30 March 2008


I seriously love mosh pits :).

I was at the "From This Day" show tonight and boy oh boy did I need to get a bit of moshing in my system. Seriously had a great time. Got their t-shirt (yay for red in my collection of black!) and just had to get their CD after watching their show. Insane :).


27 March 2008


Alright, so I'm almost 2 days late for my day 10 entry. A first for 2008 but this time it was purely due to insane schedules and workloads on my part :\.

Today's entry is brought to you by the word "passion". Why passion because I've come to realize it's on par with the essence of all life -- water. Think about it, without passion, life would be as dry as a desert. How would you feel waking up everyday knowing you had nothing passionate about your life? Wouldn't you be thirsty for such a feeling?

I was talking to some band guys last night and it was so refreshing to see these group of people glow with a genuine passion for music and music only. They could see great fame and fortune as possibilities but no matter what, it was the music they wanted more than anything else. It was so encouraging to talk to people who had a passion like I do for many things I'm involved in. I'm not talking about people who dedicate their lives to what they love, I'm talking about people who love what they dedicate their lives to. There's a difference.

Let's say you love painting. To dedicate your life to painting means you sacrifice everything else and focus solely on painting. Now there's nothing wrong with that, but that means you specialize all your efforts towards this passion that is painting. To love what you dedicate your life to allows you the leeway of doing more than one thing. I personally love web design, I love my band, I love stand-up comedy, I love drumming, I love a lot of things and I couldn't ever say I want to dedicate my life to one of them, but during the time I dedicate myself to one of my passions, I put my heart in it. Sure sure, this sounds so grand and va va va va fancy but this is really what I do. Don't get me wrong, there's only so much "effort" you can dedicate in a day and that's probably why I find myself burnt out so often because I try my best to put 100% in something if I genuinely love it. Very often after band practice, I'm exhausted physically and mentally. Heck, after every work out I feel great but I can feel physically and mentally I'm a bit drained because I really focused hard for the hour I was in the gym doing my thing. I take it really seriously which is why you'll never, ever see me go to the gym "with someone". It's similar when I play my drums, as much as I tell myself "let me go relax and play a bit of drums", very often after an hour of intense drumming (playing + practicing), I come out more tired.

The funny thing is, each type of "activity" of mine tires me in a different way, which is also why it's like I have all these passions and as much as some people might feel I'd be distracted, I feel I'm quite focused when it comes to the things I love. Working out exhausts me in a different way than stand up comedy or drumming does. Like let's say I was playing drums, after 1 hour, I'd be too tired to properly focus and write a blog entry because the mental effort I spent is a type of concentration where I have to pull myself out of my body and let me limbs do their thing while I stand aside and make sure everything sounds good. At the gym, it's the reverse where I have to go into every limb itself and work it, like if I was doing a bench press, I'd go into my chest and arms and really squeeze every single muscle as hard as I could. So like I said, it's a different type of fatigue when I'm done. Another good example is that after I work on some design for an extended period of time I'd find I cannot go play drums and be creative, I won't be able to come up with new patterns for songs, however, tell me to go for a job (something I don't need to get creative with) and I'd have no problem really. So in many ways, mentally I have to following departments that I try to work out:
  • Concentration/focus - When I'm working out, I need a lot of this. When I'm practicing drums I need a lot of this at slower speeds.
  • Creativity - when I'm working out patterns for my band's songs, when I'm writing out stuff for my stand-up, when I'm doing my freelance work I use this.
  • Observation - when I'm playing at faster tempos on the drums, I need this because I need to take care everything is still staying clean. When I'm working out, I have to watch my form
Physically I have:
  • Coordination - when I'm drumming I have to use a lot of this
  • Muscle strength/endurance - Working out + some drumming
  • Muscle relaxation - very important during drumming!
Anyways, so as much as a lot of my departments are inter-linked, they have different levels of use for different things, so I try my best to find ways to balance my schedule so I put things that require different departments next to each other. This allows me to minimize my "feeling too tired to do it well" feeling and also I find I don't waste so much time "resting" on purpose (ie. doing nothing but resting everything department) Think about it, it's like working out. When you've just finished doing bench presses, you could either sit there for a minute or you could work on a muscle group that wasn't really involved (eg. do squats) during your rest time. I personally prefer to hit it and hit it hard without wasting time. However, I admit, there is one muscle that is always involved -- your heart. So it really comes down to listening to your body as well and knowing when you've hit a point of diminishing returns and stopping there. As much as diminishing returns still means you're getting returns, just less, sometimes it's not worth wasting your time doing that. Think of it as not reaching your maximum output in this field and so it may be better to shift your focus on something else that'd give you more returns instead. Like I could spend an extra 10 minutes at the gym working out but not getting as much of a result or I could leave with an extra 10 minutes to give me a headstart when I get back to begin my freelance work where I'd be getting maximum returns for my effort I put in there.

