|Out On a Lim|
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|Out On a Lim (2.27.04 - 5.17.04) >>
Due to some threatening letters that I've received from some concerned parents of kids who've stumbled upon my web journal via my LEGO stuff, I've been legally advised to include a warning regarding the questionable content on my site. So borrowing from the MPAA, I'm gonna presume that my webpage ought to be rated PG-13 (some material may be inappropriate for children under 13, i.e, language, sex, and some drug references). That being said, I apologize for any misunderstandings, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the show.
Oh, and while I'm at it, I might as well restate the general rule regarding my web journal, namely that not all of it is true--some of it has been filtered thru my imagination. I mean, come on, my life ain't really that decadent. So I'm repeating this little footnote just in case anyone gets the wrong idea. The philosophies expressed here are for entertainment purposes only and do not necessarily reflect upon me as a person.
And because I'm still getting emails from idiots asking me who "Larry McFeurdy" is, I'm gonna put in another reminder that I'm Larry McFeurdy. It's only funny when that truth is understood.
I can't cook, even if my life depended on it. I'm just too damn lazy. So I have others make my dinners. But I do make my own lunch. I either make tuna fish or egg sandwiches--and these are the only things I prepare, other than heat a can of chili or soup. Oh, and I know how to make rice and microwave popcorn. Anyways, here are my recipes:
TUNA FISH SANDWICH
Ingredients: tuna, mayonnaise, celery, bread
I usually use Bumble Bee solid white albacore (in water). I mash the meat with a fork, mixing in the mayonnaise and chopped celery. Put on bread (I usually toast sour dough).
EGG SALAD SANDWICH
Ingredients: egg, mayonnaise, celery, bread
Same as tuna fish sandwich, except replace tuna with hard boiled egg.
I've got two numbering systems, borrowed from Beethoven, by which I've cataloged the music that I've written--opus (Op.) and without opus (WoO.). The Op. are reserved for works that I consider my "proper serious composer" portforlio. These are the sonatas, film scores, and other classical genres. And these carefully notated manuscripts are attributed to my "Henry Lim" persona. The WoO. are for my whackier stuff, like the songs and experiments in electronic noise. And these are the mad acrylic nonsensical demented yayays of "Larry McFeurdy".
I've got my music listed on an Excel file to keep track of when I wrote such and such piece and how many I've written. As of May 17, 2004, I've got during the years 1995 thru 2002 six Op. And between the years 1985 and 2004 163 WoO.
So let me retrace my steps on how I ended up with my WoO. 163.
First, I was listening to the Pixies live Winnipeg show one night and thought, hey, their arrangements remind me of The Beatles. They're working with the same standard rock quartet formula of two guitars, bass, and drums. And I thought, as contemporatous music goes, the Pixies were my Beatles. Just as any Beatles influenced music that was written in the '60s and after, music in the '90s has been influenced by the Pixies and thereof.
Second, I thought, hey, I wanna write an obviously Beatles influenced song, circa 1964, during the Mania, and before the psychedelia. I'll use the standard rock quartet formula, and have goofy harmonies, sentiments, charm, and whimsy.
Third, this throwback to The Beatles set off my own personal nostalgia for their music. I mean, since I was a teenager, I've been researching their recordings. I remember the first time I heard their sound. It was like I was born to hear their music. They were new to me, yet they sounded eternally old, like they've always been. There's just something awesome about their melodic arcs nearing dilirium, yeah.
Four, so I needed lyrics. I wanted to write a Lennon/McCartney dual effort. To get ideas on Lennon's word contributions, I investigated Lewis Carroll's poetry (cause it's been documented that Lennon was a Carroll freak), whereupon I stumbled across "The Lobster Quadrille". I dug the word play and double meaning schemes. Thus I came up with the first two lines to my song--"I come on when you come on so come on be my girlfriend/I won't find a better find if I find you're my girlfriend". So I imagined Lennon taking that to McCartney and jotted down notes on how they'd elaborate on each other's ideas. To me, Lennon has always seemed more of the jester, while McCartney was like the sentimental fool. McCartney would croon a response to Lennon's first two lines with "Don't hesitate/I hate to wait". Lennon would chuckle and reply with "For my memories". And they'd continue thusly.
Five, so I needed music. I picked the key of D major with the Beatleseque dominant fifth and an occasional minor fourth chord permutation. The verses have a simple ascending scale step melody with a falling cadence--a singsong lift and drop reminiscent of a Lennon/McCartney tune. The chorus has a quirky Lennonesque odd phrased pattern, underlining pleading ugency, which leads into a love love love resolution.
Six, I made a first draft demo of the song late at night with my humble personal home studio--just me singing and accompanied with guitar. I let my engineer hear it and he recommended that for the arrangement I try to aim for that Beatles "fever".
Seven, I made an arrangement demo. I tried to put myself in each of the Beatle's shoes to figure out how they'd perform the song. Lennon would strum a smirking rhythm, Paul would do a bouncing bassline outlining fifths, George would soulfully bend his leads, and Ringo would just have fun riding his cymbals.
Eight, well, that's my next step. I've booked Stair 7 Studios and am ready to record the master take. Editor's note: Today (5.20.04) at 21:30 is the date and time of the scheduled recording--but don't expect to get thru the security guards, it's a closed session, invite only.
The song's called "Now", and it's inspirationally my favourite song on Larry's Hacienda Heights album. So far...
I'm not one to judge how others spend their time, cause frankly, I can't imagine most of my hobbies to be remotely considered a productive passing of boredom, but I just discovered the Googlewhacking phenomenon, and can't help but think, damn, some people actually have more time to waste than I do.
According to the www.googlewhack.com, Googlewhacking is a word search challenge whereby using the Google search engine, you're supposed to hit a single site that contain two keywords. There are rules, such as you can't use adjacency quotes in your searches, the words must be in the dictionary, and the site containg the two keywords can't list them in any concordance, bibliography, or such.
I believe some people keep score on how many Googlewhacks they've found. Hey, whatever, man...
Now the cool reader might be thinking "Hey Henry, how'd you find out about this geek crap? And aren't you just as geeky for knowing about Googlewhacking as the Googlewhackers themselves?" To which I shall answer, someone notified me that Out On a Lim contains a Googlewhack. I'm in no way directly participating in this nonsense. It just so happens that two of the words which I've used in my web journal are the only usages on a single webpage. And I'm not gonna repeat them here, cause then it'll nullify the Googlewhack. But you can see for yourself what those two words are.
I'd have no complaints if I went deaf today. Cause I'd've had the pleasure of listening to the sounds around me to their fullest extent. I've never cautiously cut off damaging loudness by plugging my ears. I've always heard things in all their glory. And I wouldn't mind not being able to discern any future sounds, cause I've enjoyed plenty enough in my lifetime. Any more would be greedy of me.
The little things that are often taken for granted, such as danger signals and subtle communicative inflections, will be dealt with like any other hard of hearing person. I'll figure out how to survive. It's been done before.
As for music, I've got a memory. I can hear music in my head. In fact there's rarely a moment when I don't hear my internal jukebox playing some tune. Of course, I don't claim to have perfect pitch, but I can recall how notes and combinations of notes work, at least for me, and that's all that matters. In my mind, melodies form shapes, harmonies interact with the melodies (whether in the background, aside, or in front), and the rhythm holds everything together (or tries to thrash it apart). All I've got to do is remember these elemental structures and I'm hearing the music again--sound is superficial, its essential effect on me is what truly counts.
And if for whatever reason I forget a piece of music, I can look at the transcription and it'll come back to me. As well, I can read a score. I'm not attached to performing, so not being able to play an instrument or with an ensemble won't kill me. I can always compose. Deaf composers aren't unheard of.
But what if I'd like to hear my kid's voice, or a loved one who I'll meet in the future? Oh well, it's no big loss, for I'm sure I can love them nonetheless. Perhaps it's selfish of me to over indulge my ears , but I think I wouldn't be who I am without having heard what I've heard and how I've heard the world. It certainly has humbled me. I've heard such good things.
The first thing I noticed was there was a rag in the bowling ball bag that I opened. A real bowling ball rag, you know the kind with handles so you can clean your ball by pulling on them while it dangles. I don't have one--I use a regular bath towel to wipe off the oil from the lanes. So something was wrong.
It turned out that I had my brother's bowling ball bag by mistake. The problem being we've both got the same looking yellow bag. Somehow after the last bowling night I must've grabbed his instead of mine. And my brother was off on some date, so I was stuck with his bag for the night. He had mine in the trunk of his car.
That meant that I didn't have my shoes either. I tried his, but they're way too tight for me. I had to rent a pair. But the real problem was I didn't have my ball.
I liken it to a musician using someone elseís instrument. I've grown used to how my ball feels, not to mention it's been drilled to fit my hand. My brother's got smaller hands, so my fingers can't get a good grip and release. Sorta like when I bar chord on a guitar that's not mine. Even if it's the same model, it ain't got the same response that I've worn into my six string. It takes time to build a relationship with a guitar or bowling ball.
So I threw my games, not expecting to work on my form, cause it just wasn't the same without my ball. I spent the time making fun of myself instead, I mean, I couldn't do anything else. I kinda felt like I was cheating on my baby. All the while I kept thinking how nice it'll be to reunite with my ball. Oh how I missed her...
Well, my digital camera died. It started to deteriorate when I was visiting Harvard, the cold weather freezing the motor that opens the lens. And on my last day in Boston, whilst I wandered downtown, it jammed more frequently, making a grinding noise. I gave it a rest, hoping that it'll warm up back in sunny Los Angeles.
And it did. For a while. Then I went to Coachella. 105F desert heat. And a couple degrees hotter in the tents where sweaty ravers twirled their glowsticks. My poor camera must've gotten confused by the radical temperature shifts. I even improvised a manual fidgeting trick to assist the broken motor, which allowed me to take a few pictures. Alas, by the end of the day, I couldn't make it work anymore.
I thought it'd be ok later, if not manageable. But I took it to Stair 7 Studios last week as a backup camera for the photographer who's documenting my recording sessions, just in case her camera ran out of memory or power. I did a checkup on my camera's motor. It was hopelessly not functional anymore.
I've gotten addicted to taking photos, especially with the ease and portability of my digital camera. I need it at my disposal. I didn't check to see how much it'd cost to fix my motor, but having done some research on the latest models, I found one almost exactly like mine, but with a higher resolution. And cheaper. So I opted to just replace my camera with a new one.
Thankfully, technology advances as costs decrease. My old camera (a Sony DSC-P5) had 3.2 megapixels and was about $600 three years ago. My new camera (a Sony DSC-P10) has 5.0 megapixels and is almost half the price. I've developed a stylistic rapport with this Sony consumer range and can make it do my bidding, so I'll stick with it. At least as my reliable all purpose camera (someday I'd like to get a DSLR for more serious photos). Well, as reliable as lasting three years without any problems.
But I had some good times with my old camera. It was with me on some fun adventures. And it did its job well. Rest in peace.
Normally, I write these journal entries a week in advance. I like to keep ahead of myself, having a backlog of entries ready to post. I don't like having nothing on deck and being in the position to come up with the next entry fresh. Not that I can't write on a deadline, let alone, no one says I have to contribute daily. And I've yet to hit a block of uninspiration. But I prefer having the option to edit and/or erase what I say beforehand. It's more impulsive otherwise.
However, as I've been busy working on my latest song this past week, I've depleted my repository. Today's entry is a rarity--it reflects me now in the present tense.
Cause I get really focused when I get in the songwriting zone. Well, actually, writing the song is the easiest part. I can do that in a couple of hours. Even arranging, recording, and editing don't take up much of my time. It's the mixing that I have problems with. All the variables of equalization, balancing, compression, effects, and such get overwhelming for me. My ears and concentration lose track of relativity. Sometimes I get tunnel hearing and nitpick on the bass sound for a day, only to hear it later as way too loud in the mix. And I have this obsessive affliction whereby I need to complete the task I'm working on, even at the expense of my sanity and sleep.
But I'm now done with the song. You can hear it here.
Coincidentally, it's called "Now". It's the seventh track (out of ten) on my forthcomming album Hacienda Heights (or should I say Larry McFeurdy's album, wink wink). Ironically, I was aiming for a retro early Beatles sound. And although I've only finalized the mix today, to me the song's old--I've heard it a million times during these past few days. So in a way, it doesn't sound like "now" to me. But it's a good approximation.
Now it's time to catch up on my writing...
In these times, there really ain't any excuse to pay for music. Most of it, at least the popular stuff, can be downloaded for free. Even if you're an audio snob and can't tolerate the crappy sound quality of mp3s, CD copying has become so commonplace that you can pretty much get any album burned via the collective library of your friend's friends. Music belongs to everyone.
However, I've actually got two personal excuses for paying for music, both of which are probably too insignificant to save the industry. One being I buy vinyl--a format that can sound better than CDs and more importantly, can't be conveniently copied. And two being I like to look at album art--the photos and the design.
I just bought Avril Lavigne's latest CD. I don't remember the title of it, nor do I particularily get any enjoyment from her music, other than a fleeting juvenile smirk, which can be fun, but nothing worth obsessing over. I could've downloaded this album and be content, if I was slightly interested in her songs.
No, the real reason why I had to have her CD is the cute photos of her. Yeah, most of these images are online somewhere--on her official site or some fan's shrine. And yeah, I could've colour printed them, but there's something about the way it's professionally packaged, all commercial product, that, to me, is more exciting than a homemade bootleg of the artwork.
Plus, she's so worth it. I mean, I'd pay big bucks just to have the cover photo alone. I like her new poofy dress look. She's skinnier and older. And I could fly my soul's balloon into her raccoon eyes forever. I don't care if she's a singer, or whatever they're marketing her as, I just want to admire her beauty. She transcends such measly concepts as money, music, and me.
Editor's note: "Out On a Lim" will be observing Memorial Day. Have a nice holiday weekend and see you next Tuesday.
I just got an irate email from some political brat that said I was being "naive" and "irresponsible" for the statements I made in my last journal entry as to free music--that artists need to be "compensated" for their talents, blah, blah, blah.
Cause I don't buy it. And it may just be me, I'm not forcing my opinion on the world, nor am I suggesting any answers, but I don't sympathize with any musician who makes music for money (not to be confused with making money for music). Yeah, I understand the economics of it all, but that's a sociological problem that has corrupted the definition of not only music, but everything else in this excessively consumerized world, legalities included.
