Out On a Lim                            
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Out On a Lim (6.6.05 - 10.21.05) >>
I met a girl in a dream that rhymed with reality.

If there's a spectrum of ambition, with one side representing megalomanic drive and the other being guilty of sloth, I'd probably locate my desire for fame and fortune somewhere smack in the middle.  I mean, I've got the self motivation to get off my ass, whether at my job or when I'm working on a whacky project--I can apply the necessary focus and discipline to accomplish the task at hand.  But I lack the incentive to impress anyone beyond my immediate superiors, clients, and, more importantly, myself.  Part of me is lazy and thinks that that's way too much work, but mostly I simply don't see the need.  I'm content with the way things are.

She was tossing and turning in bed with tears.

I blame and am thankful for my middle class upbringing as it sheltered me from hunger, yet allowed me the freedom to take things for granted.  I'd bet that had I lived in a slightly poorer or richer environment, my position on the ambition scale would've been affected accordingly--either I'd crave more monetary recognition or be more of a spoild brat.  Just a knudge and I'd be a totally different person.  Cause it's a curse and virtue afforded or lost in the middle of it all whereby pros and cons of opposing outcomes cancel each other out.  I can see myself simultaneously being overly and underwhelmingly ambitious.

I put my arm around her to offer some comfort.

(10.24.05)

I've always liked the name Waverly, even though that character in
The Joy Luck Club was a bitch.  There's something about the novelty of that name that transcends the page and begs to be imagined as something more.  If I ever met a Waverly in real life, I'd consider pursuing her on the basis of her name, regardless of anything else about her personality or appearance.  It's such a cool name.

Velouria is another name that preceeds itself and has yet to cross my path.  Although, I'm guessing that anyone named after the Pixies song would've probably been born after 1990--she can't be over 15 years old right now.  You never know, there's gotta be some parents with a sense of humour.

I think Padme is a stupid name.  It just sounds silly, despite the lovely
Star Wars character that it belongs to.  Nevertheless, it's the cutest name from that galaxy, which isn't saying much.  Unless a girl's real name is Natalie Portman, I could never take another Padme seriously.

You can never go wrong with Alice.

After reading the Peter Rabbit books as a kid, I thought Beatrix was a neat name.

I believe Trinity is in vogue.  I wouldn't name my daughter that.  Maybe Hermione.

But there's a name that's fairly common, it's in most baby name lists, which I've yet to come across.  I can't think of any well known examples in real life or prominent literary characters that go by the name--I'm sure there are some in history.  A Google search'll bring up the towns and cities that share the name.  I think it'd be funny to meet a Henrietta.

(10.25.05)

I like to look out the side of my car window as I drive thru downtown LA, up at the skyscrapers, especially late at night, when there's no one else on the freeways.  Cities tend to make me feel greater than I really am--something about the arrogance of man-made structures gives me a good chuckle.  Unlike vast wildernesses which leave me with the awe inspiring feeling of absolute insignificance.

I never feel lonely, even when I'm alone.  I think the years of spending time in my own company has, by necessity, forced me to rely on my imagination to convince me that being alone isn't something to get depressed about.  Maybe I'm delusional and perhaps I'm suppressing my need to be with others, but I'ven't lost any sleep in my single bed.

The movie
Shopgirl uses the loneliness of LA as a mirror for the state of its characters, with slow establishing shots of its pathetic skyline--a handful of tall buildings surrounded by a sprawling circuit board of car lights caught in clogged traffic.  And the characters go about their lonely little lives.  They're moving but just going in circles around the other lonely souls, fumbling whenever intimacy encroaches.  Also, for some reason, it seems to rain a lot in LA.

Not that I've never felt lonely.  I stayed awake many nights as a teenager dreaming of sharing my life with someone.  But thesedays such sentiments seem like childish fantasies that belong in sappy movies.  It's unrealistic to believe in romantic lotteries, let alone Hollywood fairy tales. 

Shopgirl almost got me suckered.  The LA setting hit home and the loneliness that I thought I had under control filled my heart again.  As it should--a good movie ought to evoke emotions.  I saw shards of myself in each of the characters as they paced their homes alone, tried to connect with others, and failed miserably.  However, just at the moment when the movie was about to hook me, the central protagonist, played by Claire Danes, left LA for the holidays to visit her parents in Vermont.  And I snapped out of the reality of the movie.  Cause I've met Claire Danes' parents in real life--they're unlike the actor and actress who portrayed them in the movie, not to mention they live in Santa Monica.  After that scene, I couldn't buy into feeling lonely anymore.

I drove home alone, laughing at downtown LA.

(10.26.05)

I was taught to avoid ending sentences with prepositions cause otherwise that's a way to confuse readers by.  Not that you can't--as Prospero once said "We are such stuff as dreams are made on".  Nevertheless, to this day, I think it's a good rule of thumb to arrange your objects and particles with.  I mean, I'd rather have readers think about my content than grammatically ponder over.

A high school English teacher once told me to spell the numbers 1 thru 10 and not to spell the numbers eleven onwards.  Cause it's easier to read the number 1,234 than one thousand two hundred thirty four.  This is 1 of those tips that stuck with me even after twelfth grade.           

I'ven't followed the advice of my editor regarding complex contractions.  According to her, even though there'sn't any rule against multiple apostrophes, they look awkward and distract the reader.  It's gotten to the point where I'll've complex contractions just to piss her off.  Sometimes I'll play a little game to see how many I can string--but honestly, I doubt I'd be such a smartass if she'dn't've made a fuss.

(10.27.05)

I'm horrible at hustling.  The whole connivance of asking, tricking, or bullying people to act against their free will, regardless of favours, manipulation, or blackmail, just makes me sick.  And that's why I'ven't been soliciting votes.

Frontier Airlines is conducting a short film festival--this is their idea of inflight entertainment.  Anyways, passengers are asked to pick their favourite.

Now it just so happens that one of the short films currently showing is
Donnie's Tree, which I scored.  Because I think it's hilarious that someone's able to hear my soundtrack somewhere up in the air, I've decided to mention it on OUT ON A LIM.  Any other circumstance and I'd've been more reluctant to brag.

So, if you support my music and are a true friend of mine, you'd book a flight and cast a vote for
Donnie's Tree.
      
Haha, or you could go to their
webpage.

It ends November 1, so hurry up...

(10.28.05)

So be prepared
And don't be scared
What will you dare
All Hallow's Eve?


Go to 1902 Midvale Avenue, Westwood, CA, tonight to catch a performance (every half hour between 19:00 and 22:00) of Alan Sanborn's 2005 Halloween show. 

Happy Halloween

(10.31.05)

I've got a green belt in judo.  Well, I had one--it's been so long since I've worn it, I don't think the colour of my belt can accurately reflect my neglected skills.  So don't worry, I probably can't kick anyone's ass.  But since I learned all my moves as a kid, I'm fairly certain that most of them have been hardwired in my brain, as most things seemingly are at that age.  I mean, once you've learned how to fall, and you've fallen a lot, you kinda remember what to do--keep your head off the ground, roll, and splay your arms.  And after throwing opponents by rote a million times, week after week, the movements are hard to forget.  Besides my aged physical condition, I wouldn't be completely lost if I jumped in the ring again.

Fortunately, I've never been in a fight.  I've never had to call upon my judo knowledge outside of the dojo.  Not that I ever wanted to, or took up the martial art for such purposes.  It was mainly something to do on Friday nights with friends--we met at the gymnasium of the local Japanese cultural center.  And when we did spar, it was hardly Fight Club.  I'd goof around a lot, make fun of the girls, and take things about as seriously as I do nowadays.  Sometimes I'd work up a sweat if we had to do extra laps or had lightning rounds.  But other than that, I enjoyed the exercise and am thankful for the experience.

Cause even if I don't literally use my judo moves in everyday life, the techniques apply metaphorically.  It's all about balance--keeping your footing and taking advantage of your opponent's strengths.  These are concepts that most likely wouldn't've congealed in me as pragamatically had I not been thrown so often on the judo mat.  And it's not necessarily conflict or self defense oriented.  I'm always on the lookout for balance points in the composition of a photograph or musical motif--the weight that the eye or ear fall towards.  And how can I maximize the flow.  Or emotionally and psychologically, I've got manoeuvres to trip and pin down anything that tries to bring me down.  Afterall, I didn't get as far as green belt cause I let others beat me up.

(11.1.05)

As far as I know, Skeeter is the only major Muppet character that never existed in puppet form.  As Scooter's sister, she was a regular cast member of the
Muppet Babies cartoon, but is noticeably absent in the third dimension.  I thought she was kinda cute--orange, bespectacled, and feisty.  And it would've been cool to've seen how she might've turned up as a mature and real Muppet.  Last I heard, she's lost somewhere in the Amazon.

Kate and I followed Bridget thru the jungle of vines.  It was a shortcut to the bike parking lot.  Bridget was gonna show us her new scooter.  She'd been talking about getting it all month, so we were curious to finally get a glimpse of it, not to mention seeing her ride it could only be a hoot.  Amidst the other motorized cycles was her red scooter, locked and waiting to putter away.  Kate and I admired the compartments and dials as Bridget put on her helmet and zipped up her jacket.  She retracted the kickstand, put her key in the ignition, pushed some buttons, flipped some switches, turned the engine on, and scooted off towards Sunset Blvd.  "I wish I had a camera," Kate laughed.

I thumbed thru the stash of biker photos.  "These should give you a general idea of what the culture's about," Eric pointed out whilst eating a cheeseburger, "but I'll leave it up to you how you wanna go about taking the pictures."  I was getting a crash course in biker culture aesthetics--the slutty chicks, the big motorcycles, etc.  He'd contacted me to take some photos for an ad campaign promoting his new biker clothing line.  And even though I'd never shot models before, I was looking forward to flattening them into the second dimension.

(11.2.05)

"Stop showing off," my sister scolded after I finished the puzzle before anyone else.

My brother's girlfriend had returned from her trip to Taiwan.  We'd all gathered at my parents' house to welcome her back, take her out to dinner, and collect our souvenirs.  I carpooled with my sister and her boyfriend, who carefully held a vase of flowers as he sat in my passenger seat thru traffic.  I was a little late picking them up cause my neighbour was moving out and the moving truck that blocked my driveway couldn't move out of my way--apparently the movers had forgotten to turn off their headlights, killing their battery. 

If you asked me, I couldn't tell you how I solved the puzzle.  I'd say it was luck.  I mean, sometimes solutions just magically appear before me.  And it's a weird feeling--sorta like being possessed, with my hands moving without my control.  Cause I know I ain't got a clue.

"Just this one piece," my brother frustrated, "I can't figure out how it fits."

The movers told me that I was stuck, at least until they could get their 18 wheeler jumped.  I looked at my dashboard clock and scoped the situation.  Suddenly, my hands shifted my car into reverse and turned my steering wheel as I narrowly squeezed between the obstructing truck.  "Watch your mirrors," I heard one of the movers yell.  But all I could see was the reflection of the truck in the distance as I sped off to pick up my sister and her boyfriend.

After dinner, as we relaxed in the living room, my mom gave us each the same puzzle--seven geometric pieces that needed to configure into a square.  My brother's girlfriend said that she'd solved it before, when she was a kid, but she couldn't remember the solution.  Everyone took to the challenge, sifting and rearranging the pieces to no avail.  Except me.  I wanted to eat dessert.  I took two same sized triangles and put them together.  "Here's a square," I sarcastically announced.  "That's not right," my mom shushed, "you have to use all the pieces."  I ate some cake and ice cream instead.

"Don't think too hard," my dad hypothesized.  Yet he couldn't make a square.

