Monday, December 29, 2003

Well, I'm finally back from my 2k mile trip across the world and I'm sitting in my lab with a miserable cough, and I'm all out of cough drops. That's alright though, it was a good trip. I'm too tired to blog the whole thing now, but I'll start of by saying I made some new audio recordings with CCL while I was up in chicago visiting him, and they are at my music website. For those of you who just can't click one more time on your mouse button, this is the update:

"Monday, December the 29th, 2003
I guess I've moved up to bi-annual updates now :p. I went to see CCL in Evanston, IL, where he's studying for his masters in music tech, and we did some recording together. CCL is the best musician I know and he can play just about anything you throw at him provided you don't break his fingers doing so. He also had access to and the knowledge to use a lot of 'pro' recording tricks to make me sound better than I actually am. That's right, I'm one step away from joining a boy-band.

What A Little Moonlight Can Do
This is a song I'd just written before I went to see CCL, and there's already another song by the same title, but I'd never heard it before and I think it's okay to have more than one song with the same title. There's more than one 'Hero' right? And more than one 'One', too, oddly enough.

The Young Man's Song
From a poem by W. B. Yeats. I made up the melody. This was actually the first song we did, and I was still thinking we were just goofing off, but then CCL went nuts with the accompaniments. By the time we were done with this mix, I knew this was a situation I just had to take advantage of. Muhahaha!

This is the song by Leonard Cohen, which also been covered by Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, and, um, Bono. Now I add my version to the whole mess, which will have the dubious honor of being 'Least-Heard Version Of Hallelujah. Ever.'

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
I'd say something about this song if I knew where to start. But I won't. Enjoy!"

Hope everyone has fun with the music. I'll end with an exciting pictorial description of my journey through Arkansas as I drove from Memphis to Chicago:






I'm never going back to Arkansas again if I can help it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I'm in Evanston, Illinois right now, with CCL in his grad student lab. I'm just recovering from a cold so everything kinda hurts. I won't say much about being here just yet (I'll talk about it when I get back), but suffice to say I've had a great time so far. CCL is the most accomplished musician I know, and we have been abusing his department's resources. Studio time like this would probably normally run me up a few hundred bucks. As it is, I've got super-cheap recordings of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, among other things.

Anyway, I also had a good time with Kevin in Cordova, TN (which is right next to Memphis). The drive up there was nice... I'd gotten a CD player with a power adapter and CD-to-cassette adapter so I could listen to all my CDs, which includes the Johnny Cash Unearthed collection that Brent gave me for Christmas. From Nashville to Memphis, I stopped at what was, coincidentally, the Johnny Cash rest area. Unfortunately they didn't really have anything cool, just a couple of Cash-related articles hanging by the men's room. Sacrilege!!!

I got to Kevin's sometime in the evening, and I decided to take a picture of him almost right away, less I pull another stunt like I did in Franklin and left without pictures of the person I was visiting. By the way, CCL just loaded up the Punisher trailer on his mac, and it looks good, except John Travolta is in it, and after Battlefield:Earth I'm not sure that's a good thing. Oh well. There's a trailer for Garfield too. CGI fat cat and a real Otis... kinda weird. Anyway, that's Kevin with his computer, on which he gets to do all kinda of work-related stuff. He loves his job, so he wants to bring work home. Unfortunately, that means he doesn't really do anything else... but there are much worse spots to be in I guess.

Of course, I got to ride his pride and joy: a Subaru Impreza that goes from zero to sixty in 4.5 seconds. I learned more than I ever knew beofre about turbo engines and power cornering, and I took a pic of his dashboard, which has a turbo meter next to the steering wheel that apprently tells him nothing useful, but it looks cool nonetheless. He wouldn't let me drive it, though... I guess I would've wrecked it if I even tried to reverse out of the parking lot. I got to share with him my dream car: a lime green new beetle. With a little flower on the dashboard. He kept his distance a little bit after that, because maybe I was contagious.

The day after I arrived, which was a Sunday, I met Lydia at church, who was in Memphis with her family. As it happened, the church they were going to was close by to Kevin's place, so it worked out beautifully. Germantown Baptist it was called. I took communion in the wrong order, because I didn't know the bread was sandwiched between the two cups they gave us. Where's a Catholic church when you need one? Kevin might visit again... it was a good place but a little too big for me. It was nice to see Lydia somewhere that was not Knoxville. Again, I took a photo before she could get away.

For lunch, Kevin drove out to where he worked and a ways after that, to eat at Gus's, which claims that they sell the best fried chicken ever. The drive up there was real pretty, so I took a picture just for the heck of it:

...and the outside of Gus's...

...and a sign with an amusing claim...

... and of course, the chicken, when it arrived.

