VH1's Worst Week Ever

So I got into a car accident the other day. Yeah yeah, I know what you're thinking, yet another collision. It seems that whenever I decide to have some sort of foray away from LA, I run into car troubles (note my post right before I took off for the Philippines)

Given that I had just finished 2 weeks straight of 12 hour work days, I figured I'd have enough of a happy paycheck to finally pay for all those repairs I needed on good ol' Markmobile (I'm not very original when it comes to naming cars). So I had the brakes and tires changed, and finally figured out why the service engine light was on for the past few weeks (and it cost me about $200 to fix). Things are looking good, I had another huge paycheck coming my way, and it was all going to go towards replenishing my savings and setting aside funds for when I make the big move.

Cue a garbage truck. Parked in front of my driveway. Now here comes me, trying to maneuver around it. Seems like an easy enough task. I'm careful, I check traffic on both sides, but what I don't realize is that I'm turning too sharply, and before I know it I'm driving into those forklifts that lift dumpsters. Luckily, it only hit the corner of my door and near my windshield, creating a huge dent, a bent door, and a shocked me.

Doesn't look too bad from the picture, but it's the nature of the damage that makes it the most painful. Had the lifts missed the door and went through the door and window only instead, it would be a simple matter of replacing the door. But take into account the huge dent on the body, and now the whole left side of the car has to be replaced. Then again, had it missed the door and went through my (open) window, my face could have been sliced off by a huge sharp piece of metal.

But at least I wouldn't have had to pay $1,900 to fix my car, right?

So yeah, there goes my next paycheck, a good chunk of my savings, and some of my sanity out the (now very dented) door.

But I try to look at things in a positive light. I've been relegated to taking the bus to and from work as of late, but in all honesty it's not that bad. There's something oddly liberating about not having a car in LA, given the fact that car culture thrives here and getting around can be a bitch without a vehicle. But being car-less, I suddenly feel free of the possibility of parking tickets, moving violations, car accidents, traffic (to some extent), and yet more repairs. I mean, you drive to and from work, you turn on your ipod, you go on autopilot and you fail to notice the world around you. Sure, I've been driving through the streets of West LA for years now, but this is the first time in years that I feel like I've really experienced them.

But that all aside, yet another expense decides to slap me in the face. So remember a couple of weeks ago how my Sansa decide to die on me, leaving me mp3 player-less? Well I decided to start using my 4th generation ipod again, and it worked fairly well, until...

Ah, damn, dude, would you look at that. Even the animation of the dead ipod is hella sad.

Man, for me it always seems like when something in my life breaks, everything else decides to break down at the same time. Reminds me of the time my girlfriend broke up with me a while ago. The next day my rice cooker stopped working.

27 days.

"Come on Mark, lie to me, tell me everything's gonna be alright after graduation"


Seriously baby, it's me, not you

Dear Los Angeles,

Let me start off by saying that what we have shared together can never be replaced. I’ve spent the best years of my life with you, and I’ll always cherish all the memories. I mean, seriously, we’ve had some really amazing times together, and it all really means a lot to me.

But lately, I think there’s been something missing in my life.

You see, we’ve been going at this thing for nearly 5 years now. I remember when we first started this thing. It was something like September of 04, I think. Oh, I was so young then, so naïve. I remember in the beginning it was tough for us. I was reluctant of this whole thing at first, and even wanted to leave you. But we all go through that, don’t we? I couldn’t stand being around you, and took every opportunity to get away from you. But I stuck it out, and it was worth it. I eventually made peace with the fact that we were in it for the long haul, and gave you a shot. And I’ve turned out better for it.

But it’s not to say that we didn’t have our really dreadful, awkward, and dreadfully awkward moments. Sure, there are a few moments in the past 5 years that I would’ve done differently, you know, to make it easier on both myself and on others. But what’s done is done, and there’s no point in dwelling in what’s already happened. It would have been nice to avoid those really shitty moments, but hey, we can’t focus on the negative, right? I think we both came out of those situations understanding a little more about ourselves and what we had to offer each other.

