Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Happy Birthday, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver adds another candle to his birthday cake today; he turns 43 years old.

As an outsider looking in who has observed Dale Earnhardt Jr. for many years, it is an exciting time for him.

Introduced to the public as a boy – Dale Earnhardt’s boy – Dale Jr. was living in the shadow of his famous father.



Growing into a young man with driving talent, we watched as Dale Jr. raced hard and well and carved a name for himself with two NASCAR Busch Series championships and then with wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

His father’s strong arms were never far away. His influence was ever-present.



And then the unthinkable happened and Dale Jr. was left to live life without his father.

There were ups and downs. Successes and failures. High hopes and dashed dreams. A parting of the ways between Dale Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Incorporated was the start of a new chapter in Dale Jr.’s life.

More time elapsed with still more failures on the track than successes.

Finally a turning point occurred.

Solid finishes, consistency, a driver with focus, determination, and optimism.

Personally, Dale Jr. seemed happier than ever before. His smile was genuine, his shoulders not slumped in despair.

And then the 2014 season dawned at Daytona. Dale Jr. won the Great American race for the second time in his career – a feat even his father could never claim.






The win took enormous pressure off of the driver and team under the brand new Chase format as they had secured a spot after the first race of the season.

But Dale Jr. and his No. 88 team continued to work hard.

Two more wins followed, both at Pocono Raceway. I was fortunate to be at both races.

My vantage point in Victory Lane allowed me to see up close and personally the complete and utter joy that flowed from Dale Jr.



In June Dale Jr. shook hands with every crew member, took endless pictures, and conducted countless television and radio interviews. He was then escorted into the media center at Pocono Raceway and sat patiently and unhurriedly answering every question hurled at him.

Dale Jr. answered thoughtfully, spoke eloquently, and was so in the moment.  At the same time he was calm, present, and so very happy.



In his return to Pocono Raceway in August there was a zest and confidence that Dale Jr. exuded. Perhaps it was bravado or simply a guy having fun, but it was different than I’d seen him in the past.

A sweep of Pocono capped Dale Jr.’s summer and showed the other drivers in the series and Dale Jr.’s fans and detractors that he was, indeed, a true competitor and, in fact, the real deal.

Of course, the unfailingly loyal fans of Dale Jr. – Junior Nation – have always known that to be true.

I asked Dale Jr. a question in August 2014 that made him reveal a bit about his personal life. I asked him what his Simple Joys were.

Dale Jr. mentioned Amy first.

Amy Reimann has been Dale Jr.’s companion for several years and seems to truly make him happy and content. On New Year's Eve 2016 they officially wed. 



He also mentioned beer and Redskin football.

For a week following Pocono and my question, any time Dale Jr. was interviewed the Simple Joy question was re-asked. He changed his answer slightly, but it was the response he gave me on the spot that shows how deeply happy – joyful – Dale Jr. is in life.

The 2015 season saw Dale Jr. take home three more wins. But luck hasn't been on the side of the No. 88 team. Winless in both 2016 and currently in 2017, Dale Jr. will have to be satisfied with whatever circumstances ends his 19 years in NASCAR's top series. He has a long list of accomplishments, wins, and Favorite Driver honors to bolster his ego.

Regardless, Dale Jr. is on top of the world. With personal life, career, family fulfilling him, Dale Jr. needn’t win a Cup to be successful.

Now Dale Jr. looks ahead to a new chapter in his ever-evolving life.

Dale Jr. will become a NASCAR broadcaster on NBC.
This is footage of Dale Jr. guest-broadcasting for Fox.


At 43 Dale Jr. seems to have figured out what's important in his life, how to re-invent himself, and continue to be the unparalleled ambassador for the sport in which he's lived his entire life.


Happy Birthday, Dale Jr. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Spyro Gyra

Spyro Gyra members 2017 (from l-r)
Julio Fernandez, guitar
Jay Beckenstein, saxophone
Lee Pearson, drums
Scott Ambush, bass guitar
Tom Schuman, piano (off camera)

Spyro Gyra made its way to my neck of the woods last night, again. It was the second time I’d seen them in concert and they were as good if not even better than the first time I was in their audience a few years ago.

from l-r
Scott Ambush, bass guitar
Tom Schuman, piano


When I listen to music I feel, see, hear, and emote. Words dance around my head. This time, equipped with a mini-notebook and pen, I wrote words while listening to the band play. I couldn’t stop; it flowed effortlessly from my hand. I was compelled, moved by their music and the intimacy of the venue.

