January 17 in 2002..

Fourteen years ago, I wrote the following for my old website, RUHome. I was such a lonely whiney bitch.
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Believe it or not, this post was going to be about self pity, dispare, rejection, and pain. But I figured why bother. You probably don’t really care anyway so why wallow in my own pool of negativity.
While sitting on the john tonight, I thought back to my past. A time in my early days of gaming. I thought about how we always introduced are new breed of power characters to each other. The GM/DM/Storyteller/Referee would almost always start off like it was the beginning of a bad joke. “You guys are all in a bar…” I too fell prey to that character introduction. Why do I point this out you may ask? Because I have yet to go into a bar and really meet anyone new. At least not new in the sense of “this person has no relation to any of my friends here” kind of new. Why is it I haven’t met anyone new? I think I can chalk that up to two reasons. 1) I’m a chickenshit. Merde de poulet. I can’t go up to someone I’ve never met before and say “How you doin?” a la Joey from friends. 2) I’m a big guy. Otherwise known as obese! That’s right, in all non-pc ways of it all…I’m fat. I don’t have that rock-star body that always seems to be in demand. Okay, in all fairness, I’m not gross-fat. I think (at least) that I carry it well. I’ve never had problems making friends with women. But when your at a bar, they’re not looking for friends. There lookin’ for some serious deep-dicking, no matter Senator, Lesbian or Nun. I’m what to what they refer to as “cuddly.” As good as that may sound, it doesn’t get you none. It gets you hugs. Lots of hugs. Don’t get me wrong, I like hugs. They’re what keep me going. But dammit, a little more than hugs would be nice. Nice. My other curse–but don’t get me started.
So instead of being about dispare and pity, this is about being angry and whining. I’m not really sure which one is better. Maybe I should have gone for the pity-thang. Oops.

To be fair, it probably wasn’t the rendition from old blue eyes that changed my life, but the ones performed by the cast members of Neon Genesis Evangelion (see Day 6 about my j-pop awakening).  That being said, it was Fly Me to the Moon that embarked me on journey into big band jazz and the Rat Pack.  I was 21, (it was a very good year) and suddenly Frank Sinatra was no longer “old people music” to me.  Sometimes to go forward, you need to take a few steps backward and this was my step.
There have been many other songs that have been influential in my life, but when I trace back to the roots of the music that I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy, I feel that the seven songs presented are the origins of it all.

7 songs that changed my life – Day 7

I wrestled with this one a little bit.
Throughout highschool and a significant portion of my early adult life I was an otaku.  By the time I was eight, the seeds had been planted withForce Five (Spacekateers, Gaiking, Danguard Ace, Starvengers, Grandizer), Battle of the Planets, and Robotech.  A decade later I was watching any anime I could get my hands on (some of which I probably shouldn’t have been watching).  The point of all this brief history is my affinity towards J-Pop.  Originally I thought it was Namie Amuro that put the spotlight onto the genre for me.  When I got to really thinking about it though, it was actually the anime series Bubblegum Crisis that did it. Music was a significant theme in the series and I fell in love with it.  Konyawa Hurricane, by the fictional animated band Priss and the Replicants laid the cement for what would become my Japanophile years.
And in case you’re interested, the Namie Amuro track that I originally thought of is below.

 

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x178vja_%E5%AE%89%E5%AE%A4%E5%A5%88%E7%BE%8E%E6%81%B5-body-feels-exit_music

