Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Time Has Arrived, But I'm Late For My Own Appointments

I was going to leave this post till the 1st of February, just in case I couldn't think of anything, and I didn't want to lose another month exactly a year later. But on discussion with the other, he has decided to return to the blogging world and shall be posting shortly, so he will probably lead the February Anarchy Inside My Mind sweepstakes kick off!

I shall attempt to update the patented Joaquin Rate List (JRL) some time in the near future. I'm sure there have been names that have cropped up, but with the previous lack of blognotes (or blogging for that matter), names have been unrecorded, and I will probably have to rely on my memory. Stay tuned for more on that.

It's good to be clean again. It's been the holidays and I haven't gone out lately so I've been scrubbing it up by not shaving or showering (don't worry, I had no contact with the outside world for a bit, so it's ok)! But I decided to at least shower yesterday and it feels good, especially with all the heat. It's also sharpened up my reflexes and in conjunction with cutting my nails I'm able to play sublimely again, I don't know why that is!! It must be a phenomenon!

I'll also take this opportunity to again praise Dove hygiene products! Dove soap and body milk is THEEE best! Real soap leaves you feeling dry and greasy, and other moisturisers get gloppy and smell weird. But this stuff is the best, and the aroma is so pure.

For as long as I can remember (I think probably high school), on the advice of my sister, I used to have my bedroom clock fast by 12 mins exactly. Her reasoning was that way you'd always be on time whenever you needed to get somewhere. As the rest of the clocks in the house (and my watch and phone) run on standard time, the other day I decided to make it uniform and put it back to normal timing. This isn't really a problem since I'm usually never late for anything anyway. But for some reason I keep deducting 12 mins from whatever the time is from the clock in that room. Funny how conditioning works don't you think?

I've mentioned before that I used to get near panic attacks in tutorials whenever I answered questions, from the middle of university onwards. It would happen regardless of whether I was right or wrong, or wanted to answer the question or not and it just seems incredibly weird looking back. As the real world beckons, I'm hoping the trend doesn't continue, or I'm going to have serious issues. I don't even know what the hell started it so I can't go to the root of the issue.

One of my biggest pet peeves is my mp3 player playlist. You can upload files directly to folders on it etc, but everything organises in alphabetical order, so other playlists require the use of the program that it came with. So I usually do it on the other computer, and usually have playlists of about 25-35 songs each. Anyhow, usually as soon as I put up a playlist, about 2-3 days later I'll hear another song that I want and get it, then I have to totally re-do the entire playlist!! It's FRUSTRATING! So now I've resolved to just wait till the backlog of songs reaches a predetermined amount before they can constitute their own playlist. I guess the use of USB1.1 drivers on that comp brought that around, since it does take a lil while to get playlists that big to upload.

I must also sing the praises of King Crimson's Sleepless. From the eponymous slapped bass intro to the eerie guitar riff later on, it's probably the best description of insomnia ever. It's highly experimental and not mainstream in terms of lyrics and composition, but it's one of my faves. The vocal delivery is spot on, and damn Robert Fripp and his use of new standard tuning (CGDAEG). I'll have to give it a go soon so I can try to figure out that song cause it's spectacular.
Great song and great players, it just can't go wrong!

I love this thing that I've noticed on youtube lately. As you probably know I've been hitting shuffle on winamp and loading up the music video in youtube to watch! The comments have been hilarious to read on some of the vids. I watched Lenny Kravtiz ft. Slash - Always On The Run. The comments mainly concerned how great Slash's playing is. However one stated that if it hasn't been for Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Slash would have never picked up the guitar (this is true). However, the next comment said that if it hadn't been for the guitar being invented several hundred years ago, Slash and any other guitar player wouldn't have picked up the guitar. This was funny enough as it is, but then the next comment said that if it wasn't for the first Atom and big bang, nobody would exist, and certainly not Slash.
Funny as hell yes, but this got me thinking, that this level of escalation in our youth in terms of arguments and retribution doesn't bode well. I don't think the younger generations really understand the concept of consequence and the value of life as some of the other generations. With their nonchalant attitudes, there will probably be bigger conflicts and even more casualties. The biggest anti war activists are usually those who have fought in wars previously and have realised how futile it is.

