Monday, December 24, 2007

Game On.

Well, here's something I can work on with nothing else going on between the holidays.

Merry Xmas, ya little jerks!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The best performance ever of "Stairway To Heaven"

I think it's really creative and cool that this was done.

Also, I'm getting hooked up with both volumes of 'Beat The Boots' by Frank Zappa, as well as mono versions of the Beatles' albums.

AND...on January 20th, Todd Rundgren will be in Indianapolis.

Life is good.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good News and Mediocre News From Bloomington

I really don't want to depress you all with tributes to the two fallen Beatles (three if you really believe that Paul is dead), so I'll forgo that in favor of letting you know what's up with me.

The good news is I brought home all A's and a B this semester. May I never do an 18 credit course-load in one semester again. It's not that I really hated it so much as there was no reprieve. Two papers and a test one week. A paper and two tests the next. Quiz and a paper the following week - online assignments due weekly. It got to be a little too much at times. But, with a 3.63 GPA magnetized onto the fridge, I was able to handle it.

On the note of credits and all that, let me preface this by offering a warning of content that is probably harder to explain than it really is.

Math 025 - Pre-Calculus is one of the courses I'm taking this summer, to qualify my math requirement. However, it carries with it absolutely NO CREDIT. All other classes I've taken have been 3 or 4 credits. But this one? ZERO CREDITS. I found this out tonight, and purely by accident.

I had initially thought that I would only need 2 credits (I decided to only do five classes/15 credits for spring 2008) after the first summer session. And that's no biggie at all, just register for some elective course offered either in my department (Public Speaking comes to mind for this) or maybe a course in bowling or chess or something.

Nope. I'll need five credits...and that's the only requirement I need. By this point I will have met all three requirements of Arts & Humanities, Social & Historical Studies (both of which I'd checked off by spring 2006), and Natural Sciences & Mathematics, also Cultural Studies, Topics Courses, Intensive Writing, classes at the 300/400 level (they require 36, by June '08 I will have 58), and Foreign Language.

I need 122 credits for graduation. It's not a lack of concern that I won't find anything, it's just a bad calculation on my part had me convinced I only needed the math class for Summer Session I of 2008, then I'd be done. (Guess I really need that math course, no?) I only added the other two courses (History Of The Blues, The Music Of Jimi Hendrix) to balance out sitting through math, as well as having Hollinden again for a class. I had no idea I actually NEEDED the credits for those...

...So, the only cause for my exasperation is that my plans for summer school have gone from ONE class to THREE, then FOUR, and now...five. So much for working full-time during the second session.

And I'll need the money, because I signed on for the apartment.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Get the tissues - one of Frank Zappa's last interviews

It's really disconcerting to see Frank, the outspoken and opinionated genius, essentially stripped of all his pride...he still has an edge, though, and thank God. Probably one of the toughest videos for me to sit through. He might have been a brisk, at times a little too insensitive guy during most of his life, but that doesn't show here.


PS - 12/4 (the anniversary of his death) to 12/21 (his birthday) marks what Zappa fans call "Zappadan," a 17-day period where we celebrate his life as opposed to mourn.

PPS - If you think THAT was hard to watch, just wait till I find proper tributes to John & George!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hello, It's Me

I'll get all suspense out of the way concerning my meeting with Hollinden by saying this: my pursuit of non-theoretical music studies is not happening. For one, I would have to apply to the school of music. That means AUDITIONING...

And as much as I admire Ruth Underwood's talent, I'm a rock and roll kind of a guy through and through.

Anyway, I'd essentially have to start over again, at the School Of Music. I was told some things about said institution that I feel ought to stay under wraps (self-imposed gag order), but MY OWN CONCLUSION is that the Jacobs School Of Music didn't become the 2nd most renowned music school in the country (second only to Julliard) because it boasted a liberal environment and did something other than hammer classical music into its students' heads (Because it DOESN'T!) Even jazz music is treated the same way as rock music, something extra for the kids to do in their free time while studying classical charts.

I really appreciate that Andy was honest about everything. He prefaces a lot of his personal stories in the Zappa class with "Now, I don't wanna bore you guys with my life story, you're hear to learn about Zappa, not me...", but I happened to enjoy all semester hearing about his own experiences growing up with the music. I've been into FZ for 7 years, and I can still tell you where I was, what I was doing, everything, with EACH album.

To get back to my point, my eyes were opened to the fact that the academic community is just like any other field, in that the powers that be see things with green-tinted glasses. (While that is a let-down, at least I heard it from someone that I respect NOW as opposed to someone I don't respect LATER.) I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, but then I was so naive that I figured the academic community would be something like Oz.

With that all said, Andy encouraged me to stay the course in film studies - he even loaned me a book detailing rock music in film - rather than do four years as a music school undergrad, at which point grad school to study rock music would be "a crapshoot," and to pursue a line of study that could somehow incorporate film and music. The Beatles' movies are all excellent, and remarkably unique in their own ways, Zappa's movie '200 Motels' alone deserves a thorough analysis, and Ray Davies was practically bounced out of a financial backer's office in 1972 for proposing an idea that predicted rock video a full decade earlier.

Still, the fact of the matter is that I do enjoy writing about's just a very short list. My sentiment of "it's all been said before" about the old masters (Eisenstein & Chaplin) hasn't shifted. I could make my entire career out of studying their work and becoming a resident scholar on one or both of them - and it would only make sense that their paths eventually crossed: Chaplin hailed 'Battleship Potemkin' as the greatest film in the world. But honestly, I feel studying them would be almost a cop-out. If there's a message in a Chaplin film or an Eisenstein film, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see it. (Stalin correctly saw himself as the murderous tyrannical bastard in Ivan The Terrible, and he was idiot!)

Speaking of Ray Davies, I embarked upon my final creative project for the CMCL Department as an undergrad. It wasn't a movie, though I did help Shelley with hers - and it turned out excellent! Not to sound like an old man, but I was proud of her. My project was written. It was roughly six and a half years in the making: I adapted The Kinks' rock opera 'Preservation' into a screenplay. The first time I heard the album, it was all I could do but picture it in my head as a film...many years later, having learned all the technical details and jargon related to crafting a script, I made it happen. The whole thing came together in two sittings. The end result was 125 pages.

I'm not going to lie: I'm proud of myself, since this past weekend prohibited me from doing any work (and I don't regret it, I had a good time at home), I walked into the writing process thinking I wouldn't be able to complete it. But I did. My left hand is KILLING me, though.

Dad's interview for the church camp job is on Friday, the 7th. Feel free to contact him and wish him luck on that...unless he doesn't know you. That would be weird.

This weekend (and if my parents still read this, I would STRONGLY discourage Dad from reading this portion) I found at an antique store in Scottsburg the American pressings of A Hard Day's Night and Help!, Live At The Hollywood Bowl (something Dad has told me he wanted for YEARS), and the real gem was an ORIGINAL PRESSING of Magical Mystery Tour, complete with the 24 page color booklet inside. My old man is going to have the best Xmas ever.

Nick's senior pictures went's kind of strange, with Nick now being an adult, to realize that I like my brothers not because they're my brothers but because they're my friends. I don't know...pardon my odd sense of nostalgia.

This is, for me, a rather sad stretch of days. This past Thursday marked the 6th anniversary of George Harrison's passing, yesterday (Tuesday) was the 13th anniversary of Frank Zappa's death, and this Saturday is probably the toughest one, as it is the 27th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. (Also would have been mine and Shelley's 2-year anniversary...) Amidst all that is my mom's birthday, which like I said was kind of a breath of fresh air among all the projects and papers due during my 5th "dead week," which, like all the others is not so much dead as it is kicking and screaming.

