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Current Music:Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Subject:All Titles Should Be Like This One
Time:06:27 pm
Current Mood:ambivalent
So I originally bought Guitar Hero III back in October I considered myself decent. Didn't bother with the easy levels. Went straight through medium and on to Hard (which I still have a gig or two left to complete). Expert was the goal, obviously, but once the new game stigma began to wore off I found I was only pulling out the dusty guitar whenever friends were around. Concerning Expert, I was only able to claim 4 entire songs, all from the first gig, before getting booed one too many times to warrant any further practice. It ain't for the weak handed. And at that point I probably was. Besides, I still had tracks on Hard to beat.

Enter the piano.

When I first got it in January I was horrible. I couldn't remember a single song I knew in high school. Not even the songs I had to rigorously practice after class for those damn competitions! But it's not all bad news and a condition I jokingly refer to as genetic stubiness in the fingers. Once I looked through some memorable sheet music some of it started coming back to mind. Not all of them...maybe not even half. Once I had the sheet music it was also easier to pick up again, as I felt myself fumbling into old melodic rhythms and what not.

So now I make it a point to practice everyday, usually as soon as I get home from work. I last finished a couples pieces I used to know from H.S. - a sonatina from Kuhlau and another sonatina from Muzio. I'm currently into the second page of the Zanarkand Theme courtesy of good ol' FFX and am also trying to figure out the notes of a Castlevania track (Dance of Pales).

But I suppose that wasn't the point, now was it. Because after all how does this have anything to do with Guitar Hero? Well I certainly didn't see it at first, but the 25 songs I recently beat on Expert, mostly on first attempts, including Sunday Morning and Don't Speak from No Doubt (which I had recently learned offered three tracks from Tragic Kingdom), has got me wondering if I don't have a little bit of that focus back. Ha!
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Current Music:Viva La Vida - Coldplay
Subject:What Next?
Time:11:14 pm
Current Mood:tired
Just finished re-reading On The Road. Maybe re-read is the wrong term. I remember having the assignment in college and reaching vaguely somewhere around part 2 or 3. In any case I don't remember the ending so I was kinda amazed to be sympathizing for a character who's low class in appearance and mentality seemed to outweigh the fact that he had just left his best friend in a delirious haze in Mexico.

But now I need a new book. Nothing big or hard-covered. It tends to weigh down the bag in which riding in the street to work becomes something of a fight for stability while sliding between parked and moving cars. Speaking of which, I finally took my car in, having no choice but to use it Tuesday as I didn't feel up to facing the wind on my bike in low 40 degree weather. On the way back from work the day before the tachometer cut out completely and I had no choice but to make it to an auto shop over on Western and Bryn Mawr (I had intended to go to Sears). Today I got the damage. $420 for the alternator, belt, and an oil change. At least I have a back up now (I still plan on biking to work).

But back to the point...I hadn't mentioned it last time but I found a used bookstore on Lincoln (a couple doors down from the Davis theater) I had been passing on the way to and from work. I stopped by last Friday and entered what I later thought up as the antithesis to Borders. Inside was impossibly cramped, brimmed with books everywhere vaguely grouped by subject. It reminded me somewhat of R.O.D. I twisted through old wooden shelving and eventually found my way to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, East of Eden (Steinbeck), More Die of Heartbreak (Saul Bellow), and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (but only because, I decided, I still hadn't seen the film version and so figured I was more likely to read the book). I suppose I need a haunt and that'll do.
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Current Music:Pixies - Where Is My Mind
Subject:Titles Are Overrated
Time:02:41 pm
Current Mood:contemplativecontemplative
Took a ride down the lake to Navy Pier. Instead of using Lincoln to cut a line to the lake front I just went down Addison. Almost went farther than the Pier when I got there but decided to head back. The sky looked ominously rain-filled and I wanted to try and find a spot to read, figuring that the closer to home I was the less I could be affected by scattered showers. I stopped along the steps at the waters edge by Diversey and took out a book. Within 20 minutes I saw a droplet hit the page and leave a faint mark. I got up and noticed the back of my shirt drenched in sweat staining the rock underneath (I was also wearing a sweater). On the way back it started to pour but only for a moment before the sun came back out and I had cursed myself for leaving too soon. I also forgot to stop at Garrett's to pick up the cheesiest popcorn in the world.

I came the same way back, flying down Addison until I got to Broadway and saw a family of four biking alongside parked cars. I wouldn't have minded too much except the two kids in tow couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 years old. Who lets their kids bike in the street...on Addison, no less. It's not like there's a painted bike lane specifically for them. Anyway...

Came home, read some more and suddenly started feeling nostalgic, right around the part when Sal, Dean, and Marylou are leaving Ed, Galatea, and Old Bull Lee in New Orleans (On The Road - Kerouac). I thought about what happened to the people I used to know at college. Wondered at what Wu, Carlson, Ritchie, Stanislav and a host of others were doing in their lives. Had they gotten far from Champaign? I started rifling through old notes. I transferred everything from my old desktop onto here but had yet to make any kind of organizational sense from all of the untitled text documents. Of course there was also the handwritten notes I'd written down all throughout that last year, I have a shopping bag full of old papers, not to mention that some of the aforementioned untitled text documents were also an accumulation of stuff I had written in the from the past five-six years.

