Friday, June 27, 2008

Welcome to Provo

Today for work I traveled to Provo, Utah for the next show I'm working on Stadium of Fire. It marks the first time I've traveled for work, and it was pretty interesting. At the airport I met up with my bosses and a co-worker, then we hopped onto a little plane to head East. I think as far as airplanes go there are two types of people: aisle people and window people (I'm sure there must be middle-seat people, but I have yet to meet one). I'm definitely a window seat person. I like looking out the window to see the views from above. You can learn a lot from high up, like:

• There are a lot of people with pools in LA
• The I-10 looks much better from above than on and directly behind a parade of cars. 
• There are some beautiful mountains just North of LA. 
• Golf courses take up roughly about the same size as five or so neighborhoods
• Hills mean nothing for urban planners

The plane ride was short, and we soon arrived in Utah. We all hopped into our Lincoln Denali and started our trek to Provo. It was fun traveling with my team. We kind of felt like, well, a team. Like we were storming into this small town on a mission. We arrived at the hotel checked in then grabbed a quick lunch. There wasn't much rest time, as my boss had me bring my laptop to lunch so that I could work at the table  :/  

I am amazed by the internet, it is amazing. You can literally do almost anything with it. As an abstract idea we are having dancers hide behind a sheet to replicate famous photographs through time representing moments in freedom: end of WWII, the civil rights movement, the Berlin Wall coming down, etc... As my job I needed to track down these photos, and acquire them in high resolution form. So for example I needed to find the picture of the protester at Tiananmen Square blocking the tanks. So with that I googled a loose description, found the picture. Found out the picture is referred to as "The Unknown Rebel", discovered the photographer Jeff Widner. I found his website (check out his portfolio, he's got a lot of good stuff), and discovered he now works at the Honolulu Advertiser (Awful name for a paper, but at least they're honest). search for the paper, then called directly and got in touch with Jeff. Spoke to him, and got the photo use for free. My big victory of the day. 

But it's amazing how much information we can drum up with a few clicks of the keyboard and taps of the mouse. In the large scheme of things I think the internet is going to be an incredible tool for the future of mankind. I think it'll open communication between cultures, and bring people together. We will learn more about each other, and get a greater human understanding of one another.  Others will learn about human rights, and we will learn about those who infringe upon them and challenge them.  

Sorry, random tangent, back to the travel theme. I'm excited to be back in the Southwest. I think the four corners might be my favorite corner of the world. I love having snow capped mountains looming over me in the distance. I love that I can peek out my balcony and see a dark night sky with stars. I'm hoping I get to play a little while I'm here, but I don't have any expectations on that front. I know we're here for business, and there is a lot of work to do before our event. But I'd better head to bed, speaking of work; it awaits me only a few hours away- Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight weekend. 

Thursday, June 26, 2008


In my last post I argued that when we choose our mate we're simply discovering a part of ourselves. I felt I used some fairly loose logic (as blog sites do), so I thought I would revisit my thought and discuss a few ways in which we choose our mate, and the various factors that go into the decision. 

One could argue against my claim that we look for ourselves in others; that either people cling onto unhealthy or unsatisfying relationships without second thought or that people sometimes choose a mate who is completely different from themselves. On the first point, on could merely point out the myriad of bad relationships that exist out there, be it from friend, family, or former-self. I would point out that unhealthy relationships do exist but don't usually last. I would also argue the person in the relationship could not have a full grip on their own identity, who they truly are. This flaw could be for various reasons, whether it's a low self-esteem, immaturity, inexperience, or simply because they don't know themselves. As they say, "You must learn to love yourself before you can love others." As for the "opposites attract" argument I would say that claim simply strengthens my own argument. If I choose a mate who's a morning person when I'm clearly not, it may actually be a good thing. Sure we'd have the difficulty of having only a few good hours of the day, but through time I would learn to wake early and have coffee with her, or she would learn to stay up late and watch the stars. We'd share parts of our own world, and together we would expand the facets of ourselves. In fact when people are too similar it can sometimes be a bad thing. Imagine if two heavy drinkers got together, surely a more stabilizing force for one or the other would be better. But I think both scenarios can exist, and do exist. We choose our lovers not only similar interests/habits, but we choose them because they fascinate us and teach us in areas we don't know. 

But how do we choose our significant others? What qualities in ourselves are we looking to compliment or suppress? I believe among the various reasons we have in choosing a mate there are three primary selection factors: aesthetic, moral, and familial. Clearly there is the aesthetic factor. We choose a mate largely based on looks alone. This fact can be placed firmly into the 'behaviorism' camp. We look for a mate that we are sexually attracted to, which of course is the main argument for any behaviorist on relationships in the first place. But aside from sexual attraction there are other factors we could argue for as well. Women choose tall men for their strong genes, men like curvy hips for childbearing ability. But outside of the behaviorists camp we can also consider the way it effects our own aesthetic identity. Of course who we choose will be spending a significant amount of time with us in social settings, and as a result we want our mate to look good so that we in turn look good. We also choose our mate based upon their moral compass. We want a partner who has similar morals to ourselves, for morality is a huge part of our identity (in fact another facet: ethical identity). I can't imagine a pro-lifer and a pro-choicer staying together very long. We want a partner with similar familial ideals. The end goal to all relationships deal with family, and therefore the familial ideals can always make or break a relationship. 

