Saturday, July 29, 2006

Art: Green Couch.

Green Couch (watercolor on paper, 12 x 7").

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Where My Head Is At (In C-minor)

iTunes, in conjunction with my ipods, track each time I listen to a song. These songs become living entities to me. A song gets counted only if it finishes playing. Being an admirer of numbers and statistics, I feel like a parent rooting it on. I always let the song complete so it gets credit. I want it to matter.

iTunes has a special playlist titled "Top 25 Most Played." As the name suggests, it shows the top twenty-five most played songs.

I take many photographs. A lot of times I take a picture for painting reference, as potential subject matter to be later transferred to canvas. Other times I am inspired by a scene or ambience and want to capture it. I read an interview about the director Cameron Crowe. He didn't take pictures. Instead he would make mix tapes encapsulating the songs during that time period. That became his auditory scrapbook. For me, the top 25 list has become a barometer. It's a snapshot of my life.

What can by gathered from my top 25 list? I have my thoughts. I look at it and know where my head is at.

Tangentially there are other things that I can deduce from my current list….

It reveals my habit of falling into periodic obsessions. I fall into patterns where I'll frequent the same restaurant or listen repeatedly to a few artists. I'll hold the same CD captive in my car's CD player for weeks at a time. And a short time later, the restaurant, artists, and CD will be replaced by new ones. And the process will repeat itself. While the artists I've been listening to are obscure, there isn't much breadth to the list. There are a few that have been hit with heavy listening.

It proves my love affair with Regina Spektor. Oh – how I so desperately long to be the subject of one of her songs.

And song number 25 shows that daddy enjoys a little bit of South American lovin'.

The mellow, moody, and dynamic music implies that I've been pursuing creative endeavors as that style of music always accompanies a moving pen or brush.

It shows the power of getting added to the latest playlist. I create them like I'm making a mixed tape for myself. If a song gets added, it's a golden ticket to the top 25.

What else can be retrieved from my list? Well, depending on the viewer, probably many things. With high accuracy, I can determine a person's entire persona by their tastes in music and movies, and their critiques of what they've seen. If I ask a person how they felt about Lost in Translation, I know everything I need to upon hearing the response.

Just think about how quickly you could know someone if they just shared their top twenty-five list. No more relentless small talk. No more curious glances across the room. You just exchange top twenty-five lists like they were business cards, study them, then take the appropriate action. It's like having five deep conversations all filtered down into eighty words on a half-sheet of paper.

And in a few months my list will change. When I begin training to become an Ultimate Fighter, you will quickly see Slayer's Raining Blood rise in the charts (it is my irrefutable belief that this song has the heaviest opening in the history of music.. if I listen to it in the car I find myself accelerating without being aware of it).

But at this moment in time, this is where my head is at. I now present my list of the top 25 most listened to songs over the last two months:

1.) The Engine Driver - The Decemberists
2.) Why Can't I Forget About You - The Subdudes
3.) The Dress Looks Nice on You - Sufjan Stevens
4.) Hotel Song - Regina Spektor
5.) Better - Regina Spektor
6.) Buildings - Regina Spektor
7.) Samson - Regina Spektor
8.) Fidelity - Regina Spektor
9.) The Funeral - Band of Horses
10.) Hold On Hold On - Neko Case
11.) That Time - Regina Spektor
12.) Ghost of Corporate Future - Regina Spektor
13.) Intimate Controversy - Yovee
14.) Your Honor - Regina Spektor
15.) Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols
16.) On the Radio - Regina Spektor
17.) City Strolling - Yovee
18.) Fell In Love with a Boy - Joss Stone
19.) Summer In the City - Regina Spektor
20.) Under the Milky Way - Shanna Zell
21.) Chemo Limo - Regina Spektor
22.) What a Day - Yovee
23.) Dreamer on the Run - Yovee
24.) Breathe (2 AM) - Anna Nalick
25.) Hips Don't Lie - Shakira

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

They Used My Iron For the Stone.

I recently celebrated a year in my condo. One of its selling points was its hardwood floors. I really enjoy having them. With all of my oil painting and clumsiness, they've been invaluable as the splattered and spilled paint cleans up easily. Now, I didn't receive a hardwood floor manual when I moved in. Maintenance and care seemed simple. And they are.


I had some dried goop on the floor. I usually cleaned this stuff up with wood floor cleaner bequeathed to me by the previous owners. But being in a hurry, I grabbed the closest suitable spray.


I realized that I had made a mistake immediately following application when I received a knock on my door. I opened it to find the Olympic curling team standing there.

For you see, when you spray Pledge on a hardwood floor, it creates a spot so slippery that sheer contact will send you sliding off the face of the earth and into infinity. It's like a tube of KY and can of WD-40 had sex and left a wet spot. I have foolishly created the slickest place on earth.

Part of the problem is that the affected area is small so it's easy to forget. I take normal strides while walking in the condo and upon hitting that spot I almost always lose my balance. It is the virtual banana peel of death. For my own safety, I may need to cordon off the area with police tape.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Heat Wave.

I know that complaining about the weather in San Diego is like complaining about having too much money and too much sex. But all things are relative, and this includes weather.

For two weeks every year, San Diego gets hit by a combination of intolerable heat and humidity that makes it feel like Cambodia. All I have to combat this is a small AC wall unit located in my living room. It has a range of three feet. To feel its effect you need to sit on top of it naked.

Yesterday was unbearable. Since there was no way that the limited range of my AC would be felt in the bedroom, I had to reconfigure things. I have a hallway door that dissects my living room from the two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I closed it and sought refuge in my main room. Essentially my life resembled that of a poor college student. I lived in a single room and slept on the couch.