Then I started thinking about all of the random conversations with the UFF9/Q9D'ers. Where are all of these people now? It seems strange that I could have ever crossed the paths of those people but the proof is there. Seems ages ago and now I don't even know what happened.
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Current Music:Weird Fishes - Radiohead
Subject:38% Remaining
Time:06:30 pm
So I've had Direct TV for about a week and a half (I'm purposefully not counting the original first week that unexpectedly resulted in the DVR/HD box shutting down for no reason). As such I haven't really been keeping track of what I was recording for the future (things that looked cool at the time but I really have no intention of ever watching) and I hadn't even bothered to look at what was already on the menu. Nor did I see how much of the memory I had ran though. Needless to say, it was more than enough...
These are some of the things that you can currently find on the DVR:

Saved By The Bell (2 eps)
Catch and Release
Big Love
Farce of the Penguins
Flags of Our Fathers
Monster House
Let's Go To Prison
Reservoir Dogs
Everything Is Illuminated
16 Blocks
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Alpha Dog
Trust the Man
Disturbing Behavior
Spin City (4 eps)
Mad TV (2 eps)
Sex Is Comedy
Family Guy
Robot Chicken
Grandma's Boy
The Grace Lee Project
American Dreamz
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Running With Scissors
Strangers With Candy
Making of Sweeney Todd

So what do I get rid of first?
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Current Music:I Don't Wanna Be In Love (Dance Floor Anthem) - Good Charlotte
Subject:Old Fools Used To Be Young Fools
Time:10:23 am
Current Mood:contemplativecontemplative
No need to preface this with a thought about where time went. We all know what happened. It hasn't been more than a couple months but it seems like years, etc.  Anyway, I moved out. Finally...yes, I know. It's been too long. But yeah, I used to live on Wolcott...and now I live on Wolcott. But, I am separated by a few miles of city roads and establishments...and a graveyard.

And I'm glad I put in a decent effort into searching because there were some places that almost became chosen that would've sucked to inhabit. I'd say the majority of places we looked at usually had one bedroom that was accurate to what was in the description and one that was horribly off. The runt never had a closet...or windows...or decent ceiling space. But this place has all of that...and a separate dining room. Only moved in a couple of weeks ago so painting hasn't been started but so far everything is coming together

I've also made another permanent decision. The mustache is going...forever. I'm tired of it. Not that I need to look younger or anything. Speaking of which, the woman who leased our place to us thought I was 19. A Skokie cop that pulled me over a couple weeks ago (first time for everything, I guess) thought I was still in school. If there's any upside to this, it's that I think I'm going to still retain some youthful charm...maybe even into my 50's/60's, heh. Now let's see how well I can use this 'charm'.

By the way, first snow of the new season. Looks serene quietly falling outside the window, angled by the wind.
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Current Music:N.E.R.D. - Find My Way
Subject:25 For My 25
Time:08:02 pm
Current Mood:Eh?
I've never heard of the phrase 'Golden Birthday' before but I learn that it's when the numeral day of birth and the actual day coincide. I found it interesting and even more so that I can actually enjoy it in my twenties as opposed to say, being one and not remembering anything at all. Though I suppose I have to be realistic, since it doesn't actually mean anything, after all. Maybe it's just a ploy by Hallmark to market more specialized birthday cards.

But anyway, we went out to PF Changs and I had Cantonese Roasted Duck. For the most part I couldn't get over the feeling that it was never going to be 'golden' as it does when you're a kid. For the past few years my celebratory mood has been on a slippery slope, quickly descending until there's no more hurrah left. I remember my past birthdays always being accompanied by a sinking feeling. The anticipation was always too much...as you see the day getting closer and closer we all used to get that tinge of excitement because as children we all know what happens with the typical U.S. birthday. The promise of whatever's coming next. Now, I don't feel remotely like that...but I sure wish I would. I'd give anything to feel like a kid again.

But who knows...the flip side to all of this is that there's hope and optimism...that all the best days haven't been printed on our individual calendars yet. I don't know what humanity would be like if we didn't hope wasn't a concept we had to exploit.

Anyway, this week also happens to coincide with our Marketing Expo at McCormick Place. I just got back a little while ago and I'm horribly tired  from standing around on what I later discovered to be a plastic sole in my left shoe (I forgot to remove it yesterday after I bought the pair). Genius!
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Current Music:The Shins - Turn On Me
Time:05:39 pm
Current Mood:accomplished
Today I finished what was beginning to look like an unfinishable task when I reached the final page in 'Wait Until Spring, Bandini' by John Fante. When it's all put together it's really nothing more than an impoverished Italian immigrant family living in Boulder, CO during what I suspect must be either mid-twenties or early 1930's. It's somewhat similar to Bukowski in its bleak characterization and certainly lives up to the era it was named for.

