Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Cold Day In Hell

Yesterday morning the temperature dropped below the point where parts of my body could not retract any further into my lower cavities. The house was cold due to us forgetting to turn the heat up prior to going to bed. So, I got ready for a long day ahead of me by first taking a shower. I ran the shower with the hot water turned on full blast because it always takes like 5 minutes for it to get to the good temperature for me to get in. After 5 minutes, I tested the water. It was cold. Not freezing but not warm either. I let it run a bit more. It's still cold. WTF?!

Then remembered that weird, cigarette-like smell I encountered a couple of days prior coming from the hot-water/furnace room. Doh! So THAT'S what is was...

I took a cold-ass shower to get ready for work. It sure as hell makes me grateful for my Bally's Total Fitness membership. Considering I don't go there to exercise, the membership is now being put to good use. Peeing on my feet will be on the agenda for my daily bathing rituals for a while.

Currently listening :
My Own Prison
By Creed
Release date: 26 August, 1997

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=16074757&blogID=223968230&Mytoken=EB07BDF0-D0BA-44AB-A0E024AE25524B6E59497537

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Respect for a Tyra(nt)?

Tyra's talk show sometimes makes the rounds of my TV watching. Normally this is a result of my wife flipping through her favorites on Comcast cable. Typically, I leave the room when I her show is one because her show is so irrelevant at times.
My favorite Tyra episode was when Tyra was going to expose the life of a stripper. The entire show she perpetrated like she was going to go the distance and dance up on stage and take her clothes off. Not only did she stay clothed, she left prior to her stage dance! If I was a patron in the club, I would be like "I paid to see somethin' girl! You look like a broke-ass reject from the Sear's lingerie catalog!"

She also got herself into a fat suit and walked around to live in the life of the obese, which in purpose, was commendable. However, the whole show was kind of a farce because she acted as if she didn't know that's how society sees fat people. WTF?! She was a pro model! If she gained too much weight, she knew that she would lose shoots and money as a result of it. Even being a tiny bit overweight ostracizes people. I felt that the show had the right idea but when executed it lacked sincerity.

Well, now Tyra has packed on some real weight, and the media is all over it with headlines like "America's Top Waddle" or "Tyra Porkchops". I feel she truly is now understanding what it's like to be ridiculed based on your appearance, and she's going to be speaking on it. I think she looks normal and is still very attractive. I also feel she is more "real" now that she lives a bit more normally. I'm interested in what she has to say as her response to all the media scrutiny.

Currently listening :
Up
By Right Said Fred
Release date: 01 July, 1992

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=16074757&blogID=221961317&Mytoken=EB07BDF0-D0BA-44AB-A0E024AE25524B6E59497537

And The Cradle Will Rock...

The Van Halen brothers must be a strapped for cash so they're heading out on a national tour with Eddie's son Wolfgang taking up the bass and Roth taking up the vocals.

I saw their Chicago show on their last tour and it was pretty sad seeing them playing their songs to an aging crowd. I did enjoy watching middle-aged men and women freak out when they heard the songs of their youth Damn...that's going to be me one day at the Smashing Pumpkins reunion shows...

First Pumpkins, then Rage, now VH...

Currently listening :
Best of Van Halen, Vol. 1
By Van Halen
Release date: 22 October, 1996

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Curse of '85

Super Bowl Shuffle

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I have high hopes for the Bears to win the Super Bowl. Not because I want it for Chicago or I am a bandwagon fan, but, rather, I would love to see them win for the mere reason that I am sick of hearing about the '85 Bears!

Bears fans talk about this team as if the hand of Gawd touched this team and there's not been a team like it since. Yes, they had an incredible season but going nearly undefeated. Yes, they had a lot of characters on the team like Ditka, Payton, McMahon, and Perry. Yes, they had a really corny video where they illustrate that most white guys still couldn't dance back in the day. And finally, yes, they actually won a Super Bowl. Oh yeah...I forgot to mention something...THAT HAPPENED 21 YEARS AGO!!! I loved the Transformers but you don't see me talking about my Optimus Prime robot like that after 20+ years!

