Saturday, May 5, 2018

Taxes, Ensembles, Certificates and Spring Break Ups

Have you ever gotten to a point where you feel stagnant? Not trapped, but stuck. I guess that's the feeling I get whenever I start getting unexpected amounts of free time after being regularly busy (which I generally prefer). For a good period in April that's exactly what it was. Now, you may be asking, "hey wait a minute; with that 'large' amount of time, where have been the blog posts for March and April?" (assuming anyone actually notices) Well... an unexpected influx of free time which under usual circumstances I'd be excited about and well-prepared for, generally enables me to further pursue (or catch up on) certain endeavors -- like a blog -- you're right!

In fact -- this is how mental I am -- I have to-do lists for when these moments of time abundance unexpectedly occur. Like, for example, the "bed-ridden sickness recovery to-do list," which includes things like *menial data entry for various things like employment history or flashcards that I've been meaning to add to and/or do, or... *binge watching TV shows I've intentionally been avoiding to watch like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, etc. or... *playing a video game that I know will consume me for at least a week like Civilization, or Fallout. You get the idea.

But alas, the big obstruction in the past two months were 1) [obviously] business, and more caustically 2) my faithful laptop of 8 years finally died. So sometime between my last post and now, my means to achieve many tasks -- including blogs -- failed me and basically took the wind right out of my sails. Stuck in the doldrums with loads of time, and very little tools to get anything done. It's funny how that works, and I actually believe it to be a normal experience of the "time paradox." You either have the means ($$$), but not the time, OR, you have the means ($$$), but not the time.

So how am I blogging to you now? Well, upon realizing my laptop was beyond the brink I quickly went ahead and purchased a refurbished desktop computer off of It was affordable [around $210] but it took two weeks to ship and finally arrive. The anticipation was incredible, and I was very excited when the computer arrived. I gutted my work desk to accommodate this new machine, plugged everything in, powered it up, booted through the windows set up, entered my name and region, got to the desktop screen, and just as I was began to start installing some initial programs to set my computer up, it froze. And not like ctrl+alt+delete froze, but like screen-cracked-with-random-colors-from-the-matrix-Windows-95, froze. Fuck! So I turn it off, and when I went to turn it back on, the tower did nothing except beep 5 times at me, meaning that there was a hardware malfunction. In my frustration I furiously pried open the tower to disconnect and reconnect all the various components. After doing so, I successfully managed to get the computer to begin to start up, only to have it crash/freeze in the middle of it's boot sequence. When I went to restart it from the subsequent crash, I was again greeted with 5 beeps. This persisted for a few more cycles of disconnect/reconnect/power-up/freeze, until I eventually gave up and decided the "refurbished" CPU was a lemon. I was fucking annoyed. Thankfully, my friend offered to hook me up with a computer for $75 and here I am, a month later, with a fully functional computer. I suppose I can't complain after it's all said and done really...

Anyway... day one of wisdom teeth removal was fine, day two through to day seven was BRUTAL. My jaw swelled up as the doctor had predicted and it was extremely difficult to eat or even hold down any food due to the pain meds I reluctantly took. But, that passed, and now I have wisdom-less jaw and a new/different taste of flem in my mouth from time to time (is that normal?). Yum.

I did my taxes, or rather, I had a trusted acquaintance hold my hand and pretty much do them for me. After making the conscious decision of moving from "poverty level," to "just-above poverty level," I decided to do the half self-employed, half company-employed route which paid itself back in dividends. As a result, I'm well prepared for next year and looking forward to next year's tax season.

I started and completed my six week Japanese language course at I.C.C. It was fun, and I would be continuing it again if it weren't for the new music projects I picked up that conflict with the scheduling. Musical pursuits take precedence over everything recreational.

As you may (or may not know) I am a frequent craigslist user. I use it to post ads for my guitar lesson business (which by the way, costs $5 a post now), and I also use it to network with other Honolulu based musicians to try and put bands together. During one of my routine patrols of the website, I witnessed a listing "seeking a guitar player... for a jazz ensemble performing in three weeks featuring video game music" in the gigs section. Video game music -- at this point -- was becoming something I was immersed in; guitaring in Console (VGM band), drumming in Mighty Sprites (VGM band). Naturally, I responded, and set up an audition.

Now this was a little different than what I was used to, because I was given lead sheets to audition with. And... I can not sight read music in real time at all, not even to save my life. Being that this was an "ensemble," with at least 30 musicians (Horns, Strings, etc.) everyone would be using sheet music to stay on target, and rehearsals were far and few between. Luckily at this point, I was already starting to implement some facets of music nomenclature and notation, so I wasn't completely lost. Using what I knew, I squeaked by through my audition -- confessing that I was a terrible sight reader -- and yet still got the gig. I was a late member to join the group, so I had a lot of catching up to do, and so for the last two weeks of February I crammed for the performance on the first weekend of March; Kawaii Kon 2018 with Hitbox: the VGM Ensemble.