And we’ve had our good times together too. A flurry of parties and concerts and get togethers and museum visits and restaurant hopping and club nights and even simple hang outs have left me experiences and exposure to sights and sounds I would have never known if I never met you. Remember those long nights at the dorms? I’d have to work till 5am, but that didn’t matter, cause we partied till the break of dawn anyway and didn’t care, cause we were still young and stupid and living our lives because we could. We would eat breakfast as soon as the sun rose, slept through the day and till the evening, and stated the whole process all over again. Good times, my friend, good times.

But that’s all beside the point. See, something changed after I graduated. I think it was the sudden realization that I had been doing this thing with you for a fairly long time now. I’m no stranger to people coming in and out of my life, but I don’t think anything prepared me for the mass exodus of people who had played some sort of role in what I had built with you from my life.

I figured I was lucky when I decided to stay with you for at least another year. I landed a good job, I live near my closest friends, and for a split second I almost felt like I could settle with you. But something inside me clicked. Blame facebook or other people’s blogs to give me the chance to snoop in and read about other people, but I realized something about some of those who had graduated with me. It seemed as though a lot of these people I had shared so much with moved on with their lives and were doing their own thing now. Big things or not, everyone seemed to be doing something different. Looking at people’s profiles and seeing them visit foreign countries, move to different cities and start new lives, or move back home and reunite with old friends left me thinking “me too.”

I thought it would be nice to have the best of both worlds, you know? Stay here with you, enjoy the life I had before while at the same time starting a new life in the workforce with no school to worry about. It really looked good on paper.

But it’s not enough. I feel like I could be doing so much more, could be experiencing so much more…

…and that’s why I’m leaving you, Los Angeles.

I’ve found somewhere new. You know this one, her name is Chicago.

I feel like I have so many more opportunities with Chicago than I currently have with you, Los Angeles. I mean, we’ve had good times together. Terrific times together! But right now, I feel like I haven’t moved on with my life since college ended. Day in, day out, even though I’m not in school anymore, just still being in Westwood is smothering.

But Chicago adds a whole new level of opportunity, uncertainty, and excitement to my life. I feel like there's a chance to experience something with Chicago that I just wouldn't be able to achieve with you, Los Angeles, and this something will definitely be worth it.

Maybe I just miss all the fun times I had with a lot of people who used to still be here. But it’s not like everyone I know is gone. I’m still having fun, and I love everyone who is still around, but at times I feel as if I’m still doing the same thing over and over and over, and to some people and groups I can only stay around for a cameo appearance before the uncomfortable unfamiliarity settles in.

So that’s why I must leave you, Los Angeles. Though our times together have been both memorable and fun, I must move on with my life. I feel as if I’ve outgrown you, and I will only be able to mature if I find a change of scenery. I feel as if being with Chicago will give me that chance.

In all honesty, it was me, not you, Los Angeles. Please don’t take offense in this. I simply feel like I need some time away from you.

I don’t know much about Chicago, but I hear she can be cold sometimes, especially to newcomers. I’m sure she’ll warm up to me eventually though.

"Have you ever lived on the East Coast or the Midwest? No? Ha-ha, ha-ha, you're gonna freeze, you're gonna freeze"


this worthless piece of...

So once again, I must must mourn the passing of a product of mine, this one slightly more annoying and much less expected.

As a self-proclaimed music geek, I have this penchant to always having my music around with me in portable form. When my ipod died last year, I researched and discovered the Sansa View 16gb player. It got pretty good reviews, and as a 16gb player for less than $100, it was a pretty much a steal.

But alas, "you get what you pay for-itis" decided to rear its ugly head, and much like clockwork, poor ol' sansa decided to die on me today. At first, I thought it was just the battery at first, or perhaps it was experiencing another one of its signature hiccup freezes (more on this later).

But no, turns out my sansa breathed its last song (Hung up on my baby by Isaac Hayes, fyi), and once again I was left with a dead mp3 player. The timing couldn't be any better either, especially since I'm driving 6 hours home tomorrow.

What a waste, he didn't even die for a cause.

