Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oldmanshirt's Guide to the NBA Store Christmas Catalog

This post originally appeared at Pounding the Rock

Attention, holiday shoppers! Especially you, stragglers and foot-draggers. Salvation has come in the form of the NBA Store's December Catalog, where you'll find your favorite team's logo slapped on everything from onesies to whiskey glasses. Of course, you could get something sensible like a pair of shorts or an NBA-branded compression sleeve, but why do that when you could throw away both money and good will on the following officially-licensed travesties?

What follows is no mere hater's guide. For each mistake-in-waiting I mock mercilessly, I'll attempt to steer you towards a more appropriate and cost-effective means of spreading holiday cheer. It's the principle of Good-to-Better applied to Christmas. It's how Pop would shop.
 
Ugly Sweater $64.95
Ugly Sweater
 
My, how quickly the ugly sweater party has moved from niche to mainstream. If you're one of the unfortunate many who've had a U.S.P. forced upon you, you know the correct response is to go down to the Salvation Army and drop $6 on whatever woven atrocity most resembles the Griswold house, an aggressive strain of bacteria, or the surface of Jupiter. The solution is not to spend $65 mocking your own team with a sweater that, on balance, is barely even ugly enough to qualify as a joke. (Unless you actually get the Knicks sweater. There's no way to make that pretty.)
 
Instead, you should buy...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ranking "The Force Awakens" Trailer Parodies



The first official teaser for Episode VII was released a few days ago, and it was surprisingly boring. Well, okay, it wasn't boring, but did you notice how nothing in the trailer actually happens in space? That's not cool. I want my X-Wings flying against starfields, not strafing Lake Tahoe. The mystique of the Millenium Falcon doesn't come from its Mos Eisley escape, but from the way it navigates an asteroid field. Anyway, since this is Star Wars we're talking about, the trailer is secondary to the internet's inevitable response to the trailer. And, boy, did it ever respond:

5. Lens Flare Edition



This is the low hanging fruit, parody-wise. Yes, The Force Awakens is directed by J.J. Abrams. Yes, Abrams has a reputation for using lots of lens flares. Har har. Though, it's worth noting the real trailer has but a single, exceedingly subtle lens flare which wouldn't have been an issue if literally anyone else were directing this movie.

4. The Disney Parody



Hey, did you know Star Wars is owned by Disney now? Sure you do, even more people know that than know 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance (my sense of irony prevents me from revealing the name of that company to those you who might actually not know.) I state the obvious because it seems that whoever made this video thinks this is some inside joke. While it's possible the brains behind Tron: Legacy will find a way to dumb down TFA with midicholorian pixies and/or techno music, I think it's safe to say any interference will be far more subtle than this lazily-done trailer.

3. The George Lucas Special Edition



This one starts off with the addition of a few background lizards and some animal sound effects, which gives me the impression of yet another crybaby still sore about the pillaging of a movie that probably was made fifteen years before he was born. But then something clicks. I don't know if it's the absurdity of a random Jabba the Hutt hitchhiking along a rural Tattooine by-way, the X-Wing pilot's digitally-altered, Solo-esque head twitch to avoid the blaster shot, or ghost Anakin smiling at the sextuple lightsaber. Then, while you're musing over these details, comes the comedic left hook: "The Dark Side ... and trade negotiations." With such attention to detail, though, this one ultimately loses some points based on a glaring lack of Gungans, Ewoks, and racial caricatures. There's just no way to believe George would actually sign off.

2. The LEGO version



Other than looking like there's too much Vaseline smeared on the lens, this one is truly impressive. (Question: Would the prequels have been better as Lego movies? I mean, if nothing else, the actors would be plastic instead of wooden. Hi-yo!)

