30 November 2005

i can't get behind that

so i spent a few hours tonight recording some vocals. i don't want to alarm you and i don't want to get super specific at this time...but based on how tonight went there may or may not be a song on the record with vocals that are more shatner-spoken than sung. i am just going to have to sleep on it for a while.

28 November 2005

hot lava

hey. long time no talk. it's because i fell into some hot lava. i'm all better now though.

no really i didn't. that would kill you for sure. you'd be hurtin' for certain.

i've just been sitting here listening to what i think is the final mix for "if these walls could talk" over and over again on different sets of speakers and headphones to see if i hear anything that pisses me off. this is the process i go through for every song. that's why it takes so goddamn long. i recorded this in about 6 hours, and have been mixing it for about 6 months.

it's sounding pretty ok.

story time. one night me and my friend john drank a whole case of pabst blue ribbon and then climbed a pretty tall rock wall to get to the athletic fields at our beloved alma mater. then we stumbled around firing some pretty f'ing awesome roman candles into the air and laughing real belly-laughs after pretty much every shot went off. you ever have one of those nights where it just works right? that was one of them.

then we went to some kid's house that he knew and the kid had bottle rockets sitting on his nightstand (it must've been around the 4th of july) and we stole a bunch and i still have them in my sock drawer. don't be mad, he had like a ton.

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26 November 2005

oh my god oh my god

so i found it. it was in my briefcase, which is something i got at a yard sale when i was a little kid and treasured above most other things because it locked with a combination (which i still remembered, miraculously) and it's where i kept shit that either i wanted to keep safe or i didn't want anyone else to see or usually both. the contents of that briefcase could be a whole other post...but we'll see about that later.

we called ourselves "the undercover beat" and we recorded 5 songs. i had totally forgotten that my younger brother also participated, so in addition to the two 10 year old voices i described earlier, there is an even younger sounding 7 year old. at the end of every song we screamed in non-unison "yo, we outta heeeere."

our tape was called the undercover beat - go through tough times. here's the tracklisting:
  • "playin' hookey" (not sure why we neglected the exclamation point on this one) was a bit of a point/counterpoint argument about the merits of a good education. really creative stuff. if you didn't want to get sent to the "fat, ugly" principal's office and end up working at mcdonalds with all the other "idiots" you'd better learn your maths.
  • "darn those drugs!" contains repeated assertions that drug dealers would hold guns to your head to make you try marijuana, but if you sped away fast enough on your bike, you'd be safe once you reached your front yard. this is even funnier if you've ever been to monroe, connecticut, circa 1990.
  • "traffic jam!" is a prime example of overreaching. not only had none of us ever driven a car, but i doubt any of us had even been in real traffic in any car, period. again, you'd know if you'd been around when this was made. also, we must've been trying to sound really pissed and exasperated about the exhaust fumes but in reality we just sounded really squeaky and this is the least listenable song in a collection of entirely unlistenable songs.
  • "we did it!" was an extremely make-you-squirm patriotic celebration of the usa's victory in operation desert storm. complete with someone audibly pausing the nintendo in the middle for an a cappella rendition of "america the beautiful" that goes on waaay too long. if i wasn't so bent on keeping this under wraps, i bet the cia could use it to interrogate bad guys instead of torturing them like dick cheney likes to do. actually maybe this would still be considered torture.
  • "smog - so what else is new?" probably would be the best song (it's got some really big words in it which i surely did not write) but it's interrupted a few times by another friend who taped over our sweet beats with some insinuations about our sexual orientations.
all in all, i'm not sure i'm glad that i found it and i'm probably not tough enough to post any audio for you to hear because it's way worse than even my worst nightmares. but i haven't made my final decision yet.

24 November 2005

this was on my wall for a very long time

i was pretty active at my church when i was in high school. never so much on the real religion side, but definitely on the just-showing-up-must-count-for-something side. some of my best friendships to this day were forged at our youth group.

we would meet in the same building that they held church school in. one day there was a line of contstruction paper on the wall, some of the kids had done one of those things where you put down every letter a-z and write something starting with each letter about something. this one was about god. duh. judging by the handwriting difference, it looked like each kid in the class got 3 letters for one sheet.

i really liked the last sheet (they x,y,z one) so i took it down, xeroxed it, and put it back up. i think i liked it because man, that must've sucked to get those last letters. those are tough ones. and also, they were scrawled in really sloppy handwriting, which reminded me of myself. anyway, that paper went with me for years on my wall everywhere i lived. it was finally lost in the shuffle when i moved from providence to queens, which i never paid much thought to, but tonight i was just thinking of it at 3:45am because that's just how i am. it said:
xample to all of us
you are truthful to us
zap us with your love.
maybe it's better taken totally out of context like it would have been if you just ambled into my room back then and saw it on my wall with masking tape. that's why i liked it, anyway. but i can't sleep so i figured i'd give you the background, too.

happy thanksgiving to you and all of yours.

