Friday, April 23, 2010

Road warrior

One of the pop-symbols of environmentalism I didn’t manage to work into my Earth Day doggerel yesterday was Toxie, aka the Toxic Avenger.

Remember, kids, radioactive waste is a terrible thing which will give you AWESOME super powers.
Who has run a rather circuitous route from being the (deliberately grotesque) face of the semi-skeevy Troma Films empire to being re-imagined as a cute Saturday morning children’s cartoon character leading a group known as the Toxic Crusaders (who, presumably, crusaded AGAINST toxic pollution, but I’ve never seen the show so that’s just an educated guess). Now Toxie is just another piece of popcult scrap from the 80’s or 90’s, depending on your point of view. But I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for him.

Speaking of toxic waste, I’m off to New Jersey this weekend for Little Bro’s bachelor party, which means I will be offline most of the weekend. So no Saturday Grab Bag tomorrow, not that I really need you to brace yourselves for that since I haven’t done one of those in, what, a month or so? The weekends of April have been a bit of a gauntlet-run, but the end is nearly in sight …

Anyway, in honor of the driving on I95 (or Big Sweet Black Licorice as I fondly refer to that stretch o’ highway) that I am about to undertake, and in the spirit of the absent SGBs, I leave you with the following From The Vanity Plate Archives item:

The other day I was driving home from the Vienna Metro and I saw a car with a license plate reading H8TN66. Given the circumstances (driving on 66 … ever) I was on the same wavelength as my fellow commuter; I, too, was “hatin’ 66”. SO much hate! I hate that four lanes aren’t enough for the sheer volume of traffic, I hate that there’s an HOV lane I’m not allowed in, I hate the antiquated exit interchanges that excessively disrupt the flow of traffic, I hate that it runs east-west in such a way that I’m always driving directly into the rising or setting sun. I trust you fully divine my attitude. But in fact, the road makes me so cranky that I am helpless to stop myself from such petty bitchery as … critiquing other people’s vanity tags. Because, honestly, “H8TN”? That’s not very good rebus construction, as the “T” is completely redundant. “H8N” would get the same point across, wouldn’t it? If VDOT regulations mandate a minimum of six characters, would “H8NI66” get the idea across more literately? Or how about “H8N66W”? (I steadfastly maintain that the westbound commute home in the evening is far worse than the inbound morning rush.)

And then (perhaps because the license plate was a specialty model including the seal of my alma mater, and thus put me in mind of royal charters and monarchies and so forth) it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t a commentary on the transportation engineering shortcomings of sprawl-sploding northern Virginia at all. Maybe the vanity plate was actually supposed to be read “Hate 1066” and maybe the driver was a seething cauldron of resentment about the Norman conquest of England. (Hating on France is so very in style these days, after all.) Maybe the plate’s registrant imagined a better world in which the Scandinavian influence on the sceptered isle remained the dominant force in its culture. I got about as far into that scenario as imagining Wotan Churchill as Angland’s greatest prime minister before snapping myself out of it. Still, I had to share.

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