Week 68: 2010 Honda Insight

Yes, this week's selection of the Matchbox Metro Rides collection (from 2010) is a non-veiled hat tip to my necessary New Year's Resolution of consuming less in 2012. Food, that is.

Well, food if you consider cookies, cakes, brownies, chips, and other members of the saturated fat fraternity food. My kids, by the do.They all want to join that fraternity.

My holiday overindulgence this year was kept in check, but sadly not through discipline. Some minor illness issues kept my hunger at bay, and while I would like to claim credit, it was microscopic invaders that really did the work. Even so, I managed to eat a few cannoli (did you know that technically the singular of cannoli is cannolo? You probably never knew this, proving people are really not meant to eat just one). Oh, and a few coconut chocolate bars, peanut butter cookies, and other tasty items.

Even so, I've lost a few pounds from being sick, and while I do not recommend that as a weight loss technique, I'm gratefully accepting it as a free pass and will show my gratitude by really getting in shape for 2012.

No, I mean it.

It is true I might have been saying this since around 1995 or so, as my 22-year-old son Spence pointed out to me, but this year I'm doing something I have not done in previous years.

I'm announcing it publicly via this blog.

See, I am now accountable to a greater power. YOU can hold me to it.

Here it is, in writing, a type of contract. My goal: to be in the best shape that I have ever been in since 1995. Why 1995? I think it was around 1995 that my metabolism began to turn on me. Prior to that, I was one of those lucky bums who could eat or drink anything and not gain weight, and don't think I didn't enjoy that. I did. The problem is, I kept thinking it is 1994 into middle age, but it's been a long time since Frank Sinatra received the Grammy Awards Lifetime Achievement and the band Weezer debuted their first record (yes, that blue album kicked off all the way back in 1994!).

So come on -- I call all readers to embark on the Daddy's Tiny Cars Best Shape Since 1995 pledge (feel free to substitute your own year for 1995). Meet me back here a year from now and let's compare notes.

And you can use Daddy's Tiny Cars to help -- get yourself two tiny cars for your display: the above Honda Insight (or any other fuel-conscious car), to remind you to go easy on the fuel, and the hottest car you can think of -- say a 1967 Pontiac GTO -- to inspire you to what you want to look like.

And here we go -- here's to being the best muscle car we can be.


Honda Insight pic courtesy of photographer Phil Pekarcik.


Week 67: '63 Ford Mustang II Concept

Happy Holidays, from Daddy's Tiny Cars!

I picked this week's Hot Wheels diecast for two distinct reasons:

One, being a word lover, I felt the very concept of the words "concept car" was perfect for the holidays, as we reflect on all manner of personal concepts - sharing, community, Santa, Christmas, peace, and other concepts that work with each of our own belief systems this season.

Second, I had been seeking the perfect Santa car for his off hours, and seeing this little Ford at the store I knew I had found the perfect ride. Trust me, Santa would drive this car, not available to the general public. And he would look good doing it.

This Christmas is a particularly special one, because a type of Christmas miracle has occurred: I am actually enjoying holiday music.

With the exception of only a couple of songs, Christmas tunes generally annoy me, even ones by artists I love. I don't make a big Grinchy show of not liking them, but I secretly welcome them like dry skin in winter - part of the season and not actually that bad. Just annoying.

A picture of my heart growing three sizes -
and not a picture of a big red butt

This year, however, Baby G's enthusiasm for these songs has made my crinchy (like Grinchy, but as foul) heart grow three sizes.

Sure, he doesn't get the words right, but that just boosts the cute factor and makes them sound even better, and each one he relishes like a Dum Dum lollipop (and he does relish those). Today, out of the blue, he said, "You know that tong, JingleBellsJingleBellsJingleAllTheWay? That's  a pretty good tong."

I never before thought of Jingle Bells as a pretty good song. Honestly, I remember not even liking it when I was in grade school. Yet here it was, a simple, sincere observation by a toddler, and suddenly I was appreciating, no, enjoying, this song like something brand new.

