best of BFS&T, 2010 edition

beautiful, blogging, cello, dreams, funny, love, music, Oregon, pictures, Portland, recording, sad, true, Washington, Yakima No Comments »

2010 has been very strange.  At the beginning of the year, I was still on blogging hiatus, so it took a while to get back up to speed.  Springtime was crazy, with lots of great musical endeavors and memorable trips.  By the summer, both my life and this blog went into overdrive, when I really started writing again, and found my full stride while sharing a bit too much about my childhood.  Suddenly it was October, which is the month of my birth, but this year was also the month of my stepdad’s death, which has sent everything into a tailspin since then.  A surreal trip to Yakima for the funeral was followed by multiple trips to Seattle, both for gigs and for family functions.

There were some standout moments from this last year that didn’t manage to make it into the blog, for various reasons.  For example, here’s a video of a particularly interesting recording session that I was lucky enough to be involved with, albeit in a small way.  A local singer-songwriter, who is also a friend, put the word out on SocialNetwork that she wanted to create a cacaphony of 50 pianos, all playing an F chord at the same time.  I jumped at the chance.  She rented a piano showroom downtown, and my friend and I (and forty eight or so other people) joined in to participate.  I brought my camera to capture a bit of the action.

Another memorable moment from this last year was Trek in the Park.  This theater group gets together every year to re-create a famous episode from the original Star Trek television series.  This year’s was Space Seed, in which we meet the infamous character Khan (who returned in the movie The Wrath of Khan).  It was a very well-done production, with live music and everything. . .and it was all free of charge.  Here’s the climactic fight sequence between Kirk and Khan.

IrishBand released our self-titled EP this year, as well as an amazing animated video that a friend created for us.  I would post that here, but our band name is very unusual, hence the pseudonym.  To celebrate, we went to Port Townsend, Washington (the hometown of three of the band members, and an adopted home away from home for the rest of us) to play a CD release party and catch the Rhododendron Festival and parade and everything.  It’s always a huge party weekend for PT, and this year was the tenth reunion for PT High School, which included Violinist and a bunch of other friends, so I actually went to the reunion barbecue in Chetzemoka Park during the afternoon, since I knew so many of the people there.  (God forbid that I actually go to any of my own class reunions; I haven’t yet.)  I also performed in the parade, in disguise, as an honorary member of Nanda.  I’m the guy with the Mexican wrestling mask, playing the bass, miming along to the dance music that was blaring from the speakers in the back of the truck.

I had the opportunity to see the Oregon Symphony perform many times this last year, with some pretty big-name performers.  Violinists Midori and Hilary Hahn, violinist Pinchas Zukerman and his cellist wife Amanda Forsyth (who, incidentally, gave a cello master class at the Old Church that afternoon, which I also attended, even though I’m far from being a cello master) who performed Brahms’s Double Concerto together, and a number of others.  This month, I have a ticket for pianist Emanuel Ax’s concert, which I’m very much looking forward to.  Yo-Yo Ma performed here a month or so ago, but his concert was sold out in the spring, only a few weeks after tickets went on sale.  Curses.

So it’s been a good year, overall, but I’m really hoping that 2011 is better, or less confusing at the very least.  I have lofty goals for the upcoming year, which include finding a job, finding love and a real relationship, taking care of some things that have been dogging me for a while now, and producing more CD’s.  I have a bit of news on the music front, actually.  A friend of mine hurt her arms a year ago, and has since been unable to play the piano, but that hasn’t stopped her from singing, or from writing lyrics and melodies, or from having tons of ideas.  She e-mailed me at some point to ask what people in her position do in the music business.  I told her I don’t know about ‘the music business’, but I’d love to give the songs a listen, and that maybe I could put music to them.  She sent me some mp3′s, and I instantly felt like I knew where the songs should go.  They felt familiar without being predictable, which is always a good sign.  That was about two months ago, and we already have five or six collaborations in the works.  Pretty awesome and exciting.

In other news, December is the fourth anniversary of this blog, so it seems appropriate to have a little birthday party, no?  Come on, let’s have some sis-boom-bah.

So anyway, on to the Best Of.  Here are the lists of what I consider to the best entries BFS&T has to offer from this past year, which naturally includes a list of the most interesting dreams, as well.  Enjoy!

