Monthly Archives: August 2010

Aguado Dionisio — Study in A Minor (arranged for ukulele)

Got my new tenor ukulele and it’s an absolutely gorgeous instrument, although I’m sure that’s related to the cost1. After a few weeks of trying out the Aquila’s they came with, I put on some Worth brown strings with the low-G.

Study in A Minor is a great piece to learn because it’s relatively simple (so I don’t get discouraged too easily), but there are three tricky parts to focus on improving. They’re also each difficult in their own way, gradually working the dexterity or flexibility in a certain finger or two.

I wanted to film this as a record of the way the ukulele sounds now; it’s a solid lacewood spruce body, so the tone will develop over time as the wood matures. Also, so I can have a quick reference of what it sounds like with longer nails on the picking hand (which were promptly cut after, because they were driving me nuts). It’s relatively clear sound, whereas without nails it’s sort of “wet”.

I first learned this on a soprano ukulele, and I had to retrain my fingers to stretch on the tenor. It was a BIG difference, and I didn’t think my fingers would stretch far enough at first.

It feels amazing to practice something for weeks, and to finally have it click one day. Then you never want to stop playing cause you’re afraid you may lose it the next day.

  1. Jesse says I paid “real instrument” price for it. []

Will you sign my banana?

No better place for a bachelor party than in the market, where people see you in a giant banana costume and assume you’re either getting married or lost a bet.

Before going out drinking, they went paintballing, though this still didn’t preclude the groom-to-be from having to wear the bright yellow costume in the field.

banana hug

One of several bachelorette parties we ran into that night.

Continue reading “Will you sign my banana?”…

My cousin Chris

I’ve only shared about two conversations in my life with Chris — the last of which was about seven years ago — owing to the fact that we live on opposite coasts of the country. But Darren and I recognized him as one of us: someone who thinks for himself and doesn’t buy into the whole Chinese culture unquestioningly. This is in contrast to many of our other cousins, who seem to love their parents simply because they were birthed by them, not necessarily because their parents are good people.

Chris happened to be passing by for a wedding, so I hosted him for two days. It was interesting to meet him at this point in our lives. I wonder if I’m actually more similar to Chris than I am to Darren, mainly because of how our creativity defines us. It was so easy for me to relate and talk to him. And as with Darren, I actually felt like Chris was family, closer to a brother than a cousin, which is all too rare among my blood.

As an industrial designer he does amazing drawings, full of vibrant colours that pop-off the page. I asked him to draw something on my dry erase board because drawing is a creative ability not in my possession, and I find the process fascinating. It was a logistical challenge because he would smear his existing work every time he rested his hand on the board for stability.

He’s my exact opposite when it comes to health. He’s a vegan, while I’d find it impossible to give up meat, let alone butter and ice cream. He just literally biked 100km a day across Canada, while my lifestyle could be considered sedentary at best, with only Tai Chi and some mild calisthenics in my exercise routine. And yet we’re the same weight and shape. It’s sort of eerie to see him drawing in this video; aside from a shorter haircut, it’s almost like I’m watching myself.

The time he spent here passed quickly, as I introduced him to the ukulele. Aside from catching up and learning about each other, most of the two days were spent experimenting and playing together. Eventually, we went to a music store and bought him his own Mahalo ukulele, which filled my heart with glee. Darren and Jeff are coming up for a visit next week, and hopefully Chris will be able to hitch a ride with them for our ukulele band before we all head back to Toronto for Crystal’s wedding.

nothing gold can stay

The tears and the smears on my glasses which I look through to type this are telling me I’m still not over her. Or perhaps, the idea of her, because she had always held back a part of herself from being mine completely.

This is what happens when a true friend stabs you in the front. I guess I’ve been avoiding these thoughts for a while now, and confronted with them in conversation, the reality has never been more clear.

I’m still a broken man.

Even with the mixed signals, the inconsistency, and the pain, it was still the most significant relationship I’ve ever had, and that’s what makes it so hard to let go. My other relationships may have been free of all the drama, but they also lacked the depth, intensity, and intimacy.

There’s nothing I would have changed but the end, which dragged on for a year, one suture ripped out after another. It was far from a clean break, and anything but resolution.

I know I wasn’t the only person to go through the pain of separation, but the break wasn’t supposed to last forever. I was willing to step away so I could heal and be strong enough to be friends in time, to be there for her, to be ready to accept the next guy. And most importantly, I was willing to come back.

She was supposed to be strong enough to let me go until I was ready.


I believed her.

Why couldn’t it have ended that night, instead of the mindfuck that continued for months after? Why couldn’t the last thing for her to leave me be the letter she wrote on the stationary I gave her? Why couldn’t she have kept the promise she made to do whatever it took to keep me in her life, and stayed away?

We haven’t seen each other in over half a year. It’s been even longer since we had an actual conversation. It’s time for me to wake the fuck up. It’s time for me to deal with my emotions and the reality of the situation. It’s time for me to move on instead of holding on. It’s time for me to understand that I’ll never be what she needs, and she’ll never accept me as I am.

It’s time for me to realize that it’s over.


I got the chance to work with Team Emily to document their latest artist vision, titled Transplant. The brilliant concept:

This summer, Emily Comeau (a fibre artist from Quebec) and Emily Cook (a book and paper artist from Ontario) will be collaborating to create an immense and interactive tunnel book made from local plant materials to install in a barren patch of city.

Transplant is an outdoor living book installation. Constructed from found natural materials both living and dead, this installation is subject to the whims of nature and the designs of man. Each page of this book resembles an arch inviting the audience to enter the immense tunnel book. Within the pages are paper pockets where seeds will begin to sprout as the structure is gradually beaten down by the weather. Additional arches/pages will be added throughout the exhibition as the evolution of decay and growth take over. This evolution speaks to the ebb and flow of construction and decay as the manmade world interacts with the natural one. The story of this project is one of transformation and reclamation of the urban landscape by nature. It is the story of a cycle of decay and rebirth and of a balance that can be achieved when nature’s collaboration is desired rather than fought

The sunlight coming through the seeded paper is such a wonderfully striking image. This is just the first archway, constructed on the lawn at the Ottawa Arts Court, which is a very high-profile place (you can see the Rideau Centre right across the street). More details and ornaments are planned as the project continues over the next year.

My desire to record things comes from the fact that most things in this world are so ephemeral. This being a structure that can dissolve in the rain, as well as being an area frequented by drunks1 and homeless people, meant I was pretty adamant about documenting the whole process.

  1. As we were leaving the area at the end of the day, some guy just up and peed into the bushes next to us. []