Friday, April 29, 2011

Some things happen for a reason...

Mid-June 2000.

I had just graduated from Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

There were lots of memories made that summer. My first actual job at The AMC Theaters at the Block, which meant plenty of free movies. SPOP at UC Irvine. Watching Bee in Pageant of the Masters. And purchasing three different guitars...

My dad had a guitar lying around the house for as long as I could remember. Occasionally he'd pick it up and play the same chord progressions and the national anthem and some songs he had learned from a one armed guitarist in the Philippines. I never took much interest in guitar, which, looking back, doesn't really make much sense. You would think that every adolescent boy at some point wants to play guitar, but I never had that moment. At least not until I was 18, graduated from high school, and in the midst of my last summer vacation in my parents' home.

My dad's guitar was in its spot next to the fireplace. And I guess I was bored. Or maybe I had just been listening to the Presidents of the United States of America or Offspring or Blink 182 or the Foo Fighters. Or maybe it was a watershed moment which was forever destined to happen...

Most likely I was bored.

So I pick up the guitar... and it literally breaks in my hands. Folds in half. Neck separates from body. Whoops.

Well, that just won't do. So I take what money I have and go to the Guitar Center in Covina. A couple hours later and most likely after having been talked into a guitar that is out of my price range, I walk out with an Ibanez acoustic guitar, a guitar bag, a Korg tuner, some picks, and a chord book. The salesman tells me that I can choose three chords a week and make up songs all by myself...

I go home and proceed to learn the open chords: A, C, D, E, G. I teach myself a poor man's version of Stairway to Heaven. I discover tabs and learn the finger picking intro to Metallica's Nothing Else Matters (all the way up to the point where there are hammer ons and string bends).

A couple weeks later I decide it's time for an electric guitar. I have a couple paychecks from my aforementioned job at AMC, and I take that money to the Sam Ash in Cerritos. A couple hours later I walk out with an Ibanez Electric Guitar starter kit, which includes a 10 watt amp and a sparkly purple strat-style electric guitar. Before I walk out, a girl takes a look at me and asks her beau, "Why don't you get a set-up like that?"

"Because that shit's for kids."


I go home and play distorted stuff. Somewhere along the line, I learn how to play barre chords...

A couple weeks later I find myself back in the Guitar Center in Covina. This time I'm there to buy turntables. I'm pricing the equipment, and I realize that it's a little more expensive than I thought. A couple hours later I walk out with another Ibanez guitar (brand loyalty much?) only this time it's an acoustic-electric.

I still play this guitar a lot, and I've written most of my songs on it. It's been onstage with me and even traveled to Nashville with me.

Proof-reading this blog got me to thinking... "What's the point of this blog?" And I've come to several conclusions.

- You don't always need a point.
- Some things happen for a reason...
- I love playing guitar
- I loved learning how to play guitar
- I love this blog...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's easy to get angry

When you've done something wrong, when you've failed miserably, when you've dropped the ball, when you've completely and utterly blown it...

It's easy to get angry. To point the finger. To lash out and make excuses and blame everybody and everything but yourself.

And then, once you've wasted all that energy on anger, you still haven't learned anything. And the cycle repeats. And you end up in a position that makes you angry again.

Anger doesn't really solve anything, but it feels good because it resembles action. But there is something much more productive than anger. It's patience and ownership and analysis and internalization. Or, more simply put, it's shutting up, owning your shit, and making sure you never do it again.

No one never makes mistakes. Some learn, some don't.

Now go forget about all of this meaningless shit for 6 hours and cuddle with your wife and get some sleep... You're a lucky, lucky man...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I turn 30 this year...

There are 207 days until my birthday. My 30th birthday. The not so imaginary bridge between my 20s and my 30s.

It's kind of funny listing the major milestones that have occurred in my life before my 30th birthday.

I'm married.

I have a son.

There really isn't anything else that I'm more proud of.

I would like to get some things done before turning 30, though.

Release Volumes 2 through 5 of the Oh Girl Singles Party.

Getting back down to 150.

Running a 5k.

Releasing a solo acoustic album.

Here's to setting my sights on tangible goals and taking baby steps every day until I get there. On November 19, 2011 I hope to have an extremely boring look back at this blog. And I hope to realize that it was the beginning of the push towards reaching those pre-30 goals...

Writing songs

It can take me anywhere from 10 minutes to over a year to write a song. But even the songs that take over a year, typically only take around 30 minutes to an hour. It's just that it will be 10 minutes and 20 minutes and 15 minutes and 8 minutes... separated by over a year of space...

I read somewhere that Rivers Cuomo said the best instrument for songwriting is the piano. I think Daniel Brummel from Ozma said that in an interview, too. Most of my songs are written on guitar. I almost always write melodies first, and use basic chord structures as the backing arrangements. I have yet to write down actual chord structures or even tablature for any of my songs.

I've written a couple songs on piano, but they've since gone the way of the dodo. For whatever reason, I can never remember the songs I've written on piano, most likely because I play the instrument to infrequently to internalize anything. Also, it's a lot easier to remember barre chord placement on a guitar than actual chord placement on piano. The voicings of chords on a piano are much more numerous than on guitar. Or maybe I just think that because I only use barre chords and a couple open chord structures...

