Archive for August, 2004

Wedding Bells for Schmadnan

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

Adnan got married last weekend to his longtime schweetheart Kelly. The nuptials were a traditional Muslim affair, wherein the womenfolk are separated from the menfolk while the groom and the father of the bride confer on the dowry. Then we had a nice steak dinner. Kelly was positively resplendent in the traditional garb, but I forgot to bring my camera. So I took pictures the next day of the wicked wedding ink:

I also got to meet up with the Adnan’s relatives, whom we stayed with during the 1998 European Tour. Pictured below are Adnan’s wife Kelly, cousin Umar, brother Farhan and cousin Nasreen. Umar is from England and Nasreen from Germany.

Could they be any cuter, I ask you? Sadly we weren’t able to hang out for more than a few hours.

The State of Guitar

Friday, August 27th, 2004

Again with the old magazines, this time from Down Beat, circa 1963:

I’m not against progress, but I think maybe one of the things that keeps the guitar alive, and one of the charms of it, might well be the fact that no one has put a finger on *a way* of doing things. I think there is a certain danger when somebody decides he’s got the way.

- Charlie Byrd, 1963

This was something of a revelation to me, and it crystallized a lot of things I’ve been thinking about lately. The rock guitar community has pretty much been adrift since the mid 90′s in a sea of instrumental mediocrity, and while I’m sure many hipster record store employees would posit that rock guitar should never involve virtuosity, I think that people are still waiting for another Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen to come along to inspire today’s 13-year olds to pick up the instrument and work hard toward playing the ever living shit out of it.

After reading Charlie Byrd’s comments from 40 damn years ago, I now realize that the odds of this happening are now double what I thought they were. Worse, the reason is the very guitar method that I followed: modern guitar magazines and their easy, pervasive tablature methods. Tablature, for those who don’t know, is a super-easy system of learning how to play the guitar without working too hard. The problem with lots of kids learning to play guitar quickly and easily is that kids get a weak grasp of music theory, but worse, the ones who might otherwise be forced (out of disdain for the dogma of music theory perhaps) to invent their own approach are given such an easy route to tread that they have no incentive or oppoprtunity to innovate.

I’ve always defended modern rock guitar methodologies to the purists who derided its lack of discipline, but I now wonder if tablature isn’t killing the guitar in a way. I had always maintained that genius is genius and it will always rise above, but when there’s no resistance to the rising, if the rise is easy, does the rise have a reason to occur? To climb, you have to have something to push against. If a genius kid came along and learned through tab methods, would he develop more quickly or would his talents merely atrophy for lack of resistance? I’m going to think more on this and see what I can figure out.

My New Babies and Garden State

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

Here are some pics of the latest additions to the herd. I just got the white one yesterday from Zappa.com. It was custom-made for Dweezil Zappa by the Fender Custom Shop. The other is from Fender’s Japan Custom Shop, it’s a signature model of Richie Kotzen, available only in Japan (where he probably has more fans). I traded my Fender Kotzen stratocaster for a Fender Kotzen telecaster. The neck on it is HUGE, like a baseball bat, and that’s not an exaggeration.

Fender Dweezil Zappa Custom
Fender Richie Kotzen telecaster

Jessica and I went to see Garden State last night and it’s fabulous. It’s a sort of existential romance for 20-somethings. Certainly an auspicious debut from writer/director Zach Braff. The soundtrack is utterly flawless – I’ve been excited about this movie since I saw the trailer, which featured Frou Frou’s “Let Go” as a theme. The song plays during the movie’s climax and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to hear a piece of music in a movie. It was perfect. In her blog, Frou Frou singer Imogen Heap says she still hasn’t seen the movie, but I think it will make her ecstatic. She’ll definitely see a record sales spike this month. Jessica and I went out to Barnes & Noble after the movie to get the soundtrack – when we got there, two girls were already listening to it. Fortunately one of them already had it and was just playing it for a friend, so I got the one copy available. It has some great tunes by the Shins, Zero 7, Nick Drake, and, not to draw more comparisons to The Graduate, Simon & Garfunkel.

Like Imogen Heap and Cameron Crowe (two of my favorite people), Zach Braff has an insightful blog that gives a closeup look at the business of doing what you love and getting paid for it.

Rilke on Relationships

Tuesday, August 24th, 2004

I’ve been reading Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke. This excerpt was written a hundred years ago, but in a way it predicts the rise of Women’s Liberation and same-sex couples.

We are only just now beginning to consider the relation of one individual to a second individual objectively and without prejudice, and our attempts to live such relationships have no model before them.

The girl and the woman, in their new, individual unfolding, will only in passing be imitators of male behavior and misbehavior and repeaters of male professions. After the uncertainty of such transitions, it will become obvious that women were going through the abundance and variation of those (often ridiculous) disguises just so that they could purify their own essential nature and wash out the deforming influences of the other sex…This humanity of woman, carried in her womb through all her suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she has stripped off the conventions of mere femaleness in the transformations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching will be astonished by it. Someday… there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only life and reality: the female human being.

This advance (at first very much against the will of the outdistanced men) will transform the love experience, which is now filled with error, will change it from the ground up, and reshape it into a relationship that is meant to be between one human being and another, no longer one that flows from man to woman. And this more human love…will resemble what we are now preparing painfully and with great struggle. The love that consists in this: two solitudes that protect and border and greet each other.

