Monday, December 31, 2007

A Different Kind of New Year’s Baby

For the last couple of days we've been taking care of our neighbor's dog who is a 75 lbs. grey mongoose. When he's still, he's one of the most lovable dogs in the world. When he's not, the situation makes you wonder, "When I have real kids, will they be this difficult?!"

We've taken it upon ourselves to start breaking him out of his biggest habit - barking incessantly. It's a problem he's always had since we've known him. Per a book that we were given, we read that a dog that barks for everything has a great deal of separation anxiety. It makes sense as his owners leave him alone anywhere from 6-10 hours a day due to their work schedules during the week. They come home to let him out when they can, and sometimes we let him out. This dog is the kind of dog that needs to run in a big arse field 3-4 times a day and needs a lot of attention. He makes it out to a doggy day care where he's off leash twice a week but it's not enough for him. So, barking is his only way to really express himself. The most annoying part of his barking is when he's in the lobby of our building. Because of the cavernous nature of the building, his barking at full volume echoes and reaches everyone's eardrums in the building. It's almost as if he waits just to bark in that area. He barks and doesn't really know why he's barking. We decided to try to do something about it.

Using a spray bottle, we've been spraying him with water every time he barks and giving him a hand sign coupled with our patented "SHUSH!" command. He hates it! Every single time he does it, he gets sprayed like Afro Sheen! Sometimes, the fool is soaked at the end of a session . He cowers from it now which means he knows it's "bad" and he's being punished. Once he complies, we give him a bit of love telling him "Good Shush!" or "Good boy!". We're supposed to give him a treat but it seems like the attention suffices.

As a result of doing this over the last couple of days, his barking tendencies have gone down to a tolerable level. I've been able to take him out and back through the lobby with him not even barking once. Of course, it takes 3 times longer to do so than it does with Lola, but, hey, it's progress . I force him to sit and stay at every opportunity. He's got some bad habits he's picked up which leads me to believe he's got some "alpha dog" issues. So, I've been flexing those AD muscles with him and reminding him who's the top dawg in this house! I've also been putting my scent all over his food by handling it so that he gets it in his system (I only wish this worked with human females ). If I had maybe 3-6 months with this dog, I'm sure there would be a big difference as I'm home a lot more and have a lot more water to spray!

If his owners notice the subtle change in him, I'm definitely going to give Caesar a run for his money soon!

Currently watching :
Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan - The Complete First Season
Release date: By 23 May, 2006

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Friday, December 28, 2007

Karma Chameleon Kickbacks

Yesterday some fool(s) slashed one of my tires on the Ho-Ho. I got off lucky. The guy who owned a silver Ford Exporer had his truck converted into a low-rider execution style with four flat tires. At first, I wasn't outright angry. I was a bit annoyed by the inconvenience of the truth of the matter, but I it was manageable. That changed through the course of the evening .

I moved the car downstairs and my wife and I tackled the changing of the tire situation. I wasn't in the mood to have someone actually help me change a tire. However, whenever it comes to certain "man-oriented" things, my wife and I always seem to disagree as to how to go about it. I end up doing the dirty work and she tries to direct. Half the time I want to just yell "You do it then if you know so much" and just drop what I'm doing and walk off, but I don't because I can't let her do that as well. If I do, what am I good for?

The next thing that annoyed me was that there's a piece of sh*t spare tire in the back of the car. I would love the meet the genius behind providing a non full-sized spare and beat them with a sack of quarters! What genius! Give them a donut to place 2 tons of machinery upon, and don't allow them to go faster than 50 MPH! Oh! Oh! OH! And give them the most archaic, non-torque-having, inconvenient tools to jack the car up and get the lug nuts off and on!!! WTF!? Luckily, I was smart enough to go out and buy a ceremonious "X" tire jack a few years ago and kept that in one of my cars just for this kind of occasion. So, I used that to get the nuts off, change the tire out, and have it ready to take to the tire shop. I wasn't able to get to a tire shop in time because I had a rehearsal that evening and they couldn't guarantee I would be there on time. Had I known the rest of the night had in store, I totally could of had my tire changed.

