An Analog Person Trapped in a Digital Age!
Well, folks, if you own an operable television set or radio, you know that today is Cyber Monday (whatever that means) and the web cosmos is is afloat, adrift, churning, overwhelmed and inundated by all sorts of Super, Must-Have Cyber Deals that you don't dare miss on account of they'll all be out-of-date and/or obsoleted by newer and even trendier, more up-to-the-millisecond cyber must-haves by the time you reach the end of this sentence. Or maybe even before.
Trying to keep up is futile. But resistance is not.
So let me just say that we have some old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar, hard-copy (and even occasionally hard-back) items available for personal purchase or holiday gift-giving, and you can find them either scattered around my garage or out at the warehouse or available online at:
(just click to get there)
In particular, you might want to buy yourself a personalized, autographed copy of the most recent book, Steamroller III: Out of the Mist (most folks think it's pretty good), or get a similarly and/or luridly defaced copy of the cult-classic historical motoring novel that started it all, THE LAST OPEN ROAD, for any of your "Loves to Read" or Terminal Gearhead friends. Or any of the books in between. Or some of our fine logo clothing or prints or decals or...
Or howsabout the award-winning AUDIOBOOK version of The Last Open Road. It's done in the style of an early-1950s radio play (different character voices, music, sound effects, etc., plus famous and infamous Mystery Celebrity Guest Voices in many of the supporting roles). It's 20 hours long and thoroughly entertaining, and can be had in hard-copy form for holiday gift-giving (MP3 audio files on either an old-fashioned CD set or on a VERY classy USB flash drive) and include a Bonus DVD Video File about the making of the audiobook. Or you can go the quick and easy way by doing an instant digital download from web retailers like amazon audible.
BTW, all the books are available are likewise available in digital form from all major web retailers. But I'm a sit down with a hard copy, page-turner type myself, and maybe you are, too?

One More Holiday Plug Department:
We've become friendly with the folks at AUTOMOBILIA magazine and, although it's more of a Petrol-Head Models-and-Collectibles publication than a dedicated motorsports title, their hearts and minds are deep into all sorts of car-related stuff and it's a great place to browse, gawk and marvel. Here's a link to their Holiday Gift Guide:


So I'm sitting here working on this "Cyber Monday" E-blast when Carol hears a bit of an unsettling "bang-and-scrape" outside. And since Cyber Monday is also an ordinary Monday (which means it's garbage & recyclables pickup day on our block), we are mutually horrified to discover that the garbage-truck operator has somehow neglected to retract the heavy-duty, claw-like appendage he uses to pick up the garbage containers and has furthermore raked, ripped and strafed it down the side of our trusty, high-mileage, long-suffering and beloved Honda Odyssey...

At least he stopped to face the music. And there's no point being angry and ugly when somebody does the right thing after doing something like that. Just got done with the initial filing of the insurance claim. Picture below. Not happy...


It's been a busy time chez Levy this past week, what with niece Jacqueline's belated college graduation party last Saturday (good for her!), hosting the family Thanksgiving right here in the finally-suitable-for-cooking & entertaining (more or less) Levy household and then a follow-up, two-year-old birthday party Saturday night for most-recent-family-addition Ben Schroeder. Suffice to say I'm wearing my belt a little looser as a result. But it's was nice to have some kids around again. They sure add a sense of fun, purpose, curiosity and continuity (if not serenity) to family gatherings. Carol is particularly blessed and adept when it comes to dealing with/communicating with more recently minted editions of the human species, and I chalk a lot of that up to her good heart and phenomenal patience as well as her long career as a teacher and administrator in that line of work as well as her stint with Chicago's famous Second City--yes, that one--where she did a lot of shows and parts in their children's theater. As for me, I just do my best to be pleasant, pass the ice cream or cake when necessary, bat the ball/stuffed toy/party balloon back when it strays my way and try my damnedest not to be perceived as the muttering/doddering old uncle who used to do something-or-other with cars...
Or maybe it was books?
Hey, youth will be served. In fact, I recall my trying-to-be-wild high-school years when we spent a lot of time looking for joints where we could get served.
We found 'em, too.
But I digress.