It doesn't look like much, but it really tasted good. I told Kevin he needed to acquire the recipe and sell it in Malaysia. Unfortunately, he enjoys his job far too much, and wouldn't consider a creer change. Go figure.

The rest of the day we didn't do much... we spent some time at Barnes and Nobles (where he showed me pictures of cars in a magazine) and then went home for dinner. The next morning, I hit the road for the long drive to Chicago.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Today I'm starting on the road to Memphis, to see Kevin Wong and his souped-up racing machine, and from there I'm going to Evanston, Illinois, to play folk music and NeoGeo emulations with CCL. He thinks we can do some recording too. Woohoo! I get to work with a professional musician! :p Finally, on the way back, I'm going to see Matt and Gretchen in Ohio, who've invited me to spend, um, boxing day with them. I hope to be back by the 29th, or I'm not getting my final paycheck (those blasted UT checkout procedures).

If I don't get to blog in Illinois (and I probably will, but will be either too cold or too busy jamming), then Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Well where do I start... Amy's put together an interesting life in Franklin. I got there at about 11 am, and Amy didn't look too happy when she opened the door, which I should've foreseen because she's never up before noon. She said she'd be in bed for half an hour more... I spent the time (which turned out to be about three hours) playing GTA3 and reading various things that were lying around. I put in a small nap too, just in case I would need it. I would.

Later, after she was up and about, we went for lunch and her friend... Marty or Morty, I couldn't figure out which spelling was right... who was also a cop, met up with us. From there we did various things... mostly gift shopping at first. Later they took me on a tour of Franklin, which, they being cops, included the police station, abandoned factories, crackhouses, and the projects. I'm not kidding. Here's the proof:

If that front lawn doesn't say crack, I don't know what does. We also stopped by the entrance to what I think was called Carter house, which is supposed to be an old historic building which is haunted. Marty had a pretty good ghost story to tell from one of his patrols - it involved mysterious tapping at the second-floor windows. It was kinda freaky and I wanted to go up there, but for some reason the gates were locked. I did take a picture of the cemetary, which was next to the front gate, hoping to catch a ghost in action. But I lucked out. At least I think so. Here's the picture... if anyone sees anything in there, let me know:

We wound up at Starbucks at some point, where another friend who was on duty at the time came to meet us (we actually saw her previously at the station, where she introduced herself to me). I think Tamara was her name... again I'm not sure about the spelling. Her nametag said 'T. Something'. So as I sat there with three cops at the table I realized the joke I made beofre about Amy talking in 10-codes wasn't really a joke. It was true. And this time I didn't have a cheat sheet with me. It's a good thing I had coffee, and Rufus came on the radio for a few minutes with 'Hallelujah', so there was some comfort to be had. Later in the parking lot we had a little bit of fun with Tamara's patrol car, which is how I got my next picture of the evening. I tried my best to look mean and dangerous. Of course, I wound up looking constipated.

Afterwards we went to visit at the house of Robbie and Shannon (at least that's how I spell 'Shannon'), which was probably more like a ranch. Now I've never been to a ranch so I don't know, but they had a big field, llamas in a barn, and a really nice house. Only Shannon was home at the time and we spent some time talking and playing with handguns. By now things were so weird for me I stopped trying to assimilate... I just had fun fiddling with guns too and didn't ask questions. After that, things got really random for me.... I was ready to hit the sack at this point, but we wound up at the shopping mall and then at Wal-mart before the night was through. I was fighting to stay conscious, but tried to pay attention in case anybody asked me anything, which they did from time to time. Mostly I remember a lot of it was Shannon and Marty pretending to be a divorced couple.

When we finally got back to Amy's place, I got a shower, we listened to the 'Holy Night' CD I got from Cliff, which is always hilarious, no matter how many times I listen to it, then I went to bed. Amy had set up a neat airbed in the living room for me. The next thing that happened was probably a little odd, I guess. I got up at 3am in the morning, and decided I really really had stuff to take care of, and I went home. I left a note of course, and called later to apologize. Later, I felt bummed that I didn't get to go to Shannon's firing range and shoot automatic rifles, and very bummed when I realized I had no pictures of Amy or her friends. So I am officially the dushbag of the month.

Hey... what else is new?

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I visited Amy in Franklin last week but unfortunately I don't have the pictures I took with me right now, so I'm going to blog about it later. There is a lot of information I have to sift through anyway.... a lot of things happened and I can't be sure I understood everything correctly. There were guns involved though.

For now I've written a new lyric... I have an idea in my head about what the music would sound like but I haven't tried to play it yet so I don't really know. Maybe I can get CCL to help me out when I go see him in Illinois. And I know the title's been used before, but it's such a good title for a song I thought it deserved two tunes written for it.

