Tuesday, April 29, 2008

US Trip Day 1...

After days of stress at work, my personal loneliness issues, and all the trip preps, the day arrived where I have to fly to the US to participate in my client's planning session at their headquarters in St. Louis. I arranged for a cab to pick me up at around 5:00AM, Wednesday, April 23, to take me to NAIA. When I got there, there were long lines already. The chaos felt like a circus with the throngs of people set to travel around the same time I was. The airport crew didn't even know which line was headed to which airline counter. Two of the crew had to ask what airline I was lining up for. After years of being in operation, you would think they would've gotten their processes and procedures down pat. But it's just as chaotic as it was the last time I travelled to the States.

There was this new gimik they were hocking at the airport, called "Protectabag". It's really just your luggage wrapped in plastic wrap that you use to keep leftover food in your fridge. The security check was essentially just tacking a sticker on your luggage. Going through immigration took a while as expected. And my particular line was moving exceptionally slow. I practically listened to an entire album of songs by the time I got to the immigration counter. The officer at the counter kept asking me where my US Visa was. I guess she just didn't quite understand me when I kept repeating the words "it's in the middle passport of the three."

My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree upon seeing the smoking lounge after passing through Immigrations. After loading up on a few cigarettes, I made a quick stop to the bathroom. A small roach crawled up the urinal I was on. I just chuckled a little when I saw the roach. So apart from the chaos earlier, the airport's cleanliness isn't maintained either. I just shrugged my shoulders and proceeded to my designated boarding terminal.

When I settled in on my nice assigned aisle seat, I noticed this white guy, accompanied by a pokemon wife, coughing profusely in front of me. There was a baby in another row with sumo-sized cheeks that I wanted to just vigorously squeeze the life out of. The baby kept peeking at me through the gap in between two seats. I found that baby rather adorable. Here I go again with this weird interest in babies.

Since my first flight is JAL, all the flight attendants were Japanese. One of the flight attendants, started talking to me in Japanese. When I responded in English, she immediately apologized and spoke in English. Apparently, she was just asking me if I wanted a drink. I suppose I'll take that as a compliment, if I appear Japanese to a Japanese girl. LOL!

I arrived at Narita International Airport and as expected the place was surreally high tech. It makes NAIA look like a dump. My next flight was on American Airlines and not the usual NorthWest flight. So I had to proceed to another terminal than the terminal I usually go to.

The airport staff all look like something out of an anime. There were quite a number of lookers there, especially the one that handled my AA flight check-in. But that's all I really do when I see such beauty; Look.

The girl attending to my AA flight check-in was consulting the girl beside her and kept pointing at her LCD monitor. They were speaking Japanese the whole time. So I kinda got a little nervous, thinking that there's something wrong with my flight arrangements.

I finally got my boarding passes for the rest of my flights until St. Louis. I got lost a little searching for my boarding terminal. But it was all worth it when, lo and behold, there was a smoking lounge right beside my boarding terminal (queue-in angelic voices singing in choir unison). My boarding pass said I should be boarding already by the time I got to the terminal. However, the counter's display indicated I had 30 minutes to spare before boarding. So I proceeded to the smoking lounge to load up on nicotine again.

Inside the smoking lounge, the have these long metallic units jetting out from the floor, that have 3 knobs on top of them. The knobs are essentially like car cigarette lighters. Those things were awesome, especially since NAIA confiscated my lighter during security checks.

When I boarded my plane, my window seat was situated all the way at the back. Behind me was already a wall, so I couldn't really recline my chair back. I couldn't stow my laptop bag underneath the seat in front of me because there was this big metal box in the way. I didn't want to put my bag in a overhead compartment because I constantly pull stuff out of my bag during a flight. So I just put my bag in between my legs in the hopes that none of the flight attendants will notice it.

The flight attendants didn't notice my bag alright. They didn't notice me altogether, I got skipped over the routinary giving out of drinks twice until I called the attention of one of the flight attendants. I wasn't about to be skipped over for the in-flight dinner, unless I planned on starving to death during the long flight across the Pacific Ocean.

There was this little touchscreen in front of me that had video and audio on-demand, which was the only treat of the flight. I finally got to watch the sequel of National Treasure. When I finished watching that movie, I looked at what other movies they had available. There was the first National Treasure movie, and I am Legend. Both of which, I've seen. So that thoroughly sucked.

I pulled out my laptop, so I can play Vampire: The Masquerade. Jhonjee recommended I play this game in order to keep me occupied during the long flight. However, It wouldn't run without the damn CD, which was unexpected. The only thing I could really do on my laptop was watch the World of Warcraft/South Park episode.

US Immigrations, Customs, baggage re-check, and security checks in LAX were a royal pain. Filipinos entering the US are typical held up by these processes longer than usual. My flight couldn't land right away because air traffic control had a number of other planes in queue to land before us. So I had very little time to go through all those procedures when I landed, and manage to board the next plane. I felt like I was in an episode of Amazing Race because I was literally running everywhere just to get to my flight on time.

By the time, I got to my designated terminal, my connecting flight was delayed. Previous passengers were still walking out of the terminal when I got there. So all that stress and hurrying was really for nothing. Oh well. At least, I made it for my flight.

