What I go through whenever Chi asks me to do something for him….
Listen while you read to “So Annoying”, another unpublished Panache piece, for reasons that will become obvious shortly.
I have had practically no success in getting Chi to understand why it takes such an inordinate amount of time for me to do some, or perhaps *most* of the things he asks me to do. For example, shovelling administrative bullshit for him (which he generates a shockingly large quantity of) is not exactly high on my list of things that I enjoy doing, and besides, most days I feel like I have to spend practically all of my available time dealing with tiresome administrative hassles, so naturally more of the same is especially unwelcome. He also frequently asks me to do stuff like add various things to our website or create new content (videos, etc.), and doesn’t understand why I get angry with him when he asks how long it’s going to take — a perfectly reasonable and innocuous-sounding question, so why do I get incensed when he asks it? BECAUSE I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING IDEA HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE!
It’s worth noting, and I’m not sure if this is a Japanese thing or just a Chi-specific quirk, that if something takes a few minutes (or hours, or days, or weeks, etc.) longer to do than I “promised” (I learned after a few years that in his mind, a preliminary estimate constitutes a “promise”, i.e., a hard-fast “due date” or “due minute”), he makes a big stink about it, which annoys the hell out of me and totally stresses me out. It seems that at least 90% of the time, these perfectly innocuous requests he makes sound for all the world as if they should only take a few minutes and not require an enormous outlay of effort, but then end up turning into a hugely time-consuming, crazymaking ordeal that takes on a life of its own. There’s also the whole pain in the ass of having to figure out how to explain something in Japanese that I barely understand in English (and that he won’t understand in any language because he has no experience with that sort of thing, and all he does is argue with me anyway so there is no point in turning myself inside-out to try to figure it all out in Japanese in the first place).
For example: he recently asked me to edit a short segment of a video of him performing as a singer-songwriter (we’re both instrumentalists, so this is extremely unusual) in Tokyo a couple years ago and upload it to YouTube. Now that I have scaled the learning curve with editing videos (with one type of software), this normally wouldn’t take too long or be too onerous of a request. The problem was that this video was archived onto a DVD (as opposed to being a digital film cassette that I could pop in the camera and feed to the computer directly into my editing program with a firewire cable), and even though I was able to load it onto my computer from the DVD drive, my editing software didn’t recognize the file format, so I had to figure out how to convert it to a format that my editing program can make sense of. I still haven’t got through that yet and he made this request a couple weeks ago.
After spending time hunting around in online forums addressing this problem, I downloaded no fewer than THREE different “free” applications to make this file conversion only to discover that they don’t really do what you need, but only lead you up to that magic “well-I’ve-got-this-far-into-it-so-might-as-well-pony-up-the-$15-or-$39-or-however-the-hell-much-this-thing-costs-and-then-I-can-finally-get-this-project-done-and-move-on-with-my-life” tipping point where you get out your credit card and be through with it, and then they spam you to death with endless ads for updates to what you downloaded and other products they sell forever after. Also note that each time I download something, expecting the whole operation to take just a few minutes to convert my file, I have to wait for the program to download, figure out where it landed in the computer, then figure out how it works, and then try to feed the .VOB file of the video to it, then hunt around trying to find the place it was supposed to have saved the converted file on my hard drive, only to find nothing there. SHIT! Back to the drawing board….One of the programs told me I had to buy the “real” version if I wanted any more than three minutes of the 1-hour video converted. The other two programs didn’t actually convert .VOB files. They only enable “ripping” commercially produced DVDs to your computer by bypassing the digital rights protection coding.
Here’s another example. Sometime last summer Chi asked me to organize our repertoire of over 70 pieces into a “menu” that people could “order” from and participate in creating our set list for certain types of live performances. A great idea, and again, sounds like a perfectly straightforward, simple thing, but easier said than done. I am NOT a designer by any stretch of the imagination, and I am NOT a proficient user of design software (the only program I have is Photoshop and I barely know how to use it) so taking a concept like that and realizing it in a tangible form that looks at least passable and makes sense is a tall order. That took several days, well, first it took several weeks for me to actually get around to rolling up my sleeves and having a real go at it, and then several more days of wrangling with it to come up with something that was even worth showing to Chi. It ended up turning out pretty good. Here’s what it looks like.
That’s another thing! He recently asked me to upload the menu to our band website and FaceBook page. Again, a great idea that sounds like the most dead-simple, straightforward operation. I’ve uploaded tonnages of content to both sites, so why not this too? OMG!!!! That took on a life of it’s own all over again!! I had to first go through an absurd array of mental contortions to figure out how to re-format it in order to bypass the limitations of FaceBook (Photoshop documents (.psd) are not web-friendly, and I don’t know FBML. FaceBook has it’s whole own friggin’ programming language, and besides, I barely even know enough HTML to write code for our own site!). Then I had to jump through another gymkhana of mental hoops to arrive at the most effective placement and routing of links, etc., to make it turn out in a way that would make sense from a usability standpoint. So, after an entire week of opening various cans of worms experimenting with this and that, I finally made it work!!
