Archive for November, 2011
I know what you’re thinking. The “Get Out” blogger must have gotten lost and ended up on the entertainment blog. Well… even we hikers need to go hear some good music from time to time! And whenever I want to get out and see a show, I think of NHB.
Quincy’ s New Hampshire Bar — or NHB to its regulars — has quietly and quickly become one of the best destinations for live music in the tri-state area. Both local bands and national touring acts now regularly appear at the establishment, and this Friday night (December 2nd), the bar will feature one of its biggest bands to date: Continental.
Continental hails from Boston and is the latest project from former Dropkick Murphys guitarist Rick Barton. Dropkick Murphys was made famous primarily from their cut, “I’m Shipping Up to Boson,” which was featured in Martin Scorseses’s multiple-Academy Award winning film, “The Departed.” Many of the band’s members have gone on to side projects like Continental, and it’s easy to hear the talent that made Murphys such a success translates into more great music from its members.
For the New Hampshire Bar in Quincy, being a stop in Continental’s “Whistle Stop Tour” is a huge booking.
Continental’s sound is hard to put into a genre. Their blend of blues, rock, folk and punk has been compared to bands as varied as The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. You can check out some of the band’s tracks for free on their MySpace page http://www.myspace.com/continentalboston.
Quincy favorites, “The Texas Funerals,” will open, followed by St. Louis’s, “The Strummalongs,” before Continental takes the stage. The three-band lineup starts at 8pm and is sure to keep listeners rocking all night long. There will be a $5 cover charge at the door. To hear about all of the acts coming to the New Hampshire Bar, you can like them on Facebook by clicking here http://tinyurl.com/facebooknhb
Some celebrities are just creepy. They are aloud to do unusual things because they have gained a level of fame. Take Lady Gaga for example. She dresses like a whacked-out extraterrestrial, but almost everyone considers her as a fascinating artist. If someone were to walk down the street covered in raw meat, they would be committed to an institution.
Though celebrities like Gaga are bizarre, as far as we know, she is human. The same cannot be said for a mafia of celebs who may have just be outed as the living dead with powers to transcend time. They are stars of some of are favorite films but it may all just be a cover. With the help of the Mail Online, we can now further investigate a group of celebrities who true identities as time traveling vampires may have finally been revealed.
Nicholas Cage has given the world cinematic classics like Ghost Rider and Drive Angry, but none of us can say what he has done in the past. Nicholas Cage was the first celebrity in the group to be outed as a vampire. With the truth about Cage made public, it was only a matter of time before others were found out.
The truth about the identity of Cage’s Face-Off costar John Travola was next to follow. Travolta may have been soaring through time and space and occasionally staring in movies and dancing with Oprah. To the public, Travolta is known as an avid and talented pilot. Could it just be he has the powers of levitation and in the cockpit of a plane is the only way to cure his urge without blowing his cover?
The voice of the “Beef is What’s for Dinner” commercials sounds like a charming southern gentleman. In reality, does the voice belong to a member of the undead? Matthew McConaughey can distract the world easily with his constant shirtless, chiseled physique. The guy wears shirts less than the wolf guy from “Twilight.” McConaughey really does have us all “Dazed and Confused.”
Joseph Gordon Levitt has the lovable dork image down in movies like “500 Days of Summer” and this year’s “50/50.” But, is he really thirsty to suck human blood? In our time, we know him as a young hot star, but did he use to be a Union Solider? Maybe that is why Zooey Deschanel is so ditsy. She lost so much blood filming a movie with Levitt, the best she can muster is somewhat acting offbeat and quriky. Poor girl.
None of these celebrities have come out to either confirm or deny their identities as time traveling vampires. Yet all of this photographic evidence produced by the Mail Online is hard to dispute. So, next time you watch “Saturday Night Fever” or “Con-Air,” ask yourself if you are just being deceived. Personally, I refuse to support these time traveling vampires any longer. Trust me this isn’t easy. I loved “Urban Cowboy.”