There was this rather attractive girl bringing 2 pugs in a hand-carry bag at the terminal. And apparently, she was my seatmate for the last leg of my flight to St. Louis. My "client small-talk" tactics seems to work on all Americans because she and I were talking about her pugs for quite some time. She reminds me of one of the actresses in the TV show "Jericho". I wasn't able to catch her name. Oh well, the odds that I will see that girl again are close to nothing anyway.

I finally got to Lambert airport in St. Louis, and proceeded to the taxi line. After hearing what hotel I was headed, the cab driver kept insisting that I should take the shuttle because it's so near the airport and the shuttle ride was free. I just told the cab driver that I'd pay for the cab anyway. So he drove me to Drury Inn all the same.

I checked in the hotel, and the clerk checked and there were no available smoking rooms anymore. This was unfortunate. So when I got settled in my room, I headed out to find a spot to smoke. I headed outside the side of the building and found my smoking spot (queue-in angelic voices singing in choir unison).

I gave myself a metaphoric pat on the back for making it through my long trip to St. Louis without complications. As I lit up my first cigarette, I smiled to myself. After being stressed and lonely the past few days, I was proud of myself for travelling alone and pulling through relying only on myself. Not bad for a shot ego. Not bad at all.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Broken Ironic Prose...

Selected Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definitions:

Prose - A literary medium distinguished from poetry especially by its greater irregularity and variety of rhythm and its closer correspondence to the patterns of everyday speech.
Ironic - Relating to, containing, or constituting the incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.
Broken - Made weak or infirm, subdued completely, not connected, cut off.

Broken Ironic Prose
by Aldous Castro

I have come so far,
Picking up the pieces.
I have fashioned it whole.
Yet, I seem to still be broken.

I loathe my loneliness.
But I cling to it.
I yearn for company, I yearn for attention.
When it's given to me,
I turn my back to it.
Kindness knocks on my door
From family and friends,
Yet I push it away.
I yearn for love.
But I repel all the precusors to it.

I would rather sit in my solitary corner,
Crawl in my turtle shell,
And lick my eternal wounds.
Wounds that never heal.
Picking on the scabs.
And wonder why it's bleeding once again

Why am I like this?
Why all this irony?
My senses from the past prevent me
From spiralling out of control.
Instead, I hover in some inescapable limbo.

I have come so far,
Picking up the pieces.
I have fashioned it whole.
But where do I go from here?

It's so dark inside my mind.
I can see where I am.
But I'm blind to the direction I'm heading.


Non-Traditional Percussions...

For those of you who read my last post, this is a slight sequel to it. In my last post, I spoke about myself being a non-traditional percussionist that's now starting to learn traditional rhythms and techniques.

Below is a video taken from our last gig in Wharf Galley Rock Cafe, in Naga. We're playing one of our songs called "Paranoia 21". This is one of the songs that I continue to keep my own invented style of playing congas, instead of injecting the traditional techniques that I have learnt. And as you can see, I can pretend that I know what I'm doing very well. LOL! Only learned percussionists can really see that I'm not playing congas that way you're supposed to in this song.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Everybody Can Play Da Riddum...

I love percussions. It's one of the only things I'm proud of about myself, and one of the only things I have to offer people really. But as much as I love percussion, most of what I know is non-traditional. Meaning, I've literally made up the rhythm structure and improvisation licks myself based on drum beats from grunge songs (David Grohl based conga drumming, LOL!). At gigs, people don't notice that I actually don't know jack-shit because I'm good at pretending that I actually know what I'm doing (LOL!).

So I looked for an instructor out here in Manila that's willing to teach me. Unfortunately, I've searched and I've searched. But none of the people I've tried to contact for conga lessons either responded to me or are interested in teaching me.

So I searched for other avenues to learn to play percussions the proper way. Books with CDs and Online Tutorials don't seem to help much because I'm largely a visual learning kind of guy. I need to see how it's done before I can learn it.

A fellow percussionist Kariv (Pinoy Stories/Cosmic Love) actually lent me some LP instructional videos that he learnt from. I had them copied and converted to DVD. The videos were called "LP: Gettings Started on Congas - Fundamento 1&2". I picked up the Tumbao rhythm rather quickly. The rhythm comes most in handy in many of my band's songs when we have gigs. And now, I feel like I'm actually becoming a proper percussionist. I had no intentions of just getting rid of my style and the rhythm structures I've created. I injected the traditional rhythms that I've learnt into my style and made it my own.

However, I came across these series of videos on YouTube by Nate Torres. Each video lays the ground work for the Tumbao rhythm, progressively increases the number of congas, and adds some improvisation licks for you to learn along the way. Here is all 8 of his tutorial videos. When I first found these videos, the level I was playing at was actually already at the 6th video. This kind of gave me some self-confidence that my prior experience wasn't all for nought. The only reason why I can't progress through the 7th and 8th videos is because it already involves 3 congas. I only have a pair of LP Aspire Congas. Perhaps some day I will purchase a 3rd conga; possibly a lower note Tumbadora drum.

