Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
The Mexican Truck
July 30, 2006
"Everybody in the car so come on let's ride"
-Lou Bega "Mambo No. 5"
I'm back from Nashville, and by popular demand I'm going to write about the weekend right now. I had several people either tell me that they were looking forward to my column about last night, or ask me directly what I was going to write about, which is the strongest feedback I've had in awhile. The thing is, with this webpage, I never know what I'm going to write until I begin.
First, the in-between. The trip to Nashville on Friday was nondescript enough. With Sirius radio the long drive up and down I-65 is much more tolerable. Think about how an average drive feels, then divide the time by half if you have Sirius. It really makes that much difference, at least to me.
Friday night was a nice reunion of sorts at my parents' house. My sister Mary Beth was back, fresh off of her month-long trip to Japan, and my brother Matt came over to see her and I. Because Dustin and Whitney were out, it left poor Snapper Dan Man (aka Snap) stuck at the house for a bit. So it goes.
Mary Beth had some interesting things from Japan that she shared with us. For starters, she had some humorous t-shirts, including the one we dubbed the "Rikishi Shirt" and another that said "Play, Play, Replay" in English. The Replay shirt was most memorable for having some bizarre English writing on the tag, including the word "fuku", which was good for a laugh. We had great fun watching some tapes that she brought back of Japanese television. A few observations from that:
-The cuts to commercial are extremely abrupt on Japanese TV. No tease, no music to let you know to change the channel, just boom a commercial hitting you in the face. And the commercials are repetitive, much moreso than you'd see on American TV. The idea in TV advertising is to get the average viewer to see it three times, but anyone watching one of these programs would easily exceed that.
-The Japanese newscast that I saw had a sports segment that was much more feature-oriented than what you'd expect here in the US. Here it's highlights, results, who won and who lost. If you're watching SportsCenter you might get some feature pieces to fill the time, but in a standard newscast you're going to get mostly the winners and losers. But in that newscast, it was almost all feature pieces. They did have highlights from MLB, but it was just of the Japanese players in the majors, and only like if they got a base hit or a home run. The result was immaterial; it was simply a :20 VO (twenty seconds of video highlights with live sports anchor voiceover) about how the player did. And no, there weren't any Kazuhito Tadano highlights (Google him if you want a laugh or two -- at the Cleveland Indians' expense, which I always support.)
-Mary Beth noted that women are used mostly in TV advertising, and rightfully so. It was rather subdued compared to what you might see in American or European advertising, but still rather effective. Most of the time I could figure out what the ad was for, and I don't know more than a handful of Japanese words.
During the day yesterday I visited my Granddaddy Blaylock, who is in an assisted living facility. He is suffering from leukemia, and it makes me sad to see him hurting. But I'm appreciative of the fact that I live close enough to be able to come up to see him. It hasn't been an easy thing for me to deal with at all.
I made it over to Matt's place by a little before 4 PM on Saturday. The party that he and Dustin had thrown was already well underway. Hannah Marie, who was celebrating her birthday (and wearing a tiara to get into the spirit), ran up and hugged me with a big welcome. The girls there were playing a drinking game with some playing cards. My timing was impeccable, as food was coming off the grill right as I arrived. I had perhaps the most delicious hamburger that I've ever tasted for an early dinner. Angus beef, tasty seasoning, and pepper jack cheese was a perfect combination. I'll say thing, Matt and Dustin know how to fix some great food.
We had a bit of a movie marathon starting soon after I arrived and lasting until I left today. The films on tap included Dazed and Confused, Animal House, The Devil's Rejects, Get Shorty (not to be confused with Get Carter), Tombstone, Fight Club, and Pee Wee's Big Adventure. There's a great line in Dazed (from Wooderson) that I heard yesterday: "I get older, they stay the same age." The irony wasn't lost on me, less than a month from my 29th birthday.
Along the same line of thought, today some of us were talking about soft drinks, and Jon brought up Crystal Pepsi (well, he called it "Clear Pepsi" and I remembered the brand name.) Hannah and Pedro had never heard of it, which isn't all that surprising since it had its short-lived national push in early 1993. The steamrolling passing of time has never been more evident to me than it is now.
I had a cup of punch (titled "Freak Juice") that was rather potent, and from there I made the switch to Coors Light. Within the subsect of light American beer, Coors Light is probably my favorite. I can down that stuff with impunity.
As the night progressed, shots came out... vodka (straight up, thank yooooou!) and Crown Royal. As Moe Syzlak would say, "Take yer medicine!" It was funny seeing girls trying to go shot-for-shot with Matt, me, etc. I may not be in my drinking prime anymore, but I thought there was no way they could handle their alcohol better than me. And, of course, I was right.