On that note, I have to watch a Mongolian documentary and write 8-10 pages about it by 2:30. My poor left hand...

Expect some sort of tribute to three of these deceased idols of my youth next time around.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Gee, it's good to be back home/Leave me till tomorrow to unpack my case/Honey, disconnect the phone"

There is so much to update on:

Kate and I broke up on 11/6. It wasn't mutual, and it was my decision. We're still friends. It's not still a touchy subject for us, but I don't want to go into details. Basically, there was frustration on my part. It's not that I didn't get to see her enough, but that I didn't get to see her PERIOD. Just something that started small, went unnoticed, got bigger, still went unresolved...then that was it.
It's all good, though. I've had some time to refocus, and I think it would be wise for me to follow my original plan that was the source of dissatisfaction with Shelley and something I'd wanted to do at the beginning of the school year: see what all is out there and not get too wrapped up with any one person. If someone who seems right comes along, I'll pursue it, but that takes time.

That brings me to my next point: I've got time on my hands, as I'm going to be in school for at least another four years. I took the GRE on the 24th and did well on it. Now, the grad school application process begins: time for recommendation letters, writing samples, and drafting up my statement of purpose. I want to study music instead of film now, but more on that later. I plan on meeting with Professor Hollinden sometime soon to discuss this.

I took a shit in a urinal. (I figured I'd juxtapose talks of grad school with that - I've not forgotten my roots.)

Eric is just a few tracks away from completing the Hobbyhorse album, which we are slated to finish during Winter Break. He really needs to get his ass up here and at least pursue his M.A. degree. He is very, very missed.

Thanksgiving break was the first time I was home since mid-September for more than ten minutes. I can never say that I miss Seymour. I don't ever roll into town and say, "Oh, good, there's the animal hospital! I'm practically there!" It's more about seeing the family and, honestly, the house, too.

But I might not be going to the big brown house from 1912 in Seymour next Thanksgiving. Dad applied to become camp director over at Indian Creek in Bedford, and the search has narrowed from 11 applicants to 4 interviewees, including Dad. If he gets it, he'll move to Bedford in January/February, and Mom and Nick will move in June after Nick graduates. Despite the pay cut, Dad will actually be happy with what he does. I'm behind it 110% if he is given the job, but then I'd be 110% behind him having to relocate to Abu Dhabi to do volunteer work - if it makes him happy. God knows he deserves it.

Everything else about outstanding to discuss. Nice quiet weekend at home. Lily has gotten so tall that Jasmine can walk under her...and Lily still loves me for whatever reason. I think it's because I'm the only person who has never scolded her. And you know what? I won't ever. She's too cute and hyper...and smart (for a dog). I didn't get to drum...and that kinda sucked. But I got some quality time in with Eric & Maddie, Nick, and Mom. (Note somebody's absence...)

Thankfully, I had forgotten my cell phone charger. Mom told me "one or both of us will meet you" at the intersection of Highways 50 and 446. I pulled up and saw just Dad. After getting my charger, he asked if I wanted to go in and get coffee. I hadn't eaten all day, so I had a sandwich and Powerade. A little under two and a half hours later, after discussing music, my academic future, girls, films and why I'm wanting to abandon film studies, classes, and his pending job, we parted ways.

That more than made up for the lack of face time I had with him, and not just during Thanksgiving Break. When I was sick, only Mom was able to come up. It was nice, and I enjoyed spending time with just her, but when I call home I usually talk to Mom. And I hadn't been around for Dad's birthday (I was in Alabama), but I will be around for Mom's (this Saturday, actually), so's still strange talking to Dad not as my father but as my friend. We're more in common than either of us had thought until recently. It's weird to be a month and a half away from turning 21 and know that Dad was my age when he got married.

So it goes.

Back in mid-October, Graham invited me to be his roommate next year at an apartment. The building is LITERALLY a block off-campus. The pricing is reasonable, too. My parents aren't for it. Initially it was the issue of safety and the architectural soundness of the place. Once I got a tour of it and talked with somebody from the property management about how safe and sound the apartment was, for reasons I'm still not completely sure of, I was told that should I sign the contract I'm on my own for rent. I was also told to wait a year, spending my first year of grad school on campus; the year after that they'll cover housing.

The issue has kind of rested as I prepped for the GRE. But now it's on my mind again. In the weeks since even my last entry I've started making a case not so much specifically for the apartment but AGAINST the dorms. The best part - though it does suck for me right now - is that my case against even Willkie is writing itself. I have only $15 left on my meal card thanks to food being anywhere from one to four dollars over their actual retail prices (and the fact that I eat healthy 95% of the time). I'm up late because the laundry machines fucked up while drying two loads of clothes and towels. Last weekend I was driving all over this part of town trying to find a parking spot because every single parking spot around Willkie was taken - some by vehicles without student permits...lots and lots of reasons.

Initial cost and the subsequent cost of living for the apartment would still be cheaper than paying for the dorm room alone, I just need some paperwork indicating that.

I'm sick of living in a dorm (did I mention that even though my thermostat is set for 55, the room is BURNING UP because the building's heater switched on sometime last month. Yeah, it was cold to the point that I had what I call snotsicles in August and September and now my sleep is interrupted by waking up dripping sweat. Oh, and opening the window? That's what gave me the flu a couple weeks ago...), and I really feel that the apartment is a rational solution.

Mom said, "You'll do whatever you want whether we approve of it or not." That's true, but it's not an issue of defiance. It's an issue of practicality. Grad school isn't cheap, and Nick is starting college next fall. I see it as 1.) a personal step forwards towards independence and "real life" and 2.) an effective - and did I mention practical? - cost-cutting measure.

Oh, well. Hopefully the suspense is killing you...

PS - In response to m@'s question, it's weird how small this world truly is. Sometimes I'll friend someone on Facebook and be blown away to see how many friends we have in common. Anyway, I'll be more active in future comment-page discussions, I've just been busy as all Hell these past few weeks between my break-up with Kate and then the GRE. Projects and finals are right around the corner, but I'll make time to post here again soon.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I have nothing to say at this point.

That is all.

Things are good. Taking the GRE on 11/24. God help us all.

Ray Davies visited me last night in my dream. I'm starting to think it wasn't a dream but a divine vision.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I am just reinventing myself from the bottom up. Tonight I finally changed my AIM icon after two years.

Look out, world!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's Officially Autumn

...and it happened overnight. Yesterday it was pleasant and in the 70's...maybe a little too hot if you were in direct sunlight. But then today came along and it was brisk.

I'm not sure if I welcome this change in the weather or if I'm ready for it to be hot again.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Hello Again

I'm a neglectful son of a bitch. Sorry (for those of you anticipating my update that never comes) for not updating this more often.

Things have been GREAT. Recording the second weekend in a row was kind of a bust...but it's all good. When was that, anyway?

+ Kate's friend Maggie came to town. Her dad was AWESOME. He mentioned seeing Jellyfish (the band) in concert several times, which led to me mentioning how Ringo Starr covered two of their songs on one of his albums, then how Todd Rundgren was in the band...then he told me about the time he and a friend stumbled upon Rundgren's house! Our conversation carried on from there; he told me about how he covered a Kinks concert in 1969 when they were the opening act for The Who! Dude - THE KINKS and THE WHO at the same show on the same night! I really need to get that damn MacArthur Grant so I can build a time machine and see some concerts. Then...THEN...this guy tells me about how he owns a Nazz bootleg. That's right, The Nazz. Awesome.
+ I headed home, played with Lily, visited with my folks, etc.