I get to rehearsal an hour early so I decide to chill out at a local coffee shop. I spaced out for a good 45-50 minutes listening to my iPod after going through my lines a few times. I was feeling pretty good. I walk up to the rehearsal spot and see a bunch of castmates standing around which is a normal occurance for this rehearsal space as the owners/operators have been anywhere from 15-30 minutes late letting us in. 5 minutes after we were supposed to begin rehearsing, our director shows up. With a little bit of commotion and me not really paying attention, we're told to go to the coffee shop and wait there. Uhm, what? So we begin the trek back to the coffe joint, and I am informed that the director has to verify the details on the space. I was starting to get a bit more angry at this point . We get back to the coffee shop and begin running lines together - for about an hour. I'm like, "Where the hell is the director?!" I was then updated that he had to drive all the way back to his house to get the key for the space as the owners/operators weren't going to be there and had entrusted us with one. Oh man...that sux!

We start the rehearsal and hour and a half later than expected. The rehearsal is a bit rough around the edges due to the discombobulation of the night's events and the fact we're under a formal time constraint for the space. We get through things almost a couple of times, and I have to jet to another rehearsal with Static Republic.

I get to the car and decide I have just barely enough time to put some air into the spare tire. I had been driving on average 25 MPH the entire time I've had it on due to the low air pressure. So, I pull into this gas station and realize I don't have a tire gauage. No problem, I'll pick one up inside. I go ahead and buy the gauge and a couple of drinks for the rest of the night's acitvities and I get to the job of filling the tire up. I noticed that the tire required 60 PSI. When I checked the pressure in the beginning, it was at 10 PSI. DOH! So, I started filling it up. It go up to around 40 PSI and I started hearing the additional hiss coming from somewhere. I disregarded it and continued filling the tire and checking the pressure accordingly to reach that magic number that would allow me to drive at 50 MPH. However, every time I kept checking the gauge, it read 40 PSI.. WTF?! So, I stopped what I was doing and kept hearing the hiss coming from somewhere. I checked the rim of the tire and realized that air was leaking from the spare! "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FAWKIN' KIDDING ME?!" I screamed. Now, I was livid.

I pumped that tire up as best I could and relegated myself to the fact that the current state it was was the best it'd be the entire time. I didn't have enough time to go home and grab the other car and then make it to rehearsal so I drove 25 MPH to the next spot ticked off at the world. I called my wifey on the way there and was incredibly terse with the conversation so she knew I wasn't a happy boy. I let her go after a bit because I feared me lashing out at her for no justifiable reason and wanted to spare her my bitchiness.

I get to the spot saying to myself, "This better be a good rehearsal". I open up the space and turn on the lights. Now, this is where things start lightening up. I see this quick, large, scurring brown fur ball run in the far corner of the room. Fawk! Was that a rat I just saw?! I quickly call up the bandmates and ask if they have any traps for rats. I just saw a huge thing scurry on my floor and I am freaked the fawk out. Mind you, I am still standing at the doorway at this point not knowing what the hell to do. So, I decide to fight the beast by walking in. I take two steps in and then it scurrys along the wall, across all sorts of cables, cans, and trash into another corner. UHG! UGH! UGH! Gross! I get to my drum kit and get my feet off the ground with my knees on the stool. I decided I would try to drive away our pesky little neighbor and start banging on drums and cymbals. He doesn't show his face again. It could be the ludness of the drums or the fact that my rhythm was off quite a bit but it seemed to work. I wasn't particularly in the mood to get the bubonic plague.

The bandmates showed up with golf clubs and we warily played waiting for it to show its ugly face again so we could play Whacking Day a la The Simpsons but only with rats. The rehearsal went awesomely (thank Gawd) and I stayed there till 1-1:30 AM.

I drove home at 20 MPH since there were no cars on the road and chilled out. I got a good conversation with the director regarding the rehearsal and what went down so there are no hard feelings. Things seemed to line themselves up well for the next rehearsal we're having and we should be in good shape with some changes planned for the production, so, I brightened up even more.

I got home and downloaded games to my Wii (Blades of Glory, Super Mario 2, Kid Icarus, and Mike Tyson's Punch-Out) and played till about 4 AM. I passed out to a show called "Russia's Roswell" on the History Channel.

