Yearly Archives: 2010


I succumbed to the Black Friday madness back in November when I received a bunch of e-mail promotions from music gear makers. The most alluring was 50% off two pieces of software on which I’ve had my eye — Guitar Rig 4 Pro and Kontakt 4, both by Native Instruments.

Cakewalk SONAR came with a limited edition version of Guitar Rig 3, which I wasn’t really able to use with the old computer. The new computer, on the other hand, handles it wonderfully, and I’ve been re-recording a number of songs with actual guitar parts. (I’ve been faking the parts with Reason, fooling most people when I don’t mention it’s actually a sampler they’re hearing.)

The professional version of Guitar Rig includes more amplifiers and effects, but the software-only version is not sold by retailers — places like Guitar Center carry the version with a hardware controller, which I don’t need and probably wouldn’t know how to use anyway. So I’ve been keeping my eye out on a discount from the company, which happened on Black Friday.

Yes, I know I’m supposed to shop for other people on that day, but I’d been waiting a long time for this kind of discount. Also, I had a feeling it would pick me up after what I anticipated would be a bad trip.

My anticipation certainly underestimated the outcome.

So yesterday I installed my purchases, and today, I record some guitar parts for a song titled "Revulsion". I still need to clean up a few parts, but on the whole, I like the results.

(I hope this link to the Eponymous 4 Facebook Page works because that’s where I posted the audio file.)

$(function () {$e4($(‘#revulsion’)[0]).load_track(‘Eponymous_4_-_Revulsion_Ex_Machina_Mix.mp3′,’vocals’);});


I’ve been told jet lag after traveling east is worse than jet lag after traveling west. Given the distance I usually fly, jet lag is jet lag, and either way sucks equally.

I’ve tended to reverse that conventional wisdom only because I’ve traveled to Hawaiʻi a few times without ever leaving Central time. That happened in 2008. It happened last year and this year as well, but after a few days, my clock aligns with Hawaiian time.

This year is extraordinary since I stayed in Hawaiʻi for a record four weeks, which gave my body time to settle into the Hawaiian time zone.

Yesterday, I woke up at 8 a.m. I usually gain consciousness at around 6 a.m. — sometimes 5 a.m. if the neighbors clang around their bathroom — and don’t get out of bed till 7 a.m. But when I say I woke up at 8 a.m., I mean I gained consciousness at 8 a.m. I didn’t get out of bed till 9 a.m.

That would be 4 a.m. HST, which is when I would gain consciousness to get ready for the 5 a.m. watch for my dad. It took a while to shake that routine after he died, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to get up for something at 4 a.m. HST.

I didn’t go to bed till 3 a.m., or 11 p.m. HST.

I got the jet lag bad.

Now I see where the conventional wisdom is true. When your body thinks it’s midnight when it’s really 8 p.m., it’s easy just to sleep it off. But when you have to go bed at midnight, and your body insists there’s four hours of wakefulness to go, it’s a pain in the ass.

Tonight, I might actually be tired enough to turn in at 2 a.m.


The last thing I wanted to feel on the night before a flight was post-nasal drip. I was overly optimistic to think I could last four weeks back home without wear and tear.

But I had stopped drinking my daily dose of orange juice the moment I got home. With that line of defense down, it was only a matter of time before the stress of dealing with family drama took its toll.

I have a cold.

It seems pretty mild at this point. On Tuesday night, I took two doses of Nyquil — one at 11 p.m., another at 5 a.m. on Wednesday — and I slept at various points throughout Wednesday. I had hoped to use that day as some semblance of a vacation day. Go to the beach, take a drive — something remotely tourist-y to salvage what was essentially a shit trip.

It was not to be.

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I’m writing this entry on Dec. 7 because I’ll be on a plane for most of Dec. 16. It’s an annual meme which I’ve filled out previous years. It’s a good piece of filler for a day I’ll have limited access to the Internet.

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So there are these five stages of grief, right? Anger is one of them. Mom has been at this stage for a while.

Unfortunately, it’s a scatter-shot kind of anger that, when interpreted incorrectly, can be fuel for an explosion. My sister flew in from Chicago today. Hello, fuse. Hello, fuel.

My dad’s sisters, who didn’t really show much support in my dad’s final days, were the spark. They arrived tonight as well.

In short, tonight really fucking sucked.

If anything came out of tonight, it was the revelation by my cousins that I can put down my alcohol, and I smoke. Mom probably knows, but I make sure not to indulge my nasty habit in front of her. I got locked out of the house when I went down the street to light up. So I had to go through a secondary way which meant passing through the downstairs level where said cousins, aunt and uncle live.

They offered me a beer. I didn’t refuse. They offered my visiting aunt a beer. She protested she wouldn’t be able to finish an entire bottle. I said, whatever you don’t drink, give it to me.

What I really want, though, are some margaritas. My cousins seem impressed by that.

I don’t lay all my cards out on the proverbial table. They don’t know these things about me because I chose not to reveal them. I like letting people form their own perception of me. In fact, I encourage it.

Because then I can shatter those preconceived notions.


You must be tired of reading about mortality by now. I’ll admit I want to write about something else.

