Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Winning Robot? - The NASCAR Lavander Theory Continues

You know, if Kenseth wins a couple more races this year, I may change my tune, but for now all I have to say is, "At least it ain't Jimmie Fucking Johnson!" I don't know why people hate him so - he's so lackluster, there's really nothing to hate. Except for his propensity to blame anyone & everyone else when he fucks up. Okay. That's a good enough reason.

Did any of you catch the tv commercial that aired last year that showed his crew chief Chad Knauss at an angle where you could see straight up his not inconsiderable nostrils? He had a booger the size of The World's Largest Ball of Twine up there. Man, he musta got shit around the garage for ages over that. Love. It.

But I'm here today, Brothers and Sisters, to talk about Matt Kenseth and his former teammate Jeff Burton. Have we noticed how thier chumminess seems to increase daily. Can they just come out and say they love one another? Please. Because it's so fucking obvious. I'm sure it's in that heterosexual "Man Love" sort of way. But it is Love, L-U-V.

What the heck race was it last year when they both got out of their wrecked cars, leaned up against Burton's, arms akimbo, laughing and kibbutzing about the race that had just ended?

After hearing some of Kenseth's good natured ribbing over his radio at Bristol, I mistakenly thought he was talking to Burton and not his spotter. Cecil said, "What? You think they got walkie talkies in there to chitty chat with one another?"

No. Of course not. But what if.... ? Cecil imagined a scenario where they'd be frantically text messaging on their Blackberries and trying to race at the same time.

Kenseth: "I M KRAY-Z 4 U!!!!!"

Burton: "Matt, do you think the Car of the Future makes my butt look big?"

Of course, we kid. We love our dear South Boston native dearly - he's the only Burton we've got until Ward comes back. And I can't hate Kenseth. Not being a big Wisconsin Lovah the way I am. Plus he named his cat after Lars Ulrich - how cool is that? But for now, as John Boy & Billy like to say:

"Where y'all goin' later?"


Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Kids of Crews & Drivers -BRISTOL - Sharpie 500

The Hilltop Hookers of Bristol:

The Philosophy of Cecil 101: "The American Flag should never be worn as a piece of apparel. Not even by kids singing The National Anthem."

THE INVOCATION: Dave Engbrecht. Didn't catch which church he was from, but he was definitely a bona fide preacher. My favorite part was, "...as we race The Race of Life, run powered by your Holy Spirit." tee hee. All kidding aside, it was very nice, it truly was.

THE FLYOVER: wtf? I heard it when the kids were singing. I saw them look up at it. Jesus. The United States Air Force really has better things to do than flyovers at races two or three times a week, thirty six weeks a year, NBC really ought to take the time to acknowledge their efforts, if only for a second. Buncha commies.

Dear NBC: YOU SUCK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE NATIONAL ANTHEM: Performed by the children of the drivers and their crews in conjunction with Motor Racing Outreach.

Now how in the hell can I say anything bad about a buncha cute kids singing "The Star Spangled Banner" ? It can't be done. Even though most of them didn't know what they were singing for or about, and had memorized the words phonetically, (think Ramona the Pest, and her 'dawnzer lee light' ), there is nothing more inspiring, or that fills a person with more Hope and tender Patriotism than 50 or so kids belting out The National Anthem. Of course, I could say the same about "The Theme to Billy Jack". (You laugh, but I've seen it done, and it brought tears to my eyes...)

As always, the kids did a beautiful job. I look forward to their yearly performance at Bristol, which has been a tradition for a number of years. I doubt they've done it for more than 25 years, but I'd love to see a clip with Dale Jr. in there singing along. The boys and girls all had their faces painted, and one little girl had what looked like a giant starfish stuck to her cheek. I wondered if it was an homage (or perhaps a fashion suggestion) to our beloved Janet Jackson, who made a few waves with a similar starfish gee gaw at The Super Bowl a few years back. My only complaint is that none of the kids were "yelly". (That's a musical term coined by famous bluegrass/jazz guitarist Kelly Kessler - buy her records, they're good!)

