|Out On a Lim|
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|Out On a Lim (6.13.08 - 10.29.08) >>|
|My apartment complex consists of two mirror images of the same styled building. Between them is a driveway leading to the garages in the back. If one were to look at the architectural design from the street, my apartment would be located on the left. Anyways, from about sunset to 2AM, there's an automatic lighting system that doesn't keep the complex in the dark. Tonight, as I arrived from a detour ridden drive home, the building on the left was illuminated as the one on the right was out of commission.
Preferably, the best condition for me to write my blog is after I've done all my chores, namely after I've paid all my bills, washed my dishes, and whatever other bullshit task I need to do. Call me on my OCD, but I tend to have a clearer head when I've got nothing hanging over it. Likewise, I don't like to start drinking, blazing, or relaxing unless nothing or nowhere demands my doing or being. It probably doesn't work for everyone as history is logged by those who thrive on misery. Not that I wouldn't mind suffering. However, one never expects trouble. Cause if one did, it loses half its charm. Take for instance tonight, as I drove home from my boss' house, where I'd finished housesitting for the weekend--I hit not one, but two detours. OK, that's not exactly a good example as I didn't mind traveling down unfamiliar backstreets back to the freeway, but the point is, I didn't see any of it comming, and therefore I was intrigued by it more than had I prepared myself to encounter these obstructions to my otherwise well worn path.
Oddly, I noticed on more than one occasion, finding myself in the middle of two other things which happened to be kinda symbolically coloured in the opposite shades of the spectrum Such as the black SUV in the fast lane, me in the next lane, and a white sedan besides mine. Or the black truck parked to left of my boss' house's driveway and the white one situated on the right side. There was a half moon in the sky. And the girl of my dreams wearing a black bra whilst the girl of my nightmares had a white one on. Could good and evil be more obvious?
I defaulted to being neutral in response to your email. Last week, the head of the music library asked me to take photos of the new furniture that we'd received as a donation from another more financially endowed department as a token of our gratitude to the powers that be. Ahem, well, this might seem like a stretch, but I'm finding that the further I go, the more fun it becomes--I connected this photography assignment with the lame excuse of taking some test shots of you on the upper decks of the art building. And to sweeten the act of desperately begging for your attention, I added the credible favour, as I've reserved my recital date in the main library's rotunda, of you taking my publicity picture. Cause I figure, I wanna see how you see me. It took you forever to reply, per your convention. But you did, give or take your annoying tone, which of course ain't exactly reliably detectable plus or minus your non-native command of the my land of citizenship's established language. As well, you agreed. Thus, I could do nothing else but simply say thanks, half in Japanese, half in English. Anything more would've been pushing my luck.
"How the hell did I get here?" I thought to myself as I hand shoveled cat shit from my boss' litter boxes into plastic bags which I'd knot and throw into her plastic trash can. Admittedly, I had fun trading dreams with the three felines, and I'm not saying it was a chore, but my desire for a pet of my own would unquestionably increase infinitely if I didn't've to handle their crap. I filled their food and water bowls--I have absolutely no problem with this aspect of animal care. I packed my bag of cloths/laundry/toiletries, grabbed my guitar, threw them into the trunk of my car, and finally drove home, only to follow arrows placed by some public transportation service that's doing construction or whatever at the intersections of freeways late at night.
I wrote a check for my rent, updated my webpage, unpacked my housesitting gear, answered your reply, fixed myself a cola and whiskey on the rocks, and walked back from the mailbox. Both the lights on my apartment buildings were turned off--it was past 2AM. It's time to write...
"Good call," flute chick acknowledged when I asked her why she wasn't wearing her thumb ring.
It's funny how there're days when I feel like I'm precisely on point, and other times when I've got completely no clue what's going on. Cello chick bothered me when I was manning the circulation desk, like she usually does, and I felt lost as I tried to follow her boggling eyes. Like everyone else I've been comming in contact with, I announced to her my recital in the main library's rotunda next quarter--an all acoustic solo Dylan program with me playing guitar and harmonica. And I wondered if her quartet was available for an opening act. Maybe some Bach. "He didn't write any quartets," she corrected. "Yeah," I knew, "but the Art of the Fugue wasn't for any specific instrument--it's been arranged for string quartets." "Wanna bet?" she obviously wasn't as obsessed with the monumental work as I was. "Dude," I did a simple search on the library's online catalog, "look, we've got one in the stacks." She complained that Bach is difficult to play. So I said whatever, play whatever you want to--although Bach is the perfect compliment to Dylan. She busied herself with her email and waved farewell.
Piano chick visited twice. The first time was to borrow some rags that her student requested to learn. She said, in Japanese, that she was tired. I'm getting tired of that response--why can't everyone figure out how to manage their sleep schedules? I mean, imagine today as the last day of your life--would you want to be tired or full of energy? Geez, prioritize, man. If I can accommodate my necessary hours, namely six, anyone ought to. It's not so fucking hard. Anyways, clarinet chick was a funny as usual--I really dig her sense of humour, even when she's having a crappy day. That's what I'm talking about--show some effort in recognizing the joke of it all, cause if you lose that, you're pretty much dead. Later, piano chick popped into the library again. This time she was tempting me to join her at the violin concert taking place in the main auditorium. Unfortunately, I had to close up at the exact same time, nevermind that most performances don't begin at precisely on time, I still didn't make it due to shuffling the stragglers in the back room and locking everything up. Oh well.
But I locked into conversational sync with flute chick. Sure, she was answering her emails, but I managed to say the right things at the right moment. It's been a while since we locked eyes, and I'd almost forgotten how incredibly aligned we can be--if only I were ten years younger, I'd be ultimately crazy for her. Meanwhile, I'm just glad that she's someone I've crossed cosmic paths with as I noticed that her thumb ring was missing. At first I ignored it, cause I didn't want to seem like a stalker who noticed insignificant details. But she kept using her hands to animate her sentences. And I was swept up in the whirlwind of her hair, her soul, and her scent. Why wasn't I ten years younger? I forgot about everything I've ever dreamed about as I returned her serves--she lobbed some missiles towards my memory, such as her current publicity schemes regarding the orchestra's Halloween concert. Easy shit. And it was as if she was asking me to prove my devotion. So I focused on what I'd been maintaining ever since our discussion began. "What happened to your thumb ring?" I unmasked.
"Make a wish," she hurriedly encouraged as she pointed to the time on her cellphone--it was 3:33. "That's a magic number," she read my mind. I don't like to admit it, but lately I've been obsessing over digital representations of time, too, although I tend to gravitate towards progressive numbers, such as 12:34, but the same numbers, like 4:44 and 11:11 are always cool. "Wait," she commanded, "we must keep wishing until the time changes..."
We were sitting in a cafe, I was drinking a hot chocolate, she an iced tea. I let her pay, but not without a little fight--allowing her to push my wallet carrying hand was the only physical contact we made the entire day, yet it was more than I could ever be thankful for. With our pride aside, we compared driver's license and university identification card photos. Our laughter must've annoyed the barista who was waiting for our orders.
Earlier, I was lining up a shot. I told her where to stand, namely in front of a tree, with the afternoon sun blasting her face. And after setting the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, I showed her what buttons to push for the auto focus and camera to capture my publicity photo. I grabbed my guitar and strapped my harmonica around my neck, stood where she'd marked with her purse, and strummed a few chords. Hiliariously, she followed my beat with her shutter clicks.
Before the photo shoot, I showed her an online picture of Dylan that I aspired towards--it was from the early 60's, black and white, with blurry trees in the background, and his guitar and harmonica distinctively in frame. As well, it was to help guide her, cause I figure the easiest way to communicate how to shoot a photograph is to visually give an example. It certainly wasn't in vain, cause within the bunch of shots she took, one was exactly right.
In return for her favour, I offered to take her publicty photo. She wanted something neutral--nothing as ridiculous as mine. So I placed her in the appropriate setting--there's a corner on the top floor of the art building that's got a white background and undramatic lighting. And with a stroke of luck that I couldn't've predicted, the very first picture I took was perfect. There was no way I could've topped it. Nevertheless, we fooled around with semi-silly poses in the sculpture garden. What a fun day...
When I got home, I transferred the JPEGs from my camera into my computer. Blown up, I noticed details that'd snuck under my eyes, namely her grey hairs. Like me she's got a few strands. However, spookily, we've got them at almost the same spots on our heads. There's one in particular, on the left corner of our foreheads, that's kinda shorter than the rest of our follicles. I zoomed in on hers and doubled checked mine in a mirror. Yup, we've got the same coincidence going on.
Editor's note: This entry was written on 10.26.08.
I finished my part of this year's Halloween musical, namely the instrumental backing tracks that'll accompany the singers during the performances. There're still some prerecorded tracks that need to be dubbed--some of the actors're scheduled to add their voices at my home studio in the next few days. But that shouldn't be any big deal. The hardest part is over--I spent 10 hours yesterday composing, arranging, programming, editing, mixing, and mastering. Today I worked on some final touches, such as the intro and the interlude. I'm gonna take tomorrow off from work as a little reward to myself for once again completing the annual marathon.
So tonight I watched my Netflix DVD that's been waiting for me since last week--Tokyo Godfathers. It's got some cool animation--painterly realism, backgrounds that follow the foreground, and fluid motion (clothes, hair, and wind). The story, at least at first, seemed too manipulative--three homeless characters find an abandoned baby on Christmas. And I'd almost made up my mind to rate the movie with my standard three stars. However, the climatic scene had my eyes all teared up. I don't wanna spoil anything, but it really hit me hard. Enough to earn that extra star. I guess I should've seen it comming, what with the emotional beats that the film had set up.
But then again, lately I've been getting the urge to break down and cry--nothing especially sad, mind you, just these unexpected moments of uncontrollable joy. For instance, I was reading my current favourite comic strip Pearls Before Swine the other day, and I had to hold back from letting the ducts loose. There's a dog that's tied to a chain who's always been kinda the hopeful spirit of the series. And in the past he's always given me a smile or two as he's kept his dignity despite his crappy situation--the girlfriend storyline was especially bittersweet. Although his winning catch during a recent baseball game made me wanna cheer like a baby.
I don't know, perhaps it's my own situation in life that's to blame--again, I'm not depressed, on the contrary, I'm getting overwhelmed by the overlapping folds of fate that cause me to step back from the timeless design and just say "Wow". Or maybe it's in the music. I'ven't written much lately. And when I do, I tend to get more involved than I ought to. It's an artform that I'm getting more and more convinced of as one that I'm only just beginning to comprehend. I mean, I'm feeling things that I've never felt before from sound waves--aural clues, like the guiding light I've been following, are now entering my ears.
I've always admired Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind" as the folk classic that it is, however at a safe distance from its overplayed status--I'd never put it on out of its album or collection context. But I learned it the other day and that last verse, which isn't to say that the ones leading up to it are any weaker, made me choke with the weight of finally hearing the song for the first time. Somehow, I needed to sing the words for myself, with the strings vibrating under my fingers and the harmonica awaiting me to play the riff upon the chorus' chords, to receive that kick in the ass which no doubt others've felt as the early genius of the song revealed itself. I think I can hear it now.
"Wow," my mom exclaimed, "that's really profound."
"Uh, news flash," I thought, "it's Dylan." I'd just asked her to translate a line about the years it takes for people to exist before they're allowed to be free. It's funny how I've got so many of his songs stored in my memory that I sometimes forget how potent those lyrics are. I mean, imagine hearing that shit for the first time...
Now that the scheduling's been taken care of, the time from now until my concert date will be dedicated to figuring out what the program will be. At last count, I've got somewhere around 30 Dylan songs under my belt--I need to pick enough to fill an hour.
"That'll be like three songs," my former drug dealer laughed.
"Indeed," I mentally agreed. However, as much as I'd like to demonstrate how I've got some of those epics easily committed to memory, I'm aware of how tiring that can be on an audience, especially when the music goes nowhere, and some members of the crowd aren't so fluent in English.
And I'd like to have some special surprises. My engineer suggested including some additional instruments to accompany my acoustic guitar and harmonica. That's not a bad idea, although there's a part of me that wants to endure the challenge of facing the world alone, like Dylan originally did at the beginning of his career.
"Yeah, we're pretty loud," my assistant described her wind quintet. "You should get a string quartet."
"I've thought about that already," I quietly replied, the idea being the backing musicians shouldn't drown me out.
If my previous experience with past obsessions is correct, this concert should be the culmination of my recent Dylan phase. True, I've been playing his songs here and there for most of the last two decades, but I've never been so focused on his catalogue. Afterwards, I ought to be moving onto my next passionate diversion.
I don't know what I'm gonna gather from this experience. I guess I'm hoping to gleen something from the lyrics that I so admire. Somehow performing them live should give me some insight that I can't muster from playing them in the comfort of my apartment. Who knows. But I'm committed to seeing this thru.
"You look like a serious Dylan fan," my former roommate commented on my publicity photo.
"Hahahaha," I laughed, cause partly that's what I was aiming for, although in reality I'm being silly. He knew my sense of humour, but he remarked that if someone didn't know me, they'd probably think I wasn't being funny. I couldn't provide a more perfect account of my intention.
But if I were honest with myself, I'd admit that all I want to do is put on a show for my special lady friend. She's giving my voice a reason to sing. I only wish that she could understand the foremost aspect of Dylan--the profound lyrics. So I asked my mom to help me translate them.
I arrived at work relatively on time only to be locked out of my computer--I couldn't log on cause my clock wasn't in sync with the network, or whatever gibberish the error box was blurting. So I called tech support. The student working the help line informed me that no one was available to fix my problem, at least until tomorrow. Fine. I saddled up to my assistant's machine. But I realized that she didn't've the programs that I needed to do my job, namely to search national library databases and import those records into our acquisitions module. Well, if this is what entails a "bad day" at my place of employment, I remembered that things can always be worse. So I took an early lunch. When I returned, tech support called. Someone was available to debug my workstation. She did it remotely, like an angel looking after me from afar.
Back in 2nd grade, one of the first things we did before class proper began, after roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance, was Show'n'Tell. I clearly remember the day when Paul brought his Star Wars figures in, cause they were brand new character designs for the sequel, which hadn't hit the theatres yet. From that moment on we were best friends. Anyone cool enough to've gotten his hands on The Empire Strikes Back merchandise months in advance had to be a part of my life.
Last Friday night I called into my DJ friend's pirate radio station for my interview. OK, so I had a few drinks before air time--it was the end of the week and way too early for me to not be sober. Nevertheless, it was fun. Well, I might've said some stupid things--like giving a shout out to my drug dealer and mistaking Homer for Plato. I realized these slights the next morning. Fuck it. I'm always assuming some aspect of my projected persona anyways. No one'll take me seriously. Although, I do remember discussing some sensitive shit that I'd signed confidentiality agreements to keep my mouth shut about--not explicitly, but heavily implied. Maybe I shouldn't've gotten drunk.
Paul and I weren't of the Cowboys and Indians generation, rather we pretended we were Jedi Knights saving the galaxy or archaeologists searching for holy treasures. We spent years in the hills around our elementary school pretending we were heroes as we shot bad guys and escaped booby trapped caves. I owe many of my childhood imagination's wildest adventures to him.
You stopped by the library today. I asked you to stand still as I checked out your grey hairs, especially the one that grew at the exact same spot as mine. It was still there. And so was mine. We freaked out at the coincidence for a second, and continued discussing the matter at hand--you showed me your selection amongst the multiple test shots that I'd taken of you of what came closest to your envisioning of your perfect photo. I disagreed, but didn't argue with the prospects of conducting another session. More time spent with you is always a boon.
My assistant processed not one, but two new books about Dylan. I rolled my eyes--my infatuation is beginning to hit critical mass, which isn't a bad thing as it's inevitable and something I'm compelled to see thru. "The universe is lining up," she mocked. Kinda skeptical and kinda riding the cosmic joke, I checked out one of them--the volume that dealt with Dylan as a performer. I might as well immerse myself in this passing phase while my passion is prime. Cause God knows I'm gonna get sick of all of this after it's over. And tonight, after practicing an hour's worth of Dylan songs, I took my ritual evening walk only to hear not one, but two people strumming acoustic guitars in the comfort of their homes along my path. Perhaps I'm, if only fleetingly, in tune with something.
Sadly, by high school, Paul and I'd drifted apart--I became more interested in my musical development and I don't know where his interests were anymore, other than they weren't in sync with mine. He wasn't the first nor last best friend that I'd abandoned--I tend to move along onto the next newly slated chapter of my life without much attachment to the past. Not that I don't feel like crap for cutting my ties. I mean, I wish I wasn't such an asshole. But like you, I can't stop from following my calling, even if it means leaving others in the dust--I wonder why our lives've crossed and if we'll inevitably double cross each other later. Anyways, Paul eventually moved to Nebraska and became a cop.
Luckily, as I listened to an MP3 of my radio interview, I heard my crappy cellphone drop off during the portion of the interview where I made a legal ass of myself. Well, I can make out what I said, because I said what I said, but I'm pretty sure that no one else can understand any of my muffled words. Let alone no one of any real threat listens to pirate radio. Or at least I'm hoping the angels are on my side.
