Sunday, January 28, 2018

Music: Space Truckin'

My friends and I have been enjoying "Ash vs Evil Dead," a Starz original series that brings back Bruce Campbell as everyone's favorite chainsaw-wielding antihero. While the show was developed by Sam Raimi and the original Evil Dead creators, the showrunner is Craig DiGregorio, and he does a great job of translating the cult films' gore and humor into a TV-sized package:

A big part of the Ash v. ED experience is the music, which alternates between classic '70s/'80s hard rock and left-field selections, like PJ Harvey's "Down by the Water." I particularly liked the series' opening song, "Space Truckin'":

It's one of Deep Purple's best tracks, though the live versions can get a bit...indulgent. I mean, I like organ and guitar solos as much as the next guy, but maybe not 20-odd minutes of them:


Miscellany: 2013 BMW 328i long-term review - Drei-er Lint, Part II

I'm a big fan of the long-term tests in "Car and Driver." In my mind, it's easy for a vehicle to hold up okay for the first few years, but much tougher to be trouble-free down the road. You also get a much better sense of a model's strengths and weaknesses from living with it every day, rather than just doing a week of canned testing on some press car.

It's been almost two years since I first bought my F30 328i, which now has about 60,000 miles (33,000 coming from yours truly). How has the Bimmer held up?

Hidden Strengths

40/20/40 Split Folding Rear Seats

I don't think I'll ever buy another car without split folding rear seats, and the ones on the current-generation 3-series have got to be near the top of the class.  With the middle section down, I can transport long items (like a cased M1 Garand).  With 2 sections down, you can sit a third passenger and a large volume of luggage.  With the rear seats totally folded, you get a cavernous storage space that is big enough to fit a twin size mattress (speaking from personal experience). The only very minor annoyance? The levers to unlock the seats are in the trunk.

Driving Modes

Thanks to ever-tightening European emissions standards, BMW's 4-cylinder engines absolutely sip fuel. The B48 modular engine in the post-refresh 330i gets an astonishing real-world 41 miles per gallon on the highway, but even my old N20 clocks in at 31ish mpg combined city/highway, if driven gently in "EcoPro" mode. Those are pretty good numbers for any small-to-midsize sedan, much less a RWD car with over 240 horsepower.

Hidden Weaknesses

Trim Durability

Mechanically, the car has been totally sound, but I can't say the same for the interior and exterior trim. I've encountered minor finish problems that seem pretty widespread by all accounts: a loose rear trunklid taillight, melting front door plastic handles, etc. These would be forgivable in a mainstream vehicle, I guess, but they're pretty annoying in a "luxury" car.

Service Costs

Another problem with any premium brand, and BMW in particular, is the arbitrarily high cost of maintenance. While the purchase price of an F30 3-series isn't bad (a 2013 base model goes for well under 20k nowadays), it's an eye-opener when you take it to your local mechanic or (gasp) the dealer. So far, the car has gotten a couple oil changes, a couple cabin air filters, spark plugs, and a new set of Bridgestone DriveGuard run-flats. If you're at all mechanically inclined, I recommend spending the money for a service manual and doing as much of it yourself as your time and energy allows.

Movies: Night of the Living Dead 4k restoration

Last weekend I saw the 4k restoration of "Night of the Living Dead," George A. Romero's classic zombie film. The screening was part of the monthly Palm Beach County Grindhouse series, hosted by Morbid Movies at the Movies of Lake Worth (or, as my folks call it, the "Old People's Theater"). It was the last stop in the Janus Films limited release, before the big Criterion Blu-Ray drops in February:

As longtime readers know, I am a more of a "Dawn of the Dead" guy, but I do love "Night" and have seen the film many, many times. Unfortunately, thanks to the famous lapse of the original print into the public domain, most of the streaming versions on the Internet are capital-T Terrible, with picture so washed out and damaged that it can be hard to see what's happening.

In contrast, the 4k restoration I saw was lovingly executed by the Museum of Modern Art and supervised by the original crew (including the late George A. Romero). The picture quality was as clean as my old Elite Entertainment DVD, but much sharper - you could even read the print on bags of food in the kitchen. Maybe the only downside of the public screening was the MST3k-like snickering from the crowd (just because it's in black and white doesn't mean it's a schlocky B-movie), but even they shut up when Helen Cooper's screams echoed through the theater. 50 years later, "Night" still has the power to shock, and now it looks better than ever.