+ Commence recording? Nope. Damn microphones...still, Dad was off until 3, so we got to hang out. Think it's dorky that I hang out with my Dad? Then you don't know my dad well enough.
+ Packing my stuff up for my less than triumphant return to Bloomington, Mom pulls in the driveway and tells me she wants to take me out to dinner.
+ At Applebee's, I see none other than Mr. Blythe, my American Lit and AP English teacher (and one of a VERY short list of high school teachers I would ever care to see again, let alone remain in contact with - if I ever write a book he's getting an acknowledgment.)
+ I come back to Bloomington, chill with Kate and Maggie for a spell, and then get ready for the cocktail party I was invited to.
+ Since Kate couldn't come (that's what she said), my friend Daniel was my "date" for lack of a better term. It was awesome, we got to see the premiere episode of a new show for the campus TV station called "IUTube." It's not just good for that awful student television network, it would be good on a REAL network. Best of luck to those guys, they've got something good on their hands.
+ Daniel took me back to Willkie at 1 AM because he was tired. So...for the first time ever, I was able to attend both events I had been invited to via Facebook when David and I walked across town to a house party where some bands were playing. A guy from my film class, Dan Ostrozovich (I have to specify since I've got a phalanx of Dans, Erics, Maddies, Nicks, Scotts, Andrews, and Hollys in my life...and a few Alexs too many for my liking), invited me. I hadn't talked to him much outside class. But he turned out to be an interesting guy.
+ Walking back at 5 AM, some drunk wanderer told us he didn't know where he was but needed directions back home. I offered to give him a lift. David checked in at 5:30. I took this guy home - he swore up and down I was some sort of angel, which I had to quickly respond to with, "No, I'm just a me." - and was in bed by 7 AM.

+ Up at 1 to clean out my car since I volunteered to take Maggie to the airport. Kate came with, of course.
+ We left at 3:45, hit a post-game traffic jam in Bloomington, hit traffic in Indy, but she still made her 5:30 flight. It was great.
+ Driving back, Kate and I talked...I don't know, it's hard to explain, but being in a car with someone (this has been my experience anyway) you can have some pretty profound conversations and get to know somebody a lot better in a compact amount of time. Witness me with Rick, Daniel, and Ian on our gaycation to Alabama.
+ Kate and her roommate already had plans, so I called a friend and went out for a while. As I was driving home, Kate called to say she was on her way back, but they couldn't find a cab. So I opted to pick them up.
+ Afterwards, just the two of us hung out in my room, just sort of kicking back and listening to music...more bonding time. Again, hard to describe unless you've been there. It was nice.

+ My audition for the local band Overhand went well, but I honestly didn't feel comfortable playing with them. It was more of a modern metal thing (think Tool), which isn't my thing at all. I mean, I don't listen to, yeah. Still, great group of guys, they all seemed very cool and friendly.

The first test in the Zappa class came and went. Child's play.

Same with The Beatles class.

+ Unfortunately, the plans I'd made with Graham were curtailed when he told me he was in the hospital after collapsing. Thank God it was just a heavy sinus infection and nothing worse.

+ I took Graham and his friend Kat to Best Buy, CVS, and the mall. It was fun hanging out with Graham. Things have been so busy and stuff that it's been hard to stay in touch. What matters is that it happened, you know? We ate out at Chili's. Graham and I hung out at Collins. He got to meet Kate, too. All in all, it was a good night.

+ Ah, yes...first real date. I took Kate to Louisville to see Eric Condon perform at a coffeehouse.
+ On the way, though, was Seymour. I had to pick up my checkbook, anyway. But, Kate got to meet my parents, Nick, Eric, Maddie, Lily, and...yeah...Jasmine. Got to show her the house, my drum kit, etc.
+ I got way more than I bargained for when we finally got down to Louisville. Eric was mid-song when we came in, but the next song he did, with a nod to me, was "Old Brown Shoe" by The Beatles. It was flattering because, as I whispered to Kate while he was playing it, Eric and I played that song before. He also did an encore featuring "Any Way The Wind Blows" by The Mothers of Invention. He learned it just for me. I was happy to hear it.
+ Never mind all that, Kate got to meet Ian, Anthony, Blake, and Sarah. (I'd seen Blake and Sarah at Eric's grad party 8/26, and Anthony and Kendall came up to see the Vonnegut exhibit. Dammit, I miss Ian. He was in top form. When I asked him if he would ever come to Bloomington he said, "Never. I'm not coming to Bloomington ever again, and here's why..." then he turns to Kate, "Now, I haven't known you long, so I hope you don't mind..." then continued, "but I SHIT in the Wal-Mart there. And you know what? I didn't flush. That's what I think of Bloomington." Fair enough.) I got to meet Daniel's dad. I already had a memory of him, as he was in one of Daniel's movies. The scene he was in ended with him screaming at Daniel, "Get outta here, ya little mother-fucker!", which as I learned from Daniel was an improv on his father's part. Remarkably, Mr. Robison seemed very tame and calm when I met him.
+ After the show Kate and I went over to Eric's house and hung out with him and Sarah. It's strange, I've only been there four times to his house...but it's one of those places that is just emblazoned into my memory, like my grandparents' (either set) house or the hotels we've stayed at on vacations. Weird.
+ At some point on the trip, I got so caught up in the music that was on (it was probably on The Beatles disc, we'd already listened to a sampler of The Who) that I couldn't NOT sing to it. The first song was "Whiskey Man" by The Who, but I started doing it almost song-by-song on The Beatles CD, which was a mix of 'Help!', 'Rubber Soul', and 'Revolver.' I explained to her that I don't sing for ANYONE. It wasn't even until June or July after knowing Eric since September of 2006 that I finally was able to sing while he played "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" by The Kinks. She thought it was good. I really honestly don't know. Eric thought it was good, too, so there must be something there. Unfortunately I can't drum and sing at the same time. Witness that dude from The Eagles: great voice, shitty drummer. Or Micky Dolenz from The Monkees: again - great voice...oh, wait, he didn't even really play the drums!


Things are good. I decided to skip out on Oktoberfest 2007:
+ The three people I'm dying to see are not going to be there. Joe Boxman is in Japan, Brett Eldridge is in London, and Tonya Shepherd has a fall break in a few weeks, so she'll be home for that.
+ Um, Oktoberfest kind of sucks.

I threw a surprise party for my suitemate, David. I think he liked it. Hung out with Kate and some friends in her room for much of the night.

We're getting close, you know.

And I'm comfortable with that.

All in all, from tonight alone I can say I made the right choice.


PS - ALMOST FORGOT! Through MySpace I've gotten in touch with former FZ band member Ed Mann, Dweezil's drummer Joe Travers (who also is the "Vaultmeister" for the Zappa Family Trust and knows Professor Hollinden), AND I just got a response email from Art Barrow (who played bass with FZ from 1978 to 1984).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Well, I Did It...


I'll still update this with the more personal stuff, but check it out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Alone Or In Pairs

Recording the Hobbyhorse album Alone Or In Pairs will resume Friday, 9/21. I'll be leaving Bloomington sometime Thursday night for Seymour, all my equipment in tow. I really don't know what time I'll be leaving or when I'll get in, but who cares?

