars A through C) as small and unobtrusive as possible. Interior colors on upholstery, door panels and dash were bright and varied. The result was bright airy and cheerful interiors.

    Go here http://www.brockersbeautys.com/ or any of dozens of other sites and look at the ‘50s cars. Then the late 60’s. You can see the change. I’m not suggesting any slavish retro stuff, but the idea of lightness, color and airiness (are those words?) is certainly worth considering for future designs.

    And yes, I favor the auto bail out and yes I think Caliban reflects my feelings about the Wall St bail out. My only problem with the auto bail out is my fear that the boys will just put the money in the checking account and continue on until that money is gone and what then?

  54. Jolene said on December 13, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    MichaelG:

    Not too long ago, I heard Chris Matthews say that Detroit needed to build cars that people fall in love with. It’s a teenaged boy’s fantasy, but there’s something to it. I don’t keep track of what’s happening w/ new cars, but, I haven’t seen much emphasis on romance. Like lightness, airiness, and such, it’s worth remembering that people—some people, at least— want to love their cars.

  55. Dexter said on December 13, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    MichaelG: Ford did very well with the Fiesta in Europe, then developed the Ka. The Ka is a remarkable little car . I waited for it to come to US shores, but it didn’t happen. The US driving population has been spoiled by the luxury of the Navigators and Tahoes and the Ka would have only commanded a niche market. The car is wildly popular, many fan clubs for the enthusiasts.
    In 1977 I bought a Honda CVCC hatchback. It was rated at over 50 mpg on the highway but I got 35. A poster reported that his got 47…now 32 model years have passed and Chevrolet brags on the Cobalt getting 35 mpg.

  56. basset said on December 13, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Well put, MichaelG. The last two times Mrs. Basset and I have bought cars, it never even crossed our minds to look at a US nameplate – we ended up with a Toyota built in Kentucky and a Subaru built in Indiana, they have both been totally reliable.

    Our last few before that… a new Dodge pickup, major transmission repair (torque converter replaced) at 5K… a new Ford pickup, coughed out big wads of oil smoke on startup and after a couple months of “wait for the regional service manager” and “don’t worry about it, they all do that” it got a whole new engine at 16K… a low-mileage used Volvo, ran great till Mrs. B. totaled it… a new Nissan pickup made in Tennessee, no problems… a new Honda made in Japan, no problems till well past 100K… do I see a pattern here?

    meanwhile… that $2500 car from India is having problems, the manufacturer (Tata, which also owns Land Rover and Jaguar) can’t get the plant for it built because of protests & riots from nearby farmers. that sounds positively Big Three… start building the factory where you want it and surely the people selling you the land will fall in line.

  57. Dexter said on December 13, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Yeah but…Basset, my wife has been driving a Ford Escort wagon for nine years, it has nearly 200,000 miles, and it has only been in the shop for one major repair, at 150,000 miles.
    My Honda CVCC’s front seat stitching broke open after I had the car three months, and when a big Pontiac ran a light and smashed it when my wife had the car jammed with little kids on the way to school, the car was totalled and my baby daughter was in the hospital. It works both ways; I even worked with a guy who bragged on his Chevy Vega .
    When my Honda broke down with fuel line freeze up I walked to a garage …when the Honda left me stranded at work and I had to have it towed to Don Ayres Pontiac-Honda in FWA, I rode in my brother’s Ford Maverick to pick it up when it was fixed. All cars break down. I still have two foreign vehicles, a Honda mc and a Volkswagen 1969 Microbus, btw.

  58. Deborah said on December 13, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Not sure where I’m going with this, but will put it out there anyway. I spent a great deal of my life using cars as an extension of my identity. I had a series of MGs, very unreliable cars operationally but cute, cute, cute. When the Miata came out I pounced on it, had 2 in a row, loved the first that I got immediately when they arrived on the scene, very reliable. The second Miata I acquired 10 years after the first. I hated giving up the first but my step-daughter needed a car so I gave it to her (she later totaled it, much to my dismay). My second Miata was just not the same. After a year of ownership we moved to Chicago and a second car seemed unnecessary so I sold the Miata and we still only have my husbands BMW, which we both rarely drive, it spends most of it’s time in the basement garage of our highrise residence. Don’t know if it’s my age or what, but the little convertible sports car just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I lost the fascination somewhere along the way, and thank god for that.