THE ENTRIES:

SteamCon – the steampunk convention in Seattle in which PolishCellist and I played, and had a total blast doing so

tragedy – the death of Stepdad

struggle – the early aftermath of the death of Stepdad

sitting here thinking about the Holocaust – one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard on the radio

folk festival fun – Portland Folk Festival, starring IrishBand, Dan Bern, Roll Out Cowboy, etc.

I’m kind of an a-hole – see for yourself

birthday present – prostitute schmostitute

the unicorn code – love it, learn it, LIVE IT

no one’s laughing – a peek into our family dynamics

déja vu – what it feels like, and a friend who claims to never have experienced one

the truth is out there – interesting UFO story, I promise

it’s not for shaving – Occam’s Razor, and how it applies to recording music

what if it is? – a very memorable and touching moment from the show Six Feet Under


THE CHILDHOOD STORIES:

shuttlecock

love and curiosity

he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

the final innocent tryst

synchronicity

THE DREAMS:

lights, camera, dream

festival dream

shape shifters

inimitable and imitable

subconscious and libido

this needs a name

frozen

Just in case this wasn’t enough for your insatiable appetite for blog entries, here’s the Best of BFS&T 2009 entry, for your gluttonous pleasure.

Thanks for being here and reading all this, and for supporting this blog for such a long time now.  I really appreciate it.  I hope we all have an excellent New Year’s Eve, and Day, and that 2011 allows us to learn, and to grow, and to change for the better, a little bit each day.

Happy New Year!

best of BFS&T, 2009 edition

beautiful, blogging, dreams, funny, music, pictures, Portland, sad, true No Comments »

In no particular order (Actually, they’re in reverse chronological order):

veni, vedi, vici

not quite there yet

Ethiopian wedding

Hydrox

George Harrison

beach trip

halfway through

the mental game of music

synchronicity

still don’t smoke

quite a group

lovely day in Seattle

Amen

happy as we are, thank you

Silver Falls

Port Townsend trip

dream girl

non-nostalgic nostalgia

wedding, play, garden, hike, learning

Of Yakima and Feces

the Oriental Chicken

Catherine Burton (Bunton?), R.I.P.

Oceanside

mona lisa

lots of big musical news, and links galore

a very coherent narrative

what if it is?

apples and bananas

cello scrotum

by way of example

flirtation versus pedantry

communication breakdown

Enjoy!

Port Townsend trip

beautiful, music, pictures, Washington No Comments »

So.  Yeah.  The trip to Port Townsend.  Finally.  Sorry it took a while to get around to this.  PT trips always end up being big stories.

Good times, as per usual.  Our IrishBand show was on Friday night, and we spent the entire rest of the weekend partying, and eating, and walking, and talking.  PT is small enough (and pretty enough) that you can just walk everywhere in the downtown area.   Singer and I arrived in town first, and we walked from place to place, and I had my camera ready for a few of them.

ptstatue1 ptsteps sailboats

ptdocks

it seemed that everywhere we went we met someone Singer knew, who was brimming over with interesting stories.  We met his first grade teacher, and a couple of other friends, and his uncle (Ex-step-uncle?  Not biological, anyway. . .isn’t this interesting?), who wore an ascot and drunkenly talked our ears off in a comic way.  He was quite the character.

We met up with some of our friends from Portland (who also moved from PT), walked downtown to buy a huge bottle of beer each, and then walked to the pier to sit and relax for a while.  The sitting and relaxing (and, of course, the picture-taking) was already in progress, when an unhappy-looking guy walked up, took his shirt off, and stood at the end of the pier, staring down into the water.  We called out to him, “You okay, dude?”

youokaydude

He didn’t look at us, but instead hopped over the rail and dove into Puget Sound.  We called to him a few more times, and told him there was a ladder on the other side of the pier, but he didn’t respond to us in any way.  It was pretty freaky.  He sat there treading water for a long time. . .

swimmer

. . .and then swam back over to the dock and climbed out, walked clear around where we were sitting, and never once acknowledged our presence.  Luckily everything turned out to be okay, but I think we were all fearing the worst, or at least preparing ourselves to dive in after him.  Situation averted, we finished our beers and walked back up to get food.  Before long, it was time for IrishBand to play our show, which was pretty awesome, and the venue was packed with people.  Finally rolled into Violinist’s parents’ house at around three in the morning.

