Saturday, December 31, 2005
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Pre-Katrina, I was running about three miles a day. If I wasn't in the best shape of my life, I wasn't far off. In the month following, I lost a ton of weight. I've slowly started gaining it back, but in my belly, not my chest and arms.
Hence the gym membership. I walked a quarter mile, bumped it up to a full run, made it one mile, and had to go back to walking. Talk about sad. On the other hand, it IS definitely incentive to try very hard to get back in shape.
I emailed Anna saying I was coming into town, and actually got a full-length email from her in response. Good thing I'm getting back into shape - the shock alone had to have put a strain on my heart.
I know, I exaggerate. It's only been a year (okay, 11 months) since I got a email from her that's more than a sentence or two saying she's too busy to write.
I've been reading the online Blog of a guy named Vox Day. He claims to be a Christian Libertarian. He's a very arrogant, self-centered misogynist. And very intelligent and logical, and even persuasive in many of his views. At the very least, it's entertaining to read. He did bring up an interesting point, though. He said any society that truly wants freedom cannot give women the right to vote, because historically speaking, women as a group have ALWAYS voted for security over freedom.
At first, I found this incredibly offensive; how can you obtain freedom by denying half the populace of their freedom? Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that almost all of my female friends would back up his perception. Even the ones that claim to be Libertarian are more Socialist when you get down to specifics.
Then I pursued the thought further, to try to figure out where the contradiction was. And I think I might have found it. The right to vote has nothing to do with personal freedom. In a direct democracy, the vote is used to exert control of the masses over the individual - in other words, it's a way to specify where your freedoms will be limited.
We of course, do not live in a direct democracy; we live in a republic that uses a representational form of democracy. Our vote really means very little; we're given very few real choices in who will represent us, and even those are minimalized by the electoral college. Our only guarantee of freedom is the three-branch system (theoretically based on the Constitution) with its checks and balances that are supposed to limit the power that government has over us.
In my opinion, we're already far down the path from freedom to totalitarianism. Not there, still a ways to go, but a long way back up the path to get back to the republic originally envisioned. Regardless - our vote doesn't give us the ability to achieve our freedoms. It only would if we all agreed on being free. Our vote is in fact used to limit our freedoms.
So in this case, Vox was right. If our only purpose is freedom, we should deny women the right to vote. And Communists. And Socialists. And any Democrats and Republicans who actually believe their official party lines.
Alas, much as I wish American ideals were about freedom, they're not. And it's no more right to force freedom upon those who do not wish it than to deny freedom to those who long for it.
Of course, the other intriguing question is about the differences between men and women. We all know there are many, many differences. And I think we'll all acknowledge that some are genetic. The tough question is - which ones? Many of the things just assumed to be feminine a hundred years ago we'd consider absurd now. The swooning and fainting fits - not about being female after all, but about wearing corsets that mess up your blood circulation. IF you picked up an etiquette guide for women publish a hundred years ago - or even 50 - you'd be astounded and either horrified or amused at what they took for granted was the woman's role. And some things I was raised to believe were innate (maternal instinct, reliance on emotion rather than logic, female subservience) seem to be more a common guideline than a rule.
I read an article about women converting to Islam in mass numbers. Here's a quote:
"A lot of women are reacting to the moral uncertainties of Western society," says Dr. Jawad. "They like the sense of belonging and caring and sharing that Islam offers."
( http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20051227/wl_csm/oconverts;_ylt=AmN42mkO.pzh3kmMkHp0zX9n.3QA;_ylu=X3oDMTA4NTMzazIyBHNlYwMxNjk2 )
Of course, now there's the huge backlash, as women in some respects want to be treated exactly like men, and in others, not at all. And many men are sick and tired of the tap-dance that they have to do. And women are tired of men complaining about it. And men are tired of women bitching about their complaining.
My personal belief is that we're going to have to wait at least another five or ten generations to figure out what differences are truly innate, and which were cultural.
But in the meantime, there's a real simple solution to it all. It's one that seems obvious to me, but I seem to be alone in this thought process. Don't assume. Don't stereotype. Take each person, and judge them by what they do, not what kind of genitalia they have. If she's an emotional girl, don't expect her to be logical, and don't get mad when she's not. And if you're her boss, don't put her in a position where she'd have to be something she's not, no more than you would if she were a guy that relies on emotion rather than logic. If she's logical and analytical, don't condescend to her about her emotions.
If she's traditional, be chivalrous. If she's not, then don't be. If she wants to be a homemaker, judge her as a homemaker, not as a future CEO. And if she wants to be a CEO someday, judge her on her abilities, not on whether you think a woman should be in that position. In other words, figure out who she is before you try put her in a category.
I often hear girls talk about how much better the world would be if women ran it. Bullshit. The drive, ambition, and ruthlessness necessary to get to the top are the same regardless of gender. We will have a woman president someday. And she'll be just as terrible as the males ones we've had.
My first job, I worked for a lady named June Talley. She didn't run the business like a woman. She didn't run it like a man. She ran it like June Talley. She partnered up with a man named Bob Hurley. The aspects of it he ran weren't manly or girly - they were Bobly (sorry for doing that to your name, Bob!).
We used to have books and books published about the differences between black men and white men. Turns out almost all our conceptions were bunk. Black men can be quarterbacks. They're not more primitive in their thought processes. They're not inclined to servitude. They're not larger in their genitalia (look it up - the only studies that say they are say it's by one tenth of an inch). About the main differences I can see are that they clap on the backbeat (beats 2 and 4) where white guys clap on the downbeat (beats 1 and 3), they're better dancers than white guys (that's not saying much), and have slight advantages in boxing (thicker skin splits less, bleeds less).
But it took a long time to get there, and even after a hundred years, not everybody's convinced. And I've met black guys with no sense of rhythm. And interesting article I read quoted Morgan Freeman as saying "I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man."
( http://apnews.excite.com/article/20051216/D8EH3HCO9.html )
Black, white, male, female... Labels, categories.
So are women from Venus and men from Mars? Who the hell cares? We're all here on Earth right now. And I don't want girls assuming that I'm going to think something just 'cause I'm a guy. I fit into many of the male stereotypes - but not all. I guarantee if you read a self-help book about how to relate to men, you're going to be confused as hell by me. So I'm going to repay the favor, and not try to fit any girls into stereotypes until I know for sure which ones are a good fit for her.
So that's my thoughts for this morning. What do you think? You can always email me, of course, but I also enabled the "comments section" on my blog, so feel free to blast me if you think I'm wrong.
Talk to you all later,
Sunday, December 25, 2005
First of all, it’s a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, one of the most pivotal religious moments in human history (the Creation, the Exodus of the Jews, and the Death and Resurrection of Christ also being on the list. Possibly the 95 Theses of Martin Luther should rate a mention. Try as I might, though, the release of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on DVD doesn’t quite rank up there). I’m not sure why nobody thinks it odd we celebrate what was almost certainly a springtime or summertime event at the winter solstice, but once a tradition starts, changing it is nigh on to impossible.