As of this writing, it's looking like we're gonna be spending Halloween together, based on your email reply and your embarssing confirmation of your plans to be with me instead of a coworker who'd apparently invited you to another festive event. So we're gonna attend my musical--crap, I know it's not the greatest thing I've ever done, but if anything I'm putting my faith in my friends who've got enthusiasm to spare, and I'm crossing my fingers that they'll save me from exposing me as the hack composer that I am. My desperate hope is that you see me as Mozart in those scenes from Amadeus where my music is performed not by the royal opera company, but by the common carnival troupe. Of course, deep inside my heart, I know that I can't escape...
The DJ cut to one of my film scores. We were still connected on the telecommunications link and continued a conversation behind the scenes. "Do you remember Paul?" I threw out. "Yeah," the DJ didn't forget, "we were neighbours." "Well," I broke the news, "Google him." My DJ friend had a computer at his fingertips at the radio station and did as I suggested. Paul was critically injured after getting shot on duty. And I don't want to get all mushy and say no one deserves to die cause who's to say anyone deserves to live, but by some stroke of fate, he survived. Someone was looking after him.
These days I've been living by these words:
Beware of trying to imitate Woody's singing too closely--it will sound fake and phoney.
1. Don't try and imitate his accent
2. Don't try and imitate his flat vocal quality.
3. In short, be yourself.
What any singer can learn from Woody's method of performance are such things as this:
1. A matter-of-fact, unmelodramatic, understatement throughout.
2. Simplicity above all--and getting the words out clearly. They are the most important part of the song.
This last perhaps needs explanation: to avoid a sing-song effect, from repeating the same simple melody many times, Woody, like all American ballad singers, held out long notes in unexpected places, although his guitar strumming maintained an even tempo. Thus no two verses sounded alike. Extra beats were often added to measures.
- from Pete Seeger's introduction to Woody Guthrie's songbook California to the New York Island (highlighted in the copy with the inscription "the property of Bob Dylan")
My pawn was the eclair. Yours was the brain. I didn't expect to recruit mine had she not crossed my path at the exact few moments after you called me to rendezvous at the entrance of the library. But there she was, cutely contemplating whether or not to go the Halloween concert at Royce. Although, I'd noticed her earlier in the day when I scanned the barcode of the Chinese score that she wanted to check out--she'd forgotten her ID card, but I told her that her name was all I needed to access her account. And she gave me a name that wasn't what I'd thought everyone was calling her, namely the eclair. So I asked you, pretending to be a dumbass, what her name was, cause I really hate employing pawns. However, you're wielding your brain, and me being barely half as smart as you, needed to mirror your move in stalemate.
Coincidentally, on any other day I would've had some Japanese pop music playing in my car stereo, be it Puffy or whatever superficial distraction I'm into at the moment. But today I was listening to Chinese music--Monkey: Journey Into the West. "Is this your music?" you ask, which I assumed you meant "Did you compose this crap?" "I wish," I answered.
The sexy blonde girl and you engaged in a discussion beyond my scope of understanding--albeit, I pieced it together based on the fragments of the clues you exchanged, and chose not to appear smarter than I am, which could easly be interpreted as way too involved in business that ain't mine.
"Do you have her number?" the sexy blonde girl asked for your digits yesterday whilst I was consulting the Dylan encyclopedia--there're six pages written about the song "Jokerman" that'd caught my eye enough to sit down with the volume at a desk in the reference stacks. "Yeah," I gave her your number. Hey, she said you were meeting her for a rehearsal. And it's not like I don't have your number. I like how no one can agree on who the namesake of "Jokerman" is referring to, other than there are many possible interpretations--Jesus, the Devil, God, Ronald Reagan, and/or Dylan himself. I'm definitely gonna include it in my setlist. Gotta publicly thank the axle for that one.
Come to think of it, the axle and her boyfriend were not unlike rooks on the offensive, forcing you into a corner whereby it'd look like we were a couple next to another. Thus, you used your brain. I was close to surrendering. I mean, as I turned off the lights to my office and exited into the hallway, I'd mentally succumbed to Plan B--cube the fuck outta you and your brain, unsubconsiousing your bluff, and leaving your nonsense to yourself. Little did I know of Plan C--the eclair.
I pulled out that pretentious monkey music and cranked up "Thunder On the Mountain". And right as Dylan opened his mouth to sing, you called. The nicest thing you did that night up until then was when you obnoxiously sang the melody of my Halloween music. So I headed back to you and your brain to retrieve my parking pass which I'd forgotten to return to my car. The eclair was off somewhere in the holiday night, desperately being someone else's pawn. Geez, I really hate you for setting the bar so high--a lot of chicks just aren't making the cut in terms of even comparing to your level of delirium. And that's why I can't stop playing with you.
"I'm sorry," you smirked.
Happy Eleven Eleven
Temples resembling rememberings of asssemblings of our fate
Debated with the remainders of the awaited temporal designations of lateness
Unless you count the amount of sound you profounded in your mocking tone
Our cells are the locations of our textual tristes twisted with resisited wishes
The kiss is mirrored in the rear view prophecy
Obviously it's a toss between the obscene and the clean
I mean, I'm mean, you know what I mean?
So a dream is just a dream unless it's dreamed within the dream scene of a dreaming me
Between you and me it seems a little meaningless
And confess that you're messing with my best exceptions of deception
Like stalking the bean stalk, wondering if the giant can be relied upon to fi fo fum
Or vice versa as you reverse your verses and do something just as dumb
Bums are crumbs if you're an idiot
Quit this unrequited spite and the right light might take flight despite the night's respite
The dean of pirates highly suspects that puppets are to blame
Name the tamed and you've got the frame of the game contained
In one second the third fourth of the fifth, sixth, and seventh eight will be next to a nine and ten
Commas end sentences and periods divide phrases
I heard cellos, said my hallow hellos, and discerned gas from grass as the last task came to pass
Peace is speaking for the weak and diseased without conceit
For we're all be redeemed
In the unforeseen, unforsaken, and unfortunately unsure future
But the closest ghost to me is you
And I'm thinking about sinking the ice rink
Drinking the spiced drink
Blinking the twiced blink
Inking the diced ink
And winking the priced wink
Cause I'm too lazy to go crazy over the overcaste haziness of your maze
Let's just run away and glaze over whatever may come what may
The dare is now in play...
We just saw it from a different point of view
I spent nearly the entire day singing one song over and over again with my guitar and harmonica, never getting tired of it's multidimesions, rather finding more layers to dig thru with each irregular improvisation of the repeated chorus--"Tangled Up In Blue". I can't believe, like "Blowin' In the Wind" a few weeks ago, that I never learned how to play this song before. And actually, I've always admired its rhyme scheme, especially during the seventh verse, not to mention the shifting perspectives. I remember after noticing that the first, second, and third persons can be swapped by the singer in a pop song that it was like seeing those dimensions open up, even though they've always been there, it's just that "Tangled Up In Blue", by virtue of its title, is a prime example. Anyways, in sequencing my playlist for my Dylan concert, I decided upon the arbitrary rule that I must perform at least one tune from each decade of his career. And the only other songs I had in my repertoire from the '70s were "Forever Young", "Abandoned Love", and "Meet Me In the Morning"--all of them're great, otherwise I'dn't've learned them, but "Tangled Up In Blue" really is, to me, the quintessential Dylan track from the '70s. So I spent today, whilst doing my laundry, checking my email, paying for pizza delievery, and downing a few beers, carving the song into my brain.
There was a moment when you were waking up in the early afternoon, where you didn't want to open your eyes, keep the safety of your dreams within reaching distance, and forget that reality is becoming worser to face. That she's just fucking you up with her cruelity turned up a notch. I believe it was that blues musician Robert Johnson who sang "Ain't but one thing makes Mr. Johnson drink". And then you remember that the alcohol in your veins is there to help you forget. You do and fall back asleep.
"Don't do anything with too many sharps or flats," the cellist warned him.
"How's the key of A," he supposed, hoping that three sharps won't be a problem for her quartet.
"That should be OK," she pouted.
So the key of A is slowly but surely logging in points towards its favour in becoming my favourite key. All things being equal, there shouldn't be such a thing as one key being better or worse than any other. But in terms of guitar, the lower open stringed keys (E, A, D, G) ring out louder due to the unhindered harmonics. Of course, these are the sharpened keys. And it just so happens that my voice has been sympathetic with these more than the flattened keys.
Like the lyrics, the key in "Tangled Up In Blue" shifts. It starts and ends in A, but the verses, with the natural G's gravitate towards the key of D. The bridges sharpen the G's giving the E major chord its dominant connection back to the key of A, with a brief reminder of the natural G's in the chorus, which ties back to the verses. It's not like classical music's rocket science progressions, but it's enough of a trick question that I asked myself upon determining what harmonica to use. I ended up picking the D, if anything it's the blues mode for the key of A.
You've got this theory whereby bullshit can be converted to something more useful. For example, when some chick screws around with you, you can appropriate that nonsense into your voice. It'll probably be more authentic if you sang with real instead of imagined sorrow. There's no genuine answer that'll prove your theory, but you can't argue with how soothing it is for you drive last night out of your mind simply by singing the blues.
His resolve has resumed.
"Well, what should be is another story from what is," cello chick corrected after I'd stated my respect toward a girl's relationship status--if she's got a boyfriend, then everyone ought to follow that covenant, and not pretend that it doesn't exist. Cause she'd been hounded six times by an organist, after she got plastered at a Halloween party, nevermind that he's nearly twice her age and she's spoken for. "He keeps asking me out to get coffee," she complained as we, ironically, were walking towards the campus' central caffeine hub. She seemed more sophisticated than I'd seen her last week--something about her high heels made her appear somewhat elevated. Anyways, I bumped into her in the library stacks after I'd looked up "All the Tired Horses" in the Dylan encyclopedia. "Wanna get some coffee?" she pleaded in her cold manner that's impossible to refuse. I ordered a short cup of hot choloate--I'm not addicted to roasted bean drinks. "You never stop surprising me," she laughed. "Why," I played along, "what did you think I'd order?" "Coffee, black," she retorted. "Let's sit somewhere not in the sun," she directed as we searched for an empty table in the courtyard. "I'm thinking about employing a choir," I confided--she'd already agreed to her quartet's involvement with my Dylan concert. "All the Tired Horses" is the opening track of his Self Portrait album. "What if I opened with that song," I threw out to my former drug dealer and my former drummer as we drove to my former roommate's house to watch episodes of Dexter in HD. "I mean," I admitted, "no one'll know the significance of that tune..." "I will know," my former drug dealer proclaimed. "Yeah," I agreed, "only the true Dylan fans'll appreciate that song--but then again, it's really Dylan in a nutshell, even if he's only joking, and no self respecting commemorative concert should exclude it." So I threw the idea of pulling that hoax off with cello chick. "As long as we can read it once and get it," she replied. "It's Dylan," I excused, "four chords tops." "Yeah," she countered, "a lot of people say that, but the music is never as easy as they say." Somehow, I'm certain that I'm right. My former drug dealer pulled up a history of the last 100 years of film on his digital recording device. There was one image that he wanted me to pay attention to--Dylan throwing cards down with the lyrics to "Subterranean Homesick Blues". Indeed, it wasn't an image I'd've selected to capture the gist of a century's worth of cinematic iconography, but I'm all the more surprised, if not grateful, for its inclusion. Cause I can add it to my growing stack of encouraging signs that my Dylan phase is on track. Cello chick gossiped about flute chick and piano chick, and I won't betray her confidence, but I found myself too lucky to be in her presence. I mean, there are dudes far more worthy than me hitting on her, and yet she's hanging out with me on her off hours, so I can't thank fate enough for my fortune. If she didn't've a boyfriend, I'd say my life is perfect...
Mounting a concert, regardless of my doing original material or covers, is, at least I'd like to idealize as such, something that shouldn't be thrown together without much thought. Although playing my own songs might not be such a big deal, cause I can stand behind my words and music 100% and if the audience doesn't like it, fuck them, I'm right. However, performing another's works is a game of convincing the crowd that I'm convincingly performing the works of another performer. And that's something I've never done before, which I'm guessing classically trained musicians go thru everytime they get up on stage--the constant fear of doing something wrong. Luckily, in my case, I've chosen Dylan--as he himself has proven, there ain't no right way to interpret him. But still, I wanna put on a good show. Something different from my last concert, nearly three years ago--which is like almost a generation of my revolving door of college aged friends. And there's a corner of my mind that suspectfully plays with the possibility that said college aged friends influence his state of mind enough to add credence to the coincidental fact that these days most of them are classically trained musicians whilst three years ago amongst them were mostly pop music fans. Anyways, after taking a dump in the basement, I climbed the seventh stairwell to its top level where I found my engineer seemingly editing a video whilst his girlfriend likewise was composing a letter to a customer who hadn't paid for their services. "Can you get me four female singers?" I threw. "Yeah," she returned. Cool. So I'm theorizing that one method of winning over those in attendance of my Dylan concert is to simply enjoy myself and hopefully sending that vibe into the air. And the simplest way to do so is to share the stage with some chicks. I've already enlisted a hot string quartet. Add a little choir and I'll be in heaven. That's another thing that I've never done in the past and am looking extremely forward to--play with an all-girl band. Just having them angels in my mind is enough to keep me from losing it. So with them watching my back'll save me from losing my cool. Or so the theory goes. We'll see how it'll pan when all ears in the room'll be on me and my ridiculous attempt at embodying one of the most ridiculous singers of the last 40 years. But then again, there's some sense in trying, I think. If anything, people'll get an idea of how many lyrics I can memorize, which is easy for me, but from the likes of some very smart pianists, apparently it's much easier to forget music that one truly believes in than file it in the long term mental vaults. I suppose it's a blessing that could be greatly misused in far worse situations than remembering the best lyrics ever. Somehow losing the comfort that those words offer is beyond my comprehension. I waved to you in the halls--it was the first time that I'd seen you after our formal introduction last week. I was afraid that you might've forgotten who I was. Thanks for waving back.
Always mind your surroundings.
I smoked the stash that Stacy sequestered for me after I'd presented her her parents' wedding anniversary portrait at my former drug dealer's house. "Figuring out the program is the funnest part," piano chick and clarinet chick both said during separate conversations. Supposedly, Blind Willie McTell used three narrators in his song "Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues" which Dylan pays homage to in his song "Blind Willie McTell". Once when I was in the soup line at the north campus eatery, there was a lady who was engrossed in a cellphone conversation in front of me--she'd opened the lid for the minestrone and paid more attention to some depressing argument that she was having with someone afar. You were free for vending machine coffee as I was in the mood for some fresh air after chatting with my brother-in-law, so we sat outside watching the sun set in the west, which reminded you to remind me that your visa status is being questioned yet again. My father likes to exaggerate his steering whenever he avoids an accident--for example, when someone gets too close to his car, he'll swerve away from the adjacent vehicle, honk, and make overly obvious avoidance manoeuvers. I think I've settled upon a playlist for my Dylan concert and will spend the next two and a half months practicing, molding, and finding an ideal performance arrangement thereof. You've got the benefit of a teacher giving you the silent criticism, well, I've got Stacy's stash's approval. There's a set of stairs by the literature department that I worship for the sheer number of beautifully laced undergaments that peekingly reveal to me whenever I walk up them--the black gartered stockings today being a memory I'd like to accompany my soul onto the next life. I heard that my former drug dealer doesn't like to be referred to as such--I need to come up with another code name for him. I can't imagine crazy cellphone lady in the soup line behind the wheel of any mode of transportation. Just as I slight of handedly proposed to you, a piano student cockblocked our intimate conversation. I saw you today whilst I was kicking back at the circulation desk. I explained in lame Japanese that Dylan's grandparents immigrated to America from the Ukraine, not unlike your teacher. And you recited the concordance of cool musicians from that part of the world. The connections are cornering you and you can't comprehend the continuation of your conscious conservation of your counterfeit conjunction with convenience. "Bob Dylan," I summarized, "is at his core, a joker--and I want everyone to not forget that..." My lawyer called and asked if it'll be cool if he brought his daughter to my concert. "Of course," I encouraged. But there's never been a day when I've walked up those literature department steps that I've not seen an erotically inspiring chick within eyepopping distance. To be honest, I think Dylan as an academic topic doesn't exclusively belong to the music department, rather his lyrics are literature with a capital "L". Nevertheless, I'll always defend his music as such with the exact same upper case honour even if classical music snobs'll deny such categorization. Anything more elaborate than three chords is pretentious.
Tonight I finished Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes--it was the second book on the subject that I'd read within the last two weeks. My personal film historian let me borrow it nearly a year ago. And I'm ashamed to've kept it in my possession for so long. But the timing was such that now's better than any other to tackle the 400 plus pages--the amount first appeared to be a daunting task, however, it was an easy read, especially since at the moment I can't get enough of the mythology sweeping thru the back of my mind as I find my footing in those labyrinthine lyrics. Anyways, I think I'm gonna check out another book tomorrow from the library--something I browsed thru the other day, something about the connection between Dylan and Scripture.
