|Out On a Lim|
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|Out On a Lim (9.7.07 - 12.7.07) >>|
|I hit shuffle on my Puffy Walkman knowing full well that I've got some long ass tracks in rotation, namely the 18:54 recording of Beethoven's theme and variation movement from String Quartet No. 12 and the 16:00 Grosse Fuge that's often bundled with No. 13. Nothing against those time hogs, but I was of the mind that classical music is constipated. I don't mean that in a derogatory fashion, rather, whenever I'm in the mood to long windedly get to the point, deaf composers in their later years always seem to know how to back up the flow of instant gratification. That's what I love about pop singles--they don't waste time. Nevertheless, I suppose there're worse fates than being dealt patience. The Adagio, Ma Non Troppo E Molto Cantabile, Andante Con Moto, Adagio Molto Espressivo randomly played after Luke the Drifter's "Just Waitin'".
The old maid is waitin' for leap year to come. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition, but I'd never heard that movement so vividly before. The crooner is just waitin' to sing. It was, for lack of a less pretentious word, sublime. The old cow is standing by the old Bull Durham sign just waitin' for the grass to turn green. I mean, it sent me crying, then laughing, and then both. (Sanso to umi to gasorin to takusan no kidzukai o rouhi shiteiru.) The barn flies are just waitin' for an easy mark. I've got my suspicions that Luke the Drifter primed me for Ludwig van--the lyrics were a set of variations on the the "waitin'" theme. (Seikatsu no tame hataraite boku wa machi o tairageru.) The hitchhiker's just waitin' for a ride. As well, I'd never heard that song so poignantly before. (Hidari ni warau anata no hoho no shikumi ga midarenai you ni.) The life timer's waitin' for a prison break. "Just Waitin'"'s flipside was the downer "Men With Broken Hearts", which was a perfect contrast to the former's corny punchline. (Oikaze yo saa fuitekure yo.) The beach combers waitin' for the tide. And it got me thinking about comedy and somberness, their emotional locations on the the relative spectrum of evocative feelings derived from listening to certain styles of music, and their complimentary characteristics, namely the production of a reaction that's prominent both in my interactions with the kunoichi and my private life ("shiseikatsu"). (Haigo wa mou omoide.) I HEARD THAT GROCERY STORES STOCK THEIR DAIRY PRODUCTS IN THE BACKMOST AILES SO THAT CUSTOMERS MUST WALK PAST AND BE BAITED BY THE OTHER MERCHANDISE. Farmers daughter waitin' for the salesman to take her into town. Tokyo Jihen's "Shiseikatsu" is currently on my repertoire of songs that I like to run thru on my bamboo guitar. (Mukaikaze made suikometara yatto atarashiku naru.) I THINK I PISSED OFF THE GROCERY STORE CLERK WHEN I BOUGHT A SOLE BOTTLE OF ORANGE TO THE CASH REGISTER--I WASN'T HELPING THE ECONOMY MUCH WITH MY MINIMAL PURCHASE. The city slicker's waitin' for the country boy to lay all his money down. YOU MAY SAY THAT I'M A DREAMER. A few weeks ago, my engineer and I did some microphone tests, during which I played the verses to "Shiseikatsu"--he said that they sounded like the bridge to "Imagine". (Yuuhi mo aki mo nichiyou mo takusan wa nai deai mo rouhi shiteiru.) LIKEWISE, I DON'T THINK MY FORMER DRUG DEALER GETS A KICK OUTTA ME GETTING FREE HITS WHENEVER I FREE LOAD OFF HIM. You know everything comes to a stand still--nothing seems to make a turn. BUT I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE. I'd thought that those chords sounded familiar--they were in the same key, too. (Ittarikitari kurikaeshi boku wa hito ni yoisho suru.) CAUSE THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THE FIRST FEW HITS ARE FREE AND THEN DRUG DEALERS CHARGE YOU WHATEVER THEY WANT WHEN YOU'RE HOOKED. Worm must be waitin' for the early bird--I reckon the early bird's just waitin' for the worm. I HOPE SOMEDAY YOU'LL JOIN US. However, I think her Ringoness' gotta a better voice than Lennon. (Anata no me ni wa nasake na sugite aware ni chigainai.) THUS, I'VE BEEN BRAINSTORMING IDEAS FOR A SCULPTURE FOR MY FORMER DRUG DEALER WITHIN MY "FREE SCULPTURES FOR KIDS" SERIES.
Nobody wants to do nothing
Just waitin' to get a finger in the pie
Waitin' for a call from a big quiz show
Or waitin' for some rich uncle to die
AND THE WORLD WILL BE AS ONE
Cause when her Ringoness whines the line "Ikanaide" during the climax, she doesn't sound like she's bullshitting.
(Anata no me ni wa nasake na sugite aware ni chigainai)
Katie she's waitin' at the garden gate--the moonshiner's waitin' at the still
(Konpasu yo saa sashitekure yo)
The gambler's still waitin' for that ace in the hole and I guess Jack's still waitin' for Jill
(Genzaichi o oshiete)
Everybody's waitin' for something but nothing seems to turn out right
(Kison no chizu o anki shite mo kitto anata e mukau)
Cause the night shift's waitin' for mornin' and the burglar he's just waitin' for night
TWIN PEAKS TUESDAYS
The congregation's waitin' for the preacher
The preacher is just waitin' for the groom
The groom is just waitin' for the June bride
And the bride is waitin' for June
(Anata ga genki na hi wa sotto soba ni itai
Ato dorekurai ikirareru n darou
Sunflowers waitin' for the sunshine
Violets just waitin' for dew
(Matte ato sukoshi dake)
Bees just waitin' for honey
(Ikiteiru anata wa itsudemo toonoite boku o ikasu)
And honey I'm just waitin' for you
Yesterday the girls' restroom was flooding. The South American janitor was in a panic. Next door, the motorcycle chick was asking me what was new in my life, to which I replied "Nothing". Up ahead was the French Canadian border. I stayed behind and bothered the Oriental canoe before the saxophone recital. She said she got my email. I laughed cause I'd seen her car more than her these last few days--I addressed her by her license plate and signed with mine. Examining her from head to toe, I concluded that she was looking beautiful tonight. She hopelessly tried to disagree. The last thing my eyes saw were her high heels.
That night I took some photos of a choir concert in the rotunda of the main college undergraduate library. The lighting conditions were tricky, so I hastened my shutter, and tried not to lose the singers in the shadows.
|I was on the reference desk today. Almost immediately as my shift commenced, the Oriental canoe scrambled for a free computer at the terminals directly across from my station. I waited for her to notice me before I waved. The coordinator of last night's choir concert stopped by to pick up a CD of the photos that I took and asked me if I enjoyed the performance, to which I answered "Yeah". The Oriental canoe swooped in after the coordinator exited. She said she got my email. And plopped her high heels on my desk.
I swore I had my television on when I fell asleep. I remember dozing off to the nervous chip shuffling of the late night poker show. But I couldn't hear the obnoxious morning talk show hosts, even in my subconsiousness. For a second there I thought I'd gone deaf.
I snuck into an organ concert. And whilst I sat in the back row, pretending to be a photographer, when there were explicit signs warning of no recorded media devices allowed into the hall, including cameras, and after I convinced the ushers that I was the videographer's assistant, which was half true, I practiced my low light zoom technique.
I always thought that the score to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was cool. But somehow I never listened to the album much. I think it's cause it's got too many songs alongside the non-vocal cues. And somehow the vocal tracks get annoying in the sense that they're fine in the context of the movie, but as casual listening their novelty wears thin quick.
So I transferred Jon Brion's score into my Puffy Walkman minus the silly songs. Sure I could've programmed the CD as such, not to mention pressed the forward skip button on my stereo, but somehow it's less of a chore to have it play without my interference, especially when I'm at the music's mercy--that semi-concentrating state is fragile and can be dislodged with mundane tasks such as programming tracks and skipping forward. Anyways, the score finally represents the coolness that I remembered from the movie.
So my low light zoom technique needs some more practice. I got somewhat accustomed to setting the shutter speed as fast as possible, setting the ISO high, and adjusting the exposure accordingly. But my zoom is lacking. Granted the distance I was at, namely the back row, is as far from the stage as I could be, and if I aggressively wanted to get closer I would've, but the fact that there are lenses that can zoom in from that distance got me researching online the next day. I ended up purchasing a telephoto lens.
So I thought my neighbour was taking a shower when I woke up. I mean, I heard water running. And although I've never had any problems, I try not to run my shower simultaneously. However, it seemed like they were taking a really long time. I got out of bed and noticed that my television was on. The volume seemed to be muted. And then I realized that it was raining.
I broke my sudoku record again. This time by five seconds. Currently, my fastest time is 1:42. Crap.
So I tried to be a normal person today. I picked up my dry cleaning.
I watched Mystery Train starring the cute Youki Kudoh.
A neighbour locked herself out of her apartment and asked me if I had the landlord's phone number. I did.
I got an email from a LEGO museum asking me how I was doing. I replied "OK".
I purchased a virtual matouqin. The audio example sold me.
I changed the light bulb in my kitchen.
I figured out the riff from Unicorn's "Subarashi Hibi" on my bamboo guitar.
I took a walk and thought...
Assuming that I'm only half complete, my significant other is most likely getting closer to me with every passing moment. Not that I'm expecting to be paired with anybody anytime soon, I mean, I'm cool either way, but if there is someone that's destined to be my soul mate, she ought to be closer than she was yesterday, or so it goes to reason. And geez, what a sorry chick she must be, given that she's gonna collide with my pitiful self--she's got plenty of opportunities to hook up with anyone better than me. I hope I spare her from my normality.
I thought about updating my Facebook status to "adhering to rainy day women #12 and 35", but assumed that that would be too obvious. Plus I didn't remember the numbers--I had to look them up. Nevermind what their product is when multiplied. Not to mention I didn't want to leave any embarrassing evidence online of my misinterpretation of polysemous lyrics. So I edited my status to "Henry Lim is gone", which was true in more ways than one.
First of all, since I was logging off, I was gone from my computer. Secondly, as I was leaving work, I was gone from my professional duties as a productive member of society and free to be as useless as I wanna be. Thirdly, I was, at least in my mind, gone from a non-altered state. And fourthly, I was referring to the definition of the word in terms of being hopelessly lost in all aspects of my being, be it my devotion to the notion of hope during insurmountable circumstances or my lack of faith in theological logic. So yeah, being "gone" ain't as specifically poetic as "adhering to rainy day women #12 and 35", and sure I could've quoted another song, namely "going, going, gone", but something about the indivisible simplicity of the short amount of time required to type those four letters won me over.
Cause I was in a hurry. To be specific, I needed to be in Hacienda Heights by 7:15. My former drug dealer has been into sushi as of late, in particular a bar in my old hometown. He's been inviting me to dinner ever since he started frequenting the joint and short of my being practical and joining him on the weekend I chose to sample the raw cuisine during workday conditions when rush hour is prime. Without traffic the drive ought to take approximately 40 minutes. I estimated that a factor of 3.375 is necessary to make the reservation time. So I left UCLA parking lot number two at three past five.
In other words, I was late. OK, so the clock in my car is supposedly fast, and single digit measurements of minutes regarding not being on time are acceptable excuses, nevertheless my nerves prepared for the worse. And sure enough, the freeways weren't kind as I plodded down the packed lanes. All it takes is an accident to ruin my calculations. Brake lights shined red for miles and without dilution into speed. So I had time to kill, resurrect, and kill again.
On cue I multilaterated my recent luck to weigh my debt. There was the journal issue that's been listed for years as missing which I happened to stumble across misplaced in the stacks. Then there was the night I got free colour glossy printouts from the copy store despite my insistence to pay the generous, yet sleepy employee. And of course there's the life that I was born into whereby I don't've to worry about having to constantly renew my temporary worker visa. So yeah, I really can't lament any unbalanced deals other than the overabundance in my favour.
I arrived exactly on time.
Largo from BWV 1019
"Liar", the castanea crenata accused as I denied my knowledge of who the two chicks were that graced my computer's wallpaper. She needed to print out her request for a special visa on official university letterhead paper. "I've been looking for you," she explained as she sat in the hot seat at the reference desk. I did 12 hours of question and answer sessions this week cause everybody else was on vacation. Not that I cared, cause I was able to catch up on my public relations. Natashia was curious about historical recordings and dissertations. I answered to the best of my ability with the help of the online catalog and my intimate affiliation thereof. Certain limited search terms are more familiar to me than to the average patron--having to find duplicate records has taught me to be more careful about avoiding ordering the same items. Anyways, the castanea crenata correctly identified my Puffy wallpaper despite my distracting attempts at playing dumb.
I'd asked her innumerable times to join me for youkan. My aunt bought me a slab from the basement of a fine department store and I'd stored it in my office's file cabinet. Supposedly they can last a couple of months, so I wasn't worried of it spoiling soon. Nevertheless, like everything else with the castanea crenata, it's a matter of constant badgering and dramatic postponing. Normally I'd give up on such nonsense, but somehow I'm compelled to wait. Maybe it's cause based on previous patterns, she'll eventually cave with eventful worth. And so I held my breath for a very long month, always annoyed not with her refusal, cause she genuinely was swamped, but rather my annoying pathetic begging, which with or without clever variation still remains the same question of her time versus mine. However, after hearing her turn the inquiry on me, everything became a blur.
I mean, I remember details such as the last minute delay due to a phone call to her lawyer, her adjusted hair style from earlier in the day, and the first bite. But my focus couldn't expand beyond our little outdoor table at the student coffee shop, the plastic knife, and paper cups of green and chamomile tea. I'm sure there were other people around, let alone peripheral scenary, but I could not optically converge my surroundings, not to mention hear anything other than her voice, which she said sounds exactly like her mother's. Whilst the conversation mostly consisted of her venting her frustrations with immigration and dealing with the stupid faculty, a good portion was dedicated to family--warrior bloodlines, sibling similarities, and maiden names. My mom's original last name translates to "little river". The castanea crenata was caught by surprise. "Bach," she equated the translation of the German name. I looked it up later, and no, she wasn't lying. "It's a coincidence," I joked. "It's meant to be," she laughed.
