Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bed + Supper = DJ Shadow

  Let's backtrack. During the wine party at the St. Regis hotel I had a conversation with the event manager at Bed Supper Club. If you can recall, this club is one of the best in Bangkok that brings in some of the best Dj's. It also happens to look like a spaceship. So, I was talking to the event manager, whom I've spoken to a few times at past events, and enthusiastically mentioned that DJ Shadow would be performing there the next night (Friday). The next day I found a message from Chris inviting me to the club. Don't mind if I do! I'm not keen on going solo into Bangkok nightlife by myself at midnight, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see a great DJ for free. Plus it's always a good way to meet new people. When I arrived at the club, Chris rolled up with two French guys. The three of us walked into the club and up to the second level on the dance club side (opposite of the bed side) to get a few drinks. Dropping 300B on a glass of champagne made me wince, so I made it last as long as possible. Needless to say, that was the only drink I bought there. With drink in hand we walked over to the bed side to see DJ Shadow.
  I must admit it wasn't the spectacle I saw in Baltimore. In Baltimore I got to witness his show "live from the Shadowsphere" as he DJ'd from inside a giant canvas globe on stage. Images were projected onto the globe and backdrop behind him, creating a really unique visual experience. For example, the globe would turn into a basketball while the backdrop turned into a wooden court. The court would zoom in and out as the basketball spun, creating a bouncing effect. So I would've loved to see that same show again, but Bed just didn't have the space for the whole set up. At Bed he was cramped under a staircase with his turntables while the visual show was projected on the opposite wall. I think his style of music is really different compared to the usual Dj's that play there. Granted the bed side is supposed to be more relaxed, but Shadow is one of the best scratchers on the planet, so he's going to do his thing. I think the typical Bed attendees are used to something they can dance to. It seems to me that his live show is more of a visual and listening experience than dancing. Good for him for bringing something new to Bed Supper. NPR has a link on their website to stream DJ Shadow's entire new album for free! It will be released October 4th. I recommend the song "Redeemed", which I heard last year at his show in Baltimore. Click NPR for the link.
  On the bed side I was introduced to Chris's fun and fabulous entourage. It might have been the most eclectic group I've ever encountered. There were two Thai guys with Australian and British accents, a young guy from Britain, the two French guys, a Finnish professional poker player and me. Somehow we all crammed into a tuk-tuk to go to an after party at a small pub. The pub was packed with European people. The walls were decorated with vintage vinyl cases and hundreds of group photos of every tourist who has ever been to the place. I spent most of my time here talking to the Finnish poker player about his life as a gambler. I don't know anything about card games, so I wasn't about to ask him any rules or card strategies. Instead I asked about how he can read the other players' body language and how his ability to read people translates to his social life. My ears were about shot by this point in the night and it must've been around 4am. I did my best to be alert - I never stay out that late. From what I gathered he is very observant and attentive. I could tell money was no object to him. I'm sure his life constantly involves winning and losing money, so spending money doesn't phase him. He told me he's won upwards of 400,000 Euro in won match! You win some, you lose some. 
  I returned home around 5am and promptly passed out in bed. When I awoke around 2pm on Saturday, I joined some friends to travel outside of Bangkok to Rangsit Universtiy. We planned a rendezvous with our friend Daren whom we met during our Khao Yai adventure. He is teaching at the university and has a lot of free time when he's not in the classroom. Me and four friends took a cab to the university and stopped at the nearest 7-11 to get some snacks. As soon as we got inside Cooper realized that he left his backpack in the taxi along with ALL of Walter's identification (wallet, passport, credit cards etc.) so they sprinted down the street in bare feet after the runaway cab. Cooper ran directly after the cab while Walt sprinted through the campus to try and catch the cab around the corner. When Cooper ran out of breath he found a kid on a motorbike and hopped on the back to chase down the taxi on a high-speed pursuit. Luckily, Cooper caught up to the cab and recovered his backpack. Crisis averted, we regrouped and went for a walk around the university campus. The campus was very modern compared to a university in America. The picture below is the view from the top of the tallest building. 
  As we waited for Daren to meet up with us, we spent our time in a video game cafe playing FIFA for about an hour. I'd say 20B was a good deal. No wonder all the St. Gabriel students spend so much time at these places. When Daren arrived we all went to a small restaurant to get dinner before going to an outdoor bar for a few drinks. The bar had a great backyard feel to it with a few ponds and decorative lanterns in the trees. My favorite part was the vintage car chassis placed around the grass. I saw an old VW van and beetle, as well as an old Mercedes convertible. Speakers were mounted in the vehicles so that the live band could be heard from multiple sources. "Sweet Duck 3" is a bar I would definitely visit again. 

