Friday, November 30, 2007

Let’s Play Guitar Center!

I've invented a new game. It's called "Guitar Center". No, it's not a video game for aspiring semi-air guitarists. Here are the rules:

  1. Anyone of any age can play.
  2. At least two players are recommended. The game can be played with just one but it's seriously not as fun.
  3. All players must play guitar. Preferrably an electric guitar. No skill level is required.
  4. Starting with any participant, every player must spend 1-3 minutes recreating their favorite "Guitar Center Moment" (GCM), i.e., riffs and/or dialogue they heard from other customers and staff, facial expressions that they saw, and comments they had on the entire experience.
  5. This can be repeated by each player any number of times until the hilarity stops.
  6. The player with the funniest GCM wins!
I've been playing this game for the last few days with various people. Here are some of my favorite GCMs:
  • The Heavy Metal Kid
    Typically there's some 15 year old kid is sitting around, wearing all black, chains, and leather holding some kind of "metal" guitar such as a B.C Rich, Ibanez, Jackson, or LTD completely butchering some old Metallica riff ("Enter Sandman" is a favorite) while playing with the most gain possible on a Marshall.

  • The Blues Guy
    This is some guy in his mid-40s playing a Fender Strat or Tele plugged into a Fender amplifier and wanking off the same 3 licks over the span of an hour. Sometimes they like to play the One Note Song which consists of soloing with one note and one note only in the key of whatever background music is blaring in the store and trying to make it sound like the most soulful thing they've ever heard. Typically the facial expressions on The Blues Guy are the funniest to watch.

  • The Shredder
    This is typically a gigging musician in his early twenties who can actually play all the leads The Heavy Metal Kid can't play. The guitar and amp setups are the same but the volume difference is 200 fold. This guy needs to let everyone in the store know that he can solo and play quickly. Of course, this guy never ever buys anything he plays through and leaves once the store staff tell him to turn down or notices no one is watching him.

  • The Jazz Guy
    This dude is typically in his 50s, plays an eclectic guitar through a boutique amplifier such as a Roland JC-120 or a Kittie Hawk. This guy keeps to himself and doesn't bother anyone. He also uses the most complex voicing of guitar chords possible because, well, that's jazz. I like this guy because he's probably the only guy who can actually read music in the entire store.

  • The Guitar Center Staff Guy
    One of the fun type of people to showcase in the game. It's usually some ugly guy that follows you around the store asking you dumb questions like,

    "Anything I can help you out with?"
    "Want to make some noise?"
    "All of our Fender Squiers and Epiphones are on sale for the next 13 minutes...want one?"
    "Wanna fill out a Guitar Center credit card application?"

    Usually this guy doesn't know anything in depth about the product(s) you are trying out, ad disappears for hours trying to get you an answer. They're typically someone in a band and wants to be in the industry in a limited fashion. They also try to "cut you a break" by "taking care of you" in a rouse to make you think you're saving money by working with them (mark up at guitar center is anywhere from 100-150% from what it cost them to buy it, so, remember that when haggling with these guys). These guys are popular with moms and girlfriends of musicians because they look like they can help them out. Think of a guitar-selling Quagmire. *giggity*
Feel free to play this at your fancy!
Currently listening :
Freaked Out And Small
By Presidents Of The USA

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=16074757&blogID=333515742&Mytoken=5466A367-4928-442C-8754A3A6F778202710565802

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Work It Out (Work It Out) Work It Out (Work It Out) Northside Work It Out ...

With recent weight gain, I realized I needed to get back into shape for the New Year (and my overall health). I'll be replacing 40 lbs. of body fat with muscle over the next few months. Returning to Bally's Total Fitness after a long hiatus allowed some observations to be made:

  1. BTF's male locker room behavior
    Perhaps it's just me but there's a weird sense of alpha male-ism in the air when I walk in there. We all give each other hardcore looks like "Stay away or you'll get jacked up" while at the same time giving each other passing, comparative male member glances to assert that we're adequately packin' the heat. It's a tense situation!

  2. BTF's saunas/pools/whirlpools are surrounded by fat, sleazy-looking men.
    After I do about 30-45 minutes of cardio, I like to either go do some laps in the pool and/or soothe/massage my muscles in the whirlpool. Every time I go there, there's like group of 4-5 guys sitting around the pool (typically not in it or dangling only their feet in there) talking and creepily checking out the women walking around. Almost everyone of those guys I hadn't seen actually doing something to burn some calories . Granted, it could be just that I got there later than them and may have missed their entire workout. However, I see the same people sitting around day-to-day .

