Thursday, September 30, 2004

Something so right...

Today I feel blessed and fortunate because there are still people who care about me. I wrote a song about trapezoids, too. My colleague joking told me maybe I'm secretly in love with trapezoids. I don't know but I still remember how to calculate the area of a trapezoid. Unreal!

I've also been receiving some good wisdom over e-mail lately. People really have some interesting observations and good things to say as autumn comes tumblin' in. One e-mail flat out said, "Henry, you're so cool." And some nice phone calls too. It's hard to keep up with and keep track of everybody. To those I have neglected lately: I'm sorry. I've got enough problems of my own but I'm slowly sorting things out. I haven't felt so romantic and lively since my senior year in college. I'm doing things that are out of my reach. What an awesome feeling!

The current events seem to be in my favor too. DC's got its own baseball team. Carly Patterson & Co. are performing at MCI Center tonight. Kenny Barron is coming to Kennedy Center. I can't wait to see the presidential debate tonight. Now, this is a great website.

When I drove to work this morning, my stereo was playing Paul Simon's "Something So Right." How perfect! And check out his intelligent and heartfelt lyrics:

when something goes right
Well it's likely to lose me, mm
It's apt to confuse me
because it's such an unusual sight
Oh, I swear, I can't get used to something so right
Something so right



Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Keepin' It Real

Incidentally, my two idols Ali G and Rod Piazza both have the motto of "keepin' it real." It may mean that you have to embrace life as it is, accept its fallacies and enjoy the simple pleasure of it. The essential Zen teachings state that to attain the best possible results, you and the environs must become one. You have to "forget" about your existence because you have become your own surroundings. I wonder if that's a way of saying "keepin' it real."

A year ago, I told my friend I crave the "raw energy" deep in my soul. I still do. And since I regained my mojo, it's time to exploit that raw energy and employ it to its fullest. I know I'm speaking in abstract terms, because it applies differently to different people. To Rod Piazza, keepin' it real means that his band still plays with boldness and retains that vintage Chess sounds. To Ali G, it means to nonchalantly dismiss the pseudo-intellectualism of it all and keep things simple.

To me, it means to finish each of my actions in an art form. Like turning in something brilliant to my boss, get down to the root of the problem and solve it, even hop onto the bus in a carefree manner, and wish dishes with zest (not the soap). I'll try to become one with the environment and not let external encumbrances annoy me. I'm not just me. I'm it.

Let's keep it real, folks.


Friday, September 24, 2004

The singer of "Peace Train" is a terrorist?

Singer Cat Stevens Demands Probe Into Deportation

Ridiculous or ludicrous? You decide. But who can claim she loves peace more than Cat Stevens? OK, I believe many Republicans listen to Cat Stevens' songs. If that doesn't make you change your vote to vote Democrat, I don't know what will. Open your eyes now. This is just as ridiculous as back in the 70's when the FBI raided John Lennon's apartment in NYC because he simply wrote "Imagine there's no countries/It isnt hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too," accusing Lennon of advocating anarchism and nihilism.

Who's next? James Taylor? Ani DiFranco? The remnants of the Grateful Dead? People who smoke weed at Phish concerts?

Give me a freakin' break.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Throw Sacha Baron Cohen down the well

This is a good article that reveals how Ali G fools his famous guests on TV. Hilarious!


Dog toy or marital aid?

I love this site. Kinda have the similar effect of all Asians look the same. But raunchier! I love when one user says "I missed the first one cause even if it is a dogtoy... I'll make it a marital aid!" I was way off. 5 out of 14. Shameful!

Dog toy or marital aid? You decide!


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I feel like I'm dreaming

This is truly unbelievable. My favorite lifeguard is back, and the encounter was totally unexpected. I often wonder meeting some of my lost loves this way, but it never happened. It turns out that she has been here since June. Why the hell did you not call me? I e-mailed you but you never e-mailed back. Your e-mail was blank. Your phone was disconnetced. All these excuses. But I swam good today. 50 laps; non-stop. I was proud of myself. Part of me that was missing is now coming back. It's amazing how some girls can make you or break you.

We drove from Ellicott to White Flint. The stereo was playing Johnnie Bassett's mean old nasty jazzy blues. She says I like this music it puts me in a good mood. She says I want to be independent this year. Dropped her off. She gave me her home phone number. Promised to call. I don't know if I'll call her. I got burned last year.

