Week 51: Custom '66 GTO Wagon

This wagon is what I want to be -- a station wagon, life's clunky yet functionally awkward symbol of domesticity and family life, and yet, at the same time, the coolest of the cool of muscle cars, a GTO.

Technically there never was a factory model GTO Wagon although you can find a lot of modified Tempest wagons and such, but even Hot Wheels has recognized the custom GTO Wagon, and I have no issue with being related to a custom model.

I've actually set my sites on eventually acquiring an old model station wagon, a vehicle I see as the automotive equivalent of the hipster nerd glasses. I like station wagons, and could use it to haul items for my vintage business, Nickadizzy.

I've written about station wagons before in Daddy's Tiny Cars, and I was happy to find not only a sporty station wagon by Hot Wheels, but also one with one of my favorite tiny cars attribute, the little tiny plastic dog in the bag, on which I believe I have also previously written.

For the upcoming one year anniversary of Daddy's Tiny Cars (I'm at week 51, meaning next week's entry marks the final entry for year one!), I'm going to break out some of this past year's entries for an actual orange-track race with my kids, and this bright yellow station wagon will be my top racing selection, going up against any cars my kids select out of their collections -- I'll even let the two-year-old select a car and race.

I'll announce the results on Week 53, but come on, the Daddy Wagon has to win, for the glory of fathers everywhere, right? I feel mildly confident about taking on the Racer A and Baby G as their collections = their piles of cars seemingly everywhere in the house, but Racer Z might be tough as he has kept his cars in tip-top racing condition inside a shoe box. We shall see.

So mark your calendars, results of the first annual Daddy's Tiny Cars Race are set to be revealed September 13, 2011, and if you have tiny cars and kids, or can borrow kids (you can always go pick up a car at the local Target or grocery store), I invite you to join me in a dad* vs. kids tiny car race.

Let me know if you win, and feel free to email me pics.

*Of course I extend my encouragement to race to anybody who plays a significant role to a child - moms, caretakers, uncles, grandparents, family friends, and more. Get out there and race!

Photography by Phil Pekarcik, whom I'm expecting to join in racing!


Week 50: VW Brasilia 1973

Today's car is vintage South American exotica with a 1973 Volkswagen Brasilia. These foreign-released vehicles are fun because they are both familiar yet slightly off, like a dream where people you know have different colored eyes than they usually own.

That eye color reference comes to mind because my 11-year-old son mentioned he had a dream where his eyes were purple. I think he also said he was a dragon in that dream, which I suppose messes with the metaphor of the Brasilia and of being only slightly unrecognizable.

The main connection to this car, however, isn't dreams, but school. Today is Racer Z's first day of sixth grade, and if that doesn't match being recognizable yet different, than nothing does. I just came back inside from a blustery, rainy outside, where my son and I waited for his bus together, me worriedly explaining to check the tree branches so as to not stand under big branches that might fall in the wind.

Notice I used present tense in the paragraph before. That means I'm writing this week's post pre-7:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning unlike my usual Tuesday night routine. I'm not a morning person, and after 48 yrs of being wired to nighttime, I suspect that is never going to change. Nonetheless, I crashed early last night but was able to sleep knowing I would be getting up early with my son.

Yes, an unwritten blog post would mess up my sleep. I'm a geek.

I only now noticed that I still am wearing my big green raincoat -- mornings truly are rough for me. I hope I'm wearing pants.

Yup, all good.

The rushing out the door but forgetting your pants reference was once a popular convention in comics and movies, but I don't know anyone who has actually forgotten to put on pants. I do know students who have rushed out the door forgetting their backpacks, however, and while not so dramatic, nonetheless almost as important. Today, however, for this first day at a new school building for sixth grade, my son was out the door on time with all necessary apparel and school accessories.

So here I am, early in the morning, tapping on the keys, drinking my coffee, listening to the wind and the sound of tires on wet roads, wearing a raincoat, safe should the ceiling suddenly spring a leak, and reflecting on how sixth grade is the entrance to the revolving door of teenagerdom. The spinning has begun.

I have a son who turns 22 next week, so I should be comfortable with how fast time spins, but it is catching me off guard, nonetheless.

Recognizable yet slightly off.

Photograph courtesy of Phil Pekarcik, who is always recognizable and always slightly off.


Week 49: '72 Gran Torino Sport

The 1972 Gran Torino Sport not only was the car featured in the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino, but was also the car bad guy Fenix Rise drives in the Fast and the Furious.

At the risk of completely destroying my indie film crowd credibility, I like the Fast and the Furious movies. My son likes them, also, which is significant, as they are among the few movies with adult themes we have watched together -- as I may have mentioned in previous posts, my wife and I run on the conservative side when it comes to allowing our kids to watch violent movies, and by conservative, I mean we just don't allow it.

Nonetheless, Racer Z and I have watched most of the Fast and the Furious franchise together and even went to see Fast Five at the drive-in (a Father's Day present from my adult son who took the entire family out to the drive-in.) As fun as these movies are, they do confuse my son since the "good" guys are actually criminals, consequently muddying the good guy/bad guy waters.