Here it is, well what little there is anyway.

What A Little Moonlight Can Do

The moon is full, the air is light
Strands of clouds drift through the night
Something bright above is peeking through
That wants to demonstrate to me and you
What a little moonlight can do

The stars above are blinking
And fireflies are winking
Crickets chirping measures two by two
Perhaps the thing they're telling us is true
'Bout what a little moonlight can do

I'd be singin' hallelujah
But I wouldn't try to fool ya
It's not the heavens that enamor me tonight
It's just your smile and how it glows
And how it wrinkles on your nose
That tells me everything will be alright

We've seen and heard it all along
In picture shows and in song
But let's pretend we haven't got a clue
I'm coming, dear, to see it all with you
What a little moonlight can do
Oh what a little moonlight can do

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Well, Saddam was captured alive today. Peeps in the gaming community quickly came up with their own way of expressing their feelings:

(Thanks to whoever made this pic)

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Well things are really winding down on my end here. There is less and less stuff happening. I do have those papers to write but for the most part the biggest part of my day involves figuring out what lunch is going to be. I'm not done bombarding people's mailboxes with my resume yet so I'll keep that up for a while. Come January when I no longer officially have anything to do, Marci has offered me a chance to do odd-jobs around her house, which is just great because I get to fix Brent's house before he marries her and moves in. I would love to live in a house I helped fix, wouldn't you? Makes me think I could start a business. If you were about to get married and you knew the place you were going to live, probably the very house you're in right now, but it needed just a little bit of work, some screws tightened here, some hinges loosened there, the small things that seem unimportant by themselves but add up to a house full of little frustrations, but you just don't have time to fix any of those things due to your job or your social life, and you really really need to get that stuff done just so the first few weeks of marital bliss don't get ruined because your bathtub won't drain or thereis a frisbee that's been on the roof for six months and it's been bothering you ever since... no problem! Just call Bernard's Pre-Wedding Oddjob Service. We'll fix any problem you have: clogged kitchen sinks, squeeky door handles, windows painted shut, mismatched floorboards, switches that flip down instead of up to turn on, pieces of ramen in between your kitchen counter and your stove, mildew... you name it, we'll fix it. The best thing is, we charge by the job, not the hour, because our highly dedicated but barely trained staff are apt to standing around your problem area going "hmm..." and "huh..." while they figure out exactly what it is they need to do to fix your problem. And if what they wind up doing only makes things worse, why, we won't charge you a thing! Call us today, and ask about our special prices on leftover cleaning detergent: buy one, get none free!

Bernard's Pre-Wedding Oddjob Service: we're what you need to make yours a happy home.

Friday, December 05, 2003

I've been wasting a lot of time this week doing a Streetfighter-related picture for the art forum at SNK-Capcom... just because I wanted to. I just finished today... here it is.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

The Malaysian Christmas Carol Medley (performed for Rachel's between-the-holidays party)

I'm dreaming of a warm christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where there were no blizzards, we just wore t-shirts
And used styrofoam bits as our snow

I'm dreaming of a warm christmas
with every e-card that I write
Who's the guy who first settled so far north
Well he could not have been very bright


Well the weather outside is frightful
And I'm feeling mighty spiteful
If it gets above 40 below
Let me know, let me know, let me know!

I'm a human I'm not a Yeti
I don't mind if Santa's sweaty
Once it's warm outside, I'll go
Let me know, let me know, let me know!

I've got the heater now set to high
And a months worth of ramen I've stored
Please don't ask me to come outside
I've got Sega so I won't be bored

So go ahead and play your frisbee
It's not like anyone will miss me
When I won't freeze from head to toe
Let me know, let me know, let me know!


Sleigh bells ring are you listenin'
No I'm not, my ears are frozen in
My nose and feet too, and I'm turning blue
And I cannot feel my fingers or my hands

Gone away is the blue bird
And he gave me a good word
"Just do what I've done, Cause it's never fun
When you cannot feel your fingers or your hands"

What is up with all this needless suff'ring?
I asked Brent and this is what he told
"Winter makes you feel like you're really living!"
"No", I said, "it only makes me cold"

And makes me want to conspire
To set the whole town on fire
I would if I could, but I can't light the wood
I cannot feel my fingers or my hands

What the devil made me come and live here
The idea was as crazy as it sounds
Everyone should live on the equator
Just what the hell is wrong with all you clowns?

Well I hope you're all happy
With your weather so crappy
I can't play much more, and you all know what for
I cannot feel my fingers or my hands
I cannot
feel my fingers
or my haaands

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Well this is starting to look like the blog of nice photos rather than the blog of doom, so in keeping with the original spirit of this blog (yeah I don't remember what the original spirit was supposed to be either), I'm putting up a new song I wrote. Kinda.