The above mentioned factors are necessary for any successful relationship, the following factors I shall discuss can vary in degrees. I've already discussed the blacks and whites, so here are the greys. We choose mates with similar interests, hobbies, and activities. Surely I could be completely happy with someone who doesn't know how to ski, but they better at least enjoy the snow. Of course there could be some people who believe this to be a make it or break-it quality. We choose mates for similar tastes in arts and culture. A foodie would have a very hard time dating a chain-restaurant fan, and an art lover would have a hard time with a die-hardcore (I just made that word up) sports-fan. We choose mates on sexual compatibility. A guy or girl who follows strict "no premarital" would obviously place this one in the factors above. But that rule aside, the two persons involved must be one the same wavelength physically. We've all had bad kissers, but what we need to realize is they are simply bad in the subjective sense, not objective (although I'm sure plenty would argue that one). What we may not be into could completely true for another lover, and visa versa. We choose mates for background reasons, whether they be cultural, national, or economical. As a general human rule of thumb we surround ourselves by the familiar. All of these are factors, but as I've mentioned they can easily be overlooked or compromised. As they say, "Love conquers all." So with all of these factors determining how we choose our mates it should be easy right? If only life were so kind. I think there are two very important, and intangible,  elements that play as factors as well: timing and chemistry. 

I was recently talking to a dear and old friend of mine about a recent break-up he had. We were talking about love, and relationships. He loved the girl he was with, she loved him, he loved her family, and she treated him ten-thousand times better than his last girlfriend. They had similar interests, similar backgrounds, all of the factors I mentioned above lined up, but they just didn't "click". I'm sure every reader knows what I mean by that term. It's the feeling when you just feel comfortable with the other person. Communication flows like water, and it's like you've known each-other forever. Sometimes it can be felt across the room, sometimes it comes out from behind a smile or eye-contact, sometimes it needs to be discovered like a precious stone deep in the earth. Either way that "click" is essential to a good relationship. I told my friend that as much as his ex-girlfriend may line-up and make sense, love isn't a logical thing, it's an emotional thing. It can make all the sense in the world why you should be with someone, but if you're just "not feeling it" then it's never going to be a successful relationship. 

Timing is a very important factor in life in general. In sports if the goalie mistimes his action in accordance to the speed of a ball he gets scored on. If a musician is off rhythm she spoils the song. Like in life, our love lives are determined by timing. Meeting a loving potential mother to your children after she's already had kids, finding a perfect match who is already matched up, coming into a coffee shop just as a a potential companion is leaving, being separated from someone by or more years of school, coming up with the right thing to say to her just as she leaves the bar. All of these are examples of how timing can adversely affect the selection process. But of course the opposite is always possible as well. By listening to the same song on the radio you two begin speaking, bumping into someone entering the building, being at the same party on the same night, taking the same class together, waiting in the same line together. My friend asked me if he met someone whether he was ready for another relationship, or whether he needed to heal himself, and do some soul searching before he could move on. I responded that he should go for it. Meeting someone with chemistry and matching factors at the right time is such a rare thing I think you should do everything in your being to capture it while it's there, for you never know when it'll come back around. I've regretted the times I didn't say something far more than the times I've regretted not saying anything (although regretting not saying the right things is a completely different matter). Like the last verses in the Tim Churchard poem "I Never Held Your Hand" eloquently states:

How many people I don't know
How many chances I let go
Passing strangers, we might be friends
Even lovers... it never ends
The people I don't know.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Best Job In The World

Randomly today my friend sent me a link to this video called "Where the Hell is Matt?" (2008). It's funny cause I was actually just looking at the video last week and I wanted to post something about it. So I guess it must be kismet telling me to write about this video. 

I originally stumbled across this video a year or two ago. I thought it was pretty awesome, so I checked out the guy's homepage to learn a bit more. 

Apparently he's just a normal dude with a weird dance, but during his travels he decided to record his goofy dance all over the world. He then posted it online and was approached by Stride gum to go and do it again with a bigger budget. So basically through his inborn ability to dance like a goofball, the internet, and a far reach by a gum company he was paid to go around the world and travel. How sweet is that? 

I've always had a saying, "Find what you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life." I recently shared my insight with a co-worker of mine, and she responded that I'm good to work with cause I also am open minded, and approach my work with a good attitude. It got me thinking, what if I'm cruising through life content with work, and missing out on a job, or other opportunities that I would love even more because of an easy going attitude. Living in a lake house in the Adirondacks and swimming the fresh waters every morning, and canoing under the full moon at night. Or a teaching skiing in Telluride, backcountry camping in the summers. Teaching in Santa Fe, enjoying the sunsets and earthy smell of the pinon pines. I love my work, but there are so many things about it that cause me hesitation in devoting my life to it. I love working on production, the thrill of thinking on your feet, working with people from completely different walks of life, adapting to challenges, doing something new everyday, and seeing a large abstract idea come together through a little elbow grease and team-work. But there are so many other things I dislike about it, mainly the time commitment, the 16-18 hour days, and the fact I'm more or less stuck here in LA if I truly want to make it. It hinders so many of goals/joys in my life: my social life, building a family, having a dog again, martial arts, skiing, travel, living abroad, being in nature- if only I had 100 lives to live. 

