Pining for the Cuco

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Pining for the Cuco

Nothing makes you feel dumber than calling the bank and asking for a stop-payment on your check… yourself. Last week I put in a transfer of funds order with my savings account. I thought I was transferring money from savings to my checking account. I was doing it so I could pay off my car, so we are talking about an amount just shy of five figures here. I went to my checking online account last night to see if the money was there yet. Nothing. So I went to my savings (with a different company) and noticed it had added the amount to the balance there, not subtracted. Needless to say I was freaking out as I don’t keep ten grand in my checking account! This was going to be one heavy overdraft fee if I didn’t correct this. It was too late to do anything on the savings account end; I left an urgent “emergency message” on their voicemail. Then I called USBank and gussied up a $30 stop-payment. Wow does that make you feel like a moron…

My quest to record music on my computer has taken a long and winding road. At first I thought I’d get a used Mbox. Then I thought I’d need MIDI, so I had to get Mbox2. Then I found the Lexicon Omega. The Omega is advertised with the curious phrase “+ Cubase” all over the internet. When you read the fine print it turns out it comes with PowerTracks Pro, which is a baby version of Cakewalk. Not Cubase or even close. This turned me off to the Lexicon. I knew I needed Cubase so I looked around some more. Turns out Steinberg has their own Mbox equivalent called the MI4 that is part of a package called System4 that includes Cubase. I was ecstatic. The lowest price I could find was $400. Then I checked Ebay. One store had it for $300, so I ordered it right away. I paid right away too. Three days later I had still not heard a peep from the seller. I emailed them and got this response:

Hi Andrew,
Sorry for the error, but somebody relisted it over here after we had
sold our only one.
We’ve refunded and do apologize for the error.

So I was back to square one, just when I thought I had a solution…

Then I decided that all I might need to do is use the old MD8 and get a MIDI/USB connection. So, I bought the M-audio Uno at Guitar Center on Saturday. After talking to the guy there about it he said it wouldn’t work for the MD8 for live instruments (to transfer into recording software). He said for that I need to transfer the audio signal, which is different than MIDI. He recommended the Creative E-MU 0404. So, I bought one on ebay for $60. In the meantime I still purchased the M-audio Uno because I wanted to play a MIDI controller keyboard.

Which brings me to my next story:

I’d been looking at/for MIDI controller keyboards on craigslist for weeks. I finally found one that looked like a good price. A Yamaha CBX-K1. I showed up at the owner’s apartment on Wednesday night after playing racquetball with the owner of Addressers (which has become a regular thing). When he first opened the door I saw a bed in the living room and a girl waking up and yawning. He closed the door and told me to wait. A few minutes later he opened the door and told me to come inside, the girl was gone. The apartment was on the second floor of a ghetto-ish (think my neighborhood) apartment complex near Oxnard and Vineland. The apartment was shaped like a long rectangle, with the kitchen running along side the outside wall, and a long (curiously dark) hallway perpendicular to it. The living room had a bed and desk on one wall, and a music-recording set-up on the other. There was an Ovation acoustic, a bass, a full size MIDI keyboard, an apple computer, electronic drum set, and other various pieces of equipment (an M-audio MIDI controller was laying on the floor by the bed for example). Hanging over all this was a moderately sized television on a wall-mount. As I was waiting for the guy to find the AC cord in the back, a person walked down the hall and went to the kitchen to get a drink. He appeared to be an adolescent, but since they were all Japanese, it was hard to tell what age anyone was (including the owner of the Yamaha). Speaking of which, he was a Japanese guy with shoulder length hair, lots of facial hair, and a plethora of facial piercings..

Usually before I deal with anyone off of Criagslist I’ll google his or her name and see what comes up. Once Amy and I were going to buy some Ipods until we goggled the guy’s name and it came up on several websites as a scam artist. This time I forgot to do it until after the sale. He seemed like an interesting guy so I wanted to look him up and see if he was in any bands. The name I looked up: Koichi Fukuda. My results.

