Musical Inspirations Vol. 2: Nobuo Uematsu

I know what you’re thinking: Who the hell is that?

Nobuo Uematsu is famous for his composition/arrangement works with the video-game company Square. He wrote most of the scores for over 30 of their games, including the core Final Fantasy franchise.

Also keyboard player for “The Black Mages” a group that took music from the franchise and turned it into a rock band.

Okay, but what does that have to do with you?

Glad you asked.
I try to find inspiration in every kind of music I listen to, and some of the best music I’ve ever heard has been written in video-games!

Don’t believe me? Can you recall the music from the classic NES game Super Mario Brothers? I bet you can. How about any music from The Legend of Zelda.. It’s iconic.

Personally, Nobuo is the reason I managed to figure out how to finger-pick on an acoustic guitar, and I’m honestly not too bad at at!
Specifically this piece of music:

It’s a beautiful piece of music and unless you know it’s from a video-game, you would never think otherwise.

His music is very technical and interesting. I think I hummed the boss theme from FF8 all the way through my 8th grade year of school, because it was such a memorable piece of music.

Then there’s the mighty symphonic “One Winged Angel” which sits near and dear to any RPG nerds heart.

I saw an interview once where Uematsu explained the writing process. It wasn’t meant to just be a symphonic piece. It was written in a way that it could also be a Rock piece. A perfect bridge between the big band style & the modern era heavy metal.

Isn’t that beautiful? I sure think so.

Being a long time band-geek has its advantages,

Through my early years of a musician, I learned how to listen to a massive group of people playing instruments, and being able to isolate each individual part, in my mind.

It’s one of the reasons I love modern progressive rock. There is SO much to listen to, I can sit and get lost in the music, without being bored with repetition.

People who arrange pieces of music like this, are the types you should be listening to. They are smart about writing. They know how to take an idea, and implement it through a whole arsenal of tones and sounds.

 

So, I challenge you:

Next time you’re listening to music. Actually listen to the music. Don’t idly drone words and zombie your way through albums. People put every single detail into a song, for a specific reason. It’s our duty, as fans, to find those details and appreciate the beauty of what’s been written for our entertainment. Really think about the way the music feels.

If we had more people like that in the world, music would be a hell of a lot more fun to write!

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re all enjoying this look into my musical inspirations, as much as I am!

Hmm… Car talk?

Natty...

Honestly, a term I don’t recall hearing, before today. A quick google search shows that it means “Well designed” or “Clever”

Cleverness being the thing I am lacking, for this blog post…

Yep.. drawing a blank…

Ya know what was well designed, though? The 4.0 Liter V6 engine, in the pre-2006 Jeeps. I’ve been a fan of Jeeps (specifically Cherokees {Like.. the boxy ones, not Grand Cherokees}) For quite a few years now. I’ve owned 3 of them, and had nothing but fun with them!

Aside from crappy alternators and water pumps, they were the most reliable engine I’ve ever been around.

In fact, back in the 2011(ish.. guessing here) Stimulus package, when President Obama did the national cash-for-clunkers thing (that destroyed the used car market, IMO), I had a friend who worked at a garage. For fun, they would set a stop watch when they had to destroy the traded-in vehicles.

Let me back up a second.. they would have to put a highly corrosive material into the engine, and start it. Then the vehicle would run until the engine seized.

Anyways, the engine that consistently managed to last the longest in this test, was the 4.0 liter straight 6 engine, found in Jeeps. Just goes to show that under the harshest conditions imaginable, they would function.

I used to offroad a lot, with my Jeeps. My thinking was, if they could handle the vast PA wilderness, they were fit to be a good daily driver!
Mud, snow, sides of mountains.. Nothing stopped us from having a good time with our Jeeps… Man, I miss it. It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve been out in the woods, navigating the harshest roads imaginable, with my trusty Jeep.

I traded all of that fun in for a Mazda, and while I love my car, it can barely go over speed-bumps without scraping the undercarriage…

“Someday” I keep telling myself….

I miss working on them too… There was something about the bond between man and machine. If I screwed it up, I got to bring it home and fix it! It sounds frustrating, but there’s a great sense of achievement, to going through a rough patch, with your favorite automobile, and then having to make things better.

I tend to get really attached to the cars I like… My wife doesn’t get it. Even most of my guy friends don’t get it.  I still have dreams of driving my ’87 Daytona Shelby Z, it was the most fun I’d ever had in a car, and I think, somewhere in the depths of my mind, I long for the freedom of the road or the open trail. I long to explore the world around me, with a machine I made capable of doing so.

