Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rock of Ages

Tonight I was invited to a party with a bunch of other guys to play Beatles Rockband.  Little did I know we'd be playing a lot of regular Rockband as well.   I had an awesome time!

In a previous post, I had admonished those who played Guitar Hero excessively to the point they're perfect at it vs. learning how to play the real thing.  I never did address the reverse situation where a knowledgeable musician picks up playing the game (mostly out of ignorance and not having access to the game/hardware).  Tonight my inner rockstar was performing for a group of 8 other people and it was great!

The game is a fantastic rhythm trainer.  However, I did find the controls clunky at times as they didn't match the feel of a guitar/bass/drum set and I felt like you almost had to anticipate the button click prior to it arriving at the point in the song/bar you were playing.  So, that got a bit annoying.  It could be that in actuality my natural timing is slower than I give myself credit for but I saw others struggling with it as well at times.

The best part was more of the stuff you don't get scored on in the game - the showmanship.  Yes, I goofily pretended I was playing the real things.  I rawked out as if the guitar was really being strummed and there was a real crowd worshipping my ever move (even on easy level :))).  I put dance moves into my playing.  I tried grabbing onto others while singing songs from Lit, Alice in Chains, The Beastie Boys, RHCP, and The Beatles.  I heard someone comment that I must be playing a completely different version of Rockband in my head because I rawked parts that didn't require rawking :)).

It s a great game for parties but I don' think I'll be picking up the game or others like it anytime soon.  You actually need friends willing to hang out with you often and play to make it fun to make it worthwhile in my opinion.  Tonight I got lucky with the companionship :).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Top Ten Lessons I've Learned From Yo Gabba Gabba.

  1. There are eyes on my face, eyes on my face
    There's a nose on my face, nose on my face
    There's a mouth on my face, mouth on my face...

  2. Don't, don't, don't bite your friends.

  3. Keep trying, keep trying
    Don't give up, never give up.

  4. Don't stop, don't give up.

  5. We're gonna make a...

  6. 1, 2 , 3, 4, 5 people are in my family
    We are best friends and I love them
    That's my family, that's my family.

  7. There's a party in my tummy

  8. Peek-a-boo, we're gonna play peek-a-boo
    Peek-a-boo, we're gonna find you, find you!

  9. We love to rock, YEAH!
    Kickin' out the jams!

  10. Go crazy, go crazy, go crazy
    Go crazy, go crazy, go crazy...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Let The Craziness Ensue!

Unless I have 45 spinning plates on sticks with each one narrowly falling off, I seem to be unhappy :).  2010 seems to be the year of creative growth with the way things are turning out - and I like it!

One of the top priorities on the list for the year is get another Rue recording out there along with some actual shows.  I've done a couple of ustream shows (which will occur monthly from now on) to allow me to keep my chops up and to provide a goal to work towards, i.e., kick my butt into practicing for a change.  I went ahead and submitted electronic press kits (EPKs) to a couple of venues in town looknig for acoustic acts.  I'd love to go electric, but I've learned that putting together a band of like-minded individuals is incredibly difficult, and I don't want to go through the pain of auditioning people who may not have the love and belief in the music as I do.  I'd rather attract the right people by playing out, sharing music, and being an accomplished musician where they're asking me to join vs. the other way around.

I'll be producing and hopefully performing in Salsation's next spring show as well which will go up in the April/May timeframe.  That in itself is a lot of bloody work :)).  Producing is one of the least thankful but necessary jobs in this town.  When the shows a hit and people come to see it, it's great to be able to take credit for it.  When the show doesn't do as well, you beat yourself up and take abuse from everyone else as to why the show didn't do well.  A lot of people equate a "hit" show as a "good" show and vice-versa.  Yes, it's actually possible to have a "good" show that isn't a "hit".  Things like marketing, location, timeslot, and applicability all factor into a show's success.  I've had actors that have been part of well-drawing shows think they're the sole reason the show did well =)).  Uhm, no.  Sorry.  You had a part in it but no one entity in a production can carry a show all by themselves.  It's that age-old argument as to who wins championships - the players or management?