  59. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 13, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Deborah, that’s some impressive self-awareness! Does Chicago have pretty good bus and El routes downtown (to facilitate non-driving)? I only ever rode the South Shore and Metra when i lived in the area. We’re spending the weekend after New Year downtown w/child (i’m officiating at a wedding), and i’m wondering what we can get away with mobility wise.

  60. brian stouder said on December 13, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Well ya know – this got me thinkin’; and – although there was no front-of-mind intention, I don’t think I’ve ever owned anything but Big Three products, and I’ve been a happy motorist for 30 years.

    ’65 Dodge Polara, ’71 Cutlass, ’73 Pinto, ’72 Cutlass, ’81 Aries (K-Car, the only new car I ever bought), 80-something Firenza, ’86 Olds Eighty Eight, ’91 Olds Calais (Pam bought that one new), ’98 Olds Eighty Eight, ’90 Plymouth Voyager, ’95 Mercury Villager, ’03 Dodge Caravan…also, somewhere along the way when I was a kiddo, a ’72 Mercury of the same sort that Steve McGarrett used to drive on Hawaii Five-O (a Marquis? I forget – but it was HUGE) and a ’68 Plymouth Fury.

    The Villager was really a very close sister to the Nissan minivan, so that one might come closest to being a foreign job – but she was still a Mercury!

    I’ve spent the last several years being smitten by the Mini Cooper, but I think I could easily transfer my affections to the Chevy Volt. As things stand right now, if I was going to buy anything new at all, it just couldn’t be anything other than a GM or a Ford or a Chrysler.

    I think Jolene is exactly correct – people want (and will have) an emotional connection with their car…or an emotional DISconnection, with the folks who made the car that disappointed them.

    Anyway – here’s hoping that whatever twist or turn comes out of the Detroit newspaper situation either leaves the Proprietress and her family unaffected, or else finds them in command of their fate, and with (at least reasonably) positive alternatives

  61. MichaelG said on December 13, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve seen the Ford Ka when traveling in Europe. Very nice looking little car with real styling. I think Ford is considering selling its successor here (which may be called the Eos – remember the orphan cars I mentioned?). They dropped the Taurus label in favor of a warmed over Volvo called the 500. A total dud. Ford must have sold tens of them. They resurrected the Taurus name after two years or so and pasted it on the now defunct 500. The whole episode was yet another bullet hole in the foot.

    At this time I drive a 2003 Taurus. When I went to buy a car in 2005, I only had so much money to spend and didn’t want car payments. I found this car on eBay. It was located here in Sacto. I bought it directly from the dealer. It has bucket seats, leather, the four cam engine, mag wheels, sunroof, cd player etc. All the loads. It had 24,000 miles and I got it for $9000. I couldn’t have touched a comparable Accord for twice that. I’ve been very pleased with it. It has ample power, handles decently has lots of room and I haven’t done anything but maintain it – religiously. A year later my now erstwhile wife wanted a car, communed for a few days with the net and decided she wanted a PT Cruiser. We went to the Chrysler store, they showed us what they had, Tereza said “I’ll take that one and I’ll give you $13,000 for it”. They said OK and away we went. This was a brand new car. The PT Cruiser turned out to be a nicer car than I would have expected if a tad underpowered. It’s a good fit for her, she can put the dogs in the back, pick up sacks of feed, etc. Her bike fits perfectly. The bonus? It came with three years or 36,000 miles of free service included. Again, to sit in a comparable Toyota or Honda would have cost twice the money. She’s been very happy with it.

    Had an MGA once. Love to have it back. Would love to have a Mini Cooper S.

    Tata motors can set up shop here selling Jags and LRs. They can call them Bodacious TaTas.

  62. MichaelG said on December 13, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    And, oh Lord yes. What Brian said. I surely hope everything turns out OK this week, Nancy.

  63. Deborah said on December 13, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    jeff (tmmo),
    Chicago is a very walkable city. I walk to work and back most days unless it’s bitter cold or raining hard. I live about a mile and a half from work. The CTA is quite efficient (el, subway, buses). Cabs are always available everywhere. Walking is my favorite mode of transportation though, there’s so much to see, it’s invigorating. It’s the only exercise I get. On weekends I usually walk to do all my errands. I try to walk 35 miles a week. Not always possible in the winter, but it’s still my goal.

  64. Catherine said on December 13, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Dude! You had Steve McGarrett’s car? Musta been a chick magnet.