But I still do love what I do. I hope to achieve success in my field. I hope to create, share and teach through my craft. The main reason I chose to get into the film industry to begin with was to reach out to people, to teach and inspire. Sure travel and dancing like a goof would be fun, but I'm hoping to contribute more to the world than viral videos. Regardless, I am in awe of Matt's travels, and very envious of his adventures. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Where You End and I Begin Is Like a River Going Through"

Looking back on this post I'm realizing how difficult it is to write air-tight philosophical though on a blog, so please bear with me. On the other hand, there is certainly plenty to discuss/disagree with, so if you do so please contribute. Philosophy isn't about finding truth per-say. As they say, "Philosophy is like looking for a black cat in a dark room that isn't there." 
While writing my senior thesis on the qualitative change in identity over a period of time I came up with my own theory on identity. In not so many words, our personal identity is not a singular entity. Instead it is the amalgam of various identities, each one derived from our various experiences and tribulations concerning that particular identity. Various identities can include our: physical identity, emotional identity, sexual identity, intellectual identity, cultural identity, etc... In this post I'd like to take a look at how love and relationships affect our own personal identity, and as a result who we are. 

Let me first discuss what I mean when I speak of Qualitative identity, as opposed to Quantitative identity. Suppose I showed you a playing card, let's say the Ace of Hearts; I then proceed to light the card on fire and place the ashes in a bowl. With the wave of my hand I then produce another card, another Ace of Hearts. While being impressed with my trick there is no part of you that thinks that card is the exact same card that I burned and turned into ashes. Surely this is true, for we have the remains of the card in the bowl as proof. What makes the trick a trick is that I am able to produce a card with the same qualities- the same Red 'A' in the corners, the same Bicycle logo on the back, and the same heart symbol in the middle. The card I produced is qualitatively the same as the card I burned, but not quantitatively. This post will discuss the qualitative changes in our identity that we go through in love and relationships. 

Why do we have relationships? According to behaviorists (a theory that places behavior as the cause for our actions, not rational thought) our main reason for establishing a relationship is to further our own species, and more specifically our own genetic offspring. According to behaviorism love can be reduced to a behavior, with its main end being that of survival our own lineage. We do not leave flowers and love notes because we wish to express our love, we do such acts so that we may secure our mate in order to produce offspring. We don't select a mate because we think they are funny, or smart, or interesting, we choose them because we believe their genetic strengths are good matches to help produce our own offspring. In fact it's actually been proven that smell plays an important role in our selection of companion, and what can be more primordial that our sense of smell? Regardless, I have always had a hard time with the theory of behaviorism. I think as humans we have come a long way since our animal heritage, and we have developed complex systems of thinking- logical and otherwise- that we use to help define ourselves. I believe our path to choosing a mate is largely based in our biological needs, but even more so I think we choose a mate to help understand ourselves and develop our own authentic essence. 

Before the ages of 18-24 months we have no concept of self-awareness, no concept of our individual identity. Ever since we first discover our own self-image we are on a continual look to find out who we are, our own individuality. Satre said, "existence precedes essence," meaning our own identity is one created, and not existing a priori. But discovering our identity doesn't always come from self-discovery or our own creation, in fact many of the greatest lessons I've learned about myself has come from others. And I believe our search for a mate is in a large part a search for ourselves, another part of our own identity. Just as we first perceived our own physical image in the mirror, we look towards others for our own identity. We look into the eyes of our loved one for affirmation as to who we truly are. My father recently wrote me a letter giving fatherly advice in the realm of relationships (and in my father's fashion wrote it on grocery list stationary), "My advice- there are a million women out there that you could fall in love with- and each one would excite you and interest you in different ways. Each would stimulate a totally different facet of your personality." I could completely see his point. Each partner we take on adds something to us, they amplify certain habits, and subdue others. I could date a librarian who would increase my thirst for knowledge, I could love an actress who would play off my sensuality, or I could choose to date a triathlete who would motivate me further in my athletic endeavors. What continues our quest in seeking a satisfying relationship is to find that person that accentuates our personality in a way that we see ourselves. Or as my mother says about my father, we are looking for someone who, "makes [us] a better person." 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

RIP - George Carlin

On June 22nd, 2008 the great comedian, political commentator, New Yorker, actor, author, and word smith George Carlin died of heart complications. While not my favorite comedian out there, I've always appreciated his smart humor and word play. To honor his passing away here are a few of my favorite bits of his. 

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's Show Time

I'm excited. I'm here late late late working, but it's ok. I'm very excited about tomorrow's show.
For those who don't know, my most recent job in my ventures as an independent contractor happens to be working in live events. Right now I am working on the Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl and Hall of Fame concert. Tonight we've been going through rehearsal's, lighting focusing, sound checks, and testing the video playback. It's all very cool to see and be a part of. Ever since I was in high school I loved being back stage. I wasn't a very good actor, but I helped as a stage hand whenever my sports allowed. There is something so cool about being back stage, and being part of a live show. I love my work in film and TV production, but there is something so different about live events. It's that energy you feel the night of the show, the ability to be part of the event you help produce and feel the audience's presence. I love that I can sit in the wings and see both the crowd's faces peering out from the dark and the performers under the spot light. 

I'm even more excited cause a piece that I've been bleeding over for the past few weeks has come to fruition and is going to be shown to open the show. It's basically a short montage of TV clips involving the Hollywood Bowl in one way or another. I've been slaving away acquiring rights for all of the footage (which is probably the second most painful thing in the world to do only behind sticking a screw-driver between your fingernails). And most recently my boss has had me edit it together and sweeten the sound. Granted I didn't actually direct or shoot the footage, but it will be the largest audience of any piece I've created, so I am very very excited (and proud I might add). 

