Car Movies: The Big Lebowski

NOTE: This was written as an ill-fated entry for the Jalopnik “Next Top Car Blogger” contest. I read the rules before they’d updated them to specify a 40-word limit on the lede, and didn’t bother to re-read the rules before submitting. In reality, a 150-word lede is ridiculous anyway, so it’s my own fault either way.

The Big Lebowski was not a success, critically or financially. Pointing that out now, a dozen years later, seems kind of strange. But for a movie that cost $15 million, a final domestic gross of just over $17 million isn’t exactly burning up the turnstiles. It wasn’t until it hit rental and the stoners, the frats, the punks dropping tabs of acid during the Busby Berkeley dance sequences, and the ironic mid-oughts proto-hipsters got their grubby mitts on it that it turned into a cult classic, a cultural touchstone, and finally a financial success. But this is not a sociology or, for that matter, film blog. We’re not here to talk about the cultural significance of John Goodman’s Walter Sobchak vis-à-vis Neo-conservatism, to dissect the movie’s Phillip Marlowe-meets-Cheech & Chong plot, or even to quote dialog ad naseum until we run out our word limit. After all, this is not ‘Nam. There are rules. Continue reading Car Movies: The Big Lebowski

The LeMonic Iliad

Originally written by request for Team Huey Newis & The Lose for the 2010 24 Hours of LeMons: Arse-Freeze-Apalooza race application form.

The ancient Greeks had a hero, born of a goddess, that was dipped in the River Styx, and in the process became nigh invulnerable. He was the great hero of his day: both his beauty and his rage were unmatched among gods or men. Battles turned on his actions, rivers were choked with the bodies of his slain enemies. So deadly was he that a host of gods was called upon to defend the city of Troy, lest his attack result in the pillaging of the city, a city that Fate itself had decreed should stand. So great was his skill, so powerful his rage, that he possessed the ability to upset the balances that were set by the very creators of the universe. Continue reading The LeMonic Iliad

Racer Man

Originally written by request for Team Huey Newis & The Lose for the 2010 24 Hours of LeMons: Sears Pointless race application form.

There was a time, not long ago, when men could take pride in the work at hand, and when finished, could stand back and look with satisfaction at what the sweat of their brow and the blood of their knuckles had created. Society has moved on, and now men are trapped on the hamster wheel of corporate culture, spinning endlessly at a dead-end job in a service-based economy, with nothing to show for their efforts at the end of a 60-hour week except for carpal tunnel and another donation to a shrinking 401k.

Continue reading Racer Man

The November Wind

Originally written by request for Team Huey Newis & The Lose for the 2009 24 Hours of LeMons: Arse-Freeze-Apalooza race application form.

In the course of human existence, there are generational touchstones that result in a uniform experience that transcends the barriers of race, of creed, of culture. For our parents it was the day the first man landed on the moon. For our parents’ parents it was V-E day, or V-J day, or any of the many other moments, frozen like iron in the consciousness of that Greatest Generation.

And what was that rallying moment for our generation? Our generation, this Lost Generation of latchkey kids, of Just Say No, of Alf, the Smurfs, Turbo Teen? Of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, of Jell-O Pudding Pops? Rainbow Brite, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the SuperFriends? Of C3POs? The cereal?

It was all that, and nothing more.
Continue reading The November Wind