Which now means I have 14 books sitting on the small table under the window (just bought a James Joyce novel I thought I had, though failed to realize that I had sold it back in college...it was probably only worth a couple dollars) and if I planned to finish them all by years end it would systematically even out to a book a week until '08. Two of them don't have conventional punctuation (or any to speak of), another two I was already 150 pages into before it was shelved for other pieces (not quite sure specifically what it was, though), eight of them have film adaptations (a couple successful in both mediums, a couple that failed horribly in film, one that's actually part of a six-part comic and another that was best left alone on the page), and one of them was written by the guy who was supposed to write the script for Halo that not surprisingly fell through. Guess we'll see how this turns out...
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Current Music:Barry Bonds - Kanye West
Subject:SoundScan Building Chart Data as of Sept. 12
Time:06:44 pm
Current Mood:accomplished
As of September 12, 2007 Graduation has sold about 437,000 copies in the United States.[4]

As of September 12, 2007, Curtis has sold about 310,000 copies in the United States.[8]

On its first day, Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates sold 107,000 copies, and is expected to sell 300,000 copies in its first week, expected to debut at #3.

Now I only include Mr. Chesney's data since he did sort of put himself in the middle of that feud by calling them both out...but doesn't that just bring a smile to your face? And even if 50 canceled the bet I'm sure there's going to be a small crowd that'll hold him to his word. Having listened to both albums I can definitely say Graduation sounds a lot better than Curtis. As usual, I like Kanye the most when he's being truthful (or at least one hopes), and it's on the album's closing track, Big Brother, that his ode to Jay Z comes through. It's a lot like 'Last Call' from The College Dropout. In any case, there isn't a track on that CD I wouldn't mind listening to (except maybe that slow one with Mos Def).

Speaking of CDs I went back and gave another listen to The Shins: Wincing the Night Away. It was a lot better the second time.
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Time:12:21 am
Current Mood:Hmm...
I just flew through Ask The Dust, which arrived in the mail yesterday. Fante really is something, though. I can see why Bukowski felt that charge when he first read it so many years ago. They both have similar styles and like to appreciate the lives of drifters who can occasionally knock out the short story to pay the rent (only $6 in 1939, if you can believe that!). Yet, whereas Bukowski really likes to hit the low points...the bar flies soaking up their contempt for life through their livers in beer mugs and pint glasses and the cheap women that follow them...Fante almost follows a similar path, but his anger/confusion seems rooted in his heritage (well, maybe Bukowski does the same). I guess if anything, Fante's prose doesn't allow for nearly enough hatred of man like Bukowski does. I'll have to find more of his writing tomorrow (today).
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Current Music:When Your Mind's Made Up - Once
Subject:My Weekend
Time:09:28 pm
Current Mood:Huh?
Saw The Simpson's Movie at a midnight screening last Friday morning. There were seriously about thirty minutes of advertisements and previews, none of which were really engaging (I don't know who thought Alvin and The Chipmunks needed an upgrade but I think it just might make the list of worsening Christmas movies, right there behind Deck the Halls and Jingle All the Way). It was alright...not as groundbreaking like South Park when it got turned into a film but not as corny as TMNT.

Then I saw Sunshine yesterday. I was expecting something similar to Event Horizon (Sci-Fi flick from the 90's) and it was...yet not really on the scary side. It was about a group of 7 astronauts that travel to the sun in order to 're-ignite' it (and I only use italics to emphasize the myriad of scientific terminology that could dutifully explain the plot). Along the way they encounter the crew from the first mission that failed to do the job seven years earlier. Anyway, it could almost be confused with a teen slasher film since it follows a similar design. Though, with Sunshine the threat is more subtle.

And I didn't mention it last time but I picked up a PS3 a couple weeks ago. Figuring I'd rather pay for a $499 60gb machine than $599 for a 80 gb machine, I put up the cash, though I specifically chose not to buy a product insurance place, something the checkout lady didn't seem to pleased with. She kept inquiring as to how I could possibly pay $500 for something that could break in a month. When the second check out lady came over to basically ask the same thing I responded asking if there had been an influx of returned/broken PS3's. There weren't, and I happily walked out of the store. So far it's been nothing like what some bloggers have chosen to describe the black box. I could probably venture to say that it's not as user friendly as the Xbox is, but that remains to be seen once Sony releases its 'Sony Home' product. I like Ninja Gaiden and Resistance: Fall of Man reminds me of when I bought my PS2 and a copy of TimeSplitters...both were/are good FPS titles, and the online aspect is as much fun as anything Xbox live has (too bad there's no gamerscore). F.E.A.R. is also turning out to be a cool 'only play at 3am' type of game where they tactically use cheap scares (like Eternal Darkness, just not as much). Unfortunately, I also picked up this other game, Genji, which is turning out to be a mistake.

Also finished Dogeaters earlier today...I need a new book to start. I could wait until Ask the Dust comes in tomorrow, but Last Exit To Brooklyn looks lonely sitting there being unread...
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