My thesis advisor in college once told me about this professor he had that would arrive to class with a paper bag in hand, then place it on his desk. He would sit, patiently, waiting for class to begin. As soon as the clock hit whatever time it needed to hit he reached into the bag and pulled out this crumpled up blazer, which he would then put it on and teach class. I guess the reason I'm referring to this anecdote is because I was reminded of it yesterday with my boss. Right when Liza Minnelli showed up it was go time. Him and his co-producer threw on their jackets and were ready to go. It's just so much fun to watch him work his magic at this event: working with people, organize a large amount of jobs, and string together a show opening last minute on only a few beads of information (because on top of everything else he writes the entire show). 

I love my boss. He's literally a genius. Watching him analyze, prioritize, and put together a long list of details in no time at all is amazing. He is by far the most eloquent, professional, and gentlemanly person I've ever worked with, and just being in his presence and observing I am learning so much. I'm learning the right way to request things, the right way to deal with people, the right way to conduct business, format a letter, basically produce. He's definitely become a teacher and mentor for me. I'm learning so much from him, and I will be forever grateful. 

But I digress... I'm actually finishing this post right now, Friday, as we're gearing up for the show, and I can feel that electric buzz in the air. Rehearsals are in full swing, and our show clothes are hanging on the wardrobe racks. I can't wait to hear the low hum of the people filing into their seats. Blue stage lights come up as they slowly replace the sun dropping below the Hollywood Hills. To see that glow in everyone's eye back-stage, preparing themselves for battle. 

I love my work. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Four Letter Word

I've been thinking about love and relationships a lot these days. A close friend of mine has broken her spell of bad relationships, and has found a really good and decent guy who respects and loves her to death. I just found out a second friend of mine is engaged. Another friend of mine "has a boyfriend" after a long string of unsuccessful attempts. And after three tumultuous months I find myself getting closure and ready to turn the page on a long seven year chapter of my life. I've always been a hopeless romantic. From when I was a small child and The Princess Bride was my favorite movie, to when I left my first flower on a girl's bag in middle-school, to when I snuck into the window of a high-school girlfriend, to when I sent a singing telegram for a year anniversary in college. Love has scarred me, love has healed me, but above all love has fascinated me. It's something that is as ageless as man, yet as unknown as the heavens. Unfortunately they never taught the philosophy of love in my college, so I was never able to study it; but regardless I consider myself a life-ling student. So in the next few posts I think I'll wax philosophic on love and relationships, and everything else involved in such matters. 

To begin with I will first break down the meanings of love. Clearly there are many ways we use the word love in our daily vernacular. Consider:

1. I love ice cream
2. I love to ski
3. I love the outdoors
4. I love my cat
5. I love my Dad
6. I love my friends
7. I love my girlfriend

There are two types of love being expressed here. One could say 1 through 3 is a different type of love than that expressed in 4 through 7. 1 expresses a strong liking, the thorough enjoyment of eating ice cream. 2 expresses the same thing, yet towards an activity. This type of joy or "love" comes not from the enjoyment of flavor, but the athletic endeavor of skiing. Whether this be for exercise, adrenaline, or relaxation can all vary depending on the "lover" of skiing. 3 also discusses a great enjoyment of something, but it is more associated with an abstract concept. While ice cream or skiing can be linked directly to a sensation(s), the feeling of being in nature cannot be simplified down to a single concrete object or activity. Similar statements could be made about freedom, my country, God, etc... These types of love I will refer to as "love as a value". For these types of love speak of an appreciation towards an object, activity, or abstract idea. While these topics are interesting to study, I am more interested in the type of love encapsulated in items 4-7, what I will call "love as a union". 

"Love as a Union" clearly implies that the word 'love' acts as a bond between beings. While this seems simple enough, consider the vast difference between the relationships in 4-7. 4 discusses my pet, 5 speaks of my family, and 7 my lover. Were I to say these four statements to someone I could certainly mean four different types of love: familial, platonic, true, and emotional. Or could I? And if I could what are the differences between these? And what does it mean to be "in love?" Over the next few posts/discussions/inquiries I hope to address some of these questions and more. And while I know this geometric introduction makes no sense when what I am trying to discover in something tied in emotions, something that doesn't heed to the laws of logic. So I will stop that; my only point here being that what I want to discuss is "love as a union".

In closing let me quote my dear friend's post, one that makes much more sense of love than the above list, and will probably make more sense than my posts to come. 

"Four letters? That's all we can muster? All we can muster for a thing that transcends and defies reason or convention, or contention; that both burrows deep and loftily soars; that weakens the strongest's will or may make the meek go brave; like an oasis and final drink for a man who has wandered in the desert, reunited at last with the thing he's been long denied. Love? It is a hasty word."

Monday, June 16, 2008


Ever since I've started blogging I've been fascinated by other peoples blogs. The more I pay attention to this blog phenomenon the more friends I've discovered have their own. Some use the space to vent about their dating lives and the incredulous bar habits of single men. Some use the space to share their lives with old friends from around the states. Some use it for daily epiphanies from life and the work place. And some use it for emotional venting, a personal journal used for letting steam into the open air of the internet. Aside from checking my various friend's blogs I'll once in awhile scan through random blogs online to see how others use their little corner of the web. 