At the restaurant I asked my brother's girlfriend if smoking was allowed in restaurants in Taiwan.  She said yes.  I thought that was cool as I waited til after the meal and was outside to light a cigarette.  Sometimes I feel like the oddball in my family.  I'm the only one who smokes.  And especially when my brother makes reservations for eight--my mom, dad, sister, her boyfriend, him, his girlfriend, me, and my imaginary girlfriend.  He claims, with well meaning intention, that the restaurant didn't allow for reservations for seven.  But I can put two and two together.

I cleaned off my dessert plate and decided to look at the puzzle.    

(11.3.05)

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with my moustache hairs up my nose.  Momentarily I'll think that a fuzzy bug is trying to suffocate me, especially if I was dreaming such.  And then I'll comb the hairs down with my hand, take a deep breath to make sure that the air passage is clear, and fall back asleep.  No, the slight inconvenience ain't enough for me to consider shaving my facial hair.  Although, that'd be funny if that's how I died.

Every so often, when I drive and smoke, my cigarette doesn't completely burn, leaving the outer paper to dangle.  The tobacco will still be lit, so I'll inhale as the unburnt section'll teasingly appear to be on the brink of falling off.  I'll try to encourage it by giving it extra shakes out my window, but I wouldn't be so nervous about this phenomenon if it wasn't for that one time the excess paper fell inside my car, causing me to pull over to put out the fire on my floor mat.  80 mph on the freeway doesn't help either.  Nevertheless, so far, this is the only dangerous annoyance that I've got regarding my bad habit.  Until I get some smoking related disease, I can live with it.

I've never felt the urge to get cable TV--the idea of paying to watch TV baffles me.  I've seen shows here and there at friends' houses, so I've got a little taste of what's offered.  But no, there's still no deal breaking reason for me to sign up.  However, the billboards around town for the new
Boondocks cartoon are making it tempting--I can't get enough of the comic strip.  For two seconds, I thought about getting cable.  Nope.       

(11.4.05)

I'm not looking forward to the latest Hermione Granger movie.  I've read books one thru three, but didn't read the fourth--I tried, but couldn't get past the tedious first chapter, which seemed to go nowhere, tiresomely repeating the same old opening routine of the kids getting ready for the new school year.  A wise old jazz musician once told me that repetition is boring.  Anyways, I've heard that this fourth installment is really good.  Maybe it is.  It sure started off lame.

Nevertheless, I'll see the movie, but I won't wait in line on opening weekend.  I'll let the crowds die down.  It'll be interesting to see it without knowing the story beforehand.  Cause besides seeing Hermione in the flesh, the movies so far have lacked the element of surprise--most of the time I'm noticing the differences between the books and the films instead of being involved with the stories.  Don't get me wrong, the books were fun.  Having them retold in another medium is cool, but not as exciting as the initial experience of the stories.  Again, the wise old jazz musician's sage words apply. 

But honestly, I'm just not a fan of the series.  Maybe if I were younger I'd be more inclined to be swept up in the mania.  I'm definitely not as obsessed as I was with
Star Wars.  Perhaps I can't summon wide eyed wonder and devotion twice.  Cause there's something familiar about the Hermione mythology.  Not that that's bad, nor is anything truly original insofar as borrowed themes.  That's what storytelling is about.  And I'm truly jealous of the kids that are looking forward to the new movie.  But like the wise old jazz musician said...

(11.7.05)

As mentioned in the 8.5.05 edition of OUT ON A LIM, Kate broke the cabinet in my office, so it was removed, leaving a gaping space where it once stood.  Well, it turns out that this was a convenient event.

None of the clocks in my office and my coworkers' offices are in sync.  Some are fast, some are slow, one's still on daylight savings time, one's two and a half hours ahead (or nine and a half hours behind), and one's stuck at 04:00 (or 16:00).  Besides the obvious ones, I'm not sure which clock's right, other than I base my commings and goings on mine.

Last week, the facilities management crew needed to gain access to a power box which was being blocked by my boss' desk.  My boss was on vacation, so I cleared her stuff so that unobstruction could be accommodated.

Kate came into work today at 17:00, 17:03, 16:53, 16:55, 17:07, 18:01, 19:32 (or 07:32), and 04:00 (or 16:00).  We were the only ones staying late.

As usual, the facilities management crew took forever to do their deed and notified me that my boss's desk, which has been at its spot for the last ten years, was against code--it'll be moved, but couldn't be moved back.  This was gonna be messier than expected, cause our offices are tight as it is.

"This place is a rat hole," Kate mocked our work area.

"Maybe it's time to reconfigure," I suggested.

Luckily, due to the absent cabinet that she broke, there was room enough to move my boss' desk.  Actually, the leeway was perfect.  It was as if her mishap was fated.

For kicks, we scoured the offices and pondered the crap that's been piling up--printouts from 1986, obsolete card catalogues, an overstock of green tape, broken fax machines, an overabundance of typewriters, and more empty VHS cases than we'll ever need.  And we laughed at all the wrong clocks.

(11.8.05)
I'm totally aware that I don't even belong in the same sentence with Maestro John Williams, but allow me to indulge in the analogy.

Alan's making a film version of his
Man of Tatooine musical (see OUT ON A LIM 5.12.05).  Over the summer, because I'm on the crew's mailing list, I kept getting calling sheets for shooting schedules--meeting locations, which actors were needed for each scene, what props to bring, etc.  None of which was of my particular concern, but I did get a sense of the difficulties involved in the movie making process.  Anyways, the film's gonna need a score, which'll be my duty.

There's a cool documentary on the
Revenge of the Sith DVD called "Within a Minute".  Essentially, it breaks down all the elements that were needed to create a minute long scene.  Between the initial writing of the script and the final screening there were thousands of people working along the assembly line--props, costumes, stunts, production design, cinematography, special effects, sound mixing, to name just a few.  It looked like an impressive undertaking and seeing the scene evolve step by step made me appreciate the coordinated effort of filmmaking.  Of course, such a major motion picture, especially one with the budgetary freedom of a billionare director, is an extreme, if not bloated, example.

Nevertheless, correlations can be made with the little people trying to make little movies.  In which case, as a composer, when the documentary reached the section on music, I was all ears.  That's my role.  Even though my orchestra is MIDI and not the LSO, my task is pretty similar to that of John Williams--sit with the director and discuss what scenes need to be emphasized, watch rough cuts, write and record the score, and hope it doesn't get buried in the mix.  At the very least, seeing how the big boys do it was inspirational, since coincidentally,
Man of Tatooine is a parody of Star Wars.

I guess that makes me a parody of John Williams.

(11.9.05)

Rough.  That's how I remember my dad's hands when I was a kid.  They were bigger and wrinklier than mine.  But I couldn't help from noticing how coarse they were.  Some of my earliest memories are of my tiny fingers exploring the terrain of my dad's hands.

Shaky.  That's how I remember my dad's dad's hands when I saw him on his deathbed.  They were spotted and ghostly as they kept shaking at his sides as tubes traveled around the hospital room.  I had a hard time looking at his face, so I concentrated on his trembling hands.

Safe.  That's how I remember feeling when I held my dad's hand in the crowded airport on our way to visit my dying grandfather.

Amazed.  That's how I remember reacting to my grandfather's magic tricks.  When he came over to visit, he'd take one of my toy cars, hold it in his hand, cover it up, and mysteriously make it disappear.

Small.  That's how I remember my dad's hands as I grabbed them to help him up a hill.  I'd grown to my adult size--I passed my dad's height when I was a teenager.  And as I hadn't held or shook his hand since I was a kid, the time inbetween hadn't given me the opportunity to compare my growth.  I never realized how small his hands were.  As well, they weren't as rough as I remembered.

(11.10.05)

She used a guitar string for a belt and swallowed glue for fun.  I held her hand once, but had to let go, cause the tiny secret knife that sprung from her spy watch was malfunctioning.  I had a dream in which I half seriously asked her boyfriend if I could "borrow" her for a weekend, to which he half jokingly complied.  I woke up and gave her a code name: "Frog Girl".  And for the rest of the day I wished I was a fly.  The travel agent flirted with her as if I was on another planet, which I might as well've been as I couldn't honestly say that I was altogether paying attention, except when I received the wrong change.  I made two piles--one for her real hair, the other for the dyed crap.  Honesty is subjective.  I lost count of how many times she said my name after I realized that if we ever broke up, that number would forever be a bummer.  I'd see the digits, scrambled and broken into smaller quotients, everywhere I looked.  She smashed my solar powered calculator with a dead car battery.  Her insanity was always tolerable, if not cute, even when she was trying too hard to seem like either.  If I could foolishly try to oversimplify what went wrong, I wouldn't say it was our miscommunication that set off a chain reaction that led to our dissolution, but it didn't help.  In the hotel room, her tears warmed the bed.  The first time I met her, she triggered me to laugh as if we were old friends.  She didn't believe in all that past life baloney, but if she did, it wouldn't be hard to make something up.  I, on the other hand, think that reincarnation, like everything else, is just one of the many afterlife theories that fluidly pass thru my head--I can't put my finger on anything.  Sometimes I think we were meant to be together.  Sometimes I don't.

Happy Eleven Eleven

(11.11.05)

It was one of those Sunday afternoons.  Lazy and dazey.  So I turned on my phonograph and kicked back on my bed.  Crowded House's
Recurring Dream compilation.  Lately, my ears have been honing in on vocal harmonies.  I've got an additional speaker that's connected out of phase.  Canceling out the center channel.  Stray echoes go there.

I noticed the background "aah's" on "Fall At Your Feet".  Hadn't before.  They were comforting and aloof.  Love is near, but out of reach.  That song's always been one of my faves, but now it sounded better.  Nice surprise.

Monday at work.  I've gotten bored with listening to comedy on internet radio.  My new thing is digging thru the Morning Becomes Eclectic archive at
KRCW.com.  I streamed a Neil Finn session.

My preferences sway between studio realizations and live performances.  Thesedays it's the latter.  Something about the interaction between musicians.  Nothing against the tight precision of sequencers, but humans are pretty good at music, too.

So Neil was promoting his then current solo album.  I think it was from a couple of years ago.  Accompanying him was Lisa Germano.  She played piano and sang harmony.  Sweet.  They're a good match--he's got a reedy voice, she's got a weary whisper.

Anyways, they performed "Fall At Your Feet".  Lisa on the "aah's".  Nicer surprise.

(11.14.05)

There are basically two types of electric bass guitar strings--flatwound and roundwound.  The former is made with a single core wire that's wrapped with a flat ribbon wire, whilst the latter's wrapped with a round wire.  Roundwound is the most common type used today.  It's got a brighter sound.  And they were invented around 1962.  So any recording of an electric bass guitar before that has to be of flatwound strings, which were duller and more akin to their upright acoustic brethren.

Kim craned her head and looked behind her shoulder before she made the lane change.

My engineer got a hold of a set of flatwounds and stringed his electric bass guitar.  I was curious to hear and feel the difference.  They've got a "classic" sound and they're smooth on the fingers.  An orchestra was rehearsing in the main auditorium.  Their feed was comming into the studio.  I plugged into the board and jammed--they were playing some schlocky cello concerto, nothing that had an unpredictable root.

However, Kim was in someone else's blind spot.

Last night I had a dream that I was back at my old judo dojo.  I'm blaming my recent journal entry (OUT ON A LIM 11.1.05) for the inspiration.  A leftover thought about the subject must've been roaming my subconscious.  In a related story, I noticed that this week's Time magazine cover article is about ambition.  I didn't read it, cause characteristically I'm not interested.  Although, I find it coincidental that I mused the topic nearly three weeks ago (OUT ON A LIM 10.24.05--I write these approximately a week in advance of the post date).  For a hair of second, I skimmed the possibility that my actions are more consequential than I know.

