28 09 2008

Green is the catch phrase for environmental awareness, responsibility, action these days. Appropriate. I have always been pro-environment it has been part of my spirit since youth. It developed a serious conscience in my Hippie/lovechild days of the 60’s, it matured with my study of “Zen/Chan” and understanding the spiritual connection with all things.

As Team Captain for the USA-Concord, branch of Eco-flag GSA I try to promote when ever possible Green Sport awareness. When I sail to events I fly the Green Eco flag. When I give seminars I speak of our connection. I brought the idea to the CCKTCM Kung Fu Federation the Green philosophy at our last tournament. They agreed to be connected with the movement. I was greatly disappointed when later I was told there was a change of mind. My first Mantis Shifu said the Federation “mind” was too “old world” It is clear now. No matter, my school will carry on with the Philosophy and support. This is part of the reason I have my school and do not teach for Sisuk. I need no one’s ok for what I teach or support.

So all this lead to I came across a post about a “green jobs” movement. :

{Green-Collar Jobs Campaign

The “green wave” is coming.

A new, multi-billion dollar economic sector is emerging, bringing new opportunities in green construction, clean technology, urban agriculture and energy. Our goal: ensure that this green economy is strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

Green-Collar Jobs Campaign creates opportunities in the green economy for poor people and people of color through policy advocacy, public outreach, and an employment pipeline – the Green Jobs Corps.} this is a nationwide campaign. One of the events was held in Oakland today. I decided I would attend and see what was going on.

The crowd was smaller than I expected, it was however good to see the large diversity of young people. The event was more or less directed toward the up coming generation.

The music, the talk, the job leads, the style. Not really much for us graying warriors. There were a few of us there, kicking around 🙂

The message of the event was good, the future is being transfered to the the new generation, there needs to be a new thought to energy, jobs, power and education. As well as stop the violence!

The message was well recieved… Hope is alive.

Friday Fu…Sept – final 08

27 09 2008

It was that time again to head down to my Shifu’s for practice. I was feeling a bit lazy about the drive and even going out. I had been in the house for most of the week, a couple of short furries. One of which was to the bank to pull out most of our money, which turned out to be the day before the bank said they were bankrupht!! We did not have enough money in there to really be concern as it is FDIC , but still…Yokkata!

My other short venture was to visit Sisuk and a talk with him about his website. The rest of the week was spent, other than my teaching class, in front of the computer, trying to dissect Sisuk’s webpage so I could update it, on facebook, Multiply talking election, and job hunting.

Anyway not much live people contact, as usual. So class was the most people contact I will have had for the week. It is over an hour drive to Campbell to see Shifu. The drive in a way is a meditation time. The traffic was fairly light, so it was nice. Time to reflect on our soon to be coming, in a few years, move to Nihon, our even sooner giving up our condo and move, friends, and/or the lack of them…

It was a quiet night down at Shifu’s only 4 or 5 others. I had brought my Jian but did not even pll it out. When I arrived, Shifu was on the floor showing some take down technique. It looked very simple. I watched more and listened.  He use hardly any effort. The others tried it, but could nto quite get it. I listen to him and watched. then I tired it. We could not get it. All of us used too much force and effort to do it. Shifu made it look SO easy and effortless. There was not even a pain factor envolved on the reciever he just was being forced down, with out power. I watched, and listened, It had to do with timing, balance and feel. we tried, not quite there. Shifu demo’d on me so I coudl feel what was happening. It was really really in the timing of the other’s balance. A small step in and light push to upset their balance , then as the tried to recoved, pressed down. Very simple, very hard. There were ways of inflecting some pain to help the process but that was not what the drill was about. It was about feeling and timing.

After a while I that I worked with another class mate of some reviews of two man drills. It is nicr working with a peer than my students, not only do I get to correct a couple of my mistakes, but the element of speed and power can be added. I had him show me a grappling drill that was shown at the seminar that I missed. a simple but good drill, I want to show my students. We went through that several times. Next up he and other went through a two man form that is on my list of thigns to learn. The Seven Star Mantis Two Man Bumbo. I have leanred the Tai Chi mantis single form and it would be easir to learn the other side of that, but eveyone says that it is not as good as the 7 star for training. I’ve seen the TCM version and it does not really match the other side. Tonight I saw the 7 star version and it does match exactly the single side. So that will be high on my list of things to learn next year.