Playing two at once!


Until you experience Spyro Gyra LIVE, these words will have to suffice as a ticket to the journey of their dynamic performances.  I invite you into my words from last night’s concert.

Jamming


Music
Harmony
Colors
Moods
Emotions
Dissonance
Union
Collaboration
Time
Measures
Culture
Seamless
Washes over you
Soothing
Riveting
Inspiring
Parts of a whole
Cleansing
Complicated
Simple
Loud
Soft
Stirring
Colorful
Multi-dimensional
Multi-cultural
Inventive
Innovative
Standards
Unique
Common
Cohesive
Flowing
Kinetic
Thunderous
Gentle
Powerful
Merciless
Intoxicating
Intrinsic
External
Fraternal
Far-reaching
Accessible
Understandable
Transcendent
Universal
Intimate
Soaring
Melodic
Marvelous
Fluid
Electric
Relentless
Joyful
Driving
All-encompassing
Dancey
Movement
Complementary
Generous
Groovy
Grateful
Playful
Fushion
Speed
Intentionality
Jamming
Randomness
Flow
Magic
Plaintive
Energy
Other-worldly
Terrestrial
Limitless
Boundless
Cacophony
Full
Rich
Luscious
Supportive
Teamwork
Toe-tapping
Finger-thumping
Heart-pumping
Seat-rocking
Masterful
Extraordinary
Appreciative
Grateful
Humble
Confident
Exhuberant
Continuous
Mellifluous
Heightened
Zen
Crafted
Stellar
Grand
Raw
Rabid
Racing
Animal
Synergetic
Funky
Fun
Fantastical
Fascinating
Frantic
Fabulous
Pulsating
Life-giving
Pounding
Base
Bass
Syncopated
Exclamation
Foreign
Native
Universal
Brewing
Bubbling
Melting
Charming
Child-like
Juggler
Entertainer
Layered
Star
Bright
Multi-faceted
Smooth
Silky
Satiny
Cool
Hot
Fresh
Varied
Jubilant
Happy
Contented
Frothy
Confection
Association
Riff
Ride
Swirl
Twirl
Crave-tastic
Momentus
Tremendous
“Morning Dance”
“Wiggle Room”
Walking
Talking
Fingers
Ecumenical
Mythical
Mystical
Magical
Rousing

 
Racer and Chief 187™



Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thank You Hugh Hefner



What Hugh Hefner did for the Sexual Revolution was tantamount to what the Birth Control Pill did. His importance in creating modern-day sexual mores is unparalleled. Hefner’s passing is not the closing of a chapter, but an opportunity to reexamine his contributions to American society, America’s collective attitudes about sex, and his everlasting legacy.



With the first issue of Hefner’s Playboy magazine featuring Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe in all of her alluring, naked glory, America was shown that sexy could be classy. As “Playmates” grew in numbers, sexiness left the Hollywood realm in many cases and grew to include the “girl next door”. A woman who you could see at the grocery store or the college campus could be ogled in the pages of Playboy magazine.

Sexy was redefined by Hefner, his editors, and the people on his team. Sexy was no longer one trait, one type. It transcended such labels and became undefinable in traditional standards.

And Puritanical Americans were hungry for sexy. They longed to fantasize about beautiful women. And women longed to want to be seen as sexy without losing respect and power. In addition, Americans enjoyed reading well-researched, fascinating articles that dealt with all topics facing them.

Unlike other “girly magazines” on the market that one might be ashamed to be caught, Playboy magazine had a higher quality and class to it than its peers.



Countless men had stacks of Playboy magazines in storage. Whether in boxes, on the bookshelves, in bathrooms, on bedside tables, or carefully “preserved under the bed”, no one wanted to discard such treasure.

And because the women were beautiful, the articles insightful, and the magazine tasteful, women were more apt to look and enjoy Playboy magazine either alone or with their partners.



Playboy Clubs that dotted the country were full, lucrative businesses that catered to the fantasy life of many in a ‘realistic’ setting. Of course, the club had its day in the sun and then, when times changed, AIDs became a part of the daily lexicon, and the morality of the country had a pendulum shift, they became relics of a past age.