The next morning Violinist’s parents fixed us a glorious breakfast of the heartiest French toast you can imagine, with a delicious array of toppings (I chose the homemade berry sauce) and veggie sausage on the side.  Suddenly it was time for the Rhody Festival parade, so we drove into town in time for that.  I had my camera, but all parades look the same, so I didn’t feel the need to capture this one for posterity.  It was fun, though, and we met up with another of Singer’s friends (a former recording studio owner, which was interesting), and went to lunch with him after the parade was over.

Y’know what?  I’m gonna change the plan for this entry, because really, the whole rest of Saturday was spent eating and drinking.  Singer had to go to his ten-year high school reunion, so Drummer and I got dropped off at a party with some people we barely knew.  One of them was very drunk already (this was around 3:00 in the afternoon), and he wanted to watch the soccer game.  He stood in front of the TV, yelling horrible things like, “I knew you were gonna miss that, you f**king queer!”  and “Jewbag!  What the f**k was that?!”  A couple of people tried to stop the flow of insults, but you can’t reason with people who are that drunk and belligerent, so I decided that I needed to make myself scarce for a while.  I walked out of the house and down the hill (I could still hear the strings of obscenities from three long blocks away) into town and over to the beach, where I sat quietly on the rocks for a long while, before walking the length of the beach to a small rocky point to collect some mussel and oyster shells, which were everywhere.  I must have been gone for about an hour or so, when I got a phone call from Violinist saying, “Hey, noticed you weren’t around.  Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay.  I just needed to be away from the verbal abuse.  I also wanted some quiet anyway.  I’m down on the beach.”

“Really?  You walked clear over there?  By the fort?”

“No, the marina.  I’m sitting on a log as we speak.  I’ll be back before too long, but I’m kind of enjoying being here by myself for a while.”

“Oh, really?  Cause we were gonna walk down there after the game is over.”

So I walked around on the beach for another half hour or so, then headed back, clear around the marina and the condos, and then up the hill to the party house.  The soccer game was just about over, so we all started looking for the next distraction.  It came in the form of a cooler that someone had ingeniously attached wheels, handlebars, and an electric motor to (you’d have to see it to believe it) to create a miniature electric scooter, so we each took a couple of turns riding it around the block.  My pictures didn’t come out, but I think Violinist may have some.  It was pretty dang funny.  When the batteries started to lose their charge, we put the scooter away to charge it up again, and then all walked down to the park near the beach.  ObnoxiousDrunk was up to his usual antics, so the rest of us were pretty much trying to keep as much distance between him and ourselves as we could.

Drummer and I walked down to the beach for a little while, and I told him about the multitude of shells that were down there, so he wanted to grab a few for his lady friend, and also get a temporary reprieve from ObnoxiousDrunk.  This post is getting long, so I’ll just say that there was Thai food involved, and more walking, and lots more drinking, and then around midnight we walked back down the hill to see a punk band (who will remain nameless) play.

punkband

They were pretty good (unlike my pictures from the show!), but the general concensus was that eight or ten years ago, everybody thought that they were the coolest band anywhere.  These days, however, their lifestyle of excess is starting to take its toll on the band members, and apparently it’s really starting to show.  Luckily, we had snuck into the show for free, by way of a side door near the bar in the front of the buildng.  Don’t tell the band.

Did I mention that after the show, it was around one-thirty in the morning?  Naturally, that meant we had to go back to the party house to continue the festivities before heading back to Violinist’s house at around three.  Apparently our car got egged on the way back, but I don’t even remember it, quite honestly, because my body was already beginning to shut itself down.  We got to Violinist’s house and I just kinda collapsed on my bed.  I started to check my text messages and voice mails, but I ended up falling asleep right away and snoring really loudly.  So loudly, in fact, that Singer walked by the room I was in and poked his head in the door to check on me.  He laughed and ran downstairs, telling the other guys, “C’mere, you have to see this!”

This was all unknown to me, obviously, until the next morning when I woke up to find that I had some messages saying things like, “Ha ha” and “We’re watching you!”  Apparently I’d fallen asleep with my glasses on, and they’d fallen halfway off my face, and my phone was sitting on my chest.  Hilarious.  No pictures of that, thank gawd.   It was as if my body was determined to stop me from doing absolutely any other movement that day.   And no wonder, too; it was a crazy day.