I wouldn't accept a penny for my own music. It's for everyone to enjoy. I don't care if someone steals the copyrights, in fact I'd be flattered. There is no trace of greed in my music. I don't need compensation, cause people's reactions and comments upon hearing my songs are worth more than anything money can offer me--that's music's ultimate definition. Below is a sample of some of my favourites, paraphrased from memory:
"That's not you singing." - My Sister
"Is that really you singing?" - My Cousin
"Your voice sounds like Sean Lennon." - The Teddy Bear Artist
"You're trying to sing like John Lennon." - Dr. Composer
"You're voice sounds like that singer from Soul Asylum." - Judith's Photographer
"You're normal speaking voice doesn't sound like your singing voice." - My Birthday Pizza
"You've got a nice voice." - My Fair Fraulein
"So which instrument do you record first?" - My Boss
"Nice drum fills in 'It Could All End'." - A Human Head
"Nice guitar solo in 'Kung Fu Girl'." - Drunk at 17:15
"That guitar rhythm in 'Over the Line' sounds like Nirvana." - My Lawyer
"Who is Walter Sobchak?" - Mrs. Sobchak's Acquaintance
"Why do you call yourself 'Larry McFeurdy'?" - The Circulator's Assistant
"Who is Larry McFeurdy?" - Common Email Question
"What's that high pitched voice-like sound in 'My Fair Fraulein'?" - The Circulator
"'My Fair Fraulein' sounds like country reggae." - My Engineer
"'Jovie' made me cry." - My Cousin's Husband
"I put 'Jovie' on a mix CD for my girlfriend." - The Bible
[hums melody to 'Jovie'] - Brandeis
"Who is 'Jovie'?" - Boston
"'Now' sounds like The Beatles." - Jovie
"'Now' is a nice song." - The Nerdy Girl in the Basement
"That opening part in 'Lady Delirium' sounds like The Cure." - A Cure Fan
"You should perform these songs live." - Lady Delirium
"'It Could All End' sounds like California, like you're sitting on the beach and watching the waves." - The Swedish Guitarist
"'Kung Fu Girl' sounds like that dragon song." - My Brother
"'Kung Fu Girl' sounds Asian." - My Mom
"What's a kung fu girl?" - My Aunt's Daughter
"The piano on 'Kung Fu Girl' is pretty." - The Circulator's Assistant's Assistant
[sings] "She's my kung fu girl..." - The Kung Fu Girl
"You should mike your guitar amp." - The Meanwhilers' Bassist
"Really, you didn't use an amp? It sounds like you're using an amp." - The Meanwhilers' Lead Guitarist
"I like the bass drum sound you got on 'It Could All End'." - The Meanwhilers' Drummer
"I have several dialectic interpretations of what these songs are about, in regards to their target audience. On one level, they're general love songs that ought to be empathetically understood by anyone who's ever spent a day thinking about love. On another level, each song has its own thematic subculture--for instance, 'Lady Delirium' is a reference to the Sandman character, 'Over the Line' is based on Walter Sobchak's dialogue from The Big Lebowski, and 'Jovie' is Zooey Deschanel's character's name in Elf. Subtextually, there's another level that, fortunately for those who can hear it and unfortunately for those who can't, reflects inside jokes that only those who personally know me will get--an example being my bowling crew can better understand the hilarity of 'Over the Line'. Conceptually, my ideal goal with these songs is to reflect my autobiographical perspective of Hacienda Heights, where I grew up, and how it has influenced who I am today--there's a middle class suburban vibe throughout. By the way, "the top of the world" is located in The Heights (at the apex of Puente Del Este). And these songs are inspired by a cute girl. Oh yeah, the rhythm guitar sounds cool." Ė The Meanwhilers' Rhythm Guitarist
Arrgh...I think I might've opened up a sensitive subject in my last journal entry concerning my musical intentions vis a vis my audience's reception of my music. I received a very kind email from one of my adoring fans who wanted to "thank [me] for writing songs about [her]".
I can't vouche for her honesty, for all I know she could be just teasing my ego, but I didn't have the heart to tell her the truth--that she's NOT my inspiration. Cause music, like communication, is a two way street. It doesn't exist as a single definition. Even the composer doesn't have the final word. As it gets shared, it takes on new meanings. So I'll let her think what she wants to believe, if it makes her feel better. I ought to be thankful that she felt anything at all.
But there's a dangerous line that should always be observed. There's a potential for complete misunderstanding, off the communicative road. And I could have a stalker on my trail. I myself recognize such crazed mental states for I have the capacity to let my obsessions consume my rational bearings. However, having had personal problems with freaks stalking me in the past, I also can respect the privacy of the stalked.
So I suppose not leading her on, yet maintaining a friendly exchange of compliments is my safest route. I mean, I could've just ignored her email, but I felt too sorry for her not to respond. One of my faults is I have difficulties being a mean person.
If you're the fan who wrote to me and're reading this, I'm sorry for lying. But my songs are just songs--they don't mean anything.
The ArcLight multiplex in Hollywood is a cool place to see movies, if you're willing to pay the $14 admission. But it's worth it cause the picture and sound quality are adequate, the venue is somewhat comfortable, it's usually got the special engagements that no one else in the country cares about seeing, and of course it plays lame blockbusters in it's famous Cinerama Dome. But most importantly it has assigned seating. This is helpful when you buy tickets ahead of time and don't want to wait in line to get a decent seat. (Amoeba Records is located across the street).
On 5.28.04, I attended the 23:45 showing of Saved in the Upper 12 theatre. I sat in seat M23. I don't remember most of the forgettable movie, other than Mandy Moore was funnier than hell. However, I'll forever recall the usher that helped me find my seat. She was tall, skinny, blonde, young, dorky, and perfect. I wanted to tell her so, but my enervating shyness muted my chances of sharing anything more than a "thanks" for pointing me in the right direction.
Why do I get so scared?
I can say bluntly, that everything in my life is exactly how I like it--I've got the freedom to explore and enjoy my ideas, I've got no problems or hardships hanging over my head, I've got no complaints about my friends and family, and I'm alive. Everything is under control. Except love.
Now, I'm not griping, cause I consider myself extremely lucky to have everything else in my life running smoothly. And it makes complete sense, from a fair and balanced persepective, that no one, not even I, deserves to be absolutely happy. I'm just acknowledging the Faustian equilibrium. It's as if everyone has to cut a deal, to either find contentment within yourself or with others--you can't have both. Everyone is guaranteed one of these two paths on the condition that greed for trying to attain both will condemn you to misery. You can make compromises, but that's your own decision. And in the final analysis, whatever choice you make ain't greater than any other, it's a matter of preferences, and ultimately based on what relative positive and associated negative aspects you're willing to sacrifice.
Recognizing this tradeoff is half the story. I mean, I've seen it consistently fold before me as I've gotten personal happiness in spades whilst any attempt to reveal my heart to someone has always seemed to escape me. It used to puzzle me in the past, but nowadays, I'm aware of the binding contract that I've signed with my soul, and laugh it off. Cause that's all I can do.
And as happiness is insignificant without sadness, and vice versa, I admit I do sometimes feel like I'm missing something from life. But that's just natural curiosity--to be tempted to wonder what might've been had I picked a different destiny. However what really scares me is the improbable possibility that I might be displacing my views on the laws of happiness. That maybe I can beat the bargain and get away with finding love without losing myself. That perhaps I am an exception to the rules. That I don't have deliusions of grandeur...
The fact that I gave that cute usher a second thought suggests that I'm still vulnerable.
Elaborating on my last journal entry in which I implied that I shook hands with the devil, obviously I was speaking metaphorically. Nevertheless, the mythology pervades because everyone, consciously or otherwise, makes (or does not make) a pact, if not with a representative of their choice of religious symbolism, with themselves. It's a personal decision that only applies to you, be it fame, fortune, love, or whatever you desire. And only you can determine how you'll choose to follow thru, give or take the arguably uncontrollable circumstances that interfere with your fate. But once you've set your destination, there's little chance of changing your course.
At least that's what I gather. I mean, I've always been committed to my decisions--I need to finish what I've started, no matter how insane. Not to say that dallying in indecision ain't a valid option with its own benefits, but I find my peace of mind when I bring things to a head, regardless of "success" or "failure", as those terms aren't up to me judge, rather it's the act of completion that I'm after. That's what gives me the most satisfaction in this world. And that's what I was granted.
Yes, I'm aware that many things in life are ideally neverending processes, love being the quintessential example. However, I'm not such a romantic. I embrace the concept of endings. It's been my experience that to understand the finite is to simultaneously open up the question of its unbound converse--infinity. Things begin and end, endlessly, even if only in my feeble imagination. I may not have literally signed away my soul, but every aspect of my life is consoled by this infinite structure as my reality.
Hey, that's what I asked for and that's what I got.
I remember the exact moment when the proverbial deal was made. I was thirteen. I was listening to the playback of a song of mine that I had just recorded. It was about a girl I had a teenage crush on. I closed my eyes, as I normally do when I listen with my introspective ears. And as the verses and choruses went by, the tempo slowed, and eventually time froze. I was inside my song. The chord progression had built a hallway of doors extending beyond my sight in both directions. Behind each door was a possible path I could take--one led to riches, one led to notoriety, one led to the girl who inspired the song, etc. It wasn't a trick question, for each door led somewhere that promised to be both good and bad, all things being equal, and per the fine print. But everything I do in life would be related to my choice. All I had to do was pick one (or none, if I so chose).
It's probably appropriate that I give some background on myself so as to better clarify which door I picked. Cause anybody else, under any other situation, would be confused at my decision--but that's the point, everyone has a different calling, based on their own wishes and wants to which they deem will make themselves happy. I was a spoiled middled class kid, so I've never been lacking for better finances. I never was comfortable in the spotlight, nor did I crave attention. And I never truly knew what love was. I didn't need anything these doors offered.
Also, ever since I was very young, I had admired music. Call me crazy, but it took me to places that my dreams only hinted at. I had visited many amazing dimensions whilst listening to music, but I had never entered my own compositions. This hallway of doors was the first time I had been within a song of my own creation. It blew me away, so much so that I didn't much care about what each door held. All I wanted to do was explore what I had made for myself.
So that's what I chose. No door in specific, just the view of them all lined up in an eternal row. It's a cool sight which I continually see whenever I'm in my element, namely creating something, be it music, writing, or whatever. The only stipulation, of course, is I can't pick a door. Not to say I can't be tempted, but I've learned the consequences of breaching the deal--I'll just get bounced back into the hallway, with a glimmer of hope that I should try again later. Once I wrote a song in the hallway and listened to it there so that I could enter another hallway within the hallway. I picked the door which I wish I had picked, love. Alas, it only looped me back to the original hallway of doors, forever to contemplate my self referential designs.
But I've learned to accept my choice. I will see it thru to the end. It's got its perks as well as my deserved pangs, but I try to focus on the positive. I have no doubt that all the doors include the same proportion of happiness, and I am in no position to criticize anyone else's selection--for there is no one correct path, no matter what anyone tries to believe. I mean, I can see how others might see my choice as a shallow and meaningless illusion, but prove to me that anything else ain't just as subjectively transitory and I'll concede that you're a better person than me, that I've wasted my life, and that I'm bullshitting some jumbled nonsense to smokescreen my fear of rejection. However, I do encourage you to find your own door, and enjoy it for all its blessings and curses. The choice is yours.
I was too young to remember Nixon and Ford. I have vague recollections of seeing Carter on television. But Reagan was the first in office during my lifetime that I was conscious of as being the President of the United States. For better or worse, Reagan laid down the foundation from which I view politics.
I haven't voted since the early '90s--I'm a registered Republican. And I still think it's impolite to discuss politics. But I had no personal complaints during Reagan's terms, as my comfortable childhood attests (I've got his signature on my Presidential Physical Fitness Award, which is neatly framed at my parents' house). Although, having gone to college, I understand why some liberals might despise him. The way I see it, though, for every good, there is an equally bad consequence, and vice versa. It's a simple equation that politics likes to complicate.
I'm not particularly sad or glad at Reagan's passing--I'm neutral. Again, my apathy comes from having nothing to be passionate about, nothing that directly connects me to this material world, and nothing to feel sorry for, least of all for some politician. If there's anything I ought to be thankful for in terms of what the leaders of this country in which I happen to live in have established, it's my freedom to be ignorant. That's my fondest memory of Reagan.
Speaking for myself, I always try my best to avoid eavesdropping on someone else's conversation, despite their obnoxious outbursts of centralizing attention. Cause, it's none of my polite business if I'm not being spoken to. Working in a tight office space, I've become accustomed to tuning out my coworkers when they're having meetings or are on the telephone--either I listen to music on headphones or just ignore their voices as background noise. Not that there's any secret valuable information being discussed, nor was I brought up to respect the privacy of others, it's just a self imposed disassociation from society in general on my behalf. I simply don't care.
But there are times when I can't help but listen in. It's usually not due to their topic of conversation, I mean unless they mention my name, they're practically mute to my ears. Rather, it's their dynamic timbres that punch thru my baracade of silence--anything that deviates from the normal speaking range, such as a terrified scream, a strange laugh, or an audible whisper. In studio geek parlance, their frequencies pass thru my gated filters. Nevertheless, I hate myself for listening.
Today was such an occasion. I was having a smokebreak outside on the loading dock of the music building, digging the cute chicks that walked by in their little skirts. Suddenly, the door leading to one of the orchestra rehearsal rooms opened and two students started yelling. One was a young chick, the other was a middle aged hag. They started to argue, blaming each other for some failure on their assignment or something, so much so that the old bitch made the little girl cry. I quickly finished my cigarette and left the tense scene.
However, it got me thinking, how the hell did they get into such a situation? Ok, it's nearing finals and they're both probably stressing out, but geez, it's just a class, in music of all subjects, why get so hostile? Obviously, this is indicative of my misunderstanding the circumstances and the stakes--this is why I distrust eavesdropping. But still, tears were shed. That's never a good sign.
Cause I always try my best to avoid getting in such situations. I can't remember the last time I got chewed out, let alone chewed someone out. I don't know whether to feel sorry for them or to laugh at them for being idiots. I mean, I don't think anyone, given the bigger picture, would waste their time in some silly little argument. Of course, I'm being simplistic. There's probably some complex chain of events that fosters this confrontational behaviour. I can't blame them.
Or can I? Sometimes I believe everyone is responsible for everything they do. There are no excuses. None. Don't whine about "It's not my fault, I didn't have any privileged opportunities" or "I was born stupid" or "I've got people that count on me, I can't think about myself" or "I'm sorry, but it's out of my control" or "I never imagined my life would end up this way" or "It was an accident". Every action you take should be accounted for, knowing the risks involved--and everything has the potential for disaster. And yes, you may end up in a position where you'll be trapped and all your options have been squandered. But retrace your steps. You can't blame anyone but yourself for getting in a mess. Chances are everyone gets a chance to get themselves out before it's too late. But oftentimes pride gets in the way. Admitting your own mistakes becomes harder to do when you can defer responsibility for your actions. However, that only makes it easier to become insecure about yourself--cause you're no longer in control of your life. And that'll piss you off. Lashing out on others will be your only solace. Cause you deserve better than feeling like crap. Ah, but no one deserves anything in this world, least of all anyone who doesn't claim their own responsibility. The answer is simple--don't get in situations where you can't depend on yourself to handle the risks.
But don't listen to me.
Sabrina (1954) is a creepy movie. Audrey Hepburn plays the 22 year old title character, even though at the time of the film's release, she was 25--which she kinda pulls off, although I can't imagine any 22 year old being nearly as sophisticated, regardless of Audrey's acting abilities to play younger than her age, not to mention thesedays maturity seems to be old fashioned. Anyways, that's not half as bizarre as her romantic lead, Humphrey Bogart, who at the film's release was 55 years old (three years shy of his death)--heavily made up and soflty lit to cover his wrinkles, his hair comically dyed darker. It's never mentioned how old his character is, beside a joke about him having arthritis. Although there is a scene in which he slyly confesses to Audrey that he wished he were "ten years younger". Even then, he'd still be old enough to be her father.
Ok, the Audreyphiles will point out that 'tis common in her filmography for her to be paired with much older men (Fred Astaire was also 30 years her senior in Funny Face, Gary Cooper was 28 years her senior in Love in the Afternoon, to mention the obvious). But in those films, the romantic chemistry seemed more alive, and therefore more believeable--I mean, come on, Astaire danced circles around her.
