Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let's Welcome Toni to the Family

To understand this post fully, and how it affects me, you might want to read Dave's Car History

I'm hanging out at The Happiest Place in the Mall the other day, and I get a text message. "Call me when you have a minute". The Lovely Steph Leann needs to converse with me for some reason, and I'm puzzled why.

Could she have discovered my hidden stash of Sweet Valley High novels? Did she find the full 3rd season of Manimal on my computer? Surely not... its well hidden. (I'm just kidding. I don't have Manimal on my computer... duh!). Or maybe she finally realized that she's so far out of my league, its funny, and she wants to negotiate a deal... who knows...

I call her back, and after the usual married pleasantries, she tells me, "Okay, so my cousin JoAnna is selling her car." Its a 95 Honda Accord, with 102K miles on it. The price is extremely cheap, and its in really good condition... do we want it? (I only say "extremely cheap" because I don't know if JoAnna offered it to anyone else and and what price, so I don't want to put her on the spot--if you really wanna know, just ask me)

We discuss it for a few days, consider the options, and decide its worth a look-see. But when to go? The car is in Gadsden, an hour up the road, I've got a very busy weekend, I'm at The Happiest Place in the Mall and The Most Caffeinated Place in Soho Monday and Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, but that night we need to pack, because on Thursday, we're going to The Happiest Place on Earth Not Next to The Lovely Steph Leann with our friends DeLisa and DeNick.

After more discussion, we finally decided I would drive my car, a 1999 Mercury Sable Piezochitt, up to Gadsden. ("If you break down, mom said she'd come get you," is what The Lovely Steph Leann had to say.) And, as planned, yesterday after I clocked out at The Most Caffeinated Place in Soho and drove up to Gadsden.

As I pulled into the Phillips yard, I saw the beige/champagne/tan car sitting in the driveway. "Hmm," I muttered to myself. I stepped out, and met up with Mrs JoAnna's Mom, and we discussed the car.

Here's my thing... when I bought the Mercury Sable Piezochitt in 2000, I almost felt bullied into getting it. I had my eye on a small Toyota, something good on gas mileage, not too expensive. But I was steered into the Sable, but really, through no fault of my own. I was a senior at Monetarily Unstable High School, and was a few years away from my freshman year at Financial Peace University, and really didn't know how to bargain, bluff, negotiate or anything. So I said, "Okay." And took it.

I never, ever felt the car was me. I know thats a dumb thing to say, I mean, what makes anything "you", but while its dumb, every person reading this can nod their head yes. Sometimes there are some things that are just... well... You. The Sable was not me. In all fairness, its lasted me 7 years and I've almost put 100,000 miles on it. But along the way, I've had numerous mechanical problems, everything from motor mounts to a cracked engine head to broken valves to busted pipes to frayed cables to a stupid driver's side door lock that has forced me, for over two years, to go to the passenger side to unlock my door, then circle around to the driver's side. It helps me look good, though, when Lil Sister Ashley or KT or someone is riding with me, cause I always open their door. When The Lovely Steph Leann and I go anywhere, we ALWAYS take her car.

Mrs JoAnna's Mom and I discuss the car for a few, and she offers me the keys to take it out for a drive. I open the driver door, and it pops. There's a slight hinge hang-up, but that's workable. I start the car up, and it sounds good. I rev the engine slightly, and it sounds good too. I close the door and back out of the driveway, and begin to drive. The windows are down, the radio is on, and again, I say, "Hmmmm...."

The Phillips' live off a main highway, back a few little sidestreets, so I take the car around the streets, turning, speeding up, slowing down... I turn onto the main highway, and accelerate. It feels good. I like it. I turn around and head back down the sidestreets, and slam on the brakes. They work too, well.

Mr. JoAnna's Dad comes home. We discuss a little more, he offers me a price, which is really, really good. We strike an agreement for me to leave the Sable Piezochitt there, and drive the Honda home to Birmingham, let me drive it for the weekend, let me get a feel for it around town. I back it out, pull up next to my car, and unload some important stuff into the Honda. Papers, my backpack, my Sword, notebooks, audiobooks, 9 CDs I got at the library to upload, some shoes and other fun stuff.

My mind begins to jump ahead little... owning this car. One thing I notice quickly is that there is no slip. In the Sable, when you press the gas, the car hesitates for a second, then pops into place with a jerk. The transmission is slipping. The transmission will need work, soon. Anytime you put the words "transmission" and "work" together, its not good times. Bad times indeed.