Most of the Christmas traditions are very meaningless to me. But the Christmas Hymns are very precious to me (most of them. The one about seeing three ships doesn’t do much for me. Nor the one about playing the oboe and bagpipes merrily. And the one about the little drummer boy – where exactly in the Bible does that come from, again?). I love “O Holy Night,” and “Good Christian Men Rejoice.” There are very few Christmas hymns that I haven’t arranged for choir at some point in my musical career. I’m not saying I arranged them well, or that I don’t have a special level in hell reserved waiting for me for what I did to those holy songs… But it was very enjoyable.
This is the second year I haven’t been involved with a church choir. I began singing Christmas music in the Youth Choir of the First Baptist Church of Pleasanton in my teenage years. Then I was church pianist at various churches, and then for a few years I was Choir Director of the First United Methodist Church of Pleasanton. During that time, I wrote my own cantatas. I still miss that. Months of preparation, writing, rehearsing… By December, it would always seem hopeless, but somehow, it always worked on the day of the cantata. And no nervous breakdown was ever necessary. Though it got close.
Christmas lights never really excited me. My mom would go nuts for them – she loved to go to places with a lot of them, and just drive up and down the streets. I know a lot of people like that, but again – nothing for me. They’re just lights. I’m thinking “You want lights? I live in Vegas, baby! I’ll show you lights!” Not that anyone ever asks me whether I want lights. But if they did, I’ve got an answer! I do like candlelight, but for some reason, people don’t put candles all over their houses and trees.
I’m not much for the gift giving. I think there are two reasons for this. First of all, I think I’m a hard person to shop for. Most of the time, I either get gift certificates, or a present that I smile, nod, thank them for, and think “What in the hell am I going to do with this?” Also, I’m not good at shopping for other people. Most of the stuff that I know people want, I know they want it because either they bought it already, or because they’ve told me they want it but can’t afford it. And if they can’t afford it, I probably can’t, either. (Yeah, the truth comes out – I’m a cheap bastard! What do you mean, “tell me something I don’t already know…”?) This year, I was going to buy everybody box sets of “Firefly” and “Serenity.” Not because they wanted it, just because I think everybody should see it. But then, being rather broke precludes that. Much to the delight of the people I was going to foist said DVDs upon, I imagine.
I hate most of the secular holiday music. It’s not that they’re bad songs (though most of them are), it’s that they’re played over and over and over and over again for a solid month. Even beautiful ones like “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire)” and “I’ll be Home for Christmas” lose their sentimental meaning after the millionth time hearing the Muzak rendition.
I hate the crowds. Shopping for food (which is the only type of shopping I can stand to do during this month) is a pain. Everybody is in a bad mood, people are inexcusably rude (and then they’ll mutter “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” like it’s a curse), the lines are terrible, there’s no parking… Not fun at all. If they were all naked, it might be more interesting. Not necessarily more appealing, considering who does most of the shopping. But I imagine it’d be a lot less rude. And I’d take a lot more girls Christmas shopping, too.
I did love the family getting together (different topic – nothing to do with nudity – not an Arkansas family). I loved the meals. To me, there’s something very social about eating together. If I ever have a family, we’re going to eat supper together (prepared by my master Chef, Andre. Hey, when I dream, I dream big!). It’s a very bonding experience, and I think the few people who grew up with that tradition will agree. And having the extended family over at my Grandma’s, all eating, joking, laughing, snarking… I’d play on her piano, the kids would play video games. It made the Holidays a very warm and fuzzy time.
Perhaps the warmth and fuzziness is why I hate this season so much. The original meaning, the celebration of the birth of Christ… A very dim thing, lost in the madness. Instead, it’s about a frenzied mass of buying. It’s about strange traditions, songs and tales, involving fat men in chimneys and reindeer with phosphorescent noses. And most of all, it’s a time to repeat over and over again how great it is to be with your family, and with your loved ones, and to be with the one you love… Everywhere, over and over, that’s the message.
I don’t get to be with my family this Christmas. I didn’t get to be with them last one, either. I don’t know if I’ll get to be with them next one. Even if I wasn’t living in another state, we don’t have a big get-together since my Grandma passed away. I could go visit my mom in Texas, my dad in Missouri, my brother in Colorado… That’s if I could get off of work, which isn’t always possible.
And I’m okay with this. What sucks is the non-stop barrage of people asking “well, you’ll be with your family at Christmas, right?” or “You DO have somebody special to spend Christmas with, right?” And these questions are always accompanied with pitying looks when I respond in the negative. Why am I supposed to miss them more now than the rest of the year? What makes this a more special time to feel warm and fuzzy? I don’t get it.
I wouldn’t mind having someone to go the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. I’d love to go caroling with family. But other than that, it just feels like any other time of the year, except that I’m surrounded by grouchy and rapidly-going-into-debt people who look upon me with pity because I’m doing what they do.
So, I guess…
Merry Christmas, from the Grinch!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Now, in New Orleans, I had a reputation as a ladies man. Somewhat deserved, though I don't think as much so as everybody else seemed to believe. But I wasn't about to complain when people assume I'm more suave and attractive to the opposite sex than I actually am.
Here in Vegas, it's been the opposite extreme. I have hardly dated at all since I've been here. (Though somehow, they all still think I'm a ladies man, despite the total lack of dating) It's just the wrong environment for casual dating, and I'm not into relationships. At least, that's my surface excuse. And the nice thing about being shallow is that usually, the surface is all you need.
But in talking to Mark, I realized that I'm just as much into trying a relationship as I ever was, maybe even more so as I'm getting (sadly) older.
The only problem is that I meet fewer and fewer girls that I really want to spend all my time with. When I was a teenager, I had a new crush on a different girl every month, it seemed. When I was in college, I fell for a soprano, who promptly fell in love with somebody who wasn't me. I dated after that, but didn't really fall for anybody else. After graduation, there were a string of interesting dating opportunities, but the key word there is interesting. And the several years of living in Pleasanton, TX, population 47.4 (and I'm related to 42.1 of those), well, it didn't improve things much. The most enticing and alluring girl I ever dated in Pleasanton was a former student of mine. Gorgeous, smart, funny, musical... And thoroughly in love with someone else. Yeah, it happened again (but this one was an alto, not a soprano! See, I learn from my mistakes). Then there was a girl that was actually single, and brilliant (debating politics and philosophy with her was awesome; I lost a lot!), and beautiful. But alas, the roving life of a musician was not that sexy to her. And I'm not about to work a 9-to-5.
And then I moved to New Orleans. And there was the whole Anna fiasco (I got a one-sentence IM from her online a week ago! Yay! What? What do you mean, I'm pathetic???). And after Anna, it was just meet a girl a Pat O's, go on a date, she'd fly away home, meet a girl a Pat O's, go on a date, she'd fly away home, meet a girl a Pat O's, go on a date, she'd fly away home.... I know, a tough, tough life. If you only knew how I suffered... (What? What do you mean, I'm still pathetic???)
I did meet a cool girl online, but as such things go, I've only met her in real life once, and it was when she was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Not the best time to start something.
It's a lot less lonely when you can have female company anytime you want. But that's not quite the case in Vegas (unless you count hookers, which I try not to). And it kind of drives things home to you. My sister once told me it must be easier for me, because I've never needed to be in a relationship. And I've wondered whether that's true. I've never wanted to be in a relationship built on false premises. Which means that I've never really been in a relationship. I'd say all relationships are built on bullshit, but there are a couple that seem to be healthy (almost Rockwellian - it kinda makes me want to watch them on webcam, just to see if any couple can actually be THAT good for each other!). My brother's. My cousin's. Wesley Wyndham Price and Winifred Burkle (what? What do you mean, I'm really, really pathetic???).
