Friday, December 14, 2007

Reading The Times

Take The Times (UK) lager quiz (in the right sidebar on this page)…and see how much you really know about beer. I scored 7/10. And I consider myself knowledgeable about beer…not a connoisseur, by any means, but knowledgeable. So, I suppose 70% is about where I should be. There are some fairly esoteric questions in this quiz, so don’t go laughing or making fun of me because of my relatively low score.
There’s a lot to interest beer lager drinkers on the linked page. I tend to drink ales almost exclusively, but even speaking as a non-lager lover, I spent more than a few minutes here.
How’s your taste? Are you tasteful? Or tasteless? Read the Brit definition(s) here… “Does your taste suck?” Excerpt:
Another word for this phenomenon is “grotesque”. That’s what a lot of our purchases, even our bodies, are becoming. Our cars have ballooned, our garages doubled, our houses have been extended, our muscles bulked up, our breasts inflated and our lips beestung. At the end of that we’ve had our teeth bleached bunny-rabbit white and hopped onto a sunbed. Is this new Texan-style sensibility necessarily bad taste, though? Definitions of good taste are notoriously difficult. It could be argued that the whole idea of good taste is in bad taste. Why do we need to be prescriptive? Isn’t that pretentious, divisive and arrogant? Well, yes, but it’s quite good fun.
Hmmm. What’s this “Texan-style sensibility” stuff? I assume the author is going for the “ever thang’s bigger in Texas!” stereotype. But he’s British, so one never knows. Good article, though, and I pretty much agree with all that’s said. But then again, I would. After all, I’m a man of remarkably good taste. (ahem)
Another passing…Art Arfons, who was something of a childhood hero of mine, died on December 3rd. And I didn’t see a single obituary in a US paper. How sad. But, as for Mr. Arfons…he had a major impact on my young life. The stuff he did, and the way he did it, made him a role-model for gear heads everywhere, especially young ones. That and the fact he was in the pages (if not on the cover) of Hot Rod, Popular Hot Rodding, and the like throughout the 50s and 60s. There was just something about The Green Monsters…in all their incarnations, but most especially the jet-powered ones…that captured the imagination of the pre-adolescent Bucky Pennington. And the young man that followed, too.
In 1952 he and Walt built their first proper vehicle, a three-wheeled dragster with an Oldsmobile engine, splashed with green tractor paint. The commentator at the drag strip called the creation “the green monster”, a name that adhered to all Art Arfons's projects thereafter, whatever their hue. The green monster proved somewhat slow at 85mph, but the brothers raised their game by switching to aircraft engines. The Green Monster 2 had a 2,000-horsepower Allison V1710 aircraft engine as used on the Lockheed P38, six wheels and a top speed of 145.16mph on the quarter mile, a drag-racing world record. It won the first drag racing World Series at Lawrenceville, Illinois, in 1953. Green Monster 6 was the first dragster to exceed 150mph; Green Monster II reached 191mph.
Both hungry for glory, the Arfons split up to duel amicably with each other on the drag strip. Walt was the first to develop a jet-engined dragster, for which he was required to invent the parachute as a stopping device. Art later refined a means to fire the parachute with a shotgun mechanism, and created a Green Monster with a J97 static thrust engine from a Lockheed F104 Starfighter, bought from a scrap dealer in 1967. A request to General Electric for a repair manual resulted in a government agent turning up to confiscate the engine, telling Arfons that components for the Starfighter — which had held simultaneous world records for speed, altitude, and climb rate — were still top secret. He was horrified that Arfons had repaired the engine without assistance.
Whatta guy, eh? Obituary here.
Photo credit: The Times.


  1. I love the Arfons story. Toby and Bo were wanting to build a "locost" car a while back. That dream has ebbed a bit lately, but they still read blogs and such on putting jet engines in odd vehicles. Yikes!

    I was a bit offended at the "Texan-style" remark at first, but maybe it refers to the "bigger in Texas" attitude - who knows.

  2. Interesting that no one(the knee jerk media) had the common sense to tell the Art Afrons can bet your ass if it had been some common no talent skank like Madonna or Britney, they would have had wall-to-wall coverage for a month....I visited the Salt Flats on my way to Reno last about a desolate place....

  3. Lou sez: ...they still read blogs and such on putting jet engines in odd vehicles. Yikes!

    Yikes is right! Reading this brought to mind that ol' urban legend...

    Pat: I've been by the Bonneville Salt Flats exit several times while traveling I-80, but never stopped. I probably should have, but I always had some place to be that was more important. Well, more important at the time, anyway. Funny how time changes your perspective... But yeah...the Salt Flats is one of the more desolate places on earth.

  4. Uncle Buck,
    I also scored a 7, well, actually the score SAID 6, but i mistakenly keyed FALSE when i knew the question to be TRUE. Oddly enough, it was probably the only question on the entire quiz i was certain about! Anyway, i'm more of a Murphy's Irish, Beamish, and Mackeson fan, you know, the DARKies! Of course, since i can't AFFORD those...i normally just drink Shiner (God bless'em every one!) or whatever i can find in MamaLou and Toby's icebox!

  5. Great story about Arfons - I had a cousin who used to follow the races on the flats - brings backs some great memories from the age of innocence.

  6. Jay said: I also scored a 7, well, actually the score SAID 6...

    Tough quiz, wasn't it? I felt like I needed a beer after I took it. There's always Shiner (of some sort) in my fridge...always. And I hear Lou keeps it in hers, you should be well-supplied!

    Cynthia: I agree...the times were much more innocent, back then. might be the power of hindsight, and all that. We didn't much think the period was all that innocent, at the time, "Duck and Cover" being just one example.


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