What matters is that I'll be spending my time Friday while everyone is at school or work recording drum parts for the following tracks:

+ "Fuzzy Zoeller House Party '98"
+ "What's The Difference?"
+ "You Know Why"
+ "She's Not Sorry"
+ "It's Not Over"
+ "Nothing"

Once I'm done, whether it's 1 in the afternoon or 8 in the evening, it's back to Bloomington to enjoy the weekend.


PS - Kate and I are's hard to really explain, but there's just a lot of good chemistry going on between us.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Adventures In Drumming, Part Three

So, why did it take me 15 takes in order to nail "You Know The Drill?"

Simple: it is going onto the Hobbyhorse album Alone Or In Pairs.

This is great news, that I can record drum tracks onto Eric's demos. Anyway, I'll probably take advantage of my schedule and leave for Seymour Thursday night, record ALL DAY LONG on Friday while everyone is at work or school, then go back to Bloomington that night, still having the rest of my weekend free.

Now, let me state for the record that I (at least used to) revile drum solos. I just think it's ostentatious to have everyone else in the band stop while you bang around and say, "LOOK AT MEEEEE!!!!!!!!"

Anyway, I was so insistent about recording the songs I played with note-for-note that I felt I needed to record just me playing.

When I listened to it, I was stunned. I forgot it was me playing. It was GOOD.

So, I'm finding myself now rethinking my opinion on the act of drum solos. There can be a place for them, just none of that 15 minute "Toad" shit like on Wheels Of Fire by The Cream.

Tomorrow is my first exam in the Frank Zappa class. Should be a-okay.

Oh, yeah - Kate and I are a couple. I'm generally not an emoticon kinda guy, especially on something like this, but...


It would probably mean more if I knew how to expand the font size.

Still, we're both pretty damn happy about it.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Adventures In Drumming, Part Two

Setting up was a lot easier that I'd thought. A LOT easier.

I got in yesterday at 3. In that time, I set up my equipment, ran an errand with Mom and Dad, played with Lily, visited with Nick and Maddie and once he finally got home Eric, calibrated the microphone, practiced a bit, then started recording at 7:15. At around 8:15 the first track was done. By 9 I had three songs done:

+ Top Of The Pops (3 takes)
+ Pinball Wizard (2 takes)
+ You Know The Drill (15 takes - I'll explain why next time. More bitchen news.)

Considering how quickly and smoothly recording went last night, I really don't foresee any problems tomorrow as I lay down some more tracks.

I think "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" is out. It's a great song, but there's about ninety seconds in the song where I literally do nothing. No worries, I'm sure Zappa has a few other complex pieces out there...

We'll see. But first, I need some coffee. Then a shower.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Adventures In Drumming, Part One

A guest sat in on the Zappa class yesterday. Professor Hollinden introduced him to us as his friend Simon. He mentioned that Simon was currently working for Yoko Ono, but in the past has worked with Paul McCartney and FZ.

In that instant, the name popped into my head: this was Simon Prentis, who wrote the liner notes to the 'Lather' boxed set in 1996. I approached him after class, talking to him about my love of Yoko's work as an artist, filmmaker, and musician. Then we talked a bit about working with Frank, and then I asked, "Are you Simon Prentis?"

"Yeh," he said in his British accent.

We talked a little more, but we both had places to be. Not to sound arrogant at all, but I think I caught him off-guard by knowing who he was. Personally, I don't blame him. If some round-headed kid came up to me on another continent and said, "Hey! You're Alex DiBlasi, right? I saw your video on YouTube..." I'd be more than just a little surprised.

As I was leaving the music building, I bumped into one of my classmates from the Zappa class. We started talking about meeting Jimmy Carl Black, which led to me mentioning that I really liked him since I too am I drummer. Turns out this guy, Joel, is in a band. A band that is losing their drummer in January, as he is shipping off to Iraq. Funny how this happens, but I'm turning 21 in January, and while I know many bars let you play with a group if you're underaged, it just has a nice "Huh, whaddya know" quality about it.

I told him I'd be willing to audition if he wanted. He seemed excited, so I take this as a very good sign. However, it sparked an old flame in my head of being a professional musician - as discussed in the below entry (I'm really not intending to have this bizarre narrative flow, but it's neat) - and I have come to an inevitable decision:

I'm going to record my audition this weekend while I'm at home. This has been something I have kicked around off and on since I joined The Heliocentrics back in September of 2006, and probably before, it's just that also piqued my interest in doing this.


The actual process is long and work-intensive. Not boring, though. At least not in my mind. One tripping block Eric and I ran into with Hobbyhorse was that we had NO IDEA how to record my drums. Recording them live seemed tricky, especially in that god-awful house we were in all summer. Still, I was pleased to find our 11-year old Packard Bell computer mike that came with a Windows 95 computer. I was even more pleased to see it worked on my 2005 Hewlett-Packard Windows XP computer. It's a little sensitive in that just TALKING INTO IT can send the audio into the red.

Still, I'd rather deal with a mike that was TOO good rather than deal with a shitty pickup (Eric had some wiring problems with his guitar this summer as well as his amp cables), as compensating for that can really only be solved by buying more stuff. Buying requires money, something in short supply for a 20-year old college student.

To combat the problem of this oversensitive microphone, I'll make all the necessary sonic adjustments for the mic input on GoldWave. (Did I mention I am dismantling my desktop computer to BRING IT HOME and make this recording?) Testing this out would require striking each drum and cymbal, then playing a few bars of a beat - I need to make sure the hi-hat, the quietest part of my kit, is audible while seeing to it that the ride cymbal and snare drum, easily the LOUDEST parts, aren't peaking the audio.

Ensuring a balance of sound means that the microphone (which has a rather short cable) is mounted in an apt location. Putting it on the floor may be too resonant and bass-heavy, never mind the chance of it picking up the SEISMIC ACTIVITY created by my incessant pounding. It will be on the bed, which might mean that the computer has to be set up on my bed. This will have to be done as carefully and delicately as possible.

The next issue I have considered is the resonance in my room. Being an old house, I really don't know what the walls in my house are made of, other than that the sound BOUNCES AROUND like crazy. It is only after playing in my room that I get a few days of minor tinnitus. I know it is because of the resonance in my room. Using duct tape and as many blankets, towels, and quilts I can find, every possible square inch of my walls (and the windows, too) will be covered. Who needs sunlight, anyway?


I have come up with a list of songs that I think can showcase my balance as both an uber-dextrous drummer and as a human rhythm machine:
"Another Girl" - The Beatles
"Strawberry Fields Forever" - The Beatles
"It's Only A Northern Song" - The Beatles
"Big Eyes" - Cheap Trick
"World Of Pain" - Cream
"Right Here In My Arms" - HIM
"Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly" - HIM
"You Know The Drill (Original Version)" - Hobbyhorse
"Two Minutes To Midnight" - Iron Maiden
"Top Of The Pops" - The Kinks
"I'm In Disgrace" - The Kinks
"Rock Is Dead" - Marilyn Manson
"Brown Shoes Don't Make It" - The Mothers Of Invention
"It Don't Come Easy" - Ringo Starr
"The Hardest Button To Button" - The White Stripes
"The Amazing Journey/Sparks ('Live At Leeds' Version)" - The Who
"Pinball Wizard ('The Kids Are Alright' Version)" - The Who
"Peaches En Regalia" - Frank Zappa

It might be too much for one CD. And that's okay, I can pick and choose.

