Monday, January 09, 2012

Something Different

Ok.  Time to shake off the lethargy and get to work.  It's not a stupor in the usual sense.  It's more like a boat circling in the water until the Captain gets the compass calibrated.  Once the proper coordinates are determined it will be full steam ahead.  Or balls to the wall, if you will.

By the way, I'm not inserting that saying just for shock value.  The expression actually came from aviation, and by extension, boating.  The throttle levers have rounded balls on top.  Unlike a motorcycle throttle, to go faster in a boat or airplane the throttle levers are moved forward.  Pushing the levers all the way forward puts the little balls up against the instrument panel or dash of the vehicle.  Thus, "balls to the wall" means full throttle.  Not a painful physical accident.  Like my first time playing raquetball.

For the first time in as long as I can remember I am entering a new year without a fixed target.  It will be another month before I have all the information required to chart my course.  Either way, the course will be different than now.  Maybe more on that later.  Through it all I remain humbly appreciative to have choices realizing that others don't.

In the meantime, I've decided to quit riding in circles and go back to doing something constructive.  That includes re-energizing this blog.  I find I can't let it go.  There have been too many great connections formed through this medium.  I'd hate to miss out on continuing these and forming new ones.

I did, however, park the bike this last weekend.  On Saturday Katie and I joined our darling daughter, our great son-in-law, and our cherubic grandson in going to a street rod show.  There was a lot of money sitting in that building, let me tell you.

Cars are interesting and fascinating but you know where I ended up.  Found something with two wheels and learned something new about Vespa scooters.

I don't know what year this scooter is. I forgot to ask.  According to this website it is a 1959 model.  The guy at the exhibit claims this was the original scooter used in the movie "American Graffiti".  The scooter has been restored and travels with an American Graffiti tribute team.

Inside the wheel skirt are autographs from Bo Hopkins, Candy Clark, and a couple others from the movie.

In the movie this scooter was owned by a guy named Terry "Toad" Fields.  This was his only transportation.  Unfortunately for the Vespa reputation, Toad was portrayed as a sort of nerd and the scooter was the best he could do.  The movie itself is about coming of age.  One of the "cool" guys gives Toad his car to take care of while he is in college.  A step up, you see, according to the movie.

Anyway, there is a funny bit to this in the movie.  The actor who played Toad is named Charles Martin Smith.  Charles thought the scooter was the standard CV transmission.  What he didn't know was that the Vespa had a four speed manual transmission.  So the left handlebar lever was actually the clutch.

In the movie Toad comes screeching up on the scooter.  As he goes to dismount, he just lets go of the clutch lever.  Which, of course, launches the scooter in a not so graceful move.  George Lucas decides to leave it in the movie.

You can see the scene here

Something new to me, too.  Guess it goes to show we should all be sure to check out the controls when we get on a bike we haven't ridden before!


Hope you enjoyed this bit of trivia.  It seemed a fun way to break the ice for 2012.  Here's to a happy and productive upcoming year for all of us!

Miles and smiles,



Anonymous said...

So what do I hear; somebody with a proper camera in hands and no specific goals. Maybe our friend Steve Williams is on to something?
Maybe you've decided no more manufacture's representative. What ever, we'll all still follow your
moorcycle adventures

Darren said...

I know CVTs are standard on modern scooters today (with the exception of Piaggio's still-produced P-series and its descendent the LML Star 4T AKA Genuine Stella in the USA), but were they back in the early 70s when American Graffiti was filmed? I know Vespa and Lambretta both had a pretty sizeable share of the US scooter market back then, and they were all manual transmission bikes.

It's easy to see how someone unused to riding could dump the clutch like that, though.

Trobairitz said...

Glad to have you back and blogging Dan - we missed you.

Unknown said...


You're too young to retire.

Welcome back . . . don't be a stranger

Riding the Wet Coast

Steve Williams said...

Re-energizing blogs is a contagious business. I've been on a similar path for a couple months and hope to make some changes in another month or so. Your brain hurts after a time...

Glad to see you still in the blogging world. When I see a month go by without a post I start to think, "oh well..."

I still check Rush Hour Rambling from time to time to see if Gary comes back.