In the morning we woke up to another amazing breakfast and conversation with Violinist’s parents, then after a few hours said our goodbyes and headed to a friend’s house, where there was yet another barbecue and party happening.  We were all still stuffed from our enormous breakfast, so we gave the food a miss, but a couple of the guys did have a drink.  I gorged myself on cup after cup of water, which my poor little body was so thirsty for.  We hung out there for an hour or two, and then slowly made our way out of town.  Drummer was really impatient to get back home, and sat fuming silently in Violinist’s car while the rest of us ran a few more errands.  Manager needed to buy some parts for his motorcycle, and then had to make a few small repairs on it.  Then we needed to stop for gas, and made another stop at a hardware store.  Drummer practically had steam coming out of his ears by the time we left Port Townsend, and Singer and I (in Singer’s car) could only imagine how frustrated Violinist must have been with him on the four-hour drive back to Portland.

So there you go; another crazy trip to PT under our metaphorical belts.

The rest of this week has been a blur of activity as well, which is why it took me so long to write this entry in the first place.

Port Townsend or bust

music, Washington No Comments »

Spent the day doing laundry and packing for another trip with IrishBand to the beautiful seaport town of Port Townsend, Washington.  I’ll be there all weekend, and The Plan is to come back with a bunch of stories and pictures.  Here are some links to the entries from our previous trips:

IrishBand Goes to Port Townsend

A Great Weekend in PT

No Strings to Hold Me Down

Those should tie you over until I get back and have time to share the New Adventures of IrishBand.

In other news, we had a fun and slightly drunken gig tonight, and then I came home and had a nice long phone conversation with BoringFish.  Afterwards, I gave myself a haircut; my first time ever doing that.  And now, it’s almost 3:00 a.m., and time to go to bed.  Singer is picking me up at 9:30, which is the earliest I’ve had to get up in the last two months.  Yikes!  Wish me luck.

Off to sleep (perchance to dream) and then bright and early to PT.  See you when I get back!

best pics of 2008, BFST style

beautiful, blogging, funny, pictures, sad, true No Comments »

As I promised, here are my favorite pictures from this past year, in no particular order.

utahidaho2
The landscape between Utah and Idaho is vast, and seems quintessentially American somehow.

snowpath
This picture was taken outside the studio when we were mixing Andrea’s CD.  There had been a freak snowstorm overnight, and we all woke up to this beautiful scene. Amazingly, the snow was all gone by the afternoon.  We finished mixing the songs, and then I drove back to Portland and went on a great first date.  That was a good day.

reed3
Andrea had just read and been inspired by the book Blue Like Jazz, and she wanted to take a little hike around the campus of the college here in town in which the book is set. Though it has changed in the decades since the book was written, this was and still is a beautiful place to hike and explore.

shoreline6
This is one of my favorite locations to take pictures.  It’s an abandoned cannery town along the Columbia river. Sorry about the small size.

postcard
When Breanna and Justin and I were on tour in Reno, Justin was getting his CD mixed in Portland, and the guy would send Justin mixes via e-mail, for him either to approve or to request some small changes. After our show, he and Bre were listening to the final mixes, so I left and walked around for an hour, and took about a million pictures of the city at night.  Came back and listened for a while, and when they went to bed, our host and I stayed up talking for another hour and a half afterwards. That was my favorite day (and night) of the tour.

ktbj2
ViolinistKarlee, me, Breanna and Justin on our tour, after our show in Redding.  This picture just puts a smile on my face every time I see it.  Karlee is such a lil thug.

fullcar
This is my car, all loaded up with instruments to go to the studio and record my parts for Andrea’s CD.  I’m always amazed at just how much stuff this car can carry, despite its diminutive size.

daveknife
ChefDave, in an instantly classic pose.  I love the way the light is gleaming off the knife.  Incidentally, you owe to it yourself to eat at the Sego Lily Cafe in Bountiful, Utah, by the way, next time you’re there.  Dave’s food is phenomenal.

bw2
There are lots of abandoned military bunkers outside Port Townsend, Washington, and I could easily spend a weekend just taking pictures of them. I love the way the light interacts and contrasts from room to room.

astoria1
Ah, beautiful Astoria, Oregon, seen from the highest point in town.  That’s another place that provides an almost endless supply of photographic opportunities.

1
This picture I didn’t take, but it’s such a classic that it warranted inclusion on the best pictures of the year.  It’s the Cinemagic theater here in Portland, when they were in transition from the movie Hancock to the Dark Knight, and this was the sign change, in progress.

I love looking back over the year in this way. Even though this was a particularly difficult, painful, and challenging year, there were certainly plenty of good times too.

Here’s to a better 2009, though.