Thursday, July 31, 2003

Things I've Thought About In The Last Hour

I really need to figure out how to add links to the side of my blog without it going kablooie and being replaced by a Portuguese web page.

Sad fact that I will never admit on a first date: I was on my high school math team.

Sadder fact that I will never admit on a first date: I joined my high school math team out of peer pressure.

I didn't drink enough coffee today. On the other hand, I did drink enough Diet Coke to give cancer to five generations of lab rats.

The random chick who "winked" at me today is a hottie. She reminds me of the first girl in college I had a crush on -- blonde, slender, hazel eyes. So why do I feel like this is some sort of scam that will end up with my body in someone's trunk as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde make of with my checking account? And why did I just "wink" back at her despite my whole rant against winks a couple of entries ago?

When I see Natalie Morales on TV, my first thought is generally "What a hottie." Then I realize she's thirty, like me. Then I realize she's on a national cable news channel whereas I'm at the dining room table in front of a blank laptop screen. I hate TV sometimes.

Sometimes, when you're feeling craptastic, when you're wondering if you have any talent at all or if you're just deluding yourself like that guy on the corner of Wilshire and Veteran who really does think that the CIA wants to steal his brain waves and secret string, you get signs. You get support from unexpected places. Go give a nice shout out to Kim, a fellow blogger and genuinely nice human being.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


Throw in two parts writer's block, one part laziness, a spinkling of self-doubt and a garnish of mind-numbing apathy, and you get the wilted house salad of sit-on-your-ass-ism that I've been suffering for the last two weeks. Well, that and really bad metaphors. I have some of the major points of the novel plotted out, but the last time I went to that special word document that is my manuscript, the words poured out with nary a trickle. Hell, that's crap imagery too because "poured out" implies that there was more than a trickle. Sigh. Maybe I need to up my caffeine intake.

I'm trying to finish the paperback edition of Dave Egger's novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity!. I have to admit, the guy can write. His phrases are crisp and simple, yet descriptive. But after I put the book down, I have to wonder why I think the writing is good -- yeah the writing is crisp and simple, but also rambling and random. There are several times I think, "Yeah, so what" when I'm reading this. But I keep reading and reading.

Anyway, for shits and giggles, here's Marty Stark imitating Dave Eggers:

I was sitting upstairs in the loft. The fan was on the floor pushing hot air around my calves. I was thinking about writing. Actually, I was thinking less about writing, and more about the lack of writing. I haven't been able to write in the last two weeks. I sit in front of the computer with my coffee and feel guilty about not writing. I sit and sweat drinking coffee in the summer heat with no air conditioning. I sit and let my cat crawl onto my lap, hear her sigh as she falls asleep. She doesn't move because I don't move. I don't move because I'm not writing. I just sit and sweat with a distant cousin of a panther dozing on my lap. Sometimes, I hear the chainsaw roar of lawnmowers as immigrant gardeners do their weekly trimming. I know lawnmowers aren't chainsaws, but that's what they sound like.

Because I'm not writing, I'm just sitting and sweating in front of a blank screen, I let my mind wander. I think about what those gardeners would think if about that gringo two floors above them that has it easy, that just sits there up in his loft, sitting there and sweating and not having to work in long sleeves under the sun. (If I could do footnotes in Blogger, there'd be a footnote next to gringo. The footnote would read "Well, I'm not a gringo, but I don't know the derogatory Mexican term for Asian. Chinquo maybe?").

-Yo Chinquo, why aren't you doing real work?

-I did real work. I was a lawyer. I hated it.

-Ah, lawyer, accidente, that is bad work. But it is work. Look at me. I work in long sleeves on this hot day, and the pollen and the grass, they make my eye water. Yet I still work. It is the way of the world. You must work too.

-But I'm trying to work. I'm trying to write a book.

-Book? That is not real work. And anyway, it looks like you're not writing at all. It looks like you're just sitting there sweating, drinking coffee with a sleeping gato on your lap.

-Don't you think I wish a torrent of words would come to me? Don't you think I wish words like spawning salmon would rush through me onto paper? Anyway, leave me alone. I feel bad enough already about sitting and sweating and not writing.

-Alright, amigo, I will continue back to my mowing and getting grass in my eyes and leave you to your sitting and sweating. Just think about what I said about real work. It is the way of the world.

Eventually, the chainsaw sound stops. My coffee turns cold. And I haven't done any writing again for yet another afternoon.

Chili cheese burritos are good.

Monday, July 21, 2003

United States of Whatever

I'm taking a quick break from writing novel to update the blog. Unfortunately, I have to admit the reason for the blog silence over the last several days was because of me geeking out. Damn you LucasArts! I have to write at least 5 pages a day straight until the 31st if I want to hit my self-imposed goal of one-hundred pages written by the end of the month.