In a hilarious moment, Hannah and Paige (Pedro) decided that they wanted to ride down the stairs. I think they used Matt's body pillow as a makeshift sled, but it didn't particularly work well for them on either attempt. This morning the girls didn't understand why they were bruised until we reminded them on their exploits from the night before.
At about 8 PM, most of the crew went to Murfreesboro to see a Hawaiian Tropic contest, as Whitney will be competing in it next week (she put on her bikini for us to see before they left.) There wasn't room in Snapper's "Mexican Truck" (more on that later), and unless I wanted to ride bitch there and back, I was out of luck. And I don't like riding bitch; when you have long legs, compacting yourself into a small amount of space does not equal fun times. To and from Murfreesboro isn't a short ride.
But that turned out just fine, since Matt didn't want to go and he and I ended up chilling, watching The Devil's Rejects, and laughing long and loud. "I calls 'em like I sees 'em" cracks me up every time. And though Matt gave away several plot points ahead of time (for reasons that weren't quite clear to me), I enjoyed it. Apparently Richard Karg is very anti-TDR, from what Matt told me, but I'm on the other side of that one. I thought it was quite entertaining.
As my energy began to wane around 10:30, the crew showed back up, and the fun started back up. One girl who I didn't know too well passed out on one of the couches, earning her the title of FACT of July. That's FACT as in Fake Ass Connect Turbo (sometimes shortened to just "FAC"); Hannah told me that I was her Direct Connect for life.
When 1:30 AM rolled around, the energy injection that the crew's return provided to me ended up finally dissapating, and I went to the guest room to lay down and try to sleep. Unfortunately that was an effort in futility, as soon thereafter Matt came in and asked that I give up the bed for Hannah, which I was fine with (it was her birthday party and all.) Luckily I managed to secure a spot on the unoccupied downstairs couch, which is where I ended up sleeping.
Several people were awake and chatting when a ring came from the doorbell. Matt went to the door... and it was a Smyrna police officer. One of Matt's neighbors decided to pull a total dick move and call in a noise complaint, so we had a pig show up at the door. The music was turned off outside, and no one was disturbing anywhere else. But of course Johnny Law had to be prickish when he heard someone (Pedro I think) running inside, asking gruffly, "I heard someone running in there, who was that?" How about none of your damn business? I hate when cops turn nosy about things that are immaterial to the matter at hand.
Finally the Authoritarian Bully left, and the discussion turned to who had called in the complaint (Matt had an idea of who he thought did it.) If he's right, it was a total spineless move, especially considering that Matt had gone to his neighbors before, given them his cell number, and told them to call him if there was ever a problem. Spineless cowards.
Morning rolled around, as it tends to do, and despite eating some dry Oh's cereal (they were out of milk, in a major FACT moment), I was hungry enough to go along for the ride to Waffle House. That allowed me to ride with Dustin and Snapper in the Mexican Truck. It's immune from police pulling it over (too much paperwork/fear of the Silver Bullet can) and it can run on empty indefinitely. The Mexican Truck is not just a name for Snap's truck like my cars have had (Love Machine, Barry, Neon and Lou Jr.) -- it's an apt description.
Unfortunately, one of the traits of the Mexican Truck was not auto-drive. It was the blind leading the blind with us trying to find the Waff, to the point where Dirty (Dustin) nearly gave in to take us to Sonic for a breakfast burrito. Finally I had to take charge and point out that we would be well-served to take the road marked with the "To I-24" sign, since Waffle Houses and interstate exits in the greater Nashville area are nearly synonymous. We pulled a turnaround at a U-Haul place, I passed along the gameplan to the other two cars, and we were on our way.
Lo and behold, we got to the interstate... and there was a Waffle House there. Thank you, thank you. I use my sixth sense as a Tom Tom. If I can find myself drunk, lost and alone in Birmingham and somehow make it back to a nightclub in less than five minutes to rendez-vous with friends, I can find a Waffle House from my internal radar.
The waitress at the Waffle House told me that she had been on the clock since 9 PM. She screwed up a few of the orders, but I was sympathetic to her plight. She tried hard, though some of our group of nine thought that she was "on" something. We all do what we've gotta do to survive, but I figure she was just exhausted. A $3 tip on a $6.59 bill was no problem for me. I thought she deserved it.
My plan had been to go by my parents' house before I headed back to town, but after the trip to the Waffle House, I needed a nap (I only had about six hours of sleep on the couch, which wasn't exactly easy sleepin'.) I woke up and it was past 3 PM, and I needed to get back home. So I headed out to the highway (after having another super-burger), and that was that.
Overall it was a fun time at Matt's place, and I'm definitely glad that I came up to Nashville for the weekend. Good times, good times.