In any case, Thanksgiving was a really big deal here on the home front, as for years--maybe even decades?--it was "our" holiday as far as family gatherings were concerned. And I was moreover, thanks to both desire and lack of competition, the designated Turkey Meister (not to mention stuffing, gravy and assorted fixins) and I enjoyed both the task and the honor. Only then the dreaded Pandemic intervened and after that Carol and I (well, mostly Carol) embarked on a few little home-makeover tweaks and projects--including our kitchen--that ran a little long-ish to get done. And don't even get me started on the so-called budget. But Carol loves that stuff and has a great eye and feel for it, whereas (as she is always quick to point out): "You could live in a damn cardboard refrigerator box under a bridge." I am quick to respond that if you don't put that refrigerator box under a bridge, the rain and snow will land on it during periods of inclement weather and your roof will get soggier and soggier until your soggy cardboard ceiling falls into your bowl of soup.
Now I enjoy sports on TV (racing and football, mostly), great old black-and-white movies, occasional new series and not nearly as many current events, news shows and documentaries as I pretend. But Carol loves to watch those infernal "home-improvement" shows that feature pleasant, eager, upbeat and discerning young couples aided by handsome/beautiful/fearfully photogenic and tremendously personable designers, tradesmen and "rehab experts" working with budgets that would suffice for many moderately sized municipalities or mid-size college sports programs...
I tend to term it "Property Porn," and I see it as a feral, viral and infernal addiction. But of course there's nothing wrong with me getting up at 3:30am to watch pollution-spewing Formula One machines racing their noisy little hearts out in a faraway country with a repressive, autocratic regime, no real motorsports history to speak of plus a well-deserved reputation for human-rights abuses and occasional, politically motivated assassinations and/or dismemberments...
But I digress. Again.
The point here is that we were unable to host Thanksgiving for a fat handful of years, and this past Thursday amounted to something of a coming-out party for Carol and me and our finally-finished abode. Although the last of that "finishing" actually took place as the guests were climbing into their cars to come over here...
It was good to be back in the saddle (or skillet?) again. Even if the list of "things we need to clean/get ready/put in order" was long following our extended hiatus from hosting.
But we did get it together and the party came off as we hoped. And I was once again able to don my apron and square off mano-a-mano (or should that be hand-to-foot or wattle-to-wattle?) against the iconic, Centerpiece Bird of the entire Thanksgiving experience. In our time-honored E-blast spirit of giving you useful information far too late for it to be of any use at all, I'll share my turkey-prep strategies and secrets at the very end of this e-epistle (below even the trivia). But first, let's take a little stroll through my own culinary background:

My family always loved to cook--especially my mom, who was a real whiz in the kitchen--and I well remember many of her specialties. I also recall the Sunday-morning brunches with my dad at the helm that featured enough fruit, eggs, breakfast meats, pancakes, French toast or waffles (with plenty of syrup and butter, of course) and sweet rolls to clog every artery in your chest. At least if taken in regular weekend doses over an extended period of time.
Many years later (and much to my folks' horror), I dropped out of college to pursue some sort of free-form, westward-bound, semi-hippie odyssey in search of--well, to be honest, I'm not sure to this day what I was in search of--but it seemed vitally important at the time. Mind you, I always worked and only called my folks for help once to get bailed out of jail (but that's another story for another time) and once to borrow about fifty bucks for a new tire when the LR one on my self-wrenched Volvo self-destructed in truly cataclysmic fashion on the way up The Coast Highway from Berkeley, CA to Seattle when I was working for/with that Communal Hippie Leather Clothing Factory in Oakland. But, again, that's another story for another time.
Between those two adventures, I found myself "on the Ave" and without visible means of support in Boulder, Colorado. I'd worked as a mason tender (the guys who mix mortar and bring it to the fellows laying block basements) a few years before during a collegiate summer. The crew was run by two wonderful and colorful hillbilly brothers from Tennessee (who had previously run a pool hall in Paducah, KY), and I gained a lot of insight from them. Plus an awareness and eventual appreciation/admiration of country music from them. But I looked a bit suspect and transient (guilty on both counts), and I wasn't able to land any kind of construction job. Which is how, thanks to the grizzled and gnarly old daytime drunk who hung out at "The Sink" bar on Telegraph Avenue damn near from the time it opened every day, that there was an opening for a daytime dishwasher at The Catacombs restaurant in the basement of the gracious old Boulderado Hotel on Pine Street, and if I hustled right over there, I might just be able to find employment...
Fortunately, I had been a member of the Dishwashers Union in Junior High School (I got free lunches plus lessons in union organizing, bylaws and making management miserable) so I actually knew how to work the various trays, conveyor belt and levers. So I got the job. Wound up living in the place, too, up in a tiny room on the decaying top floor with the one john at the end of the hall that always smelled funny.
But GOOD funny.
In any case, I was barely two days into my new dishwashing gig when the hotel manager--a recently retired, spit-and-polish, America-first Air Force colonel from Georgia--got into a bit of a heated political argument with the second-string, lunch-rush cook (who leaned so far left that he listed to one side) and it escalated until they were nose-to-nose like a pair of mirror-image steam engines, bubbling and sputtering and boiling at one another with their pressure gauges well into the red zone. Finally, the second-string cook wadded up his apron, threw it down on the manager's wingtips and marched out the door. With the manager yelling after him, in a beautiful Georgia twang: "AND DON'T COME BACK!"

Moments later, dear reader, the lead cook--a skinny, sawed-off cowboy-type with rolled-up sleeves and pants cuffs, tooled leather boots, big thyroid eyes and a wary but earnest and honest face--ventured back into my dishwashing area, tapped me unexpectedly on the shoulder (why did I think it was a drug bust?) and said: "Hey,'re a cook now."
And that's how I became a cook. And worked at it and learned a little about it and actually enjoyed it very much for the next several months. Met lots of interesting characters and tried but failed miserably at writing my first book, Hey, I was too busy experiencing things to write about them. But I didn't know that yet...