Anyway there's this whole sub culture of people on YT who conduct entire conversations within the comments, and watch others videos. An interesting society YT is. Anyway, that's my contribution for today!! Have a nice day folks!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Little Steps Get You Nowhere In The End (Ode To The Introspective)

We used to apologise for lengthy delays on here. Now we don't even bother anymore. Why is that? There were massive gaps (even a missing month) on the blog. Of course things happened, but I guess I felt like I had nothing to say, and even if I did, I didn't want to share it, or that time wasn't on my side.

I will attempt to rectify that, and I shall also try to get the other to blog again, but since he's still overseas, we might all have to wait a bit longer.

As usual, once per year I read over all the entries on the blog. For me this is self indulgent (when it comes to my own entries), as I like the other's writing style much more, and he has more interesting things to say.

I guess it's because with the blog, I've already had these thoughts previously, and that once I type them up, it's sort of become old news and it bores me. But hell, I keep typing them up and reading them later. A recurring theme in my early posts seems to be women and sex and how bad I was at guitar! Haha I'm up to 2006, and I think things change...a bit! Hopefully there's been good intellectual stuff also and as our by-line in the blog says - food for thought.

I watched Citizen Kane today and it was spectacular. Unfortunately I was also playing poker at the same time, and by the time the end of the movie came around, I didn't even really pick up on the change of Kane! Haha, I thought he was still good in the end! Maybe the thought of "Rosebud" cleansed him of all the wrong he'd done at the end. After all, when you go back to the start, it wasn't even his choice. Haha unlike the Bobo episode of The Simpsons where Mr Burns' childhood parodies the start of the film. I guess I'll have to watch it again some day so I can properly analyse. But from what I saw I loved. Orson Welles is a bloody powerhouse.

I wonder why there's always the thought of doing the wrong thing. Sometimes the wrong things happen, and there's no time for thought until after. Oh hold on, I'm sure I've covered this in a previous entry a while back so I'll leave that here.

I read a friend's post today about how she feels attached to the city because of the pure fact she has spent a good deal of her life here. As she's leaving to undertake further study later on, she's realised that she'll always feel affection for this city, and that her history is intertwined with the street lanes that she walks on, to the point where she sees all past versions of herself walking alongside her when she walks. I thought the imagery of that thought was beautiful. My imagination died in college I think. I've said it before, and the other has agreed, that education tends to kill the creative mind, due to constraining things to a certain viewpoint, and denouncing all others. But I should also contradict that and say education is bloody important, unless you want to be a nobody. Back to my original point, as I'm leaving soon, it's dawned on me that I'll never get to do everything I wanted to do here. I guess in some stupid way I thought I'd always get the chance, but now that's all fleeting. I have a feeling life is going to be like that. No matter how much you really try, in the end it's all going to be taken away before you get to do absolutely everything you wanted. I guess the little versions of me won't have anyone to walk with down the streets anymore. I also feel it moreso, as I was born here and I've spent my entire life here.

Now the real world is beating down on my door, armed with various implements to hurt me, and I'm unable to defend myself. In the words of Rob Thomas - I wish the real world would just stop hassling me. This is further exemplified by one of my friends who is starting work in a few days time (incidentally at a place I also received an offer from, and was looking forward to working at), and he's terrified, even though it's going to be cushy. I know stuff for me is going to be much tougher, and I'm sort of heading into the wall with my eyes closed, some sort of plausible deniability if you will. The friend I mentioned previously (the one who blogged about the city), has had their dose of the real world, and thought it sucked, so they decided to obtain a Master's degree.