I'm not saying that by the time I hear the eight millionth variation of Jingle Bells between today and Christmas a tinge of cringe creep won't creep into my face, but overall, I'm finding the songs fun, and not in a sarcastic, sardonic way, either.

The kids and I even sang an impromptu performance of Let It Snow. Now if that isn't a Christmas miracle, I don't know what is.


Thanks to Phil Pekarcik for the great photo, and a holiday special shout out to James and Luke in Seattle - happy holidays! Visit his blog, Luke, I am your Father, at http://liayf.blogspot.com/ 


Week 66: 1971 Dodge Demon

Spooky name, awesome car -- the Dodge Demon.

Styling aside, this cool car thematically is here on DTC mainly for its name (that and the holiday red and white styling -- note, all cars this month are Christmas colors of white, red or green!), although I added it to my collection because I love the way it looks down to the red accents.

 I'm thinking demon as scary fiend, kind of how I felt about my car this past week.

In transit to a very important meeting Friday, I'm cruising along the highway, on time, spiffy and groomed -- shirt pressed, tie smart, shoes shiny like the reflective sunglasses of a highway patrolman. I'm looking good, in all ways.

Then my car goes POP!

Not a terrible, gut-wrenching sound of calamity pop, but a happy pop, like a cork from a bottle of champagne.

 Like a party.

I look behind me to see billows of smoke as if I'm driving a sneaky spy car and just hit the Smoke Screen button on the dash. Wait. What kind of party is this?

My mind races to figure out the cause -- I check my temperature gauge -- its fine. Brake line? Brakes seem fine. What's in the back? Maybe I hit a duck on the road and he  has gone, I don't know, all steamy?

That doesn't even make sense. Don't panic. I need to get to this appointment.

And then the temperature gauge needle starts climbing, and I instantly know what's going on and curse myself for missing the obvious.

I pull the car off onto the terrifyingly narrow road side, my stillness now emphasizing how large those speeding semi trucks really are. Clouds of white pour from the front of my car, and for an irrational second I fear flames, but common sense takes hold. The radiator is jacked up, and the obvious thing I missed before was the steam from the radiator was being sucked to the back of the car as I drove so it appeared the problem was in the rear.

Now that I am stopped, the steam, extra heavy as a result of the temperature contrast with the cold December air, is completely obscuring my view out the front window, as if I'm flying through a beautiful wispy cloud.

I am screwed. Screwed in a wispy cloud.

There is a sick feeling specific to breaking down on a busy freeway. I'm not saying it is worse, or better, than other sick feelings. I am only saying it is special.

Thinking back on that special sick feeling, some of the details have already drifted away like that wispy steam, but a few remain, including some of the first things that went through my mind.

First: Oh no, I am going to miss my very important appointment, and that is very, very bad.
Second: I am far away from any garage, or pretty much, anything.
Third-Fourth-Fifth (I can't remember the order these thoughts arrived): I can't work on a car in my best dress clothes. That big truck with the extra-wide load sticking off the bed barreling down behind me at around 170 mph is going to take the roof off my car and I better get ready to duck. This would have sucked way more before cell phones.

Without boring you with the details, I let my car cool down, and, driving down the berm I got it to the next exit, where a huge accident involving a semi truck and a car had part of the lanes blocked. Looking at the ambulances and firetrucks, I experienced a strange blend of terror, gratefulness of not being injured, and irony. The sight felt significant, but I couldn't really grasp why.

I exit the off ramp to the left, the only way I can go due to the accident, and notice there is virtually no side of the road to pull off on, unless I feel like tipping my car sideways into the ditch. At this point, it is a possibility.

I drive slowly, my hazards on, and as the temperature gauge climbs I pull into an ice cream shop, closed for the season. The juxtaposition of a broken car and missed appointment contrasts with the happiness of an ice cream shop and a melancholy pokes through the haze of shock.