I stood about midway in a line of people that I've known throughout my life--some were recent acquaintances, some were faces from grade school. We were all auditioning for some nondescript talent show. The queue stretched downhill, so I looked down upon the stage. I saw old friends attempt to play the piano upside down as I thought about what lame tricks I had up my sleeves for my turn. And then I remembered Isabella. Her picture was behind the bar on the second story balcony. She wore a silver dress. I felt a connection to her even though I'd never met her in person. So I decided to mumble thru "Visions of Johanna".
The cashier remembered me from a few days before, when I'd also rang up a bottle of sake. "Weren't you just here?" she interrogated. "Is that bad?" I smirked. "I've got a bottle and it's rotting after several months," she pointed out, "cause I can't drink it so fast." The first thought in my mind was "Well, I could help you finish it," but decided not to be such a horndog. Instead I ended the conversation, paid her, went home, drank a bottle, and sang "Visions of Johanna" to the flickering shadows cast by a dying candle.
The ambulance driver
Gamblers took over the library and converted it to a casino. She wanted a concerto which was somewhere behind the jackpot machines and the Madonna albums. Her hair was curled in a 70's fashion, as were her clothes tapered in disco era stylings. The view out the window was of a lake with boats fishing for lobster. I couldn't find her score even though I found the call number. If I were true to myself I'd've told her to forget about that classical nonsense and figure out "Visions of Johanna" without the musical notation--it ain't that difficult.
She's been stopping by my office lately to heat up her dinners in the microwave, discuss her work schedule, which has been nonexistent, and update me on her competition status--she won. Sometimes she wears glasses, sometimes she wears contacts. In her rapid accent she elaborated on her attempts to skip eating and sleeping to catch up on her rehearsals only to find that she couldn't function well when she was hungry and tired. I kept looking at her necklace. Finally, I commented on it. I'm sure there's a verse from "Visions of Johanna" that would fit that awkward moment.
We sit here stranded though we're all doin' our best to deny it
My limited collector's edition of McNeely's 2007 rerecording of North by Northwest with the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra arrived in my mailbox today. I gotta admit that I'ven't been keeping up with the soundtrack scene, other than for Japanese films--I listen to Jigyaku no Uta at least once a day. And I already own Johnson's truncated 1980 version with the London Studio Symphony Orchestra. But Herrmann's love theme ("Conversation Piece" on the recent release) for the 1959 Hitchcock thriller is, in my opinion, one of the best ever composed. It's even better than the tour de force "Scene d'Amour" from Vertigo. North by Northwest's is the perfect blend of suspense, smarts, sophistication, silliness, stupidity, seriousness, sorrow, secrecy, spaciousness, simplicity, smiles, and sappiness, as dueted by the clarinet and oboe over a slow train rhythm on the strings. I'd like to hear it captured with current technology and in reconstructed context. I mean, it's exactly how I wanna imagine my ideal love theme, circa 2008.
Rebecca left a box of cookies on my doorstep. They were some of the best circular baked goods I've ever tasted in my life. They remained soft for days and had a homemade crumble factor, unlike those stiff preservative snacks from the vending maching at work. They were all kick ass, from the peanut butter to the oatmeal raisin, but the classic chocolate chip, which I behold as the calibration variety, was the best. She also left me a note of thanks for digitizing her LPs. Initially she wanted to pay me in cash. I refused. The cookies were harder to demur. I'm tempted to go to the address listed on the business label. Nevertheless, I ought to write it down just in case I forget it--www.mayersbakery.com
EMMPH 10 sent me their latest CD Laying the Foundation. It's cool and jazzy--they're a 10 piece combo based in Brooklyn, NY. Speaking of which, my brother just moved to Corning, NY, where he's shoveling snow and being mistaken for a Chinese restaurant owner. I've been paying more attention to Chinese characters, namely those that are used in Japanese names, especially the brush strokes for the ambulance driver's name, which I'm developing into a nervous habit whereby I practice the correct directional sequences in the air with my index finger to the beat of whatever I'm listening to at the moment. Cause I'm still dreaming about Isabella.
Don't quote me, but I heard from someone or I read somewhere that Isabella was 2007's second most popular name for baby girls. I think it was mentioned on television whilst I was half asleep. Or I could've dreamt it...
I don't know why I remembered her name. It wasn't like I met her. I mean, all I recall was seeing her photograph. I believe it was under glass, too, behind the bar, far from my sight. Yet I instantly knew I had to keep her in my memory. Even after I woke up.
My eyes bled when they opened. And I felt a circular hole in my left shoulder as if aliens'd kidnapped me, ran some tests, and branded me with some space technology that doesn't leave a mark, but hurts nonetheless. The pain's healing, although every now and then it sparks up, especially when I think about Isabella.
Well, this is the final OUT ON A LIM for the year. It's been a weird one, to say the least. I hate to sound like a cliche, but it was the best and worst time of my life. Not that I'm complaining, cause I always welcome a balanced point of view, however extreme things may seem. Anyways, here's hoping 2008'll be different.
Here're my obligatory lists:
TOP FOUR ALBUMS OF 2007
Honeycreeper / Puffy
Heisei Fuuzoku / Ringo Shiina x Neko Saito
Goraku / Tokyo Jihen
Terminal / Salyu
TOP FOUR SINGLES OF 2007
Oriental Diamond / Puffy
Killer Tune / Tokyo Jihen
iris ~Shiawase no Hako~ / Salyu
Anata ga Kono ni Ite Hoshii / Hajime Chitose
TOP FOUR MOVIES OF 2007
Jigyaku no Uta
La Vie en Rose
TOP FOUR REMINISCENCES OF 2007
Have happy holidays and see you in the Year of the Rat...
So I decided to take a walk with my Puffy Walkman along the main streets of my neighbourhood. That is, not confined to the quiet seclusion of the single lanes in the residential areas, rather I dropped myself into the busier double laned avenues that surround my blocks of bourgeois boredom. And I didn't adjust my volume. I figured if the song was good enough, it'll bleed thru the carborettors and subwoofers staking claim of the airwaves. Suffice to say, I heard everything I needed to hear.
So I received a chain email that claimed I'd get some message at 9:12AM the following day if I forwarded the letter accordingingly. Fuck that. I don't want anything. Period. Least of all any message. Give it to someone who deserves clairvoyance. Not to mention I'd hate to associate myself with such nonsense, especially amongst my circle of non-psychic friends. They'd all think I was some freak, which they probably already assess, if I passed them some spooky chain email. Suffice to say, I ignored it, hoping that it'd just leave me alone.
So I found myself on the freeway at 9:12AM the next day, which was odd cause I normally wake up at 10:00AM. However, my office was having a holiday party at an early hour and I happened to be awake. Rush hour was at full steam. I rolled my eyes as I concluded that there was no way in hell that I'd get a message stuck in traffic. I mean, if this was the so-called meaningful communication from the beyond that I was gonna get, it was lame, nevermind that I didn't follow the rules of forwarding the chain email. And at exactly 9:12AM the cars mysteriously dispersed. It was as if I had the freeway to myself as I picked up speed. Suffice to say, I got the message--things'll go my way.
So I consulted my spiritual advisor on these matters. What the fuck was going on? I didn't comply with the chain email, yet it predicted with temporal accuracy my reception of a message. Either the chain email was a hoax, in that no matter what you do, something silly'll happen at the designated time, or I was crazy lucky, by which I mean I don't've to do any work to reap the rewards. My spiritual advisor suggested the latter. Supposedly my karma's "good". Fuck that. I don't want good things to happen to me anymore. I'm sick of it. Give it to someone who's earned it. Suffice to say, I resolve to deplete my good karma this year.
"Hello," answered the Pakistani waiter over the phone.
"I'd like to order pick up," I commanded.
"OK," the accented voice replied. "What do you want?"
I totally respected Dylan when he did that commercial for Victoria's Secret. Cause I think if there's any product worthy of his music it's women's underwear. However, somehow I ain't buying his Cadillac campaign. It seems cheap and he looks like a whore driving around in a box.
There's a television show, whose title I'm ashamed to name, that I've been watching with my former drug dealer which uses Malvina Reynolds' "Little Boxes" during the opening credits. What's cool is starting from the second season they've had a different musician interpret the song for each episode. It's a trip. Although what I'd love to hear is Go!Go!7188 do a version--"Chiisai hako..."
I've been playing a grammatical game whenever an advertisement hits me. If somewhere during the sales pitch a command is mentioned, for example "buy it now", "get it today", "think different", or whatever variation thereof, I give it the bird. Cause I'm sorry, I don't need anyone telling me what to do. No thanks. I mean, imagine if a friend started talking like that--I'd flip them off, too. Another game I play is doubting claims, such as "the best", "the world leader", "number one in customer satisfaction", or similar boasts. Cause what kinda product is so insecure that it needs to hammer its credentials into me. Again, I picture a friend bragging every time I saw them--everyone knows that they're compensating for some deficiency.
I don't know where my cousin hears new music or what kinda susceptible marketing spells he's under not to mention cultural conditions that affect his tastes, but I trust him cause I'm so far away from the Japanese rock scene and'll take whatever recommendations I can get from someone who lives there. Of course, I'm sure I've got a mindset that's been influenced by my own background and don't necessarily agree with everything that he promotes. That being said, after watching some Go!Go!7188 videos per his referral I had to order their latest album.
"This isn't really a song," Dylan announced from onstage in my dream. I was at his concert and he was mumbling between numbers. "It's more like a prayer," he preached. I rolled my eyes, cause I'm not a praying person--with the exception of gratitude before meals, I find the concept of asking for something, regardless of selfless benevolence, selfish, cause I find myself wanting whatever I'm wishing for, be it blessings for friends or an end to world suffering. And who am I to determine what others want, let alone need? Granted I don't go to church, but if there is a God, I've got faith that His will is spoken for without my interference. Anyways, Dylan began playing "I Want You".
To be honest, that song hasn't been one of my favourite Dylan tunes as of late. I used to dig it, but somehow it hasn't entered my current repertoire. Don't get me wrong, it's a classic with a killer rhyme scheme ("she knows that I'm not afraid to look at her" and "she knows where I'd like to be but it doesn't matter"), but the imagery is sorta too colourfully dated, in my opinion--the organ grinder, chambermaid, dancing child, etc. Yet in my dream it really did sound unlike a song and more like a prayer. And I mean that as a compliment in that although the verses are decorated with bullshit, the chorus cuts straight to the point, or vice versa depending on how one recursively, blindly, or sarcastically defines each. Either way, it was the only time in my life when I truly felt like I was joining in prayer--when the semantics of the action folded in on itself.
I woke up to the news being broadcast on television. Something about investigating Benazir Bhutto's assassination. I didn't give it much thought. Come dinnertime I craved some chicken tikka masala. So I called up the local Pakistani restaurant.
"...when you're out on a limb you gotta make sacrifices, that's all..."
-Sgt. Heppelfinger, Hail the Conquering Hero
My mother thought that I'd died during the two days in which I hadn't returned her cellphone calls. I was housesitting for my boss, where the address, according to my mom, ain't the most safest place in the world. Or so based upon the high number of crimes reported from that neighbourhood which she's heard gossiped in both the papers, television, and the radio. Even though, take it from me, I continued my walks in the so-called dangerous zip code and encountered nothing but friendly kind folk, eager to greet me with warm acknowledgment. Whereas on my blocks at that same hour fellow sidewalkers are armed with golf clubs ready to club me if I don't belong to the club (I wasn't stupid enough to go wandering around those dark unfamiliar streets with helicopters flashing circling spotlights over my boss' roof). But I guess it's all the same--that's why I take walks after midnight in my turtleneck of the woods, when the rabbits are asleep...
Anyways, I was unaware that she'd been trying to contact me cause the battery in my cellphone had died and I'd forgotten my charger. And rather than drive home immediately, I decided to make camp at my boss' for two meaningless days. I like to call it my Xmas present to myself--48 hours completely at my disposal, with no contact with the outside world. An introspective perspective of both solitude, silence, and singlemindedness, beside the interaction with waiters at the local taco/pizza joint, the of singing with my bamboo guitar in a voice louder than I mute in my apartment, and the moments when I tried to lose my mind's singular fascination with itself. It was harmless, with the exception of falsing frightening my mother. Don't worry, I wasn't murdered. And after two days I answered her dozen messages after recharging my cellphone's battery after I'd returned home to pick up my mail--I'm expecting a new prime lens for my camera. She's sighed her relief.
My boss has three pets, both of whom are cats. One of them, up until this latest stint, has always been a pussy--scramming under beds whenever I came near. It's the newest member of the trio. The other two are used to my occasional lodging, feeding, and litterbox cleaning. But the chat nouveau has always kept away from my petting hands. However, this time around, after a day of tentative approaches, the atarashii neko finally trusted that I wasn't an evil stranger. I think my boss said it was rescued from abuse, to which I don't doubt it's benefit of fear. By the end of the gig I'd finished two bottles of sake, gave my vocal chords a gargle, ate way too many tacos and pizzas, called my mom, and had all three cats curled at my feet in the morning.
"Meet Me in the Morning"
One thing they don't tell you 'bout the blues
When you got 'em
You keep on falling cause there ain't no bottom
There ain't no end
I'm horrible with numbers. I mean, I understand mathematics insofar as the changing of quantities via formulas and whatnot. And oftentimes I get lucky with calculations. But I have trouble grasping the values of those results. Case in point, I've got absolutely no concept of money. To me it's just a bunch of arbitrary penny countings. As long as I've got some, I can't settle on perceptions of "rich" and "poor", cause there's always more or less, however vaguely defined, so I lose track of how much I need. Sure, I can see how a million dollars is a lot of money, but it doesn't really affect me as long as I don't've none. And even then, I'm sure being in debt is a worser fate.