It was a great experience, and I hope to do it (or something like it) again some time. Unfortunately my position in the group was a one-off addition for a specific re-imagination of the core group, which to my understanding Hitbox is a "classical ensemble" that was "doing a Jazz performance" (thus needing to hire a guitar player as well as other instruments) for this one special event. It was humbling in regards of my feeble understanding on written music, so it's inspired me to start using (and training myself to get better with) more conventional/traditional/"correct" ways of notating music. As a result, I've been diving into the world of Musescore (freeware music notation software) to get a better understanding of the sheet music life, and hopefully get some nice looking PDFs on my tablet!

A couple weeks after my stint with the Hitbox ensemble, I was patrolling craigslist yet again and I stumbled upon a bass player looking to put together a "live karaoke band." I immediately responded. I had always wanted to do/be in a karaoke band. I witnessed my first one when I lived in Seattle and thought it was fantastic, thinking it could be something I'd like to do, but just never knew how to go about doing it/putting it together, especially on Oahu. Fast-forward to now and we're chipping away at a 100 song roster. Got about 30 in the bag, tackling about 15 a rehearsal. We're looking at having a "rehearsal party" some time in July to test out the waters before it goes fully live. I'm pretty excited about it [the Aloha Karaoke Band] and believe it could lead to some pretty successful gigs if it all goes right. Also looking into doing some field research and data collection...

Mighty Sprites were doing well. Despite some [what-I-would-call] silly auxiliary hic-ups, we were beginning to rehearse regularly with the new guitar player. After 9 months, we were finally developing and growing together. We also agreed to officially set aside a regular day/time of the week and have a set [weekly] schedule (which for me is a huge step in band seriousness) and things were looking pretty good! (At least from my perspective) But... due to some newer circumstances (bull shit) beyond my control, the writing was on the wall, and I was positioned to quit the band. So, I am no longer drumming for a video game. :( I had a similar experience to this the last time I was drumming (maybe this is the drummers dilemma? Cause I've heard of this happening to others) in 2008 where I was basically in a position where my only viable option was to leave the band. Anyway, another project for the graveyard. I am by no means proud of this, but you should see my "former projects" folder riddled with hopes, dreams and wishful thinking. Another one bites the dust.

Console's situation went from bad to worse after having lost the gig at Hawaiian Brian's (refer to previous blog). The bass player went dark/radio-silent; wasn't responding to phone calls, texts, emails. As a friend I was (and still am -- still haven't heard from him) concerned for his well-being... As the defacto band director, I had to begin looking for a replacement. We went from having a full lineup with a gig lined up, to an incomplete start up band again. Fuck! Motivation/morale was at a low, the rehearsals were tough without the bass, and even so, we reluctantly decided to do an open mic to get some stage experience together. The open mic didn't quite go as I expected (which is good from a learning/experience stand point, but also pretty embarrassing) and we went about a month without playing together. Didn't really see a point in rehearsing without a bass player, so we were laying low til someone hit our craigslist post looking for a bass player. We eventually had two persons audition, the one who was an acquaintance/connection of the keyboard player's eventually got the gig, so now we are able to rock again. Coincidentally, not even a week after deciding on said bass player, I received two more very qualified applicants interested in the bass position (from an ad that had been posting for three months now mind you). I would have liked to have tried them all but... we had already hired a guy. Oh well. Snooze you lose? I guess?? Wait what...? Is this the kind of shit employers have to deal with on the regular? Hire a guy to fill a position, and hours later someone better qualified and eager to work for you and could be a much better candidate comes along, only to have you say, "oh sorry, we're not hiring anymore." WTF is that phenomenon. As soon as the doors closed, only then people start showing up? Anyway... things are looking sort of better for Console, but the coveted gig -- which for a long was obstructed by not having a full lineup -- still eludes us.

At some point between my last post and now, amidst all my computer drama, I managed to boot up my other broken laptop (2008-2011 R.i.P.), the one that I bought when I was first living in Seattle and moving back and forth between Honolulu and Seattle. The last time it was started was in November of 2011. It was a weird time-capsule kind of feeling. Put me in a weird mood for a couple days; but here are some pics!

In other news, I did my field test in Waikiki for obtaining my "surf instructor certification." After three years of waiting, I finally was given the call to show up for the test. Wasn't told if I passed or failed upon completion of the we-watch-you-catch-two-waves test, but was instead told that they'd "call." Last time they said that they'd contact me, it took three years? So... I'm going to bother them [the DLNR] in a couple weeks and see what the fuck.

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll write again next month.

PS as a last note; I've thought about screen shooting craigslist listings as kind of like a scrap book kind of a thing, and being that those visuals would help with some of my story telling, I think I'm going to start making that standard procedure.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2018 Begins

I turned 30, and shortly thereafter my quaint dirty thirty, I began my annual "holiday work-a-thon". Typically during the holidays the gigs dry up, and the BRGA students stop showing up, so to make up for it, I volunteer myself to work many many days in a row at the much busier surf school in order to offset my loss of income from those other ventures. This year I clocked in at 26 days in a row, from December 13th through January 7th. This Christmas season wasn't as busy as past years, as far as my memory can remember. And, per usual post-holiday phenomenon, I lost a couple BRGA students through the new year, but that's okay! More will be on the way...? (I hope). New Year's Resolutions???