One of the greatest dangers facing the world is overpopulation. When I take over, I'm installing a "bullshit detector" into the reproductive system of every man, woman, and child. Any time a guy tells a lie or manipulates a girl's feelings just to get laid, he'll go limp. And every time a girl tells a lie or tries to manipulate a guy, she'll get an electric shock that makes all her parts go numb (limp doesn't quite work, or dry, or anything else I could think of).
And on top of that, anytime one person in a relationship puts the other through stupid, juvenile, unnecessary bullshit, than they'll lose the capacity to reproduce for one month.
Now, I realize, the economies of the world would collapse, as in one generation we'd be down to about 50 people or so having kids (I know, I'm an optimist).
But it would be good for the planet!
I would love to find a girl that puts me through no B.S. That would call me down whenever I tried to put her through some. Who would be interested in life, and learning, and experiencing, and growing. Who would want to go on a cruise and go scuba diving. And go to the Rockies and go skiing. And go to Australia for a WalkAbout. And go on a bicycle trip through Europe with me. And when we're not doing that, watch a movie on the couch with me. Or go to the art galleries and museums and historical sites with me. A girl who loves romance, but sees reality, too. Who loves to read, and not just frickin' "Harry Potter." Who would dance with me as I take lessons. Who would prefer roses and music to getting presents. Who would give me backrubs as often as I give them. Who would cook dinner with me sometimes.
And a nice ass is a plus, too.
Damn. I hope my sister's right. I think I'm going to be alone a long, long time.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
In many ways, "Alias" feels like it jumped the shark a while back. Vaughn and Sid are the exact same people they were in the first season, facing pretty much the exact same problems in the same ways... The more things change, the less they (the characters) do. Very boring, really. Of a moderate interest are the father figures, who become more and more ambiguous as the seasons go by. Personally, though, I'd watch it just for the characters of Weiss and Flinkman. I think they should get their own spin-off.
Hey, it'd be better than "Joey"!
Then I caught up on "Smallville." Sadly, they didn't kill off Lana Lang. They brought in Lois Lane, who was an incredibly annoying character. But then, I found her equally annoying in the comics and in the movies, so I can't really blame the actress or writers. The only problem with the casting was that she was a really hot looking girl who appears to be in her mid to late 20s, playing an 18 year old. Then again, none of the "high school" characters on "Smallville" look like they could still be in high school without having flunked many, many grades.
However, they are in Kansas, so... Maybe they told their teacher they believed in Evolution, so they got held back.
I'm still waiting for Lex and Clark to come out of the closet. They spend more time gazing into each other's eyes than they do looking at girls. And Clark has so many chicks throwing themselves at him in the fourth season, but doesn't "give in" to any of them. Even after he gets married.
Yeah, he's a fudge-packer.
He does datea hottie who's not annoying. So they kill her off immediately, just like they did that indian (sorry - Native American) chick awhile back. Yet Lana Lang stays alive, damnit!
They need Joss Whedon to write for awhile. Yeah, he'd still kill off any happy couples, but it'd be more interesting watching them before they die.
I wish they'd use the soundtrack or themes from the original movie more. Man, that was a great movie score.
I'm curious about the upcoming Superman movie. I hope it doesn't suck. I thought "Batman Begins" was pretty good, but nowhere near as good as the 1989 Tim Burton "Batman." I think I'm the only person in North America who has that opinion, though.
And I hate "Harry Potter," and thought "Titanic" sucked! So, hah!
Anyway, I just thought I'd post, 'cause it's been awhile.
Talk to you later,
P.S. Here are some various articles I found of interest in the last couple of weeks.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Without exception, though, everybody has noticed my odd pauses, and a few have commented on "bizarre," "odd," and "overly complex" word choices. All I can... say to that... is how piquantly observant of you.
I finally got everything running perfectly on my computer. It's all set up to record now. This computer was built by and for my friend Haggai, a dueling pianist with a background in electronics. He realized he wasn't going to have time to use it, and I wanted one with pretty much the exact specifications it had, so he sold it to me for cost.
Well, I called him up today to ask him if he could help me get it set up to record, and he tried to explain, but he was working double shifts two days in a row, and he was a wee bit tired. He told me he'd work with me on it on Monday, but he had confidence in me that I could figure it out by myself, 'cause I was one of the smartest guys he knew.
Okay, with that kinda incentive, I HAD to figure it out!
So I broke down and did the unmanly thing. I read the manual.
So now it's running perfectly, but it's 3:00 in the morning, so I can't exactly start singing at the top of my lungs. I live in an apartment now, with neighbors on five sides (think 3-dimensionally) who I doubt would appreciate my vocal efforts at this time of night.
They might not appreciate my vocal efforts during the day, either, but that's too damn bad.
The consensus here among the dueling pianists seems to be that I'm a terrible singer. They all think I'm a fantastic pianist, and are amazed at my repertoire, and I'm learning the jokes and skits rapidly. But I've had three pianists ask me if I knew how to properly breathe when singing, and one booking agent ask me about my "vocal problem."
I don't think I'm a terrible singer, personally. Actually, I think I'm a pretty good one. And I'm in a field where I don't really hear a lot of incredible voices. However, since I do need the respect of the other players (their input means a lot here, unlike some places), and I want to make a living singing, there's ALWAYS room for improvement. So I've found a vocal coach, and am starting lessons in a week. I'm looking forward to it, actually. My teacher in San Antonio helped me out immensely in a matter of a few months. A couple of years with a good teacher should really put me over the top.
Under the "ain't life a kick in the head" category, two of the four piano bars shut down in Vegas. One was semi-expected, but the other was not at all. So, for the month of december, I'm out of work. I might be able to get a gig or two in Reno, but that's about it. Rumor has it that there's a piano bar opening up in January, and there's definitely another one opening up in February. So I'm going to try to figure out a way to stick around and tough it out. It kinda sucks, in an amusing way. My plan was to get set up here in October (done) pay bills in November (done), buy a computer for recording in November (done) and save up in December so that if I ever found myself suddenly out of work like I did in August, it wouldn't be a terrible tragedy, and I'd have a couple of grand to live off of.
Heh. The best laid plans of mice and men...
Soapbox rant time.
From the tone of my blogs, I've had a few people ask me why I hate America so much. I understand why they think that; I have a tendency to commment more on the things that bother me than the things that don't. And there's certainly a lot going on that I disagree with.
I was raised to believe that the USA was the greatest country on earth, founded on principles of liberty, self-expression, self-dignity, and most of all, opportunity to realize your ambitions through dedication, work, and creativity. I was taught that work is a virtue as well as a necessity. That privilege and responsibility must go hand in hand. That freedom demands that you respect other's rights as well. And that there was no place on earth more suited to that lifestyle than here.
Nothing I've seen since then has changed that. Now, I'm somewhat biased; I've never been to another country. But I have studied them a lot. And there are many places on earth that I want to go to, and many countries that have fine traditions, laws, and cultures. I find the different cultures fascinating, and truly want to explore them more in depth. But from what I can tell, the USA is still the best.