"Man...Optimus...when he would transform, he would do it faster than any other Autobot. The way his head would pop out of the cab...the way his hands would be pushed into the headlights and when you played with him would pop off. Oh, and Wheelie...damn, that was teh best sneak attack weapon they ever had!"

I love to hear stuff on sports radio like, "Well, I tell ya what, Jim. I know da Bears got to two or three playoff bids over the last 5 years but they're all crap. Now, Da Coach would've done this and that and made them a Super Bowl team!"

WTF?! Ditka and co. only won one Super Bowl! If that's the prerequisite for an effigy to be burned in your honor, then prior to the 2005 White Sox why weren't we like "Oh man...nothin' was like those 1917 Sox! Yeah, before the Black Sox years..."


So, "Bear down...Chicago Bears"...and win the dang Super Bowl so I can hear the more pleasing "The SuperFan Shuffle"!


Currently listening :
The Super Bowl Polka! Featuring the Chicago Bears!
By Eddy J

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Let's Get Down To Bidnez

Yesterdy I used the money donated to me by my boss as a result of him not wanting the $10 exchange from 750 rupies to buy a stack of blank business cards so that I can make a few for handing out. Based on all of my creative activities, I realized I have to make three different kinds. I'm making one for:

  • Recording engineering services
  • Theatre sound design services
  • Acting pursuits

  • I figure the more I set my self for something to happen, the more it will come true

    I think I should make one for Guerrila Graphic Design as well. I'm not graphic designer but I sure do get great ideas from other people on the web and make something of my own really well! It just takes forever for me to get something done because I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I've debated going to school for it but it's not important enough (yet) for me to do it. I'm hoping I will run into the graphic designer of my dreams, i.e., she does great art, works for free or chickens, and is drop-dead gorgeous , and she will make my designs for me. I've been looking for 10 years. The search continues...

    Currently listening :
    7th Deadly Sin
    By Ice-T
    Release date: 28 September, 1999

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Favela Rawk

    Here's a clip of a band in Brazil doing a decent Rage Against the Machine cover:



    When I was 19, I got the chance to go to Brazil to visit family along with my mom and brother. While we were there, a local kid named Milton told me about his band (whose name right now escapes me) and invited me over to check them out. I met the band some time later at their practice studio. They were all pretty nice and even let me play guitar for a bit while we waited for some other guys to show up.

    These guys reminded me of the ingenious nature I had left behind after years of playing. For example, two of them worked at the airport so they all had airport-grade ear protection on while they practiced. I just chose to lose my hearing or wear disposable ear plugs which got nice and gooey due to the amount of wax in my ears. At one point, the Milton the bass player broke his E-string. Based on the way it was broke, I pretty much knew that string was dead and figured he had backups or would run out and buy another string. Nope. Not these guys. Milton ran out of the room for a bit and found some needle-nosed pliers. He took the string off the bass and tried mashing together the two pieces of metal to the point they would fuse together! I was like "Holy Moly! Brilliance at its best!"

    Even though I was a full fledged adult, a man in his own right, I got called to "come home" from my mother a few houses away. Talk about embarrassing.
    .
    Currently listening :
    Rage Against the Machine
    By Rage Against the Machine
    Release date: 10 November, 1992

    Sunday, January 21, 2007

    The Anti-Socialite

    I tried easing back into my regular rhythm of events this weekend. I actually stayed up beyond 7 PM Friday night, practiced with MWR (I actually remembered how to play the drums and the entire arrangements of the songs!), and checked out the opening night of TMKLS:AKM. I then went to bed Saturday morning around 1 AM and woke up around 10 AM. Things were looking pretty good. I then went to class from 1-4 PM. Things kinda went a little haywire.

    When I'm away from an activity, I tend to rust. My theatre skills were a bit rusty walking in so I worked really hard on keeping what was going on during class in perspective with the last 4-5 weeks on non-use. I felt out-of-balance the entire time, awkward, and a bit scared. Overall, I think I did fine but I know my performances were very "heady" and overthought which most of the times I perform is the opposite case .