I re-re-acquired my drivers license (for the third time) on December 26th, and not even a week later I got conscripted to do some surf safaris. Been at this surf school for 4 and a half years and only then did my first surf safari(s), one of which was solo. Why is this important? Cause of Jackass! My teenage self was star struck.

One of my acoustic band/duo projects I've been building up during 2017 had its first official paying gig lined up at Jazz Minds on December 29th, but it wound up getting canceled. So, as it stands, we still haven't accomplished what I had originally set out to do with that enterprise... I think I need to start carving out a hole for ourselves.

This Christmas, I was not the scrooge, so I got everyone in my professional circle gifts. This included band t-shirts! I got t-shirts for Console - The VGM Band, and the Shar Carillo Band. Figure I'd get something useful for everyone, rather than something generic.

Oh, and how could I forget. Sadly, BRGA did not have a recital this year. Unfortunately the place that I was to have it (same place as last year), lost it's permits to have live music. SHIT! My personal synopsis for 2017 was that it was a pretty shitty year for me.

In other news, I've been trying to regularly attened the Anna O'Brien's open mic on the second and fourth Thursday of every month and enjoying myself quite a bit at it. My attendance conveniently kind of happened for various reasons; a couple of the projects I'm in need some stage experience, Thursday evenings are a time that I don't typically have things booked, and although the open mic is rather late (9pm-12midnight), I now have BRGA students Friday morning allowing me to sleep in a bit with the lateness from the night before. It probably doesn't hurt that Anna's is just down the street too. Regularly being there has even inspired me to do the unthinkable *GASP* solo-acoustic performances. I've been working on a couple favorite tunes to perform if I happen to be there. Stay tuned on that.

In light of the last podcast, I went ahead and upgraded my internet service. I looked at my billing statement, and I was being charged $130 for the piece of crap motorola modem that the technician left. I thought this was going to be cheaper! Not $100 more expensive. I guess it's my responsibility to return the modem? The whole process was a little bit slimy, but I eventually got credited back; after returning the modem, and then following up by calling them and asking them to credit me back. Guess everyone's got to at least try and make a buck.

Since November, I've had three gigs with Shar. It's been very, very quiet. This, in of itself is a contributing factor as to why 2017 sucked. With my newly acquired license, and normalized schedule, I've been hustling craigslist (and even bandmix to some degree) on trying to find something that either A) pays or B) satisfies. There's been some light blips on the internet radar, but I doubt anything will come of it. I did have an audition with a funk band a few nights ago however, but I don't think I'll be getting called back. Anyway, the Friday and Saturday nights keep rolling by without gigs and although I try to look at the bright side being that I have more free time, I feel like it's such a waste! It's a similar feeling as to being laid off from work, or not being able to find a date. Is there something wrong with me? Haha. Man...

January 13th missile false alarm, that was fun.

The Mighty Sprites have a new guitar player and he's great! Very glad to have him on board. We're planning on hitting one of the aforementioned Anna O'Brien open mics here in the near future. Stay tuned.

Finally got my hands on a tool chest that fits perfectly in the kitchen!

Started this year off with some BRGA firsts; after teaching guitar here on Oahu since 2014, someone [finally] backed into a nearby car when pulling out of the parking spot. I felt partially responsible, but then I reasoned with myself -- they got a license. Also, just today I had the cops called on me due to one of my younger students acting like a total spaz. The cops were responding to a "domestic abuse" claim "involving a child screaming." Guess there's a first for everything. Mega-embarrassing. Sorry neighborhood, I guess it sounds like I kill kids at guitar lessons haha.

So I wasn't able to go to college again for this spring. My goal is to take college courses every spring for fun and maybe eventually get a degree of some sort. Degree not really being a priority really. In lieu of that, I enrolled myself in some "Intermediate Japanese Conversation" classes at Intercultural Communications College that'll gobble up some of my free time and restlessness. Hopefully I come out the other end a little more versed, and ever more prepared for my trip to Japan in June.

Console - The VGM was slated to go live February 24th, 2018. I was extremely excited mainly because everyone's schedules FINALLY synced up. I printed my own flyers, and began posting them places, only to find out that the venue at which we were supposed to play at is no longer hosting any sort of "heavy rock" genres at their venue due to some events that transpired during the recent Municipal Waste concert. Fucking lame. Back to square one...

Yesterday I got my wisdom teeth pulled. Four in total, two had to get pulverized. I got a lot of mixed reviews of the whole experience. People were telling me to go under anesthesia, etc. But I wrote that off as being wimpy. The procedure itself isn't bad, the local anesthetic takes any sort of pain away from the operation. The post-op experience though is a totally different story. After the local anesthetic wore off, I found myself being pretty useless and needing to take the pain pills I was prescribed. I didn't think I'd need it, but I was totally wrong. Today I'm in a little bit of discomfort but I'm fine compared to yesterday. My face/jaw/mouth is still a little tender, but I'm functional, and able to type up a blog and work my way through a couple guitar lessons today as a result.