To continue this disjointed entry, I'll go back to my other point. Yes, the other and I have changed as people since we first started posting on here. Many trials and tribulations, but there was always a common thread for all the negatives, which I won't mention here. This sucks incredibly, as I was always against the idea of it from the start. I guess when you get the feeling something is going to be bad at the start, you're either going to be right or happy, which is very safe. Hopefully the other is going to have a better world view than I do after all this time.

Music is another common thread on here. I'm so happy that I've become much better on guitar. It was all pretty much down to just playing and some insane practice regimes everyday over each holiday. I'm comfortable with playing, composition, and I've even taken a liking to more rhythm and melody work and odd time signatures, which I initially really didn't care for, and hated respectively at the start. After you get to such a level, when you realise you have a wide variety of styles in your arsenal, and even surpassed some of your idols in terms of the things you can do and play due to your versatility, it's still difficult to forget the start, when everything seemed impossible.

In lighter news, I recently saw New Kids On The Block's video clip for Step by Step (there was a retro special on some music vid show). You're probably wondering how the hell I could have seen a 1990's clip, featuring such an unlikeable band. However, I really rate the song. Sure the clip is dated (lots of big hair, parachute pants, shoulder padded jackets, and Vanilla Ice like early 90's dancing), but goddamn, that bassline is one of the best I've ever heard, and the vocal harmonies on the pre-chorus - "I really think it's just a matter of time" is truly sublime. It was really ahead of its time in terms of the entire vocal melody and the instrumental work, lots of funk and even orchestra fills here and there. This was stuff that didn't even really come to the forefront until several years later. I'd love to cover this song someday in a way that can bring some of the flatter parts of the remaining instruments (ie not the bass and drums) during the verse to match the pure awesomeness of those parts. Of course delivery would have to include irony! Most major music consumers these days don't even know the band, which is a scary thought, considering it's part of my childhood folklore!

I feel bad for what happened to them. They were really pawns in the corporate machine. Sure the songs were heavy on cliche and a lot of crapness, but I'll be damned if you can criticise their singing ability and melding together as a team. However the corporate machine was greedy, and overexposure over such a short time led to a MASSIVE backlash, just as they were finding their own way, but by then it was too late unfortunately. I really hope they made good money from it, unless their manager and or others skimmed stuff, which is highly possibly since they were barely adults at the peak of their career. They - as a brand - were worth well over several hundred million dollars. Now look at them, almost all have dropped off the face of the Earth, bar Donnie Wahlberg (props to him, cause I think he was the most talented one), and Jordan Knight (who staged a freaky near all out comeback in 1999). I've also heard rumours that they may reunite for a world tour. Fuck reunions!!! You take the fun out of covering old songs!! Led Zep, The Police, it's all terrible!! What's worse, is that these guys (well the last 2 examples) are already rich mofos, however their tours will sell out regardless, so they charge the highest prices, and tour revenue for bands like them are over 130 million dollars per tour in AMERICAN DOLLARS. You'd think they'd try to do something for the fans, but I guess in the end the dollar is king.

Before I leave, I need to procure myself a new slim digital camera, as well as an acoustic guitar. I guess I'm not too fussed on owning an Ovation or Martin, or even a Maton right now. Just want something with low action that sounds semi decent, so I can jam with the other now and then.

I also forgot to mention something in my last post. I wrote about the topic of torrents. For those unfamilar with the process, basically the more people that have the file, the faster the transfer rate occurs, due to some sort of cluster theory that I can't explain or understand. Anyway, most of the time, you'll find that on the day of release up to a month after release of, let's say a cd, you'll have practically 1000 people sharing the files, and you can download an entire album in under 15 mins on my connection, which is fairly decent. However for bigger files, and things you want a bit after the heat has died down, you are lucky to get even double digits in terms of people sharing the files. Then it dawned on me, it's just human nature, and I'm guilty of it too. After I download anything from any program, I take it out of my shared folder straight away. You reap what you so I guess. Take take take, but never give.