Still, I think actually having recordings of myself makes for a resume of sorts.

I'm going to mail CD's of my playing to record labels all over, be it LA, New York, Nashville, or New Albany. More than anything else, I'm doing this to finally shut up, get off of my ass, and go for it.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Notes On The Perfect Day

I had a perfect day yesterday. Seeing Eric and having him up here in Bloomington (and I'm sure this sounds corny) felt like old times. I realized how much I missed him this school year. It was just odd to be walking around town with him like we constantly did all summer long, going to Landlocked Music and so on. That made the day great right there.

Meeting Jimmy Carl Black was a huge deal for me, both as a lover of Zappa's music and as a drummer. His lecture was good, he was very funny and honest about his experiences. Excuse my word choice, but he was frank about Frank. He didn't try to sugar-coat anything, and at one point referred to Gail as "that wench." We got to hear about how The Mothers Of Invention would rehearse eight hours a day, EVERY DAY, and that their repertoire consisted of at least 300 songs. Having heard live bootlegs (and the few officially released materials from that era by the Zappa Family Trust aka Gail) from that era I can definitely verify that. And you know what? They would play it well.

A major griping point I have with Barry Miles' book on Zappa (and even the average Zappa apologist's opinion on this matter, it's just easier to single Miles out because he's a complete asshole) is that he is quick to say The Mothers Of Invention (the line-ups from 1970 onwards were known only as "The Mothers," and in their final stretch it was "Zappa & The Mothers") were not a technically proficient band, and easily his weakest in terms of musicianship. This is simply not true. Again, all you have to do is listen to the material and know these guys were good. JCB was quick to admit he was raised on blues music, and that The MOI had started as a white R&B combo. By their career's end in 1969 they had evolved into a band that incorporated trained musicians (Bunk Gardner, Don Preston, Ian Underwood, Art Tripp) while still having the blues guys (JCB on drums, Roy Estrada on bass) as the rhythm section. It made for a good combination.

I could identify with JCB completely on reading music. He can't at all, and doesn't want to learn now at age 69. (By the way, he said he was happy to have made it to that age, as it is his favorite number. It made for a good icebreaker.) Personally, I can barely read music. I can look at a melodic part and play it on the piano, but I prefer playing it by ear. That's how I learned to play. I remember seeing a transcription of The MOI song "King Kong" in the liner notes to 'Uncle Meat' and being baffled that the entire thing was in 3/8 time. I would never have guessed. But I could play it. Anyway, I take issue with anyone (especially a high-horse riding rock critic like Miles) who thinks ability to read music is what makes a good musician. And yeah, I'm going to go out and say I'm a good drummer.

Another thing the average Zappologist (which I guess is an actual term) doesn't seem to take into account is the camaraderie in the original band compared to later ensembles. Roy, JCB, Ray Collins, Jim Sherwood...all those guys were Zappa's friends. JCB was quick to say that, and that later bands were just "hired guns." As extreme as that's true. I thought about that after he said it, and I realized he was right. Knowing how to read music was a requirement for all future line-ups, for one, and he constantly recruited conservatory-trained experts. And it shows. The bands he had in the 1980's were almost too good. The songs were done without room to breathe. Most importantly though, the original Mothers had a sense of humor. Later bands, as JCB said, as much as they tried were simply not funny.

I don't know his music at all (though I have a feeling I could spot it from a mile away), but JCB seemed to have better things to say about Captain Beefheart, as Eric had predicted would happen. They worked together in 1975, and all I can say is Beefheart sounds nuts.

Someone asked him what his favorite and least favorite Zappa albums were. It's weird to say this - well, maybe not really since I've mentioned this in the below entry - but they're the same album: 'Cruising With Ruben & The Jets'. Guess which version is his favorite and which version is his least favorite...

This seemed to be a hairy issue with him some 23 years later. He argued that if Frank felt it was so necessary to redo the bass and drums, why use Art Barrow and Chad Wackerman as respective replacements for Roy and JCB instead of just using the original guys? As he mused to us, "Those guys were in diapers when we did it originally, man!" Later, he said, "He paid Chad Wackerman $10,000. I had a weekly salary of $250. Hell, I would've re-done my playing for $10,000!" Then, with a smile, he added, "I woulda done it for five thousand!"

I've read this quote several times, but now I can actually say that I saw and heard the man say it: "Frank said to us, 'Let me take charge of the band. I'll make you guys rich and famous.' *Pause* Well, that second half was true!"

I never said Frank Zappa was perfect. That would be Gail's doing.

Also, yesterday saw a 3/4's reunion of The Heliocentrics. It was weird...but no bad blood between any of us, so that's cool. If they're starving for a drummer, who knows...I just know I better get paid this time around.

After the lecture, Eric and I decided to approach him for his autograph. I was seriously starstruck. Never mind that his playing was influential to me, his line "Hi, boys 'n girls, I'm Jimmy Carl Black 'n I'm the Indian of the group!" from the intro to 'We're Only In It For The Money' stood out to me as being both bizarrely funny and the first introduction to any of the hundreds of musicians Zappa played with. Handing him my copy of 'WOIIFTM' and a Sharpie, I said, "This was the first Zappa album I ever owned, and it's still my favorite. Your playing made me want to be a better drummer."

With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "Oh, you're a drummer?"


That's all that needed to be said. I was telling Kate and Eric this last night, but drummers aren't so much a tribe or a brotherhood so much as a species. Get two drummers together and before you know it we'll be picking nits out of the other's hair and eating them.

No, we're not that primal. Not since the Digital Age.

I thanked him. It's true, though. I was in a Beatlemania-like trance that all I could say was the truth. I didn't even bother trying to be cool, I just said what popped into my head. Playing with Kinks or Who CD's, fun as it may be, isn't particularly difficult. It's a physical workout, that's for sure, and I'll be the first to tell you that rock 'n roll is my religion. When I play with a Zappa album, though - and I do, I really do play with whole albums of his beginning to end - to quote "Harry, You're A Beast" from 'We're Only In It For The Money' - "It's not merely physical."
It's more than a spiritual experience, too, though that's always nice. It's mentally stimulating. I actually had to concentrate and think rather than be a wind-up monkey banging on the drums.

Approaching my playing that way, as you can imagine, crept its way into how I approached, say, 'Tommy' by The Who or 'Preservation' by The Kinks. It's all mixed together, now...and that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

I spent some quality time with Kate - who got to meet Eric and greet each other with "I've heard a lot about you!" - and I have to say, things are good. My best friend came to town - great! I met a pivotal figure in my musical career - awesome! I'm getting closer to someone who is smart, good-looking, sweet, has a good taste in movies, and is able to maintain a life independent of me (and feels the same about me - even the good-looking part) - well, that made my day perfect. I only get a couple truly perfect days a year.

The Zappa class today ought to be interesting. I don't think Hollinden knew I was a drummer. I know he's a musician, who knows, maybe he needs a drummer?

When it comes to my creativity with movies or writing or even my own body - I would never sell myself in those areas unless I was starving and it became my only option. (Though I don't know of many parts of the world where someone HAS to make a movie or write a story to put food on the table.) But when it comes to music, I've always had this dumb little fantasy of being a session player. I mean, being in a band would be great, except modern music pretty much sucks. And it sucks hard, with a few exceptions. Never mind that the guys with real talent (Condon, are you reading this? Because I'm talking about you and pretty much everyone from FCR...) are the ones recording in their spare time when they're not working for "the man" at some stupid 9 to 5 job. Those are the guys that in a perfect world would be running the music industry, not praying they'll get discovered by some accountant from Warner Brothers. (Another example of this would be my dad - great guitarist, but he has mouths to feed.)