  3. Mirrors are a weight-lifters friend.
    Everytime I walk by the free weights section, I see guys lifting weights and watching themselves in the mirror in a trans-like state. That whole section is full of mirrors. Vampires apparently are persona non grata at BTF.

  4. BTF hates their customers.
    They do not spend any money on providing towels. With the prices they charge for the first 2-3 years, you would think they could fund a service to take care of towel duties. Hire some interns to do it. There's nothing like having a sweaty guy leave the machine sopping wet with their sweat right before you're going to use it.

  5. I'm out of shape.
    Don't let yourself go. It just makes it harder to get back into shape. I saw little, skinny girls kicking my butt on the treadmill. Next you'll see me lifting those cute pink barbells while watching myself in the mirror .

BEEFCAKE!
Currently watching :
Dog the Bounty Hunter: Best of Seasons 1, 2 and 3
Release date: 26 June, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Guitar Zero

MTV has licensed to sell to sell Harmonix' "Rock Band" game, an expanded, multi-player competitor to Guitar Hero. It's received great reviews and is expected to sell well especially during the holiday season. I have an idea for those gamers and parents of gamers who are thinking about buying this game...

BUY A REAL INSTRUMENT AND LEARN HOW TO @$*&*@! PLAY IT!

I am going to throw logic out the window for a second, and say something I cannot canonically prove. Games like these make a better case for cutting funding to the arts in our schools. That's right, I said it.Why fund kids to play in the band or orchestra when they can buy their own plastic controllers and mimic playing the real thing to a video crowd? Is instant gratification of playing along with records on a fake guitar really that overpowering that people would rather learn to play a game than try to learn the real thing?

With that nonsense just stated, there are a few things I do like about Guitar Hero and its clones. I like that it could spark interest in a child/person to learn a real instrument. It also helps them with their rhythm timing and listening skills as you have to know what the guitar parts are prior to beat matching what's on the screen with what you need to push on the controller. I also like that it's introducing the younger generation to older songs that would be healthy to learn in a more traditional course of instruction.

I must admit that I suck at GH the 2-3 times I've played it. It's completely counter-intuitive to my style of guitar playing. However, I can play a lot of these songs on a regular guitar and do a decent job at it. What's next? Workout Hero! You hold a pair of cheap, light plastic bar-bells and "lift" them while you select the weight. At the end of it, you'll be able to lift half a ton!

South Park captured my sentiment exactly (sorry for the poor quality)...


Currently playing :
Rock Band Special Edition
Release date: 11 December, 2007

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Wii-ality of Cheating

Girls, I argue that it's easier for y'all to have romantic indiscretions than guys. Guys are relatively easy creatures to figure out and appease. You can tell a guy you were out cutting the lawn at your sister's house at 3:30 AM, give us a hot night of passion, and most of us will believe you. However, this chick is giving y'all a bad name.


If you're going to cheat on your man, avoid using any of his electronics with the guy you're cheating with. You will get caught. We may not be able to listen to you, take the garbage out, or even please you well in bed, but we know everything about our electronic gadgets and toys. We can tell you if you failed to reboot the computer after installing software. We can sense the last time someone other than ourselves touched our iPods. Men and technology are symbiotic. I know of men who spend more time and money on their techno-toys than they do on their relationships.
Currently listening :
The Essential Neil Diamond
By Neil Diamond
Release date: 04 December, 2001

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Monday, November 19, 2007

I MIssed e-Bay

I currently have bids on 4 items on e-Bay right now. The bids are on drum cymbals, a CD, and a Firewire-based mixer. 3 out of 4 bids thus far are on the winning side, but I do have a feeling that I'll probably win only 1 of the 4 items.

I typically don't internet-shop. Waiting at home for deliveries is always a pain and a majority of what I would buy I need to use the senses of touch, sight, and hearing in order to truly feel that the purchase was a good one. There are people out there that can buy all sorts of things like clothes, music equipment, drugs, jewelry, and wives based merely on what it looks like on the web. I'm not judicious enough at returning things to a store let alone online where I have to go to the deplorably-serviced Chicago post office, and wait in line for an hour just to mail back something I didn't originally like.

With e-Bay, it's a little different. The fact I am competing for the item is a turn-on. It's all in the pursuit, right? Once I win, I feel like I've accomplished something in my life. So, waiting around for it to come in just solidifies and intensifies that conquering emotion.

Gosh...I'm easily pleased.

