Thursday, July 30, 2009

Irrational Exuberance

I want to buy a Mustang.
What the hell is wrong with me?
For the past week or so I have become obsessed with the idea of owning a Mustang. Nevermind the fact that I already have a perfectly wonderful fun-to-drive car. Or that I would have no place to park it (what with the other half-dozen vehicles that I/my wife/my son already own). Oh, and let's not forget this tiny little detail . . . I'm broke.
But apparently none of that matters.
I want to buy a Mustang.
What the hell is wrong with me?
I've already been to the Ford website and spec'd it out.
Oh, yeah. I have.
A 2010 Ford Mustang GT, Kona Blue Metallic, charcoal cloth interior, 4.6L V-8 with 5-speed auto. Nothing fancy. I don't need a convertible . . . I already drive one. I don't need a manual tranny . . . ditto. I know the V-8 is a bit of an extravagance but I'm lucky enough to live close to work so fuel mileage isn't really a factor. And there's nothing like the sound of an American small block with duallies to get the juices flowing. The only car I ever owned that came close was my very first one: a 1965 Dodge Polara with a 383 and a four-barrel. Pretty damn fast. Perfect for a 16 year old with a newly minted license. But it was an "old man's car". I know this because I bought it from an old man. So I sold it. And bought a Volkswagen Beetle.
You're right. Dumbass.
And it's true that I genuinely love my Mazda Miata. Driving it is the most fun you can have in a car that doesn't involve nudity. On a gorgeous day, cruising the backroads with the top down, the sun warm on your face, the wind in your hair. There's nothing like it.
It's just that sometimes, sometimes . . . I wish for a little more room. Miatas are so tiny you half- expect circus clowns to pop out when you open the door. And a little more power. And a little more quiet. You know, so I can actually hear the stereo. And not having to clutch and shift when stuck in rush hour traffic? That's pretty nice, too. Plus, Miatas are low. How low? "So low that speed bumps block out the sun" low. Not to mention the fact that the only way I can get into the car is to turn sideways and fall back on my ass into the seat.
That's hot, right?
See, this is where the whole slippery slope of rationalization begins. After all, I've been driving my Miata for over seven years now. My last car I drove for eleven years. So it's not like I treat myself to a new ride very often. Wouldn't it be nice if I could "retire" my Miata to "beautiful-weather-and-weekend" duty? Parked beside my motorcycle in the garage, they would officially be proclaimed "Paul's Toys". The Mustang? Well, I need something to drive to work, don't I?
The truth is, I've always been a Ford guy and the Mustang was always my favorite (right after the '71 Gran Torino, just like Clint Eastwood drove). I thought for sure I would own one sometime in my life. And the 2010 is probably the best Mustang ever built (after the '69 GT, just like Steve McQueen drove). Ford tweaked the styling a bit for this year and upgraded the interior so it's a very sweet ride. And not too pricey, though I could save myself 5 large by opting for the V-6. But, hey . . . go big or go home.
I know what you're thinking.
Before the weekend is out, he's going to pull the trigger. Believe me when I tell you that nobody would like to see that happen more than me. But it ain't gonna happen. I simply can't afford it.
But I can dream, can't I?
I want to buy a Mustang.
What the hell is wrong with me?
Mmmmm. I wonder how late Beach Ford is open tonight?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

So Long, Sarah.

Enough already.
Let me start out by saying when I first heard of Sarah Palin, I liked what I heard. She was the complete opposite of every other politician. No big city upbringing, no Ivy League education. Nope, Sarah grew up in the great state of Alaska, finished college in Idaho and went to work as a TV reporter. You know the rest . . . city council, Mayor of Wasilla, Governor of Alaska (the first woman and youngest person to land the gig), then Vice Presidential candidate. It was during the McCain/Palin campaign that most people got to know her. A self-described hockey mom, dedicated to her family and to conservative Republican values. She hunted. She fished. She liked guns and shooting things. I liked her.
But then, the wheels started to come off the Palin Express. Reports surfaced that she was a bit of a diva on the campaign trail. A disasterous interview with Katie Couric made her seem unprepared for the vice presidency, let alone the top job. This in spite of a generally well-regarded performance in a debate with opponent Joe "Wow, I'll Say Anything!" Biden. I thought "maybe she's not ready for this, but give her time". When the election was over I assumed that Sarah would return to her beloved Alaska, work hard for her state and remain a force in the Republican Party.
First came her "feud" with David Letterman. Sure, many of the jokes were a bit harsh, but David pulls no punches. Those, including Gov. Palin, who accuse Dave of deliberately attacking Sarah and her family because he's a member of the liberal elite just haven't been watching his show for as long as I have. I always thought Dave was more conservative in his views than most in his field. He's been a longtime fan of Senator McCain. And it's easy to understand that the pregnancy jokes he made about Palin's daughter were truly aimed at Bristol (you know, the one who actually WAS pregnant), not her younger sister Willow. Once Dave cleared that up and apologized, that should have been the end of it.
But it wasn't.
I think Sarah Palin made a huge mistake not accepting Dave's offer to appear on his show to accept his contrition in person. Instead she made a ridiculous statement about not wanting to boost his ratings by lowering herself to be a guest. Right then it was obvious she wasn't interested in his apology. She just wanted to be the center of attention. Again.
And now, this . . . her resignation. What's that all about? It's one thing to say you're not running for re-election. It's quite another to quit . . . in the middle of your first term.
If she had come right out and said that the past year had been a real hardship for her family and she wants to spare them any additional stress, fine. I can accept that, even support that.
But that's not what she said. In fact, nobody seems to know what she said, exactly. And that leads to all kinds of speculation.
She's leaving because of impending ethics violations. She's leaving because Fox has offered her a talk show (I think she'll go with "Sarah", just one name. Hell, if Oprah can do it, so can she). She's going into the private sector to make some real money (is she that clueless about this economy?). She wants to spend more time with her true soulmate in Argentina (whoops, sorry . . . wrong Republican governor).
Or maybe, she wants to be president. And she really can't do that stuck in a vast frozen faraway wasteland like Alaska.
We'll see. But if the White House turns out to be the true reason for all this, I predict she'll never make it. Because she believes the only way to get there is to turn her back on her constituents. Abandon the voters who put her in office, and head south.
The best way for her to show that she would be ready for the nation's highest office is to do the finest possible job for the citizens of our 49th state. Her critics say she lacks experience? Putting in her time as governor and excelling would have answered that charge.
Instead she'll find some other way to stay in the public eye. And miss out on gaining the one quality she lacks . . . gravitas. And maybe a little humility.
If I were to run against her in the future, I would need to invoke only one word. Quitter.
That's right, America, when the going got tough, Sarah Palin got going.
But, hey. We Americans have notoriously short memories and a lot can happen between now and 2012 (including the end of the world as we know it, but what do those crazy Mayans know anyway?). And if by some political miracle she were to win, let's hope her vice president is ready to sit in the big chair.
Because who knows how long Sarah's gonna stay.