Kim doesn't remember what happened next.

My mom gave me a gift certificate to Borders--someone gave it to her, but she had no use for it.  As I mentioned yesterday, I've been listening to Neil Finn.  So today I used the free credit on a Finn Brothers CD.  And had I heard the album last year, I would've included it on my Best of 2004 list (OUT ON A LIM 12.23.04).  Luckily, I only listed the top nine albums of that year.  So I would like to add the Finn Brothers
Everyone Is Here as #10.  I knew I'd fill that missing slot later...

Say it once, then we disappear

(11.15.05)

The little pizza shop got replaced by a Mexican joint.  I missed my chance to get a slice, so I decided to try a burrito.  I parked in the alley, walked up to the window, and placed an order--one steak burrito, everything on it, to go.  As I took a seat and waited for my order to be made, the smell from the kitchen gave me hope that it was gonna be good.  Soon I'd know for sure...

I didn't notice Ikumi sitting under the tree until she called my name.  She was waiting for her student to show up for his piano lesson.  Nervousness was in her expressions.  Cause she never gave a lesson before.  And the kid was late.  I caught up with her the following day and jokingly asked if she gave him a beating...

I've had better and worse burritos.

"No," she laughed.  "I'm a nice teacher."

Nevertheless, tonight, not wanting to mull over what to eat for dinner, I got a burrito again from the same place.  The taste is getting familiarily contentful.  Afterwards, I practiced some Bach.     

(11.16.05)

I hydroplaned once.  It was late at night and the freeway was empty.  I'd my license less than a year, so my driving in the rain experience didn't recognize the puddle that collected at the meridian as an aerodynamic slip and slide.  Luckily, there weren't any cars as I jetstreamed with no regard to the designated lanes.  And although it was unexpected and potentially dangerous, the gliding loss of control was exhiliarating--sorta like a drop in the stomach on a roller coaster.  I believe that my mind recalls that hydroplane feeling whenever I dream of falling off a tall building.  Nowadays, even with ABS brakes, I steer away from puddles, especially if there're other cars on the freeway.  Not cause I don't want to hydroplane, rather I'm afraid that I'd get addicted to the thrill.

After Kate concluded her hilarious tale about her bird feeding grandmother, Gordon joined us for a smokebreak.

For whatever reason, the Eurythmics didn't include any tracks from
We Too Are One on their Ultimate Collection greatest hits CD.  In a way that's a shame, cause I happen to like that album, if not think it's their best--so much so that it's the only one of theirs that I've got.  I mean, I like all the classics, but they're so overplayed that I never got around to adding them to my library.  Nevertheless, the lack of any overlap with We Too Are One was a good excuse to get the Ultimate Collection.

Gordon told us about a cornfield that was planted in the middle of downtown LA.

Sometimes I yearn for anarchy.  Yeah, I completely understand that rules are set up to keep people in order cause there's a vile side to human nature that can turn loose as reported on the news per hurricanes and riots.  But call me naive as I think that such breakdowns of society are results of anger and frustration with the way things are set up.  And I might be overly optimistic when I hope that given a free for all, an unconditional conscience'll prevail.  Cause I'd like to wish that ultimately, that's the default.  I'm not afraid to be wrong. 

(11.17.05)

Working at a university, I've had the cool opportunity to befriend many students.  Every four or five years, there's a new batch that I hang out with until they graduate.  And being in the music department, most of them are musicians with whom I've had the pleasure of being exposed to whatever they're into, which seems to change as often as the kids.  I've learned so much thru discussions, the exchange of recordings, hearing them perform, and joining in on a jam.

The last class of students seemed to favour electronic dance music, of which I was previously ignorant of until they introduced me to the repetitive beats and hooks.  It made more sense as I caught the contagiousness of their excitement.  Besides, it was a relief to hear block harmonies as compared to the class before them who studied renaissance polyphony.  Although, I did enjoy playing contrapuntal pieces with them in the early music studio, which is more of an interaction than watching a DJ spin records.  The current class is into punk music, which so happened to've been in vogue, in the guise of grunge, when I was a college student.  Needless to say, we've got lots to share.

However, as I chugged away on power chords on my guitar, I couldn't help but miss the absent thirds, which got me to thinking about the evolution of harmony, in relation to the various classes of students that've crossed my path.  Obviously, one can trace the history simply by noting when each genre was formed--renaissance polyphony came before punk which came before electronic dance music.  And it seems like the number of people needed to perform harmonies is diminishing.  In renaissance polyphony, each SATB musician is responsible for a distinct horizontal melodic line, the aggregate of which forms the vertical harmonic structure.  A punk rhythm guitarist is in charge of the mid range harmonies and the bass player supports the bottom, both of which, in general, are accompaniment to the vocal and lead guitar melodies.  One DJ plays a recording of prefab computer generated harmonies. 

And then I caught myself overanalyzing in the ivory tower.       

(11.18.05)

It was time to order new checks. 

I have a hard time keeping secrets.  I consciously dispell any of my own cause I think they can cause more misunderstanding and distrust than conceal any unwarranted worry or harm, even if it's good news.  In a perfect world, everyone ought to know everything and lines of communication are freely open so that explanations overcome confusion.  But that's just me.  I don't've anything to hide.

After 11 years of living at my apartment, I thought it was about time that my checks reflect my current address.  I don't live at my parents' house anymore.

There's a running joke amongst my family and friends that if you do NOT want to keep a secret, tell it to me.  Cause time after time, I've blabbed.  I don't even try to keep my mouth shut.  Not out of disrespect to the holder of the secret, but respect for the outnumbering rest of the clan.  It's not fair that I should be the only one to know.  Yet despite the common knowledge that I'm a blatant traitor, I still get told shit that I'm supposed to keep quiet about.  Sometimes I roll my eyes at their stupidity, but mostly I figure they actually want to let their secret loose.

Kate coveted the card catalogue.  It was empty and the computer dependent library wasn't gonna be using such outdated technology in the future.

To be fair, I can recognize when a secret should really be kept confidential--when the consequences outweigh the deception, when the mental stability of someone isn't worth betraying, when it's a worthy surprise, etc.  And in those cases, my lips'll be sealed.  There've been situations when I've honoured secrets from various people in the same room.  Watching their ignorance inevitably lead to a train wreck is a tragic example of the silliness of secrets.    

The policy is that Kate couldn't take the card catalogue, rather it had to be officially thrown out by the library, and if she so happened to see it put out with the trash she could have it.  That's all I'm gonna say...

(11.21.05)

I finished the
Man of Tatooine score.  I'm not gonna claim composer credit since all I did was adapt and arrange John Williams' Star Wars music.  I couldn't hear it any other way--those themes are so iconic that the parody wouldn't make sense without them.  Nevertheless, it was a fun experience.

Cause even though I've listened to Williams' music countless times since I was a kid, I've never had the inkling, let alone a scoring opportunity, to take it apart and see how it works, mainly due to the lack of an orchestra at my disposal.  And although my MIDI instruments fall completely short in capturing the power of a live orchestra (brass, which is such a vital element to the swashbuckler style, is severely crappy in simulated form), it was more examination of the individual parts than I've ever done before.  The challenge of trying to get the MIDI to sound unpainful was a lesson in orchestration (doubling helps) that hopefully will be useful knowledge in the event that I ever get the chance to use a real orchestra someday.

I recorded about 10 minutes of music, all of which was slice and diced from various
Star Wars cues.  As I don't use any fancy video linked programs, I rely on a stopwatch to time when the various changes should occur--I've used this old school method on all the films that I've scored, and it's never been a hassle, so I don't see the need to upgrade.  There were 10 scenes that needed music, in addition to the songs (which I recorded earlier this year).  And even though I know every second of the score is coordinated with my stopwatch, it's still the best thing in the world to see it actually line up with the film.  Of course, it didn't hurt that Williams' music is cool already.

Anyways,
Man of Tatooine is a Star Wars parody based on Man of La Mancha.  To summarize, a guy gets knocked in the head, thinks he's Luke Skywalker, and goes on an adventure that's imaginatively similar to Star Wars.  Here's the cue for when "Luke", "Leia", "Han" and "Chewbacca" escape the "Death Star" (which is a condominium complex) in the "Millennium Falcon" (a van):

"Escape From the Condominium"

Note that it's essentially "Ben's Death and the TIE Fighter Attack", with sections reordered and phrases extended or shortened to fit the film.  Here's the cue for the final scene, in which "Luke" goes after an "AT-AT" (a windmill):

"Miniature Golf Course Windmill"

That's a truncated version of the "End Credits" from
Star Wars, with some Man of La Mancha quotes.  My apologies to the original sources.

(11.22.05)

Linda is ten years younger than Melinda.  Melinda and Belinda are the same age.  Celinda is older than Belinda, but younger than Dorinda.  Dorinda is ten years older than Melinda.  Clarinda is younger than Lucinda, but older than Celinda.

I've met Lucinda and Belinda, but not the rest.  Melinda and Belinda were college roommates.  Linda is Clarinda's half-sister--their dad is business partners with Lucinda's dad.  Dorinda is a friend of Celinda as well as Lucinda's sister-in-law.

Lucinda hates Belinda.  Melinda and Belinda aren't talking to each other anymore.  Linda and Clarinda spent a summer backpacking together thru New Zealand.  Celinda was previously engaged to Lucinda's now husband--there was some tension during that time between Dorinda and Celinda, but it's all been settled.

Linda is in junior high.  Melinda is unemployed.  Belinda works for a software company.  Celinda returned to college for her master's degree.  Dorinda is a doctor.  Lucinda attends martial counseling.  Clarinda is a struggling singer.

Of the girls I've met, I think Belinda is cuter than Lucinda.  But based on photographs, Clarinda is the prettiest, Melinda is the coolest, Dorinda is the dorkiest, Celinda is the skinniest, and Linda has potential (probably because she's related to Clarinda). 

I almost hired Melinda to be my secretary, but Belinda didn't think that would be a good idea--she gave some excuse about Melinda's drug problem, but I think the falling out after their graduation is the real reason.  I wouldn't be averse to meeting Clarinda, especially since she's a musician, but Lucinda says that I've got no chance with her, not unless she breaks up with her boyfriend.  I joked about being Linda's mentor, but Lucinda thought that was in bad taste.  It wouldn't be the end of the world if I never meet Celinda and Dorinda.

Anyways, I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

(11.23.05)
I've got it all backwards.

Netiquette dictates that discussion replies should be written below the original post.  Not to mention, quoting the original post should be kept at a minimum.  I've been writing my replies above the original posts and keeping the entire text intact.  I tried posting thusly on a forum, but it bounced back saying I was being rude.  Nevertheless, I think it looks upside down the right way.  I know the rules aren't the same, but I look at it like email.  When I read a reply, I want to see it first rather than scroll down to find it, and the original text should be at the bottom for reference, which makes it easier than retrieving it.

For fun, my engineer and I loaded some Beatles and Hendrix backwards guitar solos into a wave editor and reversed the tracks to hear what they sound like going forwards.

I've noticed that blogs post their entries with the most current on top.  I've got my latest entry on my front page, but my archives are organized with the oldest on top and the newest on the bottom.  I think otherwise it looks upside down.  I know the rules are different, but I look at it like a journal.  When I read my journal, or any chronological text for that matter, I want it to proceed forward in time, instead of scroll upwards to find what happens next or downwards to find what happened before.  And it's sorta like what netiquette says about discussion replies--the later posts should be at the bottom.

I've got a backlog of forwarded emails in my inbox.