I'm heading down I-20, windows down, hair blowing. There is a CD player in this car. I've NEVER, EVER had a CD player in my car. No, I'm not kidding. Well, for my first, its a dandy--its a fancy-schmancy Panasonic player, one of those that you remove the faceplate when you leave the car so it doesn't get jacked.

My problem with the CD player is that... well, I really don't know how to work it. Seriously. I don't know how to turn it off. While I'm doing 77 miles per hour, I'm giving quick glances to it, pressing some buttons on it, seeing what happens. Too bad I don't have a CD to put in it.

"This car needs a name," I think to myself. The Lovely Steph Leann always names her cars. I don't know her first one, but the Escort she had was named Georgiana. Her current Honda Accord (2003) is named Isadora. She truly is a Victorian plantation mistress from 1829 trapped in a scrapbook queen body in 2008.

I race through names in my head... Emily... Mandy... Megan... Leigh... none of them seem to fit, until... Miranda. Yeah... Miranda. I like it. It kinda, sorta fits. Miranda. My first real Troy State friend, way back in 1993, was named Miranda Bryant. I think I'll go with that.

I'm noticing different things on the car, the windows, the gears, the display, the seats, the headliner... and of course, the car is really, really dirty. I mean, my car--the Sable--is dirty too, but its my filth, so I'm thinking I will have to remedy this soon. If I do purchase, I'll take it to the car wash to get it cleaned... but did I bring my debit card? Or my cash? My hand reaches back behind the passenger seat, fumbling in my backpack for my wallet, and I glance back. There they are. Sitting on the back seat. CDs. The ones I borrowed from the Hoover Public Library.

My hand goes back to the seat and my fingers enclose on several plastic cases. I hold them to the side, as, while still watching the road, my eyes quickly glance the artists... Kenny Rogers.... no... Luther Vandross... no... The Traveling Wilburys... no.... Sheryl Crow's latest... no... wait... its... Toni Braxton. YES!

I pop in Toni, and immediately one of my favorite Toni Tunes comes on... "Give U My Heart", from the Eddie Murphy movie "Boomerang", on the Dave200. Soon after, its "Love Shoulda Brought You Home", followed by "Another Sad Love Song", "You Mean the World To Me" and "Breathe Again". My life rocks.

I'm driving down the interstate, driving a comfy, fun, good looking car, a car that isn't sputtering, a car that isn't making freaky, squeaky, funky, junky noises, a car that has a CD player, albeit one I don't know how to work, a car that... I am really enjoying driving. Maybe its because the car is just fun, or maybe because its all the things that most of my previous cars haven't been, but either way, Toni Braxton is blasting, its a cool Fall-Eve day, its a good, good day.

So much so that I'm even just smiling, smiling for no reason. Miranda is a good car. Miranda? Am I committed to that? What if its not Miranda... what if its... what if its... Toni? Like, Toni Braxton? Well the car is small, just like Toni Braxton, and the car has the same color as Toni Braxton... I think we might have a winner. In an instant, Miranda became Toni. (as a shout-out to J Roberts, I think the "full name", if a car can have a full name, is Toni Rocki Honda).

I give you... Toni Rocki Honda. No, you probably won't hear me refer to my car as "Toni" on any other place besides the blog...

The rest of my evening off went by way too fast... Toni and I toured Birmingham, making stops at Wal-Mart, The Happiest Place in the Mall, Long John Silver's... but first, was the stop at Regal Car Wash. Twenty bucks later, Toni is shining and polished, vacuuming out.

Back in the day, The Deuce put out two CDs. My friend Jenn Pritchett (now Glenn) got one, and told me later that she had a problem with it--when she put it in her car, a Honda no less, it wouldn't come out because of the label. I was reminded of this 2002 conversation when I inserted my copy of "Dave's Guilty Pleasures, Volume 3" into my CD player in the car.

"Dave's Guilty Pleasures", volumes 1, 2 and 3 is a CD set I put together filled with cheeseball songs that everyone likes, but no one quite admits how much they like them--White Lion, The Jets, Stereo MCs, Dino, Expose, The Divinyls, etc...

And when I went to eject it, it didnt come out. Later, I put a pair of tweezers in my car, just to use to pull out any CDs with labels on them.


Does anyone know how to work this thing?

What to do with the Sable? Our thought was to sell it, but I'll be honest... If I have a few grand to get a beater car, and I see a car like the one I currently own, for $2K (the amount we'd love to get for it) I might look at it... but when I find out it has transmission issues, I'm looking elsewhere. The other option is to donate it, and take the tax write off--the Kelley Blue Book for my car in its condition is around $2800--but honestly, I don't really know how that works. Does anyone know if you can just name your deduction, as long as its reasonable? It there a formula? Anyone?