The dramatic tension of Sabrina rests on the audience guessing Bogart's true intentions with Audrey. His character is all businessmen, cold, and unsympathetic. From the beginning of the movie, she's in love with his more playful, albeit immature, younger brother (played by William Holden, who was a more reasonable 11 years older than her). Now, I can see several interpretations of how the plot unfolds, but suffice to say, Bogart wins Audrey. From one point of view, it can appear that he falls in love with her unbeknownst to him until the last moment, making for a surprise ending that probably old wives cry over. Another possibility is Bogart was after Audrey from the start, and all his manipulative moves designed to distract her from Holden (she was interfering with a wedding that would merge family businesses) were an elaborate and deceptively cruel seduction--cause every guy knows, confuse a girl and she'll want you more. And furthermore, anywhere inbetween, as the exact moment that Bogart had his eye on Audrey can be seen from a variety of scenes.
Whatever his underlying motives were, Bogart's final smile appears as that of a dirty old man's. Maybe this sorta story made more sense 50 years ago. Case in point, the 1995 remake (with a 30 year old Julia Ormond and a 53 year old Harrison Ford) mistakes the vintage Hollywood grace of the original for unintended anachronistic comedy--there's no way it'd fly today.
I used to associate the comming of summer with fun movies. What with school out, hot weather, beaches, and vacationing with family and friends, blockbusters used to usher in the season, usually around the Memorial Day weekend. Movies such as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and Gremlins set the tone for my imagination during those childhood years.
But somehow I grew up. Summer movies started to suck--they didn't entertain me the way they used to, despite the hyped up special effects trying to fill in for flimsy stories. The magic was gone. For me, the last big summer movie was Jurassic Park back in 1993.
Granted, these popcorn films were geered towards a young target audience. As an adult, I now can see how Star Wars might seem like a toy commercial disguised as a movie. And it just might be that only a kid can truly enjoy these kinds of motion pictures, cause they'ren't so critical--generations have different tastes. Plus, I discovered more exciting ways to pass the time, namely girls. Not to mention, I currently live my life as if I'm perpetually on summer vacation--relaxed and lazy. Without the element of escapism, blockbusters don't have the same appeal. Thus, I've stopped looking forward to summer.
Maybe it's cause the previous Harry Potter films were winter releases and seemed cold, stale, long, and boring. Maybe it's cause the latest chapter opened in the summer and is wickedly vibrant, exciting, and dare I say fun. Maybe it's cause it looks better than the first two films--it now has lots of greens and deep darks, with lots of cool camera angles. Maybe it's cause the tone, due to the new director, feels more aggressively enchanting, as opposed to being blandly faithful to the books. Maybe it's cause the story actually is involving (it's my favourite in the series--I dig the temporal paradox). Maybe it's cause the characters are developing--especially Hermione, it's as if she used to be that annoying bookworm in the background that suddenly bloomed into a beautiful young woman that you now can't not notice. Maybe it's cause the Williams score, paletted with intimate ensembled medieval flourishes and cartoonish jazz, sounds fresher than his usual tired orchestral fanfares. Maybe it's cause this movie reminds me of what it felt like to be a kid--full of wonder and adventure. But it's as if summer is here again.
Ich erinnere mich an was Sie mir erklarten
Sie wollten mit mir bis September sein
Sie wurden nicht keine mehr gegenuberzustellen haben Schule
Wir sollten zu vergeuden Tage haben so viele
Donnerstag Nacht sagten Sie dass Sie hier sein wurden
Ich habe seit Freitag gewartet
Moglicherweise sind Sie gegangen mit jemand anderes zu sein
Nicht konnten Sie mit mir ebensogut gewesen sein
Nehmen Sie den Bus und beeilen Sie sich oben
Ich mochte nicht vernachlassigt werden
Seien Sie bitte hier oder seien Sie mindestens nahe
Ursache die ich zuruckgewiesenen zu fuhlen beginne
Es gibt keine die ich eher mit sein wurde
Ich weiss es ich weiss ein bischen Mittel ist dass es unfair ist
Aber ich mochte denken dass Sie immer meins sind
Nicht irgendein Madchen sehe ich etwas von der Zeit
Hey Lurene nicht verbringen Sie Ihren Sommer mit mir
Es ist reales kuhles aber ich schatze dass wir warten und sehen mussen
I have a friend who lives in an anonymous town in an anonymous part of the planet. It's a decent place with decent trees and decent weather. It's got a small college at the hub of a small student district--small coffee shops, small bars, and small pizza parlours. And in the summer, lightning bugs light up the night.
But the girls in this town are out of this world. Trust me, upon visiting, I couldn't help but notice the high proportion of cute school girls--walking on the sidewalks, studying in the grass, and working side jobs at the restaurants. Moreso than any other college town that I've visited. It's uncanny.
Everyweek, my friend reports that he's met a new girl, cuter than the last. I would be envious, but so far all the girls, and I mean all of them, have boyfriends. It's a curse. Some of them tease my friend and don't mention that they've got boyfriends until later, after they've got his attention. It's almost hilarious. It's a safe bet that no girl in this town is single.
My friend tortures himself by hanging out with these girls nevertheless. Sometimes I worry that he'll get his ass kicked by these girls' boyfriends--he's gotten into some dangerous situations. I mean, he's braver than I am. I try not to get involved with girls that are involved. It's just not worth it, no matter how pretty and forthcomming the girl may be. But I suppose when there's little hope in finding a girl that's not taken, there ain't nothing else he can do. However, I do commend him for his patience. I'd go bonkers if I were him.
I had a dream in which I received a notice declaring that I had several overdue books which I had checked out more than twenty years ago from my elementary school's library. These books were research material for some report that I couldn't remember if I had ever completed, although my instinct told me that I never did turn in the assignment. It's been so long ago. I almost forgot that I hadn't returned the books.
But that was the least of my worries. For there was a monster tormenting my neighbourhood. Reports were scarce, no official description existed, but witnesses swear that the monster moved quickly during the night, jumping over walls into backyards, and creeping into young girls' rooms. There is no evidence of sexual assult, however all the girls have been so distraught from seeing the monster that they remain mute, shivering from fear.
A curfew was set. Mobs were assembled, patrolling the streets with torches and guns. Everyone locked themselves indoors. Many young girls were sequestered at heavily guarded hotels.
That night, I was digging thru my shelves looking for the overdue books when I heard the crash of glass breaking from the direction of my living room. I heard a helicopter overhead as I checked to see what the matter was. A spotlight panned thru my blowing curtains and broken living room window. A megaphoned voice warned that the area was surrounded and that I should remain calm as the police have the situation under control.
There were muddy footprints on my floor. Someone else was in my home. I heard bustling behind me as I escaped out my door. In the streets, I noticed that I was running quite fast--faster than I thought I was capable. And as I leaped over a wall in a single bound, I realized that I was the one being chased. I was the monster.
In a stranger's backyard, I crept towards the window of a room where a young girl was peacefully sleeping inside...
I woke up.
I must say that I like the new terms of service for jury duty adopted by the Los Angeles County court system. Before, you had to go in for ten days, sit in a crowded assembly room, wait to be selected as a potential juror, and maybe get picked to be on a jury for a trial that'll last who knows how long. Now, you're on call for five days, you check to see if you have to report, and if you get summoned, you only have to do one day of service, pending on if you get on a case.
Not that I don't mind doing my civic obligation, although I've never been on a jury proper--the closest I've gotten was as an alternate. I think I'm too much of a freak (I have never been, or no one I know has ever been, convicted of a major crime) to be sympathetically useful for the lawyers. And it doesn't bother me to be waiting around amongst strangers, rather it's kinda amusing being in the company of the "common people". Cause I work at a university, and I often forget what an ivory tower it is--most of my so-called peers aren't so scholarly uppity, to put it mildly (try explaining the recursivity of Bach to a retired salesman). It's also no big sacrifice on my part to participate in the legal process. All in all, I'm all for it.
No, what bothers me most about doing jury duty is waking up early in the morning. I mean, I normally go to bed when the rest of the world goes to work. My sleep pattern has been finely honed to fit my lifestyle. I set my own schedule.
So having to wake up to go to jury duty for one day instead of ten is cool with me, even with the chance of having to do more time. It's all a matter of luck. And I'm one who believes that such odds are evenly dispersed--everyone has good and bad luck, eventually.
Originally, I got jury duty earlier this year. But I postponed it, cause it conflicted with my already set travel plans (to Japan). This week was when I said I'd be available. Which was ideal, cause as the UCLA library is in transition to a new cataloging system, I didn't have much to do at work anyways. Per being on call, I didn't have report to the Torrance courthouse on Monday or Tuesday--I got to sleep in. However, I dreaded Wednesday's 08:30 attendance time. I went to bed at 06:30, cause I just couldn't fall asleep any earlier, and woke up an hour later. The assembly room was nearly empty. Only 39 people were called in. It was a slow day. We sat around til 15:00 with none of us getting selected. Our one day of service was up. And the best part was I slept in the assembly room.
I can be resourceful.
I'm supposed to write some music for a film. There's a scene in which an old lady dances to a vinyl record, reminiscing her ballerina days. The director wanted a waltz as a source cue. As I watched a rough cut of the film, I played around with ideas on my keyboard. I wasn't particularily inspired, except that the last song I wrote seemed to be adaptable as a waltz (changing the meter to 3/4). I made a demo and let the director hear what I had in mind for the scene. He thought it worked.
Next, I had to record a real version of the recycled tune, on a real piano. As I went to book a session, it just so happened that my engineer was recording some student recitals--one of which was a piano performance. I suggested that I record my waltz inbetween recitals, since the microphones were already set up for the grand piano, and I'd be quick--all I needed were two takes, I could edit a master from that. He agreed. So I stuck around til the piano recital was over. After crashing the reception (hey, free food), I dashed to the stage and recorded two takes of my waltz.
Hear it here.
I'm addicted to Coke. On average, I drink five cans per day. More on weekends. I take it with every meal (I don't eat breakfast). When I'm at home, there's always one by my side--next to my mousepad, resting on my amp when I'm playing my guitar, within reach when I'm listening to my stereo, and keeping me company when I watch movies alone in the dark. I can't think of any project that I've worked on which hasn't been fueled by Coke. It's a great way to keep things moving at a pace that I'm comfortable with--not too fast like heavier caffeinated drinks and not too slow like alcohol. I'm alive when there's Coke in my veins.
I spice up my consumption with three varieties of Coke--classic, cherry, and vanilla. I try not to have the same flavour twice in a row. Of course it's easy to remember what I had previous as I usually grab my next can right after finishing the last. Yeah, I'm a chain drinker. But I've never gotten sick from Coke. My stomach has never warned me that I've had enough. Although, my teeth aren't in the best shape. I'll probably drink it continuously til I die.
I keep my refrigerator stocked with Coke (and nothing much else). Mandy half joked that I ought to get a fountain dispenser--I don't think I'm that addicted, but that's not such a bad idea. Anyways, I used to buy three 12 packs (of the three flavours) weekly and manually fill my refrigerator. However, this new "Fridge Pack" design is really cool. They fit perfectly onto my refrigerator racks. I just pop open the flap and I'm good to go. No more fussing with loading up my refrigerator compartments with cans.
Oh, and I'm particular about Coke. Pepsi is too sweet. But if there's a vending machine or a restaurant that only serves Pepsi, I'll settle. Given the choice, though, I'll always pick Coke. Even if it costs more. I gotta have my Coke.
I haven't seen her for some time--was it four years ago? Anyways, I was supposed to meet her at the Puzzle Zoo on the Third Street Promenade at 19:30, but I was running late. I hate it when I'm trying to park in a lot and the car in front of me is taking his sweet time, when it's obvious no space is available. Just drive onwards, man, all the spots are elsewhere.
On the average, I'm usually on time. Everyone else more often than not arrives after me. I was hoping I'd have to wait for her, but that was hopeless. It was almost 20:00. And she was already at the designated meeting area. Luckily she wasn't too mad.
So we tried to figure out where to eat--Thai or Indian? I suggested Japanese, at Sushi Roku, and she agreed. We sat outdoors and caught up on the "hey what've you been doing lately?" and the "have you heard about so and so?" with the occasional "remember when we did this and that". Yeah, it's been a while.
She showed me her Canon digital camera. It had 4.0 megapixels. I showed off my new Sony, with 5.0. She had someone take our picture.
The meal was good, but the service was slow--it took forever for me to get another Coke. Afterwards, we strolled the Promenade, window shopping (do you think I'd look cool in that outfit?) and laughing at the scam artists (I mean, really, a psychic cat?). We spent a lot of time at the bookstores, mainly to use their restrooms, but none of them had any--we're guessing that they've gotten rid of their facilities due to perverts. We thumbed thru cookbooks, which got us hungry for dessert. So we hopped over to Johnny Rockets. I ordered a sundae, she ordered two scoops of vanilla ice cream. There was an odd item on the menu: apple pie with a slice of cheese. We asked the waiter how many customers have ordered it in the past. Apparently no one has. Did we want to try it? No thanks.
And then it was time to say goodbye. Bye. I'll see her again soon...
I've got a noticeable dent on the front of the passenger side of my car. It's been there for a while. I don't know how I got it. It kinda just was there one day. It doesn't really bother me. Cause there are two priorities for my vehicle--it's gotta move and it's gotta have a working stereo. Everything else is irrelevant.
My dad tells me that I should get it fixed. That it'd be easy to smooth it out, whatever. I think that's too much trouble for nothing. Friends tell me that they know of places where I could go to get it undented for cheap. Thanks, but no thanks.
Not that it's important, nor can I do anything about it after the fact, but sometimes I wonder how the dent happened. Ever since I fell asleep at the wheel when I was a kid, I've been very conscious and alert when I drive. There's no chance that I got the dent myself. I'm guessesing that someone hit it in a parking lot. I get a kick out of hypothesizing whether it was an accident or on purpose.
There's no evidence of transferred paint, which would suggest that another car smashed against mine, unless it was the same colour. Maybe someone fell on my car. But that'díve been some mighty fall, or the person was really fat. Perhaps some kids were rough housing and bumped it. Who knows.
If it was on purpose, I'm trying to think of my known enemies who would go to the trouble of denting my car. I've got a few stalkers that are suspect. I might've pissed someone off unknowingly. But I highly doubt that anybody is seeking revenge on me--I barely interact with people in general. If the dent is supposed to be some kinda warning, I'm not getting the message, cause I don't feel threatened.
In the end, ain't it just like life, how it's all conjecture.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm my father's son. Aside from our striking resemblance, our focused determination (which is often confused for stubbornness), our low voices, and our craftiness, we're totally different.
My dad got sucked into Tetris. He used to sit glued to the Nintendo and play for hours. He actually was pretty good. But it was scary seeing him get obsessed. He also was a rabid Dr. Mario freak. I think he found some comfort in puzzle games.
I've spent my time with video games before, back in the old Atari 2600 days. However, I've never been addicted--or so I won't care to admit. Most puzzle games leave me confused due to the colours that my colour blindness can't solve. I've had my Tetris fun, but getting beaten by my old man kinda killed the challenge.
Anyways, lately, I've been playing a puzzle game online called Tip Top. It's got easy to identify shapes (cherries, bells, watermelons, oranges, etc.). And the basic premise is simple--match three shapes to remove them before they build up to the top or bottom of the screen. I like how it's not timed, so I'm not pressured to make my next move, which is good for strategic plotting. At first I was determined to match the most number of similar objects. The best match I've gotten so far was seven. But matches don't give as many points as chains of matches--when you get a match, the objects disappear, letting objects piled above the removed match fall, which can create more matches. The best chain I've gotten so far was eight. And there are levels to complete. The highest level I've reached so far is 13. My highest score so far is 87,020. I've killed several hours at work playing this game.
