Monday, December 6, 2010

Want to see my crazy?

Click here to read the post on my website

I have so many feelings

Please click here to read this post on my website.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I don't wanna turn 25

I'm going to be 25 this week and I'm not excited about it. I really dislike birthdays, even to the point I wrote about it on my website. Feel free to head over and check it out right here!

And while you're at it, you're you're a blogger or blog reader, go ahead and subscribe to my rss feed! I'm going to get back into blogging regularly, hopefully every day if I can manage it :)

Engel out!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I hate AVC

In the town I grew up in there is a community college called Antelope Valley College. When I was young and attending this school, it was a great experience. The teachers were good, the students were decent, I had a blast and learned a bit.

Returning to this school to take some fun classes after earning a Bachelor's degree from a major university, I am shocked by how this place of "higher education" has turned into a cesspool of stupidity and senseless bureaucracy.

I now hate AVC. I know many people who attend the college currently or have in the fairly recent past feel the same. After dealing with some more senseless bureaucracy today I thought that maybe I should start a blog for people to come together on the subject.

In my mind this blog would be a place to indulge in some outright bitching and complaining, but to go one step further... building an army of students, staff, and faculty from different disciplines and backgrounds who want to enact change.

The domain is available, and I am seriously considering starting the site this week. I'm looking for COMMITTED contributors. If you or someone you know would be interested, please email me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Portland road trip, day 888888888

Antique stores, plus snow!!! We leave Oregon and make our way to Sacramento.

Stop in Weed and eat at a Burger King with a sweet girl working. We camp on a river in West Sacramento, and then more karaoke in a bar called THE BACK DOOR.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Portland road trip, day 7 part TWO

A continuation of day 7. Complete with disgusting moonpies, thrift stores, sucky motels, and drunken redneck karaoke! The heart of Oregon, revealed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Portland trip, Day 7, part ONE

Beginning the drive home we hit some bad weather and traffic out of Portland, but there was a lot of funny footage! Check out the first part of day 7, the drive from Portland to Medford.

Here is a tour of the house Tim and I were staying in, our favorite taco truck, a weird Denny's, Tim pooping, and my commentary on female gas station attendants in Oregon.

Also, the song in the beginning of the video is called "I'll Wait" by The Prids, off the forthcoming album Chronosynclastic , available June 11th on Velvet Blue Music. Tim and I had the pleasure of staying in the house of two of the members and their significant others (Tim's brother is dating the lovely bass player, Mistina.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Entire Ohm's Law set!

I played with my good buddy Tim's musical endeavor Ohm's Law while on our road trip. On the Friday we were in Portland we drove across the river to play at a old time soda shop called Pop Culture.

Someone caught the entire set and you can watch it here!(link)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why I have been neglecting you

Life has been busy lately. Unfortunately I haven't had much time to blog over here, I've been busy managing Moonfrye, a lifestyle network with over 2,000 members. I do a lot of blogging on that platform, so I would encourage anyone to check out the content there; hopefully I can scrape up some spare time to dedicate here.

As of tonight I am taking a week to take a road trip with one of my best friends. Tim Koza and I are going to be heading up to Portland to hang out with his brother. Along the way we will be spending time in San Francisco with my dear friend Sharon, camping at our favorite spot in Grant's Pass, and camping in Lake Shasta on our way back.

I'm super excited about this trip, it'll be great to be on the road again. I haven't really been out on the highway since the last time Tim and I went on tour nearly two years ago. And though this trip is just for pleasure and not a tour, we will be playing a couple shows in the Portland area.

I'll hopefully be vblogging a lot, so keep an eye out!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Social commentary in The Screwtape Letters

In 1942 C.S. Lewis published his groundbreaking work chronicling the discourse and strategizing between two demons bent on the destruction of a single man. Even for readers who did not attach themselves to Judeo-Christian worldview (let alone believe in the existence of demons), the book stripped away the pretensions of world culture and bluntly examined humanity through the eyes of an enemy.

Through the characters in The Screwtape Letters, Lewis goes to great length to expose the hypocrisy and double-speak in human relationships, especially between members of the same family. I believe the most relevant social ills the author illustrates is the disgust that an individual can feel towards his neighbors, finding small points of contention and then letting the mind extrapolate upon those to the point of something like class separation.

More than half a century after the first publication of the novel, the “over intelligizing” (yes yes, I made that up) of personal introspection has become our greatest downfall and biggest weak point. In a world (and specifically where I live in Southern California) where education is a commodity, many simply think rather that do. Over this past two weeks in which I read this book again, my biggest take away is not to merely ponder how to help the homeless, but to actually go volunteer at the local shelter; not to nearly talk about how wrong child abuse is, but to donate to reputable fostering organizations, etc. etc. etc.