It was a like dream. I still think I'm dreaming. But I know God's good to me. At least I got half of myself back.


Woke up from a deep sleep....

...and desperately trying to get back to sleep I put on Coltrane's Ballads and it's soo hauntingly beautiful it makes me miss Elvin Jones and certain girls and people and places I love. McCoy Tyner's complex chord structure imperfectly aligns with the complex structure of humanity...

The list of beautiful yet underrated people continues: Scott LaFaro, Chet, Joe Pass, Vince Guaraldi, Bill Evans, Miles' Someday My Prince Will Come, Lisa Ekdahl, Blossom Dearie, Getz/Barron's People Time, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Eddie Higgins, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Jimmy Garrison on all the Classic Coltrane Quartet recordings, my dedication to make this world a better place...

I miss strolling on the sidewalks of Paris in summer. Makes me think of the Sammy Cahn/Jimmy Van Heusen tune "I'll Only Miss Her When I Think of Her." Or maybe I just miss the season, or its equivalent.


Monday, September 20, 2004

The mighty mighty Rod Piazza

I declare Rod Piazza the best blues harp player in the world, and his band The Mighty Flyers the best blues band I've seen yet. And trust me guys, I've seen a lot of blues in my lifetime. This is it! The groove of the band was incredible, and it still retained that vintage Chess sound. Well, the band rocked Ram's Head on Friday night. All in all it was both an inspiring and humbling experience for me.

Rod's chops made me realize I'm grossly inadequate as a harp player and his tone is both sweet and fiery when needed. Most of all, he has such command of the instrument and he can manipulate it with ease and conviction. Seeing Rod play the wireless harp on a table was itself an eye-popping experience. The rest of the band was great as usual. Rod's wife, Honey Piazza, was very capable on the boogie-woogie piano. She is not as versatile as Bill Heid, but she has mastered the blues scale and chord changes and can surely kick most alleged blues piano players' asses. Also on the band stand was Rod's longtime acoustic bassist Bill Stuve and newbies Henry C. (with a Los Lobos flavor) on guitar and Paul on drums (replacing the metronome Jimi Bott).

While everyone was a dynamite musician, they let the music take charge. So it's not hard to hear the band swinging and grooving. When the groove is laid down, Rod gives the band members ample opportunity and time to show off. Also, there were two commenable things the band did. These days most bands only do a set and then charge you thirty-some dollars without feeling guilty. Rod did two full sets and each set was more than an hour each and it turned out to be a wonderful three-hour concert. Second, Rod and Honey and his band members chatted and socialized with their fans during the intermission. Honey was especially nice and chatty. I took some photos with the couple too (coming real soon).

So the weekend was good. Went to my brother's birthday celebration afterwards and played cards til late. Sunday was relaxed and had a nice dinner at Outback. Got a couple of encouraging e-mails from Ed. Planning my California/Las Vegas trip in December and hoping to get in time to vote in November.


Thursday, September 16, 2004


..the posters arrive.

Now the question is: When's the movie coming out? Those who have patience will be rewarded.


What a wishy-washy character!

I got kinda mad yesterday. Someone told me after listening to my CD that "On a scale of 10, you're a 4 or 5. As far as amateur musicians go, that's pretty good." I'd be humble if B.B. King said that to me. But it's from a lay listener. Maybe after all I'm not that good. Maybe I'm like Charlie Brown - nobody hates me, but I'm not all that special. What a wishy-washy character!

Damn! A 4 or 5 on a 10-point scale; that's not even a passing grade.

I want to apologize to Kai for criticizing her writing the other day. In my defense, I want to say that was constructive criticism and I wanted her to improve and it was no way an attack on her mind or person. However, I knew that the damage's been done, just like that guy calling me an amateur. The difference is that in Kai's case, I'm trying to make her a better writer. In my case, this guy made his statement in a condescending manner and his intent is not to make me a better harp player (though it might have that effect ultimately).

So I want to lay this out there: Can you take criticism when you know that the person giving it means well versus someone is deliberately trying to make you feel like crap?


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Jazz in a rainy afternoon

I just heard for the first time that someone didn't like Garden State. And it was two people. Stephanie asked, "What's there to like?" I was shocked and speechless and didn't know how to respond. So I said, "Everything." Really, everyone I talked to either liked it or loved it. So can anyone help me think of some reasons to embrace the movie? Anyone?

