Monday, October 26, 2009

High Tech Red Neck

Geek, hillbilly, and redneck are generally considered terms of derision. But I've been trying to teach my children that they are badges of honor. So eight years ago, when two fellow geeks called me up and asked if I wanted to go on TV as a self professed geek, I said sure why not?! We made an audition video and sent it to the The Learning Channel's popular T.V. show Junkyard Wars. Our team was one of 8 picked from hundreds of applications, and the next thing we knew, we were in a junk yard on the outskirts of Los Angeles with cameras pointed at us, and only 10 hours to build something or look like complete fools. Talk about adrenaline!

Pirated copies of the TV show can be found for download by googling "Thomas Massie Junk Yard Wars" But if you don't want to be a pirate or have a hard time using that video format, you can go to a legitimate web site called "how stuff works" and watch our debut by streaming the video. Our task was to build a working Sand Yacht (aka Dirt Boat) in only a day, using only junk. Here's the legitimate link. I don't have true broadband, so I haven't watched the whole video online, but most of it seems to be there. Our show starts 3 minutes into that video.

We called our team "The Geeks," but I had to use more of my "hillbilly" skills than anything to bring the junk to life. No, I don't get any sort of royalty or anything from the show... like the idiots on Jerry Springer, I appeared on TV to make a fool of myself for practically nothing. It was on eof the funnest things I've ever done.


Anonymous Dean said...

I've read all of your updates on this blog, and several of them twice, but I did not see this one coming at all. Very cool stuff. Thanks for taking the time to post all of this.

October 26, 2009 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger eltango said...

nice job dirt sailor! although i'm not sure a hillbilly ever made it to MIT. you probably had to score at least a 35-36 on the act and also have at least 28 teeth.

October 27, 2009 at 4:41 AM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

Ha ha Eltango. I see in "sarcasm and irony" listed under "interests" in your blogger profile. Yes, I am constantly bragging to other geeks that my ACT score was higher than my number of teeth ever will be (including wisdom teeth). Problem is I'm losing brain cells quicker than I'm losing teeth. You would get along well with the blogger BigShow that does Nelson Timberframe Blog (listed on the right column of my blog.) He is hilarious.

Dean, Thank you for the kind comments. I have a few more surprises up my sleeve. Maybe not as "cool" but "off the path" for sure.

October 27, 2009 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger Bigshow said...

Quantum Mechanics = PWNT

October 27, 2009 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Chase Carlton said...

Rock on, man. Always wanted to be on that show. :)

October 27, 2009 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...


It was a dream of mine - come true. The first episode we filmed (sand yachts) was probably one of the top 5 funnest things I've ever done in my life. (Actually I can only think of one thing that was more fun, but I'll allow for 3 others!) The second episode was really fun too - right up until the contest day when our machine worked for a while, and the other team's machine never worked, but we ended up losing because that's how the producers wanted it. It was still a blast.

Cathy Rogers (the hostess and creator of the show) was more amazing in real life than on TV. Tyler was super cool too. Neither of them were "stuck up" and they both had star power. Cathy seemed to have this halo around her where-ever she stood. And even though the real junk yard was obviously "seeded" with some premium junk, it was about as closet to reality as you can get and still hope to produce a show.

They said each episode cost them $500,000 to make. There were 40 people working there, not counting us, plus they had to pay for a lot of travel, so I can believe it.

Sad that they quit making the show.

October 27, 2009 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Hooray, you posted about JYW! Holy smokes, was it really 8 years ago? You guys still have my utter respect for that metal sail...that was incredible! Hope you are well!

October 27, 2009 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Jake said...


That is awesome! I always loved that show. Nice job on the win - what is the name of the next episode?

Who throws away an aluminum I-beam?!? ;)


October 27, 2009 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I wish I had the enery of your partner in crime Brett. I could do anything with that much energy.

Congratulations on the win. I would like to see the next one too.

October 28, 2009 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

@Ed, that would be Rhett - he is insane in a good way. We still keep in touch. He shacked up with Danielle of the quantum mechanics and they have a boy now. I'll never forget when the seamstress/costume designer and her (female) assistant asked Rhett to drop his drawers in the junkyard, so they could fit him for the red jumpsuit. That's when they discovered he always goes commando. I figured it out a few days earlier when all he had packed for the plane trip was a guitar case, and all that was inside was a guitar when we got to LA. I loaned him socks.

@Jake, yeah, that was hard to believe... I just wish they hadn't cut the I-beam in two before they threw it away!!! but even harder to believe was the 8 brass check valves we found for our second show/machine.

@Kim, (of the Quantum Mechanics?) 8yrs ago - crap I didn't realize it was that long ago. But now that you mention it, we were supposed to fly back from LA the day after the contest on 9/11/2001. *pause* I would have blogged JYW long ago, but I only recently found that our episode made it to the internet. Cool, and it looks legit. If you all had our expert, you would have likely kicked our cans with a metal sail. :)

October 28, 2009 at 10:57 PM  
Anonymous A and J said...

Your many talents never cease to amaze us Thomas! That was too funny. Thanks for sharing.

October 30, 2009 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Thomas Massie said...

Ha thanks. It was long enough ago that I can watch it and laugh at myself. They let us keep the superhero uniforms - sometimes I put it on just to make sure it still fits. :)

October 30, 2009 at 9:27 PM  
Anonymous A and J said...

It would make a good Halloween outfit for tonight!!! : )

October 31, 2009 at 7:17 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home