Yearly Archives: 2004

Finally …

On Wednesday night, I finally made it all the way through Johann Sebastian Bach’s Invention No. 13.

It took me three months to reach that point, so I’m feeling very proud of myself.

But I’m nowhere ready to perform it live. And there’s no way I can play it at the tempo marking. Hell, I can barely get to half the tempo marking.

So it’s going to take another few months — at least a year, if I start slacking — to get the point where I can play this piece in public.

Right now, the individual pieces of my current repertoire include:

  • “Big My Secret” from The Piano by Michael Nyman
  • “A Mood That Passes Through You” from The Piano by Michael Nyman
  • “The Heart Seeks Pleasure First” from The Piano by Michael Nyman
  • Moonlight Sonata, First movement by Ludwig Van Beethoven
  • Invention No. 13 by Johann Sebastian Bach

I may continue learning more pieces from The Piano, and I may even be brave enough to start working on the second movement of the Moonlight Sonata.

For some reason, I’ve been toying with Claude Debussy’s “Claire de Lune”, and there’s still some Scarlatti and Mozart books I haven’t cracked open yet.

But I feel good about finally being able to play the Invention No. 13 from start to finish — for the most part.

Return to ‘The Mansion’ and the birth of ‘The Album’

Back in August, Matt Damon said he wanted to be in a porn movie. Well, in my head, he’s in one.
A long while back, I started writing this story called The Mansion. I was partly inspired by the Anne Rice erotica novels — “partly” because my imagination is far more vanilla — and I started “casting” a number of celebrities as (models for) characters.
An original version of this story had Sting, Patrick Stewart and Lorenzo Lamas — or rather characters that look a lot like them — doing some, well, slashy things.
After Damon made his comments, I recasted the story to put him in the starring role with Tony Goldwyn as his, ahem, “mentor”. I may drop Sting but keep Patrick Stewart and Lorenzo Lamas somewhere in the plot.
I have a version of the story unflagged in work in progress, but after the recast, some of the dialogue changed and so did the main character. I may post something if I get around to putting things down on paper.

I had the vague idea of participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but I knew it would be a busy month for me. Had I done so, I would have waited till Nov. 1 to start, with no plot preparation beforehand.
The story I would have written was (tenatively) titled The Album. It’s a variation of an idea I came up with last year — I wanted to write a series of short stories in which Waterloo Records somehow lurked in the background. Some leaps of imagination later, I ended up with the idea of following the impact of a music album on a number of people’s lives, including the band that made it.
I was thinking of something pretty advanced for my level of writing — shifting perspectives, weaving in fictional reviews from imaginary zines, incorporating lyrics of my own songs.
It’s a worthy idea, I think.
If only blah blah blah …

The Piano

I’ve spent the last two months practicing on the piano. I mentioned it a few times in the journal. At first, I spent about two hours practicing daily. I’ve since tapered off to an hour, hour and a half at most.
I’m just about finished learning the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and I’m slowly but surely working my way through “Invention No. 13” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias.
I’ve just about committed to memory three pieces from Michael Nyman’s The Piano: “Big My Secret”, “Mood That Passes Through You” and “The Heart Seeks Pleasure First”.
I’ve also gone sheet music crazy, buying up books of piano pieces by Wolfgang Mozart, Claude Debussy and Dominico Scarlatti. I’ve even taken to practicing Hanon’s Sixty Progressive Studies with a metronome!
I started piano lessons in late 7th grade, but by the time I reached high school, they had turned into composition lessons. I never really had a very good head for rehearsal.
Now I think I actually want to build a repertoire. I may not be playing these pieces “correctly”, but at the very least, I want to learn them for myself. If other people happen to hear my perform them, so be it.
Right now, my rehearsal regimen — which is actually pretty loose — consists of:

  • Finger exercises (if I can spare the time)
  • Reviewing The Piano
  • Learning Moonlight and “Invention No. 13”

When I’ve reached a comfortable spot with the Beethoven and Bach, I’ll throw in a new piece to learn, and perhaps an old piece to relearn. I would like one day to perform Aram Khachaturian’s Tocatta without mishap.

ISO Voice

I haven’t mentioned this anywhere officially, but I started taking singing lessons this month, per my New Year’s resolution.
Unfortunately, a month is all I can afford to take — I seem to be running out of on-hand cash from month-to-month, and $100/month on singing lessons is a bit of a luxury.
I’ve resisted writing this entry because I’m also undertaking another task, somewhat related to said New Year’s resolution.
I’m starting the first Crux novel from scratch.
I’ve made no progress with the draft I was writing because I plain lost steam. And when I go back to read it, I’m not satisfied with the tone, and I’m not satisfied with how the characters are coming across.
In short, it doesn’t have that ring of truth, however truthful a book full of lies can be.
AndyA has also pushed me to try something with the story that I’ve been too intimidated to try — provide no backstory.
Just write the story in a manner that puts the reader right square in the middle of the universe. See, I’m still harboring that long shadow of Anne Rice’s influence, and that woman did backstory into the ground.
But if I’m truly after a crime novel passing itself off as a horror story, I should keep the writing lean.