These Talipups were occupying the swimming pool and started diving and splashing water but didn't realize they are not in the Olympic team and the sign says "No Diving." Of course, after I first went into the empty hot tub, all these Talipups followed me in there, kind of like when one kid picked up a Pokemon stuff animal, the other kids want to get it from him. I want to think of one reason to like these hairy, overweight Talipups, but being in the hot tub with them kinda disgusts me. Inevitably, I thought of Borat.

Let me know if you think this is anti-Semitic.

I hate making further effort to sustain certain friendships. It's always ME who try to make plans and stay in touch with people. When I first came to DC, I had zero friends, now I have about 50 (one and off and some close acquaintances are counted within), and I should be proud of that. But I think friendship should be a mutual thing, and not a unilateral effort. So e-mail or call me if you want to mend your friendship with me because I can always make time.

Jazz in a rainy afternoon is good because it forces you to read books you wouldn't otherwise read or gives you space to fill in certain thoughts that never popped into your head when you're busy. Jazz in a rainy afternoon is good because it's romantic and makes you not wanna get outta bed. It's not hard to fall in love with Astrud Gilberto or Stan Getz.

Some people are just mean.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Some photos

A) Clarence Turner Blues Band at the DC Blues Festival
B) Gavin playing bass in Amsterdam, Holland
C) Gavin's two Dutch chicks

Photos explained: Needless to explain about A). 7 mighty guys at work making Carter Barron audience very happy. I even looked cool in it. Quite surprising. (9/14: I just got the first writeup of the DC Blues festival on the web. Lots about Clarence. Nothing much about the band though.)

B) and C) are supplied by Gavin, now a student at the Amsterdam Conservatory. He labels these photos "winter pictures" and the two blonde Dutch chicks look mighty fine. Way to go, Gav.


Leaving comments on someone's blog.... an art, because you don't want to be like a stalker and leave way too many comments (once someone impersonated me and left numerous comments on Heather's blog) but you don't want to be unsophisticated and say "Yeahhh...Yippeeee" or "Way to go, mate!" and nothing else.

You want to say your thoughts in an organized manner without being too wordy. Sometimes when you want disagree with the entry, you don't want to be too confrontational because you don't want to sabotage the friendship (or whatever relationship you have with the blogmaster), so you'll end up leaving something quite ambiguous.

The point is: you gotta be succinct, clever, to the point, and careful. Let's face it, mundane comments won't help you score points. Just remember, you can't retract your comments. Once they're there, unless the blogmaster decides to erase them, they are permanently there for the public to see. Choice of words is also tantamount in leaving a good comment. You want to use some good vocab like "ogle," "didactic," and "gregarious." You want people to be impressed with your chain of thoughts and continue the conversation.

You may think, what the hell are you talking about? I just leave a comment when I feel like it without thinking of dire repercussions. I just say whatever the hell I want. But deep down you know you want people to approve of your thoughts. Just like people who blog want others to agree with them. People who comment want the exact same approval.

But sometimes I love leaving comments. To show people I care and read their blogs. To show people I'm smart and I have something substantial to say. To escape from temporary boredom. Etc.

So feel free to leave a comment.

I love Haloscan. Period.


The end of summer

I'm not sad the summer is almost over because this summer was like no summer at all. And I only truly experienced three weeks of it. Somehow Chad & Jeremy's "A Summer Song" got stuck in my head while I was driving to work this morning. Maybe I'm feeling nostaglic.

Anyway, I'm writing again because I don't want to lose my readers. So what happened to me in the last week? I was just getting some mental rest. After a really bluesy weekend, I gotta get out of that mindset. I needed to explore human things and feelings. And tried not to be funny. I wanted to be serious for a little while. I can't truly laugh out loud anymore. You think you invested in friendships but it doesn't pay back. You think some people care about you but they don't. I think "hopefulness in life" and "low expectations in people" can be mutually exclusive. Right now, that's my mode.

I guess I could write about the HK Legislature election, weekend with my cousin, or the conspiracy theory behind Zhang Yimou's Hero, but I'd rather talk about why microwaved food or conditioner is bad for you or why I think yogurt is yucky. The bottomline is: Some people have a better support network, and more power to them. For those like you and me who have a loose support network, shame on us!

Right now I crave: red meat, the guitar solo at the end of the Carpenters' "Goodbye To Love," a jitsu massage on my right shoulder, a cold beer, a special someone who's primarily responsible for my happiness, and some paper clips.

