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Month: December 2005

glass cage of emotion

glass cage of emotion

On Thursday December 22nd I left work early (by half an hour) because I was starting to feel sick. I believe I mentioned the fact that I thought I might be getting sick in an earlier post. Amy came over. We ate dinner and went to bed very early because we’d be getting up at 5am.

I woke up sick. Sick. Aaron picked us up and took us to the airport. Our two flights that day were not unpleasant in general (they left on time, etc.) but for me they were horrid. I was sicker than I’ve been in a long time. When the plane descended into Columbus I felt the most horrible pain in my ears – like someone driving nails into them. Upon landing we met my mother, father, and aunt at baggage claim (mother insisted on meeting there even though there was more than one and …we didn’t bring any luggage to pick up).

From there we went to Cap City. We had to wait about an hour to get a table even though we called ahead. The table they did eventually give us was small and cramped and next to the door (cold and drafty) and coat hanger. While we were waiting we were by the bar – next to smokers. At this point I was already feeling like I was dying, I didn’t need smoke blown in my face to enhance the effect. The meal would have been good had I been able to taste anything.

The ride home was not fun. Mom drives a Cougar and dad- doesn’t drive. Thus Amy and I were stuck in the cramped back seat for the bumpy drive home. I had to go to the bathroom every five seconds. I know I normally have to go the bathroom a lot, but this was ridiculous.

Day Two:

I woke up the next morning still feeling horrible. I spent most of the day moping around. In the afternoon Amy and I went to Marietta and picked up some gifts for my parents. By the time we got to Front Street most of the shops were closed but I was still able to get my mom a nice lapel pin from Baker and Baker. Other than the two attendants (which were the homeliest jewelry store clerks I’ve seen in a long time) the one other customer was Melissa Mercer’s sister Stacy. She didn’t recognize me and I didn’t say hello- but I’d proved my boast to Amy that in such a small town I’d run into someone I knew even on a deserted day like Christmas Eve.

Day Three:

Christmas day I was still sick. It got so bad that during the gift-giving procedure I had to excuse myself and lay down because the room was spinning. The gifts I received were for the most part thoughtful. However, an expensive set of five titanium wrenches was a head scratcher. It cost about the same as an item on my list that I’d actually use (the microphone) and could be brought back on the plane. Now my parents will have to pay a lot of money to ship me something that (although being very pretty indeed) I will likely use less than once a year. Such is Christmas at the Long house though – a strange mix of things that you wanted, things you needed, and things other people think you should want (but you don’t). Amy got the gift of Fondue. Which could even be thought of as a gift for me since now I probably won’t have to take her to La Fondue on Ventura which charges $150 for a “dinner for two” and Amy points out with glee whenever we drive by (usually on the way to Amazon – which I got a gift certificate for from mom!).

Since we were leaving the next day I knew it would be the last chance I had to see my friends, so I called Brian and Jeremy. They came over and after an extended sociopolitical argument with my father (which boiled down to “why are we at war with no reason to be?” Vs. “Clinton lied under oath!”) we played pool downstairs. At this time I gave them both the 5 disc set of Pusher/EM material I’d been working so hard on for awhile. Brian forgot his.

Day Four:
In the morning Amy and I went to the Grand Central Mall so she could get a dose of Redneck commercialism. I must say it was very weird even for me. Everyone was white and looked like they were relatives of the same fat poorly groomed/dressed family. Every woman over 35 had a bowl cut hairdo with blonde highlights. Every man had a stubbled and depressed look. Sears auto center must have made a lot of money because every person (even the kids) was carrying a spare tire around his or her waist. Amy and I sat in the food court at one point so she could just watch in amazement.

After a large lunch we were off to the airport. By now I was starting to recover from the illness –albeit slowly. This made the first plane ride somewhat enjoyable as we reviewed the photos I’d taken of the trip on my PDA (both devices use the same SD card). We were tired when got to Dallas. The Columbus flight had been delayed – but the pilot had made up the time in the air. Unfortunately whoever was piloting the next plane on our journey wasn’t as thoughtful. We were greeted with an hour delay. We went to the food court to eat. Hebrew National – “I’ve never eaten there,” we both thought.. After some deliberation we decided to get a sausage dog and chili-cheese fries. “We’re out of sausage” was the first reply. “We’re out of fries” was the second reply. “We’re going to Mcdonalds” was ours.

