Playlists, Aggression, Keeping in Touch?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23rd, 2009 by byronkho

I’ve worked long and hard on so many playlists over the years and most of them are gone – deleted when I reformatted or my drive crashed or when my desktop was stolen, or altered by my nefarious capacity for editing old playlists and then realizing the changes weren’t half as good as the original, or mis- or not labeled such that I have no idea who or what did the song. Instead, I’m putting my playlists up and leaving them there so I can look back 5 years from now and say, that was dope once upon a time and now it’s only for neo-emopunk (whatever that is… I’m sure someone some day will do it) tools. Some of the music is amazingly free to get on the Web if you only look, some are on mixtapes you can’t even buy at most stores even if you wanted to, and some are just from foreign countries and a hell of an annoyance to get in the US without raping your piggy bank every time you want a $40 import. (EDIT: Ha, playlist area needs revamping already, so it’s down for now.)

Let’s start with the “indie” playlists. It’s hard to really pin down what indie is. For me, I just use the term to refer to all the dreampop/folk/newwave/neo-disco/bubblegumpop/acoustic/surfmuzik and various downtempo things. Includes lots of lower-energy pieces though sometimes it’s just weird music. There are some true indie artists on there that haven’t “sold out” or went “Idol”… Ellie Goulding, Feist, Stars, Fiona Apple, Ben Sollee… also a bunch of foreign artists and whatnot. If you can get the songs for yourselves, please do – they’re really awesome and are great for getting calmed down. I play them while I’m stressed and need some relaxation while I work.

The jazz playlists I use a little less often. It’s hard to find really good jazz that I don’t fall asleep too. I usually listen when I’m reading at home and relaxing. This is very, very rare… the latest playlist is mostly samba type stuff, but there’s a lot of straight jazz vocalists, big bands and soloists too. Two notable findings from the last month: Lily Frost from Canada and Melody Gardot from Philly. Lily does the theme song to Being Erica, and it’s a great song – I found a spliced version of the theme on a Yahoo Answers board and damn, it hits the spot. But it’s not jazz. Lily’s latest solo album is, and it’s freakin amazing. Same with Melody, her voice is perfect for jazz and it really does remind me of smoky rooms, cigarette smoke drifting, dames in fishnets and lots of brazen red lipstick, guys in fedoras. Ah.

Thank god for the pre-roll playlists put out for Canadian stations. I get a lot of the rock selections off of those releases, and man it’s good stuff. I also pull some stuff from the Warped tour, indie rock bands and random albums here and there. I like looking for good female rockers – it’s hard to find. Flyleaf needs to put out more material, Paramore needs to get some more adult-oriented rock songs (though their songs right now are great… it’s just attracting the teenyboppers in droves) and foreign countries need to put out better rock songs. I can find great foreign hiphop, pop, club music, etc. but rock… omg, you can’t count stuff like Rammstein.

Pop playlists are real easy to put together. There’s tons of great indie pop around, and of course there’s lots of stuff that subs as pop that I lovingly include. I don’t mind sellouts, as long as it sounds great. There’s some great bands that don’t get enough play here… stuff like Everybody Else, the Script, Jupter One, Two Door Cinema Club, The River, Tegan and Sara (Canadian!) and that KT Tunstall. She’s great live… if you haven’t seen her, you should. She’s great. Her songs are really geared for acoustic performance and they’re foot-stompin when done well. My fave “pop” song right now is HYPNTZ… I can’t stop listening to it! It’s the Umbrella riff with the lyrics of Biggie’s Hypnotize but with a new beat and a new melody that plays off of Hypnotize. It’s friggin awesome.

OK, well that’s enough for now. I still gotta worry about packing for Thursday, getting all my shit done so I can leave, getting in touch with a bunch of old friends (the Kristens, Rachel, Jessica, Assad, Rich), meeting some new possible business partners (thru Lexie, some guys from LAAS and Lime Projects), compiling taxes soon, dealing with my singers and instrumentalists, awaiting Olivia’s arrival here… I’m also trying to be more sociable with my curren cast so that I leave my imprint on them. It’s nice working with them to put on a great show, and it’s great making new friends and acquaintances (even though they get progressively younger or that I’m getting progressively older), but it’s the greatest to have somebody go on and remember your contribution to their lives. I guess it’s like those old people who really want to be remembered for something. I do too – it’s of no use being some sort of prodigy (which I’ve been considered to be several times, unfounded as it may be… since I gave up on the things I was supposed to be a prodigy at…) if you can’t make some sort of real impact. I want to have a real impact.