Have a good week, guys.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Old friends

The day belonged to Clarence Turner. The night belonged to Jeff Conlin. Hell yeah, a day full of blues for me. But it was Jeff's utterly surreal experience (Read his latest post 9/5/04 1:11 a.m. before he headed back to Surf Club to return my overdue DVDs) that makes me even more unworthy to describe this day. I sweated a lot and used lots of towels. But it was worth it. Every minute of it. I'm so exhausted it's not even funny.

Jeff poured his heart out (as evidenced in his solo in "Cold Feeling." Then at the Surf Club, I heard some of his most amazing solos jamming with Linwood Taylor. I agree with almost everything he says in his entry except that Blue Lou is a local blues icon. Far from that. With all due respect, he has a long way to go. Sorry to say, but maybe he'll never reach that status. He's a super nice guy though.

I thought I only played OK at the festival (I thought I played better last year), but after listening to my brother's cassette tape (he taped the whole show on radio), I was pleasantly surprised - I was actually quite good, and the band sounded great. I guess we were the second best set of the night. Jesse Yawn and his Music Men took the cake for the best performance that afternoon. Oh, we got a standing ovation once again and Melanie Mason did not. What does that say?

Jeff said something really awesome when we were about to part with Clarence and his wife at the Surf Club, "I like you (meaning Clarence), Henry, Gene, Kim, and Sean. That's it." That speaks volumes. And the real question is: Where's Dr. Kim (He's a real doctor, not just a love doctor)? When are we gonna play with him again.?

I miss old friends.


Friday, September 03, 2004

Why am I blogging today?

I have adopted a new policy about blogging, i.e. I won't blog unless I have something interesting to say. Who wants to read something that has been rehashed over and over again or blatantly plagarized? Or who wants to follow some random thoughts that belong to someone who can't use chopsticks correctly? So I've tried to refrain from talking bullshit these days unless I know someone's going to find it funny or thoughtful. But seriously, how many people actually read this stupid blog? I only wonder.

So why am I blogging today? I don't know. It's approaching Labor Day weekend. Everyone (I mean everyone) is leaving for something. No one is staying. Munish is back in London, UK. So I'm feeling a little lonely and I want someone to pat me on the shoulder and say "You're not that bad of a human being" or "your show tomorrow's gonna be great, though I can't be there." Or maybe I want someone to send me an SMS message and tell me "You changed my life" or "You almost changed my life, but I'm glad I didn't listen to your advice to leave my boyfriend." Something along those lines.

So I can do a few things tonight. Re-watch Hero or Garden State by myself. Or go to 219 to listen to the Big Three Trio. Or watch the Olympics closing ceremony that Greg taped for me last Sunday. Or meditate and think about how many cockroaches I've killed in my life and repent. Or play Monopoly by myself...

If you're in town and wonder what you're doing tonight, please give me a call or send me an SMS, unless you think I'm going to change your life. There's a time, place, manner for utter loneliness but tonight ain't it for me.

And come to the show tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The confession of a hipster

People in Hong Kong think I'm alternative; people in DC think I'm a hipster. In other words, I'm weird. I'm weird not because I have mental problems but because I appreciate life in an "alternative" manner, whatever that means. My co-worker (who used to live in France) thinks I should move to Paris because I'd enjoy the lifestyle there more.

But truly, I didn't choose to be hip. Listening to jazz and blues and playing the harmonica are by no means hip in this era. It may be "hip" in a restricted sense in that listening to an upright bass proves that I have an "exquisite" taste in music. I'd like to think I'm hip but when the whole generation flocks to see an Outkast concert with popcorn and stuff, I know I'm not traditionally "in."

Someone made a good point, "i don't think i'm a pretentious indie fan i just had higher expectations for humanity and their ability to hear an adolescent I see no reason not to embrace this silly sub-culture. i will revel in my chucks as long as i feel like it."

That's precisely how I feel, because I'm not trying to target the Paris Hilton crowd as the Bush sisters did last night at the Republican Convention (even though targeting the Paris Hilton crowd may increase my chance exponentially in the girls department). The thing is, I'm not doing it to please anybody. I do it because it makes me feel good.

If that makes me alternative or indie or hip, so be it.

P.S. Due to popular demand, I'm including a link to the Bush twins' remarks from last night. Feel free to print it out and bring it to the doctor's office while you wait for your appointment, or disappointment.


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