Aa, utagoe …

Damn. I haven’t posted to this thing in [does quick math from last entry] six months.
There’s nothing much, really, to report.
I’ve gotten nowhere with the fiction because I’ve been busy re-settling down with the current job and re-settling down with my old apartment which became my new apartment once again. Yeah. That sentence doesn’t make much sense.
So I haven’t done much creatively.
I do, however, have my keyboards set up once again — had to break them down for my move — and I’ve been teaching myself a bunch of J-rock songs. For the sake of padding this entry, here’s my current “set list”, as it were:

  • Shiina Ringo, “Tadashii Machi”
  • Shiina Ringo, “Kabuki-choo no Jyoou”
  • Shiina Ringo, “Marunouchi Sadistic”
  • Shiina Ringo, “Koofukuron (Etsurakuhen)”
  • Shiina Ringo, “Koko de Kiss Shite”
  • Shiina Ringo, “Gips”
  • Shiina Ringo, “Yokushitsu”
  • Shiina Ringo, “Honnoo”
  • Shiina Ringo, “Tsuki ni Makeinu”
  • Hajime Chitose, “Kono Machi”
  • Hajime Chitose, “Rinto Suru”
  • Hajime Chitose, “Kotonoha”
  • Hajime Chitose, “Itsu ka Kaze ni Naru Hi”

For some reason, I’m singing women’s songs. I bet I’m not even changing the gender perspective when I sing these songs.
I remember back when I was starting to learn piano, it was an effort to get me to practice the minimum half-hour. Now that I’m teaching myself these songs, it’s easy for me to go full tilt for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
And it feels good.
I must, however, report that I’ve scheduled my first singing lesson for Thursday, July 1 at 7 p.m. Of course, that conflicts with a happy hour I attend every month. Eh, it’s only a half-hour lesson anyway.
So yes, I’m making good on my New Year’s Resolution.

When I do think about fiction, I think about Crash and Cleary. I’m plotting how their relationship plays out. At this point, I’m getting the sense Cleary has the patience of thousand Buddhas as he waits for Crash to get over himself. Crash, of course, resists his obvious attraction to Cleary.
And yet they sleep with each other.
I’m foreseeing a happy ending, despite Crash’s best efforts.
Gary Huang and Mitch Warren, though, are a different story. There are so many ways their relationship gets messed up, not the least of it a lack of social support for a Chinese-black interracial couple. Gary has his own issues with parenting, which of course surface when Mitch broaches the subject of adopting. And I’m wondering whether to include infidelity on both their parts.
But that begs the question — what makes them stick together in the end? I think it’s the realization that they’re each strongest when they’re together, and it’s that basic teamwork — not even intrinsically romantic — that makes them start a family.
Of course, it would be nice if I could hang all these ideas around some semblance of a plot.

I’m still wondering about Adam Fulton. I’m wondering what it is that attracts Crash to the point where he gets involved with solving his murder. More importantly, what the hell does Adam look like? I haven’t figured that one out yet.
(Hmm. Maybe Mike Doyle? Maybe …)

Man. I haven’t thought about Crux in forever.
But I have this feeling I’m going to start the first novel from scratch. AndyA says I have to get rid of all the backstory, and I’m starting to come around to that idea.

Notes to self

I keep having to remind myself to jot these ideas down, just so time doesn’t pass and I forget.

  • I am changing the ethnicity of Crux’s future love interest. He started out as white (big surprise), but some random browsing on Friendster led me to someone I had thought about in years. And he seemed like the kind of guy Crux would go for. Plus, making Crux’s love interest the same race as his (Asian), I think it would open up some very different dynamics. This “casting change” reminds of how I made Garrett Wang as the physical model for Gary. Till then, Gary kind of looked like, well, me.
    Oh, yeah — and his name is Jason. For a long time, he was just “J”. (And that will still be his nickname.) But the J now stands for Jason. For some reason, I know a lot of very handsome Jasons.

  • I’m going to stand by my blatant rip-off of Dr.StrangeLove’s “Dolly”. I’m throwing in some Shiina Ringo-like chords, alongside the BBMAK chorus, so the song seems to have its own identity now.

Be it resolved …

At lunch with AndyA today, we talked about New Year’s Resolutions.

Unlike most generic resolutions — lose weight, cut back on this, do more of that — the ones I prefer to make don’t feel like an effort.

Exercising, spending less — do those not sound like such chores?

Now, buying a bass guitar and learning how to play (2001) or writing at least one complete song by the end of the year (1999) — those are resolutions I can get behind.

These past two years, however, have pretty much forced me to make more practical resolutions. Finding a job (2002) or finding a better-paying job (2003) turned out to be the de facto resolutions, even though I “unofficially” resolved to finish a novel (2003) or start dating again (2002).

Right now the employment situation is somewhat stable, but it’s by no means solid. Add to this uncertainty news of Gay Friend-Drinking Buddy’s move to Redmond, Washington (yes, that Redmond, Washington), and I wonder if perhaps yet a third year of employment resolutions are in order.

They are. But I’m sick of having my job situation dictate my New Year’s resolutions.

Thing is, I’ve got a number of creative ones I could pursue — hence the entry here in the creative journal instead of in the regular journal — which I would like to narrow down.

During lunch, I settled on resuming guitar lessons as my New Year’s resolution.

But I’m having second thoughts.

Oh, I am going to continue guitar lessons, hopefully after I’ve become a permanent employee (somewhere). But a New Year’s resolution seems like something new should happen.

Like buying and playing a bass guitar — I never had before, and while I haven’t really picked up the bass very often since, it did spur me to practice more with guitar.

I think I should do something different, if not entirely new. It’s going to be expensive — especially since I’m taking a fourth semester of Japanese as well — but I’ll figure the money thing out later.

Here goes …

Be it resolved that one (1) Gregory E. Bueno, hereafter refered to as the Resolvee, take at least one month’s worth of singing lessons before the end of the calendar year 2004.

Be it also resolved that the Resolvee may pursue any of the following creative endeavors in addition to or in lieu of singing lessons:

  • Completion of one (1) novel containing at least 50,000 words, with an aim for 70,000 words, by the end of Aug 31. 2004. The novel may include work previously started but unfinished.
  • Resumption of guitar lessons for a duration of at least one month before the end of the calendar year 2004.
  • Initiation of piano lessons for a duration at least one month before the end of the calendar year 2004.

Oh, yeah. That’s new all right.