Anyway, here are the videos in succession. Please note that each video is a lot to take in. So take your time learning and practicing the techniques in each video before progressing to the next. How I wish I found these tutorial videos years ago.

In this video, Nate teaches you the basic strokes involved in the Tumbao rhythm. I agree with Nate that the muffled slap is very hard to perfect. Even I don't do it consistently perfect at gigs. But generally, I get it right. So practice those slaps to death before progressing to the next video. You won't regret it.

The next video shows Nate teaching some exercises that you can do based on the strokes that you learnt in the previous video. These are pretty good exercises for a beginner actually. It gets you used to stringing the strokes together in succession.

This video sets you up to start learning the Tumbao rhythm. It shows you the other transitory strokes that glue the Tumbao rhythm together. To be honest, I kind of cheat the "hand-finger" and the non-muffled slaps that are taught (LOL!). I get the feeling not getting these techniques right will catch up to me later on as I progress farther. So don't be like me. Get these down pat before progressing.

This next video is when the real fun starts. Nate now teaches you the basic Tumbao rhythm. Once you get the basic rhythm down, you'll try to play along with songs you like for sure.

Once you get the basic Tumbao rhythm down, Nate then shows some improvisation licks that you can slip into the basic rhythm.

Nate now ports you over to the Tumbao rhythm utilizing 2 congas. This is the level I wanted to be in at the very least. I already gig with two congas in the first place. Nate even shows you how to do some additional imrpovisation licks with 2 congas at the end of the video.

These last two videos now involve 3 congas. As I don't have 3 congas, I haven't really gone far learning from these videos. But this is definitely the direction I will progress to when I buy a 3rd conga drum.

I'm wondering if the obvious progression is more congas. Or is it pretty much the same with the 3 congas set-up? I figured you can just rotate your 2nd and 3rd conga drum in the Tumbao rhythm around to the other congas. Perhaps the next step is to start learning other conga rhythms.

These videos are definitely the easiest way to pick up percussions short of getting an instructor. Those of you who reached this far down this post are probably considering taking up percussions already (LOL!). Thus ends my long-winded post.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Discovering IMEEM...

I was trying to figure out how to upload songs to our band blog. I found out the embedded music player of choice on Friendster is IMEEM.com. So I decided to try to upload songs and see if embedded player satisfies what I'm looking for. Whipped up a playlist and voila. This is the player below. It's also on the side bar of this blog and our band blog.


It's No Ordinary Love for Urbandub...

Just about an hour ago, a few officemates came over to chill for a bit before heading home. I asked them if it was cool if I review the bootleg recording of our set at Bela Bar last Wednesday. The last song we played in the bootleg recording was our cover version of Sade's Smooth Operator. I just love our version of the song, especially the Santana-esque jam we do at the end.

Then I remembered another Sade cover that another band did that was totally kick ass. Good cover songs are made because the original song was so awesome. And as a band injects their style into it, the song is taken to a whole different direction.

A local band, called Urbandub, did just that with Sade's song called "No Ordinary Love". The injected the heavy riffs akin to Urbandub's style and managed to retain the smooth groove and exciting eerieness of the original. Below is a bootleg video of Urbandub covering the song along with its prose.

No Ordinary Love
Original by Sade
Covered by Urbandub

Gave you more than I could give
I gave you love
I gave you all that I have inside
And you took my love
You took my love
Didn't I tell you
What I believe
Did somebody say that
A love like that won't last
Didn't I give you
All that I've got to give baby

I gave you all the love I got
I gave you more than I could give
I gave you love
I gave you all that I have inside
And you took my love
You took my love

I keep crying
I keep trying for you
There's nothing like you and I baby

This is no ordinary love
No ordinary Love
This is no ordinary love
No ordinary Love

When you came my way
You brightened every day
With your sweet smile

Didn't I tell you
What I believe
Did somebody say that
A love like that won't last
Didn't I give you
All that I've got to give baby

This is no ordinary love
No ordinary Love
This is no ordinary love
No ordinary Love

I keep crying
I keep trying for you
There's nothing like you and I baby

This is no ordinary love
No ordinary Love
This is no ordinary love
No ordinary Love

Keep trying for you
Keep crying for you
Keep flying for you
Keep flying I'm falling

I'm falling

Keep trying for you
Keep crying for you
Keep flying for you
Keep flying for you I'm falling
I'm falling

Below is a live version of the original song. I decided to put this in the post because the original is so good in its own right. Sade's singer's voice just gives me goosebumps all the time.


Drip and Song #9...

I've known Drip since back when we had NekNekMo Productions ran by Nityalilla. First time I heard their music was a toned-down acoustic version of their songs, which I enjoyed very much. Not only were the songs great. But Beng, the vocalist, was definitely very easy on the eyes. The band has grown since then to a full-on electronica act; sporting a keyboard synthesizer (Malek), turn-tables (Caliph8), and Fruity Loops on a PC (Morse). I actually miss Raymund, former guitarist, in the mix. But overall, their sound is still awesome and very unique.