While scanning one day I found a blog with a simple title: "I'm Mad". Reading those words it felt like an old friend calling me on the phone to vent, reaching out to me- I had to read it. The blog belongs to a Woman from Texas, with triplets; one of whom has cerebral palsy. In her blog she writes about her day-to-day life, and the struggles she goes through to find acceptance for her littlest one. Reading more of her posts I couldn't help but admire the strength of this woman. I already think women are the strongest, most beautiful, and amazing creatures in the world. Tell me what is more amazing than the ability to bear life. Tell me what is more beautiful than when a a woman looks you in the eye and smiles. Tell me what is stronger than fighting against hundreds of years of oppression with calm and gentle class. But after reading this woman's blog I was even more amazed. She feels hurt and neglect from a God that she has worshipped all life, yet she still shows an unwavering faith and love towards him. That is true strength. I felt honored to be part of her inner sanctum. To be able  see the weakness that she could never show in front of her children. To read about the immense strength she draws on a daily basis from her four year-old child who can't even walk on her own. I can only hope to be half the parent and person she is. To show that much love and forgiveness, that much compassion.

A few weeks ago I had what most bloggers must go through; the despondency of feeling like your writings are going into the void, being tossed into an immense darkness of nothingness. That was until a close friend of mine IMed me, thanking me for my most recent post. She said she was feeling blue that day, and reading it picked her spirits up- that it was just what she needed to read (She has always been a huge supporter of my writings, and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you). We all blog for different reasons. But I think the best result from blogging, or any creative medium for that matter, is never what we originally intend. We blog to share ideas, to trade stories, and to express ourselves. Never do we intend to inspire others, to infuse them with strength and purpose. Certainly it's great to catch up with an old friend online, sorting through their old photos and stories. But when you find strength and inspiration from a complete stranger, a kind hearted mother from an unknown place- that is the true power of this medium. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alpha Male

We've all experienced them. Depending on your definition and view point they can be either confident or cocky, powerful or pushy, headstrong or forceful. They're the guys at the bar who push their way to the front of the line, who aggressively chase the prettiest girl in the room, or the guys who speak louder than anyone else so they can be heard. It can certainly be a compliment, but it's most usually that jerk who's trying to make a pissing contest out of everything. 

I typically try to stay out of the way of the "Alpha Male" game. My demeanor is much too shy. I'd rather sit on the side-lines and let my quiet confidence speak for itself. There are a handful of times when I will pull out my Alpha-Male card, however. If I feel something is worth fighting for I will fight like a wolf in a trap to get it. If I feel a social injustice is occurring, or someone is out of order I will speak or act out. Another case is when I encounter offensive idiots who I believe should be shut up, or at least confronted. This later instance occurred the other night, at a friends apartment after we dragged an obnoxious tag-a-long to an after party.

I was very bad, and decided to go out on a school night to meet up with some friends who I hadn't seen in awhile. A friend of a friend showed up, and was joining us for drinks. Seemed like a nice enough guy, until he tried to book it without helping pay for the numerous rounds of shots he had put on my friend's card: strike one. 

So we went back to my friends place when the bar closed to hang out. Mr. Friend of a Friend (we'll call him Joe) tagged along, clearly keeping a keen eye on one of the girls that was with us. While in the kitchen talking to my friend my one lesbian friend came in livid. She mentioned how Joe was making offensive and inappropriate comments on the gay community: strike two. 

So later in the night we were outside discussing things, when he casually dropped the N-bomb. Personally I'm very much against this word. I know there are people in the black community who justify the use of it as slang, but I'll still disagree with them. And I especially disagree with a white boy, who's hanging out with a bunch of other white boys using the word. So I nicely asked him to stop using hate words, and we got into a verbal discussion about the topic, and whether or not a hate word could become acceptable slang. I asked him if we started using 'Nazi' as cool slang whether that could ever be acceptable, which he disagreed with, but stuck to his guns on the N-word. For a buffoon it was actually a decent conversation.

So a few run-ins like this occurred through the night. Him making an ass out of himself, and me arguing with him. If you know me, you know it takes a lot for me to dislike someone. It takes more for me to speak badly of someone. And it takes a whole heck of a lot for me to verbally express that dislike to the person. Well, Joe was one of those few people. 

Later in the night, and much later than I should have been out on a Monday, Joe was about to leave. I said good-bye, and we shook hands. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they shake hands. Joe felt my firm grip, and felt he needed to squeeze even harder, obviously he had something to prove. As he was leaving he was talking to my friend who had offend, and started spitting self-deprecating trash talk about Italians, and how they were fat, hairy, etc, etc... Usually I can appreciate that type of humor, but the way he was doing it (along with his night history of offensiveness) I found it mean spirited: strike three. 

"I don't know, I've found most most Italians to be pretty nice people. About 98% of them actually. And I won't tell you which percentage you fall in." He didn't have much to say after that.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I apologize for the over-saturation of music related posts in recent weeks, but I can't help myself. I promise I have some other posts on a different subject matter brewing up, but in the meantime...