It seems people can be angry at the government over just about anything. The President is an easy target, but Congress is as well. It’s not hard to find disagreements with their decisions on health care, military action or the economy. Lately, Congress is getting rave support from an unlikely demographic. Even stranger is that this group excited about the actions of Congress can’t even vote. Elementary school students are thanking Congress for ruling that frozen pizza can now be officially considered a vegetable.
According to the Huffington Post.com, Congress has gone against the guidelines set for school lunches by the United States Department of Agriculture. Originally, the USDA was bearing down on school cafeterias to increase the amount of fresh fruit and veggies. The reason credited for Congress making the call on frozen pizza is the claim that tomato paste should be regarded as a vegetable. With frozen pizza becoming a vegetable like the potato or spinach, I have thought of a few other foods and an activity that Congress could deem healthy to really get in the kids good graces.
The Twinkie is due to join pizza on the plates of healthy kids everywhere. The defense of the Twinkie being brought to school lunch is at least it is a light desert. Maybe not light in calories and fat, but it is almost weightless in mass. The spongy cake and whip cream like feeling will not weigh on the kids stomachs, just their waistlines.
A king-size Snickers bar must be healthy by the standards of Congress. After all, this chocolaty treat does have nuts. Many nuts can promote good heart health. This fact makes it very easy to overlook all the caramel and nugget.
Teach the kids about world culture while they eat. Tortilla chips and queso could help kids understand America’s neighbors to the south, Mexico. Everyone can gain a better understanding of the Far East during crab rangoon day. To go along with pizza being healthy now, really get those kids in shape and teach them about Italy with a huge helping of fettuccini alfredo.
When I was in school, the only beverages offered at lunch was white and chocolate milk. Give the kids a new option by adding a 2-liter of Mountain Dew to the menu. With all its sugar this beverage could give the kids a nice pick me up for the afternoon.
Then of course another healthy option could be the McRib from McDonald’s. I really don’t have a joke here but bringing up the McRib seems to always make me laugh.
The class of Physical Education has become so dated. Kickball and dodgeball only frighten children, and let’s face it, someone could skin a knee. Replacing the dangerous P.E. class with relaxation time for the kids will keep them safe and happy. Everyone can slip into some comfy clothes, grab a bean bag chair and play halo for 45 minutes.
Listen, I am not against the occasional junk food snack. My car is evidence of that with wrappers of Twix bars and egg and cheese breakfast muffins lying around the floor.
Nevertheless, I think it’s pretty ridiculous for a country with a massive childhood obesity problem to deem pizza a vegetable. Well, at the very least, I guess our portly youth will be delighted for now. That is, of course, until their first angioplasty at age 25.
Christmas will come early for me this year.
On Dec. 12, my favorite show of all time returns to the airwaves. NBC is currently running promotional spots for the come back of the cringe worthy program “Fear Factor.”
This strangely addictive show captivates me. Until I started seeing NBC’s commercial spots, I had forgotten how much I missed the show. While others are counting down the days till Christmas morning, I am marking off the days on my calendar until the night “Fear Factor” makes its return debut.
A favorite stunt from the original “Fear Factor” that I both loathed and enjoyed, was when contestants were forced to eat African spiders. I despise those little eight-legged creatures we have around here, but these arachnids take the cake. The African spiders look like little demons thirsting for blood. They were nothing anyone would want as a snack.
Some more stunts:
• I have been cursed with a horrible case of claustrophobia. I can barely get on an elevator, so the thought of being trapped in a body bag makes me nauseous. Once again, “Fear Factor” takes this challenge to another level by locking the contestants in the bags with tons of bugs. This is one of the few stunts that for my own mental health I had to change the channel.
• Some people like to unwind with a nice meal and a cocktail. “Fear Factor” turned out their own variation on this concept but nothing about the menu sounded relaxing. The object of this contest was to choke down ten big, fat, slimy slugs. To wash it all down was a tasty shot of cow bile. Not exactly like a relaxing meal of oysters and wine, but I suppose it comes close.
