War on my apartment building

I have been copying Type O Negative albums to MiniDisc all night long. Working on Summer Rain and writing email to Conan O’Brien. Once I get 1000 messages to him, I am putting them all out as a zine.

I have declared war on my apartment building. It is 2:45 here. In a minute, I am moving my 200 lb dresser in front of the door, turning my bass amp up to 11 and practicing scales to a metronome for about 4 hours. I guess I should go to work tomorrow, though. We had some sort of party today, and the most interesting part were those cans of Guiness beer with the nitrogen widget in the bottom. When you open them, the nitrogen releases and carbonates the beer. I have no idea how much it costs per can, but you can probably charge a lot, because on average, Guiness drinkers are idiots who think drinking a certain beer defines them as a person. If a person plays guitar, that defines them. Or someone who writes books. Or runs marathons. Or was in the CIA or finished medical school. Having ancestors from a country in Europe makes you as special as the other 250 million people in this country.

This is a rant of mine. Did you know someone in college, usually someone who spent a lot of time in IRC, who suddenly thought they were from the UK? They would talk about colour and honour and pubs and knickers and bonnets, and start watching a lot of Red Dwarf. That always bugged me. The same with the Australia people. Almost every semester I met some girl who was in love with a guy from Australia that they’d only met from a MUD or a chat room. I also love it when someone claims they are like 1/64th Cherokee Indian.

I am not trying to be xenophobic, but what I’m trying to say is that you can’t define yourself by your alleged ancestors or by suddenly claiming allegiance to some other culture that you think is neat or special. I think people are defined by the actions, THEIR histories, and their own personality. To me, people who think they are special because they come from France are the same as people who think they are special because their parents are rich – they aren’t.

I don’t remember why I started talking about this. Oh, beer. And someone asked me if I liked Monty Python and I had to give the abridged version of why I don’t.

I should either go to bed or get back to work on the book.

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The cleaning/packing process

Time for an update, I guess.

My typing has been poor all day, for the last couple of days really – I don’t know if it’s a slow net connection or some kind of mental problem on my end, but it’s annoying me. I’ve had a lot to do in the last few days, but all of it’s invisible – lots of emails, moving around files, tweaking websites – none of it real, visible projects. It feels once again like there are about 6 hours in a day. I think “I’m going to get started on my real work any second now” and then I realize it’s 2 in the morning.

Lots of stuff is going wrong. My car stereo went out, but then magically came back. My caller ID is broken, or maybe it’s just that nobody calls me anymore. I went to the dentist and got fillings, and now one tooth perpetually feels like its got popcorn husks stuck underneath it. And my fucking apartment rental company is fucking me over on my last months’ rent. I paid a last months’ rent, and now they are saying I have to pay a last month, and I will somehow magically get that money back when I get my deposit back. But I know and they know that in about 8 years, I will get a check for $47 and a receipt for a new washer and drier or something. The company is Equity Rentals. Never, ever trust them.

I’m trying to get as much of Summer Rain done as I can, given current circumstances. It’s slowly getting there – I have about 6 of the last 15 chapters done now. I’m hoping, as always, for a good weekend. Since I’m close to broke now, thanks to my apartment management, I’ll probably be spending the whole weekend inside, doing nothing but writing and playing bass. The bass is good, but I have a long way to go. Having a good amp helps. Falling asleep at like 7pm for 2 hours every night does not help.

The cleaning/packing process continues. I gave away or sold a handful of items here at work today, which is good – I had no idea what I’d do with a 12″ monochrome monitor. I’m also frantically throwing out everything I can, in an effort to at least make the place look a little more vacant. Because of this apartment bullshit, I won’t be sending out any boxes for a bit, but hopefully I can get a bunch of them packed this weekend.

I think it’s time to go home now.

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I am TV-free. For a month. I sold the piece of shit today, and now there’s a gaping hole in the stack of equipment and cables next to my computer. My “entertainment center” is a coffee table, on which the TV, a speaker, two VCRs, a tape deck, a receiver, a CD player, about a hundred CDs, and a dozen or so VHS tapes live. Now it’s minus the TV, since it would cost me about $50 to ship, and that’s all it’s worth. And I sold it for $75. I’m already going into withdrawl though – I got home from work, plopped down on the bed, stared at the blank spot on the way, and… yelled FUCK! I now need to do something creative with my evening, for a change. So this is how I used to write 4000 words a day…

I have yet another stupid nostalgia-trip story. I was at the mall Saturday, and went into the mall music store, which is usually a good place to look at a couple of bad guitars and then leave. But on consignment, they had a white Cort headless bass, with Steinberger tuners. About ten years ago, I bought my first bass, which was identical to this one, except my old one wasn’t wired – the knobs were missing, along with the jack, back panel, wiring harness, and foil shielding. I bought my old one for about $100 or $150 and rewired it, but it sounded like shit and had horrendous buzzing problems. I also painted it all up and put stickers on it. This one was in great shape – the fingerboard and frets were decent, the paint was original and new, and the electronics were pristine. I had to hear how it sounded stock, so I asked the guy to plug in, and a minute later I was going through a nice Hartke amp.

Some background on me and the bass: I started playing in the last semester of high school, towards the very end of the school year. I bought this Cort bass as a graduation present to myself, and took lessons all summer from Jamie Magera, a local guitar prodigy. In Bloomington, I took classes through school, met a lot of other musicians, and never got to the point of being really good, but I did play in a Calypso band in front of a sold-out IU Auditorium, so I did okay. After I got into computers, bass fell by the wayside. I tried to pick it up again in 96 with a Fender Precision fretless, but it felt alien, and I didn’t do too well. I’ve always since wished I could play something, but I never had the time. Every time I see a band live, I want to be the one on stage. I wish I could record a 4-track demo and trade it with people. And when I got that bass in my hands on Saturday, it felt natural again. Steinberger-based basses feel very strange – the body is small, the scale is short, there’s no tuning pegs or headstock on the end, and some people can’t stand them. But since it was my first bass, it felt RIGHT.

A minute later, I whipped out my Visa card and said, “I’ll take it.” I also picked up a 20 watt Hartke amp, which kicks some serious ass – ampmakers have really gotten their shit together in the last ten years. I hauled all of the gear home, unsure of how I’d even start playing or learning. At home, I ran through scales and the riffs that I knew, and things slowly got back to me. And on Sunday, I got a strap, tuner, and one of those “Metallica Riff-By-Riff” books. It might not be a good start, but I used to know more of their stuff, and it’s got my fingers moving again. I think this will be the perfect new hobby to pick up, especially after I move.

Michael Stutz was here all weekend, and we hung out on Thursday and Saturday. I’d write more, but I just ate some really greasy pizza, and I think I’m damaging this computer.

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