Today I answered an interview via email--it was the second one that I'd allowed within the last two weeks. And there ain't no question that the live radio session was a thrill beyond compare, but I'm way more comfortable typing my answers. I'm just not a talker. Which isn't to suggest that I'm a writer, but I like having the option to read what I'm trying to say before I set it loose. Texting, although more cumbersome than speaking on a cellphone, is my preferred form of communication with that obnoxious technology--ideally, I'd abandon it altogether, but it's lately been a fad amongst my circle of acquaintances. Anyways, the interview's supposedly for some LEGO book. It never ceases to amaze me that others are still amazed, now almost after a decade, by those crazy sculptures.
I gathered a somewhat sad image of Dylan from that last biography. I mean, his fame is beyond insanity--the book charts some of his absurd stalkers, sycophants, garbage diggers, jealous backup singers, and slimeball managers. He's virtually trapped in a life that's lost all trust in human interaction. Nevermind that he's channeled such bullshit into transcendent poetry that's actually worthy of religious reverence. I like how someone likened Dylan's songs to prayers. Anyways, he's truly earned the right to sing his tunes, regardless of tuning,. I can only hope to find some tiny angle in his life that's congruent with mine insofar as I might be able to justify performing his music before a crowd. And yes, I'm aware that reading all the books in the world has its limits.
After finishing the interview, I headed over to the food court at the local Japanese market for some curry. And I know my fame is barely a hair on Dylan's head, but I do get recognized by strangers on very rare occasions. Luckily, it's always been pleasant--instead of getting asked for the meaning of life, fans usually wonder how many bricks I used in the stegosaurus (an eye rolling query, to be sure, but completely harmless). Anyways, as I made my way anonymously thru the the crowd, I was happy that I'd found a place in my life where I could happily acknowledge my past accomplishments without my privacy, not to mention friendships, paying the price. Any less notoriety and I'd be starved for more. And any more I'd be cutting a deal with the Devil for less.
Let me preface this entry with a quick description of a dream I had last night. I was touring the White House. And somewhere on the second floor, I noticed someone's left leg--whoever it was wore jeans, and there was a prominent hole on the thigh. I couldn't get a good look at his or her face, but the ripped fabric haunted my mind, as if suggesting that I search for it when I awoke...
So all day my eyes were on the lookout.
You walked into the library during my shift at the reference desk. After scratching your head at the computer terminal, you approached me and said "I can't remember why I came here." I laughed as I checked out your left leg--there was no hole in your jeans. "I'll be back," you wrinkled your smile as you exited.
The circulation staff, which partly includes me, got trained today on how to check in and out laptops. There were a bunch of us crowded around a kiosk as we learned about the necessary steps from the college library instructional computing commons personnel--make sure all the cables are in the bag, the batteries are charged, the screen works, etc. Throughout the training session, I kept looking at everyone's left leg--no one's jeans fulfilled my deja vu.
"Let's get dinner," she suggested. So we headed to the Chinese fast food joint on campus. And as we ate, we played a game of shiritori--a Japanese word game. Obviously she won. Her fortune cookie was auspicious--fortune will be kind to her, whatever. Mine was lame--I should expect a letter of good fortune, whatever. She interpreted mine as an email from some patron commissioning a $50,000 scupture. I corrected her by clarifying that that'd be an unfortunate letter, rather a fortunate one would be from Puffy asking me to bow at their feet. "Wanna go to the voice professor's concert tonight?" she invited. "Sure," I accepted.
You'd straightened your blonde hair--it wasn't as curly as I remembered. "Did you have a good Veteran's Day?" you wondered as you shifted from one computer to the next at the terminals beside the reference desk. "It wasn't bad, and you?" I returned as my eyes strained to look at your jeans, namely your left leg--no hole. "I had strep throat," you answered, "and it wasn't pretty." "I'm sorry," I condoled. "Well, at least you're alright now." "This is riduclous," you complained as all the computers that you accessed had crappy connections to the internet. I must confess that you nevertheless looked good in jeans, especially as your behind boot heeled out of the library.
She didn't return, or at least I didn't catch her in the reading room if she did. If I did, I might've asked if she'd like to get some dinner.
Before the concert, I paid a visit to my engineer in his studio. He wasn't there, but his girlfriend was, so I struck up a conversation with her about the similar similarities of the translations of "dove" and "pigeon" in Russian and Japanese. "I've got a hole in my dress," she detailed. "I can't see any," I observed. "It's on my ass," she located. "Thanks for NOT looking at my ass, Henry." Sorry, I thought.
"Can I call you back later?" I hushed to my spiritual advisor who'd made my cell ring just as the lights were about to dim in the concert hall. "You better turn off your phone," she remarked as she crossed her legs--she was sitting to my right as I killed my mobile communication device. In a whisper, she gave me the Japanese term for "bitch". We counted the voice professor's costume changes. I laughed at the drama. She didn't understand any of the lyrics. And at the intermission, as the house lights turned back on, I recounted to her the dream I had last night, namely the hole in her jeans, on her left pant leg, and how I'd been searching for it all day. The only thing I could do was pretend to hit her on the head with the concert program.
"You gotta remember," I reminded my assistant, "that most of the professors hate their lives--I mean, no one in this fickle music business ever dreams of teaching at a university. So they've got a crap load and a half of frustrated anger, as they've been relegated to the lower realms of obscurity with their souls sealed in deals to pay for their rightful amenities, and just waiting for some little girl working behind the scenes at the library to mishandle their precious requested DVD, which entitles them to expel their wrath."
"But the students hate it here, too," she refracted. "They all just wanted to be rock stars, but couldn't, so they got their parents to pay for their quote unquote music education, which cannot be taught anyways."
"Yeah," I admitted, "you either got it or you don't."
"True that," she punched the air.
Two weeks ago, a circulation student freaked out cause he thought that he'd broken the machine that sensitizes, for security's sake, library items--otherwise the magnetic gates at the entrance'll go off. And so I left my technical services office in the back and ventured to the public area which is known as the circulation desk. Under the front counter is the aforementioned sensitizing machine. "It's not making that 'THUD' noise," he worriedly onomatopoeiaed. I grabbed the nearest book and slid it thru. "THUD" the machine made. "What's the problem?" I asked as the circulation student banged his head against the desk. "It wasn't working before..." he ellipsised.
Your teacher's playing a concert next week. Between chopstick bites, you mentioned that he'll be playing some Chopin noctures.
"Like on the CD that took forever for you to burn for me," I roll my eyes.
"I KNEW YOU'D SAY THAT!," you scream. "Well, if I didn't make you wait, you wouldn't've appreciated it as much."
"I saw you and that Japanese pianst eating dinner together yesterday," my assistant remarked.
"Why didn't you stop and say 'hi'?" I interrogated.
"I was late for rehearsal," she weaseled.
Last week, a patron was freaking out cause his copy card wasn't being read by the copy card machine that's connected to the copy machine thru which he wanted to make copies. "I've been swiping it all day in all different machines on campus and all of them don't recognize me," he complained. I motioned for him to hand me his copy card. I slid it thru the swipe detector and the LED lit up saying copying may commence. "What?" the patron puzzled. "Don't look at me," I mumbled as I hypnotized him to forget ever seeing me fix his problem. "Thanks," he glazed in disbelief.
And this week, at the vending machine, the lady before me was taking forever to purchase a drink. "Sorry," she repeated as her dollar was rejected for another dozen times. I didn't mind--she didn't look bad from behind. "Go ahead," she gave up. In one take, my money was accepted, and I selected a plastic bottle of iced tea. "Here," I exchanged a crisp dollar for her wrinkled one, "try this." I stood over her shoulder to see if it'd work. "Everyone's curious," she curiously described as I was the only one wondering. Of course, it did.
This is this the third time this week this has happened.
I awoke to an orange hue humming thru my afternoon windows. After taking a shower and drinking my glass of orange juice, I stepped outside with my laundry--there was ashes in the air as the Southern California wildfires discoloured the sky. Last night the United States Air Force investigated my apartment. "How much do I owe you for your CD," he tried to joke. "The military don't pay us all that much..."
"Nothing," I didn't charge. "And thanks," I gratituded for his gallant services protecting this great nation of ours.
...pushes procrastination to the point of preposterousness
...likes a little liquour laced with lost love
...escapes enlightenment every eternity
...and alliterations are amounting to an annoyance
...seen the sun settin' like a ship
...enters each exit with elation and eeriness
"Are we eating ramen next Monday?" I double checked.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she demurred with triplicate blinks. "Because I'm performing on Monday, I can't eat with you. I must be in serious contemplation before the concert. I need to take a nap and take a walk on that day. And least of all, I cannot be with you in the hours leading up to my moment on stage."
"Sure," I cared, but not enough to raise a fuss. "You do what you gotta do."
"Sorry," she repeated.
My former assistant's flute teacher's sister commissioned me to design her CD. I was given a few photos that I rubber stamped out text and feather lassoed backgrounds. I uploaded the PDF files to my webpage. "I haven't turned my computer on in a year," she explained. So tomorrow I've got to get some colour printouts of the graphic designs and physicallyl mail them to her for her approval. I'm guessing time's slower where she lives.
"Hungry Henry" was your attempt at proving to me that you know how to rhyme words.
"Not bad," I commended with foolish pride as I couldn't find an equivalent for your name in Japanese. And after you supplied me with one, I relinquished my right to assume which one of us has a better handle of the other's native tongue.
"Let me know if there's anything you need," the United States Air Force officer declared after my domain passed inspection.
"Likewise," I saluted.
...is trapped in the gap between mishaps
...might as well've fell from hell
...pleases the unease to cease the breeze's wheeze
...wa mata baka kaba
...is this Swiss Miss' bliss to dismiss
...waves to the brave who misbehave
I'll get on my knees begging "Please please please"
Are you reading this? And if so, I wonder what goes thru your mind, especially when you don't explicitly acknowledge that you've read my blog--am I sounding insane or is my imagination being bound by the confines of your assumptions? The shadows of the dinner time sun affected the mood of the enclosed cafeteria--you seemed to've hinted that you've followed my journal's journey when you mentioned that "irregularity" is a good word, which was coincidental with my posting of the exact same sentiment via Bob Dylan via Pete Seeger via Woody Guthrie via whatever vast folk tradition precedes those esteemed institutions. Like my hand, I'm right eyed--it dominates my focus and composition to the point where I close my left when I'm in the "zone". I mean, it's my camera eye when I look into my viewfinder. And when pornography evolves into reality, I often find only my right eye truly being open.
I can't stop thinking about Forgetful Chick. Her eyes echo relatives that I've had crushes on. Her laughter is consistent, which is diametrically opposed to my special lady friend's infinite range of types of funny expressions. And the fact that I see Forgetful Chick less than any of my other lady friends, her presence seems to become more highlighted by her rarity. The pentatonic scale is pretty cool. Well, given my proclivity towards simplicity, next to the complexity of the chromatic and the extravagant diatonic, I'm inclined to vote for the least number of notes. Although, if you put a gun to my head, I'd resolve to the blues scale as the only true collection of tones worth preserving in the face of the end of the world. I wanna ask Forgetful Chick out to dinner alone, without the presence of my special lady friend, who seemed to've squeezed any romance outta my interaction with her the last time the three of us went out.
Today I craved a chili cheeseburger and chili fries with cheese. Not enough, however, to acquire the original version thereof, cause the closet location was too far for a stoned out of my mind Saturday. Thus I settled for the closest facsimile, a knockoff a few blocks away from my apartment. Forgetful Chick spilled out of my ears when I heard the Devil as the possible identity of the pined after character in "Red River Shore". "Do you like the smell of ass?" I asked Video Chick. She laughed and was supposedly reminded of why she thinks I'm funny. Mentally, I gave myself a self administered high five for accomplishing my humble goal of making every chick that I talk to laugh. And I know what kinda laugh I'm looking for--not some fake crap, but that elusive one that erupts from uncontrollable bowels, or at least what they act as so. It's a mental moment.
The Russian Mafia blew smoke around the entrance of the venue. About 20 feet from them, in the parking lot, we got into an argument, after I'd carried your piano bench to your teacher's car, after we got separated at the refreshment spread where we tried to get a drink, after you peformed Martinu's second piano trio, which you'd forgotten to prepare for per your pre-concert rituals. "What do you mean you didn't take a walk?" I confused. "Oh no..."
"What do you mean 'Oh no...'?" she added to the confusion as I sat next to her in the audience. "That's not a nice thing to say before I go on stage."
"Why are you so nervous?" I cut the crap.
"It's been a month since I last performed in front of an audience," she sighed.
"You were great," I congratulated backstage.
"Really?" you grabbed for more criticism.
"Really," I furthered. "Especially the second movement. Those were some cool harmonies--lots of shifting major to minor chords. It was..."
"Spooky," you finished my sentence. "Yeah, like, what is it? Major? Or minor?"
After the argument in the parking lot, she, as always, broke her promise to burn me a CD. This time it's some tangos. Sure, she pleaded as every chick does with their hair tosses. "I'll give it to you next time," you smiled. There's no way short of breaking into her place to confirm the illegally duplicated recording's existence. But then again, it's that renewed promise which makes me forget about caring whether she's lying.
And especially after fighting over sexism, Socialism, spoiling children, the uncomplication of gift giving, the chore of imagination, miniature pianos, and other shouts of nonsense.
Editor's note: OUT ON A LIM will be off Thanksgiving and Friday. See you next Monday.
I'm no dermatologist, but lately I've been reading faces. I could be completely off, but I'm guessing that certain lines around the eyes, mouth, and forehead, after years of expressing laughter, anger, worry, or whatever other facial gestures, become prominently permanent over time. And that's why so many people are ashamed of their wrinkles, otherwise the cosmetic industry wouldn't exist. Sure there's the age factor, but that can't be controlled--time passes for everyone, I mean, if you can't accept that, you'd better open your eyes. But it's how they've lived their lives that, seemingly at least, could've been in their hands--certain choices might've been avoided, certain memories better left forgotten, etc. So it's like an invasion of privacy when the sum total of their deepest emotions get etched upon their faces--although it ain't like I can read their stories with super fine detail, rather I gather bits of empathetic impressions. And I'm not judging anyone's lives, other than I admire those that don't give a crap about their superficial appearance. Actually, I look at wrinkles with a greater wonder than I bestow towards the greatest works of art.
I found myself in my car, ditching work, driving around aimlessly, not lost, but not particularly certain of anything. My eyes were on the linear road as my mind split into intersecting spherical vortexes that spun and teleported multiple angles of a single idea around and about: why? I figured doing something spontaneously stupid would theoretically yield an antipathetic and astute answer. Lights leaked into the convergences of my vision, smells sneaked into the vents of my vehicle, and sounds surrounded my sense of boundless direction. And yes, I know greater brains than mine have pondered the same eternal question to more meaningful degrees of understanding, but for a brief breath I became overwhelmed with an absence of vexation. I smiled as the fleeting feeling left. I suppose some might go mad at finding inner peace only to lose it in a blink. But it was more than I could ever need. Besides, I was still behind the wheel.
"Look," I pointed my right index finger for piano chick (who'd recently signed an mail to me as being from "piano chick") to see, "a new trash can." We were goofing around in the corner of the foyer as some official looking officers were officiating across the way over the unwrapping and unveiling of a shiny garbage receptacle. "Wow," she gasped as she clasped her cellphone shut.
Yesterday, my inbox had a message from my high school English teacher--the one who also presided over my journalism class, and often gave me constructive criticisms for my column, the original OUT ON A LIM. She wanted to say "hi" and asked what I was up to. I quickly replied with a blurb about my job and residence situations--at the UCLA music library and Redondo Beach, respectively.
Last night you wrote on the back of the CD that you'd promised to burn for me a week ago "I'm quick this time!" So I popped it into my car stereo this morning on my commute, which uncustomarily was slower than most days--it took me over an hour when it should take 30 minutes, plus or minus 300 seconds. Lucky for me, I got to listen to your CD without any hurry.
"Don't just end with THAT!" my high school English teacher wrote back. As well, she matched memories with me--pulling out that Wyeth exhibit, the pianist that I tipped to play The Beatles, and photographs of me and a girl who committed suicide. I cracked my knuckles and typed a full blown exclusive OUT ON A LIM for her--I mean, simply put, this blog would not exisit without her blessed guidance all those years ago.
Cello chick looked incredible today--she's been dressing more sophisticatedly lately, showing more leg, elevating on high heels, and darkening the makeup. "We should hang out more," I begged. "We should," she teased. "We should go to that sushi place that you keep talking about," I cleverly segued. "What time do you get off?" she suggested. "Whenver you do," I shrugged like a cool rug. "I'll think about it," she waved.