  After weeks of talking to different dentists and going back and forth between clinics, I finally got my wisdom teeth removed yesterday. I first went to a clinic to get x-rayed, then went to a recommended dentist, then went to a recommended surgeon. I was a bit nervous about the whole operation because the language barrier. I made it a point to always have confirmation of understanding. The doctors were very helpful. It was just so frustrating and challenging to communicate with all the proper people along the way and convince the doctors that there was no way I was going to stay in the hospital for three days to recover. Been there, done that. I think the surgery went well, though. Of course it's painful, but bearable. My face isn't swollen at all and my sinuses feel clearer! I'm glad that I got the last of my wisdom teeth removed just to get it all over with. I payed for the surgery out of my pocket. 10,000B is half a paycheck that would've been spent for my travels. However, I didn't want to be in pain during my vacation. This really was the ideal time to have them removed. Classes are over, which leaves us to menial office work doing second semester lesson planning until break. 

Song of the Day: Same Same but Different
 Today features the song "Lazy Eye" by Silversun Pickups. This band has been around for a few years and has gained a lot of attention from notable music magazines. This song is their first big hit off of the album, Carnavas. I first heard the remix last New Year's Eve in good old Harrisburg, PA, at the Midtown Arts Center. Me and my friends from home had a blast dancing to some excellent remixes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Banana Boat song. Any remix sounds awesome after drinking an unknown amount of Irish car bombs and topping them off with a bit of FourLoco. Altogether a recipe for ridiculous behavior on the dance floor. Good times. 

Silversun Pickups - 'Lazy Eye' 

Silversun Pickups - 'Lazy Eye' (Jason Bentley Remix) <<<Download

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Uneventful Events

  I know I should be posting on Wednesdays, but my weekend was uneventful. It's not that there wasn't anything for me to do, I just decided to have a relaxing weekend because I expected to have wisdom teeth removed on Sunday. Long story short, that fell through because the dentist wasn't able to do general anesthesia, only local. You can call me tease me all you want about bailing on the procedure; I refuse to be awake for another wisdom tooth extraction. That's the stuff of nightmares. I spent most of my weekend researching dental clinics and catching up on sleep. So, instead of blogging about this yesterday, I held off so I could write about last night. 
  Last night I attended the grand opening of the "Decanter" wine bar in the St. Regis Hotel. The lavish atmosphere was unparalleled by any other party I've crashed in Bangkok. Sometimes I feel like my age, teacher attire and lack of professional experience can create a lot of noise amongst the suave and powerful. Any twenty-two year old kid would feel a bit self-conscious in a room full of real professional adults who are at the very least ten years older. The abundance of free wine provided liquid courage. However, I'm not giving the wine all the credit. It all depends who you meet. There are plenty of people who will gladly chat you up if you're willing to put yourself out there. Age is only a mental obstacle. If you think of yourself as a shy person, forget being a wallflower if you want to have a good time! Once I tell that to myself, this phase of ambivalence quickly diminishes. 
  Since I started going to these events, I've been curious as to how they operate. Sometimes I can't tell the difference between a party party and a network party. It's all a party to me. Events are organized for different reasons; it could be a networking event, a party, or an event for media exposure. Important people in Bangkok attend an event to expand their network and gain exposure by being recognized in published articles. Although the city is huge, a lot of the events occur in a relatively small area, so many of the same people attend the same events together because of a strong network. For example, I know the photographer knows the PR representative who coordinates the event and sends the invites. Fortunately for a nobody like myself, I get to meet all the important people who manage mega-industries like Victoria's Secret or Grey Goose. It's always interesting to hear about how one of these successful people made it to where they are now. Everyone has to start somewhere. 