Beng actually sang for my highschool buddies' band back in highschool. She made me promise not to speak of it because she's embarrased about singing Skid Row songs, etc. (Sorry Beng LOL!). But I only mention it in this post because not many people can reach notes of Skid Row songs like Beng does. And she has this raspy voice that pulls it out quite well. So I've known her for longer than the lifespan of Drip.

The song I want to show you for today is from Drip's first album called "Song #9". The song differs from the rest of the album because it sounds similar to the likes of D'Sound. Pay close attention to the song's construction, mesmerizing vocals, and funkadelic bass line. The music video is well-made and very Filipino-relevant. Check it out below.

Pictures of Beng earlier are from Drip's Multiply site. Never, even in my wildest dreams would I ever have such a beautiful girl with such a sultry voice. The rest of the band makes Beng that much more appealing.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our One Night Stand with Bela...

This particular gig proved to be an interesting one. We were originally supposed to play back to back with Johnny Alegre of Affinity. We were really excited about that until Jopet, the band organizer for Bela Bar, texted me saying Mr. Alegre cancelled on the gig. We got initially disappointed because Affinity is such a kick ass band. And to be paired with them was a compliment on its own.

Jopet then asked us if we can play for the night. Of course, a gig is a gig, and we were fortunate enough for Jopet to hook us up with a gig in the first place. So we agreed to play two sets for that night. It's one of the last gigs with Balot, our drummer. So we'll take any gig we can get before Balot leaves for Australia by May.

Balot came over my place, and we waited for Charles to come pick us up. To our surprise, Vinnie was with Charles when Balot and I went downstairs with my gear. Vinnie is definitely one tough cookie since she's pregnant and her eternal morning sickness hasn't waned down since the last time I saw her.

On the way to Bela Bar, Miguel the owner of the place was already sending me "pressure texts" by asking where we were. Technically, bands are supposed to be at the gig venue one hour prior to the time they are scheduled to play. It was way past 9:00PM already that's why. And we were scheduled to play at 10:00PM.

When we got to Bela Bar, Briggs was already there waiting for us outside. Islaw was the only one left that was still on his way. He couldn't really text us back because his line apparently got cut. But, apparently, he could still receive our messages.

So we started setting up while waiting for Islaw. Although the drum set looked and sounded like it was going to fall apart, the amps were really nice. The place was sporting a Beringer, Peavy, and Harte amp, which looked relatively brand new. The was a riser for a stage which was great. And the place had a second floor.

The Peavy amp conked out all of a sudden while we were setting up. Miguel, the owner of the place, came over trying to fix the amp. However, no matter what he tried, the damn thing just wouldn't turn on.

So we had to improvise. Thanks to Briggs' Pod and Islaws pre-amp for his bass guitar, we were able to plug Briggs' Hofner to the house speakers and still have effects and distortion. It didn't sound all that good, but it was better than having one less guitarist playing.

When we got everything in order, we began our set. There was one table of old-timers that seemed to know their way around music. They could tell that the sound check song we played was in A minor, among other things that they noticed.

Our only regret, is that we couldn't really play any of the songs they requested. We knew the bands from the 60s that they spoke of. But we never really played those songs before. Hope they weren't disappointed too much. We don't really do requests. We're not that kind of band really. Either that or we're just snotty that way. LOL!

After a few songs, the place was practically empty. This kind of reminded us of our gigs in Millenia years ago. We played ever Monday in Millenia to a practically empty bar. We generally don't mind just playing without anybody watching. We enjoy playing together as a band that's why. So crowd or not, we were still having fun.

I asked the owner if we can just keep playing until we got tired, instead of playing a second set. Miguel agreed. And as we were playing the alcohol kept flowing. Apparently, Miguel makes it a point to get the bands that play at his place drunk. And that night was no exception.

We finished our set with our version of Sade's song titled "Smooth Operator". The Santana-esque jam we had at the end of that song was awesome as always. Of course, I love that song because I get to solo at the end.

We stuck around for a while, talking to Miguel. He asked us for some feedback on how better to improve the sound set-up of the place. We genuinely felt that the place only really required some tweaking, and some heavy marketing. Then Bela Bar would definitely be a destination for good live music.

Briggs and I quickly grabbed a bite at Jay-Jay's on our way home. The sisig rice was amazing. Definitely a good idea for some frying pan home cooking at my place. As always, I managed to lug all my gear back up to my appartment in my drunken stupor.

I slept soundly, knowing that I had fun once again with my band. Yet, I was saddened at the same time because that was my last gig with Balot. I have to fly to St. Louis next week, and I'm going to end up missing our gig at Liquid Jane's album launch.

Take care Balot. I will surely miss your drumming expertise in SunDownMuse.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Human Tetris...

No, this isn't about the Japanese version of Human Tetris that spawned so many similar knock-offs all over the world. This is the "Original Human Tetris" that involves still photograph animation of people sitting at key points in rows of pews. Check it out below. Even the make-shift sound effects and music are hilarious.

If you're left yearning for more, below are other projects that the same group did of other old-school video games using the same concept.

Pole Position...




Sunday, April 13, 2008

To Kill a Mocking Virus... Part 2...

I almost forgot to close the last chapter of my toiling battle with that damn malware. Anyway, after I successfully backed up all my files, I decided to start the long arduous and tedious process of reformatting.