I thought about stealing thunder from and posting my Favorite Edition list for 2010, but my listening habits this year reflect the typical habits of an aging music fan. In short, I find catalog more interesting than new releases, and that sort of punditry belongs on that blog.

So I think I’ll expand the scope of the year-end favorite list to include other media not covered by — TV, books and perhaps movies.

Thing is, I can’t say I’ve read too many books this year, and while I watch a lot of TV, I don’t think I’m actually watching anything particularly new. Movies are a total wash — I only ever visit the Alamo Drafthouse because I’m in the mood for pizza, not because I actually want to see a movie.

But I’ll give it the old college try because my other option is talk more about death and dad.

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Whenever I travel back to Hawaiʻi, the concept of "home" gets a bit confusing for me.

"Home" implies a place where a person feels most comfortable. It’s more than just a dwelling — it’s a state of mind, an emotional anchor.

Once this visit is done, it will have marked the longest time I’ve been away from Austin. Four weeks, which is pretty much a month. Last year, I took a three-week vacation, one of them spent in Japan. But for this trip, I’ve been tied down to the house. If this were anything remotely resembling a vacation, I would have flown to Maui.

It’s not.

It’s me coming back to my first home and tending to it through some extraordinary circumstances. And as much as I’ve come to resent Austin in the last few years, I really can’t wait to get back.

But it’s not the Alamo Drafthouse, Waterloo Records, Azul Tequila and South Austin that I necessarily want to get back to. It’s the shower head in my bathroom, a TV on which I know where the channels are, the guitars suited for my hands, computers configured to my own settings. I want to go back to the place I carved out as my own.

At the same time, certain things about Hawaiʻi never stop feeling like home — the proliferation of Filipino accents, the fattening but oh-so-delicious food, easy access to Japanese pop music, and a day-to-day dress code that makes Austin look overdressed.

Other things remind me of why I left — Hawaiian music, a genre just screaming for its own Astor Piazzola; passive-aggressiveness masquerading as "aloha spirit"; tooth-rotting sentimentality. (If I have to sit through another Lokahi Tree segment, I might have to find a gun to eat.)

In the past, I would never consider moving back to Hawaiʻi as a viable option. I’ve tempered that outlook dramatically in the last few years, but I’m not convinced that time has arrived for me yet. At the same time, I do another spit take when I find myself thinking, "I can’t wait till I get back to Austin." It’s not Austin — it’s the place within Austin from which I barricade myself against Austin.

In short, I need to move.

I resented Hawaiʻi. I moved away, and now I appreciate it.

If I want to appreciate Austin again, I need to do the same. I need to leave so that I can appreciate Waterloo Records, Azul Tequila and South Austin.

But what the hell am I going to do without an Alamo Drafthouse?


It’s bad enough to lose a family member during the holiday season, but to lose one close to a birthday? The hits just keep coming.

Today is my mom’s birthday. She’s announced she’s taking a rain check on it.

We’ve been playing interference with phone calls for the last few days, and today, mom instructed me to tell everyone who calls that she’s not available. One of her brothers, I believe, called to wish her a happy birthday. Are you kidding me? (Good intentions and all, but — what the hell?)

My sister bought her a pendant inscribed with my dad’s name and his nickname for her. I didn’t even think to get her anything.

So I jumped onto my Flickr account and ordered an enlargement of this print. While she was at church, I bought a frame from Target and presented her with the picture.

It’s not as fancy as pendant, but she was nicely surprised. I’m just glad the technology exists to make such quick-thinking possible.


At some point on Wednesday, I was left alone to watch over my dad while my mom ran some errands.

It was the last day my dad was communicative, but I wouldn’t know it that at the time. I thought maybe he could join me in some Christmas carols by squeezing my hand in rhythm of the songs. It was a tall order, but I wanted to give it a semblance of a college try. Of course, he didn’t squeeze back as I murdered my way through "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night".

At the end of that mini-recital, I asked him if I was out of tune.

He squeezed my hand in confirmation.

That was the last thing my dad said to me.

I think it’s pretty damn funny.


69 + 68 = 137.

In 2008, Austin had 69 days of triple-digit heat. In 2009, it had 68. Those are 137 reasons I wanted to move from Austin. I have many more.

But rather than gripe about all the reasons Austin annoys the hell out of me, I would tell people I wanted to move to be closer to Hawaiʻi. My dad is sick, I said, and it’s so hard to fly home from Austin.

That’s a more sympathetic story than my hatred of six-month summers, five-month allergy seasons and living in Texas. I’ve yet to meet anyone who grew up in Hawaiʻi whose life-long desire was to live in Texas.

I used my dad as a smoke screen. I didn’t want to be closer to him, I would tell myself. I wanted to be there for my mom, who was killing herself to keep him alive. That was the subtext which gave the sentiment some kernel of truth. But for him? Shit, Austin is actually the perfect distance.

If I hated Austin that much — and if I hated my dad that much more — I could have moved anywhere. To Chicago, where my sister lives. To New York City, where I’ve lived before.

But on paper, the west coast made sense. San Francisco and Seattle were both tech-driven cities. San Francisco has a more visible gay community, and I know a lot of people who live in Seattle. It’s also cheaper to fly to Hawaiʻi from those cities than from Chicago or New York City.

How could I argue with the facts?

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