1. The "Wes Anderson Presents"



Suddenly I really want to see Bill Murray as a Jedi Master and Jason Schwartzman as Jean Solo, Han's estranged son who smuggles flannel and mustache wax across the Outer Rim.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grumbling at the Bookstore: Basketball's Greatest, by Sports Illustrated


(This review originally appeared at Pounding the Rock)

Sports Illustrated wants you to view Basketball's Greatest as a water cooler made of double bond, or a barstool with bookbinding. It's meant to stir up conversation by resorting to an age old tactic: The Ranking. Now, ranking things on an informal basis (read: Just for the mental exercise) is almost always reductive, and usually ends up doing more harm than good, or at least honoring one set of accomplishments at the expense of another. Combine this with the inherent self-importance and inefficiency of a coffee table book, and you have Basketball's Greatest, a follow-up to the SI's other sports ranking monoliths, Football's Greatest and Baseball's Greatest. Of course, just because ranking basketball players, coaches, franchises, clutch players, and even "moments" sounds to me like a recipe for social unrest doesn't mean there's no currency in it. Go online, and you'll find that articles ranking things like "Best TV villains" and "Top 25 Cities to Get Your Hair Cut" are tremendous click generators. But I'm skeptical of the My-Dad-Bill-can-beat-up-your-Dad-Wilt approach really working with this $32.95 marble slab of a book.

In a way, Basketball's Greatest is just a different manifestation of its parent publication. Beautifully designed and a little antiquated, Sports Illustrated the magazine exists with other paper periodicals in a kind of alternate reality, one where all walls are taupe and every reader is waiting in an uncomfortable chair for their name to be called. I cancelled my subscription to SI about ten years ago, and it's been at least that long since I've witnessed a coffee table book in the wild sitting atop its namesake. You'd have to go back to the Seinfeld days - and Kramer's metabook proposal for a coffee table book about coffee tables - to find a period of true relevance for these loud, heavy creatures which don't quite work either as reading or as art.

That this book employs the talents and expertise of actual basketball writers such as Chris Ballard, Lee Jenkins, Jack McCallum, and Ian Thomsen to moderate 300 pages of power rankings and popularity contests makes intellectual frivolity the greatest of Greatest's many inefficiencies. "This book will settle some arguments - and start some new ones" proclaims the teaser on the dust jacket. The presence of these basketball experts is supposed to add weight and authority to the judgements presented - to at least fulfill the first half of the promise. What happens instead is that the casual reader has no appreciation for the expertise behind the rankings, while the savvy basketball reader suspects the ballots were filled out the same way coaches and GMs fill out theirs come postseason awards time, with a mixture of dartboards, coinflips, and interns.

Basketball's Greatest, like all things SI, at least looks pretty. Editor Bill Syken, a longtime SI writer and now independent author, does well to provide each page with timeless photography of epic or iconic moments. You'll see Jordan's free throw line jam at the '87 dunk contest, Bill Russell swatting Elgin Baylor's shot into oblivion, and magnificent point of view shots of Tim Duncan guarding the paint and Wilt Chamberlain's spindly legs reaching all the way to the ground. Each player, coach, team, game, and moment ranked is also indelibly captured in all their frame-worthy glory. The book could truly be worth the purchase for the photography alone, were so many images not cropped and diluted for the sake of intrusive, sidebars containing writer soundbites and context-free snippets from old SI articles.

But what about the results themselves? The experts voted, so we might as well talk about how they voted. And since a book of rankings is defined first and foremost by its content, for the sake of clarity, and as an attempt to get into the spirit of the format, I present Oldmanshirt's list of The 10 Biggest Rankings Bloopers in Basketball's Greatest:

10. Point Guard rankings, Jason Kidd over Bob Cousy
9. Power Forward, Dirk Nowitzki over Kevin McHale
8. Defenders, Dikembe Mutombo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar over Dennis Johnson and Bruce Bowen
7. Coach, Lenny Wilkens over Don Nelson
6. Franchise, Utah Jazz over New York Knicks
5. Single-season team, '13 Heat over '14 Spurs
4. Center, Willis Reed over Bill Walton
3. Clutch Performer, Robert Horry over Isiah Thomas
2. Power Forward, Karl Malone over Tim Duncan
1. Coach, Chuck Daly over Gregg Popovich

Call me populist, but I think those last two deserve a few words. The ballot was split between Duncan as Center and Duncan as Power Forward, which just reinforces the flaws in the system itself, but is at least an explanation for voting Malone #1 when his only objective advantage over Duncan at this stage in Duncan's career is total points. Of Malone, Alexander Wolf says "As he aged, the Mailman got better at everything, from defense to free throw shooting." The better with age argument, and many other arguments, could be made for both power forwards. Duncan has played only one fewer season than Malone, is playing at arguably a higher level than Malone did at age 38, his teams have gotten better during the last third of his career, and the ring tally is now Duncan 5, Malone 0. As any Chris Paul apologist (apaulogist?) will tell you, rings aren't everything; but 5-0 is, shall we say, definitive. If you want to parse it further, Duncan has gone 2-1 in the Finals against his era's dominant wing player, while Malone went 0-2. And, yes, his free throw shooting has improved, too. Also, Malone got zero votes at center.