7 songs that changed my life – Day 6

When I was 16, I was staring at a wall of CD’s at a local grocery superstore.  I had recently starting collecting CD’s as I finally had my own CD player (it was my SEGA CD hooked up to my POS stereo) and I was in the mood for some new music.  Not just new music, but something with explicit lyrics.  Seriously.  I wanted some music with some curses in it.  Two CD covers were duking it out.  The first was Beck’s Mellow Gold, and the other was from this band I’d never heard of called Nine Inch Nails. Their album, in this yellow-ish cardboard box was called The Downward Spiral.  The fact that the jewel case was contained within another unit of packaging won me over.
With no expectations other than to hear some fucks and shits, I placed the CD in the tray as soon as I got home.  Mr. Self Destruct, the first track from the album, not even close to a favourite, makes this list because it opened my eyes to an area of music I never knew existed.  Music that was far darker and more nihilistic than I had ever heard before.  And I liked it.  Mr. Self Destruct had prepared me for the times to come where I would need what I would later call ‘angry music’ and also created the possibility for me to enjoy the self destructive angst of grunge music (albeit far more catchy sounding and less noisy).

 

7 songs that changed my life – Day 5

The first musical influence that carried on throughout the rest of my life was the Barenaked Ladies.  My brother had got his hands on of a cassette dub of the orange tape that had If I had a million dollars on it, and I was immediately hooked.  Here we had a nerdy, quirky band from Scarborough, Ontario that had both silly songs, and some heavy tracks as well.  But it was the talk of Kraft Dinner and having a million dollars that sold me.  It wasn’t always easy being a fan of theirs either!  My Grade 10 English teacher was also fond of them which didn’t reflect well on my own tastes.  This couldn’t dissuade me though.  They were MY band.  I remained loyal through EVERY album afterward, seeing them in concert five times, but eventually got turned off when Steven Page left the band.  They haven’t been the same since.  And if like me you dream of a reunion, in an interview earlier in 2015 Ed Robertson was quoted as saying that no one “is in a hurry to work with each other again.”
Fun Fact: To this day, I have the occasional dream where I’m hanging with the band.

7 songs that changed my life – Day 4

Don’t judge me.

In the sixth grade, Paula Abdul and the her debut single/video Straight Up was another awakening for me.  Abdul was my first adult celebrity crush.  The sexy choreographer cast aside Alyssa Milano from my schoolboy fantasies.  Despite my arguments to the contrary at the time, the jiggling cleavage in the video might have at least had a little bit of influence on my taste in her music.  That, and well, I thought she was incredibly hot.  I was already an over-sexualized 10 year old, and this just fed into my prepubescent boner.
Fun fact: an unrequited classmate crush actually dubbed the cassette tape for me.

7 songs that changed my life – Day 3

 

If you think about it, this is kind of a logical evolution.  Eat it, the parody of Michael Jackson’s Beat it served as a catalyst for my desire to be the weirdest kid in school.  Weird Al Yankovic was my childhood idol (I’m just realizing this now).  Yankovic was everything I wanted to be; witty, funny, strange, skinny (ah, the plight of a fat kid).  I perma-borrowed Weird-Al in 3-D from my brother (I think).  I probably perma-borrowed “Born to be Stupid” as well.  My memory is a little fuzzy.  This followed with my first Weird Al cassette purchase of Even Worse from Steadman’s.
To this day, I can still sing along with the majority of Weird Al’s songs prior to the Running With Scissors album.

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My Interwebz friend has this going on and invited others to share.  This has the potential to explain me a little bit.  Why not?

7 songs that changed my life – Day 2

My Interwebz friend has this going on and invited others to share.  This has the potential to explain me a little bit.  Why not?

Day 1: My first pick (gonna go chronologically here) is Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which coincidentally was my first vinyl LP. This song and video is what awakened my journey into music when I was 5 years old. Also, the video fed my zombie nightmares for many years afterwards. Eventually I learned to appreciate these dreams to the point where I look forward to them now. Nothing like subconscious zombie survival.

7 songs that changed my life – Day 1

I wish I was a little bit taller.

We’ve all had teachers that influenced us, helped us, encouraged us.  The same teachers that when we looked back on our lives, we would remember them fondly.  This isn’t one of those times.

Seeing photos of Dave Grohl rocking out from a throne suitable only for musical gods such as himself inspired me to re-familiarize myself with his legacy.  What I’ve come to appreciate most about Grohl is distinct usage of of drums.  Whether it be music back from his Nirvana days, his influence on Taylor Hawkins in Foo Fighters, or Queens of the Stone Age, I can’t help but pick up my invisible drum sticks and bash my elaborate setup of air drums.