While that  goes down, I need to find a house for us to move into :P.  Let my lifestyle change again please!

So, if I lose my mind, please forgive me.  I promise it'll come back eventually.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Really Like Getting High

I did my ustream show tonight for the second time ever and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I decided it was best to play the set more naturally, i.e., independent of all the cabling and crap I was did for the first one to make the sound quality superb.  The old method also made the performance stiff and a bit too strcutured.  This time around I went with room acoustics and a little bit of extra light.  I do believe it turned out much better this way.

I got my show high tonight.  I'm very pleased with how I played and I actually even watch the performance afterwards which I hardly ever do.  I'm going to crash hard soon once it wears off. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

iLove iPods

With my crusade against overusing communicative technologies, one may think I've got a vendetta against gadgets.  Believe it or not, I love gadgets.  I own computers, gaming systems, and person devices.  I like wasting electricity like most of us on keeping my refrigerator running, keeping the lights on, and watching my flat screen HDTV.  Having turn-by-turn GPS directions from my phone blows my mind!  With all of these things I have, I could lose all of them - except my iPod.

Music is such a fundamental part of my life. I remember as a kid stealing my Dad's boombox, tuning into my favorite radio station, putting it at the head of my bed, putting my pillow over it, and falling asleep to Casey Kasem lulling me to sleep with the smooth voice of his counting down the top 40 hits of the week.  I've been in a band of some sort since the 6th grade.  I've put out records, recorded a ton, done a lot of shows, and keep up with the goings-on in the industry.  All of this magic can be captured in a tiny box called an iPod.

As talented as I may be, one talent that I am notoriously known for is forgetting personal stuff in random places.  Sometimes I'll re-leave the same item at someone's house.  It's not that I like doing so.  It's just that I get distracted easily (just try driving with me!)  So, every time I arrive and leave a location, I have to do an inventory for the gear I tend to misplace all the time - wallet, keys, phone, and iPod.  When I don't do this, something in the world feels wrong.  The hair on the back of my neck stands up.  I begin foaming at the mouth in the fear I've lost something important to me.

Yesterday I went to Sketchfest to support some friends/colleagues in various shows they were doing.  I took my jacket off prior to the first show I saw and thought, "Make sure you check for all of your items before you leave the theatre."  After laughing heartily, I got up, put my jacket on and felt three of the four items I always check for.  My iPod was no where to be found.  Like a madman, I checked and rechecked every outer and inner pocket I had and still nothing.  At this point, I started fighting the oncoming panic trying to set in.  I checked under my seat - nothing.  I checked the bathroom - lots of pee on the floor but no iPod.  I then thought that maybe I had left it in the car.  So, I nervously sat through 4 more 35 minute shows at this point pushing the thoughts of some hooligan going through my iPod thinking that he got himself a goldmine of my music in his hands and just how much of a fool I was to have lost it into the back of my head.  Once the shows were over, I checked at the box office and with the event coordinator for help.  No iPod.

I walked back to my freezing car hoping in vain that it would be there.  It wasn't.  I then started the car to warm it up and it was tuned to the FM frequency that I normally listen to my iPod on via a crappy transmitter.  This pretty much told me that I had lost it.

The whole trip home I thought, "Man, how am I going to break the news to my Wifey that I lost my iPod.  Man I'm an idiot!"  I started making plans for how I was going to get another one and not lose it (GPS tracking devices were dancing in my head).

I got home and decided for shits and giggles to check my other car I had used that morning.  I opened the car door and sitting in the middle console was my shiny iPod!  HOLLA!  I quickly grabbed it and put it in m pocket.  All my fears went out of the garage and then the feelings of idiocy kicked in.  There I was at the nation's largest improv festival brooding over an unlost iPod instead of just enjoying my time there whole-heartedly!  Dumbarse!