Not that it matters to anything, but I’ve grown a little more aggressive over the last few years. Maybe it’s increased confidence, but whatever it is, I really notice the difference. I’m much more forceful and willing to express my opinions, I’m more aggressive than I used to be and I push myself harder in social situations. I’m finding myself to be more “cool” than I used to be, even though I was always damn cool :) It’s not boasting – it’s just pointing out how I’ve changed and wondering what caused the change. Success at work (making great money even in an economic downturn, mastering the art of the sell, maintaining steady growth and innovation, lasting this long against competitors who’ve fallen by the wayside)? Extended successes in performance (continuously called back to do more shows, in demand by lots of groups, valued highly in turn by musicians that I valued aka Monty)? More value in the eyes of people because of my material successes? Ugh, being armchair psychologist to oneself is a study in egotism. Let’s just stop with the positives.

The negatives are kinda bad – I’ve stopped working out, I actually go out a lot less than I used to, I am REALLY bad about staying in touch with friends and I’ve always needed work on the followthru. What is a strength is also a weakness. For example, I do a real strong sell at marketing conferences but then it’s hard to follow through because of the amount of work. Yet, I promised a lot. The same with individual relationships. I promise a lot and then get lazy… in fact, that’s pretty much the arc of my past gf’s. I do amazing things the first couple dates and then I get lazy and become a no-call no-show NOT because I’m some player but because I don’t motivate myself to follow through. It’s how I’ve “lost” girls that I’ve really valued and really regret not doing more to keep. In my heart of hearts, I did want to keep them.

A lot of this is the creativity thing. I love creating stuff, I love doing stuff that’s new – keeping stuff going is a drag, as it’s not entirely new and requires lots of repetition. But you need to be able to deal with repetition and routine! I mean, I do force myself to deal with it since that’s what my work involves 90% of the time… I just have yet to apply that to my personal life. I’m getting together a mailing list, a Xmas card list, a birthday list and other things that I’ve been pretty shit about doing which normal people do all the time… I have to do a better job at retaining the people that are and were important in my life.

The last word? I need to follow Elliot’s advice (SCRUBS!!!).

Casino Night, and then boring night.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21st, 2009 by byronkho

A little hangover in the morning, then did a gig on campus for Harrison College House. They needed some jazz music for their Casino Night. Fairly standard college house event.. free food, some house-related prizes but more attractive RA/GA’s than usual! There was this one chick… omg. Hah. Anyway, it went all right, got my money and left. Due to crap phone texting connections or whatnot, missed out on getting drinks with Rich and instead did a long walk back home. Guess I could have called up some of my peeps and went drinking or something… instead, I was infinitely more lame and went home and did work. The work was amazing, the fun not so. Tomorrow, I’ll make up for it by getting some soondobu with Real Life, and then hopefully this coming week I’ll get a few numbers. And then off to London! And apparently Caro is in Cali for 3 weeks, which I only happened to realize when I saw an entry on FB. Bah, I did tell her I was basically not getting out there any time soon. Great.

New Music, Lawsuits, Privacy, Parties… back on AIM!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20th, 2009 by byronkho

I do a lot of looking around for new music. I was into the nouveau disco scene for a little while, and then trip-hop (after I found some modern alternatives to Portishead et al), and then dreampop and the new-acid jazz. There’s nothing like listening to awesome songs and realizing that so few people out there actually know these songs… they should be out there! Not just on some mixtape or some weird hipster’s blog or languishing on the bottom of the AmazonMP3 refuse pile and then dropped because nobody knew enough about it to buy it (note the no-review songs…). I’m still in love with the Ladyhawke album, but some of the songs off the ‘07 Moonbabies album is doing me right like a cheap hooker. The playlists I post on here are things I’ve lovingly crafted from my hard work. I could write a blurb on each song but then again I’m not a music blogger, I’m just a connoisseur and preferably, you’d think my word was law and just go out and find the songs yourself and listen to them regardless. Not all are easily available.

First check came from our suit against that guy in Cali. Accounting errors in our favor as well… it’s almost like we got all the good Chance cards in Monopoly! Content Unlocker doing super well, our competitors having a huge streak of bad luck and poor planning (and outright defamation, always a sign of desperation). They also have a lot of technical issues with their software, they need a good graphics designer really badly (I do aite work and mine’s a thousand times better!) and their rates and conversion… well, it’s a good thing we don’t advertise that much or they’d be screwed! It helps that they advertise themselves really obviously on their software by posting a big ol’ “Powered by…” notice on every instance of their software, while we don’t put any pitches on our product. That way, users that access think the unlocker may be a natural part of the site – if the publisher customizes the unlocker with their graphics and text, it seems even more natural. That way, users are comforted and conversion rates go up. A lot of common sense and psychology goes into design, and it’s great seeing it all work out :) A lot of interest from some new contacts interested in working with us. Got a couple new survey sites on board and building up some good traffic in alternative niches so that we’re not putting all our eggs in one basket. It’s good to be doing well – I’m looking forward to the summer, when we can work on a few more big projects and get even more diversity in our portfolio!