Currently listening :
001
By Dovetail Joint
Release date: 26 January, 1999

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Taxing My Nerves

I decided to do a "quick" trip over to the Cook County Treasure's Office this morning since for some reason the City of Chicago decided to send my property tax bill to the developer's bank instead of my home. So, in order to pay it in time on December 3rd, I need to submit the original copy to my bank. No problem, right?

It took me 1.5 hours to find parking. I finally broke down and parked in a garage nearby. I then requested my bill. No problem there. I then walked on over to Chase Bank's main branch across tehe street to see if I could just hand the bill to them, and use my escrow to pay it off. Lo and behold! You have send the bill to a department of Texas. They noticed that the name and address on the bill wasn't in my name nor address, thus, they suggested I go back and get the bill rectified. So, I walked back over, filled out more forms, and got back into the first line of the day to get a new bill. As I filled the forms out, this lady notices I didn't get my homeowners exception, thus, I'd most likely be overpaying this year. So, I had to go upstairs and wait around to get that rectified and get a new bill as well. While I was waiting in one of the mainy queues, I met a really nice lady who got me all hooked up with a tax complaint, thus,hoping they will reduce my tax bill and reimburse me for the year! Cross your fingers!

So, this is year 2 that I've had to go through a lot of trouble just to pay my tax bill. I hope it gets easier before I'm homeless.

Currently listening :
F**k the Bull-S**t: The Taxman Movie
Release date: 20 January, 2004

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lazy Saturday

I'm in the middle of remixing Sphere of Influence's "Heights By Claire" right now. I figure getting familiar with my recording rig again would be a good idea to be ready for Static Republic's upcoming recording session. I cringe at some of the stuff I sang back then, but I am having a lot of fun remixing it and seeing what could be kept and what needs to be redone. Unlike my previous effort, this remix is reusing at least half of the original tracks, which makes it even more of a challenge to make it interestingly different from the original yet retain the idea of the song.

So, Ms. Dwiggins, I hope I can do the song justice as you titled it!

Currently reading :
Remix: The Electronic Music Explosion
By Bruce Gerrish
Release date: March, 2001

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Enfrentando Un Miedo Grande En Mi Vida

I've been asked to read some Spanish on-camera tomorrow. Not a lot of people know this but I am very uncomfortable with my Spanish. I grew up in Texas where early on in the household I was forced to assimilate and learn English. My Spanish is rather rudimentary at times, and since I don't really use it a whole lot in my daily life, it seems to slip a bit. I get embarrassed easily and shy when I'm around a lot of Spanish speakers.

Well, time to confront it head on. I know that deep down inside the skills are there. They came out once in an extraordinary way when I got married in Cancun. The second the wheels of the plane touched the ground, I was at ease with the language and spoke it as if I'd spoken it forever. I even spoke to my parents in Spanish the entire time which I hardly ever really do. The second we left, it went back to where it was. I found it rather strange that my fear was so strong that not only it affected my voice but it also affected my social and linguistic skills. It seems that when I'm submersed in it, I have no choice but to be good with it.

I had a right mind to call the agency and squirm my way out of it, but, no, I am going to go to this audition and do the best I can. The worst thing that can happen is that I don't get the part, and I get a bit of admonishment. I told myself two years ago I wouldn't allow fear to keep me away from an audition, and I'm not going to start now.

Currently reading :
Spanish I - 2nd Rev. Ed.: Learn to Speak and Understand Spanish with Pimsleur Language Programs (Comprehensive)
By Pimsleur
Release date: 01 April, 2002

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Discovering My Inner Geek

I've for some reason have bought into almost all of the Discovery-related channels lately. It started with the History Channel. Now I've added regular Discovery and am itching to get the Military Channel again. I occasionally watch Animal Planet but I'm afraid of falling in love with another dog and having Lola attack me in the middle of the night in a jealous rage!

Last night I was watching an hour-long show on taming the Africanized honey bee. Exciting stuff let me tell yeah! However, I dig all of that shizzle. So, I feel now I am fully qualified to go into a bee colony, smoke them to make them calmer, open it up, kidnap the queen, and replace myself as their leader! See what happens when educational program runs afoul!

Currently listening :
The Offspring - Greatest Hits
By The Offspring
Release date: 21 June, 2005

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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The Deed’s Done Dutifully

I signed and returned my exclusive contract to Encore Talent and have posted up my resume on actorsaccess.com. We shall see what kind of work I get sent to and how well I fare in the audition processes .