I sent a note to the Sketchfest personnel thinking them for helping me look and that I had found it.  My iPod and I need to spend more quality time together so I don't ever misplace it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Killer Kustomer Service At Kohl's

This morning I woke up and took AKV out with me to allow Mommy to sleep in and to get in my Daddy/Son-Son time in.  We ended up at a Kohl's department store to find me a new shirt for tonight's Sketchfest show.  After a long time of walking around, trying stuff on, and chasing AKV through the aisle and putting everything back he tore down, I finally got me a pair of shirts I was happy with.  I checked out, got AKV bundled for the walk to the car, then headed out the door.

As soon as I got to the car, I fumbled around trying to find my keys. Suddenly, I dropped the bag into the sludgy, black snow and the shirts flew onto the street.  *ARGH!*  So, I stood there for 5 minutes contemplating whether or not I go home and wash these brand new shirts or go back in and hopefully exchange them.  I decided to get back into the store and try to convince them to give me new shirts.

Once I got to the customer service area, which strangely enough was on the 2nd floor of the building vs. the first floor right at the entrance like most stores, I noticed the long line standing there.  I knew at this point this experience was probably going to be interesting at the least, because everyone in line looked miserable and angry.  I got in line while AKV decided to go and pull out as many gift cards out of their receptacle as possible :).  I let him tear up the store knowing full and well I would (probably) pick up after him.

I finally got to the desk and the lady working the register asked me what I needed.  I told her that I had just purchased a couple of shirts 15 minutes ago and they got dropped into dirty snow outside.  I was wondering if they would be able to exchange them for new shirts.  The lady, like almost all "customer service" reps, gave me a dirty face, and silently began scanning tickets to begin the exchange.  I was happy with this all up until she tried placing the new shirts I had picked out on top of the old, wet, nasty shirts!  I quickly grabbed the shirts and told her, "Can you not place these on top of the wet shirts?  I need to wear them tonight."  That got me another nasty look.    She huffed, and puffed, and blew her way through the exchange.  I asked her for two bags to allow me to drop these shirts again with no consequences in the future.  Nasty look #3!  I felt like I was in a bad Janet Jackson video.  I go tmy shirts double-bagged and headed out.

Customer service in America will never improve.  If it just wasn't for the pesky customer part, it would be so much easier.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

News for 2010!

Moving My Blog
Last year (2009) I thought my blog was going to die.  Facebook and Twitter had basically taken the "umph" out of posting up blogs by allowing me to now "microblog" via my updates.  MySpace has lost a lot of its shine as a centralized location for artists due to its clunky, outdated, and ugly layout and interfaces (although it's still good for musicians for now).  So, I toyed with the idea of migrating my blog to my own website.  I was about to do it when I remembered that I had started backing up my blogs here.  At the time I didn't really look into what capabilities Blogspot had until I started playing with Salsation's Wordpress-based website.  After playing with that, I decided I would check out what add-ons were available here to make things more centralized.  Long-story long, I've decided to keep my site here and not register a formal website name for now.

I've also have learned under what circumstances a blog is more appropriate to express what I'm thinking vs. a simple 120 character Tweet.  Traversing that fine line will be a challenge this year but I'm up for it :). 

What's Going On Artistically?
  • Salsation
    I'll be in the 2010 Chicago Sketchfest this weekend on Saturday at 6 PM.  It's the first time in a while I've performed with the group so I'm excited to get back on stage.  I have to admit that during rehearsals I felt a bit rusty as to just how to act.  It took some time for me to get used to being just an actor again (I've been producing since 2007).  I promise that the show is going to be fun and enjoyable as we have a good ensemble/cast for this.

    We're also about to start work on our Spring show.  It's a logistical nightmare at this point, but we'll make it work.

  • Courageous Rue
    The Rue is back up and running.  I did a show last year with relative success and have scheduled another show for next week.  If you want to watch a live streaming show, then check it out!

    I'm also in the middle of trying to finish up tracks to give away for promotional purposes.  It's difficult to do when you have a child, but I must find a way to do it.

  • Back in the (Training) Saddle Again
    I've started improv classes at The Annoyance.  I've decided to do the entire program to get me grounded in  work and to help me expand in areas I'm strong in. 

That's it for now.