Hefner’s image, legendary parties, and Playboy lifestyle was hotly envied and greatly admired by many men. Yet his respect for women – yes, respect – made his decision to put his daughter in power of his empire a logical step. A man need not be the only one to steer Playboy. Women had become equals in the business of sexual fantasy.



Even when reality television replaced scripted programming, Hefner took center stage with his three girlfriends. He had a supporting role at best, but the point was, he was still a virile, vital player in the Playboy lifestyle he’d created.

When Playboy magazine announced they’d stop featuring naked women, it probably troubled and hurt Hefner. With the Internet full of “free porn”, the magazine did what it felt was a responsible move. But, it stunk because it ended a beautiful era.

Losing Hugh Hefner at 91 isn’t a tragedy. He’d lived a long, lucrative, enviable life where he lived by his rules, not society’s.

Throughout my life I’ve seen Playboy magazines and liked them.

Yes, I did.

In fact, I used to dream about one day modeling for Playboy, but perhaps I was a bit too “girl next door” and not enough Marilyn. However, it allowed me to see myself in myriad ways.

Because, sexy isn’t one thing. Sexy isn’t just a look but an attitude, a confidence. Thanks to Playboy and Hugh Hefner, I feel sexy at “middle age” and know that I can stay sexy for decades to come because he gave me permission and showed me how.




Godspeed, Hef, and thank you. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Movies about Motorsports

While I no longer follow NASCAR or other forms of racing anymore, I still long to watch, learn about, and revel in the world of Motorsports.  Over the years Hollywood has flung out some interesting, serious, laughable, and forgettable movies set against the backdrop of Motorsports racing. Good or bad, realistic or far-fetched, racing movies are a fun part of fandom!



The Last American Hero – A film about NASCAR legend and Hall of Fame member Junior Johnson in his early years.  With the tagline, “It took him 20 years to find out who he was and 2 laps to let the world know,” this movie personified the American dream. Starring Jeff Bridges as Junior Johnson and with locations that lent authentication to the piece, The Last American Hero is a slice of NASCAR history brought to life in an artful and refreshing way.



 Grand Prix - This epic story is lush with state-of-the-art cinematography, jaw-dropping race scenes, interesting characters, several compelling storylines, and, if I haven't mentioned it enough, fantastic racing scenes! James Garner is bonus here as he is cool personified. The movie dates to 1966 but has topical and timeless subject matter in the world of racing.



Greased Lightning – Loosely depicting the life of black NASCAR driver Wendell Scott, the film shows the history of post World War II atmosphere that led to Scott’s evolution from taxi cab driver to moonshine runner in Virginia to stock car champion. Richard Pryor stared in this serious film role that showcased his fine acting chops. Beau Bridges co-starred.



Stroker Ace- Fictitious Stroker Ace, played by the incomparable Burt Reynolds, has little respect for the business side of NASCAR preferring to leave it all out on the racetrack. When a string of events leads to Stroker losing his sponsor, he and his team need to hustle up a new one. A hilarious and raucous storyline continues. Most notable are the actual NASCAR cameos featured in the film as well as race tracks for location shots. If watched simply for mindless fun and for spotting NASCAR faces like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Tim Richmond and scores more, Stroker Ace is a good choice.



Six Pack – Kenny Rogers, pre-face lift and during his enormously popular singing career, took a turn as a struggling NASCAR driver who, due to circumstances, winds up with a van full of kids in his charge. Not a bright spot for NASCAR films, but to see Kenny Rogers and Diane Lane it’s worth a couple of mindless hours.



Days of Thunder – Tom Cruise starring as Tom Cruise, I mean starring as Cole Trickle. 1980s flash, Robert Duvall’s crustiness and Randy Quaid as the antithesis of the character he made famous in the Vacation movies, tried to make this one a winner, but the crazy schedule for NASCAR and the preposterous storyline are so bad it’s like watching drivel. Of course, it’s Tom Cruise and NASCAR so as bad as it is it is still so watchable!



Pixar’s Cars Movies – An animated story with heart, lush scenery, well-developed plot, and a host of stars makes this modern flick an instant classic. Not necessary to see just with the kids, this film, and its sequels, are the best of all. Don’t walk, run to put this on your “must own” list of NASCAR movies. I'm also a fan of Cars Movie 2 and 3. The second one brings in the open wheel crowd and the international scene tied in with a spy ring. The third movie that came out this summer takes Cars Movie back not only to its NASCAR roots, but also to its history. Look for heavy hitters in the Motorsports world in all three movies as cameos.