• A fun fall party activity is playing a game of bobbing for apples. “Fear Factor” turned this game sinister by replacing the apples with rats. The object of the game was to pluck ten chicken feet from a tank filled with rats. This was a couples contest. It was up to the men to retrieve the feet, while the ladies had to lay in the bottom of the tank covered in rats. I imagine while on the way home, the couples argued on who had it worst.
• This next stunt ranks as a “Fear Factor” classic. In the show’s original season, the contestants were asked to consume two gigantic bull testicles in a matter of four minutes. These were difficult to eat, not only due to the horrible taste, but the process of eating them. As the contestants tried to chew, their faces were priceless. It became quickly obvious that this stunt would make “Fear Factor” a legendary epic show. Funny to think that something like this is totally fine to show on network television.
The stunts are not the only thing I love about “Fear Factor.” It ranks as one of the only truly honest reality shows out there today. In a world of TV programming filled with shows starring Paris Hilton, Gene Simmons and Kim Kardashian, “Fear Factor” is a true breath of fresh air. While other reality shows are clearly
scripted “Fear Factor” cuts to the core of humanity. It displays people at their most insecure point, they are being confronted by horrifying fear and are desperate for money. After watching “Fear Factor” it makes the drama on programs like “Big Brother” seem laughable.
Also, the host Joe Rogan adds the perfect touch to this potentially vomit-inducing show. A program that is based on adrenaline rushes and high intensity, you need a high octane host. Who better than Joe Rogan to take the job? When not urging contestants to perform insane stunts, Rogan is a raunchy comedian and MMA announcer. His commentary on the show delivers an extra punch to the action. If Rogan didn’t host “Fear Factor,” the only other person who could fill the role helming the show would probably be the devil.
My hopes are high for the returning “Fear Factor.” I really don’t see how this show will let me down. If I can provide one suggestion for you and your families this holiday season, it is to be glued to the TV every time this program airs. I couldn’t imagine a better way to give thanks and celebrate festive family bonding, than to gather the whole brood around the warm glow of the TV and watch a group of slightly unhinged people confront their fears all in the quest to win some cash.
This isn’t a review of “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” To write a review would mean that I would need to maintain some objectivity. This, instead, is a story about how a young man has fallen in love with a computer game.
I haven’t really been with a video game for quite a while. Sure my friends have set me up with some of theirs, which is fine. I’ll maybe play it for a few weeks and then will get busy and lose track of time, “Mass Effect 2.” I might take things too quickly, finish the game and realize afterwards that it was never meant to last, “Batman: Arkham City.” Then there are games like “Call of Duty” where every once in a while we’ll meet up have a nice night fighting zombies and then go our separate ways. I haven’t had a really good relationship with a game in years.
That all changed when I heard about “Skyrim.” It came from a good family, I enjoyed its older sibling “Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.” From the first time I saw it, “Skyrim” looked great. The more I heard about it, the more I realized there was so much more than great graphics and awesome gameplay. The game had real personality and substance. I realized it had complexity and depth that you don’t see in normal games. This game was special.
Even though I had seen all these cool things and heard great things about it I was still nervous. I didn’t want to commit to a new relationship with a game. I knew a game like this would take time and effort and I’m busy. Plus I had just finished with “Arkham City” it left me a little disappointed. I didn’t know if I was ready for another game.
Then this weekend I talked to a friend of mine. He said I HAD to meet this game, that we would be perfect together. I believed him and took a leap of faith and got the game. Things were a little rocky at first. I was worried that the graphics wouldn’t work well since I have an older computer, I felt like I spent too much time getting past the basic stuff. But we started to get along pretty well. Once we were past the basics we really started to get along. I loved the games openness. I felt that the game wouldn’t judge me for wanting to spend hours on meaningless side missions, or that it if I just wanted to explore it wouldn’t hold it against me. The game really understood me and I love it for that.
Even though I’ve only been playing the game for a few days now I can tell that this isn’t “just another game.” I know that this feeling might fade a little. I will need patience (sometimes the load screens take longer than I would like). But this is a game I will work at; I will put in the time and effort and really learn to appreciate what this game is. Who knows, I might even tell my parents about it?
For a real review, please follow this link from CBS.