So in light of my current circumstances, I'm looking at trying to establish residency at either Hawaiian Brians or Anna O'Brien's. Maybe like a "seond Monday of every month" kind of a thing for my various acts. I gotta do something!

Still battling footwarts...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

ICBM False Alarm Hawaii

I awoke to my rude alarm clock this morning just like any other day, but this time it was a bit earlier than usual, especially for a Saturday. It was 5:40 a.m. and it was the first of two waves of alarms [the next being at 5:50 a.m.] that woke myself and my partner who had been sleeping on the futon in the living room. We've been hosting some friends from out of town for the past week and were happy to give up our bedroom in order to lodge them comfortably. To catch a 7:30 a.m. flight bound for LIH from HON we needed to wake unusually early. As everyone woke and gathered themselves, I still had some things to prepare; a menial task of offloading an SD card to my computer before that same SD card would then be immediately repurposed to document their trip to Kauai. I did that as the girls got ready.

When we were all collected, I took the driver's seat with my newly minted drivers license, only to find out that I had sleepily grabbed the wrong set of keys! Inconvenienced and annoyed at myself, I returned to unlock the apartment for the right keys, only to again; fully lockdown the apartment for a second time. It was a crisp-cool cloudless morning, you could see the luminescent moon in the multi-color foreground of an impending dawn. A foggy/dew/vapor had collected on the inside of the car's windshield making it difficult to see through until the newly charged air conditioning system busted through it.

By 6:17 a.m. we were on the road. I remember looking at the clock as I drove the two travelers I was entrusted to deliver to the airport; ensuring that they we were to truly arrive in time. I can't really remember what we spoke about on the car ride, which is pretty typical for me when it's so early [for me] and I'm preoccupied with driving. Probably some shit about my lame bands or whatever, or some trivial conversation about loose travel plans. I do remember we spoke though, at least some bit about using Starbucks gift cards at the airport-based coffee establishments.

I assisted the girls with their belongings as they unloaded themselves from the vehicle. A cooler bag that had been lazily stuffed with trash from some previous beach adventure(s) released itself of all it's contained melted-ice, beer-bottle caps, half-empty sunscreen bottles and other various forms of beach-amusement paraphernalia. Embarrassed by the attention that the sound of scattering things and unsightly rubbishes had brought me, I quickly gathered up the second-hand mess that I unknowingly inherited assisting the two with their luggage. We said our goodbyes and we went our separate ways. They were headed for paradise, and I was headed to normalcy.

I rejoined the stream of traffic, and was cautious of the chaos that airport arrivals and departures typically brought, becoming a little more hypo-aware. As I began to return to the the freeway, I remember thinking "damn, this guy is close..." as I looked in my rear-view, triggering a brief memory of a similar scenario when my Uncle Tito was at the wheel taking me home after one of my neighbor island gigs. ...but perhaps it was only just because I fell for the "OBJECTS IN THE MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR" misperception. This ride home was probably one of the only times I had driven the car by myself. Alone. Serenity. I listened to the radio as I looked over the downtown skyline, noticing that the moon had taken second stage to the glow of the rising sun. More importantly, I noticed that one of them left a canteen full of coffee. Looks like they will be going to Starbucks, and I won't have to now.

I returned home with the neighborhood seemingly still asleep. I was up unusually early for a work day. I remember being as delicate as possible earlier that morning, loading the luggage into the car, trying my best not to wake the neighborhood. For a third time, I unlocked the apartment, and still had some menial things I wanted to do/finish on the computer before I began my morning work commute. Strategically, I left the ancient computer of mine running during my taxi service in order to shave off precious minutes of reboot time that old devices like this one suffer from. I received a peculiar message from my coworker I was to see less-than an hour later, which was kind of out of the ordinary... guess she was bring a loved-one whom I had never met -- only heard about -- to work with her today. A little more unordinary. Time stamp: 7:07 a.m.

By 7:30 a.m., I had completed what I needed to do on the computer and was on my way to work just like any other day. I was already wide-awake, and was self-assured I'd make it with time to spare, which always takes the stress off the trek, making me a little less of a societal-asshole than if I were a stressed systemic-procrastinator and "behind schedule" like everyone else. It was still quite cool, and I remember shivering, hoping that the sun would show itself soon and give me some warmth that my body couldn't generate for itself, even during the bike ride.

I arrived to work, and docked my bike at the sidewalk bike-locking rack. Timestamp, 7:56 a.m. I was early! Leizurily, I went to the nearby convenience store I regular for my much anticipated cup of coffee and morsel of sustenance. Today was different though, being that I had already drunk the travelers' forgotten coffee, I wasn't fiending for coffee, and wasn't at all hungry. I opted for a can of V8 juice, which I never really do for breakfast. Today was different though. I chose the empty cashier nearest the exit, the one that I have always perceived as the primary checkout stand. There she was, "NAME TAG", a shop clerk whom I see almost every day. We never really exchange any more words than what is professionally required of the two of us. Seems kind of strange being that I've been working here for 5 years and have never really have had more than a few stand out conversations with this person. Seems a little dehumanizing, but, maybe she's not a morning person like me, or maybe I'm just not an interesting person to want to talk to, maybe I'm anti-social? Or perhaps it was because I was raised by women and don't feel like it's my responsibility to initiate and encourage conversations? She counts the change out to me and says her ritualistic "save your receipt for free gifts" once we've finished our transaction.