Will it always be? I don't know. People worry about the rising threat from China, from the Middle East, from Islamic Radicalists, from Illegal Immigrants... I don't worry about what other countries are doing; I believe that there is no challenge the American People can't face. We've done it time, and time again.
What I worry about is the Roman model. After conquering pretty much everything they wanted, they collapsed by their own doing (over-simplification, but still fundamentally true), by their own neglect, by their own... for lack of a better work, laziness.
After proving to the world how Communism and Socialism are non-viable models, we're now rapidly heading towards becoming a socialist state. After showing to the world the necessity of a well-educated populace, we're now propping up a failed, and terminally ill educational system, and throwing more money at it every year, as if that will fix things... After showing the world what our technology and hard work can produce, we're now whining about a trade deficit (while we stock up on imported goods). After proving that individual liberty and responsibility are the greatest incentives for a productive society, we're now pursuing a "War on Drugs" that eliminates all your civil rights in exchange for... Um... I'm not sure what the pay-off is supposed to be. Maybe to protect us from ourselves... We're pursuing a "War on Terrorism" that, instead of looking at the basic causes and nature of the problem, is attacking it in a militaristic fashion. How's that war going, again? The PATRIOT Act is being made permanent, despite that fact that the government can't point to one single instance of it helping to foil a terrorist plot. It has helped them pursue other criminals, they proudly proclaim, even though it was promised that would NEVER be what it was used for when passed.
Still, there are good signs. One is the new chief of NASA. He is, in my opinion, the best thing that has happened to that institution since the Apollo programs. I'm biased; I'm mainly saying that because he agrees with everything I believe about space exploration! But having admitted my bias, let me expound on that.
I'm always talking about what Government SHOULDN'T be doing. So, you ask, what do I think it SHOULD do? Well, there are some basics; regulation of trade and commerce to ensure fairness and equality. The highest education possible for our under-21 populace, because the higher the education level, the more productive the society. The protection of our borders. I'm not officially a member of the Libertarian Party, because you have to sign a statement basically saying you're a pacifist to do so, and I'm not. There are times when military intervention is necessary; in recent history, WWII, Korea, Afghanistan, and there was even justification for Iraq, though not the WMD excuse, and I believe that operation was severely bungled by an incompetent Rumsfeld.
In a nutshell, I do believe (against the purist Libertarian principles) that the government should do whatever we deem necessary And here's where I return to my thoughts on NASA and space exploration.
Going to the moon is something we couldn't have done in the 60s without the government. As much as I love Heinlein's "Rocket Ship Galileo," we didn't have the materials and infrastructure ready then. And once the government built it, it then let it collapse, relegating us to an endless series of Low Earth Orbit treks, rather than true exploration and the essential colonization of the Moon (and eventually Mars). But now, NASA is working on rebuilding that structure, and including private enterprise wherever possible, so that man will have a permanent presence in Outer Space, fueled by economic incentives. Here's a link to a fascinating (well, fascinating to a space geek like me) article about this.
And there are other exciting things happening in that arena. There are companies already making progress on getting people and materials into space in a business and pleasure oriented capacity, rather than governmental. SpaceX is at the forefront of this, and will launching a new rocket next week
What a time to be alive! For all of my doom and gloom, we live healthier, longer, and more free lives than any other people at any time in history that I know of. We have more comforts, and more opportunities. And as always, we are the ones who decide; are we at the peak of our civilization, or will we keep rising? It's a precarious time, and the future is really up to us, as cliched as it sounds.
Only you can save the world, with your Ovaltine Magic Decoder Ring.
20-1-12-11 20-15 25-15-21 19-15-15-14, 11-9-4-19! 1-14-4 4-18-9-14-11 13-15-18-5 15-22-1-12-20-9-14-5.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Once I get it figured out, I'm sure it will be nice. But in the meantime, I'm wishing it was a Mac. You just plug in stuff, and it works.
But I'm still able to cruise the 'net much better than I was. I'm figuring things out, and am planning on how to upgrade my website.
It's been rather pleasant having several days off. I goofed off a little bit. Practiced a little bit. Read a little bit. Talked on the phone a little bit. Ran a few errands. Even played a video game (Masters of Orion 3, which is a serious let-down - nowhere near as fun and engaging as MoO2, which is still one of my all-time favs). And I never felt pressed for time. Still, I'm glad I'm working tomorrow night.
I've been listening to the Beatles a lot. When I was in college, all four of my favorite professors (Drs. Beatty and Parr, Mr. McDaniel and Mr. Holt) were Beatles fanatics (though McDaniel more than the others). I didn't understand it; my knowledge of them was mainly of things like "A Hard Day's Night" and "Eight Days a Week" - pop fluff. But the more I listen, the more I realize - those guys really WERE geniuses. The songwriting is just superb, and the performances brilliant. The only thing I don't always care for is the orchestration (the obnoxious brass and choir in "The Long and Winding Road," for instance). But that's not their fault, it's a record label thing.
And man, for his day, Ringo Starr was such a bad-ass drummer. The more I listen, the more I love his drumming. Instrumentally, I think he was the most advanced of the four.
Oh, and I've been introduced to the band "Muse." It's like Goth/Rock performed by classically trained musicians. It's NOT classical, it's definitely rock, performed almost unrelentingly in minor keys. But it's technically impressive, and still fun to head-bang to.
Okay, soap-box time. Stepping on, getting ready to rant.
I've realized that a large part of the debate over ID (Intelligent Design) is that your average person doesn't know what a theory IS in scientific terms, and therefore doesn't realize that by its very definition, ID CAN'T be a scientific theory. I was thinking that all the people arguing for it were simply idiots, but now I see that the vast majority are simply uninformed, and therefore ignorant.
What is sad is what that says about our educational system. Even people that are informed about other things seem to be lacking in this one... I was reading (Dilbert Creator) Scott Adams' blog, and he goes off on how both sides are lacking credibility, simply because he says he doesn't believe either one. But he doesn't bother to research it.
The press is trying to be impartial, and give "both sides" of the discussion equal say. But in science, there sometimes AREN'T two valid sides. Gravity is a theory, with about the same amount of evidence as evolution. What's the other side of THAT debate? Quantum physics is theoretical. Where's the other side? Einstein's infamous equation of E=MC2 is theoretical (though you'll always hear somebody who knows somebody who has disproven it). But these theories are what we base all our scientific knowledge on. In the scientific community, there is no debate over evolution as a possibility. The exact nature of it? Yes.
Intelligent Design is a fine belief. In fact, it's what I believe. BUT IT'S NOT SCIENCE. And if it's going to be given "equal time" in a classroom, just because some people believe it, you have to give equal time to every belief that exists, no matter how absurd they seem. Hopi creation stories? Greek Mythology? Flying Spaghetti Monsterism (yes, there is such a thing)? All have just as much scientific support as Intelligent Design (that is to say, none). I don't want belief without evidence brought into the science arena. People marvel that it took the Catholic Church centuries to admit it was wrong about Galileo's theories, but then they support equally fallacious arguments when it interferes with their own beliefs.
Oh well. We've been more conditioned to care about sensitivity, tolerance and equality more than we do about truth, fact, and logic.