Another example is calories. To this day, I still've no gauge on what the deal with those numbers printed on food labels means. Ok, so they're somehow related to weight, but their significance totally escapes me. I admit that I was what society might consider fat when I was a teenager. However after I left home and my mother's cooking, I slimmed down. And've not gained the pounds since. I eat whatever I want, but in moderation, not to mention affordability--if I could, I'd eat as much sushi as possible. In that sense, I'm glad I'm not rich.
I really like my new prime lens even though it's made me poor. I've been playing around with settings on my camera, which're a bunch of numbers controlling such things as exposure, ISO, shutter speed, brightness, contrast, saturation, and focal lengths. It's the latter that I'm finding the most important, at least for my purposes, namely blurs and low light shots. And not to get too technical, but talk about confusing, the lower value of the focal length corresponds to an increasing aperture--f/1.4 allows a smaller depth of field and more light than f/8. All this is elementary, but it's only when I got hold of an f/1.4 lens that I digested the value of those numbers.
Speaking of sushi, I recently've been playing with rice vinegar. I know it's an ingredient, but've been too lazy to add it. So I bought a bottle. However, not knowing the correct ratio (yeah, there're suggestions by experts online, but I've never been one to trust "experts"), I've been testing different measurements--the first time it was way too much, which was funky in it's own right, the second time was too little, and the third time was getting closer. Cause it's about what I think is the "correct" value.
I'm starting to appreciate the blues. First of all, it's common for lines to be repeated, which is easy to memorize. Secondly, usually those doubled words are spread across different chords making them resonate from contrasting angles. Thirdly, I like the elegant simplicity of the form--the lyrics can be to the fucking point, yet also obscure as hell, all the while bridging the literary bullshit of complete sentence structures with the abstract nonverbal expression of music. And fourthly...
If you gather 'round me people
A story I will tell
'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd an outlaw
Oklahoma knew him well
I checked out Woody Guthrie's album Struggle from the UCLA Music Library (call number CDA 13500), converted it to ATRAC, uploaded it to my Puffy Walkman, and took a walk listening to it. There was one song that stuck with me, namely "Pretty Boy Floyd", mainly cause I was familiar with Dylan's interpretion from the Folkways: A Vision Shared CD, which I've got in my personal collection--it's currently not part of the UCLA Library system, but if I died and per my will, it'd be donated to those esteemed stacks. Anyways, immediately upon returning to my apartment, I strummed the chords on my bamboo guitar and memorized the lyrics. However, I adapted it to a key that's more suitable to my voice--Dylan does in it G, I moved it down to C. Coincidentally, I own only one harmonica. It's a Brazilian Hohner in the key that has no flats or sharps. So I ordered a neck brace. I believe 'tis time for me to play more than one instrument at once.
It was in the town of Shawnee
On a Saturday afternoon
His wife beside him in his wagon
And into town they rode
Meanwhile, I intend to follow my New Year's resolution, namely to deplete my karma. I was at my former drug dealer's tonight watching an Alfred Hitchcock interview and some episodes of a certain marijuana themed television show on DVD which were originally broadcast when I was a month and a week old (6.8.72) and on cable, respectively. My former drug dealer's friend Kneel was also in attendance, who mentioned during the Del Taco run and bong hits that his gym's been crowded with souls working on their New Year's resolutions. I've never worked out in a facility that requireded a membership fee--the last time I was in a weight room was in high school, and even then, I fell asleep in the corner to my gym teacher's mockery. My former drug dealer agreed, in that his daytime job is at a grocery store, and lately the produce's been moving, whereas come next month, after everyone fails in their resolutions, the fresh fruits and vegetables' sit on the shelves like they're no one's business. I hope I don't fuck up...
There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude
Using vulgar words of language
An' his wife she overheard
There's an infamous story about Herrmann convincing Hitchock that the shower scene in Psycho needed music--originally the director wanted it sans underscore, but the composer argued otherwise. Everyone ought to know who won that discussion. Nevertheless, I sometimes believe that the scene might've been more intense without the shrieking strings, but I'll never know cause I'm hooked on my first impression, namely the scene with music. I can't separate the two. The only person who has the right to say otherwise would need to see the film in its entirety with the scene in question dubbed without the score, in context, and fresh from any musical influence. Cause those notes have the power to define emotions. Separating such is nigh impossible once the groundwork's been established. It's sorta like seeing the world as a non-drug addict after taking a hit.
Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain
And the deputy grabbed his gun
And in the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down
I was having lunch with my lawyer, his wife, a mutual friend, her husband, and their alumni at Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles in Long Beach. The mutual friend's husband mentioned to me that he's got a digital SLR and he tries to take photos within his camera, meaning without external software manipulation, to which I admitted to highly depending on Photoshop to "fix" my shots. And suddenly I found a challenge appear unto me--to forsake computer enhancements and to capture images strictly in my Sony SLR. Thus, all the photos that I post henceforth shall be completely tamper free of Photoshop, unless otherwise noted. All the contrasts, saturations, blurs, and etc., are unmolested with image reimagining programs. What you see is what I saw in my camera...
|Now he took to the hills and timber
To live the life of shame
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name
My sister invited me to her house. She'd just got Rock Band for PS3. And even though she and her husband don't've surround sound, they've got a 65 inch high definition television that's worth my driving the 40 minutes to check out what the hubbub's all about. I played virtual guitar, which having played "Pretty Boy Floyd" on a real guitar less than 24 hours ago without a harmonica neck brace, seemed like a pale comparison to the real thing, but nevertheless challenging as an exercise in coordination. Sometimes I think she tests my sobriety. She pulled out Scrabble, which despite some of my more intelligent friends' infatuation with the board game, I'dn't played since high school, yet kicked her ass the three times that we played. All the while, her husband was measuring potential surround sound speaker dimensions.
|He took to the trees and the timber
On the Canadian river shore
And Pretty Boy found a welcome
At every farmer's door
Ok, the following photograph was fucked with, namely, I falsely set the white balance to "tungsten -3", which compensates with blueness, or what my colourblind eyes perceive as "blue". However, it's still "within camera"--I didn't adjust the balance on Photoshop. Luckily, I've spent plenty of time fiddling with digital parameters, I mean, I know what the final image ought to look like, and it's a matter of setting the appropriate values thereof on my camera--shift the contrast, brightness, and saturation in the "portrait" mode, fiddle with the ISO and shutter speed, and keep the focal ratio low to naturally realize the blurs. I aim to do what I did before, only now I'm not depending on external help.
|Others tell you of a stranger
That come to beg a meal
And underneath the napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill
I was in the car when my former drug dealer got a ticket for speeding and driving with expired insurance. However, tonight, I got pulled over for driving 13 miles over the speed limit. It's been several years since I've gotten caught and when blasted with the lights in my face by a cop, I nearly succumbed to panic and gave the officer an outdated proof of insurance. However, I took a deep breath and composed myself. This was bullshit despite my being higher than high--I should've been taken in for driving under the influence, afterall I'd just smoked two bowls of King George Harrison at my forrmer drug dealer's pad and'd watched the second season's finale of Weeds. In a way the cops saved my life cause I was losing it on the freeway, driving like someone stoned outta reasonable reason. However, I thought it was strange that they didn't give a shit about my expired proof of insurance and let me go with only the speeding infraction. Oh, and they didn't question my ethnicity.
|'Twas in Oklahoma City
It was on a Christmas Day
There come a whole car load of groceries
And a letter that did say
My mother got pissed of at me for not being married and most importantly not having any grandchildren for her. I'd forwarded a holiday photo that my cousin sent me of her family--her husband, her son, her brother, his wife (with son and daughter), and her mom (my mom's sister) and dad. I retaliated with the fact that she's not worthy of having any grandchildren, which is true, but kinda mean. This is the shit that I'm after in terms of my karma diet.
|Well you say that I'm an outlaw
You say that I'm a thief
Well here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief
Cause I know I'm on the right side of things. I'm not after anything. I'm simply just witnessing the progression of time and I'm not suffering. Which is what I wanna negate with my negative karma. Give me a ticket for speeding, call me selfish, leave me wanting more of her when I don't deserve her love, and fuck me over with horrors beyond my defintinion of Hell. Give it all to me and I'll let it slide, cause nothing I do is worth immortalizing in a folk song.
|Well it's through this world I ramble
I've seen lots of funny men
Some will rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen
Ok, so that last photo wasn't actually shot at that angle, rather it was rotated 90 degrees. However, all the settings ain't been mucked with on any computer program, with the exception of the pixel size, cause the original files are way too big for the average internet browser to view without a negative magnifying glass. I mean, things can be glossed over, but they aren't. Also, I'm not bothering renaming the files. They are what my camera calls 'em. Nothing against Photoshop, I mean, if it comes down to a slight correction for an assignment, I won't be breaking any solemn vows, but why not, if it's possible to shoot without relying on a computer, I've got nothing better to do.
|But it's through this world you ramble
It's through this world you roam
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home
"Weren't you scared?" my sister relayed her fears. "No, not really," I boasted. Sure, there was a split second of apprehension when the cops pulled me over for speeding, but it was more due to their lights blasting in my face. After taking a deep breath, I saw thru their control of my senses, and rolled my eyes at their childish tactics--blinding me ain't enough to rile me.
The Xmas crowd that I roll with decided to do a gift exchange. Instead of everyone buying gifts for everyone, we were instructed to purchase only a single present, which would be distributed via a game involving picking numbers out of a hat and the option to switch come our turn to choose a wrapped item from the pile. The specifications for the gift were it should be about $20 and applicable for any gender.
Far be it for me to claim an iota of knowledge in the blues, I mean, to me genres are ridiculous, but as it is categories are an accepted form of communicating supposed differences in music, I hate to admit that I consider Nirvana's rendition of Lead Belly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" as the example that first comes to my mind of the form. Along with Hank Williams, I'm afraid that most of my exposure to the blues is thru white singers. OK, I think Robert Johnson is the stereotypical exponent, but beyond that, I'm detached from the black lineage.
So I bought a $20 bottle of sake, selfishly assuming that everyone enjoys it as a drink. I didn't've any Xmas wrapping paper handy, so I used what I had--a roll of a birthday design. Everyone laughed at the seemingly inappropriate packaging, but remembered that Xmas is technically the celebration of the day Jesus was born. My gift was picked by the girlfriend of a friend of a friend. She didn't seem overjoyed. To be fair, I ended up with a gift certificate to Starbucks.
I've been listening to the Nirvana outtakes set With the Lights Out a lot lately. Somehow the crappy recordings sound more honest to me than the studio productions. Anyways, they do a version of Lead Belly's "Ainít It a Shame". I'd never heard it before. When I did for the first time, I laughed out loud. The lyrics are simple, to say the least, yet layered in sarcasm, silliness, and sacredness. I've yet to recover from its genius. Cause, it's one thing to write a massive symphony, but if one can capture that same wonder with far less notes, I'm inclined to hand it to the more economical composition. Needless to say, I've been tracing the songs back to the original singers.
I don't drink coffee. So I told myself that I'd give the Starbucks gift certificate to the first addict I meet after the holidays. Today I bumped into Penny in the basement. She was about to brush her teeth after drinking a cup of coffee. I asked her a series of questions to confirm her addiction, to which she detailed her telltale symptoms--the shakes, withdrawals, and crashes. I abetted her habit.
On average, I try to play my bamboo guitar at least an hour a day--sometimes more, sometimes less. Anyways, I've been replacing my strings every academic quarter, which is approximately every ten weeks. Cause they sound nice at first, with a certain overtonal bite, but they fade over time. I guess it's the nature of strings being strung at those tensions to lose their newness after a while. So I just changed my strings. They need to be tuned more than usual, but that's normal--they're not used to being set at those notes. Eventually they'll settle and then wear out until they sound dull. Such is the life cycle of guitar strings.
I remember back in fifth grade, when a girl at school started crying, our teacher told us to ignore her cause, as he explained, people who shed tears are only after one thing--attention. To this day I can't help but remember those words in that everytime I notice someone crying I automatically think that that person is only doing so cause they want to be noticed. Not that I don't care about their supposed pain, but in the back of my mind my eyes are rolling at their desperation. As well, I'm aware that some people can call up tears on command, especially females. In short, it's difficult for me to get a sympathetic gut reaction when I see someone crying. Especially politicians.
My sister bought a treadmill. I tried it out, given that my preferred form of exercise is walking. However, I found it "unnatural". Sure, it physically involves the same muscular motions as walking for real, but somehow I found the lack of scenary and scents to be distracting. Cause part of my routine is to see the streets change and to smell the air--both of which zoom in and out around every corner. Not to denounce treadmills, but I prefer sidewalks cause I like to be in control of the speed of the ground beneath my feet. As well, such don't cost anything.
It's hard to ignore this year's presidential race. I really don't care who wins, and I don't wanna plant any ideas, although I wouldn't mind the chick ruling my country. Although, I've got an unsubstantiated feeling that, due to the possibility that significant change is in the air, there's someone ready to assassinate the next president. I can't put my finger on it--perhaps it's my paranoid perception of the abundance of pop culture references popping up in movie trailers, ie Vantage Point. But I fear for the future insofar as I'd rather've a woman take the bullet than a trigger for a race riot. And even if that party doesn't takeover, whoever wins is gonna get shot. I mean, it's time for dormant insanity to wake up. Let's hope I'm wrong.
For the first time in my life, I watched portions of a Blu-ray video--my brother-in-law rented, coincidentally, the movie Shooter. I really don't give a shit about the hubbub over the next generation of formats, but I thought what I saw was cool. The picture was sharp, smooth, and clean. Of course a high definition television helps. And I'm not dumb enough to purchase one cause I simply don't watch enough TV. Not to mention I wasn't totally blown away with Blu-ray, not in the way I was impressed when I first saw a DVD, which was light years ahead of VHS. I'm happy with my entertainment system as it is.