22 November 2005

like a polaroid picture

when i was a kid i had a lot of nervous energy. i was always shaking my leg, or pacing, or tapping, or doing that thing where you roll a pen back and forth over your knuckles (when i got older and finally learned how to do it in chemistry class).

they* like to say nervous habits are the product of sexual frustration. for the record, whether or not the well has been dry, i've always peeled the labels off my beer. off topic.

it isn't the kind of thing people remember details about, so i don't know when i stopped, but let's say at some point between ages 17 and 19, i just cut it out. i've no inkling why. i just know i gradually came to realize in college that i didn't really do those things anymore and didn't really have the urge to.

i also don't know when it started again and i don't know why. but i shake like the dickens these days. and i'm constantly reminded of it because of a little coin bank on my desk here that jingles every time i shake my right leg. it drives me absolutely crazy.

* for the most part, i've found that the kind of people who'll cheerfully remind you of such hogwash tend to be more sexually frustrated on average than the people who won't. and strangely, they all like to say it as if it's deadly serious (and recently proven) scientific fact, as if you've never heard it before and you're supposed to be impressed and thank them for their insight into your psyche. seriously. hurt yourself.

21 November 2005

here are some things.

  1. sorry.
  2. there is a disconnect between how you see yourself and how others see you.
  3. who's right?
  4. nights in shining amor.
  5. i'm not ready to go...i just got here.
  6. a band-aid on your hairy arm.
  7. someone remembers the worst thing you've ever done and they'll never forget it.
  8. the absolute worst idea ever is to give lingerie as a gift.

  9. someone else knows something else and they think it's the worst thing but they're wrong and you're sure not going to correct them.
  10. pyrrhic victory.
  11. there's no way that stain is coming out.
  12. my brother turned 21 yesterday. i sent him an e-card with a pic from www.ratemypoo.com. but only because for my birthday he trolled the internet for the grossest picture of a fat naked bald lady he could find.
  13. do not go there.
  14. you are so totally fucking predictable.
  15. you don't know. you don't know you don't know you don't know you don't know you don't know. you don't know.
  16. i hate this game but at least i'm winning.
  17. nonsense. all of this is.

20 November 2005

waste one.

(if you're pitching and you're ahead of the batter in the count, waste one. see if you can make him swing at something unhittable. it's going to be a long winter.)

i spend a lot of time thinking about things i've done and said. and the things i might have done differently. i am the woulda-coulda-shoulda-buddha. which is where most of these songs come from, and i suppose where much of this blog finds its inspiration.

funny thing about this blog is, it wasn't originally intended to be one. i built a simple site so people could check out my music. and i built a really simple news section so that i could give important updates like (shh...i know none of this is really important). but then it became a pain in the rear to update the html and format it correctly and ftp it to the server every time i wanted to let people know anything, so i figured i'd just let the friendly folks* at blogger do that work for me.

and that's when it happened. i got hooked on this. for probably similar reasons to why i started writing songs in the first place. connection. (i realize right now that this post has veered away from its original intent and i am not strong enough to steer it back on course. oh well.)

i am shy to a debilitating extent. i can't talk to girls in bars (or anywhere else where other people are around). fuck, i even have a hard time talking to bank tellers. and just forget about calling some customer service line to complain about something.

but if you can write a song (or, i guess, a blog) and people can relate to what you're trying to say, then all of the sudden you've got that connection, and you didn't need to talk to anyone to do it. hell, you never needed to leave your living room.

and so here we are. i have a blog. it's nothing, really. but it's less nothing than it used to be. it's instant. it's easy. it takes me months to produce a song. it takes about 20 seconds to post this bad boy once i've written it.

i didn't mean to write about this today. it just happened. i was going to tell you all about my weekend and speak vaguely about ghosts from my past. but i guess i can always do that some other time.

is this a distraction?

*they are good people, really. i know one.

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18 November 2005

incentivizationalism

yo whatup. join the mailing list. because if you do i have a special treat for you.

it's easy (wo)man...just put your email in the box over there on the right (or go to the contacts section at the top). the mailing list is a yahoo group that only i can post to. and even i do it less than once a month because i put all the day-to-day nonsense up right here. but as important music related stuff starts happening, i'm going to be using it once in a while to let you know things.

anyway. the thing about the special treat. way way back when i first started doing this stuff i had a microphone and a 4 track recorder and no idea how to use either one but for practice i recorded "cool ethan's song" from the movie slackers (best movie ever). jason schwartzman wrote it for the movie. it's pretty muddy sounding but it was my first time and nobody's very good their first time, so give me a break. i'm still not very good.

if you want to download that song, you can do so by clicking on "files" in the yahoo group once you've joined. (if you're already on the mailing list you obviously also can download it the same way.)

there are lots of parentheses in this email. i overuse the (shit) out of those.