  My plans for October are coming together nicely. First, I'm going to take a bus or van to Koh Samui, an island that's about ten hours south of Bangkok. I've constructed a tentative itinerary for my week-long stay. I hope to spend two days at each section of the island I visit, relaxing on the beach and exploring the area. Plans are subject to change. I'll arrive on the west coast of the island where I'll see two waterfalls. After two days there I'll travel up and around the island to the northeast section to Big Buddha Beach where I plan to see a few giant Buddha's, obviously. The next destination is my solo honeymoon suite at Chaweng Beach. Thanks to Fresh, I'm ecstatic to have such a stunning hotel in my plans. I'm staying at the Akyra Hotel. Check out the link to see some exceptional photos. Paradise awaits! 
  Once I get back to Bangkok, the rest of my vacation entails taking a train to Cambodia with a few Loyola friends and spending at least a week there. We'll spend most of our time exploring the country, seeing temples, though the main attraction will probably be the museum of genocide and the killing fields. I'm glad that's not the end of my adventures. From Cambodia I'm flying solo to Ho Chi Minh (southern Vietnam) to rendezvous with other Loyola friends. From there we'll travel up through the country to Hanoi in the north, where I'll fly back to Bangkok and put a cap on the trip. It's going to be quite an adventure! 

Song of the Day: Same Same but Different
 We've all heard songs by Phoenix get overplayed so many times that some of our favorite tunes are being killed by redundancy. The good news is that the phoenix will be reborn from its ashes! I'm here to offer a pleasant substitute for the original song. Today the focus is on 'Lisztomania'. I heard the remix (unexpectedly) in an American Outfitters store back home. The store had generated an alternative playlist from college radio stations around the country. This remix is a refreshing spin on the immensely popular song. 

Phoenix - 'Lisztomania'

Phoenix - 'Lisztomania' (Classixx Remix) <<<Download

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Dog's Days Are Over

  If you are a dog lover, please refrain from reading this post. You will think I am a terrible person. Don't get me wrong, I like dogs just as much as anyone else. The difference is that my dog was more of a nuisance and trouble maker than all other dogs I've encountered. I think we picked the wrong one out of the litter fifteen years ago when we thought we had chosen a female. Nope. Instead we picked Sid. It doesn't really make sense why the dog acted the way it did; thrashing the garbage on a regular binge, running away for hours on end, viciously attacking the mailman, or just being an irritable animal. Although Sid had many, many negative traits, there are still those lingering funny memories and stories that are worth remembering. Sid recently expired after his final garbage feast. My parents told me that his usual energy level was fading and he could barely walk up and down the street. Plus his stubby little legs probably couldn't support the weight of his sausage body. 
  This is a momentous occasion not only because the dog lasted for so many years, but because its wild antics created a well known reputation in town. If anyone knocked on the front door of my house Sid was there barking ferociously. But he was all least indoors, anyway. He definitely took a chunk out of the mailman after being maced. The dog seemed invincible. After running away for hours or stuffing himself with garbage or even a pound of fudge, we came to believe that the dog could recover from any incident. If Sid was anything worth complimenting, he was definitely a good guard dog and an entertainment on Christmas morning. I'll insert the picture from last XMas. It was always funny that Sid shared the anxious excitement of Christmas Day with everyone else gathered around the tree. If you were sitting on the floor unwrapping your gift, Sid would waddle over and inspect the package with intense curiosity - pressing his nose to the surface and puffing rapidly. Usually this led to ripping off little shreds of wrapping paper bit by bit, occasionally sticking to his teeth. If he happened to open one of his own edible gifts, he'd prance around with it all morning, or devour it in a minute. Oh, the good times. Just look at Santa's little helper!
  One incident that I will always remember is ordeal with my sister's expensive handbag. Although I wasn't there to experience the event firsthand, it goes to show how well the stories depict Sid's behavior. One night my parents were out at a friends house when they got a distress call from my sister. She said that Sid had a bag stuck on his head and she couldn't take it off because the dog was panicking and biting anyone who tried to help. When she explained that the bag was one of her more expensive purses, my parents promptly rushed home to save the bag. They found Sid with his head inside the purse with the wooden handles tightly choking him. Being choked was old hat to Sid; on walks he always pulled his leash so tight that he barely breathe between violently loud wheezes. So, my parents struggled to remove the purse from Sid's head while my sister cowered in fear for the safety her bag. After a few bites to the hands they freed Sid, who then hacked up two whole gummy worms. I wonder if all that trouble was really worth two pieces of candy. For Sid, I think any endeavor was worth the sacrifice if it involved food. 
  Although Sid was unpleasant (to say the least) most of the time, it made the good times even better because it proved that he could be a good dog if he really wanted to. I think part of the reason for his unacceptable behavior is the fact that he was half Jack Russel / Australian Cattle Dog. One side is rambunctious and energetic, the other has an insatiable desire to be outside and to run. We walked him all the time, but it was never enough. I'm sure being in the house at all was more than he would've liked. The fact that he ran away at any given chance removed any possibility of granting him the privilege to wander the yard on his own. Yes, there are certain things we could have done to solve this problem, like maybe an electric fence. I don't think Sid felt pain, so that would never have worked. Despite all the embarrassing and destructive things that Sid instigated, the dog was a major part of my life at home. Sure, it would've been nice to have a dog that was friendly and well behaved all the time, yet Sid's erratic behavior was certainly unique compared to the other family pets in town. I feel like I'm being rather nice with this recap of Sid's life. If you ask me in person what I thought about him I might sound cruel. It's difficult for some people to understand because they didn't live with the animal for fifteen years or see it on a daily basis. In conclusion, I think I've painted an accurate picture of Sid in this post and I could write much more. I would rather tell you in person. So do you think all dogs go to heaven? Wherever Sid went he he's having a hell of a good time!