When 9:30 (Mountain) finally rolled around we were ready to get on the plane. The plane arrived and we were informed it would be at least another 45 minutes till we could board. Once we finally boarded the plane the trip turned from two hours and 53 minutes to three and a half hours. Touching us down in Burbank in excess of 11:30pm. Aaron had informed us in Dallas that he couldn’t fit picking us up into his schedule, so we were on our own. When we walked out of the terminal – haggard from our long day of traveling (keep in mind because of my illness we’d been going to bed around 9pm PST the last few days) we were horrified to find no taxis. A man from an airport shuttle service approached us and said he’d take us home for $15. We knew it was our only chance so we got in the van. The man went back to the corner to look for more victi- er- customers. After five minutes we saw a taxi pull up across the street. Amy leaped out of the van and ran to the taxi while I swiftly and deftly opened the hatch to retrieve our luggage without our driver seeing (from the corner of the street). We made it to the cab only to discover an angry Armenian 50 year old finishing his cigarette and not helping us with our bags. Ten minutes later and with $9 on the meter we were at my apartment. While I fumbled for the cash (Amy had to supplement with money of her own) the meter ran up another twenty cents. We handed ten dollars to the cabbie and looked at him waiting for our change. He looked back. We looked at him. He looked at the meter (up to $9.60 now). We got out and got our bags – miffed that he didn’t give us change but too tired to get too upset about it. It was past midnight at this point and I had to get up at 6:30 on Tuesday to go to work.

Epilogue:
Though my sickness destroyed most of the trip for me there were several other complications involving my brother that would have made it a tension filled trip regardless. My brother moved back into my parents’ house in May and now appears to be living the life of a teenager with free food and housing – but no responsibilities. He delivers pizzas part time but sees no reason to contribute that to the family or to even wash dishes, clothes, etc. My mother and father appear to be split on what to do about this but are both agreed that there is a problem since this situation was supposed to be a temporary solution to get him back on his feet after he totaled his car. He has since totaled his second car (third if you count my mother’s in 1999) on the 18th and does not appear to have any plan to move out. He does plan on buying a new car though – the exact same Mercury Cougar model (yes, also the same as my mother) that he just totaled. This is immensely frustrating for my father and apparently he had nobody to talk to about it until I arrived. This led to a lengthy conversation on Christmas before dinner that got more and more uncomfortable as time went on. My brother and his girlfriend left the house immediately after Christmas dinner (they had spent the time before dinner listening to my Pusher cds and no doubt making fun and had no intention of helping clean up afterwards) and he neither bothered to say goodbye at that time or come back before 2pm the next day when I left for the airport. He had required that we reschedule our Christmas dinner around he and his girlfriend’s schedule. After all – I guess they had come farther to be there, not the paltry 2,500 miles and 12 hours that Amy and I did. While he WAS around (which was not long) he managed to brag about how he got a perfect score on the high school proficiency test and how it proved what a genius he is (even though he flunked out of college and I graduated With Honors) and also that I should have auditioned my “junked up car” on Pimp My Ride (even though he has totaled two cars in the last 7 months – and I wasn’t at fault for any of my “junk”). Oh- and he couldn’t manage to find any gifts for my parents when he finally went Christmas shopping for them at 10pm on Christmas Eve. Where does this downward spiral end? I don’t know – but I’m glad I won’t be around (Ohio) to find out. I’m throwing up my hands (like my father before me) at this point. In the past few years I’d tried at times to give my brother advice and the benefit of the doubt – but if I’m going to travel 2,500 miles only to be insulted and ignored repeatedly – forget it.

I feel as though I didn’t even go to Ohio. I was practically unconscious most of the time, so I feel cheated out of a trip. On the other hand, because of the aforementioned complications, I’m not sure I would want to actually be there the way things are going now anyway. I tried to convince my parents to come to California for Christmas in 2006. We’ll see if that happens.

In other news – Amy started working for the Marriott in Anaheim (next to Disneyland) on Wednesday and appears to like it so far. The CDA should be more fun this year since that is the hotel we stay in for the conference.

sick again

sick again

In other news: I’m getting sick again just in time for christmas. The last two weeks have been super stressful at work. Couple that with a concert that went on until midnight on Monday and you’ve got a battered immune system.

Bush

Bush

Dubya in 2000 after taking office in a message to the EPA:

C’mon boys, lets ease up on those industrial dumping restrictions, a little mercury ain’t gon’ hurt nobody. Sides’, I’m takin’ a pay cut to work for Dick (Cheney) anyway – I need my factory stocks to go up so’s I can afford to buy Laura sumthin’ nice for christmas this year.