(11.28.05)

One of my guilty pleasures is biopics, especially those about musicians.  I realize that they're more dramatically constructed than factual and at best glorified made-for-TV movies.  But I consider myself to be somewhat musically inclined and relate to based on real life characters rather than fictional ones.  And no matter how sappy, I always get a little moisture in my eyes during the scene when the musicians fall in love.  Cause it makes them seem human and however constructed, adds a fluffy romantic side to their legends--be it Beethoven's immortal beloved, Bird picking up Chan on a horse, Valens singing "Donna", Stu and Astrid, or Gould's personal ad.  It gives me hope, regardless if it's false.

I own one album by Johnny Cash,
Water From the Wells of Home, and only cause he duets with Emmylou Harris and Paul McCartney.  I admire his deep voice--I like the tracks he did with U2 and Dylan.  And I acknowledge his respected place in American iconography, his famous tunes, and affection for prisons.  But I've never really sat down and listened to him.  Thus, Walk the Line was a Cliff Notes history lesson for me--his childhood, Sun days, and pill addiction.  From that no expectations to live up to reality perspective, the movie was your standard biopic with its Behind the Music rise to and fall from stardom themes, including the de rigeur "smash things in the dressing room" scene.  In other words, I liked it. 

For some reason I've never liked Reese Witherspoon, despite being a Southern blonde and having a huge forehead.  But she won me over in
Walk the Line.  Partly cause she looks better with dark hair.  But mainly cause of her role as June.  I've only heard of her and Johnny's love story via interviews with country musicians who hailed it as a miracle with their twangy hyperbole.  So I was aware of the National Treasure status of their union.  However, seeing it played out on screen was a treat and made me wanna someday meet a girl like June.  She made Walk the Line a better than average biopic.  That is to say, I loved it. 

(11.29.05)

"Did you see the trailer for
King Kong?" Mandy asked as we drove by a billboard depicting a damsel in distress between a giant ape and a tyrannosaur.

"Yeah," I reminded, "didn't we see it before
War of the Worlds?"

"Oh yeah," she remembered.

"
War of the Worlds is on DVD now," I noted the passage of time.

And I thought about those movies--they're both remakes.  I don't know if there're any reasons other than developments in special effects for remaking them.  I mean, they're classics.  It's like remaking a Beatles song.  There's nothing to improve.  No doubt, Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg are capable directors who seem to have a firm respect for the originals. 

At any given moment, I've got a handful of Beatles tunes that I play on a regular basis, just for fooling around.  I've learned most of them, some are permanently in my memory, and some need to be refreshed.  So they rotate depending on my mood.  Either there's some cool chord progression or relevant lyric that fits my current state of mind.  Anyways, they're relaxing to play. 

Right now, my Beatles playlist includes "Baby's In Black", "Rain", "For No One", "Let It Be", "Anytime At All", "Every Little Thing", "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite", "All I've Got To Do", and "I Will".

My engineer wanted to test some new ribbon mics.  He set them up in the studio and we jammed on some of the above songs--me on vocals and acoustic guitar, him on tom (played with hands).  After running thru "I Will", I thought it'd be fun to do some overdubs--add some electric guitar, flatwound bass, and percussion.  Nothing serious, no pressure to make it perfect, just keep it loose like a first take, intonation be damned.  Here's the result:

"I Will"

I picked up a copy of
War of the Worlds.

(11.30.05)

I got the new Enya album.  I know, that's about as cool as living in suburbia, but I take comfort in her blandness. 

Shelly was trying to convince me that I need to upgrade my webpage--make it flashier and hip.  To which I gave my standard reasoning that I'd rather have a simple, no frills webpage that's easy to load than something with moving text and rolling menus which'll take forever to access on a modem.  She countered with the assumption that everyone has a fast connection now so I can't use dial-up speed as an excuse anymore.  I don't know the exact numbers, but I think people still use their phone lines for the internet--myself included.  She might be right that thesedays more people've got high speed hookups, but my theory is that the poor outnumber the rich, therefore it's safer to guess that fast connections are a luxury that most can't afford.

I just watched the network broadcast of
The Family Man.  To be honest, the only reason why I tuned in was cause I think Elfman's score is one of his best.  Back in 2001, I spent good money on the promo CD--it's not commercially available.  I remember renting the DVD to hear the music in its original context, but wasn't too impressed with the movie.  Something about the family life just didn't make any sense to me four years ago.  Not that the main character's reality as an investor was any more pertinent.  In fact, I thought both scenarios were hell, albeit with a nice soundtrack.

A friend related a story about a wedding he attended.  I know he meant well when he tried to compliment the low budget affair, but he was a little too attentive towards the cheap details.  Especially the food, which was catered from a fast food chain.  Don't get him wrong, he enjoyed the food, he just made it a point to mention the "unusual" reception meal.  Again, I think living in the middle class has skewed our perspectives, whereby fast food ain't acceptable at a wedding.  I don't have any stats, but my gut feeling is, amongst all the weddings in the world, having hoity toity dinners isn't in the range of most people, and are the exception, not the rule.

Anyways, a lot can happen in four years.  Many of my family and friends have gotten married and have kids.  And I'm in no way presuming to understand what any of that's like, but being in the proximity of their experiences has informed my appreciation of family life.  Or maybe it was the commercial interruptions reminding me to buy useless items that made this recent viewing of
The Family Man somewhat more meaningful.  I mean, I get that the family life is more rewarding than the career life, blah, blah, blah... 

Cindy burned me a copy of the Arcade Fire album.  Everyone I know of's been giving it great reviews.

I might be wrong, but everyone thinks that they're right.

(12.1.05)

I just finished watching the entire
Star Wars saga.  All six DVDs in one sitting--it took about 14 hours.  Why?  Because it's now possible, after 28 years, to finally do so.  Plus, I was bored.  And I wanted to experience the whole "tragedy of Anakin Skywalker" story from start to finish (I went in numerical order--Episode I thru VI), although it was a marathon that at times tested my patience and in the end made my brain and body mush.  Cause each movie is an epic in itself, but all six back to back is just too damn long, but I suppose that's the point.  I hope to never do it again--maybe break it in half.  But I'm glad I knocked it all off as a singular narrative.  The geek in me can now die.

(12.2.05)
(12.5.05)

Take a look at yourself
What do you deserve
What part of life have you felt
Has life ever hit your nerves

Take a look at your mind
Has it ever been hurt
Is it cloudy, hazy, or fine
Or clogged up with dirt

Pull yourself together
Get on board that ship
Don't miss that boat ever
Pin a note with a paperclip

Take a look at your life
You're alive and breathing
So what's with the knife
Why do you hate living

Take a look at yourself
What do you think
Does it make your mouth melt
Or want to take a drink

Paperclips are jokes
Some people laugh
Some people don't
Those people are daft

Pull yourself together
Don't get cracked by the whip
Live your life forever
And save a few paperclips

(12.6.05)

I was drawn shoreward by a siren's arietta.  And although her melody deafened my capacity to steer in any other direction, I heard the echoes of the overtones above the waves faintly sing "Beware of what you love most--it will destroy you..."

My mom used to work at a book store.  I don't know if her lifetime dream was to decorate the empty shelves in our house with classic literature in an attempt to create the illusion of our family's literacy or if the employee discount was an encouragement, but she took advantage of her stint there.  Thus, we've got a library of the standards piled in almost every room.  No one's really read them, though.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of
"Paperclip"--the first song I ever wrote.

Mornings remind me of other countries.  Cause whenever I travel, the schedules and time differences force or enable me to experience that time of day--which on a normal basis is when I go to bed.  Conversely, late nights give me a sense of home.

I rode my bike to junior high school.  The route to was all downhill.  So going home was a chore, compounded with all the lessons, textbook and social, that I'd piled on from the day.  My bike wasn't multigeared, so I got off and pushed it uphill.  This afforded me a good view of the ground.

I've got a bookshelf.  Mostly it's where I keep music related material, such as scores, biographies, magazines, and an encyclopedia.  There're also some graphic novels, collected works of comic strips, and dinosaur compendiums.  I can't say I'm an avid reader.  There aren't many real books, by the English literature definition, on my shelves--approximately an armful of paperbacks.  However, I did swipe some hardcover books from my mom, with the intention of someday reading them.

My dad had a tape recorder that he used to listen to his collection of Dutch songs.  I borrowed it to record the little song that I'd composed.  I don't remember how many takes it took--it wasn't many, cause seriously it was just silly fun.  But huddled with my Casio keyboard and handwritten lyrics as I sang "Paperclip" into the built-in microphone, I recall the last thing on my mind being "I wonder what this'll sound like 20 years later..."

Between midnight and morning is when I'm alive.  That's the time when I work on my various projects--build sculptures, edit photos, write in my journal, play music, etc.  Occasionally, I'll watch a movie.  But tonight I think I'm gonna read a book.

Listening to "Paperclip" today makes me laugh.  The innocence in my teenage voice, the lack of embarrassment in the quality of the performance, and the novelty of it all, unbeknownst to me that of all my hobbies, music would consistently endure, is amusing.  After all these years, I'm glad I saved the recording.

I didn't've any criteria for the books that I took from my mom, other than being recognizeable classics that might be of interest later.  For example,
Moby Dick--any self important bookshelf ought to have that.  But overall, I can't list my loot.

One day, on my way home, I found a paper clip in the middle of the road.

(12.7.05)

I didn't go to work today.  Ok, I know LA's got no winter, but it's been cold here.  Not deathly freezing.  But enough to convince me that getting up, taking a shower, and going to work aren't more comfy than the warmth of my bed.

Back in junior high, a friend forfeited his attempts at learning how to play the guitar.  So I took it off his hands and figured it for myself.  Soon I was using it on my recordings.

The other day I received a glossy postcard offering discount cosmetic surgery.  I laughed and showed it to Kate, who looked up the url.  She mocked the doctors and quipped "Sometimes it's easy to forget that LA's weird."

In 1991 I rerecorded
"Paperclip".  Although it was only six years since the original recording, I'd written about 50 songs hence, and I thought it'd be funny to see how I'd interpret "Paperclip" in my older age.  Cause even though the tune ain't all that, it's got the distinction of being my first, so for comparison's sake, singing the same words would give me some perspective on how I've changed, for beter or worse, over the years.

My sister and her boyfriend are going to New York for the weekend.  She called me to ask for a ride to the airport and if Chris could borrow my jacket--it snowed over there last night.

I stopped using my Casio keyboard cause I'd gotten sick of the preprogrammed beats and chords.  I also ditched my dad's monophonic tape recorder after I managed to input signals into my stereo.  I bought a crappy reverb box and stole a microphone from my sister's karaoke machine.  I listened to the 1985 version of "Paperclip" to reacquaint myself with the words and music.  I simplified things (took out the riff and evened the odd bar phrases).  And with acoustic guitar and drum machine, hit record.

The longest I've lived anywhere other than LA is the four years (1990-94) that I spent in La Jolla when I attended UCSD.  I really don't have much experience in knowing what it's like to wake up in another town except when I'm on vacation.  But the 1991 recording of "Paperclip" reminds me of a time when I lived away from LA.   

(12.8.05)


I purchased the Arcade Fire on vinyl.  I gotta thank Cindy for introducing them to me.  They've got a nifty ensemble sound--piano, strings, accordion.

The Bzyantines used twisted brass to bind important imperial documents.  But because of the high cost of the material, this early form of the paper clip never caught on.

By 1996, I'd finished graduate school at UCLA.  And I'd continued to write songs.  It was time once again to rerecord
"Paperclip".

Cindy's mentioned it not once, but on several occasions, that her greatest fear is losing her record collection--to theft, fire, or whatever.  I tried to tell her that they're just records and can be replaced.  She says she's got some rare items and it'd be too heartbreaking to go thru the trouble.  I don't know how to convince her that she shouldn't worry so much.

Samuel B. Fay patented the first bent wire paper clip in 1867.  He touted it as a way to fasten tickets to clothes.