There are many curses that seem to plague celebrities.
Some people firmly believe in something known as the “27 Club.” This curse generally pertains to young musicians who died at the age of 27. There is even a website devoted strictly to this curse www.forever27.co.uk/forever. Famous names that have been taken down by this include Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison.
Another curse surrounds the classic horror film “The Poltergeist.” According to Snopes.com, former members of the cast who have passed away include Dominique Dunne, Heather O’Rourke, Will Sampson and Julian Beck. Then there is Craig T. Nelson that though still alive had to suffer through filming nine seasons of the extremely irritating sitcom “Coach.” This had lead to some speculation that those involved with the film are indeed cursed.
Lately I have developed a theory about a new curse that is currently plaguing two of Hollywood’s big stars. This curse surrounds the sitcom “Two and a Half Men” and the two actors who have played lead roles on the show. I dubbed this new curse I’ve noticed “The Curse of Charlie Harper.”
Charlie Sheen first headlined the show as the degenerate wild man “Charlie Harper.” According to Forbes.com while fronting the show, Sheen became the highest paid actor on television. This all came to a screeching halt when Sheen had a well publicized mental breakdown.
In January of 2011, TMZ.com reported that Sheen had been rushed to the hospital. It was only downhill for the troubled actor at that point. What followed was a series of insane rants that discussed his god-like status and how he was fueled by tiger’s blood. Then of course there was his revolving door of women that he referred to as “goddesses.” TMZ.com also reported on several of Sheen’s tirades against his former boss Chuck Lorre.
As the result of Sheen’s mental break the show was shutdown for the remainder of the season. When Sheen’s erratic behavior continued, he was fired from the popular sitcom. Sheen’s crazed speeches and parade of nonsense continued for a bit longer. Though he seems on more stable ground, its hard to say anyone could be “winning” when they blow a gig as television’s number one leading man.
After Sheen was canned from “Two and a Half Men,” he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher. The avid Tweeter and former “That 70s Show” star seemed ready to take over as the top dog with his new big time role as billionaire Walden Schmidt. It wasn’t long before trouble came knocking for the long haired, bearded Kutcher.
In an article posted on The Huffington Post .com by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Kutcher’s alleged affairs were discussed. Recently Kuther and former wife, actress Demi Moore, announced that they were splitting up. USA Today also printed a story that featured a tweet from Kutcher following the divorce announcement which read, “I will forever cherish the time I spent with Demi. Marriage is one of the most difficult things in the world and unfortunately sometimes they fail.”
Life is not getting too much better for Kutcher at his day job either. The same USA Today article mentioned the struggling ratings of “Two and a Half Men.” Since its premiere, viewers have dropped drastically for the show from 28 million people to an average of 14.2 million an episode. Is there more bad news coming for Kutcher, who knows, but its hard to see how things can really get any worse.
Being the lead actor on a successful television show seems like a magical experience. That is as long as the show is not harboring a curse. Then again maybe the two leading men are not to blame, perhaps it is just bad luck to work alongside “Two and a Half Men” co-star John Cryer. Whether its the Curse of Charlie, Ashton or John, one thing is for sure, there has been some fishy activity going on around those who dare get involved with “Two and a Half Men.”
I feel like I owe an apology. I said in an earlier blog about how much I like old things. I said that there was an inherent coolness in stuff that came from the annals of history. Bowties, cassettes and old books are all things that I find interesting and worth talking about. Unfortunately, I feel like I’ve sold out. I now have a Kindle. I love it.
I won it as a raffle prize at a fundraiser for the Quincy Humane Society a few weeks ago. It is a new fourth generation basic Kindle, and it doesn’t really have any bells or whistles like I was expecting. Normally if I get a new phone or some kind of gadget there is a breaking period. A few days or weeks where I’m not really comfortable using it. I might fumble around with the menus, and where I haven’t figured out the shortcuts yet. As an example, I bought a touchscreen smart phone (an HTC Incredible II) over the Fourth of July weekend and I’m still not “one” with it. With the Kindle I had it down in less than a day.