This ironically seems to extend into our political arena, as well. Universal Health Care? Of course! A rich man's life shouldn't be worth more than mine - that wouldn't be fair! (Never mind the fairness of paying for other people's bad habits, which is what the majority of health care is). Did we invade Iraq under false pretenses? Of course not! We were wrong, but that doesn't mean we were wrong! (No, I don't understand that argument, but it's basically what the Republicans are saying). Or, if you're a Democrat, of course we invaded under false pretenses! I knew all along that it was a bad idea, but Bush lied to me and I believed him, so I thought it was a good idea at the time (No, this argument isn't much better).
To quote one of my favorite Authors, Steven Brust, "... I suddenly got an image of Harry Reid dressed as a French police captain, telling Bush, 'I am shocked, shocked to find there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.' Not that Bush deserves to be in a Bogart role, even in jest. And I doubt Cheney can play the piano."
Ah, what could possibly make me more cynical about people than politics? Oh, yeah, relationships.
You know, I wish people were incapable of any falsehood. Would it suck sometimes? Yes.
"Does this dress make me look fat?" "Yes, it does. But that 15 lbs you gained doesn't help."
"Do I sing well?" "Well, there was that one note that sounded good, but in general, my ass makes prettier sounds..."
"Do you love me?" "No, but I'm really horny right now, and you've got the right number of holes... I just hope you're not clingy later."
"Will you be mine?" "Well, for a while, because you've got money, and that means security. But eventually, I'm going to spend a few nights with a guy that has a larger penis, and knows what foreplay is. Don't worry, I'll never tell you"
Yeah, sometimes the truth would hurt. But in the long run, I think it would be healthier, and would make politics much more fun. Just think of the slogans!
"Vote for __________ - he doesn't give a shit about you, but he loves the power, and thinks banging interns is a great perk!"
"Vote for __________ - he's a socialist who doesn't believe in your civil liberties, but he has great hair!"
"Vote for __________ - 'cause... Why not?"
End of soap box rant. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Until the last year, when people have started telling me I have a lisp. The first guy to say it was a total jerk, and drunk, so I didn't pay much attention to him. Then a real good friend of mine was laughing over guys thinking I was gay, and told me "Well, you're well dressed, fit, and have a lisp - of course they'll think it!" Which made me wonder, so I started taping myself, and couldn't find any trace of a lisp.
But every couple of months, somebody else will mention it. Last night at work, a hot girl was totally into me, and was telling me on and on how cute I was, and how she liked my smile, and my dimples, and my playing, and my singing, and how she thought my lisp was just so cute. I wasn't so excited to hear about how cute my lisp was.
Now, to the best of my knowledge, a lisp is the inability to say the letter "S" - which I am fairly certain I know how to do. And as I mentioned earlier, I have recorded myself talking a lot since the first time I was accused of having one. And though I've heard a lot of things about my speaking voice that I don't like, I hear absolutely no trace of a lisp. Whiny, yes. Higher pitched than I think it should be? Yes. Nasal at times, stuffy sounding at others? Yes. Shatner-like in my strange pauses and breaths? Yes. Lisp? Can't hear it.
On the other hand, it wouldn't keep happening if there was no trace of it - which leaves me confused. So, if I'm ever talking to you, and you hear me lisp, tell me right away.
In other thoughts about myself, I have figured out the definite cause of my longest recurring dream; that of losing my teeth. It's a dream I've had for over ten years now, and for the last couple, I've suspected the cause. Contrary to the pop psychology books, it's not about vanity, security, or ego (at least with me). It's whether or not I wear my retainer while I sleep. If I wear it, I have the dream. If not, then I don't.
On the other hand, for the last two weeks, every dream I've had has taken place (no matter the subject material) in a giant, gothic, rather evil looking cathedral. But that's not the weird thing - the true oddity of it is that the cathedral is built in/on the world's largest oak tree, like a tree house. But evil. And enormous. And stone.
I'd love to find out what the reason for that dream is.
In other news, I got my new computer, and now I'm just trying to figure out how the hell to use Cubase. It always seems so simple once I've gotten going, but at first, I spend so much time going "How the %$#@ do I start recording? Where's the display? What's step one?"
And yes, it's a PC, not a Mac. There are many reasons for that. I will still get a Mac someday. But that day is not today.
I'm still getting little stuff done in my apartment. I have more pictures up on the wall than I ever got around to doing in New Orleans. Which means I've done almost half of them...
I've given up on the thought of building bookshelves. There's no real place to do any major cutting, sanding, varnishing, etc. around here. I'm probably just going to buy cheap Wal-Mart shelves. Look as nice? No. Hold the books up that I've been wanting to unpack for a couple of years? Yes.
2 of the 5 dueling piano bars in Las Vegas just shut down. So it's gone from me working all the time to almost no work from now until Christmas. That's good in some ways; I really need the time to practice more, and I could use some song-writing time, as well. On the other hand, it means I'm pretty much broke for awhile. Good thing I paid a lot of bills whilst I was working a lot! And it looks like there'll be more work for me in the spring.
Well, I'm going to go back to trying to figure out Cubase. I know once I've got it going, I'll think of myself as an idiot for having trouble. But right now, I'm stumped.
Talk to you all soon,
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Will this make me blog more often? Of course! No, actually, probably not. It'll just take away one of my excuses.
So, Kansas has decided to redefine science so that it doesn't have to teach evolution as a solid theory. Gotta love that. Did Bill Clinton help with that approach? 'Cause I remember how brilliant his "that depends on what your definition of 'is' is..." line of defense. Amazing. Had us all convinced that he never did anything with "that young woman." And this just after the Dover school board lost 8 of its 9 members in a referendum, because they supported the whole "Intelligent Design" lunacy.
While on the subject of altered perceptions of reality, I recently saw a movie with three drag queens, but they weren't playing drag queens. It was rather bizarre. The movie was called "Girls will be Girls," and it was quite a production. A comedy up until the very end, and then it got really serious. And then funny in the epilogue.
I'm going to see another Cirque du Soleil show on Thursday. I'm excited. Before, I saw "Mystere." Incredible. Now I'm going to see "Ka."
And then Friday I'm flying out to Reno. Should be a fun weekend.
Well, I'll talk to you all later,
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
If I could translate the intention of writing in my blog to the actual doing of such, I'd be a very prolific writer.
As it is, I suck.
Well, in important news, my favorite author, Steven Brust, has written a novel set in the world of "Firefly" and "Serenity." Which is just frickin' awesome. And he finished a new Vlad Taltos book, and has submitted it to his editor.
Also, I'm still happy about "Knife of Dreams," Robert Jordan's newest.
Have discovered P.N. Elrod's Vampire files; a vampire detective series. Formulaic and predictable, but an enjoying diversion, nonetheless. And so far, it hasn't turned into porn, which is a first. If you haven't read my blogs, you may not know about my observation that vampire novels written by women all turn into porn (it usually takes a few books), whereas ones written by guys turn into horror (of the long disgusting description type).
Am getting more into the swing of Vegas. A lot to do here - and interestingly, I have a lot more free time. Great for practice.
It's not as easy to get dates here as it was in New Orleans. Nobody believes me when I tell them that, but it's true. And those who live here generally agree with me, though all the folks I talk to either give me downright disbelief, or start giving me advice that I've either tried, or would NEVER try...