After that, it was time to eat. Shifu had cooked deep fired chicken, someone had made corned beef and cabbage. They ordered veggie pizza for me, it was good! I was glad I brought beer for them. I should not have been eating that late, that much, but once in a while is ok. Tonight since it was   few of us, we sat and ate in Shifu’s office. Usually we bring out chair to the practice area. Tonight we did not. Also a change we usually talk kung fu, tonight we talked history and politics. Early USA history about Philadelphia and Philly cheese steaks, as well as historic stuff, Independence the like and the current politic. Even felt McCain vp choice was ridiculous. Also Obama may not be the best but he is the lessor of evils for our future.

Shifu brought up it will be our last Friday session of the year. Next month Halloween will be on the day, most will be out, Nov, is right before Thanksgiving (another topic of discussion), then Christmas in Dec. So we will not be having a practice meeting until Jan. There will be however the annual holiday dinner party. Amazing the year is almost over and what a downer it has been overall. Life is like that at times yang flows to yin, which sooner or later flows back to yang. It is the riding it out that is the challenge. I need to spend more time training/practicing, it is too easy to get caught up in the Yin aspects. Having good health and love are our most important life treasures. With that one can bare through other life challenges.

One good thing this week. I did get a interview for a job. it was a phone interview so it was just phase one, but at least I got that. I was concerned my resume was so bad or lacking or had a mistake I did not see that no one was contacting me. It had been months since I’ve gotten even an interest response. Of course having several thousand people applying for the same job no doubt does not help my chances when one is overwhelmed with choices.

Trains, Boats, Cars, Sushi & Skype

21 09 2008

I was expecting it to be awhile before we had any fun things going on, since we just finished our weekend sail to Alameda, CA. However we got a surprise with a short visit. Team Tokyo came to visit the other day. It was a nice change for us to hang out with company. The two LZ’s got to chat in Japanese ( that would take some explaining, just go with me on this) Team Tokyo took the train up from their current part of the world. That they said was a pleasant change of pace for them. They got to see another part of life and towns that otherwise would have been by passed on the high-speed freeway.

LZ and I pickup them up from the train station. It was perfect, the station is only a few minutes from the marina were we cast off s/v Zen and went for a short sail. Well that is after a short visit and chat with a Korean couple I know, who make home made deserts and stuff to sell in their shop .

The wind was perfect, even a bit strong, but the wave were calm so it was a nice ride, juggling wine , cheese, crackers and ourselves on the water.

There was very little traffic other than one other sailboat and a tug, nothing else was moving on the water that day. It was a perfect late afternoon sail. Ending back at the dock with a bit of chilled shochu.

Our next stop was off to Geta Restaurant, which is LZ’s favorite. Great price, great food. We ate and drank our fill of sushi, fried eggplant, tofu, sake, beer (not for me, yuk) & misc.

The place is very small and very busy. Only about 4 table plus a bar to sit at. We were however able to time it perfect. I dropped the ladies off at the door while us guys went to find parking. By the time we got back they were seated and waiting for us. Nice!! People keep coming in a solid stream after that.

Many get items to go, some waited for a table. I was hoping for another friend & husband, the Okinawa team, to drop by, but they did not make it.

We left feeling full, happy, and pleased the bill was so low for as much as we ate, came to about 20.00 ea including tip! Hard to beat these days.

It was home to our place after that. Now that I did not have to drive and we were home we had a bit more to drink and could really relax. I put on a Kodo DVD and mixed up a green fairy for everyone.

Skype is wonderful I highly recommend it. If you have family, friends in far off places, Skype is the bomb! I called LZ’s sister in Kobe, Japan ( hi sis) we all got to chat with her a bit. It is so nice to see and talk with someone rather than just talk, webcam vision is great. Next  Team Tokyo’s parents in Japan receieved a call. We had a virtual toast with them and a few laughs.