Yes, that is right; I bought a keyboard from the guitar player for Static-X. Their latest album dropped in June and landed at number 29 on billboard, and the guy lives in a crappy cramped North Hollywood apartment. Maybe he is just cheap; maybe it wasn’t his apartment, who knows. However, that set-up on the wall sure looked like his. This was a stark contrast to where I was the night before – in the lap of luxury.

Tuesday night the producers of the Dr. Reef show wanted Amy and I to reprise our roles in an “at-home” shoot. They wouldn’t be filming at our homes though, they wanted to film at the shows executive producer’s (Ray Giuliani) home. His house was in West Hollywood with a bunch of posh houses. This is the kind of neighborhood where young (and famous) actors and musicians live that think Beverly Hills is too far from the real action. There was a ten year old Bentley parked on the street. On Santa Monica Blvd. on the way there we were passed up by a rumbling red Saleen S7. Those ring up at a paltry $375,000 by the way. Oh, and earlier by action I meant Gay action, because 99% of West Hollywood residents are gay. I just made that up but it likely isn’t far from the real statistic. In fact, according to articles published in print and online Ray himself is openly gay. We met his boyfriend/partner Kareem, who happens to be an art director. Ray and Kareem left for most of the taping, leaving his house in the care of Jeannie – the director, Adam – the cameraman, and Bill- the soundman. We got paid for this too, but not as much, and it took about five hours to film. It was fun though as we shot two individual spotlight interviews (not fun) and then acted out several scenes from our every day lives (albeit this time in a multi-million dollar Hollywood home that has two full-size guest houses by the pool out back). We shot two phone scenes, a conversation scene, internet scenes (going on, and a bedroom scene. It was a lot of fun, so I decided I’d try some commercial/tv acting. I landed a background actor spot on the pilot for George Lucas’ Star Wars live action tv series: Star Wars Forced Alliance. I decided not to attend though when I saw the call sheet. They wanted us there for over 12 hours on Saturday and Sunday. Oh, and did I mention this was a non-paying gig. I decided not to go for more than one reason. First off, I’m doing this either A) for fun B) for money or C) to see myself on screen. Since this was going to be a 26 hour (total) shoot, it was going to be far from fun, it wasn’t paying, and it was a non-airing pilot – not to mention I’d be in the background with so much “alien” makeup you wouldn’t recognize me if it was on tv.

I did however decide to take on another project. Thursday night I’ll be part of a small crowd scene on an Omega Watches ad. I took on this for two reasons. #1 it likely will air on tv as it is a commercial about Omega’s sponsorship of the 2006 winter Olympics, and #2 it will be at the Art Center College of Design. Taping is from 8-12pm Thursday.

Amy and I watched The Ballad of Jack and Rose on Saturday night. What a boring pile of crap. I think the screenwriter/director spent a lot of time reading “how to write interesting characters” books. She just forgot that they mean you should make the characters interesting to the audience, not the writer. The ending also sucks. Did Rose kill herself like she said she would? No, she’s living on another commune (and her hair doesn’t grow very fast apparently). Who cares? I felt the actress who played Rose was so peculiar looking that I just couldn’t get into her character. Half the movie I thought they were going to reveal at the end that she was legally retarded or something.

Last night Amy and I dined out at Johnny Carino’s, a new Italian restaurant. Amy had been there a few times and fallen in love with it. The food is good, my veal parmesan was on par with or better than Amazon’s. Their free soup with entrée wasn’t good though (a bland over-beaned minestrone) and had me pining for a return trip to Don Cuco’s. Amy said she was utterly disappointed and won’t go back because our service was poor. #1 WE boxed up our leftovers, not our waitress. #2 we were supposed to get free refills on our soda, but in the course of an hour meal, we were brought one refill, prompting me to say they should change the policy to “free refill” (singular, not plural). I was cheesed at the beginning of the visit though when I spotted “managed by Ken England” on the door in big bold letters. What franchise owner needs to paste his name on the exterior door so it’s the first thing you see?

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