It is one of the most straightforward pieces of technology I have ever owned. It is meant for one thing: reading stuff. There aren’t any bells, whistles or downloadable apps to get in the way of reading. Even the things that I consider excessive, the Spanish, Portuguese, German and Italian dictionaries that come preloaded on it will be helpful if I ever stumble upon a random word like aleatório (which happens to be Portuguese for random).
This generation of Kindle also comes with a Wi-Fi receiver so it can buy books without a computer — an added bonus. So far all the books I have purchased have all cost the same $0. Since some literary works are old enough that the intellectual property rights have expired, they are free. I am currently reading “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” The average cost for it on amazon appears to be around $9. I paid nothing. That’s pretty cool.
So like I said before, I feel a little disingenuous by saying that I like really cool things and then turn around and write about how I love this brand new e-reader. However, my bereavement will hopefully be assuaged a little bit every time I can get a book for free.
In April of 2009, Ashton Kutcher made Twitter history. The actor challenged the news giant to a race to nab one million followers on the social network site. MTV.com reported that Kutcher was victorious by achieving the landmark tally just half an hour before CNN.
Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter feed has been one of the celebrity accounts to receive the most attention. That is soon to come to a close, because Kutcher is quitting his activity with Twitter. After making an ill-advised tweet about the scandal surrounding former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, the “Two and a Half Men” star relinquished control of his Twitter account to his management team. According to TMZ.com, Kutcher posted on his blog that the posts will still be written by him, only now the tweets will be filtered by his people at Katalyst Media to “ensure the quality of it’s content.”
The article on TMZ.com also reported that Kutcher blamed his controversial tweet on not having enough information. Kutcher’s blunder brings an end to a Twitter dynasty. Though his comments did wreck media havoc, Kutcher is not the first celebrity to find themselves in hot water after misusing the popular social networking site.
When you own your own NBA team, its probably not the best to take to Twitter after a controversial loss. When the Dallas Mavericks dropped a heated game against the Denver Nuggets, owner Mark Cuban took to Twitter to vent his rage. According to ABCnews.com, the furious owner blamed poor officiating for the loss. Cuban’s rant was a costly one. The NBA ended up fining Cuban $25,000 for the tweet. The fine is a drop in the bucket for the successful owner, but does prove that sometimes a stupid tweet comes at a monetary cost.
Since her political career hit the national spotlight, Sarah Palin has had her fair share of uncomfortable moments. TVguide.com reported a story where Palin “favorited” a picture taken by Ann Coulter. The picture was of a sign outside a church calling President Obama a “Taliban Muslim.” After coming under fire, Palin rolled out the excuse she didn’t mean to like the picture and it was a mistake by her phone.
The next Twilight film will be out soon and the die hard fans can barely contain their excitement. I have learned through personal experience Twilight fans are not a bunch to mess with. One bad comment about Robert Pattinson’s hair can get you killed by those people. When director David Slade signed on to produce the third movie in the series, “Eclipse,” the Twilight fans researched his Twitter feed. As it turned out, Slade mocked the first two vampire flicks pretty heavily. Needless to say, the Twilight fans were not to happy with him. Slade weathered the storm and went on to complete his directorial duties.
In addition to being the daughter of a former presidential candidate, Megan McCain is also an avid blogger and has a fairly active Twitter account. According to CBSnews.com, when McCain tweeted a picture of herself spending a quiet night at home, she received an unexpected reaction. The picture was taken by McCain of herself, holding a biography of Andy Warhol that she was reading. The angle of the picture ended up highlighting less of the book in her hand and more of her cleavage. Whether this was accidental remains debatable. After seeing the picture, I wonder if her father John McCain was just swelling with pride.
Though highly irritating, the commercial campaign promoting the company AFLAC has been quite successful. The spots feature a comical duck that just spouts out the name of the company in an obnoxious manner. The voice of the duck was provided by the comic Gilbert Gottfried. The comedian later lost his gig with AFLAC and TVguide.com reports that it was all due to a poorly timed tweet. After the earthquake and tsunami rocked Japan and devastated the country, support came in to help from around the world. Gottfried on the other hand took it as an opportunity to make several jokes at the expense of the suffering Japanese. Though Gottfried apologized for his tweets and admitted he was in the wrong, the damage had been done. AFLAC had no choice but to release the comic from his duties. Though no longer the voice of a waddling duck, Gottfried now has plenty of time to take his irritating voice to other venues.
