Thursday, March 29, 2007

35, the New 27

Bday Weekend Redux

Ride 60 miles on bike.
Take well deserved afternoon nap.
Unwrap presents from Lisa: New paper cutter! Art supplies!
Find card from Lisa's folks.
Read messages and emails from friends and family.
Dine at Range in the Mission.
Visit City Art gallery on Valencia.
Visit Therapy further down Valencia.
Find Seonna Hong's Animus
Find Glenn Barr's Haunted Paradise
Find more art supplies from Joanne Fabrics Superstore.
Unpack and clean living room and kitchen.
Catch squirrel eating out from bird feeder.
Cook BBQ dinner with Lisa.
Watch Babel.
Fall asleep before midnight.

Examine the evidence:


Speaking of having a bit more time to read nowadays, I thought this might be a good place to link or mention the best articles, shorts and essays I've read during the week:

Still homeless Berkeley man makes documentary about other Berkley homeless

Interview with Aesop Rock on composing music for "jogging and f--king"

Marc Bamuthi Joseph's take on Rilke's 'Letter to a Young Poet' (from Total Chaos), which reminded me of one of my most favorite ever essays written of all time, Dario Robleto's 'I Love Everything Rock and Roll (Except the Music)'.


Speaking of Babel, I've decided to keep a running tally of recommended media listed on the left. I'm listing Babel because of its haunting effect. I've been thinking about it lots since the weekend. And that's good, kinda like discussing 2005's WTF thriller Cache - some of its value is the post-viewing discussion and pondering.

Babel is imperfect and at times frustrating. Some key actions taken by characters don't make a lot of sense, at least according to the characters' development up to that point. (Vacation in the middle of BFE? Children of responsible parents shooting at tour buses? Running from Border Patrol? C'mon, man.) But its strengths (the story in Japan, especially) far outweigh its faults. So there. It's made the list:

The Departed
Pan's Labyrinth

Friday, March 23, 2007

Riding Bikes Makes Me Hungry

The best thing about the train commute? The time to write. Sometimes it just gets juicy like a tight leg muscle that needs a stretch.

Anyhow, most of my imaginings lately have not had any product to show for it. I'm training for the Grizzly Peak Century in May and having to think about training rides, considering traffic, safety, weather, time of day, whether I can hitch a ride with the local weekend SF-LA AIDSLifeCycle training group. Even with all the miles I've been putting in lately, I haven't considered "destination" until a colleague asked "Where are you going?"

Everything in distance for me is compared to driving from my mom's house in San Diego to LA, then from LA to SF. This weekend's ride of 60 miles would be like riding past San Clemente. Holy Cow!

Here's some pics from a training ride a few weeks ago:


About the previous post and book selection... So it turns out that I've accepted a position at work with the software development team. I'll be a software tester / quality assurance engineer. An engineer! Who would've thunk? Interesting times ahead.


And speaking of books, I just picked up Total Chaos, a collection of essays on hip-hop edited by Jeff Chang. It's mentioned in the book, but it's worth repeating that as kids from the '70s and '80s have advanced in their academic and professional careers, it is not all that surprising that a kind of hip-hop literati has developed. The opening: What you hold in your hands is not another book about rap music. This is about hip hop. ... To which I say, Hell Yes!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Boredom Makes Me Hungry

Mt. Diablo is already starting to brown. It isn't even April. Last year at the same time, the Bay Area had record rainfall. Two straight months of rain, it seemed. Today, it is perfect. Toasty inland and crisp on the Bay, its sea breeze shooing away the smog that'd been sitting on the horizon earlier this week. Having crossed the country by train during the holidays, I'm now convinced that there's no place else I'd rather live, high cost of living and all.

I used to dis the Way East Bay burbs (east of the hills) when I lived out here last. But I suppose I've gotten older and can now appreciate the quietness, the trees and grass, the forested buffer of Lamorinda separating home and work, the time to read, daydream or simply veg out on the train. I grew up in San Diego and I guess a return to the burbs was an eventuality. The Way East Bay with its abundant sun and warmth. I hadn't thought about it much in recent years until a conversation with a fellow melanin-blessed coworker a few months back. I was lamenting bike training under a hot sun. "C'mon, man," he said, "We thrive in that kind of weather."

And I suppose he's right, at least far as my seasonal affective disorder goes. Running and being active again in recent years has taught me a valuable lesson: Forget fashion. Forget image. I'm stuck with the body I was born with. No good running in the wrong shoes or riding a bad-fitting bike. What that translates to in the world outside fitness is ... is ... uhh ... well, heck, I lost my train of thought... .

April will mark 10 years of having left the home I grew up in for the Bay Area. When I think about it, I hear Gang Starr's "The Planet" in my brain. I would copy the lyrics here, but Guru is all about delivery and the words look ridiculous on page. But here's a sample.


Anyhow, Lisa's taking me to see Barak Obama at an Oakland rally this afternoon. I haven't caught the bug, but it's interesting to observe how it infects others around me. Maybe it's pent-up frustration from the last seven years. Like a sunny day between storms in late winter. Everyone eager to re-engage.


I usually find computer tech books pretty dry. Even those "How Something Something Work" books with a bunch of graphics. Even those for music software and programming put me to sleep. But lately, I've been reading a book on software testing and quality assurance for work. And I swear, for the first time, I actually look forward to picking it up whenever I have a free moment. Granted, it's a beginner/intermediate book, but what does it mean when it keeps me up at night turning the pages? What does it mean when I lust for more books on the subject like this one? ... Will have to re-visit this thought ... .

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Balancing Act

We did it! This week, it was a four-way tie between moving, music, training and art! Great progress with each! Saturday, got another 14-foot U-Haul packed and moved over. Sunday, had a wonderfully hilly (like achingly beautiful) 4-hour training ride. Then afterward, I met up with Dawgisht at his place in Alameda to jam for a bit.

Here are a couple highlights. I'm on the cuts and he's on the beats.

- sloppy oz
- aw, hidit

It was a good session. Needed to focus on what worked best. So instead of the laptop and keyboard shown earlier, I'll be running the standard two-turntables and mixing and cutting over Dawgisht's beats.

Then just today, the sky opened and I made two sales at the shop in one day! (The Boom-Bap and Perhaps Sutro Tower prints.) I am so totally psyched! You know how coaches are reminding players to "act like they've been there before" when making a great play? Well, forget that. I'm doing an endzone dance right now.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Move Sump'n!

Welp, turns out that art and music practice won this stage of the moving process. Made my second sale then felt the compulsion to set up my music gear and practice.

Sale no. 2, The Boom-Bap:

(Note: The shop record lists the Perhaps tower, but this was due to my own clerical/listing error.)

My music gig set-up:

Technics1200, Rane ttm56, Alesis NanoVerb, Dell Latitude running Acid Music and Reason, M-Audio Ozone, Behringer Eurorack.

Admittedly, performing loop-based music can be underwhelming. The turntable and keyboard are there to add live instrumentation. Plus, Dawgisht will be there with his infamous Commodore Amiga to stir in more funk.

Anyhow, it's been a good while since I did any self-promotion for my music. Nowadays, I have to clarify that I'm the "DJ Stoic" with the hip-hop discography. And Hip-Hop Slam's Billy Jam is a stone-cold hustler (plus, never has to clarify who he is) who's been able to get some of my tracks on Just goes to show that nothing ever dies in the digital age. H-U-S-T-L-E-R, Hustler. Like Ice-T says.

Lastly, I just had to share this one. Being out in the way East Bay means stunning views of the surrounding hills and mountains. This is what Mt. Diablo looked like yesterday morning (photo from