I own a t-shirt from a band called Bane that bears the words “SEE FEEL THINK DO,” taken from a book with the same title.
I want to live that slogan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What are you falling in love with?

I'm not going to lie, college was hard for me. Not hard as in: "Oh, this class is really difficult I may not pass." More accurately, my college years were really hard for me. Full of imploding relationships, personal tragedies, beyond-unforseen circumstances, and... oh yes, SCHOOL. The last five years of my life have taught me to believe no one, scoff at hope, and love nothing.
But in the months following my graduation in May, life has gotten a little bit brighter. More time with family, more time with friends, more time traveling, more time staying in; most importantly though, I'm falling in love again.

I am falling in love with MUSIC. For the past 10 years, music has been my primary source of income, whether I'm playing, teaching, or on the road teching or managing, music is been my livlihood. Now, there is a certain danger in make your art you profession and turning your passion into a job--it tends to turn stale, changing from something you love and can't wait to do, to something you've been doing all day long. That's what happened to me.

Ironically, the best thing that's happened in this past year was getting fired (and wrongfully so) from a music store where I taught piano and keyboards. Teaching music was no long something I was stuck doing all day! I could now choose the students I taught, and once again do it in the comfort in my own home (where my mother and sister often bake treat for my students.) I can once again enjoy the light in a child's eyes when something just clicks.

The real light at the end of the tunnel is I'm beginning to play again. I have time to schedule daily practicing, working on getting back to the skill level that I worked years to attain. I'm beginning to write again, and I'm extremely happy with what is coming. I want to play every instrument I own, I want to join 540 bands, I want to make records, I want to play in front of people, with people, even in an empty room with headphones. I'm head over heels.

So, what are you falling in love with?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wrapping up Japan food

I know I've written a lot about the food in Japan, but that is honestly a big part of why I decided to take the trip.

Ironic as it sounds, the best cheeseburger I've ever had was in Tokyo. A little ways from Melissa's apartment in Yoga is a burger place called called Freshness Burger. We had eaten there earlier in the trip and it was awesome, but the day before we left Laura and I went back and got their double cheeseburgers. This small Asian chain produces the most delicious cheeseburgers I've ever had. Priced at roughly $8, this double cheeseburger blew restaurant burgers out of the water, served in a comfortable cafe/fast food style atmosphere.

One of the most delicious meals we had was at a little izakaya near the Yoga subway station. The food was so good in fact we went there twice, and I got the same thing both times; a very hearty soup that apparently is fed to sumo wrestlers. I just called it sumo soup.
Sumo soup had bacon, tofu, sprouts, some sort of noodles, meatballs, and some other vegetables in a miso broth. the soup is served raw in a clay bowl with a lid, and the patron is provided with a burner to boil it. Three soups, three burners.

One of my favorite convenience store foods was the delicious nikuman. Since I am a big fan of Chinese dim sum, the sight of these hot buns in the convenience stores filled my heart with joy. I preferred the ones filled with diced pork in meat sauce.

Laura and I went to McDonalds. Twice. It was surprisingly good. One of the times we went because they had a new promo called the "Big America Texas Burger." I don't know if this promo is in the states, but we had to try it.

After about prodding for about two weeks I finally convinced Laura to let us go to this cool looking little beef bowl place on the main street in Yoga. It basically looked like a cleaner, better lit version of a Yoshinoya. The guy working in the place spoke the least English out of anyone we had met at a food establishment, but we managed to point at the ad on the window tell him we wanted 2 beef bowls with miso soup. After a moment of observation I realized there was a little ticket machine in the corner (like the ramen place), where the patrons would push the button for what they wanted, insert cash, and give the ticket to the attendant. Oh well, we still got some awesome beef bowls for only 320 yen.
The last money we spent in Japan: Couple thousand yen at a restaraunt in the Narita airport. We got tempura bowls (shrimp, carrot, and eggplant tempura on rice) with a side of udon soup. Incredible for airport food! Definitely beats the hell out of scary hot dogs and stale donuts at LAX.

And last of all... the food on Singapore Airlines is AWESOME.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So, I've been home a few days and just relaxing, but now it's time to tell you about the greatest meal of my life

Thursday night Melissa was kinda enough to take Laura and I out to dinner. She finally decided on a yakiniku, place around the corner from her apartment. None of us had ever been out to a real yakiniu restaurant, so we weren't really sure how to do this. Luckily Melissa speaks Japanese, but the menu still daunted us enough to let our waiter basically give us whatever he was good. That guy deserves a medal.

The first course was an appetizer plate with pickled vegetables, noodles, ginger, two kinds of kimchi, and tofu in a magical sauce.