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16 November 2005

nerdery

holy shit how come nobody told me this site looks so shitty in internet explorer? you ie users must think i'm some kind of loony.

i think i fixed it now. but you should just use firefox. for pete's sake.

leave it by the roadside...

coming back home to my apartment tonight the hallway smelled musty and greasy and warm, kinda like a lawnmower shed in the summertime. only also like bad breath. and the first thought i had was "wow, it smells like a serial killer here. i better lock both locks tonight."

do you think that makes me weird?

nothing exciting has happened the past 2 days except that i made a huge fucking mess in my kitchen trying to melt down candle wax from spent candles to make a new candle. like dr. frankenstein, only with candles. this is not the first time i have attempted such a thing. i made a mess last time too.

this guy josh pyke came out with a record a few days back. only in australia, but it's fucking good. listen to a few of those songs. seriously. good.

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14 November 2005

dragon kicks, funky phresh lyrics

when i was very young, my friend garrett and i recorded a rap record. i had gotten mc hammer's please hammer don't hurt 'em in my easter basket, and i was so pumped. so we wrote and recorded rap songs onto a tape. it would be a miracle if that tape still exists*, but if i can find it next time i'm at my parents' house, maybe i'll share it with you.

this was really high-tech production, too. what we did was set a simple tape recorder up in his basement, and played nintendo until we got to a level that we could sit still in and the music would loop. then we'd hit record, use the looped nintendo music as our "beat," and rap about god knows what. i particularly remember a scene in double dragon 3** that we used a few times.

seriously though. just try to to imagine exactly how bad this was. i guarantee it's worse than you think. 2 prepubescent nerdy white kids trying to be mc hammer. i'm dying to see if i can find it now that somehow this memory has surfaced after all these years.

i don't even remember what we called ourselves, how many songs we did, what they were about, or what evil spirit it was that convinced us that we would be cool for having done it. but i guess for both of us it was foreshadowing. garrett makes movies now. and here i am still trying to make records.

* i have dodgy memories of a ceremonial burning when we were older, but i don't know if we actually did it or just talked about it.

* also i am remembering now that the intro scene in double dragon 3 referred to the lee brothers as "bimmy and jimmy" instead of billy and jimmy. fucking rock. oh also i just found this review of the game that made me laugh...that game really was fucking impossible. even with game genie i couldn't beat that thing. and this is me, the guy who can beat contra without dying once.

13 November 2005

a lack of color

i woke up this morning feeling like the site needed a splash of color. so there it is. tell me if you think it's too ambitious.

i was going to try to record something today but there's indian music literally pounding through my ceiling so i'm just going to play video games instead.

i ain't no hollaback girl

i am too old for this shit. this is the 2nd night in a row i'm getting home at 4:30 am and i've perfected the art of the subway-pass-out-but-wake-up-before-your-stop.

honestly. what is wrong with me?

also, lest i forget my inadequacy: today's example of a song that is better than anything i can write is brought to you by say anything..."wow, i can be sexual too." should start playing automatically when you click that link.

max bemis might be completely f'd in the head, but he's still a genius.

goodnight.

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12 November 2005

the moves - johnny america

i can never let emo shit like that last post stay at the top for too long. because i go back and read it the next day and think to myself: self, you are too goddamn emo.

so i figured i'd bump it down one notch and at the same time mention that i just ordered my "johnny america" cd from the moves via a secure paypal transaction for only $10 with free shipping and you should too.(!)

last night i spent $12 for a warm, flat gin and tonic at a nice bar full of lame potty guys after i had already payed $15 just for the priveledge of spending time in their presence. so $10 for a cd that i will cherish always and forever seems like a good investment. oh and it comes with a dvd too.

11 November 2005

using words to say what can't be said with words

a little girl draws her family in crayon, eager for mommy to find an empty spot on the refridgerator and stick it with a magnet.

a dog waits patiently by the door for 8 hours for his master to come home. sitting, holding, waiting, looking, waiting. and finally the car door. the footsteps. the key in the lock.

a man buys red roses on the way home from work. last night was bad and the night before was bad and the night before was bad and the night before was bad but tonight will be good.

red stick-figures crumpled and torn. a leash on the coat rack collecting dust. fresh flowers in the morning trash.

who what when where why how.

you.

me.

.