Yeah, I'm my father's son.
Many of my dreams, as whacky as they might seem, are based in reality. On the surface, they make for surreal stories, but they're just rearrangements of what's going on in my life at the time, give or take my imaginative license to transfigure characters and situations beyond the casual reader's recognition--you kinda have to know a bit about me to decipher my dreams. So in an attempt to explain the directions of my trains of thoughts when I'm asleep, I'm gonna recount the dream I had last night (followed by a play by play commentary in parenthesis).
I was in Indonesia, visiting my aunt. Her house looked exactly like my parents' house, with a few deviations in decor.
(That night, I had dinner with my sister at an Indonesian restaurant. My dad grew up in Indonesia and his sister still lives there. At the restaurant, my sister and I commented on the decor and how our parents have similar Indonesian knick knacks at their house.)
My aunt had a framed photo on her wall of me and my sister when we kids. This reminded me that I had my digital camera in my pocket. I pulled it out and started snapping.
(My sister and I have always been in friendly competition with each other. As I've gotten into photography, she claims to be a better photographer than me, which is a sham, cause I take better pictures than her. She'll swear that she taught me everything I know about photography, cause she had a camera before I did. But she uses film. I'm digital. I usually have my camera handy and use it freely.)
From my aunt's second story window, I could see a cool sunset--lots of orange. As I composed the shot in the view screen of my camera, I got teleported back to Los Angeles. I was at UCLA, taking photos of libraries. My assistant was helping me.
(I associate the colour orange with my assistant (that's another story...). We've been comissioned by UCLA to take photos of libraries for their webpage.)
Walking around campus, I remembered that I had to get to class. So I bid farewell to my assistant and headed towards my classroom, all the while thinking that if I was fast enough, I could fit in some lunch. Pizza sounded good.
(I've been attending training classes at work--we're learning how to operate a new computer system. It's making me feel like a student again. Anyways, that day, I finished my exercises way before the rest of my class. The instructor allowed me to leave if I wanted to, but told me to return half an hour later when everyone else should be caught up. So I went to get lunch. I thought about getting pizza, but opted for sushi instead.)
As I ate my slice of pizza, I thought about my mom--she'díve chosen sushi over pizza. And I was magically back at my parents' house. My mom was teasing me with sushi, making fun of my pizza.
(My mom is Japanese, and an avid sushi eater.)
After lunch, relieved that I didn't have to return to class, I went to my old bedroom. I noticed an Indonesian wood carving on the wall. I fell asleep and dreamt of eating at an Indonesian restaurant with my sister.
That's it, I'm setting up a standing order for The Complete Peanuts. I just received the first volume (1950 to 1952) and I can't put it down. Nevermind that the first comic I instinctually read above all else, well, cause it's usually positioned on the top of the page in the newspaper, is Peanuts. That ever since I was a kid, I've gotten a kick out of the gang's misadventures and simple (that's why it's funny) philosophies. That there's only one comic character that I can truly associate myself with--Charlie Brown. No, I would've ordered the series regardless.
But it's seeing these early incarnations of the strip that's worth it to me. And it looks totally different from what it eventually evolved into, namely the iconic big round heads and signature outfits. I mean, the traits are in embryonic form--the heads are still disproportionately large, but their eyes are wider, which makes the kids look "younger". It takes a few weeks before Charlie Brown dons his trademark zig zags.
I was born into a world where Peanuts were already part of the American mythology. So seeing the origins is not only a historical trip, but a chance to read the dailies that I missed. It's like seeing the Simpsons when they were literally sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show or hearing early home recordings of The Quarrymen--brilliance before the big time. And it's all so fresh to me, cause they don't rerun the really old oldies. Good 'Ol Charlie Brown, haha, he was just as hopelessly hopeful back in the day.
So the complete run is scheduled to be published two volumes per year. It's gonna be a good grief twelve and half years.
Here's why I hate television.
It's got one and only one purpose--to sell you crap. It's gonna delude you into thinking that you're being informed or entertained or whatever, but in the end, it's all one big commercial.
Now, commercials really don't bother me anymore. In fact, they're so ridiculous that they're guaranteed to give me a good laugh at how some clever advertiser will try to convince me that I'm unhappy unless I buy their product. Well, I hate to say it but it don't take a genius to outsmart an advertiser--just be glad that you're alive and none of their tactics will bring you down and make you pay up.
I haven't seriously watched TV since Saturday morning cartoons, when I was a kid. Thesedays, I catch things here and there when I'm eating dinner, but I don't follow any shows, nor do I pass the time watching stuff that doesn't interest me. So admittedly, my commercial conspiracy theory is a result of being detached from the tube. The hypnotic sales pitches don't work if you'ren't paying attention, or more specifically, if you're mind isn't being fucked with.
So I was watching Gilmore Girls the other night, chowing on some Arby's (which I purchased on account of I saw some commercial with a stupid talking oven mit character). Anyways, I used to semi-seriously watch Gilmore Girls (on tape) cause the main chick was cute. Alas, such shallow reasoning doesn't last too long and I haven't seen an episode in a long time. It's been so long that I was lost as to what was going on--none of the characters looked the same anymore and I couldn't engage with the dramatic threads.
But here's how they got me. Per my usual boredom with anything in life, I've always been able to find something of interest in music. As I tuned out Rory and whoever her beau at the moment was, I heard a new Sam Phillips song on the soundtrack. It was pretty cool. And sure enough, during the credits the announcer mentioned that tonight's episode featured music from her latest album.
I ran to my computer and ordered it off Amazon.
There's no escape.
|My brother, who is working on his Ph.D in biomedical engineering at UCLA, sent me a sentence from his latest writeup on an experiment that he had conducted in order for me to verify if it was grammatically correct, which it was, however I advised him to cut his sentence in half as it was way too long, connecting separate stages in the experiment, that perhaps to the biomedical engineering specialist might seem easy to follow, but to the layman, ran on beyond keeping the gist with ease, and despite the correctness of grammar, I felt, ought to be simplified, for complex sentences don't convey anything other than the writer's lack of compassion for the reader, of whom should be spared the ballyhoo and given space to, literally, breathe, rather than be expected to have the patience to continue reading without losing their comprehension, cause it's no use to no one if nobody understands what you're trying to communicate, regardless of how stylistically ambitious the writer may be, not to mention, showing off how long you can string a sentence ain't as cool as simple, straightforward, no bullshit, writing that gets the ideas across, which is ultimately what it's all about, but so often confused, not only in writing, but social situations, with "intelligence", when more often than not, there's such a disproportion of fluffed talk for talk's sake to real ideas that I think if people were only allowed to speak genuinely brilliant ideas and forced to hold their tongues if they'ven't got anything new to say, the world just might get inspired to come up with more innovations instead of copping out on the old adage that there's "nothing new under the sun", not to forget how boring it would all be.
|Stair 7 Studios will be taking the summer off. "My engineer is going on vacation," said former Meanwhiler Larry McFeurdy, who's been extensively using the studio over the past ten months to record his solo album Hacienda Heights.
"I don't mind, really," McFeurdy continued, "it gives me a chance to take a break, too." His album is nearing completion, with a few more tracks to write and record. "So far," he further explained, "I've been working at a leisurely pace anyways."
When asked what he'll be doing in the interim, McFeurdy replied "Well, I borrowed some instruments from the studio, just to fool around with at home--who knows, maybe I'll write some songs and have them ready to be recorded when my engineer returns."
And of course, there are rumours that The Meanwhilers are getting back together. McFeurdy won't specify, but sources say that a reunion is due soon, as it's been reported that the band members are on speaking terms again. "Yeah, I've been in contact with the other Meanwhilers," McFeurdy confirmed. But what they're exactly up to is up to speculation. The wildest guess being The Meanwhilers are secretly rehearsing to perform a concert.
"I've spoken to Larry recently and he said that The Meanwhilers are recording a new song together," gossiped Henry Lim, author of the unauthorized biography McFeurdy, "that's the only real plan they've got so far, but they're also seriously considering, if all goes well, to hit the stage to play live."
"Henry is a bloody liar, but let me put it this way," McFeurdy clued in conclusion, "I'ven't got much else to do this summer."
Her train hasn't left the station yet...
I've been having cravings for ice cream lately. Hot fudge sundaes with sprinked nuts. When I'm desperate, I drive thru whatever fast food joint that's open late and order some.
Sometimes I think about getting aboard.
I had a dream in which all the mirrors of the world stopped working. They all just went dull and grey. No more reflective surfaces. Even water became useless. Everyone had to depend on cameras to see themselves.
Sometimes I think I'll just let her leave without me.
I got a pimple behind my ear. It wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't wear glasses.
The saleslady at the cigarette store I frequent has been giving me free lighters with every purchase. My glove compartment in my car is filled with a variety of translucent coloured little lighters. But they're cheap. They don't last too long. I go thru them like matches.
I've yet to meet someone who ain't so deadly serious about life, as if their purpose on this planet depended on something that they've got to accomplish.
I've always liked the line "The darkest hour is just before the dawn". Cause it's true. I live thru it everyday.
I really can't pinpoint the day I realized that I was being left behind. But the longer I hang around at the station, the more I notice that the trains aren't waiting for me.
"Out On a Lim" will be taking a three day weekend and would like to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July. See you next Tuesday.
I shaved my goatee. I was getting tired of trimming it. The whole reason why I kept it in the first place was I thought that it'd be easier to maintain than shaving. But it got all shaggy when it got too long. Not that I particularily care about my appearance, but sometimes I'd wake up at night in a breathless panic, my facial hair blocking my nostrils. And it ain't the greatest taste when it got in my mouth.
I shave once a week, on Sunday, give or take my lazy forgetfulness.
At first it wasn't such a chore to swipe my electric razor across the lower regions of my cheeks, around my goatee. However, at least every month, I mowed the goatee, just to keep it from getting unruly. This got tiresome. So I decided to just clear it all off. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so hairy.
Another reason why I initially had a goatee was to cover up the pimples on my chin. But it seems that it didn't let my skin ventilate enough to clear my skin. Pimples festered and multiplied in the bush. After shaving my goatee, I exposed the hidden pimples.
Nevertheless, I generally let my stubble grow throughout the week, giving me that rugged bum look. I can't imagine having to shave everyday.
If you don't know where you're going
Any road will take you there
"I'm at the loading dock," she called to tell me. I left my office, went to meet her there, and got in her waiting car. We drove off towards Sunset Blvd on our way to visit a friend of a friend who had just moved into a new house in Bel Air. Thru the gates of the stately community we veered right and followed the narrow roads curvingly aligned with walls of vine and bush. Winding up the hills we did the obligatory gosh gollies at the neighbourhood of castles, wishfully pointing at the ones that we'd love to live in someday. Eventually, we arrived at the address and parked next to a fountain in the driveway.
"I've got water and wine, but nothing to drink out of," he offered and apologized. All the spacious rooms were empty and smelled of fresh paint. "I was trying out different mirrors," he explained at the pile of mirrors by the fireplace as his little dog followed us touring the house. He pulled up some patio chairs and we sat in what seemed to be a glass room that openly viewed the backyard--garden, pool, hummingbirds, and all.
Our chit chatting got interrupted by the internet installation guy. She and I were left to admire the place on our own. "I like the smell of fresh paint," she gleefully remarked, "and I could so live in this house." I couldn't disagree. He returned and took us outside to see the panoramic view. "Are there any hiking trails?" she asked. "Technically, no," he declared, "but there are paths around George Harrison's old house--his driveway alone is an adventure."
Before we left, she got his email address. We thanked him for letting us stop by and say "hi" to his wife for us. The drive back got confusing as the road seemed to send us in circles. Not that we minded the scenery. "You were pretty excited when he mentioned George, huh," she observed. She knows me oh too well.
I could use some Cold Stone right now.
I was introduced to the creamery a few years ago, my friends took me to the one in Carlsbad. They hyped it as "the best ice cream, ever". With a tag like that, I figured I'd try their vanilla--cause if the vanilla is good, then it's all gravy from there. And indeed, it was a damn good vanilla, despite the scolding I got from my friends for choosing such a "bland" flavour amongst the fancier gourmet selections. To this day, I'm still being mocked for being so "vanilla".
Anyways, as I'm currently in my ice cream phase, I found a location near me. I've gone there thrice in the last two weeks. Each time I've ordered the same concoction--The Caramel Turtle Temptation. It's a swirly mix of sweet cream ice cream, pecans, fudge, and caramel. I fell in love with it the first time and had to have it again.
Actually, it's the initial item listed on the big menu hanging in the store. I've been known to be nonchalant with menus, often just blindly picking whatever my eye sees first. Especially when the selection is overwhelming and everything looks so good, I'd rather just take a gamble than fuss over what to order. And I'm usually in the mood for anything, I don't really hate anything, so nothing can be a wrong choice.
Uh, another recurring trait of mine is if I return to the same eatery and I liked whatever I selected before, I'll get it again. And again and again. It becomes my usual. Yeah, I'll experiment here and there, but I'll always stay true to my standard. Depending on my tolerance for boredom, this is how I get hooked, yet keep my ritualistic addictions under control. It don't take much to please me.
The only problem with Cold Stone is there's always a freaking long ass line. I'm not patient, most of all when it comes to food. I'll get another Caramel Turtle Temptation later.
I'm an idiot when it comes to sports. And I could care less. There's something about the obnoxious win win win mob mentality of it all that embarrasses me as a member of the human race. I'm not a big fan of quantitative competition--it's simplistic and falsely idealistic. Unfortunately, it's precisely this hegemonic sentiment that breeds corruption for the bottom line. Get the most points, everything else be damned. Perhaps it's the musician in me that values qualitative evaluation. Yeah, it's murkier and agreement is relative, but I believe it's more realistic. There are no answers in life, least of all who wins or loses.
I was at the Kabuki on the Bridge, popping edamame with Mandy as some baseball game replayed. "Barry Bonds takes performance enhancing drugs," she pointed out. "Who the hell is Barry Bonds?" I proved my ignorance. She went on to explain how he's all of sudden a homerun slugger and that the only explanation is he's cheating somehow. "Why don't they penalize him?" I asked. "They kinda look the other way," she replied, "and they're not so strict in baseball."
Which got me to thinking, how strange it would be if musicians were as scrutinized as athletes for using "performance enhancing" drugs. Imagine if the Grammys were like the Olympics and had mandatory drug testing. I mean, sure there are laws that have nabbed the likes of Courtney Love, but it's no secret that most musicians use mind altering chemicals for inspiration, if not during the creation and performance of their works. In sports terms, they're cheating. Yet, they're allowed such freedom, almost to the point of celebration. The stereotypical musician ain't a musician unless he or she displays the characteristics of someone who's high, natural or not.
But I suppose it's honourable of sports federations to try to ban drugs. The games ought to be fair and award the best athletes for their God given skills. Because that's how the world should be. Yeah, keep dreaming...
I'm just realizing that it's 2004 and that the '90s were a decade ago. There are the 10th anniversary editions of Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump to remind me. And I just saw an advert for some VH1 show called I Love the '90s. I suppose it's natural for me to hold on to those youthful and defining years cause they were fun times--college and twentysomething. My personal outlook on life certainly developed during the '90s, what with the music, movies, and cultural events. That's my generation's decade. It's hard to admit that I ought to be growing up. It all seems too soon to be nostalgic.