    We went out afterwards for drinks and since I had put my car in the shop and needed to pick it up before 5 PM, I knew I would do my Sit-and-Chat-For-10-Minutes-Then-Jet ritual. For some reason though yesterday, I didn't feel well both mentally and physically after class (maybe one caused the other...who knows ). A lot of "talking shop" was going on and I wasn't in the mood to jump in. When the conversations steered away from that, I felt like observing and staying quiet. I could tell people were noticing, because I got a lot of "What's wrong?" questions thrown at me which I could only respond to with "Nothing" or "I don't feel well". The latter response was true while the former was bit of a stretch considering everything going on in my head. Plus, you can't really discuss your jet-lag, bowel movements, and insecurities in a loud bar with 10 other people (when I get more famous, THEN I will definitely talk about my bowel movements! )

    After a bit of time, I stood up and patted my homey next to me on the back and announced, "I'm out."

    *Kick in Bullet Time Effect*

    The whole group stopped talking and looked right at me and seemed genuinely sad to see me go. I heard someone tell me "Hey, I'm sorry." like they did something wrong to cause me to leave . I told them to not apologize because they had done nothing wrong and that I honestly didn't feel well plus I had to pick up my car. At that moment I realized I may have looked like a complete jerk to these folks with my abrupt exit.

    I tend to kick myself pretty hard when I am an anti-socialite, and I need to learn that it's ok to be that way at times. I thought my return to my life after such a weird, grueling, unwanted trip would be cinch. Perhaps I need more "Nelson Time". Another day...another thing learned.
    Currently reading :
    No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog
    By Margaret Mason
    Release date: 11 August, 2006

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    India - An Interactive Petting Zoo!

    I keep waking up at like 4 AM every morning wide-awake and ready to start my day! Dang jetlag! I've noticed that it's worse on return trip than on the departing trip for some reason. I went to bed last night at 7 PM and attempted to sleep straight through 7 AM this morning with moderate success (try waking up at 3 AM with massive hunger pangs and sleep through it ). Today I attempt to stay awake all day and all night and go to bed at a decently moderate time like a little after midnight to hopefully wake up at a regular time like 9 AM (even when I am at work, this is my ususal schedule).

    While I was in India, I didn't honestly get to see a whole lot. The work needing to be done was on a short timeframe and I was on a mission to end it all early so I could return early to make my commitments backs home. I wasn't really interested in sightseeing or getting to know the country but rather get the heck out and make it to the first day of musical improv.

    The Sunny Skies
    After a 15 hour direct flight to New Delhi from Chicago, we landed and got ready for our adventure. The second we walk off the plane, it smells like something caught fire, and the entire airport was smoky. Little did I know that the entire city was this way! Apparently Delhi has quite a problem with smog. Due to the massive growth in both population and industry (8.4% GDP growth last year) and little emissions regulation, smog is an ever present problem there. In fact, I kept seeing articles in their newspapers about how Pakistan and India blame each other for the smog in their countries . I've been to L.A. and have seen smog, but they took it to a new extreme! I had coworkers tell me that it used to be worse a few years ago and they've just started combating the problem so it's gotten better. However, when you can see the car in front of you while driving a mere 5 mph, that's not smog - that's mobile environmental cataractic vision impairment (MECVI)!

    Hotel Motel Holiday Inn - Say What?!
    We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Delhi which is considered a 5 star hotel, and by the looks of the massive amount of humanity around, it truly was. Our hotel was in a complex of other buildings and was really impressive...if we could actually see the upper parts of it. Smog had claimed the majestic beauty of the peaks of the Hyatt!

    We mostly ate at the hotel. It had 4-5 restaurants in there with mostly good food. Apparently Indians choose their restaurants by their location and the amount of people eating in there because we saw a lot of Indians as well as Americans/Europeans chowing down.

    Here's a picture of me chillin' prior to heading out to start our business day:


    Solid Man...Solid!
    Another daily activity I engaged in while I was in India was playing the part of the Paranoid American #2 regarding everything I ate and drank. India's water refinement, therefore, food preparation, is hit or miss regarding health standards. So, one must be extremely judicious in watching what they eat or drink. I was pretty good initially. I drank loads of bottled water (we got complimentary bottled water in our rooms every day), brushed my teeth with bottled water, made sure I kept my mouth shut to avoid swallowing any tap water while taking a shower (I tend to sing a lot in the shower amongst other things ), avoided foods with a lot of curry sauce which would have more water content in them, and ate at restaurants I trusted or that the locals trusted. Even with all of that, I still got a massive case of the dreaded Delhi Belly .