Twitter has provided a way for celebrities to achieve new levels of fame through interactive promotion. It can give fans access into the lives of their beloved stars, but unfortunately for some celebrities it can also become a nightmare. By publishing one ignorant tweet, a celebrity’s entire reputation can be put on blast.
With great power, comes great responsibility, so I would advise all celebrities to tweet with caution.
Halloween is over and the only evidence that remains of the holiday is leftover candy that the kids did not want. All the fake cobwebs, plastic hanging skeletons and costumes have all been packed into boxes for next year. All of the jack-o-lanterns you carved a few weeks ago have long since rotted and are in a strong need of being put out of their misery. Now that Halloween is over it is time for the most frightening time of the year.
To me, the part of the year that gives me the chills the most is the extremely early decorating and shopping for Christmas. Barely a week after Halloween met its end, the holiday season has seemed to kick into gear at a chilling pace.
Yesterday, while grocery shopping, the holidays were already impossible to avoid. The aisles once filled a week ago with trick or treat candy and costumes have been replaced with Christmas-themed decor. Walking down an aisle you can feel the looming eye of old Saint Nick burning a hole through your back. Boxes of lights and candy eyes are stacked high as well as garland and wreaths are in full stock. Leaving the aisle, I could feel my left leg tremble from Christmas cheer shock.
Another marketplace of consumerism that has embraced the early celebration of Christmas is the malls. I only have my own local mall to reference, but I am certain from past experience that others also use this method. All the different stores have started to decorate their stores, but I almost expect that. What frightens me the most are the advertisements sponsored by the mall. As we near Thanksgiving the malls have begun to promote upcoming visits from Santa himself. The ads provide an array of dates from the man in red’s visit as well as offering photo opportunities. While one would think Santa would still be enjoying his time off for a few more weeks, apparently he has a more extensive mall tour schedule than Debbie Gibson and Tiffany had in the eighties.
Early Christmas promotions cannot even be escaped at home. On Nov. 1, many commercials began running to promote the upcoming holiday season. Many food advertisements are already shoving their products down the throats of consumers. The commercials are trying to secure a reservation for their items on your holiday table this season. Many of the ads depict happy families sitting around a table smiling and passing around baskets of dinner rolls. These ads seem to omit modern technology from the equation. Many holiday tables this year will be surrounded my families in silence busy texting away on smart phones or listening to their iPods. If this aspect of reality was included in the commercial spots, it would add some honesty to the promotion, but would probably kill the joyous holiday mood.
Another shocker this year to me is how so many people have already begun to decorate the outside of their homes with Christmas items. So far this week I have seen wreaths hanging from doors and men climbing ladders attempting to hang lights while not snapping their necks. What is more horrifying is logging onto Facebook to see how many people have Christmas trees up already.
My next beef with the early arrival of the holidays is one I will admit is something I hate up until the holiday itself. I have never enjoyed or been able to tolerate Christmas music. Especially when its blaring throughout so many stores. Also holiday radio stations are starting to make a reappearance. Some radio stations that play regular top 40 music are starting to sneak a jingle in here or there. There has always been something about Christmas music that makes me tense. During the holidays, its almost impossible to avoid the cheery tunes. Now with the season starting so early, people like me will be going insane by Christmas Eve.
It seems like everyone else is making their Christmas list now, so I will too and I am asking for silence.
One aspect of the holidays some people protest, but most embrace, is the shopping. The mass consumerism of the holidays has erupted into full swing. I have heard a lot of people have conversations about planning shopping trips to get all the good deals or find the perfect hard to find gifts. This is one I will acknowledge, but not necessarily be irritated by. This is because I am the exact polar opposite of those who are Christmas shopping as we speak. Dec. 23 and 24 are my days of high speed holiday shopping. My blood pressure is high and I feel nuts at this time. So to those of you who have the initiative to get out their and buy your gifts early, I suppose all I can say is more power to you.