I'm dead certain that I've gained weight over the last semester of uni, as I only had one class and my honours thesis, so I was just sitting at the comp not doing a hell of a lot, which has also carried on into the holidays. As a result some of my best clothes don't fit, and after moving and starting a new job somewhere, the first impression you want to make is not one of a loser or an ugmo. I think I'll need to join a gym for the remaining weeks I'm here, and train in the mornings, study during the day, and slowly readjust my body clock to more sane hours. It's for the best anyway, I can get more done that way. It'll probably also help getting over everything I'm leaving behind. But I'm not always stuck in the present mindset, cause there's always the possibility that after I'm there for a while, I'll look back on the things I left behind and realised I never really cared about anything anyway, and I'm just an emotional nomad.

Also, with the introspective, I've noticed that there are STACKS of grammar, spelling and typo errors littered in my entries, so I apologise, since I am usually fastidious about such things. My primary teachers were correct, being reliant on spell check for too long will only hurt you.

Finally also discovered the bloody effects pedal I've needed! For some dumb reason I thought the way to replicate your rhythm so you can solo over it is to have a delay pedal and a two channel amp, with a foot channel switcher. This is not the case, you can just get a loop pedal and just keep adding things over it ala Howie Day and KT Tunstall. I have to check these out!

This is one bloody gigantic entry so I'll leave it here for today and continue reading the entries. Have a nice day folks!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Take This Down!

I'm watching Memento for the 2nd time. It's good cause the first time I watched it I still had so many unanswered questions, and I even misinterpreted the ending. Things are much clearer the second time around (ditto for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

I wonder why Guy Pearce is so inconsistent, he kicks ass in Memento, but in The Time Machine he kept switching accents and didn't seem to be focused in his portrayal.

For some reason I've been experimenting with Jazz chords. They add so much depth to pieces, and although I don't listen to much jazz, I like to mix things up a bit.

They're also nice for chromatic step ideas as well as muted unpitched chords (which can also contain some chunky strummed single note leads)!

Dear God I hate the watershed on tv. After a certain time on television, they show more adult material in the ad breaks, regardless of what the show is rated. One time I was watching a nice movie and my mother was downstairs ironing some clothes when this ad came on with all this moaning and screaming, and I couldn't change the channel cause it'd make it look like I was up to something suspicious, so I just toughed it out and left it on. In hindsight it was quite stupid! My friend also brought up the point that one of the girls in the ad looks like a representative for our version of local parliament. I'm hoping I never run into her or else I'll never be able to look her in the eye without thinking about the ad!

Guitar is interesting. It's a very punishing instrument. Even after several years of hardcore practice, you can still make a mistake on something simple. No matter how well you know it, if you lose focus for half a second and it's all over in a hail of fluffed notes. With my warmups I can play everything with a reasonable amount of dexterity, and some days I just destroy everything without breaking a sweat, and other times even the simplest parts I screw up so much, that I spend even 5 mins re-doing them till they're right! I don't know why I'm a glutton for punishment but I keep coming back to the instrument.

I used to fear for Australian music, but after seeing some of the ads and hearing the songs of Kisschasy, I have to admit that maybe things will be ok! They have some of the most gorgeous hooks I've ever heard as well as some great vocal harmonies on their choruses.

Yes I will be moving interstate soon, and I've been looking at places to live. There are some really REALLY nice places, and close to work too, but the annoying thing is that close to 55% of my weekly salary (if not MORE) will go to my rent. This does not bode well for my savings, or doing anything nice in a bigger city. One of my friends will hopefully move there mid year and I can get a bigger place for less rent.