It really hit me when I saw Before Sunset. Now, any hip thirtysomething will tell you that its predecessor Before Sunrise was a cool movie. Every girl wanted to meet a Jesse and every guy wanted to meet a Celine. I know of several friends, myself included, who went to Europe in search of that Before Sunrise scenario. Yeah, romance is ageless, but something about that film, the dialogue, and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy all seemed so '90s--the self important bored American drifter and the post-Cold War European neo-feminist chick. They were the quintessential '90s romantic couple, right down to their ambiguous farewell.
Before Sunset continues the story nine years later. I admit, I was a little worried that any sequel to such a perfect movie would suck, but this one actually works, mainly due to the two main characters. From the moment they meet up again (which is one of the most magical moments I've ever seen on screen) til the brilliant fade out, their conversations about this and that coursed effortlessly--awkward at first, but eventually hitting overdrive like old friends. 'Tis a thrill enough to see them reunited, but to follow them around again, their amusing personalities still intact, quelled any doubts of this sequel being redundant.
For me, a good movie is one in which I feel like I'm in it, and no disrespect to Mr. Hawke, but I felt like Celine was talking to me. It plays out on two levels of real time, one being the setting is staged within the time frame in which Jesse's gotta catch his flight, and two, they're the same age as me--Celine mentions that sometimes she dreams she's 23 again, but wakes up to the reality that she's 32. And as I look back on my youthful romantic fantasies, I can't help but see the disillusioned parallels in my life. There comes a time when the past becomes forever gone. You've gotta let go of that innocence and face love with less optimism if you wanna be honest with yourself. Some dreams just won't come true. Live in the moment.
And in this way, I actually dig Before Sunset more than Before Sunrise--yeah, I acknowledge that the former forms the historical groundwork from which the latter elaborates, and that the two should be seen as one story. But whilst the original was cute for its time, I can relate today more to the sequel. It's, gulp, more adult. You just can't find such textured experiences in the lives of a twentysomething--a lot can happen in nine years. I can fool myself only so much into thinking I'm still a kid, but it's time to wake up. After all, the '90s are over.
"Did you see the dead squirrel?"
Her voice always sounded delusional, as if she was trying to convince me that she wasn't nuts, when between her breaths I could hear her cracking under the weight of her own mind, scattering her brittle reality into my ears. It used to be the most beautiful sound. I'd listen with adoration, my head close to her heart, as she formulated her next non sequitur.
"It's over there..."
Now I just feel sorry for her. There's nothing cute about her insanity anymore. It was fun for awhile, but it doesn't turn me on like it used to--even in those lonely moments when I remember how she lured me into the gears of a broken clock as we seemed to escape time, if only for that second before she got so serious. It's funny how someone can stop being attractive. I wonder what I saw in her in the first place.
"...under a tree, I think it got its little head stuck in the roots..."
Maybe I was the one who was blind. But I can look at all the other girls that I've been infatuated with and see some graceful aging process. I don't worry about them losing their way thru this confusing world. And I always end up using the most obvious words of wisdom to stop her from crying. Each instance driving me away from her. Honestly, if I met her today for the first time, I wouldn't notice her at all.
"...it couldn't escape and died."
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THE JUANITA AND MIGUEL LETTERS: CHAPTER THIRTY TWO (copyright 2004 Larry McFeurdy)
Sometimes I'm glad CDs skip, especially when I'm driving home. They sound like kisses. And they wake me from dreaming--a dangerous habit, especially late at night, as freeways can look like launching pads. I could easily blast off into some surrealistic future...
Only a bump in the laser's beam can jolt me back to reality.
I once had a theory that I'll never die, at least not without your love. Hence, I could theoretically drive blindfolded and not get in an accident. There's some benevolent fate that's watching over me, guiding me to safety. Cause I swear, sometimes I feel as if I'm way too lucky to be alive. I don't even call it "escaping" anymore when I miss getting a kiss from death. And I've yet to disprove this theory...
Fortunately, a bump of common sense in my brain waves tells me not to take such stupid chances.
I'm sorry for playing dumb. The other day when I was in your bedroom and you were burning stuff for me on your computer, I was burning to tell you that I was hiding my taco smile from noticing that you use my photographs as wallpaper, both literally and electronically. I'm glad that you deem my visual sensibilities worthy of decorating your surroundings. I almost kinda sorta felt like maybe kissing you, but I chickened out...
On the road to Coward City, I avoid all obstacles, save the bumps which give me the courage to write down my thoughts.
My neighbours were wondering if it'd be too much trouble for me to pick up their mail and look after their place whilst they went on vacation. As if they had to ask. Of course I could. I'd be more than obliged since I've asked them similar favours when I've gone on trips.
So pick up their mail. No problem. The wife then requested that I water her plants. Sure. She then proceeded to guide me thru the task--this one needs this much water, that one doesn't need much, etc. She told me that she'll put the pots that need attention on their dining table.
What broke my heart was she told me that it really doesn't matter if I forget to tend to her plants. It's ok if they died. Cause they're moving at the end of the month, and she'll probably have to toss them anyways. Nevertheless, she was hoping that I'd keep them alive just a few more weeks while they were gone. I wasn't quite sure what my role in all this exactly was. Maybe she didn't want to return to a bunch of dead plants. Maybe they just wanted me to check up on their place and this was just an excuse to give me their key. Whatever. I didn't want to be rude and tell her to just let them die. Who am I to assume that everyone might be as unsentimental as myself. But it really isn't any hassle for me to water her soon to be discarded plants. That's what I'm here for.
I'm not too keen on the current deluge of superhero movies based on comic book characters. Ok, I've never been an avid reader to begin with, nor have I ever been a fan of superheroes in general. But I do respect the genre. However, somehow, movies just don't do the panels justice. The mediums don't transpose well. And these latest computer animated efforts look too silly for me to take them seriously.
Spiderman is no exception. I only sat thru that movie to listen to Elfman's tight score. Oh, and Kirsten Dunst. I really didn't have any intention to watch the sequel, especially as the music was farmed out to Debney, LoDuca, and Young--I get suspicious when composers don't seem too excited about a film. My only hope was Kirsten, who's always been able to entertain me regardless if everything else is a snore.
I was being a loser on a Friday night, hanging out with my sister and her boyfriend. They wanted to see Spiderman 2. I could've either gone home and worked on some music for a film I was scoring or join them. So I chose to check out Kirsten.
I first noticed her ten years ago in Interview with the Vampire. I've been in love with her ever since. Bring It On is her masterpiece. I last enjoyed her in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Gee, has it really been ten years...
Anyways, her Mary Jane character is the best part of Spiderman 2. Call me a sissy, but her little romantic conflict is much more interesting to me than the video game looking characters chasing each other around. I've joked with friends who've already seen the movie that I bet Kirsten held it all together. And yeah, it's a fun flick, but I was right.
Yet, I couldn't help but feel myself getting a bit tired of her. I mean, she's still got that wicked smile, but her spell upon me is waning. I get bored quick--I'm amazed that she's kept my attention this long. Luckily, there were some new chicks in Spiderman 2 that I'm hoping will get more screen time in the next movie. There's that droll receptionist played wonderfully by Zooey Deschanel's sister Emily. And goofy Ursula (Mageina Tovah). It's always cool to be introduced to new characters.
Anyone who's produced a film will tell you that it's a pain in the ass to get copyrighted musical performances cleared for use on a soundtrack. Nevermind going thru the bureaucratic runaround, it also ain't cheap. Or so the producers of the mega low budget films I've worked on've told me. It's considerably less expensive to remake a song. But better yet, it's free to use something in the public domain. And hey, it's safer than getting sued.
The director of the film I'm currently scoring was set on using the traditional tune "Motherless Child" for a key montage sequence. He temped the rough cut with a version done by the revered Mahalia Jackson, to the tune of Gershwin's "Summertime". Needless, he couldn't afford to use the recording.
So I was assigned to cover the song--retaining the mood, but comming up with an original arrangement. All of which was simple enough. I could just play some plaintive chords on a piano and multitrack some bass. But there was one problem: I don't know of any singers that could handle such bluesy sentiments.
I started asking composer friends if they could recommend someone. Meanwhile, the director rounded up some singers from the Angel City Chorale. He wrote me an email detailing his progress, until one day he announced that he found the perfect singer. I scheduled a recording session the following week at UCLA.
Teresa is a friendly person. I couldn't've asked to work with a warmer or jollier singer. Although I kept to myself during setup, positioning the microphone and adjusting the levels, as soon as I heard her voice, I was amazed. She was exactly what I had hoped for vocally for the song. After several takes, I smiled at her regarding my approval when she nailed it. Musicians are notorious for being difficult to work with. But I enjoyed working with Teresa. I'm lucky to've met her.
"Motherless Child" mp3
People on diets are no fun.
And there seems to be more and more health conscious weight freaks thesedays, at least amongst the folks I hang around. They're watching their carbs or whatever, eating lame things like lettuce tacos.
I've never been on a diet. I don't count calories. I eat what I want to eat. And I'm relatively healthy--I rarely get sick.
I have no idea how people have gotten so hung up on weight, but everyone seems so miserable.
I'm no health expert, but I think it all comes down to self control and moderation. Simply stop when you get full.
Ok, I was fat when I was a kid, but I'm blaming my mom for spoiling me with yummy food. But once I got to college and had to acquire my own meals, I lost my excess weight. Actually, I got really skinny. As I settled into my current lifestyle, I found and've since maintained my comfortable size--not too fat, not too skinny.
Although, I only eat two meals a day (I skip breakfast, except for a glass of orange juice). I don't often snack on junk food, other than my Coke intake. I've got other things to do than worry about basic human functions.
And to be honest, I think eating is a mental task. When I look at food, I'm glad to not be starving--I should be so lucky to get anything. So whatever I eat should be enough. Sometimes, if I'm on the run, I'll trick my brain into thinking that a tuna fish sandwich will fill me for an entire day. And it does.
A common conception my friends have about me is I'll generally finish my meals, no matter how big or small, and always be satisfied.
Cause it's all in your mind.
My voice is all sore.
I just got back from rehearsing with my band. And although most of our material is mellow, there's this one song that's a throwback to my screaming punk days. I can handle everything else, it's just that currently I'm so out of shape to yell my head off.
I used to be able to scream like a madman all night long and my throat would be fine afterwards. I think I lost my voice only once, but that was when I first started. Constant practice built it up. I'd spend hours locked in the piano rooms at my university yelling as loud as I could. This was in the early '90s, when screaming a la the Pixies and Nirvana was the coolest thing in alternative rock. From a practical stance, it also made sense as you need to scream just to be heard over the blasting guitars and pounding drums. Those were the days...
One of my fondest memories was a performance my band played at some redneck bar. We were last on the bill, right before the place closed. We figured fuck it, we're gonna play our most loudest song, even if no one was left to hear us. So we blazed thru some screamfest where I literally yelled all the lyrics at the top of my lungs. Pure loud punk chaos. The look on the bartender's face, his hands covering his ears, was priceless.
Another time we were playing at some backyard party and someone complained that we were too loud. We figured damn it, we're a rock band, we're supposed to be loud. So us being the rebels, we ignored the threats that they'd call the cops and didn't turn our amps down. They gave us one final warning. But we kept rocking. Eventually, someone pulled the plug on us, literally. We lost all our electricity. And even though my final yell sounded naked without the backing instruments, it symbolized our glorious steadfastness. Rock or die.
Anyways, despite people cautioning me to take better care of my voice, I kept screaming til our little band called it quits in '96. I did some solo recordings for a couple years, but eventually abandoned singing altogether, focusing more on classical and soundtrack instrumental music. It's only recently that I revisited pop song forms, vocals included. Needless to say, my voice needed to get dusted off. And while I can fake loudness with compressors during recording, I find myself straining when I sing with a live band, especially when I scream. Well, I'll just follow that ole musician's mantra: practice, practice, practice.
Nevertheless, there's nothing like yelling in a rock band again.
I started my day listening to some Cole Porter tunes as I made my bed and drank some orange juice. Todd emailed me regarding how he thought the piano on my "Motherless Child" recording was buried. As I heard Annie Lennox's version of "Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye" I recognized what the ideal piano to vocal balance should've been.
As I drove to work, I cranked up the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack on my car stereo. Thursday traffic--not as bad as Friday, but worse than the days previous in the week.
I checked my email in my office. Su Sen sent me an invitation to a preview screening of I, Robot. I really didn't have any inclination to see that movie, but as it was free, I thought, hmm, why not. Anyways, I had nothing better to do that night.
I had lunch with Mandy. We walked over to LuValle and sat outside, enjoying the nice summer day. Lately, she's been wrapping rubber bands into a ball.
I made my flight reservations for Vegas. $81 roundtrip on Northwest. I leave on Friday the 13th and, haha, if I'm lucky, return the 15th.
Ted called. He's been successfully printing out some of my digital photos on his new computer. I told him I'd like to see them someday.
I went to the I, Robot screening. Su Sen also invited Carlos and Osmond--whom I'ven't seen since high school, nearly 14 years ago. We hung out after the movie. Ate at Noodle Planet. It was neat catching up with them. Although, I was kinda embarrassed when they mentioned that they thought I live the "exciting life of an artist". Ha. As this journal entry proves, my life ain't all that.
I got a bummer of an email today. The director of the film I'm scoring notified the cast and crew that the lead actor just passed away. And whilst I didn't know the man, let alone've ever met him, I feel like he was a character in my life. I mean, I've watched the film enough times, searching for its emotional core to punctuate musically, that I've bonded, at least in my imagination, with him as the protagonist. For the rest of the day, I couldn't stop thinking about the sad news.
That evening, my neighbours, who are moving at the end of the month, invited me to a potluck party which they were having as a farewell to their friends. So there was an air of transition as people gathered to wish them well and that they'll be missed. I didn't know any of my neighbours' friends, save one who, small world, went to my high school. Thus, I was actually meeting a lot of new faces, many of whom I'll probably never see again in my life. Nevertheless, I enjoyed listening to their stories.
But I kept thinking about the dead actor. I would get in a conversation with someone and think, gee, this person is alive, but someday she'll die. And I had nothing but this brief encounter with her at this party. We're just background characteters in each others' movies. Or most likely, our scene together will get edited out of the final cut. There are so many seemingly insiginificant moments and people we meet in life.
I like to think that "the world's all time greatest" whatevers, be it artists, athletes, philosophers, scientists, etc. never get noticed. They just live quiet little lives and go about their business without anyone, themselves included, ever realizing how special they are. I wouldn't call it a waste of potential talent, cause what's never been exposed to the world just as well never was. But I suppose it's my way of trying to think of everyone as inspirations. Cause who's to say none of these strangers that we meet fleetingly doesn't hold within them some untapped greatness.
There's a stray cat rolled up and sleeping on my doorstep. I noticed it when I went outside for a smoke. As it didn't bother me, I likewise let it be. I gather, on this hot summer night, that it's cooler on the deck of my upper floor apartment than on the ground, as I'm in the trajectory of a nice breeze. I've been keeping my windows open at night.
But this cat sure looks tired. It didn't even jump up when I opened my door. I hope it's alright. I can see it breathing. And it acknowledged my presence by opening its eyes.
I encounter plenty of cats throughout the night. Some wander by on the street below. Some walk up the stairs to greet me. Some get shrilly by the trash dumpster. Some just sit there, staring at me from a distance. However, this is the first I've seen asleep.