It's that mentality alone that tells me as a drummer who isn't shitty and actually owns a drum kit that there is no shame in me playing with anyone. You can get a cheap-ass Behringer guitar from for just under $100. My drum set originally cost $620, throw in $250 for the extra rack toms, $120 for the ride cymbal, and $110 for the crash cymbal (and $15 for the drum rings, which make the drums sound studio-ready) and that's $1,115. Never mind I need to replace my hi-hat soon. It's not like buying a guitar where you can say you have it and you're trying to have to really want to be good at it. It's an investment.

Enough about my desire to whore myself out as a drummer. (Though I should put out a flyer or something saying I'm available if the price is right and the music is good. And if I can store my drums somewhere.)

But if you know anyone who's looking, send them my way.


Monday, September 10, 2007

It's Been Too Long, You Missed A Bitchin' Weekend And Some Interesting Turns Of Events

Shelley and I had the verbal exchange to end all verbal exchanges last night. I think it's finally over. I'd rather not go into details about it.

Kate's sick. I feel bad for her, so I opted to cheer her up by sending her a link to the Zappa Krappa photo. Hopefully she'll get a kick out of it.

Last weekend I was too busy with visitors. I apologize for not keeping up with this better. I will, though, I just had to get into the swing of things as the school year got started. Anthony and his girlfriend Kendall came up Saturday morning to see the Vonnegut exhibit, then we went out to lunch together; right as they were leaving Bill Bowser called to tell me he was 20 minutes away. Three minutes after my shower he was here. We had a great night, walking around town, watched a Woody Allen movie ('Take The Money And Run', which was much better on this second viewing), and hung out with a random-ass girl we met downtown. All in all, fun day. Sunday I slept in after Bill left in the morning. After I got up in the mid-afternoon, literally a half hour after I woke up, I get a call from Eric (my brother). He and Maddie were in town and wanted to see the room etc. So we hung out from around 4-ish until nighttime.

Another week of classes...Prof. Hollinden hooked me up with a vinyl rip of 'Cruising With Ruben & The Jets' by The Mothers of Invention, which is kind of a big deal. The only legit CD edition out there is this God-awful remix FZ did in 1984 in his DIGITAL RECORDING STUDIO. The overdubs were mainly bass and drums, though some tweezing of the tracks themselves (pitch, reverb) was done as well. I'm sure you can imagine, digital drums and what I call Seinfeld bass on what was originally a doo-wop album from 1968. (Could be worse: he did the same to his anti-hippie masterpiece 'We're Only In It For The Money', but fan hatred was so much that the original vinyl mix came out in 1995.) I got the CD from Hollinden on Tuesday, just three days after Eric (Condon) called to tell me he picked up the original vinyl.

Strange how these things work out. Never mind how strange (and annoying) it is that there are quite a few Erics in my life.

This weekend wasn't as thrilling as the last, not at all. But you know something? Given my Charlie Brown-esque stroke of luck in life, I've got a running bet with a friend that I'll get at least two offers for each night of this upcoming weekend...which I'll have to decline, as I'm going home. Mom's side is having the yearly family reunion on Saturday, and as she mentioned in an email there's a home football game at SHS so I can see the marching band if I want, and Sunday at church the choir is putting on a mini-concert with patriotic songs as the focus.

"Looks like I picked a bad day to stop smoking!"

No, but seriously - arrive late Friday, leave early Sunday. I know they enjoy seeing me and all. I enjoy seeing them, too. I was both a little shocked and happy earlier this week when I had a desire to call home just to catch up with what's been going on. It's just:
1.) I hate sports.
2.) Football is the worst.
3.) The marching band's bit is for all of 10 minutes out of however the Hell long the football games are.
4.) I don't like seeing people from high school and pretending I don't hate their guts. This includes faculty. It's mainly faculty, actually.
5.) Church. Come on.
6.) Patriotic songs.
7.) Patriotic songs in church. Because we're living in a country that wasn't founded by free-thinking proto-humanists, but by religious fundamentalists who used the Bible as their guide as they drafted their laws. They did this because all governments that function without the tenets of Judeo-Christian beliefs as the core are doomed to fall. (Are you picking up on the sarcasm? I don't mean to sound like an ass by asking, I seriously do NOT want you, the reader, to think I meant a thing I just said above.)

The family reunion shouldn't be too bad. Free food. Dad better have the day off, though. The poor guy is overworked at CVS. Oh, and here's to us not bringing Lily and Jasmine to Louisville on Saturday! (I only say this because two years ago we took Jasmine down...and she's not the friendliest dog with the people she lives with, let alone strangers and kids.)

Way off topic, of sometime this weekend, my driver's side window doesn't roll down anymore. I look at it this way: I am WAY less inclined to smoke in the car now, so I see this as a step in the right direction towards my campaign to stop smoking. (Which, by the way, is a so far, so good. I've gone down to literally one yesterday and the day before. Beats six or seven, right?)

I dropped my Sixties History class. I couldn't balance a schedule where one day my first class was at 5:45 PM and the next day I had a 9:30 AM class, then a solid block from 1PM to 9 in the evening. We'll see what happens with the history minor, I'm replacing it with a 2nd eight-week course through Central Eurasian Studies on Modern Mongolia. It's upper 400-level. Is it sad that that's my idea of an elective?

For sure, I know next semester I'll be doing Intro To Russian Culture and a class on Polish Film, meaning 4 out of the 5 classes for my Slavic Studies minor will have been film classes. Not too shabby. Most definitely another science class will be in the mix, astronomy maybe...if there's a class on the dynamics of sound I'm totally doing it what with all my experience tinkering with sound-waves on the computer.

So that's three classes.

I'm sure I can squeeze in two more history classes. That brings me up to five. Being done with CMCL next semester means no shot-by-shot scene analysis...and I'm breathing a sigh of relief. Not that I'm bad at them. Not at all...even if I'd started off sucking at them I can write them in my sleep by now. I'm just sick of writing "Next comes a medium shot depicting..." and then analyzing how the formal elements of a scene contribute to the overall piece.

I'm sure somewhere, some way, I'll find a three-credit elective course that's right up my street.

Summer I'm doing math during the first session and one other class (TBD) during the second session. Then...I'm done. (As an undergrad, anyway.)

Lord knows once I'm done with school I'm not going to be writing inch-thick books on the dialectics of Sergei Eisenstein and the pathos of Charlie Chaplin. More like the dialectics of Frank Zappa and the pathos of Ray Davies.

Almost forgot: Jimmy Carl Black. Tonight. Even better - Eric's coming up from New Albany, with his vinyl of 'Freak Out!' for him to sign. I am truly excited about this.

Expect a picture or two.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Front-Page News

In case you didn't know this, both Princess Diana and Elvis Presley are still dead. All the networks are making this certain for the American public, and you know something? I'm glad. Because if there's something that we the people need to be reminded of, it's none of these things:
+ Extraordinary rendition
+ Rep. Kucinich and his movement to impeach the Vice President
+ Sen. Clinton admitting to kissing lobbyist's asses
+ Scooter Libby's commuted sentence - tantamount to a pardon

No, no, it's more important that we the people are told instead about Lindsay Lohan getting let off the hook for cocaine possession, and that a non-political figurehead whose charity work sadly died with her (Diana Spencer, former Princess of Wales) and a bloated, once-relevant crooner (who else?) are still dead. Instead of accepting their demises and moving on, it seems urgent that we discuss new evidence coming to light concerning their deaths.

