Taken for a ride
No, not the kind of one-way ride some goomba on “The Sopranos” might get. The winner of the Goodyear “Name the Blimp” contest redeemed his prize and cruised around Northeast Ohio Sept. 21 in a lighter-than-air fantasy aboard the Akron-based tire maker's new blimp.
Matthew Harrelson, a high school teacher from Uniontown, Ohio, coined the winning name, “Spirit of Innovation,” snaring the grand prize: use of the blimp for a day.
Mr. Harrelson, wife Kristi and daughters Kaitlin and Kendra flew to various sights in the area and offered a series of one-hour sightseeing trips for their family and friends. That evening the family displayed “inspirational messages” on the blimp as it flew over a football game at Hudson (Ohio) High School, where Mr. Harrelson teaches, and then the family viewed Akron at night.
“We see the Goodyear blimp from time to time, but not many people can say they've actually flown in it,” Mr. Harrelson said in a Goodyear press release. “Now my family and I can all say that we had it for a whole day.”
And the nice part: All it cost Mr. Harrelson was a little innovative word play.
The latest airship in the Goodyear fleet was christened June 21.
When Aretha sang about it, she obviously wasn't talking about goombas. But even they want a little of that, right?
No one really knows where the word “goomba” comes from, though some believe it started off as the word “compadre,” which is a term of respect. Since then, it's been co-opted by the aforementioned “Sopranos” and a lot of crime boss wannabes.
In his book “A Goomba's Guide To Life,” written a couple years ago by Sopranos series actor Steven R. Schirripa, he provided a take on what he said is “a special kind of Italian-American hybrid” who's unique to America and is “not old country Italian.”
The stereotype: A fat guy sitting at the corner social club, drinking espresso and playing cards and eating a big plate of soggy pasta, napkin tucked into his collar, Mr. Schirripa writes, noting that it's only a “partly right” clichÃ&Copy;.
In a twist on the “You might be a redneck…” scat, he suggests you might be a goomba if:
* Your godfather is a godfather.
* Your wife and your girlfriend are cousins.
* You have an everyday sweat suit and a going-out sweat suit.
* Every guy at your wedding was called “Tony.”
* You think getting a slice is a romantic dinner.
And Mr. Schirripa—who calls himself “a goomba, right to the heart, and I'm proud of it”—should know. He grew up in an Italian family in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, N.Y. He even offered a mouth-watering recipe for “Rigatoni Alla Vodka” that he said “you'll eat like it's your funeral.” We'll take his word for it.
This, that 'n' other stuff
No acting, please—“We are what we repeatedly do,” observed Aristotle oh-so long ago. “Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
* * *
Make mine a double—We did a double take upon seeing the headline, “Goodyear the tire of choice among top alcohol teams.”
Drinking and driving? Hmm…. But upon further inspection one realizes, of course, that the story concerns drag racing and refers to the National Hot Rod Association's Lucas Oil Sportsman Series Top Alcohol Funny Car and Top Alcohol Dragster categories (talk about a mouthful.)
As long as they promote responsible driving and opt for a designated driver, we see no problem with that.
* * *
Don't drink and drive your supercar—Speaking of alcohol, a while back AutoWeek magazine mentioned the trend for cutesy-named drinks like the “Aston Martini.”
At the opening late last year of the Lamborghini Las Vegas car dealership, AW said guests sipped “Lambortinis.”
“Please, stop the madness now,” the pub opined, “before we find ourselves downing Mercedinis, Bentlinis or, please no, our drink is spiked with a Spyker”—which is an exotic Dutch-made racer.
Alas, ya never hear of anyone snarfing down “Taurusinis” or “Geo Metrosinis.”
* * *
Give that man a cigar—Winston Churchill once said: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
A ticket to speed
Somebody must have said, “Hey, this sounds like a great fundraiser for charity.” And perhaps they may still be right if, to poke a paraphrase out of the past, speed doesn't eventually kill a participant.
A recent event billed as “Utah FastPass” was one of what the Wall Street Journal called an increasing number of driving events staged in Colorado, California, Oregon and other Western states. Participants get to legally drive their elite high-performance sports cars at race-track speeds on public roads, while a “Smokey” (aka Mr. Highway Patrolman) knowingly nods in approval.
FastPass entry fees of $5,000 per car went to a foundation that helps the families of Utah highway patrolmen killed in the line of duty and provides scholarships for students in the state's “downtrodden rural communities,” the Journal said. Organizers included the Highway Patrol and a group of auto enthusiasts.
The patrol closed a remote section of highway, allowed unlimited speeds and then planned to “catch” each car on radar and write out a ticket. The so-called offender would pay the “fine” to charity and, the newspaper said, get to keep the speeding ticket as a memento. Some leadfooters planned to frame the tickets as proof they were caught doing 150 mph or more.
One guy, with a reporter tagging along as co-pilot, peaked his vehicle at 206, garnering a “ticket” that brought in $800 for the charity fund.
But there may be a potential fly in the ointment, er, on the windshield. A well-heeled FastPass participant floored his bright red Ferrari Enzo on a desolate stretch of Utah's Route 257, flying to more than double the posted 75 mph speed limit. So far, so good. But as he crested a rise in the road, he lost control of the $1.3 million supercar, skidded and tumbled several times, the Journal reported. The car's carbon-fiber body splintered “in a hail of debris and its 650-horsepower, V-12 engine went flying.”
The driver sustained a serious concussion, a broken sternum and broken vertebrae in his neck.
Maybe they'll hold a charity event to pay for his hospital bills.
Cars? What cars?
Like yodeling, modeling takes skill. You've got to look good in a two-piece bathing suit or skimpy outfit and, well, we won't get into the other attributes needed.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has come in for its share of criticism in the past about models at the annual SEMA trade show in Las Vegas and their penchant for revealing attire (not tires). The association recently released a study by its Market Research Dept. staff that pointed out the “compact-performance niche continues to evolve,” with compact and sports car modifications, including wheel and tire packages, still right up their on the popularity charts.
One successful venue for this youth-oriented breed of compact-performance car enthusiast has been the traveling “Hot Import Nights (HIN)” extravaganzas in cities across the country. “This show, once exclusively for import cars, has morphed into an automotive cornucopia with a variety of attractions,” SEMA said. To that evolution, the trade group said HIN events seem to have changed to a format “more indicative of a night club than a car show. Attendees were presented with a buffet of sights not necessarily dedicated to cars.”
That includes poker tables, break dance competitions, endless giveaways, clothing displays “and loads of attitude.” Throw in live music and ambient lighting, the SEMA report stated, “and you'll start to understand how difficult some find it to retain the attention of showgoers.”
Another change, SEMA continued, has been the “increasing swell of models. Most automotive shows feature token spokesmodels, but youth-driven markets encourage all types of attractive presenters to seduce attendees. From the standard product models to gyrating dancers, this scene seems to harbor more skimpy outfits and signing sessions than any other.”
The association kind of took Modified Magazine to task for sponsorship of its “Modified Lounge,” described by SEMA as “a centralized spectacle dedicated to displaying the wares of upcoming and established models.
“At some points visitors might wonder if the cars have been downgraded to secondary attractions, struggling with models, go-go competitions, bikini contests, fashion shows and more.”
Eye candy apparently comes in various horsepower configurations.