My apartment is set up now. It's cool, having my own place, with my own stuff in it. I've got my own room, with my own bed, and the windows covered so that no light comes in, and I can sleep all day. It's great.
I keep meaning to give a long description of the road trip, but really, it's just too long to type. Call me, and I'll tell you all about it.
One thing that was ironic; I was having a discussion with my Dad about the encroaching reach of the federal government, and how I felt our civil liberties were being trampled. My dad is far more trusting of the government than I am, and in general, more conservative (not that he is much of either, but more so than I am). Anyway, during this discussion, we get pulled over by the state troopers right before we get to Hoover Dam. We're told that we were "Required to submit to a voluntary inspection of your cargo. It is mandatory that you volunteer to have your trailer checked." If we didn't meet their requirements, we'd be sent back 90 miles, and have to find an alternate route into NV.
The explanation given? "Heightened security over Hoover Dam. The terrorist warning level has risen." According to the officer, if our cargo was all in boxes, we couldn't pass (most of it was the car).
Not only did I find it disturbing in general, and ludicrous (if we wanted to blow up the bridge, we wouldn't do it in a truck wearing the distinctive license plate "WE TEXN" - nor have there been any islamic jihadists with the last name "Mills")... But if their only concern was the Dam, they could have a sign posted back at the detour location, stating what types of cargo were allowed. Nor was there any equipment there to detect bombs.
If I were paranoid, I'd say it only served two purposes;
1) to make us get more used to having our privacy violated, rather than deal with the inconvenience of saying "no."
2) to do something simply because they could.
I don't blame the officers. I'm sure every one of them felt he was helping win the War on Terror. But for the people issuing the orders; what side is winning again? Freedom, Democracy, and the American Way?
Oh well. I will contine to cast my useless vote every 4 years, and bitch online every chance I get.
In a way, I shouldn't complain. Life is GREAT here. And I have so much to be grateful for that I can't even begin to describe the depth of that emotion in me. Things are going well in every front or my life. It's just when I look at my country that I love so much, and at the world, it makes me sad. We're destroying our nation, and our environment, both as fast as we possibly can, just for the sake of convenience, and the unwillingness to take responsibility for our own actions, and accept the consequences of them. And if the bill doesn't come due in my life (which I think it will), it probably will in the lifetime of my nieces and nephews.
Well, I'll quit writing now, before I go off on my diatribe against Universal Health Care.
Talk to you later,
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
And I'll get to it. But I had a night off, and instead of doing anything productive, like writing about my move, I went to "OkCupid" and took some tests. Here are the results; may you find them as illuminating about my psyche as I did. Or at least, mildly amusing...
The "What are your Personality Defects" test
| Braggart |
You are 85% Rational, 57% Extroverted, 42% Brutal, and 85% Arrogant.
You are the Braggart! Like Muhammad Ali, you would surely tell everyone
that you are "The Greatest" whilst bragging incessantly about your intelligence,
your skills, and your abilities. You tend to be a thinker rather than a
feeler, and combined with your extroversion and arrogance, this makes you
someone who probably just LOVES to brag about his accomplishments. Despite
this, however, you are a very gentle, tender person and truly care about
others' feelings. You just happen to care more about yourself. Unlike Ali,
of course, you are rather rational as opposed to emotional, and you are also
much more gentle. But his arrogance and extroversion best reflect the most
visible aspects of your personality. Your personality defect is the fact
that you are extremely overconfident, extroverted, and perhaps rather lacking
in emotions. YOU ARE THE GREATEST! Or so you keep telling yourself every
night, in hopes that eventually everyone else on the planet will agree.
Well, sorry, we probably won't.
1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.
2. You are more EXTROVERTED than introverted.
3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.
4. You are more ARROGANT than humble.
The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.
The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.
The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.
The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.
The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.
The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.
The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.
The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.
The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.
The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.
The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.
The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.
The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.
The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.
The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.
The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.
|My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
The "T and A Preferences" test
| Skinny and Sexy |
Raw score: 29% Big Breasts, 40% Big Ass, and 56% Cute!
Thanks for taking the T and A and C test! Based on your selections, the results are clear: you show an attraction to smaller breasts, smaller asses, and sexier composure than others who've taken the test.
Note that you scored low on both breast and ass size. This
means you appreciate thinner, harder bodies. You are most likely to appreciate
a super-model. Relatively, you are less attracted to round, soft, sloppy
My third variable, "cuteness" is a mostly objective measure
of how innocent a given model looked. It's determined by a combination of
a lot of factors: lack of dark eye makeup, facial expression, posture, etc.
If you scored high on that variable, you are either really nice OR you're
into deflowering teens. If you scored low, you are attracted to raunchier,
sexier, women. In your case, your lower than average score suggests you appreciate a sluttier look. Kudos!
Recommended Celebrities: Kate Moss and Kate Moss, but 'em post-coke-binge for a cheaper date.
|My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Tits, Ass, and Cuteness Test written by chicken_pot_pie on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
The "Are you a Nerd, a Geek, or a Dork" Test
| Modern, Cool Nerd |
78 % Nerd, 56% Geek, 17% Dork
| For The Record: |
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.
Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It
used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or
a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world
that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky
have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and
"geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always
the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of
trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants
to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!
Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Love & Sexuality
Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST
|My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
The "Commonly Confused Words" Test
| English Genius |
You scored 92% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 86% Advanced, and 80% Expert!
| You did so extremely well, even I |
can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence
necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive
vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!
|My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Commonly Confused Words Test written by shortredhead78 on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
The "What Buffy Character Are You" Test - I was hoping to be Spike...
| Adam |
72% amorality, 45% passion, 54% spirituality, 36% selflessness
Interesting. Do not be fooled by his rough exterior; Adam was much deeper
than most have given him credit for. Like most, he sought answers to the
harder questions of existence: who am I? what is my purpose? You might ask
those same questions, yourself.
Like Adam, you're calm, and dispassionately work to achieve your ends.
Also, you may just have a nuclear core.
If you enjoyed this test, I would love the feedback! Also, you might
want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in the following:
Nerds, Geeks & Dorks
Love & Sexuality
Thanks Again! -- THE 4-VARIABLE BUFFY PERSONALITY TEST
|My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The 4-Variable Buffy Personality Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
The "What Nintendo Character Are You" Test
| Link |
Let's see....you got 57%
You are the Hero of Time, Link. You are couragous, and strong. You often
feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and in actuality
it is. Now stop reading this and go kick Ganon's ass, rescue Zelda, and
get that pesky Triforce of Power once and for all!
|My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The what Nintendo character are u Test written by cottonmouth on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
Okay - I have tomorrow night off from work. I'll try to be productive then...
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Got all my stuff from New Orleans. The trip was good, good to get some visiting time wit muh dad... It was also the longest freakin' road trip EVER.
Got here, and somehow lost my cell phone. My land line wasn't hooked up then, and I had no internet... I was so disconnected from the world. It sucked. Also, my cell phone had all my phone numbers in it. So I lost everybody's number. Please send me your phone number, so I can put it in my new phone (as soon as it arrives).
My cell number will remain the same. Email me, and I'll give you my new number.
Well, I'm not going to write a lot tonight; it's been a long night, and I'm still unpacking stuff.