Now on to the next outsized pain in the ass on my endless list before I get derailed by Chi asking me to do something else! 😉
WTHDTSTSFL – Part the 2nd
ca. February 2012
Ok, so I finally rolled up my sleeves and took another whack at cracking the code and breaking into the world of webcasting/live streaming, something Chi has been clamouring at me to make happen for at least a couple years now. (Well, he wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been the dummy who made him aware of its existence!) Here are some reasons why it has taken such an enormous amount of time to get around to this:
Chi’s half-baked, back-ass-ward way of going about things always, always, ALWAYS leads to an endless amount of time consuming, expensive back-tracking, workarounds and re-engineering, and failed projects that if properly executed would have had great potential, and of course, me having to do all the work, as always, so I’ve learned through many bad experiences to take my good old time preparing as rigourously as possible prior to commencing anything likely to turn out like that.
So, the live streaming. From stupid-simple shit such as thinking up a name for the stream, to much more complex and potentially costly issues, such as obtaining the necessary licenses and clearances to use music owned by other parties as part of his live stream (i.e., when he broadcasts a stream of him doing his own personal practicing to recordings by other artists), or just stuff we’re listening to while we prepare and eat dinner, or whatever.
Back to the name. It sounds dead-simple, but isn’t. Why? Because the live stream/ webcast is at some level going to serve as a promotional tool for the Panache Orchestra as well as for Chi as an actor, so it has to be relevant to those entities, and in order to work at all as a promotional tool for anything, it has to be both searchable (back to the relevance issue) and memorable to the target audience (i.e., anyone likely to be interested in our music, or in hiring him as an actor). Remember when you found that totally cool, interesting website, but your browser crashed and try as you might, you could never find it again because you could not remember a single word in the title of it?
Well, once I figured out a name: “Jamming With Chi” (I didn’t bother to consult Chi because he inevitably would have bellicosely insisted on something ridiculously obtuse, which would have equally inevitably led to a fight and scuppered the whole concept!), and got the basic profile set up, the next hoop-jumping marathon was trying to figure out how to get either (or both) of our digital video cameras to work as webcams. That of course took on a life of its own and consumed several evenings after work futzing around with that crazymaking tech-y nightmare to no avail. I gave up on that and tried to get our ancient little webcams we bought years ago for Skyping that included another time- consuming ordeal with the one Chi bought in Japan encrapicating two of our PCs with all the inscrutable spammy junk software in Japanese that it insists it can’t operate without (I had to spend even more time trying to get rid of all that bullshit!), and succeeded in getting one of them to work (the older one that we bought here in 2006). The picture and sound quality was crap though, so I spent a few more days researching purpose-specific webcams to try and determine which model would be the most useful for what we wanted to do. It was incredibly difficult to find product reviews that discussed using the camera(s) in a way that was anywhere near relevant to what we wanted to use them for.
I also had to get in front of potential technical issues before they occurred, because it’s 100% inevitable that some glitch will happen while he’s streaming something, and then he’ll go berserk and start yelling and screaming at me, demanding that I figure out what the problem is and make it go away, instantly of course. (Hence the fierce irony of him calling “live streaming” “live screaming”. It’s a simple mispronunciation on his part, but has profound relevance.) This requires that I have more than a cursory understanding of this sort of media that I have never ever touched before and don’t understand at all, which, needless to say, has a ferocious learning curve.
Suffice it to say that trying to get him to understand all these layers of complication and bullshit attached to this undertaking is an utter fool’s errand that I have no interest at all in taking on.
WTHDTSTSFL – Part the 3rd
Well I just spent my ENTIRE rainy, cold, windy Sunday afternoon struggling through the ridiculously complicated, baffling, time-consuming process of getting Chi registered with AFTRA and L.A. Casting. And that was after a big debâcle last week of registering him on the WRONG L.A. Casting. There are two. How the hell was I to know that?? And the “real” one (i.e., the one everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in the business is referring to when they say “you have to be on L.A. Casting”) ISN’T EVEN CALLED L.A. CASTING! It’s called “Casting Networks”, but nobody ever calls it that. WTF???!!!! Part of the reason why everything takes for-freakin’-ever is because I research the hell out of it before doing it for exactly this reason, and even that didn’t save me from that hugely time/energy/money-wasting pain in the ass this time!! I even went so far as to go to PayPal and file a dispute explaining that I signed up for that service in error due to confusion over the name, which of course the service provider refused. I’ll bet this happens all the time. Can anybody tell I’m a just tad bit ANNOYED?? And what do I get for spending my “free” time dealing with all this tiresome, crazymaking bullshit anyway? Good question….
UPDATE: Late April 2012
This turned out to be an utter calamity. At least at face value, as the outcome of what it has given rise to is not yet known. As everyone predicted, as soon as Chi joined the union, the work abruptly ceased, so he went from working at least one and up to sometimes even four days a week and making at least a worthwhile amount of money (as opposed to nothing), now he was making nothing and just sitting around the house all day fouling the environment with his constant, toxic negativity while consuming me out of house and home again.