Pushing Queen

Pushing Queen

For the past four weeks I’ve worked on a monstrous project. I decided I wanted to digitize the old Pusher and EM recordings. These only exist on cassette tape. I pulled out my box o’ tapes and started going through them several weeks ago. I found 54 tapes. From that I gleaned over five hours of actual content from over seventy hours of tape (some were 60 minutes and some 90). The process was fairly laborious as I had the cassette deck on the floor and would have to reach down and press the fast forward, stop, and play buttons ad nauseum. Once I’d find a song I’d have to rewind to the beginning – listen for an audible cue – then rewind again and start recording into Ableton on that cue. It took over three weeks of working a few hours each day to churn out the content. I finished Saturday night. Then it was time to mix down in Ableton. I tried to EQ the sounds a bit to get rid of hiss and whatnot (bring down the bass when it was too loud and bring up the vocals, etc.). Since the recordings are from old (as in 1996) cassettes that were played over and over, I was not able to get rid of a fair amount of hiss. I mixed it all down yesterday. I then rendered WAV files and burnt them to (audio) discs. There are two for Pusher and two for EM –all 70 full minutes and I had to leave some songs off. I then converted all these songs to mp3 format with Audacity. Once in mp3 format I could put both EM and Pusher songs on one data disc as well as the lyric sheets that I scanned in years ago. I burned each disc five times so I could give each original member of Pusher a disc and also have a backup disc. So, if you’re keeping track that means I burned 25 discs.

All in all I’ve got 77 tracks now (31 EM, 46 Pusher). There are at least ten songs that I couldn’t find on any of the tapes which is sort of a bummer, but I found more EM material that I’d forgot about and wasn’t on the “album” Soothing.

To get away from the computer screen (but not from music) I’m going to the Queens of the Stone Age concert tonight with Aaron. Should be fun, but I’m not looking forward to being groggy all day tomorrow.

into the misty mountains

into the misty mountains

On Saturday Amy and I went to Denny’s for a free brunch with coupons she’d obtained from her brother. From there we headed up into Angeles National Forest on one of the most dangerous roads in America – Angeles Crest Highway. It was overcast and we didn’t really know what we were doing. I had printed out directions to hiking trails from the Angeles Forest website, but the information was outdated and many trails were closed. California has the first national parks system to charge a parking fee for ALL parking inside the forest. We had to buy the pass before going in. Luckily the pass can be saved for another day, so we decided to try again some other time when we’d have more time to hike (the trails close at 4:30). I took one fuzzy picture from a hilltop, which is located here. If you look down in the middle you can see downtown LA, and although it doesn’t show in the picture – we could see the ocean too. I also took a picture of the car, since nobody knows what it looks like after got it back from the shop; that can be seen here

Dolly Trauma and USPS trauma

Dolly Trauma and USPS trauma

I forgot to mention the other day that the new Dolly Trauma cd “The Loyal Oak” came out last weekend. Jeff (guitar player and studio genius) is sending me a copy in the mail. I’ll have a review when I get it. Jeff has actually been very helpful in the whole “me getting back into recording stuff” project with advice.

Byron is getting his ducks in a line (or is that chickens?), and putting up a business website. It isn’t finished yet, but more is happening every day here

I got a card in the mail from the post office last saturday. I was home all day so I was pissed off that they left this card. It was one of those “we’ll redeliver or you can pick this thing up” cards. My mom had said she would be sending something to me soon so I assumed that is what it was. I also falsely assumed that, like UPS, USPS would do a 2nd delivery attempt. By Wednesday I realized I was wrong and read the fine print. I have to pick it up. Fine. I picked something up a whole ago at the Chandler/Lankershim post office and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Wrong. Now that I live in the Ghetto I have to pick up my mail at the Ghetto Post Office over on Sherman Way and Laurel Canyon. I went there straight after work. I got there at 4:20. There were lots of little fat ethnic poor people in line ahead of me. Talking on cell phones in broken “ebonic” english not paying attention to their kids that keep running into my ass. There were twelve people ahead of me – but since (poor) hispanic people do everything as a family – even picking up mail, there was really only four customers ahead of me. It took me forty minutes to get up to the little window. So, after all that wait and sexual harrassment by little kids I was excited to see what my mother had carefully planned for me to receive….