It doesn't matter. Debunking a non-existent conspiracy theory won't bring them back. Besides, after ten years in the ground, Diana won't exactly look ripe anymore. It's been thirty with Elvis. He may very well just be bones by now.

Why are we so inclined to commemorate the anniversary of somebody's death? Is there more to it than the fact that the number of years that has passed ends with a zero? Rubbish.

We are a people obsessed with death.

You know who else died around the time of Elvis?

Nobody big...
His death is as unheralded right now as it was back in 1977.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This is pretty much awesome...

I think Prof. Hollinden (instructor for the Zappa class) likes me. He asked for a show of hands for who had more than 10 Zappa albums, then 20, 30, was down to me. He asked me how many I had:
"Well, it might be better if I tell you which ones I don't have..."
It's only four albums, not counting the posthumous material. And even some of that I have. Thank God for Bit-Torrent.

Monday night I had the worst case of insomnia since Shelley and I broke up. I must be extremely sensitive to caffeine...anyway, I went to bed at 6:30 AM and woke up at 8. From that point onward, I was up and in class until 9:15. In the evening. Kate came over around 11:40, and apparently I'd slept for an hour before she came up.

"It’s getting late
To give you up
I took a sip
From my devil's cup
It’s taking over me

You're too high
You can’t come down
Something in the air
Spinnin' round and round
Can you feel me now

With a taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
You're toxic I'm slipping under
With a taste of a poison paradise
I’m addicted to you
But I know that you’re toxic
And I love what you do
But I know that you’re toxic"
- Local H, "Toxic" (yeah, I know, it's a Britney Spears cover...but it kicks ass.)

All my classes are just fine. The great news (hence the title of this entry), however, is this:

We have a guest lecturer in the Frank Zappa class on 9/10. This alone had me excited.

It's none other than Jimmy Carl Black, the original drummer for The Mothers of Invention.

I honestly rank this above meeting Ringo Starr, as awesome as that would be.

Anyway, this weekend Bill Bowser is coming up for a long-overdue visit. Tonight is my first screening for the avant-garde film class.

Which reminds me, Shelley is in that class, too. The Zappa class ends right at 4, the film class starts at 4. I've emailed my instructors, and I think I'll just show up a few minutes late to the film class. (Ah, just like high school...) Anyway, Joan (my instructor) was giving me a syllabus and a notecard to fill out. Right as I'm walking by Shelley she motions for me to sit next to her. I decline, and she acts a little huffy because apparently she'd saved a seat for me.

*rolls eyes*

Since the film class gives an intensive writing credit (and I've already done one with the same instructor) I get to do a final project instead of a big-ass paper. I guess I can consider it my senior project, as this is the last Communication and Culture class I'm doing as an undergrad. It's weird to think in those terms, but here I am.

I had a dream that I had a comment on here from "Dad." I don't know if it really was the old man, but I remember it not bothering me as much as it might in real life.

My phonetics instructor looks like Bianca Jagger.

That's all I can think of for now. I should finish my email to m@ and then shower and eat.


Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day Of School

I have a class today, at 5:45. To make it better, it's the one class I'm taking because I need a specific credit (science.) It's a phonetics course. It shouldn't be too hard, but compare that to tomorrow's schedule:
The 1960's
Paris & Berlin In The 1920's
The Music Of Frank Zappa
History Of American Avant-Garde Film
The Music Of The Beatles

In other words, the one class I'm not crazy about is today. Oh, well.

Someone I had a crush on back in February apparently had a crush on me back then, too. Only problem was, I was taken and so was she. We're both single now, and I'm sure it doesn't take a rocket scientist to infer that we've been hanging out and talking a lot.

I don't know where it will go, but I don't care. I've got five years of school left (at least), and I'm in no rush to get married.

I do know that I'm having fun, and it's a surprising turn of events.

Yesterday I went to Eric's graduation party. It's weird not living with him anymore, let alone knowing it may be a while before I see him again. I don't know, it seems in my life that everyone goes through transitions at roughly the same time. My brother Eric is so close to an engagement that I can smell the wedding cake now; the other Eric is back home after completing college; I'm enjoying being single; my brother Nick is a senior in high school and considering IU for next year...

...All this excitement and class hasn't even started yet.

Beyond being in a new building, hanging out with new faces, I'm also quitting smoking. Finally. It only took me two years. Change is nice.


Friday, August 24, 2007

A Very Good Week, With One Exception

Meeting new people, new location, new's all been great.

However, the bookstore wouldn't take my debit card today because the money put on it this afternoon had not been validated yet.
Here's what I have to say to that:

Again, other than that it's been good. Some nice twists and turns to keep you interested. But I don't kiss and tell who it was.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Remind me to tell you this later.

Somebody, anybody - remind me to tell you guys about what I did last night...true to my own personal form I'm back to staying up past the point of it being "late" and well into it being "early" and indeed the time of day where most other people have woken up.

And what an adventure last night.

Again, remind me. I need some rest.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Insomniac Ramblings Phase I

One thing I should make clear right now: I get insomnia. Not often, but often enough to convince me I won't be one of those people who spends a whole third of their life with their peepers closed. No way. I've never been a sound sleeper, not even when I was an infant, apparently.

The problem is I think too much. Right now, I've got a project on my mind. To make things worse for this workaholic, it's an unfinished project. This summer session I've been taking a 16mm film production class. Our final projects are due Wednesday morning. I started editing tonight by cutting the scenes out individually...then I accidentally wound up getting them all out of order.

Before I continue with that, let me say that this was not my original plan for the night. I was going to go out with a girl. I don't know if it could be called a date because I really am not sure where she stands on the subject of me. Anyway, Saturday night I asked her if she wanted to go out last night (Sunday). She agreed, we exchanged numbers, etc. Coming over to her house, I asked her what she wanted to do. Turns out, nothing. Not anything by my doing, just some weird timing: her ex-boyfriend who was studying abroad is going to be back in town and wants to see if things can be worked out.

Right place, wrong time. I told her she was cute, and that if things didn't work out with that guy we could still hang out sometime. She was quick to say she does now have my number. Who knows.

Sometimes I wish I had Mel Gibson's ability like in What Women Want. I wouldn't use it for bad, just to see if a girl really thinks well of me or if she's just being nice to this mug with holey jeans and a Zappa t-shirt. Another thing is I'd have to be able to turn the power off and on at will. Can you imagine being on the phone with a woman while having that ability? You wouldn't know what to respond to! Anyway, having that ability could in many cases keep me from investing my time in someone who might not feel the same.

So. Anyway. My plans changed, so this girl's housemate - my ex-girlfriend Shelley - and I went over to Mottier Hall to begin editing our film. Under the bizarre impression that I was somehow tired, I decided to only cut my scenes apart and piece them together later. As I was hanging my film up on the hooks, I dropped some of them onto the floor. So now I have maybe 50+ scenes OUT OF ORDER that I have to put back IN order sometime today (Monday) and/or tomorrow (Tuesday). That is dominating my thoughts right now, wanting to go over to Mottier and at least sort it out. I keep thinking not just WHAT needs to be done, but HOW I'd go about doing it. I picture it in my head...and I cannot sleep as a result of it.

I ought to also come out and catch you up on anything you may have missed since I closed down my blog in mid-March, when I stumbled upon the horrifying (and yet true) notion that my parents had read EVERYTHING on my blog, from January 2006 to March 2007.