Maybe it's my music that's lulling this cat. I got my little boombox on at a low volume, in the background. It can be faintly heard from my doorstep via the open windows. As well, the clicks of my typing. Perhaps it's cause I'm calmly stirring, showing signs of harmless life, that's somehow a reassurance to this cat. Cause it wouldn't hang around if I were a mean person, cool doorstep or not.
Ok, to be quasi-mystical, what if this cat is the embodiment of a kindred soul, resting its battled karma. It's just waiting for me to sleep so we can meet in our dreams and speak of exculpating pathways towards isometric pantheism. Or conversely, what if it's here to protect me from the night's imbalance of evil. It's discreetly guarding my door from the intrusion of destructive spirits.
Either way, we're both safe tonight.
20 years ago, I saw the film Gremlins. It was a blast--I mean, you can't ask for more entertainment involving crazy little monsters, cute Phoebe Cates, and silly fun. As a 12 year old kid, this darkly humourous movie drove me bananas for an entire summer. I was in my drawing phase and I remember doing countless sketches of the creatures. However, it was the soundtrack that really nabbed me. I bought the cassette and wore it out after repeated listens on my walkman. The score to Gremlins is wild. Like the movie, it starts off fuzzy and cuddly but later transforms to groteseque and hooligan--a mix of orchestral lushness and synthesized mayhem. This was my introduction to the music of Jerry Goldsmith.
Ever since, I've kept my ears out for his scores. His name on the credits, no matter how lame the movie, was enough for me to check out his brand of lean, yet effective composition. To me, he's an elaboration of the motivic development driven style of Herrmann, and a true practioner of the craft of film scoring, wherein there's something uniquely cinematic about his straightforward sound as opposed to being reheated classical music. It's pure Hollywood, for better and worse. And he's been around since the '40s. He helped define many of the genres, especially horror, as we know it--the chanting choir in The Omen, the creepy atonality in Alien, and the kids' voices in Poltergeist. His action cues are cliched, but for good reason--they work.
Pardon the pun, but he was a legend. I'ven't met many in my life, but I had the privilege of being in his presence when he taught at UCLA. I'd see him with his trademark white ponytail walking the halls--most of the students unaware of his identity. I sat in on his guest lectures and took mental notes on his methodology, most of which I've taken to heart, namely keeping things simple with thematic unity. And I got my copy of Chinatown autographed.
I've been a subscriber to the film music listserv FILMUS-L for the last ten years. Most of the postings are arguments about this and that composer being better than your mother, but sometimes I gather some useful info like the latest rumours on who's working on what movie and CD release dates. But mainly, I browse--the announcements and whatnot being of nothing worth any earth moving importance. So I've come to expect no real news. Goldsmith's death was an exception.
Tonight, I'm listening to Gremlins.
I think I might've hurt my television's feelings (see "Out On a Lim" 6.29.04). Cause it died on me. I was just taking a break from editing some music, watching reruns of late night talk shows, when the picture went blank. Poof. I tried to turn it back on in vain as the little red standby started to flash continuously. This was kinda weird as I got my TV only four years ago. It ought to've lasted longer than that. Oh well, I thought, I guess 'tis time to buy a new one--cause I really don't have the patience to fuss with getting it fixed.
I went to the local electronics store to purchase essentially the same model, cause besides its short lifespan, I can't complain about its picture quality, not to mention I wasn't in the mood to rearrange my entire den, getting a new cabinet and all. However, it turns out that the current model is too big to fit in my cabinet--the speakers extend an extra inch. Crap. And I don't even use the built in speakers, as I route the audio thru my sound system. For a moment there, I thought, maybe I'll get a bigger model and rethink my setup. But first I'll check online to see if I can find an alternate model with appropriate dimensions.
Sure enough, last year's model fits perfectly. Unfortunately, the manufacturer wasn't offering it anymore at their web store--they had it listed, but with no "add to cart" button. So I searched around and found some in stock at another online vendor. It said they could deliver it in 2-3 business days. Which wasn't true--it took two weeks.
Meanwhile, I started to worry that maybe it already got sent over, but since I wasn't home when it arrived, it sat on my doorstep, and was honoured it's plead to be stolen. This was way too much nonsense for a damn TV, which I don't even watch that often, other than for DVDs. And then I remembered how I expressed such hatred towards television in my journal. Maybe I should love my equipment more, regardless if I disagree with their ideologies. Like my camera, I should've been nicer to it, and then it mightn't've broken on me. Oh, did I mention how much I love my car...
As I was about to lose hope, I got a call from the shipping company who wanted to coordinate a drop off time. They came by the following day, brought it up my stairs, and left it in my living room. My sister's boyfriend helped me unpack it and lift it into my cabinet, as well as remove the old one and take it down to the dumpster--which I later found out via my landlord, isn't what I should do, I ought to take it to the household hazardous waste site, sigh, yet more hassle. And yes, my new TV works fine, thanks.
Copy and paste sure is handy. Especially in pop music, whereby verses and choruses often retain their core structures. It's made recording easier as I don't have to perform an entire song, rather I can construct it from its sections. But it's also useful in other aspects of computer assisted tasks, such as writing, designing, file management, etc. I often take it for granted how much I depend on this shortcut.
My mom is computer illiterate. She's just now not only learning how to use a word processor, but how to type as well. The other day, she called me to say she wrote some text which she wanted me to proofread. I told her to email it to me, knowing that that might be asking too much. Thus, I proceeded to explain the concept of copy and past to her.
I told her to switch to her cellphone as she'll need to use the modem to go online. This didn't make things easier as she's not so competent with her cellphone--she kept accidentally hanging up on me. I then tried to reaffirm her that she didn't need to retype her text, that she can just copy and paste it. This is easier said than done. I can see how these terms mean nothing to someone who's not technologically inclined--I don't doubt images of scissors and glue went thru her head.
So she opened her text file, after a ridiculously long search to find where she saved it. I pictured my mom getting tangled with the mouse. Ok, so I told her to select the text by highlighting it using "select all":
"Push and hold down the 'control' key."
"Where's the 'control' key?"
"Bottom left of the keyboard."
"I can't find it. Where?"
"It should be the one marked 'ctrl'."
"What? Oh, there it is. Ok."
"Hold it down as you push the 'A' key."
"Where's the 'A' key? Oh, there it is. Ok. Nothing happened."
And on and on I guided her thru the seemingly simple steps of copying (ctrl-c) and pasting (ctrl-v). But I tell ya, after all that crazy rigamarole, just hearing the delight in my mom's voice when she finally accomplished the transfer of her text from her word processing document into her email was worth it. She was so excited. It was like she figured out some magic trick. I mean, I remember when I discovered copy and paste. It's easy to forget how fascinating it really is.
"I think it's gonna roll around in the backseat," I observed. "Let me put it in your trunk."
"Ok, but I'm warning you," cautioned Pumpkin, "my trunk is a mess."
"It can't be that messy," I guessed, "and anyways, the more crap you've got in there, the better to keep my ball from rolling around."
She opened her trunk. It wasn't so bad. I stuffed my bowling ball in a corner. It wasn't gonna roll around.
As I got in her car and buckled myself in the passenger seat, I noticed that it had a flower patterned covering. But none of the other seats, including the driver's were covered.
"Hey," I wondered, "why does this seat have a cover and not the rest?"
"Oh," she mumbled, "my seat's supposed to have one, but I lost it."
As she drove off, pulling away from the curve, she dialed her radio rather fumbly.
"What do you want to listen to?" she politely asked.
"Whatever," I didn't mind.
"Eh," she gave up, "you can't get any reception out here anyways."
As we drove over a bridge, a motorcade zipped by on the tiny road thru the canyon. Rounding the corner, the town lights brightened our view.
She mentioned the obvious problems concerning children and swimming pools. I shrugged, saying that a little pee never hurt anyone. Plus the chlorine's supposed to keep things relatively clean. But she recalled an instance when she was forced to vacate a public pool due to unsanitary conditions. Damn, I replied, yeah, but that don't happen that often, or at least it'sn't happened to me. Don't worry. Well, she resolved, the hottub should be hot enough to kill any dirty germs. Yup.
Suspicions are abound on her neighbour, who's not only an asshole, but has been investigated by the FBI. She wouldn't be surprised if he's a terrorist. And he walks around in his front yard in just his underwear. Gross. I could only respond with, maybe he'll get arrested and you'll get a new and friendly neighbour, someone who puts happy face stickers on their window.
We arrived at the bowling alley.
"Thanks for the ride," I gratituded.
Nevertheless, she kicked my ass on the lanes.
"What?" I asked in disbelief, forcing the old man to restate his ridiculous claim.
"No really," he explained, "I only see birds fly from right to left. No matter where I'm positioned, facing north, south, east, or west, if a bird flies in front of me, it always crosses my field of vision for right to left. Even flocks of birds, they'll all fly by from right to left. I'ven't seen a bird fly in front of me from left to right in 50 years."
"That doesn't make any sense," I concluded. "You're just not looking at enough birds."
"Perhaps," he agreed. "They say you only see the things you want to see in this world. But I swear, I'm waiting for the day when I see a bird fly from left to right. Once I spent an entire day sitting in the park. Every bird flew across the sky from right to left. Even as I turned around and faced the other direction, all the birds followed my change. It's a curse. There's something odd going on."
"Go to the zoo," I recommended. "They've got birds there. And I'm sure they all don't fly from right to left."
"I'm talking about free birds," he clarified. "Birds in captivity don't count. They're forced to fly left to right in their limited space. No, I'm talking about birds in the open, who've got the freedom to fly any direction they choose, yet for some reason only go from right to left in my presence."
"What about migration patterns?" I added. "You could sit under their flight path in such a way that you'll see 'em fly by from left to right."
"I thought about that," he admitted, "but that's cheating on my part. I want to see a bird, on its own free will, not on some course set by nature, fly from left to right before my eyes."
"Alright," I analyzed, "you're paranoid. Let's go outside and we'll see a bird fly by from left to right."
And sure enough, just as I opened the door, above the yonder treetops a pair of birds flew by from left to right. But the old man missed the sight--I was blocking his view.
For the next five minutes, no bird cooperated. So I had to take the old man's word.
"Gee," I conceded, "that sucks. What do you think it all means?"
"Beats me," he sighed.
Afterwards, for some strange reason, every bird I saw flew from right to left, too. I'd be driving up the freeway and a bird would cross my windshield from right to left. Then I'd go the opposite direction down the freeway and every bird would still be flying from right to left. This continued for a week. I was starting to get worried, like maybe that old man transferred his curse onto me. And not to suggest that a week is anywhere near 50 years, but I kinda empathized with the old man's longing to see a bird fly from left to right. It was making me insane. I started to pay attention to birds in the hopes of escaping this absurdity. I mean, come on, this was nuts--by sheer probability, I ought to see at least one bird fly from left to right. Nope.
However, after a long and bizarre week, I finally saw a big flock pass in front of me from left to right. Phew, I wasn't crazy. But I gotta give it to the old man, he did make me notice birds more.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, despite being in a deep sleep as a result of being awake for 48 hours, and wondered whilst you opened your eyes to darkness, that maybe fate is being cruel to you for vengeful reasons, that perhaps sometime during your lifetime or lifetimes you mocked the pride of destiny for all its absurdity, or worse yet, you tried, successfully for a brief moment, to allude its locked course and meander with your own free will, to truly do what you want to do irregardless of responsibility or collective reality, to release yourself from the petty balance of cause and consequence, that fate has chosen to punish you tenfold for your insolence so that henceforth you shall feel its wrath by getting an extra dosage of its rigidity, further underscoring how hopeless it is to escape its chokehold, otherwise you wouldn't be so painfully aware of its presence in the smallest of details in your life, from the patterns that keep jealously repeating, to the brutal tease when you get lured to the brink of love only to be laughingly denied, over and over again, that 'tis getting beyond coincidence, that you ought to start repenting now if you wanna even get close to being remitted back into the flow of things, or else you'll never accept your fate, other than to be eternally left behind?
Last summer, Mandy assisted me on a LEGO project. We spent a couple weeks painstakingly gluing together a duplicate of my Beatles mosaic per a commission from the Revolutions on Request gallery in Helsinki. During which we listened to music on my boombox to break up the monotony of the task--in particular, Alanis Morissette and Barenaked Ladies.
Ok, admittedly, I never really got into either of them prior to last summer. In fact, nine years ago, I completely dismissed Alanis as an angry whiny chick, regardless of her interesting vocals. And I never heard anything from BNL other than their one hit. However, maybe it was the setting and the mood, or Mandy's enthusiasm for them that caught my ear. Sometimes it takes someone else at the right time to convince me to listen to something.
So I copied her CDs and started to enjoy their music. The more I listened, the more I gained an appreciation for Alanis' angst and BNL's humour. Plus, they reminded me of that summer...
When it was announced that Alanis and BNL were gonna tour on the same bill, I immediately IM'ed Mandy. She laughed at the coincidence. They were gonna be in town this summer. As I didn't get her anything for her graduation, I thought it'd be nice to take her to the concert as a belated present.
And we had a fun time. We sat close enough to the stage that we didn't need binoculars--Mandy landed a pick thrown by the BNL guitarist. I especially thought it was cool when the two acts did a duet. It took me back to last summer, if for a moment.
I'm all for pleasant little unexpectations.
I can take or leave the movies of M. Night Shyamalan. To me, they seem like tediously overwrought episodes of The Twilight Zone, which could easily be told with much more efficiency. Ok, I get it, these flicks are supposed to be "suspenseful". But Rod Serling could elicit a greater sense of "whoa" from me within a half hour.
I've never seen a Shyamalan film in the theatre--I've either rented them or watched one as last resort entertainment on an airplane. Not to say they suck. They contain signs of excellent craftsmanship. And they always end up being better than I anticipated. Nevertheless, I'm not gonna get in line for the latest release.
The Village had no appeal for me whatsoever. The media campaign just made me yawn--cause you know it's all a red herring. There's gonna be a gimmick that'll confound anyone who's dumb enough to fall for the ruse set up by the marketing strategy. Which isn't to say that the ads were lame. If there's anything about a Shyamalan film, they're ingeniously promoted.
But here's the twist. I discovered that my favourite violinist, Hilary Hahn, was contributing to the soundtrack. That was it--I had to see The Village now that I had some recourse in the event I get bored during the movie.
And I'll be damned, but I really enjoyed the film, the cool score nothwithstanding. I dug, and this ain't revealing any plot turn, the love angle--due in large part to the charming Bryce Dallas Howard. It's because of this romantic ideal that I didn't mind the augmented pacing, rather I wished that it could've been even more laborious. Cause you can't hurry love. It should take forever and ever and ever to develop just to get a hint of its wonder, its endeavour, and its hope. That's enough of a surprise.
I should've used a koto. Cause kotos are Japanese. And ninjas are Japanese.
There's a student in Pittsburgh who's making a comedic film called Office Ninja. He stumbled upon my webpage and heard my film scores. So he asked me if I could come up with some music for his little film. I had just wrapped the score for Donnie's Tree and was hankering to resume work on ideas for my Hacienda Heights album. Nevertheless, I agreed. Hey, I'll do anything involving ninjas.
Ninjas (practitioners of the martial art of Ninjitsu) began to emerge during the Feudal Period of Japan, in the mountaineous regions of Iga, as a reaction to the Bushido (warrior code of honour) bound samurai. Because ninjas followed no such code, they could carry out assassinations and sneaky tasks. Thru the years they developed their own fighting style (including "walking like the wind", swordless capture, and techniques for throwing small weapons) which earned them their deadly reputation, and fear amongst the samurai.