Finally arriving at work, it's 8:03 a.m., and the co-worker(s) still haven't arrived. No big deal, I began to sloppily do the opening duties/rituals. Unlock door here, turn light on there, clock in, put my things away, etc. etc. etc. in no particular order. It wasn't long, and my co-worker arrives with her partner and she tells me that we have no bookings this morning. I immediately think of what kind of personal work I could get done with the morning...

8:07 a.m.
Emergency Alert

"Missile... coming?" "Is this for real?" "What do we do?" We look at eachother. I think to myself: where are the air sirens? We need a radio! And we don't have much time if this is for real. I attempt to use the company computer to find an online radio of some sort as the others buried their faces and frantically clawed at their phones searching for answers on their handheld answer boxes that we commonly call as cell phones now. Experiencing the grudgingly-slow pace of a computer boot screen for a second time already today, I think to ask the taxi men at the hotel to use their car radio to tune into the AM stations. Of course, as destiny would have it, two tourists enter the shop completely unaware of the impending nuclear ending, looks like they want to go surfing. I'll leave that up to the co-worker who was late and brought their partner.

I jog over to the taxi's who of course are all foreign and very poor with English. I explain to them to turn on their car radios. Some of them saying they have no radios. ? Did you not see the message? Are you guys not concerned? Listen to the AM radio!


? that's weird... an alarm versus an immediate seek shelter order. Should I believe a cellphone, or a radio station?

I return to the shop to find the two tourists still there insisting to us that this is a false alarm. "If CNN isn't televising it, then it's not real." they argue. Gosh, I would hate to be wrong if I were you. "We have a bunch of methods of shooting those things down. We're safe." Really? Where's your PHD in rocket science? And when have we ever had fully documented instances of repelling an impending ICBM travelling at 5,000 meters per second that we were not already informed of being launched?

I think to myself, there is no way that a news channel halfway around the world could get it together in time to broadcast to a community halfway around the world again, that there is or is not a missile traveling our way, it would be immediate services that would be informed. Police, Air Sirens, Radio, etc. I don't have time to have discussions with fact-check-free people feeling impervious because they're on vacation and believe things that they don't really know much about; only repeating what they're told.

I called my girlfriend, a traveler whom I had said goodbye to that morning. I told her, "go straight to my mom's house." I knew she wouldn't know what to do... Growing up on Kaua'i, there is always a looming awareness of missile threats. To say I hadn't thought of what it would be like if a missile were to be headed our way would be a lie. "Just get to my mom's house. I'm going to see if I can make it home."

Home. Where I always have at any given time enough food and water to survive for at least a month. Home base. Where I know where all my survival tools are. The fortress. Where I know I am in control of my destiny, and ultimate safer because of it. The bunker. It was too far away and I would not have enough time to get there lest I wanted to be vaporized and memorialized as a shadow etched into the wall of a mangled building. I suppose immediate shelter would be the shop. The place I've been working at for 5 years. Wow.

My sister called, and told me she loved me. Maybe this was the end? So sweet, but I thought to myself, don't worry about me, worry about yourself and the kids! I know you love me, and I hope that everything I say and do reflects that I actually love you all.

I decided to get in touch with hotel security one last time to see if they had a radio. They informed me that they had spoken with HPD earlier -- it was a false alarm. Really? I hope so. I returned to the shop to tell my coworkers that it had been a false alarm. What a relief.

8:43am. Shortly thereafter the two tourists returned to the shop. I guess they had left the shop too to find out what was really going on, but now they were back. One was very proud to say "I told you so!" But again, I'd really hate to be wrong if I were him. I remember thinking about reading testimonials of people who witnessed Pearl Harbor, and even 9/11 who were also saying and feeling like "nah... this isn't real." Anyway, I guess it was time to give a 9am surf lesson.

I did the surf lesson, we were in the water paddling out by 9:02 a.m. and it went well in spite of it's sobering nuclear-armageddon overtones. It was an especially beautiful day, and probably even more so after having quite the scare. I uncharacteristically unprofessionally shared a personal morbid thought with my client, a thought I typically have whenever I watch propeller airplanes fly overhead thinking of what it must of looked and felt like seeing a bunch of aircraft like that dropping bombs over pearl harbor just a dozen miles away or so. A location that I can see fairly well from where I'm at when I'm working almost every day. My imagination puts two and two together sometimes when I'm out there.

I started collecting my thoughts throughout the day of some of the other things I thought about during that intense 45 minutes this morning. I thought about how all my loved ones are not physically near to me, but always in my thoughts. I thought about how tragic and violent a nuclear reality could be. I thought about how trivial the events and thoughts I had in the early morning before the scare were.

A couple months ago there was a false air siren alarm that went off which gave me personally quite the scare too mainly because I was out at sea, no AM radio in sight out there haha. I guess for that one everyone had access to the "false alarm" information, but being that I wasn't anywhere near a communication device, I was concerned the air sirens were sounding on a day other than the "first working day of the month."

