The one I’ve been waiting for!

Too excited! Must… maintain… composure… in workplace!

I may be a “recovering Star Wars nerd,” but c’mon, man. Cool is cool.


Recently I discovered that Sony is planning a new in-dash car stereo with a USB port for reading and playing MP3 files from a thumb drive. I had an earlier such model but it got stolen. I replaced it with a JVC model that I don’t much like. (Among other things, its clock won’t display when the unit is switched off. And when it does show the time, occasionally the time display won’t update itself for many minutes in a row!) For someone with a long daily commute, a good car stereo is indispensable. So I’m interested in Sony’s latest and I have been checking Amazon periodically to see when it’ll be available to order.

While checking just now I discovered that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — the final book in the series — is now available to pre-order. Its just-announced release date is 21 July. Yay! Into the shopping cart. I’m proud to be among the first to pre-order it. Thanks to an automated recommendation I also discovered that Universal Hall Pass — Melissa Kaplan’s post-Splashdown band — has a new EP out. On it she collaborates with former Splashdown bandmate Kasson Crooker — yay! Into the shopping cart.

Today’s run of luck continues…

My Civic duty

My car, the Nimble Imp, is a nine-year-old Honda Civic hatchback. On Thursday it wouldn’t start, so we towed it to a garage. On Friday we learned that it had a dead battery ($100) and a leaky clutch master cylinder ($600) — and that according to Edmunds, it’s worth $767, or $67 more than the cost of the repairs I’m facing.

On Saturday I began car shopping.

Fuel efficiency is my main criterion. I’m intrigued by the Toyota Prius — I’ve driven one and liked it — but the car I’m really after is the new Honda Fit. I have some lingering doubts about the Prius’s hybrid drive — just how long do those batteries last, anyway, and what is their true environmental impact? — whereas the Fit’s gas mileage is almost as good, its price is right, and it doesn’t have a distracting video display in the center of the dashboard. Only the name is a little off-putting. (I like its European name better: “Jazz.”) Yes, it’s tiny. No, I don’t have a problem with that. So I ordered the Consumer Reports price report and started calling Honda dealers to find one where I could test-drive a Fit.

Marin Honda didn’t have any. Neither did Honda of El Cerrito. Nor did the San Francisco, Berkeley, or Oakland Honda dealers. I called Walnut Creek Honda — no luck. I called Concord Honda — no. San Leandro, Burlingame, Hayward, Redwood City — no, no, no, no. At Vacaville Honda (42.7 miles distant) they thought they might have one or two on the lot and promised to check and call me back in five minutes. Mmmmmmmmmmno. I began to feel like I was living in the Cheese Shop sketch.

Glickstein: You do have some Hondas, don’t you?
Element: Certainly sir! This is a Honda shop, sir. We’ve got–
Glickstein: No, no, don’t tell me. I’m keen to guess.
Element: Fair enough.
Glickstein: Element?
Element: Yes.
Glickstein: Ah! Well I’ll buy one of those then.
Element: Oh, I thought you were talking to me, sir. Mr. Element, that’s my name.

It took a not-inconsiderable effort of will to psych myself into buying a car this weekend, but psych myself I did, and for a couple of hours on the phone Saturday morning I persisted in spite of the best efforts of Bay Area Honda salespeople uncharacteristically to prevent me giving them my money. But they finally wore me down, with the result that I authorized the $700 repair of my $767 car. I am “Fit” to be tied.