Contrary to popular belief, I am NOT a ninja.
The koto is a Japanese long zither, which often has 13 strings made of silk (or thesedays, plastic) strung over a curved plank of wood. Traditionally, 'tis played whilst sitting on the floor, plucked with three ivory picks (on the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand), commonly tuned to a pentatonic scale (five note scale using the intervals of the black keys on a piano).
I would've liked to've used a koto for the Office Ninja score. Alas, I don't know of anyone who had one. So I settled for a zheng, which I borrowed from a co-worker.
The zheng (or guzheng) is the Chinese parent of the Asian family of long zithers, including the koto. 'Tis believed to date back 4000 years. Thesedays, they usually have 21 to 25 strings made of steel (or metal wound with nylon). Performers pluck the strings on the the right side of the bridges with their right hand as their left hand presses down on the strings on the left side of the bridges for vibrato and bending effects.
The zheng I'm borrowing is supposed to have 18 strings (two are broken). I tuned it to A-B-C#-E-F#. I fooled around with it for a day, getting the hang of how it's played, and comming up with some sorta melody. I used a guitar pick.
Anyways, here's the first cue I did with the zheng. And yes, I realize it's Chinese, even though it might sound like I'm a ninja playing a koto.
As if anyone can tell the difference...
|The Meanwhilers (l-r: Mike Zaggs, JM Allevato, Larry McFeurdy)
Azusa, CA, 2004
photo by Henry Lim
My sister and her boyfriend both work in advertising. She's an art director at an agency and he's an editor of movie trailers for a major studio. They like to pick apart commercials, noting which ones are effective, and even pointing out which clients are associated with which ad firms, etc. I consider them to be sophisticated followers of the trends. In other words, because they're behind the scenes, they ought to know how to fool an audience with the latest fancy promotional bullshit.
Or so you'd think.
I saw Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle with them. 'Tis a silly movie--I enjoyed it for what it's worth. My sister and her boyfriend had a good laugh. However, they complained that it all seemed like one big commercial for White Castle hamburgers--'tis about how much people will go thru just to eat them. I never thought of it as such during the movie. In fact, to me, the crux of the movie is the joke that these characters craved White Castle.
Well, to be fair, my sister and her boyfriend had never eaten at White Castle. I have. It tastes like steamed butt with onion bits on a dinner roll. And the movie didn't convince me otherwise. Cause you can't make ass taste any better, no matter how well it's lit, shot in slow motion, and voiced over with a hypnotic sales pitch. It's funny, nevertheless, when it's glorified thusly.
On the ride home, my sister muttered "I want a White Castle burger." I busted up.
As it happens, there's a makeshift White Castle stand on Sunset Blvd which gives out free burgers as a tie-in. The following day, my sister and her boyfriend rushed over to get suckered. Sure enough, they admitted that the burgers aren't all that. But 'tis the idea and spirit of Harold and Kumar that they're celebrating, or so they claimed.
Whatever. Ok, so they didn't have to purchase the burgers, so there ain't any real harm done. But still, despite their background in the biz, I had expected them to be wise enough to see thru the commercial. I mean, the satire couldn't be more obvious. The post-postmodern idiots are amongst us.
Screw the burgers, all I want to do is play Battleshits...
Hey, this is Teena Keene. How's it going? I hope you're having a cool summer. Me, my sister Jeri, and my best friend Stick are staying at my grandma and grandpa's farm this summer. It's so fun. My grandma is such a nice lady, even though she speaks with a weird accent. The other day, me and Stick caught nine crayfish. Wow, huh. Stick says she likes you, hahaha. But then she accused me of liking you, which is so not true. I punched her, hahaha. I don't know where Jeri is most of the time. I think she's been hanging out in the barn with the guy who cleans the stables. She's been acting really strange lately. First she's bored, then sheís all spacey. I don't understand her. Anyways, write to me cause I like reading your silly letters. See you when I get back.
PS: Stop living in your cartoon world...
Tim and Orion are staying over for the week. They're in town for the SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Groups on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques) convention to promote LDraw (an open standard for LEGO CAD (Computer Assisted Design) programs). The two of them are prominent members of the organization--Tim's one of the authors of the book Virtual LEGO and both him and Orion are on the steering committee. As well, they're members of the online LEGO community.
Which, I suppose I'm somewhat associated with, as well. I mean, they wouldn't be hanging at my place otherwise, even as I'm not affiliated with the LDraw subgroup. But sometimes I forget that I'm part of the LEGO community, which is stupid of me, I know, given the publicity I seem to get and the responsibilities thereof. I blame it on my anti-social tendancies and my involvement with other projects. Plus I've never been one to be overly participatory, period. I do what I do and that's that--I'm already on to the next thing by the time I'm done. I won't admit to any conscious thought regarding the community on behalf of the sculptures that I've built. They're personal projects which I happened to've shared with others within the hobby. First and foremost, I'm plugging myself, not the community.
However, kicking it with Tim and Orion, sharing stories about LEGO over beer, reminded me that I'm not alone. That there're really cool people in the community. And they're not the first LEGO freaks to've crashed at my apartment, not to mention, I've been graciously accommodated by LEGO households on my travels. It's actually neat how we all help each other. How there's really a network in place for our benefit. LEGO people are creative builders, if nothing else.
But it's almost all transparent to me, even as I've met some crazy characters during my LEGO phase and've made some tight friends. I suppose it's always been my naive outlook that things take care of themselves. I've never been actively worried about government and politics. Nor attached to the idea of a "community". It could thrive or fail and it wouldn't bother me. And I've seemed to've just rolled with it. Luckily, I've been able to be myself within this world. Maybe I'm beyond idealism when I say that in a perfect world no one would worry about the community as it'll just be understood that we're all included. Kinda how I, blindly at that, view things. I ought to be more thankful that there are people working their asses off just so I can be apathetic.
As a teenager, I tried super hard to like Dylan. But despite the near worship he received from musicians, I couldn't get past his odd voice. Not to mention, I grew up with the notion that music is more important than lyrics--I heard the melody before I comprehended the words. So it didn't matter what clever rhymes Dylan spewed, his music wasn't cutting it for me. I mean, I recognized his influence on phrasing, but given the choice between The Beatles and Dylan, I always went for the former. Dylan was an abstract concept--someone who, for some strange reason, was deemed "important".
It didn't help that his more famous tunes were hippie ditties about answers blowing in the wind, times a-changin', and a tambourine man. Generationally, these themes flew over my head, especially during the conservative climate of the '80s. Plus, my young horndog mind wanted to hear music about chicks. The few Dylan songs about girls that I heard sounded cruel, as if he was disinterested in them other than to sneer some mean line, like "I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes/You'd know what a drag it is to see you". For a high school student with untarnished romantic dreams, such a line ain't gonna make any sense. Even when my heart got shattered when I discovered that the girl I was pining for had a boyfriend, I still had faith in idealized love. Dylan's sentiments were inappropriate.
When I got to college, I began to devote more attention to lyrics due to the critical academic atmosphere. From this perspective, I started to dig Dylan's poetry, especially during his "liquid mercury" period. Intoxications helped, too. It was wild stuff, man--whacky characters, ridiculous situations, and an abandon perfectly expressing the freedom and wide open possibilities of being a college student. This was when I went thru my Kerouac phase and drove across America searching for whatever--the meaning of life, the world, myself, etc. And it all seems so stereotypical in retrospect, but Dylan made sense during those shenanigans. I understood the mischief in his voice.
But the moment when I really heard Dylan was when I felt completely hopeless in my pursuits of love, when I realized that my romantic dreams were crap, and there's nothing left to think about but what'll never be. That's when his voice sounded honest--moreso than anyone else who might be more technical intonationwise. Cause in those moments, I was as ragged as his vocals. And his lyrics broke thru with such emotional vividness that I wept in its uncanny echoing of the feelings I had for the girl that left me. Yeah, on paper his serenades sound ambiguous at best, but that's just a result of the surreal confusion which ensues in times of divestiture--fluffy love couplets are too juvenile, if not irrelevant. Unfortunately, Dylan has written some amazing love songs.
I've been listening to them lately.
Zaggs and I trekked down to the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano back in '94 to catch the Jazz Passengers. Not that we cared so much for them, rather it was the guest vocalist we wanted to see--Deborah Harry. Needless to say, she was as incredible as her preceding myth. Even in her older age, her presence was inescapable. This was before any Blondie reunion was even hinted at, and she seemed annoyed when she walked off stage during a reluctant rendition of one of her earlier hits. But I'll always remember that show as the night I saw Blondie's lead singer.
I just got the slick photo book Picture This: Debbie Harry and Blondie by Mick Rock. And I've been staring at it, ahem, studying it for hours. Maybe it's cause I've got a greater appreciation for photography thesedays, but it really is cool to see shots of a pretty lady--noting the employment of lighting, composition, and focus to compliment the subject. It helps that the lady in question actually does something (sings and writes songs) as opposed to models who simply just pose. I've always been attracted to talented girls, especially musicians--there's an added dimension to their personality beyond beauty.
Admittedly, my eyes go straight to her blonde hair, be it the glow it produces or my preference for that colour. But what really knocks me out is her wide face. Her cheeks comically stretch forever, which is what I dig--Iíve got a weakness for funny looking girls. Cause deservingly, they've got a sense of humour. My favourite pics aren't the sexy glamour shots, but the ones in which she's being a goofball.
However, it's her mouth that blows me away. Not necessarily how it looks, but how it moves, which unfortunately can't be captured in a still photo. She's got a scrunchy way with her lips that kills me--you can see it in the videos and if you listen closely, you can hear it when she sings. And I saw it when she sang live.
Perhaps my fascination with her has continued for so long due to having seen her in person. There's something about that assurance of reality. A photograph is fine, if to capture a moment in time. But I've always been able to experience an image with greater respect if I've seen that person in real life. Not only can I say "Yeah, I saw her," but I can better imagine her movements that escaped the camera. And encouraging the imagination is what it's all about.
I fell asleep on the flight back from Vegas. I had a dream in which I lost the ability to read bass clef. A dumb stripper asked me what that meant. I replied "It's like I can't recognize capital letters any more--all I can see are little letters."
Maybe it's cause I live in the car driven culture of Los Angeles that I get a kick out of mass transportation, such as flying on a commercial plane. There's something about being subjected to someone else's hand at the steering wheel whilst I'm packed amongst a crowd of strangers. It gives me the opportunity to devote more thought to things other than keeping my eyes on the road. Or to dream instead of navigating thru the skies.
I went to Vegas for Ted's bachelor party.
My favourite aspect of Vegas ain't the gambling, the glitter, or the girls. It's the smoking indoors. I like being able to light up after a meal in a cafe. Or to walk around the casino enjoying a cigarette. And best of all, to smoke at a bowling alley--that's always been an aspiration of mine. Needless to say, I didn't lose any money as I didn't place any bets. "I really admire your self control," noted Danny, "cause everytime I walk by a slot machine, I just have to play." I countered with "Yeah, but I've got other bad habits," as I lit up.
I arrived at McCarran airport on Friday afternoon. (No, I didn't sit next to a pretty girl on the plane). The trip was flawless, although I heard later that everyone else attending the bachelor party had problems--thunderstorms and delays. Well, the only hitch was a half hour wait to get a taxi. There was this wrapping queue, not unlike a line for a ride at a kiddie theme park. It's almost unavoidable and humourous to notice peoples' impatient anticipation as we snaked around under a tent by the taxi curb. Every other person was making a call on their cellphone to whoever they were supposed to be meeting--"...I just got in, but I'm in a ridiculous line to get a cab...yeah, ok, I'll see you when I get to the hotel..."
Luckily, at the exact moment my taxi pulled up at Monte Carlo, I met Jeff and Carlos, who were meandering by the entrance. I didn't have to call anyone to let them know that I had gotten in--which saved me from finding a pay phone which I would've'd to've used, me being cellphoneless. So we caught up with Rehan and Wong upstairs on the 13th floor. I dropped off my backpack and we all headed over to Caesar's to mull around the mall.
The following night, as a stripper smushed her fake breasts in my face, all I could think about was, damnit, I wish that that cute girl I saw at the mall was in front of me right now instead of this nasty chick. Cause of all the girls I noticed in Vegas, the only one who was worth a second glance was this scrawny girl at the Caesar's food court. That's when I realized that my tastes in women differs greatly from the common denominator--the stereotypical stripper has a body type that's, in my opinion, too fat (some would say shapely). And even though none of the strippers excited me, I did feel sorry for them, as they grinded their bodies for dollars, in the darkened dens to drunken mobs. The topless girls tried so hard to appear desparate that they cancelled themselves out. Oh, but that girl I saw at Caesar's was a sight...
Well, actually, there was another girl. John wore a St. Pauli Girl shirt with an illustration of the beer's mascot. I'm a sucker for Frauleins. "Nice shirt," I complimented. "Thanks," he retorted, "my wife gave it to me--she works for the bottlers and gets me free stuff, well everything except the posters, I don't know why not..."
The highlight of the weekend was dinner at Circus Circus, where our gang (minus Jeff, who got sick) sat at a round table and had fun sharing old stories. Yeah, that may seem boring in the context of Vegas, and I'm not deemphasizing the debauchery per some code of honour to respect Ted's fiance, but that's the plain truth. I find that it's the simplest thrills amongst friends that are worth remembering. Not that we didn't make new memories of silly adventures for us to recount later, but something gets lost in the grandeur of it all. I'm starting to make that distinction.
Ted and I took a cab to the airport early Sunday morning. We had similar departure times. Before we headed to our designated gates, I asked him what he thought was the best part of his bachelor party. "I liked how we had a small group of friends," he summarized. "Thanks for comming."
i fell asleep on the flight back from vegas...
Mrs. Smith went around her 8th grade English class asking each student to state aloud whether they considered themselves to be a "leader" or a "follower". Down the aisles the kids complied, answering robotically without hesitation, befitting their stuffy honours status. I suppose by that age, they're already cast in their roles. Well, it's kinda obvious which personalities fit into their appropriate categories--you either look up to or down on others.
I sat in the last seat of the last row. So I had a moment to think about my response. I couldn't decide. I mean, just the fact that I had to think about the question put me in a jiffy. What the hell kinda lesson was this? And even more disturbing was why I couldn't figure out who I was.
I narrowed it down to not being a "follower". My parents brought me up with idea that being a "leader" is better than being a "follower", at least in terms of who I picked as friends. I never understood why they thought so, given that they weren't exactly "leaders" when they tagged around wherever their friends went, never the other way around. Perhaps they tried to instill in me a sense of confidence or maybe they had grand plans for their first born son.
Cause society praises "leaders" over "followers". Not that "followers" are bad--I think they are equally important, especially when there's a job to be done that requires the contribution of many. However, there's the stigma of following blindly, of being under someone else's leadership. It's a lower role in the hierarchy of societal positions. I've always been too independent to be a good "follower".
But I never thought of myself as a "leader". I knew at a young age that despite having somewhat of an intellectual advantage over my peers, as many of them looked up to me for homework answers, which others, including the teachers who put me in charge of groups, recognized as potential to be a "leader", I just didn't have it in my heart to tell others what to do. I respected my individualism and hoped others would figure things out on their own. Thus, I've always self sabotaged any leadership roles that I was offered with excuses of disliking responsibility, corrupting myself with power, or defacing my charisma, however subconsiouly.