Confused yet?

Anyways, going back to passion, I just feel in today's world, passion has lost a lot of its value partly because a lot of people may not know what it is and therefore thinks they've got it when they may not have. For all I know, I may be one of those "misunderstood" people who thinks he has a passion about something when maybe I don't. But I will never forget when I first laid my eyes on the Roland TD-6 v-drums, woah, that feeling I got was very intense and it was like I just had to, had to, had to have it! The price tag, the space it required, the fact that I couldn't play drums was irrelevant. All I knew and wanted to know was that I needed to have that. I got it and till today I have never had 1 millisecond of doubt in my decision :). That, so far, is what I call passion and how I define it.

Going back to that group of guys I was talking to yesterday, I say they had passion because one of them said one key thing "I know I don't have much money, I know I have to work and I don't have a lot of freedom, but all I need is time and I'll get to where we all need me to be." This touched me when I heard it because that's how I feel with my drumming. I know my band would love if I was a much stronger drummer in general but it's not a matter of me not having the heart to reach that level. All I need is time. It's one of the hardest things I deal with in my life to be honest, when I know the target and the only thing in my way isn't even whether or not I'll put in the effort, but it's a matter of time. Like a wound, I can focus as hard as I want and have all the heart in the world, but the wound will still need time to heal no matter how hard I try.

But it's definitely a positive thing to know there still are people in this world who love what they do and do it for themselves and the good of helping this world grow in general. Creating good music shouldn't be about hitting it big, but more like creating something you want to share and let others enjoy. It should be about self-expression that is aimed at sharing your feelings and emotions with the world around you. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of reasons to create music, but for me, this is the direction I take. This is why my band's slogan is simply metalcore music from the heart because at the end of the day, our best gig is the one where we get a huge round of applause in the form of happy heart beats :)

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16 March 2008

24 hours of difference due to rest

So how is everyone doing? In just a little under 24 hours, I'm feeling much better. I suppose rest + sleep really does do the trick :).

I've found that recently I've been falling into the same problem I had a few years ago where I just want to keep going! I just don't want to stop because I feel when I stop to "rest", it's like I could be moving forward. I suppose it's a psychological thing but most people who know me know that I'm not the type of person to give up easily which makes me feel like "taking a break" is like surrendering. I always try to remind myself about the importance of rest when it comes to working out. I guess I'm more convinced in that field because I can see the direct relation to results. When I rest for 2 days instead of 1 after a heavy work out, I'm more powerful in the next session. I can tell this because I do the same exercises, so I have the same basis of comparison. I don't seem to have the same mentality when it comes to drumming and I finally realized why... I'm not comparing the same thing and therefore I feel like I'm not improving as much as I want to be! Sometimes I'll admit, if I don't practice for say a week, when I first come back, my 1st practice session usually sucks! Like yesterday, I was not only de-motivated, but I failed to achieve the speeds I did before. For example, remember how I said I could clock up to 165BPM on straight double pedaling? Well now I'm struggling with 160. I suppose it's partly because I've kind of changed my technique and so it's like I need to re-learn everything which really brings me back to my original point, I need to compare apples with apples! Not oranges!