As I tied my shoes, my lace on my right foot broke. So I went to Target to replace the set. They cost $1.72. Whilst there I strolled around the store. It's been a while since I've been to a mass merchandise retailer. I browsed the toys to notice that the current LEGO sets are crap. I didn't even bother looking for JPOP in the music section. They didn't carry any camera lenses. I refrained from insulting anyone by not stealing the laces. I kinda felt sorry for the store.
I rewatched Heat last night. It's been a while--I believe the last time I saw it was to test out my surround sound setup, cause the bank robbery scene takes full advantage of those rear speakers. It is a long movie, nearly three hours, so finding the time hasn't fallen into my convenience. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a cool film that's worth the epic duration--it fulfills my three criteria (moody cinematography, music by Goldenthal, and Natalie Portman). But it's ultimately nothing more than entertainment, I mean, I would never worship it. Although that quote about not getting attached to anything that can't be dropped in 30 seconds flat if the heat is around the corner is mildly inspiring, but nothing worth dying for, unless, of course, you're a criminal. Anyways, what I noticed most this time around was how dated the movie is--it was released in 1995. If I remember correctly, I plugged in my surround sound setup around 2000, so the movie was only five years old then. And the general vibe wasn't too far off in the past, at least I didn't notice such things as automobile styles, non-wireless phones, and gigantic computers. Cause it's now 13 years later and I hate to admit it, or perhaps I'm beginning to realize so, but 1995 was a long time ago. I suppose I was holding onto some idea that the 90s weren't over yet, which is probably not uncommon as most people retain a certain frozen nostalgia for their prime years--I was 23 in 1995. And nothing against the good old days, but sometimes I feel like a hippie that never grew out of the 60s when I maintain my same sense of fashion from the 90s--check out my goatee and flannel. I bet kids make fun of me as the old "grunge" dude. Well, I think it could be worse, namely the 80s or even this decade. But back to the movie. I don't mind watching old productions given I know what I'm getting into--a classic from the 40s doesn't feel old in that I wasn't around to remember when it was contemporary. I mean, I understand that it's from another era, but it's beyond me. And stuff from the 70s has already been filtered thru my "whoa, that was a long time ago" designators. But it wasn't until last night when the 90s really felt gone.
Both were so glad
To watch me destroy what I had
Pain sure brings out the best in people doesn't it?
Why didn't you just leave me if you did't want to stay?
Why'd you have to treat me so bad
Did it have to be that way?
Now you stand here expectin' me to remember somethin' you forgot to say
Yes and you I see you're still with her
Well that's fine but she's comin' on so strange can't you tell?
Somebody better explain
She's got her iron chain
I'd do it but I just can't remember how
You talk to her
She's your lover now
The squirrels were on strike today and the hot chocolate took a long time to concoct at the coffee shop. Hermine was on jury duty so I covered for her. The rat asked me to order an edition of Beethoven's sonatas for her teacher and wondered when I'd be on break. During the late afternoon walk we talked about popular icons of Japanese kids' culture, including Doremon, who we both grew up with. She sold her broken car. We discussed tempo philosophies.
I already assumed
That we're in the felony room
But I ain't a judge you don't have to be nice to me
But please tell that
To your friend in the cowboy hat
You know he keeps on sayin' ev'rythin' twice to me
You know I was straight with you
You know I never tried to change you in any way
You know if you didn't want to be with me
That you didn't have to stay
Now you stand here sayin' you forgive and forget, honey, what can I say?
Yes and you, you just sit around and ask for ashtrays, can't you reach?
I see you kiss her on the cheek ev'rytime she gives a speech
With her picture books of the pyramid
And her postcards of Billy the Kid
Must everybody bow?
You better talk to her 'bout it
You're her lover now
I walk by a defense conglomerate on my route. Every now and then I hear sounds from the giant laboratories. Sometimes they sync with my Puffy Walkman during cymbal crashes. Sometimes they sound ominous, as if they're some UFOs trapped behind those quarters. I dare not walk too close cause I'm sure they've got surveillance cameras trained on everything within terrorist distance.
Oh ev'rybody that cares
Is goin' up the castle stairs
But I'm not up in your castle, honey
It's true I just can't recall
San Francisco at all
I can't even remember El Paso, uh, honey
You never had to be faithful
I never wanted you to grieve
Oh why was it so hard for you
If you didn't want to be with me just to leave?
Now you stand here while your finger's goin' up my sleeve
An' you just what do you do anyway? Ain't there nothin' you can say?
She'll be standin' on the bar soon
With a fish head an' a harpoon
An' a fake beard plastered on her brow
You'd better do somethin' quick
She's your lover now
"I've been listening to 'She's Your Lover Now' a lot lately," my former drug dealer declared. "Yeah, that's a cool song," I agreed. "Even Dylan's unfinished songs are better than most people's masterpieces," he stated the obvious. "Yup," I couldn't add anything else. I relistened to it and wondered, now more than ever, how the song might end after it abruptly cuts...
Oh why must I fall into the sadness
Do I look like Charles Atlas?
Do you think I still got what you still got baby?
My voice is really warm
It's just that it ain't got any form
But it's just like a dead man's last pistol shot baby
Ah your mouth used to be so naked
Your eyes used to be so blue
Your hurt used to be so nameless
And your tears used to be so few
Now your mouth cries wolf while...
I've got a new member in the ranks of my personal "favourite lead guitarists" club. Previous inductees include George, Joey, David Howell Evans, Kurt, Okuda, and Ukigumo. Well, as of today, I'm proud to announce that I'm including Yuu into the esteemed pantheon. I like her simple, understated style which, to me, sounds like a recombination of all the other members. However, she's way cuter than the rest.
Take for instance her solo in "Manatsu no Dance Hall" ("Midsummer Dance Hall"). It's got George's simple brevity, Joey's sense of retro tone, David Howell Evans' respectful attitude, Kurt's knack for hanging onto the right notes, Okuda's skilled craftmanship, and Ukigumo's ability to compliment a song. Plus Yuu's got a voice that's worth appreciating.
Part of Nezumi-chan's charm is her third rate English and my fourth rate Japanese. I can't tell if she's purposely getting her translations wrong or seducing me. I'd love to think the latter, but I'm cautious. Someone of her league can really play someone of mine til I'm all confused and I lose all sense of what to believe anymore. Well, except her word, which sounds kinda reasonable, if you ask me.
The first thought that came to my mind whenever I saw her license plate was the crude English translation of "menage a trois". And to tell you the truth, I don't think it was a coincidence, not literally, but symbolically. Or skeptically. I mean, I always felt like the third wheel in every equation. Not that I cared, cause I was thinking about defecting to Canada. This was was before she taught me the correct syllables to accent regarding words when the unaccented sound the same.
I saw the border on the video monitor spying the orchestra's rehearsal. She was doing a mock military march in her winning position on stage. I laughed to myself, cause I didn't want my engineer to get suspicious, especially since he's a mutual friend of Nezumi-chan. He did, though, tell me the flutist was involved in an altercation with the campus security officer. This made me a little jealous, but not enough to ditch deciphering sentiments like "being around pianists isn't healthy', "it'd be interesting to take a trip with you", "I'm comfortable around you", "I want to take you out", and "don't argue with me".
Not to mention her car troubles. But I played it cool. I doubt I would've if I didn't give a shit if the happenstance wasn't substantial. Reading between the lines was a joke. I mean, I laughed, but I'm pretending not to get it. If there's anything I've learned from the rat's life is you tell it like it is, but not so anyone understands a word of it, get the reader, whose patience I'm eternally grateful for, lost in the jibberish, but somehow clued into the gist. Don't think too much, let the non sequiturs segue into nonsense, and maybe the sequence of events'll resemble something from somewhere somehow.
When she strangled herself with her hair, I knew my execution would follow. And I didn't flinch. Rather I thought she looked more attractive than all the attractions in all the wonders of the worlds, above and below. Of course I didn't let her know, but per the datestamp on this entry, I'm going on record to say that I officially did, even if it's a week before I start begging. I don't've any other wishes other than I hope she's annoyed.
It was during a lunch conversation with a friend that I found myself, yet again, unable to define myself. This was after stories about Stradivari and his keen understanding of the interrelationship between materials, such as woods, adhesives, and lacquers, which he'd culled from years of experimenting--a luxury that most violin makers, or anyone for that matter, has in today's economically confined world. Then there was a tale about the legendary Kenzo, master piano voicer, who fine tuned many Hollywood studio Yamahas. My friend had never, or since, seen the likes of someone's absolute skill in leveling and building sound. Following such talk of giants left me embarrassed to answer his question, "So what do you see yourself as--a sculptor, musician, or photographer?"
Not that I particularly value the concept of calling myself anything. I once read this quote from Dylan--"I think a poet is anybody who wouldn't call himself a poet." Maybe he's being poetic, but I find that calling yourself anything is a joke, or at the least, a sign of insecure affirmation, as if saying you're something'll somehow make you what you think you are. Cause if you truly are what you say you are, it'd be so obvious that you'dn't need to even hint about it. Anyways, I replied, "I don't see myself as anything." However, I did notice that he'd forgotten to include "writer" in his inquisition, which probably implies that my forays into that field are negligible, not to mention I think, with full reason to believe due to the fact no one pays me to write, that I do consider myself an overconfident hack when it comes to my blogging genius.
I suppose life would be easier if I settled on some definition of myself, whereby I could fall back on whatever rules and regulations said category offered. I mean, I wouldn't get existential questions. Instead I'd simply refer them to the standard assumptions about, say, "musicians", and all the Romantic qualities thereof of someone following that life path. But that ain't me. So I struggle with being a mystery. Hell, I don't even know who I am. Not that it matters.
I've been considering becoming a steampunk. I was vaguely aware of the science fictional term, but hadn't looked it up on Wikipedia. And I don't know, but sometimes I get inspired by things that have no rational grounding in anything, at least that I can trace. Maybe it's a fad, which these impulsive inclinations often seem to be, but I intuitively grasp the aesthetic, and can't help but imagine this world as so, if only to get me thru boredom. I've been renting movies from the genre--I just saw Stardust and tonight I'll watch Steamboy. The next time someone asks me what I am, I'm gonna say "I'm a steampunk."
Just to clarify, yes indeed, I am a steampunk, in case it wasn't clear.
"...perhaps the most striking example in all music of a thoroughly idiomatic technique that flatly contradicts everything that the instrument was designed for..."
-Peter van der Merwe, Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of 20th-Century Popular Music
My earliest recollection of the concept of bended notes goes back to Floyd Cramer, the Nashville pianist whose gimmick was the "slip note", whereby the wrong note was intentionally hit first and then slid into the correct one. Technically this wasn't a bent note--as far as I know notes on the piano can't be bent, at least via conventional playing techniques. But I remember spending hours as a ten year old kid listening to my parents' Floyd Cramer records, especially the illusion of a notes being bent. To this day I can't resist the ol' slip note on the keyboard.
I wish I could explain my fascination with bended notes, but like music, words sound silly trying to describe it, if not escapes me completely. I guess it's something about the "wrong" pitches in between. I used to piss of conductors whenever I'd bend notes on the violin. That instrument is easy to bend--just slide the finger up and down the string. I thought it sounded cool, but apparently such was inappropriate in the context of youth orchestras. However, I acknowledge the disapproval I got. Til my dying day I'll associate bending notes with rebellious freedom.
As a teenager, I had a synthesizer that had a pitch bend wheel and portamento. Needless to say I abused those effects. And when I got a guitar, one of the first things I did was bend a note--this is different than on a violin as the string is actually stretched. In my book, George Harrison was the master of this trick. As well, I fooled around with a slide. The day has yet to arrive when I've grown tired of bent notes on any instrument.
I've had a harmonica for over ten years now. They had them on sale at the music store and I thought it'd be funny to buy one even though I really don't play instruments that require me to blow. I never really did figure out how to play it. But lately I've been trying. And of course I've been learning how to bend notes, which ain't so easy--supposedly the harmonica is one of the hardest instruments to do so. I've read as much as I could online, all of which attempt to illustrate the theoretical change in embouchure, but left me confused when doing it for real. Several days passed without any bent harmonica notes.
The bent note is a trademark of the blues. And on the harmonica, as Peter van der Merwe pointed out, subversively opens up new keys. But all this was beyond me as I was still stuck trying to bend notes--I tried all the suggestions such as mouthing different syllables and opening and closing my throat. Nothing but boring "right" notes. If this kept up after a few more days I was willing to quit this frustrating endeavour.
I woke up today to an infomercial. Something about real estate. And it kept mentioning the name "Robert Allen". Go to his seminar, make millions, now's your chance to live life to its fullest, etc. I didn't give it much thought until I found the name in Dylan's book, Chronicles, which I'm currently rereading for the heck of it. His real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman. He originally thought about using Robert Allen as his stage name. And then he played around with different spellings, such as Robert Allyn, mainly cause it "looked better in print". For whatever reason, afterwards I was able to bend notes on the harmonica.
My order of sand green plates arrived from Australia. Vendors stateside had some available, but I'd bought up most of the bulk quantities, so I resorted to paying import costs to deliver a large supply from an overseas stockpile rather than pilfer the little piles here and there that weren't in the via air mail regions. This shipment, which according to my eyeballed estimates should be the last as I'm on the last few rows of a mosaic, was for 792 plates. And this adds to the 4439 sand green plates that I've already amassed, not to mention bricks, which are the equivalent of 3 stacked rows of plates. As well, I've been snapping up amounts of tan, white, black, and yellow, that would've been ridiculous to commercially collect had there been no network of independent merchants. I should be done with the initial building by this weekend, when I'll take it apart and put it back together with glue. And I'll deliver it to its next home next week.