Talk to you all soon!
Friday, October 14, 2005
Life is continuing to go well. I'm going next week to get my stuff from New Orleans and bring it here to Vegas. My dad is using his truck and trailer for the haul. I can't say quite how grateful I am to him.
In fact, it's been amazing - this whole time, everybody gave everything they could. Way above and beyong just helping a little. It's extraordinary.
I just read Robert Jordan's new WoT book "Knife of Dreams." Although I have no idea what the "Knife of Dreams" the title references is, it's still undoubtedly his best book in a decade. He finally let the people at Tor edit it, and it's plain to see. More happens in the first 200 pages than in the previous five books combined. It's wonderful - the type of writing that makes me want to buy a copy for every person who enjoys that "Harry Potter" bullshit. Yes, I have read them. Yes, I still think they suck ass. They are not the worst-written thing I have ever read, but they're in the top (bottom) five.
Anyway, back to Robert Jordan... During the first few books of the WoT series, I was convinced he was as good as Tolkien, and better than all the others in fantasy, including George R. R. Martin, and Steven Brust, and Neil Gaiman, and David Gemmel. Then the books bogged down into a worthless mess of nothing happening despite thousands of pages of writing. The only reason I even read this book was because I wanted to see if I could tell a difference when he let it get a full editing cycle instead of a few weeks, like the last ones.
It's not perfect. There's still a wee bit too much spanking going on, and people being bitchy to each other. But we're finally seeing female characters being strong, instead of just glaring at each other (and men) hard enough to knock down stone/tear down walls/frighten Santa Claus. We're finally seeing male characters being strong, not just having expressions hard as stone/granite/steel/rock/teflon-coated aluminum.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you haven't read the last few books in the series. Let me give you a quick synopsis in case you want to skip them:
Blah, blah, blah...
Okay, so now you know - read books one through six, and the last page of book nine, skip book ten, and pick up book eleven. That should save you about 3,000 pages of reading.
And if you read just those, you'll be convinced (as I once was) that Jordan is indeed, the best fantasy author since Tolkien. His plots are so incredibly involved, and detailed... I love Joss Whedon for his characters, but the plots are usually kinda lame. If you could get Jordan to write plots for Whedon, or Whedon to flesh out characters for Jordan... It'd be the best writing ever.
Oh, and if you haven't done it yet - GO SEE "SERENITY"!!!!!
If you don't believe me, ask anybody who's seen it. Or go online - 9 out of 10 reviews rave about how great it is. But it's flopping hard-core, and this week is probably your last chance to see it on the big screen, and if it doesn't do decently this week, it puts the final nail in the coffin of them continuing the story in sequels.
I've long since gotten over Anna as a romantic partner. But as time goes by, I'm missing her friendship more and more, not less and less. You know, there's tons of advice for getting over relationships (all of which seems to be complete bullshit). But none about losing friends.
Oh well. I tried way too many times as it is. It's so easy to tell other people "He/she's not going to change! Quit hoping for what you know isn't going to happen!" It's a lot harder to do in your own life, though.
Well, on that note, I think I'm going to go to bed. In the last five weeks, I've
1) Evacuated (telling Amy Trail "I don't think it's going to be that bad" - don't depend on my forecasting!)
2) Lost everything
3) Tried out for American Idol, didn't make it. My only regret is that I know Anna is obsessed with that show, and I would have loved for her to see me on it. But damn, after seeing the audition process, I think that show is worthless!
4) Came to Las Vegas. Started working. Amazed by the musicians here.
5) Got a car, an apartment, and my life going again
6) Found out my stuff is fine, and my dad is willing to help me get it all here.
7) Went through the AI audition process again, but this time just to support a friend. Thought it sucked just as much as before.
It's been hectic. And I'm tired now.
Talk to you all later,
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
If you really want to know the depth of my disdain for the institution in all its forms, email me, and I'll give you the full rant. I'm trying to keep this somewhat concise, though, since it's a preamble to what I actually want to blog about today.
I have played countless weddings ("uncounted" mainly 'cause I never counted them). I've seen every variation under the sun. They all had their mixture of awkwardness, happiness, sadness, more awkwardness, tension, joy, anticipation, boredom, more awkwardness, and the thrill of it finally being done... Like a hurdle that the guys just want to get over. A rite of passage that's necessary, but unwanted for the guys, and doesn't live up to expectations for the girls. I'm about as big a fan of weddings as I am marriages. Blech!!!
Except... What we all want is what I call "the Movie Wedding" - where every action is sincere and emotional. Where every ritual is profound and meaningful. Where the love and exuberance and romance never lets up for a second. And that it's the beginning to a romance that never fades.
I went to my cousin Ben's wedding last week. It was going to notable to me for three reasons:
1) It was my first wedding EVER where I didn't play the piano
2) Ben and I (and my 18-year-old cousin Ruth Ann) were the last hold-outs of our generation... Of my 14 siblings and cousins, everybody else had been married... Sometimes twice. Sometimes more than that. He and I were the last bachelors.
3) My cousin Ben and my brother David are the best men (by almost any standard - best looking, smartest, most respectful, funniest, etc... It's annoying at times) of our generation, and I was curious to see who he was going to marry. My brother David married the only perfect woman for him (his is one of the aforementioned happy and stable marriages I know of).
Well, I flew in early to meet Lorna, Ben's intended. First impression; incredible beauty. Great sense of humor. Seems like a great person.
Then the next day, they were telling a story about her and Ben riding horses, and Ben's suddenly took off galloping over a hill where she couldn't see him. At the time, she didn't know he was an excellent horseman. And she told me that she could just knew he was going to get thrown, and maybe paralyzed a la Superman... And she said she could see how the wedding and marriage was going to be with him as a quadraplegic... And the two of them started joking about going down the aisle with him blowing on a straw to make the chair go... On the one hand, the jokes were a little on the tacky and offensive side (not that that ever bothered me, particularly; I find everything in life funny). On the other hand, it was one of the sweetest things I'd ever heard. There was no doubt in either of their minds that they would be married, no matter what the circumstances, no matter the difficulties. Of all the things they were talking about, and worrying about, and planning, the marriage was never going to be in doubt.
Ah, but then there was the bachelor party.
Most bachelor parties are hedonistic affairs, with as much alcohol and sexual content as possible... Strippers are considered necessary, hookers are often involved. Illegal drugs are not uncommon, neither is incredibly stupid behaviour on everybody's part. After all, it's his "last night of freedom," right? My thought on that is that if you view that lifestyle as freedom, you're not ready to get married. I'm not condemning anybody's lifestyle; I know that most people would find mine offensive. But if that's what you want, then you don't really want marriage.
Well, here come's Ben's Bachelor party... We got toy guns (arc-soft pistols; think realistic looking BB guns that shoot plastic pellets), rented "Way of the Gun" and alternated between watching the movie and shooting the crap out of each other. Fun, fun, fun, and not something that his wife would cringe to know about.
The next morning (the day of the wedding), he took us to the St. Louis City Museum. What an incredible place - like a playground for adults. If you've never been there, I can't describe it - just GO! Anyway, we played "Sardines" for a few hours, then went to the "ball-pit" which is like a giant version of those McDonalds play-pens with the balls in the bottom, except this one had volleyballs, and was about 20 ft. square... Apparently, much of the courtship of Ben and Lorna took place at this museum.