So my current job is coming to an end soon (well, not soon soon, but I'm planing ahead), and I'm getting ready to shift into travel/wanderer mode. One of my plans include a Music Festival out in New Jersey called All Points West. While checking out their website for the various artists that would be performing I stumbled across a gem of a find. They're called The Felice Brothers, and they hail from Upstate New York (what! what!). After listening to a few tracks and reading a few reviews I downloaded the album, and I have not stopped listening to it since. I recommended the album to my aforementioned blond pixie friend with impeccable music taste, "Buy the album, you won't be sorry." I couldn't remember the last time I recommended an album buy so quickly and with such conviction. But that's how strongly I feel about this band of three brothers and a wandering dice player.

The Felice Brothers ~ The Felice Brothers•
The album has an old town folk sound, yet with heavy rock and country influences. The entire album sounds as if it were recorded at an old saloon in front of friends and family chasing shots of whiskey with bottles of Bud. The lead singer Ian freely clears his throat, introduces songs, and praises his brothers instrumental ability on the tracks, yet it works perfectly within the story-telling feel of the album. An added bonus is the fact that his gruff voice easily reminds one of Bob Dylan in his prime. Their lyrics usually spin beautiful tales of heart-ache, murder, betrayal, happiness, and love. A handful of my favorites include, "Frankie's Gun", "Greatest Show On Earth", "Love Me Tenderly", "Radio Song", "Wonderful Life", and "St. Stephen's End".

Using organs, trumpets, and accordions, the Felice Brothers perfectly capture a musical era/method you thought didn't exist anymore. Don't walk out to buy this album, run.

And if you get a chance check them out at All Points West in New Jersey or the Outside Land's festival in San Francisco.

I [heart] My Mom

So my Mom came to visit this last weekend for the first time since I've moved to Los Angeles. It was great to see her and spend some time with her. For such a big city I do get lonely, so it was really nice to have some family come visit- to share my little slice of the world. We met up Friday for dinner, sharing recent life stories over wine and dinner. Saturday I took her to a Dodgers game (with my newfound Dodgers connections we had great seats, Field Level right behind home base). My Grandfather was a minor league catcher, plus she had a huge crush on Mickey Mantle back in the day, so she's always been a huge baseball fan (why else do you think I'm such a huge Yankees fan?). After the game I borrowed her green thumb to help me with my plants, as well as adding a Jasmine vine to my "garden." Later that night we headed out to check out Iron Man at the Arc Light. Sunday we went to the Getty Center for an early brunch and mimosas. We then took the garden tour, and checked out two photo exhibits. I can't believe it was my first time at the Getty (but most certainly not my last), it was stunning. Afterwards we took the long way home; Mulholland Drive then onto exploring Franklin Canyon (a nice unexpected discovery). After driving through Rodeo Drive we headed back home to check out the First Annual Los Feliz Street Fair. All in all a very nice weekend with Mom.

I love my Mom cause she's Super-Mom. She was the Mom that would always have orange slices at half-time for your soccer team, volunteer at your school tag sale, have waffles and bacon ready in the morning after sleep-overs, or buy you books on poetry and juggling just because you showed interest in it. Shes always been super-supportive, and is probably the most selfless person I've ever known. On her flight over here she gave up her upgraded first-class seat to an armed forces member who was sitting in the middle-seat near the very back of the plane. She carries dog treats in her car just in case she runs into somebody with a dog on the street. She's probably one of the best cooks ever, and if I have a friend over for dinner she'll always remember their dietary restrictions, and use them in considering the night's meal. But while it's her kindness and caring that I will always love about her, I think I love her free-spirit even more. She grew up a Tom Boy in a small town in upstate New York, climbing trees more often than playing with dolls. When she was older she got around on a motorcycle, and still has a scar on her leg from it.

My favorite story happened when she was working in the City (New York, in case you thought there was another city out there) as a secretary. The firm she was working for had more employees than they needed, so started releasing people. But since she was such a good secretary they didn't release her, and instead they floated her around the company to various employees. During one shift she was given to an employee who she happened to be seeing for almost a year. A handsome 6'5" or so fellow, who had courted my mother ever since the prior winter, when they had met during a snow storm. She was answering phones when a woman called to leave a message for Mr. 6'5", and not just any woman: his wife. She promptly left a LARGE sheet of paper on his desk with the words "YOUR WIFE CALLED- SANDRA PORTER. 12:05AM" (or whatever time the message was taken). Heart-broken she decided she needed to skip town- her home state of New York- and flee to Aspen, Colorado. Her boss was puzzled and concerned. "You don't know how to ski," he said. She responded, "I'll learn."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Windows Down + Music Up Mix

