|Out On a Lim|
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|Out On a Lim (5.30.03 - 9.1.03) >>
15,551: THE ELEMENT OF TRUTH IN "THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS": A THEORY BY PROFESSOR NELSON NELSONSON (copyright 15551 Professor Nelson Nelsonson)
Upon reading the long winded 21st chapter of McFeurdy's The Juanita and Miguel Letters, I was intrigued that that chapter had 15,551 characters, mainly because he drew my attention to that odd number in this quote from the book:
"and since you asked, i don't know how many letters there are in this letter, but i do know there are 15,551 characters in this letter..."
-The Crazy Chinaman
Most people don't count the number of characters they type, unless they've got nothing better to do, and/or have a character counter on their 21st century word processor. Regardless, the number 15,551 is a palprime, or palindromic prime number, as defined in the following:
palindrome = a word, phrase, or sentence that reads the same backward and forward (ex: Yo, banana boy)
prime number = a number that can be evenly divided by no other whole number than itself and 1 (ex: 281)
palindromic prime number (or palprime) = a prime number that reads the same backward and forward (ex: 11)
But 15,551 is an infamous palprime because it begets another palprime when the values of the numbers assigned to it's English spelling are summed, as calculated thusly:
Assign a numerical value, in progressive order, to the alphabet (ex: A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc.)
Spell out the number 15,551 (ex: FIFTEEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED FIFTY ONE)
Add the numerical values of the number:
F + I + F + T + E + E + N + T + H + O + U + S + A + N + D + F + I + V + E + H + U + N + D + R + E + D + F + I + F + T + Y + O + N + E
= 6 + 9 + 6 + 20 + 5 + 5 +14 + 20 + 8 + 15 + 21 + 19 + 1 + 14 + 4 + 6 + 9 + 22 + 5 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 6 + 9 + 6 + 20 + 25 + 15 + 14 + 5
= 383 (palprime)
Not all palprimes beget palprimes. 15,551 is a common parlour puzzle amongst number theorists (as proposed by Honaker). And to take the self reflexive mystery even further, 383 eventually begets a loop, which was noted by Eckler in his book Making the Alphabet Dance, as shown accordingly:
T + H + R + E + E + H + U + N + D + R + E + D + E + I + G + H + T + Y + T + H + R + E + E
= 20 + 8 + 18 + 5 + 5 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 5 + 9 + 7 + 8 + 20 + 25 + 20 + 8 + 18 + 5 + 5
= T + W + O + H + U + N + D + R +E + D + S + I + X + T + Y
= 20 + 23 + 15 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 19 + 9 + 24 + 20 + 25
= 229 (prime)
= T + W + O + H + U + N + D + R +E + D + T + W + E + N + T + Y + N + I + N + E
= 20 + 23 + 15 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 20 + 23 + 5 + 14 + 20 + 25 + 14 + 9 + 14 + 5
= 281 (prime)
= T + W + O + H + U + N + D + R +E + D + E + I + G + H + T + Y + O + N + E
= 20 + 23 + 15 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 5 + 9 + 7 + 8 + 20 + 25 + 15 + 14 + 5
= T + W + O + H + U + N + D + R +E + D + F + O + R + T + Y
= 20 + 23 + 15 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 6 + 15 + 18 + 20 + 25
= T + W + O + H + U + N + D + R +E + D + S + I + X + T + E + E + N
= 20 + 23 + 15 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 19 + 9 + 24 + 20 + 5 + 5 + 14
= T + W + O + H + U + N + D + R +E + D + T + W + E + N + T + Y + E + I + G + H + T
= 20 + 23 + 15 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 20 + 23 + 5 + 14 + 20 + 25 + 5 + 9 + 7 + 8 + 20
= T + W + O + H + U + N + D + R +E + D + E + I + G + H + T + Y + E + I + G + H + T
= 20 + 23 + 15 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 5 + 9 + 7 + 8 + 20 + 25 + 5 + 9 + 7 + 8 + 20
= T + W + O + H + U + N + D + R +E + D + F + I + F + T + Y + F + I + V + E
= 20 + 23 + 15 + 8 + 21 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 4 + 6 + 9 + 6 + 20 + 25 + 6 + 9 + 22 + 5
= 240 (loop back to 216)
Hence, the palprime 15,551 begets the notorious 216...240 loop. But that's an elementary truth, according to Borgmann, since every number, when it's English spelling is summed, begets the 216...240 loop. Palprime 15,551 just happens to initially beget the palprime 383 along the way. Think in terms of the second definition of the word "prime":
prime = (1) a number that can be evenly divided by no other whole number than itself and 1 ; (2) fundamental (ex: truth)
And the following analogy can be drawn:
15,551 begetting 383 is like an element of the truth (palprime begetting another palprime) within elementary truths (all numbers converge upon the 216...240 loop).
So how does all this relate to the 21st chapter of The Juanita and Miguel Letters? Well, McFeurdy is dealing with multiple self reflexive meanings in his book (ex: the double meanings of "letters" and "characters"):
letter = (1) any character of the alphabet ; (2) a written or printed message, usually sent by mail
character = (1) any letter, figure, or symbol used in writing or printing ; (2) a person in a play, novel, etc.
McFeurdy interchanges these words to refer to the multiple characters within each character, as represented by the Crazy Chinaman character writing letters under his pseudonym character Larry McFeurdy (which is a self referential loop as McFeurdy writes about the Crazy Chinaman writing about McFeurdy, etc.)
However, in the 21st chapter, it is revealed (in the context of the book, not including the introduction) that the Crazy Chinaman's real name is Henry Lim, who as a rock star, went under the name Larry McFeurdy. This is an important distinction, as Henry Lim (under his McFeurdy pseudonym) is the real author of The Juanita and Miguel Letters. Thus this equation can be made:
Henry Lim = Larry McFeurdy = The Crazy Chinaman
Which brings me to my theory:
There is an element of truth within the 21st chapter of The Juanita and Miguel Letters, albeit it's buried underneath the smokescreen story about the Crazy Chinaman being a former rock star and the "Madeline" song discussion. However, the "15,551" is the tip off clue that further emphasizes that McFeurdy revealed an "element of truth in elementary truths" about a character in this pivotal chapter, inasmuch as from his perspective.
The trick is to not get too lost in McFeurdy's twisted wordplay (ex: "slightly blind sighted"). He writes in such a manner as to purposely confuse the reader into thinking that there are multiple characters (ex: himself/McFeurdy/The Crazy Chinaman). He constantly distracts the reader by reminding them of the dizzying self reflexive layers. He alludes to intoxicating drugs as a literary device to keep things trippy and blurry--keeping the reader in a haze. And he consistently maintains this ruse.
But in the 21st chapter, he slips.
Because of the sheer length of the chapter, the clues might go unnoticed to the average reader. Reading it carefully, though, The Crazy Chinaman says that he wrote a song called "Guadalupe". And that he is now a "world famous LEGO sculptor". But recalling from the 15th chapter:
"Hey, let me shoot a promotional video. It'll be about you, superstar sculptor."
-Guadalupe (to Miguel)
Furthermore, The Crazy Chinaman claims to have "met a kind fortune teller named Esmeralda". But she originally appeared as character in the 9th chapter:
"I met my old ex-girlfriend, Esmeralda, the other day."
Always remember who the author of the book is, despite The Crazy Chinaman's claims that the true author is "Juanita" (but that's another theory altogether). Always keep track of who actually writes these words, who's dreams are within who's dreams. And this becomes clear:
Henry Lim = Larry McFeurdy = The Crazy Chinaman = Miguel
"However, in truth, this 'book' will reflect his true thoughts, as only a true journal should."
-Miguel (in reference to The Crazy Chinaman)
Happy Birthday Mom
THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER TWENTY THREE (copyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy)
hey juanita, this is miguel, heehee. i think we should start all over. let's go back and meet again at the beginning. i think i might've said some things i should'nt've back there. but now that it's clear who i am--i'm miguel and the crazy chinaman (who is actually me, henry lim, who writes these letters under his pseudonym larry mcfeurdy), i'm gonna write with my true voice. no bullshit. the bullshit is there to make you forget what isn't bullshit. write from your true heart, is what i say. that being said, you take the breath away from heaven.
so i'm pulling it way back east to shoot far out west. i'm creating a new game for you to enjoy, the old ones are over. being miguel, i know this, for i was a revolutionary. and i'm getting off on getting off the repetitious revolutions and going on that mythical quest, that mythical exile, that mythical tree of horrors, that mythical abstaining from wasting my masturbatory amusements and saving my soul for Angelic Magic Answers Nobody Dares to Ask.
it's time to win your heart back.
but this is the prelude and the premiere. this is the introductory offer, free of charges. this is the warm up after the defeat. this is the farewell party before i welcome my fate. but pay attention this time. look for the clues that i taught you how to find in the previous entries of "out on a lim". go all the way back to the beginning and reread the text, if you must.
cause now, i'm gonna write a love letter.
step away, if you're scared, cause if you're not ready to continue, i can wait. but if you think you're worthy of being named juanita, then read on.
remember when we went to the southern regional library facilities on the last stop of our photo series for the library's webpage.
we were the revolutionary digital photographers, the ones on the search for the secret into the secret answers to the universe, locked away at some underground depository, next to a family friendly tennis court. we got in our super sleek future mobile at exactly 16:20 and flew off. there was a campus shuttle that blocked our super sleek future mobile as we tried to glide up the wormhole up the hill. you asked that we revolve around to the other side of the christopher columbus side of the world, when all we had to do was do a little marco poloing in the direction of the secrets into secret answers of the universe.
you interjectingly played the "i might go out with the village idiot (blind pedro)" game, going beach bummering or whatever you were gonna do. (i would've stumbled on that one had i not known you like to sleeve pull the tease.) anyways, you got all pissed off that i didn't go the christopher columbus route, and huffed:
"you should always listen to me."
but you see juanita, i just wanted to walk beside you a little longer, to see you in my peripheral vision as we walked down the hiking trail. to see you amazed at the family friendly tennis courts. and to watch you take exterior shots as the characters within me converged. i was miguel.
so we went covert into the underground.
"uh, we're here on official library business," i flashed a hypnotic smile to the cute girl at the front desk. "let us go down to the basement of this underground depository and look for the secret into the secret answers of the universe."
"i'll let you go down to the basement of this underground depository and let you look for the secret into the secret answers of the universe," the cute girl at the front desk accommodated.
we took the elevator down to the basement. the hermit sealed air tight walls opened up and we stepped into the infinitely unraveling unknown. spiraling in infinite directions were an infinity of books and other media, intended to be stored for an infinity. this depository was designed to outlive us all. it is the true library, where the documents worth saving will remain preserved for future generations, aliens, and beyond. it was the last stop on our photos series, the final destination on our quest to find the secret into the secret answers of the universe.
once we found our footing on the ground floor. we felt the eternal pull towards the eastern wall. walking down the infinite shelves, we ignored the paths that magically illuminated in a teasing "hey check out what's on our shelves" dumbed down subliminal bullshitness. these lights would turn off when we'd step out of their sensor range.
but the eastern wall was already enlightened.
glowing on its shelves were infinite rows of yellow ribbons passively guarding an infinite row of thinly tiny wooden boxes that were serenely meditating on the secret into the secret answers of the universe. "hey, i just took a buddishm class," you bounced just like you did the first time we met. you unraveled the yellow ribbon. and as you unraveled the manuscript within, i was within an infinitely unraveling unknown within an infinitely unraveling unknown. i was dizzy, revolved to undizzy, and returned back to dizzy, infinitely.
however, what was handwritten on those aged pages looked like scribble scrabble. incomprehensible. beyond our imaginary planes of existences. beyond contrapuntal punctuation relations between the beginning and the end points of a masterpeace porno. beyond what music barely can articulate, let alone hum along in tune with. we were just juanita and miguel looking for the secret into the secret answers of the universe.
but we understood what it all meant. and we understood it together.
anyways, we visited the rows of microfilms, ladders leading nowhere, and chit chatted with some of the monks disguised as librarians who lovingly caretook of the secret hidden in the tunnels underground. thanked them and returned ourselves back to the real world.
a herd of cheerleaders erupted down the street, blocking my car from going forward. an infinite flood of infinitely cute cheerleaders refracting my mental surround view mirrors. i was in heaven.
"drive away, henry", you commanded.
"hey baby, give me the camera," i smuttered.
"DRIVE AWAY, HENRY", you commander commanded.
cute cheerleaders covered my crossroads. i could obey myself and ignore you--get the camera myself and shoot myself silly shooting photographs of fleeting nymphets. or i could obey you and forever forget about those blind spots binding and suffocating me like little vixens. i could live in heaven forever, or join you on earth.
being with you always takes the breath away from heaven.
"i will always listen to cute juanita," i dedicated.
hey, i don't give a shit about jose. he's a bland third character in this two character play. i don't even need to look into your eyes, or your physical manifestations thereof--i've got a digital photographic memory. but please read my letters. they are all for you, my muse.
muchos here's where the real taco story starts,
ps: drugs are like love and god--you can get addicted.
THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR (copyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy)
You didn't answer my last email yet so I'm gonna write you another one, just in case you didn't get the last one i just sent [cracking my knuckles on my crack pipe]. So, i'm gonna look at one of my digital photos of you and ask you to dance [cue "Madeline"]:
THE LAST DANCE WITH MADELINE (copyright 1982 Miguel)
MIGUEL: So, how's it going.
MADELINE: it's going.
MIGUEL: Hey cute girl, what's your name.
MADELINE: Anything. Make me. Alphabetical and abstract. Nothing neverending nor neverbeginning. Discreetly down doors dropping divisibility. And approximately adding another anonymous acrostic.
MIGUEL: Uh, sure, whatever. Hey, I'm thinking about throwing away my crack pipe. It's so stupid. Drugs are like love and God--you can get addicted. I need to get rid of my attachments.
MIGUEL: I need to get rid of my porn bitch Lexus. She's so cute, "Hi darling, darling Lexus". We had some fucking fucked up times, baby. It was sweet how you showed me how to be a pornstar. Well, goodbye.
MADELINE: sweet, do another one.
MIGUEL: I need to get rid of my addiction to crack. It's 15:00, you must be out of class, so alas at last you've got to come pass me by today. don't stand so close to me.
MADELINE: well, I didn't get it the first time, so we'll have to try it again.
MIGUEL: I need to get rid of the my addiction to crack. You came in later and told me to lose my pipe. Well, it's broken now and the bike I'm currently riding is going back to its rightful owner.
MADELINE: good...and continue.
MIGUEL: I need to take a walk around the block.
MADELINE: oh, ok.
MIGUEL: [returns] Oh, ok. So what else are you?
MADELINE: i'm me looking at a digital photo of me that you took, under the auspiciously awesome angles and perspectives of the crazy chinaman character.
MIGUEL: Oh yeah....here goes...so wait, but I gotta write this one down, cause I can't look at your photo and type since my computer is so slow, I think the alternator died. So I'll copy it down, my Mandarin speaking Mandolin. [His hands wave up and down in a "hooowhaaaaaaa!!!!!" motion]
MADELINE: see you're sentences don't make any sense anymore.
MIGUEL: Oh, ok. So ride this one: cue the city nights, street lights. you are my favourite dj in the whole wide screened world. you make me remember the alphabet again. you make me see myself reflected on the back of your soul, targeting out thru your eyes, thru the monitor, and cute charmed spell sorceressed onto my deadly alter ego computer generated character, writing to myself about you. but we are at the desert, my dear, and it's time to go. please don't think i'm crazy, i'm not the crazy chinaman tonight. i'm henry. [Henry weeps]
MADELINE: good, you lost yourself.
MIGUEL: How the fuck did you know that I lost myself?
MADELINE: cuz i'm mad mademoiselle madeline. [Her hands wave up and down in a "hooowhaaaaaaa!!!!!" motion]
MIGUEL: Oh no, here we go.
MADELINE: [bounces around] i am a charm spelled seductress daydream and nightmare tripping you. i leave green cushions in the corner of your office to remind you of me. i make you see new kaleidoscopic perspectives within the old antiques. i am the last one thru your door. my name will be the last word you'll hear as you go deaf from my voice, letting my name tumble thru the tunnels of your mind, like a guardian tempest temptress, eternally undisolving, unresolving, and unforgetting. you will miss me most of all as my blessing sneezes over your soul and lets it wonder about the twenty tents that went wondering one night about how twenty tents can go wondering one night about themselves. i wish you luck and catch you laters...madeline...
MIGUEL: Oh, ok...catch you laters...goodbye attachments to Lexus, addiction to crack, myself, and Madeline...catch you laters. Phew, it feels good to be rid of all that bullshit. Letting it all go. No more Crazy Chinaman fuck fests with fucking Lexus. No more opening my opium eyes and forgetting about myself in the infinitely unraveling cracked walls of my crack pipe asylum. No more being Miguel anymore. This book should've been called:
THE JUANITA AND HENRY LETTERS (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
But who am I to say what the name of this book should've been. I think I tried to hide the letters of your name in the title of this book, but I can't remember what. What's your name? It start's with an M...oh crap, I forgot...oh yeah, your lovely bouncing name...Madeline...uh, Madeline. Are you there? Hello?
Muchos don't leave me all alone,
PS: Remember, this is all just a dream within a dream within a...
THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE (copyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy)
i'M still waiting for your reply. I hope you're getting my letters and not ignoring me. Maybe you're off having fun with the village idiot (Blind Pedro). Or maybe you're getting high with Jose. But please write back soon.
Since I quit smoking crack, I've got nothing better to do than to continue writing to you.
Last night I had a dream that I was a character in your dreams--it might sound like I was on crack, but believe me, I wasn't.
I chanced upon bumping into you at the Mandalay Bay hotel and resort in Vegas. You were wearing your butterfly t-shirt and you smelled like hemp roses.
"let's go to the roof and inhale the view from up high," you dizzily insinuated.
"That's a cool idea," I agreed with equilibrium.
The puppet faced porter at the ground floor elevator platform politely asked us for our destination. He opened the doors of an available elevator that had an open window view and granted us entrance aboard. I tipped him with a ticket. He ripped it, thanked us, closed our doors, and yanked the lever that pulled our strings upwards.
Out the glass we pointed fun at the bourgeois sunbathers and the sleazy spies pretending to be on vacation. Our perspective widened as the mountains and the sky dropped below our eyes.
But we never reached the plateau.
Somewhere in the infinite climb, we unraveled and dozed off, dreaming of the unknown.
i am you in your dream. you fidget and fox next to me in boxed rows of seats. we are at an auction. the puppet faced auctioneer is selling his collection of puppets. the crowd individually raises their hands as if invisible strings command their prices. you keep nudging me, suggesting to me that you want my attention.
"Stop it," I don't mean what I say.
"come on," you impatiently take my hand, "let's leave this dead end..."
we get up and squirm out of the auction venue. And then you and I woke up. but we are still inbetween dreams. We were in the elevator going nowhere. and we are escaping the monotonous puppet auction. I was Miguel. i am juanita.
By now the elevator wasn't moving anymore, or at least the illusion of getting higher blurred with stasis. We accepted that we were trapped--neither in the past or present tense. Time was irrelevant, inasmuch as it was up to us how we wanted to spend it.
So we dreamed of the future.
I will be driving you home from I forget where. We'll remember a dream we had one summer--the yonder echoes of pasT ACOustical conversations recombined into our foreground recollection. It was the summer I had a dream about myself writing a book based on the letters that I wished you'd written to me. We were in interlocking step, knocking ourselves over with games aplenty to amusingly watch each other fall. You were my inspiration, and vice versa.
We will get so caught up in the memories of the past that we'll forget the present, and I'll blindly drive past your house.
"Aw crap," I'll carp, turning the car around at the nearest U-turn. But as I complete my steer around the median, I'll get a nudge, not unlike the suggestive nudges you give me in my dreams, from your ghost, visiting me, long after your death, sometime farther into the future.
"miguel," your ghost will whisper in my ear, "the summer is fading into the fall. confess your feelings for me."
I'll turn my head in the direction of you presently sitting in my passenger seat. Your ghost will smile and melt away as I feel that falling feeling when the midpoint of infinity implodes into every direction of time. I'll acknowledge the futility of figuring out when the past, present, and future begins or ends, for it doesn't matter at what moment I confess my feelings for you, just as long as I do. So with a deep breath confirming my reality I'll speak:
"I love you."
And then I woke up.
Muchos still waiting for your reply,
PS: In the next exciting chapter, Miguel will join Henry, Larry, and The Crazy Chinaman for roundtable storytime.
Ok, don't laugh, but I watched Titanic last night. Yeah, yeah, Titanic--the over saturated on the masses, $601 million domestic box office fluke, $1,835,300,000 worldwide number one ranked champion of Hollywood domination, Best Picture winner, blah, blah, blah Titanic. Everyone and their kids have seen the movie. It's been rammed down our collective iconographic throats til we barf. There's not much to say about it. But I still get a little weepy whenever I see it. What can I say, I'm a sucker for sappy romantic crap.
There's one scene that chokes me up every time, "The Drawing" (scene 14). It's when Jack Dawson sketches Rose DeWitt Bukater. I don't really care that she's naked, not that I don't mind either, but it's a nice PG-13 moment. And nevermind that it's the little centerpiece that connects the past and the present and it's the scene that draws the two central characters closer, making their separation all the more dramatic. Yeah, yeah, the tension lifting teenaged dialogue during this scene is annoying.
But what kills me is as Jack's pencil makes his first lines onto paper, Rose's theme plays solo on the piano. The tune ain't all that, and someone please shoot Celine Dion for ruining it. However, in this scene it sounds the way it ought to--simple and not orchestrated to death. The rest of the score is all symphonic, cymbals, and Enya riffs. When played quietly on the piano, it's perfect. Not to mention it's the composer, James Horner, alone at the keyboard. It's the musical equivalent of a sketch from which the rest of the score gets built upon, as interpreted by the composer himself.
The idea of drawing (photographing, sculpting, writing about) a girl has always fascinated me. Especially, if the girl is more than just posing for the artist. Situations such as this scene symbolize what I define as one definition of art--mutual inspiration between the artist and the subject. For she inspires him to draw as he inspires her to bare herself, begging the question "Who's the real artist--the artist or the subject?" I also like how the sketch is simple and not coloured with life. The rest of the movie is all computer-generated mattes, vivid hues, and sweeping camera moves. The pencil portrait of Rose perfectly summarizes their love. Not to mention it's the director, James Cameron, who sketched the drawing. It's the visual equivalent of a theme from which the rest of the movie gets built upon, as interpreted by the director himself.
THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER TWENTY SIX (copyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy)
I haven't heard back from you. Are you getting my letters? Or is this yet another game of yours? Well, I don't need you to keep myself entertained, regardless of your cuteness. Even as the drugs evaporate from my blood stream, as the loneliness split screens my mind, and as my memories of your grooves fade out, I can still try to exist without you. Just let me write to you...
ROUNDTABLE STORTIME WITH HENRY, LARRY, THE CRAZY CHINAMAN, AND MIGUEL (copyright 2003 Henry Lim, Larry McFeurdy, The Crazy Chinaman, and Miguel)
(Henry Lim, Larry McFeurdy, The Crazy Chinaman, and Miguel are sitting at a roundtable in a nondescript room. It's dark except for a single light bulb hanging above them.)
LARRY: Let's talk about our names.
MIGUEL: Is this your homework, Larry?
LARRY: No, I just want to know why Henry gave us such lame names.
HENRY: Well, Larry, your name came to me without much thought. In fact all of your names kinda just rolled out of my mind's assembly line at the convenient moments when I needed to give names to the characters of this book. I don't think too much about names, yet your names have been the starting points from which your characters developed. So I suppose you can say your names inspire me to imagine what your characters will become, even though you are variations of my personality, within the context of this story. For example, The Crazy Chinaman's name wasn't pre-analyzed, pre-tested, or whatever. I knew I needed a crazy character to reflect my craziness and hence, "The Crazy Chinaman".
THE CRAZY CHINAMAN: Hooowhaaaaaaa!!!!!
LARRY: Ok, I understand The Crazy Chinaman's origins. And I can see his resemblance to you, yourself being of Chinese descent. However, what kinda fucked up name is "McFeurdy"? It kinda sounds Scottish, but it isn't a real name.
MIGUEL: Yeah, and why am I Mexican?
HENRY: Well, Larry and Miguel, I chose your names for their obvious unobviousness for me to hide behind. No one would suspect that mild mannered Henry Lim could be the lunatic "Larry McFeurdy" or the lovesick "Miguel". But also, I hid my last name within your names. Larry, what is your middle name?
HENRY: Yes, Iguanodon--named after the dinosaur. But look closely at your name: Larry Iguanadon McFeurdy. Abbreviate your name and you'll get: LIM. And Miguel. Look at your name thusly: MIgueL. If you take the capitalized letters, you'll get: MIL, an anagram of "LIM". In fact, look at the title of this book: tHE juaNita and MIgueL letteRs (copyright 2003 larrY mcfeurdy). Unscramble the capitalized letters "HENMILRY" and you'll see my name, "HENRY LIM".
THE CRAZY CHINAMAN: I see Larry and Miguel's names in the title of this book. I even see Juanita's real name. But I don't see mine. Why?
HENRY: Your name is in there. Just flip the "N" clockwise and you'll get the missing "Z". I know it's a stretch, but then again, you're character's a stretch of my imaginationÖ
THE CRAZY CHINAMAN: Oh yeah, now I see my name. So tell us, Henry, where does your name come from?
HENRY: Well, "Lim" is the immigrated form of "Lin"--my ancestors were from China, but moved to Indonesia, where being Chinese wasn't kosher, so they hid behind a more Indonesian sounding name. However, "Lin" means "woods" in Chinese (characterized by two trees). It's as if the woods were hiding. Anyways, "Henry" is an English name, being that I was born in America and my parents thought that having an English name would make me more American. For what it's worth, "Henry" is the English form of the Germanic "Heimerich" meaning "home ruler". Although, grandfather Lim originally wanted to name me "Jose"...
MIGUEL: Whoa, Jose, huh? How coincidental. But why do most of the characters in this book have Spanish names?
HENRY: Well, as I said before, they're a good cover to throw off their real identities, and they just happened to be anagrammatically ripe. I like being consistent, so having Spanish names, "Juanita", "Miguel", and "Jose", seemed like a good name scheme. Plus, and this is completely incidental, I live in a heavily populated Mexican neighbourhood--their presence has had some influence on me.
LARRY: Hey, who gets to say "taco" in this chapter.
HENRY: You just did.
MIGUEL: Damnit, I wanted to say it.
THE CRAZY CHINAMAN: Then say it.
MIGUEL: Nah, it's no fun if it's already been said.
THE CRAZY CHINAMAN: Then you'll just need To find new wAys to inCOrporate it.
LARRY: Wait a minute. Actually, Miguel did say it in this chapter, as he is the author of this letter. Well, more specifically, we all said it--Miguel wrote this letTer, The Crazy Chinaman wrote this book based on Miguel's dreAm (according to the book), I got Credit for writing the book, and Henry is my alter pseudOnym.
HENRY: True--A Clever Observation.
MIGUEL: I'm sick and Tired Of All this self reflexive Crap. Let's talk about something else. Let's talk about Juanita.
LARRY: Hey, I wanted her to be named "Mary Juanita", but Henry thought it sounded too much like "marijuana".
THE CRAZY CHINAMAN: Did someone say "marijuana"? [excited]
LARRY: Dude, calm down.
HENRY: [interrupting] Yeah, I didn't want her name to be associated with weed. I wanted her to be generic. She can represent anything, multifaceted, analogous, nonsensical, defined, and nothing at all.
LARRY: Yeah, I eventually got accustomed to her name. I think Juanita is cute--an amalgam of all the angels I've acquainted, memories of meshed and mashed moments, afterthoughts acquired in advance, neverending nowadays, dreams inbetween dreams, and almost everything else.
THE CRAZY CHINAMAN: Juanita and I had some crazy times together. She's my anonymous friend, my musical teacher, my aesthetic inspiration, my new perspective, my dancing buddy, and my altogether reason for not whacking off.
MIGUEL: I love Juanita.
(The light bulb burns out.)
Muchos I'm going insane without you,
PS: Find fun in everything you do.
My sister is a graphic designer. She introduced me to Communication Arts magazine (or "CA" as itís known in the profession). I browse thru it every now and then, either at the newsstand or if my sister has a copy handy, just to see what's hip in the visual arts, albeit the magazine has a slightly biased advertising stance. But I've always thought that advertisements are cool to look at, despite my despising of such manipulative commercialism. The trick is to not fall for their baits and see thru their multiple meanings--there is a subtle art to appreciating subliminal art.
Every August, CA dedicates an entire issue to photography. Eight categories (advertising, books, editorial, for sale, institutional, self-promotion, and unpublished) are represented. I like studying the various photographic styles and ideas, of which many are exceptionally showcased. I spend hours admiring the compositions, depth of fields, and colours of these photos as inspiration for my own camera work.
The selections in the "advertising" category (which is, per the magazine's priorities, featured first) are thankfully taken out of context (the taglines are removed) so as to bring prominence to the glossy photography (which is, per this culture's priorities, where all the money's at). Sometimes I look at these as examples of what not to aspire towards.
But in general, I've always enjoyed looking at photos, whether exhibited in CA or in any ole magazine. My eyes instinctually go straight to the images that appeal to my aesthetics. Fashion magazines (Vogue, W) are bountiful with ideas, not to mention pretty gals. I often get asked if I've taken any photography classes. I answer, "No, but I've learned about photography from looking at photos in magazines."
One evening, a doctor, a lawyer, a social worker, an engineer, and a writer gathered for a few games of bowling. These five friends had collectively known each other for over ten years--they grew up in the same neighbourhood, they went to the same high school, and they shared some fun memories.
But it's been some time since they had a chance to all get together, be it going off to different colleges, figuring out what to do with their lives, or petty arguments. However, on this night, for the sake of bowling, they decided to set aside their differences and converge.
Each of them had gone down their personal paths, developing and establishing themselves within their chosen fields of interest. The doctor had gone thru the demanding requirements of his profession, which was often his reason for not hanging out with the gang, but was finally settling into a well earned, comfortable life. The lawyer was a busy guy and had that lawyerly ability to talk his way out of anything--it's not surprising that he found a career in law, what with all the etiquette lessons he attended. The social worker had just completed his education, after years of looking for some purpose in his life, and was about to embark into the real world. The engineer had recently quit his job and was returning to school to find a new direction in life via furthering his knowledge. The writer, who had gotten out of bed just a few hours before dinner, felt like a writer that day, so he observed the others.
They took to the lanes and as they bowled, their personalities poked thru.
The doctor liked to diagnose the others styles, locate their faults, and prescribe remedies to improve their game. The lawyer sent power balls, hoping to knock all the pins down with sheer strength and form. The social worker listened to the advice of others as he tried out various balls, always seeking to find some meaning in their weight, spacing of finger holes, and performance. The engineer, who pointed out the most efficient trajectories, not only gave his balls spinning curves, but also gave them reverse spins. And the writer wrote about the evening in his journal.
THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN (copyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy)
PS: I'm feeling upside down today.
Muchos I'm a man dancing alone,
'Tis been a week--a long, long week, and I have yet to hear back from you. Juanita, are you there? Are you still alive? My world is darker without you, literally--the lamps on my street have died, and I don't feel the need to turn on the lights in my rooms. I'm blind to my surroundings, but I don't mind, for I know where everything is already. Outside, the half moon half shines and half hides. The computer screen as I type this letter to you is all that I see.
I miss you.
I try to tell myself that I ought to've been lucky enough to've met you. That our moment together in this realm was more than some people will ever get to behold. I am satiated. My greed to be with you needs to be killed. Meanwhile, you've given me plenty to dream about.
But I am cursed with overly imaginative nightmares. I can picture infinite scenarios of you and Jose, or whoever you're boyfriend is this week, unraveling in doings I'd rather leave unknown. But the bigger bummer is knowing that my imagination has its limitations. No matter how I imagine what you're up to, I'm still stuck in the reality that you're not with me. Please TAke me out of this awful COntext.
I've been tired lately. Maybe it's the drugs draining out of me as they fight to stay in my system, wearing me out as a side effect. Or maybe I'm just tired of locking my thoughts onto you, worrying if you've abandoned me. I'm having Juanita withdrawals. Everynight I struggle with a buzzing in my body before I go to sleep. I'm afraid to close my eyes as I leave my conscious self, yet I'm also afraid to meet you in my subconscious mind. I'm tired of having no exit.
I can't stand seeing couples holding hands.
Doing publicity for my artwork is getting annoying. Having to pose for the cameras just exemplifies how pointless it all has become since the whole point of me making these sculptures was to impress you. Being invited to galleries at exotic locations around the globe makes me sick, as I know I'll be attending alone. And answering the same interview questions over and over again just reminds me that it was indeed me who built these sculptures--I am the artist and I made these sculptures with my own hands. I'díve rather had the chance to hold your hand.
THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT (copyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy)
Sometimes I wonder why I write. Even as you ignore my letters, I am forced by some unknown guidance to continue writing to you. 'Tis beyond my control. Believe me, I want to stop, yet I keep writing. All books must end someday. Or do they? Sometimes I think it was a mistake to write all this. I've revealed too much about myself. Or have I? I mean, I can't imagine what the innocent bystanders who happen to stumble onto this webpage might think. Is this a journal? Is this a book within a journal? Or vice versa? There is no way to fully comprehend the "book" without reading the "journal", and vice versa. They've become one and the same. However the idea behind the book was to recreate a series of letters between a girl and a boy, at least on a symbolic level. Comprehension on the audience's part needed to be blurry so as to create the illusion of eavesdropping on a private correspondence--the dynamics between two people are often coded between themselves, the rest of the world be damned. As well, a journal ought to be an honest recounting of the author's personal thoughts, regardless if it is posted on a webpage or not. Sometimes I feel that "Out On a Lim" gets boring, that it needs to get a shot in the arm, so to speak, to make it fun--I try to find fun in everything I do. But I think I might've had too much fun. Sometimes I get carried away into thinking that my life is a story. Soon enough, I'll find myself concocting exaggerated drama when there isn't any. Or love. But sometimes the flat and simple truth is more truthful than a multi dimensional parade of characters laughing at themselves. I wish I could just say your real name, instead of cloaking it behind some "Juanita" guise, hidden under layers of hints and clues that only you can solve. Nevertheless, I suppose that that was the game all along--our coded communication went thru. Sometimes I imagine you reading this and thinking what a sick imagination Henry has. Yes, I don't tell most of my friends and family about The Juanita and Miguel Letters. And yes, there are some thoughts that I've written which I would have a hard time explaining to my children. But I tell ya, these are the thoughts in my head, for better or worse. Maybe that's why I needed to create the various identities. Sometimes I find it easier to write what I really want to say from another character's perspective. I could never say something like "Never forget that you're special, that no matter what happens, always remember this--don't let the rest of the world make you think otherwise." But I'm learning. Sometimes I feel as if I'll reconcile my diversions from reality during this exile from you. That I'll finally be able to love somebody, be it you or the next girl down the road. All joking aside, I don't know how this book'll end. I don't plan on writing any more faux Juanita letters. I think I've gotten as far as I could trying to write from your perspective, and it was just making it painfully obvious that I can't capture all the wonders of your character, let alone pretend to be you writing to me. Miguel is on his own now. Waiting. So here's the deal. It'd be cool if the last chapter was a letter from you, the real you, the real Juanita, and you should know who you are by now, telling me you received my letters. That you either got a kick out of all this, or that I should go fuck my loony self. Write the ending of this book. I don't care if it's happy or tragic--it's always been up to you. I'll honour your anonymity. Just compose the final chapter in the standard format used in these letters (don't forgeT to include the mAgiC wOrd) and I'll post it as "the end" of this story. Thanks.
Muchos write back soon,
"...the Beatles didn't make a good record of ['Across the Universe']...It was a lousy track of a great song and I was so disappointed by it."
I agree with Lennon. But it took me several years to come around to thinking of "Across the Universe" as remotely qualifying to be a "great song". The first time I heard it was the Spector produced version on Let It Be. "Lousy track" is putting it kindly--it just drags in slow motion with the gooey orchestra and lush choir not helping matters. Then I heard the charity version that was given to the World Wildlife Fund and included as an afterthought track on Past Masters Volume Two. That mix sounded like it was way too fast, as if it were on the wrong RPM, and the girlie choir is cute, but out of tune. I could do without the animal sound effects, too.
Needless, as a teenager, I thought "Across the Universe" was a weak Beatles song to begin with. I mean, come on, the lyrics are kinda hippie-ish, just rambling on with run on phrases about endlessness, limitlessness, and millions of eyes and suns. And "Ja guru deva om"? I'll take the humourous surrealism of "I Am the Walrus" any day over the tired quasi spirituality of "Across the Universe". Musically, the song has itís quirky moments (a bar of 5/4 and a relative variation on the tried and true major to minor shift), but nothing that wasn't showcased better on another Beatles song.
In college, I started to pay more attention to lyrics. I still hadn't warmed up to the spaced out poetry of "Across the Universe", but the chorus, "Nothing's gonna change my world", started to make multiple sense. I liked how it could be interpreted as defiance, aggravation, and resignation--completely different shades within the same line. And at the time, as my world seemed to be changing, I held credence with those various meanings.
But the recordings still sucked. Lennon, however, never lived to hear the release of the infamous Anthology tracks. Amongst them is a version of "Across the Universe" that is adjusted to (at least to my ears) the right speed and arranged simply--Lennon's voice is clear, an acoustic guitar is delicately phased, and Indian inflections sparkle sparingly. Upon hearing this outtake, I started to give the song the attention it deserved. For me, the lyrics take on more weight when the accompaniment loses its thickness--as opposed to the sludgy overdubbed choirs overbearing on the lead vocal. I finally heard the imagery. In this light, I revised my opinion and belatedly called the song "great".
That said, my favourite recording of "Across the Universe" is the bootleg version from the Get Back sessions. It's a loose rehearsal run thru with all the Beatles playing--Ringo's fills kick in the verses, McCartney's melodic bass twirls around the chords, and Harrison's wah-wah guitar back Lennon in his "I don't care about the Beatles, I love Yoko" period. (A truncated version of these sessions appears in the movie Let It Be.) But what takes this version to the next level is McCartney's harmony vocals. Somehow his good boy charm is a perfect counterpoint to Lennon's artsy fartsy ruminations--different perspectives blending together. And it works for "Across the Universe" inasmuch as it's such a Lennon song, but Lennon and McCartney singing together always made a song cooler.
Earlier this year, I hung out with my cousin in Fukuoka, Japan. I rode the four hour bullet train ride from Kyoto to his southern prefecture. Having not seen him in nearly a decade, I was glad to meet him at the station as he picked me up in his tiny Suzuki minivan.
The ride was bumpy as he constantly shifted the manual gears up and down narrow streets. My cousin was living the working class life. He was training to be a carpenter, not for the pay, but for the simple rewards of physical labour--his arms and shoulders were much heftier than the skinny frame I remembered. Between the neon pachinko alleys, he parked his humble mobile, and took me upstairs to his apartment.
He tightly lived on the top floor of a crowded building. The narrow stairways had short headroom, even for me. I followed my cousin, who is significantly taller than myself, as his shadow crouched under the poor lighting. His apartment was a single room, big enough to house a couch, coffee table, and television. We quickly filled the space with smoke and chatter as we waited for his girlfriend to return from work.
We were finishing our second beers when she arrived, apologized for being late, and joined us for dinner. As we walked to the corner sukiyaki shop, my cousin pointed out why he loved living in Fukuoka--how the people are friendlier and more honest than in the bigger cities. And why he needed to escape from the rat race lifestyle to find his identity, to distance himself from the rest of our family. Seeing his girlfriend smile in accordance convinced me that he was happy. He had found his little corner of the world.
The meal was delicious and accompanied with more beers. When we returned to the apartment, we opened a sake bottle and the conversations. My cousin and I kept the stories rolling as his girlfriend fell asleep on the couch. Terrorism, Iraq, the United States, and other worldly causes and effects were argued. Favourite bass players were compared. Movies that moved us were shared. Even after all these years, we're still amazed at how our opinions and tastes are so closely related, despite growing up and living in different countries across the Pacific Ocean.
After the bottle of sake was finished, we chain smoked, and my cousin began to ramble about how he wanted to write a book. That he needed to document his thoughts at this particular point in his life--his search for himself, his new home town, and his perspective of the world. In those moments, when time seemed irrelevant and words sound more serious, his desperation to write down his adventures became more pertinent as he recognized that his life of freedom and youth will someday disappear. That someday he'll marry his girlfriend, they'll settle down, and have a family. Responsibilities will kick in. And his thoughts necessarily will be focused beyond himself. Which is precisely why he needed to write his book now. These ideas can only be expressed as he's living them. After marriage and children, invariably his mature priorities will be reflected in his writing. He sternly wanted to respectfully write about his immaturity before it leaves. I wished him well.
I recently heard that my cousin will be getting married next month. His girlfriend/fiance is expecting a child early next year.
Telemarketers. I've got plenty of patience for many a hum drum annoyance in life, of which I limit my exposure to a minimum, i.e. traffic, long lines, and general contact with other humans. But answering the phone only to be pestered into buying something, giving a donation, or switching some utility service is beyond my tolerance of my duties as a member of society.
I've learned that nine times out of ten, any call I get in the morning is from someone I don't know trying to sucker me into waking up--so I've trained my ears to ignore all rings whilst sleeping. However, on occasion a telemarketer slips thru, be it they catch me while I'm awake. In which case, I automatically cut them off, and politely hang up after bidding a "No thanks, I'm not interested, bye."
A couple of nights ago, I got a call for a survey. The guy assured me that he wasn't selling me anything, and there wasn't any hidden deal or obligations involved. I figured, what the hell, I'll play along. After all, I'm a questionnaire freak.
There were many questions. The call took over ten minutes. Basically, he wanted to gauge my media habits. Lists of newspapers, radio stations, and websites were prattled. Halfway thru the survey, I started to laugh, cause all my answers were negative, cutting him dead.
"Do you have cable? Digital cable? Satellite TV?"
"No, no, no."
"Do you listen to the radio? Do you visit MSNBC.com? Do you read The LA Weekly?"
"No, no, no."
After awhile I wanted to say "yes", if just to break the monotony and to prove that I actually get some news, but he never asked the right questions. But I also didn't want to help him--anybody that cares about what I read, watch, or listen to, doesn't deserve to know. I am obviously no one that the media empire targets, so let me be.
The caller ended the survey with frustrated disbelief, and wondered how I manage to survive in the world. I wanted to ask him the same.
"I'm sorry for wasting your time."
THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER TWENTY NINE (copyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy)
A month has elapsed since I last heard from cute you. I've accepted your silence--'tis neither the inconclusive fermata nor the abandoned strain that it once was. My legendary patience has compounded profoundly as I don't expect you to reply, yet I will write to you, in blessed hope that you'll at the very least, read this letter.
I can wait forever.
For I once wanted so badly to love and be loved, but was afraid of what that meant--acceptance and rejection are scary concepts. I just played it fun and safe, in an absurdly harmless sorta way, hint, hint.
I've obsessively read your final letter repeatedly. I've analyzed, memorized, anointed, nitpicked, decrypted, and appraised it. On some days your last words seem frozen and petrified. On other days, especially when the moon is full, they fill me with a sense of belonging to this world, no matter how distant our contact dissipates. The crumb that I hold is the fact that you used capital letters in your post script--you broke from your perspective. Those little shift strokes keep me awake at night.
I haven't eaten a taco for the longest time.
And I believe my mind is sounder. All altering intoxicants have been expunged. During those crazy days when I was writing pages to you, I admit that I felt as if I had crossed over to the other side of reality. It was as if I had tapped into some hyper sense of empathetic understanding, almost like I could read your soul. I thought I felt love.
But everything is an illusion--even beyond what the illusions hide.
So now, in the sober confines of my loneliness, I can only take what I thought to be love as love, for I've never felt anything to compare it with. But I suppose that's the relative and subjective truth of it all. 'Tis not what one expects, but what one gets that counts. To exchange a simple smile with someone can be the pinnacle moment in one's life. The great fairy tales of romance are just that--hyperbole. I ought to appreciate the fraction thereof that I briefly felt between you and me. It's been miraculous enough.
Muchos thank you,
PS: I've written my will. In the event that I should die, I leave all my possessions to you, Juanita.
I avoided most of the summer movies of 2003. They just seemed so uninteresting to me (re: all the cute actresses were on holiday). I had better things to do than waste my $10 on crap. My favourite movie was Down With Love (starring Renee Zellweger), and even that wasn't so hot--I mean, Renee was downright lovely and all, but she's too old for my taste. Uptown Girls (starring Dakota Fanning) was uplifting, but I'd rather not get too uplifted unless I want to get arrested.
However, as the fall season kicked in, I was glad to welcome the return of my kind of cinematic fare. Back to back, I felt that my money was well spent as I was charmed by two ultra cute actresses in two superb movies--Scarlett Johansson in Lost In Translation and Alison Lohman in Matchstick Men.
I never read reviews, let alone write them. But what the hell, I feel like breaking the rules for this entry of "Out On Lim". So here are my thoughts on these two masterpieces, with all due warning that I tend to be biased towards my own skewed opinion, hopefully proving why I'll never get hired as a movie reviewer...
LOST IN TRANSLATION (starring Scarlett Johansson, music by Brian Reitzell and Kevin Shields, directed by Sofia Coppola). Scarlett plays a recently graduated philosophy major who meets a middle aged man in Tokyo. They're both literally and figuratively lost in the foreign locale so they form a heartwarming bond. Their relationship is brilliantly platonic, as it should be, and doesn't patronize their age difference, thus creating that unadulterated connection between two characters, which is so rare in movies thesedays. Their adventures together are pure fun. Scarlett is cool throughout--her movements are tentative, yet graceful. And her voice is like music. Personally, the setting transports me back to Japan in all its Westernized Eastern personality disorders. The soundtrack gives an undercurrent of introspective distance and contemplation from the city's outward hyperactivity. Sofia's direction is effortlessly magical, although she should've had a cameo.
MATCHSTICK MEN (starring Alison Lohman, music by Hans Zimmer, directed by Ridley Scott). Alison plays the daughter of a con artist. From the moment she skateboards onto the screen, she steals the entire movie. She's all bouncy and scuffling feet. I died every time she gave her braced smile. And I could smell her chewing gum. Her relationship with her dad is portrayed with humour (he's got some obsessive compulsive ticks). Nevertheless, they share some beautiful human moments together. I liked seeing them go bowling--an activity I currently can relate to. The music is functionally snazzy, but altogether unmemorable. The direction is stylishly tight.
I don't remember much about the Arwen character from the Lord of the Rings books. Yet, hers and Aragon's love story is overly romanticized in the recent movie adaptation. I understand that the epic is very male dominated and would probably never have been financed as a film if it didn't hit the female demographic with some semblance of cuddly kissing. At first I wasn't too thrilled by this sidetrack of a side story--probably cause Liv Tyler ain't my idea of a cute elf (Scarlett Johansson or Alison Lohman would've made a better Arwen).
Anyways, I was watching The Two Towers on DVD recently and during the Arwen scenes, for whatever reason, I was caught up in her dilemma, namely her choice between absconding with her immortal race or lingering in the mortal world to be with her dude. 'Tisn't an easy pick--either eternal complacency amongst her clan sans her man or momentary happiness with him til his death whilst being cut off from her family. Ultimately, they're both compromises, and they'll balance out, as everything eventually does, so it's a question of her love for Aragon. And that's never an easy answer, no matter how royal he is.
Sometimes I feel like I've made a similar choice. I've had egotistical episodes in which I think I'm immortal and have lived beyond several lifetimes. And on occasion, I've had brief flashes of inexplicable loss, as if I've been wandering the earth in a futile attempt to block out memories of my long dead love. Which would conveniently explain why I can't seem to connect with anybody--I'm maintaining my love for her by honouring the full consequences of choosing to spend my days in this realm. Besides, no one compares to her.
And then I slap myself for thinking ridiculously. If such were so, I think I'd remember my love, no matter how she haunts me and dictates my relationships with others. No, if anything, I'm still searching for my queen. As I've never been a devout believer in the linearity of time (the future is the past, etc), I can say with paranormal certainty that I'm getting closer to her. And given the Arwen dilemma, I'll always choose love above all, as I already have...
The concept of meditation came up when a friend, who recently took a Buddhism class, mentioned that she learned about it and was interested in trying it out. Accordingly, it's supposed to clear the mind, relieve stress, enlighten the soul, and whatever.
I've never consciously (if that's possible) meditated--in other words, not by any textbook or guru guided definition of the term. I kinda like to think about things (i.e. Scarlett Johansson or Alison Lohman), so clearing my mind isn't a priority, rather I think if I stopped thinking I'd actually be mindlessly doing something stupid to fill my mind again. Also, I don't think I have enough stress to worry about relieving any. And enlightenment ain't my goal in life, which ironically seems to be the desireless path towards its attainment, or so they say.
But as I was practicing the piano the other night, I drew an analogy to meditation. I was playing the prelude to J.S. Bach's English Suite No. 2 (BWV 807), and decided to loop the ending of the da capo back into the development, endlessly repeating the motto perpetual for an hour.
Keep in mind that I'm not a performer, I don't practice with the intention of performing, let alone to conform to any performance details (i.e. correct fingerings, milking the audience with exaggerated expression, etc.). I practice mainly out of boredom, to keep myself entertained, if from a composer's perspective (i.e. structure, form, neutral emotions, etc.). I also never read music whilst playing--I always play from memory. Hence, for me, practicing the piano is a relaxing activity.
Upon losing count of how many times I was running thru the piece, my fingers, from sheer repetitive conditioning, started to move without thought, as if on auto pilot. I wasn't actively hearing the music anymore, rather it shifted to the peripheral sectors of my consciousness, spiraling away, as Bach tends to do.
I closed my eyes and entered a calm dimension where I found serene balance with the universe. Any thought I had would flow into the music, contrapuntally split and spin around in my inner surround sound vantage points, revealing how meaningless and meaningful everything interrelates. I like to ponder on fulcrums.
As I concluded my practice, I opened my eyes and realized that I've always played the piano in a meditative manner. Not that I intended such. Luckily I taught myself how to play, so I don't have any scars from being forced to learn boring music. I've always enjoyed setting aside an hour a day to practice music that I find fun to play. But ever since I hit my first note, the instrument has also been my center of contemplation. My mind seems to recharge at the keyboard. Therefore, I guess I meditate, in my own fashion.
I don't claim to be "spiritual" or "transcendental" by any means. And I'm about as "enlightened" as anyone else living in this world--I mean, all living creatures have something in them keeping them alive, that's all there is, nothing more, nothing less.
I've been a fan of Scarlett Johansson since 2001.
I've been a fan of Alison Lohman since 2003.
I've been a fan of The Innocence Mission since 1996, when I accidentally sneaked into their sound check at the Troubadour in Hollywood. They were opening for Emmylou Harris. I arrived early so I wandered around the venue. They were rehearsing and checking their levels as I sat unobtrusively in the corner. There was no one listening except myself and the sound engineer.
The music was pleasant, almost hymnal--acoustic, with a touch of resonant electric outlining. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I suspected that this sorta folky flavour went down well with that crowd, probably around the corner from some East Coast university in autumn. The songs were passively observant, revealing of their educated background, and hopelessly uncommercial in terms of the ever flashy and loud trends. They might've had a better chance 40 years ago, or if they were lucky, they could've ridden the self conscious indie tide of the early 90's. There was something outdated about their liberalism, which made them conservative. I dug it.
Well, in particular, what got me hooked was the voice of the pigtailed singer, Karen Peris. She had just the right blend of whine, wonder, and wisdom in her voice. Sometimes she sounded like a cute little girl who's a bit spoiled. Sometimes she had such a wide eyed scope on humanity that it just made me shake my head at how someone so fragile manages to keep herself safe in such a cruel world. Yet thru it all, I heard her open heart in her voice that dispelled any doubts of her faith in the better side of things.
I got The Innocence Mission's latest album, Befriended. It's nice--especially to chill with on a Sunday afternoon. It seems like I've been buying a flood of good CDs lately, after the summer drought: Hilary Hahn's Bach concertos, Emmylou Harris' Stumble Into Grace, Puffy's PRMX Turbo, and the soundtrack to Lost In Translation.
|THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER THIRTY (copyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy)
A year since you banished yourself from writing back to me has nearly broken me down. I've often resisted the urgency, but tonight, what the hell, I'll to write to you. How're you doing? I hope you're ok. I must confess that I've tried despondently to displace the memory of your correspondence from my mind.
Maybe you'll believe this or not, but a couple of months ago, a friend of a friend who works in the movie industry set me up on a date with Scarlett Johansson. She's just as pretty in verity as she is onscreen. Anyways, we got pissed on sake and went karaokeing. But she was boring--she lacked your spunk and enthusiasm for the dorkier side of life. She doesn't sing the theme to Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego? as cool as you do.
A week ago, I was one of the guests on a television talk show. Guess who the other guest was? None other than the matchstick chick Alison Lohman. Well, we got friendly backstage and afterwards of the taping we hung out. She rolled around on her skateboard and cracked me up with her kiddy kiddings and goofy guffaws. "Hey, let's go bowling," she suggestingly jestered. At that moment I couldn't help but be reminded of her reminderings of you. Seeing your unmannerly mannerisms in hers was too much for me. However similar the similarities, the comparisons are incomparable--you're way cuter.
No one else is.
Disputing is needless, as I haven't been able to dislodge your persisting permanence from my frame of focus.
And in my dreams, I've received your reply. I can't discern whether it's a foretelling futurism or a fantastical wish. Sometimes it's accompanied by a flash of light and angels. Sometimes it's beyond emotional expression. Sometimes it's just another letter. Nevertheless, I'm hopelessly obsessed to check my inbox with hopeful anticipation...
Tell me your dreams
And iíll tell you mine
Continue as you did before
Once upon a time
Muchos cornball poetry (but notice what the first letters of each line spells)
PS: If you're afraid to send me an email, for whatever reason, be it you can't devise an untraceable identity or Jose might be monitoring the messages that get sent out of his computer, you might want to try sending me an unsigned postcard via standard mail. My address: 2106 Gates Ave Apt D, Redondo Beach, CA 90278. (Good luck...)
wouldn't be surprised if I've got some idiosyncrasies that I'm not aware of--little ticks and/or rituals that I involuntarily perform beyond my conscious perception of myself. Because I really don't pay much attention to my behaviours unless they functionally impinge on my daily life. I don't think I'm seriously afflicted with any obsessive compulsive disorders. However, for fun, here's a list of silly things that I like to irrationally execute, which showcase my annoying anal tendencies more than anything else:
Making my bed
Ever since I was a kid, I've always started my day with making my bed. It gives me a sense of ending and beginning, like a curtain over a stage, for my dreams and real life. There's also something humble about making my bed that reminds me of my self reliance. Even if I were King of the Planet, I'd still make my own bed. Plus, I enjoy sleeping in a made bed--resetting it after I wake is less of a task than before I sleep, when I'm usually too tired to bother. Note this only applies to my own bed. I could care less if I'm a guest in a hotel or have shared a bed with someone.
Centering my CDs
All the CDs in my collection are centered in their trays. The texts on the labels align so as to be read straight, as opposed to being placed haphazardly rotated. If I see a disc not centered, I automatically slide into proper position. I have no idea where this absurdity started. Perhaps I hopelessly yearn to see some symmetrical balance in circular shapes. Or perhaps I like to pay some bizarre definition of respect to my music, as if my CDs are sacred.
Watching movies completely
I can't jump into a movie already in progress. I like to view a feature in its entirety, from the opening company logo to the fade out of the end credits. And if I give a movie my attention from the get go, no matter how shitty, I need to suffer thru it til its conclusion--although I've got safety measures (such as diverting my attention to cute actresses or the soundtrack) to help ease the pain. I can tolerate interruptions, but I don't like spending too much time inbetween finishing a movie. The same generally applies to albums upon initial listening, although after hearing an album completely, I can then skip tracks that suck. Ditto for books. I suspect this completism stems from my having too much time to waste.
Keeping glass clean
I wouldn't call myself a clean person. I don't obsess over dust and dirt. I think I'm more organized than clean. However, I like to keep glass clean--my eyeglasses, mirrors, monitor and television screens. Little smudges need to be wiped away to clear my vision, especially if I'm editing an image. This doesn't pertain to windows--as long as I can get a reasonable view out my apartment or car windows, I'm fine. Nor drinking glasses, well unless they get moldy.
I took advantage of advance screenings when I was an undergraduate under the obvious conditions that I like watching movies and hey, they were free. 1990, Freshman year, I remember getting invited to see a comming of age chick flick set in the Sixties called Mermaids. It starred Winona Ryder--of whom my just out of high school mind revved with infatuation.
The movie sucked, being estrogenically oversaturated. Even Winona's stereotypical teenaged angst stalled in predictable staleness. I was too old for such crap.
However, all I really want to remember from that screening was being introduced to Winona's sister, played by Christina Ricci. From her literal splash on the screen, I was mesmerized by her bubbly charisma. She was hypnotically cute. She made me forget the rest of the movie. Even Winona couldn't compete for my attention against Christina.
The first time I truly acknowledged the power of the internet was during my first year of graduate school, 1994. I had heard about this super highway of information, but had yet to personally use it as a resource. As far as I knew, it was an abstract computer thingy, geeky, and over-hyped--hardly beneficial for me. But as I sat in the information science lab, staring at the blinking cursor of a search engine, encouraged by my professors to look up anything I wanted, I thought, what the hell, I'll see what results if I typed "Christina Ricci".
To my happy surprise, I actually found useful information--her bio, filmography, news, and photo galleries. I spent delighted hours clicking on links. I've'nt doubted the internet since.
Sadly, Christina blobbed and bitched out during her later years, and I lost interest in and track of her. I still have the autographed headshot that she supposedly signed which I received from her fan club, the address to which I found online. I thought her turn in Sleepy Hollow was uncharacteristically attractive. I also thought she was swell in her latest film, Anything Else, in which she played a funnily semi-psychotic girl named "Amanda".
I remember when she was just ten years old.
When I was about ten years old, I learned what a pseudonym is. I had read a short story. My mom told me that the author used a pen name--his real name was William Sydney Porter, but he went by another name when he wrote stories. This was a strange idea to me. I kinda liked my name and enjoyed signing it upon completing a story or hiding it in the corners of a drawing. I thought everyone wanted credit for their work, especially with their own name.
However, what will forever be heuristically ingrained in my memory of discovering the concept of pseudonyms is the coincidence that William Sydney Porter called himself "O. Henry". Anybody pretending to be a Henry had to be cool.
There are conflicting accounts to the origin of "O. Henry". Some say that Porter got the idea for his pen name when he was 20 years old during his stay in Austin, where he roomed in the home of Joseph Harrell and family, circa 1884. They had a cat named Henry, whom Porter was said to have frequently beckoned with "Oh Henry".
But he still used his real name when he started an unsuccessful humour weekly called Rolling Stone (not to be confused with the rock rag) and contributed a column to the Houston Daily Post. Meanwhile, he held various jobs, including a rancher, draftsman, pharmacist, and bank clerk. It's the latter position that got him in trouble, as he was accused of embezzlement. He escaped to Central America for several years, but returned upon hearing of his wife's fatal illness. Convicted (the guilt of which is a source of debate), he entered an Ohio penitentiary, where he befriended a warden named Orrin Henry, whom some believe inspired his pseudonym.
Another possibility is Porter's affinity towards the U.S. Dispensatory reference book which he often consulted whilst in prison. It was compiled by the French pharmacist, Eteinne-Ossian Henry.
Regardless, it was during serving his sentence that he wrote short stories as a means to help support his daughter. He wrote about his adventures in Texas and south of the border. This is when Porter officially began to hide his criminal identity behind a pseudonym. McClure's Magazine picked up his stories and he started to enjoy success as a writer. After being released, he moved to New York, where he wrote a weekly in the New York World. "O. Henry" published several collections of his short stories, was widely read in various magazines, and gained acclaim around the world as one of America's foremost short story writers.
Porter died a penniless alcoholic.
Recently, my mom gave me a collection of "O. Henry" short stories. They're a hoot. He's got a fun command of the form--full of mischievous characters, fate twisting situations, tragicomic sentimentality, and oblique endings.
Professor Nelson Nelsonson was crying.
She'd been gone an hour, yet he could still trace her scent trapped in the cross breezes of his emotional vacuum. Thousands of men blamed her for their ephemeral ecstasy. Her body was stretched beyond precious mercy. And somewhere in the strands of her tortured hair, the repressed layers of deemphasized facial injuries, and the bloodshot cracks within her stalemate eyes he felt the weight of the ghosts that pinned her. Yet she didn't satisfy him.
He cherished her for her pathos. He had browsed the boulevard like a desperate pervert, unbeknownst to the prostitutes that he desired something more displeasing than cheap pleasure--he wanted to feel real sorrow. High heels, tight skirts, and ripe legs didn't evoke the sadness that he craved. Rather they were too holy. They just further proved that life is a glorious connection of souls. He could pay the fee, feel the prismatic perpetuation of his existence, however imaginary, and sleep in peace. But such was instinctually predestined. He wanted to confirm that he had a heart. He wanted to weep from its depths.
She came screaming topless across the street. Fleeing with her head on backwards, he immediately fell in love with her as she crashed into him. He smiled at her. Her eyes tweaked--one eye staring at his mouth, the other struggling to follow shooting stars streaking a million miles away. He hailed a taxi and permitted her to the backseat. She put her arm around him. Under the passing streetlights she looked an innocent thirteen, but beneath the shadows she was a delinquent twelve. He blocked her attempts to advance.
He paid her well. All she had to do was excite his grief. Make him mourn for her. She started towards him with lustful appeal. He deflected and reminded her that she had to perform with just her voice. Only words. He begged her to tell him a sad story. Perhaps recount her life. She tensed, covered her exposed breasts with her hands, and retreated to the corner of the room. Refusing on the basis of conveniently forgetting her own account of her upbringing, or lack of, she started to cry. Nelson felt horrible. So he made her a sandwich and poured a glass of milk. He let her go.
An hour later, he himself began to weep. But it wasn't because of the implied story which she withheld from him, nor herself crying--which was depressing, but his guilt for hinting at inducing her blotted memories halted any catharsis. Feeling compassion for strangers and the tragedies of nameless masses sympathetically moved him, but it wasn't personally felt. It was directed outwards. He wanted to be inflicted. Having her in his presence, pouring out her tale of despair would've made him feel closer and inches more involved than had he read or heard about her secondhand.
No, he needed someone to hurt him. To feel loss. To be vulnerable to cruelty and indifference. To suffer at disabling unkindness. Nelson realized that he had always been denied such feelings. But he also questioned why he needed to feel melancholy. Why must sadness affirm his identity? Does sadness correlate with happiness? Is it necessary to acknowledge the opposite states to fully appreciate either? In which case, he conceded that he has never truly felt happy or sad. Whether that disqualified him as a human being under some undeniable umbrella definition of all mankind didn't bother him much, as he shut his eyes and released his pointless preoccupation to feel anything other than the peace within his own heart.
And this made Nelson cry.
School has resumed. My (afternoon) commute includes a route thru my neighbourhood which passes by an elementary school. The playground is back in business--tribal circles of kids undulating, yelling, and enjoying the freedom of recess. However, lately, as I drive by, I've started to notice a growing crowd of children, pressed sadly against the gate, looking out at me like trapped inmates in an interment camp, or worse, criminals locked in prison. Their eyes follow my car, coveting my unconfined mobility. (I try hard not to laugh).
In my day, I had no trouble escaping from school (which I did whenever I felt like it), usually once a month in the lower grades, but as much as weekly in high school, if not for a week's worth when I was a senior. I had the luck of being the son of a physician, whose stationary was my ticket out of class--just write a note in semi-neat handwriting diagnosing some phony sickness and forge a signature, thus explaining my disappearance upon return. (No questions were asked).
I wasn't a journalist (I was a cartoonist) in high school, but that didn't stop the guard at the carpark from letting me leave due to some fake assignment, such as, uh, I need to interview the assistant head of the district regarding the impending teachers' strike. And they let me go. (Security was really loose back then, back before students went on shooting sprees).
And I'd go out to eat at the local chiliburger stand, go record shopping, drive around Hollywood, or just do nothing (somewhere other than school). It's not as if I was a dropout, my grades were fine. In fact, all I ever did in class was sleep. But somehow, without opening a book, I was able to be an honour student--passed my tests, impressed the teachers, and wasn't suspected of causing trouble. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't care if I wasn't sitting at my desk. (Nobody every worried about me).
I value freedom (or at least the greater illusion thereof). When it was time for me to get a job, I couldn't see myself working in a 9 to 5 regiment, ensnared in an office, and monitored by managing supervisors. Not to mention I didn't want to be enslaved by a profession that chased profits. Ironically, I chose to work in education, at a university. I'd spent my whole life thinking that a school was not far off from being a jail, yet now I do my time being employed by one. The joke of it all is, my job in the library offers me the freedom to set my own schedule and more vacation time than I could ever use. And even funnier, I don't abuse the benefits of my job as much as I should since I actually enjoy being trapped on campus. (The girls are cute this year).
My online activities generally begin with logging onto my email accounts. First, I check messages from recognizable names, namely friends and family. Second, I read my fan mail, media requests, potential commissions, gallery invitations, etc. Third, I browse thru what's happening at my place of employment, flagging tasks that I need to get done. Fourth, I skim the various newsgroups that I belong to, often just to gather a sense of what's going on in those subcultures. And finally, I delete the craploads of junk mail that seems to be increasingly overflowing my inbox.
After email, I do some routine administrative maintenance of my webpage--check statistics, trace referral links, add new subscribers to my mailing list, upload the latest "Out On a Lim" entry, etc.
Then I read the news, taking in the headlines, and only exploring further depending on my mood and/or interest. I spend most of my time in the "entertainment" section--my theory is if something's happening in the world that's so noteworthy, it'll filter into the "back pages", so in the meantime, I might as well find out about what affects me on a personal level, such as the latest movie and music developments.
And then I read other peoples' web journals. Yes, I'm addicted to the daily musings of strangers, or more specifically, girls. It all started when a certain violinist posted her tour diary. I enjoyed her perspectives on music, her reviews of the many places she visited, and her views on life. I got to know her pretty well, at least in terms of what she felt like publicly revealing. There were times when she got lazy and didn't keep up to date, leaving me anxiously in suspense.
Her web journal is no longer online. However, I've since found several other interesting girls who share their thoughts on the internet. There's one who is a photographer and posts inspiring images daily, along with cryptic sentences that I don't think are intended for me. Another who is an aspiring writer who contemplates whimsically on her world. I also regularly visit the webpage of an anime artist. All of whom entertain me immensely.
As with most web journals, these girls don't get inspired to post new material as much as I'd like, which I suppose is part of their charm--I doubt they've got as much time to waste as I do. But hey, it beats watching television.
Night Sky Illusions
During the instrumental bridge of the Pet Sounds song "Here Today" there's some audible but indistinguishable conversation leakage which the microphones picked up yet weren't removed on the final mix. According to Beach Boys lore, the chatter is Brian Wilson and company talking about cameras. The liner notes mention that it was kept on record as a "happy studio accident". I've listened to that section millions of times, not only because it's one of my favourite moments on the album (with the breaking down and building up of the music as layers of instruments pile to recapitulation), but also for that background noise. To me, it adds a verisimilitude to the multitracked construction of the song--all the musicians aren't playing simultaneously during the session, they're just recorded to sound so. Plus I think it's cool that on such a "masterpiece" they didn't clean up the "mistake" off that song.
"Love is here today and gone tomorrow"
I've been listening to Pet Sounds on mono my entire life. I liken it to "Wall of Sound" production aesthetics. But whereas Spector sounds black and white in the reverb drenched monophonic mix, Wilson sounds technicolour, even on a single channel of sound. The blending of the instruments on unison lines (harpsichord + piano, accordion + organ, etc) adds to the hue, not to mention the Beach Boys oversaturated vocal harmonies.
I resisted the stereo mix of Pet Sounds cause I felt that it was a historically incorrect gimmick, as insulting as colourizing Citizen Kane. The mono album stands as an innovative studio classic regardless of being remastered, remixed, and repackaged. It was made in 1966, for goodness sakeóthe original mix should be preserved as a reminder of past recording technologies.
But my acoustical appreciation has changed. With the advent of 5.1 multichannel sound, I've become much more aware of depth of field. So when Pet Sounds got remixed in surround, I thought I'd give it a listen. All I can say is jumping from 1 to 5.1 channels is like going from a television screen to an IMAX theatre. Not that the album sounds better per se, but it's interesting to hear the separation of the tracks--kinda like taking apart the wall of sound and admiring the individual bricks. I still am a fan of the mono mix, but the surround version is nevertheless a thrill.
The sound quality has been vastly beefed up to sound more modern, which is fine by me, if for the removal of hiss and a more even definition of frequencies. However, it sounds a little too polished. The "Here Today" conversation has been erased.
Addendum: Yes, I heard the bonus track.
there's a PLACE where e v e r y t h i n g falls
e v e r y t h i n g falls into PLACE
and time BEGINS to let us k n o w
it lets us k n o w when to BEGIN
i've ALWAYS been
ALWAYS will be
in l o v e with you
i don't WANT to f r i g h t e n you
to f r i g h t e n ain't what i WANT
so tell me ABOUT what you d r e a m
what are your d r e a m s ABOUT
have you ALWAYS been
ALWAYS will be
in l o v e with me
don't forget THAT it could all end
it could all end just like THAT
for: j u a n i t a
California is so fucked up. I can't believe I live here. I want to move. Fuck the USA, I'm leaving to Canada. And what is up with our new governor? An actor? What is this world comming to? What's next? God, I hope Arnold doesn't become president. Like that two bit phony Richard Nixon--man that movie he was in where he played Anthony Hopkins sucked big time. Two words: Watergate. I'm glad he got assassinated even though there's some conspiracy surrounding that historic milestone. And isn't the Shermanator dude a Nazi synthesizer? Like he got all buff at orgies. I heard he smoked pot. What a loser. Reagan, now that was a real hero. A real cowboy. I can't even spell Arnold's last name, for Xrist's sake. Swortsenager? Give me a true American maiden name like Bush. I bet Bush could kick Arnold's ass, I mean he whooped Iraq, and if he can beat an entire nation, he should be able to kill Arnold. Plus Arnold is a liar. He said so. And anyone who says they've lied in the past can't be trusted. Recall Arnold.
No, I didn't vote.
Lately I've been eating breakfast later in the day. Like after midnight--stopping in at IHOP, or toasting Eggo waffles. Conventionally, I don't eat anything upon waking up, other than a glass of orange juice. But somehow eating bacon, eggs, hash browns, and some fruit topped pancake whilst the moon's out appeals to my buds. I do believe that my day, by the purest definition of the possessive "my", begins at midnight, so it seems apropos that I start it off with breakfast.
I've got a friend who's a decade my junior. And I've got a friend who's a decade my senior. Sometimes I see myself in them--how I was when I was younger (excited about the future) and how I might turn out when I'm older (nostalgic for the past). Not that I myself am a model example of my age group, most of whom seem to be orienting themselves in careers, marriage, family, and other domestications . I think in certain ways I've retained my 21 year old enthused outlook, what with my affinity for carefree freedom, such as eating breakfast at the wrong time. Yet I also can seem to relate to being 41 years old, and the nonchalance of recognizing life's platitudes ebbing and flowing beyond my control, thus focusing my enjoyment on the here and now.
I'm not a triskaidekaphobe. I don't believe numbers have any inherent unluckiness. On the contrary, I gravitate to the number thirteen, well, because I remember girls being cute at that age. Being 31 years old, the dyslexic in me thinks I'm a backwards 13 year old. So when it was time for me to choose a weight for my personal bowling ball, I chose a 13 pounder. The score for my initial game was 121. Ok, I know it's a stretch number theorywise, but I see 121 as "12 + 1", which equals my favourite number.
Quentin Tarantino is a capable director. His latest film, Kill Bill, demonstrates his stylish style--hip characters dispersing hip dialogue, whacky scenarios, crisscrossing timelines, uber homage, and a "kitsch is cool" soundtrack. The latter being my least favourite of his traits, albeit, Tarantino is a master of using just the right song for the right moment. Don't get me wrong, I dig his musical tastes, and the rhythmic flow in Kill Bill is deadly, however, after a while the over usage of pop tunes (ingeniously and post modernly incorporated) feels disjointed, almost too self consciously so, but I suppose that's the point.
Not that a consistent score, in theme and timbre, would be appropriate. In fact, such would most likely sound even more blatantly cliched. The title song, Nancy Sinatra's version of Sonny and Cher's "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" works as an appropriated main theme, as it's played during the opening credits and reappears in snippets to underscore Uma Thurman's character. But beyond that, there is no proper leitmotif, insomuch as the wide range of music (East, West, Latin, funk) mirrors the mixed identities within the world portrayed.
But what I love about Tarantino films is his love of films as a form unto itself. He recycles the iconography of the past so that it seems fresh and adds his own iconographic layers. Kill Bill borrows from film scores by Luis Bacalov, Charles Bernstein, Al Hirt, Tomoyasu Hotei, and Quincy Jones, as well as from the quintessential film composer, Bernard Herrmann. These soundtracks are used as pop cultural (or more precisely, cult pop) references and further emphasize that this movie's mother tongue is cinema, several generations down the line. And I suppose that to expect the diction to be equable is old fashioned, what with attention spans in general diminishing.
Perhaps it's my personal association with traditional film scores that puts me at odds with Tarantino style soundtracks. I'm probably in the minority when it comes to over appreciating film music, but it has given me a sense of contained uniformity within a movie, be it the composer's voice or the following thru of thematic development. Yes, I realize that such is tried and true has become boring--nobody needs to hear an overdramatic John Williams score thesedays. But as history seems to show, the pendulum of what is kitsch and cool swings back and forth. The pop song soundtrack, at least commercially, is often blamed on the The Graduate, when the then contemporary sounds of Simon and Garfunkel appealed to audiences who were getting sick of the epic film scores. The big orchestral score was restrained for a decade, until some movie called Star Wars kicked out the jams. Tastes go thru revivals.
It is my understanding that the current mindset is in accordance with what's hip and cool today, DJ style mixing. Tarantino doesn't score his movies, he mixes his soundtracks, culling from his record collection. This is as opposed to having a singular composer writing an original score--to which I'd even debate is also akin to mixing, as film music is such a derivative form which steals from all over the place, a little Korngold here, a little Wagner there. But then again music borrows from and builds upon what came before, more so than film as it's got a slightly more illustrious history. Also, these modern times seem joined in its disjointedness, authorship isn't so valued as much as remixing and matching, and pop culture, for better and worse, permeates thru life like a Tarantino film.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2-/ 7-/ 8-0 3-/ 9-/ X 9-0 8-0 6-0 7-1
17 35 43 62 82 101 110 118 124 132
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2-/ 8-0 7-2 9-0 X 3-6 9-0 9-/ 9-/ X-3-/
18 26 35 44 63 72 81 100 120 140
'Tis true that Blind Pedro (the village idiot) is really blind.
He's been completely blind since he was five years old. He had perfect vision as a kid, but he thought that it'd be so cool if he lost one his eyes so that he could replace it with a glass facsimile. His schoolmates would be so jealous if he could stare at them coldly with a glass eye whilst his other eye wandered.
Secretly Pedro prayed that some accident would bless him with such an opportunity. However he was impatient for fate to follow thru. So he did it himself.
This way he could choose which eye to remove. He read that the right eye is connected to the left side of the brain and the left eye is connected to the right side of the brain. Photographers use their left eye for composition as imaginative and holistic framing of objects is more akin to right brain functions. They use their right eye for focus as analytical and specific adjustments of image clarity are better handled with the left hemisphere of the brain.
He wanted to lose his right eye, cause he thought that intellectualizing was overrated.
He dug his fingers into his socket and popped out his right eye. It was very painful, but he thought a little defacement in exchange for a rad glass eye was worth it. He blamed his dog for biting his eye out, as he ran yelling to his parents with blood in his eye hole.
Pedro got a glass eye.
And for one day he was the coolest kid at school. Girls took pity on him and let him eat lunch with them. He loved it when they gave him added attention as they tried to get eye contact. Even cute little Juanita gave him a consolatory kiss. It was the best day ever.
When he got home, he took his glass eye out and admired it, holding it with his left hand and looking at it closely with his left eye. It was shiny and round--he could see himself reflected in it. How many five year olds had a glass eye? But whilst lost in his self absorption, his dog blindly ran into him, knocking Pedro's face to the ground, his left hand smashing his glass eye into his left eye.
Hidden on the top floor of the UCLA music building, amongst the catwalks to the main concert hall, is a small room. Taped to the door of this room is a Xeroxed photo of an old tape recorder. In the room is a variety of instruments--a DX7, guitars, an autoharp, violas, a vocoder, a drum set, and a mandolin. The walls are padded with carpet, cushions, and soundproof walling. There's a rug on the floor and Xmas lights hanging from the ceiling. Microphones, wires, preamps, a mixing board, and a 16 track digital workstation connect to each other, waiting for signals to record.
Welcome to Stair 7 Studios.
The name derives from the fact that there is only one stairwell that leads to the studio: stair 7. It's conveniently located away from the main areas of the building. Hence, loud music, such as drums, can be played without disturbance to the students and faculty. Nevertheless, Larry McFeurdy has been recording late at night, whilst no one is around.
Yes, the rumours are true. McFeurdy is recording a new album, the supposed title of which is tentatively called Hacienda Heights (named for The Meanwhilers' LA suburban hometown). And yes, he's resurrecting that ole Meanwhilers sound--the chugging bass, jangling Rickenbackers, and early 90's garage bandisms. Perhaps he nostalgically can't believe that it's been over a decade since those crazy days. Fans await curiously.
I happen to know the recording engineer at Stair 7 Studios. He gave me an early acetate of a recently completed song entitled "It Could All End". He said that McFeurdy plays all the instruments and sings on lead, harmony, and backup. The mix sounds final. I think it sounds pretty cool and Meanwhileresque.
I really don't give a crap about copyrights and the recording industry's internet idiocy, so I made an mp3 file of the leaked song. Download it: mp3
Anyone remotely familiar with LEGO ought to know that the bricks come in a variety of bright and primary colours. The "standard six" (red, yellow, blue, green, white, and black) are commonly available to the consumer. Orange, brown, tan, and grey are also available, but less common--these colours sell at a higher price on the secondary market. And then there are the shades (dark red, dark blue, light yellow, light green, extra light grey, etc.) as well as purple, the sand tones, and translucents, all of which are rather rare and expensive. But there's a shade of light blue called "Maersk" blue that's generally agreed amongst LEGO freaks as the most sought after colour.
A friend was explaining to me how she likes a good zoom lense on a camera so that she can take pictures of people from afar, sniper style.
In 1904 Captain Peter Maersk Moller and his son founded the A/S Dampskibsselskabet Svendborg (the Steamship Company Svendborg) in the Danish town of Svendborg. Thru the years, the company became the Maersk Line and expanded to shipyards, cargo liner services, tankers, airlines, and the exploration and production of oil and gas. Today, the Maersk Group owns a fleet of more than 250 vessels and employs more than 60,000 people in over 100 countries.
I had a dream in which my friend and I were at the beach. Off to the distance were people dancing around a lighthouse. She asked if I had a telescope to spy on them. I didn't but...
The LEGO "Maersk" blue is named accordingly to the Maersk Group's light blue logo. It was produced specifically as a promotional tie-in with Maersk themed models (ships and trucks). Thus, the colour has been marketed to the public, however on a limited scale. The model shops at the theme parks often are stocked with Maersk blue, but unless one has an inside connection with LEGO, the colour is unobtainable, especially in a wide selection of sizes and shapes. I own a single 2x4 brick in "Maersk" blue--it was given to me when I got invited to visit the Legoland model shop. Note, there is a light blue that is commercially produced, but it is a tad darker than the "Maersk" shade.
...so I constructed a working telescope out of LEGO for my friend. I made it entirely with "Maersk" blue bricks.
I'm not an avid comic book reader. I've read a handful of titles, mainly of the "graphic novel" variety--the standards that most geeks agree upon as "classics" of the genre (Watchmen, Dark Knight), nothing esoteric. And I've read The Sandman (the series proper, ten volumes, numbers 1-75). Recently I got the latest installment "Endless Nights".
It's not really a continuous sequel, rather a set of portraits of the main characters. The Endless (Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction, and Destiny) are the embodiments of their namesake realms. The volume is a well produced collection, if for reacquainting with these cool characters.
I go thru phases whereby I have favourite Sandman characters. I went thru my Death phase (like any other nerd), what with her sexy appeal and dark sense of humour. Sometimes I feel a deeper connection with Dream, especially when my dreams seem more real than reality. Destiny gets a hold of me as I go blind to what's in front of me, yet can see, with detachment, my ultimate path. I can't say I've had any significant associations with Desire, Despair, or Destruction, nevertheless I've witnessed their integral work in the world around me.
But lately, I feel at home with Delirium. She's so cute. I could spend forever listening to her seemingly ridiculous non sequiturs because thesedays she makes more sense than anybody else. I can't decode her meanings in any verbal sense, for any attempt to articulate her will just sound more insane, but I intuitively trust her to lead me towards wherever she wants to go.
Take me away.
My ears are connected to an internal mixing board. It has an infinite array of channels, each with its own fader switch, pan pots, effects send, and bands of equalization. Every sound I hear gets filtered thru my mental mixer. I often try to register as many noises as humanly possible.
Sometimes, late at night, whilst on my balcony having a smoke, I compile the sounds of the night, maintaining a balanced mix of the distinct layers. Off in the distance, traffic rolls by, producing a basso continuo in the background. Nocturnal animals such as crickets and the occasional cat give rhythmic and melodic accents. The hum of electric lights adds harmonics. And the overtones of an airplane streak across the sky.
Or at boring parties, I tune out of any one particular conversation and listen to the conglomerate of voices rising and falling. Usually, I'll pick a single group to focus upon, figure out the gist of their topic, and then like a juggler add others--pushing the faders up on my mixing board one by one, til every voice gets accounted for. This requires some concentration, as bringing up the volume of too many conversations too fast can result in an incomprehensible cacophonic mess. But when done right, listening to just the right mix of multiple conversations can be mildly symphonic in enjoyment.
However, there are times when I mute all the levels of incomming external sounds except for my internal thoughts. I could be sitting up against the speakers at the loudest rock concert, but the decibels won't get acknowledged. Only the fader for my mind's monologue will be up and heard at a hot level. I can always hear myself think.
The other night, just before going to bed during my usually morning hour, as I turned down the birds singing at the sunrise and my neighbours waking up to go to work, I heard several simultaneous thoughts conversing amongst themselves within my head--finding a chord cadence to a song I'm composing, going over my busy schedule for the next day, sketching out ideas for an "Out On a Lim" entry based on a mixing board analogy, and picking out a dream for my impending sleep. But what was given highest priority and congealed the themes of my thoughts in the master mix was myself telling myself that I'd like to hear The Amanda Show above all else.
Gwyneth Paltrow forced me to watch Sylvia, the biopic about the doomed author Sylvia Plath. It was a cute little movie which revealed several things to me--that her husband Ted Hughes was a dick, that nude scenes should be shot with more light, and that music shouldn't be noticeably brought up in the mix for dramatic effect as it obnoxiously accomplishes the opposite result. But mostly, I got annoyed with Ms. Plath's constant insecurities as a writer.
I've never been one to care much for criticism, mine or others, and especially in regards to my own work, let alone my life. Cause who the hell knows what's "good" or "bad"? Subjectivity is so relative that it's rendered completely irrelevant to me--there will always be someone who'll like and/or dislike anything I do, all the points of views eventually cancel each other out. And I don't believe anyone is a better judge than others, no matter the qualifications, for history is strewn with examples of paradigm shifts which blind sighted the experts. Even history gets revised.
But then again, to be obsessed about what others think to point of debilitation is foreign to me. I'd never get anything done otherwise. However, perhaps to care enough about how one will be received is necessary for "success", at least in terms of society's quantitative fetish. The drive to please the world is something I lack. I could care less if my work has been done in vain, at least it kept me busy. To hope for anything more is beyond anyone's life and therefore impossible to evaluate. Yes, momentary "success" in one's own lifetime ain't worth a dime to me. It's more important that I did what I believed in at the moment than to be flattered with flatulence.
I'm not suggesting that I'm even remotely within the same league as Ms. Plath, as regardless, I regard her work as characteristic of her spoiled life and I imagine many a similarly classed young girl has found consolation in her words. I wouldn't trade my life with hers for inspiration. Yet I admire her honesty. I'm learning that sometimes people bitch about themselves for the sake of bitching about themselves as a sort of self stimulating comfort. I'd suck on gas before I started any of such sorts.
CALLING CHRISTINE: PART ONE (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
Ted called my office from his car during rush hour on Tuesday. He wanted to know if bowling was on for Friday. I replied in the quasi affirmative, depending on whether I can escape the lanes for some real Friday action, namely a date with a girl.
"Who the hell are you gonna go out with?" Ted barged.
"I don't know," I honestly didn't know.
"Well, you're a loser," Ted complimented. "You're going bowling with us on Friday."
"No, really," I corrected, "I might call someone up."
"Who?" Ted persisted.
"I don't know," I repeated, "maybe I'll call Christine."
"Whatever," Ted resigned with disbelief.
After Ted hung up, I tried searching online for Christine's phone number. But damnit, I remember a couple of years ago when one could track down almost anyone's phone number on the internet. Now it's all pay services. I'm not that desperate.
As I gave up on covertly finding her number, Wong called. Per his usual demeanour, he went on about his female fantasies--how so and so brushed up against him, how he's getting vibe from some girl, how another girl looked nice today, etc. Gag.
"So dude, did you get my email?" Wong interrupted himself. "Are we going bowling on Friday, or what, dude?"
"Uh," I returned to paying attention to the conversation," yeah, Ted just called. I think him, Fushion, and you are set to go bowling on Friday."
"Dude, what about you?" Wong wondered.
"I'll probably be there," I sighed, "that is if I don't have anything better to do on a Friday night."
"Dude, what else will you be doing?" Wong continued wondering.
"I'm thinking about calling Christine," I mumbled.
"Good luck, dude," Wong wished. "I'll pay you $100, no, dude, $500 if you go out with Christine."
"Sure," I accepted.
Now I actually had an incentive, other than boredom, to call Christine. Screw the internet, I called up Mike, who was the only person I knew that was most likely to know the number of her last known place of residency.
"Hello," Mike answered.
"Hey, what's up," I got to the point, "uh, what's Christine's phone number?"
"Hold on," Mike said. And he relayed her number. "Hey, my girlfriend's on the other line, call me back later."
I thanked and bid him fare and well.
On my drive home, I thought, what the hell am I doing? Do I really want to call Christine? We didn't exactly part on the best of terms all those years ago.
So I decided to let fate decide.
But just as I began to look for signs of approval, a fire truck honked as it nearly ran me off the street. Apparently I didn't hear the sirens. Ominous.
I went to the bowling alley to roll a couple practice games. I told myself if I best my personal best (140) I'll take that as a positive indication to call Christine. The first game started off good, a strike in the first frame. I picked up several spares. I got a 133. The next game wasn't so hot in the beginning. Gutterballs. But I turned around in the end. Strike. A double. I got a 141.
I have this self inflicted tradition whereby I like to make calls to girls at 21:10, which is one minute after 21:09--I blame the Beatles tune "One After 909" for this nonsensical ritual. Anyways, 21:10, I dialed her number. I got her machine. I kicked it for a bit, and tried again about a half an hour later. She still wasn't in. I'll try again tomorrow.
To be continued...
CALLING CHRISTINE: PART TWO (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
The next day, I received an email from Mike confirming that he and his girlfriend (the notorious Pumpkin X) will be able to bowl on Friday. In his post script he asked "Howís Christine?"
Fushion wrote to everyone dismissing himself from any dinner on Friday as he'll be attending some birthday party, but he'll leave early so that he can bowl.
Hence, as of Wednesday, bowling seemed to be a go for Friday. The whole crew was accounted for.
Not that I didn't want to go bowling with them. I've been putting in practice. I was ready to beat Pumpkin X. And in all likelihood, I'll be having fun with them on Friday, knocking down those pins--there's nothing like the sound of a clean strike to wipe out the messiness of a crappy day.
But sometimes I wonder what would happen if I busted out of the frame and escaped the game allotted to me. To take a chance. To test the fates.
However, I'm finding that to challenge my so-called predestined paths takes some effort. I'm as dedicated as anyone else when it comes to concentrating on achieving whatever I set out to do--I've experienced my share of going against the grain. Nevertheless, it's always been my own personal assessment of exactly how much effort I want to expend, how much resistance I'll endure, and how much the means vs. ends is worth. Some things don't deserve my trouble.
Ted was right. I was a loser.
Wong'll get to keep his $500.
I didn't call Christine at 21:10. I figured that it was time for me to break from silly superstitions--they never really worked in the past, so I shouldn't expect any luck now. I called her around 21:21. Again, she wasn't in, just her prerecorded message. And then I remembered that she liked to screen her calls in order to dissuade the droves of suitors that beckoned at her phone. I hate leaving messages.
"Uh," I cleared my throat, "hello Christine, this is Henry. Hi. Just calling to see how you're doing. You can reach me at my same old number. Laters."
If she was listening, she didn't pick up. Nor did she call me back later that night.
There's a metaphorical expansion of desert that I can picture via my imagination. It's completely flat and wide, with a clean floor of smooth pure white sand, nary an extraneous stone or plant to distract the calm. Off in the horizon are some hills, but they distantly appear as tiny curves merely indenting the line between the clear blue sky and earth. The desert is not unlike a blank canvas waiting to be illustrated upon.
Thousands of tiny plastic toy building bricks begin to pile from the ground up. In elapsed time, they construct a cube, about five and half feet on all sides. It's mostly black, with tan trimming. It's not solid, the walls are thin and deceptively fragile--but it's sturdy, the bricks are staggered, interlocked tightly, and braced internally. It appears out of place in the desert, but it doesn't disrupt the compositional balance, as it sits comfortably centered in the sand.
A small, single rowed ladder, also made out of tiny plastic toy building bricks, not extended, lays on the ground off to the right side of the cube.
On top of the cube stands a beautiful black stallion, lean, untamed, and flowing with life. It jumps and makes circles on the cube, which withstands the weight and force of all movements above, being reliably engineered after years of trial and error with previous horses. The cube acts as a supportive pedestal for the horse. Not that the horse doesn't try to smash the cube. Of course, the horse is free to get off the cube and roam the desert. Nevertheless, it's always welcome to rear up on its hind legs, glorified high atop the cube.
White and yellow wild daisies sprout up near the edges of the cube, encircling it in neat formation.
Someone once said that a storm shall be imminent. A few rain clouds passed above the far away hills, but they were insignificant to the cube in the fine weathered desert.
she's my kung fu g i r l
she can flip and t w i r l
around and around
she don't fool AROUND
unless she's got a decent r e a s o n
i'm not scared of h e r
i wish that i w e r e
bring it on ANYWAYS
and take me out of serious m i s e r y
she can kill me if she wants to
if she really REALLY wants to
she can do a n y t h i n g she wants
Dear Devoted Reader,
"Out On a Lim" will be going on a brief hiatus.
I got invited to hang out at Stair 7 Studios. I'll be getting a first hand peek at the recording sessions of Larry McFeurdy's upcomming album Hacienda Heights. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. So it was either party with Larry or write in my web journal--I think any fan would've done the same. But fret not, I'll be taking notes and shall return with a full report, an exclusive interview, and hopefully with any luck, some downloadable tracks.
See you in about a week and have a Happy Halloween.
She broke my heart in more manners than one.
But maybe I'm just keen on honing in on the pitiful aspects of people. I can't help but seem to notice the minutia that, most likely unbeknownst to them, is slowly cracking them to pieces. And I fully acknowledge that I may be imagining such telltale signs, but I figure something ain't right in their lives. Not that anyone is completely free of problems. It just makes me sad to see people desperately trying to put on a happy face.
She told me that all she ever had were nightmares. She couldn't remember the last dream in which she didn't wake up frightened.
She was always getting in arguments with her parents. I'd sit in the back seat of her mom's van and witness them verbally battle it out--she ought to be more responsible with her younger sisters, she wasn't allowed to wear makeup, etc. Or we'd drive for hours in silence with her dad due to some bitter stalemate between them.
I remember thinking she was pretty despite her homeliness, which seemed to attract less than complimentary asides from everyone else. But that's precisely why I thought she was pretty. Because no one else did.
I rode in her truck when she got her license to drive. We went to a movie. Afterwards, when she dropped me off at home, a little doll that belonged to one of her sisters fell out the passenger door as I was about to close it. As I picked it up off the ground to return it to her I felt so helpless. She smiled when she thanked me.
|IN THE STUDIO WITH LARRY McFEURDY: THE "HACIENDA HEIGHTS" SESSIONS: THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: PART ONE (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
Yeah, I'm a fanboy. Bad. I've been following Larry McFeurdy's recording career ever since his first album, Paperclip, way back in '85. I've got all the Meanwhilers albums--even got a signed copy of their swan song Rubber Hooks & Metal Belts. I was at their legendary Hollywood gig in '95. And I mourned their breakup.
There's something in his music that speaks to me. I can relate to his irreverence. Sometimes he sings words that express exactly what I've always wanted to say. Listening to his CDs always takes me back to those days of yore. But like everyone else, I've been craving to hear some new songs...
So when the rumour circulated that McFeurdy was working on a new album I was obviously enthusiastic. But to also learn that he was recording at Stair 7 Studios, which happens to be located at UCLA (where I work), made me go bananas. I had to hang out at the sessions.
I started mulling around the studio, but McFeurdy was never around. I made friends with his engineer, who was at the moment recording the UCLA orchestra doing Dvorak.
"Larry usually records after midnight," said the engineer as he twisted the knobs on a mixing board. After a little bribing, I was given permission to come by later that night.
McFeurdy arrived at 0:00 on the dot. He had a couple questionably young girls at his side, but was cordial nonetheless. He didn't mind me being there. "Come join our little tea party," he laughed as he took of his rock star sunglasses.
The deal was that I got to hang out at the recording sessions only if I do an exclusive interview, which was fine with me, knowing that any interview with the press shy McFeurdy would guarantee hits on my webpage. Oh, and I had to promise that I'd give his album a favourable review when it gets released.
So here it is. "Out On a Lim" is proud to present the following four part interview with Larry McFeurdy, conducted in late October, 2003, at Stair 7 Studios.
HL: Who are those girls?
LM: None of your business. Hey, let me give you some advice: don't ask lame questions, man. You know I rejected doing publicity with Rolling Stone and Spin, so take advantage of this interview. Do a good job, man.
HL: Why did you snub Rolling Stone and Spin?
LM: Those magazines suck. They couldn't guarantee an advance good review for the album--like they did for The White Stripes. And I am not aiming for that audience, man. Not that "Out On a Lim" is any better, but I think it'll be funny to do this for your little webpage. Plus you need to make yourself useful while you're hanging out with me. Nobody gets a free ride with Larry.
HL: Even those girls?
LM: I'm not gonna answer that question.
HL: Uh, ok. So what audience are you targeting?
HL: Oh, from your book The Juanita and Miguel Letters?
LM: No, you dumb fuck. The Juanita at Taco Bell. Of course the Juanita from my book.
HL: Did you ever get a response from her? Did she write you a letter?
HL: So you're recording this new album in the meanwhile? Are you hoping that she'll hear it?
LM: Yeah, I suppose. I've come to terms that that book failed to reach her, so I'll try another tactic. Hopefully she'll dig this album.
HL: So it's safe to say that these songs are about her?
LM: Maybe. Let's just say they're dedicated to her.
HL: Why don't you just ask her out?
LM: Dude, that's so boring. I want to go around about in a round about way. I want to be a character that she'll never forget. I want our courtship to be something she can retell to her grandkids with a smirk. How many guys write books and albums for girls? Ok, maybe some guys do, but hey, this is how I do things. Don't ask me why.
LM: Fuck off.
HL: Uh, ok. Um, so Juanita is the impetus for your return to the studio?
LM: Yeah. That and boredom.
HL: Tell me about this song you're recording now. What's it called?
LM: It's called "Kung Fu Girl". Tonight we're doing the drums and acoustic guitar here at Stair 7. Later we'll go down to the orchestra rehearsal room and record some celeste and a gong. [To the engineer] Are we set to record the celeste and gong?
ENGINEER: Almost. I'm tweaking the compression on the drums. 10 minutes. Do your little interview for another 10 minutes and we'll go downstairs.
LM: You heard the man. Continue.
HL: Ok. Uh, if you could, could you give me just a rough outline on how this song was written?
LM: Hahaha. Well, it's still being written. Umberto [the engineer] and I just figured the celeste and gong part right now.
HL: Well, just give me some background on the song. What's your process?
LM: Uh, let's see. Uh, this song started off with the line "She's my kung fu girl/She can flip and twirl"--that "girl" and "twirl" rhyme was cute. I don't know. And then I fleshed it out. Wrote the rest of the verses and chorus. Made a demo at my home studio on my computer to get an idea of the arrangement. I bring that demo to Stair 7 and we record it. Nothing mystical about the process of songwriting.
HL: But how do you come up with what you do?
LM: I don't know. I just come up with it. How do you come up with these questions?
HL: Fair enough. The drums sounded cool. Are you playing all the instruments on the album?
LM: So far, yeah. Who knows. I might hire some people to play instruments that I don't know how to play. Maybe a trombone. I might get a flute player. Umberto might add some viola cause he plays viola. I really want to get a DJ to do some scratching--that'll be cool. But yeah, for the most part, I'm playing all the instruments.
HL: Why? Why not get Zaggs [The Meanwhilers drummer]?
LM: Why am I playing all the instruments? Because I can. And it's less of hassle dealing with other musicians. I would like Zaggs to play, he's the greatest drummer in the world, but that guy's always high--I can't depend on him.
HL: Do you still talk to the other Meanwhilers?
LM: Yeah, we still keep in touch. I go bowling with JM Allevato and Seymour Greenwood. Did you know that Seymour is a lawyer now?
HL: Yeah, I read about that in Rolling Stone. Ok, the inevitable question. Are The Meanwhilers getting back together?
LM: I don't know. Nothing's planned yet. I'm kinda working on this album right now and I like the freedom of doing a solo album. JM Allevato [The Meanwhilers lead guitarist] is working on his solo album right now, too. He's more done with his than I am with mine, so his album should come out before mine. But yeah, I like playing with a band. There's nothing like it--everyone contributing to their part of the rocking whole. Who knows. Maybe we'll get back together someday.
HL: Have you heard JM Allevato's new album?
LM: Bits and pieces. He played me some rough mixes. He's going for this Caribbean sound, a more tropical feel than The Meanwhilers ever dared. It sounds cool. He got Zaggs to play drums, which is his coup d'etat.
HL: Are you guys kinda in competition? Do you care if he sells more records than you?
LM: Yeah. We get kinda like Lennon and McCartney--me being the wiseass Lennon, hahaha. But he's got his own fans. And there are Meanwhilers fans who'll buy both our albums. So it's all good. I don't really care about sales, though. It's not the end of the world if he sells more records than me. But I'll kick his ass like I always do, hahaha.
HL: I noticed that your new song "It Could All End" sounds very Meanwhileresque. Was that intentional?
LM: Yeah, I don't know if it was intentional, but I was kinda the chief architect of the Meanwhilers sound anyways, so fuck it, I'll sound like the Meanwhilers if I want to. By the way, I saw that you put up an mp3 file of "It Could All End" on your webpage. That was not cool. First of all it was illegal. Secondly, the album isn't done yet, so don't be pulling a Radiohead leak on me. And thirdly, I'll get Seymour to sue your ass if you do it again.
ENGINEER: We're ready to rock.
LM: You heard the man. We can continue this later.
Shhh, don't tell Larry, but I got a copy of his newly recorded song "Kung Fu Girl". Here's an mp3
CHRISTINE CALLING: PART ONE (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
Friday night. Bowling night.
Everyone was meeting at my place at 21:00. As everyone was comming from different corners of town, after work and whatnot, fighting Friday traffic, dinner was each's own responsibility. I was hurrying home from work and hadn't eaten yet.
I drove to the chiliburger stand to get a chiliburger to go. Coincidentally, Mike and Pumpkin X were already there, having just ordered.
"Hey," Mike surprised, "I was just going to call you to see if you wanted to eat with us. It must be fate."
"Maybe it is," I joked. "Are you ready to get beaten?" I intimidated Pumpkin X.
"I'ven't been practicing," she humbled, but I could see that she wasn't scared. Little did she know, I was ready to destroy her.
We sat down and ate our food. Mike drooled as he over excitedly praised some girl who rode a mechanical bull on TV, much to Pumpkin X's rilement. I said that I could care less about such bullshit. Pumpkin X punched Mike, and remarked that Tarzan could kick his ass. Couples squabble.
After dinner, we met up at my apartment, where Ted and Wong were already waiting. Fushion was running late from some birthday party. I apologized for my tardiness as I let everyone in. We kicked it in my stereo room to listen to an advance promo of Larry McFeurdy's new song. Fushion celluared to say that he was still on his way, so we continued to kill time by spinning my vinyl collection. Meanwhile, Wong and Pumpkin X were enthralled by some "cube" personality test--comparing interpretations and cross checking some reference book.
The night was beginning.
There's something about being in the company of close friends. The relaxed fun, the fact that everyone already knows each other so that there's no need for phony impressions or pretenses, and the simple comfort in being surrounded by those who mutually amuse each other. The excitement is light and carefree--perfect. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and forget how lucky I am, to have such good friends with whom good times flow. It's also easy to not imagine that it could get any better.
And then my phone rang.
Ted picked it up and inquired, in his polite secretary intonation, the caller's name.
"Henry," Ted cupped the receiver, "it's Christine."
To be continued...
IN THE STUDIO WITH LARRY McFEURDY: THE "HACIENDA HEIGHTS" SESSIONS: THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: PART TWO (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
McFeurdy and his engineer spent about an hour in the orchestra rehearsal room recording a celeste and a gong. I sat quietly behind the mallets as they placed microphones in the big empty space, setting levels, and syncing the instruments to a click track. I had one of those "wow" moments as I realized that when I listen to the finished song I can say I was in the same room as McFeurdy when he recorded those instruments.
We returned to the studio. The engineer processed the newly recorded sounds as McFeurdy continued the interview.
HL: That celeste and gong sounded cool. Where will they fit in the song?
LM: I'm gonna double the piano with the celeste during the guitar solo. I don't know where I'll put the gong, but since the song is about a kung fu girl, I figure I might use it somewhere, cause you know, it's an Oriental sounding sound.
HL: Cool. Ok, to continue the interview. What music are you listening to nowadays?
LM: It's funny you should ask that. I've been listening to "We Are the World".
HL: The USA For Africa song from the '80s?
LM: Yeah, that whatever benefit song which had a bunch of stars singing together like they were one happy bunch of millionaires doing their obligatory charity work. It's the pinnacle of '80s music--it sums up the times perfectly. I mean, it had Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Huey Lewis, et al. It's fucking hilarious. But the kicker is Dylan. I have no idea why he was there, other than he's some icon from the '60s or something. Anyways, he just undermines the entire song with his classic whiny stoner voice, all out of tune with the polished choir. It's like he's saying "What the fuck is this crap." His involvement alone makes the song a keeper. He's too cool. But also, what's weird about the song is the absence of such iconic '80s stars as Madonna and Prince. Yeah Cyndi Lauper was there, understandably cause she's got a better voice than Madonna, but imagine if Madonna was there at the session. I read that Prince was supposed to be there, but he bailed cause his bodyguards got arrested. And everyone thought that he was blowing them off, like he was too important. Supposedly, he offered to record a guitar solo later, but they didn't want it, saying a Prince guitar solo would've been out of place. Like Dylan wasn't out of place. Sometimes I can imagine how silly the song could've been if Prince started doing a self indulgent guitar solo during the choral sections.
HL: Did "We Are the World" come out before or after your first album Paperclip?
LM: It came out after, but during the same year, 1985.
HL: Did they invite you to the sessions.
LM: Fuck no. If they didn't invite Madonna, who was hotter than all those stars combined at the time, why the hell would they've invited a little 13 year old punk who just released his debut album?
HL: Would you've gone if they did invite you?
LM: Probably. Can you imagine that? Larry McFeurdy AND Dylan ruining their precious little song. [sings out of tune] "We are the world, we are the children..."
HL: That would've been cool. Have you heard "Do They Know It's Christmas"?
LM: Yeah, the Band Aid song that inspired "We Are the World". Yeah, but that's actually a good song.
HL: It's pretty cheesy.
LM: Yeah, it is. The '80s were cheesy times. I mean, they could never pull that shit in the '90s. Imagine if Kurt Cobain, Trent Reznor, et al got together and tried to sing some cheesy anthem. But I bet they could do it now. Britney and her friends.
HL: Britney and Larry McFeurdy.
LM: Oh man, that would be so fucked up. But not a bad idea...
HL: What musicians of this latest generation do you admire? Do you like Britney?
LM: Fuck no. Well, I thought she was cute at first, but then she got all slutty and silly. Let's see, musicians I admire. Hmm. Well, I really dig Dancing Mandy. She's got a cool sound.
HL: Well, it's no secret that you admire The Beatles.
LM: Oh fuck yeah. They are the epicenter of my musical universe. Everything I know about music stems from them. I cannot stress how significant they are to me, not only in music, but in life in general.
HL: And I take it you admire Dylan.
LM: Yup. Everything I know about lyrics stems from him. And just how to be a cool in general. I wouldn't mind if I could be just a mere fraction of how cool he is when I'm 60 years old.
HL: Did you ever meet Dylan?
LM: I saw him in concert down in San Diego back in the early '90s. But no, I've never met him personally. I wouldn't mind smoking a joint with him. But wouldn't we all...
HL: Are you high right now?
LM: Not right now. I never get high in the studio. It clouds my judgment. You see, I break down the songwriting process into four stages: (1) the writing of the song, (2) the recording the song, (3) the post production mixing and what not, and (4) listening to the finished song. Stage 2 and 4 require lots of patience and attention to details, which I just can't do when I'm high--at least not anymore. Now stage 1 and 4 are open to my open mind, hahaha.
HL: So you write music when you're high.
LM: Sometimes. Lately, I've been sober. But after this album is all done, I'll probably celebrate by smoking a joint, kick back, and listen to the whole damn thing. I don't know. Thesedays, I get a natural high from just making music. It's funny. Music is such a powerful drug in itself. Lately, I've been throwing my songs thru a visualization program which rotates oscilloscopic stars in rainbow colours. It's a trip. I actually've been mixing these new songs based on the patterns they produce. A good mix will make trippy patterns.
HL: Well, music is just vibrations. It makes sense that good vibrations produce neat patterns.
LM: Yeah, to a point. If you throw Bach thru the oscilloscope it looks plain and boring. But to me Bach sounds fucking brilliant. His music isn't necessarily about sound or timbre, rather he's more about the essence and the ideas. Pure and absolute. In the end music isn't about sound. It's not what you hear. It's what you understand.
HL: You're on your third decade of recording music. Recording technology sure has developed over the years.
LM: It sure has. Listening to the ancient Paperclip mono recording back to back with what I'm doing now really emphasizes the vast development in recording technology. Even The Meanwhilers did most of their stuff on 4 track, and never used more than 8 tracks. With the unlimited number of tracks on a computer thesedays, it's amazing how much more clarity can be achieved. Many of my musical ideas got lost in the mix in those old records. Thesedays my ideas can be better articulated. Not to say my music is better now than it was before, cause I think there is a youthful enthusiasm that I can never recapture from those old songs. I hate to say it, but I think I sound more mature now.
HL: We all grow up eventually.
LM: I suppose.
YOUNG GIRL #1: Hey Larry, when are you gonna be done recording?
LM: Uh, pretty soon, darling.
YOUNG GIRL #2: Hurry up, we're getting bored.
LM: Hey, you girls go outside and wait in the limo. Check under the back seat and you'll find a little something to keep you entertained while I finish up here tonight. Be good little girls and do what I say, huh.
HL: Dude, how old are they?
LM: Dude, nevermind. Let's just say they're too young to remember "We Are the World". Well, we better be wrapping this up for tonight. Come on by tomorrow night. We'll be recording guitars and piano.
HL: Cool. Yeah, I'll be here.
LM: See you tomorrow then.
Happy Eleven Eleven Amanda
CHRISTINE CALLING: PART TWO (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
Driving home from Christine's I laughed at myself for thinking that I almost gave up on her returning my call. It turned out that she was out of town that week and didn't get to answer her answering machine messages til she returned on Friday at the precise moment when I was raring to go bowling.
We had a cute little catch up conversation. There's at least five years of missing data--did you hear about so and so, what crazy crap have you been up to lately, are you seeing anyone now, etc. And as luck would have it, she was living near campus. So we shot for dinner on Monday.
I invited her to go bowling with us, but she was tired from her flight. Yeah, I had to explain my current bowling activities. She laughed that I had my own ball. But in fact I could trace (or blame) my reasons for going bowling directly to her. It was with her that I saw The Big Lebowski. Having rewatched the classic bowling flick inspired me to pick up a bowling ball.
Meeting up with her on Monday was sorta like comming full circle.
After I stopped laughing behind the wheel, I went reflective. There's so many people that I've been acquainted with throughout my life. Some drift apart, some cross paths again. Some take effort to reestablish contact with, some bump into each other without plan or prediction.
Perhaps it's yet another indication of my boredom that I'm not caught up in the rat race and have the luxury to contemplate the do and whereabouts of my old friends. And again, it's this multitude of time that spares me the energy to make the effort to give them a call.
I've got no excuse for being so self absorbed. I've got nothing to do and nowhere to be. No obligations. Nothing but enjoyment and wonder for this world in which I inhabit with so many others--all these people so careful not to be wasting their time as if it were precious and slipping away fast.
Sometimes I feel like I'm standing still. Everyone else is running to and fro, blurring around me. I can't even recognize anyone. Catching up with someone is nigh impossible, cause no one wants to stand still.
But I'm making myself make a move.
Oh yeah, I finally beat Pumpkin X on Friday.
And what shall I do with $500?
IN THE STUDIO WITH LARRY McFEURDY: THE "HACIENDA HEIGHTS" SESSIONS: THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: PART THREE (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
The next night, I arrived a bit late. McFeurdy and his engineer were busking on an impromptu 12-bar blues--McFeurdy on acoustic guitar, his engineer on mandolin, trading off solos. Fun whiffed around the sound proof room. Two nymphets sat in the corner, chewing gum, and bobbing their pigtailed heads to the beat.
Later, the microphones were set up to record McFeurdy's acoustic guitar part for "Kung Fu Girl". He played it perfectly in one take. It was a keeper.
Next the engineer positioned the microphones toward the strings of an open grand piano as McFeurdy zipped thru some Bach. "Make it sound like an old piano," McFeurdy designated. The engineer fiddled with knobs until McFeurdy got the "old" sound he wanted. And they recorded the piano part in several takes. There were some flubs. "I'll fix it later on the computer," McFeurdy shrugged.
The freshly recorded sounds were processed on the mixing board. During a break, I got a few more questions in.
HL: Explain the title of your new album, Hacienda Heights.
LM: Well, you know, that's the name of the little town I grew up in. It's where all the Meanwhilers hailed from. It's nowhere special. I mean, some basketball player, Scott Williams, came from there, and Martika and some of the other Kids Incorporated lived there, but other than us, it's like your average suburban town. Now it's mainly populated by Asians--if you drive down the streets, all the signs have crazy Chinese writing on them. It wasn't like that when I grew up there. But oh well. Anyways, it's a cheerful place. Uh, well, there's this notorious Satanic cult that conducts their whatever rituals there, but mainly, it's a safe place. I don't know, but as you grow older, and you stray from your roots, memories of those old days seem to creep up on you, reminding you of where you came from. At least that's whatís been happening to me. As these songs kinda have that Meanwhilers vibe to them, I figured, what the hell, I'll call the album Hacienda Heights as my little homage to my hometown.
HL: So youíre feeling a little nostalgic for your childhood?
LM: A little. I'm not so age centric as most of my peers. Like I couldn't give a shit about settling down, having a wife and kids, etc., etc. I still feel like a kid. I mean, I'm recording a rock album, for heaven's sake, when I ought to be at home changing diapers. But that doesn't seem to be the road I'm supposed to take. I feel right, so Iím not gonna fight it. Anyways, I am getting older. And remembering my childhood seems to be becoming more fonder. Like I really didn't care so much about Hacienda Heights when I grew up there. I would never've called any of my previous albums Hacienda Heights. But the time seems right, right now. So there it is.
HL: Any childhood memory you'd like to share? Will these be incorporated into the songs?
LM: Nothing in particular. It's more of a general sound I hear. They say your hometown follows you around in whatever you do, it's a part of you, so it's hard to escape its influence. Little things. Probably things you don't even notice, but the little perspectives and indigenous ticks that flow thru your hometown, flow thru your blood, too. I remember being happy--I didn't have a difficult childhood, no hardships, no crippling conditions. I'm not haunted, insomuch as there are far worse places to spend one's childhood. But Hacienda Heights is where I grew up, and it's the childhood I remember. I can't fake it. So for better or worse, the sound I'm after is the sound that reminds me of Hacienda Heights, namely that Meanwhilers sound. But older and I suppose wiser.
HL: Do you see yourself as being wiser than you were then?
LM: Sometimes. Sometimes I see myself as being more of an idiot, hahahaha. And not in a bad way, hahaha. But yeah, it's inevitable, at least hopefully, that as one grows older, as experiences accumulate, one ought to be wise enough to recognize that one has gained some wisdom. I can say this, I sure am more confident in my songwriting abilities than I was 18 years ago. Just from sheer trial and error, I know what works and doesn't for me. I think I've got a better sense of musical structures, which notes to use, what instruments work well with others, etc. That being said, I also think that I could never write with as much naivete as I did when I was a teenager, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way, rather sometimes being naive, when it's honest, can be a beautiful expression, or if anything, hilarious to listen to later on. Anyways, most adults, or people my age, in their thirties, tend to be so cynical and pissed off at the world, for whatever reasons, that I don't really relate to their point of view anymore. Life is as bad as you make it out to be. Growing up ain't that bad. And you can't stay young forever. I suppose, in a way, I'm trying to find some balance between growing up and staying young at heart. But I tell you, remembering your childhood at 31 is much different than remembering it when you're 21. As it'll continue to change in meanings as it vintages. Recently, I called up an old schoolmate. I knew this girl from way back in 2nd grade--nearly 24 years ago. We had a cute conversation. And instantly we were back in 2nd grade. It was amazing.
LM: Yeah, it was. I highly recommend keeping in touch with your past. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
HL: So your return to pop songs is also bringing you full circle? Cause for a while there you were dabbling in non-pop music--more in the classical forms, piano sonatas and such.
LM: Yeah, after the Meanwhilers broke up, and after my washed up solo album Nashville, I had grown tired of pop music. Not only mine, but all pop music in general. It all started to sound childish. Yeah, when you're in your late twenties you tend to think you're older than shit, that you've matured. Well, take it from me, you ain't old. Nevertheless, I thought I was. I swore that I had outgrown pop music. I was content not to write another pop tune. I wanted to concentrate on "serious" music. And I'm glad I ventured into classical music, cause that arena is pretty heavy, with crazy possibilities that I barely scraped. But as always, I tend to go thru phases. Classical music started to get boring. I got introduced to techno and electronic dance music by a DJ named DJ Wahine, kinda late in the game, I know, cause it's been around forever, but she reminded me to not be so damn "serious". And that led me back to rock'n'roll. You gotta remember that I was classically trained as a violinist when I was 5 years old. Up until I was 13, all I listened to was classical or film music--big orchestras. From 13 to 27 it was straight rock'n'roll, and related genres, but I digressed from classical, even though I always listen to big orchestras via film music. So from 27 to 31 it's been classical music, with rock'n'roll taking a rest. And now, it's back to rock'n'roll. This phase'll pass, as they all do. That's one thing I've noticed thru the years, that phases come and go. So yeah, I've gone full circle. Several times.
HL: Yeah, you also went thru a brief techno phase, when you were remixing your old songs. That must've nudged you back towards pop music and writing songs again.
LM: They definitely didn't nudge me away from pop music.
HL: So do you see yourself writing more classical music later?
LM: Fuck yeah. Ideas for my Fourth Piano Sonata are brewing.
HL: Which do you feel more of an affinity towards? Classical or pop?
LM: Both. I don't waste my time doing things that I don't feel an affinity towards. Or more importantly, no one should do anything that they don't feel an affinity towards. I always hear idiots complain that they're an actor but they really want to be a director, or they're a singer but they really want to be an actor, whatever. Or that they're a pop musician but they really want to be taken seriously as a classical composer. I'm a composer. I write music. Period.
LM: And just because I put in more thought into my classical music, cause one movement in one sonata has more ideas than all my pop music combined, doesn't mean I'm a classical composer.
HL: Uh, ok. I get your point.
LM: I'm just a complex character.
HL: [mumbles] With a character complex.
LM: What did you say?
LM: Hey, I think that's enough for tonight. Come back tomorrow and we'll finish this silly interview.
you are entering a w o r l d of pain
you are entering a w o r l d of pain
you are entering a w o r l d of PAIN
a world of PAIN
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
over the line
mark it z e r o
am i the o n l y one who gives a shit
am i the o n l y one who gives a shit
am i the o n l y one who gives a SHIT
about the RULES
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
OVER THE LINE
over the line
mark it z e r o
dedicated to Walter Sobchak
I was chatting with a friend who was giving me a recap of a sour date. I tried to cheer her up by telling her that by going on dates she's sampling the dating pool and learning about what she's looking for in a guy. So I straight ahead and asked "What are you looking for?" As I typed that question, I mentally thought to myself "What am I looking for?"
What is my ideal girl?
Well, I don't think about such things, at least not consciously. I'm sure that the girls I come in contact with, even on just an acquaintance level, have been pre-screened by my subconscious criteria of what's "attractive" to me, or at the very least, what's "tolerable". I don't waste my time with girls that I don't particularly care for. For one, I know I avoid the power hungry, corporate ladder climbing, high society striving dames--as I know they ignore me, too. And I'm not too fond of overly glossed self conscious beauty types. But it's all relatively vague. I don't have a set checklist of characteristics that tick me off. I'm flexible enough to accommodate most types, well, except the previously mentioned.
However, I can't think of an ideal archetype. Not that I spend much time preoccupied with such, much less am actively searching. I suppose I'm a simple person, and expect likewise in a girl. And I'm not worried about not meeting anybody. As I've often said, these things aren't up to me, so I might as well just sit back and enjoy the show. Besides, I like it when fate pulls a surprise on me. To have a predetermined ideal girl already defined removes some of that fun. Plus, on a long enough timeline, I'm sure I can learn to appreciate any girl.
Yet, lately, I've been pondering the question, ideas about the ideal, without any resulting answers. I can say that I'd prefer a sense of humour, but that's not essential--and anyways most girls are funny, you just need to tune into their humour frequency, at least the ones that I hang around. And as I walk the chilly nights, the music in my head seems to remind me that I do have an ideal. Like music, she can't be described.
I went to see the movie Elf. It's fun, goofy juvenilia notwithstanding. There's an obligatory romantic angle, with a girl named Jovie. Ordinarily, in such fare, I'd've rolled my eyes at the forced sentiment her character is supposed to invoke. But she was perfect. Everything about her made sense to me. She was my ideal, if for the duration of the movie. And I don't mean she caught my attention like most cute actresses do. In fact whoever played her was inconsequential. It was the character. There's something in her drollness.
Or maybe these thoughts of idealization that I've been recently entertaining just happened to coincide neatly whilst I was watching the movie. Maybe, as society tends to do, the push towards hooking up with a girl, like all good citizens, has been subliminally filtering thru my head, again, aiming for my heart. Or maybe Jovie was a symbol of hope, however hopeless, to keep my eyes open for someone like her. Who knows. In an ideal world...
IN THE STUDIO WITH LARRY McFEURDY: THE "HACIENDA HEIGHTS" SESSIONS: THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: PART FOUR (copyright 2003 Henry Lim)
Here's the fourth and final installment of my exclusive interview with Larry McFeurdy at Stair 7 Studios.
HL: So what else do you have planned for this new album?
LM: Well, I just recorded a demo for a song called "Over the Line". I should be recording the final version soon. It was co-written by a friend of mine, Walter Sobchak--he wrote the words, I wrote the music. It's gonna be a throwback to that old Pixies/Nirvana sound, which The Meanwhilers ripped off shamelessly. You know, the tried and true quiet vs. loud formula, distorted guitars blasting, and me screaming my bloody head off.
HL: That should be cool.
LM: I hope so. Sometimes I think, what the hell am I doing? I'm too old to be doing grunge tributes. Have I become one of those dudes that holds on to the past, like the hippies that are still stuck in the '60s? Am I still stuck in the '90s? And then sometimes I think, fuck it, that's the era I grew up in, and that's the sound that comes easy to me. It's not like that's all I do, although I'm too partial to tell. I like to think that I've got a palette of styles that I mix and match, so I hope I don't sound specific to any.
HL: Well, that's what I always liked about The Meanwhilers. One song you'd be doing a jazz influenced number, another you'd be doing a surf sound, and then you'd switch gears and go country. There wasn't any one style that you stuck to, yet it all somehow sounded like The Meanwhilers.
LM: Exactly. Here, let me play you the demo.
HL: [listening to the demo of "Over the Line"] Ah, this takes me back to the early '90s.
LM: Cool. [the song ends] Here, keep listening there's another song there that I'm working on. It's called "Lady Delirium". I haven't finalized an arrangement yet, but you can get some idea of what it might sound like.
HL: [listening] The guitars sound like The Edge. It sounds U2ish.
LM: Yeah. I don't know. It could all change. I might ditch that arrangement--all those E-bows and delayed guitars. But The Meanwhilers worshipped U2. I figure doing a U2 homage has to be included in any Meanwhilers homage.
HL: How many songs will be on your new album?
LM: I don't know yet. I'm kinda going as it goes. Beyond the four songs, "It Could All End", "Kung Fu Girl", "Over the Line", and "Lady Delirium", I haven't written anything else, yet. I don't plan ahead too far. I kinda live in the moment. And I don't worry about it. Things seem to take care of themselves when I don't worry about things.
HL: Well, you're lucky enough to be able to afford such a luxury. Most of us need to worry about making a living and all that other nonsense.
LM: I disagree. I'm no different than you. I need to make a living, too. And pay my bills and all that other crap. It's relative. The more money you make doesn't necessarily give you less worries as there's more bullshit to maintain--so you're pretty much in the same boat as everyone else worrying about trying to make a living. But you can loose your attachment to chasing your worries. Take it from me, it makes things run a whole lot smoother. It's funny, too, cause, once you loose your worries, nothing bothers you so much, and you'll see that things do take care of themselves.
HL: Hmm, I'll have to try that.
LM: Well, in the immortal words of Dakota Fanning, "You don't try, you do."
HL: Ok, I'm gonna conclude this interview with some questions that I'm kinda worried that you might not want to answer, which is cool--you don't have to answer anything you don't want to. I've saved these for last, as you can see. Anyways, my female readers are curious to know if you're currently seeing anyone.
LM: You mean besides Scarlett and Alison?
HL: Who are Scarlett and Alison?
LM: Those girls that came by the studio the other nights. They're not here tonight cause they wanted to stay home and knit sweaters for winter. Apparently they think the weather's getting colder and they need sweaters, whatever. I offered to buy them some, but they wanted to make their own. The kids thesedays are so strange. And practical. But I admire them. I've always been a do-it-myself guy myself. I mean, I'd rather listen to music that I made myself than to buy pre-fabricated music from the store.
HL: Uh, yeah. Besides Scarlett and Alison, are you seeing anyone?
LM: Well, I'm not really seeing Scarlett and Alison, you know. I kinda just babysit them.
HL: You know what I mean. Just answer the question.
LM: I mean, that'd be just wrong if I went out with Scarlett or Alison. I'd get fucking arrested. There are rules. I donít go over the line, man.
HL: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Answer the question, Larry.
LM: Did you see the movie Elf?
LM: Well, in it there's this cute girl named Jovie. The moment I saw her I got all fuzzy inside. And when she spoke, all droll, I felt some inexplicable connection with her that went beyond the screen.
HL: So you're dating Jovie?
LM: I wish.
HL: Come on, answer the question. Are you seeing anyone right now?
LM: No. But I tell ya, that Jovie was something else. She reminds me of someone I know. Someone I've seen before...
LM: Ok, this interview is over.
i can't seem to catch her EYES
they keep swimming away
maybe if i didn't t r y
i could LOOK the other way
i can't i g n o r e her
i've tried b e f o r e but I can't ESCAPE
she's got me roped in her REALM
i'm tied up in her traps
sometimes she leaves me by m y s e l f
but i can STILL hear her laugh
she keeps me g u e s s i n g
will she say y e s , no, or PERHAPS
i can't tell what's real ANYMORE
is she just in my mind
when she comes to knock on my d o o r
i will ANSWER everytime
i'm glad she v i s i t s me
i s n ' t she a delight to ADORE
l a d y DELIRIUM
I rented The Shape of Things (thanks David, for the recommendation). It's a neat play turned into a movie with an artsy, reconfigured 'enry 'iggens theme. The composition of the characters within the 2.35:1 framing was well done--underlining which character is central to the scene, or the emotional distance between characters in dialogue. Elvis Costello had some cool songs, too.
But besides the sexual politicking, there was a little device used in the female's cache of evidence against her male counterpart, which reminded me of the follies the befell the lead character in Dances With Wolves. Not to give anything away for those who have yet to see either movie, but namely, one should always adhere to the first rule of thumb in life: DO NOT KEEP A JOURNAL.
That being said, I think it's prime time that I put in another public service announcement here at "Out On a Lim", just as a courtesy jesture to those who might be just joining (and too lazy to read the archives):
Dear Fellow Readers,
Yes, this is my online journal. However, I use the term "journal" loosely. Most of my entries are true and based on what's actually happening in my life. I make a fair attempt to research all the facts, for historical accuracy, and to get my quotes straight--cross referencing sources whenver possible.
However, as this is a publicly readable journal, I try not to use the real names of my subjects. There are exceptions, of course, but the line should be blurry enough that anyone trying to guess should be sufficiently confused. This is done not out of cruelty to the reader, but to protect identities.
Cause, you never know. Someone might get pissed off at what I write about them. I should respect their privacy.
Which leads me to my next point. SOME OF THIS JOURNAL AIN'T REAL. I have a wild imagination, to say the least. I like to "exaggerate" details for dramatic effect. Some of the characters exisit only in my mind. Which isn't to say that such doesn't qualify as journal entries, rather I can decipher each as a chronicle of what was indeed going thru my head at the time I was writing. It all makes sense to me. But I hope the reader gets some kick out of the "stories" that emerge forth.
Thus, TAKE MY WORDS WITH A GRAIN OF SUSPICION.
Also, some reminders:
These entries are written in advance of their posting. For example, this entry was written on 11.12.03. In general, I like to keep ahead about a week. Furthermore, if you happen to meet me in person, please do not assume that what you've read on that day is what is happening to me currently--it's all old news to me.
I apologize if your feelings got hurt.
Opinions expressed here are subject to change.
To the pervert who searched for "scarlett johansson topless" and ended up on my webpage, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, man.
Oh yeah, and if you haven't guessed by now, I am Larry McFeurdy.
So thank you, kind readers, for your patience and support of "Out On a Lim". I can only wish you get a blast from reading it as much as I do from writing it, haha.
Have a nice weekend,
I'm not much of a guitar geek.
I can't tell the difference between a Strat and a Tele. A Les Paul might have a longer sustain, but I don't go bananas when I hear one. Some acoustics have a thinner or fuller sound, but I don't pay much attention to the instrument per se, rather I focus more on the notes being played. Ok, I might recognize that distinct jangle of a Ric, but that's only cause that's my axe of choice ('91 360 6-string).
I haven't changed my strings in over 3 years. I don't keep it in a case. It gets dusty. But it's reliable. It stays in tune and it's comfortable in my hands--chords are easy to form, solos glide smoothly. I can't switch guitars without inevitably comparison complaining that it don't feel like my baby. Also, I must admit, I like the way it looks--rosewood fingerboard, pearloid inlaid triangles, the single curved "f" hole, and that big fat "R" nut. And the mid range is so sweet. It always sounds like it's "grinning".
However, I'm such a piano geek.
I was at Guitar Center the other day, trying out the latest keyboards, just to keep abreast on the technological developments. But all the piano patches sound like crap. I don't know what it is, but the piano thesedays seems to be thinning out in recordings, which is how the general public perceives the instrument, and thus the electronic similacrums follow suit. I like that old fat sound, like in those jazz records from the '30s--all compressed and close mic'ed.
I think the piano sample that I've been using for the last 8 years blows away the current factory standards. I modified a Wavestation piano sound, opening up the filters and darkening the overall ambience. Not to mention, I'm a stereo nut, so I did some gradient register panned splits--bottom A being hard left, top C being hard right, and crossfading inbetween. I love to pick out voicings in a wide stereo field.
Obviously, no sample can even come close to the real thing. I'm no mathematician, but it'd take some mad processing to capture all the combinations of all 88 keys--which is just the starting point from which mimicry of the necessary reactions between the strings are involved. Sadly, I can hear it, and I realize it's something that civilization as a whole won't crumble despite sampled short cuts, but they're painfully obvious to me. It's like the difference between being an obliviously common person and a geek. Or the difference between a lie and the truth.
So reads the opening caption to the movie Blade Runner. It's been a little tradition of mine to watch it come November every year. Preferably in Los Angeles. Two out of the three settings ain't bad.
It's one of my favourite movies of all time. I think it's the best cinematic representation of the future. The mood and design sucks me in everytime. Not that it's a pretty depiction, all run down and culturally mishmashed, but perhaps it's because I'd accept such a future that it holds my imagination. Especially in Los Angeles. I can picture it looking like that someday. With flying cars.
But I remember when I saw Blade Runner in the theatre--summer of 1982, I was 10 years old. It was my first ever rated-R movie. The boobies were cool, but I remember distinctly being blown away by the future. 21 years ago, it looked so futuristic. I think it still does.
About 10 years ago, I saw the "Directorís Cut" at the $1 movie night on the UCSD campus. I don't mind the revision. I'm so used to seeing the original version that I can't escape hearing the voiceover playing in my head. The ambiguious replicant Deckard strand is cute, but hardly changes the movie for me. It's always been about the future, and how even then, living in fear will be a drag.
I wasn't born yet when 2001 (1968) was made. And for some reason that movie looks dated to me--it doesn't look futuristic, more like some pre-Star Wars special effects job. Although, growing up, the 21st century seemed like an eternity away.
Let's see, I'll be 47 in 2019--only 16 years away. Blade Runner will be 37 years old. I'm looking forward to seeing it in Los Angeles, in November of that year.
I met a girl who dreams in Bulgarian.
Have you ever had a thought that kept repeating over and over again in your head, like a broken record, a recurring joke, or a techno song endlessly looping, never breaking out of its singular pattern? Yeah, it's kinda soothing, in a clinically insane sorta way, inasmuch as you don't go audibly mumbling your little thoughts. I try to keep these things in my head...
I'd be walking around and a thought would come, and in stretto, the exact same thought would enter, splitting into multiple voices, until a full fledged fugue will be inverting and compounding in my mind. Afterwards, I'd give myself a reality check and ask myself if I really did think about anything at all, other than run one thought thru contrapuntal permutations.
It's funny. I'd be walking to work from the carpark and I'd think more about this thought. Again. I mean, I'm about as obsessive as the next fellow, but I believe that you can actually think about one thought too much. It's called going crazy.
Or I'd hit continuous repeat on my CD player and listen to one song the whole day. That Arthur Alexander tune that The Beatles covered on their first album keeps sounding better and better after hundreds of da capos.
And when it came to writing today's entry, naturally I had only one thing to write about.
I met a girl who dreams in Bulgarian.
[Editor's note: "Out On a Lim" will be taking Thanksgiving weekend off. I'll be in Hacienda Heights. I don't have a cell phone, so please don't call. But enjoy yer turkeys and see you next week.]
Ruling an empire such as mine, I often don't get to mingle with the peasants. But one night I decided to go undercover and hang out with the common people, to witness first hand the current social climate. I cloaked myself in drab garb, nothing too royally conspicuous, and snuck around the suburban villages.
I knocked on random doors. No one answered. At a mansion that obviously was alive inside (limousines lined the driveway, lights were on, laughter emitted from within) I snuck around back. In the dark, I admired the lighted pool and decks. It was too cold for the patrons to be partying outside, so I was alone. I smoked a cigarette.
I suppose the people inside were too consumed in their reveling that they were blinded to my whereabouts, just outside their tall windows. But I looked in. Their voices were muted, but rang with harmonious overtones--giggles rolling thru the waves of pleasant discourse amongst friendly company. I could see them having a good time.
Eventually, I unshied from my vantage and walked towards their view. Someone noticed me.
"Won't you enter, kind sir," courtesied a butler who opened a door for me. "Please come in from the cold and join us in culinary celebration."
I ate. Wonderful food, hearty and filling. Warm ale unlocked my spirits.
I struck up a conversation with a fair maiden who spoke of her great grandfather's piano business--he emigrated from England to New York, where he loaded a truck with pianos and drove them up and down Manhattan til each was sold. The simple honesty of her tale made me not only feel welcome in her presence, but communal with my fellow humans. Everyone has a tale to tell.
There was a time when I abhorred any hint of materialistic opulence. It made me sick to think that anybody could want or need so much money. I avoided with all my conscious abilities any hint of over pampered comfort. I hated greed. Yet, recently I've come to lose my judgments. For I am no better than anyone else. If riches are their lot in life, so be it. Mine ought to not care. I stopped wearing my crown. If I truly don't care about monetary measurements, I should overlook all forms, from the penniless bums to the aplentiful chairmen. Everyone is equal only if you think they are.
Well folks, here's another song from Larry McFeurdy's upcomming album Hacienda Heights that I snuck hot off the mixing desk at Stair 7 Studios. It's called "Over the Line". As far as I know, Larry's playing all the instruments (guitars, bass, and drums) as well as yelling all the vocal lines--he's bona fide one man band, via the miracle of multitracking. Anyways, enjoy downloading the mp3. Oh yeah, it's copyright schmopyright 2003 Larry McFeurdy.
Contrary to some of these entries, I am a man of few words. Given the choice, I'm more inclined to be as succinct as possible. Any verbosity that I display here is purely a sign of my boredom, to fill up space. Which ain't no excuse, but I truly do admire a straight and to the point statement that can communicate my thoughts with the greatest economy of words over an overly vocabularied spit spat of tangled ideas that say nothing.
That's what I like about writing. It's simple and requires minimal materials and interfacing. It can be done with pencil and paper. As opposed to the more "sophisticated" art forms such as music which involves instruments, performers, recording engineers, not to mention the hardware to output the sound (receivers, amps, speakers). I've always thought that there's a correlation between the amount of extraneous production props and the honest enjoyment of music. I don't care how big of an orchestra is employed, how many dancers prance on stage, how many pyrotechnics go off, how many costume changes, or how many sounds the band can cleverly mold. A single performer at a piano has always affected me more, especially on a more personal and thus more meaningful level. I'd take Dylan and his guitar/harmonica over the loudest Spinal Tap impersonators any day. Or better yet, I'd listen to a single a cappella voice humming to herself as she passes by me on the street.
The same goes for movies. I don't care how much money was spent on the special effects, the movies that hit closest to me have barely anything going on. (I've often said that all some studio needs to do is point a camera at an actress for 2 hours and I'd be happy). One of my favourite movies of all time is Before Sunrise. It's about a boy and girl wandering around Vienna. Their dialogue is pretty much it--that and some nifty scenary. Even better, any real conversation with a cute girl blows away any overpriced blockbuster. I really don't need much to get my kicks.
Which isn't to say that I don't enjoy good old fashioned exaggerated entertainment. I love a fun ride just for the fun of it. But it's more often than not that the simpler ideas provide even more fun for me. I'd like to think that I could incorporate such aesthetics to my own creative endeavours. I mean, why expend more effort if I can get the same or greater results with less materials, costs, and bullshit.
That's what I like about writing.
But even words themselves can get in the way of simplicity. Barring translations for foreigners, the construction of sentences, what with multiple meanings, innuendoes, slang, and such, it's nigh impossible to convey thoughts without shades of misinterpretations. Lawyers build their careers on language loopholes. Add the audibly delivery of words and yet another layer of implication colours understanding.
I just saw the animated film Les Triplettes de Belleville. Besides the obtuse imagination of the movie, I was intrigued by the wordless interactions between characters. It's practically silent (with music and sound design). With so much of the media being obnoxiously loud mouthed and people thesedays insistent on the notion that talking is socially acceptable, not hearing a word from a movie is like a sigh of fresh air. And it reminded me that words aren't always necessary.
Ok, I admit it, I didn't know who the hell this Paris Hilton character was before just a couple of weeks ago. A "friend" of mine sent me her little dirty video, and I was clueless to the appeal, cause I don't watch porn [wink, wink], and frankly she ain't what I call cute in my book (she's kinda old...). How coincidental that her recognition factor shot thru the roof after her splash on the internet just as her television show debuts this week. Regardless, I'm not paying attention.
Yeah, yeah, she's famous. It's funny how I can glimpse what others value and prioritize via their responses to my question "Who is Paris Hilton?" I'm guessing that anyone who counts their money will mention that she's worth billions. The perverts will reference her peep show. Self conscious girls will point out that she's a model. Party animals will acknowledge her socialite status. And in general, anyone who's stayed at a Hilton hotel will say she's the heiress to that chain.
I guess I've been living in a cave. But I think in this instance, my ignorance was truly bliss. Do I really need to know about this chick? Ok, the shallowness in me would say "yes" if and only if she was cute. But she looks like any other nondescript blonde, regardless if she's richer than a dime a dozen. If I saw her walking down the street, I'd pass her by without a second glance. And yes, I can say these things cause there ain't no chance I'll be getting any from her--not to say that if she did offer I'd refuse. Nevertheless, I'm all for trivialities and uselessness. Good for her if she's enjoying life.
So I was chatting with a friend who asked if I was gonna watch Paris' farm show, whatever. It's like I can't escape her. Her publicity machine sucks us all in. Bored at work, I decided to do some research on the whore, cause that's the beauty of the internet--everything's there, and for free no less. I found a photo of her with Sean Lennon. Now that's a winning couple. Two people famous for being related to famous people. I'm so tempted to say that that should be a poster for anyone reaching for fame--beware of the consequences.
I said I wasn't going to pay attention...
Upon viewing the documentary Kurt and Courtney I felt simultaneously sympathetic with and distant from the world that the title characters inhabited. Yeah, I'll be the first to proclaim Kurt Cobain as the "voice of my generation", having plugged into the whole "alternative rock" scene during the early 90s, which coincided with my comming of age during college. I related, at least on a musical level, to the discontent Nirvana symbolized at the time. But I could not, and still can't, fathom the sociological troubles that disenchant so many people--broken homes, abuse, neglect, bitterness, pharmaceutical escapism, etc. In a way I'm glad I don't understand Cobain on that gut level, as it leaves me in utter wonder of his talent to connect with that subculture.
Ok, so the movie tries to imply that Courtney Love had some hand in Kurt's "suicide". The filmmakers trek to Seattle and thereabouts to interview various cohorts in their circle of acquaintances, many of whom are still entrenched in that hazy state of mind, all grunged out. Which is cool, but strange in an odd timewarp sorta way. But hey, they lived within the scene, so I suppose they've got a right to maintain it, more so than if Madison Ave. says otherwise.
Anyways, one of the people questioned was Kurt and Courtney's former nanny for their daughter. First of all, the scenario for the interview was creepy. It was in a dark apartment, a single bright light casting deep shadows everywhere. The nanny was afraid to talk, for fear of her life, supposedly due to threats from Courtney. And she was otherworldly cute. Very mousey, which I'm a sucker for. Soft spoken and shifty. She was slow (probably high), which added to her attractiveness. Yet there was something sad about her. She reminded me of Mozart's maid in the movie Amadeus, frightened from being too close to the madness of a genius and his control freak wife--Salieri probing for answers as she cried. I almost got in my car and drove up north just to find her.
Poor Phil Spector. Arrested for murder. Now, I don't not condone criminal activities--just don't get caught. I mean, some bitches just need to get shot to shut up. And I'm not gonna jump to conclusions regarding guilt. But besides being a huge fan of his production style, I've always admired his eccentricities, mostly of which are probably myths for outrageousness' sake, namely his gun toting temper tantrums. But I've always believed that if you're a genius, you might as well be mad, too. The two are synonymous. However in this case, he might've gotten lost in his own legendary insanity.
I'm sure all this mess is highest in his mind thesedays. He couldn't be bothered by The Beatles little revision of his production of Let It Be. Nevertheless, it's a slap in his face. I agree with Lennon in that Spector worked miracles with that album. I've got countless hours of bootlegs chronicling those ill fated sessions, and for Spector to scrap together something listenable shouldn't be discredited. Albeit, the orchestral accompaniments sound un-Beatlesque, being a bit overbearing--but there's not much to compare his treatments with, since George Martin was the only other one allowed to add strings and horns, and anything else will inevitably sound paler. I don't agree with McCartney in that "The Long and Winding Road" was ruined by Spector and that it's better "naked". If such were so, then why did McCartney add synthetic strings to his performances of that songs on tour?
Ok, I'm hooked on The Beatles. They could release a CD of them farting and I'd still buy it. Alas, such is the fate of blind fandom. So I bought the remixed (or in this case, unmixed) Let It Be. It's cool, if as a curiosity. I still prefer the Spector version. The remastered sound is a plus, but I question the historical accuracy of tampering with audio quality. I am all for more "modern" (cleaned up hiss, wider frequency ranges) enhancements, but it's subjective to the times. Technological advancements in the last 30 years have allowed for greater "clarity" in sound. What The Beatles put to tape back in their day was the then fidelity. There's no way they could've imagined it sounding like it does now. But such is the ageless debate. Should Bach be played on a piano rather than a harpsichord, even though Bach never wrote for the piano? Should Pet Sounds be remixed in surround?
If the contemporary arts reflect our times, then we live in a rewind, redo, retake, and restart culture. Not to mention a commercialized repackaged perspective of the world where only nice things are allowed, the crap is swept away. Everything has to be new and improved. I suppose it's human to yearn for renewed beginnings when there's a constant reminder that it could all end anytime soon. Starting over seems to create the illusion of cheating death. And who wouldn't like to erase their mistakes and display just the good parts of their lives. I wonder if Spector agrees.
I saw a shooting star. Well, I'm no astronomy expert, but I'm guessing it was a shooting star, even if that ain't the correct terminology. At least that's what it looked like to me--a streak of light in the sky circa 4 o'clock in the morning. But it wasn't of the ordinary half a second zip and make a wish variety. This one lasted a good half a minute or so. It just slowly cut across the southern edge of darkness with a puff of red dust (again, don't quote me on the colour, given my colour blindness--it looked red to me) trailing behind, like a dragster's parachute.
Its speed was what caught my attention. At first I thought it was some air traffic, as it displayed similar momentum. But the red cloud that followed it was odd. Perhaps the plane was on fire. But it seemed too far up in the sky to be a plane--it was very small and its velocity seemed too fast if indeed it was a plane at that distance, which suggested to me that it was an interstellar chunk of rock grazing by the Earth. But I'm no aviation fiend and can't tell you what speed and where in the atmosphere the latest aircrafts are capable of traveling. Yes, the possibility of sighting a UFO went thru my mind, but I wasn't high, so it couldn't've been one.
So I just enjoyed the show. It lasted long enough for me to wonder all of the above mentioned deductions with time to spare. I wondered, as I often do looking up at the stars, what cavemen must've thought about those little dots twinkling in the sky, long before astronomy and aviation were even fathomable. And to see a shooting star, let alone one such as the one I saw, must've been boggling. I'm no anthropologist, but I vaguely remember reading once that cults were set up around comets. I wouldn't be surprised if these disruptions in the sky were taken as omens. I don't read my astrological forecast anymore, but I can sympathize, at least in terms of ancient man, with the mystical portent that the stars seem to provide.
It still makes me laugh to think that anyone can explain these things. You can give me all the scientific proof and I'll take note, since we live in an age of "reason", any disagreement and you'll get locked up. Likewise, I'll listen to all the quasi religious hocus pocus, cause they've got that convient clause that not everything can be proved, something about "faith". But in the end, it's all just guesses. Shots in the dark.
And then it exploded in a tiny little crumble, the red cloud caught up to it, and disappeared.
S T A I R 7 S T U D I O S
Artist: Larry McFeurdy
Producer: Larry McFeurdy
Engineer: Umberto Belfiore
Title: Lady Delirium
Track 1: Bass drum
Track 2: Snare drum / Hi-hat
Track 3: Tom 1
Track 4: Tom 2
Track 5: Drums overhead 1
Track 6: Drums overhead 2
Track 7: Tambourine 1
Track 8: Tambourine 2
Track 9: Balinese hand drum
Track 10: African log drum
Track 11: Rhythm guitar 1
Track 12: Rhythm guitar 2
Track 13: Bass guitar
Track 14: E-bow
Track 15: Guitar solo
Track 16: Lead vocal
Track 17: Harmony vocal
Track 18: Background vocal
<< Out On a Lim (12.11.03 - 2.26.04)
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