A very sobering experience to say the least.

The main takeaway; I need an AM radio.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Holidays are Upon Us

I turn 30 in a few days. What a trip. Definitely not where I thought I'd be at this point in my life, but totally content with where I'm at, so that's cool.

Mighty Sprites did their first [open mic] gig (with singer chick in tow). We didn't do too shabby, and (with some mediocre video editing) we also got a little promo video to aid us in booking a gig... however, the guitar player left the band shortly thereafter, and so now we're set back again... sometimes I feel like being in a band is like a board game, and this case after moving forward 10 spaces, some circumstance has pushed us back 8 spaces. It's demoralizing at times, but for some reason I keep signing myself up for this. Insanity or love I don't really know if there's a difference sometimes haha.

Went ahead and bought my BRGA students their gifts, as well as everyone else on my santa list. 15 BRGA packs in total. Makes the tree look cool. They are slowly finding their rightful persons as the weeks come closer to the holidays. All my Christmas shopping is pretty much finished, I just have three more items for three more individuals and it's through!!

All systems were for my driver's license road test (making it the 4th road test I'd be taking), and I had ambitious plans for December, assuming I'd have driver's license in hand... but, on the day of my test I decided to double check the paperwork (which I usually do days in advance for things like this) and I found out that the vehicle I'd be using had an expired registration. It always seems to be that when I start to spin an ambitious web of tasks that requires someone else to be on top of their shit; it always seems to fail. Oh well. One expensive registration payment (in lieu of road test) later, I am now slated for my next road test at the end of the month now, pushing my plans from December to January, which I suppose is all for the better with how busy I'll be for December anyway. Just makes me look like I'm full of shit... I hate that.

I've been using a pair or recently purchased Guitarleles as an extremely convenient tool to practice guitar when either I'm unbooked/downtiming at surf school, or when my lover drags me to the beach. This thing is a million times better than a "Shredneck" and almost at the same price. I've been able to chart music at work and practice various things. It's been a huge technological advance for me in conjunction with my new headphones and tablet. Now I don't feel like my domestic life is pushing me away from my guitar life. It's a great feeling.

The last podcast I hosted, we tried to implement a live video stream of our show with little success. My friend had deduced that it was most likely my internet connection, so I went to test my internet speed and it was indeed very slow. From that, I decided that it might be time to switch providers or find a better deal and it turned out that my provider was offering an internet speed that was 10 times faster, for 10 dollars cheaper than what I was already paying! I immediately requested to be switched to this alternative and my internet has indeed become much better, and streamable, hoping to re-try the live stream to success next time. Very excited about this, and already the videos that I upload for my guitar students finish in minutes, versus hours like before. It's kind of amazing. Now I just need to upgrade this dinosaur of a laptop...

I also plan on rebranding the podcast being that there's already another N3 podcast out there... once I have finally have a re-brandable product, that's when it'll happen. Till then, it'll be the N3 podcast.

Anyway, that's about it. Had a few gigs with Shar, just been charting like a mad man really. Can't promise that I'll have a blog next month being that I'll be in the tail end of the holidays work-a-thon. Definitely February. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Year & a Half Later? Come on Brian

Holy crap. I have neglected the blog for well over a year. Wow. Sad. Let's see. We have a new president. People have been shooting people. There was an eclipse. I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of [tragic] things on the world circuit. Needless to say, a lot has happened!

Let's see, since May 2016...

Well, shortly after my last blog posting I concussed the hell out of myself. Bicycling to the Above & Beyond Acoustic concert at the Waikiki shell, my tire fell out from underneath me and my face smashed the asphalt pretty hard. I didn't know who or what I was for a couple hours. Needless to say I did not make it to the concert... I still have some orbital damage under my right eye but whatever. Such is life. Take dings.

Also in May, I had a gig with Ignite the Red for the Station's last show. I was originally brought on board as a guitar player, but being that their bass player was unavailable for the gig, I had suggested that I hop on bass for a better sound experience for the audience. I believe I had only been playing with them for about a month at that point. The night of that gig was a close one too, I had a gig with Shar that was slated till 10pm... but it dragged on and on beyond 10pm and I got to the gig at the Station with only minutes to spare really. It was too close for comfort, and a lesson learned. Just don't double book with Shar. A month later Ignite the Red would have another gig (that I didn't know about, and thusly didn't perform at). I didn't really know until a mutual musician months later asked if I was still playing for them because they were doing rehearsals [that I wasn't aware of]. I said I thought I was still with them being that I wasn't told otherwise, but I guess I got kicked out of the band unofficially? That's the music biz...

I was also approached by a singer-acquaintance to form a power metal cover band some time in May as well. I remember seeing some general postings of his out to the world of facebook before then -- not really thinking it was directed to anyone, however, he eventually reached out to me. This would -- as months went by --  grow into a fully fledged 6-piece band. We later would call ourselves the Power Metal Group for obvious reasons.

The Shar band was also in full swing. At some point during the summer we opened for Kenny Loggins and got to meet him. High---- way---- to---- the------ danger zone!

