Tag Archives: end of an era

An ode to a Cavalier

The last straw was a broken alternator.

I had been driving my grandfather’s tannish 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier since college (1996 or thereabouts), and it had been experiencing growing mechanical issues, from a wacky fuel pump to a broken air conditioning to an oil leak. But when I got the warning light while driving back from Disney World around the summer of 2001, I thought, OK. It is time.

When I brought in the Cavalier to the local Chevy dealer for an oil change, I went out into the lot to peruse the selection. Not long before I wandered over to the Cavaliers did a salesman approach me.

I had my eyes on a dark blue two-door 2001 Cavalier coupe. When the salesman and I got into the car to take it for a test drive, the steering wheel threw me for a loop. I couldn’t adjust it to get my longish legs inside. And I noticed while there was a CD player, there wasn’t a cassette player (for all you youngsters out there, cassettes are these miniature reel-to-reel tapes that play music).

We hopped out of that Cavalier and got into another dark blue two-door Cavalier coupe. Not only did this have a combo CD/tape player, but it had tilt steering.

Perhaps this was like Bumblebee in the Bayverse Transformers, making sure Sam would pick him as his car. Perhaps not.

The test drive went well. The radio worked magnificently. Actually, it worked too well. The bass was overpowering. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell if they had installed an extra subwoofer. I would end up dialing back the bass under the mid-point, and it was still all about the bass.

I decided this was the car. It took about a week of wrangling with the dealer and the bank to get everything finalized, but on a Friday, I drove off to work in a BRAND. NEW. CAR!

Over the next 14 years, this car would take me on various adventures for work. I’d drive from Central Florida to Daytona Beach without any problems. It hauled my drums whenever I played at church. I took trips to Jacksonville to see my family. It took its first long trip up to Nashville, Tennessee, with my soon-to-be-wife to meet her family. One morning during another Nashville trip in December, frost covered the car, so naturally I had to take pictures of it.

I felt a sense of happiness when I set up the final payment on the car. After five years, it was mine.

The car passed 100,000 miles. Three of the four engine cylinders conked out, but after an expensive intervention, the car got a new lease on life. The air conditioning (a must in Florida) would go out when the car idled. One morning, on my way to work, I discovered the car didn’t stay cool while idling for long periods of time, because the CHECK GAGES light appeared, and the car temperature gauge was rising. I pulled into a parking lot to let it cool down. When I left, it was back to normal.

A few years after that, while driving to work, the car’s temperature gauge rose, and I noticed steam coming out of the front. The radiator had to be replaced. I was leaving work, backing out, only to discover I couldn’t put the car into drive, or park, or anything. The paint job slowly disintegrated on the roof and hood (perhaps a consequence of being out in that oppressive Florida sun).

The CD player could play music, but only if you jumped ahead few tracks so it could read the disc, then go back to the first song. Then it wouldn’t play at all. No problem, there’s still the tape player. I could get a CD adapter. Only by the time I found one, the tape player started acting up. Now I was flipping around the radio dial, being subjected to the Taylor Swifts and Rhiannas and Maroon 5s amongst Genesis and Billy Joel and Rush.

The car’s passenger side window stopped working. The driver’s side worked, but at times, it would take forever to get it back up. Then I decided against rolling it down again…until car shop mechanics would roll it down even though I told them not to do that.

The car passed 200,000 miles. This, I wasn’t expecting. Despite all of its foibles, the Cavalier still got me from point A to point B.

By this point, two young children have entered the picture. My wife and I had been talking about getting a larger vehicle to house everybody, maybe a minivan.

On a whim, I searched on another dealer’s website their used car inventory. I spotted a 2011 Chevy HHR. It was dark blue. It had relatively low mileage. My wife said, “We have to go look at it. TODAY.”

So we did. It was a rainy, dreary late afternoon in January 2015 when we took the HHR out for a test drive. It rode like a dream.

The next day, I found myself saying goodbye to an old friend a little sooner than I thought.

I will miss that little Cavalier. It was more than a car. It had become my Millennium Falcon, my old bucket of bolts that could get point-five past lightspeed. But as with anything, nothing lasts forever, and it had served out its time beyond measure.

Now, it’s time to see if I can get this HHR up past 200,000 miles. I think it’s doable.

Here’s where the fun begins

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve probably heard the news. For the rest of you, Lucasfilm announced today that the Expanded Universe is sorta closing its doors to make way for a new continuity to coincide with the upcoming movies. They also announced some of the new novels arriving in the coming months.