Second up was a bowl of raw beef, and three bowls of this sauce with a sugar cube dissolving in it. The host told us we were to dip pieces of the beef in the sauce and then rap it in a mustard leaf and eat it. We were all a little apprehensive about eating raw beef... for about 6 seconds, then dug in.

Next was strips seasoned beef that we grilled at our table. I keep burning myself since the burner is right in the middle of the table and I would cross it to get more meat, or kimchi or something. We managed to sear the meat, leaving the center to still be nice and rare. This stuff was incredible. Imagine the best stake you've ever had, then slice it real thin and rub it with herbs and spices. Perfection.

The next course of meat was two different kinds of unseasoned steak, the first being so soft that the term "like butter" immediately came to mind. I didn't even know meat could be that soft.

The second cut of meat in this course was much thicker, and the incredible marbling indicated that it was probably kobe. I've never had actual kobe beef, the closet I've come to was American "kobe style" which doesn't really measure up. I honestly can't begin to describe this joy. I ate this small piece of steak in about 20 bites, just so I could savor it.
The final course of beef was by far my favorite.
Very thinly sliced strips that were heavily marinated in a thin sauce that contained flavors of soy, garlic, ginger, and some other things I couldn't identify. The sauce was so good I wanted a bowl of it, and rather than be too strong it complimented the meat very well.

We also had a course of salad and a course of glass noodles in there somewhere, and though they were very good, they just weren't spectacular enough to write about.

So I had the best meal of my life in Japan, mostly due to the incredible beef, and Melissa paying for it :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some of the amazing food I've been eating!

Okay, so I've been kinda lagging in showing pictures of the incredible food I've been eating. So here's the food blog!

Last week we went to this tiny little eel place here in Yoga. I think the entire shop was about the size of large hallway. Why is it always the smallest places that have the best food? I could barely fit into the chair squeezed over near the little kitchen.

I've had eel in sushi, but never just a fillet in a bowl before. I was amazed by how tender and delicious it was! It was that melt in your mouth type of sensation. The eel bowl was served with a very strong hot green tea, a small dish of pickled vegetables, and a hot miso broth to end the meal. Happiness in for 900 yen.

After a long arduous day of shopping this weekend we stopped of in a little part of the Sunshine City mall called "Gyoza City." Basically it was a bunch of little gyoza stands. Now I'm not particularly a big fan of gyoza, they taste too much like potstickers and I really don't like potstickers. THESE GYOZAS WERE DELICIOUS! Kinda expensive, I spent 450 yen on 5 little baby gyozas. Put a little but of spicy oil and some soy sauces and devoured those little pieces of sunshine. The little shop we went to had

a notebook on the bar for patrons to write little notes in. Glancing through the notebook there were messages in many different languages, and several drawings from children. Over all a great place that made me love gyoza.

Yesterday while on our way to Ueno to visit the Western Art Museum, Laura and I stopped in Shibuya for some okonomiyaki. I've never had this Japanese dish before, and Laura had only bought it from street vendors in Osaka, so when we were seated at this restaurant with a griddle in the middle of our table we were both a little confused. Thankfully, the waiter was very helpful and Laura was able to negotiate an english menu. She ordered a seafood mix, and I got garlic chicken. The waiter brought us little bowls of raw food with an egg on top. After kinda looking at these bowls for a while, Laura looked at the waiter and he noticed how helpless we were, telling us to mix it up. Then he poured our bowls on the hot griddle.

The nice waiter helped us flip our food, top with sauce, and we dug in! I was really impressed, it was almost like an omelet. The batter was thick and the vegetables and chicken were cooked but still soft. I honestly was a little concerned about the chicken being cooked enough, but haven't had any problems so far :)

So, I'll stop here and continue the food blog tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blog 4!

Kanji meaning "certain victory"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The search for the perfect jacket

Yesterday we went shopping. Now everyone is probably thinking "Why are you doing so much shopping?" Let me tell you.

We are in search of the perfect jacket. From what I can tell, Japan is a very fashion concious place (or at least greater Tokyo) and colors tend to be a major part of trends. Well, this season is a purple season. Not only is it a purple season, but it is a purple puffy jacket season. Not only is it a purple puffy jacket season, but it is a purple puffy jacket with a faux fur trimmed hood season. We have been all over Tokyo several times in search of the perfect jacket for Laura and Melissa.

Now, you think since it's so fashionable, and literally every other person we see is wearing a similar jacket, it would be easy to find. Oh no my friend, this jacket is the Holy Grail. The theory I hold is that this jacket was all bought up in September and October, leaving a major scarcity now halfway through January. As of late we have found several jackets that fit the criteria, but they have ranged in price from 5000 to 9000 yen; about $55 to $95.

So, if you know where we can get such a jacket, let me know... my feet hurt.

