Thursday, July 31, 2014

Motorcycle Obsession: What's in the box, Polaris?

Kind of carrying on the theme from the previous one, today's motorcycle blog post deals with Polaris, the Minnesota-based company that owns Victory Motorcycles. It also owns Indian Motorcycles, a 113-year-old brand that was resurrected by Polaris three years ago.

Last year, at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, the Polaris-backed Indian released its first new models. These models featured a massive 111 cubic-inch engine, which was the first truly new Indian engine in something like half a century. If you don't care about motorcycles, the long and short of all this was that it was awesome. The motorcycle world fell over itself in rapture.

Now the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is again approaching, and again Indian are set to reveal something. What they will reveal has become my favourite mystery and I talk a lot about it in this post, and even more in the post's comments:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Motorcycle Obsession: Deep sigh: Victory's 2015 model year line up

Today's motorcycle-related post deals with Victory Motorcycles, a Minnesota-based company. As I say in the post, I'm kind of crazy about all things Minnesota (it's almost an illness the way I will rattle off Minnesota authors (a), celebrities (b), ideas (c) and companies (d)), so I feel a kind of allegiance to Victory. 

I also feel incredibly frustrated at the fact that the motorcycles they make are somewhat behind the curve technologically, failing to possess certain features that BMW was putting on its bikes 30 years ago.

Anyhoo, this week, Victory announced its 2015 model year line up. This is my response: 


(a) Robert Pirsig
(b) Prince
(c) The United States Peace Corps
(d) Dairy Queen

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Motorcycle Obsession: The search for true love

I've decided that it behoves me to do a bit of cross pollination in terms of my blogging efforts and at least mention the posts I'm writing over on my motorcycle blog. I realise that not everyone (or, perhaps, anyone) is as deeply obsessed with two-wheel vehicles as I am these days, which is why I started a second blog in the first place, but, uhm, faulty logic as to why it's a good idea goes here. 

I suppose a good place to start is with this post: The search for true love. It deals with the idea that a motorcycle is somewhat an extension of one's self, or, at least, an extension of the self that one would like to project. I am perpetually torn between two selves, which is a truth that I suppose extends well beyond my choice of transportation. 

What country do I want to live in, what books do I want to write, what accent do I want to speak in, what state do I want to call home, etc. I find there is dichotomy in most of the aspects of my life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Statement of intent

During my recent trip to the United States I had a friend lament the fact I don't really blog anymore. And when I say "lament" what I mean, of course, is "make a passing comment about." My friend made a passing comment about the fact I don't really blog anymore.

"I follow your Twitter a bit," he said. "But I don't really know what you're up to these days."

In hindsight, this was probably more a means of getting conversation flowing -- something that is always a little difficult in the first minutes of meeting up with people you haven't seen in 2.5 years -- rather than any sort of suggestion that I spend more time talking about myself on the internet. But I've chosen to interpret his comment as the latter, so here I am.


Promising myself that I am going to blog more. 

I do this sort of thing every quarter year or so, because as I get older life seems to slip by a little more quickly. Without any good documentation of said life I start to feel it is all pretty meaningless, that I have fallen into an inescapable malaise. I get really grumpy and start to flop around like a fainting waif in an Edward Gorey illustration, feeling my entire existence has been a tremendous waste of resources.

To some extent, I can't really argue it hasn't been. But it is very challenging to live under such circumstances. Maybe (probably), the truth is that I am incalculably insignificant in the grand schemes of history and space, but I need to dupe myself into thinking otherwise if I want to live without a depression so crushing it hurts to breathe.

That, after all, was the point of the vlogging (video blogging) thing I used to do. For a year, I recorded every day of my life and put it on the interwebs. It turned out to be a pretty good year to keep track of because within that year my relationship with Jenn blossomed and I eventually proposed -- an action I would list first and foremost if challenged to explain why mine was a life worth living. You'll note, however, the absence of a link to said vlogs. I've since taken them offline.

I did this at the behest of my wife because she was concerned, firstly, that one or two of our friends weren't terribly happy with how they appeared in the vlogs, and secondly, that things she said might somehow be misinterpreted in that ridiculous way that managerial types almost always misinterpret things and wind up having a negative effect on her professional aspirations. And I get that; I'm 98-percent sure that the simple existence of my blog once killed my chance at getting a job (a)

Indeed, one of the reasons that I fell out of blogging was that I didn't like that strange mix of frustration/embarrassment/awkwardness that comes when an email from a friend would show up in my inbox saying: "Hey, I really don't want to infringe on your creative spirit, etcetera, etcetera, but could you please not talk about me ever?"

I am an open-source kind of guy. Not everyone else is.

And not everyone wants to be a character in a story. That's another reason I fell out of blogging, and vlogging. Many moons ago, this blog was far more active, and I couldn't help noticing that people sometimes responded to it as if it were a long-running narrative. Obviously, this had a lot to do with my writing style, and my habit at the time of giving people nicknames. For example "the child bride."

Sometimes -- especially in Wales -- I could sense an oh-so-slight disappointment from people who read the blog upon meeting Rachel, because she wasn't the thing they had created in their head. What I was writing  on my blog accidentally encouraged people to engage in character creation for the people in my life. I mean, remember this? The music in that clip is added, and it's all slowed down, but the video is the same as was used by the BBC. The child bride reaction shot is really just video of her waiting to do a mic check several hours after I met Sian Lloyd.

Sometimes I think that Rachel's discomfort at being perceived as a character was one of the (many) things that induced her to leave. My unwillingness to put anyone else in that situation, to turn loved ones into cast members on The Chris Show, is why I'm always very uncomfortable even mentioning Jenn. She's not a character; she's not a creation of my imagination; she's not a person playing a role. She's my wife. I love her and think she's awesome, but perhaps it's best if I generally keep that to myself. 

The twisting up of trying to determine what is and isn't acceptable for public consumption -- what's a notable event and what's just an anecdote that portrays someone in an inaccurate light -- can take a lot of steam out of a guy's desire to blog or vlog or even journal. Perhaps this is why Charles Dickens had all his diaries burned upon his death.

But, see, I like doing those things. I like being able to look back and show myself that I am not as pathetic as I feel. I am the type of person who struggles to see beyond the immediate. I too easily fall into the line of thinking that all days lead in linear fashion to the point I'm at. If the point I'm at isn't very good, that means that none of the points leading to it were all that good, either. So, I look out the window and see that none of the cars on the street are mine, because I don't own one -- I can't afford one -- and that makes me sad. The various acts of my 38 years have not even accrued to the point that I can buy a car. I become miserable and at times downright suicidal because I can only see what's right in front of me (or, rather, what isn't in front of me); I can't see all the days that end in Y.

Documenting my life gives me something to fight that with. It is a hard fight sometimes, but at least it's something. I can counter a materialistic complaint about the lack of a car with: "OK, that's true. But you do have a motorcycle, which you earned through writing skill alone, and which took you up to Scotland recently (b)."

Or even when it's not some big adventure. Just the reminder that I was alive on such and such day. That the immediate is not the whole.

Finding the balance -- and within that/despite that, maintaining any sort momentum -- is the challenge, though. 

I told my friend I would try to start blogging more often. Maybe I will...


(a) I am consoled by the fact the company went bankrupt only a few weeks later, so I would have had to get a different job anyway.

(b) Documented in four parts on my motorcycle blog: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4.