A tube of toothpaste. … I was confused to see “gfk research” on the return address… Turns out I went through all of that crap just to get a tube of toothpaste that a survey company wants me to review… I forgot to mention the other day that the new Dolly Trauma cd “The Loyal Oak” came out last weekend. Jeff (guitar player and studio genius) is sending me a copy in the mail. I’ll have a review when I get it. Jeff has actually been very helpful in the whole “me getting back into recording stuff” project with advice.

Byron is getting his ducks in a line (or is that chickens?), and putting up a business website. It isn’t finished yet, but more is happening every day here

I got a card in the mail from the post office last Saturday. I was home all day so I was pissed off that they left this card. It was one of those “we’ll redeliver or you can pick this thing up” cards. My mom had said she would be sending something to me soon so I assumed that is what it was. I also falsely assumed that, like UPS, USPS would make a 2nd delivery attempt. By Wednesday I realized I was wrong and read the fine print. I have to pick it up. Fine. I picked something up a while ago at the Chandler/Lankershim post office and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Wrong. Now that I live in the Ghetto I have to pick up my mail at the Ghetto Post Office over on Sherman Way and Laurel Canyon. I went there straight after work. I got there at 4:20, forty minutes before closing. There were lots of little fat ethnic poor people in line ahead of me. Talking on cell phones in broken “ebonic” English not paying attention to their kids that keep running into my ass. There were twelve people ahead of me – but since (poor) Hispanic people do everything as a family – even picking up mail, there was really only four customers ahead of me. It took me forty minutes to get up to the little window. So, after all that wait and sexual harassment by little kids I was excited to see what my mother had carefully planned for me to receive….

A tube of toothpaste. … I was confused to see “gfk research” on the return address… Turns out I went through all of that crap just to get a tube of toothpaste that a survey company wants me to review…

Speaking of other happiest places on earth – Amy just got a job at the Anaheim Marriot, next to Disneyland. Coincidentally this is the same hotel where I stayed for the California Dental Association convention, and will stay this coming April as well. Also coincidentally Aaron has a former roommate that works there as well.

Flux

Flux

I haven’t posted in a long time I suppose.

I went to Black Angus with Amy and her family on Thanksgiving. I was glad to get a meal with other people on that day, but none of us were particularly impressed with the restaurant, it was my first time.

I did get my music recording situation underway. I bought a Creative E-MU 0404 sound card. I’m putting all live instruments into the MD8 and using it as a pre-amp. I had to get my acoustic guitar fixed up a bit, just got it back on Monday. I have 54 cassette tapes of old Pusher and EM stuff. My goal is to digitize all of it and give it to the band members when I’m in Ohio around Christmas. I’m using Ableton Live, which appears so far to be far more intuitive than CuBase (which came with the sound card). I also bought an M-Audio Radium 49 to use with Reason as a synth.

I was listening to the radio in the car the other day. I already knew Aeon Flux was going to suck several months ago when the first shots came out…well okay, all of us fans of the original show knew it would suck when they cast Charleze. So anyway – this commercial comes on and the background is that inane Trapt song “Headstong.” (“Back off I’ll take you on Headstrong to take on anyone I know that you are wrong Headstrong we’re Headstrong…”etc.) Then I realize that it is a commercial for Aeon Flux. I was laughing out loud. This was the day of release and they were already airing ads showing their acknowledgment that NO ONE who liked the original Peter Chung show would enjoy this movie. Better go after the braindead “ooh, a hot girl” and “ooh…they’ll fight! And things will explode!” crowd. Aeon Flux is a perfect example of how films can ruin an original idea (whether it is a book, tv show, etc.)

I also don’t understand why I should want to see Peter Jackson’s King Kong… I went to see LOTR because I knew that the Balrog would be new and different, and Golom would look cool and be different than any other live action character I’d seen before….and so on. How many versions of King Kong have there been? The previews show A) giant spiders B) a giant gorilla C) a T-Rex and D) bloodthirsty savages on a remote island. I just saw a giant spider two years ago in Return of the King, and it was perfect. T-Rex has been on screen in the past ten years many times – nothing new there. A giant gorilla going ape (pardon the pun) in New York? I’d enjoy it more as a 30 second Coke ad, at least then the antique novelty wouldn’t wear off so fast. Weird goings ons on remote islands…. isn’t there a certain show on a certain network about a plane crash right now with the same setting…starring a certain hobbit from a Peter Jackson film….??? Remakes are great when they ad something or do something the original couldn’t. Making things bigger and longer just because you can never works. I’d buy those pills if they really worked….but they don’t.