Turbo - What Cars Movie did for NASCAR, Turbo was supposed to do for IndyCar. Unfortunately, it fell short. But, it's a cute movie with some decent characters and an okay storyline. You have to suspend belief for this one a lot, but it's still worth seeing just so you can say, "I saw it." The bonus is a pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds.



Rush - A fascinating, fast-paced, sexy, and stressful look at a short period in Formula One's history when James Hunt battled Niki Lauda. If you watch Formula One  then you know how this one ends, but seeing it played out is worth your time! Great racing scenes, a look back on the tremendous risks racecar drivers took back in the day (and today), and an all-around terrific film. Ron Howard directed, Chris Hemsworth (Thor) starred as Hunt and Daniel Brühl starred as Lauda and was simply brilliant.


Hollywood hasn’t always done a bang up job on offering high caliber NASCAR-based and racing movies. But the fact that racing movies exist at all, are a part of film history, and even include real NASCAR and racing personalities from different eras is another reason to check out this slew of movies.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

50 (+2) Actual Ways to Leave Your Lover, Part II: The Women



Yesterday I published the 26 Ways to Leave Your Lover for the men. Today the ladies get their chance to leave their lover with as much flair.

Once again, thanks to Paul Simon for his fabulous song, the concept, and the title.



And now, without further ado, the 26 Ways to Leave Your Lover for the women.

 1. Abandon the palace, Alice
 2. Hit the parkway, Barbie
 3. Take the back alley, Callie
 4. Follow the sea, Donna Lea
 5. Go wherever the the highway will take ya, Estrella
 6. Hide his pantses, Frances
 7. Go with the wind, Gwendolyn
 8. Leave while he's huntin', Helen
 9. Act on your ideA, IdinA
10. Don't be tacky, just leave, Jackie
11. Just up and flee, Katy
12. Take everything but the cinder, Linder (Linda if you're not from NY)
13. Tell him it's for the best, Mavis
14. You can use the telly, Nellie
15. Who can blame ya, Olegna?
16. You'll find another laddy, Patty
17. For a moment, be a meanie, Queenie
18. Call him from the phone booth, Ruth
19. Let him know you're movin', Susan
20. If he gets mad, say, "to hell with ya," Tabitha
21. Tell him no more spoonie, Uni
22. Go off to Astoria, Victoria
23. It can be friendly, Wendy
24. He doesn't need ya, Xena
25. It will be good for you and him, Yasmin
26. In the end he'll thank ya, Zelda

And there you have it, not just 50, but 52 Ways to Leave Your Lover, for both men and women.

If you'd like to add your two cents, couplets, and/or names, please leave them as comments on today's or yesterday's post.

I always hope you STAY with your lover, but if you needed the boost, I hope these lists offered some keen advice. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

50 (+2) Actual Ways to Leave Your Lover, Part I: The Men



As many great ideas begin, I was in the car during this year's Spring Break going down to South Carolina. Family time means a lot of music time and invariably Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" came on the iPhone playlist.

My husband and I both like the song, but we always, and I mean always,argue about the content. My husband complains endlessly that Simon never actually came up with 50 ways. I counter that the song suggests there must be 50 ways and Simon offered a few. It is a common refrain between the two of us and has been for over a quarter century.

This year it became apparent that I had to help Simon complete the song up to my husband's high standards. Fifty specific ways for a man or a woman to leave his/her lover.

I've broken the list into two parts. First, how He can leave his lover. I came up with 26 ways, one for each letter of the alphabet. Tomorrow night I'll publish the other 26 ways for Her to leave her lover.

And now, without further ado,  the first 26 of 52 Ways to Leave Your Lover (with all credit to Paul Simon for the title and concept).

