Thursday, February 02, 2006

New TV Series Idea!!!

It's called The Jhonny Homicide Investigations.

The main character's name is Jhonny Homicide -- Jhonny, because he's Hispanic, and Homicide, because he investigates murders!


Operation: Motorcyle, part 5.5: Elite Task Force

My mother has told my father to "strongly discourage" me from getting a motorcycle. My dad, however, doesn't seem interested in doing that. "Mom says I should strongly discourage you from getting a motorcycle," he said, "because she's afraid you'll get hurt." Then he said, "So, do you want to go with me to the Suzuki dealer out in Riverhead?" Funny stuff.

So we went out to Riverhead and found a bunch of motorcycle dealers and checked out every brand of motorcycle one could want. Still, nobody has a freakin' SV650 built for me to look at. One guy I asked about it got this surprised look on his face and said to me, "Are you looking for a track bike?" I wasn't exactly sure what he meant by that, so I just said I'm looking for a standard or a naked bike. Another dealer kept mixing up the SV650 with the SV650S -- the second time that's happened to me. And all the dealers have pooh-poohed the SV650 and pushed me towards something more expensive (like some Kawasakis, which are very nice, but outside my price range).

It's weird, because on the Internet, tons of people post about how much they love their SV650s and Suzukis in general. And a number of magazines have given the SV650 great reviews. But walk into a showroom and the sales guys are all like, "What do you wanna buy that bike for?" I guess they're used to selling to kids who want crotch rockets. Whatever. After looking at a ton of motorcycles, I'm set on the SV650 at this point; I'd just really like to see one and sit on it before buying.

Also, many of the dealers are telling me about how other dealers hit you with all these crazy fees. The dealer out in Riverhead showed me a receipt from a dealer in Port Jeff and there were $3000(!) worth of extra fees added onto the cost of the bike. WTF? According to the receipt, the fees covered everything from opening the crate to assembling the bike and all sorts of odds and ends. I don't know if that's typical, but it would put even the cheapest bike out of my price range. I was also told to expect to pay "a few hundred dollars" every 3000 miles for regular maintenance: oil change, adjust the chain, adjust the rear wheel and the brakes, tighten stuff, etc. I was advised that some of the work I could do myself (like changing the oil), but the rest should be handled by an experienced mechanic. On the one hand, I feel like that's a lot of bull so dealers can make more money. On the other, I don't want to be riding around on a poorly maintained motorcycle and get myself killed.

On the plus side, one of the dealers offered to give me a free lesson before I bought a bike, and he and a second dealer both offered to supply a chase-car and driver when I take my road test. A third dealer has its own insurance office and DMV branch(!) right in the building with them, and they do all the associated paperwork for you for free.

Thus, the overall shopping experience has been bizarre. You start talking to the sales guys and it's like you can see the little devil on one shoulder and the little angel on the other. The devil is the stereotypical car salesman who desperately wants to make a winter commission on a bike. The angel is the genuine motorcycle enthusiast who is eager to bring another rider into the fold. It would be very helpful at this point to have an experienced rider go shopping with me, to help separate the good from the evil.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Operation: Motorcyle, part 5

Newsday has lately been full of stories about motorcyclists getting killed. Discouraging! And I've also been getting some negative vibes out of Stanford, which could impact my moving to California, which is where I really wanted to be with my motorcycle. Why does life hate me?

But screw all that. I'm planning to get to the DMV this Thursday or Friday to get my learner's permit, and then I'll have to decide if I want to take some lessons first and then buy, or buy first so I've got a bike here to practice with between lessons. (The latter is probably the better choice, but I'd really like to be able to test drive a new bike around the parking lot before buying it. Alas, that probably won't be possible.)

So, once I've got a bike, and can ride it, I'll be in the position of wondering how badly I want to force myself to move to Cali in the event I'm not accepted to a school there. It's weird how our wants push different aspects of our life into focus. I want to live in a fun in the sun place and either be at school or be able to chill and work on my writing. And I want a motorcycle and a Jeep and that big-ass 30-inch monitor for my Mac. Ideally, Scott will strike it rich and I'll move into his happening new pad and live rent free and have sex with the maid. (Of course, I'll film the sex and then post it on the Internet, which is how I'll make my own fortune, which I'll use to buy tons of political influence, eventually catapulting myself into the Presidency, and then and then I'll tell the rest of the world it needs to get its shit together, and then I'll drop a few nukes to show I'm not fucking around.