When I was his age in 1974 I had already been hit with a lot more moral ambiguity of movie heroes. While I didn't watch them first run at the theater, I did watch the television runs of movies like Paper Moon, Papillon, The Getaway, Silent Running, The Godfather, Catch-22, Two Mules for Sister Sara, Bonnie and Clyde (I know that came out in 1967 but I didn't see it until the 70s) and of course the Planet of the Apes movies, all a few years after they came out when they ran, in edited forms, on television. Additionally, there was the slew of 70s made-for-television anti-hero movies. This was a time of good guys and bad guys sharing hats, a time of anti-heroes, and a time when I really didn't understand half the themes in these movies.

I understand the mood of the movies, however, and to this day love the gritty, noir feel of The Getaway or the sultry, sexy melancholy of The Thomas Crowne Affair.  I could have enjoyed those movies even if I had been watching them in a foreign language, which, to a certain extent, I was: as a naive kid I didn't fully understand the language of adult themes. Nonetheless, these movies created a sense of love of cinema for me, and I've often wondered if I've shortchanged my son by not allowing him to muddle about in those dark waters.

That's the thing about being a parent -- you make calls and do the best you can to protect your kids from the coarseness of life, hoping you are doing more giving then depriving. I'm fairly comfortable with my choice, but I hope he can access that intangible mood of a good movie -- I just want him to do it as an older teen or adult.

Whatever the case, we have The Fast and the Furious movies, and while no Bullett, it will have to do.


Week 48: '10 Ford Shelby GT500

The above Shelby is tearing down the road...well, in a pretend kind of way as it actually is only the size of a Snicker's fun size and doesn't actually house an internal combustion engine.

Pretend, however, is good at Daddy's Tiny Cars, and this week, and hey, let's say heretofore all subsequent weeks featuring a Shelby, will be be officially dedicated to the art of pretend.

Today's focus: Karate Kitty.

I'm allergic to cats, so we don't have any, and at this point have no pets at all, so in a type of spontaneous evolution of pet need, my kids have begun pretending one of them is a cat or dog. The other day the youngest was the cat, and for almost an hour my two-year-old stayed in the role and spoke only in variations of Meow.

This was a bit odd, but it became even more interesting when his four year brother initiated a game of of pretend superhero, and Baby G was dubbed Karate Kitty.

The general setup, as I can see, was this -- Racer A (I didn't discern a superhero moniker for him) and his cat worked at a local ice cream shop (the pretend ice cream shop is always behind the brown chair in the living room), and when bad guys came around, they fought them with their sweet, sweet karate moves.

While not fighting crime, Racer A would mix up new flavors of ice cream and frequently send Karate Kitty off to get supplies, cream or sugar, usually. Earlier he had asked me (over and over) to tell him the ingredients found in ice cream, so of course this new found knowledge was integrated into the game.

When bad guys came, however, they sprung into action, each striking a type of Charlie's Angels silhouette pose before launching into a "Yaaa, yaaa, e-yaaa" battle cry. That is, the superhero leader yelled that -- Karate Kitty yaaa yaaa'd in his native language of meows, and I can tell you that not once did he break character. Impressive, really.

After fighting a variety of  bad guys, they were hit with ghosts, which my son explained in an out-of-breath kind of way was a problem because their karate moves just went right through them. To fight them, they needed ghost spray, which, it turns out, is kept above the TV.

The ghost spray worked, and all was fine until the zombies attacked, and with a look of what seemed real panic, my son explained they had run out of zombie spray (which, he informed me, was twice as strong as ghost spray). Things were looking bad.

"Ka-watie Kitty, get to the stowr and get mowr zombie spray. Herwie!" (He still has a slight problem with the r sound.)

Going into defensive mode, he dodged the clumsy attacks of the zombies, and, as a type of off-screen narrator, I asked him if he couldn't take out a few zombies with his karate moves. He assured me that would not work.

Paddling back on all fours, Karate Kitty arrived and with a hearty MEOW!!! stood up on two toddler paws and handed over the zombie spray. Those zombies never had a chance.

The zombie apocalypse averted, a boy and his cat went back to their ice cream store to mix up a batch of banana split flavored ice cream. Baby G brought me a bowl.

"Thank you very much," I said.

"Meowww!" he answered, with the slightest hint of a smile.

The world was again safe for ice cream.

Photo of Zippy Ford Shelby, likely speeding away from zombies, courtesy of Phil Pekarcik.


Week 47: '37 Ford

Today's featured Hot Wheels car is a Woody. It sports wood. And I say this without any innuendo.

A household of kids has done that to me. No more are the days of the "That's what she says," comments, or the juvenile tittering over someone saying bush pilot. Even the word "tittering" brings forth no tittering.

No, my vulgar quipping has ceased in favor of straight-faced acceptance there is no adult audience with which to playfully quip.

Years of children's books with playful pussies and strutting cocks on the farm have anesthetized me to any inclination to giggle. Years of my children innocently using unintentional vulgar sentence constructions has numbed me to a pursuit of base humor. Years of listening to talk concerning breast feeding has taken away that mainstay of male humor, the boob joke, from me. Years of enduring that particular childhood phase when the word "poop" is randomly inserted in place of another word (rollercoaster = rollerpooper, lollipop = lollipoop, tennis shoes = tennis poops), in addition to annoying me, has destroyed even the slightest desire toward scatological humor.

Even this picture, from one of my vintage children's book, brings no comment.

Okay, maybe this picture might, but I wouldn't say anything out loud. I think you can understand my pain.



At least I can still get a hearty laugh at a good shot to the groin with a football.

But even the two-year-old laughs at that.

Photo of my Woody courtesy of Phil Pekarcik.