Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Potpourri No. 11

Today's post comes with the Standard Sunday Disclaimer: "The post title is using the term 'potpourri' in the second of the two senses listed here. The post may also be rather short, although not necessarily so."


...I like to play around with pairing favorite quotes to striking visual images. Back when I was a daily visitor to reddit, I often submitted the results of these projects to the QuotesPorn subreddit there, and generally got a good response. I was looking for something else in an old documents folder this morning, and stumbled across this...

That's the closing passage of Chapter 96 of Moby-Dick. The quote is a favorite I enjoyed sharing with my students my whole career, because it always sparked a lively discussion as to its meaning...

Things That Make Me Happy: Slugfest Edition

Both starting pitchers struggled at Kauffman Stadium last night, but my beloved Kansas City Royals held on for a tense 7-6 victory. DH Kendrys Morales and All-Star catcher Salvador Perez each had two hits and two RBIs. Despite his struggles, Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie improved to 8-7, and closer Greg Holland bounced back from Friday night's shaky performance to get his 25th save by striking out the side in the 9th inning...

"Hit it if you can, assholes!"
The Royals will try for the three-game sweep this afternoon, with Danny Duffy (5-5, 4.04 ERA) on the mound versus Jose Quintana (6-9, 3.50, 1-2 vs. the Royals so far this season).

My Police Car Hot Rod

After giving up on the Yamahopper in 1982 (which I wrote about here), I went to an auto auction in Kansas City with my dad, and came away with a 1976 Pontiac Catalina that had once been a police cruiser:

Mine wasn't white, it was the same bronze color as this wagon version:

The car had Pontiac's massive 455 V8, with four-barrel carburetors and the "police pursuit package," which included a gigantic oil pan that went up over the front axle, beefed up suspension, and a spotlight on the driver's side that was still working when I bought the car.

I'm not too proud to admit that I occasionally drove to local lover's lanes in both Topeka and Kansas City and flashed the spotlight just to watch the people necking in their cars scramble to leave...

"That was just plain mean."
Don't judge me...

The big Pontiac "ran like a scalded ape" (in my dad's words), and served me faithfully until the winter of 1984. I was living in Casper, Wyoming by then, and the combination of Casper's hills and snowfall, plus the torque and rear-wheel drive of the Catalina, made me long for a front-wheel drive vehicle. I was able to sell her for more than she cost me to a guy who wanted that mammoth V8 to put in his stock car racer.

To Hell With Neil deGrasse Tyson

From The Far Side, by the totally amazing Gary Larson. You should buy all of his stuff...

Until Next Time...

The same year I acquired the Catalina, 1982, was also the year of one of my peak life experiences: Watching on television as Chariots of Fire won the Best Picture Oscar at the 54th Academy Awards. Its win was considered an "upset" at the time, as people had expected either Reds (which had the most nominations) or Raiders of the Lost Ark (the biggest box-office hit) to win. The film also won for Best Original Screenplay (Colin Welland), Best Costume Design (Milena Canonero), and Best Original Score.
I consider myself fortunate to have had the experience of seeing it in a proper movie theater. It might be an exaggeration to say "They don't make 'em like this one anymore," but they sure don't make very many like this one anymore. A film classic.

Original 1981 film poster.

Even after more than 30 years, there are several scenes in this film that move me to tears (including one scene that affects me
so profoundly I often leave the room rather than watch it). It has been in my all-time Top 5 favorite movies ever since I saw it, and spent many years in the No. 1 spot.

I was so excited to see its unexpected win on the Oscar telecast that I jumped off my couch and punched the well as the low ceiling of my apartment. My hand was sore and swollen for days, but it was totally worth it. And I'd bruise my knuckles again by poking in the snout anyone who suggests that Chariots of Fire didn't deserve to win.

Today's send-off is the main title from the film, by composer Evangelos Papathanassiou (known professionally as Vangelis). The success of the film at the Oscars propelled the soundtrack album into the public consciousness, and for its May 8 issue Billboard listed this track as No. 1 on its Hot 100 chart, an extraordinary achievement for a piece of instrumental music (it also finished No. 12 on the year-end list). Enjoy...

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