10 November 2005

this one got away from me. sorry.

follow up to yesterday. not the highway mayhem part, the part about the drums. i already heard a demo of his initial thoughts and my fears are quelled. it's great and something i never would've been able to do myself. and at the same time, it sounds more like it sounded in my head when i wrote it than i was able to do myself. crazy. i can't wait to hear his finished product. i can't wait for you to hear it either. he does drum and bass stuff. i know about 3 chords and can't sing very well. great things are afoot. right.

the thing is, with the notable exceptions of james and rob on a couple songs (wait until you hear "i spin forever"), watched pots has been a solo project. but not because i've necessarily wanted it to be.

i spoke to chris (the guy who hears everything first) today and he told me how badly he wants to be in a band with people he "trusts." this is not a small thing, although it seems to be. i always regret writing about music and musicianship as if i'm a real artist afterwards, but whatever. if you're planning on pouring your heart into something as a songwriter, or a guitarist, or a drummer, you'd damn well better trust the people you're doing it with. otherwise you might wake up one morning and be in a nickelback cover band.

i've played with guys i trust before and it's unreal. i'm totally amped to be working with this guy andrew (i'll link you to some other things he's done sometime) on this one song. maybe this will be the push i need to actually put a real, permanent band together and get out to some clubs. stay tuned...

also.

here's something i'm not proud of: tonight watching 'the oc' (yeah so what?) i got so emo i slammed my beer down on the coffee table during a commercial and said the f-word out loud. to everybody (nobody) in my apartment. make of that what you will.

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09 November 2005

truck vs. bridge

generally, i leave it to everyone else on the internet to share links to dumb news stories. but i actually witnessed the aftermath of this one, the temptation is just too strong so i'm making an exception. whatever.

it took me twice as long as usual to get to work this morning. the automated advisory signs over the highway advised me thusly:


my day today sucked. but probably not as bad as that driver's.

and. the guy who suggested explaining the whole clusterfuck with "truck vs. bridge" deserves a big fat raise.

onward and upward.

i did something very scary today. i asked a friend to redo a part of a song for me that i have been unable to satisfactorily finish myself. so on the album, there will be one song in which the drums sound far superior to those on the rest of the record.

oh and speaking of. check the music section. that's the tentative tracklisting. the order might change or it might not, but barring sea change, those will be the 8 songs that i slap my name on take my lashes for.

very near to 50% completion. very very far from done.

this long and rambling post brought to you by my staggering inability to express what's really on my mind in an honest or lucid way.

07 November 2005

liar liar pants on fire

i totally lied last night. "if these walls could talk" sounds so fucking different and sooooo much better but i'm going to keep it to myself for the time being. that is all.

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06 November 2005

we are. penn state.

this weekend i went to penn state to visit my brother and attend a football game with 109,864 other people. if you've never been there, you don't know. i left this morning feeling like i relived my entire college experience in the course of one weekend.

long story short: i screamed myself horse,
drank myself retarded, and slept myself a sore-ass back. it was a great weekend. thanks, little bro.

so i got back to queens this evening after spending endless hours driving with the music as loud as i could stand it, and i've been re-mixing old shit by candlelight in my bathrobe. "if these walls could talk" is done now. it's not even different enough from what you can hear for me to repost it, but rest assured that when you buy the record next year (at an extremely reasonable price, of course) it'll sound a little different. hopefully better.

if you're keeping track, that makes the record 3/8 done. if you check the music section once in a while, i think i'll probably make an update there in a few days with a track listing for the record.

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04 November 2005

i hear people like lists

  1. i get way madder looking at a picture of george bush than i do at a picture of sadaam hussein.
  2. just because you can pick up the pieces don't think you'll be able to put them all back together.
  3. sometimes i feel like a shell of my former self.
  4. other times i just feel like a different person.
  5. i don't care if nobody else is, i'm happy for the white sox.
  6. fuck the red sox.
  7. man, that grey hair really is sneaking up on me.
  8. i still think radiohead's best record is the bends.
  9. i can't write a song that isn't 4/4.
  10. everything i see reminds me of her.
  11. if watched pots ever goes platinum, you can say you knew before even the cool kids.
  12. never.
  13. ever.
  14. i am addicted to this.
  15. the old shit is always better than the new shit.
  16. i know macs are better but i still like my pc.
  17. don't be a dick about it.
  18. not all ghosts are dead.
  19. you gotta take the elevator to the mezzanine, chump.

02 November 2005

we are the image of the invisible

so i survived the hockey game without incident. and survived a thrice concert the next night (which, in retrospect, was much more dangerous). but i chipped my tooth by chewing wrong on a bagel.

i haven't said this in a while so i figured i would: join the mailing list. tell your friends. listen to all my songs ten million times. if you see a centipede in your living space, take a good closeup picture of it before you kill it or catch it or run away from it, because i want a good picture of one for the album artwork.

btw thrice is so effing badass. seriously.