So many times in life we get frustrated because things don't seem to be going "our way" when in fact it is we who are not looking at the matter properly in the first place! I've been working on some hand exercises on my practice pad and luckily, the whole page is really a variation on the same basic exercise so I can really see my speeds improve! As much as it's only an improvement of approx 10 bpm, it's 10 whole bpm!! At 16th notes, that's 40 more hits per minute!

So yes, rest, the all-important but often neglected rest. I wanted to just share with everyone that sometimes when you're frustrated with what you're working at, the best solution may just be to stop working on it. You know how they say when you're stuck with an idea, sleep on it. It allows your sub-conscious to work on it and when you wake up, you may have the solution! I believe this although I still often find myself falling back in the pits of thinking "go go go go go go!". Like even now, I just finished practicing drums for approximately 40 minutes and I know my concentration level has fallen due to fatigue but as I type this, I really want to work on those few more exercises still on the page of the book I'm using. In fact, I remember talking to another drummer when he asked me what motivates me to work on my exercises and oddly enough it's that feeling of "I can almost finish this page, and go to the next!" that comes first rather than "because it will help me improve." I guess in the end, the motivation behind it all doesn't matter even if it's because I want to get my money's worth, the point is, I still end up practicing.

Another thing I want to point out is directly opposite to rest, and that is to really work it out. Like when I play drums now, I don't stop at a comfortable speed, I try to push myself pass my comfort zone to a point I'm almost struggling or am even struggling to get through the exercise at that speed. My goal isn't to over-do it but instead, I feel that much like working out, it's not the comfortable zone that will allow you to improve, it's the last bit, where you're struggling and your body is crying and it's all down to your willpower to get through this final bit that will really let you grow. So the same should go with everything else. Remember yesterday how I said I was honestly kind of burnt out with everything, I really was, but looking back, I know I pushed it to the max. last week, I really put in my heart and soul in everything and got as much out of it as I could. I know I had a rewarding week when I look back at my schedule and go "wow, this only happened last week?" when it all feels like a few weeks ago because so much has happened since.

So I've covered rest and I've covered getting-things-done, which by the way, I'm still struggling to keep up with (GTD) because like many have said, GTD isn't hard to start, it's hard to maintain simply because it really boils down to self-discipline at the end of the day! No matter how many devices I use or whatever software is involved, I need to see the list and just get things done! So many things are actually a matter of over-coming the initial inertia of getting things done when you see a long list and you're like "Ahhhh where do I start", but in fact, all you really need to do is just start!! Like a lot of it is really myself saying "ahh that's simple, I'll just do it later when I'm quite tired".. like I'll give you an example, today, my list says I need to take a vitamin tablet. Now normally, I never take it on an empty stomach, so if I see this before lunch, I set it to snooze for an hour and then eat, then come back and it'll remind me. Now I saw it, but I also saw "Day 10 entry" and I figured, oh let me type the entry first because I have to walk outside to get some water since I'm out of the good liquid in my room when I could have done this, ticked it off my list and then done my blog entry. In fact, let me go take my vitamins right now. No more procrastination!

There we go, one thing done. Another thing I need to do is WD-40 my drum pedals. I shall do that now.

And we're back. I WD-40'd it, tightened everything and now we're here again. So what's next? Well before I start work, I'm going to hit the gym because I know I'll feel refreshed after that. I've got a new workout routine I created so going to give that a test-drive. So I hope everyone takes today as the beginning of a new way of thinking where you work hard and play hard. Rest fully and when you're done, get back into 110% mode!! Rock on! :)

Update: I was supposed to meet my friend Jonathan tonight but it didn't work out so here I am back at home ready to plunge deep into all the stuff I need to get done by tonight (yay for freelance or something). Well hope you all enjoy the rest of your Sunday evening, I'll be working it off so while you're all slogging away on Monday, I'll be a bit more relaxed :).


15 March 2008

The hardest week this year.