P.S. The other night Melissa took us into this store:

and I looked like this:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

explorations and ramen

So, yesterday was really the first day Laura and I got up and wandered around while Melissa was at school. We started off by getting some breakfast at the ever so glorious 7-11. I got three different kinds of onigiri and she got some nasty looking chicken sandwich on white bread. It seems that only white bread exists in this country. We sat on the side of the road and ate.

We walked and walked down Kanpachi dori. We found the awesomest Denny's that looked like a colonial mansion. And a scary pink bear. Eventually we found a really cool park and watched some kids play soccer.

We continued walking through the park, passed the Setagaya community art museum. Unfortunately it was closed so we weren't able to go check it out. But we did find a little family shrine on a street corner. When I die I want someone to make me a shrine and put it on the corner of my street. Here is a model.

We basically walked forever. More than three subway stops in fact. Laura got really angry because she was convinced we had walked in a straight line, but in fact we had walked three sides of a rectangle. I was convinced that if we made a right turn we would eventually get back to Yoga (the neighborhood the apartment is in) she hates it when I'm right :)

Now, the real purpose of this is to talk about dinner. We wandered around Yoga a little trying to figure out where to eat. We finally settled on a ramen place Melissa had been wanting to try. Now, I've eaten plenty of ramen in my life, some of it from some what I thought to be authentic places in LA. Nothing prepared me for the heavenly meal. This place was hole in the wall and dirty enough to get closed down in the state, I definitely got a good feeling about it. Upon walking in the door there was a little machine to the left where you put in your money and pushed a button to select your order. It was all in Japanese, so as usual Melissa read it to us and we kinda guessed at what we thought sounded good. We chose a spicy ramen with a miso base. MOST INCREDIBLE THING EVER. The bowl was the size of a medium size mixing bowl, and filled with meat, noodles, cabbage, chili powder, a soft boiled egg, and bean sprouts, all in a boiling miso broth. With a pat of butter on top. Absolutely blew my mind! It was so filling and rich, I wasn't even able to drink all the broth. If you know me, not finishing my food is a big deal.

Still a week left, and many more meals :)

As always, more pictures on my flickr

Video blog 2

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 2: Time is relative

Today is my second full day in Japan. Loving it more every minute. I'm already behind on my blogging though - I told myself I would blog every day, I already missed yesterday.

After a breakfast of a chocolate sandwich (exactly what it sounds like) and onigiri (a magical delight of rice wrapped in seaweed with a meat filling. My favorite is salmon).
We then took the subway to the imperial palace to see the emperor's New Years speech. Melissa said the the palace is only open on New Years day and the emperor's birthday. Very crowded times. The palace is beautiful. It's like a huge park in the middle of the city. There's even a moat! There's tons of trees and grass, like something out of a movie. The emperor's speech was awesome, President Obama could learn a lot from this guy. He came out and basically said he was praying for world peace and everyone's happiness, and happy new year, then waved and went back inside his palace not to come out again for another year. I love the emperor.

After walking around the grounds for awhile, we hopped on the subway to go to the Meiji shrine. This place was also incredibly crowded. Apparently the first shrine visit of the year is a really big deal, so we had to fight the crowd of several thousand people. We went through the traditional purification processes of washing our hands and our mouth before proceeding to the actual shrine, tossing in our money and making our wishes for the new year. It was a really awesome the experience such a major tradition for one of the world's oldest religions.

Yesterday was such a full day and this place is so amazing, I could write and write and write about everything I saw and did... but it's late and I'm tired so I think I'll go to sleep and try and recover for another full day tomorrow. Hopefully blog about today when I wake up haha.

more photos will be going up on my flickr stream

Friday, January 1, 2010

First night/morning in Japan

Well, finally in Tokyo. We arrived last night in Narita airport at about 6pm local time. The flight was long, but not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. It was very cramped; when I first sat down and thought "I'm going to spend 11 hours in here?" I was pretty sure I was going to need a xanex. I didn't end up getting claustrophobic at all, but I need have a lot of problems with my knee. That old soccer injury flared up from sitting so long and began to swell. I spend quite a bit in the lavatory stretching.

So with some sleep, some movies, and some reading, I survived the flight. The trip from the airport to Melissa's apartment was long and arduous. From the airport we took a hour long train ride, then transferred and took another twenty minute train ride before getting off. The train stops were full of STAIRS. Which was unpleasant when carrying 6 pieces of luggage. After getting off the train we walked about a mile to Melissa's apartment. I had to take several breaks because I am old and frail. But first we stopped at AmPm.

Today we're going to go to the imperial palace to see the emperor give his new year's address. Should be pretty cool, the only Emperor I've ever had any contact with is the black metal band.