Lyrics tend to come second. Although lately, especially since starting Oh Girl with Adrian, auto-writing is the lyric writing method of choice. I didn't even know that Rick Rubin had been using auto-writing during his production sessions until Linkin Park talked about making their last album with him. Not gonna lie. Part of me is bummed that I share a lyric writing process with Linkin Park. (oh, you wannabe music elitist, you...)

In a perfect world, I'd post a video of one of my latest songs here as evidence of my songwriting style. Alas, it's an imperfect world, and I'll have to settle for the faint promise of a youtube video of a new song some time in the not too distant future.

"Would that I could write like this more often"- Calvin...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It doesn't have to be poignant (but maybe it could be)...

I feel like writing today. About nothing in particular. Birds chirping maybe. Or sunsets on the beach. Or baby wrestling.

I feel like playing guitar today. Already have for a little bit, but I never play enough. Hopefully, no one ever says, "You know, that thing I love doing, I've done enough."

It's a lot easier to make things up on the fly than to take the time to actually develop ideas. Especially when you're impatient. Especially when you could care less what people think about you. Especially since you can always fall back on "yeah, it sucked, but we made it up on the fly"...

My wedding and honeymoon didn't really happen. They were dreams that are now drifting off into the ether of struggling to accurately remember-ville. In fact, all of our lives are not really happening. It's all just a representation of a symbolic allusion to how things might have, will have, could never have been.

I understand why Tralfamadorians are so worthy of our envy...

The cocktail party is more like a speed dating with benefits session.

The people that have truly influenced my life: mom, dad, brother, sisters, Mrs. Reinert, Tim Nelson, Perry Como, Miss Running, Mr. Caldwell, Mr. Goeppel, Rivers Cuomo, Daniel Brummel, Ryen Slegr, Todd Simmons, Chris Duncan, Terry Trebilcock, Adrian Noack, Ben Hammond, Rachel Pupa Montemayor, Chase Pupa Montemayor...

Do you honestly believe that you've worked hard enough to deserve it?

This time we live in is exciting, terrifying, dangerous, fleeting...


... I think about things I shouldn't think about.
Sometimes I think about things like getting punched in the head.
That's what she said to me.

I can tell if it's good cuz you start nodding.
I can tell if it's bad cuz you wander back to the bar for another drink.
So that's what you think?

And I say, "Hey! It's good to know your expectations of me are low. I know a girl. This much is true. And I'm in love. In love with her."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Black, White, and Grey (Gray?)

Black and white sells.

Democrat or Republican. Pro-Life or Pro-Choice. Christian or Catholic or Muslim or Buddhist or Atheist.

Right or wrong.

Everyone understands black and white. Wait. Clarification. Everyone can instantaneously relate to black and white. It feels good to have an "us" and a "them". When you think about it, that's all the marketing really is. "Us" is the group "you" are a part of, and "them" is happier than "us" so you should buy the shit that "them" has because it will make you happier.

It hurts to even try to read that last sentence, but I know that it makes sense.

Black and white sells and spurs people into action and is how politicians gain voters and ministers gain followers and parents try to convince their kids that they're not mature or wise enough to know what's best for them.

But black and white is not reality.

There are so many shades of grey, levels of nuance, complications, points of view, frames of reference, varying starting points, personal prejudices, ulterior motives...

I hope I can be there to provide a starting point for Chase, give him an educated guess as to how I think things will play out, offer him advice based on my own personal experience...

But I also hope that if there comes a time when I can't do that for him that I'll have raised him well enough that I can trust his own thoughts and his own judgment.

Black and white sells, but grey is what I'm buying...

Saturday, April 16, 2011



I'm now married. Can't type, read, digest that sentence without smiling. The wedding was amazing. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful day, ceremony, reception, gathering of friends and family, celebration. Rachel's dress was stunning, and she was as beautiful as I've ever seen her. Which is saying a lot because she's beautiful right out of bed with poofy hair and no make-up. (If you're reading this, babe, I'm simultaneously sorry and not sorry at all. I love you.)

Honeymoon exceeded all of our expectations, too. 9 day Mexican Riviera cruise. 4 days at sea and 5 days onshore along the way: Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, 2 days in Cabo San Lucas, and Ensenada. At sea, we were definitely "that couple": the newlywed couple in the "Game of Love", which was videotaped and played on repeat (ad nauseum) on "cruise channel" on every passengers TV; multiple onstage appearances including the "Game Show" and the "60 Second Challenge"; amazing shows with our friend David Marchesano as one of the featured singers; many minutes spent in the Casino (we were actually up on the slots, but the tables evened everything out).

We also had a blast onshore: cruising through local markets, horseback riding, learning about small villages, snorkeling, having lunch cooked for us by villagers on a secluded beach only accessible by boat, learning how to make 7 salsas including guacamole and a dessert salsa, learning how to salsa dance and taking home a lime press for being the best dancing couple, taking a relaxing boat ride to another snorkeling spot then proceeding to drink the day away on the way back to the cruise ship, and scoping La Bufadora before walking through more markets and having tacos at a restaurant in the fish market in Ensenada.

Man, just reminiscing about the trip... it really was the best vacation we've ever had...

Also, a new job. Loved my time with Kaenon Polarized. Have since moved on to a special events production company called McNally Enterprises.

The parallels are interesting. Family owned businesses. Core employees wear several hats. Passionate owners with distinct visions.

The transition has been pretty smooth.

Hopefully, my next blog post isn't a boring recap and will have some actual thought provoking shenanigans coursing through its digital veins... wait... what?