I had a dream that I was running thru backyards. The hounds of hell were on my trail, so I swam across swimming pools, climbed over brick walls, jumped from treehouses, and ran thru tennis courts. I didn't get caught, but I did walk in on some distracting scenes. In particular, there was a bored housewife shooting up with a diamond encrusted syringe. Looking back on the situation, I should've stayed with her instead of looking out for my own skin. Her eyes saw me, but didn't really register me as an intruder, which by my definition, I was--I shouldn't've trespassed into her private ritual, nor should I've cared about my own addiction. But for the following waking day, I couldn't get her out of my head, even with drugs and alcholol erasing everything else from my meaningless existence.
My assistant is getting an MRI tomorrow. Her doctor called her last week to report that her blood tests indictated the possibility of the presence of a brain tumour, even though she claims that she doesn't feel like she's losing her mind. I don't know how serious she is given that during the time that I've supervised her, which hasn't been long, a weekly theme's been her brushes with hypochondriasis--she seems to be on a first name basis with her doctor. My sister's got a variation in which she believes she's got a brain tumour even though every expert she's seen has told her otherwise. Anyways, our boss overheard my assistant's bummed out news, to which she highly recommended our employer's hospital as they successfully conducted her husband's brain surgery. My only experience with these matters was to play along like everything's gonna be OK.
Editor's note: Everything's OK.
We're all pawns.
-Ex-Admiral, The Prisoner
My dad taught me the "Scholar's Mate"--a four-move checkmate. Other than that, I've got no interest in the game, cause it usually takes too long to play. So when in sixth grade, as our teacher pitted the class against each other in chess tournaments, I yawned. Sure I killed with the "Scholar's Mate", but anyone with a quarter of a brain dragged the game into overtime, and I lost all desire to win, rather, oftentimes I'd actively forfeit just to end my passivity.
But there was something more sinister up our teacher's sleeves. The chess sets were of different sizes and levels of decorated design. For instance, the best players got to use the grand Egyptian style set whilst the losers dawdled on tiny generic sets. And in between were ostentatious degradations ranging from medium sized medieval knights to moderately proportioned Civil War armies. If you ask me, I thought that the more nondescript schemes were less of an eyesore, but it got drilled into us that "bigger" and "more elaborate" equaled "better".
And this allowed for our teacher's treachery to continue as the chess sets were ceramic and our following assignment was to recreate them--well, not exactly, but we were to glaze the unpainted pieces and boards before they were fired up which afterwards we got to take home. However, like the tournaments, the sets were set in a hierarchy whereby there were a limited number of the fancy motifs and only the best students were able to choose them. Throughout the year, we'd all been accumulating or squandering points based on our grades, behaviour, and ass kissing--one could actually get points for vacuuming the classroom. Our teacher kept illusions of power.
Mind you, the chess sets weren't free--we had to, or at least have our parents, foot the bill. Of course the grand Egyptian set was the most expensive. And to be fair, there were cheap trinkets like ceramic wind chimes and bottles for those that couldn't afford the chess sets. Anyways, our teacher ranked our names in a list according to points. Those with the most got to choose what they wanted before those that had less. My name was first.
And no, I never performed demeaning labour for my privileged position--they were earned from my grades, minus the instance when I got docked for being a serial girls' ass pincher. And yes, I, or at least my parents, could make the necessary sacrifice to pay for the project without going into the red. So I had everything for my picking when the teacher asked "What do you want?" Honestly, if I had my way, I'd've chosen nothing--it all seemed a little like some big scam. But we might as well've had guns pointed at our heads cause we were ordered to pick, and quick cause everyone else was waiting for their turn after me. "Fuck this," I thought, "I don't want to slave away on a giant chess set that I'll never play." And so I wound up picking the bottles, which were a lazy breeze to paint and still remain in my practical use today.
With a penny knife that she held in her hand
She murdered mortal he
-"Love Henry", traditional
Ramen girl wasn't working during her normal shift. This happened twice, so I patronized her noodle shop on another day. She wasn't behind the counter, but there was another chick taking orders who wasn't bad looking, so I placed mine after the foreigners let me cut ahead of their indecisive menu gazing. The new ramen girl's white nail polish dropped my change into my hand. And I waited for her to call my number.
Meanwhile, I thought about death, namely, I wondered if I'd ever get killed by the hand of another, be it a senseless crime or an act of ethnic clensing. I wouldn't mind--actually I think it'd be somewhat noble, at least moreso than expiring in a hospital bed. But then again, maybe I've been learning too many folk songs with sensational lyrics about overdramatic situations. Case in point, "Love Henry", which Dylan does on World Gone Wrong. He sums it far better than I ever could in his liner notes:
"Henry--moderate corporate man off some foreign boat, unable to handle his 'psychosis' responsible for organizing the Intelligentsia, disarming the people, an infantile sensualist--white teeth, wide smile, lotza money, kowtows to fairy queen exploiters & corrupt religious establishments, career minded, limousine double parked, imposing his will & dishonest garbage in popular magazines...he shoulda known better..."
I caught a couple acts of some blues festival on a late night public television pledge drive sponsored by Eric Clapton. Now, I understand his significance for the artform in that he helped bring attention to what might've been marginalized, but honestly, I never, and still don't see what all the fuss is about him as a musician, not that I know jack about anything. However, based on my surface scratching research of archival recordings, the blues to me ain't so "polished", "sophisticated", and "self-conscious" as what he plays. But who knows, maybe I just don't get it.
By the end of my grandmother's life, she'd come to dread the summer and winter seasons in Japan, which are humidly hot and snowy cold respectively. The spring and fall weren't so unbearable as she was skin and bones--the heat hit her hard and the chill eventually killed her.
Far from having any deep understanding of poetry, I do remember vividly the moment when words hit me in a way that I can only guess resembles that "wow" moment literature majors must feel when they read the classics, relatively speaking. I must've been about five years old. I knew what a poem was, in particular the element of rhyme. But I didn't feel anything. I mean, the extent of my exposure to the artform was of the "roses are red, violets are blue" variety. However, there was a poem graffitied on the wall of the park bathroom which upgraded my respect:
Here I sit broken hearted
Tried to shit but only farted
Contrary to popular sentiments, I'm not afraid to die alone. Actually, I'd prefer to go privately into the unknown--of course I say this now as a 35 year old bachelor. But I don't understand what seems to be a driving fear amongst most people. For example, I recently viewed the original Japanese version of the movie Pulse. It's got an apocalyptic theme. And it seemed like the charcters were controlled by their avoidance at all costs to not be alone when death looked them in the eyes. I rolled mine each time. Cause the way I see it, I wouldn't wanna live in a world where it matters.
Another dream came true. And I don't mean things kinda hinted at sorta resembling the future. No, I saw it exactly as it happened, every detail was undoubtedly in previously referred place, and without mistake a perfect deja vu. Yeah, I can't prove anything so I won't go into boring specifics. But if I were me, I'd laugh at the uselessness of traveling thru time in my head.
A friend of a friend's mother killed herself. She died of blood loss from a bullet to the stomach. They found her body days later, stinking up her apartment. She'd attempted with failure before and had finally succeeded.
"Kyuu ban," Ramen girl cried.
I learned how to draw birds from Cynthia. This was back in first grade. I thought of myself as a decent artist, I mean, besides my colouring skills, I could visually represent things with a pencil without much misinterpretation--cars, houses, trees, clouds, and the sun. Yet I struggled with birds. Their flapping wings escaped me as I tried too hard to capture each feather. Cynthia had the solution: just draw "M"s.
I've seen the entire Roman alphabet formed in stray hairs on my shower walls. Sometimes I think they spell secret messages. Sometimes I'm sure they're silly beyond the sibylline symbolism that I supply. But it occurred to me today as I read a character which looked like a backwards "6" embedded with a circle that maybe I'm privy to alien scripture. Not that I can decipher any of it, but I wouldn't doubt extra-terrestrials ignorantly decorating their spaceships with shapes that are coincidentally prophetic only to humans.
Either my eyes were playing tricks on me or I really did see a seam in the sky. It looked like a straight black line that vertically divided the heavens. I blinked and shifted my line of sight to see if I could shake the hallucination. But it remained. I wondered what would happen if it broke. And then it slowly faded away.
Today wasn't a normal day:
Cause if it were, I'dn't've three free CDs in my coat pockets to empty after slipping them there throughout the day from the abnormal charity that befell me. Cause it ain't everyday that people give me music based on their kindness rather than any monetary exchange. Cause I'm prepared to pay for albums, as my receipts from imported JPOP orders attest, and I know that I should shell out some cash for compensation for the artists, but I'm a pushover when it comes to the absence of any price set to cool tunes.
Here's the normal process for rush requests:
Whereby a "rush" is deemed upon items requested by professors, grad students, or other important patrons for items that I order for the music library. Whereby I'll input into the purchase order a note designating the book, score, serial, sound recording, or video as a "rush" in the acquisitions module. Whereby the vendor'll be alerted to the "rush" status in the either the printed or electronically established transaction (if it's printed, I'll also stamp in red "RUSH" in the top margin of the order). Whereby upon receiving the item, I'll flag it with a black tag and it'll get sent off to cataloging in an orange bag with the word "RUSH" printed above the intercampus address. Whereby it'll get processed as fast as possible and sent back to my department. Whereby it'll get barcoded by my boss and handed to my assistant to mark for the stacks. Whereby notification to the requestor'll be dispatched, whether by email, phone, in person, or whatever method the head of circulation finds most convenient.
The first free CD that I got today was from my engineer:
It's by Mississippi John Hurt. It's titled Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings. It was left in the lost and found box apparently cause someone, presumably a student who didn't particularily value it, misplaced it in the music building. It was way past the determined time for it to be reclaimed, so my engineer plundered it, amongst other CDs. It was after I mentioned that I was exploring the blues and how a common theme which I've been recognizing so far is lovers killing each other that he passed the orphaned collection of lyrically outrageous songs to me.
Here's how I process a rush today:
I handled most of it personally. I bypassed my assistant's assistance. I wasn't trying to step on her toes. I just wanted to speed up the rush process as fast as possible. I also took over the duties normally handled by the head of circulation. I, however, met the requestor before she read the email notification that I'd sent notifying her of the availability of her requested item. I think she's not bad looking, so I wanted to ensure that her request was handled with extra speed. I also wanted an excuse to write an email to her and to have her come to my office to pick up her requested item.
The second and third CDs that I got today were from my former drug dealer:
No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (The Bootleg Series Vol. 7) [Discs 1 & 2] was the name of the album. No other than Dylan, who I've been studying with my bamboo guitar and harmonica, is named as the artist responsible for the album. No, I hadn't heard the CD before other than during the documentary which the album's named after. No track inspired my former drug dealer to burn me a copy more than the alternate take of "Sally Gal"--it features a virtuoso blues harp performance. No example of Dylan's capabilities on that instrument comes close. No qualms on my behalf were felt to accept the pirated copy, but to be fair, Iíll give "Sally Gal" a run thru.
It's been six months since my last cigarette:
And it's the words of my uncle, an ex-smoker, that stick in the back of my head--"you haven't really quit until you've stopped for a year". And I know that I'm only halfway there, but I think I've licked nicotine. And it's based on my cravings for other things which convinces me that I'm over the habit. And I have no proof other than my boasts, but I think if listening to free music and processing rush requests for important patrons give me reasons to forget what it's like to cloud my lungs, I think I'm not far off from being an ex-smoker myself.
The important patron was hungry:
If I were smart I'd've talked someone else to cover my reference hours. If I weren't serious I'dn't've played it dumb. If I were afraid that she'd get fed up with my faux indifference I'd've made more of an effort to appear disinterested. If I weren't confident I'd've been scared of unspoken truths. If I were any younger I might've. If I weren't older I might've not. If I were imagining our personal tale I'd eat where she ate after I fulfilled my referencing duties. If I weren't it'd be just another normal day.
I find it cosmically hysterical that the swastika is historically considered a symbol of both benign and malignant perspectives. Not to be insensitive, but according to archaeologists, the shape has been around since at least 3000 BC, and usually as a design that stood for luck, harmony, and balance. Many religions adopted it as a mark of their faith. To this day, it's still used in temples outside of the Western world--I saw several in Taiwan. Of course, all of the goodwill behind the emblem has been destroyed by a certain German political party in a mere fraction of the symbol's ancient age. And no amount of geometric litigation (left vs. right facing, proportions, rotations, etc.) can argue that Buddhists and Nazis share essentially the same pattern.
As a girl walked by, a credit card fell from an opening in her backpack. The good citizen in me was about to alert her of her lost item, if not chivalrously pick it up and hand it to her. I didn't get a good look at her face as I only got a glimpse of her backside--call me shallow, but this matters as I might've been more helpful if she were able to charm me out of giving the matter a second thought. Cause I let it slide. And I don't mind being called an asshole, cause the way I see it, everyone should lose their credit cards. Yeah, I'm casting judgement, but if I'm right then may the same fate befall me. If I'm wrong, then take it out of my karma.
I answered my door. A cute little ten year old girl was selling cookies. Perhaps if she wasn't so hot looking I'dn't've bought a box. To be fair, I actually give ugly chicks a chance to prove that their inner personalities betray their outward appearances, but if there's gonna be a monetary transaction, I'll follow suit with my superficiality. Anyways, the nymphet peered thru my threshold and got all excited about the lifesize sculptures in my living room. "Those are cool!" she shouted. For a split second I almost relied on my good nature and invited her in for a closer look, but decided not to. Call me a jerk, but unless she's accompanied by a parent, I ain't touching the potentially misconstrued scenario with a ten foot pole. Yeah, I'm jumping to paranoid conclusions, but if I'm right then I'd get charged for more than cookies. If I'm wrong, then take it out of my karma.
My mom and my sister are in a war. They're currently not talking to each other. I believe they're still bitter about something about something from my sister's wedding, but I'm sure their conflict can be traced further back--females are viscious, grudge holding creatures, at least in my family. I'd like to think that they're strengthening each other's survival skills, but that's just my opinion. Anyways, often I get caught in the middle. I'll be their communications link. Needless to say, both of them always suspect that I'm working against them. Who knows how many secrets I've gotta juggle whenever I meet them separately. The truth is I don't take sides even though it may appear that I'm a betrayer. My simple rule is this: I go with whoever states their case first and follow thru accordingly. Sure, it may seem arbitrary, and they'll kill me for saying this, but I think they're essentially the same person.