I hope things are ok. Your cryptic allusions to change can fire my imagination. You mention Katie so you haven't done anything stupid to get your butt thrown out so that's good.

I've watched that scooter segment in American Grafitti. It's repeated a lot in YouTube videos or all kinds of new riders on all kinds of two wheeled machines. And always funny.

Happy New Year!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

SonjaM said...

Hello, there you are. I am glad you're back but I understand that one need a break from the blogging world. Happy New Year!

Roger said...

Glad you are back Dan, you hae been to quiet for two long and I always enjos your thought provoking blog, you would be doing the motor cycle world a dis service if you stopped.

Dean W said...

@bobskoot... "Retire". Ha.

Ha ha.

BWA-hahahahaha. If you only knew...

Dan- we should have coffee again... I need to get busy and knock out that presentation that's coming up.

RichardM said...

A different course. Now you have us all wondering what that means. Move on to a job sitting at a desk all day, I don't think so...

I had forgotten about the Vespa in that movie. I didn't realize that they had a transmission with a clutch. Why would they go to a CVT? It seems as if they are less efficient and no engine braking. Seems like a step backwards to me.

Allen Madding said...


Glad you're still maintaining the blog. I was beginning to wonder!

Sounds like their is some exciting new destinations on the horizon. I hope the journey is an enjoyable one.


Bluekat said...

Happy New Year to you and yours!
Nice to have you back.
Will be expecting a post on that racquet ball incident. :)

irondad said...


It's possible I may move on from the manufacturer's rep thing. I'll update everyone later if anything comes of it.


Your comment could start a whole lot of discussion. Is it because of changes in technology? Or in consumer demand as people got lazier? Lots to think about.

Take care,


irondad said...


Thank you for noticing. Even though I wasn't posting you've probably seen that I was lurking on other blogs. Can't stay away!


See Dean's comment below. I just can't say much right now.

Take care,


irondad said...

Steve Williams,

A month goes by without a post from me and all you can say is "oh, well"?


No,not in trouble. Like you mentioned in your case things may be changing. Hopefully for the better. My head hurts because there's a few pieces that need to fall into place before I can make a decision and they are doing so agonizingly slowly.

Take care,


irondad said...


Thank you for the kind words. I have been reading your blog in the meantime. I love your enthusiasm and it helps recharge me.


You could teach Steve Williams a thing or two about showing proper honor to me. Thank you!

Take care,


irondad said...


See my reply to Darren above. Good questions about the transmissions.

You are perceptive. It is hard for me to picture myself in a desk job. Of course, it depends on the cause. Sorry to be mysterious for now but I can't really say much until things are nailed down.

Take care,


irondad said...


Thank you for the well wishes. I hope to align vocation and avocation into something that makes a difference in the world. I'll know in another month or so.

Take care,


irondad said...


No details will follow. Propriety must be maintained, you know. I will say that when I started playing the game I never realized how easy it was to get hit with the racquet and / or the little blue ball. And that was despite being alone in the court!

Take care,


Krysta in MKE said...

Trust you to find the 2-wheeler in the sea of souped-up cars.
Scooters are fun. I miss mine.

"Guess it goes to show we should all be sure to check out the controls when we get on a bike we haven't ridden before!"

That reminded me of something I (inadvertantly) did to Karl's brother one day. We'd gone to his house for some family gathering, & I'd been driving the sidecar on the way there.

When I parked, I turned off the fuel petcocks, as I always did.
Karl came in a while later & asked if I'd turned them off when I parked, to which I puzzledly replied yes, and he informed me that Chris was 'stranded' a couple blocks away, having taken one of his girls for a ride.

By this time I'd figured out what had happened & was trying very hard not to laugh (& not entirely succeeding) as Karl explained the emotional state (quite mad) of poor Chris, who had been questioning the parentage of the nice BMW w/ sidecar.

When he called Karl & explained the situation, Karl of course immediately told Chris how to check the petcocks & turn them on, & everything was soon both hunky & dory.

I'm still chuckling thinking about it.

david said...

That video is so funny!
My childhood TV heroes were CHiPS, i only learned later though that Erik Estrada had never ridden a bike before landing that role (?)
Trivia is fun ;-)