Normally there's at least one child in the pack that is either trying to upstage the rest, or just doesn't understand the concept of "notes" yet, so he or she shouts all the words. I LOVE IT when that happens. Nonetheless:

FIFTY STARS (just don't wear them, please) from Aint Dixie.

Uncle Fecal (Cecil) sez:
These are children for Chrissakes! How can you judge children?! They're The Future. The Best and Brightest, Etc. !!!! I give 'em a TWO.FIVE (STARS) because they were flat. But for plumb cuteness, they get a 4 outta 4. They still get points taken off for that flag on the head. It's a flag, notta rag."

THE COMMAND: Lynn Engsen, Grand Marshall. Nobody mentioned who she was with. And who cares? This broad belted it out, her fist balled up in front of her, punching the air to punctuate each word as she shouted, "GENTLEMEN! START! YER! INJUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNS!!!!!!!!!" Nice job, Lynn!!!!! FOUR STARS from Willard's Garage.

I wonder how long we'll have to wait for another man to do it right? A couple of my recent past favs. are Adam Sandler and (that freak) Matthew McConaughy. And the Red Hot Chili Peppers somehow managed to endear themselves to even the old-school Crotcheties (D.W. and them) when they did a 3-Stooges like harmony on "Gentlemen", then simultaneously shouted "start your engines". It was cool, but I'll go to my grave wondering if it was or was not disrespectful.

Random thoughts & observations: Wally Dallenbach does this little piece called "Wally's World" each week, where he takes some celebrity for a wall-scraping lap around the track. This week it was a former Georgia Bulldog football player turned actor named Omari Hardwick, who has appeared in a buncha movies I ain't seen. The reason I bring him up is that I could swear it was the same big ol' black dude who videotaped our band The Shiners round about 2000. We had a few beers with him and his partner in crime, whose name I don't recall, but they were taping us for some t.v. show they were trying to get on the air or something weird like that. We had a few beers with him, and he mentioned he was more of a "sports guy", but he really dug us. ( We did notice the camera man spent a lot of time focused on a couple Confederate Flags on the stage...)

I hope it's the same guy. (How many black guys named Omari can there be, for Chrissakes? Wait! Don't answer that!) We had a lot of fun with the Omari we hung out with, and if he isn't Omari Hardwick, I hope he's enjoying the same amount of success that Hardwick is, because he was a super cool guy. Even if you're a bigass football player, it takes a lot of balls to be one of two black dudes to come into a bar jam-packed with drunk rednecks and Confederate Flags, not knowing a soul there. But, as humans are prone to do, we all found we had a lot in common, dispelled any preconceived notions anyone might have had about anything, and generally had a great time, although it was much too short. Omari & crew had to dash off for yet another shoot that night.

Musical suggestion: FOX, NBC & ABC need to have Van Halen's "Jamie's Cryin" at the ready for the driver of Jack Roush's #96 car driver Jamie McMurray. (The Metrosexual of NASCAR, and Tom Cruise look-a-like). Bless his heart, I love Jamie, he seems like a puddin', but he'll turn on the water works given the chance. He bawled when he didn't make The Chase in Richmond in 2004, he bawled when he won Rookie of the Year - (or was it the 11th Spot, Runner-Up Award?) - and then the next year he promised he wouldn't cry when he was onstage at the NASCAR Awards. (Very endearing.) But after any given race that didn't go well, he gets a little fliberty-giberty. God Love Him. Well, he ain't the only driver in touch with his feminine side, so he has that going for him. Which is nice.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ray Scott - Busch Series Food City 250 - Bristol Motor Speedway

Shoooeeeee! I'm rushed today, folks! Spent a total of EIGHT solid hours watching NASCAR programming yesterday and well into hour two of seven today. Currently listening to SPEED TV's two hour pre-race show out of the corner of my ear while I type - and it sounds like ol' Crazy 8's (Robert Yates) is still courting Ward Burton for 2007. Good luck with all that, Bob.