Drummer was not incarcerated. Or at least, not yet. Leviathan -- as it crumbled away -- would have its last gig with him in August 2016. The bass player had already left the band by then, and by September, the drummer was incarcerated; one week before Metalfest where we were slated to play next.

Instead of withdrawing from the Metalfest (in my opinion Honolulu's most important amateur and pro-am concert series) because we [Leviathan] had lost our drummer and bass player, I stubbornly kept the booking and subsequently muscled a newly recruited drummer and a temporary bass player into gigging shape during August, for the show in late September. Unfortunately due to everyone's conflicting schedules, I found myself at the rehearsal studio many times a week ($$$) with different combinations of members; never a full line up. On any given session it would either be the new drummer and myself, or the new drummer the temporary bass player and myself, or the new drummer the other guitar player and myself. The common denominator? Me, and never a full line up. I was putting in some time for this performance, and sadly we never met as a unit until the night of the gig. I can't stress it enough. The gig went okay, but, I didn't leave the venue that night feeling satisfied. I was disappointed in myself, but also relieved it was over. The whole experience of rehearsal training boot camp with the various musicians left such a sour taste in my mouth that -- for the first time in my entire life -- I sincerely didn't want to meet/rehearse. I was over it. My own original shit. Completely over it. It would be months after keeping everyone on ice before I finally reached out to those who were part of the Leviathan Metalfest gig. I have yet to do anything Leviathan related since then, but, thay may change in the next couple months. Leviathan fan(s) stay tuned...

 The BRGA logo has also become a reality since the last posting.

I got scuba certified after a two day program. I can now officially breathe underwater, however, I prefer freediving mainly because you don't have to worry about all that dang equipment! Still... cool to have.

Got a new president. Hey.

B.R.G.A. had its first recital in December of last year and it went fairly well! The only down-side was I was booked for a Shar gig that same night (lessoned learned part 2 -- don't double book with Shar) so I had to bail on my students. Lame. Won't do that again... I suppose the most shocking and unexpected thing was that my family from Kaua'i had come to surprise me, and surprise me they did. I was on the mic emceeing the event where I found myself at a loss for words when I saw them waltzing into the venue. Unbelievable. Unfortunately this year I won't be holding one mainly because the venue at which I had it last year lost its permit for live music. Next year I'll be on the hunt for a new location similar to the one I had at Osoyami.

During the holidays I found myself working 27 days in a row this year at the surf school. I think the previous year I had done 28. I want to try and go for 30 this year...

Then 2018 arrived...

After 4 years of SOLID gigging with Shar, she had decided to take a hiatus to regroup and get grounded again. Her EP release would be the last of the performance with her for months, and the last of the consistent gigging weekends. I'm actually quite happy with her decision as an artist, but as a contractor semi-reliant on the income, the news kind of came like one being laid off. Admittedly, I had mentioned to the band previously that I believed we gigged a little too much, mainly at the shitty bars, so I was sort of glad for the news in that respect, however it has been two extremes; from gigging almost every single Friday and Saturday to gigging once a month if that. In response to this, much of 2018 has been spent scratching to find some other sort of working musical enterprise now that there was/is this huge vacancy in time and income. The catch? No license, no money, and no car...

NO MONEY: I went to Vegas in January and got utterly destroyed at the Blackjack tables thus solidifying the end of my semi-professional Blackjack career. I am now on a personally enforced ban on Vegas, only allowing a once a year excursion.

NO LICENSE: in March, after months of being unlicensed, I went to the DMV after waiting out my SR-22 insurance period only to find out that WA state had indeed put a stopper on my license due to an outstanding warrant. In order to be legal again, I would have to spend 30 days behind bars.

NO CAR: I was sold a lemon of a truck although I have no resentment about that, it was a pain in the ass to find out. It was a whole process, but I couldn't get the truck to pass a safety check without pouring more money into the vehicle than the vehicle itself was worth. I let the truck sit for months in my paid parking spot only to eventually give it away to a hassle free throw away towing company. The same thing I had done with my previous vehicle for the same reasons. Is this my trend with cars? Perishable goods?

But, from out of the ashes one becomes reborn, or dies. The beginning half of this year was turbulent and tough, however, a couple different musical enterprises were taking form and some were even taking flight.

After working for just under a year on the Power Metal Group project, we finally had our first gig! Judging by the facebook videos I was tagged in and watched, it sounded like we were pretty good so that was great. Unfortunately, shortly after the gig, there was a pretty big disagreement with the band dynamic and this gig pretty much marked the beginning of the end. After months of squabbles the Power Metal Group would have one last gig and eventually [unofficially] disband some time in May when one member quit the band, and another moved away -- which I had to hear [again] through the grapevine and not the horse's mouth. What is up with that shit? Is this what dating is like when people go radio silent after saying "yeah, let's meet up again."

Sadly, this meant that the unraveling of P.M.G. meant it would most likely take a very precious side project band with it (that was 80% comprised of PMG members). Months later I would find this out to be true (after being put on ice for months), which, is the biggest travesty in my opinion. But whatever.

