Choppy course

Spontaneous combustion races were held today under beautiful blue skies. No yummy soup, biscotti or new Contenders today; it was just Will, Rob, me, the sunshine and a few tasty beers. Oh, and Mr. Wonderful joined us to supervise a few runs. Despite the warm temps, (it was around 36˚), the course held up pretty well. I was called in to groom the course several times to repair a couple of unfortunate cave-ins and to clear the icy chutes of debris. Times were wildly erratic, the fastest run was accomplished by Buckeye Ball, who clocked in with 3.09 seconds in the second heat. The slowest run was racked up by Coney Island Kid, who poked along in the third heat to arrive at the finish line in 4.62 seconds. While it’s true that the course was a bit choppy here and there, what do you expect with two-week-old snow? There were no snow fleas today, but there was plenty of cat hair embedded in the chutes from my gloves and one February fly graciously appeared on the boards of the deck.

Palooka Red rang in with the best time today with an average of 3.68 seconds. Palooka’s sponsor couldn’t be reached for comment, as she was away in the Poconos celebrating her honeymoon with her favorite dish, a gratin of marshmallows, limburger and sardine spines. Yum. Nancy Nurse was not far behind Palooka, and yesterday’s winner, Yellow Bird, took third place today. Fourth place was a dead tie between Buckeye Ball and Mothra Ball.

Below, please find the average times, from which today’s race rankings were derived. That is all for now, the cat wants my chair.

Palooka Red             • 3.68
Nancy Nurse           • 3.722
Yellow Bird             • 3.727
Buckeye Ball           • 3.737
Mothra Ball             • 3.737
Sail Boat                   • 3.75
Madame Hootch    • 3.80
Sticky Frogs             • 3.81
Base Ball                  • 3.82
Eye Ball                     • 3.85
Taz                             • 3.926
Coreopsis                  • 3.933
Purple People Eater • 3.96
Coney Island Kid     • 4.06


Leather conditioner controversy


It was an especially auspicious day for racing. We had bright sun combined with huge, lazy snowflakes in the morning to set the early February tone. By race time, it cleared completely to provide temperatures in the upper 30s. Absolutely perfect for hanging around and rolling the impatient Contenders down the icy chutes of the snow pile. Another small attendance, but a rowdy crowd, nonetheless: Rob, Robin, Steve, Will and Rebecca.

Races today started at 2, preceded by a lovely luncheon of chickpea/sweet potato/carrot soup and spicy beans and rice …and beer. Rob and Robin brought walnut biscotti dipped in milk chocolate for dessert and they were duly inhaled, er, enjoyed. (I can attest that they were a delicious accompaniment to Magic Hat #9 beer.)

We raced fourteen Contenders through ten heats on the glazed snow pile course. The warm sun and dizzying speeds caused some minor damage to the course, but somehow we were able to make quick repairs to muddle through. The winner today was Yellow Bird, who had received a controversial pre-race doping of baseball mitt leather conditioner. Since we have no bylaws to prohibit such activity, Base Ball and Taz also took advantage and it did seem to improve their time significantly. Plans are to condition all participants before the next race to even the playing field. The doping so disgusted Yankee Swap Voodoo Doll that he made an editorial pit stop to the sidelines on his way to the concession stand.

Yellow Bird and Buckeye Ball have advanced and are keeping their eyes on the fabulous prize, the Mystic Seer Bobblehead Doll.
The average times, in seconds, are as follows:

Yellow Bird             • 3.36
Buckeye Ball           • 3.44
Nancy Nurse           • 3.45
Taz                             • 3.46
Madame Hootch    • 3.51
Base Ball                  • 3.56
Sticky Frogs             • 3.569
Mothra Ball             • 3.572
Palooka Red             • 3.60
Coney Island Kid     • 3.61
Eye Ball                       • 3.65
Coreopsis                   • 3.68
Sail Boat                     • 3.68
Purple People Eater • 3.73

Be wrong, Charlie.


Another wretched rain/slush event (which should have been a kick-ass snow storm) enveloped our world today. [Insert a mild, but heartfelt expletive and an extended, long-suffering collective sigh here.] Even people who don’t like winter and snow are a little unsettled by this year’s trend.

After the demoralizing rain tapered to a spitty drool, I ventured out to clear the sloppy mess on the decks. Making lemonade out of effing lemons, I heaved shovelfuls of slush onto the formerly fluffy Soft Serv snow pile, then proceeded to carve a race course into it. The snow was the consistency of a snow cone. My gloves were soaked. At the end of the course, I added a cheerful ball return feature. I brought Base Ball, Biting Geese and Mothra Ball out for a few test runs and a ball return photo session. Maybe, just maybe this dense course will set up and make an icy luge run to race the Contenders this weekend.

A little later, I sipped St Peter’s English Ale while I slouched sullenly in front of the 6:00 weather forecast. Good beer, but not good news. I hope Charlie Lopresti’s depressing prediction was wrong and we have a cold snap this weekend instead of spring temperatures. Be wrong, Charlie. Be very wrong.

Whiney winter

This year, I am hungering for snow. Not just any snow, but that which will pack and form to my specifications. It only needs to remain that way for a few days, which, in a “normal” Maine January wouldn’t be a problem. I know we’re not alone in our warm winter woes here in the northeastern U.S., but that doesn’t stop me from feeling whiney and petulant about the weather this winter.

We had a nice snowfall Friday night into Saturday afternoon. Shoveling, I knew that the snow was too light. Too airy to pack down. No race course, no new amusing dooryard characters, no snow creatures. I briefly considered using a spray bottle to attempt a creation, but knew it wouldn’t fill the gap. t nursed my disappointment with a cold Magic Hat #9 and sulked. Then I got the bright idea to try to use some of the software that came on my laptop and make a Cabin Fever video.

I’m no Spielberg, I know that. But I had fun making the little iMovie and the GarageBand soundtrack. The real bonus was that I got to use every truck driver cuss word I know in the process.

Soft Serv, Sublime

Sadly, the gorgeous snow pile has sublimated into a cheesy, styrofoam ghost of its former icy self. Looking at the long term weather forecast, it’s hard to imagine when we’ll get another snowfall that will allow the creation of another race course like this one. Maybe it’s time to start thumbing through the seed catalogs and scheming where to plant all that kale I plan to grow next summer.

The First Race of 2012

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The Commission met before races to discuss this year’s strategy while waxing and buffing the Contenders. It was decided to split the Contenders into two categories today: those with Sponsors physically present at the event and those with Sponsors “From Away.” All run times were recorded and will be taken into consideration when awarding season winners. The 2012 Grand Prize is the Mystic Seer Bobblehead Doll, whose skills are mysterious and accurate. He is not saying who will win this year, because he can only answer yes or no questions and nobody wants to risk asking him a question and bringing his sour, twinkling rhinestone eye onto their person. In other prize news, Yankee Swap Voodoo Doll, the 2011 Grand Prize, has miraculously returned to South Windham, and he/she will be awarded this year to one lucky Contender’s Sponsor. Stay tuned…

Coreyopsis was the overall winner today, edging out Base Ball in the last run of Contenders with Sponsors Here.

Buckeye Ball bested newcomer, Nancy Nurse, to win the race of Contenders with Sponsors From Away.

Better late than never

January 2, 2012 — Driving rain last night and scouring wind today made it feel more like April than January here in southern Maine. The good news is, we’re due to plunge into the single digits within a day or so. Perhaps that will prepare a few inches of permafrost to accumulate … and retain … enough snow to get the races going in 2012. Better late than never.