"Can you burn me a CD of Bob Dylan?" piano chick requested. If I believed in magic words and had a list of my favourites, those would be near the top. "And give me the lyrics, too," she added not only to the conversation but to my tally of the all-time greatest hits of incantation spells. "This is too fucking impossible to be real," Henry thought, as he copied tracks and pasted words.
The difference between classical and rock concerts is the former has programs and the latter doesn't. The audience at a classical concert can consult the progam to know how many movements a piece has so as to not clap during inappropriate breaks. And the audience at a rock concert usually likes to be surprised by the playlist. So whilst I'm keeping most of the songs for my Dylan concert a secret (anyone reading OUT ON A LIM ought to catch some clues), for piano chick I'm making an exception.
There's no way I can possibly compete with all of those show-offs.
"I feel like I'm swimming in the middle of the ocean," Piano Chick #2 described as her hands paddled the air around the circulation desk. "Don't we all..." I whispered. Piano Chick #3 was checking out a laptop to her--not for the computer, but for the battery. "How are you?" Piano Chick #2 asked. I wanted to say "You look hot, with your white lace escaping down your canyon, I'm parachuting the drop, and if you don't mind, wanna get dinner after I get off from work?" but ended up mumbling "I'm OK." Her cheeks were red, her eyes were pointing towards the ceiling, and her heels were heightened as she left my opportunity to reiterate. And that's when I noticed that many of my everyday scenarios are set in the same setting, namely my place of employment, the UCLA music library and its vicinity within walking distance. Cause a common point made in all the books that I've read about Bob Dylan, despite disagreements regarding religious views, song interpretations, and psychological perspectives of the subject, none can disagree with the bard's life on the road as he's been on a Never Ending Tour since the last decade of the last century. I mean, I can't imagine seeing a different city every week as I live in a sorta Groundhog Day life wandering in the same unchanging setting with the same cast of characters, give or take the turn over of college students, faculty, and staff. "I forgot my ID card," Piano Chick #4 explained, "and I need to make a printout of my homework for a class, so can I borrow your ID card?" "No," I rejected, "but you can use my computer in the back office and make as many free printouts as you like." "Thank you," she clapped. I took her thru the aisle of LPs and into the technical services workspace where my assistant was marking CDs. "Hello," they exchanged. And although Piano Chick #4 initially requested to "make a printout of [her] homework" she ended up making hard copies of several other emails and an airplane ticket receipt. In the back of my mind, I connected the dots--I heard Piano Chick #2 laugh at a wig wearing dog and observing that the hair texture of the costume resembled Piano Chick #4's hair. "I'm doing a report on Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony," Piano Chick #3 complained. She rolled her chair closer to mine. I changed the subject to the all-star concert that we both attended last night. She's got some nice legs. Piano Chick #2's got some nice legs, too. Well, come to think of it, Piano Chick #3 doesn't have bad legs either--after all I followed behind her thru that tunnel of LPs. Piano Chick #5 is old, but more famous than all the piano chicks combined, and I seem to always be overriding her due dates on the CDs that she checks out--there's no way I can possibly compete with her, but I sometimes believe in never saying "always" .
Today, I watched the latest Luna Lovegood trailer online. The special effects seem cool and the intrigue of the magical series seems to be intensifying. But there were two depressing, albeit teasing as hell, moments during the preview. One being the brief glimpse of her highness with goofy glasses. And two being the release date--July. Time can't fly any slower...
Today, I woke up at 10AM and said to myself "I'll sleep an extra 10 minutes..." I closed my eyes and had a dream that seemed to last a decade--I was staying in hotel that had escalators that spanned ten floors. And when I awoke, all I noticed was the minute hand pointing at the 2. I took a shower, drank my orange juice, and drove to work. However, in my car I noticed that I'd overslept an hour.
Today, like most days of late, I've been lining up with Dylan lines. I mean, I've been listening to a CD of songs that I've got planned for my concert's setlist lately, and it seems like the lyrics more often than not are coincidentally describing my situation at the moment that I hear them. For instance, "And the first one now will later be last" corresponded with my pole position in the lane to a make a left turn and my butt end spot behind the vehicles in front of me at the freeway entrance.
Today, I got an email from some Russian chick representing a Russian architecture magazine that requested my permission to use a photo of my harpsichord for some article. I naturally agreed, but also forwarded it to you on account of your brother is in the architecture business and your teacher is Russian. Why they want to feature me is hilarious beyond my limited understanding of these unrestricted ruminations.
Today, Piano Chick #3 was dressed fancily. "You look nice today," I admired. "Thanks," she responded, "I'm turning pages tonight." She then explained that she could've worn casual clothes, but that'd stick out on a stage full of professionally attired classical musicians--she likened it to blending in with the curtains. I didn't mind other than my mind didn't give a crap about what she was doing later. Now is the only time.
Today, I imported some MIDI files of some string quartet arrangements that I'd programmed last night into some notation software that my engineer let me "borrow". I ought to familiarize myself with such programs if I want string quartets to play for me cause I think I'm the only one who can read my handwriting. Anyways, I spent an hour, which is way longer than I should, finding my way around the functions, keystrokes, and tuplet ratios.
Today, my heart broke. Well, it was bound to happen given the inevitable timeline that sidelined me. But after seeing a few photos of my desired and her new beau I knew that I'd best leave the person better than me to be happy with her. "Why should I stay here?" I quoted Radiohead. And then I remembered--the God of Love shall inflict those he loves with love, not necessarily in his favour, but nevertheless and everthemore.
See what you lost when you left this old world, this sweet old world
Someone was mulling around the computer terminals when Violin Chick entered the fray. "Are you using that computer?" she pointed to a free machine, her instrument, as always, strapped gunslinger style at her side. Cello Chick told me at lunch today that Violin Chick had access to the school's Stradivarius til December (Editor's note: This entry was written in November). And I wondered if the valuable violin was a few feet away from me. But other than that, my mind thought it was kind of her to be polite enough to ask if a computer was available, as opposed to, as so many spoiled college kids, strolling up to one like it's their goddamn right to check their email. No, it's these little gestures that catch my attention. Although, her skills on the violin got me to pay some mind in the first place. However, she ain't bad looking, so I might not've been shallow enough to care in the first place. Chickens and eggs...
Someone at work took the day off on account of she was at the wrong place at the wrong time--apparently she was the last person someone saw before they jumped off a building to their death. Now, I know that she's over sensitive about such things as dead birds as I remember her being more than squeamish when I showed her a photo of ducks hanging in the window of a Chinese restaurant. So it's completely understandably that she'd be too shaken up by the incident to show up for work. I tried to put myself in her shoes--looking into the eyes of someone who seconds later would not be able to look at anything in this world again. I'd like to think that I'd be horrified, but try as I might, I can't find the emotion that'd conjure such a reaction. I mean, I can't see death as something horrifying. It happens. Everyone's gonna die, regardless of if it's a conscious act or not. That's life. The end.
Someone complained that the photos I took of her teacher during his concert looked too grim, as if they were from his funeral. I'd like to say that he looked noble and distinguished, with years of music flowing thru the lines of his face, but she seemed to see the glass half empty. Actually, the thought of her teacher's death crossed my mind the instant she told me his age. And with every day the inevitability looms closer. I'm pretty certain it's not in the back of her mind--I remember her and Piano Chick #2 discussing old age in my car, and she got noticeably agitated by the topic. I wish I could say "Don't worry so much, and be glad that he shared his life with you at all", but I can't imagine what it's like to be in her situation--a llife changing mentor and such. I mean, "I'm sorry for reminding you of what you don't want to be reminded of."
"Have fun at school," she calls to you, laughs, and turns around to return to class. You get the joke--she's really the student and you're old enough to be her father, that is if you'd've knocked someone up during your freshman year of high school. Anyways, she only had time to walk you to the edge of the steps leading to the student center, or such was her excuse as she denied your invitation for an evening of food, flirting, and future recollections of foolishness. "Oh, I've got something to tell you," she roars somewhere halfway between where you met and your point of splitting up. Confidential rumours, released jealousy, and a bait for more conversational turns fill your hopes that maybe she'll change her mind, ditch her lessons, and follow you down the concrete stairs.
"Don't come to the concert," Cello Chick will advise early in the day and later revise to "Please come to the concert." I will, of course, follow her most current wish. But I gotta give her credit for her lack of discretion--most chicks assume that you can catch up with their interchanging definitions of suggestive behaviour versus pushing your impatience until you're damned if you stalk her and likewise if you ignore her.
So it didn't escape your memory of the exact place where she ditched you last week as you found yourself this week stopping at the same exact place again, abeit this time it's lunchtime. However, her black sweater wasn't different--her legs were now in casual jeans whereas before they were formally slacked. Obviously, you almost break a sweat in that moment when she says "I don't want to eat..." But before you get to perspire, she finishes her sentence after a noticeably forced pause with "...here." "Well, where do you want to eat, then?" you calmly ask.
"What are you doing for Thanksgiving?" Cello Chick will pry at the coincidental time such thoughts of that holiday go thru my brain. It'll seem like she's psychic. But then again, all chicks are, to some degree, whether they admit it, pretend to ignore it, cash in on it, use it for good, use it for evil, or use it for nothing. So I'll tell her the truth. I can only hope that her story will be kinda similar.
"I know what you're gonna order," she mocks.
"What am I gonna order?" you mock back. Instead of eating at the student center, she turned around, not unlike that night when she pretended you were her kid, and headed somewhere else. There was nothing left to do but follow her. Eventually she lead you to the law school's food services. She's ahead of you in the sandwich line.
"The tuna," she correctly guesses.
"What are you gonna get?" you don't try to guess.
"The turkey," she oddly orders prior to Thanksgiving--why would anyone order that bird when that's all everyone'll soon not only be eating, but getting tired of a week later after running out of uncreative uses of the leftovers?
"I'll be celebrating with family and friends," I'll tell Cello Chick. "What'll you be doing?"
"Practicing," she replied.
Initially, there weren't any available tables. After circling the grounds, one opened up, to which she ran towards. Sure, she was claiming it before anyone else could, but it was also a brief instant when she acted younger than she normally more maturely carries herself. If you'd've blinked, you'd've missed it. Nevetheless, it reminded me of how age and time are, from a certain point of view, painfully cute when they can be.
They talked about the weather (it was muggy), music (Bartok, Ravel, Dvorak), movies (Wilder, Kurosawa), dogs (Asian breeds), and how to handle crazy girls (just agree with everything they say).
In retrospect, you can't stop from constantly wondering if she was ever trying to tell me something.
Up until the first splash of water from my shower had hit my head, I couldn't think of anything better than "Happy Thanksgiving" to text to her. And quite possibly due to the blandness of such nationally sanctioned wishes, I thought about not even sending any message at all. I mean, if I can't come up with anything better to say, then hey, maybe I'm wasting my time pining over her like she deserves better than someone who can't say "Happy Thanksgiving" any other way--come on, it shouldn't be so hard to be even slightly clever. Actually, I thought about it all night. And the last I remember was falling asleep with nothing worth typing out with my cellphone's numeric pad. But then again, I've been trying to forget about her...
I can think of a million other individuals that've got it rougher than me--the teenage single mother whose baby's father died at war, the falsely jailed man who's family will live in shame without him, the suburban kid who's addicted to drugs and television, the businessman who sold his soul, the devil who bought said spirit, the turtle whose mate never showed up, the alien lost in a black hole, the dog who lost its last leg, the fly who got swatted, to name a few.
But there must've been something in the water that inspired me. Cause like all great epiphanies, it's always the obviousness of it all that rings with the most truth. And yes, I'm fully aware that everyone else in the world will not agree with my sense of humour. Nevertheless, I'm not aiming for anyone else other than her, so whether or not others might get the joke, is mute. So I won't repeat it--besides, it's between us. Trust me, it was gold. If you don't believe me, she replied, so it worked. And that's all that matters.
Or does it?
But so what.
I got lucky today, not unlike all those other times. Communicating with her is no big deal. Sometimes we see what we wanna see in things, even if they're not there. So we've got a long list of coincidences--all things being equal, the chances of our lives lining up so perfectly is just as likely as anything, not to mention, it's only as significant as you make it.
I returned from Thanksgiving dinner. At the exact second when I walked thru my door, she texted me saying that she'd done precisely likewise.
i'm alive and that rivals its other side
or so it seems as the dream gleams
of a frontier unto the dearly revered
be fantasied upon
see her panties gone
and look upon death as a quest rather than a rest
beyond the earthly tide s
of the gloved ride
with the shovel at your besides
she wanted to leave before the grief and lies no longer relied on silence
so i drove her to my place in the face of her uncomfortable compliance
with society's conventions, inventions, pretensions
and did i mention, sensations towards any relations on suspension
i didn't know what to say other than how the way i stayed away from the topic
could've seemed too polite
should've seemed too light despite the plight of the
would've been too right of a time to hear her whine lines about her fine resignment
from her and her husband's incompatibility
and the mathematically telepathic gratuity left by the patron at the saint's cafe
Well kids, this is the story of how I started to watch a television show called How I Met Your Mother...
But first let me talk a little about today--don't worry, it's not irrelevant to the story. Well, it seems that the parking lot at work was pretty packed and the only spaces left were on the top floor. And the first open spot that I could find was one next to the car of some girl that I know. Of course I took it. However, I don't think she ever found out how close my car was to hers as I drove off on a small errand in the afternoon--I had to drop off some CD designs. When I returned, there were plenty of vacancies on the lower floors. It would've been sorta lame if I didn't pick any of the closer ones.
I never saw an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but after seeing Alyson Hannigan in those American Pie movies and her captivating role on Veronica Mars, well I always held myself responsible for following her career, even if I never caught How I Met Your Mother during it's initial broadcast. Cause you see, my crappy TV can't receive CBS--I can get audio, but the video is more static than any images I can cling onto. And Alyson needs to be seen--her goofy facial gestures and ready red hair. So I never tuned in other than to briefly hear her crack a joke that I couldn't see.
I don't know, maybe it was due to watching yet another pretentious foreign film that I desperately had to rearrange my Netflix queue one day with much adding, deleting, shuffling, and reshuffling until I somehow had How I Met Your Mother next in line to be shipped. And yeah, the first disc of the first season isn't all that spectacular--sure, Alyson is cute, but to my untrained eyes, the show seemed like any other silly sitcom. Although, the premise wasn't bad--the show's narrator is telling his kids about how he did what the title of the show says he did, albeit the identity of said mother is kept a mystery (at least so far...)
I never saw an episode of Doogie Howser, M.D., but starting on disc disc two of season one, Neil Patrick Harris' character Barney Stinson had me laughing enough to rethink my evaluation of the show. He definitely kicked the comedy into gear, moreso than anything I'm used to seeing in my limited exposure to sitcoms. Well, let's just say that Barney's personality, and most importantly, his interactions with Robin Scherbatsky stopped me from halting the delivery of future discs in the series.
Scherbatsky (at least so far...) is the narrator's love interest. But she's also clarified as NOT being his kids' mother. And at first, I didn't pay much attention to her--I mean, superficially, she's out of Alyson's league. However, she really did grow on me. Well, to the point of now she's THE reason why I'm dying to continue onto the second season. Yeah, she goes insane all femine style every now and then, but at least she's trying to be cool. Plus she reminds me of someone I know...
I once had an assistant that I never really did go crazy over when I first met her. I'd see her and make small talk, but kept my appreciation of her at a professional distance, even if it was only in my mind. And then all of a sudden, we were conversing and laughing and in some magical way, I was swept over to the other side of that boundary. I thought of her a lot and couldn't imagine how I'd missed her coolness. Or attempts thereof--she claimed she was "crazy", and I believed her.
Anyways, I had this assistant bothering my brain when I officially met the girl who owns the car that I parked next to today. I can see the scene like it's been on reruns since it happened--I excused myself from supervising my assistant as I gave this new girl a tutorial on CD designs. And yes, you guessed it, I didn't find her all that special at first either. Yet, like I'd be ashamed to call you my kids if you can't put the pieces together, she's still haunting me to this day, nevermind the circular symbolism. But if anything that's the message of today's entry--that lasting impressions aren't always first.
|I like how most everyone thinks that they've got a definitive answer to the meaning of a Dylan song. Case in point, my personal film historian seems to believe that "Maggie's Farm" is a commentary on commercialism whilst my form drummer thinks it's a song for the slackers of the world. We were all stoned when we argued the matter. And I think, but kept to myself, that the song represented at the moment, which isn't to say that it can't change later, all that my personal film historian and former drummer insinuated, plus possibly hinting at the concept of being chick centric, namely my piano chick, who seemed to've not've gotten my joke today as she visibly got mad at my mockery of her non-attending audience to her non-scheduled Los Angeles date of her Beethoven violin (with piano accompaniment) sonatas cycle, I mean I don't wanna work on her farm if she's gonna be hung up now. And also, "Penny's Farm" kept circling around my background with documented anthologies of folk songs--there's no fucking way anyone can pinpoint any of Dylan's meanings in a single rhyme, let alone a song during a slice in time.