Anyway, I was sloppily street busking and taking on 3 hour gigs as a BASSIST on Tuesday nights with a drummer and guitar player/singer. That lasted for a few months but would eventually fade away too when the singer/guitar player had to leave the country.

In April, Shar was back! And we opened up for the national country act Lonestar! She when then later go on TOUR! Holy shit! So, coming back swinging. Awesome.

Fate/destiny is a funny thing. Years ago I had the idea to begin pursuing a youtube kind of career (I guess). I mostly wanted to keep myself accountable and musically active by putting guitar covers of various songs and what not. I had grand plans, but only released about "one season's" worth of material. Much of it was video game music material, which I was having Leviathan humour me with at the time so I had a vessel to get my Video Game Rock Band concept out into the public. Years later (more towards present), I received two very peculiar comments on two video game covers I had done.

I would eventually agree to meet with this youtube commenter after exchanging some facebook chat dialogue. After meeting with him, jamming, and chatting about Leviathan and future creative endeavours, I invited him to start a video game cover band with the assistance of a keyboard friend who I knew would definitely be on board (if available).

I also finally got messaged back by a singer-chick who I had found through, although it took months to finally get a response mainly because 1) doesn't allow you to contact other musicians on their site unless you are a paying premium member (which I am not) and 2) facebook doesn't notify users of messages from people who are not their friends. We would eventually start working with each other in the hopes of creating an acoustic duo for work the purpose of getting working gigs.

So here I had a start up recreational band, and a start up working band (duo), in the midst of all the other endeavours crumbling apart, at least I had some embers still going and wasn't completed snuffed out. It would be a lot of work to get these things up off the ground, but, I needed it. A little about me, if I don't have something musical going on in my life to pour my time into, I am a miserable fuck.

In June I finally registered B.R.G.A., and am now accepting credit card payments [and paying taxes]. Holy cow.

I also found myself working with Rebecca again. It had been at least two years since I last performed with her/them, and I was very thankful to be doing so again. They were very accommodating to my NO MONEY, NO LICENSE, NO CAR situation... whether they were aware of it or not. Hopefully I'll be working with them again some time in the future; their music is pretty substantial and fun to play. Lot's of original material, which I dig.

Fourth of July was spent on Kauai with the Shar band. We got flown up to do a performance at the fireworks show. A pretty big deal for Kauai!

Towards the end of summer my boss at the surf school flipped the fuck out at me for whatever reason (still don't know) and basically forced me to quit. So, after 4 years of loyal service, I left the surf school..................... for a couple weeks, only to return with my tail tucked between my legs... that was a pretty shitty period as well.

Then in August, as fate would have it, I auditioned for another VGM band. I didn't think there would be more than one on Oahu; I thought I found all the guys available for one. But here I was, about to join another. I wound up joining them as a drummer though. So now I'm in TWO video game bands.

And then September. Oh September. Remember those 30 days of jail I made mention earlier. Well, I had decided that September would be the best time to serve my time. Just getting to jail was a process in and of itself. But as luck would have it, I only had to serve 5/6 days of my sentence and was promptly released. It was nice to be in Seattle (where I had to do my jail time). Post-jail; Oysters never tasted so damn good, and it was trip to wander the city I had lived in for many years, mamy years ago.

I carved 30 days out of my life to do this sentence, and was "rewarded" with pretty much 3 weeks of [forced] sabbatical. I could have chosen to return to work sooner, but I didn't. Unfortunately I had no money. If I did, I probably would have went to Japan or something with all that time off. I think the last time I had that much time off I was trying to find work in 2008 (similar situation; no money). Anyway, I found myself doing as many tasks and plans as possible with the time I had. Organizing my life, writing, practicing, etc. This meant finally utilizing my medical insurance!

I recently went to the dentist, and $2,000 later, I finally have gotten all the dental work I needed to get done for the past 10 years. I'm also hitting the dermatologists (still) for my foot warts...

In October, I started working with yet another singer-chick with pretty much the same goals in mind as the other singer-chick. So here I am now with 2 singer-chick duo's, and 2 VGM bands. Pairs on pairs?

I also had a wedding to attend in the South. Had to buy a suit, and wound up cutting my hair after three years of not cutting it. Someone mistook me for a girl at the airport, so I took it as a sign. Now is the time to apply for a new job! Haha.

Also bought some suits, and spent my Halloween in Vegas on my way back from the South for my homie's 30th birthday. I gambled as a skeleton and won some moolah. Hell yeah.

Here I am now...

So I'm hunkering down for the holidays. Currently I'm in the process of getting my four various bands/duo's gigging and ironically they all kind of seem to be in the same boat. Working on making a press kit in order to acquire legit/paying gigs. So tonight, after I'm about to post this blog, I'll be making my way to an open mic where 2 of my 4 various groups will be performing 3 song sets and getting precious footage to use as leverage for a press kit. For the first time, I'm hustling the open mic circuit...

Have foot warts
Back problems
Knee problems

Getting the bands off the ground and
[As always] try to do these once a month. Realistcally, maybe once every 3 months? But definitely no more than that [I hope].

See ya at the open mics!!! (Never thought I'd live to tell that tale).