Tune in for more aimless, run-on stories and memories next time.


This is the illuminated stained glass piece I showed you last time. Our talented friend Bob Kovacs made it (and did a fabulous job!) and it now resides over our kitchen sink. But I don't believe I explained the content properly last time. So hear goes:
As should be obvious by now, Carol and I LOVE Elkhart Lake, and for many, many years we would walk the lovely footpath around that lake almost daily when we were up there. Which was often, both for race weekends and vacations.This is almost impossible today thanks to some newer, more uptight home-owners who don't seem to want folks traipsing through their yards (don't get me started) but it's a shame and that's all there is to it.
As you can see from the cows, we are up in America's Dairyland again, and you can see a wee corner of the lake and some of the bucolic greenery surrounding THE HOUSE. This is an interpretation of the lovely and gracious house we passed on those walks, and that we always kind of felt was our dream home. Not that we could ever dream of affording it. But it was handsome and charming and was situated right around a point (not far past The Stone Bench, if you know the path) where there was always a clean, fresh breeze off the lake no matter how hot or steamy it was elsewhere. Looking back on the house is our late, beloved and cherished wire fox terrier "Buddy," and the two vacant Adirondack chairs are, quite obviously, for Carol and me to sit in and enjoy the view and the breeze and the ambiance.
Thanks, Bob!

Forgot to include this pic of me in my "terrify the trick-or-treaters" Halloween costume. Scary, huh? And this is the scary "candy box" they have to open. It makes all kinds of spooky/ghosty/witchy sounds from deep down inside. And when you open it, this big, ugly mummy's hand comes up out of it (I used the spring from a rat trap) with a rubber snake coiled around its fingers. Really.


Several of you (including serial "fast-twitch" offenders Bob Allen and Robbin Atherly) recognized the above pile of dreams and ambitions as the ill-fated 1963 A.T.S. Formula One car built by the fired (or did they quit?) "renegade mutineers" from Ferrari, who formed A.T.S. with the sole ambition of beating old Enzo Ferrari at his own game, both on the racetrack and on the showroom floor.
It's a tragic, desperate and oft-funny story (told in full, BTW, in the latest Steamroller book) but in spite of all the talent and experience involved (ex-Ferrari Competition Director Carlo Chiti, GTO creator Giotto Bizzarrini, 1961 World Champ Phil Hill and many more), it turned out to be a pipe dream of the first order. Too bad.


Occasionally, people send me unusual images and requests for information. Which, most usually, I am thoroughly unable to supply. And here are two of them:
1) My great racer/gearhead/Alfisti friend Tina vanCurren of Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank sent me the pic below (believe it hangs somewhere in The Ritz Hotel in New Yawk) and asked if I knew what the car was. Any ideas out there?

2) A reader of my stuff was doing a little digging into family history and found this pic of some of his not-too-far-back ancestor relatives (Herbert and William Marsden) in some sort of open touring car. I'm not sure what it is, but by gum that sloping hood line looks familiar. Anybody recognize the car?

Turkey Tips for Next Year (or Christmas?)
Now I don't claim to be a master chef (unless I've already imbibed a bit too much holiday cheer) but my turkeys are a bit unusual and generally well received. I've tried mit brine and mitout brine, and I have good results both ways. If I brine, I use a couple-four cups of apple cider, a little red wine vinegar, a small can of pineapple juice, as much water as is needed and a bunch of salt and brown sugar (cup and a half-two cups each). Gotta heat up the fluid part before adding the salt and sugar. I also mix in (as it's heating) a couple peeled, grated thumbs of fresh ginger, a bunch of fresh rosemary, some orange and lemon peel and a bunch of fresh chopped garlic. And some ground pepper, a few whole cloves and a skosh of cinnamon.
Brine for maybe 12-16 hours, then pull the bird, drain well in a big collander and pat dry. Then I stuff the bird cavities with a couple carved into slices naval oranges, ditto granny smith apples, a sweet onion, a lemon, some more fresh, chopped rosemary, ginger and garlic.
And whatever else strikes your fancy, too.
I generally give it a little dry rub then (ground ginger, celery salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, etc.) and (NOTE: THIS IS KEY!) I make little bitty slits all around the bird and insert a wee sliver of fresh garlic and a wee sliver of jalepeno pepper into each slit. Then I stick some butter under the breast skin and put a couple strips of bacon over the breast to baste it while it cooks.
Then I stick it in the fridge for a couple hours, and make sure to take it out and let it rest for an hour or so before sticking it in the oven. If it's a big bird, I make a big, foil tent over it and cook at high heat (450 or so) for three hours or so before reducing the heat to 350-375 and opening up the foil to make sure it all browns nicely.
If you want to baste it, I use a mixture of olive oil, a couple tablespoons of thawed frozen orange juice, some maple syrup, a little orange marmalade and a little red wine vinegar.
Got all that?

Catch the latest poop & pictures, the Jay Leno interview, Last Open Road swag & highly inappropriate attire from Finzio's Store and the lurid & occasionally embarrassing "ride with Burt" in-car racing videos on the hopefully now fully operational website at: