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Out On a Lim (9.2.03 - 12.10.03) >>

I'm wondering (and I'm too tired to look it up) whether or not it's possible for people to live 48 hour days.  You know, sleep every other day (sleeping the normal amount, but skipping days, making for longer time awake between rest).  I mean, why must we go to sleep every 24 hours, or every day?  It seems arbitrary other than convenient that during the night visibility is low, so why not pattern the concept of days with the rising and setting of the sun.  However, modern technology has enabled us to accommodate livable lighting during the moon's reign.  But I'm thinking that as a species, if not as a society, we've been conditioned to rest at night.  Not that that's bad, I'm just wondering if, say, one could train themselves to extend their days, so as to not get tired. 

I myself pull alnighters all the time.  I'd estimate 2 to 3 days a month, I don't go to sleep--roughly 30 days a year.  I get swept up on projects.  Sleep just ain't on my mind.  Of course, I crash hard when I do go to bed the following night.  In other words, I think if I put my mind to it (like pretty much everything in this world) I could live 48 hour days, without the drowsy side effects.  I mean, I don't need much sleep.  At least 6 hours and I'm fully rested.  I rarely take naps.  And I don't get tired, per se.  Sometimes I go to bed out of habit, not necessity.  Hey, maybe if I went 48 hours everyday, I'd get to complain about being tired (like most people I know).

But it ain't worth it.  Staying up two days straight without having the mental excitement of working on a project would just mean more hours of boredom.  I'd probably lump my time at work into 16 hour days, so that I won't need to go back and forth from home, which seems to make more sense.  And have twice as much time to play afterwards.  But I'd go nuts.  Sleep is good.  If for dreaming.  (I had one where I made love to a certain young female pop star via a hand puppet...)

Ok, I'm not making any sense.  Hey, I didn't sleep last ngiht

(12.11.03)

Eliza Schneider.  I had a minor crush on her oh about 10 years ago.  She was the whacky assistant helper on some kiddie science television show called Beakman's World.  I used to tune in just for her--it was otherwise mildly entertaining in a sorta "learning is fun" silliness, but in all likelihood, I'd've never watched the show.  The goofy factor is what caught my attention, namely Eliza's colourful costumes and zippy entrances onscreen.  She was funny cute.  The best kinda cute.

Or at least she seemed so at the time.  With the help of the internet, and a bevy of boredom, I looked Ms. Schneider up, to see what she's been doing lately, and to possibly reconnect with whatever caught my attention in the first place.  Alas, the spark is lost.  No doubt, she's a beautiful girl.  And she's been busy.  I learned that she provides voices for South Park--her cadre of charcters includes Liane Cartman, Shelly Marsh, and Wendy Testaburger (huh, I always thought Wendy was hot).

However she's all serious now, you know, in that kinda artsy fartsy sorta multidisciplinary multitalented multimedia multiwhatever way.  She calls herself an "actress, vocalist, composer, oral historian, and playwright".  Anyone who has such multitudes of interests has gotta be a freak (says I, the composer, photographer, writer, sculptor).  In a way, I'd bet that if I'd've discovered her now, I'd be smitten.  But I miss her Beakman character.  I don't get that funny cute vibe from her anymore.  Which is fine, I mean, I'm all for all of her artistic endeavours and I wish her the best, but I think it's over between us.  Thanks, it was fun, have a nice life.

(12.12.03)

There's that brief moment just upon waking up when I feel a bit disoriented.  Like I don't know who, what, when, where, and why I am.  Today I was certain that I'd never kiss anyone.  Ever.  But the finality of the thought diminished as I came to my senses.

The tree in the morning reminds me that I'm alive.

A friend left a message on my answering machine whilst I took a shower.  Because he spoke in a mock Liverpudlian accent, I couldn't perceive one digit in the number he gave for me to return his call.  So I tried all the permutations, inserting numbers between 0 and 9 as X.  I got other peoples voice mail, non-working and wrong numbers.  But eventually I reached my pal.  He wanted the number of a mutual friend.

I bought a new lock for my garage.  The one I've been using was getting old, rusted, and harder to open and close.  It was time to replace it.  I've learned from the past that locks (at least the cheap kind that I get) eventually clamp shut.  This happened once before as I had to open a dead lock with a lock cutter.

I also bought a new mouse.  Generally, I don't ask for much precision from my mice, as most applications have big enough icons to push.  But for Photoshop, where I need to trace things with the lasso tool, I find that mice wear out and lose their ability to follow my movements.  This time I got an optical mouse.  Supposedly they don't have the same long term problems as the ball type.

I've been snacking on sugar coated red beans.

I went to my favourite ramen shop for dinner.  My favourite waitress doesn't seem to work there anymore--I'ven't seen her since early this year.  So I'm gonna conclude that she got deported on account of beating up a customer.  Oh how I wish that lucky patron could've been me.  Anyways, there's this other skinny waitress that serves me well, if not better.  She's thin as a noodle.

I got an email from someone offering to sell me frames to showcase newspaper and magazine articles that've featured me.  I'm not so conceited to hang such distinctions on my wall.  I'd have no more space, hahaha.  But seriously, I've gotten copies of the publications that I've been in.  I've got them in a pile on my desk.  That's fine enough for me.

My sister is borrowing my backpack.  I'd like her to return it to me, cause I'll be needing it for my trip to Japan next year.  I hope she remembers to give it back.  I'd hate it if she died and I never got to use it again.  I'd be too sad to retrieve it from her place.  I'd probably just buy a new one.

I use dictionaries.

(12.15.03)

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a fine film, entertaining throughout--great score, feisty actress, and fun adventures.  It's a staple of my childhood, having fond memories of seeing it the summer of '81, during the down years of the Star Wars films.  Like most kids, when I went exploring up in the hills in my neighbourhood, I couldn't help but imagine myself as Indiana Jones.  Dare I say it, it's one of my favourite films of all time.

But this whole DVD business with it being packaged with the dismal sequels has got me perturbed.  All I want is the first film in the series.  I don't need the others, which I loathe, despite having superior scores to the original.  The follow-ups seem too desparate to create a franchise, and I think the greed got the better of them.  They seem to rehash the first one, and poorly so.  And it's not like they continue any stories between them, rather they're all stand alone movies that happen to have the same lead character.  The second flick is actually set chronologically before the first one, displaying it's independence from the others.  Obviously, I'm not looking forward to the supposed fourth film.

So I'm gonna pass on buying the little box set.  Perhaps if this deal was released a couple of years ago during my DVD buying frenzy, I'dn't be so finicky about purchasing it.  But as it is, I don't feel like wasting money on crap that I won't watch.  I like to maintain a tight collection of only the best shit. 

I'm starting to get annoyed with movies getting bundled together.  My suspicion is that the studios know that certain films won't get purchased otherwise (re:
Godfather).  It makes economic sense to sell them as a set--I don't disagree with the reasoning behind the ploy.  And no doubt these editions sell well, with me being in the minority of consumers who won't get suckered.

I've toyed with the idea of getting the box set and throwing away the other two movies.  I've also been browsing eBay for anyone selling the films separately.  That's the great thing about the internet.  It circumvents all this marketing nonsense and goes straight to the people no matter how diverse the demographic.  All the freaks are accounted for online.  That's the way it ought to be.

Addendum: I got a copy off eBay.

(12.16.03)

I consider myself semi proficient in the computer programs that I use.  They do what I want them to do, without much technical difficulty, enabling me to work on the task at hand directly, sans that clumsy step between figuring my way around manuals and help menus.  In other words, the programs work for me, as opposed to the other way around.

I don't use many programs.  Just Photoshop for my digital photographs, Cubase for my music recording/editing, and Word for writing (including this journal).  I'm no mad expert--I can't make them do elaborate tricks.  But I'm at a point now where these programs are second nature to me, not to mention significant aids in my creative process.

To lesser degrees, I also use Excel for my business records and Illustrator for my graphic designs.  But I still fumble with these, as their functions aren't so important to me.  Furthermore, I use various cataloging and acquisitions utilities at work, and naturally I've got those under my fingers, but I don't think about those much--work is work.

But of all the programs, I find that the little Notepad application is most handy.  I use it all the time.  It's virtually replaced paper for me in terms of jotting down short term memory items.  And I normally don't keep notes in the real world (unless I'm high).  I don't have a daily planner.  I don't make grocery lists.  And I don't write down ideas for any of the projects I'm working on--lyrics, chord changes, or journal topics.  I think I've got a decent memory (unless I'm high).  I can usually keep track of things.

However whilst using the computer, I like having the Notepad program open.  To jot down the various parameter settings that I'm using on image or music programs (unsharp mask configurations, delay levels, etc.).  And most importantly, I use the Notepad as a holding area for cut and pasting.  Especially if I've got multiple items to transfer (text or urls)--cause Ctrl-C can only hold one cut at a time, and I'm too lazy to figure out the Function keys and macros.

Viva Notepad. 

(12.17.03)

It ain't much like me to go around name dropping celebrities that I know, especially thoses with whom I've got meager affliations with, if at all.  But the following two famous characters, and I call them characters cause fittingly they're playing such caricatures of reality, have a special connection to me, in that they hail from my hometown of Hacienda Heights.  Myself being currently somewhat nostalgic for Da Heightz, as we who've got that neighbourhood in our hearts fondly refer to it as, I find it appropriate to mention and celebrate its prominent personalities.

There's an up and comming wrestler making his rounds in the WWE Smackdown who goes by the name Sakoda.  He's being touted as the "mystery man from Japan".  When in fact I remember him being Ryan, the big guy at school.  I don't think anyone from Da Heightz was every "mysterious", let alone truly Japanese--come on it's a suburb of Los Angeles and the real Japanese would've stayed at the homeland.  Anyways, I never encountered any roughness in him, as I always gleaned a sorta "gentle giant" mystique about him--yet, you knew not to mess with him, cause he was probably capable of serious wreckage.  Like a wrestler.  I do recall being in judo with him.  He easily kicked my ass.  So I can definitely say that I got beat up by professional wrestler.

The Black Eyed Peas, a now popular, Grammy nominated hip hop group, employs a female singer to add melodic flavour to their raps.  She's called Fergie.  Actually her name is Stacy and she went to my high school.  I never really met her, but hey, she's from Da Heightz so she gets my approval.  I heard she was a cheerleader.  The funny thing is, she's now prancing around like some tough chick from the ghettos, like most hip hoppers.  Uh, I don't ever remember Da Heightz being nearly as desolate and hard to survive as the real mean streets of America.  But hey, I can't really speak for her.  Maybe she had it rough.

So congratulations Sakoda and Fergie on your newfound fame.  You make me proud to be from Hacienda Heights.

(12.18.03)

It's my humble opinion that the American South ain't as bad as its generally stereotype proned Hollywood portrayal.  Granted, the overblown assumptions of a dumb, backwards, and racicst wasteland must hold some ground to be so prevelant.  And I won't dismiss the historical problems that have plagued the non-whites.  However, I've never experienced it, even in the depths of it all, trekking thru Alabama and Georgia.  Yes, there are examples that point towards such individuals, but they aren't any different than what I've encountered outside of any metropolitan area--there's trashy people everywhere.

To the contrary, I think the South is a cool place.  Besides the ruralness of the countrysides, which to me is purely American in its better or worse honesty, it's actually the people that give it its character.  From their legendary courtesy to their brand of good humoured laid backness, I've been lucky enough to have witnessed their charm.  But it's their stories that got me hooked.  Full of grand hyperbole and dimensional structure, they sure can tell a good tale.  Their accent certainly punctuates their style, lilting and twangy.  I've got fond memories of sitting on a porch during the evening, watching fireflies, and listening to my Southern pals tell wild stories.

It's the idea of storytelling that underlies the movie
Big Fish.  The tall tales that the main character likes to spin are whacky and surreal.  And they seem all the more intriguing, if not believeable on some purely entertainment level, because they are told by a Southerner.  I'm not as picky as my friends indigenous to that area to notice the authenticity of the accent, but the speech patterns, at least to me, seemed enough to suggest the South.  The movie is the closest approximation to my idealization of the South.

(12.19.03)

Well folks, "Out On a Lim" is going offline til the end of the year.  For the next two weeks, I'll be hibernating and thinking up new features for 2004.  I've got some cool plans--like a series of interviews I've got lined up with some cool musicians.  It'll be fun.  So in the meantime, I wish you all a happy holiday season, and see you next year.

-Henry

PS: Just to mock those silly annual "best of" lists, here's what I've compiled:

TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2003
1. Nice / Puffy
2. City Nights, Street Lights / Dancing Mandy
3. Hulk / Danny Elfman
4. The Good Thief / Elliot Goldenthal
5. Befriended / The Innocence Mission
6. Shine / Daniel Lanois
7. Lullaby For Liquid Pig / Lisa Germano
8. Long Gone Before Daylight / The Cardigans
9. Bach Concertos / Hilary Hahn
10. Stumble Into Grace / Emmylou Harris

TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2003
1. Lost In Translation
2. Big Fish
3. Les Triplettes de Belleville
4. Kill Bill Vol. 1
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
6. School of Rock
7. Matchstick Men
8. Down With Love
9. Elf
10. The Matrix Reloaded

TOP TEN "OUT ON A LIM" ENTRIES OF 2003
1. "That bastard was my grandfather" (3.6.03)
2. "Ancient Chinese legend says there was a carp..." (5.6.03)
3. The Juanita and Miguel Letters: Chapter 25 (9.5.03)
4. "Someone spilled some coffee on the otherwise unsullied marble floor..." (6.19.03)
5. "...a little squirrel, ran down a tree, and stopped at my feet" (5.28.03)
6. "I saw a shooting star" (12.9.03)
7. "dear aquarium chick" (6.20.03)
8. "Esteemed faculty, valiant staff, and studious [cough] students" (4.7.03)
9. "Phthonos" (7.15.03)
10. "I wonder if scattered along the freeways of America..." (6.24.03)

(12.22.03)

Happy 2004.

As much as I detest holding the hands of time, as I've often stated before, what with my abstinence from adorning watches and aversion towards clocks, I must admit that I like being aware of what year it is.  I enjoy looking at newly minted pennies.  And I keep track of things and occurrences via their copyright date, which is often represented in years.  I suppose by my tendency to ignore hours and minutes to the point whereupon they lose all meaning, in accordance to my theory that all things balance and cancel out, the acknowledgment of time in terms of years gains in significance.  Whatevers.

However, I've never been much of a resolution maker as the new years come to being.  So why not, this year I'll try something new and make some resolutions.  Me being inexperienced in this little tradition, please forgive me if some of my resolutions aren't classifiable as such.  So wish me luck as I try to uphold the following goals I've set for myself this year.

HENRY'S 2004 RESOLUTIONS

- To make resolutions for 2004.
- To be less judgmental of others, to see the equality in all people, even idiots--I can't stand judgemental people, they think they're so much better than everyone else.
- To learn patience, especially in terms of mixing music, to accept the fact that my ears suck and are only efficient when they are NOT listening, oh and to take better care of my hearing.
- To get a voice recorder so that I can conduct interviews.
- To be less of a pompous prick, to be more humble, to stop showing off, to realize that I'm no one special.
- To write more letters.
- To watch less TV.
- To play the violin.
- To support the unsupported, to ignore those who aren't ignored.
- To try to be kinda more or less forthright and honest with so-called loved ones or whoever.
- To break at least one of these resolutions (including this one).
- To stop talking and start doing what I said I'd do.
- To stop talking about...
- To wake up earlier.
- To wake up.

(1.5.04)

I got a voice recorder. 

It's a Sony ICD-B7, it can record up to 150 minutes, it has two folders that can hold 99 files, and it's nice and portable (slim enough to fit in my pocket).  It's digital (flash memory replacing tape).  It's also got a headphone jack which I'll use to dump sessions onto my computer for backup storage. 

I'm all set to record interviews.

On my way home from the electronics store, I couldn't help but to test out my new little recorder.  I popped in the two AAA batteries and pressed record (it's rather simple to use).  I did my impression of FBI Agent Dale Cooper and his Diane.

I've always had a fondness for recording. 

I've got tapes of myself as a very small kid, probably less than 5 years old, making strange voices into my dad's cassette recorder.  I sang the Mickey Mouse Club song.

When the Walkman came out, my mom got me one which could record, claiming that I'd have more fun with it than the standard model (which was playback only). 

Little did she know. 

I remember spending hours recording myself.  I'd gotten used to hearing my voice, which as anyone who's recorded themselves knows, ain't what you might think it sounds like.  So I started recording everything else.  There's a tape consisting solely of me farting and burping.  My brother and I used to record my mom comming into our room to scold us for staying up late.  We'd play it back repeatedly, laughing at how silly she sounded--things tend to sound funnier when you listen to it over and over again.  There were some dubious recordings that I made of me mischieviously hiding my recorder in rooms or cars whilst I wasn't around.  Yes, I'd invade privacies just to get a kick out of hearing what people were saying about me behind my back.  I taped entire movies (in the days before I had a VCR) and enjoyed listening to just the soundtrack. 

And of course, after I got bored of recording all the silliness that I could, I started to record my own music, which to this day I've yet to abandon.

Sometimes I wonder if my life would've been any different had I never pressed record.

(1.6.04)

The other day I slept for 24 hours straight. 

Not because I was sick or extremely tired, but just for the hell of it--because I could.  Ok, I'll admit that deep down, in the truest essence of my being, I am a lazy bum.  But hey, I'm on winter break, it's the holidays, it's warmer in my bed, and I really don't have anything to do (honestly, does anybody?).  

So I went to sleep per my usual hour, 6:00 in the morning, just as the sky lightens.  I briefly woke up at 18:00, just as the sky darkens, and mentally checked my daily planner--nothing was scheduled.  I wasn't hungry and I didn't need to go to the bathroom.  I fluffed my pillow and fell back asleep.  I woke up at 6:00 the next morning.

Of course, oversleeping comes with its consequences.  My head felt like uncirculated blood stayed too long in my brain.  My muscles felt too relaxed and flabby.  And I remembered a lifetime of dreams, epics spanning eons--deserts became cities, cities became ghost towns, ghost towns became deserts.  I still get flashbacks, memories of people I've met on my imagined journeys.

Yeah, I kinda felt a bit guilty that I slept so much whilst some people would kill for such a luxury.  All those people slaving away to make ends meet, working overtime.  All those people with others that depend on them, who need to be awake so that lives can continue.  All those insomniacs just waiting for some peace.

Sometimes, when I get paranoid, I think that maybe, just maybe, sleep is a portal to other dimensions.  When I wake up, I've entered parallel universes.  Mostly, these look very similar to the plane of existences that I originally fell asleep in, but there are slight, imperceptible variations, all designed to fool me into thinking that there is some consistency in my waking life.  I'm aware that I'd be a fool to believe such an insane theory.  Yet, I'm also not foolish to dismiss it with utmost certainty.

Anyways, I'm well rested now, thank you.  I doubt I'll be dozing off of this dimension anytime soon.

(1.7.04)

jovie if ONLY you'd've met me  f i r s t
you could've lifted this  c u r s e
that HOLDS ME bound to someone else

jovie please DON'T BE tired of playing  g a m e s
i hope you still feel the  s a m e
cause you KNOW ME like nobody else

     let me take you down to the top of the world
     keep me closer to you
     but stop me if i go too far
     you know i love who you are

jovie you TOLD ME that everything'll be  o k
but i'm still waiting for that  d a y
when you'll GO WITH ME instead of him

(1.8.04)

PUMPKIN TIME: THE JM ALLEVATO INTERVIEW (copyright 2004 Henry Lim)

The Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland, California is on its last days decked out in its annual
Nightmare Before Christmas theme.  As the holiday season comes to an end, the attraction attracts a large crowd lining up to see the Halloween/Xmas decor.  It's whilst waiting in this line that I caught up with JM Allevato, former lead guitarist of The Meanwhilers.  He's accompanied by his girlfriend, Pumpkin.  The queue lasted over half an hour--ample time for me to conduct the following interview, amongst the graveyard and sleighs, about JM's upcomming solo album, and the inevitalble questions about his old band..  

HL: So I heard that there are rumours that The Meanwhilers got back together.  Is that true?
JMA: Uh, it may be true.  We're not really allowed to discuss that.
HL: So you're saying you guys might've gotten together and played?
JMA: We may have gotten together and played with just acoustic instruments, but I can't really comment on that.
HL: Everybody including Larry McFeurdy [The Meanwhilers lead singer]?
JMA: Including Larry but not including Ted Ed Fred [The Meanwhilers bassist].
HL: Oh really.  So you guys got together?
JMA: Well, I can't say, I'm not really sure if that's true or not.
HL: Hmm.  So you're working on your followup to your first solo album
Who Needs Fun.  What's this new album's title?
JMA:
Comeback.  
HL: One word?
JMA: Both.
HL: What's the story behind the title?
JMA: Well, the album is about initially having a comeback because your spirits have been lifted from being with somebody.  And then at the end, ruining it, breaking up, and then wishing that the person would come back.  So both words are in there--dual meaning.
HL: I like the track "Suzanne"--the song with the line about "pumpkin time".  Give me some background on it.
JMA: Oh, I don't know if you've ever seen
Cinderella, but there's a little pumpkin that they turn into a carriage, and at midnight the carriage gets turned back into a pumpkin.  So, hence, some people refer to midnight as being "pumpkin time".  And when it's getting late, it's getting past "pumpkin time".
HL: Hmm.  There's no other meaning besides that?
JMA: No, there's no deeper meaning.  The song doesn't refer to anything else.
HL: I heard your girlfriend's name is Pumpkin.
JMA: No [laughs], there's no truth to that...
HL: Ok...
JMA: [laughs] I didn't even say I had a girlfriend, did I?
PUMPKIN: Hah?!  What are you trying?  Not to say that...
JMA: [laughs]
PUMPKIN: [laughs] I can arrange it so you won't...
HL: So do you think you've advanced in the last ten years, from The Meanwhilers to this current album, as a songwriter?
JMA: Um, yes and no.  I mean, part of songwriting is that magic that occurs that you can't really grasp.  And then the other part is the technical skill.  But I think that if I had to come up with a song pretty quickly now, I could do it much more easily than in the past--probably more solid and fluid.  And it's a lot easier for me to have more ideas of what's gonna happen in a song.  I start to conceive of a song more as a whole instead of just the chords or just the melody.
HL: So you start with the chords first?
JMA: Usually, chords and the first line into it.  I need to have at least some kinda concept of where the melody is on that first line or else there's no where to go.  Cause chords are boring, I mean, it's not the chords that make the song, it's really the melody.  I'm more focused on if I could find some melody that's cool to me, and then I can go from there.  Or a feel.  Like I might be working towards a certain type of song, like a song thatís gonna be Latin, or a song that's gonna be Carribean, or Hawaiian, and then you go from there.
HL: So have you heard any of Larry McFeurdy's upcomming album
Hacienda Heights?
JMA: I've heard a portion.  He's trying to sound like The Meanwhilers, and that's pretty cool.  I can see where he's comming from.  He inevitably...
PUMPKIN: [looking at a glowing balloon] Whoa that's cool.  It glows.
JMA: We just saw a Jack Skellington balloon...
HL: [to the readers] It lights up, folks.
JMA: But in any case, well I think that, you know, Larry McFeurdy basically was the voice of The Meanwhilers, so when you have someone who is the voice of The Meanwhilers, and he writes a new album, as long as he sticks with the basic framework of the instrumentation, it's gonna sound like the original band did.  Although, I would say that it sounds more like Larry McFeurdy than it does The Meanwhilers.
HL: Do you think he's regressing?  Why's he going back?
JMA: Nah, there's no such thing as regression in music.  Sometimes you need to go back to your roots.  Sometimes you go back to what first made you really crazy about music to begin with.  Although your life takes a different path and at times you get tired of what was originally the juice behind your interest.  When you get wiser and older you sometimes realize that those original things are really what charged you.  And going back to them is ok.  You don't have to worry about always being new and always reinventing.  Sometimes the original was good for a reason.
PUMPKIN: Are you talking about who?  Larry?  Is that Henry?
HL: [to Pumpkin] Shhh.
PUMPKIN: I thought you were talking about someone else--Henry, right?
HL: [pointing to a pumpkin patch] Look at all the pumpkins...
JMA: Wow, that's a lot of pumpkins.
PUMPKIN: [pointing to a smiling pumpkin] I like that one, cause he's smiling.
JMA: The one next to the tree?
PUMPKIN: No, right in the middle, with a big smile.
JMA: Oh, I see that one right there.
PUMPKIN: Yeah.
JMA: Would you be scared if the pumpkins came alive and just started eating people?
PUMPKIN: Yes, I think I would.
HL: [to Pumpkin] Would you take him in as a pet if he just sat there and smiled and didn't hurt you?
PUMPKIN: [laughs] I would keep it as pet.
JMA: What if you had to clean up its droppings, though?
PUMPKIN: That's alright--just put a diaper on it, he'll be fine.  They might be pumpkin seeds.  Those are good to eat [laughs].
JMA: That's just wrong.
PUMPKIN: [laughs] Nevermind...I was gonna say, I thought Larry was Zaggs [The Meanwhilers drummer], that's why I was confused.
HL: No, Zaggs is Mike Jamgochian. 
JMA: Ted Ed Fred is Bobby Tassone.
PUMPKIN: Ok, so Ted Ed Fred--I thought that was Teddy.
JMA: No, oddly, Teddy is not Ted Ed Fred, but Teddy's name is Seymour
PUMPKIN: Seymour?!
JMA: Seymour Greenwood [The Meanwhilers miscellaneous instrumentalist].
HL: Is Seymour comming out with a solo album?
JMA: You know he did actually release a few singles, they were kinda under the radar.  He put out some techno music.  That was kinda the direction he decided to take.  He often said that he was gonna redo one of my songs as a techno song.  I was always waiting for the day when it'd happen, but he never did bring it to fruition.
HL: Are you into the techno?
JMA: Nah, not too much.  I'm not really into the repetitiveóif it's too extremely repetitive, then it's not that great.  If I could figure out a way to put a song into it, then I think I'd be more into it.    
HL: I heard Larry went thru a techno phase.
JMA: Yeah, Larry is, um, oftentimes influenced by people who are really close to him that are into other things, especially if those people aren not men, then that usually will make Larry more into a certain style of music, and that might influence what he records.
HL: Didn't Zaggs go thru a techno phase?
JMA: Yeah, Zaggs actually has some techno music that he did, too.  I think it's the logical progression for people who have a lot of electronic equipment and don't have a whole band.  I think that the way the instruments sound, they're geared almost entirely towards techno music or electronica, so when you start to use those tools, it draws you more towards that.  Cause when you try to use those tools to make a song that sounds like Creedence Clearwater Revival, it's not gonna sound right, it's gonna sound like crap.  So I think people just stopped making that kinda of music and started making music with more of a techno feel cause that's what sounds right with those instruments.
HL: Do you think The Meanwhilers would've gone techno if they would've stuck together longer?
JMA: No, I don't think so.
HL: There were some keyboards on The Meanwhilers' last album [
Rubberhooks & Metalbelts].
JMA: Yeah, there was more keyboard involved.  Well, there was keyboard early on.  Actually, Larry kept trying to push in keyboard, keyboard, keyboard.  I encouraged him to include keyboard in the songs, but he said that he would look too much like a nerd standing there with a keyboard in front of him when we played live, and so he refused.  So we ended up not having any keyboard, at least not until we recorded.
HL: Larry was a nerd?
JMA: Yeah.  Well, actually, Larry was just worried that keyboards are for nerds.  Kinda like how your assumption right there that playing keyboards is nerdy, that's what Larry initially thought.  I think it was only until Larry met people who were not male who really liked keyboard music and thought it was cool that he started to feel like it was acceptable for him to be a keyboard player and play keyboard music.
HL: Yeah, but didn't he write piano music (on a piano) before he met chicks that liked keyboard music?
JMA: Uh, let me clarify.  I shouldn't say "keyboard", I should say "synthesizer".  But clearly, playing at a piano, I think, was always acceptable for Larry.  If we could've pulled out a baby grand or even a stand up when we played live, I think that Larry would've been all for it.  But I think when it comes to having a synthesizer that's on a keyboard stand, then he started to feel a little nerdy.
HL: Yeah, I interviewed him recently and he said that he's not gonna use any synthesizers on his new album.
JMA: Aw, that's a shame.  He shouldnít limit himself like that.  I think if The Meanwhilers would've endured to today, they definitely would've included more synthesizers.  And actually now, Zaggs prefers to do some electronic drums on his machine first and play along to it so that he includes that electronica mixed in.
HL: Well, Larry said that he's been using synthesizers for so long that nowadays he's going back to playing just acoustic instruments.
PUMPKIN: I prefer acoustic instruments.  I think they have more soul than synthesizer sounds.  I always want JM to give me acoustic versions of his songs, but he never does.  You said you were going to...
JMA: Maybe.  She means "acoustic", just acoustic guitar.
PUMPKIN: No, anything--instruments, real instruments.  But I mean, that's impossible, it's difficult, right?
HL: [to Pumpkin] Does he serenade you with just an acoustic guitar?
PUMPKIN: Yes he does.
HL: [to Pumpkin] That must be sweet.
PUMPKIN: It is sweet.  But sometimes I get the impression that heís just doing it more to hear himself than for me [laughs].  But, you know, I'll take what I can get [laughs].
JMA: That's the last time you'll ever get any...
PUMPKIN: I'm just kidding...
JMA: No more...
HL: [to Pumpkin] Yeah, most girls would be glad...
PUMPKIN: Oh no, I take it back.  I'm flattered and I really enjoy it when he does serenade me.
HL: Are you gonna go on tour to support this new album?
JMA: Hopefully. 
PUMPKIN: A Borders tour? [laughs]
JMA: Yeah, that'd be cool.  Once the album is done, maybe I'm gonna try to play at Borders.
PUMPKIN: [laughs]

(1.9.04)

Michelle said that I'm the only person she knows that knows how to solve Rubik's cube.  The cube root of 9261 is 21.  I just saw the film
21 Grams--a cool movie about the interconnected lives of three characters, told within a seemingly disconnected narrative structure of juxtaposed strands cryptically suggesting that numbers are somehow involved in the mathematical balance of everything.  One of the characters in 21 Grams was played by the lovely Naomi Watts who was born in England on Saturday, September 28, 1968.  For that autumnal week, "Hey Jude" by The Beatles was top of the pop charts--their longest (7'11") and most commercially successful (over 8 million copies worldwide) single.  The orchestral overdubs for "Hey Jude" were recorded at Trident Studios on Thursday, August 1, 1968 and consisted of 36 instruments: ten violins, three violas, three violoncellos, two flutes, one contra bassoon, one bassoon, two clarinets, one contra bass clarinet, four trumpets, four trombones, two horns, two string basses, and one "percussion" (not specifically listed).  The word "percussion" derives from the Latin percussio, from percutere (per + quatere = thoroughly + shake) and was incorporated into the English language around the 15th century.  The 15th century is often reknown as "The Great Age of Discovery", most notably for Christopher Columbus' West Indian voyages (1492) and Vasco De Gama's rounding of the Cape of Good Hope (1498).  In 2003, House Bill 1498 proposed to modify the scope of care provided by physical therapists.  According to the U.S. Department of Labour, the median annual earning of physical therapists is $54,810.  The postal zip code for Balsam Lake, Wisconsin is 54810, where the population is 95.7% white (non-Hispanic) and breaks down according to ancestry accordingly: 36.6% German, 14.7% Swedish, 14.5% Norwegian, 12.9% Irish, 6.9% U.S., and 6.8% English.  Four 6.8 magnitude (or larger) earthquakes occurred in the San Francisco Bay region between 1836 and 1911.  During the next 68 years, no earthquakes of 6.0 magnitude (or larger) occurred in the region.  Four 6.0 magnitude (or larger) earthquakes occurred in the region between 1979 and 1989.  Based on these earthquake clusters, scientists estimate a probability of a 6.8 magnitude (or larger) earthquake occurring in the San Francisco Bay region at about 67% (twice as likely as not).  Despite losing 200 cases of premium grade barrel select Chardonnay during the Point Prieta earthquake of 1989 (7.1 magnitude), Ahlgren Vineyards (located in Boulder Creek) still stacks its winery in potentially hazardous 5 barrel high pyramid configurations.  The only person I know that works at a winery is Michelle.

(1.12.04)

The New York Post was catering to the public's natural curiosity when they had a source to comment on Britney Spears' sexual activities after she got married during her brief publicity stunt, ahem, stint as a wife.  Cause that's what people really wanna know.  No one gives a crap about the scam.  Not that anybody doubts that she probably took advantage of the benefits of marriage.  People just want confirmation.

However, the source that the New York Post consulted (since Britney's such a class act and won't divulge such info herself) got my attention as to the accuracy of the reported conclusion.  Handwriting expert Taylor Morgan examined Britney's signature on the wedding license and determined that nothing happened.  This was based on how Britney formed her "y".  The expert concluded that the slut wasn't in a "sexy state of mind".

I'm no graphologist, but the only assumption I could make from looking at Britney's signature was that she might've been drunk--it's sloppy and nigh illegible.  She could barely scribble the "y" in her name.

But then again, even though it's none of my business, I wondered about this cipher laden "y".  Can it really suggest sexual states of mind?  So I did some research.  I didn't get any help from Taylor Morgan--her website claims it can decode handwriting, but you gotta buy some book to find out.  Screw that.

I did get some clues from another handwriting expert, Brian M. Wadel.  Although his analysis sounds as obvious as any Psych 101 textbook (i.e. retracing is a sign of repression, narrow loops suggest trust issues, harsh angles represent anger), I couldn't help but play along.  So I investigated my own signature:
According to Wadel, which I'm guessing is probably akin to Morgan's work, the "lower zone" (the letters that extend below the implied dotted line, such as "y", "g", and "q") concerns a person's sexual drive and imagination.  Namely, length refers to sexual drive and width refers to sexual imagination--long, fat loops being strong and short, skinny loops being weak.  And any unconventional formations indicate unconventional sexual behaviour.

So looking at my signature, I notice that I've got a long and fat looped "y"--not too long or too fat.  But check out that swoop under my last name, which I consider to be "unconventional" (that's not how it's taught in school) as it forms my "L" which vertically drops into the "lower zoneĒ--the mark of someone who crosses the line of sexual rules.

Clearly, I'm a pervert.

(1.13.04)

This is me:

STR: 2
DEX: 12
CON: 12
INT: 14
WIS: 15
CHA: 9

Source:
D&D Ability Score Quiz

(1.14.04)

Damon was a classic asshole.  He was a senior, which, like most kids in their last year of high school, meant he was overcooked from being cooped up in classrooms and bored of everything.  But he was also a mean guy--he'd degrade the lower graded kids, honing in on their social weaknesses, and ripped on them til they snapped.  I remember how he kidded a short kid just for being short, which lead to fisticuffs--Damon displayed no mercy and kicked the dwarf's ass nevertheless.  Yeah, Damon was an angry white trash kid with tons of pent up anger.  I never saw him smile, except when he was making fun of someone.

Johanna was a freshman fresh off the boat--a Chinese immigrant who hardly spoke English.  To make matters worse, she was nerdy looking, with her big glasses and shy demeanour.  Everytime I saw her, she was alone.  She'd eat her lunch by herself, walked to classes unaccompanied, and spoke to no one.  She had no friends, at least not at this American school.  Kids are cruel, so if someone was within Johanna's vicinity, usually they'd pick on her, laughing unforgivenly at her foreign dumbfoundedness.  I always admired her capacity to ignore everyone as she kept her smiles to herself.

Damon and Johanna both played trumpet in the marching band. 

The band was divided into sections by instrument (i.e. winds, brass, percussion).  Within these sections, the musicians were hierarchically seated according to seniority and skill--the older you were and better you played, the higher you sat in the ranks, not to mention you covered the more difficult parts of the music.  It was common for assholes who sucked to sit at the head of a section just because they were seniors.  And it was uncommon for freshmen to sit anywhere higher than at the lower end of the ensemble, playing whole notes in the tertiary harmonic ranges, even if they were somewhat decent players--the idea being they had to pay their dues and work their way up the ranks.

Despite being an asshole, Damon was a really good trumpet player, which added an air of arrogance to his already rotten personality.  I was always amazed at the complete incongruity of how such a dick could produce such clear tones.  He didn't take lessons and he wasn't particularly intelligent.  Yet he outplayed those smarty pants kids whose parents paid for trumpet instructions.  He was an example of how music can be an equalizer, especially when you have raw talent.

However, Johanna was a better trumpet player than Damon.  I can still hear the first time I heard her blow.  During auditions at the beginning of the school year, each trumpet player had to play a few solo lines in front of the entire band to determine where they would be ranked.  Damon played first, because he was a senior, and naturally he sounded great--no doubt he'd be first chair.  Others played, juniors and sophomores, ranging from mediocre to crap, and were assigned their ranking beneath Damon.  Johanna was last, because she was a freshman.  And she woke everyone up with her tone as it rang out, filling the room with absolute beauty.  Afterwards, all the kids were momentarily awestruck in silence until they broke into loud unanimous applause.  Johanna was to sit second chair next to Damon.

That whole year, Damon continued to be an asshole, a first chair trumpet asshole no less, who treated his section like his personal punching bag.  Granted, most of the trumpet players were incompetent musicians, but he over pounded them with cruelty whenever they played the wrong notes or marched out of step.  I never heard him say one nice word of support towards anybody.  Somehow, he had the right, him being the leader with his talent to back him up.  But even though everyone else at school harrassed Johanna, the walking target of mockery that she was, Damon couldn't muster anything derogatory to say to her.

At the end of the year, when it came time for the annual banquet, nominations were made to award who we all thought was the best musician in the band.  It's usually the seniors who get selected for the honour, as a way of commemorating their last year of service.  I was a sophomore, but I was an exception due to my rocking xylophone chops, and was flattered when I got nominated by the drum major as one of the best musicians.  As I congratulated myself, Damon raised his hand, and spoke the only kind words I ever heard from him: "I nominate Johanna."

She won.

(1.15.04)

INTERVIEWING THE INTERVIEWER: THE HENRY LIM INTERVIEW (copyright 2004 Larry McFeurdy)

Ok, hi, my name is Larry McFeurdy and I was paid to do the following interview with Henry Lim for his webpage.  Don't ask me why, just read on...

LM: Wait, so how do you work this thing? [shuffling noise]
HL: It's recording already.
LM: Wait, what?  Do I have to push this button? [beep noise]
HL: Dude, you already pushed it.  It's recording.  Just set it down.  You can start the interview.
LM: What?  [loudly, close to the microphone] Testing...testing...hello?  Is this on?  Dude, I think I broke your little voice recorder.
HL: Man, you didn't break it.  It's fine.  Larry, just put it down. 
LM: Oh ok.  [thump noise]  So here goes.  Uh, this is strange being the one asking the questions.  I'm usually the rock star and you're usually the dorky reporter.
HL: Come on, man.  Just read the questions I wrote for you.  Can you do that, huh?  Larry, over here, dude--the questions.  Yeah, see here, "Question No. 1: Why are you interested in interviewing musicians?"
LM: Uh, dude, this is lame.
HL: Just play along.
LM: Where's my drink? 
HL: Itís over there.
LM: Ahem, ok, so...uh, why are you interested in interviewing musicians?
HL: It's funny you should ask that Larry, but I thought it'd be a cool new feature on "Out On a Lim" to interview musicians to, you know, expand the format to include other perspectives other than mine on a subject that I find inexhaustive, namely music.  I mean, you can talk about music as much as you want, but you never truly understand it.  Ideally, the music speaks for itself--it's its own language, full of mystery and the unexplainable.  Yet, as humans, with our knack for curiousity, I've always found fun in pontificating upon this mystery.  Not that any answers will be solved, but to just shoot the shit, so to speak, about the "why".
LM: Sorta like life?
HL: You can say that.  Well, any subject you talk and wonder about with anybody half alive will inevitably reflect life.  You can talk politics or sports or whatever, and from those conversations, you can derive something worth generalizing about and appling to life.  I happen to be focused on music.  It's what I'm comfortable talking about, in that I feel confidently versed in enough aspects of it to carry a conversation with my fellow musicians.  More so than any other subject.  Yet, in the end, if I do a good interview, the resulting conversation should be significant beyond music.
LM: Who do you plan on interviewing?
HL: I've been fortunate enough to have met some fine musicians in a wide variety of genres.  Mostly underground musicians--no one super famous, not that I wouldn't mind interviewing a real rock star...
LM: Like me?
HL: Uh, yeah, besides you.  But you know, sometimes I think it's just as interesting to interview the musician on the street corner as it is the maestro conductor, cause in the end, everyone has a story to tell.  Actually, I got the germ that sparked this whole interviewing scheme after I myself was the subject of several interviews.  I thought "Who the hell am I?"  I mean, I guarantee my life ain't nearly as exciting as these interviewers--in fact I usually end up asking them more questions about them than they do about me.  I'm just constitutionally more of a questioner than an answerer.
LM: Yet you feel like you need to be interviewed in this interview.
HL: Well, I'm doing this to kinda introduce this new feature on "Out On a Lim".  To sorta outline my statement of purpose for those readers that might be confused as to why I have interviews on my web journal.  I thought it'd be nifty to do this in interview form.
LM: Hmm, I thought you were doing these interviews cause you're a lazyass.  Isn't it easier to just transcribe an interview as opposed to writing an entry off the top of your head?          
HL: Yes and no.  It is easier to transcribe an interview.  But actually I get a big kick out of what people say--cause I could never imagine that stuff.  However it does take some coordinating to set up an interview, and lots of time to listen to the recording and transcribe it, not to mention editing it so that it flows journalistically.  Plus I always get the interviewee's approval before I post, which usually requires revisions.  Hence, I wouldn't call it being "lazyass".  On the contrary, the interviews involve more of my time than the standard "Out On a Lim" entry.  That's why they'll appear on Fridays, so they can stay up for a weekend.  This is also to kinda promote the interviewee--let his or her interview get some upfront attention on my webpage.
LM: Do you have any stats on your readership?  How much promotion can you provide a musician who gets interviewed on your webpage?
HL: Well, I can't guarantee that any of this is being read.  But I do have a handful of subscribers, who I assume read these on a semi regular basis.  Statistically, I average about 100 hits a day--which means, 100 people visit my page, but don't necessarily read "Out On a Lim".  Most likely people come to my webpage as a gateway to my LEGO sculptures, which seem to be my most popular section with frequent spikes in hits--the other day, I had 700 hits from some Japanese site that linked me.  But you never know.  Of the people that visit, maybe a few of them might be inclined to read the interviews.  It ain't Rolling Stone, but hey, any promotion is better than none at all.
LM: Did you ever see
Almost Famous?
HL: Actually, I just rewatched it tonight.  I borrowed it from the UCLA Music Library.  I remember not liking it so much the first time I saw it, mainly cause I wasn't in a rock'n'roll frame of mind.  And I thought it didn't have enough scenes with Anna Paquin.  But seeing it now, especially as I'm prepping myself to interview musicians, I can appreciate it more.  "Be honest and unmerciful".
LM: Honestly, didn't you rewatch it cause you wanted to check out Zooey Deschanel?
HL: Uh, that, too.  Speaking of Zooey, how's your "Jovie" song comming along?
LM: I'm recording it tomorrow night at Stair 7 Studios. 
HL: Cool.  How's your album comming along?  Is it almost done?
LM: Well, I just finished mixing
"Lady Delirium".  After I record "Jovie", I'll be half way done.  I expect to finish the album sometime this year.  Oh, and I've got my songs under tight security now.  You won't be able to sneak any tracks onto your little website any more.  I warned you the last time that you stole some early mixes and made mp3s.  I'm serious, man.  If you put up anymore of my music on your site, I'll serve you with a c&d.
HL: Fair enough.  So are The Meanwhilers [Larry McFeurdy's former band] back together?  I heard you had a reunion?
LM: Where'd you hear that?
HL: Well, JM Allevato [The Meanwhilers lead guitarist] kinda slipped when I interviewed him and said that you might've had an acoustic jam.
LM: Dude, just between you and me...don't print this...but yeah, The Meanwhilers are back.  We had an acoustic jam over the Xmas holidays, a few weeks back.  We're secretly planning on doing a full reunion project.  I'm gonna get them all to play on the last track on my album--that's the big surprise track, you know, "Hacienda Heights" performed by The Meanwhilers on Larry McFeurdy's solo album.  Now, that's completely confidential.  I don't want to leak that out to the media just yet.
HL: I won't say a thing...
  
(1.16.04)

Well, my inbox has been flooded with inquires and every other person I meet seems to be asking the same annoying questions, so it's come to my dreaded attention to answer these once and for all, at least here at "Out On a Lim". 

QUESTION: Did you do that
Honda Element commercial?

ANSWER: No, I had no involvement whatsoever with the Honda Element commercial--the one directed by Roman Coppola which has said car made out of toy building blocks.  I'm flattered that you think that I might've built that model, but I'm pretty sure I didn't construct it--not to mention I didn't get paid.  And yes, thanks for thinking of my work in the same breath.  Also, may I point out that that model is actually entirely CGI.  It ain't real.  Plus, if you read the fine print, the simulated blocks are supposed to simulate Mega Bloks (the simulated LEGO clone brand).  A word of advice: don't ever mention Mega Bloks to a serious LEGO freak.  Such is tantamount to blasphemy.  Don't worry, I understand--it's a common mistake.

QUESTION: Are you gonna try out to be a
LEGO Master Builder?

ANSWER: No, I have no intention whatsoever to be a LEGO Master Builder, as the national search for said job is currently getting media attention.  Cause frankly, I already consider myself to be a master builder, haha.  But seriously, I'm happy with my current job at the UCLA Music Library, and I'd prefer to maintain my professional LEGO building on a freelance level.  As much as I like getting paid for playing with LEGO, I know I'd get bored quick if it were my day to day gig.  Nevertheless, I wish the best of luck upon everyone who's trying out--hey, at least I'm not competing against you, haha.  And thank you for even thinking that I might've qualified for the position.  Yeah, it may seem like I'm a serious LEGO freak, who'd jump at the chance, but I'm not.  Don't worry I understand--it's a common mistake.

Just don't ask again...

(1.19.04)

Today was spent doing menially meaningless tasks, yet I somehow derived simple satisfaction upon completing them. 

It's kinda funny how normally I don't feel so much as a sense of accomplishment in anything I do, I mean, my standard stance is to go about my day and never really acknowledge, or care for that matter, if I've actually done something, rather I do what I do as if I'm on my deemed course.  No big deal. 

However, today, as I purchased a tambourine and wired my internet connection (two tasks that aren't by any means absolutely necessary for my survival), I felt like I'd just conquered the galaxy.  Maybe it's cause I've wanted to finish these little jobs for the longest time.

I've always dug the tambourine--it's the coolest percussion instrument, if to add some jangle to a rhythm section, or even just as a simple sole beat keeper.  It's so Stravinsky and British Invasion.  Surprisingly, I've never owned one.  Yeah, I've got access to some at my studio, but they've got membranes, which limits their slap factor in that they have a "thud".  And they're kinda "dark" in tone.  So I went to the instrument store and tried out some tambourines.  Most were too "bright".  I wanted one that's more mid ranged, tight yet full sounding.  I spent an hour testing various models--big, small, full and crescent moon shaped.  I finally selected one that had brass jingles.  I got home and banged it all night.  I couldn't stop grinning.

My home computer is connected to the internet via a phone jack located on the other side of my living room, next to my kitchen counter (I couldn't find anywhere nearer that was more convenient).  Anyways, this required that I manually plug in a twenty foot wire from my modem to the jack everytime I wanted to go online.  And unplug it when I logged off, cause I didn't want to trip on the wire strewn across my floor.  Needless to say, the wire got balled into tangles, and the little connectors wore out from constant insertion/removal.  So I finally went to my hardware store and bought a new wire.  I drew it along the length of my walls and ceiling, keeping it taut with some nails as guide posts.  Fifty feet of wire.  Now, I don't have to mess with plugging and unplugging anymore.  I was glad.

The hardest part of my life is done.

(1.20.04)

I found some old stories that I'd written back in high school for my freshman English class.  If I remember correctly, the assignment was one of those "creative writing" exercises--just write a story.  I ended up writing nine and turned them in as a collection entitled
Short Stories on a Tall Building: A Rare Collection of Stories by a Henry Lim.  (I actually typed them on a typewriter--this was before everyone had a computer).

Reading them now, I'm laughing at how I got away with writing such crap.  But that's pretty much the story of my academic career, as the teacher just ate them up, called them "remarkably bizarre", and gave me an A+.  She must've been on drugs.

Personally, as I reread these, I see some funny ideas, but the style is too choppy and often silly for silliness' sake--not that that's bad, but I think it reveals my 14 year old sensibilities.  I could never write like that today.

And I was more political back then, albeit I veiled most of my jabs in jabberwocky jibberish.  Yes, I used to care about such things.  Again, 'tis a symptom of my youth.  Any reader who's read "Out On a Lim" ought to notice by now that I keep a far distance from political topics.  Yet, it's a bit frightening that some of my old stories can be interpreted as being currently relevant.

Some things never change...

LET ME TELLY ABOUT A KING (copyright 1986 Henry Lim)

The telly screamed 'bout the evil miskerchiefs of the King, Jr.  He was swindling the peasant's dry bread coupons.  The news caster yelled with tears coming from his nose:

"Damn king took all my children," he cried, "he put them in his dungeon.  I loved them from the moment I was pregnant..."

And that settled it.  I was going to assassinate the orange fool.  Maybe I'll kill him.  So I packed my dictionary and knifes into my backpack.  And I put them in and closed the green flap.

The jungle puzzles were still not complete, so I easily passed through.  Apparently the elephants lost the corner pieces.  The donkeys were laughing because they had their corner nicely fixed.

After I passed the jungle, I came upon Fairy Tales Land.  There are just stupid trees that our fore teachers forced us to read.  But, I escaped that tragedy.  Sometimes the little things grow big unless you kill the whole thing.

As I swam down the river I came upon all the alligators of the world.  They were creatures half lizard and South American short necked giraffes.  Pity they were only two.  They smelled like crocodiles that cost seventeen pounds.

After a hundred and forty days of sixty miles minus the stops for food, drink, restroom, and forty bathrooms, I came upon the Sahair, a desert.  It tasted good after a fine meal of camel humps.  The birds in the trees always flew away when I passed them by.  Maybe they were afraid I'll kill 'em.

"Don't do not worry," I muskered, "I am after the King, Jr.  Not you guys, so stay cool."

Up the boot of land I neared the far away king's castle.  The brown bushes with thorns covered the roses and fountains of statues urinating water.  It shall be a task to get through the door, so I declared to go in the window.  I quietly unscrewed it off its hinges and threw a stone at it so that it broke into five even pieces.

It was dark inside the corridors because there were no lights or candles.  I slipped through the damp hallways and found the king's big dungeon full of dirty people dressed as monkeys.  They must be the peasants that could not afford to go to jail.  I took the keys and opend the huge gates.  Strange, however, because the key was so small and the lock was so big, but it worked.  They escaped as happy as joy could be.

Down the left hand corner was a candlelight shining rightfully.  A shadow with a long drape and pointed crown ran down the stairs.  I followed.  They were going to be happy when they find out I killed their tyrant.  It's been such a far journey and trip.  I clutched my knife and glanced out the window.  There was a high school band warming up for my triumphant achievement.

Then I ran into the dead body of King, Jr.  I stopped in amazement.  Something was wrong.  I looked up and saw the news caster drenched in a drape and pointed crown.  He smiled and said:

"Damn king is dead, I killed him.  My children are outside of the dungeon.  I put the king's court and friends in the cells.  Come join the festivities.  There's a band..."

(1.21.04)

I just significantly updated my wardrobe.  Ok, I'm anything but fashion conscious.  My idea of a good outfit is one that's comfortable, namely I'm a jeans and T-shirt guy.  And I'm also a cheap bastard.  I don't buy clothes.  Almost everything I wear has been given to me, most notably as hand me "ups" from my younger sister and brother.  It doesn't really bother me in regards to what's printed on a T-shirt, as long as it fits.  So I wear a lot of free crap that my siblings got from whatever startup was handing them out at some convention.  Anybody who does care about what I wear ain't worth my time.

Anyways, in keeping with my style, my sister's boyfriend just donated 13 shirts (thanks Chris).  He works at Universal Studios and had a bunch of XLs promoting their recent movies--
The Hulk, Love Actually, Bruce Almighty, American Wedding, etc.  They're nice, in that I'm a victim of society's equating of newness with nice.  Nevertheless, I'm grateful, and have been wearing them lately.  And no, I don't figure out what to wear each day--I just blindly pick one, matching them with either my blue or my black jeans, and I'm good to go.  The last thing on my mind is how I look.

Contrastwise, I also just got a pair of suits.  My parents got them for me for Xmas (thanks mom and dad).  They figure I'll need them someday, even though I've done well avoiding classy functions for most of my life, there's a slim chance I'll be attending any soon.  But I got a kick out of the nitpicking involved with getting a suit fitted.  I stood on a little stool in front of mirrors for a tailor as my arms were measured and asked if my crotch had enough breathing room.  I let my parents pick out the colours and styles cause I really have no opinion.   

Hey, it's all free, I really can't complain.

Addendum: I got invited to this yearís Grammy Awards.  I guess Iíll be wearing my new suit after all.

(1.22.04)

RECONSTRUCTING REALITY AND CREATING AESTHETIC WORLDS: THE DOUGLAS C. WADLE INTERVIEW (copyright 2004 Henry Lim)

I'm looking at the meticulously ruler edged musical notes neatly demarcating the performance instructions for composer Douglas C. Wadle's latest piece.  He writes it all by hand.  The notation carefully represents each individual thought within the design of the whole.  It's a pretty neat sight.  I recently sat with Wadle in his office to peek behind his methods of creative induction. 

HL: Describe the projects you're working on now.

DCW: I have one piece that's being commissioned by a friend of mine, Don Nichols.  He's doing a concert on the mass media and the artist's role in a mass media saturated culture, like our own, where we get so much of our information from television and radio.  He's trying to navigate with his show, where the artist fits into that role, particularly the artist working in the avant garde or sorta outside the mainstream--where do they fit in, how do they find a voice, and what's the obligations they have?  So I wrote a piece that kicks off the concert, dealing primarily with issues of the news.  What we decided to do is to have him perform on a mixer board.  There are four inputs into the mixer board comming from various mass media sources: radio, television, internet, webcast, and so forth, and a fifth input from a microphone that I, the narrator, speak into.

HL: So he has control over what the audience hears and not hears, levels and panning?

DCW: Right, exactly.  I kept the panning completely static.  The four inputs hard left, soft left, hard right, soft left, and the microphone is dead center.  That gives a nice spatial separation, we're gonna have speakers probably 15 feet apart.

HL: How do you go about deciding what gets mixed?  I mean is there a musical structure?

DCW: The way that it was structured is--I wrote the narration first.  The narration gets repeated three times.  It's the same each time.  I intuitively notated the rhythms for the narration based on a kinda overblown heightened self-important speech.  I then went back and analyzed it, picking out particularly interesting rhythmic phrases.  I looked at various ways in which the sentences were structured in relation to each other and in relation to silences within the sentences.  From that I went thru a series of steps to arrive at a mathematical structure for the percussion part as far as subsections, measured structures, and number of beats within each section.  Then I filled those in with permutations of those particular rhythmic phrases which I pulled from the narrative. 

HL: These various inputs will be contrapuntal?

DCW: Right, exactly.  It starts off with ambient ethereal stuff in the background.  As I get into my second repetition, the mixer completely pulls away from me.  There's a brief little section where he parodies what I'm doing.  It'll come back into some more ambient stuff for a while and then strikes out on it again.  On the last time I go thru the text, he starts to manipulate the fader for the microphone as well--he edits my text.  And imbedded in my text is a speech by Winston Churchill, which is the mantra for this particular concert.

HL: How does this reflect the mass media?  You're manipulating what you're receiving?  The artist outside of the mainstream takes what's given to them and cuts it up?

DCW: Right.  The text itself is based on this sorta idea that that's what the media is doing.  They taking bits and pieces of things that happen. 

HL: Sound bites.

DCW: Exactly.  And they piece it together in a kinda slick glossy news program.

HL: For maximum commercial effect.

DCW: Yeah.  It gets the ratings.  It tells people what they want them to hear.

HL: It holds the audience glued.

DCW: Exactly.  So this is what I'm talking about in the narration.  What I'm trying to do with the piece is to show that while I'm talking about this, Don is sitting at the mixer, and he's actually engaging in the same process.  He's doing it to the mass media.  In a sense, he's acting out my will at that point.  But in the last statement Don, as the artist, performer, and person for who this was written for, comes into this--his interest in that Winston Churchill speech then comes in, and he asserts himself and edits me.  This is a process that we all engage in and this is how we construct reality.

HL: Do you agree with this as your role as an artist?

DCW: Yeah, as human beings what we do is we pick what we're interested in.  We pick the things that are, in a lot of cases, convenient to believe in. 

HL: Our focus determines our reality.

DCW: Exactly.  That's really what it's about.

HL: Was it a challenge to write this piece?

DCW: Oh God yes.

HL: Were you given a lot of free reign?

DCW: Yeah.  What I had from Don was that he wanted me to write a piece that deals with issues with the mass media.  He was interested in what was going on with the California recall election.  He was interested in the ascendancy of reality television programming.  He had a lot of ideas floating around about the media and was trying to piece them all together and edit them down.  But he knew he was very interested in this Winston Churchill speech.  So that's about as much information I had going into this piece.  It just became apparent to me that if I'm talking about the media doing this particular kind of action of reconstructing reality.  I said "What if I had this speech and we'll treat that as reality.  Then we'll chop it up for musical material and use that to reconstruct a whole piece for mixer board."

HL: What else are you working on?

DCW: I'm working on a score for a dance film for a friend of mine, Marianne Kim.

HL: With traditional instruments?

DCW: Well, this one's more traditional.  It's gonna be manipulated voice.  She has text that she's written that she wants me to manipulate.  And she's also requested some toy piano.  So I'm gonna do some manipulations--getting room sounds off of her voice, moving in and out of abstractions of the text, and overlaying some toy piano onto that.  The subtitle is "An Invention in Six Parts" so I'm gonna try and construct from this material of the text, my manipulations of it, and this toy piano part, a double three-part invention.

HL: Do you have a, I don't want to say "message", but an overall theme to what you want to say as an artist? 

DCW: My theme is--working in a more experimental vein, I find that one of the biggest difficulties that audiences will have, is a lack of a unified aesthetic tradition for which they can lean back on to make some kind of value judgment about the work--whether or not they just heard something that's "good".  When I decide to work on a project, I take the approach of creating my own aesthetic world and try to create a logically constructed whole.  So the principles that are informing the composition, that serve as the ad hoc aesthetic system, then have to be in some way apparent to the audience.  It's essentially trying to compose a self contained, inherently logical, and philosophical argument on whatever topic I take.  I'll take a socio-political or philosophical topic as the basis and ruminate about it, and think about what I'm gonna try and say. 

HL: So you're more of an "intellectual" composer?  Is it fair to call you that?

DCW: Yeah.

Wadle's piece for Don Nichols' concert will be performed on Friday, February 13, 8pm at UCSD.  At press time, there is no date set for his piece for Marianne Kim, but it is deadlined in April.

(1.23.04)

"Jovie"

(1.26.04)

I'm not big on repeating myself.  In almost every project that I pursue, I will try my darndest to avoid retreading ground that I've already terrained.  I need to find some hook or novelty that I've'nt explored yet to keep me interested.  Sometimes I blame my somewhat decent memory on destroying my threshold for boredom--otherwise I'd be content doing the same things over and over again.  Such is my curse.

It doesn't have to be much.  I dig variations on themes.  For example, I will never retell a story the same exact way.  Even if that means fibbing for dramatic effect, I need to keep it fresh.  This sickness even extends to such simple tasks as repeating what I've said to someone who didn't hear me clearly the first time.  My mental thesaurus will instinctively replace words.

I try to keep a variety in my sculpting subjects and styles.  I'll never take the same photo of the same exact thing in the same exact setting.  All my music is based upon using some design, technique, or sound that I'ven't tried before.

And this extends to "Out On a Lim".  I try not to repeat topics.  I make it a personal goal to write about as many subjects as I can.  Even within an entry, I make use of synonyms.  Of course, I have running themes and jokes--these are inevitable.  Furthermore, there are certain ideas within ideas that I may obsess over, such as dreams.  But I hope that when I do revisit topics, they are viewed from a different angle.  In all likelihood, I will've cross checked myself and weighed my reasons to make certain justification for my repetition.

It's been nearly a year since I started writing on a regular basis.  Luckily, I'ven't hit a block of uninspiration, yet.  In fact, I have a surplus of ideas lined up for me to feature on "Out On a Lim".  So much so that I've discarded some entries from my queue.  They just didn't make the cut.  Nevertheless, in my quest to try something new, I decided to uncensor myself and capsulize some of my rejected ideas.

Graffiti
Thereís a new wall being erected next to the 405 between the La Tijera and Manchester exits.  I pass it everyday on my way to work, seeing the bricklayers doing their job.  Sometime, I'm guessing in the unguarded night, it got tagged.  And it's not some little initial or insignia.  It's a beauty--bold and indiscreetly defacing.  I wanted to commend the artist for hitting the wall before it was even finished.  I decided to yank this entry, cause I didn't want to sound like I promoted vandalism.  Not that I'm a vandal...

Pornography
   
If aliens ever came to visit the earth and asked us to give them something to chew on, rather than the standard "let's give them some math problems", I think that of all of mankind's quote unquote accomplishments, the most direct form of communicating our humanity is to let them watch our pornography.  From that they can get our whole picture, so to speak--all our good and bad qualities.  I mean, just the fact that we have the technology (from printing to virtual reality) to reproduce our reproductive habits says more about us than some quantum physics equation.  Likewise, if I met an alien on some other planet, I'd ask to watch their porn before anything else.  Obviously, I didn't run this entry cause I didn't want parents to block my site.  Not that I watch porn...

"Man of the Hour"  
I usually don't like songs on soundtracks--they break the flow of the instrumental score.  I skip such tracks.  But Pearl Jam's "Man of the Hour" from
Big Fish is an exception.  (I'd already written about Big Fish ("Out On a Lim", 12.19.03) and decided that one entry was enough).  Anyways, it's a nice tune and actually compliments the movie, as opposed to the norm, being some half assed song that grasps for some thematic connection to the movie, recorded by some trendy act in a lame attempt to sell the album.  I also think that having Pearl Jam, a group that by most accounts, is old news, perform the song, at least for me, brings back sentiments of grungy yesteryear.  And that by association evokes the ghost of Kurt Cobain.  Not that I wanna kill myself...

Fake suicide note
I've got a sick sense of humour, but this one just crossed the line of bad taste.  If some readers still can't figure out that Larry McFeurdy is me, posting a prank suicide note would just be too confusing.  It'd've been a cheap and juvenile way to get attention for attention's sake.  I won't even summarize it cause it's completely inappropriate to resurrect, but it was a good writing exercise--getting into the mind of someone at the end of his fatalistic options.  Not that I wanna kill myself... 

(1.27.04)

I haven't watched
Friends in a long while, and even then I only saw reruns.  I'm no expert on sitcoms, but I found it mildly enjoyable, if only to keep me distracted during dinner.  I do find it a little disturbing how it promoted coffee drinking, whining, and neurotic dependency on friends. 

Anyways, I am aware that it's on its final leg.  I won't be watching the farewell episode.  I'm so behind on who's with who, who has kids, and whatnot that I think I'll be lost as to the dramatic resolutions.  In other words, I could care less.

Last night I had a dream about how the show'll end.  I doubt it's anywhere close to what'll ensue--I'm confident that I'm not predicting any spoilers.  Nevertheless, it'd not only be funny if I'm right, but actually a good episode...   

Rachel wasn't present--I never paid much attention to her bland character, she always seemed to kill the scene.  So it makes sense that she wasn't involved.

Ross and Monica became astronauts.  They were doing their usually worrymongering--about dying during take off.  The only reason they were steadfast was the glory of becoming heroes upon their return.  So they got on a space shuttle.  It exploded.  And even though they died in the debris, they did become dead heroes.  [cue laughter]

Joey drowned in his bathtub.  His last word was "help".  [cue laughter]

Chandler became a gardener/rock guitarist.  He'd mow lawns with his instrument slung over his shoulder.  During breaks he'd bust out his Hendrixian "Star Spangled Banner".  [cue laughter]

Phoebe came over to my apartment.  She got undressed and we did silly things all night.  She smelled like white chocolate.  [cue applause] 

Hey, it's my dream.

(1.28.04)

When I was a kid, I used to wow myself by spending endless hours lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, and imagining myself walking upside down around my house.  I'd ignore gravity and invert the floorplan so that up was down and vice versa.  Hence, I'd traverse from room to room, stepping over door thresholds and beams.  In the living room was a high slope--I pictured myself sliding along its incline.  I tried to figure out the easiest way to get to the second story sans the use of stairs.  There are windows that I couldn't reach otherwise that I'd pretend to look out of from my capsized perspective.

Sometimes I'd simultaneously imagine myself both walking on the ceiling and on the floor.  I'd visualize how my doppelgangers would interact--our heads upside down from each other.  Being shorter back then, our combined height wasn't enough to span the height of the standard sized rooms, so we'd reach out our hands, grab hold, and switch places.  Or we'd go to the room with the biggest distance between the ceiling and the ground and jump up/down to bridge the gap between us.  But mostly, I had fun self reflectively eyeing myself from ridiculous vantage points.  

They say that visual information is received upside down but the brain translates everything right side up.  So much so that if someone is given prism glasses that sees upside down, eventually that person's brain will flip everything to see right side up again.  And if that person takes off the glasses, everything will be upside down--with, again, the brain eventually readjusting to see right side up.

To this day, whenever I enter a room, one of the first things I notice is the ceiling.  Force of habit puts my imaginary upside down shoes on and sets forth on adventures--checking out the light fixtures, navigating around sun roofs, and admiring the various surface textures.  The crazier the ceiling, the better. 

(1.29.04)

ADVENTURES WITH ZAGGS: THE MIKE JAMGOCHIAN INTERVIEW (copyright 2004 Henry Lim)

"Listen to this," Mike Jamgochian puffs as he hands me a CD.  "I recorded it with my MiniDisc in my friend's living room."  A ragtag jam of organ, turntable, and a funky drum beat comes out of my stereo speakers.  Jamgochian and I kick back and have a smokebreak as we enjoy the flowing exchange of musical ideas captured from a Muck Shah Project session. 

Jamgochian has played drums and percussion for several stylistically varied bands, such the free form improv Muck Shah Project, the hippy grooved Tribal Astronauts, the reggae vibed Higher Lion, and the urbanized Dissnfranchised.  He also went by the name "Zaggs" when he played with a certain band called The Meanwhilers.

After the track ends, we sample other selections from his recorded portfolio.  He recounts his experiences behind each beat--the good and bad gigs, the whacky fun, and the hard work.  We kept the music going as I interviewed him about his rhythmic explorations, his MJ Percussions project, and of course, The Meanwhilers.      

HL: Why are you a drummer?

MZ: My mother tells me this story...she said when I was around a year and a half, two years old, we had this house where there was a back porch.  I'd go over there and I had marbles.  There was a coffee table with a glass in the center--she could see me while she was doing dishes to keep an eye on me so I didn't swallow the marbles.  She said that I'd pick up a marble and drop it, watch it fall, pick it up, watch if fall.  For twenty, thirty minutes at a time.  She said she knew something was up when I started doing that [laughs].  Drumming is somewhere where I can just forget.  As soon as I hop on I forget where I am and what I'm doing.

HL: You enter another dimension.

MZ: I enter another completely different dimension.  Exactly.  And because I'm so fidgety and a nervous wreck, just the thought of moving all four limbs and keeping my brain occupied, I think that has something to do with it.  The first drummer I ever listened to was Phil Rudd from AC/DC.  He was so simple.  He kept simple 4/4 grooves--hi hat, kick, and snare.  That's when I could differentiate the sounds of the drums.  "Oh, that's what a snare sound like" or "Oh, that's a bass drum right there."  Whereas when I listened to some other drummers it would be a cluster and I couldn't tell what they were doing.   Until I gradually learned what rhythm was and how it's drawn out on the kit that I slowly started hearing what they were doing.  But he was a big start for me, Phil Rudd.

HL: Who's your favourite drummer?

MZ: My all time favourite is Tony Williams.  He started out with Miles Davis when he was 17.  He actually approached Miles when he was 14.  He went to go see Miles play.  He got backstage somehow and went up to Miles and said "I want to play in your band."  And Miles just looked at him and said "Haha, who's this kid."  Three years later he heard him playing in an ensemble.  After he heard him play he hired him with Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock.  His independence was obnoxious.  His flamming--he revolutionized flamming.  He played flams all over the drums.  He also invented this thing called fanning, where you do one stroke and it makes two sounds on the drums--that was fascinating when I first heard that.  And his ability to make it sound like he's playing two bass drums with one

HL: What are some of the highlights in your drumming career?

MZ: For me personally, is when I started playing jazz.  I enjoy free form improv--just getting together with a bunch of musicians and seeing what we can do without rehearsing or even knowing the person, pretty much half of the time, where there's this connection you make without knowing the person's character or who they are.

HL: Yeah, you can find out thru the music.

MZ: Yeah, thru the music and the instruments being played together.

HL: So what do you bring to the table when you improvise?

MZ: I usually try to leave room while I'm playing for everyone else.  I wanna hear them first and then see where I can throw in all my words [laughs].  But just to lay down a foundation, I think that most people tend to not realize how important it is just to lay down a basic foundation.  Like a blueprint for them to build off of.  Somebody'll play a two or four bar intro.  I'll feel the pulse--if it's funky or gonna be just straight.  Mostly, it's a good way to practice your new ideas--just try to throw in new ideas you rarely play, but not to ruin the music at the same time.  That's the fun part.  It's a good thing to record it, too, cause then you can go back and build a concept off that idea.  I think that's probably why I like to do free form improv jams--ideas come more freely somehow.

HL: Yeah, when you're in the element.

MZ: Yeah, exactly.

HL: You can actually hear it work at the time.

MZ: Right. 

HL: So what's your favourite period of music?

MZ: I really enjoy the early '70s fusion.  It was pretty ahead of its time, combining jazz, rock, and all sorts of types of music.  I think I could've lived in that time period.  How it evolved, growing while it's evolving with the music itself would've been interesting.

HL: What about nowadays?

MZ: I'm not too hip on the modern music.  It just sounds like the same people playing.  There's no personality.  There's no different character.  It all sounds like it's all processed and generic.  It is a shame.

HL: Anything that youíre digging thesedays?

MZ: I've been exposing myself to more international types of music--percussion world instruments.  Each of them has their own techniques and different approaches.  I've been interested in learning how to correctly play the tabla.  There's this great drummer Trilok Gurtu.  I didn't know that he doesn't play with a bass drum.  He sits down on pillows, like you play a tabla.  He has drums around him and he sits down and plays.  He strikes his bass drum with a stick--he doesn't use his feet at all.  And he started off playing the tabla.  So it's interesting to hear how his tabla playing influences his drumming.

HL: Do you ever think about getting away from the 4/4?

MZ: Yeah, I've been trying to keep myself conscious of that--playing in different time signatures.  I'm very interested in polyrhythms.  There's many concepts where different African percussion instruments apply to the drum set.  For example, you play a 6/8 on one hand, 4/4 on the other, and do a 2 over 3 polyrhythm on the feet.  It's a great way to expand your independence.

HL: Do you ever dip into your Armenian roots for rhythms?  Cause they've got some compound rhythms.

MZ: Yeah, they do.  Lots of 9/8.  They're a very rhythmic culture.  They use a lot of ethnic instruments, too.  I actually have a Turkish guitar friend of mine, he wants to take me back there and get some gigs.  Most of those guys are gypsies.  But he says that it's more pop stuff.  So I'll probably be playing 4/4 again [laughs].

HL: What do you think about Ringo [Starr, The Beatles drummer]?

MZ: Ringo is interesting.

HL: He's a lefty.

MZ: [laughs] He's a lefty righty [laughs].  I like Ringo especially for songs like "Strawberry Fields" and "A Day In a Life".  His fills.  He has character when you listen to him.  He might not be technically advanced, but you can tell it's Ringo playing.  He has a very loose and free style.  I think it fit well with The Beatles.  And he took orders, too, which probably helped a lot [laughs].

HL: Tell me about your role in The Meanwhilers.

MZ: They started out my band interest.  I learned a lot from them--about gigging and how to play with other musicians.

HL: You were around 17 years old when you joined The Meanwhilers.

MZ: Yeah.

HL: Like Tony Williams...

MZ: [laughs] Yeah.  Not as advanced [laughs].  Well, actually, when I was in The Meanwhilers I still didn't know how to read.  I really didn't know what "one" was.  I just had this naturally feeling for the "one".  It wasn't til later when I learned how to read rhythms, I was like "Oh ok, 'one', the downbeat, 'one', it's right here."

HL: You just did what Larry [McFeurdy, lead singer of The Meanwhilers] told you to do?

MZ: Yeah, I kinda did what everyone else in the band wanted me to do.  Larry would approach us with the song already pretty much structured out.  He would record his own little demo, which really helped my ear out so I could pick out what type of feel he was looking for.  And then I'd add my own which I developed from his foundation.

HL: So are you guys getting back together?

MZ: There's rumours.  We'll see what happens.  Nothing's confirmed yet.

HL: That's exciting.  I'm looking forward to hearing some new stuff.

MZ: Yeah, I'm actually looking forward to getting back in the studio with the guys to see what we can do.

HL: Plus you've advanced so much in the interim.  You've had the wildest adventures out of all of them.

MZ: [laughs] Yeah, I've been in a few outfits since The Meanwhilers. 

HL: What are you personally working on now?

MZ: I've been really interested in doing breakbeat and street beat stuff.  Doing raw drums and pressing them onto vinyl for DJs and hip-hop artists to use and sample.

HL: This is your MJ Percussion service?

MZ: Yeah. 

HL: What's so special about your beats?

MZ: I try to bring that James Brown feel, that old school type of Motown R&B.  It's more of the rawness of the drums.  It'll be instead of getting an old vinyl from the '60s and trying to switch thru and find a beat that's just the drums, you can just throw my vinyl on and have 15 minutes to chose from.

HL: It'll be cheaper to license.

MZ: Yeah, it'll be probably cheaper and you don't have to worry about copyrights [laughs].

HL: What are your thoughts on music's purpose in this world?

MZ: For me, music is an escape.  I don't watch too much TV, so I spend half my time listening to music.  I think it's a nice way to expand your imagination, if you're able to [laugh].  It's helped me thru a lot.  It's probably kept me alive [laughs].  There's something that touches me that keeps me going.

(1.30.04)

I've been listening to the voice of Nina Persson lots lately.  Something about her sounds emotionally distant, shooting off in sleek streaks thru my ears, yet just within reach, invitingly smiling back after each phrase--a cool warmth. 

I never was a big Cardigans fan.  I thought their cutesy pop was a bit annoying, although I admit they had some initially catchy well crafted tunes on their
First Band on the Moon album.  But like bubblegum, their flavour dissolves quick, leaving a tasteless chew--all motion, no emotion. 

However it was their
Gran Turismo album that switched my gears.  Ironically, they modified their bright analogue bachelor pad sound for a cold baroque electronic style.  The instrumentation was now lean and heavy on the digital processing--all amp simulators and squashed drums.  Drastic reinvention is a dangerous commercial move, risking the confusion and departure of a band's casual audience who generally expect more of the same.       

But it was thru this self conscious rearrangement of their identitifiable characteristics that they became interesting to me as a band.  Well, mainly, that was when I attribute to first hearing Nina.  It was impossible to not focus on her amidst the alien noises and space riffs, despite the nicely structured songs.  Thus, thru repeated listening, I gained an appreciation for her and The Cardigans.

I haven't checked the sales figures, but I'm guessing that
Gran Turismo wasn't exactly a hit, at least not on par with their previous efforts.  This is my theory behind the quiet release of their latest album Long Gone Before Daylight, which is only available as an import.  Nevertheless, it's been getting repeated daily play on my stereos thesedays.  I think it's a beauty, reverting back to their original organic sound, but retaining the desolate arrangements used during their experimental phase. 

Most of the songs are downers, alluding to dark nights, abuse, and relationship mishaps--an inversion of their peppier themes of yore.  Nina's voice sounds worn out, as if it has gone thru the wild ride of a bright life.  The album is nocturnal.  It's the sound I imagine I'd hear framing a late night kicking back with a grownup previously blonde but now brunette starlet in a Sunset Blvd. hotel suite. 

(2.2.04)

I told them to hold the chili on my cheeseburger.  I was on a diet.  I'm worried that I'm getting fat.  As I chomped, I looked out the window of the restaurant and noticed a cute girl no more than 13 years old dancing in the parking lot.  I was unimpressed.

Darth Wong called me on my cell.  "Hey, are you comming over on Sunday for the Superbowl, man?"

"Hells yeah!" I shouted.  "You know I'll be there!  It's gonna be a freaking cool game!  I wouldn't dare miss it!"

"Cool," he muttered, "see you then, then.  Oh yeah, by the way, don't do drugs."

After I finished my dinner, I drove to the market to pick up some frozen orange juice.  There was no line at the checkout so I took my time browsing thru the magazine rack.  Natalie Portman is on the cover of this month's Vogue and she's looking awesome as usual.  I dig her flapper threads.  Geez, can the chick ever look bad?

Theodore called me on my cell.  "Dude, you don't wanna know what I did today."

"Oh, do tell me!" I yelled.

"So I went to see my doctor," he versed, "and he was checking my balls.  He then told me to turn around and he stuck his finger up my ass."

"That sucks, man!" I howled.

"Yeah," he continued, "I hated it.  It was the worst feeling I ever had in my whole life.  Hey, are you going to Darth Wong's Superbowl party on Sunday?"

"Hells yeah!" I reaffirmed.

"Cool," he sputtered, "see you then, then.  Oh yeah, by the way, I hated it when I had a finger up my ass."

In the parking lot of the market I noticed a yin-yang bumper sticker on a car.  For a moment I dazed off and got lost in its swirl.  I spun in its hypnotic spiral of opposing forces--the light vs. the dark.  And I acknowledged the small dark dot in the light side and the small light dot in the dark side.  There is light in the dark, dark in the light.  I then interpolated that those dots are actually small yin-yang symbols themselves.  Within those smaller symbols were smaller symbols.  Infinitely smaller.  Hence, on an infinite timeline, the light and dark are equal.  Everything, in the final analysis, cancels out.  There is truth in lies, lies in truth.

I got home and checked my email.  Banana girl didn't write back.  I wasn't bummed.

(2.3.04)

Michele and I sat in the back corner of the classroom.  We didn't pay attention to the lecture cause we already knew what was being taught--we already knew how to speak Japanese.  We always aced our tests and were bored with the teacher.  So we spent classtime huddled in hushed private conversation, with the occasional muted laughter.

That's when I learned that just because a girl talks to me, it doesn't necessarily mean she's interested in me.

I remember one rainy day, she came in late, her striped shirt drenched.  Like always, she sat next to me.  And we talked about our favourite things.  We both liked the same bands--the Pixies and The Beatles.  We liked the same movies--
Back to the Future and Edward Scissorhands.  We had similar memories of visiting Japan when we young--the yummy food and the quirky customs.

That's when I learned that just because a girl has things in common with me, it doesn't necessarily mean she's interested in me.

Michele worked the circ desk at the biomed library.  She kept reminding me to visit her.  Eventually I did--when it was convenient for me to just so happen to be on that part of campus during her shift.  She gave me her usual smirky smile as we chatted til it was time for her to clockout.  We exited together.

That's when I learned that just because a girl invites me to see her, it doesn't necessarily mean she's interested in me.

It was one of those San Diego days when it felt like summer in the winter.  I figured I'd gotten enough signs from her, it was time to make a move...

"Hey," I nervously mumbled, "so do you wanna go see a movie?"

She stopped walking.  Damnit, I thought, as everything around us got unusually bright, I must've said something wrong.  She shaded her eyes from the sunlight, looked away, as if checking to see if anyone was eavesdropping, and gave me a smirky frown.

"Uh," she nervously mumbled, "I've got a boyfriend."

"Oh."

'Hey," she tried to be nice, "if I didn't have a boyfriend, I'd've gone out with you."

That's when I learned that just because a girl has a boyfriend, it doesn't necessarily mean she's not interested in me.

(2.4.04)

More and more I'm getting interested in SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc).  At least on paper, it sounds like an improvement on the standard CD.  The DSD (Direct Stream Digital) encoding offers a higher quality versus the multiple staged filter and decimation problems of conventional PCM (Pulse Code Modulation).  This should eliminate phase error, requantization noise, passband ripple, and ringing.  And it supports multi-channel surround playback.

I've yet to test SACD, but the second hand reports seem promising--via a friend of a friend and reviews in hi-fi publications.  Word on the street is it's close to vinyl, not quite as "warm", but much more so than regular CDs, minus the scratchy noises and wearing out.  Of course, the only way I can best pass judgement is thru an A and B comparison of music I'm familiar with.  The titles available on SACD are scarce, with a selection of the Dylan catalogue, Gould's Goldbergs, Puffy's
Fever Fever, and The Cardigan's Long Gone Before Daylight being my only enticements--hardly enough to dive into the format.

The only factor that'll get me onboard is SACD representation of The Beatles.  Alas, they're notorious for conservatively holding back on releasing their works.  They took forever to embrace CD technology--in 1987, nearly four years after players hit the market. 

As a format, mp3 sucks.  I can't stand the compression.  I can hear its inferiority to CDs.  Even at 320 kbps, everything sounds claustrophobic, especially orchestras.  I'm all for the ubiquitous downloading of tracks--I'd rather get crappy fidelity for free than to pay for a crappy track.  But when I wanna really listen to something, I prefer to let my ears stretch out in canyons of bandwidth and dynamic range--there's worlds going on in the silences between notes. 

Thus, I ain't ever gonna sport an iPod or other type of mp3 player.  And no, even if and when The Beatles set up shop at iTunes, I definitely won't buy their mp3s.  I wouldn't be surprised if they go mp3 before SACD.  That makes more realistic and economic sense.  I mean, historically, formats de-evolve, cause in the end, the majority will always choose convenience over quality.  Yet recording techonolgy (microphones, acoustics, etc.) continues to progress.  Unfortunately, those paths are diverging. 

(2.5.04)
THE BRIDGE BETWEEN BUSINESS AND MUSIC: THE KEVIN AU INTERVIEW (copyright 2004 Henry Lim)

Kevin Au used to be an investment banker.  Recently, he quit his job to devote himself to songwriting--his real passion.  Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Au is currently living in the Los Angeles area where he records and markets his music.  He is polite and presents an air of professional confidence mixed with an enthusiastic knowledge of pop music.

I had lunch with Au whist we talked about his approach to songwriting, creative collaborations, the internet revolution, and the music business.  When it came time to pay the bill, I noticed that I mindlessly forgot my wallet.  Au was kind enough to pay for my meal (thanks Kevin).        

HL: So how do you go about writing songs?  What's your process?

KA: It depends really, there are a lot of ways I approach it.  Sometimes I approach it with the two sides of the brain--the analytical side and the creative side.  Analytically, I sit down and say I wanna write something in B-flat today, or I haven't written a song in B-minor, so I'll write a song in B-minor.  And there's other times when it's just creative and I just start playing, or I'll hear it in my head first and go about it that way.  It really just depends on my mood or what Iím doing.  Sometimes I'll see a movie or read a book and I'll get an idea to write a song.

HL: Lyrics or music?  Which do you start with?

KA: Almost always music.  I'm a horrible lyricist--I'm getting better [laughs].  Lyrics have always been a challenge for me.

HL: So you write a melody and plug it in with words later.

KA: Right.  Sometimes it happens at the same time, but those are the best days.  Of course then the challenge is always to try and remember the lyrics I just thought of.  I write them down as quickly as I can.

HL: Choruses and verses?  Do you start with either?

KA: It depends.  Sometimes I just sit down and experiment.  I'll come up with hooks, "Ok, that'll be a good chorus", or "I really like that chord progression".  Actually sometimes I compose the bridge first.  The bridge is almost always the favourite part of any song for me.

HL: So you connect the bridge with the verse and the chorus.

KA: Yeah.  The verses usually come last.  To me, verses are always kinda just filler til you get to the chorus anyways.

HL: Who are your favourite songwriters?

KA: Well, singer songwriters, probably my biggest influences have been people like Billy Joel, Elton John, Ben Folds, and Carol King.  Newer people: John Mayer, Michelle Branch--I like their work.  But as far as pure songwriters go, careerwise, sometimes I look at Diane Warrenís career.  I'm a pop guy, unapologetically.  I can write a rock song, but I also enjoy writing the big power ballad.

HL: What is it about pop music that you're attracted to?

KA: I think it's just what I grew up with.  Growing up in Hawaii, my family and my friends, we all listened to it--soft rock, adult contemporary, and stuff like that.  I like everything.  I guess growing up in Hawaii you hear a lot of different kinds of music--Hawaiian music, reggae, rap.  I like it all and take influences from everywhere.

HL: Do you write songs specifically for artists?  Like, do you say "I wanna write this song for Michelle Branch to sing?"

KA: Yes, now that I'm trying to pursue this as a career.  There are songs that I write just to write even though they might have no commercial potential, but I still love them nonetheless.  But then from the business side of it I have to also think what songs can I sell.  That's why I haven't really focused too much on the pop punk aspect of it cause most pop punk or pop rock bands prefer to write their own songs.  In the industry they loose "street credit" if they don't write their own songs.  That's something I still spend some of my time doing, but mainly right now I'm focusing on pop rock song for females.  That seems to be the biggest market out there.

HL: Where did you find the current female singer that you're working with?

KA: Thru my producer.

HL: Where did you find your producer?

KA: Thru my publisher.  That's something I find interesting about the industry--how networking is so important.  It's always someone who you know and who they know.  I don't see how people can do without it.  Even with the people you know, it's hard enough to get people to listen to your work.  If you don't know anybody and you're just sending something thru the mail, it's never gonna get heard.

HL: How did you find out that networking is important?

KA: Just from meeting people in the industry.  I did take a class at Fullerton College on the music industry which helped a lot.  I read a lot of books.  I know that most of the record companies have a "no unsolicited" policy--a lot of that is legal.  But people wouldn't think to send music to music supervisors, who place songs for TV and movies.  If you ask a person on the street what a music supervisor is, they wouldn't know.  Even small time music supervisors get hundreds of CDs a week.  And they don't have the time to listen to all those.  It's just a big game.

HL: Do you see your business education tied into your songwriting?

KA: Not at all.  It probably helps me manage the business affairs side of it much better.  I'm very conscientious about copyright issues and contracts.  I'm good at negotiating.  But as far as the creative side, they couldn't be further.

HL: Well, I think that most songwriters have no clue about the business.  That's why they get screwed.

KA: Right.  On the contrary, while the business side might not affect the songwriting side, I think the opposite is true.  I'm very entrepreneurial, so a lot of the creative energy I have from music translates to business and how I approach problems and find creative solutions. 

HL: What do you think of the internet as a medium to showcase your music?

KA: I love it because it's that much easier and less money on postage to mail out CDs.  I have friends and family who say "Make me a CD".  Now I can say "Download it, make your own CD" [laughs].  I have gotten positive feedback.  My music is on some sites.  They have charts.  It's neat to see who's out there listening to my music

HL: What's your take on the whole downloading of music and the state of the business right now?

KA: I don't think there's very much that the record companies can do to stop illegal downloads--and I do see it as illegal, I don't see it as "sharing".  But I think there are a lot of positives to it, too.  Unfortunately, it's the reality.  You can't go back to the way it was.  Basically, for a long time people said we're in the "information age", and that's all music is on the internet--it's just data.  And you can't stop people from exchanging data.  I think it's very helpful for younger artists to distribute their music.  Even for more established artists, theoretically, we could get to the point where you don't even really need a record company.  All you really need is the musicians and the producer.  I mean, what does a record company really do?  It's venture capital, distribution, and marketing.  If you're already famous you don't really need to market yourself that much and if you've got a strong fan base the internet is the best distribution tool ever.

HL: What are some of your favourite Diane Warren songs?

KA: [laughs] I don't know if want that on tape...

HL: Is that something you're embarrassed of? 

KA: [laughs]

HL: I admire her as a craftsperson.

KA: I like her music for a lot of different reasons.  "Unbreak My Heart" by Toni Braxton.  That's just a beautiful song--some of the modulations she does in there are just like "How would you even think of that?"  Speaking of modulations, "Can't Fight the Moonlight" by LeAnn Rimes, I think she changes keys four times in the song.  I love a good key change.  I love a big chorus. 

HL: I mean, of all the songwriters, she's the one that I'd think you'd model yourself after.  She's the premiere songwriter of today.

KA: Right.  She's a balladeer and that's my roots.  I also like "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith.  Which a lot of people don't know, is their only number one.  All those years, all those wonderful songs, and a Diane Warren song, a big ballad, becomes their first number one.  Great bridge in that, by the way. 

HL: Yeah.  How many number ones has she had?

KA: A lot.  I think her first hit was "Solitaire" way back with Laura Branigan.  Cher's "If I Can Turn Back Time"--chick music.  "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion.

HL: Yeah, I remember that one from
Up Close and Personal.

KA: She's even written some country.  She wrote "Could Not Ask For More" by Sara Evans.  I guess I do admire that she's so versatile as well.  I'm also a country music fan.

HL: Have you written any country songs?

KA: Yeah.  I've written some bad country songs--I don't know if that's redundant [laughs].

HL: A friend of mine and I check the Billboard charts and laugh at the country song titles.  Like "Beer For My Horses".  They're so ridiculous.

KA: That's true.  There's definitely things you can get away with in country music that you can't in other genres.  Like Daryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten", yet another 9/11 tribute song.  Only in country music can you get away with rhyming "forgotten" with "Bin Laden".  Country music is its own little world, but I like it.  In particular, I like Nashville's respect for the songwriter.

HL: Yeah, it is more of a songwriting culture out there--the last vestiges of the Tin Pan Alley tradition.

KA: Definitely.  You always see in the credit, they prominently feature the songwriter.

HL: Do you ever think about going to Nashville and trying to make it out there?

KA: Someday, maybe.  Not anytime soon, though.  It'd be great to write a crossover.  I think a lot of the ballads I write could be good country songs.  "I'll Dry My Eyes" in particular.  It's in 3, which a lot of country songs are.  I can definitely see Faith Hill or Lee Ann Womack sing something like that.

HL: Do you keep up to date with the hit parade?

KA: Yeah, I try to stay plugged in.  Number one, because I like to.  But also from the practical business side, I have to keep track of what's popular.  I have to see what's selling.  It doesn't sound very glamourous when you say it that way, kinda cold and businesslike, but that's the reality of it when you're trying to pursue this as a business.  And it still boggles my mind sometimes the songs that are popular.  Like that "Milkshake" song.  It kinda makes you wanna drive into oncomming traffic, yet it's catchy.  I hate the fact if I catch myself listening to it [laughs].

HL: Is that a song that you wish you wrote?

KA: No [laughs].  I'm quite glad that I didn't write the "Milkshake" song.

HL: Are there any songs you hear that you wish you'd written?

KA: I guess I really don't think about it that way.  I think there are artists who come out with albums and I wish I had one of my songs on their album.  Like Avril Lavigne.  Her first album is very well done.  She has a lot of...

HL: ...help.

KA: The Matrix, right.  Maybe that's why I haven't made it yet.  I don't have a cool name like The Matrix.  I'll work on that.

HL: Have you thought about setting up a team with your producer?

KA: We've talked about it, which would definitely help defray the cost of the studio.  He's an amazing producer and engineer.  As I meet more and more people and work with other artists, you kinda find people who you just are on the same wavelength and you enjoy working with.  Slowly but surely...

Download Kevin Auís songs at his website.

(2.6.04)

The offers keep pouring in from aspiring web designers who want to do an extreme makeover to my site.  Most are free of charge, some wanna negotiate some kinda banner/link swap, and a few have offered to host me, just as long as they get to spiff up my look.  I usually check out their portfolios, which are always first rate--slick and flashy.  No doubt there are some talented artists out there ready to do their magic, but just need to find work.  I'm flattered that they think my site needs their tinkering.

I admit, I'm no web designer.  My philosophy has always been to keep things simple, cause I can empathize with those with modems waiting forever for graphics heavy pages to load.  I like to put my content ahead of my presentation.  Easy to follow.  No nonsense.  And with all due respect to web designers, only web designers care about web design.  I'm gonna make an educated guess that the internet ain't as superficial as other media.  It's more homegrown.  It don't matter how it looks as long as it serves its purpose.

Furthermore, I'm a control freak.  I learned long ago never to entrust my stuff to others, especially if I could do it myself.  Back when I was in 3rd grade, I ran a magazine.  It was called (surprise) LEGO Plus.  I wrote articles about the latest LEGO sets, plus whatever I felt like writing about--from movie reviews to short stories.  I had a comic strip called "Yayers and Booers".  I also did interviews--I'd do Q&A sessions with teachers, neighbours, and musicians.  I published it all on my own.  Monthly, I'd handwrite and draw each page (this was in the days before personal computers and desktop publishing).  I had my dad make photocopies at his office.  I'd staple and distribute them out on the playground.  I charged a quarter per issue, with annual subscriptions going for a dollar. 

I kept it going for three years.  In 6th grade some other kids wanted to get in on the fun.  They made me editor-in-chief.  All of a sudden I had a staff--most of whom were technically much better writers and artists than myself.  We published one issue.  I thought it was a disaster, even though it was a well constructed effort.  My gripe is that my magazine (which got voted to have its name changed to Eyewitness) lost its personality once it got in the hands of others.  It became too "serious".  With the cover price raised to fifty cents and a bigger readership, I had sold out.  So I quit.

Hence, I won't relegate my webpage design to someone else.  For the last four years, I've had more visitors than I deserve--I'm just as happy if one person stopped by let alone a million.  I don't need to attract any more publicity.  My livelihood doesn't depend on it.  And most importantly, I enjoy running things on my own.  It keeps me grounded and connected to anyone who reads this.  I think that that unabridged bridge between me and you is more worthwhile than any blinking popup or moving icon. 

(2.9.04)

The caretaker of the campus carillon looked at his watch as the chimes announced the third hour of the afternoon.

"Fuck," he cursed, "it's late."

"Well," I supposed, "I guess you'll have to fix it then."

"Yeah," he agreed.

"Hey," I suggested, "I've never seen the carillon.  Do you mind if I tag along on your repair mission?"

"Sure," he warned, "but it ain't anything special.  It's just a box in the basement."

Deceptive to the enormous bell tones that eminate from the top of Powell Library, the UCLA carillon is not only a set of small metal rods with pickups, but is actually housed at the bottom of the Schoenberg music building--a wire runs underground connecting it to an amplifier located in the tower a few buildings away.  And no one actually plays the hourly riff.  It's all pre-programmed.  Although, there is a double manual keyboard available for performances.

It's in the closet sized room B314, under tight lock and key.  It's a model Maas-Rowe Chronobell II.  It's two minutes slow.

"Here's the manual," the caretaker said as he showed me a thick book.  "Let's see, 'To change the time, press SET TIME.'  Ok, where's that button..."

After a series of commands on the blinking dashboard of knobs and switches, the digital clock was pushed forward, and all was well again.

"Hey," I mischieved, "let me play something..."

"Dude," he looked over his shoulder, hesitated, and laughed, "go for it."

I fingered the simple little intro to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".  There's a bookshelf speaker next to the keyboard as a reference monitor for the player.  But down in the basement of Schoenberg I couldn't hear it blasting out of the gigantic speaker outside atop Powell, clanging for the entire university.  So if you heard the carillon ringing some Beatles one afternoon, it was me.    

(2.10.04)

OCLC:  52163679            Rec stat:    c
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OCLC:  51962669            Rec stat:    c
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(2.11.04)

What was slow is now fast. 

What was fast is now slow.

I'm too lazy to wash my own car.   So I drove to the car wash on the corner of Artesia and Aviation.  Jose was flirting with the chick in the minivan, holding up the line of cars waiting to go thru the automated soap and bubble machine.  I eventually pulled up and noticed Jose's photo of his wife and kids taped to his cash register.  He detached my antenna and gave me the routine--pull up to the conveyor belt, put my car in neutral, close my windows.  I went thru.  On the other end, Miguel dried my exterior and vaccumed my interior.  I tipped him generously for his efforts.

Sometimes the blues make complete sense to me. 

Sometimes it doesn't.

Amanda's tiny turtle sculpture crafted out of polished puka shells sits on the edge of my stack of stereo components next to my bed.  She gave it to me nearly ten years ago--she remembered that I extolled the simple turtle life.  It smiles its neverending smile at me everynight and everymorning, bidding me farewell and wakeup.  I've never despised it.  Even after all these years.

I'm almost certain that girls know way more than they let on.

But they'll always deny it.

My mom keeps reminding me of the virtues of Osaka.  She says that the people there have the best sense of humour.  You won't find a warmer or friendlier person anywhere, especially not in Tokyo.  They've got their own dialect and their own pace.  Even the sushi is better.  It's sweeter in Osaka.     
Fate is obvious.

(2.12.04)

GETTING GOOSEBUMPS: THE BRIDGET RISEMBERG INTERVIEW (copyright 2004 Henry Lim)

HL: What are your earliest recollections of music?

BR: Huckleberry Hound--a record of a cartoon show with some of the songs and skits on it.  It was the first thing I remember.  And then I remember having a record of Burl Ives folk songs.  I always liked music.  I loved to find instruments and play with them.  I was just dying to have a piano.  Whenever I could go to somebody's house who had one, I'd play on it.

HL: Did you know how to play?

BR: I could pick out tunes pretty easy.

HL: Without any training?

BR: Yeah.  That doesn't mean I could play it very well, but I could copy a tune from hearing it to the keyboard.

HL: So you're a natural musician.

BR: That's about as far as that goes [laughs].

HL: When did you decide that you were a musician?

BR: I guess that's something that slowly evolved.  I always wrote pieces.  I liked being involved with music.  But I made a more conscious decision in college when I studied it and decided to be a music major.  That's when I learned all about form, harmony, orchestration, performing, and technically learning the piano and classical guitar. 

HL: Any particular favourite compositions that you wrote?

BR: I like the woodwinds.  Small chamber groups is what I like to write for.

HL: What's the biggest ensemble you wrote for?

BR: A regular orchestra--full string section, brass, woodwinds, and percussion.

HL: Did you conduct?

BR: No.  I'd rather sit back and listen to someone else conduct.  But you can give input.

HL: What do you do nowadays?

BR: I give a lot of lessons.  I play at parties and occasions.  I do more arranging than writing.  I don't have a burning muse any longer.  I'm thinking it'll come back when I'm older.

HL: What is it about music that you like?

BR: It's something that engages me.  If I had not thought about what to do, I'd end up doing that.  I prefer playing to listening.  The physical part of playing is a big part of it.  There were things that I heard that gave me goosebumps, and I wondered why--it sounded so good.

HL: What are the things that give you goosebumps?

BR: Certain sonorities.  Harmonies.  The first time I heard some parts of the big symphonies, the Ninth by Beethoven, the Bach cantatas, and there's a couple parts in the Bartok concerto for orchestra--those gave me goosebumps.

HL: Do you give yourself goosebumps?

BR: No, no--I'm scared to [laughs].

HL: So I heard your CD collection of guitar pieces.

BR: Oh, I love to play the guitar.

HL: Do you like to record?

BR: When someone else is pushing the button.  I really enjoyed that.  That was played by myself dueting with myself.  I've fiddled around with a couple of people and haven't gotten a good, solid momentum going.  In my own wandering way, I'll get at eventually, a good duo.    

HL: It's always enjoyable to play with others.

BR: Yes.  I love to just harmonize.  In terms of playing music, I like to play tonal music from way back when to the twentieth century.  I prefer, for listening though, anything.  I don't feel like sitting down and thumbing thru the scores and playing.  I do some improvising sometimes.  I love to listen to, but not necessarily play, some Takemitsu guitar pieces.  It's hard.  I'm able to get to a certain point, and get better, but not push myself.  I'm happy most of the time where I'm at.  I'm always trying new pieces and getting better.    

HL: You recognize your limits.

BR: Yeah, that's it.  I can't play some of the pieces in the repertoire.

HL: Do you practice everyday?

BR: Not everyday.

HL: Every week?

BR: If I could, I practice every week.

HL: What's your method?

BR: Usually I have a number of pieces around.  I'll work on them for a half hour or so.  And then there are things I come to and leave and come back to again.  Gradually over time I learn them [laughs].  Sometimes I just play.  I really love to just sit and play music.  I check out a hundred books from the library and read thru music all night.

HL: Yeah, I've noticed that [looking at a stack of music books].

BR: Yeah, I'm gonna do that tonight.

HL: What is it about the guitar that you like?

BR: I love the sound.  I like both instruments--the guitar and the piano.  I often transcribe the piano pieces I like to the guitar.  I'm gonna go thru these Handel sonatas for violin and piano.  I'm gonna find some of them I can get a guitar part worked out of the continuo.

HL: Do you like arranging?

BR: Yeah.

HL: Do you write it out by hand?

BR: Yes.  When software and technology get in the way, I just lose interest.

HL: How many guitars do you have?

BR: I just gave one away.  And I just bought one today [laughs].

HL: How many are in your rotation that you play?

BR: I'm working around getting down to two guitars.  One would be a dark guitar.  The other would be a little lighter.  I may end up with just one.  I like to accumulate instruments.  Especially string instruments.  I picked up a biwa over Christmas.  Chances are I'm not gonna play it, especially since there aren't any strings on it, but I might as well look at it.  I have a lot of instruments that are more to look at than to play withómandolin, ukulele, pipa.  

HL: What are the highlights of your performance career?

BR: There was one down at the Biltmore.  It was a convention of women architects.  It was a fund raiser for scholarships.  And the event was that they'd all design gingerbread houses.  The caterers baked them and they auctioned them off to raise money.  That was one of my most interesting gigs [laughs].  I had a friend sing and I played guitar.

HL: What did you play?

BR: Renaissance music.  We weren't the prominent act.  I like that. 

HL: Something in the background.

BR: Uh huh.

HL: What are your teaching methods?

BR: I like to teach guitar more than I like to teach piano.  I don't know why exactly.  I like to play them equally.  It's just more fun to teach, I think.  I have a lot of different kinds of students--some are a little quicker than others.  My favourite students are probably teenagers who have the physical ability to do what they want to do and usually the desire and energy.  They're just into everything so they're really fun to teach and watch them develop.

HL: What do you ingrain in your students?

BR: In all of them I try to teach them to read.  And then to listen so they can pick things up for themselves if they like.  Almost everybody can get thru a primer book where they can read the notes in the first position.  Then they go off in the direction they choose--whatever pop music, church music, traditional, classical.  And then I like to have them play with each other.  On an irregular basis, but still, often enough so they can get that experience.  That's usually why I end up doing a lot of arrangements to a certain student's level and taste.  I extract a part out of something and put it together.  And certain pieces just have a value as a lesson.  I use the
Mission: Impossible theme to teach them how to reach over to the fifth and sixth string, play up to the fifth, fourth, and second fret.  It also teaches them how to count irregular rhythms.

HL: 5/4.

BR: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2.  Other things are "Wipe Out"--move from the lower to the upper part of the neck.  It's a matter of moving quick enough.  The
Batman theme is good, too.

HL: Is there anything frustrating about teaching?

BR: The students that aren't into it, but their parents are.  That's frustrating to me.  If they're not putting any effort into it and don't wanna do it, I don't wanna show up either.  I can have a lot of patience if they wanna do it, but not if they're not into it.

HL: So what's in store next for Bridget Risemberg?

BR: Well, there's the guitar duets.  I haven't given that up.  I honestly do think I'll get into the muse to compose again.  I bought a new piano this year.  It's just really enjoyable to sit down and play a piano that doesn't have problems--all the keys work, stays in tunes, sounds nice.

HL: Everyone needs a piano.

BR: I agree.  I think there should be a piano in every house and a guitar in every room.

(2.13.04)

Between the ages 5 and 18, I was a violinist.  I wasn't a virtuoso, by any means, but I got accepted to play with honours orchestras--I wasn't great, nor was I horrible.  I took weekly lessons.  Thru the years, I had several teachers, all of whom were patient and taught me well.  At least that's what I remember.  For I don't have any conscious recollection of learning anything that I currently employ in my musical understanding.  And I never practiced.

My earliest memories involve following instructions--how to hold the bow, where to place the fingers, how to read the notes.  I never got much in terms of theory.  I was a product of the Suzuki method, whereby I just learned pieces progressively.  In a way, I don't doubt that it wasn't for naught, cause playing an instrument teaches discipline and just being in the presence of music has some positive benefits.  Or so I heard.

Recently, I pulled out my old violin and tried to play it.  The mechanics have been ingrained in me to the point that even now I have no difficulty with the technicalities, such as postioning, bowing, and vibrato.  But my intonation is sour.  Having been away from the fingerboard for so long, I can't find the notes anymore.  Playing the guitar probably didn't help--the frets being wider.  I intend to bring my playing up to par.  Which means I'll finally need to practice.

(2.16.04)

I rented
I Am Sam.  I originally saw it during its theatrical run, but was in the mood to check it out again.  It's a decently made movie with a slightly forced "cold lawyer finds her heart thru her experience with a mentally challenged person" theme.  Michelle Pfeiffer (the lawyer) and Sean Penn (the mentally challenged person) play the characters with professional acting skills.  But it's the genius of Dakota Fanning as the kid caught up in a custody case that's enough reason for me to rewatch the film.

There's also a running Beatles homage throughout--the soundtrack, visual references, and fan derived dialogue.  The first time I saw the movie, I kinda thought that this device was a cheap shot.  It's too easy to evoke emotions via the Fab Four, especially for anyone in the audience who's been remotely touched by their uplifting music and charasimatic personalities.  It's like sugar, sunshine, and birthdays.  You can't go wrong. 

I mean, I've dug The Beatles since I was a teenager, and by the looks of it, I always will, but my ecstaticism ebbs--there's only so much to hold my attention after listening to and reading about them over and over again.  I've gotten desensitized.  The initial rush that I heard when I was a kid can never be recreated.  It's the law of diminishing returns.  It's like drugs but without the brain damage, at least as far as I can tell.

There's a sociological theory that one of the factors for The Beatles' successful impact on America is that they cheered everyone up after JFK's assassination.  I wasn't around so I can't attest to that.  But I can personally confirm that they've made my days better.  And the characters in
I Am Sam found solace in The Beatles during moments of confusion and desperation.  Upon rewatching the movie, this made more sense to me.  I was more open to the references.  Fanning's "All you need is love" quote brought me to tears. 

During the last week, what with the media celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Beatles invasion of America, I couldn't help being awash again in Beatle nostalgia.  However, something about this last wave hit me.  Recently, I've been playing a game with myself.  Everytime I hear or see a Beatlism I'd take that as sign from God, fate, or whatever that I'm in the right place at the right time.  Obviously, this happens frequently--it's hard to escape their presence.  Yeah, I thought this might be too over accommodating to the point of meaninglessness.  It's like spotting religious miracles.  They should be far and few inbetween for awe inspiring effect.

But maybe I am in the right place at the right time and every moment of everyday is a miracle.

(2.17.04)

We're gonna be late.  And the parade ain't helping. 

Rhonda and I are waiting for a break in the procession of Mardi Gras floats.  We cross the street as confetti and streamers fall on our heads.  She laughs as I grab her hand.  We make it to the other side as we excuse ourselves thru the crowd.  The regimental paradiddles of a marching band trample ahead of us around the corner.  We need to bisect their path if we want to get to the hotel where we can catch the last airport shuttle.  Otherwise we'll miss our flight.

The night before we strolled the banks of the Mississippi, breathed in the swampy air, and caught the echoes of jazz played in the distance.  We had escaped the formal reception, after we had eaten our fancy fishy dinner.  Rhonda went to our room to change her high heels into walkabout shoes.  It wasn't hard to find our way to Bourbon Street--we just followed the revelers.  From the wrought iron balconies, topless belles tossed beads.  After Rhonda strangled her neck with enough cheap plastic jewelry, we decided to jettison the festivities.  We went somewhere quiet.

How are we to foresee that seven years later we'll lose touch, be separated by misunderstandings, and forget our trip to New Orleans.  It's funny how in the moment there's no one else in the world except me and her.  How did I live before I met her?  And I can't imagine a world where she didn't associate with my every thought.  But something's not right...       

The past is divisible by the future.  And the remainder is the present.

Soon we're dozing off on the plane ride home, relieved that we made it back in time.  Who knows what might've happened to us had we gotten stuck in the parade.

(2.18.04)

I love the interval of a sixth.  Whether it's a melodic leap from the the fifth to the third (or any inversion therof), a progression thru the VI chord (minor or major), parallel harmonies, or just an added sixth to a triad, I get all lovey.  It's just such a "romantic" sound.

Ok, sure, I might've gotten conditioned to associate the submedian with "love" due to those 19th century lovesick composers (i.e. Liszt, Chopin, et al) who, for better or worse, seemed to have bequeathed the foundation from which most gushy emotional reactions (and atonal oppositions) cull forth, at least amongst later generations of Western audiences.  I'm of the mind that there's a possibility that there ain't no inherent sentiment in a musical note (or series of notes) other than what gets culturally defined (and redefined)--it's all arbitrary.

Yet, like love, I'm a sucker for its so-called implications.

Heuristically, I pick out melodic sixths based on the first two notes of "My Bonnie", chord progressions via "Heart and Soul", and parallel harmonies that remind me of "Norwegian Wood". 

There's that infamous footnote about The Beatles (sigh, bare with me on yet another Beatles tangent) and the final chord of "She Loves You"--a G major with an added sixth.  Their producer, George Martin, was all "Uh, are you guys sure you wanna end on that cornball note?"  And they were like "Oh hells yeah".

But I personally blame John Williams for forever interlocking sixths with my ideas of love.  Take his (nearly identical) love themes from
Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Amidst the Holstian/Korngoldian riffs came these super arching jumps spanning sixths that just knocked me out, and still do.  And in the case of Empire, the predicating phrase that transposes the opening sixth interval brings it home with such scoundrelness.  Romance is an adventure.

However, the love theme from
Attack of the Clones, which picks up with a sixth into a minor key, just kills me.  Anakin and Padme's doomed relationship is symbolized with not only the flipside of Han and Leia's major mode, but echoes Rota's Romeo e Giulietta in orchestration and (inverted) sixths.  All it takes is a semitone to make it tragic.  Such is love.

(2.19.04)

SPINNING THE SOUNDTRACK TO HER LIFE: THE DANCING MANDY INTERVIEW (copyright 2004 Henry Lim)

The UCLA radio station is unmistakably maintained by college students.  Every door and wall is densely stickered and magic markered with colourful decalomania, guerilla slogans, and self aggrandizing scribbles--no corner has been left unbrandished.  And the music is played loud.

Dancing Mandy is at the turntables, wiggling the knobs and swaying the faders as she mixes.  I can't avoid the groove as I bop my head to the kicks.  For the last two years, I've been tuning in to her show--from when she was previously known as DJ Wahine, to her gig on Night School (the UCLA radio series).  So it was distinctly cool to get to hang out with her and include her story here on "Out On a Lim". 

HL: So give me the background on your DJ career.

DM: I met a bunch of people my freshman year.  I went to my first rave for my 19th birthday.  It was in February, called "One Love"--it was a really cool, really cool show.  I did a drug called ecstasy and I met a lot of people that night.  I had a really wonderful time.  I was really excited about the music and all the people and just the vibe there.  It was really cool.  Everyone there was just very nice and very relaxed.  It's not like a punk show where people were kicking each other and slam dancing.  You're not crunched up against people.  Everyone's very respectful and very into their own thing but are willing to talk to anybody.  So that was really fun. 

HL: Was that the first time you heard that music?

DM: Um...

HL: On drugs?

DM: On drugs, yes.  That was the first time I really got it.  The first time I heard that music, I actually went to a rave my senior year of high school, but I didn't know what it was.  I just knew it was an all ages party.  I was 17, I was like "Oh, I'll go, I'll go, I don't have to worry about IDs or anything, I'll go".  It was really fun.  I loved the vibe as well as it was really nice.  The music...I had no idea what it was.  "Why are all these people wearing these costumes and all this stuff and I don't get it...?"  Everyone would come up, strike conversations with me, and I'd be talking to strangers.  It was just really really fun.

HL: What did the music sound like to you?

DM: The first time it was just kinda like in the background, like [sings] "thump, thump, thump, thump".  It was cool.  I was dancing.  It was nice.  I really hated the drops, though, which is the point in the music where the beat goes out and it kinda builds up to this frenzy of music until the beat comes back in.  And I really didn't like that when I first heard it because it just lost the momentum of me dancing.  I didn't know how to ride the wave of the music.  That was really fun.  And then when I came back my sophomore year, I wasn't so much into partying anymore, but I really just loved the music.  I had learned so much about trance especially, and happy hardcore.  A gang of DJs from Northern California called Mars, Mystre, Dyloot, and Tom Slik, they were really cool, I saw them a bunch of times over that summer.