Putting Popovich behind Daly is much more of a head-scratcher. Of Daly, Chris Ballard writes "If he'd done nothing else, Daly might make this list for being the only coach to solve Michael Jordan." Yes, he solved Jordan right up until Phil Jackson came along and the Bulls ran Daly's team into the ground with defensive pressure and ball movement. As for the "something else", Daly's Pistons did win two titles as the bridge between the Lakers-Celtics era and the Jordan era, much like the '99 Spurs were the bridge between Jordan and the Shaq-Kobe Lakers. (To be honest, If '99 - or even '99+'03 - were Pop's only titles, I could understand putting Daly above him.) Daly also won a gold medal with '92 Dream Team. Is anyone prepared to argue that Pop wouldn't have done the same? The Daly section quotes McCallum from 1989: "The Coach is there to motivate, to prepare, to direct. But not to star." This self-effacing demeanor was also cited by Bob Ryan as one of the reasons Daly was perfect to coach the Dream Team. Is there any reason to believe Pop would've handled the job differently, or gotten results that were any less successful than Daly's? As I've argued before, Chuck Daly, while an innovative and, by all accounts, beloved coach, simply doesn't have the consistency and longevity of the other coaches I'd put in my top 5 all-time. (I also find the praise of certain coaches for letting players take the spotlight to be particularly ironic any time someone decides the top players based on the opinion of non-players.)

So here we are. Rankings are fun, and healthy in small doses, and even help maintain the intrigue that raises sports above the level of a game in our culture, as long as it's realized that the kinds of arguments that rankings foster are ultimately a zero-sum race to the bottom. And since the Spurs fans reading this are likely twisting their Coyote shorts into knots by now, I thought it would be fun to imagine what else SI might rank for a follow-up, which I'll call Basketball's Lamest. Here's some ideas:

- Top 10 worst defenders (Harden's indifference! Bargnani's incompetence! Nash's Canadian accomodative-ness!)
- Top 10 most disappointing players named Joe (Smith? Johnson? Jellybean?)
- Top 10 stupidest fights (On the court or off, Carmelo Anthony would definitely be involved one way or the other.)
- Top 10 ugliest uniforms (Are these #1? Or these? Neither! It's these.)
- Top 10 best guys to dunk on (Basically, Shawn Bradley, Roy Hibbert, and 8 other guys.)
- Top 10 worst owners (An epic battle between Ted Stepien and Donald Sterling!)
- Top 10 worst tattoos (I'm torn between Richard Jefferson's "RJ" and Tom Gugliotta's half-finished bicep barbed wire.)
- Top 10 dumbest quotes (How would Latrell Sprewell's "I've got a family to feed" rank versus something like Shaq's "There's no answer for my offense, just like the polythagorean theorem"?)

Whether or not you spend your hard-earned cash on Basketball's Greatest ultimately depends on your approach to sports. Those who look at basketball from a predominantly social or ritualistic viewpoint - the types who use the term "Big Game" and "Man Cave" a lot - will love having a important-looking but ultimately superficial NBA "tome" on their coffee tables. For the hard-core, or those truly interested in exploring the history of the game, something by David Halberstam's The Breaks of the Game, Free Darko's Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball, Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball, or just about anything else by the wonderful writers in this book, will prove more informative, more entertaining, and far more bathroom-friendly.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Missouri Parents Stunned After Daughter Says She Enjoys Macaroni and Cheese

photo credit: urbanspoon
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - A Gladstone couple was shocked yesterday when their toddler proclaimed that she "likes" macaroni and cheese. The incident occurred during lunch at a Cheddar's off 152 Highway near Liberty. The father, a 32 year old city planner, had the day off from his cushy government job and had decided to treat his family to a meal in the corner booth of the bar section.