Thank you tire slasher(s) and rat(s) for what you did. It made me realize a few things:

1. I need to ensure that my vehicles are well equipped for emergency situations. right now, neither one of them really are. Today I will spend the day getting them ready by buying roadside safety kits, buying new tires and full-sized spares for them. I would not have done these thing had you not messed with my car.

2. The fear of being proven wrong and not being useful is still pretty strong with me. I need to work on that.

3. No matter how bad things seem to me, they could always be worse. Like, you can have a rat in your room chomping on your cables! I need to stay more positive with my outlook on situations.

4. Put out good energy, you get good energy. The second I lightened up, the universe fixed all the things that were bothering me.

5. Everyone loves Mario. Everyone loves Mario.

Currently playing :
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry House Keeping!

Today, on the accepted birfday of little baby Jesus, I decided to clean up the house to prepare myself for theoretical visits by some friends looking for something to do on Christmas Day. Some of them wanted to just have a few more people to hang with, some wanted to keep their Christmas Eve festivities going, and some wanted to escape additional family obligations that would compromise their capacity for emotional pain . Of course, no one thus far has show up and I'm okay with it. I've felt like I've been in dire need of a home make over from HGTV.

Some of the more interesting things I've found:

  1. A picture of me and my second Chicago band Double Helix.

  2. Various DVD's/CDs I've been looking for or just completely forgot about. I am in the midst of organizing those things.

  3. Old bills, statements, and court orders of the past (I completely forgot that I had to stay at least 500 feet away from that one girl...)

  4. Data discs containing interview clips of me back in the days of Siouxacydal Pidgeons In a Can. I couldn't watch them because they were so painfully bad and my long, curly hair brought me to tears.

  5. My ability to shred stuff is insatiable thanks to a 12 sheet capable shredder we have. I love to hear it chew stuff up in there like old credit cards, magazines, and the occasional small child.

  6. I've got a lot of crap in my house. I want to get the courage and wherewithal to sell it but I nkow myself better than that. I'm not really good at it. I did post up something on Craigslist for some studio equipment lying around but I have tons of books I don't read, old cards that I read once and forgot about, and toys that I don't play with. *sigh* It'll all end up in a big dumpster unless the wifey intervenes with her plan to donate it all to the Salvation Army.

  7. I'm going to repeat this all over again in a few weeks, aren't I?
I am sure this is the best way to spend the holidays with loved ones, right?
Currently reading :
Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests
By James A. Miller
Release date: 01 October, 2003

Sunday, December 23, 2007

By The Grace of Gawd

I finally have the right concept for the artwork for the Courageous E.P. However, it involves me having to visit an army surplus store followed by down to a costume store to "try on" an outfit, and snap some pictures of the whole debacle. Good thing it's Christmas Eve tomorrow because I am massively tempted to get it all done so I can get it set up and on i-Tunes.

Currently listening :
Don’t Fear the Reaper: The Best of Blue Öyster Cult
By Blue Oyster Cult
Release date: 08 February, 2000

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Year of the Wii

I'm one of the lucky ones. I received my Wii back in September for my birfday (when they were still hard to find), and have enjoyed it ever since. This Christmas seems to be the Year of the Wii (vs. the year of the rat or the dog or even the flying elephant) as people are killing each other's pocketbooks to make a profit off the gaming consoles by standing in a queue for hours early each morning to snatch them up for $250 USD (which is like what now... 25€(euro) ? ), and then mark them up to $400-$600 (27€) and sell them on Craigslist and e-Bay. The funny thing is, people are buying them at that price. These are crack prices for gaming consoles!

Wii-crack heads have been calling me up to buy my console for the same price I paid for it. Talk about a free market system here. I could be a damn vulture and rip these people off by marking up the price, but I won't do that. I just get more satisfaction of saying "No, I'm keeping it. Thanks" and seeing their hope fade away... No, but seriously, I want to know what our presidential candidates are going to do about this.

"Mr. Obama. I couldn't get my kid a Nintendo Wii this Christmas due to an artifically created shortage by the Ninetendo corporation, console scalping, and lead paint in toys from China that normally would keep people away from these gems of gaming engineering. What are you going to do about it?!!