  Now for the weekend. On Saturday afternoon I took a cab to Siam Paragon with a few friends to look around. Everything there is incredibly expensive and you can find almost any name brand store there. We even found Maserati, Lotus and Lamborghini showrooms with the cars inside. On Saturday night the St. Gabriel's faculty treated us to a fancy Chinese buffet at the tallest hotel in Bangkok. From our own private room on the 80th floor we had a great view of the city skyline. The buffet was endless. I think we had twelve courses including an assortment of fried seafood, soft shell crab, wonton soup, dumplings, salad, and sushi all before my main course of Australian lamb chops. After eating forever I felt like passing out at the table because I didn't want to move. It was the biggest meal I've eaten in a long time. I imagine that's how Sid felt after his occasional feast. When we had all finished we went up to the top of the building to enjoy the view from the outdoor rotating observation deck. Bangkok is not a tall city compared to New York. The hotel is easily recognizable from the roof of any building. 
  On Sunday I went with a friend to the Pantip electronics market to pick up some desirable computer programs. I bought Rosetta Stone for Thai and Pro Tools 9, one of the most advanced music studio programs. Normally Rosetta Stone and Pro Tools would cost upwards of $200-$300. I bought bootlegs for $10-$20. Pro Tools is nearly impossible to set up because there are so many loopholes you have to jump through to trick the computer into running the imitation program. I guess I got what I paid for. I decided it did more harm than good, so I bailed on the installation. As for Rosetta Stone, I still have to dabble with that. I'll report back when I've tested it out. 

  Plans for October break: I have a month off to do whatever I please. My plans thus far involve a solo trip to the beach for a few days (location to be determined), taking a train from Bangkok to Cambodia with a few friends and traveling around there for a week, then flying from Cambodia to Vietnam to meet more of the Loyola group for a week. This is the rough outline of things I would like to do. A more detailed plan will be posted prior to departure. 

Song of the Day: Same Same but Different
  The spotlight is on Empire of the Sun, another band from Australia! I think most people recognize this group from the singer's unique voice and their eccentric futuristic/tribal outfits. They have a knack for falsetto and catchy pop songs. I can't say that their album is worth acquiring. However, there are a few songs that are solid hits - 'We Are The People', 'Without You' (New Version) and of course 'Walking On A Dream'. The remix for today is one that I heard and downloaded a few years ago while scouring the internet. It took me ages to find an mp3 of proper quality and it was definitely worth the search. This house mix is brought to you by a Polish duo named WaWa. If I recall correctly, their name comes from the rearranged letters of Warsaw. Both of these versions are immensely popular. WaWa is still relatively unknown, so you're in for a treat! By the way, all this talk of Sid and Australian bands reminds me that I desperately would like to go to Australia someday...maybe at the end of next semester!