Currently reading :
The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook (Mix Pro Audio Series)
By Bobby Owsinski
Release date: 01 November, 1999

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

O! The Catastrophe!

What the heck is going on with Oprah recently? Has she become too big for her own size (figuratively speaking that is )?

First off, she funds building a school in Africa for disadvantaged children in order to educate them and give them opportunity. She spent a lot of time pimping the achievement of doing so on her show the day after I went to Oprah. Then we find out one of her dorm monitors has been abusing the kids! Oprah's response? "I didn't know about it. It devastated me". Okay, that's understandable. Today we find out that Oprah didn't know about a book written by a former member of the KKK recently removed from her coveted Book Club.

It doesn't take a million little pieces to put together to realize your organization is too big when you don't know what's going on.

Currently listening :
Greatest Hits
By Huey Lewis & The News
Release date: 23 May, 2006

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Be A Part of History! Visit A Studio!

Static Republic is gearing up to recording some songs this month, and I've been looking at a few studios around town to be able to track my drums in. One of the studios I hit up was Chicago Recording Company located in downtown Chicago. I walked into the building this morning expecting it to be a wham-bam-thank-you-mang type deal where they show me the rooms and that's it. I got more than I bargained for.

I ended up being hosted by one of the senior engineers there Rob who gave me a tour of their beautiful main studios. He asked me what I was working on and I said, "Well, we're working on a three track demo and we want to get the drums done at a pro studio, dump them into Sonar, then finish up the tracking elsewhere." We then hit it off talking about how bands can really screw themselves over be trying to be bigger than they really are by pushing out material too quickly or before they're ready. I gave him a breakdown synopsis of where the music industry has gone from the 1950's till today and how it's come full circle with badsn starting to put out singles again instead of full-blown albums as the buying consumer, aged 12-early 20s, isn't really interested in buying full records anymore since there is so much schlock out there. I felt really comfortable that he knew what he was talking about and that gave me a more at-ease feeling.

We then touched a bit on my favorite band, Smashing Pumpkins, who basically take up residencies at CRC when making records. Knowing this full and well, I asked him about how some of the records were made and he shared some information like where the drums were setup and how they miked them as well as stuff like using tape vs. digital, bit-rate discussions, analog-to-digital conversation rates, DegiDesign flubs, and budgets and business management. It was all really insightful, humbling, and incredibly exciting to BS with someone knowledgeable and experienced in a field I really enjoy!

At this point it's uncertain where the tracks will ultimately be done. I'm just happy I decided to take time out of my schedule to visit the place where musical history was made .

Currently listening :
Revelations
By Audioslave
Release date: 05 September, 2006

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Interesting Way To End The Formal 2007 Season

Last night I had a double-header of shows with one being at Second City and the other with Static Republic. For reasons unexplainable, both shows were a bit lackluster in certain areas . I feel like I did a good job at both of them, however, the shows didn't that *oomph* I was looking for. In a way I was looking to bat 1.000 for the last scheduled shows for the year but I'm batting more like .950 .
Hey, time to dwell on the positive, right?

Except for oncey-twosy shows/rehearsals here and there, no more crazy schedule for the rest of the year. I look forward to this time off and reconnect with that guy Nelson V who used to like going to the movies or watching TV.

Currently listening :
American Pie 2
By Original Soundtrack
Release date: 31 July, 2001

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fertile For Myrtle Beach

I did a show yesterday in Myrtle Beach for the South Carolina Science Convention. It was an awesome experience!

I went down there with a talented group of individuals from a company that uses theatre techniques to enhance professional and educator work habits and methods. We performed an interactive set of a scripted talent show followed by a defined set of improvisational presentations to illustrate how they could be used in class to teach things like "yes and", "explore and heighten", etc. Luckily I got a lot of stage time since the guy I was filling in for was hosting the talent part and participating in almost all of games.

The show went so well! The crowd was incredibly entertained and into what we were doing. It was so cool to be "that guy" people look at form the audience and get inspired to incorporate whatever they enjoyed out of it into their own lives. After the show, we got hit up by a lot of ladies wanting to take pictures with us and engaging in really great conversation (I have to admit, I was caliente! ). Everyone kept inviting me and the rest of the cast to come to their school events. They definitely want us back next year and the future president of the council specifically asked that I be in that cast .

It's the biggest gig I've ever done (400-500 people) with the biggest compensation (millions of $ ). The cast was really receptive to having me there and we're making plans for potential future out-of-state gigs.

Looks like my hard work and your support has paid off!

Currently playing :
Metroid Prime
Release date: 19 November, 2002

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