So, my new-to-me car has a weird door pop, and a trunk that takes a little extra hhmph. There was also the issue of the "University of Alabama" sticker on the back window, but I scraped most of it off, and placed a Florida Gators logo over it, so that problem is solved.

Well, off to get a haircut. Its been a good, good day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Car History

I figure this is a good reference. I'll refer to this from time to time. I probably should fill you in on my car history:

1992 to 1993... Oldsmobile Cutless Ciera. Drove it to Samson High School, despite living two blocks from the school (driving was truly the coolest thing). It was my dad's car, he let me use it. Result? Totaled in driving through Elba, Alabama, on my way back to Troy in October of '93. Three months after paying it off.

1993 to 1996... Buick Century. Drove it during my college years. Notable for the "bench" seat in the front, but also extremely easy to work on. Brian Wilbanks and I changed the alternator on it in about an hour at FarmHouse. Result? Four months after paying it off, it was totaled it coming back from an all night shift at WKMX one Saturday morning. Was supposed to take Heather Howell to see Beauty & the Beast at the Fox Theater in Atlanta the next night. That didn't happen.

1996 to 2000... Oldmobile Cutlass Supreme. Two door, bad a** car that drove well, but required constant maintenance. The alternator that cost $100 and one hour to replace on the Buick Century cost $400 and overnight to replace, because it required the services of a mechanic. Result? After paying it off three months prior, totaled when making an ill advised left turn, and hit by a Mercedes. While uninsured.

2000 to 2001... Chevy Blazer. Bought at Cars Alabama, the place downtown that says "you can get your down payment back if you make all your payments on time", which is a great coup for Cars Alabama, because if you are forced to go Cars Alabama to get a car, you probably aren't the type of person who will actually be paying your payments on time. (see: Dollar, David, circa 2000). I actually really, really liked this vehicle. It was from 1988, and I drove it for a year and a half. Result? After a while, I was riding on four bald tires and the entire steering column was loose, and moved. So, I traded it in for...

2001 to 2008... Mercury Sable, 1999. Purchased at Jim Burke Used Cars. Always look back and felt bullied into the car, as I had my eye on the small Toyota. It's a 9 year old car, and I've had it for 7 of those, now at 138,500+ miles on it. You want to know what I've dealt with this one?

  • Replaced motor mounts, engine heads, oil parts, rack & pinion, and can now feel the transmission slipping.
  • The heater doesn't work, so for three winters now, I've been kinda cold.
  • The defrost doesn't work, so for three winters now, I've broken two different ice scrapers and destroyed about a dozen cassette tape cases.
  • The driver side door doesn't unlock from the outside, so for two years, I've unlocked the car from the passenger side--this sucks in the rain.
  • Replaced battery cables, when batteries kept dying

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sometimes Freedom is Worth the Price

Just a few quotes for your weekend, since we're discussing 9/11, and the election is such a hot topic right now.

"Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor," says Donna Brazile, political activist for the Democratic Party, on CNN's Wolf Blitzer show. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn, on the House floor, also liked to say this. Where does this come from? A blogger named Laura, posting on the Washington Post, on September 4th. And the libs pick it up and run with it.

Let me just be clear. I love Jesus Christ. I think Jesus is awesome. He died for my sins. He never raised my taxes, He instead raised my standard of living, my level of hope and my abundance of Grace. The Most Merciful Anointed Messiah, Barack Hussein Obama, is no Jesus Christ. Not even close.

Here's another one. "No, no, no, not God bless America, God damn America, that's in the Bible, for killing innocent people, God damn America, for treating her citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme!" The Honorable Reverend Jeremiah Wright, America's pastor, and pastor for 20 years to The Most Merciful Anointed One Messiah Obama.

Or this one, spoken on September 16th, 2001, "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye! We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost!" The Honorable Reverend Jeremiah Wright, America's pastor, and pastor for 20 years to The Most Merciful Anointed One Messiah Obama, and laying down the blame for the 9/11 attacks squarely on you and me.

I'm working on finding the quote of the Democratic Congressmen that expressed regret over 9/11 happening... well, not that it happened, but that it didn't happen on Clinton's watch, because wow, that would have boosted his legacy forever!

Found this one too... Carol Fowler, D-SC, who thinks that McCain chose Palin, a candidate "...who's primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion." When asked by Alex Burns, The Politico, to comment on McCain's 20 point boost in the polls in white women, she replied, "Just anecdotally, those white women were Republican anyway."