(edit: Dammit! I meant to mention that they played part of Iggy Pop's "Success" as an intro to a piece SPEED did on Yates today. "Here comes success...over my head...." . And just the other day I was wishing for some Iggy. They still need to use "Loose", though.)

So I'll make the Busch Reviews relatively short - may add & edit later, so check back for more of my mouthiness!

THE INVOCATION: Mike Rife - pastor of Vansent Church of Christ, Virginia:
Cool. Short, sweet and weird. First line was, "Dear God, we thank you for our sponsor, we thank you for this facility..."
Thanking God for your sponsor. Perfect. Straight out of Ricky Bobby.

THE FLYOVER: Two F-18 Hornets out of Beaufort, S.C. - very nice!

THE ANTHEM: Ray Scott - "country music recording artist". Somebody sign this guy, he's cool. We loved him, he sounded like (and kinda looked like) Mike Cooley from The Drive-by Truckers. Nice, rich, baritone that was just reedy enough to give it a little twang. He did a respectful, conservative rendition of Our National Anthem. Although he used five notes on "wave", (and I'm sure he did this because he didn't have quite enough air & diaphragm to back up holding the one long note) it was totally forgivable because he was so fucking cool.

Cecil gave him 3.5 and 1/2 stars. - "I liked the fact that he was sweatin'. And he sounded kinda like Waylon."

Dixie gives him 4 stars. - I thought he sounded like Merle Haggard and/or Dale Watson. But Dale sounds like Merle, and not the other way around. Either way, ol' Ray Scott is jake by me.

THE COMMAND: Claudia (I didn't catch it, it went by so fast) - of Children's (hm hm hm hm hm...) Raceway Charities? Maybe? Anyhow, once again, the ladies do it again. Claudia didn't throw her all into it like that gal in Michigan last week, but she shouted it out and seemed like she was genuinely thrilled to be there. Cudos, Claudia!!!!!

Fun facts about Bristol:

Some drivers hold their breath while qualifying. Not too hard to do, as it's only 15 second laps.

In a field of 43, if you qualify 3/10ths of a second slower than the fastest car - you ain't fast enough to make it into the race.
Three tenths of a second, people. To quote Dale Jr., "That ain't shit."

How many G's do they pull? I dunno. The corner banking is 36 degrees. The straightaways are 18 degrees - that's more banking than Michigan has on it's corners. Former crew chief/sportscastor Bill Engle once hung a bolt on a string over the dash of a qualifying car, and the bolt and string hung parallel to the roof the entire 30 seconds.

Congrats to Jeff Burton's girlfriend Matt Kenseth on his win - didn't keep Happy Harvick from getting FIVE HUNDRED + POINTS ahed of his current second place competitor, Cousin Carl "Why the Long Face" Edwards. Unheard of. Harvick can sit out the rest of the year and still win the championship.

Speaking of Burton - we LOVE those Holiday Inn commercials!!! You seen 'em? They must be the work of The Martin Agency, they're just too sick to be anyone elses. There's five of 'em total, all featuring these bonehead business dudes - I'm sure you can find them online somewhere.

Also love the "agitate the dots" commercial. Who is that, Alltell? Who cares? That black dude eating the cake is awesome.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Scott Branson - Craftsman Truck Series O'Reilly 200 - BRISTOL

CecilSpeak 101: You say "Cannibal", he says "Humanitarian"

Before we begin the Awards Ceremony, a few notes:
Eric Clapton was in attendance as a guest of his buddies the Germain brothers, owners of Todd Bodine & Ted Musgrave's Toyota trucks - it was his first NASCAR event, we're told.

Saw Slowhand having his pitcher made with old Johnny Benson. Wondered if either one of them knew who the other one was, but it woulda been cute if J.B. aked for tips on how to play that Gibson guitar he won a couple weeks back in Nashville. (See Jinxy, how bad can NASCAR suck if one of the trophies is a Gibson?)