HL: They were influential on you?

DM: Yeah.  Mars was there the first night I went to a rave--THE rave, "One Love".  It was really weird, cause when I went back to my CD player and my MP3 player, I heard a bunch of the songs that he played, that I was too messed up that night to realize, but I knew there was a song that he played at "One Love" cause whenever I hear that song, to this day, the whole memory comes back.  I know how I feel about this song--it's very nostalgic feeling, very happy feeling.  That must've been played at "One Love".  That was the night that changed everything, pretty much.  So my sophomore year, my friend Gerrald's older brother spun happy hardcore and was on his way out--he was graduating.  The first time I saw George spinning I was like "How do you do that?"  So he was showing me what he did.  Oh, the store called Frequency 8 Records, which is owned by Mars, opened in Westwood.  I used to go down to the record store, and I didn't know how to DJ, so I would just go in and listen to the records.  Gerrald, who knew a little about spinning, showed me how to beatmatch with the beat of the record to the beat of the record that was playing in the store--like the store would be playing something and you put on headphones and play something else.  So you put one headphone on, and one off, you could learn how to beatmatch.  You're not supposed to do back spinning on the records in the store, but they didn't really care.

HL: When was the moment that you decided you wanted to cross the line from being in the audience and being a DJ?

DM: That line came a lot later.  Over winter break, I bought two records.  I figured "Hey, even if I don't become a DJ, I want to have these songs on vinyl".  I got a Mars record and a Watergate record called "Heart of Asia".  I met this guy who let me practice how to spin over winter break, and that was really cool, and I really sucked at it a lot.  When I came back from winter break, I was like "Alright".  I remember the moment that I really wanted to learn was I walked into the UCLA radio station.  I wandered in and I saw two turntables and a Stanton mixer just sitting there.  I was like "They have the setup, I could learn how to play cause they have the setup".  So I made this deal with Chris Fort, the director of Night School at the time, that I would intern for the radio station.  I didn't even want my own show.  I just wanted to practice.  So I'd go in, the only time I really could practice was after Andrew Kelley's show on Friday afternoon.  I would intern for his show and then I would spin for like four hours afterwards. 

HL: Just practicing. 

DM: Just practising.  That's really hard work.  Spinning takes a lot of time and a lot of energy--you're standing up for four hours trying frantically to listen to what's playing in your ears.  It's really difficult.  I only got to do it once a week.

HL: Do you consider the turntables a musical instrument?

DM: Oh yeah.  It definitely definitely takes some practice.  I don't think of it so much as an instrument as a vehicle for anyone who likes music a lot.  If you're that kinda person who makes mix CDs for all your friends, who likes to make the "Oh I'm driving along the countryside, I wanna make a mix CD that makes that feeling", that's pretty much what a DJ does because you take songs and you mix them together, but in such a way that...I'm not a scratch DJ, I do progressive mixing, which is going from one song to another...in such an order that it creates this mood and this feeling.  It's like making a mix CD without the gaps.  It's supposed to be this seamless thing.  I wanted to learn how to do that.  So I practiced every week, five hours a week for three months.  And one day, my friend said...by that time I decided that I wanted to go for it, so I'd bought about 15 to 20 records.  By the end of winter quarter, my sophomore year, I'd bought 20 to 25 records--which is a good three, four hours of music.  I got a $50 gift certificate to F8 for my birthday.  That really got things going.  Gerrald got me my first milk crate and bought me some records and he had this little sign that he wrote "Insert more vinyl here, happy birthday, love Gerrald"--I still have that in my first crate.....A friend of mine asked me to come over and spin.  He had some turntables.  I'm like "I don't know how to beatmatch very well at all, I suck, I'm just learning, it's been three months since I started spinning".  And he's like "That's ok, come over, come over".  So I went over there and spun for three hours straight and messed up one time.  It blew everyone away including myself.  That one day, I got it.  That was a really big accomplishment for me and I figured well after that why the hell not make a profession out of it.  From there I just kinda kept going, collecting records.  I don't have a certain genre anymore.  It started out as cheesy Mars & Mystre trance.  Now I have about everything.  I have about 10 to 15 records of every genre that's between 120 and 140 bpm, which is "beats per minute", which is the tempo.  House is 120 and then on the other end there's fast trance that's 140.  That's how I got started.

HL: What do you listen for in a track that makes you wanna get that record?

DM: I look especially for uplifting styles of music.  I like something that makes you feel good about listening to music, pretty much--that's a big one.  But not all of my tracks are happy.  A lot of them are moody.  Couple of them are dark and some of them are just mean.  I guess what I could say is I don't like these middle of the road crap songs.  I like songs that are loud that make you feel something, whether it's nostalgia, or really pissed off, or just wanting to go dance around--something that really just sweeps you off your feet.  Music isn't meant to be mediocre.  It's meant to really move you.  The tracks that I remember the most are the ones that standout and that grab me on a personal level.  I have to feel the "tingle" when I hear a song.  You just know

HL: What are some of your favourite performances that you've spun?

DM: The one where I felt I did the best job was at my friend's Halloween party, this past Halloween.  I went from everything from progressive trance to breaks to house for two hours and the entire room was filled the whole time.

HL: You were feeling the vibe.

DM: Yeah.  Everyone really liked it.  Everyone was dancing.  Everyone was having a good time.  I love it when people love my music.  But I'm not gonna pick tracks just for that.  I played my loudest, slammingest, most fun, uplifting tracks.  And that's what people like and that's what I like.  It was just a great vibe.  I had the time of my life.  That was really cool.  I really enjoy spinning in Westwood Plaza, too, cause it's just such a big big place.  I really like that.  That was really cool.  People would come up to me and be like "Oh my God it's a girl DJ, what the hell is this going on here?"

HL: Do you get that a lot, being a chick DJ?

DM: From people in the business that I know and my friends that are DJs, I don't get any special treatment.  And I love it that way.  I like being one of the boys and I always have.  But people who don't know anything about DJ-ing, I do get that a lot.  So yeah, I do get that a lot.

HL: Does that bother you?

DM: No.  I guess part of me likes being different than other girls cause I always have been.  Like I like riding my skateboard around campus cause one, I think it's really really fun, but two, it's funny when there's a little kiddy tour and they're like "Oh hey look at the girl on the skateboard, oh my God".  I think it's good for people to understand, but I don't feel like I'm a torch to feminism or anything.  The only way I'm a torch to feminism more than Baby Anne or Sandra Collins or anyone, one, I'm not famous, two, I don't dress up and play the sexy lady DJ.  I'm just myself.  I'm not butch and I'm not sexy, I'm just kinda me and always have been.

HL: What do you think of the combination of drugs and music?

DM: It's a good one.

HL: Why's that?

DM: Drugs are definitely not necessary to like music or appreciate music, but it just makes it a lot easier, sometimes.  That one night you'll be like "Oh this music is so repetitive".  Then you take the coinciding drug to the music and then you get it a little bit more.  You understand why it's structured the way it is.  Especially like dance music, trance especially, it is structured for ecstasy.  It has the same feeling of that drug--it has the ups and downs, the quiets and softs, the intensity of all the synth sounds and the drums.  The reason why trance is so loud and harsh in the sense that it has very low basses and high highs cause you sense every variation in the EQ.  House is very drunk music.  It's "booty shaking, let's get on the dance floor".  Hip-hop is marijuana music or drunk music, depending on it.  Pop is for kids on sugar [laughs], in my opinion.  Jazz--you gotta be smoking something to like that stuff.  I get it, but you know, you just get it on another level.  And that's not a bad thing.  You just gotta be smart about it.  It's true: "Love the music, not the drugs".  But you can love the music and not take drugs ever or drugs can help you.  For me it just opened that whole other dimension that I would not have understood otherwise.

HL: What's your general philosophy of music?  What's its place in this world?

DM: I think it's very very important.  I have found in my life that no matter how shitty I'm feeling, music always cheers me up.  It can set the mood perfectly.  Music is the soundtrack to your life.  Yes, that is a cliche that everyone has heard, but it's true.  Say "Hey Ya" comes out, right.  Any song comes out at this particular time in your life and whenever you hear that song ten years from now, you'll hear that song on the radio and you'll remember it as "Oh that was when I was a senior in college, I remember when that song came on and everyone loved it".  It really is and no one else can take that song away from you.  Your kids won't get that song, but hey, they'll have their own song to tell their own story.  It's important to not let that pass you by.  You can't write about music very well.  You can't talk about it.  That kinda gives it a special place in society.  You can have a painting on a wall, but you can't own a song, really.  My brother asked why my mom hangs onto her records when she never listens to them--I get it, I get it.

HL: So I heard that you attended the Grammy Awards with Larry McFeurdy.  How was it?

DM: [laughs] It was fun.  I had a blast.  I really enjoyed it.  I really liked seeing The White Stripes, Dave Matthews, OutKast, and that whole Parliament Funkadelic thing with Earth Wind and Fire, that was really really cool.  I liked being close to the stage.  I don't think I'll ever watch the Grammys, but I think it's really cool being there and hearing music.  It's just a concert with everyone there.  It's a really neat place to be.  And I liked dressing up and wearing my hair pretty and wearing my shoes and borrowing my friend's prom dress.

HL: Any advice for wannabe DJs?

DM: Just if they wanna do it, do it.  Don't worry about how much it costs.  I've probably dropped $2000 on being a DJ, but I don't care at all because everyone needs a hobby.  Everyone needs to be passionate about something.  So if you are, go do it.  And you'll be surprised about how much you can accomplish in very little time.  Especially when I started out, I was just so gung-ho.  In six months, I learned how to spin, got my own set of turntables, bought 50 records, and made my first mix CD.  It was really cool.

Check out Dancing Mandy's show
"Dreams On Wax".  And email her at thedj@dancingmandy.com to receive a free copy of her latest mix CD.

(2.20.04)

On dark and stormy nights, my grandmother used to try and scare me with a story about how lightning steals the belly buttons of bad kids.  At a young age, without the logically capacity to disconfirm such folktale nonsense, it got me thinking--was I a good kid?  Consequently, when the skies flashed and thundered, I got in the self conscious habit of covering my belly button with my hands.

Yeah, looking back, I see the gist of her warning.  There's nothing like putting guilt and fear into children to get them to behave.  And I recognize how she appropriated the terror of nature to accomplish this.  I mean, lightning already yields a run and hide reaction, good kids notwithstanding.  Plus children'll believe anything you tell them.

I'd like to think that the day I stopped believing in her superstition was when I became a very bad kid and defyingly stood in the streets on a rainy day, my belly button fully exposed, and didn't get it stolen by lightning.  Alas, I learned it the easy way--I did my research.  Thru scientific data, I discovered no evidence which supports that lightning has the ability to take someone's belly button, not to mention that that part of my anatomy ain't exactly removeable.  My grandmother was just bullshitting me.

But I've always been thankful for her lessons.

Once upon a time, I was afraid of fire.  The flames on the gas stove in the kitchen freaked me out.  And I couldn't even look at lit candles.  My grandmother noticed this.  So one evening, she forced me to watch the news on tv.  An airplane had crashed upon landing.  I remember seeing wings silhouetted by flames bigger than I'd ever imagined.  I tried to look away, but she pushed me towards the screen.  "Look at that," she lectured, "all those dead people in the fire."  She started to laugh at my silly fears, for I hadn't really seen FIRE.  This was something to be afraid of, not tiny flames.  And I've never been scared since.

(2.23.04)

Iíve been embarking on an embroiling tightrope test of my horndog honed concentration known as the
Unreveal Tournament.  I've wasted much of my discounted time, repetitively stressed myself, and nearly nerved upon a breakdown plateau with this little game, which is essentially the classic Snake game (move your block to the blinking block, the blinking block'll attach itself to you as you find other blinking blocks that'll build a chain, but don't hit the walls or your trailing blocks), however with a striptease twist.  Under the playing field is a hyper cute anime girl.  The longer your snake, the less clothes she'll wear.

Tiffany was easy--the yellow haired, straddle positioned bimbo.  It only took 50 blocks to get her naked.  I conquered her fast.  And whilst I admit I had fun with her, the unchallenging swiftness of her simple abandon didn't bode well for my long term attention.  I have difficulty appreciating the chicks that are too eager to give it up. 

Susan, the brown haired, boots in the air snuggle princess took some skills on my part.  Firstly, she don't shed her outfit so fast--it takes more blocks to get to her chest.  Secondly, it takes forever to see her bare legs.  And thirdly, I needed to maneouver my snake at 80 blocks length to accomplish her complete undress (and she mockingly kept her socks on).  But it was so worth it.

I'm still working on Amber, the blue haired, sword adorning mega goddess.  Her buttock tight pants come off quick, but it's just a taunting glimmer of baited hope--"Keep playing and you'll see more," she seems to wink.  I'm finding that if I keep my eye on my snake and avert her distracting disrobement, I can go further in the game.  Also, I'm incorporating strategies that have proven safe passage with the previous girls--wide spiraling and tight zig zagging patterns.  All of which are easier said than doable.  The naturalistic drive is to dive in with immature speed, but I'm learning how to be patiently paced.  Sometimes the most direct path will only result in a trap whereas the most roundabout and twisted journey shall endure the way to her heart.  She's the last level, so the stakes are heavenly.  I'm playing to win.

(2.24.04)

Maxwell Edison, who majored in medicine, was picking up quizzical Joan, who's studying pataphysical science.  They were going to the pictures.  They've been dating for a couple of years and things seemed to be settling into routine, which isn't to say their relationship was bad.  It just wasn't great.

For something in the back of Max's forehead told him that as comfortable as his situation with Joan was, he fretted the possibility that maybe there's a better girl out there for him--someone prettier, wittier, and downright nitty grittier.  It didn't help that Joan kept presuming the institution of matrimony upon him.  So as each day passed, he slowly accepted, with reluctance, that he ought to faceoff with the reality that Joan was as good as it gets.

And then he met Rose and Valerie.  Rose was cuter than Joan, but not as smart.  Valerie wasn't as cute as Joan, but was smarter.  Joan was taller than Rose and Valerie, but shorter than Max.  Both Rose and Valerie would swipe Max away from Joan given the benefit of the doubtless.  However, his conscience kicked his rump and trumped him into the thick of a pickle.  But he didn't have the heart to break Joan's.

So he just treaded time, hoping that Joan'll get the hint and ditch him.

Which was taking forever to never happen.

After the movie, Max couldn't take it anymore.  As he drove Joan home, he spoke no complaint.  The silence frightened her.  He smiled cause he had made up his mind.  Unhesitatingly he reached for his silver hammer...

(2.25.04)

My dad just returned from a trip to Indonesia.  He visited his childhood home in Bandung--which he hadn't seen in 17 years.  Anyways, he retrieved an old photo taken at his grandma's funeral.

Everyone's there--my dad, his sister (my aunt), their mom and dad (my grandparents), and an assortment of relatives.  They're surrounding a closed casket where my dad's mom's mom (my great grandmother) rested.  Even though everyone's face is rather solemn, due to the occasion, they're all dressed in white, which my dad said was the tradition over there--you're not supposed to wear black when someone dies.  It's more of a celebration, albeit a mournful event.

I like looking at old photographs of old family members.  I stare at their eyes and their faces.  Somewhere in their features I can glimpse bits that have been passed onto me--my grandfather's lips, my dad's forehead.  And I can see traits that resemble my siblings.  Not to mention, it's fun seeing my dad (then around ten years old) as a kid, at an age younger than I am now.  He's got a mischievious smirk, yet there's something innocent about his stance.  I'm but a faint futuristic speck in his outlook.

Obviously, I never met my great grandmother.  But seeing the photo, I kinda sensed a spiritual distance slightly bridged.  Even if she's hidden in her white clad coffin, I imagined her smiling at me from underneath.  All I could muster was "hi".

There are days when I'm certain that my ancestors are looking over my shoulder.  Late at night, when I'm alone, I find comfort in knowing that their blood flows thru me.  I'd even say that my "conscience" is guided by the possibility that my dead relatives can read my mind.  And that they're making sure I'm safe. 

I hope to someday be watching over my great great grandchildren.  To them I say "hi".

(2.26.04)

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