This may sound like some weird, testosterone fueled desire.. but it’s the truth… And I can’t water it down to something that isn’t that haha!

What about you? Have you ever been offroad? Do you ‘get it’? The feeling of freedom one gets from driving fast, or exploring the woods?

Thanks readers, I guess this wasn’t too bad of a post after all.

Oppression, in Uniform

Uniforms...

Any blue collar worker wears them… I’ve worn many: From Pizza Delivery, to factory work, writing parking tickets, doing maintenance, and now my job as the Dispatcher of the city of Williamsport. Nothing makes me feel more restrained, at my workplace, than not wearing my own, comfortable clothes.

There is nothing like the joy of removing my work boots, pants, and shirt; then putting on my own comfortable jeans, chucks, and a T-shirt, it’s like a small victory every day!

Which brings me to this point: Just another thing I love about being able to do music, as a second job… wearing whatever the heck I want!! There really are a lot of perks to being a “working musician.”

  • I get to do what i love, and get paid for it…
  • I get to dress as I please, and people can’t tell me otherwise…
  • I am the guy with the microphone… This has more power than you can imagine.. I say things, and people have no choice but to listen. I can make jokes, tell them to give the bartender money, entertain them, and they have no choice because I am the loudest one in the room!

Back to the topic at hand… Nothing makes me feel more like a “number” or a “drone” than having to be dressed like the people I work with…

I even have to dress like I”m going out to pave, even though I”m in the office… Bunch of crap, but it pays the bills!

Of course, in the same breath, I played in the marching band in High School, those uniforms were uncomfortable, but damn we looked good as a group.. So, from a “team” perspective, I suppose it makes sense.

Ah well.. I suppose I can’t complain too much.. The real men in Uniform are our military services. Those guys have to endure the harshest conditions our world has to offer AND They have to do it while in uniform. So, hat’s off to the guys who REALLY sweat their nuts off! Just remember that when you’re ready to complain about what you have to wear to work. There’s people out there who pretty much live in their work uniforms, and do so WHILE putting their lives on the line!

Thanks to the great men and women who protect us, once again. It can’t be said enough, especially by people who claim to be artists, and are free to express in this world.

Have a great day, readers!

It’s like they know I need to lose weight

Portion Control

Uh oh… This one’s aimed right at my gut…

Look, I’m not a mammoth of a human being, but I’m a hell of a lot heavier, than I want to be. Can I get an Amen, who isn’t?

Taking a desk job has just about been the literal death of me, and things got very real at my last annual checkup. I’m all about getting high scores in the videogame world, but blood pressure of 165/90-something is not a high score to be proud of.

So, what have I done to fix it?  I didn’t do body wraps, or THRIVE (I have my own rant about that crock of garbage), or any of these gimmicks…. I started exercising and controlling the amount of food I eat!

Now, I love food… a lot.. I love cooking it, smelling it, eating it, everything about the endless combinations is fascinating to me… Unfortunately, when both you and your wife are exceptional cooks, you tend to eat a lot. Here’s a few things I’ve tried, to curb my tendencies to overeat:

  • Buy smaller plates: This sounds ridiculous, but it works. 8″ paper plates, from Sam’s Club, are the way to go. Only fill them once, with whatever you have for dinner, and JUST EAT THAT
  • Stop Buying Lunch: Spending 6 dollars a day for lunch at work, is just ridiculous. Plan something tasty and that is healthier than your current eating habits, and stick to it!  OR, Since you didn’t eat so much for dinner, take some of those delicious leftovers!
  • Cut Down On Drinking: I’m no alcoholic, but I do love to unwind with a tasty beverage in the evening. Whiskey and Vodka don’t have the calories that beer does, but mixing it with coke is waaaay worse. If you HAVE to have a drink, try mixing it with Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, or Sprite Zero. Less calories and sugar = less fat.
  • Stop Eating Garbage: I know, you work hard. You don’t feel like cooking, and it’s just easier to order out. Not only is it expensive, it’s really REALLY REALLY unhealthy.
  • Vitamins & Water: Remember, your body tells you it’s thirsty, the same way it tells you that you’re hungry. I drink about 3/4 – 1 Gallon of water A DAY.  In the same breath, you’re probably not getting all of the vitamins you need.  Find a good well-rounded multivitamin and TAKE IT EVERY DAY!