Writing styles of the 19th century tended toward the prolix (or do I just think that because modern communication is so brief?), so I edited out a few digressions for easier digestion. The full text of Rilke’s letter can be read here.

Why Chicks Don’t Rock Very Often

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

Once upon a blog entry dreary, I pondered weak and weary as to why girls aren’t as fanatically geeky about irrelevant minutiae and guitar whizbangery. Finally the Washington Post delivers an answer. Their article, “No Girls Allowed,” covers all the bases and talks to many expert sources (they even dug up The Great Kat, the single greatest Exception That Proves the Rule you’re likely to find). Best of all, they talked to your hero and mine, Camille Paglia. She had this to say:

“For an adolescent boy, your guitar speaks for you, it says what you can’t say in real life, it’s the pain you can’t express, it’s rage, hormones pumping. Women can be strangers and all of a sudden have an intimate conversation. Boys can’t do that. The guitar for a boy speaks to an aggressive sexual impulse and suppressed emotionality, the things that boys can’t share, even with other members of the band. It’s a combination of rage and reserve and ego.”

Another aspect of it is that many boys start playing rock instruments to impress girls, while girls already have ways of impressing boys – namely, by being girls (already the most beautiful form Nature has devised), and the vast world of fashion available thereunto.

For the record, I started playing guitar to make weird noises. Perhaps in hope that I would find a weird girl impressed by them. So far it’s worked out a few times, actually. Still looking, though.

Pictures from Fayetteville

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

Finally got the latest Plog up, two days late. Mostly pictures from last weekend’s trip to Northwest Arkansas.

Chuck E. Cheese for President

Tuesday, August 17th, 2004

I just got a Chuck E. Cheese token as part of my change from a US Postal Service vending machine. I’m not sure what this means; either Chuck E. Cheese tokens are now legal tender, or they’re indistinguishable from Sacagawea dollars to a vending machine.

Spamusement

Friday, August 13th, 2004

From the “I’m Kicking Myself for Not Thinking of This” Department comes Spamusement, a site of cartoons based on actual spam subject lines.

Everybody say happy birthday to my mom.

Let’s go to Stromboli!

TV, Guitars and Gay Pr0n

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

Naturally, as soon as I tell Comcast to cancel my basic cable subscription, I have a reason to watch TV: me. I’m going to be on television! This Saturday on the WB at some point in the evening they’ll play Stanley Knox’s new variety show that we taped last Saturday night at Legends, a local sports bar. For those non-Central Arkansans in the audience, Mr. Knox is the former host of the 103.7FM morning show, which was recently cancelled due to two of their minions handing out gay pr0n DVDs to a minor at a recent gay pride parade in Conway. As amazed as I am at the fact that Arkansas actually witnessed a gay pride parade that didn’t end in bloodshed, my glee is tempered by the fact that Arkansans can still be counted on to perform stupid human tricks at just the wrong moments in time.

And yes, you read that right, I cancelled my basic cable. In effect, I am killing my TV. I’m really just allowing it to exist on DVD/VHS life support. My reasons for doing so are three: 1. I don’t have time to watch TV, 2. When I do, there’s not a damn thing on worth watching, and 3. $50 a month is not worth it for The Daily Show alone. So Barry will tape it for me every week. I have to give props to Natalie for showing me that there is life without television. In fact, there’s far more than I realized. I’ll miss you, cable television, but until I can subscribe only to the channels I want for a reasonable price, I’m through with you. Not that this means I’ll stop supporting AETN, though.

In addition to the gig at Legends on Saturday, I also played at Anthony and Ashley Nguyen’s wedding. Good luck, y’all. And on Sunday I went to see KISS at Alltel Arena thanks to free tickets from Jessica. I took many pictures at a party beforehand, and several at the show. The party consisted mainly of people I don’t really know. They were friends of Chris’s but everyone was having such a good time, doing so many photogenic things, I had to pull out the digital camera. I later forgot I had the camera on me for the KISS show, but the security didn’t notice, so I took some pics of the show, as well as Chris’s drunk self, which I had to help carry in and out of the vehicle. Some of the photos are risque, so email me and I’ll send you a link if you want to see the drunken heathens in action. Several of the girls are just horribly hot.

Also, the Zappa people keep delaying the delivery of my Dweezil guitar. I guess I can’t complain, since I got it cheap, but it has been over a month since I ordered it. I am however thoroughly enjoying my Richie Kotzen telecaster, which I played at the gig Saturday. So the tele will be on the telly, as the Brits would say.

I Hate Cats

Wednesday, August 4th, 2004

I had just returned from a nice dinner with the Lombeidas and their lovely 3 month old, Tori, when I suddenly found myself punctured 9 times by cat claws. I was lying quite happily on my bed, full of Mexican culinary bliss courtesy of Senor Tequila, when Stinker hopped up on me and set to work doing his tiresome biscuit-kneading/purring routine. Suddenly he was spooked for some reason, dug his claws into me a few times, and scurried off the bed and out of the room.

The pain wasn’t as bad as the itching, since I’m semi-allergic to cats. Some ice fixed that, though, but then the bleeding began. So Neosporin was called in, and I suppose I’m patched together. At least I’m not as bad off as Amy was.

In other news, I went to Dallas last week and picked up my pretty new twanger. I traded a Kotzen for a Kotzen. My blue strat for a green tele. I also got to hang out with my friends Odie & Mona and Torrey & Liz. A fine weekend all around. And of course now weekend in Dallas would be complete without a half dozen bargain CDs.