    I'll spare you precise details but have you ever strained so hard that you saw Jesus? Or went deaf? That's what my second morning consisted of . I luckily had packed Pepto Bismol pills with me to combat an upset stomach so I was popped a few. My boss luckily had some Immodium A-D, which if you've never taken it, will dry you out internally like a desert so you can continue your day. It's also a great way to dehydrate your body to the point you could be in some real trouble! I took a couple of Immodium since the Pepto wasn't strong enough to curb the pain, bloating, and water works. By the end of the day, I had it "under control" but was dehydrated like a mugg even though I was drinking quarts of water.

    I popped Pepto every day but in less and less amounts as the days went on. The final two days there I felt I didn't required taking anything more for the DB. Perhaps my body was finally adjusting to the new food acumen...or that there wasn't any water left in my digestive tract to make perform a green apple quick step!

    So, due to the DB, I had to become even more selective about what I ate because I would just look at some stuff and it would make me queasy . I avoided anything that could've been boiled in water like pasta, any real deserts becuase I didn't know what water content was in there to make them, and any fruits and vegetables. As a result of the water and food reduction in my body, I ended up losing 10+ lbs in the experience.

    I drank as much water as I could but could never get rehydrated to an acceptable level. I still don't feel quite hydrated even today. The DB made a slight return a la a voodoo chile once I returned starting with the food change on the plane. For two days after I got back, I really didn't want to be anywhere not close to a bathroom. However, I chose this time to let it run it's course and whatever happened, happened. This morning I feel pretty good! Solid my man! Solid!

    I Get Around
    The car industry must also be outsourcing certain parts of their industry to India, because by the way they drive, safety testing there must be the best in the world. It's a country where the lines painted on the road and the lights at the intersections are more like suggestions than laws . Traffic is bumper-to-bumper, people don't stick to their lanes, horns are more of a courtesy call than a warning message, and people are everywhere; they try to cross the street in the middle of the road in masses or are walking in the middle of the road trying to get somewhere. In fact, I saw people driving their vehicles down the wrong way of the street at times. The distance between people is inches, not feet. Check it out:



    Accidents are common there but I was only involved in one. My driver's driver's side mirror got clipped off in a fender-bender (we rented a car but they only come with a driver so we had to use him!). We stopped in the middle of traffic and sat in the back while he argued with the other driver. Apparently, car insurance policies in India are nonexistent (Oh...how I wish that could be the truth here) because every car on the street is dinged up a bit or just has parts ripped off in certain areas (I should begin selling duct tape there and showing folks how to make their hoopties stylish!). So, the drivers argued for quite some time over fault and each demanded money on the spot for the repairs. I believe 1500 rupies (about $30) were up for grabs between them. After some time, our driver returns and gets in the car. The other driver is attempting to get him to give something back - his car keys! My driver got his keys to ensure the dude wouldn't drive off and not pay. My driver ended up giving the keys to another guy acting as a mediator between them. We drove off to another area close by where he got out and continued to argue with the other driver. Eventually, both drivers returned to our car to settle their dispute. We got dropped off at work and then they proceeded to go get car fixed. Talk about taking the law into your own hands!

    Squaters and Hawkers
    India has 1.3 billion people in it. Of course, not everyone has the same level of wealth there. In fact, there is a lot of poverty. A lot of people set up their homes in make-shift shacks/tents on the side of the road. It reminded me a lot of Brazil with their favelas in Rio and Sao Paolo and illustrated the gap between rich and poor. There were a lot of children begging on the streets and were definitely in bad shape . I must be a magnet for these children becasue they seemed to always to come up to my window asking me for money or trying to sell me free newspaper/magazines. It was heartbreaking at times.

    It seems that everyone is in the business of selling something. I would see shacks lined up selling chips and sodas along with clothes, shoes, and household items. Some sold food (of course I avoided trying any of it) and some I had no idea what they were doing.