 1. Slide in your McLaren, Aaron
 2. Get in your truck, Buck
 3. Leave Hell and find some bliss, Chris
 4. Pack Your mug, Doug/ Don't make a scene, Dean
 5. Go the opposite of where she go, Enrico
 6. Stop the lovin' and avoid, Floyd
 7. Don't make it hairy, Gary, just get away
 8. Tell her she's a skank, Hank
 9. That you're too busy, Izzy
10. And you're not coming back, Jack
11. Put on a smirk, Kirk, and set yourself free
12. Don't tarry, Larry
13. Get out of park, Mark
14. Pack up your bed, Ned
15. No need to be jolly, Ollie
16. Tell her you gave it your all, Paul
17. There's no need for hintin', Quentin
18. Just get yourself out of the ditch, Rich
19. Drop her off at the mall, Saul, and never look back
20. Tell her she's out of your head, Ted
21. She's full of bunk, Unc
22. It's time to get a new trick, Vic
23. Don't dally, Wally
24. You can't save her, Xavier
25. Push up your sleeves, Ives
26. Don't ever come back, Zach

Tune in tomorrow to read the 26 ways for Her to leave her lover.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Chief 187™Chatter Update 2017



On this last day of July 2017 I’m taking a look at all that is important to me. I’m on a personal high that this original site I started nearly seven years ago has surpassed 250,000 pageviews. That is a marvel to me as in the early days I used to hope 10 people would read a post. Then it was hoping for 100 views. A quarter of a million pageviews and this site is still going strong!

My children who I’d written about a ton in the early years are all thriving in their own ways. 



My eldest is navigating high school in his own way. Honors classes, marching band, Wind Ensemble, Holiday Ensemble, Pep Band, working on the school plays, while still actively pursuing another Black Belt in Isshinryu Karate, successfully swimming in a summer swim team league, and working toward his Eagle Scout rank while being a terrific boyfriend to a lovely young lady. He’s also kept up sporadically with his own blog, What I’ve Learned By: ML 187.



My middle son is also amazing. He’s nearly 11, entering Middle School, is super smart, and also a Boy Scout. He’s a winning swimmer on the same swim team, and also practices Karate. This young man can make ANYTHING with Legos, and does. He’s an artist who works in several mediums and an avid reader and writer. He is the sweetest, funniest, most compassionate child. He’s a blogger with a site called, GS 187’s Life.



My youngest is a fiery, active, charming, fashionable, super smart, and fun girl. She starts second grade this fall and acts like a teenager! She is a Girl Scout (Brownie), a “bullet” in swim team racking up wins as she swims up and competes with girls 9 and 10 years old to her 7 years. She does Karate like her brothers, is fabulous in school, likes to read, and also write and create arts and crafts. Not to be left behind, she, too, has a blog, Rosie 187’s Ramblings.



My husband is a rock. He’s still with me after over 30 years together; we met when I was a 14 year old freshman in high school and he a young senior, 16 going on 17. This January 2018 we’ll celebrate 25 years married! Our marriage, like any, is a roller coaster ride of emotions, disappointments, financial strains, disagreements, and beautiful, wonderful, solidifying moments that keep us connected through love, respect, and burning passion.

A year ago I walked away from the Motorsports career I had painstakingly developed on my own. It was thrilling at times and provided amazing opportunities. I interviewed legends like Mario Andretti, the Wood Brothers, Richard Petty, Dale Inman, Richard Childress, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Frank Kimmel, Dario Franchitti, Arie Luyendyk, Bobby Unser, and Bobby Allison. I also interviewed talent like Charlie Kimball, Mason Mitchell, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Carl Edwards, and many many more. It was a heady experience to be in the media center, make contacts for the radio show, and write articles. I was my own boss on all three fronts and was soaring. But last year I’d run my course with that pursuit and switched gears to work in my community when I was elected to my town’s Board of Education. As a former teacher I felt my talents were suited to this kind of work and it takes a lot of my time and attention as do those three children.

Now I’m still working on a book, still writing articles here, and still figuring out who I am, how to stay healthy, and how to make it all work. Tall order!

What I want to say is how lucky I am. Lucky my family is healthy and together. Lucky I’ve made and had such amazing opportunities in my life. Luckier, still, that I knew when to walk away and when to focus on my family. And so very lucky that I have had you all here to take this journey with me. Your interest, support, encouragement, comments, “Like”s, following, and being there has allowed me to share my perspective on Life. I’m so lucky you stayed and what I had to say resonated in some way.

So, here’s the update on all that’s been going on in my life. Moving forward there will be more new material, more working on the book, and more of the good stuff that got us to a quarter of a million pageviews!



Thank you for everything. I look forward to making more memories with you!