Atop my Netflix queue for the last month has been Blade Runner: The Final Cut. Not that I'ven't been receiving and watching other flicks (I just finished watching the first season of Futurama), but if a title is all checked out, then the next one down the list gets sent. In this case, the availability status for the refurbished version of sci-fi classic has been "very long wait"--which probably means some geek's not returning it. Not like I'm dying to see it, cause I'm not a geek. So in the meantime I'll be watching the Mahou Sensei Negima anime series.
I've been settling into a routine as of late. Everyday's more or less structured the same, with the sense of obsessive habit obscuring any questions of how the things I do today'll affect my future.
Firstly, I check out some old blues album from the music library, which I'll transfer into my Puffy Walkman, and listen to it whilst I go on my nightly walk around my blocks. The last CD I heard was Blues Masters, Vol. 4: Harmonica Classics.
Secondly, I've been eating soup for lunch. A friend introduced me to an place on campus where they serve organic bowls and I've been frequenting it with regularity. The last flavour I had was chicken corn.
Thirdly, with my telephoto lens, I've been shooting musicians during noontime concerts in Bruin Plaza. I'm getting bored of taking pictures of inanimate objects, plus I like the practice, so I've been building up a portfolio of portraits. The last performer I shot was some wannabe Adam Duritz singer.
And fourthly, I've been trying to learn a new song every week. I'll figure out the chords, memorize the lyrics, and run thru it over and over again until it becomes integrated into my repertoire. Last week's tune was "Ragged & Dirty".
I'm also working on a mosaic--a recreation of a photo of someone's grandkids. I put in about an hour a day on it, piling the plates, and keeping my mind off being mistreated and swearing that I don't mind dying. Most days, especially during the beginning stages, the work I put in is just a bunch of seemingly random shapes that it feels like I'ven't done anything at all. But after awhile and stepping back, it starts to make sense. And soon enough, I'll be done.
Well, as of this writing, next Tuesday (by the time this gets posted it'll be last Tuesday), OUT ON A LIM will be celebrating its fifth anniversary of publication (2003-2008). I have no idea where this is all going. Nevertheless, I'd like to say "thanks" to all my readers, with a special salute to the subscribers thatíve been around since the start of this blog, for their patience during my day to day senselessness. And here's to tomorrow...
Questions are a burden to others. Answers are prison for oneself.
-Observer, The Prisoner
I can't remember my exact train of thought, but I ended up looking up Benny Hill's biographical blurb online--I must've been combing for Puffy videos and a reference somehow got crossed. When I was a kid Benny was a comedic god. I'd tune into reruns of his British skit show and laughed my head off at his, at the time, risque humour--he'd always be chased by semi-nude chicks, or vice versa, in fast motion. And as an elementary school student, these things were extremely funny. Anyways, I read that he never got married, although he proposed twice, but got rejected both times.
I woke up late for work. This was rare in that usually I find myself opening my eyes at exactly an hour before I log onto my workstation. Even then, lately, I've actually been catching myself peeking at my clock a few minutes early, leaving me to either go under for a quick dream or kill time as I sit in bed fully awake. To be fair, the night before was spent at JM's house with Ted Ed Fred, Zaggs, Angela, and Renegade--we watched the latest episode of Lost. And of course, I got stoned. I mean, I was lucky to've only been 43 minutes late to work.
I have never asked a girl to marry me. Not by a long shot. I can't even imagine going thru with such a question given that I nearly pass out when I ask a girl to dinner. But I suppose I'll get swept up in the momentum that I'm guessing swirls around and culminates with a wedding proposal. And knowing my luck, I'm sure to get rejected, not once or twice, but always. I can't say I look forward to it, but like everything in my life, I'll find some way to find my fate hilarious.
I noticed that ever since I got my speeding ticket I've been driving in the middle lanes of the freeways. For example, if there are five lanes, the farthest to the left being for carpools and the utmost right being for the slow and elderly, I'll be in the third lane going about five miles above the limit. I figure if others wanna pass me, they've got the second and fourth lanes to do so. Likewise, if I wanna go around someone up ahead, I've got options. But I don't see the need to be in the fast lane anymore. And I'm too young to be hanging close to the exits. Yeah, the middle is where I'm at.
In the Orient, it's customary for the male to ask the female's parents for permission to marry their daughter. My siblings and their significant others endured this tradition with no problems other than the natural nervousness that create minor mishaps such as not wearing suits to the occasion. However, my cousin went thru the ordeal twice, only to be denied both times. It must've been hell trying to win his wannabe fiance's parents favour. His solution, whether he planned it or not, was a shotgun wedding.
In the music library where I work, there's a 6 CD set in the collection called Anthology of American Folk Music. I checked it out and've been studying the roots of American popular music, namely noticing where Dylan got his inspiration--such as "Down On Penny's Farm" which rings several bells. It's interesting to hear variations on lyrics ("Henry Lee" is basically "Love Henry"). Anyways, it turns out that a patron requested the item whilst I had it in my possession. This hasn't happened before as I figure I'm normally out of sync with what kids are learning in class, let alone think is cool. And the requestor was some cute girl. Who knows, in another life we could've been folk music mates.
In the darkness of the lighting booth which hangs above and opposite the opera stage I gave my ass a break as I sat in the sofa in the back of the room during the intermission. This was the second of two 20 minutes in between the acts of the three hour performance and if I didn't stretch out I doubt I'd last any longer. There were two other ladies in the observation deck--the lighting director and the supertitles operator. I was taking photos of the opera (eight hours before, I was shooting a rap concert). It was the perfect location--completely unobtrusive, especially with my telephoto lens. And the ladies were startled when I reemerged from the shadows. "Where you always there?" they asked. "We didn't even see you..."
In some coincidental time warp, my waking up late collided precisely with the Vibe driver as we parked are cars next to each other on the top floor of the lot. The slightest difference in our schedules and we'díve missed the moment which seems to randomly evade most beings, ourselves included. Cause this was like total happenstance not to mention not supposed to happen given that I usually wake up on time. So I gave her a helping hand. And refrained from any questions that I might've had.
During a game of Scrabble with my sister, I saw an opportunity to score 66 points--there was a "Q" four spaces above a triple word square and I had a "Z". All I needed was a "U" and an "I"...
It's just my opinion, but I don't think the blues make as much sense in Los Angeles as they do in the deep South. Mainly it's the climate--LA lacks the sticky sweet humidity, not to mention the roots of anything worth singing about. And not to promote any stereotypes, but music sounds like it wraps around the dry surface of things in LA. Down South it sinks to the bone.
I gave patience a try. As well, I looked at the played tiles and the distribution chart--there should be plenty of "U"s and "I"s waiting to be picked from the bag.
Sadly, I've lost interest in techno music. I believe what killed it for me was trying to listen to the rapid tempo during rush hour. Somehow the beats just didn't match the pace of being stuck in traffic. So much so that I blame the genre for bringing me down. Don't get me wrong, I think it sounds great when driving fast. But the opposite occurs when standing still. It's almost insulting.
In the back of my head I heard these sage words: "Good things come to those who wait." And so I did, holding onto the hope that I could spell "QUIZ". And then my sister blocked me.
However, I discovered one exception to the rule--the blues sound cool in LA during rush hour. It sorta fits, what with the world treatin' me like shit, oh Lord, rhythm of the poor souls crawling down Hell's highway. Cause I think the blues are meant to make me feel better, to see the situation at hand in a different light, and to accompany the downtrodden no matter where they're at.
I had no where else to go so I swapped all my tiles. I ended up with three "U"s and four "I"s.
I'm ashamed to say that I'm more familiar with legends about musicians than characters and scenarios from the Bible, or any other religion for that matter. Call it my profane leanings, my bias towards organized sound, or my naivete, but if there's a basic human need to create tall tales, I tend to want to believe the ones about those that make music. And I know that half of them ain't true, with the rest just milking the PR, but somehow the fiction inspires the notes to ring with a little more mysticsm, magic, or whatever it is that people mix with the mundane to suspend their disbelief.
Led Zeppelin's shark incident, Bach's improvisational benders, Dylan's motorcycle accident, and Puffy's crazy virgin days--these flow in the back of my head when I hear their masterpieces. Of course, the king of musical mythology has to be Robert Johnson. It helps that his mystery expands with each hole in his biography lending the imagination to sore to heights of demonic stature--the infamous deal at the crossroads, the jealous drink of poison that killed him, etc. I'm sure they didn't hurt his notoriety.
My favourite Robert Johnson fable is the one about him facing the wall during the recording sessions--a makeshift studio was setup in a hotel room where he set to prosperity his compositions. The history of rock'n'roll was but an unknown glimmer in his eyes. Some say he was shy and couldn't perform otherwise. Others say it served a practical reason--to cheaply replicate the acoustic properties of a real recording studio. I'd like to think that it didn't matter in the end.
Back in 1893, Louisville schoolmarms Patty and Mildred Hill composed a little tune for their classroom called "Good Morning to All". The lyrics are:
Good morning to you
Good morning to you
Good morning dear children
Good moring to all
I nudged the movie Crossroads to the top of my Netflix queue. I remember seeing it in the theater back in 1986, but haven't revisited it since. It's an entertaining little film about a kid from Long Island who thinks he's a bluesman only to find that he's got lots to learn when he befriends the real thing during a soul saving trip to the legendary South. There was one line that I didn't forget:
Where I come from, you don't blow no harp, you don't get no pussy.
"Good Morning to All" eventually became the most popular melody in the English language. Warner Chappell bought its copyright in 1990 for $15,000,000--technically it's illegal to publically perform it without paying royalties until it expires in 2030.
I've been pursuing the harmonica with obsessive dedication. I purchased Marine Band models in the keys of C, A, G, E, and D--I figure those are the the common realms, blues and otherwise, that me and my guitar roam around. I'm sure my neighbours think that I'm some crazy wannabe one man band making ridiculous rackets. And I love bending them notes.
Of course the lyrics to "Good Morning to All" evolved into "Happy Birthday". Everyone knows that melody. As a composer, I gotta admire it's simplicity and overwhelming ubiquitousness. It's the ultimate pop song.
"Thank you, Henry," Penny saluted as she rummaged a free Faure score from the box of gifts. Dena, my assistant, horded the Stravinsky suites. I claimed the Beethoven string quartets--Edwin, who I photographed earlier in the day as he performed viola with his two chick violinists and chick celloist, commented "That's the greatest book, ever". And I thought, as I walked around my blocks, which are a series of crossroads on a grid, that if Robert Johnson traced my steps he'd go nuts. Every now and then I keep expecting to bump into the deal maker, and then I realized, maybe I'm the Devil...
I played a blues version of the most popular pop song for a music teacher on the harmonica.
For no reason other than meaningless symmetry, I break up my walks at night into two halves--the first is tread on the right side of the street, the second on the left. And I don't know if it's psychological, but it always seems like the last half of my route passes faster than the first. Sometimes when I'm feeling extra silly I walk in the middle of the road.
On Thursday and Friday, I avoid the freeway on my drive back home from work--traffic is just ridiculous. However, the side street that I take's been getting bottled up even crazier due to some construction mess. So I've been using the next street to the right as a detour. But everyone else seems to've discovered that option and it's become the same scene. And so I've been using the next street to the left of the main road. Hopefully, by the time that gets clogged the construction'll be done.
I've been playing guitar with a pick again. I prefer not to, as I like that "thump" of my fingers on the strings as opposed to that "plastic" sound of a pick. But short of drawing blood from my strumming hand, I can't get the same volume without a pick. It's a mixing issue--my harmonica's been overpowering my acoustic guitar. As well, I've been strapping my six string so that I can walk around when I play.
Tonight I saw a shooting star. It flew vertically, from up to down across the night sky. And I don't know if anyone can, but I know that I can't predict when these'll appear, so I always think they're randomly cool. Likewise, I've seen enough to last me the rest of my life.
The piano bench was wobbly. I actually don't mind if the keyboard sways--my MIDI rig at home is stacked on a flimsy stand and dynamically follows my fingers, so I'm used to accommodating my performance thereof. But somehow I prefer to sit on a seat that doesn't move. I suppose one could psychoanalyze it and come to the conclusion that I crave stability in an ever propulsive world, even though I think the truth might be that it's all in my head, including vice versa--movement, whether exhibited by myself or whatever I'm interacting with, is a mirage, and it's just a matter of seeing thru it to dislodge any disorientation on my behalf. Nevertheless, the audience waited to hear what I was going to play...
My mom turns on the headlights based on consensus. When I was young, as the sun went down, she'd ask me to count the number of vehicles in the oncomming traffic that were illuminated--if there were ten, she'd follow suit. I'd like to think that she was teaching me how to keep tabs, but looking back I think it's more likely that she trusts the majority--if they say something is right, it is. I thought about her as I read thru the chapter on headlights during my online traffic school course. I can't remember the exact rule--I think the law encourages us to turn them on a half hour after sunset. No, my mom's method ain't the rule. However, all this is irrelevant to me as my car's got a sensor that takes care of the matter.
I had a vegetarian chili soup for lunch. This was the second day in a row that I didn't eat meat for my noon meal--yesterday I had the vegetarian gumbo soup. Even though I've got no moral qualms about killing animals for food, I believe I could give up most meats. Everything except seafood. And I think I could go vegetarian for one of the two meals I eat a day (breakfast is not in my vocabulary). I mean, I don't think it's absolutely necessary for everything that goes into my mouth to consist of meat products. Although, I can't remember the last time I consciously ate beef. Anyways, it was raining earlier today, so the indoor dining area was packed. Of course, the homeless took refuge, piling the tables with their belongings wrapped in plastic bags. I did the rounds and couldn't find a seat. So I went outside. Everything was freshly wet. The only place left was a ledge that overlooked the campus' main plaza. I placed my hot cup of soup on the wall and stood as I ate, spying on the students walking below. I don't know if it was the weather, the makeshift table, or the scenery, but it was a damn fine vegetarian chili soup.