"After our food finally arrived," he told us, "well, first they have to take it back because the bartender who was waiting our table mistakenly gave her the grilled cheese, but after that's cleared up she takes a bite of her mac and cheese, nods, and says 'I like this.'" Asked whether the 3 year old had ever made such a remarkable pronouncement, the father - who identified himself as Mr. Oldman - said, "Never. I mean, she's a pretty smart kid, she doesn't eat crayons or stick her tongue in light sockets, so we were beginning to worry because she's never, ever told us she likes mac and cheese."

The mother was equally startled. "It's usually lean meats and vegetables all the time with this kid, so we're relieved to see she's finally taking to something with high fat and cholesterol," said the 30 year old, a health care worker who was enjoying her lunch under a drafty A/C vent. "We were seriously considering taking her to a doctor or something."

Asked whether the girl, who her father called "The Heiress" (possibly a reference to the government job), had any more surprising announcements in store, he replied, "We think she's starting to come around to puppies, bouncy houses, and sticker books, and the other day she managed to shrug when I put on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Honestly, we were really holding out hope that someday she'd ask for ice cream instead of seconds on carrots. After today, it's fingers crossed."

The family was all smiles as they left the restaurant. "Now that we've broken down the mac and cheese barrier," said Mrs. Oldman, "I think anything is possible with this kid."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Jonesing at the Movies: Interstellar



Synopsis: With the Earth dying and mankind out of solutions, humanity will pit their bravest and most brilliant against the universe's greatest threat: time.
Rating: PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and lots of family drama. There’s no sex and hardly any language, but your kids probably wouldn’t enjoy it anyway.
Review: Interstellar, written and directed by Christopher Nolan with help from physicist Kip Thorne, is a beautiful and complicated saga of exploration and survival. Beautiful because it’s easily Nolan’s best attempt at a human story, with equal parts hope and heartbreak throughout. Complicated because of all the plot-muddying theoretical science based on the work of Thorne, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Grumbling at the Movies: Big Hero 6

Disney
Like a good casserole, Big Hero 6 depends on high-quality source material to deliver its metabolic reactions. Kids will only see and taste the fully-baked product, but for the seasoned moviegoer, it can be exhausting to mentally catalog all the Terminator 2 peas and Blade Runner noodles and Matrix green beans and Taken carrots and Incredibles cream of mushroom soups.

Ostensibly - and promotional-ly - BH6 is about a boy (14-year old Hiro) and his robot (Baymax). But the way the two come together (the robot is the creation of Hiro's older brother), what they do (chase down a masked industrialist who stole Hiro's microbot invention), and who they do it with (a team of the brother's tech school colleagues) incorporates various aspects of a buddy movie, revenge flick, and ensemble superhero romp. That these three genres are among the most active and profitable in Hollywood today is undoubtedly no coincidence, and in this combination is revealed both the genius behind BH6's gestation and the source of its biggest missteps.

Underlying the confusion about what it is, is BH6's confusing setting, which is a mashup of Japanese and American cultures nestled in San Francisco Bay ... or is it now San Fransokyo Bay? Though it lacks any timestamp, the movie's events obviously take place at some point in the future: The Golden Gate Bridge has been Nipponized with towers that look like pagoda roofs, elevated trains whisk around on spaghetti strands that run between and even through buildings, tethered wind turbines hover thousands of feet over the city, and the underground Bot Fighting scene is alive and well. But there are also plenty of cues which would set BH6 squarely in the early 21st century. Every bright color is contrasted by something matte black or carbon fiber like a Silicon Valley VC's speedboat, cars are still powered by internal combustion, coffee shops abound, and lithium ion batteries power the latest in personal healthcare robotics.

The grunge is lightly applied, mostly during night scenes, and rather than the whole city being destroyed during the raucous climax, as in recent films like Star Trek into Darkness and Godzilla, San Fransokyo is spared but for a couple of buildings. As it is - uncertainty about when it is notwithstanding - everything appears to have been a logical progression from today's City by the Bay, rather than a rebuild following some nuclear war or implied Japanese invasion or cultural takeover, ala Dick's The Man in the High Castle. Call it the post-postapocalyptic approach.

