Back in the Saddle Again

Remember me?

Yeah, I’m the guy who used to post articles here almost daily, sometimes multiple articles in one day. I’ve been very, VERY busy the last couple of months and in the last 14 days or so I’ve finally managed to come up for air.

The weeks have zipped by since leaving Xerox (good riddance!) and although it’s been a very stressful and challenging ordeal to change clients and outsourcing comapies at the same time, I have finally gotten comfortable enough in the new environment to actually be able to sleep at night relatively worry free.

Coinciding with the reduction in stress came an appearance by Petra in Longview, a Christian rock band that started in the early seventies. Robin and I took the opportunity to see them with Mike and Shelby the weekend before last, then we all did some antique shopping and dining in Jefferson, Texas, along with a bit of sightseeing at Caddo Lake.

The Classic Petra concert was incredible. The lineup from the late seventies / mid eighties reunited to deliver a heart felt, bone shattering heavy metal Jesus rock experience. Lead singer Greg X. Volz’s vocals and stage presence having done nothing but get better over the last forty years, and I’d dare to say he has achieved perfection, reaching a quality in pitch and tone that rivals the original studio album versions of the songs.

The Rolling Stones may still be rocking after all these years, but I’ve not seen any bunch of geriatric rockers that can hold their own against their glory day selves the way the guys from Petra do. Were it not for the grey hair you’d think they were all in their twenties. The last time I’d seen Petra live was during their “Not of this World” tour around 1983. Last Friday night they were so much better. And I wouldn’t have thought you could get any better than the “Not of this World” event I saw in Reunion Arena some two and a half decades ago.

Pictures? Video? Are you kidding? I was too busy applauding and stomping my feet to do anything with the phone camera. Sorry. I think the bass and wailing lead guitar would have shattered the Gorilla Glass anyway.

Mike and I did some riding, but I was so focused on just enjoying the chance to have a weekend of not worrying over server outage reports and root cause analysis documentation updates that I decided to leave the video gear and DSLR in the touring trunk for the whole trip.

The good news is my brain has finally got a few cycles back from work focus to start posting on the blog again, so stay tuned for more of my drivel with new pictures and video, and of course, more cowbell!

Blind as a Bat

She likes Meat Loaf, but she can’t stand his singing. She can’t see what I see in his songs. I can’t see how anyone could listen to the raw emotion that burns like a torch in his performances and not get totally lost in the magic.

I guess we’re both blind as a bat.

And that’s the sort of thing that proves God has a sense of humor. The albums I would listen to over and over all day every day drive her nuts. Meat Loaf is my favorite by far, but the other stuff I love consists mostly of heavy metal’s beginnings.

You know, back when devil music was wholesome.

Ronnie James Dio (RIP, my man). Ozzy. Deep Purple.

And my southern rock brothers, like Molly Hatchet.

So the motorcycle and a few hundred miles of winding road become the perfect combination of music and self reflection every few weeks. With tunes like “Wasted Youth” and “I’m Still Alive” blasting through the helmet speakers as I roll the power on and climb hills as if launching for distant galaxies. Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” adds thundering hooves to the roar of the engine and I imagine the battles between native Americans (my ancestors) and the invading Europeans (also my ancestors) as I journey through the roads that are hedged on either side with the same woodlands those ancients passed as they hunted, fought, lived, and died.

One can easily get swept away if Pandora presents “Bat Out of Hell” at the wrong time. Like: just as you’re sweeping into a long spiral curve on the razor-edged ridge of an Ozark peak. The lyrics:

…And I never see the sudden curve ’til it’s way too late
then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun
torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike…

just taunt you to push it to the very edge and see how close to dying of idiocy you can come. But it passes, and as you ease back into the straightaway “Heaven Can Wait” gently returns you to sanity.

I like to imagine living out my music. Like a good novel, it helps take me away. It becomes the sea that the motorcycle sails on, and I alone pilot it far from the shores of noisy, bustling cities.

I’m not afraid to show you who I am
And I am not ashamed of my life
Though I’ve walked alone down this cold and soulless road
I’ve always felt your heat in my bones

With every step I rise and fall
With everything to gain I end up losing it all
When the darkness gets in
I scream out and your light sets me free

I’m not afraid of the past no more
I’m not afraid and I’m bad for good
I used to dance to the devil’s beat
If I could bust into hell I would

I’m not afraid to shed all my skin
I’m not afraid of the faults you see
I’m tearing down these walls right now
They’re comin’ down ’cause I believe

Your love is blind, blind as a bat
The way that you’re leading me home like that
Your love is blind, blind as bat

I’m not afraid when they kick me down
I’m not afraid when I start to bleed
I’m not afraid if I live or die
I’m not afraid ’cause I believe

Your love is blind, blind as a bat
The way that you’re leading me home like that
Your love is blind, blind as bat

And I wish that I could give you something in return
For the precious time you wasted on the tears I’ve never earned
For reaching out to help me ‘cross the bridges that I burned

And in the end you’ll finally see
That, baby, I’ve done everything I possibly can
I do it again ’cause know you’re everything that I need

I’m not afraid of the the truth no more
I’m not afraid of the lies I hid
I’m not afraid of the past of my sins
‘Cause I paid for the wrongs I did

I’m not afraid of the things you know
I’m just a book for the world to read
My final words on the final page
Will be amends ’cause I believe

Your love is blind, blind as a bat
The way that you’re leading me home like that
Your love is blind, blind as bat

Your heart is kind, mine’s painted black
The way you forgive me and just take me back
Your love is blind, blind as bat

Your love is blind, blind as a bat
The way that you’re leading me home like that
Your love is blind, blind as bat

Your heart is kind, mine’s painted black
The way you forgive me and just take me back
Your love is blind, blind as bat…

– Music and Lyrics by Desmond Child and James Michael, sung by Meat Loaf

Yamaha VMax Mechanical Star of Ghost Rider Sequel

Some Yamaha V-Max riders are currently cringing, others are cheering at the new two-wheeled star of “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”.

The first Ghost Rider vehicle was some overdone sculpture based on some unknown brand of v-twin chopper. It was laughable to think an old school 50’s technology V-Twin could go more than a hundred miles per hour, with a six foot flaming skeleton wrapped in 75 lbs of logging chain and a fork length of seven feet. It made little sense that it could even keep up with the ghost horse ridden by the retiring Ghost Rider.

But Hollywood has come to its senses and the reality crowd has won. Now you have a very plausible Yamaha V-Max literally burning up the road. Truly, it’s much more believable that a V-Max could fly on the highway at 300 mph fully involved with non-consuming flame and cross thousands of miles without refueling just like the magic 30 shot revolvers of classic 80s cop movies.

Thanks for keeping it real, Hollywood!

Despite our tongue-in-cheek attitude, we are looking forward to this movie, and truly grateful for the departure from the constant barrage of choppers and American made V-Twins. If you want great performance, Cage and Yamaha can certainly deliver it better than Cage and whatever that other silvery plastic thing with the unworkable chain forks was.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, we’ll just enjoy our big triple and imagine that the inside of the engine looks like the outside of Ghost Rider’s bike while we await the premiere.