When I listen to the radio, I just hear so much music that doesn’t even sound like people. The vocals are all tuned, and the drums are all fake.
-Dave Grohl


When I started grade year at William G. Davis, I had a goal.  With my braces tightly wrapped around my teeth, I wanted to graduate from playing the trumpet to playing the drums.  I had my sights set on that drum set in the corner since the seventh grade, when we were told that none of us would get to touch for another year.  So when our new music teacher, Ms. Brooks-Kirkland, opened the floor for drum tryouts, naturally I made my intentions known.  Those who wanted to play the drums participated in a beat test.  I nailed it.  I know I nailed it.  I felt it.  I was going to be the next class drummer, until I wasn’t.  The see-you-next-tuesday (was never found of this teacher) gave it another student in the class, who previously had been playing the flute.  Naturally, I was disheartened and defeated.  I gave up on my dream as apparently I wasn’t good enough.

With a month this girl was off the drums and back to the flute, and the drums were left empty for the rest of the year.

After a year of misery and pain playing the trumpet (my braces against the mouthpiece of the trumpet was far comfortable), I moved to the tuba in grade 9.  In my final year of highschool I took Grade 9 vocal music for shits and grins.  I also dabbled with guitar here and there, but never really took to it.

Fast forward to the doughnuts and Guitar Hero 4, where the complete set came with a drum kit.  I took to it.  I was nailing it.  Just like I know I nailed that beat test in grade 8.  With some proper education, I believe I would have been a damned good drummer.  Maybe not a Dave Grohl, but certainly good enough to be in a band.

In good conscience, I can’t completely blame Ms. Brooks-Kirkland for my failure to become a drummer.  I’m the one that gave up, after all.  However, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be pissed that she didn’t encourage me to try harder.  But you know what?  To hell with conscience.  Fuck you Ms. Brooks-Kirkland.  You may have well have robbed me of rock stardom.

The nostalgia of the old life.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

-Lao Tzu

I sometimes get asked if I miss it.  By it, I mean either being in China, or being an ESL teacher.  Nearly ten year years after the fact, of course the answer is yes.  Nostalgia always paints a beautiful portrait of memories. Despite some of the issues that arose while I was there, it was one of the most positive and obviously life changing experiences of my life.  In a way, being there was kind of like living at Disneyland (or so I’d assume).

Never eat yellow snow.  But you can drink it!!  From a bottle!

Never eat yellow snow. But you can drink it!! From a bottle!  Only in China!

The only real responsibility I had was simply to show up for work five days a week.  Not having to show up until 2pm also allowed for nights that would remain difficult to remember (and there were many of those).  There was one time when I actually had to show up for a class in the morning after a night of beer recreational beer drinking where I spent most of my time sitting down.  I was the marketable product in an occupational field primarily devoid of an HR department.  Needless to say, there was plenty of leeway.

There is also the follow up question as soon as I take a breath long enough for the asker to slip another one in.  Would I ever consider going back.  That is a much more difficult question to answer.  One of the hard lessons I had when I came back to Canada that while most buildings and structures remain the same, the contents of them can change wildly.  The substance of almost everything and everyone I had know was different.  This lesson applies even more so if I were to apply it to China.  You have likely heard about the “breakneck” speed of how China has grown and how fast things can change there.  Well, it’s true.  Buildings come and go almost as much as the people do.  I know that everything would be different if I were to return.  The question that I would need to ask myself if an opportunity arose where I might consider going back is this; am I going because I want what I’m looking forward to some new challenges or experiences, or am I returning simply in search of what used to be?  If it is the latter, then I am only setting myself up for disappointment.  So the only answer I have to that question is ‘we’ll see what happens.’  The other life lesson I have is that my future is never anything remotely close to a foregone conclusion.