While I've omitted it from the story, I did contact my appointment. My wife called her father, who lived somewhat close by, and he came out to get me -- on inspection, the pop I heard was the radiator actually splitting at the seam.

In fairness, the real demon here was the situation, not the car. If anything, I later (not that day) felt sorry for my car, which I ended up having to scrap, may it rest in peace.

So I look at my little metal Hot Wheels Dodge Demon, and I remember the excitement I felt when I bought that first car that kicked off this blog. These silly little cars still make me smile, and smile with sincerity, and as my kids rush up to me thankful I was not injured, I know it truly is the little things, and little ones, that help me through the big challenges and disappointments.

Things are going to be just fine. Thank you kids. Thank you friends and family. And thank you, Mattel.

And thank you, Phil Pekarcik, for one of my favorite car pics so far. Also, thank you for loaning me a car while I get my car situation squared away. I love the heated seat. My butt has never been so cozy. I'm actually writing this blog sitting in your car. Just kidding.


Week 65: Street Cleaner

Street Cleaner, Street Cleaner, coming down the street, cleaning up, cleaning up.

I've been holding onto this tiny car for this post: a post where I clean up fragments of stories, ideas and observations that don't warrant their own post but I nonetheless would like to share.

Sweep them up, street sweeper. Sweep them up.

First scrap on the ground:

An actual exchange that happened in the car between me and my now five-year-old son, Racer A, a few weeks ago.

Racer A: "Dad, look! The moon is out!"

Me (grumpily): "That's the sun. Don't look at that thing."

Racer A: (with sigh) "I know that's the sun. The moon is over there, too."

Me: "Oh."

ZchaaOOOP!! (That's the sound of the street sweeper). Don't need those fatherly words of wisdom lying about.

Next remnant on the road, something I've wanted to comment on for almost ten years but for some reason never have. The theme song to the PBS kids show Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Clifford the Big Red Dog, based on the children's books by Norman Bridwell, was produced from 2000 through 2003, with the Big Red dog featuring the voice of the late and dearly missed John Ritter. The original episodes still air.

I liked the show, so no problems there. My issue is the theme song, which begins like this:

Clifford needed Emily, so she chose him for her own
And her love made Clifford grow so big that the Howards had to leave their home.

She loved her dog so much that it led to her and her family being forced to abandon their home. What a guilt trip -- that's going to need some therapy later.

Glad that's off my chest. Thanks for listening.

On a fully unrelated note worthy of Street Cleaner salvage, the recent luxury car pileup in Japan inexplicably caused me to check if any of the vehicles in the pileup (which yielded no serious human injury) had been featured in previous Tiny Cars posts, and I found among the wreckage a Nissan Skyline GT-R, which debuted in Week 44. While I know one of the eight Ferrari's was a rare Testarossa and at least one was an F-360, I'm not sure of the models of the other six so do not know if Week 55's 612 Scagletti was among them. I've only posted one Lamborghini, a Reventon (twas a Diablo in the wreck), and no Mercedes, so they don't match.

I did post a Toyota Prius in Week 17, which, while not a luxury car, was nonetheless a victim in the pileup.

It wouldn't be much of a recreation to pit my Matchbox Prius against the Nissan, though. I guess I'll pass.

Yet another scrap:

My two-year-old got frustrated the other day when, after I confirmed his suspicion that the kettle on the table was indeed a teapot, I, for no reason at all, said, "You're a teapot."

He adamantly insisted, "I am NOT a teapot. Daddy, I'm not a teapot. I'm not. I am not a teapot!" He wouldn't let it rest until I told him he was not a teapot.

The I told him he was box of cereal. We started all over again.


Even this idea of a blog of scraps was a scrap idea itself that has been laying about, so, like a Pink Panther cartoon I once saw where his vacuum cleaner vacuums itself up ...