I love Johnny Benson. Love, love, love, love, love Johnny Benson. Love him. What a nice guy. I'm so glad he's having a good season.

And real quick: When are they gonna start using the Rolling Stones' song "Happy" when they do features on Kevin "Happy" Harvick? Or use Iggy Pop's "Loose" just any old time? Sure, the lyrics are mostly irrelevant and nasty ( "and I stuck it, deep inside..."), but the Carribean Cruise Line didn't seem to have a problem working around that with "Lust For Life", did they?

INVOCATION: Frank Blevins
Pretty lackluster. I like the truck races because they often get some really funny pastors that seem to love racing more than preaching and get all wacky with the invocation. Not this guy, though. As Sheriff Andy Taylor said of his preacher: "Dry as dust."

THE ANTHEM: Scott Branson - "Local Singing Sensation" (I love it when they say that.)
Well, ol' Scott's got some pipes, no denying that. Hit all the notes with plenty of back-up air to spare. Too bad he sounded like a Southern Dudley Do-right. You know what I mean? That kinda tenor where you immediately envision some dude with a Mountie Hat on, and the chin strap is too tight? He did a nice, true rendering, though. Only got "melismatic" (Thanks for the new word, Remus! You must be the local choir director or sumpin', to know them fancy musical terms.) on "wave"

Cecil keeps saying he needs to learn to read lips so he can figure out what wisecracks the drivers make during such renditions of Our National Anthem.

I give him THREE STARS since he sang it all straight and respectful like. Didn't fill my eyes with tears of pride to be an American, though.

Cecil gives him TWO STARS as it was " a bad combination of church, opera and American Idol. And he didn't get all the words right."

Oh yeah.... I guess I should mention that this Star System is 0-4. Four being "it don't get no better than that", and 0 being zero.

THE COMMAND: Mark Keck, works for some fucking company, I didn't catch it, but he oughtta be demoted after that completely uninspired announcement. What is it with these men lately? They're dynamic enough to become CEOs of big ass companies, but they can't utter three (or sometimes five) simple words with any kind of authority at all? Jesus, if that guy was my boss, I'd be plotting how to overthrow his tired, sorry ass - it couldn't be hard.

I asked Cecil if he had any comments and he said, "I hate to overuse the word "lame", so...... no." He then added, "I think most people are taken aback by the microphone and the enormity of it all."

I call bullshit. If CEO Dude is liable to choke at the enormity of it all, they need to pull some kid who 'gets it' out of the mail room and let him represent their company. It's fuckin' BRISTOL! Truck race or no, it's still Bristol. They'd better get somebody with some balls for the "Sold Out For Eternity Cup Race" on Sunday, or they'll be hearing from me.

Wouldn't that be fun? Organize the NASCAR Nation and get everyone to send hate mail to any Pussy CEO who fucks up the command? Maybe we should send the mail in advance as a kind warning instead.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Powers That Be - NASCAR

Thanks to Jeremy Mayfield's little lawsuit filed against former employer Ray Evernham, the media is finally allowed to talk publicly about the little affair that Evernham and his developmental driver Erin Crocker have been having FOR MONTHS.

And as Dave DeSpain gleefully mentioned on his show Wind Tunnel last night, it's been "common knowledge" around the garage for months. Evernham's wife filed for divorce a couple of months back, yet the media skirted the reason why. Sure, there was a little innuendo from the non-mainstream sources - but even there it was only the vaguest of hints with an added wink.

The Evernham/Crocker relationship doesn't really interest me that much except for being a source for crude locker room jokes which are so easy to come up with there's not much sport in it. What fascinates me is the media's complicity to keep the story hushed up. The power that the Almighty France Family wields in the Wide World of Sports.

NASCAR prides itself on being a "family oriented sport" and works very hard at cultivating a clean cut image. Squeaky clean. At times almost prudish. The legions drunk girls flashing their tits in the infield of any given racetrack are still there, but you won't see them on television or written about on Jayski.