    My husband’s all-hands meeting turned out to be an announcement of a total hiring freeze and a warning for the contractors that’s it’s time to get outta Dodge. Coulda been worse (& I’m trying not to think that it will get worse). Here’s hoping the Nall-Derringer co-prosperity sphere is feeling similarly relieved on Tuesday night.

  65. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 13, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Yep. I used to walk from Michigan and Randolph to Water Tower Place and back whenever i was back in NW Indiana and could catch the South Shore in . . . just not sure how a 10 year old will keep up! But i’m thinking he can meander about from the Chicago River to Navy Pier to Streeterville with me, and we’ll pull the car out of the hotel parking to check in with the U-505 and the T-rex at the Field.

    Too bad there’s no Cubs games at Wrigley Field this time of year! At least Billy Goat’s is open on Lower Wacker.

  66. brian stouder said on December 13, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    You had Steve McGarrett’s car? Musta been a chick magnet.

    I’m tellin’ ya – that car was just flat BIG! I think the trunk could literally hold more cargo than the bed of a pickup truck. The engine was big, the wheels were big, the seats were like sofas;

    in fact, now that you mention it, the thing was GREAT for taking a date to drive-in movies!! (and if referring to drive-in movies doesn’t mark me as an old guy, nothing does!).

    (speaking of drive-in movies, you could fit two or three friends into that trunk, and save them the ticket price – and those dollars would promptly enrich their concession stand)

  67. Dexter said on December 14, 2008 at 12:21 am

    JmmOne: There’s a hockey game at Wrigley Field January 1 . The rink runs end to end across third base to second base and into the outfield a bit.
    Here’s Stub Hub’s price range:
    Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks Winter Classic Tickets 1/1 1-1-2009
    Thursday
    1:00 PM Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL $217 – $10000 Buy / Sell

    Yes, that’s ten thousand dollars for one primo ticket.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    MichaelG: The Taurus was a great car from 1992 until 1995. I also liked the new “catfish” style intro’d in 1996, and rented several for vacations and shorter trips back then.
    We had a 1991 Taurus wagon and it was a lemon…they fixed all the bugs for the 1992 model year.
    I drove from Ohio to Omaha into a horrible winter storm , driving a 1995 Taurus I rented at the Toledo Airport. It was the worst long distance storm-drive for me, and that Taurus held the I-80 road when hundreds of cars were careening off into the median.

  68. alex said on December 14, 2008 at 9:09 am

    The “catfish” style Taurus! I always thought so too. And that its profile had high cheekbones like a fashion model.

    My favorite vehicles have been Toyotas and Hondas. My least favorite have been GM products, including a Pontiac Solstice we now have. It’s cute and it’s fun but it’s put together with spit, and with the way things are going we probably won’t be able to find all the replacement parts we’re surely going to need over its lifetime.

    Moderately impressed with an old beater Chrysler we use as our spare. Very comfortable, still looks good.

  69. Deborah said on December 14, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I always thought the back end of the Taurus looked like a baboons butt.

  70. brian stouder said on December 14, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Wasn’t it the Indianapolis radio pair – Bob & Tom – who had a whole bit revolving around Pinkly Ford, and their commercial urging listeners to come on down and explore one of their Pinkly Taurus’s?

  71. brian stouder said on December 14, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    and then the other shoe drops…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7782422.stm

  72. Dexter said on December 14, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I have been watching many more movies since the icy snow has stopped my cycling cold.
    Twice lately I have seen scenes where champagne has been delivered to a table …both times a decanter of orange juice was served also. I didn’t get it…so it was explained to me the people were probably making “Mimosa” mixed drinks, 3 parts bubbly 2 parts OJ. I guess you mix your own at the table? I do not regret quitting alcohol 16 years ago , but the only thing I am still curious about is absinthe…it was illegal when I drank, and so I never tried it. I saw how the ritual is performed with the sugar cube, strainer, cold water poured into the absinthe shot…anybody ever try it?

  73. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 14, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Dexter — cool idea, and if i weren’t hitting town the morning of Jan. 2 i’d consider that! Actually, if i can just get the Lovely Wife and Little Guy to co-operate with a visit to the Art Institute in exchange for a trip to the Field T-rex and Marshall Field’s (or whatever Macy’s calls it now on State St.), i’ll be a happy man.

  74. moe99 said on December 14, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Dexter,
    I have some absinthe courtesy of a friend who distills liquor (which is still illegal to do in your own home as far as I know). It’s ok, but I wouldn’t drop everything else in life for it. I’ve got most of the bottle left after 2 years, so it’s not high on my favorites list.