Before my turn at the piano, Hermione played "Hey Jude". I thought she snuck in too many frivolous tremolos. And she abandoned the endless ending, which I felt to be a little anticlimactic. But otherwise, her arrangement was mechanically interesting. The audience seemed to give her enough claps to discourage me from shirking my duties as an entertainer. Afterall, we were huddled in the bomb shelter. Outside were rockets destroying the landscape. The evacuees needed to get their minds off the end of the world. And so I sat at the wobbly bench. "What do you want to hear?" I asked--cause if it were up to me, I'd play some Bach, but I know better than to impose my eccentricities on others. The first title I heard was "Norwegian Wood", so I complied. I think I included too many pointless arpeggios and I extended the repeats to indulge in an improvisational solo, which I felt gave the tune some climax, especially as the lyrics weren't sung. But otherwise, my arrangement was misinterpreted as a Radiohead song, which my brother suddenly displayed a knowledge far above what I underestimated to be his ignorance of the indie rock band. He showed me the titles, including those from their latest album, which I'ven't even heard yet, that were listed on his laptop. The next day, I bumped into Penny in the stairwell. She wasn't looking bad.
Contrary to my descriptions, my dreams, although commonly filled with apocalyptic scenarios, never seem to feel like nightmares. I mean, I saw the explosions and the bloodshed, but there's always some sense of absurdity that makes it all bearable, be it a recourse concert or noticing what doesn't fit in the context of tragic circumstances. Sometimes I think it's my mind that keeps things under control. And as a last resort, I know that I can always wake up...
My aunt called me to tell me that my mother had passed away. I paid my respects as fast as I could--she was hospitalized in Japan, so I had to travel by airplane. The trip was shorter than I remember. My sense of concentration was narrow--everything outside of what was in front of me was invisible. My family met me at the airport and we quietly caravanned to the funeral. Disbelief seemed to be my prevailing emotion as I looked at her dead body. As I touched her arm for the last time, her eyes opened. And so did mine.
So I hear that thanks to some Public Safety Act all US television broadcasts will become digital next year, which means if you don't've the proper hookups, your TV's gonna die. Whiskey tango foxtrot...
Due to the similar sounding names of letters of the alphabet ("T" and "V", etc), especially when verbally transmitting top secret messages, the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet was devised by the ITU and adopted by NATO. For example, "whiskey" is "W", "tango" is "T", and "foxtrot" is "F".
The abbreviation "WTF" can stand for several things, such as the World Taekwondo Federation, the World Trade Fair, and the stock code for Wotif.com. But most frequently, the "W" represents "what", the "T" represents "the", and the "F" represents what the blues singer Memphis Slim spells out in the title of his song "If You See Kay"
Anyways, I don't think I watch enough TV to care about the transition to digital broadcasts. I mean, the only show I watch these days is Lost, and even then it's either on my friend's HDTV or on DVD. Plus everything's online now--in the future I assume it'll be moreso. However I'll say this, despite my fickle mind changes, I will miss KCAL news.
In Los Angeles, channel 9 is the CBS owned independent station KCAL. When I'm super bored during dinner I'll tune into the news, which is pumped all thru prime time. And it's not because stale stories that I'd read about on the internet hours before the newscast are more entertaining than the crap that's on the other stations, rather it's the weather chick, Jackie Johnson, who seems to give her hot report every 15 minutes, that's got my undivided devotion. God, I wanna fuck her already...
This week I had several requests for my photographs in higher resolution. I replied with my standard apologies. Whilst the older images that were taken with my non-SLR camera are understandably of lower quality, I've yet to save my latest shots in their fullest file sizes--I shrink and save them to be viewable on a standard web browser. And despite what some people might think, I don't feel like my current photographs are worthy of being printed. I'm still in the testing phase of figuring out how my camera works. I've been fooling around with lenses, shutter speeds, f-numbers, ISOs, etc., but've yet to've felt that I've shot THE photo worth saving in the highest resolution. Not that I know what I'm aiming for, but I've got a feeling that the picture I've got in my head is a nude. And that's far away. Cause I believe framing a naked human is allowed only after shooting death. So short of being a police evidence photographer, stumbling upon a dead body ain't one of my expectations in the common future.
This week I purged my Puffy Walkman of male singers. I think I was inspired after hearing Blues Masters, Vol. 11: a Classic Blues Women. And not to belittle blues men, but there's something mysterious about women singing the blues that's worlds apart from their counterparts--men are straightforward, albeit with a handful of innuendoes, whilst women come at me from a million directions at once. As well, it's impossible to trust women. I've got a theory about the historically male dominated art of acting as exampled in Shakespeare and kabuki--women are natural actresses so they were banned from practicing what they excel at. Anyways, hearing Ma Rainey sing the "blues" becomes more complicated than Blind Lemon Jefferson simply cause the chick's got a leg up on authenticity as she can fake her emotions better than any man can ever hope to dream. So I was treated to the deceptive, yet pleasing, sounds of Yui, Ringo Shiina, Hajime Chitose, Mariya Takeuchi, Aiko, Ai Otsuka, Chihiro Onitsuka, Salyu, Ayumi Hamasaki, UA, Chara, Miyuki Nakajima, Tommy Heavenly6, and of course the goddesses of goddesses, Ami and Yumi.
My grandfather died with no teeth. He lost them many years earlier. I remember finding his false jaws when he misplaced them on a bookshelf. Now, I'm missing several teeth myself and sometimes I wonder if I inherited his physiology or his philosophy--cause I can't take too much sugar these days, as well, I'm too lazy to brush.
During lunch up at the northern part of campus, I was rudely interrupted by some hippie who asked "Are you interested in revolution and changing society?" Maybe if I wasn't in the middle of a late meal (I was on the reference desk for most of the afternoon) I might not've replied in a manner similar to his. Maybe if the hippie was a cute chick I might've dropped my soup spoon. "No, not really," I answered.
I rode the elevator in the art building down from the eighth floor to the ground with a wide eyed student. She was carrying a big sketch pad and was strapping a backpack. I pushed the button and tried not to stare at her messy hair on the trip down. When we hit bottom she let me out the elevator first. And I opened the door to the outside world for her.
|(Well, I'd like to apologize to my readers if this blog seems to be becoming Henry Lim's Digital Photographs Gallery Nine, what with a .jpg being posted nearly every other day.
But before I do, I just wanna say that I've been digging Mahou Sensei Negima. It's like a Japanese version of Harry Potter with all the cultural inappropriateness appropriated--it's about a precocious 10 year old magician who, despite his age, teaches at an all girls middle school. Droo...
So anyways, lately I've been getting familiar with my camera as I lug it around, including all the extra gear, such as lenses and a cleaning kit, wherever possible, namely the noon time campus concerts, library gigs, and my random scouring of shots.
I also wanna clarify some details about the "dream" that I recounted last week (see OUT ON A LIM 2.27.08) due to a reader's confusion. Yes, none of it happened for real, other than in my head, which technically doesn't count as a fib. Nevertheless, I'm sorry if I wasn't more obvious.
Not that I've got writer's block, but I do think words aren't key to my expression these days--short of sounding pretentious, I believe what I'm exploring is in the "light". And photography is the laziest medium for such.
Well, actually, the vignette in the stairwell came true from the dream. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, but then again, some photos are meant to be missed.
Last night I attended a screening of L'Armee des Ombres. It was part of a series called "Movies That Inspired Me". This particular film was Roger Deakins' pick. And even though I'm not as mindful of cinematographers as I ought to be, I didn't mind listening to his discussion afterwards, even though he spoke of useful techno mumbo jumbo, namely practical lighting, and I think ultimately he's work speaks beyond any conveyance of words. I did, however, zoom in as close as I could to his eyes.
I might've forgotten to mention it, but the stairwell vignette really happened in real life, both before the dream and after. It's a nice little recurrence that I remember and look forward to fondly. I mean, I hate to topically jump around, but some things are welcome footholds.
There are days when I'd swear some kinda power passes thru me. They aren't super like flying or physical in strength, rather they're little abilities such as knowing what's on the tip of someone's tongue or hearing the opposite of what someone says as their real intentions--parlour tricks that outta nowhere somehow fall into my disposal. They're silly, really, and I'd wish they'd leave me alone.
The last one that possessed me was the knack to inspire others to find what they're looking for.
It was payday and I went to pick up my check. The regular lady at the desk was out and some dude was handling her duties. I showed him my ID and waited for him to retrieve my check. He seemed lost as he scrambled thru files. I told him that I could come back the next day as I wasn't in any hurry. "Don't sweat it, man," I mentioned before I left. And at that moment he found my check. "You're Henry Lim--you've written music for films," he recognized.
That was weird, I thought. However I didn't've time to forget the incident as the head of my library wandered into my office. He held a dissertation. "I can't find this listed online," he frowned. This isn't an uncommon occurrence--there are items that've fallen thru the cracks and aren't accounted for in the catalog. I looked it up and immediately found it. "Whoa, that's strange," he tripped. He tried it himself and couldn't shake how it was unquestionably unrepresented before but now clearly was.
Nancy and I were the last ones in the library and in five minutes were about to close up when Professor M and his Assistant M asked for my assistance--he was looking for a specific publication of Beethoven score that was around during the composer's lifetime in order to double check a dynamic marking. Finding the microfilm was easy. But rolling it in the machine to the exact measure in question took longer than five minutes. After he scribbled some notes regarding his discovery he thanked me as I assumed that Nancy had locked the front doors.
I had a photo gig later that night so I killed time by hanging out at my engineer's studio. Assistant M stopped by and we discussed some secret plans in Japanese. She'd been thinking hard about possibilities. And upon finding her answer she concluded "I think this is the greatest idea I've ever had in my whole life." I was honoured, to say the least.
We walked down the stairwell congratulating each other. And then Penny bumped into me. She'd just locked up the library--the lights were still on and patrons were inside so she kicked them out and turned them off. I'm glad that I found her.
I never admitted this before, but I used to watch the cartoon series Inspector Gadget. Of course, I wasn't completely obessesed with the show and didn't watch it religiously, however I do remember tuning in after school on more than one occasion. I thought that the theme song was catchy, the animation was clean, and the bumbling main character's precocious blonde niece wasn't bad looking.
I'm just realizing that my mom's been trying to use scare tactics to attack my bachelorhood. I think, and I could be wrong, that she's assuming that everyone, including me, hates to be alone. She keeps pointing out how "sad" and "scary" it must be to not be married. Well, I'm sorry to inform her that I don't give a crap either way. And truthfully, I think the world would be a better place if everyone didn't give a shit as well. Not that I'm against love or any hope of companionship--I just don't expect it. With that state of mind, I can't find it in my heart to feel lonely. So mom, you're gonna need another angle to desparately convince me that marriage is the answer to nothing that's wearing upon me.
My voice has been getting raspier. It's funny cause I haven't had a cigarette in seven months, yet my vocal chords've been shredding as if I'm still a smoker. Perhaps the habit's finally catching up. Although I think whiskey's been ripping up my throat more than anything else. As well, singing the blues has opened my range to more scrapping tones.
For that last few days I've been revisiting Dylan's early opus, namely the acoustic albums before he went electric. I really like his debut, which is predominately a collection of traditional songs--he's got a fire in his attitude, like he's trying to prove he's a blueís singer, that he never did hit again, with the exception of his acoustic albums in the 90's, but by then his credentials were well established. And actually every album after that first one seems to diminish in hunger, albeit the songwriting took on a life of its own--and to be frank, I'm not too fond of some of his more "political" ramblings, 60's poetry notwithstanding, they just get me gagging. No, but his first album's got a simplicity due to the blues form that he covers which is, without sounding cliche, timeless.
I checked out some Robert Johnson tabs. I'm not comfortable about reading the blues--I think it's something you either know or don't. And as I looked at all the charts of alternate tunings, I gave up on this method of learning the classic songs. Somehow listening to the crappy recordings and trying to figure out what he did seems to be more fun.
Even though I can't seriously take the blues for what they're worth, given that I don't expect anyone to love me, thus rendering the "been mistreated and I don't mind dyin'" pointless, I do find that the days when I'm in the company of Inspector Gadget's niece to be less raspy on my voice than when I miss her.
Editor's note: Jamuel-san otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu
Where does desire reside?
In the escort sector
With a shower of whores
Or in a more covert vector
Such as on unsoft futons
Between some praised despair
Amongst an oriental relation with a seaside disease
And the rashes that she shares
Like a shotgun gunshot
Hustling the sunlight
As she repents the present
Over a thing or two in the night
Maybe it's her face in the cafe
Or her license of silence denied indeed
As she erects a secret
With a former reform and a decree to recede
Her solemn melons
Lure me to resist her as if she were my sister
Even for the nicest incest
And the most subtle of bluest blisters
Nevertheless no rescue is secure
For cheaters are also teachers of the sensual unseals
A seducer reduces life to stealing genitals
A thinker can rethink and reserve to reverse how she feels
My lawyer called me at work.
"What're you doing?" he inquired.
"I'm working," I supplied.
"What else have you doing?" he furthered.
Conversing with those in the business of jurisprudence, at least for me, is a study in trust, which, at most for me, is an opportunity to bust out my smoke and mirrors. Here's how I broke it down:
"I've been playing the harmonica." This statement is somewhat true as I have been devoting at least an hour a day on the ol' blues harp. And it is something that I look forward to every night when I get home from work--I take comfort in bending them notes as if the bullshit of daily life could somehow also curve and ideally snap, even though it never does. However, is it the most important thing to me right now? Not really. But given the third degree, I won't hesitate to state it as such. Thus, I listed it first.