Been playing M2TW like a psycho lately. Mostly jaunts from 1-5:30am trying to get it finished as quickly as possible (again). Then I can move on to MTW. An annoying thing however is that I bought the game from interstate from a franchise store and I lost the receipt. Anyway, the casing was tight and it cracked my gameplay CD to the point where my DVD drive can't even read it anymore. As such, I had to crack the game and now I just play it off my hard drive (don't worry, it's legal, since I actually own the game). But when I move and eventually get a new comp and all, I'll want to transfer it across, and since I can't exchange the game in my city, I'm using Torrents to download the whole game so I can make an image of those on to DVD. Woo I can also get my high speed DVD burner from my old comp on to the new one, it'll be spectacular!

One of my friends introduced me to DoTa on WC3 a little while ago. When I first started I got thrashed by everyone. But now as I'm starting to get the hang of things, it's really addictive fun! No game is ever the same, even if you play with the same people, it's really interesting and a difficult game to master.

Several years ago when I was new to guitar, the other used to deride me for my inability to play standing up. I tried very hard to rectify the situation and only ever played standing up and now I'm quite adept (this is because when sitting down and standing up for guitar players places their fretting arm in a different position than usual, it's like trying to trace a picture while looking into a mirror sometimes). Yesterday I was playing sitting down and I was downright awful, I'm hoping it's just down to the phenomenon I mentioned earlier in this post.

So what's my warmup? I use the Steve Vai 10 Hour warmup, with some chromatic exercises and some stretches. Some alternate picking and string skipping, followed by more chromatics and some spider finger transitions (these feature a lot on John Petrucci's Rock Discipline video). After that comes my scalar exercises. Here's the breakdown:

Minor Pentatonic: Usual rock scale, probably the most heard scale in modern music. I liken it to a hoe - nasty, but gets the job done with minimal fuss.

Blues Minor Pentatonic: The added flat fifth here adds a whole new dimension to a straight minor pentatonic solo and makes things sound bluesy (duh) but also a bit more naughty when you use decent phrasing.

Major Pentatonic - Basically the same as can be said for Minor Pentatonic.

Harmonic Minor - Gorgeous classical/eastern/flamenco opportunities abound with this scale. Also good for coming up with different chordal structures for a piece that may have seemed ridiculous at first. Played fast it's spectacular, played slow it sounds soulful. Also great for songs based solely around riffs.

Major scale - Enough said, to use this effective, it's best to use a lot of string skips and legato in order to get the most. You could even Johnny Marr it up and play it in thirds to make it sound sparkly.

Natural Minor - Brilliant for slow pieces, as the extra notes add a lot of emotion to a piece, and when used in conjunction with bends, the world is your oyster.

Whole Tone Scale - Utterly confusing when you first learn it, but as you get used to the finger position changes, it's easy to play at speed. This is best suited for diminished chords, but since I don't use a lot of them, I haven't really used this scale.

Locrian Mode - I'm crap with modal theory, so let me just say thank god for Rush. Listening to their tracks and understanding how to tastefully utilise the foreboding tritone (from the root note), you can come up with ideas that scare other musicians while still containing melodic relevance.

Dorian Mode - Interesting note choices just running through this, I haven't properly used this as I haven't come up with an appropriate backing.

Mixolydian Mode - I've been using this a HELL of a lot more lately. Spectacular for 7th backings, cause landing on that 7th note in the mode as the corresponding chord hits, you're in heaven. Use it and you'll see!

Minor Pentatonic with Major 6th - Pure and utter JAZZ. The double stops available in this overcome the limitations of other double stops in the minor pentatonic which may sometimes go out of melody. This is underrated and should be used more I say!

Anyway, it's late, and I want to play so have a nice day folks. Stay safe!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I said no, oh no!

Milestone today, 400th post on this lovely blog of ours! Considering we've been around for about 3 and a half years, I don't think that's the greatest average, but we're doing our best so I think that's about all you can really ask for.