Unfortunately, my DVD-ROM drive started conking out on me. I couldn't boot my Windows XP installer from start-up. I tried so many different ways to circumvent this. But once again, there is yet another complication to this already complicated process of getting my PC fixed. So come Saturday morning last week, I took my PC to PC Express to have it looked at.

When I got to PC Express, there was this line of people waiting on the only 3 techs there to have their PC's looked at. There was some Hungarian guy having trouble with his sound card. He kept ranting and raving that "he did not change anything when the error occurred." Which the techs could hardly understand given his thick accent. I had to translate for the techs just for them to understand what he was saying. I should've charged for my translation services.

The guy in front of me in the queue, didn't know exactly how to handle his own computer. The techs told him he needs to reformat and reinstall Windows. He shuddered at the fact of buying an original installer of Windows and would rather install a pirated copy. But of course, the techs strongly advised against installing a pirated copy. He was wondering why they were saying so. I just tapped him on his shoulder, and pointed at the sign on the wall that says "We do not condone installation of pirated software, so please do not ask our technicians about such software."

After waiting for a good number of hours, it was finally my turn. Thank God, I had my iPod to keep me somewhat occupied during the long wait. The tech that attended to my PC, apparently, remembers delivering this PC of mine to my appartment when it was first built. Which was good so that the tech doesn't immediately dismiss my PC, so he attend to the throngs of other people waiting after me.

The tech tested my DVD-ROM drive and it was indeed busted. It was time to put the thing to sleep. I asked if I can just buy a replacement. So they gave me the Sony DRU-840A, which was much better than my old DVD-ROM drive.

After, the tech installed the new DVD-ROM drive, he proceeded to installing Windows XP since I brought my original installer along. The dude that wanted to install a pirated version of Windows was looking at me when I pulled out my original installer. I just shrugged my shoulders and smiled at him. I figured the way Microsoft has it set-up with the gazillion patches that you download online periodically, you really need to invest in an original installer.

With Windows XP all installed in my PC. I paid for my new DVD-ROM drive, and left the computer shop. The shop was about to close already by that time, so I had to pass through the back. Boy, was that annoying because I had to lug my PC to the other street just to get a cab.

I dropped my PC back at my place and then left to head for Datablitz in Park Square because I wanted the latest version of Norton Systemworks. Unfortunately, they didn't have any stock of that software suite. So I bought some Jamaican Patties just to make the trip out to Park Square worthwhile.

I headed home, hooked up my PC, and booted it up. The f-ugly default look of Win XP was annoying. But at least it's now functioning properly. Now I start the long process of downloading and/or installing all my programs in my PC. And until now, a week after the events I just described, I still haven't installed everything.

I still want to find out who the creator of that virus is. So I can stab him/her multiple times with a spoon. It's a blunt instrument, I know. It just hurts more if you force a blunt object down somebody's throat. So much hatred. LOL!


Percussive Kami Emulating His Uncle...

This video has been up on YouTube for a few months now. But it always brings a smile to my face. It's a video of my little niece, Kami, copying me play percussions. I haven't meet her personally since she was born all the way in the States. I hope to meet her in person later this month when I go to the States on business. She's soooo cute. :)


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weighing Scale Engrish...

I see this thing several times each day. Only one other person in the world knows about this. So I decided to share it here in this post.

This is just your regular cheapo weighing scale that you can buy at Landmark. But each time you use it, it'll at least make you chuckle a little with its tag-line. Without further ado, here it is.

I feel like the creators of this weighing scale wished that I receive a single health potion or something. LOL!

Closest To Fame That I'll Ever Get...

Since I know hardly anybody reads this blog, I'll post something personally embarassing and share it secretly to the world.

I'm lucky to be part of SunDownMuse. Aside from the pleasure of playing with such talented muscians, it's also gotten me on print.

Pulp Magazine, May 2004

Philippine Star, September 23, 2005 (Apparently the same article was in September's issue of Rev Magazine that year as well)

If I wasn't in SunDownMuse, I probably wouldn't have made it to print at all. Anyway, please allow me my geeky cheap thrills.


Alanis Morissette Wakes Up...

I set my Winamp to random like any other weeknight. I just sat back on a bean bag, while enjoying a cigarette, and an alcoholic beverage. A vaguely familiar guitar riff astonishingly begins the next song. Then a voice and a message, that I haven't heard since way back when this song first came out.

I browsed through the files of my mind back to 1995 (because my brain did not have a search engine built-in). It was highschool for me back then (yes, I know I'm pretty old). And during those teenage years, the music at the time spoke a lot about the confusion and emotions of a solitary adolscent's life. During the time when people's opinions was a matter of life or death. And the line between "like" and "love" was blurry that they meant the same thing. There was never a clear delineation between two kinds of people. But I was definitely part of the group that aspired to enjoy your typical highschool memories of popularity; but never could.

Like Hiro Nakamura, I clicked the Back button and flipped my mind back to 2008. And somehow the concerns you had at the time were so trivial. But yet it feels vaguely relevant to your life experiences now. So the song now starts ringing in my ear.