Ah, don't get angry. This is who your modern day Democratic party is. This is who they are slowly revealing themselves to be. However, I thought this might cheer me, and you, up:

And surprisingly, this was not bought and paid for by McCain. This was Army Specialist Joe Cook, wounded by an IED in May 2007.

Can't see it here? If you are on Facebook, click here or watch it here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th Links and Thoughts

If you are new to the blog, then welcome! Stay a while. Wanted to share a story with you:

I was working at The Most Caffeinated Place in Soho yesterday, and overheard this from a fellow barista:

"Yeah, [The Most Merciful Anointed One, Messiah] Obama is going to set a timeline for Iraq. Remember when he wanted to do it a few years ago, and everyone said he was crazy? Well, now McCain and Bush are both calling for it. And [The Most Merciful Anointed One, Obama] is also going to make us energy independent in ten years!"

He was telling a customer this, who apparently had made the mistake of either asking or referring to politics. I just smiled. I felt almost overprepared, as I pondering just going straight into him with the fact that The Most Merciful Anointed Messiah Obama's timeline is a piece of crap, and his energy independence plan has as much substance as the movie I watched a few days ago.

However, I resisted. I do realize, though, that I'm going to have to speak up pretty soon. Emmy Turnbow asked me last night when I was going to light up The Most Merciful Anointed Messiah Obama, and after a brief pause, I replied, "Soon."

There's a lot I don't like about him. I used to like the guy, at least personally, but thought he was the wrong choice for president. Now? It's a character thing. I think The Most Merciful Anointed Messiah Obama has some serious character flaws, and deep down, I believe he's not a very good person. Why am I telling you this? Just as a teaser.

BUT... it's September 11th today. And as I usually do a post that remembers this day, I don't have time for original material, as I'm headed to The Happiest Place in the Mall. But for you new Clouds in My Coffee readers, or you people who may have missed it, I wanted to give you some links to my 9/11 blogs in the past.

"Thoughts on THAT Day", a reflection on how I learned of the attacks. In Part II, you'll read about my trip to Ground Zero in 2002.

In "Five Years Later: Today's Thoughts", I listed some of my favorite 9/11 tributes and memorials.

A few days later, I posted "Five Years Later: Where Were Some of You?", where I asked for, and received, some personal thoughts from some friends of mine, including Brooklyn, P-Mack, Matta Latta and more.

And this year, I posted one of my favorite posts ever, "Rebecca Miller & the Divine Do-Over". This was not so much about September 11th, as more of an admission of grace, and how God lets us do things again. I thought it fitting.

Hopefully, if elected, The Most Merciful Anointed Messiah Obama will let us do things over again. Like pay taxes over and over. Exciting, huh!

Saturday, September 06, 2008


So, a few years ago, I did a post featuring some of Nic Cage's movies. The epitome of "I got my Oscar, so the rest of my career is going to me just having some effin' fun and making some serious jack".

I believe it was Matt Latta who said that Nic had a perfect guilty-pleasure trilogy... The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off, and I agree.

And then, I read this article from DNC-TV, also known as MSNBC, called "Nicolas Cage: The Anti-Sean Penn" The subtitle says, "Why does he keep making trashy thrillers? Because he feels like it."

And it says it perfectly... Dave White writes:

Back in the day, it was an easy assertion that Michael Caine was the hardest working actor alive. And the least reliable marquee name. Leave the arthouse theater where he’d be starring in Neil Jordan’s serious-minded hit “Mona Lisa” and head over to the multiplex and boom, there you’d also find him starring in tacky junk like “Jaws The Revenge.” Full court Michael Caine press. No getting away from him even if you wanted to.

Well, Michael Caine is old now. So another guy had to step in and become Michael Caine. That man is Nicolas Cage.

There is always a Nicolas Cage movie happening somewhere. There’s always one in theaters or on cable or coming soon on Blu-Ray or being shot right now or in post-production or just announced or being produced by him. This week’s Nicolas Cage movie is “Bangkok Dangerous.” It’s about a guy who runs around shooting people. Or maybe it’s about a guy who runs around getting shot at by people. I think it takes place in Bangkok. Or maybe in outer space on a planet so unstable that they say it’s not just dangerous to be there, it’s Bangkok dangerous. Or maybe Nicolas Cage plays a guy named Bangkok Dangerous. I’d tell you more about it if I could but they’re not showing it to scummy press people like me.