Tight Connection to My F1 Status (Has Anybody Seen My Job?)

(Sung, or mumbled, to the tune of 'Tight Connection To My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)' by Bob Dylan)

Well, I had to move fast
And I couldn't with my Toyota wreck.
I said I'd send my resume and I did
What do they expect?
My hands are sweating
And I haven't even started working yet.
I'll go along with the charade
Until I can lie my way out.
I know that interview was a big joke
Whatever it was all about.
Someday maybe
I'll get those stupid questions correct.

I'm gonna get my coat,
I feel the breath of a storm.
I had no money to pay the bills last night,
So how am I gonna stay warm?

Has anybody seen my job,
Has anybody seen my job,
Has anybody seen my job.
I don't know,
Has anybody seen my job?


Errr I think I'll stop there. Job-hunting is already depressing as it is.

Monday, December 01, 2003

I'm fed and happy, which is just about the best you can reasonably expect to be after thanksgiving. Mizuma Hisanori paid us a visit (he was a student at UT for a year or so and went home last spring) for four days. He's a really nice guy. Nori taught me everything I know about the Japanese language, and translated several lines of dialogue from Capcom Vs Snk 2. Thanks to Nori, I'm fluent enough to challenge a Japanese karateka to a fight, and taunt him after I've won. Ah, there is no end to my useless knowledge.

The first night he was here, we had a small pre-thanksgiving bash with him at the Cracker Barrel. The party consisted of Brent, Marci, Lydia, Rachel, Dee, and myself. Nori too, of course. The next day, after everyone else had left, I drove him to the Sacks', who were having a big thanskgiving meal for international students. It was a good crowd, and the food was great. I really wanted to nap after that, but it's always polite to stay and play a game, in this case Taboo. The level of competition wasn't quite as intense as when I played with Mike and the Terrys (that's a band name right there), but it was something to do after we'd stuffed ourselves, so why not.

The next day I met Nori and Claire (a girl from Hong Kong and our mutual friend, though I never see her anymore because I've gotten old and I'm not cool enough to hang out with her) for lunch at IHOP, of all places. Nori wanted to go there because it brought back memories for him. That's why I love my friends, they are all so strange. Anyway, we talked and I caught up with Claire, made fun of her thoroughly like I always do (actually I think that's why she doesn't hang out with me anymore... her self-esteem was taking too cruel a beating =p), and drank coffee. It was a good time. After that I drove Nori to the Cedar Springs Christian Bookstore, because he was looking for a CD. I took a crap (IHOP does that to you) and after that I thumbed through the latest Left Behind comic book. I swear there's no symbolism there.

Nori found his CD, then I drove him to the Sacks' again, where he was staying that night before flying home, and said bye to him, see you again later, email me ok? The only person in the house at the time was Aaron, and that's him in the picture with Nori. It was supposed to flurry a little at that time so I decided to go home right after, just in case. Nothing fell though.... what a drag.

It was Friday evening, and Brad was having a big farewell bash for Michaël at his house that evening. Yup, the same Michaël. We weren't done celebrating his departure yet, apparently. Unfortunately, I completely forgot about the party... I guess I was all done socializing for the day. I'd reached my conversational limit... I needed to hide in my room for the rest of the night.

...and half of Saturday too, it turned out. I woke up at half past eight, but didn't even peek out of my door until 3pm, and after that it was a mad dash to Kroger and back so I could sit in front of my laptop again and play Gothic 2. When I got home, though, I decided I'd stayed indoors long enough and it was time to get out and get some air in my lungs. So I took a walk through Fort Sanders. Not the smartest thing to do when it's getting dark, but what did I take Karate for? Besides, it was cold outside and it was hard to imagine any hoodlums hiding in a bush outside waiting to pounce on unsuspecting folk in this weather.

There were lots of people walking about when I got to the World's Fair Park. There was something going on at the new Knoxville convention center... lots of people were lined up. I think it was some kind of musical performace. It was kinda nice watching all those people walk around in their warm clothes. I took a picture of the sunsphere (actually I took four and then digitally created the panorama shown here) just because I thought it looked nice in that evening light. I've been here six years... I still don't know what that thing is for.

I started walking back after a while. It was getting real dark. Then I stopped one more time to take this last pic. I thought it looked cool, with the black trees and the streetlamp shining brightly like a false sun, and the dark blue sky in the distance. It *looked* cold. And it was. But I was full from two days worth of eating, and I'd just spent a whole day by myself doing absolutely nothing, so I was happy and even thankful. I suppose that was the best Thanksgiving I'd ever had (and I've had six so that probably counts for something).