Do you ever get the feeling that nobody really cares for you? Not just in the superficial asking how you are blahness and the like, but that nobody really cares for you at the core of who they are? That you're fundamentally alone no matter what. There might be love, but how can one person TRULY know and understand someone else? Is it the whole reciprocal nature of it the only reason it even exists?

I think I should probably include my Christmas rant on here before I totally forget. The other day a friend mentioned she was puzzled that even though Christmas is essentially a Christian concept, it thrives in countries where the actual practicing level of christianity is low (people who are Christian in name only) and athiests and agnostics are on the bandwagon with the whole Christmas idea. This annoyed her, as she felt that the whole idea of capitalism and buying meaningless random crap was certainly not the idea behind Christmas, but to go further and rope people who have nothing to do with the holiday into it too was borderline grotesque.

I'm not Jewish, but I'm a man, and I'm sure with time I'd be able to learn some Hebrew, I'd also like some presents and money, so should I have a Bah Mitzvah? No! That may seem silly to some, but I think the analogy works. I guess the fundamental difference is that Christmas seems to have divorced the religious/spiritual meaning of the holiday, and kept its ugly human/money created side so that everyone can get involved.

Celebration of the birth of the religion's prophet, and the three wise men bearing gifts from far away to give to a poor family seems like a very theologous (is that even a freakin' word?) thing that would be central to the religion. But no, it's been pre-empted and monopolised by big corporations, lost in a sea of green and red, and tacky decorations. It's so sad really.

The problem is that this sort of thinking has been ingrained on society now, so if the Church took a stance on the position to remember the holiday for what it really is, you can rest assured they would be ignored by everyone and/or even denounced by some.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I recently learned how to play poker (texas hold-em) and I'm half decent! I can't play draw or stud poker, cause working out odds and probabilities in that is a bit harder for me.

Another serious let down is celebrities supporting causes and asking the middle/lower classes to give up their money (that they desparately need, as the cost of living steadily increases) to help these causes. I was reading the paper today and Isabel Lucas (some B grade soap star) was making a stance about the protection of whales. I thought that was fair enough, but I noticed that the photo shoot mentioned the makers of the clothes she was wearing/modelling (Sass & Bide etc) which is rather expensive fashionista stuff. The hypocrisy of the whole thing made me want to smack her upside the face. But since she's dyed her hair darker and looks a damn sight more attractive, that wouldn't be very nice of me would it?

Ah yes, University is over, my thesis was a roaring success. It was also the single longest piece of writing I've ever attempted, as it stretched to 11395 words. It also covered a large range of topics, from history, to theology, to textual analysis and even law (!). But every who read it loved it and it scored very highly. The last exam I ever took was also the hardest one I have taken in my entire 5 years of university. I also did not sleep the night before. Therefore it was quite tough, but I somehow managed to do awesomely and received a very high mark for the subject (which meant I must have done almost perfectly on the exam, as my assignment mark wasn't too good)!

I've also been inputting various ideas for rhythms and riffs and the like into Guitar Pro, as I'm sure I would forget most of them as a lot of them weren't even written down in any format. After finishing up, I have realised that I have 50+ songs of original material and ideas, and that's just MY stuff. The other would have countless more, and that's not even mentioning the hundreds of covers we can play and our excellent improvisation skills. I swear, something must be done about this, because it's good stuff, and it must be heard.

Well this has been a rather long post, so it should tide you over for a bit until the next post! Have a nice day folks!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Year Blues

Happy New Year folks.

What changes lie around the corner? Who knows, we have to take each day as it comes.

Too much is made of trying to play fast. Yes, it's visually impressive, but it exposes you as an unimaginative moron if you rely on it too much. True freedom of expression is slow, and you need to transmit what you're feeling into your instrument so that the audience knows what EVERY note means to you.

Once you start to head in that direction, creative doors will just start to open up for you. Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's all well and good (sometimes even NEEDED) to play meaningless fast stuff, as there is a message in those passages too.

Note selection and phrasing is key. Don't ever forget that. Have a nice day folks.