Thursday, July 29, 2004

My mojo just won't work on you

Muddy Waters is a genius. He says, "I've got my mojo working/but it just don't work on you." How ingenious is that? He summarizes the human condition in just two lines. We're all tiny little beings who are just trying to get through the day. Sometimes we try too much. In the past two weeks, I tried a little too hard. From now on (starting August), I'm gonna be as chilled and laid back as possible. I'll still try, but won't care much about the result, because I've got my mojo working but it just don't work on you.

I've still got to finish Kundera's Immortality, the book that Stephanie got me for my birthday, the G.I. Joe DVDs, and revisit some of The Office episodes. I'll also swim and/or run every day, lose some pounds, and burn some fat off my fat ass. Really to get my shit together. I haven't truly enjoyed the summer yet, ad it's almost over. I'm gonna start.

Just finished two bar exams in a mere three-day period. I am beat as a zombie. I need rest. I need NY city love. I need my anonymous attention. I need worship from the metropolitan surroundings. I need to work on the streets and feel like a true pseudo-intellectual. I want to go home and tell myself, "This never happened." Nothing like this ever happened.

But then today I walked to Holiday Inn across the Garden State Exhibition Center on purpose and memories rushed back. And I realize you can't change some things.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Last post before I go

Yo fans, comes now your beloved blues harp wailing lawyer bidding a temporary farewell. I'm off to Roanoke, VA in half an hour or so, and then I'll be in NJ and NYC for the rest of the week. I had a fabulous weekend. The Fred-neck Blues Festival turned out to be very fun. Liz and her band did great (Howard commented, "This was the best I've ever heard Liz.") while I was only mediocre. Lack of practice and not feeling the groove were part of it. But it got remedied by my brother's beautiful photos and a special appearance by Ryfie and her cousin Sammie. Then we went to Maria's for dinner and headed off to Duff's house party featuring Greg on bass and Kris on drums. What a fabulous night! The last time I remember having that good of a time was at Gavin's birthday party. How're you, Gavin?

Congrats to the Westcott Brothers for winning the Fred-neck blues competition. They're finally marching toward Memphis, TN. I'm so happy for them especially for Jeff Conlin since he missed his chance with Clarence Turner. Jeff deserves to go to Memphis more than anybody in his group because he's obviously the better player and he has paid his dues (Note to Jeff: Learn the left-hand bassline thing, man. Be better than Medeski!).

So before I leave, just want to share with you guys some new wisdom I've attained. Because of my law school training and my strive for righteousness, I've become very temperamental these days when it comes to real-life conflicts. Most of the time, I'm right and I know it (like dealing with bureaucracies and the lazy workers at Best Buy). But I've been trapped into believing I'm right that I have hurt other people's feelings by yelling at them or acting completely obnoxious. I still think there are rare situations where one should be unequivocably vocal and courageous about asserting his own "correct" views. However, the danger of that is the fire can easily blind your eyes and sane mentality. On a grander (and more mature) level, being tolerant beats being right. You can still be right and easy-going at the same time. Like Woody Allen says in Broadway Danny Rose, the three most important things in life are "acceptance, forgiveness, and love." I've forgotten to forgive sometimes and now I'm gradually becoming a more chilled person.

See you when I get back, folks!


Saturday, July 24, 2004

Life's hidden treasure

During my study break at Barnes & Noble tonight, I came across an out-of-print Pam Bricker CD called Echoes of Mad Romance that was released in 1992. The lineup includes Pam's sultry vocals with Rick Harris on trumpet, piano & vocals, Louis Scherr on piano, Tommy Cecil on bass and Tony Martucci on drums. As an avid fan of Pam Bricker and jazz, this certainly puts a smile on my face. I love the stuff that's on this CD.

For those who haven't been exposed to the glory of Pam Bricker, she performs every Sunday night at U-Topia (14 and U Street NW, Washington DC) with Wayne Wilentz and Jim West, and every Wednesday with guitar virtuoso Chuck Underwood. Pam's DC best kept secret. If you like jazz vocals, don't pass her up.


Friday, July 23, 2004

One final push

If you LOVE me, no, let me rephrase, if you find me remotely likeable or not hateful, or you have told yourself at least once that Sonny Boy is a pretty damn good harmonica player, then you MUST come to the Frederick Blues Festival tomorrow.

I usually don't do this, but I IMPLORE you to come! This is because it's a family blues bash and kids can have their first or second exposure to the blues and there's no smoking. For those who can't come out to nightclubs because you are domesticated or don't like nightlife, this is perfect for you and no more excuses!