Nitpicking aside, I'd have to be Carl Fredricksen to not enjoy Big Hero 6. Almost two decades removed from Toy Story, the boundaries of digital animation continue to expand like Baymax's inflatable midsection; this is best represented in BH6 whenever millions of microbots combine into shapes and landscapes, or when opaque light is filtered through Baymax's white "skin." Characters are divided into tech-speakers and everyone else - though even the genius characters have personalities which can be characterized with one or two words, like neurotic, girly, burn-out, etc. - but everyone's moods and attitudes are thankfully unstable, and character reveals big and small are usually only one or two scenes away. The pivot point for this instability is the movie's central relationship, and the lack of tonal consistency does nothing to diminish the underlying chemistry between Hiro and Baymax, or dampen the impact of BH6's various emotional gracenotes. This is a Disney movie, after all, and Disney makes a good casserole. After consuming BH6, I was more than satisfied.

Unlike the best casseroles, though, it never really transcends the sum of its ingredients, and thus never becomes something truly original. To be fair, I don't get the sense that it's trying to be. There are no I, Robot-type threads about Baymax becoming human. In the movie, he's always a robot, and can only do what he's programmed to do, which is to either promote health by identifying and medically-treating illness and injury, or threaten it with karate moves and rocket launchers. BH6 is a lot of fun, provided you can forget it's programmed first and foremost to appeal to lots of people and make lots of money. If you can, and you're over the age of thirty, it might be a treat going on this cinematic scavenger hunt. If you can't, well, at least you'll get a meal out of it.

Friday, October 31, 2014

36,000 Mile Test Drive: One Year Report Card


It's been a year now with Freddy the Mazda 6. Would I lease one again? I actually get daily reminders of that question now that my neighbor has started parking a Kia Optima in his driveway. Let's break the evaluation down to its constituent parts before answering definitively:

Performance (A-)
After years of buying only used cars, I've had to recalibrate my expectations relative to manual transmissions. Prior to leasing the old 3, the newest used vehicle I'd ever purchased with a stick was a 2001 Maxima with 45,000 miles (not Daisy.) More typically, my cars had 130,000 - 160,000 miles when purchased. In other words, the break-in period was well past, with the cars often on their second clutch. With the 3 and now the 6, though, I've had to do the break-ins myself, and it's led to some frustration with the balkiness of their gearboxes, particularly when grinding and crunching my way from first to second. Repeated visit to the dealer, however, just resulted in the same old diagnosis of "Operating Normally."

Otherwise, the performance has been as crisp as autumn air. While the 2.5 liter engine isn't exactly a fondue of horsepower, it revs willingly and has no qualms about bouncing off its rev limiter, which I couldn't really say for the hoary old mill in the 3. The gear ratios are just about perfectly spaced, and if I find myself lugging around in the no man's land below 3000 rpm, it's usually the by product of my own shifting decisions rather than any fault of drivetrain.

The 6's suspension is the real keeper, though. It's nearly everything you get in a BMW 325i at 60% of the cost, and I have yet to encounter a corner which upsets or flusters this chassis. Granted, the stock Yokohama tires are non-committal and, when it comes to road feel, the electric power steering is less revealing than a Bill Belichick press conference; but here's the thing: those attributes are rarely difference-makers over a 20-mile roundtrip commute. The 6 nails the important stuff like ride and handling, pedal placement (easy heel and toe-ing all day), brake feel, and weight balance. In sum, the 6 exhibits an easy competence over the road which would be a credit to a car many times its price.

Comfort (C)
The 6 is a family sedan, so you might be surprised at such a low grade. First of all, C is perfectly average, so let's not get carried away (Mom.) To be sure, the 6 is all-around more comfortable than the 3 - except for the seats, which have odd pinch points, indifferent bolstering, and cloth which likes to grab cotton, polyester, and denim fabrics and wrench them into topographic features which numb my legs and hurt my back. The manual seat adjustment, like cheap insurance, creates gaps in coverage which compromise the ability of my left leg operate the clutch, leaving it either overextended or with inadequate space to maneuver around the pedal.

Overall, limb room in the 6 is a bit precious, both bottom to top and front to back. During car seat loading, I've bonked the Heiress's head on the low-sloping ceiling so often I'm shocked she's still willing to ride back there. Once buckled, the slim rear windows inhibit her spotting of school buses and horsies.

The true comfort test is yet to come, however. That will be in February, when a second (rear-facing) car seat is added into the mix. (#Oldmanonesie) At best, I expect things will be a bit cozy with all aboard; at worst, it'll be like putting ten pounds' worth of cats in a five pound sack.