And I’m genuinely excited to go buy a ticket this Friday morning. First because I know in my heart that something demented will take place in this movie. And also because I know that Nicolas Cage will use his share of my ticket money to do something awesome like exhuming Elvis’ body for further inspection or private-jetting to Eastern Europe to buy the actual secret-location murder-hostel they based those horror films on.

But back to his ubiquity. I read once that Cage wanted to make a lot of movies while he was still young enough to bring his full virility to them. Something like that. I thought it was funny he referenced his own virility and that’s why I kinda-sorta remember the quote.

So he’s making good on that possibly untrue assertion with approximately 10 new projects in various pupal stages, including one in which he has to figure out how to stop some supernatural events predicted by a time capsule (“Knowing”) and one where he lends his voice to an animated guinea pig that’s been trained to stop an evil billionaire bent on world domination (“G-Force”).
Not playing Penn’s game. This isn’t how serious, important, Oscar-winning actors are supposed to behave. Serious, important, Oscar-winning actors are supposed to choose projects with dignity, carefully considering their cinematic legacy.

Take Sean Penn, Cage’s thesp-peer and on-again, off-again feuding partner. Penn’s got two movies coming, the next one being Gus Van Sant’s “Milk,” where he’ll play assassinated gay-rights leader Harvey Milk.

That movie is months from release and the guy’s Oscar nomination is already a lock. If you call up the Academy and just talk to their operator, she’ll go, “Oh yeah, he’s nominated.”

Guess what one of Cage’s several 2009 releases is called? Did you just take a stab in the dark and say it’s probably called “Kick-Ass!” or something like that? Then you were right. It’s called “Kick-Ass.” No exclamation point. At least for now. It co-stars McLovin.

And in case you weren’t around for the 1980s, that’s what Nicolas Cage used to be considered: a serious, important actor. Were you there? Back when all the critics loved him? Like back in the mid to late 1980s around the time of “Birdy?” That was when they’d talk about him as the hope of acting’s future. He was “edgy” and “complex” and “unpredictable.”

He was as Method as it got, smashing things around just so he could get upset enough to shoot his scenes in “The Cotton Club.” He ate a real cockroach. David Lynch loved him. He was Sean Penn before Sean Penn was Sean Penn. OK, they were actually sort of both Sean Penn at the same time, but you get me.

Caged no more. And then he made “The Rock,” which grossed one zillion dollars, and he was liberated from the shackles of artistic purity he’d begun gnawing at around the time of “Honeymoon in Vegas.”

From that moment on Cage didn’t have a care in the world. And by that I mean he just didn’t care. Which is a nice place to be in life. You’re finally free.

So he used his freedom with abandon, indulging his comic-book-birthed obsessions (not for nothing did he name himself Cage after Luke Cage, Power Man) and zig-zagging like a seemingly crazy person between smaller, odder movies like “Adaptation” and buried-gold-themed goof-fests like “National Treasure,” from little-seen mood movies like “The Weather Man” to what may be looked at by film history as his full leap off the ledge of giving a damn: “Ghost Rider.”

That was the one about the guy who sells his soul to Satan and becomes a Karen Carpenter-obsessed, motorcycle-riding skeleton that ignites into flames as he rides his hog up the sides of buildings to bounty hunt hellbound souls.

I remember thinking, while watching “Ghost Rider” and totally, absolutely, unreservedly enjoying myself, that if I never saw him in any “quality” movie again it would be too soon.
I get my art films from weird French directors like Claire Denis, so frankly I’d watch “Ghost Rider” again exactly one dozen times in a row before sitting through middlebrow, Oscar-grubbing fare like the Penn-starring “I Am Sam” again. Or the Penn-starring “21 Grams.” Or “The Assassination of Richard Nixon.” Or “All the King’s Men.” Any of them. All of them. I mean, I’m not trying to re-start a feud between these guys, but there’s your evidence in case you wanted to re-start it yourself.

And, oh, did I hear you say “Next,” where Cage can see the future and has to stop a nuclear bomb from going off, is on cable right now? And so is Penn’s very meaningful directorial effort “Into the Wild?” Well then know which one I’m watching. Because if the choice is between what’s good for you and what tastes good, then I’ll have what he’s having.

My sentiments exactly... d$

ps... Top Five Nic Cage Movies... (1) Con Air... (2) The Rock... (3) Snake Eyes... (4) Face Off... (5) Gone In Sixty Seconds... and ya know, National Treasure is somewhere on the list between 5 and 6, but I'm not sure where. So there.