For those who simply dig the blues, simply come out and hear the fabulous Liz Briones doing some funky blues, with Tom Nemwan on guitar, Walter Cosby on bass, Jay Nichols on drums and yours truly Sonny Boy on the Mississippi saxophone. Watch out for my arrangement on a slow blues.

I had a few people tell me before, "Hey, I didn't really appreciate the blues until I heard you," or "I've never seen or heard a harmonica played like that." Well, I often tell people, if you go out on a date with me, you'll change your opinion of the male gender. If you come to the Frederick Blues festival, you'll change your opinion of the blues. Yes, I'm that emphatic!


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Kung Fu Hustle poster

Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle will premiere in Hong Kong this Christmas. The action choreography is by Yuen Woo Ping (The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Kill Bill). We'll see if Mr. Chow will surpass himself again. Click on the poster to enlarge.


Tribute to James Williams, jazz pianist

The unfortunate news continues. After Ray Charles, Elvin Jones, and Nap Turner, pianist James Williams passed on Monday. James was truly a magnificent pianist. Having played in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, James had performed with pretty much all the big names in jazz. He later became a prominent educator, nurturing pupils like Peter Cincotti, Geoff Keezer, etc.

I met James a couple of time at Twins Jazz. James was very approachable and had no ego. We were chatting about great saxophone players like George Coleman and Stanley Turrentine and great singers like Etta Jones. James' piano style was a classy, academic style with a lot of grace and accuracy. The last time I saw James, he was in great health and fit like a bird. Too bad we lost another great member of the true jazz cats. Check out James Williams' website here.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

America, the musical

The above video made my day. Click on the photo to watch the clip. I love the way their mouths move.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004


My friend, Hong Kong harp extraordinaire Jimmy Chan, has a radio special on RTHK about blues harp, or to be precise, 10-hole harmonicas. It's a very informative show, though some of the music isn't blues. Check it out here (if you can understand Cantonese).


Monday, July 19, 2004

The true owners of The Washington Times

For those who are loyal readers of The Washington Times, be very aware!   The Times is owned by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who is the founder the Unification Church, a cult that advocates genocide (eliminating gays) and right-wing conspiracy.  Reverend Moon even openly admits that he's the new Messiah and thus makes the church non-Christian.  Check out the newspaper's background information here.

This article is a good starting point to learn about (and steer away from) the beliefs that the Moonies preach.

The Unification Church website also has Reverend Moon's sermon on creating The Washington Times back in 1981:

"Now we are in the process of creating The Washington Times, which can disseminate the truthful viewpoint. Lies can be very believable..."

You gotta love the freedom of speech.


Friday, July 16, 2004

The fortune cookie incident

Hey, I got two fortunes from two different fortune cookies last night.
One reads, "The prophet of your future is your past."
The second one reads, "The profit of your future is your past."
I found the consecutive messages to be almost Zen-like.  But it could also be a typo...
So you psychics out there - How do you account for the disparity and hidden meaning of this Freudian experience? I need help.
P.S. Read my friend Liz Briones's popquiz on Citypaper.


Critics' choice

Sometimes I make the mistake of only reading Roger Ebert's 4 stars reviews and skip his 1-star reviews, but the latter is often the best written and most entertaining. Case in point: his review of A Cinderella Story is hilarious and thoroughly enjoying and he employs the format of replying to a fan letter.
At the beginning of the review, he states that a fourteen year-old boy does not read critics' reviews anymore because they continue to give bad reviews to good movies.  His Mom even gets her movie advice from him.  Ebert does an expertly job trying to win the teenager's heart back by first distinguishing between the times.  Ebert quips, "Your task is harder than mine was, because... [f]ast food restaurants now have tie-ins with everyone from Shrek to Spider-Man; when I was a kid we were lucky to get ketchup with the fries."
Then he goes on to say he's writing this piece to save the teenager, his friends, sister and mother from going to see the "truly dismal new movie" starring Hilary Duff.  Ebert adds, "This is a lame, stupid movie," and later states, this review "is a splendid review because it lets you know you'd hate A Cinderella Story, and I am pretty much 100 percent sure that you would. " Instead, Ebert offers an advice for the teenage to go rent Ella Enchanted when it comes out on video. Finally, he signs off as "Your fellow critic, Roger Ebert."
Reviews like these put a big smile on your face because Ebert says what he truly feels without having to worry about pissing off certain people. He makes fun of teeny bopper movies and Hilary Duff and the whole stupid genre with no holding back.  One of my favorite quotes in this review is: "A Cinderella Story is a terrible movie, sappy and dead in the water, but Ella Enchanted is a wonderful movie, and if Jasmine and your mom insist on Cinderella, you can casually point out what Ella is short for."  Simply brilliant.
One last thing I need to point out: Ebert has an increasingly tendency to be a dirty old man. First, in the second installment of Harry Potter, he claims that Emma Watson (Hermoine Grainger) was "in the early stages of her babehood." In The Lizzie McGuire Movie, he calls Hilary Duff "beautiful and skilled."  He also calls Anne Hathaway "beautiful." Aren't all these actresses under the age of 18?  I don't know who his next target is, but Michael Jackson, you're not alone. 