I think I've got a grasp on how the internet works. But I'm positive that there are others that've got a far more diminutive or augmentative view--the older generation that can't grasp the vague concept of links to other websites and the younger generation that's got a more involved idea of what links can ultimately achieve via websites. I mean, I absolutely can't see the point of using my cellphone to access the world wide web, but've got friends that swear that it's the wave of the future. As well, I can see how my parents and their immediate circle of acquaintances are afraid of computers. So somewhere in between I navigate the online waters. It's not the end of the world, nor the beginning. Do kids actually think they're connected with each other via the internet? And if so are their dreams intertwined with mind and technologically mingling chemicals and hardware? As well, do grown ups think that the impossible is never to be determined? Cause sometimes from both perspectives, the wonders and tragedies of the computer age share the same state of awe and disgust that confronts everyone living in the 21st century.
I had a disturbing dream last night where I killed a girl. And yeah, it was only in my mind, but somehow I tracked the sin as being real--some people believe that dreams are real and vice versa, but I'd like to acknowledge my actions in both states of mind. To be specific, I was running away from some Terminatoresque blonde who cornering me at Disneyland--and not only was the theme park diserted, but waterless, too, as all the attractions that depended on liquid movement such as the "It's a Small World", "Pirates of the Carribean" and "Tom Sawyer's Island" were completely drained. Most of the time I was hiding in dry corners. But eventually, my nemesis was about to kill me, and so I grabbed the nearest rock and smashed her head. I've never murdered anyone in real life, although I figure my blood, by virtue of surving this many generations, has got spilled competition on behalf of its longevity, so it's a keyword in my identity. Yet after smashing her skull, I looked into her bloody eyes and saw myself in some hell. Luckily, at the instant when my soul was about to barf, I woke up.
On the outskirts of her laptopless dance, I egged and begged her to playfully stay only to be likewise cracked and retractingly refused. I'm assuming she's doing the tango of stop and start heart breaking replicating patterns of seduction like the text books suggest only not knowingly following the next look which rests on the corners of her painted eyes but her handwriting is grandma-esque and my signature is valuable. I read somewhere that the colour red is sexy--it's supposed to remind people of ripe pussy. I find it telling that the American culture focuses on that colour's stoplight definition, which is contrary to nature's signal. Thankfully, I'm colour blind.
Not unlike two days ago, she used my office as a makeshift locker to store her extraneous bags and binders. Piano Chick #3 seems to've been wearing her professional clothes every other day, be it for some audition or concert. "What's with the fancy outfit?" I always notice. She replied "Piano Chick #1 told me to tell you that she's keeping some of her stuff in your office right now." "Thanks," I seriously accepted and headed to my office to see if Piano Chick #3 wasn't lying. And sure enough, on a miscellaneous book truck were Piano Chick #1's possessions. I was tempted to rummage thru them like a psychotic freak, but refrained from my more curious instincts.
"I'm sorry for making fun of you," I apologized. Three days ago I'd made you run out of my office in a mad escape from my mockery of your concert attendance numbers. And so I was soliciting your forgiveness when you explained the source of your transferred anger--you'd misread a response to your artistic grant proposal. "It's neutral," you relayed. "At least it's not negative," we said simultaneously. "Yeah," we still couldn't break the overlappings of our speeches. "Thanks," you wrote in Japanese on my notepad after you'd left your music and shoes in my office. I thought your handwriting wasn't bad looking so I saved it--I pasted it on my monitor.
She wasted some time with me. There was no one else at the circulation desk except us. "You can check your email," I offered her my terminal. "No one wrote to me," she bummed out after logging in and out of her account. We talked about the holidays, the future, and the spirits that spin between both. So I wrote an email to her last night, because her inbox was empty. Obviously she didn't return the favour. However, she did use my office once again as her personal storage space. I looked at her handwriting with repeated awe--"Sorry" she scribbled in basic Japanese. "You do know that I can read complex Japanese," I bragged.
"Cute," you described my autograph. "What the hell is that?' I declared after seing your interpretation of your name drawn in pen. Piano Chick #2 likes to wear medium sized heals--they're not exactly high, but not flat to the ground. "Are you gonna be carrying any piano benches this weekend?" my assistant asked. "I like your assistant," you comment. "Here's my concert flyer," you declare as you hand me your promotional material, which I was obligated to pin on my office bulletin board. "You said you wanted an invitation," you explain as you remove the sheet depicting your name in a boldfaced font and your photo in a coloured representation of a variation of your staff profile pic.
On a lark, darkness became the theme of the dream. The shot of whiskey is not the missing key, rather the lather in the gathering mystique of the descreetly abscent demeanour of the abhorred whore. Let her absorb the orb of delight and deplorable shame as long as the game remains the same as the unnamed remains of the queen of what seems to be the means to the concealed revelation of the elevation of the eleventh station on the vacation spot with the hottest girl in the world. From this moment onwards, the forwarding comments towards your same pants as yesterday will make my days as misbehaved and forgave forgiven and misgiven without any recollection of the objective end. And so it begins...
Let's go to the mall
Well kids, remember that goal I'd set for myself earlier this year (see OUT ON A LIM 10.1.08)--to finish eight portraits in '08? Well, I might be slightly cheating given that I picked the subject of portrait number eight based on its simple background--in other words, of all the requests in my queue, I just so happened to've chosen the image which'll require more solid bricks than clusters of plates, meaning it's easier when the foreground is all that I've got to worry about. I mean, there're some portraits with all this extraneous scenery behind the people that I'm recreating in LEGO--shrubbery, drapes, and props at a photography studio. Not that it's difficult to build, rather it's time consuming. And I've got less than a month to realize my little goal, which I could care less if I see thru, by the way, cause I ought to be grateful that I made seven this year--not too many people can claim that small feat in itself, let alone aspire for more. But call me arrogant when I feel the need to pretend to be like everyone else and set objectives for myself. Cause I wish I could understand this human desire to accomplish shit. Give me a break--nothing fucking matters. However, I'll play along. So yeah, in the event that my trusty parts vendors fail to ship my supply of parts or I suddenly remember that I worship the opposite of the word "ambition", I'm set to meet my goal. I had an hour to charge my camera's battery--I'd just shot a retirement party and was gonna be photographing a choral concert next. The former had wine to give me inspiration--that and some tricky 16:00 to 18:00 light. The latter was, I'm sorry, a bore--it was a men's choral concert, and like Piano Chick #1 said, "That must be boring for you." But that's the life of a professional photographer, I guess. I mean, it's called paying your dues--shooting crap that you don't give a crap about, but somehow've to find the gold within. "You don't know how much this means to her," the flute professor commented. "Is this your first CD with her?" I had to ask. "Yeah," he replied. "Do you guys get along, musically?" I also added. "Well," he coached, "you gotta get along with everybody in this business." "Wow," I admired, "that's a real talent." "Well," he continued, "you work at it and do what you gotta do if you wanna survive." Oh, I also wanna say that as of disc 2 of season 2 of How I Met Your Mother, the show's been consistently getting better with each episode--Barney's hilariousness is...wait for it..."legendary"...and Scherbatsky is becoming my latest fictional obsession...high five. There's an obnoxious sign at my freeway exit--it's a gigantic electronic billboard that flashes the title and artist of whatever some radio station is playing at the moment. That's modern technology, kids. Well, the other day, it read "God Knows Bob Dylan". I couldn't help but laugh...
The other day, I got caught in the not so descreet, due to their tonal inflections, sideways crossfire of a couples' ongoing breakup session snuck between a late afternoon snack conversation and a physical display of distance to and from the student center's food court. I tried to figuratively look away whilst maintaining a literal ignorance of the tension in the room, at the table, on the sidewalk, and injected into their--by which I really mean "her"--choice of simple double edged entendres.
I don't trust Dylan. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Cause I think part of his act is to confuse the audience--hey, it's sustained his career for now going on five decades. Believe me, he's a master of twisting words around, not only in his lyrics, but in his self-hype. Come on, he lied about his background--all those boxcar hopping stories, running away with the carnival, being an orphan, etc. But that's part of his legend--it ain't any more far fetched than that one about a blues singer making a deal with the Devil. However, the way I look at it, it's part of the fun.
Cause that being said, I just read a quote wherein he claims that the cycle of events in "All Along the Watchtower" happen in reverse order. Now whether or not he consciously composed that song with such a head shifting methodology or he's being ridiculous for the millionth ridiculous time, the idea blew my mind. And yeah, I've still got my own forward moving interpretation of the adventures of the Joker and the Thief, but adding the backwards version is not unlike discovering another dimension. So any questions of trust in the author is trumped by the multiple answers.
Although, I don't know if it's sadder to sneak behind the subliminal body language of a newly formed couple and read a thousand incompatibility signs buried behind anorexically veiled desperation. I mean, I'm hardly the most affectionate human being--hugging is more often than not awkward and uncomfortable--but I know that certain vectors must touch before a relationship can begin, even if they aren't obvious. Unless, of course, loneliness has driven these souls to such impetutious disregard for common sense. But then again, "love" and "common sense"...hahahaha
Now, if "All Along the Watchtower" didn't make any sense starting from the end, I'dn't be writing this last paragraph. BUT IT SO DOES. And that's why I keep wondering--because the number of odd coincidences balance the number of even truths. It's all part of an illusionary cycle with direction, movement, and meaning sliced into corners of pockets hiding the tip of the tongue revelations that aren't supposed to make any sense. I think I know why I've got you in my memory. Or maybe not...
"Make me laugh clown," was my sister's response to my offer "Do you wanna hear a funny story?"
Keep in mind that we've got a pretty cruel sense of humour, or so it might seem when taken out of the context of our upbringing, our shared language that's exclusively evolved between us since childhood, and our immorality, if thoughts never extend beyond harmless conception, regarding who deserves to be made fun of. So needless to say, I won't say what I said to her on the world wide web. I mean, I would never consider it a joke to be reiterated outside of our sibling relationship--come on, stomach cancer shouldn't be within anyone's range of matters worth laughing about, but you get the idea...
And it got me thinking about my stock excuse as to why I maintain my blog on a regular basis--"Some people work out at the gym everyday, I log hours working out with words." Of course, I'd like to believe that everyone who builds their muscles generally doesn't apply their strength for harm--hopefully, it's usually for health and vanity. Nevertheless, the potential for violent force is there as strong people ought to be able to kick the asses of weaklings. Likewise, I'd like to think that I do my little exercises in paragraph patterns to keep my brain active--to effectively reconstruct my thoughts in decently constructed sentences. But my building a better grasp of the language also includes the ability to be malicious.
However, as of now, I'm just trying to be funny.
I saw you from a mile away--you were sitting on a bench on the other side of the giant window with your back to me. I couldn't resist tapping on the glass and running to the entrance as you turned around to wonder what made that annoying sound. By the time you could regain your bearings, I was sitting at your side, ready to make you laugh. To be fair, I'd thought about what I was gonna say, namely cause I was gonna use it as a reply to your email, but hey, delivering my text to you in person is all the more entertaining. Again, I gotta apologize to the reader for my exclusion of transcribing our conversation verbatim due to personal matters, but you did laugh, and thus my mission was accomplished.
And then we went on some kinky tangent. I don't wanna get arrested, so I'm censoring the details, but suffice to say, we both couldn't stop from busting up--I especially liked how you leaned forward into me with your rolling guffaws. I gotta admit, I felt more free than I've ever felt before with anyone as the discussion dug deeper into perverted territories. Well, first of all, illegalities aside, most sophisticated girls would slap me for being slightly vulgar. And yeah, you did feign some resistance, but you kept shoving these images of you wearing loose socks into my brain, that I couldn't help but stop from pursuing your encouragement.
At lunch I stumbled upon a couple breaking up--I was a table away, eating some hearty chicken noodle soup (packed with a variety of beans). After figuring out what was happening based on such keywords as "we need to talk", "it's not working out", and "I think we oughta take a break from each other" (I'm paraphrasing to protect their identities), I tried to slurp my meal as fast as possible to get out of the private scene. But short of burning my mouth, I sat thru several minutes of the end of their relationship, which oddly, was almost a losing battle against my keeping from cracking up at the chick's intellectual justifications for leaving the guy. Call me cold, but if she gave me those reasons, I'd've howled at her hilarious neuroses.
Well, to be honest, I've been trying extra hard to keep my sister in a laughing mood. She's been having a rough year. And yeah, I'm not gonna divulge specifics, nor pass any judgement, but with each passing day, I'm comming to better terms with my role as the clown. I mean, I truly believe that humour is worth more than many things in this world. And if I can dole it out without too much strain on my part, I'll never be vindicated if I waste this talent. Besides, I've been practicing almost everyday.
"Hahahaha," my sister let out.
We were thumbing thru colour inserts of diseased throats in a French Canadian instructional book on singing that I'd just received. She translated the captions. Later, we ate oranges.
Sometimes I think things aren't supposed to happen. I drove to three stores, two that were open and one that wasn't, attempting to purchase a baseplate upon which next year's New Year's card could be built.
The smell of the freshly cut fruit caught her attention. Honestly, I didn't notice--her scent dominated mine. I concluded that the misprinted B-flat ought to be a C-sharp cause otherwise it wouldn't define the dominant chord.
I was gonna follow this year's New Year's mosaic of the corresponding Asian zodiac character, the idea being I would follow the pattern until all twelve animals were represented. But I didn't've time to order a baseplate.
Mysteriously, she maintained her trademark flash of cleavage even as the winter weather'd bundled up everyone else. Or did I imagine it? No, I can picture it without my imagination, so it had to've been real.
The rat's in your possession. Well, given my options, I'm gonna scrap my original plans and use the photo that you took of me as my New Year's card's cover's image, with due credit.
And then she left. My mind wished that she'd come back. And she did. So we spent more time than the time we'd spent earlier and passed the time talking about eating moose.
You mentioned once that as child you wore out your very first record--a Japanse folk song single. I replied that I'd done the same--with a double LP Hollywood orchestral soundtrack.
My memory didn't fail me when I remembered her planned designs for her recital flyer. The book fair's gonna be running concurrent. She doesn't've a theme other than her progam's filled with post-1900 music.
You're aiming for the logical origins of my first encounter with music, namely a classical sensibility. And I'm shooting for the logical conclusion of yours, namely three chord pop songs. Somewhere we must've crossed paths...
"What are you talking about?" I raised my voice, nearly fell of my chair, and couldn't believe that you'd actually said that 2nd violins aren't important. Granted, it was in the context of my bragging about my all-chick quartet. "All four parts are equal," I hammered my beliefs. "You are too kind hearted," you mocked.
Tonight's 11:11 wish was to need her. I mean, I still can't justify being more greedy than simply knowing her acquaintance--and even that's a tall order in my book. But the thought has crossed my train of thinking that one day I'll open my eyes and truly bemoan her absence.
"What are you doing right now?" you cellphoned. Even though I was in the middle of cutting my nails, I replied "I'm doing my laundry." "Oh thanks for reminding me," you mentioned, "I almost forgot to unload my dryer." "Well," I continued, "I'm also arranging music for string quartet."
I thought of a silly abbreviated pun on our names this morning as I was taking a shower--nothing worth repeating, unless you're familiar with Japanese broadcasting channels. So I texted it to her. Usually she writes back, sometimes immediately, sometimes some time later. But today she called.
"The viola player never says 'hi' to me," you complained. "Oh really," I noted. "But the 1st violinist is really good," she recommended, "because she knows how to express herself with her instrument." "And the others?" I pried for her opinions. "They're a little shy," you dole, "and well, the cellist is my friend--she needs me."
I can't resist from sneaking in some counterpoint into my string quartet arrangement of a Dylan tune for my upcomming concert--I mean, I've got four voices at my disposal, which are all begging to be thrown into my patented throwing around of overlapping parts. But not too much--I don't want to distract the audience.
"Describe your company uniform," I pleaded. "It had a navy blue skirt," you complied. "How long was it?" I quickly quizzed. "Medium length," you equally responded. "Did it reveal your knees?" I just as fast asked. "Yeah," you dropped as my mind was intentionally stimulated. "You're too cruel," I mocked.
Well, well respected readers, 'tis the last entry for 2008.
Just a little reminder to anyone that'll be in LA on Friday, January 16, 2009--that's the day I'll be performing Dylan songs in the Powell Library's rotunda, circa 8:00 PM.
Exactly a month before that auspicious date, I did a dry run thru of a handful of tunes that I've got on my program in the same acoustic space that I've booked for my concert. And strangely enough, my A harmonica blew a reed--essentially, I needed to order a new one.
I didn't see a single mass produced motion picture in a contemporary commercial theatre this year--granted, I did see some Chaplin, Sturges, and Deakins' pick for inspirationally noteworthy films in historic venues. Nevertheless, I see no point in continuing my lame "end of the year lists" given that in this particular year I'ven't gotten around to seeing any movies in their initially intended environements.
I mean, DVDs don't count as "social" activities when they're viewed in the privacy of an individual. Sometimes I envision an alien culture pulling our puppetted strings--all our perspectives are part of some lame science experiment. Nonetheless, check out the cultivation of our species' collective thoughts--for it's being appreciated, if only at an exrtra-dimensional level as an insignificant blip in the culminative overview of the galactically delineated timespans of infinity, give or take the Devil's hand in such earthly matters.