When it came time for me to declare a name for my publishing entity, there was no doubt that I'd call it Paperclip Music, in honour of the first song I wrote. 

At one point in time, Cindy and Toby attempted to form a band.  Toby, in his stern defiance to popular opinion, is not too impressed with the acclaim that the Arcade Fire's been getting.

The most common form of the paper clip, the Gem-type, which is still in use today, was never patented.  It's been around since about 1890.  In 1899, William Middlebrook patented a machine to manufacture paper clips.  And by the 20th century, they were a standard office supply.  The main advantage of using paper clips as fasteners is they don't mutilate or tear paper.

I overloaded my roommate's four-track for the 1996 verison of "Paperclip".  I tried to cram in every sonic trick at my disposal--synths, electric guitar, vocal effects, etc.  I tried to expand the simple song into an epic.

At first, Kate mistook Cindy for Jean, and vice versa.  But after I cleared up the confusion, we both agreed that Cindy's the one with the cool taste in music.

Recent developments in paper clip design include being made of coloured plastic.

(12.9.05)

My sister called from New York.

"Our flight's been delayed--how about if I call you when we land, then you can come and pick us up at the airport."

I should've rerecorded "Paperclip" sometime around 2001.  I mean, if I did so in 1991 and 1996, it's likely that I ought to've--to keep the pattern of every five (or six) years going.  The time was ripe, what with digital recording on computer making advances in home studios.  Alas, I didn't.

The reason why my sister and her boyfriend went to New York for the weekend was to see their friend's new play.

During 2001, I was immersed in piano music and film scores, with little attention paid towards my pop songwriting.  In fact, I almost composed a set of "Paperclip" variations for the piano.  It would've been cool--culminating in a fugue.  Maybe someday I'll get around to it.

My sister called around 22:45.  I drove to LAX, which is about 10 minutes from my apartment.

"How was the play?" I asked when I met them at the curb by the luggage returns.

"What play?" they replied.

"Oh," I thought I might've gotten confused, "weren't you supposed to see your friend's play?"

"Yeah," my sister remembered.  "That was Chris' decoy plan."

She showed me the ring on her finger. 

(12.12.05)

Paperclip (2005)

(12.13.05)

"Do you remember Professor, uh...I forgot his name..."  Jeff thought about it for a moment, and continued.  "Well, it doesn't matter.  Anyways, I took his film editing class back in '76.  When he retired he hung around campus.  Do any of you remember him?"

For some reason, the cursor on my word processor doesn't work whenever I open up a document.  It's there, but it won't highlight text.  I tried pushing keys to see if something was locked.  I figured out it was the Windows key.  I don't know how it's connected, but it releases the cursor's unhighlight function.

None of us remembered the professor Jeff was describing.  Nevertheless, he had a story to tell.  "So this guy taught Jim Morrison and Coppola.  He was a master editor.  Sometimes he'd hang around the music building--he'd lounge around in the main lobby and sometimes sit in on classes."

It's been about a year since I defragmented my hard drive.  Supposedly it's recommended that you do so every month, especially after deleting big files.  I was noticing that my multitrack recorder was struggling when I was using nine tracks, which is hardly any.  After backing up some of my photos, I deleted them from my hard drive and did the much needed defragmentation.

"Did he look like a homeless person?" Umberto asked, sorta recollecting.  "Yeah," Jeff was glad someone remembered, "he looked terrible in his later years.  And so, anyways, when I took his class, I made a short film about him--I interviewed him about his film editing techniques, etc.  So after all those years, I saw him walking the halls of the music building.  I kindly approached him, told him I was a former student, and asked him if I could show him the film I made in his class."

Sure enough, after defragmentation, my multitrack recorder ran smoothly again.  It's funny how a dead cursor and a little stammering can seem like major breakdowns in reliance, when ten years ago, I'd've lived with the slow speed and be happy just to've had the luxury of a word processor and digital multitrack recorder.  Let alone, twenty years ago, the idea of computers being such everyday tools was beyond my imagination.  Ten years from now, I'll forget what's been taken for granted.

"I set up a viewing room for him," Jeff went on.  "I left him alone to watch my film, cause I wanted him to react in private, without me being in the way.  So afterwards, I asked him what he thought.  'Good film,' he said, 'and I like how you got that professor to talk about himself.'  'Dude,' I said, 'that professor was you.'  He'd forgotten who he was."

(12.14.05)

I need a new hobby.

To prove how bored I am, I saw the new
King Kong movie.  I've been hesitant to see it, cause frankly it looked like a tired retread of the same ol' story.  Sure Naomi Watts is cute, but I needed more.  In certain circles that I'm acquainted with, the score's been said to be bad--nothing against the composer, James Newton Howard (Howard Shore's score was rejected at the last minute), but given the short amount of time in which he had to write a replacement score, it's expected to sound like a rush job.  So I wasn't dying to hear it.  No, what sold the film for me were the dinosaurs.  I was curious to see how the computer animated creatures have evolved since Jurrasic Park.  And sure enough, they were cool.  The detail in their skin, especially under sunlight, the moisture in their mouths, and the illusion of weight has improved in the last 12 years, at least to my eyes.

I'm at an age where I'm starting to think that it's too late to start up a new hobby.  Not that this is a general discouragement, but personally, by the time you hit 30, if you haven't found a hobby yet, you never will--cause you've already established your likes and dislikes, or should've by then.  Anything you pick up cause you "always wanted to for the longest time" hasn't been for a reason, and'll only be an act of desperation to fill some void in your life.  If you really wanted to do something, you should've, or have started already.  But that's just me--maybe I'll've a different outlook when I'm older.  Cause, for me a hobby, by definition, is an obsessive effort which demands a certain amount of seriousness (or insanity).  I don't think I have it in me to start anything from scratch.  

But I'm not worried.  Cause the way I see it, at my age, hobbies are more about developing what I've already got--to find something new in the old.  I don't've the patience and energy to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.  Thus, I've decided to really study orchestration.  The last film I scored got me excited about playing with a symphonic orchestra, albeit a computer simulation.  I had fun with the building blocks--strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion.  I've never really dedicated enough time to this aspect of music.  However, the first thing I need to do is upgrade my MIDI orchestra.  I've been using the free sound module that came with my music program, and even though it's light years ahead of anything that was around 12 years ago, it's crap, if not unusable.  I did some research online and found some nicer samples (nothing, of course is as good as the real thing).  I ordered a couple of them.  And I checked out some orchestral scores from the library. 

I'm set.

For now...

(12.15.05)

"I'm comming over," my sister called on her cellphone from her car.

Growing up, we both hated mushrooms.  But somehow I outgrew my dislike.  In fact, I can't think of anything I won't eat--it's only food.  My sister still can't stand mushrooms.

"I'm gonna drop off some creme brule," she explained.  "I made some for my office party and I've got some extras.  You want them, right?"

Of course I did.  If there's anything better than food, it's free food.  I was just finishing a burrito and dessert sounded good.  Free dessert, on top of that.

"Here you go," she arrived with a tray of tiny creme brule servings.

I popped a few in my mouth.  They had little blueberries and raspberries.

"I lost," she frowned.  "Our office was having a contest.  We judged the snacks that we brought.  And I lost.  They're good right?"

Yeah.  Who won?

"You won't believe," she was pissed off.  "Somebody brought stuffed mushrooms.  Everybody loved those better than my creme brule.  Isn't that gross."

Sometimes she tries to rally me onto her anti-mushroom stance, like she did when we were kids.  Unfortunately, I can't concur.  Cause I bet they might've been yummy.

"You're such an ungrateful traitor," she felt betrayed.  "Well, give me back the tray when you're done."

(12.16.05)

Mr. Henry's coach pulled up to Longbourn at half past five.  The winter had provided some snow and the cold air prompted him to enter the house as fast as manners allowed.  Mrs. Hill, the housekeeper, attended to his overcoat.  A formal greeting was lavished by Mrs. Bennet, who lured him into the house proper.

"I'm so glad you could make it," she smiled.  "And so does Mary.  She is upstairs at the moment and shall be with us shortly.  How is her dear uncle Mr. Philips?"

"He is well," Mr. Henry remarked, ever so succinctly.

"You are indeed his most worthy clerk," Mrs. Bennet complimented.

"How are Mary's sisters?" Mr. Henry attempted to inquire politely.

"Kitty is with her older sisters Jane and Elizabeth," she more than happily explained.  "They will be at Pemberly this holiday.  We shall join them shortly.  Lydia, I'm afraid, will regretfully not have the chance.  I do hope yourself and Mary shall chuse to come as well.  She will most pleased."

"That is my humble intention, Mrs. Bennet," Mr. Henry impatiently spoke.  For he had been waiting all weekend to set his eyes upon Mary once again.  It is common knowledge that of the Bennet sisters, Mary is regarded as the most plain.  However, Mr. Henry was captivated by her quirks--her ridiculous effusions and clumsy, yet enthusiastic thorough bass technique.  Mr. Henry acknowledged his place in life, and recognized that she was within the upper ranks of his social position, to which he was ever so grateful.

"Here she is," Mrs. Bennet announced, with an eye towards Mr. Henry's reaction.  "Mary, do join Mr. Henry this evening."

(12.19.05)

I woke up to find the building nextdoor wrapped in an exterminator canopy.

Sometimes I'd like to think that everyone is equal.  I mean, absolutely equal in the mathematical sense.  For example, if one could assign a numerical value to a person's attributes (physically, intellectually, socially, spiritually, etc.), and added them up, the sum would be the same for everyone.  Of course, I'm being overly simplistic, cause these values are subjective, but on some cosmic scale, I picture it all balancing out.  Which would ultimately not matter anyways, all things being equal.

In MIDI terms, all notes can be quantified in terms of velocity (how loud or soft a note is played) on a scale of 0-127.  Cause in music, expression is generally valued--dynamic changes create dramatic nuances.  If all the notes are played at the same level, it'll sound cold and mechanical.  Even the smallest crescendo or diminuendo can liven things up.  Sorta like speech, whereby volume is modulated for emotional emphasis and phrasing.

I've yet to meet someone that I think is better or worse than me.  There's always something that neutralizes any positive or negative aspect of someone's life in comparison to mine.  Sure, people have strengths and weaknesses that are valued or shunned in society, to which I'm not suggesting that everyone is capable of the same things.  However, from a big picture vantage, I can't say I envy or pity anyone.

In tonal music, there are notes that have more significance than others, most notably the tonic (the first note of most scales).  The twelve notes theoretically gravitate towards that home key, some moreso.  Arguably, all this is socially constructed, that notes have no real value other than the ones that've been assigned, and perception is learned.  Who knows...

I got home late at night to the silence of the drapped building nextdoor. 

(12.20.05)

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 - Allegro

(12.21.05)

I assessed the speed of headlights on the freeway.  If they were fast, I'd hop on.  If they were slow, I'd take the streets home.  'Tis the season, however, when it really doesn't matter which route I take--they're both jammed.  So it's a question of which scenery do I want to look at as I sit in my car.

These are the thoughts that ran thru my head during the mostly stationary drive:

- What should I eat for dinner?  I think that if it were possible, I'd eat the same thing everyday--given that the meal provides all the essential nutrition.  I'd rather skip the figuring out what to eat process and view it as a necessary task, like taking a shower or brushing my teeth.  That's more important to me than variety.  I don't think I'd get tired of the same thing as I'd focus on other aspects of life.  Like, give me a pill that takes care of all my food needs.  Pop it in once a day.  And move along.