I also created an arrangement with the fans to maximize the flow of cold air. I knew it was an effective scheme when NASA came over to test the aerodynamics of its rockets. I essentially slept in a wind tunnel.

To tackle the heat today I drove to the beach and went surfing.

I've developed a weekly ritual where I spend every Thursday night after work at Guava Beach Bar and Grill in Mission Beach. They have great food, great deals, and it provides a friendly and casual vibe. I arrive armed with journal and pen. After I eat I scoot over a block and walk along the boardwalk. It's a great way to end the day. A friend recently talked about the southern tip of Mission Beach. I had never been. When I went to Guava Beach this past Thursday, I walked from there to the southern tip of MB. It made for a rather lengthy walk – 3.5 miles round trip – but my journey was beautiful as it was accompanied by the setting sun, and led me to the serene and quaint destination. The southern tip of Mission Beach borders the San Diego River. Sail boats pass through (there is a visual aspect about sail boats that I enjoy). There's a grass park that overlooks the ocean and hovers like an island in the middle of the beach. This provides a welcome sanctuary as I hate sand. Well, hate may be a strong word. Let's just say that I have an adversarial relationship with it. There is also a wooden lifeguard tower that I have become infatuated with. It looks rickety and haphazard – like something you'd see on some isolated tropical beach. I loved this place.

This is one of the great things about San Diego. Its locale and geography create so many unique and mysterious places. I lived in San Jose – a large and flat expanse. While it had some good streets, it possessed no mysteries. No hills. No valleys. No nooks. No pockets. Just a bunch of interchangeable avenues. Many cities suffer from this. Not San Diego. It constantly surprises.

I drove to southern Mission Beach this morning, with my surfboard stretching from trunk to passenger seat. I easily found parking and set up residence on the beach in front of my beloved lifeguard tower. I threw on the rash guard, put on the aqua-socks, and strapped the leash to my left ankle. Into the water I went.

A day earlier I had talked to a friend who was an avid surfer. He said that the most painful thing he had experienced was a sting from a stingray. Right now they are ubiquitous on San Diego beaches due to the warm water and breeding season. Amber had seen some when we went surfing a few weekends ago at La Jolla Shores. I made sure to shuffle my feet when I walked.

I read an interview with professional poker players. They were asked the biggest mistake that novice poker players made. Almost unanimously they said that beginners play too many hands. It's hard for a newbie to pick his or her spots. They want to get involved in the excitement of each hand. It's difficult to sit back and watch.

I think that the same phenomenon affects beginning surfers as well. I want to catch every wave. But the real art is identifying the perfect wave and taking it, while letting the others pass by. Patience pays off. Not taking it is just as important as taking it. It's not only a good strategy to adopt in surfing, but to apply to my life as well. There is something to be said for enjoying the serene moments between perfect waves.

I realized the power of this because by sheer coincidence I caught the perfect wave and it made for a beautiful ride. I selected other waves that were sub par, and I paddled the same as I did on the perfect wave, but it simply rolled past me or fizzled prematurely. Patience pays off. The key is enjoying the time between those ideal waves.

It is possible that I am delving into metaphor.

After surfing, I sought refuge on the green, grassy park. I did a sketch of the quirky lifeguard tower. After completing the ink drawing, I dipped inside my backpack to fetch my colored pencils. I then realized that I had forgotten to bring them. Desperately wanting color, I went with watercolors even though this paper reacted poorly to them.

There is something so rewarding for me personally to drawing a scene live. I don't do it often enough, but when I do, it locks that moment and experience in my memory so potently.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Art: Two Bananas, Before and After (Diptych)

Two Bananas, Before and After (Diptych).

Two Bananas, Before (oil on canvas board, 14 x 11").

Two Bananas, After (oil on canvas board, 14 x 11").

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Open Relationship.

I talked with my girlfriend, Salma Hayek, and asked her if I could see other women. She said yes.

This is good.

Because now I can continue my romance with songstress, Regina Spektor. I mentioned my infatuation with her in an earlier journal entry, but with the release of her new album a few weeks ago, it has blossomed into a full-on love affair. In addition to songs I listed previously, give a listen to my new favorites: Sampson, Hotel Song, and That Time.

Now don't get jealous, Debbie Gibson. I still can't shake your love.

Local band, Yovee, has recently released their music catalog on iTunes.

This is good.

I play Intimate Controversy and City Strollin on a constant loop. Give a listen to IC on headphones. I like the way it was mixed. If I'm sitting on a hillside, overlooking the ocean, pondering places I've been to and those I still long to go, these are the songs I want playing.

With the arrival of the heat wave, I have found an actual use for the mint that grows in my mini-garden: iced tea with a not-so-little touch of mint.

This is good.

Because my mint plants were out of control and my balcony started to resemble the outfield of Wrigley Field.

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone they recommended KEXP's podcast in their music review section.

This is not so good.

I made this recommendation over a month ago in my journal. Damn it people – why must I always be the musical Nostradamus? How much longer can I carry you on my backs? Being a trendsetter leaves me absolutely exhausted and dehydrated. And I can't afford this drain due to the intense heat and the fact that I need to conserve my energy for the gym where I shape the earth with my massive biceps. C'mon people. I need all of you to pick up the slack and let me know about cool music earlier.

I'm fatigued from typing this. I really need an intern.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Art: Shasta.

Shasta Laying Down (pen and colored pencil on paper, 6 x 3").

Shasta (Portrait detail. Pen and colored pencil on paper, 2 x 2").