But if you'd put a gun to my head, I'd declare that the ten best CDs of 2008 were thus:
1. My Story / Puffy
2. All Because of You / Puffy
3. Tell Tale Signs / Bob Dylan
4. Volume One / She & Him
5. Don't Do Anything / Sam Philips
6. Cassini / Hajime Chitose
7. Do You Believe In Gosh? / Mitch Hedberg
8. Monkey: Journey to the West / Damon Albarn
9. Anywhere I Lay My Head / Scarlett Johansson
10. Wise / Mirror feat. Salyu
Screw you if you disagree--it's my opinion and I don't've to explain myself. Go proclaim your own top ten albums of the soon to be past year.
My assistant confirmed your opinions about certain musicians. I'm intrigued to see if they're right--one of my most memorable moments of 2008 was when Violin Chick smiled at me at the entrance of the library. She shouldn't've of, but she did anyways, and that's a plus in my casual book of reality captured in my mental video camera's digital tape. I re-imagined some of our past encounters--sitting next to each other in the darkness of a concert, taking your zoomed picture from afar, and passing on a score that someone'd left for your.
2009--hmm, I don't've any hopes for next year. Time's starting to become an illusion. Let it pass, I'll stay still, and if it thinks mine is done, let it dissolve me into the metaphorical rivers. I wish I could care. But the truth of the matter, namely the lack thereof, is keeping me awake during the day, like a cathartic light that shines on the back of a chick's hair. Her eyes were loving. Ancient music flows thru the I, IV, and V chords--there's something subliminally attractive about those gravitational harmonies. The newer myths don't have the same foundation to blame, reclaim, defame, and shame. Everyone seems to've got something bitchy to say about Viola Chick.
Piano Chick #4 printed out some of her emails from my computer today. I wanted to tell her that the photos of her with straight hair that I've seen online excite me more than her current curly do, but kept my mouth shut--chicks generally don't like to compare themselves with their pasts. Some days I like my voice--I can resonate the lower registers with a ragged ripped up tone. But some days I hate how my vocal chords sound--clogged without any projection. All I listen to is the lessons of life expounded by the angelic unison of two girls from the lands of the East. Well, if you'd put a rifle to my skull, I'd say that "In 2009, I wouldn't mind liking Puffy's new songs."
Have happy holidays and see you next year...
Editor's note: This entry was written on 1.20.08.
Yesterday I met my goal for 2008--to finish eight LEGO portraits. It was kinda anticlimactic given that I kinda knew that it wasn't impossible. But hey, I said I was gonna do it, and I did, and that ought to be worth something in this world of bluffs and bullshit. Then again, I would've been happy to've been able to've done one portrait, period. Nevertheless, I guess I've gotten speedier in my building. Enough to get cocky and set a goal for 2009--to finish nine LEGO portraits. Lord knows I've got enough in my queue. And anything's feasible if I set my mind to it...
This past week I've practiced a couple of Dylan tunes for my upcomming concert in the actual venue--a nice and echoey rotunda in the main library on the UCLA campus. As well, I've tested out the acoustics in similar rooms, such as the organ studio in the music building. But the funny thing is, with every run thru of my program, there're always some songs that sound better than others. I can't get them all to be consistently up to my liking. And I hope on the day of the performance they'll be. But I know that I've got to roll with the ever changing moment of truth.
Today I'm attending a Xmas cocktail party with some old high school buddies. I haven't hung out with them in a couple of years, and some of them've gotten kids in the meantime, so it'll be cool to catch up with these new additions to the human race. As well, I can't imagine doing what I've been doing, such as taking photos, playing with LEGO, and putting on recitals with a kid in tow. Am I missing something? I wish I could be thrilled about normal social temporal touchstones. Often people ask me how I do the things I do.
Ain't the answer obvious? "I've been trying since October," I explained to her, "to order your Xmas present." "Just give it to me for my birthday," she replied. Luckily, her item arrived, albeit too late for the holidays, but way too early for February. I hope it's right. I mean, it's all based on a passing comment she made one dark night on the freeway, after a concert and sushi. Where am I going with this? Well, it was a pain in the ass to acquire--two months is beyond excuses for an online purchase. Besides, I've got other plans for her birthday...
I made an inappropriate comment to a newly friended friend on Facebook about drugs. He deleted what I wrote on his wall and privately emailed me with a "I need to protect myself" letter detailing how his employer checks his page. I apologized, but was secretly sad at the online paraonia that's percolating. I mean, the truth is being squashed for the sake of making a living. Is that right? Who knows. But I'm learning from Dylan that the only way to escape the nonsense is to build a wall of disinformation. Cause the truth'll always shine thru.
Driving home from the Xmas cocktail party, the traffic began to clog. I allowed the possibilities that the holiday season deserves to be given the benefit of the bullshit, that a stalled car is forgiveable on the basis that random car trouble ain't anyone's conscious fault, and that god forbid someone died in an accident ON MY SIDE OF THE FREEWAY (my emphasis).
I've been slipping up in social conversations as of late. One example happened when I forgot having ever met a chick before--she wasn't bad lookin', and I surely should've remembered her bra size--but clearly we did, cause she pointed out precise dates in time during which our paths've crossed as she handed me three $100 bills. I felt like an idiot for the rest of the day.
The Devil can manifest in between the lines of a phone call with a trusted friend. "You've been serving everyone else," said evil incarnate said, "and now it's time for you to let them serve you." "What the fuck?" I thought whilst my autopilot voice replied "Yeah, you're right, that's a good idea..." Seriously, "What the fuck?" I mean, doesn't the Devil read my blog?
ON MY SIDE OF THE FREEWAY. Am I the only one who doesn't slow down to pay my respects to a tragedy? Or does my peripheral vision work better than everyone else's such that I don't waste any time turning my head to see yonder wreckage--I can catch it all at normal speed with my eyes on the road ahead. And I wasn't in a hurry. Imagine if someone on my side of the freeway was...
Another example was when I awkwardly jumped into a discussion about music, which in non-classical musician circles equals nothing composed before the invention of recording technology. And it wasn't like I couldn't give a good Pixies concert review, a critical discography of unreleased Beatles songs, or even a neutral account of Buddy Holly's multitracking innovations. "I think Bach's cool," I answered. The room went silent and changed the subject.
Ok, to be fair, god does show up here and there. I'd like to think that the patterns of electric light, such as primitive man associated most things which lit up with fire, as the mystical "burning bush" of old. Sure, it's several generations removed from the real light, but somehow I'm always transported to that place where phone calls, traffic accidents, and names become meaningless in the face of that which produces such seductive shadows.
I've signed my autograph twice in the last two days--once on my upcomming Dylan concert poster and once on a recently completed LEGO portrait. And I'm not saying that I did or didn't, but everytime I do, I can't help but think that if someone'd sold his or her soul to the Devil, say for celebrity status, I'd imagine that granting a fan his or her signature would start to get annoying. Oh, that reminds me--I've got to sign and send my New Year's cards...
I am running away to the circus
You can follow me, baby, if you like
I dreamt that all the oceans stopped moving. I don't mean in some cheesy freeze frame whereby the crests and troughs were caught in mid-motion. No, I mean the tides completely ceased and the waters became smoothly still--like eerily calm. And with gravitional logic on hold, I flew over the seas, attempting to observe from the air the freakishly tranquil life swimming below the transparent surface. But I couldn't locate any canyons of fish, meadows of kelp, or bottom crawling crustaceans. All aquatic plants and animals had disappeared. Which made some sorta sense in that even though the waters weren't moving, they could technically still be disturbed. In fact, it seemed as if a single plunge of a rock could kick start the ebb and flow of the earth's marine ecosystem again.
I've been focusing on rhythm, namely keeping time with my acoustic guitar. I tend to accelerate more than I slow down--I suppose I get excited, rather than dramatically lethargic, by the progression of the music and lyrics. Although, I'm wary about practicing with a metronome. Cause there's something natural about not being precise, whether it's intonation or a steady beat. However, I think the trick is to not be noticeably off. Like little subliminal shifts here and there are cool, but huge obvious changes can destroy a song. Cause there's a groove that has to be ridden, be it man or machine made, which allows for the playing off of all the other more lax rhythms, such as vocal and harmonica phrasings. In other words, something has to be steady, which oftentimes is the lower frequencies.
I noticed my sloppy strumming after listening to a recording of myself playing, not the first time, but the second. Initially, my ears locked onto my voice, which due to years of hearing myself sing, didn't surprise me. I mean, I'm so accustomed to the sound of my singing that I'm immediately aware of it when it comes out of my mouth. Moreso than my speacking voice--I watched a test video which my enginner made of me in the studio and I rolled my eyes whenever I talked. I guess I just don't pay much attention to that aspect of myself. Anyways, after critiquing my singing voice, I heard the recording again and lashed out at my rhythms. If airwaves could be written upon, I'd've gone wild with a red pen.
So as I alternated my personality between teacher and student, I sought to fix my rhythmic inconsistencies. I tried hitting the root notes harder, tapping my foot, and tightening up my pick hand. But I was thinking too much--grooves should be felt, not intellectualized. And then I was inspired. An old friend from high school sent me a clip that he filmed of his 17 month old kid. At first the little dude was minding his own business--wandering around aimlessly. Soon a beat fills the room--it's my dance remix of one of my tunes, "Tomorrow the Circus". And the baby starts dancing. He feels the rhythm, which I'm assuming is a conscious concept beyond most children his age. He just moved. And that's what I remembered how to do.
I went to two whores to get you off my mind. One wore blue, the other wore red. Both were blonde.
"You're so avant-garde," the jelly faced woman sneezed. I rolled my eyes. I mean, I'm not versed in the genres of arts, but I'd like to think that I'm far from being "avant-garde". Cause to me, that label conjures up images of pretentious incomprehensiblity for pretentious incomprehensiblity's sake. Everything I create should be fairly pretentious, but above all, comprehensible. Thus, I laughed at her ridiculous tastes.
OK, I know it's a sad cliche, but it rained in Los Angeles on Xmas 2008.
You know you're yellow trash when you eat tamagohan--literally, a portmanteau of the Japanese words for "egg" (tamago) and "rice" (gohan). And it's pretty much that--a raw egg over rice, with some soy sauce for flavouring.
I believe stripping is an underrated artform. And like all beautiful things, it's best to admire such things as they are rather than foolishly try to describe, dissect, and analyze what can't be, at least by my feeble skills with words. But now that I mention it, the whore in red ain't a bad practicioner of taking off her clothes.
See, I'm comprehensible. Sure, the parts might seem random and confusing, but the whole ought to make some sense. The fact that I even point this out should pretensiously add to my compehensiblity.
"I don't know," is my auto-reply whenever someone asks me "How do you do it?" And it's not a lie--I really have no idea how I do anything in my life, I just do it. I mean, to think about the "how" would be like an exercise in jerking off. So maybe my answer is only a half truth. The next time I get that question I'll explain "I do NOT think about how I do it."
"Dude, we're not rednecks," my redneck friend point out when I discovered that his bar lacked Jack Daniels.
The whore in blue kept me up all night--the rain and whiskey poured, we ate tamagohan between rounds three and four, she performed an avant-garde, to put it kindly, striptease, and I completely forgot about the whore in red.
But I still couldn't get you off my mind...
Obviously, I don't sleep with my glasses on.
Yesterday, I received your email from that row of desolation. And it was like a message from beyond the daily wall of illusions that fog my perceptions of my material existence, such as the now that the so-called economy is supposedly in the gutter preposterous commercials for credit cards being broadcast in the final days of analog television, the lonely stranger that bullshits his way into conversations at sushi bars where the chef fears depictions of knives in movies cause she's oh too familiar with the damage that blades can do, and the sunglassed in winter lady giving me a "hurry up and get out of my way" glare from her furry coated German made luxury automobile which I briefly block until I walked past her driveway.
The last thing I wanna do is sound like a cheap science fiction trick.
When I arrived back home from my afternoon stroll, I sent a reply. Some of it was proper, some of it was grasping for attention, and some of it was unless you've got some elementary knowledge of both Japanese and English vocabulary just gibberish--of course, otherwise it's some sick plea for you to not to forget your high school uniform. Cause I'm losing my mind over the mental image you've planted in my head. I see it in between the keys of both computer and musical definitions of the word "keyboard", in the penultimately smallest camera lens flares, and sketched in the margins of hallucinations involving double digit verses of a lyrical epic. Either you'll rescue me before I get a lobotomy or you're sicker than I can ever imagine myself ever being.
But it seems like when I take off my glasses, I get visions of you wearing yours.
However, to tell you the truth, I'm glad that I'm not upgrading to digital TV--losing one (of too many) avenues of Madison's revenues is far better than not letting go of any stream of unconsciousness, at least if you're like me and notice when I'm being clubbed to death with relentless sales pitches disguised as breaks between mass produced entertainment. Although it takes a bullshitter to recognize a bullshitter--that's how I was able to peg the stranger at the sushi bar as a proliferator of lies, only I don't expect any acknowledgement of my existence. Actually, I hate it when people take notice of my taking up space in the world, especially when I find myself hindering another's motivations. Thus, I'm trying my best to get out of everyone's way.
This phenomenon oftentimes occurs only in my dreams.
I was dining with a couple of couples in their mid-sixties--potential patrons who stuffed me with food, compliments, and offers. And the topic of caloric intake, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure intruded--I was outnumbered in the careless age department. "We used to not worry about that stuff, too, when we were your age," they collectively agreed. "So should I enjoy my life," I sought their elderly wisdom, "or should I start taking precautions now?" "Enjoy your life," they bestowed, "but don't expect to live forever." I invited them to my Dylan concert--afterall, as they pointed out, they're old enough to remember a time when his music didn't exist.
Along with not getting sick in 2008, I also accomplished a feat that I'dn't done since before I saw my first movie, over 30 years ago--to spend an entire year without seeing a contemporary film in a theatre. Which ain't a small achievement given that I couldn't escape from escapist entertainment for the longest time--some weeks were spent paying to see a movie every single day without fail. But for me it was kinda like quitting cigarettes--stop cold turkey and don't look back. So nowadays when a friend with eyes glazed tells me how "suspenseful" a premise is wherein historically I can't forget never succeeded, I can only quietly think to myself "sucker"--the studios must love you.
She wrote me an email and she wrote it so kind. However, either she's pretending to've not gotten my joke so as to yank me further into her tempting invitation to find out otherwise or she's really confused due to my botched attempt at humour. The latter seemed to gather the benefit of the honesty on both our parts, so I clarified myself using an inhumanely swift tempo marking as a hint--if she still doesn't get it, I've got more clues to offer, after which I'll come clean. It's not that I hate movies or theatres, I'm just getting too old to follow the crowds, let alone tune into the modern times. Call me old fashioned, but I'm starting to sympathize with people of my parents' generation.
Things were better back then. Although, I'm beginning to rely more on my own imagination than that of some puppet director being strung about to produce some cross promotional franchise "movie". Plus, I can dream up stories, characters, background music, and camera angles that no film can touch. And for free. A year away from Hollywood's current manipulations and I've come to realize that I'm tired of being entertained by someone else when I can do it in my head far better. Also, books aren't so bad. There's something about the mental pictures conjured up by words that touches film insofar as it kicks its ass.
That being said, I'm NOT gonna cancel my DVD rental subscription nor will I stop taking recommendations from my personal film historian--the majority of my queue and his suggested viewings were copyrighted before I was born. But these momentary flees from the responsibilities of reality only occupy two hours at most every other two days or so. Likewise, I'm getting bored of listening to music, rather I'd rather play the tunes myself on whatever instrument is handy. Sure, some professional recording artists've got more talent than me. But breathing between lyrics and fingering the notes myself seems to be a greater thrill. Passivity is becoming a thing of the past.
There's some people that you don't forget
Even though you've only seen'm one time or two
I've yet to erase from my memory that Fraulein who worked in the German pavilion's gift shop at Epcot. I just watched Limelight--there's a killer scene with a duet between Buster Keaton on piano and Charlie Chaplin on left handed violin. My neighbour gave me a hot slice of pumpkin cake. My parents recently bought a fancy new 52" LCD television, which my dad's been primarily using to watch football, a sport that's suddenly gotten him hooked--and I gotta admit, those swooping camera shots over the playing fields are breathtaking insofar as I really don't give a damn about who wins or loses, but seeing the latest technologies in action inspires my third eye, namely in duplicating such shots in my too inappropriate to be described in full detail on my blog imagination. She got my joke after my first hint. She's got a Xmas gift from me that's waiting to be opened. Today I bought a calendar for the new year--I chose a collection of sepia toned photos of Chinese landscapes. Today I ate at a Pakistani restaurant--curry for me, thanks. Two books that are currently on my reading list--Writing Dylan: The Songs of a Lonesome Traveler by Larry David Smith and Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric: The Lost Manuscript with text by Bob Dylan and photographs by Barry Feinstein. Two garages in my apartment complex contain washers and dryers--one of them keeps detecting an "unbalanced load", but they both cost four quarters to operate. There's this theory that I've got whereby she can read my mind when I'm being unfaithful--I'll get a call or an email to remind me not to stray. And there's this other theory that I've got in which if I stop being silly I'll lose my mind. Last night I dreamed that I was in the army--I was stationed in Russia in the winter, so I skated over the frozen rivers with a rifle. Last night I also dreamed that you followed me like a shadow. When my heater kicks in, I one, know it's cold outside, and two, recall my exact thought when the thermostat's been triggered cause it might be a coincidence that whatever was in my head at the time needs to be metaphysically warmed up. When my refrigerator kicks in, well, you get the idea...