One of my favorite things to do back East on a beautiful sunny spring day was to drive around with the windows down, music loud, and no destination in sight. Just driving by the vegetable stands, small corner stores, the lush green trees, ancient stone walls exposing themselves from the muddy earth, the fresh air blowing through your hair as you're navigating the winding roads curving between the bulbous North East Hills. While I don't get the scenic roads here in LA I still love to drive with my windows down and music blaring on those beautiful sunny days- when there's no traffic. This mix is an upbeat, classic rock/rock themed mix for just those occasions. 
Windows Down + Music Up 
  1. "Sweet Home Alabama" ~ Lynyrd Skynyrd
  2. "Take It Easy" ~ Eagles
  3. "Blue Sky" ~ The Allman Brothers Band
  4. "Heard It In A Love Song" ~ The Marshall Tucker Band
  5. "Werewolves of London" ~ Warren Zevon
  6. "Doctor My Eyes" ~ Jackson Browne
  7. "Shooting Star" ~ Bad Company
  8. Ain't Life Grand ~ Widespread Panic
  9. "End Of The Line" ~ Traveling Wiburys
  10. "Ooh La La" ~ Faces
  11. "Space Cowboy" ~ Steve Miller Band
  12. "Bad Moon Rising" ~ Creedence Clearwater Revival
  13. "Alright, Alright, Alright" ~ Mungo Jerry
  14. "Taking Care Of Business" ~ Bachman-Turner Overdrive (or BTO)
  15. "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" ~ T. Rex
  16. "All Right Now" ~ Free
  17. "Hard To Handle" ~ The Black Crowes
  18. "Good Times, Bad Times" ~ Led Zepplin
  19. "Sympathy For The Devil" ~ Rolling Stones
"Sweet Home Alabama" - Turn it up. Along with "Living on a Prayer", "Don't Stop Believing", and "Pour Some Sugar On Me", this is one of those songs that gives every white person in the room carte blanche to sing at the top of their lungs no matter where they are. Great summer song, even if you're not from Alabama. 

"Take It Easy" - This song always lifts me out of the doldrums. The lyrics are great-  reminding the listener to not take life too serious and just live it as it comes at you. "Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy."

"Blue Sky" - I love the guitar in this song, or any Allman Brothers song really, it just makes me happy. This song reminds me of a crush I had my freshman year in college, now it reminds me of anybody I love. I love metaphors, and I think calling someone your blue sky is one of the sweetest compliments I can think of. 

"Heard It In A Love Song"- I like the bittersweetness of this song. The self-defeating nature of the singer is something I think we can all relate to at one point or another in our lives. 

"Werewolves of London" - I have no idea what this song is about (outside of werewolves and their love of Chinese food), but I love it. Such a catchy and simple piano bit. Plus how many other songs can you howl to? 

"Doctor My Eyes" - Might be the song I've included in my mixes the most. I could probably listen to the beginning over and over again to no end. Such a driving piano, bongo, and guitar combination. I absolutely love this song. 

"Shooting Star" - The life of a rock star in a single song, and so well executed. Just remember we're all shooting stars. 

"Ain't Life Grand" - I had to throw a little jam band in here. Such a great song, and a nice reminder that life is great. Plus Widespread rocks my world. 

"End Of The Line" - How can you go wrong with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Jeff Lyne together? They could probably recorded "twinkle twinkle little star" and have it sound awesome. I love the lyrics, and I love the juxtaposition of Petty's voice with Orbison's.  "It's alright- If you live the life you please."

"Ooh La La" - I just recently found this song. I was drinking at Seven Grand with my blond pixie friend who has impeccable music taste. The first few chords played as we were playing pool and she began dancing, I instantly knew this song must be good. Rod Stewart's voice is so great, and the lyrics speak volumes- I think it's a chorus we can all agree with. 

"Space Cowboy" - This song was my anthem in high school. Mostly cause I was a spacey cowboy, but I think also because I was just trying to go through life living my own way, trying not "to hurt no one." This song also has one of my favorite lyrics of all time, "You're the cutest thing that I ever did see, I really love your peaches wanna shake you tree." 

"Bad Moon Rising" - Perfect for a driving mix. Slap that hand against the car door. I just had to have some Creedence on here. 

"Alright, Alright, Alright" - Remember that song with the washboard sound that went, "In the summertime when the weather is hot, your can stretch right up and touch the sky." That was Mungo Jerry. I convinced myself he must have some other good songs, so I searched on iTunes for it- this is about all I found... But it's still a fun song. 

"Taking Care of Business" - Elvis had 'TCOB' etched into the wings of his private jet. Need I say more?

"Bang a Gong (Get It On)" - This is one of those songs you hear on the radio that you love, you've heard it before, but you have no idea who sang it. I have no idea why you'd want to bang a gong, but at least we can all agree with 'gettin it on'. 

"All Right Now" - Another one of those songs you love when it comes on the radio, but you have no idea who sings it. Such a great classic rock sound, with great classic rock vocals.

"Hard to Handle" - Is there anything more fun than singing this chorus? It's also a nice feel-good song if the girl/boy you like already has a significant other or love interest. 

"Good Times, Bad Times" - I had this on a morning mix when I was in high school. I love the build up, and I love the lyrics. I hated it when they sold this song out to a car commercial, but the song still has a soft spot in my heart. Plus you can always use some Led Zepplin.

"Sympathy For The Devil" - Definitely one of the best story songs by the Stones. You have to love the build up and execution of this song, it's just brilliant. And like Zepplin, I almost felt obligated to put some Stones on here. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I'm Jumping On

Well, game one of the NBA finals is tonight, and I have to admit... I'm jumping on the Lakers band wagon. 

The Knicks suck- they make it painful to even watch basketball. I like the Nets, but they're still form New Jersey. At the beginning of the season I was all about KG winning a championship, mainly because he is my favorite player. I love his intensity, and I love his physical game. But then when I really though about it, I can't root for a Boston team, I hate Boston sports fans (except my friends who are Boston sports fans, I only dislike you). So I'm going to do it and jump onto the Laker band wagon. 

