Monday, February 27, 2006

Operation: Motorcyle, part 8

What began as a crazy dream on January 14, came to an end today when I went to the Suzuki dealer and bought my first motorcycle! I got a deal on an '05 SV650 naked, in blue. It's totally sweet and I am totally psyched. I'm also totally terrified.

The reason I am terrified is, before buying the bike, I went to the DMV to get my permit, and that's where I learned that everybody else on the road is clueless.

The written test takes place in a separate room, and every time the door opened I could see the room was full of sweaty test takers. My impression was that the permit tests must have gotten much harder. The truth, however, is more frightening.

First, someone, somewhere, stole the Spanish copy of the permit test, which meant the test was "compromised," which meant there were all these Spanish speakers struggling through the test in English. They would show up with a family member who could translate all the forms and stuff for them, but they couldn't have a translator for the test itself. So they'd sit down, fill in the blanks, and ten minutes later get up and find out that they had passed. Amazing!

Second, there was this teenage girl who went into the test room before I'd even arrived at the DMV, but who only finished about a minute before me. She "just passed" (which I think is 8 questions wrong on a 20 question test, and most of the questions are crazy easy). The DMV guy said to her, "a pass is a pass, so you get your learners' permit." To which she said, "Yes! Everybody, lookout!" Lookout, indeed.

So, I will now be sharing the road with a bunch of people who, at best, only got their learners' permits because they could correctly identify commonplace road signs (which make up about a quarter of the test).

Granted, the first piece of advice in every motorcycling book I've read is that motorcyclists should assume every other driver on the road is unfit to be behind the wheel. As sage as that is, it'd be nice if it wasn't a literal truth.

I'm proud to say I got one question wrong on the test. It was a question about countersteering, and even though I knew exactly what the question was talking about, the answers were written so crazily that I couldn't decode which one was right. I wish that I'd written them down just so I could share the insanity. When I asked the lady at the desk about it, she read them and said she had no idea what the answers were talking about. So I'm awarding myself an honorary perfect score, because there's nothing I can do if the same crazy ESL motherfucker who stole the Spanish test also rewrote the answers to the English test.

Anyway, the written test is retarded easy, and the DMV really should make it more difficult. As it is, if you're not afraid for your life on the road, you should be (or you're part of the problem!).

The DMV was the most exciting part of today's motorcycle adventure. Finally buying the bike was somewhat anti-climactic. Mostly it was just signing papers and trying on helmets. The bike itself won't be delivered until Thursday. So now I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa to finally get his big booty back up the chimney so I can open my presents. Also, the weather is supposed to be nice on Thursday, so if I can get my dad to go down to the beach parking lot with me, I'll spend the evening trying not to kill myself. I can't wait!

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Am I too old to learn to rollerblade? Is there an age when one stops being able to learn to do stuff? This is something I've been thinking about a lot with my impending motorcycle purchase. What if I can't learn to ride it? What if I'm too old to learn to coordinate the shifting of the gears? What if I don't have the ability to keep my balance while making turns? Probably this won't be the case and I'll be riding smoothly soon enough. Still, as I look for more and more things to learn after what feels like years of stagnation, I have to wonder if there's a limit.

There's a definite limit in the sense of how to fit all these things into my schedule. On top of learning to ride, I still have about a million other projects I'm trying to finish, plus I have to, like, go to work and stuff. And the gym. And the post office. And I'd like to get back into martial arts. So how can I possible fit rollerblading in amongst all that? I dunno. But I want to.

I've actually been wanting to learn to roller blade for a long time, but I was worried about aggravating an old leg injury. However, after trying to ice skate a few months ago, I think my leg will be fine. So I will probably buy some rollerblades, and as soon as the weather is nicer I will practice going to and fro the beach. Also, there is a very cute girl who rollerblades past my house on sunny days -- she rollerblades like a rocket! I will ask her to give me lessons.

Other things I would like to learn: I would like to learn to fish, and I would like to learn how to sail. I would also like to learn how to shoot a gun and how to ride a horse (though I am allergic to horses) and how to survive alone in the woods indefinitely if necessary (I guess part of me is getting ready for the end of the world). And I would like to learn to play the piano.

Goth, what have ye become?

Fifteenish years ago, when I was a wee lad, it was just becoming cool to be goth (or maybe it had been cool for ages and I was at last aware of it, but whatever). I had friends who were goth, and I even owned a few goth-ish clothing accessories, like black tights (which are surprisingly warm and comfy). It was fun, even though I was never really into The Cure or emo or punk rock or whatever it is gothers (gothites? gothophiles? people who are goth?) listen to. I was also much darker than all the goth people, who, in my shadow, were mere emotional posers. I was goth on the inside.

But anyway, goth has been good for some things. It helped push BDSM into the mainstream, and it brought us pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar dressed like a leather-clad vixen. In high school, goth let you know which side of the cafeteria you'd be welcomed on. Yes, goth has had a good run; goth has given us many things to be thankful for.

Now it is time for goth to die.

For serious.

Get the fuck rid of it already.

The Internet has killed goth. Or maybe goth killed itself, as subcultures tend to do once they become unconsciously self-parodying, which is what goth now is. Click over to and you'll see what I mean.

First, that's a cute goth girl on the main page. You have to compensate for the fact that some photoshop lackey blew-out the contrast, making her features a bit flat, and he then tweaked the color curves a few degrees the wrong way, giving her a yellow-green pallor. But she has the look of someone who, you know, might actually get some exercise. And she's blemish free, which means, if she is vegan (as so many gothfolk seem to be), she at least knows how to get enough protein in her diet. Pretty amazing. Unfortunately, 90-percent of goth girls are nowhere near that cute. They tend to be anti-cute, which isn't the same as ugly, but more like at deliberate odds with being attractive. Which I guess is the whole point of being goth. Or something. My point though, is, when a subculture of people who seemingly cultivate unattractiveness are marketed to with cute models, there's a good chance things have gone astray.

Second, the quote at the top of the page ("Who cares what you think?") is the embodiment of the age-old King Missile lyric, "I want to be different, like everybody else I want to be like." This isn't a new phenomenon -- being different just like all your friends is something that's defined every teen generation since the '60s. But there are now goth kids in cellphone commercials, and on teh Interwebs, "goth" is now code among the non-goth for "I'm so fucking ironically cool because I'm ironically aware of being emotionally impenetrable."

Goth has become a joke, and every time I see a goth teen on the street, in the mall, peering out the window of a passing school bus, I can only feel sorry for him. Not because he is so miserable that he feels compelled to dress up like a black and white Joker, but because he's letting his misery turn him into an absolute dork, and that's just too sad for words.