(Be sure to press play right now on the YouTube video below, come on now, press left click)

(Be sure to read the lyrics as the video plays, of course)

Wake Up
by Alanis Morissette

You like snow but only if it's warm
You like rain but only if it's dry
No sentimental value to the rose that fell on your floor
No fundamental excuse for the granted I'm taken for

'Cause it's easy not to
So much easier not to
And what goes around never comes around to you

You like pain but only if it doesn't hurt too much
And you sit...and you wait...to receive
There's an obvious attraction
To the path of least resistance in your life
There's an obvious aversion no amount of my insistance
Could make you try tonight

'Cause it's easy not to
So much easier not to
And what goes around never comes around to you
To you to you to you to you to you...

There's no love no money no thrill anymore

There's an apprehensive naked little trembling boy
With his head in his hands
There's an underestimated and impatient little girl
Raising her hand

But it's easy not to
So much easier not to
And what goes around never comes around to you
To you, to you
get up get up get up off of it
get up get up get up off of it
get out get outta here enough already
get up get up get up off of it
wake up

Then you realize that exactly 10 years after the song's release, Alanis releases the acoustic version of the same song. Check it out below. It's not a music video. Some dude who had one too many pictures of Alanis, pieced the entire video together over audio from the album CD. Good for a listen nontheless.

Yes, I did like the "Jagged Little Pill" album. But it doesn't mean I secretly want to be a female rockstar. This is one of those songs that, personally, I feel like current emotions are so vaguely familiar to the emotions that weighed heavily on me during my teenage years.

There are other songs of similar effect, that were also released in the grunge/post-grunge era actually. I'll slowly post them up in here later on. And yes, I did grow up with grunge/post-grunge. So expect that I'll post about songs from the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Candle Box, etc. Alanis was just a safe teaser to get everybody in the door.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Elephant Painting...

My brother in law, John Enciso, sent me a link to this YouTube video. It almost looks like some dude's arm wrapped in rubber. This pachyderm certainly paints better than I ever could. LOL!


Eric Roche Smells Like Teen Spirit...

In a previous post about acoustic guitar man, Andy Mckee, I wrote "I remember taking classical guitar lessons from the nearest Yamaha school years ago. But I never really took it seriously because I wanted to play grunge songs."

As I was searching for more Andy Mckee videos on YouTube, I came across this particular video by acoustic master Eric Roche. It's Eric's rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from the "Nevermind" album. It doesn't get anymore grunge than Nirvana. But I was surprised to see that Eric Roche's version of the song is very classy and still retains the flare of Nirvana. Check it out below.

After I watched that video, I said to myself "Wow that was cool, acoustic grunge". Then I came across this Eric Roche video where he shows how you can simulate so many percussion sounds and tones with the use of strokes on different parts of the body of a guitar. This guy has taken the Flamenco style of percussive strokes to a whole new level. No need for a band anymore, this guy is a one-man walking band. Check it out below.

I saved this video for last because it really exhibits the skill of Eric Roche. To think I thought Andy Mckee was the shiznit. Eric Roche is just something else. The video below is of one of his songs called "Roundabout".

How I wish I was this good at acoustic guitar. I can only be this good in my dreams.


Monday, April 7, 2008

To Kill a Mocking Virus... Part 1...

I usually don't fall for random messages from Yahoo Messenger, that lead you to click on a URL that practically invites a virus into your house. But, in my apparent stupidity, I still fell for one of those messages. It was from a past co-worker in PeopleSupport. And just like that, I got infected by some malware/worm/deadly virus queen that kept replicating itself the longer you have your PC on.

I don't know if it was pride or something else, but I really tried battling the damn virus. Chasing it with all these anti-virus programs and anti-spyware (i.e. Norton, AVG, Spybot, etc.). I tried every possibility available to me. But to no avail.

After an entire weekend of battling the damn virus, I finally gave up when even TrendMicro's HouseCall web based anti-virus scanner didn't work to quell this vicious beast. To HouseCall's credit, it was the only scanner that was able to identify the source/deadly queen virus file. The damn thing was hiding itself in a ".sys" file. Nonethless, that was my last shot at trying to save my PC. So I decided to essentially press the metaphorical reset button and reformat.

During the past Earth Hour, I was in total darkness with only my PC and my fridge that's running. On April Fool's Day, every LCD display and PC/laptop was fired up in order to begin the long arduous process of "backing up files". My place was lit up like a Christmas tree.

Backing up files in my case is not a very easy task. Not only are all my band's album files in my PC. But also all my music, TV shows, and movies that I have downloaded that I haven't burnt on DVDs yet. I'm talking about 40 gigs worth of recorded tracks, 130 gigs of music, and God knows how big of a total the TV shows and movies were. Each 720p TV show episode I download is 1 gig large. So you can just imagine the amount of files I have to back up. That's not to mention all the little itty-bitty files that I'd want to keep. I'm an electronic pack-rat, I know.

So with every other distraction possible around me to keep me from getting stressed about the virus, I burnt DVDs, freed up space in my hard drives in my PC, old PC, and laptop, etc. etc. At least, watching Dave Matthews and blogging on my laptop kept me from going insane.