So maybe it's because I bought it refurbished, or it's because I dropped it once on my hardwood floor, but come on. I bought my ipod refurbished, and dropped it on the sidewalk multiple times, and that thing served me for a good 2 or 3 years.

But I guess it was an inferior product to begin with. The sound quality was quieter than other models I have experience with, and along with sluggish menu navigation, sometimes the whole machine would just freeze and malfunction if you pressed the next button.

In other words, DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT.

So now I'm on the market (and I'm looking for an MP3 player too). Anyone have any suggestions where I should start? I like the physical size of the ipod nano, but 16gb just isn't enough (unless there's expandable memory), and I've since been spoiled with video playback.

In other news, since I officially made the announcement to move to Chicago, I've heard nothing but bad things about the city. It didn't worry me too much, until Yahoo came out with an article stating that Chicago is the 3rd most miserable city to live in.

Aw come on. You've gotta be kidding me. But still, I say eff it. The very thought of Chicago-style pizza (over there, they just call it pizza) being readily available is enough to nullify any survey and article put on by any reputable national news site.

36 days.

"Watch yo' back skank, or i might have to start spreading rumors... juicy juicy rumors. Have a great day =) *HIGH FIVE*"


A Retrospect

15 Years Ago: 1994
1. My favorite cartoon to come home to after school was Gargoyles (I distinctly remember this because the show would always refer to 1000 years in the past, which was incidently 994
2. I still lived in Union City
3. I was currently in 2nd grade, about to go into 3rd grade, which was also when I switched from public school to Catholic
4. My brother and I used to tie our skateboard to my bike with a rope, and we would ride around the neighborhood while he sat on the skateboard and I pulled with the bike. How no one got hurt, I have no idea.
5. My Grandma would spend the weekdays taking care of us, while we would spend the weekend at her house in San Francisco. When there, we would always watch the same tapes over and over (because they were the only ones there): A poorly dubbed version of National Lampoon's Vacation, Home Alone 1 and 2, Angels in the Outfield, and a 3 Stooges tape with 3 episodes on it.

10 Years Ago: 1999

1. I was in 7th grade, wore schoo uniforms, and had the reputation as the loud mouth in the back of the class; my teacher did not like me
2. I got braces - it also gave me something in common with my crush
3. I also experienced my first rejection from said crush
4. I would hustle Super Nintendo games from Blockbuster and Wherehouse by renting games and changing the labels of more expensive games with cheaper games, and return the cheaper ones with the labels of the more expensive games
5. I also used to hustle my classmates. My brother would buy cheap/fake stuff from Mexico like "Rolex" watches and ninja stars. That practice would eventually get me expelled from Catholic school.

5 Years Ago: 2004

1. I graduated from high school and moved to Los Angeles for college
2. I joined a student group that serviced high school students (PREP); this particular group would consume my life for the next four years
3. I first experienced living away from home, and even got homesick
4. I met new friends from all over the world, and lost touch with others. Reality hit me when I realized that there were people I would probably never see again in my life.
5. I had my first drink, my first drunken rant, and my first blacking out. All three were with my parents.

3 Years Ago: 2006

1. My Grandpa died, and my Grandma starting having major health problems. She moved out of our house for the first time in 6 years.
2. I traveled to Japan with my high school jazz band. I also performed my last piano solo ever with them, since I don't think we'll ever all be playing together again.
3. I arguably had the best summer of my life, which lasted until November 18. We had partied every weekend since the summer up until that point, which was my 20th birthday. I blacked out at 11:45 that night. The party lasted till 4am.
4. I had four different living situations in a span of four months.
5. I still thought hyphy was a legitimate genre of music (I'm not hatin', my style has just matured)

2 Years Ago: 2007

1. I first experienced living alone.
2. For a quarter, my days consisted of class straight from 11am-5pm, meetings from 5-8, and work from 9pm-5am.
3. I first moved to BMV Properties, where I still am today.
4. I finally turned 21, and celebrated thusly.
5. My parents moved away from Hayward, where I had spent most of my days. Home began to feel less and less familiar to me, and I made fewer trips back north.