Too soon it was time for bed as we had to early train to catch, before returning to the everyday stuff.

The next morning after I fixed the the crew an early breakfast which included a mimosa, we headed off to the train station.

We did nto have to wait long before the train came and they were off.

All good things…

9 09 2008

All good things must end, I believe is the saying . Today I went to the studio around noon. I had gone over the song we could not quite get on Sat. night at home at Shaolin studios and worked out what I wanted.

Mostly it was setting into the groove and keeping it simple. Like Japanese art, the beauty is in the simplicity, once I did that it came together nicely. A lesson that could carry over well into life ne! It is better to live simple and be happy, than have a complex house of cards. Yeah, very Zen I would say, so even in music the Zen mind works.

Anyway I digress. I got to the studio around noon, and we had at it. “N” the engineer felt we should redo the guitar part on one song. He felt afer listening to it it was too, dirty, distorted. I felt that from the beginning, but I thought that was the sound he wanted. So I redid that track this time on the Acoustic guitar. Much nicer! Still had the tension, but not so harsh.

I got to listen to all the tracks we had done so far. They were nice, it was coming together smooth after we got the kicks worked out. Next up was the song from Sat. I told him , “N” my idea and he agreed. I said good let’s do it. I also did not use a pick I’m much more comfortable using my hand on certain styles of playing, maybe it is from doing bass so much, I feel more comfortable with out a pick, unless really needed from strumming. This was a funky , picking , swamp kind of sound I wanted… it worked! I think it was done in one take.

After that was the Flute part of that song, for the re-visit. We did 3 or 4 takes on that. I was not that pleased with the first, even then if it was a long song I would have redone it, but we only needed a short sound bite. It could be trimmed to the better parts, so that worked out also. After some mixing and placement, Bam we or should I say I was done. because he, “N; still has 4 or 5 days of adding, mixing, detailing, sound design to do, before it goes in for mastering to be released. The play write will be in town this weekend to listen to the product. I think it sounds great, she should be pleased. I wonder if there will be a pre-release, listening party. Kind of like a movie pre-screening. I would like to see the finished art work. Oh, yeah I’m suppose to write up a bio for the credits, I still need to do that.

Ahhh, so, now it’s done. That was fun, I needed some fun. I was suppose to be working with another guy writing these tunes, but I guess he flaked out, so it was just me. I was totally unsure how this was going to work, since it was my first time doing this, but I think it turned out ok. I put together a little sample from just a held held MP3 player when listening to the play back in the studio. The quality is low, but you can get the idea of what happening with a few song bites.

I have a big sailing event coming up, so the music life with be finished up for a while. I noticed that there is a multi-style club right around the corner form the studio, maybe I can hookup with the Concord Xpress Band and put together a set or two and try for a gig. That would be very cool! “N” said that if we needed a Demo recording, he could do it. Always good to have some contacts.

Anyway, on to the next thing…


8 09 2008

I’m in the middle of musicland these days. Nice to be home. The other night after teaching sailing all day, I was suppose ot go record a few more tracks for the redeemer CD. LZ and I arrived at the studio only to find the doors lock. That in itself was nto a big deal, since it was after hours and their are other offices inthe building. I saw my friend’s car there so I knew someone was there. However…there is no bell, and knocks could not be heard from in the studio if the door is closed. hmmmmbummer. I did not have my cell phone with me to call and I figured the office number would nto be hear din the studio which is in another room. Sigh. I knocked for a while anyway then gave up, and we went home to get my cell. I just resigned myself to the trip, and besides, We needed glasses for the wine we brought along and a bottle opener. We were suppose to have Pizza for dinner with our friends so we brought wine. However forgtten the opener and the glasses/cups. I have planned on getting this stuff from the Boat since that was only a few blocks away from the studio,but sine we have to go home…

Ok, went home, made the connection and headed back to meet up. That worked out this time. yeah! We walked over to a local pizza place a few blocks way. The was a guy there playing an old Big organ, the movie pipe organ type. Sadly I did not bring my camera with me, LZ wanted a shot for her blog. Oh well. The player was hmmm, let say, lacking in some things, like timing. It was ok, it was free and different. It was the first time I had ever seen someone with eye glasses looked like 1 inch thick. We were amazed. The pizza was good, a bit on the salty side, most likely so one would buy drinks…

Afterward we walked back to the studio. It was good we got to walk a little after the filling pizza. Once back int he studio, I opened the wine and we got to listen to some of the finished tracks I had done the other day. LZ was surprised at the sound. Strings and French horns had been added in some places. It was very nice. I was impressed.