    Here’s what my wife and I started doing: She did some research and found a pile of delicious crock-pot meals, then made up a large list of ingredients (we stuck to pork, beef, and chicken proteins with similar ingredient recipes). We then went to the Grocery store, spent less than $300 (I know it sounds like a lot, just bear with me.) and managed to make 32 meals out of it, that are frozen and ready to stick in the crock pot. No extra cooking involved, just toss it in, go about your day, minimal preparation, and we eat GREAT.
    * Buy crock pot bags, they make this all so much easier.

So, there you have it. You can do it, if I can. I’m down about 10ish pounds from where I was, and as I get more active in the Spring & Summer, hopefully I can reach my goal of losing 35 pounds.

Have a great day! Sorry I kind of fell off of the face of the planet.

I forgot to post… since Friday..

Hello, my friends! My micr-tour kicked my ass this week! Finally ends tonight, with a short acoustic gig in Montgomery.

I must say, though. 3 days in a row with great crowds was fantastic!!

I’m drawing a blank on the two most recent daily posts… maybe because it’s 5:30AM and I haven’t had any coffee yet… Maybe I’ll get hit with some inspiration later!

So, how are you all doing? It’s a beautiful morning. The birds woke me up at about 4:30… Of course I didn’t fall asleep until about 11:30… so, we’re functioning on fumes, here.

I just wanted to drop in and let you all know I’m still here. I haven’t given up on blogging yet!

Hope you have a great Sunday, I’ll try to post again!

-Joe

Starting my weekend early!

Except.. not…

I still have to work tomorrow and Friday, but I have 4 gigs, between now and Sunday!

I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on how incredibly lucky and blessed I am, to be able to perform music, something I love, and even make money with it sometimes.

It really is incredible, that in this armpit of Pennsylvania, a guy can be pretty decent at guitar and singing and do it to make ends meet. As we come up on this Memorial Weekend, I want to thank anybody who has served in our military, for keeping us safe. More importantly, for keeping us free. I’m sure there are places where my ideology would get me executed, but instead I have fans and friends who support my goals as a musician!

Remember: The men and women who are sworn to protect us, aren’t the same people who make our laws.   I can respect the Military without supporting the poor decisions that our government seems to make.

I hope you can all take a moment and remember those who have paid the ultimate price, so we can express freely, in America.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Catapult yourself into the pool of ignorance.

We’re not here to talk about weaponry, we’re here to react to the word catapult.. which was a weapon…  I’m sure there’s going to be enough about that.. I’m going to shoot for something else… Pun intended.
I’ve been around for almost 30 years now… I was just about the last generation of children that remembers life without the internet. I spoke in a previous post about “When the last time you bought a full video game was,” and it’s been a long time. I blame that on the internet.. In fact, I blame most things on the internet, in jest, and in a serious manner.

What are people constantly trying to do these days? Make their lives like as important as possible, as to catapult themselves to viral popularity.  I see so many people doing ridiculous things on video, saying rotten things on Twitter, jumping on internet trend bandwagons,… writing blogs… Just to get their 15 minutes seconds of fame.

Why do we do that? Is it because we’ve been put on the same social platforms as famous people? Is it because we were raised to follow our dreams?

Hell if I know.

Growing up in the 90’s, the only time you saw lunacy, at this scale, was during an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Now, for those of you who aren’t aware, it was a TV show, hosted by Bob Saget (in its most memorable years), where people would send in cassettes of amateurishly filmed home videos where their child, awkward uncle, dad, or someone would do something funny, and the funniest video won money.

Maybe that was the problem.. They were paying people to accidentally look like a fool..

These days, people do it on purpose (Eyes on you Youtubers) for the sake of fandom. So, before Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and any other instant-video service, you were only exposed to this kind of silliness once a week, around 7:00PM (Eastern Time Zone).
Now you have 24/7 access to an endless ocean of lunatics.
We’ve overexposed ourselves to stupidity and now, the general population craves it, like a drug. 

Don’t believe me? Have you seen this thing that’s out now? It’s called Trailer Park Boys, before that was Jackass, and before too long, it’ll be this gem, from ‘Idiocracy’:

We’re literally spending time that we could be learning things, reading, studying, enjoying our world.. to watch other people delve into the depths of ridiculousness… all to fling themselves to be a marketable piece of data, for some internet company.

I can only speak from my American perspective… but it’s getting out of hand.

To conclude, there’s a song I wrote a while back, called stupid people. It’s my call to the general populous to open their eyes, unite themselves, and not let themselves be dumbed-down so easily.

This was recorded a while ago, and my youngest daughter was sleeping, so I held back on the vocals a bit… haha

As always, have a great day!!!

Catapult