"I've been taking photos." Again, another fact--I've been doing shoots every week as well as trying to attend the daily noon time concerts. And my camera is becoming an extension of my eyes, so I can't lie about not enjoying the sights. But again, is it the answer to life? Hardly. Nevertheless, I will blow it out of proportion for argument's sake. Being second on my list is a fair appraisal of it's worth.
"I've been watching movies." Total bullshit, at least if one defines "movies" as cinematic events experienced in a theatre. OK, so I did see that French film from the '60s last week with an audience, but I don't count that--it was more like a lecture than entertainment. However, I have been watching movies via Netflix, although that's a flimsy perspective next to how they can truly be viewed, namely on the big screen. Oh, I finally saw the final cut of Blade Runner. I think it's still pretty cool. Is it the coolest movie ever? Maybe.
"I've been working on some LEGO projects." I don't wanna spill too many beans, but this may or may not be a lie. And I might or might not hate playing with those damn bricks. I mean, it's like sometimes I wonder if I ever should've touched the toy as a kid all those years ago, cause it seems like either a curse or a blessing that my hands still click those plastic pieces together. What if my whole life's been leading up to one of the projects that I'm possibly working on? That would be the coolest and most important answer in my life. Would I ever admit it? Hell no.
I'm converting the soundtrack to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen from WAV to ATRAC, will upload it into my Puffy Walkman, and listen to it tomorrow as I do my taxes. There ain't no aesthetic value that I assign to the recording except perhaps visions of an underaged Sarah Polley riding a balloon constructed from disgarded undergarments, rather I found it on eBay--someone's trying to pawn off a used copy of the CD at the "by it now" price of $84.99. Does anybody still collect CDs? I mean, I could be wrong since I never would've predicted the worth of Star Wars merchandise when I was a kid--I certainly could've cashed in on some of that had I invested the restraint to not open my action figures and playsets. $84.99 for a CD? Isn't the contents online somewhere, or is that not something I shouldn't advertise? I hope no one'll get suckered. Nevertheless, someone had the audacity to list it, joke or not. Anyways, I've got an original pressing of the CD and was curious to hear what $84.99 might sound like.
I'm converting my original plans--I'm gonna listen to the ATRAC now as I write instead of tomorrow when I file my state and federal reports. Meanwhile, as my Puffy Walkman's docked in my USB port and rendering my headphones useless, I'll crack open a bottle of imported beer and chug to the last time I looked into Assistant T's eyes--she wasn't wearing glasses and we were sitting on the floor of my office looking thru the bottom drawer of the cabinet that stores the "waiting to be marked" CDs. I saw her black shoes and her blue jeans. And then, because we were low to the ground and in crouched positions, my eyes compressed the distance from her feet to her head as I noticed her bundled up hair. I saw her eyes and for a second, lost track of the call number I was searching for, which I assumed she'd found since she'd already rummaged thru it's shelve in the cabinet.
I'm converting my stance on saving my digital photos in their highest resolutions--to refresh, I'ven't, and still don't think that I've taken THE photo worth keeping as a huge file, namely for printing purposes. Partly, it's also cause I believe that the ideal viewing medium for my digital photos is the computer monitor. I mean, if I wanted to print my photos I'd shoot in analog. Not to mention, the only photo worth printing, digital or otherwise, is a female nude, overaged or not. And I just don't feel that my eyes have seen enough of death to appreciate such a living image. However, today I got two more emails requestiong higher resolutions pics. Sending bigger files is less of a hassle than making up lame excuses.
I'm converting my original plans which I converted in the paragraph before the last--I'm gonna stop listening to the ATRAC now as I write and instead will hear it tomorrow when I find out how much of a refund I'm getting this year. Cause I can't concentrate. I wanna think about the last time I looked into Assistant M's eye's--she wasn't wearing glasses, even though I've never seen her with corrective lenses, and we were in my office looking at a stolen photograph of a stolen moment on a royal throne. I reminded her that I need to see Professor M's eyes. For example, I looked into the light reflecting off her pupils.
Editor's note: Samuel-san otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu
I don't know about everyone else, but I'm more conscious of light when I'm awake. In my dreams, I'm subliminally aware of illumination as it's rarely pitch black. However, I'm usually paying more attention to the subject of my dreams than pinpointing the light sources--the girl I'm chasing, the music I'm hearing, the end of the world, etc. I mean, electric bulbs never blow out, the sun doesn't seem to move, and I can't remember if shadows are consistent. Unilike in reality where, at least lately, I've been chasing the light like a dog. And I suppose in the back of my mind I've got an ulterior motive in being obsessed with radiance, namely to bring that same attention into my dreams. So the other night I saw the brightest light.
I wanna apologize to any of my readers who are materialistic. I know that I often make cruel jabs at your kind in my blog, which isn't nice, especially in light of an article I read about the correlation between buying junk and self esteem--supposedly people who are materialistic aren't happy. That sucks, man. I'm sincerely sorry for making fun of you, which probably added to your crappy evaluation of yourself and made you purchase more stuff that you don't need. I'll try to tone down my tone towards your sickness. I sometimes forget that we're all human.
If I were a young girl I'd be pissed off at Disney's Princess franchise. Cause Eilonwy didn't make the cut. Sure, she's yet another blonde chick, but I dig her more than Cinderella and Aurora. Even the psychedelic Alice, who's an honorary member of the club, doesn't've the same sarcastic attitude as Eilonwy. I totally agree with a fansite for her that lists her cool attributes--she doesn't wear jewelry, she knows magic, and she doesn't sing songs. Plus she's got that cool glowing ball of light.
My head was turned to the left. As I brought it forward the scenary accelerated. At first I saw the camera stores in my peripheral vision zip by. And then I floated down the street and everything began to blur. Locking my eyes with the horizon, my speed increased beyond what any human's capable of attaining. Soon the galaxy looked like a tunnel spinning around me as I pushed onward towards the end. It was a light more brighter than any I've ever seen in reality or in any of my dreams as it wasn't only visual, but brightened my insides as I flew into it. I woke up before I got too attached.
The Chicken Chick admitted to me whilst we were flipping thru photos in my office after hours that when she listens to music she's incapable of multitasking. She can't drive or write emails unless she's got silence in her ears. I can see her point, although I think I've desensitized my sense of hearing to the point of being able to perform other tasks whilst music plays thru my headphones. Not to mention, the pop nonsense that I usually got shuffling on my Puffy Walkman ain't exactly distracting enough to debilitate me from performing simple simultaneous duties. But I think it cuts both ways--because music is such a hypnotic craft, and because commercialism has corrupted it, being wise to its abused usage keeps me from falling victim to its spell. The tradeoff of course is it's at the expense of truly enjoying truly enjoyable music.
I'm falling behind on my listening of free CDs. My engineer gave me a copy of the album he made with his girlfriend of MIDI arrangements of Rachmaninoff vespers, but I've yet to give it a spin. As well, my lawyer burned me Radiohead's latest set of tunes, which I accepted out of courtesy--I can't seriously take that band seriously anymore, especially since everyone including themselves takes them so seriously. Well, truthfully, my excuse is I've been exclusively digging The Brilliant Green. I got the limited edition of their Complete Singles Collection '97-'08. And honestly, I ordered it on the basis of the cuteness of the lead singer, Tomoko Kawase (aka Tommy February6 aka Tommy Heavenly6). I won't lie, but the first time I heard their music, I thought it was generic turn of the century rock. However, after several repeat plays, their songs've got me entranced--I can't say exactly why, maybe it's a certain coolness that I wasn't aware of before, or perhaps anything halfway decent'll grow on you if you want it to.
Yesterday I bought some potato chips from the vending machine on my break. But instead of taking it back to my desk, I impulsively decided to sit on the bench outdoors and admire the sunset. Penny walked up to me with her cup of coffee and joked about me feeding the squirrels. I carried on a conversation with her about her parking garagae whilst I wondered why the Chicken Chick was delaying her delivery of her teacher's recording of Bach's preludes and fugues. It's been over a month since she told me that she'd make me a copy. And even after I cornered her (I quid pro quoed for the CD) she kept on conveniently forgetting to let me hear the performance which she kept on promoting as the most incredible ever. I didn't doubt her, but I did accuse her of lying that she's got the original album. Which I don't mind--actually, when I call someone a "liar", it's a compliment. Anyways, she kept up the absent mindedness until I wondered if she was trying to make me mad. Today, I met her at the crossroads. She swore that she had the CD, lured me into her teacher's studio, and finally surrendered the long awaited music. I'll listen to it whilst I do other things.
The clock in my car is useless before noon as the angle of the sun obliterates the LED display. Well, with the exception of when I drive under overpasses and the shadows allow me to read the digital numerals. Today I did a double take as I realized that I woke up an hour ahead of my normal wake up time. As well, I wasn't feeling tired. Shelly commented "What the hell are you doing up so early?" Actually, thinking it thru, I ought to blame her for my temporal shift--yesterday I grabbed dinner with her an hour before my usual time for grub. And that's my only explanation for not being in sync with my regular schedule.
In Japanese the word "nakayoshi" means "close" in terms of a relationship. I learned it during my last encounter with my Japanese relatives. We were all crammed in a tour bus that traveled thru the southern parts of Taiwan after my brother's wedding. Apparently my aunt noticed that my sister and I spoke in an exclusive language, one that's been brewed over years of conversations that no one can possible understand. I never was conscious of it until someone pointed it out, but we are "nakayoshi".
I try to change my Facebook profile picture every month. Currently I'm using the photo of the cover of Hacienda Heights. I was reluctant to upload it since it is nearly four years old, despite being one of my favourite pictures ever taken of me, courtesy of Amanda. And then I wondered, what if she never took that photo? What if I never made that album? What if I never lived in that suburb? What if I never learned how to play the guitar? Etc?
In Japan, sakura (cherry blossoms) are a treasured flower, especially when they bloom in the spring. I can't explain it other than everyone over there goes nuts over the supposed symbolism, whatever they've been brainwashed into believing. My mom called me to tell me that her Japanese neighbour's sakura tree is in bloom and that I should take a picture of it whilst I can--it's glory won't last long. So I went over with my camera. As I was shooting, I ran into the tree's owner's son, who was a childhood friend of mine. I hadn't spoken to him since forever and catching up was a trip. Especially since one of my earliest and fondest memories with him was building things out of LEGO. Who would've thought that what he taught me all those years ago would profoundly apply to my life to this day.
If I wasn't "nakayoshi" with my sister I doubt I would've learned how to use Adobe Illustrator--she taught me how to naviagate thru the program which is fundamental for CD designs. All those weeks when I used her computer to fool around with fonts and effects were invaluable to my familiarity with the graphic design application.
Truthfully, I can't see the fuss chicks see in flowers. So I took a handful of shots of my mom's neighbour's sakura tree. I tried to capture what I can only guess is the essence of the plant. I showed them to my mom. And she reacted with enthusiasm to one particular shot. I ran it thru my close friends--they couldn't see the whole picture, but then again they're neither Japanese or female. However, every girl I showed it to gave me the thumbs up. Needless to say, I used it as the design for cousin's birthday card.
Thinking it thru, I believe that I made the Hacienda Heights album for one reason. It wasn't for the music, regardless of how I might sentimentalize the production and inspiration of the songs. No, it was simply for the CD's artwork--the infamous photo and the graphic design. Cause it was on its basis that I was formally introduced to the girl who heard me play Bach's preludes and fugues.
Sometimes the things that you liked the best and that have meant the most to you are the things that meant nothing at all to you when you first heard or saw them.
I don't remember the exact date when I began to play Bach's WTC. It must've been a little over ten years ago given that I began composing fugues somewhere around 1998. And if I recall correctly, I'd initially thought that the French suites were more accessible--they seemed to've more of a pop sense of melody. But after playing the C major fugue, which is much more involved than just listening to it, no matter how actively, in that getting one's fingers to follow the four voices forces one to truly appreciate what's going on, I was hooked.
Yesterday as I was getting my smog check per the DMV, I decided to get all my chores done so that the following day would be completely free. So I got my groceries--orange juice, book of stamps, seaweed, beer, and some yellowtail. I parked my car in my garage with a feeling of relief in that I wasn't gonna be driving it tomorrow--I'll save gas and any chance of me getting in an accident. I did my laundry, which is usually the toughest weekend chore. As I went to bed, I looked forward to a full day to play with LEGO.
Not that I claim to've mastered the WTC, but I did try to play them like a crazy obsessed freak nearly every day in the basement practice rooms. Back then, I gave equal attention to both the preludes and fugues, not necessarily based on any thematic relationship, but out of a sick compulsion to play the entire cycle completely thru. Of course, lately I've been skipping the foreplay and only've been playing the fugues.
I remember the very first LEGO model that I built--set number 196 "Antique Car". I must've been at least three years old given that that model was released in 1975. I was living in Hacienda Heights by then and I can still see the condo living room in twilight as I put the pieces together. I think someone, maybe my parents, maybe my neighbours, got it for me for Xmas. Or was it my birthday? Some of those details are fuzzy. However, I still have those classic red spoked wheels.
Except for the C major, I've forgotten all the preludes. Most of the fugues are still in my memory, albeit I'm rather rusty--I'll need to consult the music to relearn each of the opening subjects and then they'll all fall back into place. But truthfully, I've been straying in my practice as I've found other hobbies and music to bide my time. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'll ever find anything as perfectly constructed as those fugues. And they do permeate thru every perspective I have of my life--everything is related contrapuntally. However, sometimes I can forget.
About a year ago I finished a commission that left me questioning my reasons for playing with LEGO. Suffice to say, I felt like a whore--I felt cheap and used. I know some people don't mind selling themselves, afterall they've got to make a living. I realized then that I couldn't do it. Partly cause it's not my main source of income, even though it potentially could be. I needed some other reason to continue.
Unbeknownst to me, a girl noticed me playing the WTC in the practice rooms. Nearly ten years later, she'd give me a CD of her teacher playing the same preludes and fugues. And today I spent every waking moment listening to it as played with LEGO like I once remembered.
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