It's funny how people label themselves and spend their whole lives living up to ideal attributes. And it'll kill them as they try to succeed, even as they deny failure. I'm no exception, but at least I don't put much stock in proving myself to others. I can sleep at night knowing that I could care less about how society perceives me--I don't get in anybody's way and vice versa. At least to the point where I've got zero stress. Cause it ain't worth worrying about whether or not you are or aren't who you think you're supposed to be.
I learned such on that day in Mrs. Smith's class. I wasn't surprised by my classmates' enthusiastic answers--I always suspected that the assholes were "leaders" and the asskissers were "followers". And they probably haven't changed much since. Most of us are just futher developed versions of ourselves when we were kids. Self motivated characteristics are self fulfilling prophecies of self realization. Be careful what you call yourself.
"Henry," Mrs. Smith inquired, "so what are you? Are you a leader or a follower?"
I wonder what they'll play at my funeral. No, no, I'm not dying, nor do I wish I were dead. But I was just listening to the final mix of the soundtrack to the last movie I scored and thought, "Those are some nice tracks, but I doubt they'll play them at my funeral." Which got me to speculating.
Not that I ought to care about what music gets played at my funeral, cause I'll be dead, and it ain't up to me how people wanna pay their respects. And if there even will be music played. But I'd like to hope that some music is played, cause if nothing else, I dug music in this life.
Personally, I'd play some of my own compositions, as they represented my more self expressive relationships with music. Sure, not many people have heard my music, but geez, it's my funeral. Give me that last courtesy.
So if I died today, and I had to select some music from my current catalogue, I'd have to pass on all my songs (music with lyrics). I don't think I've written any words that are befitting of my passing--they're mostly about girls, girls, and girls. Cause I wrote about what I felt, and I didn't feel such requiem emotions. Also, I don't think any of my songs are particularily uplifting. They're more appropriate for goofy entertainment than somber occasions.
No, I'd go with something instrumental--in the true language of music. And even though my wordless compositions aren't necessarily sad or grand or whatever, I think they say "farewell" more eloquently than my voice ever could.
That being said, any of my piano sonatas ought to be worthy, but I'm afraid they might be too "artsy" for a funeral. I'd hate for people to fall asleep. Something short and sweet should be fine.
Thus, I wouldn't mind hearing the Waltz I wrote for the film Donnie's Tree at my funeral. It's simple, with a tinge of hope, and not too depressing or lengthy. It sums me up nicely.
There's an old professor emeritus who practically lives at the music library where I work. Everyday he wobbles in and hunches over piles of books and scribbled notes. No one doubts his brilliance and dedication to his research. However, he's a cranky character who torments the staff and patrons.
So many stories surround him that I can't keep track of what's true anymore. Some say that he's gotten into angry arguments with librarians who've accidentally reshelved his materials. There are cautious tales about letting him go first at the copy machines if there are lines--everyone remembers the young girl who didn't heed the warning and wound up crying from his cruel comments about her stupidity. No one knows how old he is, but guess that he's nearing 90. He's a lumbering man who always wears a dandruff flaked suit. It's hard to not spot him.
Everyone is afraid of him. Cause everyone's had a bad experience dealing with his unreasonable temper. Jokes fly behind his back after he's been thwarted. No one likes to help him.
But luckily, so far, he's been nice to me. I occasionally assist him with reference questions and computer searches (he's got an aversion to the online catalog). He smiles and waves at me when I see him in the reading room. And I've listened to his rambling stories about the composers he's met during his long life. He's even given me encouragement to follow my musical muse no matter what--which I'm thankful for.
Cause I've always felt sorry for him after I heard the rumour that he was once married and had a kid. Sadly, they were both killed in a car accident. Whether or not this is fact, it explains his fear of riding in automobiles and why he's a bitter old man. Nevertheless, something happened that's made him so eccentrically sour. I see it in his eyes. Not that that excuses his behaviour to others, but my conscience tells me not to look at him with disdain.
Sometimes when I walk thru the halls I hear him at the piano in an empty classroom. I can always recognize his graceful playing.
I wasn't ashamed to call my sister for directions to the nearest Crate & Barrel. I've lived in South Bay for the last 10 years and still don't know where any of the stores are located--and I'm damn proud of my ignorance. My sister's lived here for six months and knows where everything is.
"There's one at the PV mall," she instructed.
"Where the hell is the PV mall?" I fumbled. "Screw it. I'll just go to Macy's. Where's the nearest Macy's?"
Ted and Tina are registered at Crate & Barrel and Macy's. Thus, I spent my Saturday afternoon getting their wedding present.
"There's a Macy's at Del Amo," answered my sister.
There's only one cool thing about the Del Amo Mall--it's featured in the movie Jackie Brown. It's just too damn big. And I always seem to park in the wrong spot. Everytime I go there, I end up walking more than I should cause wherever I needed to go ain't close to where I entered. I spend most of my time looking for the damn shop, which usually is at the opposite side of the sprawl. It's always such a chore.
So I parked near Macy's. Simple enough. However, as I wandered around the top floor trying to find some bridal registry info, I noticed that there weren't any housewares, just women's undergarments. I'm not a complete idiot. I know that wedding gifts are usually of the handy household variety--not bras and panties. Furthermore, most department stores have such on their top floor. I was in the wrong place.
"You look lost," said the fat lady who worked there. "May I help you?"
"Yeah," I avoided eye contact, cause she was overweight, "my friends are registered here. Where do I find what to get them?"
"Oh," she blubbered, "you need to go to Macy's Home and Furniture."
"Where the hell is Macy's Home and Furniture?" I complained. "Don't tell me it's on the other side of the mall..."
"It's on the other side of the mall," she laughed.
Damnit. Sauced again.
Sure, she said it was within walking distance. Yet I had to trudge thru the miles of shops. Yeah, just follow the signs. Maybe such an adventure would be a fun opportunity for someone who loves to shop, what with all those trinket dealers and apparel vendors. But to me it's so disheartening to walk amongst zombies looking for bargains, buying things that they think'll improve their sorry selves, and just plain getting in my way--do packs of elderly people have to walk so slow? My eyes couldn't roll enough.
I made it to Macy's Home and Furniture. The top floor was more wedding gift appropriate--pots and pans, towels and blankets, etc. I found the bridal registry parlour.
"May I help you?" beckoned the elegantly dressed cross eyed lady.
"My friends are registered here," I couldn't help from staring into her whacky eyeballs, "hahaha...uh, pardon me, um, yeah, so where do I find what to get them?"
"Go to the touch screen over by the linens," she pointed. "Type in their name and it will provide you with their selections."
Easy enough. But after I got a long printout of Ted and Tina's selections, my lazyness kicked in. I felt overwhelmed with the task of playing this scavenger hunt. So I whistled for a sissy minion to go and fetch me something in the $50 range. He obliged, cause that's his demeaning job, returning with a digital bathroom scale. (I don't think it's a big secret what I got them and how much it costs as the custom of wedding gift registries is so blatant).
"Do you want it gift wrapped?" he asked.
"Do I look like I can wrap a gift?" I replied.
I almost tipped him for being such a good little bitch as he took care of everything--he told me to wait as he brought it over to wrapping. But I just thanked him instead. No salesperson deserves my gratitude beyond that.
I retraced my steps back to my car on the other side of the damn mall. No, none of the stores looked any more inviting the second time around. I sighed with accomplishment as I exited.
Addendum: My brother is smart. He ordered his gift online from the Crate & Barrel website. I should've done that.
I got duped as a kid into buying sheet music. Cause I wanted to play some hit song on the piano and I was under the impression that in order to do so, one needed to purchase the sheet music. Nevermind that pop musicians generally don't know how to read music, much less notate, and that the music itself can more often than not be simplified into melodies and chords. I didn't know any better, so I spent my hard earned tutoring money on a piece of paper that told me what I could've figured out on my own.
It dawned on me when I got frustrated with all the inaccuracies--some of them had wrong chords, ignored sections such as guitar solos, or skimped on the fade outs with "ad libs". I spent more time referring to the recordings. Soon enough, I figured out how to play what I heard. It was a gradual process. I'd often get stumped on certain harmonies with alternate bass notes or added suspensions, for which I'd go to the music store and peek at the sheet music. But eventually, I didn't need to look at the notes anymore. And I saved my money.
Cause pop music is essentially chord based. Once you know the chord progression, the melody ain't hard to determine. It's like learning words as opposed to each individual letter that makes up the words. Certain words flow into each other. Patterns become apparent.
Lately, I've been plucking out songs on an acoustic guitar. The same method which I've been using ever since I was a teenager applies--listen to the recording, figure out the chords, and sing the melody. It's been a while since I consulted sheet music, well except to look at the pictures of cute chick singers, after all, the music library where I work has one of the largest collections of sheet music in the world. Anways, I've been getting lazy and have been looking up tabs online. Some of which are helpful as quick and dirty references. But they also have the same problems of sheet music--some hack guessed the wrong chord. And I end up figuring it out for myself.
There's something missing from Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
It's not a cute chick. Anne Hathaway's continuing adventures as Princess Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi doesn't disappoint in the cuteness department. There're plenty of cute outfits she sports and opportunities for her to be her cute self--those cute eyes, that cute smile, and her cute princessness.
It's not a funny chick. Heather Matarazzo reprises her role as Princess Mia's funny best friend. She's got some funny lines that made me laugh. She's got great comedic charm--she's funny looking, she's got a funny voice, and she's got funny demeanour.
It's not a classy singer chick. Julie Andrews returns as the Queen of Genovia. And she actually sings. Yeah, Mary Poppins herself. Eh, the song ain't so hip, but just to hear her classy voice hold any melody brought me a smile.
No, what's missing from the movie is the cute, funny, and classy singer Mandy Moore. She really enlivened the original Princess Diaries. And ultimately, she made that film better than the sequel. Cause it's just not the same without her. I miss Mandy.
The Back to the Future DVD has an "animated anecedotes" feature that you can select whilst watching the movie. It'll occasionally caption little facts and trivia relating to certain scenes. For instance, it mentions that "the machine Marty plugs his guitar into [in the opening scene] is labeled 'CRM-114', which was the name of the message decoder aboard the B-52 bomber in the late Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), and was also the serial number of the Jupiter explorer in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), also directed by Kubrick". Film geek shit.
Anyways, as Marty skateboards into the parking lot of Twin Pines Mall, this flashes on the screen: "Twin Pines Mall is actually Puente Hills Mall in City of Industry, California". Now, anyone who grew up in Hacienda Heights in the '80s referred to the Puente Hills Mall as THE Mall--it's where we all hung out. "Meet me at The Mall," we'd tell our friends. Or stories would start with "Yesterday, at The Mall..." And we all remember when they filmed Back to the Future there. They watered down the asphalt to make it look all shiny. Film trailers shacked up for a week. It's our little city's claim to fame. To this day, when someone asks me where I grew up, I gotta mention "Twin Pines Mall".
Luckily, the movie turned out to be pretty cool, and is actually one of my all time faves. I distinctly remember walking out of the theatre with that "wow, that was such a rad movie" vibe and being caught in the crosshairs of reality and fantasy as I looked at The Mall/Twin Pines Mall. Sometimes I gotta clarifiy that it was filmed in my hometown when people question why I like the film so much. It's sentimental. Not to mention, as the movie is almost 20 years old, it's becoming a historic time capsule itself--of '50s nostalgia during the '80s. And it preserves The Mall as it was. Cause if you drive by it today, it doesn't look the same anymore, what with a remodeled exterior and different stores. Honestly, I don't care much for The Mall thesedays. My memories dwell on its celluloid representation.
"So, how were the chicks?" was the first question Larry McFeurdy asked Ted Ed Fred, who'd just returned from a tour of Europe.
"Oh, dude," Fred said between a grin, "the chicks in Spain were hot."
"Spanish chicks, huh," McFeurdy daydreamed.
The Meanwhilers have been rehearsing for McFeurdy's upcomming Hacienda Heights concert. In the upstairs rehearsal room of JM Allevato's house, Zaggs warms up on drums. McFeurdy adjusts the height of the microphone stand. Allevato tunes the bass. And tonight, Fred is the stoner reclining on the couch, listening to The Meanwhilers jam for the first time in nearly a decade.
McFeurdy begins to off cuffly strum the opening chords to "I'll Be Nice to You", singing:
We'll return to see if you forgot to turn off the lights, alright...
The rest of the band follows. It's rough--forgotten lyrics are replaced with jibberish and flubbed notes abound. But the music is still fun, like it was just yesterday.
"Cause we gotta play some of the old tunes at the concert," McFeurdy explains, "for the O.G. fans, you know."
The plan is this: after completing his solo album, which ought be sometime in the approaching future, the Meanwhilers will play a one time only live performance of Hacienda Heights in its entirety. Details are forthcomming, but to close out the show, the band'll play some of its previous repertoire, for nostalgia's sake. Rehearsal time has been devoted to figuring out which songs to play.
"'Neptunisia' seems to be a favourite right now," McFeurdy decrees. "We're also in our Police phase--we've been rearranging the oldies to sound as if The Police tookover The Meanwhilers, hahaha, you know, the new wave reggae groove...Ē
Indeed, what was once a surf punk song, "Neptunisia" now has a syncopated shuffle reminiscent of Stewart Copland and Co.
But there's work to be done. Rehearsals are lax, to say the least--informal and unpressured. Nevertheless, the Hacienda Heights songs are played over and over again to not only get acquainted with the new material, but to rebuild the band's interactions. Afterall, 'tis been a long time since they played together. Not to mention, they've all got side projects, such as McFeurdy's stint as a film composer, which has permitted rehearsals to occur only once a week.
"I want to rename the band Wednesday and The Meanwhilers," McFeurdy joked, "as in Christina Ricci as Wednesday from The Addam's Family and The Meanwhilers, hahaha."
After a run thru of the Hacienda Heights number "My Fair Fraulein", Fred interrupts with "Can I say two things?"
The band gives him the floor.
"Well, first that song sounds like it could come from The Big Lebowski. And secondly, it sounds like driving music."
McFeurdy, Zaggs, and Allevato laugh.
"Whatís so funny?" Fred giggles.
"Everyone says that song is driving music," McFeurdy smirks.
"Here, we'll play it again," Allevato mentions. "And you sit on the couch like you're driving."
"What?" Fred sits up on the couch.
"Ok," Allevato continues, "pretend you're driving..."
"One, two," Zaggs counts in as McFeurdy picks up the riff.
I don't wanna be here
Without you, dear...
"Uh..." Fred fumbles with his pockets, "well, I'd be smoking..." Soon his right hand extends and grasps an invisible steering wheel.
The Meanwhilers are cracking up too hard to continue the song.
"Hahaha," McFeurdy gives the punch line, "EVERYONE does that when they hear this song." He copies the imaginary driving pose. "Hahaha, you're a hick..."
"Yeah," Fred gets the joke, "that song's kinda white trash drive around in your truck..."
As well, The Meanwhilers are working on the title track of McFeurdy's album--which'll be a joint composition amongst the band, and their first recording since 1995's Rubberhooks & Metalbelts. It's an instrumental.
"It sounds like a little kid growing up," Fred describes, "you know, like 'comming of age'."
"Well," McFeurdy remarks, "it's called 'Hacienda Heights'."
The band ad libs an extended ending to the tune, progressing into a neverending funky groove based on the bass riff.
The Meanwhilers play on...
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