Let's start at the beginning:
At the end of Spring Break, I decided to take Shelley back. To make a long story short, things were fine for a while, but then she became a bit of a burden. I began to emotionally detach myself from her.
Summer classes started the Tuesday after finals week on May 8th. I moved in with my friend (and former Heliocentric) Eric Condon and his friend Andrew Keeler in a tumble-down rat's nest just east of campus. Shelley moved to a house on 2nd Street and had two, then later one, housemate.
I wound up making straight A's in my Communication and Culture classes, a C in Latin 250, and an A+ in my Czech Film and Literature class. My final paper for said class was submitted to an international writing contest at my instructor's request. Needless to say, I was floored by that. I didn't win anything, but that's certainly resume fodder, right?
On May 14th Shelley and I broke up.
Shelley is a great person, but her only obstacle in life is herself. I told her just last week if she could see herself through my eyes for a nanosecond she would not need therapy.
A few weeks later I started dating a girl from Seymour two years my junior - Melanie. Things were smooth and happy the whole time. However, we called it off after about 6 weeks so that we could both have breathing room once school started back up. (Mind you, she is going to be a freshman @ IU this year, so this isn't a matter of age disparity so much as this is something she needs to experience on her own.)
For a while I was kind of an ass to Shelley. I blew her off and didn't regularly speak with her. After Melanie and I broke up, we reconnected, deciding to be friends. It wasn't easy for either of us to pick up and move on, but it is what we need to do. We're now very close friends.
My first class was Writing Media Criticism, which gave me my Intensive Writing Credit. Since I'm doing another Intensive Writing course this fall, I don't have to do the final paper. Instead, I can do a project. It's with Professor Hawkins, who I had for Experimental Film last fall, and this fall it is a course on Avant-Garde Cinema. What the difference is between "Avant-Garde" and "Experimental" film, I don't know...but what I DO know is I am doing another video project.

Maybe I can do a follow-up to Insomniac Romance?

Music-wise, Eric and I jammed a lot this summer. Among our cohorts included Adam Gratz, Blake Thomas, Eric DiBlasi Sr., (with just me and Gratz) Adam Duckworth, Nick DiBlasi, and Keeler.
After class this week, I'm off to Alabama with Eric and a bunch of his friends, all but one of whom I have met at least once.
Speaking of Eric, my older brother isn't married yet. But that's his thing. He's no idiot - despite my many claims to the contrary - and I know he is waiting for the right time, never mind the right amount of money to call a nest egg. Jokingly I asked him who his best man would be, and he said with all sincerity, "I don't know, I was thinking you."

All I can say is that I'm flattered and would gladly accept, I just hope they allow me time to concoct a speech that is both witty and poignant. And not in the least bit cheesy or cliched. That's not easy to do.

Finally, let me say that it's good to be back on the Internets. I've missed being able to write out my thoughts and get feedback on it. My relationship with my parents has dramatically improved since March. Are they perfect? No, but whose parents are - honestly.
Anyway, what really had them vexed was all the negativity I expressed about them in the heat of the moment. That and the usage of the work "fuck." (Oddly enough, I don't use it a fraction as much in my vernacular as I do in my writing.) And the fact that they learned Shelley and I were living together. (Which is something I have absolutely NO interest in anytime soon. And by soon I'm talking YEARS from now...) They could assume the worst from what they read and probably have been 110% correct.

Last thing: I've decided to go for my Ph.D. (or "Phud" as Ringo calls it in Yellow Submarine) in Communication And Culture. This program doesn't seem to exactly be blossoming careers at the Bachelor's Degree level. Anyway, I'll be teaching your children about film analysis and history. Between me and your children, I really don't know who to feel more sorry for.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Top Ten Things That Grind My Gears About Driving - Tirade #1

I've been driving a LOT this summer, and the resultant stress suggests to me some bold statement of the human race, specifically American society. Many of these go without saying, but still.

Let us start:

10.) SUV's - This would normally be higher on my list, but there's far more heinous out there in my opinion. What I've gathered from people driving SUV's is that they have a license to drive like they have nothing to lose. Granted, my metal-plated '93 Grand Prix can tear through those lame little fiberglass hulls like a hot knife through butter, but it can still be unnerving when I'm going 70 in a 55 zone and some baseball cap-wearing prick with a goatee goes flying by me in the passing lane. It's even worse on I-465 around Indianapolis.

09.) One-Way Streets - Bloomington is full of them, and I hate it. What would be a great idea on these one-way streets at stoplights is allowing people to turn left on a red light. Think about it: Bloomington would be a technically innovative city in that respect, they could lead the way for further practically adjusting otherwise ridiculous traffic laws.

08.) Volkswagen - This might seem prejudicial, but the average Volkswagen driver can be broken up into three categories: first, there are the burnt-out old hippies driving VW buses and old Beetles. They're not too problematic, you just have to think to yourself that the high point of their lives was Woodstock...maybe Altamont. Next, there are the gel-headed twerps driving Jettas and Passats; the way they drive you'd think they were commandeering a Ford Expedition. Finally, there are the stupid, stupid girls driving new Beetles. Check the back for Greek letters. More often than not, they are singing along to the latest release by John Mayer or Jack Johnson, oblivious to anything outside of their soundproof little death machine on wheels.

...and let's face it, Volkswagen's commercials bite.

07.) Asians - Nuff said.

06.) Frat Boys - Combine what I had to say about male Volkswagen drivers and SUV drivers, but with the thumping Black Eyed Peas date rape soundtrack rattling my fillings.

05.) Motorcycles - They're loud, the people riding them are either tough guys or plump 50 year olds who think that catching bugs in their teeth is adventurous, and if you so much as tap them with your car all of a sudden it's involuntary manslaughter charges, even though it wasn't your responsibility to put a helmet on him, thus preventing his brains from splattering all over the pavement like pink scrambled eggs. Never mind their tendency in the city to zip between drivers. Fuck 'em.

04.) White Boys Who Think They're Heavy Business - Honestly, knock it off. This isn't The Fast & The Furious, street racing is illegal and dangerous. Take that coffee can off your muffler, ditch the neon lights, and grudgingly accept that fact that it was only a movie. Welcome to the real world, where you actually have to work to earn money. Oh, also - fill her up with regular unleaded, please.

03.) Yellow Ribbons - Seriously, get off it. The damn things are made in China if that says anything. The war's a joke, too many people have died (and I'm not just talking about Americans), and it's time to hold some parties accountable, from whoever concocted the false evidence to lead us into Iraq right on down to the congressmen and women who voted for it. That's right, I said it. It's time for new leadership on both sides, especially since the Democrats cut a deal and delayed a troop pullout.

02.) Soccer Moms - I'd rather drive with a 15 year old girl than some doofy 36 year old Protestant mother taking her three little trained apes Hunter, Preston, and Mackenzie to soccer practice, piano lessons, Sunday school, or for their annual enema.

01.) Bicycles - There is a city ordinance in Bloomington insisting people on bicycles ride in the streets and obey traffic laws. Well, they're certainly all over the streets...but they don't obey stop signs. And it's easy for them to use the street when they're on one of the four streets in town with bike lanes. Honestly, repeal the law and get them on the sidewalk. Let them be the pedestrians' problem...they go a top speed of 20 mph, which can be a bit of an inconvenience if you're on the average Bloomington street where half of the pavement is clogged by a lane of parked cars. At least they wear helmets.