Another thing I have noticed is how many of my friends have begun making their plans to travel home this holiday season. This one I can almost understand, if they lived across the country from their families. Yet a lot of the people I have spoken to are in driving distance of their homes, but are making plans like they are about to cross the Sahara. I can see someone wanting to know what day they will be driving, but creating strategies for packing and figuring out where one will be making pit stops along the journey seems a bit excessive. Have a plan sure, but don’t become Clark Griswald from the “Vacation” movies. Holiday travel can be hard, but it shouldn’t be turned into such a massive task this early.
I am not trying to sound like a Grinch, but I feel it is way too early to be embracing the holiday season. At this pace, if we keep moving up the preparation for the holidays, then in a couple years, people will start putting up trees the day after the Fourth of July. When the holiday season becomes a marathon it loses a lot of the magic. Give Santa a little more time off, because Christmas is still a bit of a ways off.
Just occupy your time being stressed about Thanksgiving first. Gobble Gobble.
Nightmares are often filled with outlandish fantasies. Some people complain of being haunted by ghosts, sinister creatures, or the awful sensation of falling from a great height. When I was little I used to have the recurring dream I was trapped in an underground labyrinth of an old castle. Though I never saw what it was, I knew there was something chasing me.
Though maybe not as bone chilling as the fantasy based bad dreams, the common every day nightmares can still shake one to the absolute core. This becomes especially true when the nightmare occurs in real life. I recently had an experience that I wish was only a dream. Instead of when fear strikes a fever pitch I would awake in the safety of my bed, as my legs shook and my blood ran cold I was still in my car on the side of Interstate 70.
My unfortunate real life nightmare involves my beloved car. The little Toyota Celica has been in my life for many years. We have weathered many interesting times together both good and bad. While in college I made the poor decision one winter afternoon to drive home in the middle of a snow storm. The little Celica clung to the road despite freezing rain and ice pouring from the sky. It was this event that earned my car the nickname “The Snow Cat.” The sporty silver car has always battled through all challenges so imagine my surprise when recently its life came to a sudden and potential final end.
Every week I drive to Boonville, Mo., a meeting. U.S. connects the little town to Columbia, Mo., where I work at a local television station. I despise this stretch of I-70. It is filled 24 hours a day with raging semi-trucks who are under the impression they are not driving an 18 -wheeler but a souped up NASCAR vehicle.
The problems with my little Celica began on Halloween. The engine light had came on which sent me into a small panic. Later that day when I was driving the light had shut back off. I was filled with relief that perhaps it had just been a fluke when it initially attempted to alert me. While on my way to lunch I started to hear a clicking sound. I never assumed it could be my car until suddenly the engine shut off and I was stalled at a busy intersection. After re-starting the car somehow I was able to roll the vehicle into the nearest auto body shop. The attendant on duty popped the hood and looked around. I know zero about cars so situations like this always make me nervous. The attendant said it could be one of two problems. The first, which sounded horrible, was that the radiator was shot. The second was a lot less painful to take, that perhaps the engine just needed some fluid. Like I said my lack of car knowledge prevents me from using any technical terms.
The attendant filled my car with fluid and ran several tests. He dropped the hood and smiled which gave me some relief. He informed me that he believed he had solved the problem but I needed to keep my eyes open for any leaks coming from the under carriage. I drove away from the body shop feeling great. It had seemed the “Snow Cat” and I had dodged yet another bullet.
I drove my car around Columbia, going to work or running mindless errands and all seemed fine. The time then came for me to hit the highway and go to Boonville for my meeting. My mother had been in town and after eating dinner with her she took off for Hannibal and I got on the dreaded I-70. Roughly 10 miles outside of Boonville that familiar clicking noise started again. My blood pressure was rising. Once going 65-miles an hour my car would no longer go over 50. As my panic increased the “Snow Cat” dropped its top speed to 40. Finally with the clicking deafening I could no longer drive faster than 30 miles an hour. At this point clouds of smoke billowed out of the hood and my car was out. I managed to roll to the side of the road. I sat for a moment in shock.