I'm speeding thru the tunnel faster than the limit even though there's a camera midway cause I know it's only for show otherwise there wouldn't be any graffiti on the walls.
If I were a praying man then I would almost count the thought that passed thru my head during this morning's shower to be somewhat in the vein of an earnest petition on my behalf to see you sometime soon. And sure enough, later on that day, I did--you were walking out of the stage hand's office with a handful of official papers in your hands. "Happy New Year," you waved. Maybe it's the drugs and alcohol, or my ungratefulness to my holy granted request, but all I could respond with was a mumbled repetition of what you just said. I turned the corner and punched my forehead for being as eloquent as a foggy mirror. So what I guess I'm trying to say is, prayer works--just be careful what you ask for...
At the risk of sounding like a paranoid freak, I've been getting weird stares from people--like they recognize me, but aren't exactly sure from where or why. Granted, there are posters on campus with a photo of me strategically placed in the libraries of prominence promoting my upcomming concert.
"The medicine man comes," Zaggs quoted at the bowling alley. A gloved Dr. Mike rolled a strike. "And he shuffles inside," I continued the familiar lyric. Dr. Mike sat down next to his special lady friend. "He walks with a swagger and he says to the bride," Zaggs kept it going. My spiritual advisor apparently was intrigued by the next line which I handled "Stop all this weeping, swallow your pride." My personal film historian picked up a spare. "You will not die, it's not poison," Zaggs laughed.
I think it was the bowling that inspired me to pray to see you today--cause you're the only chick I care about who's obviously not a golfer. I told my special lady friend about bowling tonight and she nearly killed me...
"Nervousness can ruin a concert," she reminded me. "What the fuck?" I thought to myself. I mean, there's only one place on earth where I do NOT get nervous and that's the stage. And she's way more experienced than I am in that arena--she performs regularily per her profession whilst the last time I faced an audience that was bigger than my coworkers gathered at a holiday party was close to four years ago. But then again, I've got other identities with their own accomplishments that don't need to be reinforced, so if I fail on the musical front, it's not the end of my world. Yeah, I guess if your whole life is only about performing, nervousness can royally screw things up.
"I understand what you said about pride," my spiritual advisor remarked. "What?" I couldn't remember what "I" had said. And it took me until after we'd finished three games that it came back to me. By the way, I can't recall the last time I threw rocks--my closest estimate was nearly two years ago. So I was really rusty--albeit I was taking it easy cause she told me to, I mean, I didn't want to break my arm before my concert. Anways, I managed to warm up to some strikes, even a double during a tenth frame after the gutterballs that I was committing. "Oh," I figured out, "that was a Dylan lyric Zaggs and I were ripping off of ["Tombstone Blues"]." Alas, my spiritual advisor was convinced that it was no coincidence.
I smoked a bowl with my personal film historian and my spiritual advisor under the coded pretext that we were "checking to see if my personal film historian's car doors were 'locked', so to speak" before, according to customary Lebowski routine, bowling.
"The slow one now will later be fast," I sung.
"You must be serious," she scolded. "NO FOOLING AROUND!" she yelled. "You should not talk to anyone so that you can protect your singing voice," she detailed. "You cannot be having fun," she insinuated. "And you must treat every night with a Zen focus upon the music you will play," she preached. "Fuck you," I flipped off in my mind, "I'm cool ALWAYS." And went bowling against her will. "You'll break your arm," she falsely warned.
That double felt awesome--one strike can be chalked up to luck, but a double is skill, sweetheart, or at the least twice as lucky.
I've got a present for you, but I was too retarded to build a convincing story to build upon to convince you that I'm not bullshitting a story about giving you a present, although I kinda am actually pulling your sexy legs with this one, but you'll never know unless you read this semi-true blog entry. I'll give it to you later...
"Come to my office later," I commanded, "I've got a gift for you."
"I have something for you, too," she shouted from afar.
"Oh, really," I doubted in Japanese.
"Really," she promised.
I'm glad that you claim to be comming to my concert.
The preservation committee polished the courtyard's Duke Ellington statue in the afternoon. I watched them do their deed thru the window as the sun hit the corners of the top of the building across the street whilst I sat at the circulation desk.
"Hello," Piano Chick #6 introduced herself. "I'm going to your concert," she smiled. This was officially the first time that she'd addressed me and it was a little unexpected. I mean, she's not bad lookin', and I've always wished that she'd notice me, but her friendliness hit my blind spot. "Cool," I coolly muttered, completely lost for words--damnit, I need to be better prepared for these chance encounters.
The other day I noticed a thin wire feebly holding a branch on the eucalyptus tree that's next to the giant window on the north side of the music library--if it snapped, following gravity's direction, it'd crash thru the glass.
I desperately got Piano Chick #2's attention. "Happy New Year," I trapped her into a conversation. She seemed to be on her way somewhere more important, so I tried to make the most of our makeshift moment. According to her, she returned from Hong Kong yesterday. "Cool," I uncoolly responded--damnit, why is it that when I'm chasing a girl, they always slip thru my fingers and when they're chasing me, I'm vice versa.
I'm a about 1/9th done with the first of nine LEGO portraits that I'm resolving to finish in '09.
Some dude said he's comming to my concert, too. I gave him my best Dylan impression of indifference. OK, I'm sorta glad that my audience is filling up, but there's something neither exciting or boring about random guys in the crowd. They're not my target audience. How I wish I could perform for a harem of beautiful women...
Of course, there're stray chicks that I've never heard of that've RSVP'ed in the affirmative via my Facebook event page. And they've considerably inspired me to do a good job, especially after listening to their voices on their MySpace jukeboxes. Actually, their music and lyrics are better than anything that I've ever written--I'm in wonder of such creativity, moreso than my or any classical musician's adherenece to other composers' scripts. The unrecognized talents of the world are always my source of championing. It's always humbling to play before the great artists within my acquaintance. I can only hope that I can cross their wires just a bit. And they'll in turn explode with something beyond what I can express.
Don't be a stranger with no brain or heart...
|Henry Lim Performs Dylan
photo by Kanae Matsumoto
Today time seemed to warp. Like the temporal displacement on that infamous island on Lost, some coworkers and myself felt a vergence in the hours at our library. "It's one o'clock," the head of circulation observed and complained, "but it feels like it should be six." Indeed I also felt the slowing down of the minutes to the point of feeling like the day ought to've been over when it'd only begun. Of course it was Friday, but my assistant received not one, but two strange calls. The first was from Flute Chick--she called my assistant an hour earlier than she'd said she would. The second was from her friend from the Valley who said she was gonna leave that vicinity at the hour she called my assistant when she arrived at UCLA. It was as if we were in another time zone from the rest of the world.
"Do you have a ride to Piano Chick #1's concert?" I asked Piano Chick #3. "No," she replied. "Wanna carpool?" I suggested. She clapped and answered "Yes." Obviously, Piano Chick #1'll be in her own dimension that day, so I'm not even gonna try to communicate with her other than maybe a text message saying "do you best" in Japanese. And I noticed that Piano Chick #3'd written on Piano Chick #1's Facebook event's wall that she'd attend the performance if she can find a ride to the venue. So I got Piano Chick #3's phone number and coordinated picking her up on Sunday. She's scheduled to record some audition material on Saturday. "How's it going?" I surmised. "OK, I guess," she wiped her nose, "but I'm getting sick." "Oh no," I tried to sympathize. I need to wash my car.
"Nobody feels any pain," I sang in the rotunda during another test with my engineer. He wasn't sure what microphone to use and where to place the vocal amplifier, so we scheduled a rough rehearsal during business hours at the location. I'm trusting his ears cause I can't hear myself in that room. And we did a recording and A-B'ed it with Dylan's Royal Albert Hall CD--I'm happy with the results. "Is that how it sounds in the audience?" I inquired. "Yeah," he confirmed. So for anyone who can't make it to the live show, the recording we'll make of the concert'll be as close to the real thing as we can get it. With the right levels on the amp, the room is actually the best place I've ever performed in--the high ceilings make my voice, harmonica, and guitar sound big, but it doesn't fit a million people, so the intimacy factor is prime. As well, the patrons didn't throw any tomatoes, thus I figure I didn't sound too bad.
This entry was written a week before my concert. And in a way it seems closer than I thought it was, but still a whiles away from the date printed on the posters. To tell you the truth, I'm more anxious about Piano Chick #1's display of classical virtuosity two days from now than my own demonstration of the opposite end of the musical spectrum seven days from today. But then again, I'm not all that worried about me. I mean, I've got a rehearsal next Thursday with the chick choir and string quartet, but that'll be a dream come true, so I don't care if they suck and we don't end up playing together for my concert--I gave Cello Chick the arrangements that I printed out, and she determined that the music ain't too hard, so it'll be icing on the cake if we pull it off. Time's been silly, but it's always been on my side.
I could've killed two spiders today, but I refrained. And unlike yesterday, the winter weather turned hot. My neighbour made me some brownies wrapped in wax paper and tin foil. The usual car wash place I frequent was being renovated, so I drove to another--all I needed was some exterior work. On my answering machine was my landlord reminding me they'll be installing a carbon monoxide alarm in my apartment in the next day or two. I'm starting to despise French fries unless their covered in chili. A friend of mine who designs puzzles asked me to record some coded notes on a synthesizer. Outside your recital, there was a single bright star above the twilight sunken valley and the giant underscore scribbled by a jet plane. I'm old enough to hang out with girls who can't legally drink alcohol. Someone had a Xmas tree on their second floor--I saw it blinking from down on the sidewalk during an evening stroll. One of the spiders crawled out from under my computer keyboard at work. It startled me, but I wasn't as scared as it seemed to be, so I let it escape down the side of my desk and disappear into the shrubbery of cables next to the wall. The other one was on my wall in my kitchen. This one was chillin' so I did likewise--there's no sense in disrupting the balance of nature. The last pizza I ordered was topped with sausages and onions. I can't remember the last time I saw snow. I usually pack my Mongolian BBQ bowls with beef, tomatoes, and onions--with a request for spicy sauce and added garlic. You texted me when I was working on my a LEGO portrait. I know when people are pathetically lonely when they talk to me--I mean, really, I'm the last person anyone should care about sharing their thoughts with. My engineer gave me a set of harmonicas, two of which are in keys that I've never tried before, so they'll come in handy someday. I've been microwaving eggs. I had a dream that I hadn't studied for tomorrow's math quiz. I've only flossed at most twice in my life. "I think that's Venus," someone declared pointing to the distant light. "Don't forget to eat your vegetables," my mom reminded. Four times out of three, you're right and I'm wrong--but that fourth time is always out of nowhere, and that's why I don't think I'm going anywhere without you in my thoughts. My aunt sent me a New Year's card. I had a beer at the bowling alley. And some red wine at your reception. I still use cheap apple scented shampoo. My personal film historian and I were admiring the old days when everyone wore cool fedoras--nowadays all that seems to be left, at least in Los Angeles, are baseball caps. My assistant likes to wear a puppet frog coloured visor. And despite all my carefulness in avoiding causing any harm to the bugs that swarm around me, I managed to step on an unseen until too late third spider.
Today I saw the most beautiful girl in the world.
She was skinny, tall, blonde, and wore thick glasses. But above all, she was eating a chili burger at my favourite chili burger joint. And she was all alone.
Of course, I stepped back from the impossibly cool scene and assessed my set and setting. Well, my mental state is ALWAYS on the lookout for pretty chicks--not necessarily the stereotypical kind that advertisements shove down my throat as the paradigms of hotness, but my kind, namely, those that fit the body size, height, hair colour, and ocular assisted type that for whatever psychological reasons, drives me into a wildly turned on frame of brain. I mean, she won't fool the masses into buying chili burgers, but I seriously considered haunting the chili burger joint every day in the hopes of running into her again. In other words, I was primed to catch a glimpse of her. And the environment was sublime--I love the bum infested shack and the smells from the vats of chili polluting the air. Yeah, I could've been wishfully hallucinating, but I swear, whatever I saw was beyond any dream that'll ever come true.
I tried to ignore her, for I mustn't convey any creepiness--years of scaring away cute maidens has taught me to keep my distance. Unless, obviously, she gives me a sign to approach her. Alas, I waited in vain. Sure enough, someone as gorgeous as her probably floats above the grime of the world such as me. As well, I don't deserve to be on the same planet as such insane attractiveness--I feel like a subspecies way far down the ladder of evolution from her elevated perfection. And no one like her would want to dilute her pure DNA code with the idiotic nonsense that contaminates mine.
So I closed my eyes and let her slip away.
Cause society likes to fool me into thinking that I'm not worthless. Hours before dinner, I was riding an upswing. You know, those illusions of good fortune--in my case, it was receiving a positive vibe from everyone that I met. "I like your shirt," a dozen kids complimented. My lawyer called me before my personal film historian did. I got a quarter of a hundred emails from fans and friends that wrote about how great they think I am, or as my lawyer would euphemize, "sucked my dick". My personal film historian invited me to watch his next installment of my movie education tomorrow. I ran into nearly every student that ain't bad looking in the halls, across the street, or when they paid me a visit to my office. It was strange--as if the Chili Burger Chick was mocking my value as a human being.
Consequently, I'm aware that there are equal downswings in life. And sometimes it feels like the times rise and fall to varying degrees--every other second is a roller coaster or every other year is a peak and valley. Not to mention, these demarcations can overlap. Cause there are days when I feel like the world is oblivious to my existence, if not hell bent on rubbing me out. Negativity is a bitch. However, it's the literal light at the end of the figurative tunnel that reminds me that there's always an upswing around the bend. And likewise, there's always another dark crawlway to dig thru after that. Thus, it's a foreign concept for me to get too excited or bummed out about anything.
I opened my eyes and she was gone.
From my pants pocket my cellphone ding donged--someone'd sent me a text message. It was Ms. K. Instead of replying in kind, I called her. We talked in our own little language during the early afternoon as I stepped outside of my office and bounced around from the edges of the cemented courtyard to the wheelchair accessible ramp, keeping my legs in motion as my tongue rolled off responses to the erotic words that she was sending to my ears. The sun was warmer than I'd ever felt before as we wrapped up the conversation with "see you later today..."
"I'm like a goldfish," you explained. "I swim back and forth in my bowl, always excited about my surroundings because I can't remember ever being where I was before."
"Oh," I coveted, "how I could be like you and forget that I'm standing here, never forgetting if I'm still in the same place--everything must be a constant wonder to you, whilst I get bored really fast."
You flipped thru a Japanese comic book, laughed, and offered to let me borrow it after you were done.
"I'd like to," I conditioned, "if I could read it without consulting a dictionary for every other word."
"Hey," you wielded, "I had to use a dictionary when I read those Dylan lyrics that you gave me to study before your concert."
I couldn't come up with a convincing counter arugment.
My personal film historian dialed up a Pete Seeger documentary on his DVR. And actually, it was exactly what I needed to watch--Dylan gave his stamp of approval with his brief but Dylanesque comments. I mean, I understand the folk scene from the posturing betrayal that "Judas" sabotaged, but never really got Seeger's story in full detail. Watching it unfold was both ennobling and hilarious--Commie's are so outdated as threats, but he made it seem cool to be brave enough to stand behind one's convictions. Personalities like that are mythological. Plus, his wife ain't bad lookin' either.
"I know you'll find something deep to bring up," you wished after I confessed that musically, lately I've been kinetically imperfect, which goes against all your sophisticated perfection, albeit I'll challenge the lyrics I sing anytime with any musical notes that you bring to the table.
"Yes I did," you answered my question regarding whether or not you listened to the CD that I'd burned for you.
"There's nothing deep about the same three chords played over and over again," I kinda lied and kinda told the truth, cause yeah, any idiot can compose a song using a basic blues progression, but it takes a real master to write a cool tune with such a limited palette that can sustain a listener's interest for longer than three minutes. And sure, it's part of the performer's duty to keep the song rolling, but it totally helps if the words aren't lame.
Any girl who's also've read Peanuts, regardless if it's been translated, is a keeper in my book.
"Yeah," you replied to my observation that the comic book you were laughing at was sorta like a Japanese Peanuts. But you'd also followed the adventures of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, et al, too.
"I remember everything you say," I confessed, for better or worse.
Editor's note: This entry was written on 1.16.09 at 0:00.