Unlike college and professional basketball, football and to a lesser degree baseball, scandal is not tolerated. And actual criminal activity of any sort will generally get you thrown out of the sport FOR LIFE after your second offense. (Google Shane Hmiel if you don't know what I mean.)

This is the work of The France Family, who in this day and age have more clout (and probably more money) than the Mafia of old. They rule the sport and the media with an iron fist, and what they accomplish fucking amazes me. "The Garage" is a very large "place". "The Garage" represents thousands and thousands of NASCAR employees and includes hundreds of sportswriters. All of whom knew about the Evernham/Crocker romance for months -MONTHS!! people!! - with nary a word printed in the press or spoken aloud.

Granted, an adulterous love affair is small peanuts compared to the rapin', murderin', drug addled thuggery that we hear about all of the time in other professional sports, but other than a crack-head and a couple of closet queers, that's about all we got in NASCAR. Or so we're told.

I don't think I have a point here, other than to express my amazement at the Power of the France Family and NASCAR's ability to police itself. Don Corleone would be envious. But is it a good thing? Should we have this in other sports? Should we have it in NASCAR?

I must say, my skull fills with Glee when I imagine the Marcus Vicks and Terrell Owenses of the world trying to make it in NASCAR. Their big, bad, black asses and mutinous spirits would be crushed as quickly as their career possibilities.
Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs seems to enjoy walking the tightrope between the two sports, having had much success in each. He seems to have a much lower tolerance for bullshit than other NFL coaches. What does he know that we don't know? I'd love to hear his comparisons of the inner workings of NASCAR and the NFL after he's had a few beers....

Your thoughts, Ladies and Gentlemen?

We're working on it...

Thanks to all of you who've come to visit so far. We apologize for the half-ass-ed-ness of this whole blog site, we're kinda Luddites over here. The boys in the shop are working on getting everything all put together, but it may be awhile. V-8s they can handle, but micro-chips are a bit outta their league. Cecil says he's gonna make y'all a pitcher of the progress. We're using an old G.E. tv for a monitor, and Underwood for a keyboard, and we got 'em hooked together with jumper cables that're also attached to a Sears Die-Hard battery. Then the old Conjure Woman of Crow Holler, Granny Gelach, she's in charge of sending all the messages into the ether. So like I said, bear with us, it's gonna take awhile to get this joint looking all Official and not Oaf-ishel.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Danielle Peck/GFS Marketplace 400 @ Michigan International Speedway

Me 'n' Cecil have never heard of Danielle Peck. Probably won't ever again, either. We don't keep up with popular music much. So I don't know if this gal Danielle is big time or plans on being that anytime soon, but she can sing our National Anthem and give it the reverence it requires, so she's okay by me.

The Star Spangled Banner is a booger of a song to sing. Even if you can comfortably manage a couple of octaves, there's a few notes tossed in there that aren't that easy to hit, and they come right after notes that don't provide the best foothold for the leap up to them. Particularly whatever note it is that the word "free" in the second to last line, "O'er the land of the free," falls on. You can pretty much count on anyone singing TSSB to choke a bit on that one, although really good singers often employ little "cheats" to get up there and still sound acceptable. And by "little cheats" I do not mean that mellifluous bullshit that so-called "Soul" and "R & B" singers have been trying to pass off as "great singing" ever since Whitney Houston's first record came out. Twenty+ years after the release of "Savin' All My Love For You", the entire world knows that Houston enjoys everything to the point of detrimental excess, and that does not exclude musical notes.
Some fuckin' clown in the 80's decided that the more notes you could use to sing one single fucking word made you a great singer and if anyone knows who started that ridiculous rumor, I'll personally hunt him down and kill him. After I make him listen to Keith Richard's guitar solo in "Parachute Woman" for 48 hours straight.

It is much harder to hold a single note and make it sound good the entire time you're singing it. Real singers know that. And the term "less is more" is extremely important when taking on The Star Spangled Banner. The song demands respect from both a musical and a societal standpoint.