Empire of the Sun - 'We Are The People'

Empire of the Sun - 'We Are The People' (WaWa Remix) <<<Download

Thursday, September 8, 2011

On A Good Note

  There's nothing like having your friends show up with a bunch of guns. A firefight for the equivalent of $20 is an affordable way to exercise and relieve stress. My legs are still sore from paintball. Not from the impact of bullets, but from constantly running and crouching during the shooting spree. On Saturday afternoon our group traveled to the outskirts of Bangkok for a paintball skirmish in a swamp battlefield. The heat was relentless that day, sapping your energy in minutes and quickly instigating heat exhaustion. Imagine sprinting around obstacles in a swamp while wearing a full jump suit, padded vest and face mask. The only cool relief could be found with cold water and industrial fans in the garage outside the battlefield. 
The last time I played paintball I was a little girl of only twelve years old, petrified of being shot by the paint bullets and the bruises that would follow. This time around I found myself more confident and a bit more accurate. I'm sure all those years of video games have payed off. My aim actually was pretty bad, so I adjusted my tactics to sneaking up on my friends and flanking them to shoot them in the back - much more effective. Fair is foul and foul is fair. The swamp was split in half by the grass length; short grass on the half closest to the garage and waist-high swamp grass on the opposite side. Both sides were littered with obstacles for cover, from rusted out car chassis to giant industrial wooden spools. Somehow I managed to be frugal with my ammo during the matches and lasted through four games without refilling. We all had a blast shooting at each other and strategizing to take out the other team. At $30 you can't beat that for an afternoon shooting spree!

  That night our plans took us to the grand opening of a new club called "The Note". It was one of the smallest clubs I've been to in Bangkok. When I walked into the place I saw the bar on the right wall, and a small stage for a band on the immediate left corner near the entrance. The wall opposite the bar was lined with a leather couch and drink tables. Maybe fifty people could be packed on the first floor. The second floor had more couches and tables around the perimeter, a small glass dance floor in the center and an outdoor balcony. When I walked into the club I could look through the glass ceiling to see people dancing on the second floor. As we danced I took note of all the familiar dance songs I heard. I ended up making friends with Skinny Deejay Mark in hopes of collaboration or getting some help with DJ experience in Bangkok. Fingers crossed!

  Nuan's birthday was on Sunday, so she invited all the Americans to her house to celebrate. Nuan is the woman who cleans and maintains the building where all of the American teachers live. She is incredibly nice and talkative to everyone, and just an all-around jubilant person. Her house is located in a small village outside of Bangkok where she lives with her daughter and grandson. It was both very interesting and humbling to be a guest in a Thai family's house. I found her home to be quite cozy with the pink flowered wallpaper and summer home ambiance. The village was so calm and quiet compared to wear I live in the city.  I could imagine this home being ideal for a beach house. If only the ocean waited at the end of the street, already lined with palm trees. I apologize for the brief post today, but it's already overdue!

Song of the Day: Same Same but Different
  Today's songs come from the Australian band, Temper Trap off of their album Conditions. It's a solid album through and through. If you don't have this album or know this band, it's imperative that you check them out. The song is called "Fader". I recently found an irresistible remix that I can't get enough of. I first heard this remix two years ago at a Benny Benassi concert in D.C. Benny dropped this bomb during his set and I lost my mind because I was convinced that it was his own remix. Little did I know that it's not his at all, but sounds very similar to his style. This week I finally found the remix I heard so long ago, therefore it belongs in this post without a doubt. The guitar work in this remix is so simple, yet completely drives the song. It blows my mind that the remix only has a few thousand views compared to the 3 million plus views of the original music video. You'll see. This is one of my favorite bands, plus one of my favorite Indie rock remixes I've heard. It's a great way to end the weekend and this post on a good note. 

Temper Trap - "Fader"

Temper Trap - "Fader" (Rockdaworld Vocal Extended Mix) <<<Download