Thursday, July 15, 2004

Words of gratitude

Thanks to all who came to my un-birthday party last night. Thanks for all the cards and presents. Thank you for not singing "Happy birthday." It was a low-key celebration of the Bastille Day. Those who didn't come either called or e-mailed. How thoughtful of you!

But there were two things:

1) None but three people offered to buy me drinks. Is it so hard to say "Can I get you a drink?"

2) Some people didn't leave enough money on the tab so I ended up settling the bill out of my own pocket. No big deal. I just find it funny that as the night progressed, the same amount of money remained on the table while more drinks were ordered.

Nonetheless, it was a great reunion amongst friends who connected with me at some point.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Bon anniversaire!

Happy Bastille Day, you Francophiles! Incidentally, it's also my birthday. So send me an e-mail or text message me and tell me something shocking or reveal your secret crush.

My birthday wishes this year are as follows:

1. Job security.
2. Become an upright, not uptight, citizen.
3. Start saving money to purchase a saxophone.
4. Ensure that world peace is in place, either by voting for John Kerry or compaigning against Ralph Nader or advocate the sales of Farhenheit 9/11 when it comes out on DVD.
5. Fulfill my Friendster profile promises.
6. Trademark the term "blues harp wailing lawyer" and become one of the greatest blues harmonica players in the world.

You can contribute to item 3 by donating to the Henry Chung saxophone trust fund monthly or to item 6 by coming to all my live shows. Most of all, you will help world peace by voting in Novmeber.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Nonchalant attitude

I've got an e-mail today saying, "Birthdays are good. The more birthdays you have, the longer you live." True, I've had 26 of those bad boys already, and they've been good to me. I have an un-birthday/Bastille Day celebration tomorrow night at Gazuza. Invitation only, unless you think we'll really click.

Jeff says, if you love him, vote for anything Westcott here. I say do that but don't forget to vote for Liz Briones because I'll be appearing with her at the Frederick Blue Festival on July 24, 7 p.m. Why was I not nominated?

Many people miss my blog, and I thank them dearly. The truth is, I've been extremely busy these days. I hardly have time to chew gum. I promise I'll write more after July. This is a critical moment of my life and I need to get my shit together. I'll be making sporadic appearances here and there, mostly at birthday parties. Why do so many people have July birthdays (including my humble self)? People, have some birthdays in January. I'm free during that month.

Some people just don't care...

P.S. Why do I get so sentimental every time I hear Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game"?


Friday, July 09, 2004

More on Before Sunset

I promised I would talk more about Before Sunset; I'm doing it now.

This is really a movie for those who (1) watched its prequel Before Sunrise 9 years ago and (2) cared about its characters played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. And if you do not fit (1) or (2), you'll be clueless about this movie. I loved the sequel because I love hearing intelligent people talk. Well, I'm one of them and I talk like them. I am one of those pseudo-intellectuals who sit with wine and cheese and mispronounce "didacticism" and "allegorical" at Elaine's in Woody Allen films.

I have had conversations in real time like these. "This way, the cafe is over there," as Delpy points Hawke to the right direction. I love such spontaneous, carefree conversations when people walk and talk. The film ends with Delpy doing an imitation dance to Nina Simone's "Just in Time," which is a superb choice to end the unresolved film. What's gonna happen to the two?

This movie confirms my belief that those who are meant to meet will meet again. One way or the other. In this case, Jesse wrote the book, scheduled the book tour in Paris only hoping to run into Celine again. And people do that in real life. Like taking an art history course hoping she'll be in that class. Going to that neighborhood for coffee hoping he'll hang around with his poodle next to the supermarket. Looking for a book in the self-help section in Barnes & Noble hoping she'll buy the new Deepak Chopra masterpiece on love.

Hope, something still drives me these days.

Hope it is.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Men are from earth, women are from earth, deal with it!

There's an interesting debate on Heather's blog that I need to transcribe to my forum. The heated discussion is about whether romantic relationships are like bank accounts, i.e., the more you deposit the more you can withdraw. The original quote comes from the dude who wrote Men Are From Mars...

"There's this perspective of looking at relationships like bank accounts, and being with a person, you're constantly making deposits into their bank account: depositing love, trust, memories, all those good things...and the bank account grows, and all it takes is a big fat withdrawal, and now you're overdrawn...."