Cecil and I were quite pleased that Ms. Peck gave our National Anthem the respect it deserves, and so did the crowd and the drivers, from whom I saw nary a wince or a titter, as so often happens when some American Idol Wannabe takes the mike just long enough to butcher the fuck out of it.

To sum it up:
Cecil gave her THREE AND A HALF STARS - with no comments other than he didn't detect any mistakes, but did notice her having to work on that last "free".

I also gave her THREE AND A HALF STARS- because of that pesky "free" - which she hit and held perfectly, but it was the only note she sang that you could visibly and audibly tell she was "working" at; and also because on the word "O'er" (before "the ramparts", she hit a note that worked, but sounded like she thought there was a key change right there. And in spite of the excellent and faithful rendering she gave us, she failed to totally "sell it". To convince us that she was filled to the brim with Rapturous Patriotism. But I'm just nit-picking now.

Nice job, Danielle! More kudos for sounding strong on the low alto part in the beginning, which so many have to almost whisper.

THE FLYOVER: Sounded like a buncha big, really cool jets. Too bad we couldn't see them and they weren't credited..... NB-FUCKING-C!!!!! God you suck. Everybody will be so glad when you're gone next year. ABC will probably screw up the NASCAR coverage too, but nobody could suck as bad as you do, NBC. Nobody. Your money's on the dresser. Get out.

THE COMMAND: Lisa Davan of Gordon Food Services. Dear Stephen Pope, THIS is how it is done. Lisa "Get's it." It's a big ass race with 43 loud as shit cars going 200 miles per hour with a hundred thousand people watching, YOU!! SHOUT!! THE WORDS!!! OKAY?!! Extra credit to Lisa for pausing between words to encourage crowd participation, and for literally throwing herself into it. She was head-banging like she was at a Metallica concert or something. It was great.

Mr. Pope. You got beat by a girl. Again. Now go back home to your wife and cower in the laundry room. You wuss.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Busch Series-Carfax 250 Michigan

SHeDaisy gave their rendering of our National Anthem this afternoon. They're a female vocal (I guess) trio that hang out in the "Country" tent, although their version of The Star Spangled Banner seemed to indicate that they don't know what the hell they're trying to be. Everything, apparently. It was as if they were a white, country version of Destiny's Child trying to pull off a chorale arrangement by Jimmy Webb after he'd taken 3 hits of that really bad Bill the Cat acid. Oh yeah, and they also threw in some doo-wop stylings.

Cecil detected hints of The Lennon Sisters "only all noodley. They got more noodles than Chinese Chicken Salad."

I give them ONE STAR - only because they hit all the notes. I guess. I didn't detect any lack of harmony, but who knows which notes they were really going for?

Cecil gives ONE AND ONE HALF STARS- "They didn't forget any of the words, and they could obviously sing, which they obviously wanted everybody to know REALLY, REALLY BADLY."

FLYOVER: low key. B-25 Mitchell from Yankee Air Force Museum

THE COMMAND: by Stephen Pope, general manager of Carfax, Inc. - What a fucking pussy. They're in fucking Detroit, The Motor City!!!!!! "Start Your Engines!!!!!" should be a big damn deal. I bet that's the same voice he uses when his wife beats him.

Cecil sez: "Lame is about the only word that aptly describes it."

Hopefully everyone will have their shit together for the Cup race tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This is me. The computer told me I had to post this.

Welcome to Willard's Garage

Dixie here. After much prompting to get my own damn blog instead of cluttering up everyone else's with my inane commentaries, here I light. Actually I've been needing a spot to post me 'n' Uncle Fecal's reviews of the singing of the National Anthem before all the NASCAR races. It's a niche market that hasn't been filled yet, to our knowledge. Fecal (a/k/a Cecil) might dictate some this and that's now & then, too. As will the other folks that drift in and out of Willard's on a regular basis.