Currently playing :
Wii
Release date: 19 November, 2006

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Return of the Laugh Track?

I was hanging out with my Dad and telling him about the show a couple of weeks ago. I mentioned to him that the crowd we worked was kinda stiff in the beginning but loosened up as the show got underway. He says, "Well, you need to send out somebody before the show. To warm them up. An icebreaker."

"Dad, I was the ice breaker," I responded.

"Well, then you didn't do your job," he said with a passing tone. "What you guys should be doing is using a laugh track in the show."

"No way. Nah ah, " I vehemently shook my head. "This isn't fawkin' Chespirito/El Chavo Del Ocho type comedy, dude." My family started busting out laughing .

I realized right at that time that my Dad comes from a whole different era of comedy where shows use canned laughter to let the audience know when to laugh. A lot of Spanish-based television still use it (and quite badly I must add) so it wasn't too far out of left field for him to suggest it.

I explained to him what theatrical improv comedy was all about and why canned laughter would be wrong and weird to use in that forum. He then said something like "You're all full of sh*t" and walked off.

Gotta love family.

Currently watching :
Lo Mejor de Chespirito, Vol. 1
Release date: 30 December, 2003

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Pleasantly Surprised

I saw my first live ComedySportz (CS) show last night, and enjoyed it thoroughly. A few Recapitulators were in the show, and I've decided to be more supportive of my fellow actor next year as a New Year's resolution by seeing shows. I'm getting into the habit early by seeing shows in December just in case I begin to falter in the new year. That way I can say "Hey, I saw your show in December. Cut me some slack!"

I recognized both of the referees conducting the shows. I admired how comfortable they looked on stage. I had auditioned with one of them before and saw that same cool, calm, methodically funny demeanor in his stage antics as I saw in his improvisation, hence, why he had such a great audition. He seems to be a natural at this. It was incredibly inspiring and humbling to see how much more I need to go with this improv thing.

CS bills itself as a family-oriented show, hence, no cursing is allowed, and there is a penalty of putting a brown-bag on someone's head if they slip up on or off stage (that includes the audience as well!). The action is much faster and from what I can tell the show is really based off of players of games rather than building scenic relationships a la Second City. I'd been hating on CS for the no cursing rule as I feel cursing may be needed at a given point and I would hate an arbitrary rule to take that option away from me. Yes, I do understand the reasoning behind it and I agree with it. I just didn't like it. After seeing the show and how it's run, it seems that there no time for cursing anyway . Much props to those folks doing it.

Currently listening :
In Memoriam
By Graceful Abyss
Release date: 28 March, 2006

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gettin’ Served in 2008!

I've been working all week on staging myself for a successful start to 2008. Here's a small list of activities:

1. Producing Salsation's next revue and performing PR work for it.
2. Submitting materials to a TV network to have them consider a group of mine for a trip out to LA to perform.
3. Aligning Recapitulation to begin looking at the 2008 year for potentially two new long form musical improv shows.
4. Set up my general audition slot for Second City.
5. Preparing for Salsation rehearsals for Sketchfest 2008
6. Digitizing and uploading videos every chance I get
7. Auditioning for feature films and leveraging the agency contacts.
8. Doing a bit of touring with Wavelength, Inc. in the next couple of months.
9. Working on promoting Courageous Studios, Courageous Rue, Sphere of Influence with a true online presence.
10. Got Courageous Rue "signed" to an online label and looking at getting music put up on iTunes very soon.

There's a rumor going around I'll be hitting up Orlando, FL for work which will be cool if the dates all align with my other activities. I'm also working on family relationships by forging new ones and rekindling old ones . All in all, looks like a great start!