It's Saturday and this week has officially been the toughest week I've had so far in 2008. Poof.
I'm literally physically and mentally exhausted today and I can feel the strain of even having to think so I figured I might as well just free my mind and write whatever flows... kind of like stretching exercises for the muscles I suppose.

Speaking of exercises, it's been a week since I stopped to practice my drums and may I say even that I wasn't motivated to do properly today. I found myself wanting to skip certain exercises and stuff because they were "boring" when normally I'm always enjoying the most boring of exercises. Sigh, it's discouraging when I find myself struggling through stuff I'm normally comfortable with. Like today, my double strokes were just total rubbish! Yikes. Anyways, I won't bore you all with this.

So yesterday was the first Chinese Stand-up Comedy show in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong. It was quite good, though I have to admit the last show at Champs (29-Feb-2008) still is unbeatable :) not to say last night wasn't fun, just the setting made interacting with the audience tough, after all, a lot of my set is about interaction where I mess around with people and get them to talk and add to the comedy :) And tonight I've got English stand-up at TakeOut Comedy Club so once I'm done with my set, I'll head back to CLIQ (where we performed Cantonese stand-up last night) to check out the English show and then probably hang around a bit after that. I really am tired today but I don't want to say something like "oh I'll watch the show and leave" because I know that won't happen, people will want to sit down and chit chat which is only fair :P.

Tomorrow's Sunday and that means I need to catch up on all the stuff I have pending so far. One of them is clearing my room up. I think half my energy gets drained when everything is a total mess. It's not the mess that gets to me, it's the sense of being disorganized because I know as long as I know where everything is, the visual outlook doesn't matter but right now it's like I have boxes on the floor, paper everywhere and it's just all out of order! Ahah, I think I will clear it up a bit more when I finish this post. Just need to sit and relax. Thank goodness for my lovely Aeron chair, it's so comfy but even right now, my body's so tired/aching that even this chair isn't enough. I could really use a good proper massage.

So what else is running wild in my life? Well my band Eve of Sin is playing in Underground #56 at Club Cixi so I'm really excited about that (always get exciting playing drums... as you must know by now), I've got more comedy gigs lined up, and my freelance web design work is taking off even more. Which is also another reason why I'm burning up faster recently. I guess I've got to take a few more pauses every now and then and make sure I can see the whole picture and manage every small bit involved rather than trust they will manage themselves properly.

So how is everyone doing? The weather's still a bit cold and so I got a jacket on right now but at the same time I was sweating while drumming. I've been lazing around today watching comedy roasts on YouTube most of today, a lot of Don Rickles involved, very, very good stuff, woah. It really amazes me how his whole persona comes across as being genuinely grumpy :P I try to be funny and cocky in my stand-up routines but like I said before, there's a fine line between being an asshole and being witty and I try my best not to step over the boundary. I feel in last night's show, a bit of me stepped across the line every now and then, I guess out of nervousness because of the relatively difficult space we were in. I always worry pissing people off too much but I guess they understand it's all in fun :). Anyways, to all of you who came to the show last night, thanks a lot, I really appreciate the support and laughter, for those of you who's seen a lot of my set before, I'm writing new material but it's hard to have top-notch stuff all the time, but I think it's better to have 2 really good jokes than 10 mediocre ones :).

Let's see how I feel tomorrow, because it's a Day 10 entry...

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06 March 2008

It's Day 10 already!

Wow! 10 days already since my last entry. Time has really, really flown very fast this time. It sure doesn't feel like 10 days! My last entry was a major entry so I guess that's why I don't have too much to say. But if I think back, once again, a heck of a lot has happened.