So, in no particular order or relevance, some random points:

1. Not only has it been a hot July in Lalaland, it has also been humid with a capital hugh. I can't remember a cloudy day being so damn hot since college where August was like walking into a dryer overstuffed with soggy clothes. The weather also reminds me when I visited my cousins during the summer in South Carolina as a kid. Maybe it was the oppressive feel of the heat, the type of heat that made you sweat with the first breath of the morning, that made me want to kick my cousin's ass on a daily basis. Or maybe it was because my cousin was an annoying dull yokel of a snot as a kid.

2. Damn you LucasArts! OK, I know I already said that, but it bears repeating. I logged in over 25 hours of gameplay in less than two days. I'm as bad as a smackhead in my addiction. What's the geek version of methadone?

3. has this new feature called "Winks" whereby you can let a person know that you're interested by sending an electronic "Wink," an electronic version of a note stuffed in your locker saying Jimmy from Algebra likes you. Where this may be OK in Happyland Junior High, this is not OK in Adult Singledom, USA. Maybe chicks can get away with this, a coy wink across the ether, but a guy doing this? C'mon, it shows that you lack enough chutzpa to start a frigging conversation. If you can't do that by e-mail where the stress of conversation is taken out, then you might as well just spend the money you funnel into on porn.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Monday, July 14, 2003

Whatever Happened To You . . .

I know this shouldn't make me feel happy. I really do. But I gots the endorphins going and the serotonin levels are probably off the charts.

Last night I was drinking and googling (kids, drinking and googling don't mix! OK, there's my public service announcement), and I came across a very recent photo of the first chiqua I ever dated. We met the summer before my sophomore year of high school, and I ended up moving (thanks dad, ppppphhht) about two months later. Anyway, from what I remember, she was petite, had a cute button nose, beautiful green eyes, dirty blonde hair and a well-toned body (she was on her high school swimming team and field hockey team).

Now, either my memory is viewing things through rose-colored glasses or time really changed her.

She's now a resident at one of the UC med schools, and there was a photo of her in an article about cutting down on the number of hours residents can put in during a week. What does she look like now? You can tell there used to be a cute girl, but now, well, her face has fleshed out and her hair has turned from dirty blonde to mousy brunette. She looks like the type who'd wear orthopedic shoes as casual wear. If you saw her walking down the street, you'd immediately forget what she looked like as she turned the corner.

Meanwhile, I look much better than I did in high school. My face has lost some of its fullness so it's not so moon-shaped. The cow-like placidity in those high school photos have now been replaced (hopefully) by some confidence and intelligence.

Yeah, I know I shouldn't feel better because of this. In her defense, I think she's getting married soon so she's one up on me in the social thing. But still, it's nice to be reminded that I'm not the same person I was in high school.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Birth, School, Work, Death

Happy Deathday!
Your name:Marty Stark
You will die on:Friday, July 18, 2031
You will die of:Electrocution
Created by Quill

Crap. I knew I shouldn't have crossed the Heisenberg Compensators with the Schroedinger Router while trying to hack my Quantum Tivo for some parallel universe porn.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Tickin' Away The Moments That Make Up A Dull Day . . .

Heh heh. So I'm getting bored of the whole "Stark Thoughts" thing, and maybe I'll just keep changing the title until I come up with something I like. Or maybe not.

Anyway, I was thinking about this whole on-line persona. A couple of years ago, random chiquas on AOL used to IM me on an irregular basis, mainly due to AOL profile which included music I listened to. A couple of IM sessions in, the ones who were interested in more than music asked me how old I was and what I looked like. Inevitably, they would all freak out and go radio silent when I mentioned I was Asian. (I guess they figured I was Italian with my AOL name, which is weird because it's just a bad latin / legal reference.)

At a casual glance, except for the few entries that explicitly state that "Marty Stark" is a pen name and that I'm actually Taiwanese, this blog appears to be written by some white dude who listens to music, hates the law and tries (usually unsuccessfully) to sound like an American Nick Hornby.

What's the point of this entry? Dunno. Maybe I'm bored. Maybe I'm pissed because the chicks who say they're looking for "Any" ethnicity on really mean White/Caucasian. Maybe I need a burrito and a prozac.

Monday, July 07, 2003

"Burn Baby Burn" by Ash

I first heard "Burn Baby Burn" on MTV2's 120 Minutes about 3 weeks into my stint at Phuqued Firm. The video for the single had cheerleaders, which kept me from switching the channel. Then the the sharp guitar hooks wormed its way into my subconscious and I found myself hitting the rewind on TiVo just to hear that melody and that energy. I hadn't been that addicted to a guitar hook since The Foo Fighters' "Learning to Fly."

Two guitars, one bass, one drummer, the sorta average male vocals propelled by simple power chords and an obligatory guitar riff - it was the archtypal pop rock formula. But despite its simplicity, so many bands seem to fuck it up. Sum 41, Blink 182, Good Charlotte - everytime I begin to hear one of their songs on the radio, I end up switching the station because they either smack of effort or they try to hit you over the head with a brick. It seems like these groups equate energy with stupidity - "How many people wanna kick some ass"? Well, I do, and it's yours after hearing that lyric.