Then we got to work on the next set of songs. The electric guitar setup had been fixed so that was next. I did a track with a Stevie Ray Vuan sound guitar.It was not my favorite type of sound but the engineer like it for this part, and it did work.

Next added a bass line. It took a couple of rounds to get the right sound and combinations for the Bass and Guitar, but I think it worked out well. I had figured we would be all done in about 1.5 hrs.

We were suppose to start at 7:00 it was now somewhere after 11:00. The ladies just hung out while we worked, from time to time added an opinion, in between girl talk and wine.

We figured to do one more song, this one was somewhat more complex, and we spent time looking for the right drum tracks to work with my Bass/Guitar/ Flute . I had not written the song with any drums, but thought it would be ok, with the right combo. However after much time we could not find something that really worked, so decided to forgo the drums, they were just an added element anyway. I did the Bass track  a couple of times, then tried the Acoustic Guitar track.

I tried several times but was not happy with it. I redid the Bass, and tired it again. I was still not feeling it. This song is the end of one CD and the beginning of another so we really needed to good. However I was not feeling it. We decided it was getting to late and we were burnt out ad called it a night. There was no clock in the studio, once outside LZ and I find it is after 1:00am. ! No wonder everyone was starting to drag. Pizza, beer ( not for me I hate it), wine and a full day of working and up late, whewww. Yeah breaking was a good idea. I get to practice and try out a few things at home, then go in fresh have at it again. We are near to done. After this musically … who knows…Maybe I’ll put more effort into finding or developing something. I saw the keyboard player from ConcordXpress we I got home today. they are practicing in our complex again…

If I can have this living style in Japan it would be heaven. Teach some sailing, play in a band, teach Kung Fu/Tai Chi, do some ceramics, ahhh perfect retirement life!!

The Redeemer…music therapy

5 09 2008

I’m pretty sensitive these days, more so than usual with so much not so pleasing issues to deal with. Yesterday was on of those depression days. It happens…

Our recording session was postponed a couple of days, well three really, due to some computer problems. I spent the time on-line looking for work and doing so other misc stuff, but did not feel productive at all, that was depressing…

Today I went back to the studio, things were suppose to be fixed , however there was still a glitch 😦 I hung out while it was troubled shot. I changed the battery on my Bass and got familiar with the action and the extra string. I had not really sat down with it much. So I made use of that time. I like this new Bass it is sweet! It has a better fell to it than my last. That one was lighter, but it still had good tunes. I picked it because of that. I wanted something that would not wear me out after holding it for 4-5 sets a night in clubs after having a Heavy P-Bass for many years.

Next I went and tuned up the acoutic guitar and practice some. Finally things were corrected  with the computer and we were ready to gt back to recording.

All the tracks that we did the other day needed to be redone. We set at the task. We started with the acoustic tracks first. It is the opening first two tunes as well as the last, and I think the hardest to do. The guitar for the most part is solo, and on the last it is solo so it needed to be right. While siting on the floor waiting I ran through things a few times, so when things were ready I was also ready.

I did two tacks in a row with the first song. It is a finger picking style, it can be tricky. The first take was good, the second so so. So the first take was a keeper. Sweet! The second song was a remix of the first played a little different. Again I did two take. I did not like them so we did another two. The third was the keeper. I could feel myself lose a little focus on the second, but the opening was good. We were able to cut and paste to make a good track. Nice, 2 down. The third was the closing tune. Another variation on the opening tune, but needed more a reflective feel to it after the dramatic ending of the play also needed to be clean since it was just guitar. Again the first take was the keeper. Nice, we are on a roll, now. 3 down.