Via the Star Wars Books Facebook page

I can’t say I wasn’t surprised this happened since Disney acquired the house that George built. However, I am not heartbroken at this decision. It makes sense for the people creating the new movies to not be constrained by all of the continuity floating around the Outer Rim. Let them carve their own corner.

I’m also not crying in my blue milk because I haven’t invested too much into the EU. I read Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy back when it first appeared on bookshelves in the early-to-mid-1990s. I read Dark Horse Comics’ Dark Empire, written by Tom Veitch and illustrated by Cam Kennedy. I soon picked up a few more novels and comics, but I discovered that I couldn’t keep up with everything. My Amazon.com wish list can attest to that. I drifted away.

I’m sure there are some fans who are crying foul about the news, that they’re just dumping their beloved books into the trash compactor where the dianoga monster can have a snack. Well, the EU was never canon to start with. The movies (including their novelizations, the radio dramas, The Clone Wars, and the upcoming Rebels) are canon. The EU novels were just stories, things that might have happened. Besides, these novels aren’t going away. They will continue to be in print, but now they’ll have “Legends” emblazoned on the covers. Heck, the creative folks may still pluck stuff from those tales. Works for me.

As long as people are still interested in the adventures of Luke Skywalker and company, these stories should live as long as Yoda did, if not longer.

Also, is it December 2015 yet? [looks at watch impatiently, taps foot]

So long, and thanks for all the Star Wars comics

I learned the news on Friday that Marvel will be taking over the Star Wars comic book franchise from Dark Horse in 2015. Just about everyone figured this move was coming when Disney (which owns Marvel) bought Lucasfilm. Part of me hoped that it wouldn’t happen, but clouded by the Dark Side of the Force, I must have been.

But I jest.

I was first introduced to Dark Horse’s Star Wars offerings when “Dark Empire” arrived in finer comic shops back in the early ’90s.

Star Wars: Dark Empire No. 1; cover by Dave Dorman
Star Wars: Dark Empire No. 1; cover by Dave Dorman

My memory is a bit foggy as to how I learned of this momentous event (I was in high school at the time), but I scooped up the first four issues and devoured them. Up until that point, the only other new Star Wars fiction out there was Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. Now we had COMICS!

Boy howdy, did this story kick my butt and take names. The art from Cam Kennedy was astounding, and Tom Veitch’s story about how Luke Skywalker turns to the dark side compelled me. Sadly, I didn’t pick up the last two issues to find out how it ended. I had to wait to get the trade paperback.

Soon, Dark Horse was re-presenting some of the newspaper comic strips from Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson in color. At the time, I had no idea there were comic strips in the newspaper detailing more adventures of Luke, Han and Leia. Then, the fine folks at Dark Horse start telling tales from waaaaay before the original Star Wars movie, as well as some adventures of Rogue Squadron. I was happier than a Tusken Raider shooting podracers.

A long time ago, I knew that Marvel was publishing stories in the Star Wars universe, but for whatever reason, I didn’t get any of the issues, save for the four-issue adaptation of “Return of the Jedi.” Thanks to Dark Horse and their omnibuses, I finally read the first few issues of Marvel’s initial run; not too bad, considering how much was unknown back then.

Covers for Marvel's adaptation of "Return of the Jedi"
Covers for Marvel’s adaptation of “Return of the Jedi”

Around 2000, I walked away from buying comics for a few years, but I read a news post here and there. When I returned to the fold some eight years later, a few Star Wars series made it onto the pull list, including “Legacy,” which takes place more than 100 years after “Return of the Jedi,” but it was right near the time it was ending (I have a strange track record with buying series only to have them cancel, except for Batman), and “Dark Times: Blue Harvest,” which takes place after the events of “Revenge of the Sith.”

Star Wars: Legacy No. 37; cover by Jan Duursema
Star Wars: Legacy No. 37; cover by Jan Duursema

I have no idea what Marvel has in store with the Star Wars universe once it picks it up, but I will reserve judgement until then. I would hope they treat it with the same care Dark Horse did. (insert Luke Skywalker/Spider-Man crossover issue joke here)

I wanted to thank all the countless writers, artists (pencillers and inkers), colorists, letterers, and editors who took me on trips to that galaxy far, far away for these 20-some-odd years. It’s been an amazing ride.

The Force is strong with you all. Maybe I’ll go get that “Dark Empire” trade paperback off the shelf. Then I need to start saving up for all those trade paperbacks I need to get by the end of the year.

Oh, these? I collect them.
Oh, these? I collect them.