And it'll all because I went and bought that motorcycle.)

Sunnyside up

On a lighter note, check out Hatebeak, the death-metal band with a parrot(!) for a singer.

Sadness in America

Here's a blog someone linked me to: post secret.

It's strangely touching, yet strangely horrible. Like, do people in other countries -- countries, like, I dunno, Iraq? -- need as much therapy as we (Americans) do?

We're the wealthiest, most powerful, and (arguably) the most comfortable country in the world. Why is everybody so unhappy all the time?

This is something I've wondered about for many months now as I've struggled with my own unhappiness. When I look at where I live, the lifestyle I'm able to lead, and compare it to the rest of the world, I wonder what right I (or any of us) have to be anything but glowingly happy every second of every day. To have been born in America is to be blessed, because even America's worst is still better than the best of what 95% of the rest of the world has to offer.

Where do we get off being so lazy, and petty, and dissatisfied? How can we each not feel a little guilty on the days we get up and don't do a damn thing to help bring the rest of the world up to our level? I'm not talking about upending your life and joining the Peace Corp. Just do a little something -- donate 50 cents a day to UNICEF or something. Or something closer to home, like Meals on Wheels.

Chalk this up to solipsistic projection or whatever. But I think it's incredibly arrogant of us to think that we don't have some responsibility to our neighbors. Being born into the USA is not a virtue. We didn't do anything to earn it or deserve it and it has no inherent moral value and it doesn't give us the right to act like everybody else is either (a) inferior, or (b), just plain unlucky and so that's the breaks. We got lucky. We should be thankful. And, in recognition of our good luck, of the blessing that comes from being born here, we should take advantage of our advantages and do something a little more productive than wallow in our own narrow world view.

Readings: The Phantom Tollbooth

One of my tutees recommended The Phantom Tollbooth to me the other day, so I picked it up and gave it a read. It's a tough book to get through in the sense that it's written for kids but without that little something extra that makes it work for adults. However, it is very cute and very clever. And it should be required reading for everybody today, young or old. Why? Because as I was reading it, I was struck by how the non-sense world of the Phantom Tollbooth is so very much like our world today -- specifically the world of illogic that the neo-cons have constructed around us. The book was written in '61, yet there are some amazing caricatures of everyone from Bill O'Reilly to the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. It wouldn't take much of a satirist to recast the entire book as a parable for the last six years. Hell, I might even do it myself. In any case, get yourself a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth and let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

From Hogwarts to Harvard

So, what I'm doing, see, is I'm pretending in my application to Harvard that as an elementary school student, I didn't attend schools out on Long Island, but instead I was whisked away every year to attend Hogwarts. This is probably not an original idea (though I don't know of anyone else who's done it), but it's an idea that only I can execute with such daring and panache. But I need (or, more precisely, would benefit from) your help.

So far, I've included a short sentence about Hogwarts in my statement of purpose -- just enough to arouse a chuckle, to show that I am a person of both intellect and wit -- and I've included Hogwarts on my list of attended schools, and I am whipping up a quick faux Hogwarts transcript to include amongst my other transcripts. What I could use from you, dear blog reader, is a letter of recommendation in the persona of a Hogwarts professor. You could pretend to be one of the professors from the books, or you could pretend to be one of the countless professors we undoubtedly haven't read about. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, you could pretend to be one of the ghosts, or Mrs. Norris the cat, or whomever. I have access to a fancy printer and a bunch of quill-like fonts, and am in the process of getting some Hogwarts letterhead. All in all, the finished product will look disturbingly authentic. Go ahead and paste your letters into the comments section, or email me directly, and I'll take care of the rest.

This will either be a feather in my cap for getting into Harvard, or it will be a black eye. Either way, it will be fun. If I get in, it will make quite the story.