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.