Durability (A)
Ideally, you'd want this category to be boring. Fortunately, it is. Nothing has "broken" on the 6 so far. That doesn't mean things have necessarily worked perfectly, though.

Reliability (B+)
After nearly 7,000 trouble-free miles, Freddy decided to throw that reliability monkey off his back and came down with an issue. It wasn't a big issue, probably just a "me" thing (since he has 12,000 miles now, you can see the extent of my urgency) but in any case it was something I wanted fixed on a car which is under warranty for another 24,000 ticks. Oh, sorry, I haven't told you what it is yet. Frankly, when I write it out, it feels a little embarrassing: Every time the A/C compressor would turn on, I could hear a little squeak. Yep, that's it. Again, not the biggest deal in the world. There are bigger problems in the world, of course. Mudslides, flash floods, ebola, how to stop Iggy Azalea, all bigger crises than a squeaky A/C compressor. If Freddy wasn't under warranty, I'd probably just shake a can of WD-40 and approach the problem that way. But he is, so I made an appointment.

Turns out, this is actually a pretty big issue. Mazda has issued a bulletin on it and everything.The problem has to do with the clutch inside the compressor, which malfunctions and has to be replaced along with some shims. Whatever. Ready for the funny part, though? When I finally drive away from Northtowne Mazda in my (unwashed) car, I notice the A/C is turned on, but no cold air is blowing! There's a novel approach to fixing something: "Hey, you don't like that squeak this thing makes when it turns on? That's small beans compared to sitting in a sauna!" So I phone the dealership to schedule another drop-off time, this time to replace the entire compressor

Naturally, mother nature picked this particular weekend to dump approximately 40 feet of rain on Kansas City, and Mrs. OMS's Flex picked this same weekend to clog its sunroof storm drains and flood the carpet behind the passenger's seat. So, come Monday morning, both our cars are in the shop, and we get to tootle around (yes, that's the right word) in a loaner. Have you heard of loaners? Unless you drive a premium German brand or something, they're the worst. They're filthy, they always smell, and nobody bothers to replace or repair the myriad of things which go wrong with them, because the dealers know they're destined for a Buy-Here, Pay-Here lot on the corner of First-Degree Murder Street and Twenty-to-Life Avenue. Here's something you won't believe: The stripped-out previous-gen Mazda 3 I got stuck with while Freddy was being "fixed" made a little mouse chirp every time the A/C cycled. That's right, the loaner had the exact same problem I took my car in to get fixed.

The lesson? Just because warranty repairs are "free" doesn't mean they're, you know, free.

Design/Little Stuff (B)
I've spent copious pixel ink praising the exterior styling of this car. It's aged well, and the only things that I'd really change are the fake rear quarter windows and the chrome eyebrow on the trunk, which always makes me think of Fran from Dodgeball.


Even a beautiful oceanfront might wash up a few dead jellyfish, and the 6 has a its fair share of head-scratching details, some of which are immaterial, and some which are straight bad design choices. I've already covered the non-illuminated window switches, but those are just an annoyance. There's another bad design bit, one that hits me in that one certain way nobody likes to hear: AS A PARENT. Roll your eyes all you want, Millennials, but someday you'll enter your fifties and decide to settle down and have kids, so pay attention and hear me out.

Like all cars made since the Clinton years, the 2014 Mazda 6 comes equipped with child safety locks on the rear doors. By this point you'd think these things would be standardized. It's a simple concept which begs for well-thought execution. But no, turns out there's a right way to do it and a very wrong way to do it.

I'll start by showing you the child safety lock on the Flex, which requires the key to engage and - more importantly - disengage:


And here's the one on the 6, which is a simple sliding lever thing right at kid-eye level:


One of these was designed by a person with children, the other was designed by someone who's maybe seen three or four kids at some point, all of which were probably robots.

TOTAL GRADE: A-


Would I make the same decision now that I made a year ago? On the basis of performance, absolutely yes. The 6 offers its buyers a discount BMW which also happens average 32 - 36 mpg, depending on the lead content of your right foot. On the basis of design, the 6 has a few warts. But, overall, I don't regret the decision. It's been a good car, and what aggravation it's given me comes in part from the indifference of the dealership from which I purchased it. Now that the drivetrain appears to have finally broken in, I'm hoping the next 24,000 miles are even better. I just need to quit approaching it from the rear.

Happy Halloween!