11 September 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Lemontree hosted a bridal shower for some relative or another, so I hopped on my motorcycle and made myself scarce for the evening.

One of my favorite shows is "At the Movies" with Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz. You may be familiar with movie critics Siskel and Ebert (Gene and Roger, respectively)? Well, these guys are their successors. Anyway, Ben and Ben gave (500) a glowing review -- and I had some free time to kill -- so even though some might consider this movie a "chick flick" I went and saw it anyway. My other choice was G.I. Joe, and while I'm sure I'll get around to watching that one eventually, I was in the mood for something with more substance and less explosions.

In a word, (500) Days of Summer is outstanding. While it falls just short of such all-time favorites as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Logan's Run, or Dune, it's right up there with the Top Ten and I will be very disappointed if it doesn't win several awards. I'm already a little miffed that I've never seen it listed on any of the streetside theater marquees -- the only way I knew it was playing in our area was by searching for it online. It might have something to do with it's "chick flick" stigma, or perhaps the short 1h 35m running time (an almost sure sign of a bad movie), or maybe it just doesn't have enough explosions.

Regardless, it's worth searching for. A word of warning, though. It is rated PG-13 for a about 60 seconds of "adult" content. Said content was actually relevant to the storyline though and not just thrown in to bump the rating up to get more viewers, unlike some movies I could mention *cough*Titanic*cough*. I don't know that I can go so far as to say it was tastefully done, but it has to be one of the least explicit scenes in any PG-13 movie, ever (uh, I still wouldn't let my kids see it).

Anyway, the movie is sometimes billed as a "romantic comedy"; it is nothing of the sort. Sure, there's some romance, and yes, there's some comedy, but (500) has as much in common with Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail as I have in common with Rosanne Barr (in short, nothing). I can't even call it a chick flick because there's plenty here for guys to enjoy (I can only assume the girls will like it as well). It's got a nonlinear timeline and it has some unusual film techniques, but these odd devices all just click and work together. There was only one scene in the whole movie I found fault with, and that was just because it ran 10 seconds too long (I think because they wanted the music to swell). Really, that's just nitpicking and I couldn't find anything else to complain about.

Due to the nonlinear timeline, you might fear that the movie's ending is known well before the end of the show. Worry not, for there are some twists. I cannot say more without spoilers.

In short -- grab your spouse or girlfriend and get to the theater, for there's actually a movie worth paying the exorbitant ticket price for.

07 September 2009

It's gone

We had some good times, though.

Today I sold my old motorcycle. It was with mixed emotions, a little sadness, but mostly satisfaction. We had a good run. It was a humble bike, but it served me well... and it's not like I'll never see it again: I sold it to our next-door neighbor. Apparently he used to ride "back in the day" but some of his buddies wrecked, so he swore off them for 20 years or so. I guess SMAS (Sudden Motorcycle Acquisition Syndrome) is infectious though, because he seemed to change his mind and want one after seeing me get a new (well, not factory-new, but new to me) bike.

I was going to repaint it black, since I had a bunch of black paint laying around, but he wanted metallic blue so he bought the paint and I painted it to order.

Ironically, when I bought the bike, it was a flat primer black and I wanted to paint it metallic blue. I even painted the side covers blue but never got around to painting the tank. So, it somehow seems appropriate that right after I finally painted it the right color 9 years later, I immediately sold it. Actually, part of my reason for never painting it was to leave it a little... well, not ugly, but uh, homely. The theory was to make it less attractive to thieves, but really, I think it was mainly because I kind of liked the "ratbike" look, as if it was something out of a post-apocalyptic movie (my favorite kind of movie).

Anyway, the tank was a little dinged up and the empty mounting points for the "Yamaha" logo looked pretty stupid (the "Yamaha" badges having fallen off long ago). So, I got a chance to do a Bondo job for the first time. (For those of you not acquainted, Bondo is a two-part putty-like dent filler that you heap over the dent, then sand smooth to match the metal surface.) The tank still isn't perfectly smooth but from 5 feet it looks pretty good for my first try.

Lemontree also found a "dent puller" tool at a thrift store which came in handy. It only works for large, shallow dents, but the tank had one like that and it worked great. You use a hot glue gun to glue what's basically a big screw the middle of the dent, then you use a handle on the screw to pull the dent out. I was skeptical the hot glue would hold, but it did great, and was easy to remove by peeling instead of pulling. Thanks, Lemontree!

I had purchased the bike at around 19,000 miles, and it was at 23,997 when I got the new bike. So today, I went around the neighborhood a few times until it rolled over 24,000.0 exactly.

Here's the crazy part... I sold it today for $100 more than what I paid for it in 2000. Whoever says that motorcyles depreciate is wrong! Actually I think I just got a really good deal when I first bought it. And I have upgraded a lot of things on the bike so my asking price was more than a fair (and still less than the Blue Book). The neighbor still got a deal, I think.

I'll miss the old bike, but only a little. At least I know it has a good home.

02 September 2009

Adding some niceties to the new bike

I guess I was spoiled by my old '81 Yamaha because it has a useful helmet lock and a luggage rack I could bungee stuff to. The Ninja has a tiny space under the seat, but you can't put stuff there because it will jam up the seat lock assembly and you'll bend your key trying to unlock it. Go ahead, ask me how I know. :( Also, the helmet locks are useless for my helmet because they are right next to the hot exhaust pipes... my helmet would melt even if my strap were long enough to reach, which it's not. Not to mention, someone could cut the helmet strap anyway.

So, to address these problems, I had my personal seamstress (ok, well, Lemontree) break out her sewing machine. First, to help me carry things like pizzas (yes, every once in a while I will get a pizza on my way home from work), she made a seat strap out of this vinyl fake-leather stuff. It attaches to itself with velcro, making a loop under the seat:

Next, I got a cheap bicycle cable that I can loop through the face shield opening of my helmet and attach to the helmet lock. While the primary reason was to address the useless location of the helmet lock, it also makes it more difficult to steal the helmet (as a knife isn't going to cut a 1/4" steel cable, unless you have some kind of super-knife I've never seen before).

You can see the lock that Kawasaki put on the bike at the very bottom of the picture, which is about 2" above the hot melty exhaust pipe.

Now I just needed a place to carry the cable and a couple of bungee cords. As you know, I'm online a lot and I found a discussion forum where someone had, very cleverly, used a $12 car trash container as a motorcycle tailbag. It's the kind that hangs on the back of a front car seat with a strap -- this chap had used the strap to go under his motorcycle seat, and then tucked the back end into the grab bar (that's the sticky-uppy part behind the seat). $12 is about 1/5th the cost of the least expensive motorcycle-specific tailbag I've found, and you know I'm cheap, so off to K-Mart we went. However, once there, I discovered something even better. See, the $12 tailbag sits on the seat, which would interfere with my pizza-carrying desires. Fortunately, I found a $5 glove box organizer (hey, $7 saved!) that could instead mount behind the seat, leaving the entire seat available for pizza duty.

Lemontree fired up the sewing machine again and added two small straps, which I poked holes in and secured to the bike using the fairing screws:

Here's what it looks like loaded up:

And finally, all closed up:

I still need to do something about the useless mirrors, though. Mirror extenders are available but cost waaay to much, so I'll have to see what kind of cheap solution I can find.