LA is actually a huge Lakers town. Way bigger than Dodgers, way bigger than the Kings (a hockey team in case you didn't know), and way bigger than their non-existant football team (the Galaxy are kind of big, but who watches soccer? Honestly? Totally kidding by the way, I like soccer, err, I mean football). I love how everyone has flags flying from their cars as they drive around the city. I think it makes the game more interesting when you have someone to root for, and since the majority of my friends here are Lakers friends I figured "Why the Hell not?" 

I also do like the team itself. Kobe is amazing to watch. He basically scores whenever he wants. I also like how they try to keep it a team sport, instead of focus just on Kobe. I'm not bleeding purple and gold anytime soon, my blood is still pin-stripped. But in the meantime I look forward to some good games. 

Go Lakers!

CD Mixology 101

If you're a friend, lover, or family member I'm sure you've received a mixed CD from me at one point. I love music, and I love sharing music with my friends. I feel music expresses the intangibles in life- emotions, moments, memories, energy, things you can't express in words. I have a very eclectic taste, and I believe there is a song for every mood and emotion. As part of my blogging experience I thought it would be fun to share some mixes I've created on here. If you're lucky enough maybe you'll receive a copy of it yourself, otherwise you'll have to search the songs out on iTunes yourself (and help support your local Apple share holder :)  ). But regardless all of these mixes are tested and approved by me- ready to fit onto a single CD for your burning pleasure. 

I've been making mixes for a long long time- I've gone from mastering the play/rec button synchronization, to plugging my laptop to my "boom-box" for those 8-bit MP3s, to owning my very own CD burner (which is the best thing since sliced bread). Here are some of the techniques I use in my CD creation. I use these more as guide-lines rather than hard-and-fast rules; and depending on the mix, the mix's message, or the mix's theme I often veer off from them from time to time. 

• Try not to repeat artists. This is a very loose rule, but when I make CDs I generally try to keep variety high. I'll us an artist more than once if: it's a specific artists mix, my library is thin in that genre/mood, the artist is just too good not to repeat, or if I'm just in the mood. 
• Keep the flow going. I always try to make sure the songs work back-to-back. If I'm going to use a slow song and a fast song on the same CD I'll try to place a medium paced song between the two. Or if I'm going from Hip-Hop to Soul I'll try to sandwich a hybrid in there. 
• Let the mix create itself. My general process in CD creation is: pick a theme/topic/message, then throw songs together that I think fit the above mentioned. I'll then arrange them to a tentative order, and give it a listen or two, or three, or four. I'll then rearrange, add, or subtract, songs as my ears/mood dictates. Depending on the mix I'll spend anywhere from a day to two weeks on this. 
• Keep lyrics in mind. This usually only pertains to those special CDs I make for that special someone. I like to tell stories, evoke moods, and send messages through my mixes, so lyrics sometimes can be very important. Of course there are times where I don't follow this either. I've definitely put "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" by the Looking Glass on a feel-good/high-energy mix even though it's a very sad song about a girl who's hopelessly in love with a sailor, who's hopelessly in love with the sea.
• The mix should have a rhythm. I've always said, "Making a CD mix is like making love to a beautiful woman. You need to be firm yet gentle, and mix up rhythms." (Ok, I've never said that, I actually just made that up, but it kinda works). Unless I'm making a work-out mix, sleep mix, or a mix that is based upon a single energy/rhythm, I like to try to keep it interesting. Having a mix go hard the whole time can be tiring, so I try to mix it up. I generally start out with a faster paced selection, slow it down in the middle, then pick it up again at the end. 
• Start off strong. Of course the first song of the mix is the first one that gets played, so you'd better put some careful thought on who your lead-off batter is (so to speak). It usually sets the tone of the mix, so like the Templar Knight in Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade said, "Choose wisely...".

Anyhow, hopefully these tips will give you some insight to the fun hobby of CD creation, and help you onto the road of becoming a CD making maven. 

I hope you enjoy the mixes to come!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Getting a Tattoo... maybe

One thing that blew my mind out here in LA is the amount of tattoos people have. Back East tattoos are generally seen as kind of trashy. Most people have them on arms, ankles, or other secretive and easy to hide spots. I think walking around LA and seeing everyone with sleeves, back tattoos and such has accustomed my to tattoos. At first I never really wanted  a tattoo, I liked my body as a blank page (a very white blank page). I also never had anything I wanted on my body permanently badly enough. But after some time pondering the I think I may have found something. My brother (who has three sizable tattoos) has a good rule of thumb: if you think you want a tattoo wait a year, and if you still want it after a whole year go for it. So I guess the count-down begins. 

I would get it down my left side, on my ribs. I know that's supposed to hurt the most, but in a way I kind of like that- I also like that it's fairly hidden. I'd get 'Invictus' in block Roman lettering. It means "unconquered" in Latin,  and is also the title to a poem by William Ernest Henley. I first came across the poem when I was attending the Colorado Outward Bound School when I was fourteen or fifteen. Since I was young I've kept a journal of some of my favorite quotes, poems, and sayings that I come across; looking through it the other day I ran across 'Invictus' again. Researching the poem through wikipedia, I found out a bit more about the author William Ernest Henley. At the age of 12 Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone. He had to get it amputated, and he wrote 'Invictus' while in bed at the hospital.  

I found the poem at a rocky time in my life, and it taught me to persevere, and that an iron will is the hardest material in the world.

Out of the night that covers me, 
                         Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be
               For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of Circumstance
                         I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of Chance
                      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
                            Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
                         Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
                                          How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
                   I am the captain of my soul.