The file transfers took so long that I started staring at the goldfish screensaver on my old PC. I guess it's the closest thing to having a real goldfish aquarium without the hassle of maintaining it.

I finally got all my files backed up after a good number of days. So I ended the last backing up files day and will start reformatting my PC the following day.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Giovanni Hidalgo...

No amount of words to describe Giovanni Hidalgo can ever even do an inkling of justice to this percussion master. He's literally the Michael Jordan of percussions.

Below are some of the videos of him that I like the most on YouTube. I've arranged these three videos in order of 1) "awesome", 2) "bad-ass", and 3) "WTF?!?". Each video progressively showcases Giovanni with an increasing number of conga drums as well. Just watch it. You'll know what I mean after watching all three in a row.

After watching the first one, you're saying "Yeah, he's awesome.".

Then the second one rolls by, and now you're saying "Wow, he's bad-ass."

Then in comes the third one, where you shrug with an awe of disbelief, and say "WTF!?!". That good, ladies and gentlemen. The guy is a friggin' cyborg molded into a fat latino's body. How I wish I had even just a third of his skill.


Toto with a Twist of Andy Mckee...

Usually when the concept of an "awesome guitarist" comes to mind, I immediately think of anybody the likes of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, or even John Petrucci. However, this only proved how limited my perception was of guitar playing excellence when I came across an acoustic guitarist on YouTube a few weeks ago.

This is a totally different path in guitar playing and Andy Mckee has taken that path to another level. Below is a completely acoustic guitar version of Toto's song titled "Africa". I was amazed that he manages to play the rhythm guitar of the song, whilst playing the vocal melody in between. Take careful notice at how he plays chords. Normally tapping chords is best left played on an electric guitar. But Andy is able to make the chords very audible on a steel string. He even sneaks in a few percussive strokes to the body of his guitar for added flavor.

Apparently, Andy's version of the song is a piece emulated by others. Below is a video of some kid, named Sungha Jung, who's able to play the piece as well. Although the kid needs to polish up the way he's playing it, the fact of the matter is that he CAN play it. I'll blog about this guitar prodigy on a future post. Damn kids these days.

Now back to regular Andy Mckee programming. I started searching for other videos of acoustic six string deity Mckee. To my astonishment his skill exceeds past 6 strings in a very unique way. While other guitarists wield a 12 string guitar to play something beyond 6 strings, Andy dons a custom made steel string guitar. The large bump/extension on the top of his guitar allows for thicker bass strings to be included in the guitar's possible notes. Although it hilariously resembles a bird house and the fact that the extension doesn't really have additional frets, those bass strings allow Andy to be creative in his song writing. The video below is one of Andy's compositions titled "Into the Ocean".

This guy is amazing, hands down. I remember taking classical guitar lessons from the nearest Yamaha school years ago. But I never really took it seriously because I wanted to play grunge songs. I really should've kept at it. I would've been able to play some of Andy Mckee's pieces by now.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Nightmare on Claymore and Death Note...

Over the last few years, I've grown a taste for Japanese Anime. Some of my recent favorites are Claymore and Death Note. I won't go into too much detail about these anime right now. Perhaps I'll expound on them in another post. The focus of this post is the opening theme songs of both anime series. I never really made a connection that both opening theme songs were by the same artist until recently.

The artist is called Nightmare. I'm not Japanese, much less understand the Japanese language, short of what sticks to my brain as I watch anime and what little I remember from taking up Japanese back in college. But I can definitely appreciate the musicality of their music depsite not understanding a thing about the lyrics. The band is very Japanese Visual Kei. Visual Kei is some sort of trend with bands in Japan where they don outfits that actually rival that of old school glam bands in flamboyance. Once you get past all the cosmetic flare, you'll actually begin to appreciate the skill in their music.

Below is the music video of "Raison d'Etre", which is the opening theme song to the anime "Claymore".

And lastly, below is the music video of "The World", which is the theme song of the first season of Death Note.

To be honest, I liked these anime first before their opening theme songs. But the songs in themselves are definitely worth a blog post.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

SunDownMOUSE Live at Mag:Net Katipunan...

Chris from Dirty Kitchen invited us to play at his Stag Party/Production last night at Mag:Net in Katipunan. When Balot and I got there, Chris immediately greeted us with an apology. Apparently, there was some mix up with submitting our bandname in the Mag:Net line-up for the month of April. So for one night only, we were known not as SunDownMuse, but "SunDownMouse". So when the sun goes down, the mouse comes out of to play, or some similar whacked-out imagery will do.

It was a stag beach party. Although, I originally imagined strippers in beach outfits or bikinis. I was surprised to see how nicely they tried to stick to the beach theme that night. When you step onto the second floor of the place. The entire floor was filled with sand. Yes, you heard it right, beach sand. I have no idea how the bar owner was okay with putting sand everywhere, much less how they managed to get so much sand. But apparently the bar owner gave the go signal for it. I saw it as one big astray actually. And I'm sure other people felt the same way too.

What used to be white walls were now riddled with drawings and inscriptions using chalk which made the place seem more fun and festive. Briggs had some medical emergency regarding her mom's diabetes so we had to ask Chris if the other bands can play ahead of us until Briggs can make sure that her mom is going to be fine.