Was deciding whether or not to go to the Metropolis party at the Barbary last night. Sounded super fun (also free open bar), except for it being all the way up in Fishtown. That’s like so far away, and it was cold. Lexie was streetteam for the party… hope she’s getting paid for all these party-promoting gigs she’s got. I really want to see that Drunken Spelling Bee but can’t make myself go to Bob and Barbara’s. Some day. Instead, went to a party on campus with my cast and didn’t feel at all bad about being the oldest person at the party. It was at the Fun Dumpster… where do they get these names? Met some good people (Megan), depended on the kindness of others for my half-costume (thanks Amanda, even tho epic fail on my part at trying to put on a toga), and shepherded around the terrible twins who aren’t actually the same person (Annie and Jess). I brought some Skyy Melon I desperately wanted to get rid of and got brownie points with girls who thought it was great. I also brought some good Jamesons so I wasn’t doing it all for cheap kicks :) I punched the ceiling and got ceiling dust in my eye. That wasn’t particularly cool. Got kinda drunk but the cold air held it in abeyance till I got home and was like, oh. Oops, shouldnt have finished all the whisky. I actually drank a half liter of whisky yesterday MINIMUM… I’m trying to find pics that people took but I have no idea who did and if they uploaded, and scouring Facebook is not a solution. So not. And I don’t even know the rules now… as someone a little older, can I FBFriend chicks I meet at college parties? Is this the point where it gets to be “that guy” even if there was no point where age was awkward and the girls in question may be just 2 years younger (which is totally nothing)? BAH, wish there was a handbook.

Mike’s company Unreal Marketing giving away all its CRT monitors. Wonder if people will take them up on those monsters… are people too spoiled or will they settle for a thick cube that takes up all their desk space? Heh.

Privacy issues: 1) Facebook retracting its TOS changes… one thing that intrigued me was the ramifications of a TOS that doesn’t require opt-in approval (as opposed to “if you keep using the service, you’ve agreed” so passive non-logging in means you agreed). So if Facebook snapshotted all the stuff on their database in those two days and said we can make a quick sell of everything we’re allowed to sell at this exact moment (aka all people that didn’t set their privacy settings to high), is it acceptable on the basis that the user didn’t set their privacy beforehand and then never actually agreed to the new terms because they never logged in? Thus, even if they wanted to, they wouldn’t be able to view the term changes. 2) New Zealand adopts 3 strikes law: if users get 3 complaints about infringing copyrighted works (“repeat infringers”), then ISP is obligated under law to remove service. However, the law is vague – these complaints need only be complaints, they don’t need to be court convictions to prove they actually are repeat infringers. As a side note, all major music and movie companies have had complaints of copyright infringement, so they shouldn’t have Internet service either.

I logged into my old SN after AGES. Got back in touch with Rachel and Gracie, after a LONG time of not speaking. I mailed off a letter to Caroline not long ago, and I’m supposed to go to drinks with Rich soon. Got a FBchat msg from Jeff who’s now in New Zealand – random. Assad is getting married in Pakistan, Sourabh’s in the Netherlands learning stuff… yikes, there’s too many people that I’ve lost track of. It’s bad. And yet, every few months I post about how I’m losing track of people… I never change!!!

What’s Goin On, 2009?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11th, 2009 by byronkho

The last time I wrote was in October, a long time ago. Wow. I’m bad about keeping up with the site… been drowned in work. Our latest tool is the Content Unlocker (info sheet). Well, long story short – I’ve been spending a lot of time developing and maintaining the tool and overseeing its growth. We’re on a lot of entertainment sites and our placements are increasing. Good news for the company, bad news for me… WAY MORE WORK! As a side effect, we’re attracting some attention from our partners and from our competitors. The good attention results in lots of unique, exclusive and high-converting offers for use that wouldn’t normally be available to placements that offer any type of incentive. The bad attention is in defamation and negative publicity from, er, haters… heh. One of our competitors, in particular, keeps focusing a steady stream of libel and slander against us at the same time that they copy all our breakthroughs. It’s fairly annoying trying to protect our product against defamation and possible copyright infringements from a competitor who is not happy about losing ground.