1 Year Ago: 2008

1. After a long fought battle from dimensia, and being bedridden for 7 months, my grandmother passed away at 90. It was the first time I had cried in years.
2. I went through that obligatory college senior year panic, not sure of what I was going to do after I was released from the confines and comforts of university life.
3. I was the first of my brother and sister and cousins to graduate from college.
4. Started working full time for the first time, and quelled all my post-college jitters. I even missed it for a while.
5. I went to the Philippines for the first time. Had a hell of an experience.

This Year: 2009

1. I officially got sick of intellectual pretention.
2. I found myself to be the one telling "those kids" to "keep it down" because I have to go to work in the morning
3. I bought the Ronco Rotisserie (set it and forget it) and have already cooked some form of ever domesticated animal already
4. As of today, I still haven't seen any of my family members in 2009
5. Reality hit me again when I once again realized that there are alot of people I knew and met in college that I may never see again


1. I made a southwestern pork loin, roasted potatoes with rosemary, sangria, and lemon garlic vegetables for dinner
2. I got to "sleep in" till 7am
3. I wrote the address of my cousin in Spain on a postcard I was going to send to her. I've been meaning to send her something for the past 5 months. I'm such a procrastinator.
4. I discovered that all the clubs in Los Angeles are overrun with guys. When will I learn my lesson? I'm really not into clubbing.
5. I told my friends about my decision to go to DePaul University for a grad program in Geographic Information Systems, in Chicago. I'll be leaving Los Angeles in 6 weeks.


1. I had to go back to Ralph's because I planned on making spinach dip and had bought every ingredient yesterday but spinach.
2. I began what would be the first of many sessions of packing up my belongings to bring home. The moving my life out of LA is going to be a logistical nightmare.
3. Had a potluck dinner with my roommate and floormate from first year.
4. I started playing my DS again, mostly because I have scoured the internet for interesting articles enough for the past week.
5. I discovered how to sync non-ipod mp3 players with itunes. I hate the Apple Corporation, but damn, they do make good products.


1. I Will be going to work at 8...whooo I get to sleep in
2. I will probably drop my car off at the shop, now that I can afford all the repairs.
3. I will be eating leftover bbq chicken for lunch!
4. I will watch I Love Money on VH1 at 9
5. I will am probably going to continue packing up my life into easy to move boxes.

If you could go back 10 years in time and meet yourself back then, but only get 5 minutes to speak to yourself, what would you say?
"Dude, she's not worth it. And by the way, here's a recipe for some kick-ass spinach dip. You'll win many hearts with this."

Maybe I'll try and post this up on facebook and make it the new "25 things" thing that everyone seems to be tagged in nowadays.

Also, yeah, make this my official announcement: I'm leaving LA in 6 weeks.

"don't wanna end up pulling my hair out...even though I don't got no hair"


Professionally Doing It Live

People blow up all the time, going off on tirades spewing curse words left and right, mostly left. It's normal and it happens.

But when celebrities do it, with the help of creative editing, hilarity ensues (NSFW):

(look for Christian Bale's original rant yourself).

Sure, most clips online are taken out of context, twisted, laughed at, then later remixed, and laughed at some more. It seems that no celebrity caught on tape is immune to this, including this guy (also NSFW):

Barack Obama is tired of your motherfucking shit.

These little snips of the president with his, not so presidential language are excerpts from his audiobook. I'm not sure what the context is, but when taken out of said unknown context, more hilarity ensues.

"keep eating burritos, you're gonna start looking like a burrito"