The Ives Experience

The first band that played was a start-up college band. It seemed that they've only had probably 1-2 gigs prior to last night. Although they played some covers from No Doubt and Sublime, they're essentially an emo band with a female vocalist. Experience will be the best teacher for them. The band at this point seems to require a lot of practice in terms of timing (i.e. play in time with each other, and don't just end songs abruptly unless it was intended), and showmanship (i.e. don't turn your back to the crowd for the entire set).

I felt bad for who seem to be the lead guitarist. First of all, he only played two songs for the entire set. He only played during the cover songs. After sitting out the majority of the set, he comes back onstage and his guitar strap broke at the beginning of the song. He constantly struggled to play because he had to carry the guitar at the same time. He lifted his right knee in the air to support the guitar. But left his foot dangling in the air which must've been tiring. He was wearing a perfectly Mr. Clean white polo shift. But since he had to suspend his knee up in the air to support his guitar, he had to lean on the wall. Therefore, imprinting all the wonderful chalk inscriptions on his back.

I don't claim to be an expert at being a musician. However, playing in a band and being around the scene for how many years has taught me a thing or two. This band just needs to keep at it in order to clean up their performance.

Dirty Kitchen

This is the Chris' band; the husband to be. They had to play 2nd because we were still waiting on Briggs to arrive from the hospital. Their drummer wasn't there yet. So they just jammed with the Ives Experience's drummer for a while until their drummer arrived. The jam was cool. But I was really amazed with their bassist. I've seen Dirty Kitchen play before. But I've never seen them play with this particular bassist. Briggs and Balot told me that this bassist was a reknowned bass player. And he was highschool friends with the rest of the band. Nice to see them reinforce their line-up with someone that good. The name of the bassist escapes me. This must because of the copius amounts of alcohol I drank last night.

The best part of Dirty Kitchen's set was when they covered "#41" by Dave Matthews. It just happens to be my all-time favorite Dave Matthews song. So I really got into watching them play when they played that song.


Briggs arrived before Dirty Kitchen finished their set. So we were complete just in time to play next. Of course, I wasn't able to take any pictures of us playing. So there will be no visuals for our band that night.

Briggs just got her Hofner guitar back from getting it fixed. It was now donning a new bridge, new frets, straightened out fret board, and adjusted action. We all agreed that we missed the Hofner sound. And it was obvious that Briggs was enjoying our set because her prodigal guitar has returned.

Tribu ni Dulu

Apparently, this band is exactly the same band as Ives Experience but one of the guitarists is now the vocalist. I gotta say, their songs and antics got me thoroughly entertained. Although, there was less people by the time they played. I was still into watching them, even though I'm one of only few people that was cheering the band on. Oh, the drummer's name is Dulu. Hence the band name, obviously.

As we finished watching Tribu and watch the last trickle of people leave the place, Briggs and I decided to knock down a few more beers before heading home. We always seem to jive with drinking. I got home and managed to drag all my percussion gear back up to my place in my drunken stupor. I've done this so many times. However, it still feels excruciating each and every time.

I'll end this post with one of the chalk inscriptions on the wall at Mag:Net. It seems be a line from one of Happy Meals' songs. I just found it funny and loved it at the same time.


Super Smash Bros. Brawl...

Oh it's on bitch!!! Come get some!!!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Yosha the Fanatic...

My good friend and quintessential six string samurai, Paolo Rodriguez, recommended I should check this band called Yosha. It was previously recommended to him as being even better than Sinosikat. As I love Sinosikat, I was curious how much better this band called Yosha is. Apparently, Yosha is not just the band name. It's also the name of the vocalist. And with her are some of the greatest musicians in the scene today (i.e. Karel, Otep, etc.).

I found a YouTube video of them covering this song called "Fanatic" by Vivian Green. I just love the acid jazz/R'nB vibe they have. The lyrics aren't deep. But the musicality of their performance is awesome. Not to mention, that Yosha herself is very easy on the eyes. Below is the video along with lyrics of the song.

Covered by Yosha
Original by Vivian Green

[Verse 1:]

When I wake up all I want is for him to take me away
To that incredible comfort zone inside that beautiful place
When I need to release tension so that I can feel brand new
Reach that height that only one in this whole world can take me to

[Pre Hook:]
All the time I want you baby,
All the time I need you honey,
All the time I gotta have you sugar,
Because I'm addicted - oh yeah.
All the time I want you baby,
All the time I need you honey,
All the time I gotta have you sugar,
It belongs to me


I'm fanatically, addicted see, the way that he be loving me
It's like a drug or some bad habbit
Since its mine, I got to have it


[Verse 2:]
Oh it feels like, like I've never had it right
Before this,
There was so much emotional pain, nothing positive to gain
But I'm loved, full, and completely now
Not just a physical thang
But it's something spiritual

[Pre Hook]


I just gotta have it, I'm a fanatic [4x]


For those of you who, like me, got curious about who Vivian Green is after watching the Yosha video. Below is the same song performed by Vivian Green. It's awesome too.