Then he took us to a Castle-like tower at the edge of the place, and described flying into town without telling her, and how she met him there (at the tower), and as she was walking up the steps, he'd laid a rose on each step, and when she got to the top, he'd asked her to marry him.
Talk about smooth.
So, the groomsmen and groom were by this point dirty, sweaty, unshaven, smelly, and tired. So we went back, took showers, napped, and left for the big event.
Lorna was beyond radiant. She was the most excited and exuberant bride I've ever seen. She was so happy that she literally couldn't stand still. Ben was at the pinnacle of suave and romantic, at times murmuring into her ear, always touching her to just remain close... I have never seen a couple more in love, and I don't mean infatuation, I mean LOVE. The kind where they will be giggling and flirting with each other when they're 90.
I should mention that Ben is one of the most devout Christians I know. He is the poster child for what churches want men to be... Yet somehow, while living a completely clean and chaste life, he manages to be a lot of fun to be around, and not just for short periods of time. He never judges you for living differently than him, never comes across as preachy or superior; he just does it because he believes that's what God wants of him. He doesn't spend much time telling you what God wants of you; that's between you and God.
So it was quite appropriate that the ceremony had a great deal of religious content. It wasn't out of place or awkward, like it usually is. In fact, it would have felt incomplete without it. It was beautiful watching them take communion together, and praying together. It was so sincere...
The Big Wedding. I doubt I'll ever see one like that again. No awkward moments. No looking out of place. No doubts. No insincerity. Just love, and more love, and more love.
I will never get married, unless it can be like that.
Which shouldn't be too hard, since I don't expect that I'll ever get married!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Before I say anything else, GO WATCH “SERENITY” IN THE MOVIE THEATERS!!! It opened weakly, and if it doesn’t do well, there may not be a sequel to it. AND I NEED MORE! Anyway, more on that later. Here's the low-down on my recent life.
1) ARRIVAL IN VEGAS:
I got to Las Vegas, without a clue what it would be like, or what the market was, or how the piano entertainers were.
Total And Complete Culture Shock!
The Architecture: Every casino is like a self-contained city. The bottom levels have the places to gamble, of course, but also streets, and shops, and theatres, and entertainment like you couldn’t believe. The Venetian has canals with gondolas that you can ride. Paris has a scale model of the Eiffel Tower. And so on. They’re not by any means true recreations of the original (I doubt a real New York street scene is anything like the New York, New York Casino lobby), but they are fascinating, nonetheless. I found myself in awe of each one I’ve been to see. And before you think I’m exaggerating about the “self-contained city” claim, consider this: the “Wynn” casino and hotel has 15,000 employees. That’s twice the size of my hometown. And of course, in addition to the lobbies, there are also the fountains of the Bellagio, the mall in front of Caesar’s Palace, the jungle of Mandalay Bay, and so on...
The Market: They need everything, and lots of it. Entertainment capital of the WORLD, baby! I can’t imagine that the rest of the US combined spends more on entertainment than Las Vegas. If I make it here, I’ll be making more than I ever could have in New Orleans (which was way more than I ever could have in Texas, so...).
The Piano Entertainers: Damn good. I mean, REALLY, REALLY GOOD. Everything that I prided myself on doing well, everybody here does better. Everything that I was worried might not be good enough for Vegas, isn’t. I’m bottom of the barrel here, just hoping I can improve fast enough to stay in the barrel.
2) THE PROBLEMS:
I arrived with very limited monetary assets (what my family was giving me, basically), no transportation, no contacts, and virtually no possessions aside from a few changes of clothing.
Well, through the internet, I found a lady who was willing to take me into her home (talk about trust!), which is what I did for a few days. I then proceeded to go to every piano bar I could find, and talk to the players, who put me in touch with the booking agent (Steve Beyer, who seems to have complete and total control over the LV piano scene – damn, but I hope I don’t piss him off!). He auditioned me, and is giving me shifts, partly out of a desire to help a Hurricane Katrina victim, and partly to see if I can get up to the level of the other entertainers here. I started working that week.
3) THE ENTERTAINERS (that I’ve worked with so far):
The Twins: Kim and Tam Pinegar – gorgeous blondes that headline “Harrah’s” – go to the website, and their pic is what they show. It would be impossible to find two nicer, big-hearted girls. It’s also intimidating sharing a stage with them, when all the guys start yelling “bring back the twins” whenever you walk on stage!
Van Walraven: A master of this show. He worked for Pat O’Brien’s in the early 90s, so he had a soft spot to help me out – went out and bought a keyboard and let me borrow it to practice on! He has had his own dueling pianos club, and now works in Vegas with his wife (also a dueling pianist). Great piano skills, great repertoire, great singer, and a high energy crowd pleaser.
Scott Nicholson: A great pianist (probably better than I am), a great singer, and one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. I was laughing so hard it was hard to play.
Al Robinson: Imagine Joe Pesci as a dueling pianos entertainer... With a sarcastic bent, he berates the audience into loving him and giving him lots of money.
Joe Martell: a master of 80s music, with a tenor voice that lets him sing “Journey” songs in the original keys. If he wasn’t so nice, I’d hate him for that!
Bonnie Mizell: A gorgeous 26-year-old with a killer body, and a voice to match. Oh, and she got her Master’s degree in Piano Performance. And did I mention that her comedic timing is brilliant? Now if only she was an asian with a yearning for Jess and a huge sex drive, I'd be in love...
Mark Andert: The funniest guy I’ve EVER worked with; he has more one-liners and bits than you can imagine. When he’s onstage, it’s hard just to keep up. He has the audience captivated from the second he steps onto the stage until the moment he leaves.
Jeff Martin: Incredible repertoire, great jokes, but most of all, just a KILLER piano player. Originally a Jazzer (a real one, not a pretender like me), he shines when he cuts loose on the keys. I get nervous every time he throws me a solo, ‘cause my chops aren’t in the same ballpark as his. Hell, they’re not in the same league!
Have you noticed any reviews of crappy pianists here? Neither have I, ‘cause I haven’t worked with anybody who’s less than brilliant.
4) THE PROGRESS:
Well, I’m now in a place that has full internet access, which has allowed me to get back in touch with people, catch up with a lot of news and info, and generally be a happier man. I’ve played six shifts total (five in the last week), and made enough money to buy an old car (a 1994 Ford Explorer). That’s the transportation problem solved, which was a huge problem. I’ve got just enough left to buy a ticket to St. Louis on the 17th, where I’m going to meet up with my dad. I found out a couple of days ago that all my stuff is okay, including my car. So we’re going to drive from St. Louis to New Orleans, pack up, drive from New Orleans to Las Vegas, unload (into a mini-storage), and he’ll head back to St. Louis with my car, which he’s buying for my step-mom. Assuming I can get ahold of my Allstate agent, who hasn’t been returning my calls. I mean, what could she possibly be busy with?
I’m on the schedule for four shifts this week, and I’m hoping to keep busy. The more I play, the faster I’ll learn, methinks.
So, that’s enough typing for now. I plan to address some other stuff soon, like my cousin’s wedding (incredible) and the movie “Serenity” (go see it, damn it!).
Talk to you all soon,