#1 On My Charts Part 5

Classical Overtures
Classical Music. That which defines musicality, composed by those whose last names you probably couldn’t pronounce or spell, and the basis of much of our music today. Now, I’m no classical music snob who will sneer at the thought of anything that was composed in the past couple of decades, but I would say that 12 years of piano lessons and enrollment in the high school band and orchestra has allowed me to develop some sort of appreciation for this music. So I’ll admit, that I was one of those kids who didn’t listen to anything but classical music for a while, and even in high school, the majority of the CDs I would put in danger of playing out were those of the orchestral nature.
What’s also great about classical orchestral music (and instrumental music in general) is that it requires solely on the music itself to convey feeling and emotion. For many songs in which the singer is featured, the background music becomes a footnote, there to fill the gap while the singer takes a breath or sip of water. In classical orchestral music, the music is the melody and there ain’t no stopping to catch your breath (except in opera. But unfortunately I dislike opera – sorry.)
I know not many people can really appreciate the sheer artistic effort that is exuded in these pieces. In many ways, classical music is an acquired taste that grows better with age, not unllike wine, cheese, or even old comedy routines.
Would I call this my favorite genre? Hard to say. I think string quartet tributes to popular groups such as Radiohead or Incubus are crap, and there only a few “orchestral” renditions of more modern music that are actually pulled off fairly well (refer to the orchestral version of ‘Fountain of Dreams’ or the rendition of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ for an example of decent renditions that were translated well onto the 80 strings format).
Collaborations are cool too:

(That’s Cypress Hill, supposedly. And apparently there’s no youtube link to the English version of this scene, sorry. That’s illegal. The scary part for me is that I know exactly what they’re saying without having to translate it at all)

#1 On My Charts Pt. 5 - Classical Overtures

Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto 2: Moderato Allegro
Man, Rachmaninoff had huge hands. If you’ve ever listened to any of his works, you’ll hear chords that are even bigger than 12ths. How the man managed to play what he wrote, I have no idea.

It is rumored that this piece would be impossible to play with only two hands, so the above method is the only way you can actually hear the song as it was written. If you ever see someone play it live, then they’re most likely dropping some notes for the sake of the actual reach of their hands.
But this wasn’t the track that’s on my favorites list. Though the one I featured up in the playlist is still pretty awesome.

Prokofiev – March from ‘The Love for Three Oranges'
Marches are fun to play and to listen to. Alongside with Pomp and Circumstance, this has to be one of my favorite marches.

Vitali – Chaconne
When this piece was written, it changed keys more liberally than most other music of its time (Baroque). And that’s what makes this piece wild for both its time, and ours.

Smetana – The Moldau
A friend of mine once said this sounded like something John Williams would compose. I’d say that was an insult to Bedřich Smetana.

Kozhevnikov – Slavyanskaya
Now here’s a fun track. I first heard this piece while playing for the UCLA Symphonic Band. And for the record, it does sound 10 times better in person.

Grand Russian Fantasia – Carnaval – Wynton Marsalis
I still haven’t figured out who originally composed this piece, but once again, I must feature Mr. Wynton Marsalis (he was on my jazz list too). Either way, this piece, which features the coronet, definitely showcases the talents of this man, proving that he can do more than jazz.

Shostakovich – Jazz Suite No. 2
I’m not normally a fan of waltz (and I sure as hell suck at dancing it), but there’s just something about this piece that really tugs at my heartstrings. That and it reminds me of something you’d hear while riding a Merry-Go-Round.

Ravel – Bolero
Anyone who knows this song will either love it for its dramatic and momentous buildup, or hate it because it is 13 minutes of the same line played over and over again, only louder. I rather enjoy the ever so slight crescendo.

Tchaikovsky – Waltz of the Flowers
Who doesn’t enjoy or know the Nutcracker Suite? My particular favorite part of this song is the call and response line with the strings and the winds.

Verdi – Grand March from Aida
I’m sure you’ve heard this song at some point in the past. The perfect piece for any pops orchestra.

Brahms – Hungarian Dance No. 5
Yes, Brahms also wrote the Lullaby too.

You wouldn’t expect any less from one of the three B’s. (Beethoven, Bach, Brahms)

Tchaikovsky – Slavonic March
Another score for Tchaikovsky on the list! Can you tell I enjoy the Slavic-influenced pieces?

Mussorgsky – Night on Bald Mountain
Thanks to Fantasia, this piece is almost always associated with the deepest, darkest, most evil, immoral, wicked, disgusting, loathsome, despicable, vile…
What was I describing again?

Sarasate – Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20
This particular recording features Itzhak Perlman, the world renowned violinist who played that second rate piece by John Williams at the inauguration. Oh wait! He didn’t play! That was a recording of him, while he pretended to play! This is still a good piece though.