I’ve also been hangin out a lot with New Life/Real Life people recently, a little less so with my other Philly peeps. I gotta balance it out more! Been pretty fun. Dave Ta’s been teaching some new game called Spades and it’s pretty fun. Also really complicated. Cheap and free movie tickets for the Bridge from John and Rankee, so got to see Notorious, My Bloody Valentine and He’s Just Not Into You the last few weeks. The latter being a compromise for having seen My Bloody Valentine. Oh well, Scarlett was hot in it. Next trip is with Christine and Norman to see Berenstain Bears at the Walnut St. Theatre. Yes, it’s for kids, but we’re doing it anyway. I can’t wait for the Where the Wild Things Are movie to come out. A live-action of Maurice Sendak would be great. Next, I gotta get some ppl to go see Coraline. Too bad it’s at Riverview and so too much of a pain in the ass for most people to get out there. And I thought the International would be shit but it’s gotten some great reviews… weird! Didn’t realize it was by that Run Lola Run director, so maybe has potential.

Anyway, the fellowship is interesting though I think the devotion a little weird. I’m Christian, yes, but am not so into the inner contemplation stuff… I do wish I took a few more biblical history courses because that’s what I find interesting, and not the hours of prayer. Nothing really against it though. All the others do it a lot more than I do, and even Norman is getting real into it – going to Sunday school, being very serious during the REALLY long studies, etc. Maybe it’s just a product of me spending more time among Christian Asian folk, but this uber-Christianness is something I see a lot more in Asians. For all intents and purposes, I’m a secular guy. I don’t go out of my way to sin and am generally “good”, but I’m a lot less spiritual. This past week, John was being a little disrespectful but got a handle on it, but I was surprised to see Ta be very serious about it and serious about being concentrated during devotions. Same with Vince. I think it’s good for them, sure. Bah, my thoughts are getting a little disjointed on that part.

I feel like beers every night but then I can’t drink at Platt, where I’m conducting rehearsal for a few hours and where I’m supposed to be a responsible adult working with some underage kids. I also don’t feel like any beers by the time I get home at 12, 1230… I tend to just get a cup of hot soup, do some work and then watch a few eps. It doesn’t help that it’s freezing ass in the kitchen so it’s even less appealing to hang out and drink for a while. The stone tile looks great and feels great in summer, but in the winter it’s a freakin ice rink (not that it’s slippery, just that it’s like ice). I’ve really got to get out more… the itch for boozin and hangin’ out has been super strong the last couple weeks but I’ve been holding back since a) I’ve got work and b) I’m trying to save a bit of dough so I’m not wasteful and so I feel better about splurging in London. So, two things to work on in the next few weeks. Spend a little more time with my drinking buddies, and get carpets and wallhangings and other things to help make my downstairs warmer (and also stop up the front door so we can block one source of draft).

So I’ve been watching lots of TV shows… I’ve been keeping up with CSI, CSI NY, Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, Eleventh Hour, The Beast, Life on Mars, Trust Me, Lie to Me, The Mentalist, Leverage, Medium, Chuck, Fringe, The Closer, heroes, Big Love, even crap shows like Burn Notice. I’ve picked up Canadian show Being Erica (GIRLIEST show I’ve ever watched but somehow fascinating), and UK shows Hustle (again), Demons, Being Human (great show btw). I’m finishing up Angel, hopefully gonna start on Dark Angel soon, and looking forward to watching all of Lost, Crossing Jordan and Wonderfalls. Haven’t got around to watching Dr. Horrible yet, I hear it’s great, and I’m getting excited for Dollhouse. Hope it’s huge. Listing them all out… that’s a lot of shows!

Lots of new music for me too, I’ve been doing tons of compilations. Picked up a couple great electro and hiphop mixtapes… feel like I should get some music editing software so i can make my own mixtape. But too lazy… really, it’s just too much work for shit I’m not intending on distributing, just listening to myself.

The more athletic cousins on a day at Cypress!

My Xmas present from Priss includes a flattering picture of me.

The cousins chillin at the Richmond Oval, home of speed skating for the Winter Olympics 2010.

The family in our yearly group portrait.