Next was a Bass solo. Both takes were keepers. I was somewhat a bit concerned about the sound of my fingers sliding on the strings, but the engineer was not. So he keep them both to figure which he liked best. BAM! I think I am more relxed on my first takes than the others I’m noticing.

We were not set up to do Electric guitar yet so we did another acoustic track, this time, flute solo. The other tune were stand alone songs played in between the vocals of the story, this time I was to play over the vocals, adding some feel to the scene. Listening via head phones I played flute over the scene. Another one take recording. Bam. Done! That was a wrap for the day. 5 tunes down. We are half way done.

Tomorrow we’ll have pizza and wine in the studio with the wives, we then should finish things up. The final pieces should be easier and three of them are more up beat and a bit funky, so will be even more fun for me. Then it is adding layers, effect, etc and we’re done. Well I’m done with my part anyway. Now though I have the Jones to play more. I’m thinking about doing some on-line stuff wiht a new service that hooks up musicians world wide. I also meet another guy on line , in Japan. maybe I can hookup with him fro some colaboration on a couple of songs. Then there is the CXpress, but ther eis that, rehersal time problem still and they do not oractice here in the Condo grounds anymore a the Guitar player got spooked because of an insident. We’ll see what the tide brings next.

Anyway, I’m not depressed today…cool. Playing is good therapy for me. Better than zazen in some cases. Although it could be said that playing is Zen, like doing kung fu is Zen, because all life is Zen, so playing is my higher form of doing meditation, stronger spiritual therapy.

The Redeemer

2 09 2008

Ahhh good times. It is good to be playing & creating again.It has been awhile since I’ve got to be creative. I’ve not done ceramics in seems like ages, not much in the way of graphics to speak of and the little bit of band work has been pretty much programed or scripted.

I’ve been working on a musical project writing a sound track for a audio play as I posted earlier.

I was unsure about how it would go as it is my first time doing something like this. But so far it is good. Not having to compose whole songs is different and takes some of the pressure off. But making the tunes that  which I write, fit is a challenge,  fun and cool.

We went in the studio today the first day of recording. It was nice to be recording again. Although I had forgotten the strict nature of recording. Every sound is picked up, every note needs to be clean. Finger noises are pickup from the fretboard and strings, breath, unnecessary movements on the chair of sitting, tuning has to be exact. Today was getting reorientated. Doing the opening guitar work was time consuming, we did many re-takes until we were happy with the results. Since I am the only instrument mistakes cannot be hidden like doing a live show with a band. Once the basic tracks are down, then adding the colors and flavors of extra sounds, instruments is easy and more fun, then one can experiment.

I was good to remember I am a musician, not a corporate spoke on a wheel. Well, even though I am not that at the moment being unemployed in that field, but it will happen again at some point.

There was some technical problem today so we did not get as much done as we planned but, we did now headway. There are 10 song to record, we did the basics on 4. Also got a better idea on the fifth where to go with it.

We can knock off the rest tomorrow if things go ok with the equipment. Then do add ons and polishing on Wed and Thursday. What is cool is I almost get to play almost my full range of instruments, Bass, Acoustic Guitar & Electric which I rarely do, & Flute. Maybe I can even get a bit of keyboard time in on one tune.

So for the most part it is just me doing the music with some aid from computer drums and effects. I needed something good to be happening. It is a good break from life’s ordeals in dark times.

The new 6-String Bass I picked up is nice. I like it alot , it has a good feel. I hope to play with a band with it sometime time soon. The Keyboard player from The ConcordXpress still wants me to do some playing with them and do some thing beside just blues. Right now time is a factor on practicing being it’s sailing season, but perhaps during the winter.

Anyway the Cd for the play is suppose to be ready by the end of Sept, so there is only a few weeks left to finished the music and all the sound effects for the story done and mastered. It would be great of it sells. The story is really good it is called “The Redeemer”.

I saw the cover art today as well, an oil painting by some awarded self taught artist. It fits the story which is kind of dark. It is about a physic who helps with a police investigation.