First, I had a killer set at Champs on 29 Feb 2008 doing Chinese stand-up comedy! The whole night was a good show in general with a full house and very interactive people in the audience. Some of the ladies sitting near the stage were really nice and played along to our jokes. It's really quite a challenge to make sure you as the comedian try your best to always stay one step ahead of the person you're talking to in everything you say. In many ways it's like you need to outsmart and outwit them while staying funny and not offensive. I've found sometimes I need to really take care and not cross the line of being rude. But I guess in the end, it's still fun and people come with a laughing mind and so whatever may seem rude comes out as just being a joke. Also, after every show I make it a point to go back to those who played along and thank them because after all, if it wasn't for their sense of humor, the show wouldn't be as fun. I very much like interacting with the audience because it brings a fresh feel to the whole show even if a lot of my material is my old stuff. It's tough writing new material for every show and so I try to make sure people who return don't see a completely identical show. Then again, there are people who come just to re-hear some of my bits and even "sing-along" at times ;) It's quite encouraging.

So that's my comedy update for this entry. Now on to my drumming......*drum roll* I got a new snare drum! Check it out, and yes, even I was shocked when I finally chose this one because anyone who knows me knows that I really, really, really, really don't like getting signature models of anything (ie. stuff that was designed for someone else) but this snare was just perfect in price, in sound, in power, in look, in everything. I went to the store and tried out snare after snare after snare without letting budget limit me, but in the end, this one was the one. And the funny thing was, this was supposed to be the first snare I would try but I didn't because I told myself "It's a signature model, I don't want to get a signature snare!" So here you go, I'm the proud owner of a brand new Joey Jordison JJ1355 Snare drum:

Mwahaha!! Yesterday we went jamming and I finally got to put this lovely snare drum to the test. It definitely fits my drumset and my band's sound and while playing it, even I feel more empowered! It's kind of like shedding the extra bucks for a better guitar and in the end, with the better sound you're inspired to play differently and realize a lot of things that you felt didn't sound right now do. Like a lot of my drumming that I felt just didn't have the power to go with the angry guitar riffs now seems to be able to keep up. Again, as I'll always say, I still have a long, long way to go with my drumming, I'm much happier now! :D Speaking of drumming, I've gone berserk with practice lately, like suddenly I've got this new motivation to really work out my technique, like you'll see me playing quarter notes on the bass drum at 50bpm! That's like less than 1 beat per second, imagine doing that for over a minute, it sounds boring, but it sure let's me make sure my technique is proper. I need to find the perfect relaxed technique so when I go to higher tempos I'm not wasting any energy because when you're hitting 200bpm at 16th notes, we're talking making clean 13.3 beats per second! Sounds impressive eh? Ahaha that's my dream to hit that number :) I can do a very clean 140bpm now (ie. 9.3 beats per second) and the fastest I've clocked is 165bpm (ie. 11 beats per second) so there's still a long, long way to go. I don't even want to imagine people who are hitting like 225bpm (ie. 15 beats per second!).. yikes got a bunch of phone calls... got distracted.
Wow, I need to practice some drums today before I go for my comedy gig tonight :)...

So it's 10 days since my last entry, a lot has happened, my life's getting more and more focused and more and more broad in the sense a lot of going on once again and it's a matter of me keeping track of everything.. well not really keeping track, but more like trying to manage and not get overwhelmed by everything. My fitness routine's improving, I'm really noticing some jumps in my strength now because I've finally gone past the initial beginner phase of going to the gym where you're still searching to balance all your muscles so you can be optimally coordinated when doing any exercises. I have to admit, I've been spending more time on the weights than I do for aerobics but at least it's still a fair trade because the time I'd spend doing aerobics, it goes to my drum practice which really is quite tiring to all my limbs :) Not to mention all the concentration sure drains my brain out, but I love it.

So here's today's words of wisdom. Stick to it. Much like any habit, the hardest part is sticking to it in the beginning, breaking through the initial inertia and finding your momentum in what you're doing. Once you've found it, you'll just flow, much like when I'm standing in the greenroom before any comedy gig, I'm nervous no matter how prepared I am, but once I'm on stage, I let it flow, flow and flow some more :) The point is to be like any great manager, get the parts moving, and step aside and let them do their thing. I had to manage myself, and yes at times I had to intervene to make sure all the parts were moving properly, but once they have, I just step aside and enjoy the ride :) It's a lovely experience.

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