Forum, London.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11th, 2009 by byronkho

I’ve just finished Week 2 of musical rehearsals with the cast of the 2009 Quadramics Spring Fling musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This is the first musical by Stephen Sondheim and it had a revival on Broadway in 1996 with Nathan Lane. Casting as usual, was tough, but it was inspired. We cast Pseudolus and Hero as females – and very talented women as well! Musically, it’s pretty simple since each person only has a few songs to do… well, Pseudolus has a LOT but everyone else has a fairly easy job of it. The hard part for the actors is going to be the choreography and direction… it’s gotta be full of gags and hilarious as hell, otherwise it could fall flat. For me, it’s going to be getting together an orchestra…

Pseudolus: Eileen Cella

Senex: Harrison Unger

Domina: Jess Dignam

Philia: Amanda Atkinson

Hero: Annie Norbitz

Lycus: Amin Osman

Hysterium: Corey Singer

Miles Gloriosus: John Vilanova

Erronious: Mike Silverstein

Proteans: Reni Ellis, Rebecca Levine

Courtesans: Tove Smith, Andrea Kohn (Vibrata), Christina Mancheno, Cass Ichniowski

Working on this show is weird but nice. A lot more one on one time than I’ve had on other shows, so I’ve had the opportunity to “hang out” a bit more with cast members. I’ve felt a few weird things, like the fact that I’m now finally working with 90s children – at least some of them. Some are 6-7 years younger, and some are just 2 years younger (so… can’t call those ones my “kids”). They’re all real interesting. Amanda has parents who work in AI and used to program for Apple; Jess has a large and musical family in the Philly Boys choir, founding community theatres, etc; Tove has traveled far and wide doing archaeology and studying abroad and whatnot but actually started college contemplating biophysics. She’s a “former” punk, and seems to like odd, almost hipsterish dressup. Pretty cool. Annie shares a few of my tastes for TV (which is great if I wanna rave about Battlestar Galactica) and always has a sublime color scheme on (yea, yea, weird observation on my part). Corey is perfect as a Hysterium-like character (so I’m sure he gets typecast). I know Cass from way back and she’s always a fun character. I can’t wait to see what she does with her engineering/animation career. A few of the rest I don’t know well at all. I know JV works at Rolling Stone and is an itinerant gossip, but who in theater isn’t? I know Genna because he was/is? dating Allison and I’m really interested to see how he implements his ideas for the show – but really, I don’t know too much about him.

In 2 weeks, I’m heading down to London with my cousin Hendrick for an entertaining 4 days. We’re staying at the Sheraton Park Lane on Green Park and so will be at ground zero for the tourist trap attractions. This time, I’ll finally see all the stuff on the Embankment, since all the other times I’ve been to London I’ve either spent only a day meeting people, or heading right out of the city to the beautiful countryside. I’ve seen so much more of rural UK than I’ve seen of London. Man, I wanted to revisit the Cliveden royal estates where I had a GREAT time (and on analysis, a very expensive time that I didn’t pay for) but it’s far enough out of London to not be included in the schedule. Same as Windsor and Oxford. If I had a few more weeks in which to travel, I’d want to hit up Dublin, Brussels and Paris too – except that’d become a very expensive holiday, and too long. Especially the TOO LONG.

So here’s the list of stuff I’m seeing and shouldn’t be made fun of for since I’m technically showing my cousin around who’s never been to London :) : the Burlington Arcade, Royal Academy of the Arts, Christie’s, St. Martin on the Fields, St. James Square, Piccadilly Circus, Trocadero, Theatre Royal, Tower of London, the Queen’s Walk, Tower Bridge Exhibition, HMS Belfast, Globe Theater, Tate Modern, Royal Festival Hall/QE Hall, Jubilee Gardens, Westminster Palace, Buckingham Palace/Queen Victoria Memorial, St. James’ Palace, St. James’s Park, Scotland Yard, Westminster Abbey, Jewel Palace, Parliament/Big Ben, Foreign Office/Treasury/Downing St., Horse Guards at Whitehall, Admiralty Arch/Nelson’s Column, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Covent Garden market, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Diana Memorial Playground, Albert Memorial, Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Music, Diana Memorial Fountain, Harrods, Hyde Park Corner, Canary Wharf, East London Mosque, Chinatown, Upton Park (Queen’s Market, Roman Road), Aldgate, Old St. Pancras Station, The British Library and The British Museum. Whew. Total tourists. Doing it ALL so next time, I can concentrate on the clubs (and when I’m going with someone more temperamentally suited to clubbing).

I’m also seeing Wicked and Billy Elliott while I’m there, and trying a few one-star Michelin restaurants. I would go to the 2 and 3-star Michelins but wanted to save a little money just to be prudent. We’re hitting up Benares and Wild Honey, and by myself, I’ll probably grab a last meal at the Square before I leave. Or, for non-Michelin places, maybe the Gaucho Piccadilly. I miss Argentinean beef… I’m also getting cheap meals at the Scandinavian Kitchen, Rock & Sole Plaice, the Morgan Arms, Duncan’s Pie, Mash and Eels, Fish Bone, Seafresh Fish Restaurant.