- I wonder if anyone's working on a program to decode unwritten email.  I mean, everyone inputs text, but not all of it is kept--some's edited out for mistakes and content.  I know I've written stuff that I've deleted before sending, whether for grammatical or personal reasons.  But if one could access all the keystrokes involved in the composition of an email, it'd give a glimpse into one's train of thought, not to mention typing skill.  It's probably ridiculous--you'd need some kinda recording mechanism on the composition end.  People would either get pissed off that their privacy is being invaded or become better typers.

- I'm glad I got all my holiday shopping done.  Thank online shopping.  I didn't once step in a crowded store.  I usually give the same gift to everyone.  This year, it's a set of postcards.  I uploaded photos of my LEGO Escher sculptures at
Cardstore.com.  And ordered a ton.

- I think I'll go to the Indian restaurant for dinner.  I need to write an email to tech support regarding some music software.  And tomorrow I'll give my gifts to my coworkers.

(12.22.05)

I just met with the director of the next film I'm gonna score.  I'll be working on it in January--I booked Stair 7 Studio and alerted my engineer to what's potentially involved, namely acoustic instruments.  Meanwhile, I've been testing my new orchestra samples, plugging them into some scores that I checked out from the library, and generally getting familiar with the palette.  Cause the way I see it, MIDI is an instrument in itself, and requires the same approach as any instrument in that it needs to be practiced.  I used to look at it as a quick and easy bastardization of reality.  And that perspective resulted in my crappy attempts at mimicry.  For you get what you put into it.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to 2006.  I've got the film score, some potential commissions, and a more than likely trip to Japan planned.  And so it's that time of year when OUT ON A LIM's gonna shut down.  I wanna thank all the readers who've continually made writing this not a chore.  I try to input as much fun into this operation, and I'm happy that it's reciprocated.  Cause my motto in life is "If it's a pain in the ass, I'd rather not bother".  So far, so good.

I always make fun of silly end of the year lists.  Previously, I've sarcastically posted mine.  And it'd be a shame to break tradition, so here goes:

TOP EIGHT ALBUMS OF 2005
1. Belladonna / Daniel Lanois
2. Super Extra Gravity / The Cardigans
3. Memoirs of a Geisha / John Williams
4. Man-Made / Teenage Fanclub
5. Corpse Bride / Danny Elfman
6. Dandelion Day / Kite Operations
7. Guero / Beck
8. Violin Sonatas / Mozart (Hilary Hahn, Natalie Zhu)

TOP SEVEN MOVIES OF 2005
1. Broken Flowers
2. Corpse Bride
3. Hauru no Ugoku Shiro
4. History of Violence
5. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
6. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
7. Revenge of the Sith

TOP SIX THINGS I DID IN 2005 THAT I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD, BUT AM GLAD I DID
1. visited Europe
2.
Hacienda Heights concert
3. UCLA photo exhibit
4. read
Pride and Prejudice
5. bought MIDI orchestra samples
6. fucked up with Poem Chick (again)

Well, that's it for me.  I'm tuning out for the holidays.  Hope your's're whatever you like them to be.

See you in 2006...

(12.23.05)

About every other month or so, my shower drain gets clogged.  An early warning sign is the water takes longer to empty, until it can't anymore, which means I gotta take a shower with my feet in a cold pool.  After years of this, I've been proactive in my drain maintenance, including cleaning the prime culprit, namely my fallen hair, from the wherever it collects--usually at the strainer, but when it starts to clog, hair amasses all over the tub.  But what's most helpful is routinely pouring drain remover.  I get bottles from the nearest drug store, often two at a time, so that I've always got a reserve, in case of emergencies.  And without fail, there's the same homeless person begging for change at the entrance of the store.  I'm not a generous person, especially to strangers.  But when I see the same homeless person at a place where I frequent, I can't help but cave.  I associate drain remover with giving spare change.

Over the holidays I stayed up later--til noonish.  And started to wake up in the evening.  In the dark.  I didn't bother turning on the lights when I took a shower.  This wasn't a problem, cause I've washed myself so many times that I can do it blind.  It's not like I get extremely dirty everyday.  I mean, I don't need to see what I'm cleaning.  It's more of a feeling--I know how my body feels when it's refreshed.  Also, looking at my shampoo and soap ain't necessary, insofar as I can apply the right amount by rote.  In fact, I don't mind the dark--I tend to use as little light as possible.  Sometimes just a computer monitor or the LED on my stereo is enough.  The brightest light I see is from opening my refrigerator.  I keep things off the floor, so any stumbling is of my own stupidity.  I hear that there're northern parts of the world that don't see the sun during certain times of the year.  I wouldn't mind living there.  Anyways, even in the dark, I can gather the hair from my drain.

(1.9.06)

I remember when video games asked me to imagine that a square represents a pong ball and a triangle a spaceship in an asteroid field.  And when graphics improved, my eyes could fill in the gaps that the pixels portrayed a barrel throwing ape.  Likewise, I remember when a square wave was supposed to vaguely sound like a clarinet and a saw wave a violin.  And when sampling technology advanced, my ears could fill in the gaps that the attack transients initialized.

I don't play modern video games, but from what I've seen, they've come a long way--the first person perspective, the environment simulators, and sound effects (haha, I remember thinking how revolutionary it was the first time I heard a video game actually say the words "intruder alert").  The gap between abstraction and realism is closing.  It's not a stretch of the imagination anymore when the character you play looks like a person and not a boxed shaped stick figure.

But there's still no confusing the resolution of a video game from reality. 

Last week I tinkered with some fairly modern orchestra samples.  They've come a long way--individually sampled notes, environment simulators, and articulation effects (haha, I remember thinking how revolutionary it was the first time I used a modulation wheel for vibrato).  It's not a stretch of the imagination anymore when you hear a sample of a string section that it's a bunch of violins, violas, cellos, and basses, and not saw waves.

I can see video game players losing themselves in the reality of the game.  They can navigate the terrain and begin to feel like they're in that world.  Cause after several hours of playing with orchestra samples, I admit there were times when I thought some of the sounds were strikingly realistic.  And that's a good thing--it got me into the music and not the production.  But stepping back, I can hear that it's just a game.  I wonder what orchestra simulations'll sound like in ten years...

I first tested the samples on some Bach.  But Bach sounds good on any instrument.  I wanted to give the samples a real workout, to test the limits of the sounds. 
So I ran them thru some Elfman. Admittedly, it falls short--there's a roughness and unmechanicality that's missing.  Some of it's my own laziness as I need to mess with the expressive parameters more, rather than just copy and paste repeated figures.  Nevertheless, I'm happy with the sounds and think they'll give me more fun than frustration in the future.  If anything, I'm learning about orchestration, which can't hurt.  As the old saying goes, it's not the game, but how you play it.

(1.10.06)

"Don't freak out," my sister prepared me as we approached the guest services of the movie theatre.  We were gonna use her fiance's editor's union card to try and get into
Memoirs of a Geisha for free.  The catch being I had to pretend to be her fiance.

My refrigerator magnets are holding several Audrey Hepburn postcards.  She's too cute.  I've also got an Alice from Wonderland illustration and a flyer from a ceramic Picasso exhibit I attended in Japan.  Nothing too cluttered, but they're nice to look at when I stand in my kitchen and drink my orange juice.

The date stamps at work go up to 2005.  It's time to order new ones.  I rolled the years and saw that they started at 1995.  I remember getting those when 1994 was over and thinking, wow, 2005 is a long way away...

I looked at my outdated calendar at home and realized that it's time to update.  Every year I go to the bookstore and get a calendar.  I usually don't've any particular design or theme in mind, just whatever catches my eye first.  Last year I had a Sandman calendar.  Previous years include Salvador Dali, The Beatles, and of course Audrey Hepburn.  This year's pickings were slim.  For some reason there were a lot of cat calendars.  They're on sale, so I guess they're the leftovers that nobody thought were good enough to give as gifts.  Anyways, I picked up a dinosaur calendar.  (This month: monolophosaurus)

As I was about to throw away my old calendar, I scrolled thru the months to give the images one last look.  There was a cool picture of Delirium that I decided to cut out and keep.  I stuck it on my refrigerator.

"I'm sorry," the guest services attendant said to us, "but
Memoirs of a Geisha isn't on the list of free movies you can see."  He showed us the titles that were available, but none were more appealing than Memoirs.  So we ended up paying for our tickets.  And I didn't've to pretend to be anyone but myself.

(1.11.06)

So my assistant likes to xerox photos from the various music periodicals that come thru at work.  They're usually overly serious musicians in self important poses.  She thinks they're funny enough to cut out and keep or send as pranks to people.

It's been a while since I've had a good dream.  Not that they've been bad, rather I haven't had any that've been better than my waking life.  It's like, since I'm asleep, I figure that I might as well live in dreams that are more exciting than reality instead of rehashing the same crap that I've already experienced when I was awake.  For example, the other night I dreamt that I was driving along the beach.  Boring.

I'm guessing that one of the reasons for this is I haven't been tired.  Sleep's been more like little naps.  They're not deep enough to get good dreams rolling.  Not that I'ven't been having sleeping problems, on the contrary, it's almost as if I have too much and don't need any more.  It also follows that I don't wear myself dead tired during the day so going to bed isn't a relief.

Another reason is my life is currently ok.  I can't complain about anything.  I have fun doing the things I do.  And I'd like to think that dreams are compensation for the tedium of life.  So it goes to reason that if I'm satisfied with life, it's only fair that my dreams should suck, and vice versa.  I can't have it all.  

With the holidays over, it's been a challenge to get back to a somewhat normal sleep schedule.  I took a day off from work the other day cause I just couldn't wake up before 18:00--I already come in late as it is, but showing up at 19:00 would've been absurd, not to mention that if I did put in an 8 hour shift, I'd end at 03:00.

I've found that the easiset way to reset my internal clock is to skip a night of sleep.  And so I did.  We were having a retirement party at work, so I didn't need to be totally alert--just mingle and eat.  The only potential danger was driving home.  I smoked a lot and sang along with my stereo to keep from falling asleep at the wheel, which helped despite nodding off here and there.  Luckily, the only crashing I did was in my bed.

And what a dream I had.

Some magazines come with complimentary calendars.  I usually trash them.  But there was a silly one with portraits of bassists.  I didn't throw it away.  I know someone who'd appreciate it.

(1.12.06)

I've got a certain fondness for the year 1972.  It's not like some unhealthy sorta obsession--I don't collect commemorative memorabilia, newspaper clippings, wear fashion, or listen to much music from that year.  And I'm not secretly building a time machine to transport me back.  But given a list of years, say, 1492, 1776, 1972, 1984, 1999, 2001, my eyes will immediately hone in on 1972. 

Cause that's the year I was born.  And even though I can't remember much, there's something that makes that year stand out in a historically real sense--I wasn't in the world when things happened before, so everything I learn about pre-1972 is hearsay, and everything after started from that point in time.  Not to sound too egotistical, but maybe it's my vain attempt to empathize with my preconscious infancy that draws me to that year whenever it's mentioned.  To which I can't help but remind myself that yes, I was around in 1972.

And that's what was in the back of my head when I saw
Munich.  Aside from the pretty girls (Spielberg has a good eye), haunting score (Williams is always good when restrained), fine editing (connecting or contrasting motif cuts) and attention holding story (even though it's obvious that violence is fucked up), it's the 1972 setting that sucked me in.  Everything from the cars, the clothes, the furniture, and the sun, felt nostalgic.  So thumbs up to the production designer.  As well, the cinematography perfectly captured a washed out graininess that looked as if it were shot back in the day.  Again, I can't remember what the air smelled like in 1972, but this movie didn't conflict with my confabulation.