What followed was a series of panicked phone calls to my mother. The semi trucks raged by only inches from my car that was parked on the narrow shoulder. My mom reassured me and said she was turning around and on her way. My legs were trembling and thoughts of everything bad that could possibly happen filled my head. With every passing truck my car rocked back and forth. I felt like I couldn’t breath. What would kill me first, lack of oxygen to the brain or being smashed to bits by a semi-truck. I wanted to scream or cry but all I could do was focus a steely glare on my rear-view mirror focusing on the oncoming traffic.
After several moments that felt like hours a highway patrolman pulled over behind me. I have never been relieved to see a police officer’s red and blue lights but for the first time it gave me comfort. The young cop who appeared in his early thirties approached my passenger window. My shaky voice explained the situation at a lighting pace. I gave him all the information I could think of and probably more than he needed. By the time I was finished speaking I am sure I randomly told him the names of all my living relatives, what I ate for lunch, my first childhood memories.
The patrolman stayed firm and offered to call a tow truck from his radio. I was overjoyed and told him that sounded God-sent. He walked back to his car and for the first time my breathing leveled out. I could see him from my rear-view mirror on his radio. I thought to myself finally this nightmare is over. The roaring semi trucks that passed even seemed to bother me less.
My moments of relief suddenly ended. I looked back to the patrolman to see him shut off all his interior lights and red and blue roof lights. I watched in panic as he pulled off the shoulder and drove down the highway. I was alone again on the dangerous highway. I couldn’t seem to fathom how the cop could tell me nothing. Thanks to my phone I was able to Google the tow truck place and get the phone number. I called and was met by the voice of a gruff man. He assured me he had received the call and someone would be there soon. Now all I could do is wait and listen to the sound of the trucks barreling by.
Close to 20 minutes passed and no sign of a tow truck. My next move was to call Missouri Highway Patrol assistance. The man who answered tried to reassure me that someone was coming. It was hopeless to calm my nerves at this point. I glanced behind me noticing headlight. My mom had arrived. With the roaring traffic neither one of us wanted out of the car. We spoke on the phone sharing how scared we both were being trapped on the highway.
I gave another call to the towing company. The gruff man spoke in short sentences and said the driver had been delayed but was coming. My patience and nerves were shot. I explained how unsafe my mother and I felt and asked if we could meet the driver somewhere else. The gruff man instructed me to pull of at the next exit and go to a gas station called “The Eagle.” I called my mom and let her know the situation. I then crawled from the passenger seat and escaped my poor little car. I jumped into my mom’s vehicle but not before a passing semi whipped my hair in the wind.
Once at the gas station it was another 15 minutes before the tow truck driver arrived. He was a giant burly red-headed man. He seemed quite gentle and ready to help. He took my keys and instructed us to wait there while he retrieved “The Snowcat.” Another 20 minutes later he was back. It kind of made me sad to see my little car laid out on the back of the tow. The driver did not stop just motioned us to follow. We followed his instructions and took off behind him. Keeping up with him proved to be a task. The man flew down the highway reaching speeds of 80 miles an hour. He finally made an exit and we pulled into a body shop. The place was of course closed because by now it was almost 9 at night. We paid the man for his service and I grabbed a few cards from the body shop from their night box.
My mother and I drove back to Columbia both exhausted and relieved to be off the highway. The next day I followed up with the body shop to provide the needed information. The fate of my beloved “Snow Cat” remains a mystery. If our road together ends here we really had some amazing times. I have never owned a car that was such a fighter. No matter what the future holds for my car at least my highway nightmare is over. Yet as I sit at my desk writing this blog if I close my eyes tight enough I can still see and hear the devilish semi trucks baring down on me waiting to demolish me and the “Snow Cat.” Though some may not think my experience was as scary as dreaming about being chased by an axe murder my time spent on that highway is a nightmare I will not soon forget.
- Jordan O’Donnell