Currently listening :
The Karate Kid (1985 film)
By Survivor
Release date: 04 May, 1999

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Monday, December 10, 2007

Watching A Lot of Spanish Television

One of my recent past times is sitting at home with my mother and watching Spanish-based television. I could go on and on about how different it is than regular American programming, but I've decided to promote my two favorite shows that I don't get to see back in Chicago:

  1. Jose Luis Sin Censura

    Think of this show as the "Mexican Jerry Springer" (although it's produced in L.A.). The show is way more entertaining the Jerry since the "guests" speak turbo-tongue Spanish half the time which automatically heightens whatever is being said, and they broadcast more of the "fights" that occur. I like seeing how the bouncers allow the men to get beat up by the women by holding him in place while the woman slaps him around, how people form the audience having nothing to do with the issue jump onstage and start fighting with people on there, and what show wouldn't be complete without scantily clad women walking around in between spots? The crowd is hilarious too with their chants of "Duro! Duro! Duro!" ("punch him/her hard") and "Es un way! Es un way!" (loosely translated as "He/She's a fool!") I also enjoy how because the words are in Spanish, the FCC doesn't require censorship of any profanities uttered on the show. Here's a taste of the scripted insanity:



  2. Secretos - Houston!

    This can be thought of the Mexican "Cheaters" (also produced in L.A.). They're supposedly contacted by concerned people in relationships and set up surveillance with hidden cameras and confrontations in the Cheaters-like style. However, it's sooooo overly overproduced, badly edited, badly acted, and bad special effects (like Cheaters, they use a lot of green screen-based effects but for some reason this show thinks that cheating only belongs in The Matrix ). My favorite parts are where they show the investiagation team "communicating" with each other over internet with webcams. They show two people sitting in Suburban "looking" at a laptop then they cut to the laptop and it's a still shot of a laptop with a super-imposed video of the communication. I also like they "catch" people on their surveillance video feed "red-handedly". It feels so staged it hurts. Here's a clip of that goodness:


Well, there you have it folks. This is how I spend my quality time with my family.
Currently listening :
Mo’ Ritmo
By Gerardo
Release date: 29 January, 1991

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Three Years Ago Today...

...I was in Boulder, CO with my boss meeting up with our users and planning what would be needed for us to build our business. We were driving around looking for a place to eat when news came over the radio that Damageplan/Pantera guitarist Darrel "Dimebag" Abbott had been shot and killed at the Alarosa Villa in Columbus, OH by some yahoo with a gun.

I was in complete shock. My boss was complaining about his usual things (family, work, funding, etc) and I viciously and rudely cut him off in mid-sentence and cranked the radio loudly to hear the news . I don't remember who was giving details but it was someone who was there when it happened and had some official interaction with Damageplan. My whole evening and next day were shot. I was really angry at the outcome, and actually felt a loss for a man who I didn't even really know.

The way we communicated was through music. Funny thing was I didn't really like what he had to offer when Pantera first came out. I was into all of the alt-rock bands of the era. It wasn't until my drummer introduced me to them by offerinng up one of their songs to cover in our set. I had never heard of them before, but, sure I'll cover a song as long as we got to play 4000 Smashing Pumpkin songs . He told me what track number to check out and gave me the Far Beyond Driven disc. I went home that night and played a cover of Black Sabbath's Planet Caravan at home. I was like "Uhm, dude...are you sure we want to play this song? This has no drums on it." So, figuring he was mistaken I played through the whole CD trying to find a song that I thought would work. I quickly realized we couldn't play 99% of the songs because they were pretty difficult and neither guitar player in the band had the chops to play the solos. I also knew we couldn't sing any of the songs because neither vocalist, which were also the guitar players, which were also the founding members, which were both me and Ricky, couldn't scream like that. The next day I walked up to him and told him my findings and he stopped and apologized for handing me the wrong disc . It was supposed to be a track from the Vulgar Display of Power record. DOH!

He handed me the record a few days later and I went home and checked it out. After playing through it a few times, I felt this was something we could probably play. Other than the fact there's really no audible bass on the record, there were some really good songs on there along with some good singing. We never got around to covering Hollow due to some reason or another, but the experience laid the groundwork for me to dig deeper into their musical and video catalog.

After Pantera split up and Damangeplan came about, I was thrilled to see that they were playing smaller clubs and being more accessible to fans. I had seen Pantera a few times on the Ozzfest tours but it was a million miles away. Since I was in Boulder, I couldn't see them when they played Chicagoland. That chance is no longer possible. *sigh*

RIP Dime. Thanks for the great music and giving inspiration to me and many other musicians out there playing the music they love.


Currently listening :
The Best of Pantera: Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboy’s Vulgar Hits
By Pantera
Release date: 23 September, 2003