So why have I decided on "Burn Baby Burn" as a song entry? I mean, I can mention it's the type of song that makes you wanna move out to Los Angeles, roll down all the car windows to let the California sun in while you whip down the Pacific Highway, the blue ocean next to you, the blood in your veins making you feel giddy and dangerous as you hit 80 miles per hours on those curves. The melody with the guitars sounds like the Sex Pistols doing a Beach Boys song (which Ash no doubt knows as they give a shout out to Brian Wilson in "Pacific Palisades" off the same album, Free All Angels).

When you first listen to "Burn Baby Burn", it's no surprise that you'll probably think it's just a catchy piece of punk-pop. "Oh, it's probably about summer love or rock'n' roll" you'll probably think. Then, as you try to sing to it, and you will because the melody is so damn catchy (they don't call it a hook for nuthin'), you'll surprise yourself midway through the chorus (which is accompanied with a female harmony) by singing "Oh this is slow suicide". Then you start going hmmm as you sing "something inside had died."

When you actually listen to the lyrics, "Burn Baby Burn" is the most melodically upbeat song about a destructive dead-end relationship from which you can't escap that you've ever heard. "Vicious bitter words / Becoming more and more cruel / But you always take me back / And let me lick your wounds" are lyrics that sound more comfortably in a NIN song. And yet the lyrics work perfectly with the melody. Even stranger, the chorus is, dare I say, poetic. "Tumbling like the leaves / Yeah we are spiraling on the breeze" - most aspiring writers would chop off a finger to create a verse with so much imagery packed in two lines, and maybe a hand to have the imagery fit with so well with the rest of the work.

If there were some sort of music lesson to be learned here, I guess it would be something to the effect of simplicity does not mean stupidity. One can craft a layered intelligent work that is also simple. But that's not why I've written an entry about this.

Sometimes, you hit a synchronicity between a song and a moment of your life. I heard this song just as I was beginning to realize I hated my chosen career. "Burn Baby Burn" nailed this sentiment to a tee. Yeah, even the "golden hair and pale blue eyes" part - the law was just a proxy for that, the promise of a big income and huge respect was the career equivalent of the hot blonde chick. And the more I practiced the law, the more I hated my life, but I felt that I couldn't leave.

"Burn Baby Burn" is the closest song to ever match a moment of my life.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Summer Turns Me Upside Down . . .

Lesson learned this weekend: If a slender 5'10 blonde in her early twenties with the face of a younger Cameron Diaz starts talking to you at the pool, you should probably try to engage in a conversation that isn't limited to one syllable responses from your side.

Thursday, July 03, 2003


Crap, I was trying to add links to books I'm currently reading. I thought I coded everything correctly - it showed up on the preview window just fine. Then when I went to republish the blog with the links -- my blog was replaced by this weirdo Brazilian blog.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003


I made decent progress on the novel yesterday, but unfortunately suffered from sever insomnia last night. I don't think I fell asleep until 4:30 a.m., and woke up feeling, for lack of a better word, oogie around 10:00 a.m. to the sound of vacuuming across the hall. The vacuuming continued for two hours. So, not feeling too creative today. However, I'll be writing another song entry later tonight to keep up my prose chops.

On a random note, I hate to admit it, but I have Jewel's new song stuck in my head. Someone has already written how I feel about the makeover of Jewel and Liz Phair, so I won't go into my cynical apathy at the mainstream recording industry. I will say that, just on music terms and based on the admittedly narrow sampling of their first singles from the new albums, Jewel is doing better than Liz Phair.

Although I may be a music snob, I'll be one to admit that good music doesn't necessarily have to come from clever lyrics or complex arrangements (and I certainly don't believe obscurity necessarily equates to quality). Music succeeds if it sticks in your mind and you don't feel like taking a hammer to your head because of it. In other words, catchy music can be good music. And Jewel's first single, "Intuition", is catchy indeed. With the first accordian notes and the children's song quality of "la la la la", you're hooked. You can't get that chord out of your head (which is good because it makes you forget the so in your face it's vapid lyrics about media fakers, though the 'look who's calling the kettle black' quality does create additional entertainment value, especially because Jewel is probably earnest about it). The Middle Eastern-tinged melody is different enough that it doesn't become cloying, like Mmmmbop. And I hate to admit that I find the new Jewel catchy because I hate the music of the old Jewel. It was bland, over-wrought crap that sounded like the poetry a junior high granola chick would write. At least Jewel's new single isn't bland.

Unforntunately, Liz Phair's new single is. "Why Can't I?" is utterly forgettable. The melody is similar to those of Pink's slower songs, and those lyrics sound familiar because she used The Matrix - Avril Lavigne's producing team. It's like watching Kim Catrall getting into low-ride capris, keds and a Walmart blouse going up to midwestern teens and saying "Hey, I'm hip! I'm with it!" Though at least Kim Catrall would have a better time getting noticed. When I first heard "Why Can't I?", I couldn't remember the melody five minutes later.

I guess the lesson learned is that if you're going to sell out, make sure you're going to get noticed.