Chopin – Prelude No. 15 in D Flat major (raindrop prelude)
Chopin has so many good pieces, and it’s difficult to choose only one. I first heard this song on the “Chopin and Champagne” CD, and it’s stuck with me ever since. And yes, I do realize this was the piece that was played on that Halo commercial.

Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue
One of the most popular pieces of contemporary times, and really, who doesn’t enjoy this song? Integrating jazz influences, this piece is especially exciting when heard live at the Hollywood Bowl (great show, by the way). Much popularity can be attributed to Fantasia 2000, or even those Southwest Airlines commercials.

Schubert - Symphony No. 8 in B minor ('Unfinished'), D. 759: Allegro Moderato
I’ve always wondered what else Schubert planned on adding to this piece. There were only two movements (most pieces have at least 3), and it wasn’t like he died or anything. He lived 6 years longer after he deemed this piece ‘unfinished.’

Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody
Again with the Slavic-influenced musical themes here. I think I enjoy this song because it reminds me of Tiny Toons. You know those sequences in which they would play instrumental music over Tiny Toon animations? Yeah, I think they used this piece once.

Yup, they did.

Grieg – The Death of Ase
Grieg is mostly known for his ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King,’ but this piece, also in the same suite, I think I enjoy more. The mountain king may be fierce, but this piece has heart.

Dvorak – From the New World
Doesn’t the first few bars of this song sound like Jaws? This is one of those really majestic pieces I really enjoy.

Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, 1st movement
The intro of the song is still my favorite. The way the pianist covers the whole keyboard in three chords is still amazing to me because I know I’m way too lazy to ever put up the effort to ever learn how to do that.

Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5
I once read that Shostakovich was commissioned by Lenin to compose music that would reflect the greatness of the Russian Revolution. People, I present to you the original Communist theme song.

Shostakovich – Galop
The best part of this song comes at 2:46, but lemme tell you, this piece is just as fun to play as it is to listen to.

Grieg - Concerto in A minor - allegro molto moderato
Would it be weird if I admitted I get shivers when I hear the first 26 seconds of the song?

Berlitz – Two Guitars
There have been many different variations of this Russian Gypsy folk song, some of them more cheesy than others (the Paul Mariat version? Bleh.)

Next time: My all time favorite Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Radiohead tracks

"Pomegranate juice? You are old."


Machine operated voice recognition is still a whiles away

Calling to pay my credit card bill
Scene: I’m outside of the building at work, which is in front of the bus yard (i.e.
lots of buses present)

Automated voice: Hello, please enter or say your card number
*enters card number*
Automated voice: Thank you. According to our records, this phone number you’re calling from is a number that is registered as you. Thank you for calling! If you would like to pay your balance, please say pay.
Me: Pay
Automated voice: Sorry I didn’t get that, could you say that again?
Me: Pay
AV: Your current balance is XXX. If you would like to pay by your bank card, please say bank card. If you would like to speak to a representative, please say representative. If you would like to hear your balance, please say balance.
Me: Bank card
AV: Your current balance is XXX. If you would like to pay by your bank card, please say bank card. If you would like to speak to a representative, please say representative. If you would like to hear your balance, please say balance.
Me: Bank card!
AV: Please say the amount you would like to pay, or say minimum balance to pay the minimum balance
Me: Minimum balance
AV: Sorry, I didn’t get that, could you say that again?
Me: Minimum balance
AV: Sorry, I didn’t get that again, could you repeat that again?
Me: Minimum balance!
AV: Sorry, I didn’t get that again, could you repeat that again? Or press 1.
*presses 1*
AV: Thank you. Your payment has been received. Your confirmation number is 5434. If you would like me to repeat this, please say re-
*bus honks*
AV: Thank you. Your payment has been received. Your confirmation number is 5434. If-
*bus honks*
AV: your confirmation number is 543-
*bus honks*
AV: your confirmation numb-
*bus honks*
AV: your conf-
*bus honks*
AV: your conf-
*bus honks*
AV: your conf-
Me: augh!
Call ended.

"Wait, that was an inside joke. You're not supposed to know what I'm talking about."