Well, it's 20 more hours 'til my Dylan concert.
Seven hours ago, Mr. F. replied "I'll read about it on your blog..." after I'd remarked that "I could die happy right now."
Cause ten and a half hours ago I was squeezed into a tight room with Ms. J, Ms. I, Ms. A, and Ms. R. where we rehearsed the string quartet numbers on my program. Like I've said before in my blog, it was a dream come true--to play with four chicks that aren't bad lookin'. The first run thru was hiliarious, cause they played the music all stiff and "classical". "We should loosen up," the first violin observed, "like him," as she pointed to me, all cool on the sofa with my guitar. And sure enough, they played it like I'd hoped and I was in heaven. Honestly, the concert'll be an afterthought to such awesome delights--death couldn't currently tear the smile off my face.
11 hours ago Ms. I returned a CD to the library. I thought she looked hot in her summer lengthed skirt even though it was technically winter. As well, my eyes couldn't wander away from the outline of her figure as she walked back and forth in the tight room where we rehearsed. Her glasses might've been in the right key.
Four hours ago I ran thru my playlist for the final time before my concert. I'm taking the day off from work today, but I'm not gonna practice--I don't wanna waste my voice before the show. I'll keep my mouth shut, take a walk, don't eat anything for three hours before I go on stage per Ms. K's advice (adapted from her teacher Mr. V), and contemplate my program 'til 8PM tonight.
12 hours ago Ms. K bothered me at the reference desk. She wanted to find articles written about Beethoven's violin sonatas, cause she wants to find some "depth" in them before she performs them. I directed her to the online resources. And then I asked her about what went thru her mind duing her recital last Sunday. "I thought about the music," she described, "as I listened to myself playing." We discussed the semantics of the word "emotions", the multiple levels of music's inhabitance within meanings, and cursing in one's head after making mistakes. I couldn't stop lookin' at her chest, but otherwise I think she taught me a valuable lesson in mental states when performing.
Ms. S made me laugh at failure. "You're easy to amuse," she realized.
There was a pleasant smell in the room, weird abstract art positioned in the corners of the room, and the sofa wasn't uncomfortable as I strummed my basic chords and tentatively sang songs whilst the chick string quartet accompanied me. I gotta say, it was like facing four beautiful ladies with wooden instruments and hearing them not only play what I'd transcribed with elegance, but strike my eyes with absolute wonder in the opposite sex's otherworldly dimensions. I've got that rehearsal burned in my memory even if the actual performance falls apart. But I've got faith in their superb musicianship that we'll be fine tonight...
Here we go.
At ten minutes before 7 o'clock, I put my cellist on speaker phone. "Hey, I'm gonna be late to the sound check," I excused. Indeed, I was about ten minutes away from my concert venue, but due to Friday evening traffic on a three day weekend, there was no way I could make it on time, even with my hurried navigation thru side streets. There always seemed to be something hindering my gas pedal--red lights, lost drivers, and old people crossing in front of my car. Time seemed to be against me as every minute past the hour that we'd planned to do my first rehearsal with a singer and a final run thru with my quartet felt not only longer than normal, but overly conscious of being spent doing something that shouldn't be taking so long, not to mention, I was inconsiderately holding everyone up.
In the afternoon, I had a can of chicken soup, watched Robin and Marion (starring Audrey Hepburn), dropped off the DVD in the corner mailbox on my walking route, and underestimated when I ought to leave my apartment. Of course, it took me longer than usual to get ready--I shaved and suited up in a tux, including a tie, cuff links, and fancy shoes, whereas if this were a performance in the past, I'd've worn what I wear everyday, namely a t-shirt and jeans. But it was part of the gag. Unfortunately, I think it backfired on me as the audience seemed to be conditioned to associate formal wear with being "serious". Many of my attempts at humour died before they had a chance to lighten up the mood. However, I was aiming for some incongruity, so in the end it wasn't in vain.
Two days after the concert, I had lunch with my dad. Now, he's a pragmatic fellow, who, being an immigrant, tried his best to adapt to the American status quo, which meant not causing any trouble, such as joining in on any protests during the '60s. However, I totally didn't expect his reaction to my performing Dylan. "I was watching a show on public television," he paraphrased, "that said that Bob Dylan was a radical, who was against the Vietnam War." I kept my mouth shut and waited for him to give me yet another lecture on how good citizens don't rock the boat. "But he was right,' my dad conceded. Whoa, I thought--in a million years I'd never've imagined hearing my dad side with the side he was against. Things've changed.
The guard at the front desk let me pass--obviously, as I held a guitar, I appeared to be a musician. And as I climbed the stairs to the rotunda on the second floor, I heard the notes from the singer and quartet echo thru the stone halls. I was 15 minutes late. The only thing that I wasn't sure of was the opening number. Cause due to scheduling conflicts the sound check was gonna be the first time they'd play it. I mean, I was fairly confident in their musicianship and the simplicity of the composition, but being accustomed to incompetence, I didn't completely trust in the last minute rehearsal. But all fears evaporated when those reverberated sounds bounced into my ears. There's a reason why I chose "All the Tired Horses" as the song to kick off my concert, besides being a huge Dylan joke.
Cause I didn't want to start the show cold. I needed to warm the audience up before I could face them. Cause it's been a long time since I performed solo before a real crowd, as opposed to intimate settings like parties or bedrooms. Without a band behind me I couldn't lean on anyone other than myself on stage. And I was curious, per Dylan's acoustic years, how it must feel to be up against an audience armed only with a guitar and harmonica. So I stood in the wings as the singer and quartet made pretty music. My spiritual advisor previously was a football player, and he used to make a mix tape to psyche himself up before games. Well, I programmed it so that 'All the Tired Horses" would get me in the mood. I focused on an "EXIT" sign hanging above a door, took a deep breath, and faced the crowd.
Now, from the wings, I couldn't see how many people showed up for my show--I could hear applause, and it sounded like more than one person, so I knew a decent number were in attendance. But it wasn't until I walked on stage that I could see who came. And unlike most rock shows where the stage lights blind you from seeing the audience, the high ceiling rotunda was brightly lit from above--I could clearly see everyone in the audience. Plus, lucky for me, the room was filled, which fueled my desire to not let them down. My first song was "The Times They Are A'Changin". It's an easy song, which I chose with the duel purpose of being a well known classic that most people ought to be familiar with and a comfortable way to find my bearings before I tackled the rest of the more demanding playlist.
"I couldn't take my eyes off of you," I confessed to Ms. K the following day. "Yeah, it was weird," she justified, "no one sat in front of me, so I had a clear view of you, too." And she was sitting in the back row. "You were like Bach," she weirdly claimed. "What?" I thought she was being silly. "Because you played the guitar, the harmonica, and you sang," she remembered. "But I never played all three at the same time," I located the fault in her observation. "No, there was one song ["Pledging My Time"] where you played the harmonica in between every vocal line, it was very close to all three playing simultaneously,' she had a point, cause I did try to create that illusion. I'm glad she caught it. "But you're the real Bach performer," I definitely concluded--she played the Italian Concerto at her recital last week.
Besides her, I saw my family in the audience--my mom and dad, their friends, my sister and her husband, and their friends. Up in the front row was my supervisor with her daughter, as well as some strangers that weren't bad lookin'--there as a hot chick who wore a "Blowin' In the Wind" shirt. I saw other coworkers, such as my boss, my assistant, my former assistant, and other student employees. And they didn't arrive at the beginning, but I noticed my long time friends shuffle in--my personal film historian and his girlfriend, my lawyer with his wife and baby, my former roommate and his special lady friend, and my spiritual advisor's parents. Again, it was a trip being able to see the audience, which opened up the chance to embarrass them.
Honour and respect is due. There were two ladies that were without a doubt the most distinguished guests of the evening--two of my English teachers from high school. Just to put that into perspective, I'ven't seen them in close to 20 years. So I couldn't resist introducing them to the audience. They blushed and covered their faces, but it was worth it--"Without them I wouldn't've learned English," I noted. I met up with them afterwards and couldn't stop thanking them for showing up. And really, there couldn't've been any better reunion other than under the words of Dylan. 'I can't understand him half the time," one of them commented, "but I understood every word you said." I don't know if you've ever had any of your English teachers show up to one of your concerts, but I highly recommend it.
Another thing I'd endorse is playing with four chicks that aren't bad lookin'. "Why did you get the four prettiest music students to play with you?" Ms. K interrogated. "Weren't they great?" I deflected. And yes, the string quartet was everyone in the audience's favourite part of the concert. They all wore sexy black outfits, were dolled and perfumed up, and brought a sophistication and elegance to the program that I intentionally not only needed, but wanted to highlight--Dylan's so anti-classical music that having that element mixed in created a balance between both worlds, especially since I don't permanently reside in either. I mean, the rest of the playlist was all about roughness and imperfection.
"One of the reasons why I chose to sing Dylan tonight," I bantered between songs, "is that I don't've to sing in tune." That joke actually got a laugh. Cause it's true. After pondering where the beat should be, I resigned to letting my voice be the lead instrument--my rhythm guitar'll just follow the words. And it was a good ploy cause I didn't think about being on time, which freed me to do whatever I wanted with the phrasing of the lyrics, be it stretch it or drag it. As well, I employed the "13 and a half bar blues" form whereby I didn't keep every verse equally divided--sometimes I'd extend it for dramatic effect or I was late in remembering the next verse. In the end, I warmed up to the irregularity. It just so happened that I did on the spot.
Obviously, except for the tune "Red River Shore", which the quartet backed me up on--they were reading music and I couldn't stray too far or everything'd fall apart. But that song was a totally different experience. One that I've never felt before and probably never will, I mean, that first time is like no other. I can still see it--the lights inverted into shadows, the four scents of the girls behind me blurred, I closed my eyes, their beautiful, and I mean BEAUTIFUL sounds swirled around me, carrying me and the audience into another realm, one that no one, myself most included, ever expected Dylan's music to hit, and I floated upon an intoxication that no drug I've ever tried can mimic. "The woman next to me," Ms. K remarked, "was very turned on by the string quartet." Probably not as much as me.
I've guest lectured several times before, both on the collegiate and convention seminar levels, about such topics as downloadin' digital music and LEGO sculptures. And I can't say that I'm any good at it, I mean, I'm still amazed that anyone'd asked me to speak in front of a group of people that're yearnin' to be taught something that I'm supposedly qualified to explain, but I'm always up for the challenge. But then again, I'm not exactly passionate about the topics I discuss up there on the lectern. However, it's finding the right words, regardless if I fail, which I often do when it comes to explaining how to make curves out of rectangular bricks ("Look at examples and copy the design..."), that prompts me to not give up on contributing to the education of others.
A couple days after my Dylan concert, I picked up my guitar and played some of his songs which I didn't feature on my playist--I'd like a long break from those for awhile. And sure enough, my voice sounded better than it did on the night of the performance. Geez, imagine if I played live every night. Anyways, there are so many of his songs that I've got memorized such that I can entertain myself for hours on end. Plus, I'm learnin' new ones every day, just to keep my chops up--not that I'd ever repeat myself with another Dylan show, but his songs are just too much fun to sing. Sing his rhymes and tell me that they don't tickle your tongue. "What'll you do next?" is the second most annoying comment that I got after my concert.
The first is "You should do _____ next," with "______" being everything from "your own music", "The Beatles", "Duran Duran", and "Bach" (the last being Ms. K's suggestion). Although, I gotta admit, doing an evening of Dylan songs was a brilliant idea, at least for me, cause it had a theme that I'd never explored before, which to me is the foundation from which to construct a program. Now, replacing "Dylan" with some other act is just lazy. And I can't see far enough into the future to say with any certainty that I've got any ideas left for a concert. I mean, it's gonna be hard as hell to top that chick string quartet. Not to mention, the best themes sorta come to me outta nowhere--you just can't think about these things or they'll seem contrived and overplanned. I'm just glad that I did what I did.
"Are you gonna play 'Like a Rolling Stone'?" my lawyer asked a few days before my concert. "I ain't touchin' that song with a ten foot pole," I surrendered. Cause Dylan nailed that tune perfectly, to the point of leaving no room for anyone else's interpretation. Sure the Stones did it, but it was more for symbolic effect. Not that I don't love the genius of that classic, I've just never felt comfortable with even attempting to play it, even in the tempting comfort of my own time. No, those lyrics aren't stored in my memory--and they're some great lines, no doubt ("You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns when they all came down and did tricks for you"). But I'm not enough of a Dylan expert to tackle that song.
So I got this email from a professor who asked if I'd like to give a guest lecture on Dylan's lyrics for his pop music class. I'll get paid. "Sure," I responded. And I was given a list of selected songs to discuss. All of which I was familiar with on a performance level as I'd sung them at my concert, except of course "Like a Rolling Stone". And I know that that song can't be ignored in the history of rock'n'roll, nor in my study of Dylan, so I sighed, popped the CD into my stereo with acoustic guitar in hand, harmonica racked, and learned the words and music. Cause for me, I truly don't experience a song unless I play it--there's something about mentally charting the form and keeping the narrative in order. And maybe it's my post-concert perspective, but wow, it's not a bad song.
Every Beatles fan knows that the last thing John heard was "Mr. Lennon..." before he turned around and faced the end of his life. Or so the myth goes...
Perceived memories are difficult to objectify, especially when excitement levels aren't level. For recent example, my little Dylan concert (I apologize dear reader for dragging on with this subject--this'll be the last one, unless of course, fate forces it into another entry by way of a way too crazy to not mention in my blog manner) where I remembered things all wrong, at least based on watching the video recording.
Mind you, nothing changes the string quartet--they were awesome in my head and in digital replay. They're a constant unwavering wonder to behold and hear.
However, I thought that my voice was better than I thought. Granted, I wasn't as in control of it that night--I've yet to find a way to guarantee its presentation. I mean, it's a crapshoot, and it didn't land on "crap", but it sure didn't land on "shoot, I'm on". And I think I got overly enthusiastic and lost some of my breath, which made my phrasing seem more clipped than had I'd've been in a more relaxed mood.
In contrast, I must've imagined that the audience didn't laugh at my attempts at humour. Cause unless my engineer added a fake guffaw track, I distinctly heard responses that I thought were absent.
"People can fake their claps," I clapped for Ms. C. "But it's more likely that laughter is more like an honest reaction than courtesy. That's why I always try to include jokes when I'm on stage."
But really, I don't trust what friends and family told me after the concert--I'm honoured to receive their positive support, but if I believed everything they said, I'd think I was actually good. And I know I ain't. I mean, after hearing the recording, I can see how rough I was, albeit that was part of my aim, but I can always vastly hear room for improvement. Nevertheless, I think a better measure of what transpired can be attained from the strangers in the audience.
Although, part of me thinks that part of my charm is my untrained angle. Cause a lot of the girls that were in attendance are classically trained musicians--it's probably just as amazing for me to hear their practiced perfection as their listening to my "unique" sound.
"Hey Bob Dylan genius!" Ms. P screamed at the vending machine. We got in a cute discussion. Apparently she'd never listened to Dylan, but knew of his name, and based on her flattery, was close to genuinely amused by my renditions of songs that she'd never heard before. Which is cool, and I might've hung her comments up with the blur of others that seem to want to stroke my ego, but she's one of the most intelligent chicks I've ever encountered, so I'm assuming that my ability to memorize those epic lyrics influenced her judgement of my 'genius". But then again, it's difficult to subjectively keep her in check. If only I was younger...
Then also, I think I know what I think I want to sound like. And it ain't what the microphones picked up. The spontaneous decision to go all irregular at the last moment had its pluses and minuses--a plus being you can't plan extra bars, they gotta emerge from the energy of the moment, a minus being I'm gonna be all over the place in terms of my delivery as I took a chance on the randomness of everything. I tallied it up as a loss on my part, for the most part--there're some flashes of decency, but overall I think I would've felt some unwanted uneasy feelings had I been in the audience. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing...
I mean, it was all a grand experiment in doing things that I'd never done before--playing someone else's music, playing the majority of the concert completely solo, and playing with a string quartet. In that sense, I'm glad that I wasn't in any comfort zone, but was pushing my experiences, regardless if I failed.
Fuck, I gotta stop thinking about myself...
Cause, I should also trust my friends and family to point out if I'm going insane. They should say "Dude, you're losing it," if I was completely out of tune, time, and tenacity. Alright, I did allow the clause that I was performing Dylan which mostly got me off the hook for such superficial traits. But I thank whoever's responsible for my abilty to keep my foot grounded on doing some seemingly special tasks, such as not screwing up (for the most part) your not so average amount of lyrics and arranging a competent string quartet arrangement--I might've sounded like a subpar bum with a guitar who happened to dress nicely, but at least I can stand behind my mental skills. Performance is becoming more and more of a art that I truly admire. I only wish that I could hone it better.
I left my office at night after a hard day at work. "Mr. Lim..." a voice behind me called. I instinctively turned around. "Thanks for peforming Dylan," someone I'd never met before smiled and shook my hand. And in the end, it's not up to me whether I was good or bad.
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