I disagreed with the premise and wrote the following response:

"Relationships do not work in a logical way. It doesn't follow the traditional theory of the more you deposit, the more you can withdraw. Sometimes it's the opposite. The people who have the best relationships are just lucky and at times tactical, but have nothing to do with their diligence or emotional investment."

It's funny how this debate is divided along the gender line. Most guys tend to agree with my theory and girls think that the quote is accurate. The whole thread can be viewed here (be sure to read the comments).

I like this debate but I don't think we're hearing enough female voices. Plus some guy threw in the whole ATM thing which messed up the whole thing. This discussion should be resumed in a more civilized and intellectual manner. Tell me what you think.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Football: The True Underdog Story

Finally, the Greek Odyssey works and cheers me up. Greece won the 2004 UEFA Cup by beating Portugal 1-0. I love underdog stories and I tend to root for the unfortunate, underrated, and unrefined people or groups who are full of talent. There's nothing that makes me happier than the cult taking over the mainstream (The aforementioned sentence does not apply to Ralph Nader).


Sunday, July 04, 2004

Blues for a rainy afternoon

I've got the blues this afternoon while Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" is playing in the background. I miss certain people, certain ideas of people, and the idea of certain people. Maybe you're one of them.


Feeling patriotic?

Was a bit sad yesterday. A little bit sad today. But felt a moment of joy tonight. I was invited to an unlikely birthday party which turned out to be surprisingly fun. Munish was kind enough to be my bodyguard after a tough day. Met the cool-cat birthday girl who likes Mark Twain and adores Alice in Wonderland. I told her when I was a kid I liked Heidi and she told me she just saw the movie version with Shirley Temple in it three days ago. The conversation made me want to pick up Milan Kundera's Immortality and start reading it.

Caught up with Celine and Jesse's nine-year reunion last night at Bethesda Row, confirming my theory that some couples are destined to meet one another again if meant to be. The funny thing is that you care about people like Jesse and Celine, just like you care about Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as Harry and Sally. Maybe they should come out with a film called When Harry divorced Sally soon...In any case, Before Sunset made me feel so good (more about that later).

So why was I sad? Why am I sad? Don't know (maybe I just don't want to share it in the blog. It's scary how many people actually read my blog but refuse to leave a comment. I was at Europa one night and this random person told me he reads my blog every day. Frightening!) Maybe that's why I got the right to play the blues. Being a bluesman means you can afford to be eccentric and sad without giving any reason. That sounds irresponsible, but who's gonna ask B.B. King if he's having a bad day. I guess the reason I'm sad is because I'm lamenting my luck. Or regretting never having made certain bold moves. And tonight made me realize I've still got time.

No plans for 4th of July except having to read a difficult Bible passage for church and the pastor already told me to rehearse it. Momentarily listening to Gene Harris swinging his ass off on the piano with a bluesy touch, and loving life right now.

[Add: I know why I'm sad. Caught up with the closing credits in Intolerable Cruelty where they played Big Bill Broonzy's The Glory of Love. It was so acoustically powerful that I couldn't help but lament my luck.]


Friday, July 02, 2004

It's indeed a sad year

Elliott Smith, Elvin, Ronnie, Ray and now Marlon...we live in the past and the new generation isn't responding...Have a good 4th of July weekend, everybody.


Hong Kong I'm proud of you

In this hottest July 1 ever in Hong Kong, 530,000 people went to the streets to demand for increased democracy in the city, especially the direct election of Chief Executive. "This demonstration shows the unwavering aspiration of the people for democracy," said Martin Lee, former chair of the Democratic Party.

My Mom and brother went, too. If I were in Hong Kong, I would take part in the protest, too. It was a historical moment and I'm proud of everyone who marched.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

This gets me excited!

My first exposure to American culture had nothing to do with Ronald Reagan's foreign policy or the infiltration of McDonald's or KFC's in Hong Kong, it was G.I. Joe the TV series. I was in sixth grade and I thought G.I. Joe was the coolest thing ever (it still is). I used to collect G.I. Joe figures and my favorite ones are Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander, Destro, etc. The Yo Joe! and Guru Planet websites have detailed documented information on the history of these action figures.

Not only does this bring back childhood memories, but it is also a blessing to know that we used to have much cooler toys than kids now. I personally can't stand Pokemon and don't get the thrill of Playstation 2 or X-Box. But G.I. Joe cartoons remained an important chapter in my life.

Now that the G.I. Joe DVD's (Seasons 1 & 2) have been released, I'll get a copy of them and reminisce those good times. Those were the days! Let's pray that The Real Ghostbusters will come out on DVD next.

What are some other cool toys besides G.I. Joe?


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