The kicker was the main character had a newborn daughter.  It wasn't hard seeing the movie thru her eyes--oblivious to the political and tragic events.  I mean, I don't remember what happened in Munich.  Not being Jewish or Palestinian, or proudly declarative of any nationality or race for that matter, makes it any less  significant or immediate to me.  And I probably wouldn't care if it weren't for three little details.  One, I visited Munich last summer, and saw the infamous Olympic stadium--I can confirm that it's a real place.  Two, the last shot ties the modern terrorist situation with the film's themes.  And of course, three, the year 1972.  All of which opened my eyes to the fact that there's a world beyond myself.

(1.13.06)

I could never draw well.  I can get by.  I mean, I can get a point across, but technically, I'm no good.  I lack the patience for details.  This isn't to say I don't spend time on drawings.  I'm more of a broad stroke sketcher.  Cause I've always thought that the idea was more important than the execution--if it's good enough, it shouldn't matter how it's rendered.

Back in elementary school, everyone knew who could draw.  They got their pictures posted on the wall.  More often than not, mine would always be one.  Not because it was good--some of the other Asian kids had mad skills.  And forget colours due to my blindness.  I didn't bother with using a ruler or shading either.  Mine would be that simple pencil or pen scribble that couldn't compete with the rest if it weren't for my picture's iconic straightforwardness.  And that's how I fit into the drawing crowd.

I was on the yearbook staff in junior high.  Obviously, I was part of the art department even though the other artists were way better than me--one of them did some realistic portraits of all the teachers.  I couldn't compete with them for space on the pages.  However, when it came time for us to submit ideas for the cover, mine stood out.  The other guys had some great illustrations, but they couldn't sum up the theme.  I drew a surfboard in the sand (the theme was "California")--it wasn't great, any fool could've drawn it.  But since I came up with the idea, it was used.

There's been no better time for my drawings than when I was the cartoonist for my high school newspaper.  It was the perfect medium for my style.  And there were some serious artists amongst my peers, but cartooning, especially editorial cartooning whereby an idea had to get across, was either below them or difficult to succinctly muster.  I remember going to journalism competitions.  Writers and artists were given a topic to depict within a two hour limit.  I felt intimidated by the other cartoonists as they brought their arsenal of drawing supplies (different sized and shaped pens, straight edges, and whatnot).  I had to borrow a pen from someone.  My teacher got annoyed when I finished my drawing in ten minutes and left for a smokebreak.  She thought I wasn't taking the competition seriously.  But I'd win.       

I haven't drawn much since.  I don't really draw for fun--it's always been for school and that kinda killed the buzz.  Nevertheless, I still like the idea that the idea should come first. 

(1.17.06)

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Anyone familiar with the
layout of UCLA knows that the campus is divided into two basic sections, north and south.  The north is where most of the humanities buildings are located and the south the sciences.

As usual, Ikumi was working on a puzzle.  A grid of numbers was twisting her brain.

I'm not much of a procrastinator, per se, rather I'll put something off until the last minute knowing full well that once I begin, I'll be obsessively involved with it to the bitter end.  So when I procrastinate, I'm usually just letting my mind relax for a few moments before tackling a project that'll consume my concentration.  It's my way of keeping sane.

Fittingingly, the UCLA music building is located in the middle of campus.  Not to discredit either the humanities or the sciences, but of all the subjects, I think music is as close to a balance of both as anything, even though on paper, it's part of the arts which is part of the humanities.  And no one'll confuse a musician for a scientist, but there's a similar elegance and madness that both share.  It's in the numbers.

"What're you supposed to do?" I interrupted Ikumi.  "Are the numbers supposed to add up?"

"No," she explained, "all the rows, columns, and boxes have to have all the numbers 1 thru 9.  It's logic."

Well, I'm supposed to be composing a film score right now.  All I really need to do is come up with a theme--the variations'll be easy.  But once I sit at the keyboard, I won't quit til I'm done.  Which could be instantaneous or take all night. 
Meanwhile, I'm playing with numbers.

(1.18.06)

My bowling buddies were meeting at Tina's brother's house in Cerritos.  This was to be our first venture in that area, so I needed directions.  The map online seemed simple enough--I jotted down the address, offramp, streets to turn on, and Tina's cellphone number in case I got lost.

I got lost.  The offramp was fine, but I couldn't find the street that I was to turn on--I might've read the map wrong.  Working from memory, I took a chance, and drove around to see if I might stumble on something familiar from the map.  Nothing.  Each cluster of suburban homes looked the same.

I gave up and called Tina.  This could've been a convenient situation for me to have had a cellphone, but conveniently, I found a pay phone.  I think when the day comes when pay phones become obsolete, I might consider getting a cellphone.  But for now, moments such as these are rare.  I've yet to see the benefits of having a portable communication device.

Supposedly, television is trying to get in on the cellphone craze.  I read somewhere that you'll be able to watch your favourite programs on the little cellphone screen.  This might seem like the greatest thing to most people, but since I hardly watch TV, this merging of technology means absolutely nothing to me.

And speaking of television, it's becoming a common accessory in automobiles.  Every other car on the freeway seems to have one--it's easy to stop and notice on the conjested freeways of LA.  Again, since I can spare the moments when I'm not watching TV, getting one for my car is less likely than me getting a cellphone.

Ok, I'm sounding like a grumpy old man.  I'm not anti-technology, or anti-cellphone and anti-television for that matter.  On the contrary, I agree that they've made many lives easier--just not mine.  I mean, I can see how having a TV in the car can make the kids in the back seat shut up.  And to be fair, I use a lot of technology that's practically pointless to the rest of the world.  For example, I just downloaded a virtual erhu.  Now, if only they made cellphones with virtual erhus...

(1.19.06)

Every cigarette must come to an end.

I was having a smokebreak in the courtyard, minding my own business, when a pretty girl decided to talk on her cellphone about 20 feet away from me.  She probably didn't notice me, but I couldn't take my eyes off her as she walked back and forth, stopping to touch the flowers along her path.  I wondered if I'd finish my cigarette before her conversation.

Mandy, my previous assistant, said that she doesn't like to read books cause if she likes the characters, she hates for the story to end.  I can't say that's happened too often to me in my adventures in literature.  I like it when a book's over--the sense of final completion.

However, I've been reluctantly comming to the end of
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.  When I first got the three volume set, I charged thru, quickly getting reacquainted with my favourite comic duo.  I couldn't get enough.  Volumes one and two went by in a blur--a fun filled, dinosaur, spaceship, transmogrifying, G.R.O.S.S. blur nonetheless.  But I'm slowing down with volume three.  Maybe it's the observational philosophies of the later years, or the developing expansion of the Sunday editions, but I'm savouring each panel of each strip, noticing the details, and clinging to the dwindling pages.

Of course my current assistant Kate and her Jane Austen obsession remind me that I can always reread a book.  There're only a handful of novels that I've liked enough to return to multiple times--
Alice, Lolita, Sandman, Faustus.  Undoubtedly, Calvin and Hobbes is gonna join the ranks.

I finished my cigarette first. 

(1.20.06)
I skipped work today.  No, I didn't pretend to be "sick" and I'm not shirking my duties.  I put in 8 hours on Sunday--my boss is taking a leave of absence to take care of her husband who recently had surgery, and Sunday seemed like the most convenient for her to explain how I should handle things whilst she's gone.  So that meant that I could take a day off during the week.  I didn't've any specific day in mind--maybe Friday to give me a three day weekend.  But as I was working on the score to the film Sven Stromson Blue all last night, I decided to sleep in today.  

The music's comming along.  Luckily, the deadline isn't killing me, so I've got time to take my time, which ain't necessarily a good thing since it allows me to think too much instead of blindly forging forward based on gut instinct.  Anyways, right now I'm making MIDI demos which I'll take to Stair 7 Studios as guidelines to record with real instruments--I find that I work best when I've got a clear plan set and don't waste my engineer's time.

Speaking of time, my watch broke.  To be specific, the wristband.  It's broken before and I've gotten it fixed, but this time the pinholder snapped off--I don't think it can be mended, rather I don't wanna spend the time super gluing it back together.  Of course, I don't ever wear it, and functionally, it still works.  However, I'll need it when I travel.  And I'm using the stopwatch to time scenes for the film score.  So having taken the day off, I decided to get a new one.  I know, it's silly of me, but it was time to replace my watch.  I've had it since high school and it's served me well.  So I went to the clock store in the mall.  My loyalty to the Casio brand sent me in the direction of those watches--hey, any watch company that also makes musical keyboards is cool with me.  Nothing fancy, as long as it's analog, has a digital stopwatch, and is less than $100.  My parents have ridiculously expensive Rolexes.  I don't value time as much as they do, so anything over $100 is a waste of money.  There was a nifty looking watch that fit my criteria for $89.  I asked the salesman if I could check it out.  I tested the stopwatch, namely if it was easy to use.  Fine.  I bought it.  "You're a great customer," the salesman remarked, "most people spend hours trying to figure out which one to buy--you know what you want and don't waste time."  I didn't bother with boxing or bagging it up.  I just wore it out the store.  And took it off when I got home.

(1.23.06)

I was parked on the 7th floor of the parking structure.  Unless I'm ascending ten floors or more, I'm not much of an elevator rider.  So I was climbing to my car when I heard the roar of a motorcycle on the street below.  I took the loud opportunity to simultaneously fart.

There's a scene in
Match Point where the main character starts to feel claustrophobic.  It underlined how I felt about the situations in the movie.  He was trapped in the upper class.

I like to fart.  Even to this day, they still make me laugh.  And I hate it when I've got to hold them in during pleasant social settings.  When I'm alone or with family and friends, I let them rip.  I'm always looking for moments when I can sneak one in public--large noisy crowds, in secluded corners, clear coasts, etc.

My middle class parents like to rub shoulders with the rich.  They covet that lifestyle.  So much so that it's turned me off from climbing any social ladder.  Nothing against my parents' mansion and servant owning friends, I'm sure they're nice people, as we all are deep down, but I want less in life than to play the money game and aspire for exclusivity.  The simplest pleasures are classless.

I've never had an affair or fooled around with an involved girl.  I can't speak for any of my ex-girlfriends, but I've never been in a cheating relationship.  My only reactions to such come from movies.  Scarlett Johansson in
Match Point certainly makes it seem like it's worth the inevitablity.  Sometimes I look at all my married peers and wonder how many of them'll still be together in ten years.  Everyone's happy now, but chances are, whatever's going on in private will rip them apart.

So although I understand the logic of the characters and plot in
Match Point, I can't feel sorry for the tragic conclusion--greed feeds on itself.  This isn't to say that the movie sucked as I enjoyed feeling claustrophobic in the theatre even though I was the only one in the audience.

(1.24.06)

My sister didn't know what a viola was. 

"Do you know what a violin is?" I asked.

"Yeah."

"And do you know what a cello is?"

"Yeah."

"Well, a viola is an instrument that's bigger than a violin and smaller than a cello."

Actually, if you asked me ten years ago, I wasn't so familiar with the viola either.  I mean, I knew what it was, but I'd've'd to look up its range.  In fact, I never really paid much attention to the middle voices until after I played Bach.  And it's only now that I'm getting used to reading alto clef.  Not to mention transposing for B flat and other non-C instruments.  But the more I read scores, the easier it's getting.

I learned how to read music from a book.  I had a children's songbook that had a picture of a keyboard which showed what each note looked like on the treble and bass clef.  It took me a couple of months til I could read without the chart.  And although I took violin lessons, I never really grasped the concept of notation--I played more from following my teacher and where my fingers went on the instrument.  It was abstract, at least in terms of I couldn't play anything on my own with certainty given the notes.  And even after I figured it out, it took me years til I could look at a score and hear it in my head.  I credit reading a lot of music before making it like second nature.  Cause literacy isn't just the ability to read, write, and comprehend.  It's using it.