    Lions and Tigers and Bears...and Monkeys...and Elephants...and Camels...
    One thing I loved about India was how animals were everywhere. I saw the beloved cows hanging out on the side of the road or home just chillin'. Elephants were used to haul people and pull heavy items along the road. Camels were used to get around as well. It was surreal! There were lots of stray dogs everywhere also (it made me miss my Lola Rose who tried to make the trek with me by packing herself into a box):



    Summary
    Overall, it was an experience. I learned a few words of Hindi, hung out with Indians all day and learned more about their culture (I even celebrated Lohri with them) , and got a buttload of frequent flyer miles

    I am incredibly glad to be home. I'll be posting up more pics as comments soon. Stay tuned.

    Currently watching :
    Disco Dancer

    Note This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
    http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=16074757&blogID=219383901&Mytoken=CF6C30D1-8B9D-465D-BFB4A7DCEFE1A87859240226

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    The Gorilla Has Left The Building

    One of the best things about traveling half way across the world and returning is that you literally miss at least 2 days of your normal life being strapped to a seat at 36,000 feet in the air. I used the time to sleep, reflect, and reaffirm my commitment to being happy. Cuz, trust me, I was hatin' for a while.

    I got a call on Thursday January 4th from my boss asking me what I was doing the following week. I had classes, rehearsals, and QT needing to be done with the loved ones at home. OK. Scratch all of those items out. I needed to go to India to court a potential partner with my day job's products. Uhm, did I happen to mention that I had classes, rehearsals, and QT needing to be done with the loved ones at home? It turned out that the one guy who was completely qualified for the task was on vacation through January 15th...IN INDIA! However, no one could get a hold of him. I asked, "Why would I create this upon myself?" So, I spent the next two days:

    1. Trying to get a hold of this guy in India to take my place
    2. Calling up/emailing my directors for my shows letting them know about the trip, apologizing like hell, and hoping to gawd they allow me continue in certain productions.
    3. Running around two to get a visa to allow me to enter the country. It only took me 4 trips to complete the process. I should've seen this as a sign of things to come in India because everything is 4 times harder to do there
    4. Brushing up on my improv/technical skills to be able to present these products to aforementioned partners.
    5. Spending as much time with my family before I left.

    I never did get a hold of the guy in India before I left (of course, I got a strange feeling that dude would probably call the second my plane took off from the airport just to spite me ). I had to let my director know what was going on with the trip and wait to see what happened. A couple of hours later I find out they had made the decision to move on without me on the Mary Kay LeTourneau Story:A Karoake Musical and recast my parts. I completely, totally understood and agreed with the decision as I was going to miss out on a total of 6 rehearsals of which 2 were tech rehearsals which would've really put the rest of the cast in a precarious situation. So, I took the news in as best I could (I didn't cry but I was definitely upset at the India situation) and asked the director if I could go ahead and email the cast with my apologies. I got home later that night and crafted my email and sent it to the cast. I got a few replies from folks with positive responses and a lot of love thrown my way (thank you guys!). So, as painful as it was to send it, I did feel a little bit better that people understood.

    I had a killer performance at Sketchfest with Salsation Theatre Company that Friday, so, that helped me feel a little better. Some of my castmates from my musical improv group Recapitulation showed up and showed a brother some love. Afterwards, we all went out to eat at Joey's Brickhouse across the street and talked about stuff like our performances, lives, and the occasional Michael Richard's rant We all had plans to audition for the Second City Musical Improv House Ensemble. I urged and supported those auditioning cuz I truley believe they all could make it all the while knowing that I may not even get back in time for me to audition myself . Another thing impacted by this dang trip. I also ended up missing my first days of class for both Musical Improv and Conservatory as well as the first day of rehearsal for the SCTC Level 5 Writing Shows.

    So, my theatre stream has been rebooted a bit for 2007. I am looking at this in a positive way. There has got to be a reason why this trip came into existence and impacted my life so greatly. There's something to learn and I intend to allow it to sink into my life and cherish the experience. Otherwise, I'd be hatin' a lot at this point.

    More to come on the actual trip...

    Currently listening :
    Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black
    By Public Enemy
    Release date: By 06 September, 1994

    Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
    http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&FriendID=16074757&blogMonth=1&blogDay=14&blogYear=2007