Nothing against my violin teacher, or any teacher for that matter, as I've got great respect for them, but I also value learning things on one's own.  It may take longer and even be wrong, but what you internalize becomes personal, and therefore meaningful in a harder to forget way.  Of course, not everyone's personalities are conditioned to be self taught, as teachers can offer motivational discipline and assurance.  Let alone, of all the subjects, music and art are less "objective" and less "practical" enough to risk being studied "incorrectly".  But speaking for myself, I encourage self education as the first course of action and consulting help as a last resort.

Yet, there's also something to be said about ignorance.  Cause I wonder how my sister hears music.  I find myself all too often more concerned with the mechanics of the instruments, the harmonic progressions, and the recording techniques that the magic gets lost.  Not to say that music ain't a wonder to me, cause I still scratch my head--that's what keeps me at it.  And just because one can identify and codify its construction doesn't necessarily allow for any more appreciation of its mysterious effect.  But sometimes I wish I could forget everything I know and listen to music like a non-musician.  I try to keep that in mind.

(1.25.06)

For a few seconds, a raccoon got caught in my headlights as I was pulling into my driveway.  And then it ran into the alley behind the trash dumpster. 

I was talking to someone who had sour breath.  It wasn't bad.  Noticeable, but bearable.  I can't imagine my breath being all that sweet--my rotting teeth can't be helping.  I've never had any complaints, but during this conversation, I began to not care about how one's breath smells.  I'd rather ignore it than have them suck on mouth freshner.

I forgot to take off my watch today.  I was timing some cues and it must've slipped my mind to remove it.  So it's a compliment that I didn't notice it on me--I hate to say it, but it's comfortable.  Oh, and it's only now that I realize that it's green.  I thought it was black when I bought it.  Or at least I think it's green.

My neighbour asked me to pick up any packages that she expected to arrive on her doorstep during her vacation.  There was one on Tuesday.  She said she'd be back on Wednesday.  It's now Saturday.  I hope nothing's wrong.

The carousel tray in my CD player is making a clicking noise.  It still spins fine.  I'm not gonna worry about it until it's broken.

I tried to watch TV the other night--
My Name Is Earl.  But for some reason, it just put me to sleep.  Which was weird cause I wasn't tired.  However, the show was boring.  I get paranoid when I sleep with the TV on.  I have suspicions that the commercials are going into my head subconsciously.

Maybe it's just me, and I can't put my finger on it, but there's something off kilter in the universe.

(1.26.06)

During dim sum with my sister and her fiance, 99% of the conversation was about wedding plans, which was actually entertaining cause I've always taken for granted what's involved with such events--this is the first time any of siblings is having a wedding.  I've been to weddings for friends and cousins and've just enjoyed the free food despite the uncomfortableness of having to dress up.  Of course, I'm vaguely aware that weddings are full of fret and money.  But having my sister go on about the details, I'm comming to appreciate the production.

Let's just say the cost alone blows my mind.  The wedding is about nine months away, so they're only in the preliminary stress phase--scouting locations, estimating the number of guests, when to register, etc.  I'm supposed to be in the ceremony somehow, so she's including me on her email list concerning prospective venues, food selection, etc.  It's fun.  For now.  I'm waiting til the date gets closer when either my sister or mom'll succumb to the pressure of it all.

Of course I'm happy for my sister and her fiance.  They seem generally suited for each other.  And they seem gung ho about planning the wedding--obviously, my sister more than her fiance.  Nevertheless, having seen the figures and the attention to the appearance of a respectable wedding has convinced me that I'll never go thru that mess.  Not that I don't want to get married, but if I ever do, I won't be putting on a show.  Just thinking about the rape job that the wedding industry commits zaps all the romance from the social custom--I won't deny that I'm speaking from a guy's perspective, nor will I argue that the demand dictates the supply, but I'd like to hope that my love doesn't need to be overcompensated with an expensive wedding.  Yeah, I know, it's not up to me to decide.

I'm mentally reviewing the weddings I've attended.  And I'm starting to admire those that weren't so big and fancy.  I remember walking around downtown with an ex-girlfriend and passing the marriage court.  We joked that we should just do it, no nonsense style, quickly and cheaply.  Looking back, getting married downtown seems more and more like less of a joke, especially in this day of overbloated and fabricated weddings.  If my love is humiliated by that cold legal environment, no money can make it more real.

(1.27.06)

Dear Friends and Enemies of OUT ON A LIM

This is Linda, Henry's protege.  He told me to post a little note saying he's not gonna be able to write any entries this week cause he's in the studio recording a film score.  Oh and he wants me to publicly state that he treats me ok and that he's a great mentor.  So please, there's no need to investigate our relationship.  It is purely professional.  If there was any funny business, I'd say so.  Have a nice week.

-Linda

(1.30.06)

Because my dad grew up in Indonesia, I've neglected my Chinese roots.  He imparted upon me more of his birth country's culture than his ancestorial heritage.  I'm not sure he even knows what's up--he learned Indonesian, not any Chinese language.  Thus, China seems exotic to me.   

After eating some Chinese flavoured ramen, I went to Tower Records.  I'ven't browsed a music store in ages ever since shopping online became so convenient.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular.  But it was like old times as I strolled the bins.  And even though music vendors on the web offer some sort of "if you like this, you might like this" feature, it's not the same as walking down the wrong aisle and stumbling on something.

It's been so long since I've been to Tower Records that I had to relearn how to navigate the new floorplan.  Anyways, as usual, I ended up in the soundtracks.  I kinda was in the mood to hear some Thomas Newman, but hey, they moved the world music next to the soundtracks.  Maybe it was the Chinese spices digesting in my tummy that made me curious to check out the Asia section, in particular the music of China.

Actually, lately I've been fooling around with some Chinese percussion samples that I got from
Kong Audio.  I think they're the coolest drum sounds ever.  They're fun to virtually bang on--massive drums, killer gongs, and what sounds to me like pots and pans.

So I naturally searched for a recording of real Chinese percussion ensembles.  There were some, but hey, I noticed a cute babe on the CD in the next bin.  She was holding a pipa.  Jiang Ting's her name.  I picked up her album and glanced at the zany titles on the back--"Expressing One's Thoughts to the Moonlight", "Tea Leaf Picking Dance", and "Reflection of Spring Flowers in the Moonlit Lake".  Oh hell yeah, I thought, I'm buying this.

When I got home, I dimmed the lights, got comfy with some black cherry vanilla Coke, and let her strum me to China. 

(2.6.06)

I've got to hand it to my brother.  He's always been hip to the word "fusion".  Lately, it seems like a ton products are calling themselves "fusion"--a car, a razor blade, etc.  Granted, my brother spells it "fushion", but he pronounces it the same and I instantly think of him whenever I see any variation of the word.  If I remember correctly, he named one of his piranhas "Fushion" back when he was in high school.  And then he started using it as a nickname for himself.  I'm not sure why the word is so trendy right now.  If I were using it as a brand name I'd be a little embarrassed for being unoriginal. 

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night to hiccup.  I thought it was weird cause I can't remember the last time I uncontrollably hiccupped.  I think I burp too much to have any extra gas to release via my mouth.  I mean, I've had cases when I was a kid and consulted the various urban remedies.  Anyways, last night I was too comfy in my warm bed to get up and get a drink, so I thought to myself "hiccups please stop".  And they did.

I was getting worried.  I've been antsy to see a new Zooey Deschanel movie.  And it was looking like her next role would be in some horrible looking Sarah Jessica Parker flick.  I almost went shopping for a barf bag in preparation to endure that movie.  But there's another Zooey movie comming out around the same time that actually looks cool.  It's called
Winter Passing.  I'll definitely see that instead.  Phew.

(2.7.06)

Another tooth fell out today.

Some girls have the advantage of making an impression on me and I'll never see'em again.  In my mind they'll always be perfect.  Realistically, if I saw them on a regular basis, I'm sure I'd get bored of them.

The tooth was wiggling since the beginning of the year.  I'd feel it shift when I swallowed.  As the weeks went by, I found my tongue playing with it.  It was due to fall out sooner or later.

I had a fun little dream last night.  I migrated to Canada with a cute girl.  We hibernated for the winter.          

But today the tooth was getting on my nerves.  It fell out just in time.

However, I figure if I did see a girl on a regular basis and she didn't bore me, then she might actually be worth my attention.  

Sometimes it's hard to tell when a dream is really a nightmare.

(2.8.06)

I logged off my computer at work and said bye to the janitor.  I went over to the studio to review what I'd recorded the night before.  My engineer and I played with some mixing possibilities, but we still need to add the other instruments, so it's too early to settle on anything.  We made a game plan to figure out what to do next--booked the auditorium, rationalized when to do the drums, scheduled the best time to overdub the trombones, etc.  So far so good.  Tonight, we decided to take a break--we were up til 2am last night.  So I headed home.

After driving down the exit ramp of the parking structure, I noticed a cute girl at the crosswalk.  I'd seen her several times earlier in the day--at the vending machine, walking the halls, and in the library.  She's skinny, tall, and wears glasses.  I'm guessing she's a music student.  I checked my glove compartment to see if I had any candy to lure her...

One of the instruments that I recorded last night was a xylophone.  I hadn't played one since high school marching band.  As my engineer and I lugged it from the orchestra room to the auditorium, I got flashbacks of wheeling a xylophone onto football fields.  Anyways, I didn't need much warming up on the instrument--holding the mallets was enough to bring me back up to speed.  Not like it's difficult to play.

I'm cautious about going out with musicians.  Based on previous experience, I think they're insane.  Especially those that are serious enough to study it.  On paper you'd think that I'd relate to them, but the truth is I'm too flippant about music to connect on their level of appreciation.  Yet, cause I'm constantly in their presence, it's easy to dismiss their zaniness. 

My engineer agrees that some musicians are nuts.  He's dealt with perfectionists that totally stress out when they record.  And self absorbed divas--recently he recorded an opera singer who had to spend an hour feeling out the stage as she got into character before she could begin.  Nevertheless, I admire such dedication.  Albeit, from afar.

(2.9.06)
(2.10.06)

I watched a fair amount of
Sesame Street when I was growing up during the '70s.  I can't recall any specific lessons that I learned from the show other than Muppets are cool, but I'm sure it didn't hinder my education of numbers and letters.  Anyways, I thought it'd be funny to watch it now.  And I gotta admit, it's still a hoot.  There's something about Muppets that's mesmerizing.  In my opinion, Sesame Street is still better than almost everything else on TV.

There are some bits that are different from back in the day.  For instance, Elmo wasn't around when I was a kid.  Of course I know who he (or she) is--the creature is part of pop culture.  But watching the "Elmo's World" skit reminded me that
Sesame Street has changed.  The special effects are spiffier.  There seems to be more computer animation in the background or interacting with the characters.  The Muppets themselves are more advanced--their legs and lower bodies are showcased more often.  The music includes rap.  Super Chicken has a cellphone.  And Ernie doesn't hang around with Bert anymore.

But what I noticed most was the pacing.  It feels slower than I remember.  Supposedly, the show was blamed for contributing to the diminishment of childrens' attention spans, what with the short and quick cuts to different segments--which by MTV standards were boring, but the argument went that the first
Sesame Street generation was brought up to demand faster pacing.  Or at least that's what I learned in my communications classes in college.  However, I think it's too late to slow things down.  The damage is done.  Attention spans, for better or worse, have evolved to take things quicker than 30 years ago.  I'm not up on the latest child psychology studies, but I think if I feel the pacing stalls, I can't imagine kids being more attentive, even if it's considered "bad" to blitz them with info.  I could be wrong.  But that'll be the day when the younger generation thinks the older one's going too fast.   

(2.13.06)

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Out On a Lim (2.14.06 - 5.18.06)

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