Chi got another opportunity to shoot for a job as a musician playing on cruise ships, and this is how it went this time….
Listen while you read to “Trying Over and Over Again”, a piece slated for a contemplated EP of dance-like music by the Panache Orchestra.
Early Sept. 2013
Following the debâcle with the last cruise ship audition in March, I spent $50 I didn’t have and bought Chi two books w/accompanying CDs for him to learn how to read big band drum charts so he could audition on drums. He said that would probably be easier for him to pick up than trying to learn to read bass clef. I also finally got the website I had been building for Chi into decent enough shape to start pitching him for auditions sometime around June or July, but hadn’t yet landed anything.In early Sept. there was a call for musicians to audition in L.A. for a certain cruise line, and this one indicated that players who read charts and are skillful at playing by ear are just as welcome as those who can read traditional musical notation, so Chi decided to audition on bass.On the cruise line’s website were detailed instructions on how to prepare a video to get invited to audition, and since it was not practical to try to do that in the evenings after I get home from the day job and post-day-job workout, we put it off till the weekend, and unfortunately the weekend was full of other shit I/we had to do, so there wasn’t much time for it then either, especially to accommodate Chi’s pathological need to sabotage the process…
At any rate, the video audition was to include a spoken introduction at the beginning, plus various things on the instrument. Finally on Saturday evening I suggested that we do a test video, and then Chi said that he wanted for me to write out the stuff he had prepared to say in English for him to practice with before recording the “real” audition video. Fair enough. It started out ok, and then he did his usual thing of insisting on reciting his trademark line that “after living in the US for all these years, his English still sucks”. I lost my shit. I am so. fucking. fed. up. with that idiot child eliminating himself from consideration before he even plays a single note by leading with what a colossal fucking pain in the ass he is planning on making of himself, so the process ground to a screeching halt at that point and I stormed off to my home office.
I realized a few minutes later after I cooled down that since *I* am the one that will be filming AND editing the audition video, I have total control over the entire thing and could just let him spout whatever the hell idiotic nonsense he wants, and then make two versions of it: one for him to “review and approve”, and another “real” one in which I edit all that stupid shit out and submit for the actual audition, and we may have been able to accomplish something. Oh well…tomorrow’s another day….
So here we are again…another day that started late with me injured and hungover and sleep-deprived. This time the incident wasn’t too bad, and was actually my own fault. What happened was that at the end of the night he started assholing at me as usual and I lost it. Again. I was stumbling drunk and tried to throw him out of the kitchen, but lost my balance and fell into the refrigerator and got all banged up going down, just as I deserved for taking the bait and reacting. Although it is quite possible that this outcome may have occurred if Chi were not here, it is far less likely. This is a direct result of my choosing to continue to allow that abusive, drug-addicted, parasitic mental case to occupy my home and my life. There are times when I do move too quickly and carelessly and injure myself, and drink more than I should and stay up way too late when left to my own devices, but that is far more the exception than the rule (except the part about injuring myself by moving too carelessly).
When Chi eventually got up that morning we pretended that nothing at all untoward had happened, as usual. I was interested in keeping the peace since getting this fucking video done and taking full advantage of what by any rational estimate ought to be a slam-dunk for him is the cornerstone of my strategy for ending Chi’s occupation of my home and my personal life in such a way that would preserve his viability and allow him to reach his potential and do his thing while allowing me to do mine, and at the same time save our musical project.
At any rate, after doing our ritual Sunday trip to the farmers’ market to procure our weekly produce since the garden has been such an abysmal failure this year, plus a couple other stops, and then him taking a nap for the rest of the afternoon and then having something to eat, I tried to herd him into the living room to have another go at the video. He stalled around for awhile watching cute cat videos on Youtube, and then I eventually coaxed him into getting set up and ready to shoot and successfully (and peacefully) foiled yet another attempt of his to derail the process.
The instructions for the video were simple:
- A brief introduction with your name, location, and reason for applying.
- A short clip of you performing solo material highlighting your musicianship.
- A short clip of you performing several simple grooves (guitar, piano, and bass players may make up their chord changes): Rock and Roll, 12/8 R&B, Pop, and “Motown” R&B style. The performer should pay special attention to achieving the correct sound and style.
- A short clip of you reading one piece of your choice, in any style, that is demonstrates your reading ability.
I decided to leave the spoken introduction for last, assessing its potential as a derailment point as “high”, and explained the next item: the short clip of him performing solo material highlighting his musicianship.
This is ALL stuff that I absolutely know he can do exceptionally well based on my experience working with him! Nevertheless, he kept icing up and freaking out over every step of the process, which I found intensely frustrating. I reminded myself that he is Japanese, and these are the most uncertainty-intolerant people on the planet, and soldiered on. For whatever reason, Chi seems to have particular difficulty with mentally tracking perfectly ordinary things he does every day if they are removed from the specific context in which he normally does them. It became crystal-clear that while Chi is a fantastic musician, he is not a good hoop-jumper, and unfortunately these types of auditions are generally about jumping through hoops. What I mean is that he can perform all of these skills in his sleep, but move them even slightly out of the context in which he is accustomed to performing them, and he totally goes to bits!
I grew increasingly impatient as he kept acting as if he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about when I asked him to improvise and play grooves in the styles indicated (“WTF do you mean ‘How?’?! Just play an example of a R&B bass line in 12/8, like ‘Unchained Melody’, or something like that!”) and heaved a weary sigh, dreading the looming night (and it would probably be an all-nighter) of editing this thing, having to chop it up into fine confetti to pick out the bits that have no business at all in an audition video for a professional job and cutting away all the bullshit and blather, and then stick the whole thing back together, trying to make the innumerable splices as undetectable as possible.
I eventually gave up on trying to cajole him through the hoop jumping gymkhana and resignedly let him do what he wanted to do instead: play along karoke-style with various songs he pulled up on YouTube, and while it did make for some animated footage and demonstrated his ability on the instrument to a certain extent, that was not what they were asking for in the instructions. He apparently still to this day has no functional grasp of the concept that in order to be taken seriously as a candidate for a professional job, he not only has to “look the part”, but also demonstrate that he can accurately interpret and follow directions and do what the potential employer is asking!
When we finally moved on to the spoken intro I realised that there must be some deep pathology at work here. With his craven expression and strained, feeble voice — RADICALLY out of character for such a talented actor and great storyteller — he looked and sounded like he was in his 80’s and totally busted, i.e., NOT a viable candidate for the job. It all looked too sincere to be a put-on with deliberate intent behind it. Another really annoying thing is his stone refusal to allow me to set up the room in order to get a good picture. He is apparently intent on showing everyone who views his video demos that he lives in a depressingly dark, dirty, confused pile of shit. To quell my mounting exasperation, I assumed the position of interviewer, gently asking him questions in an attempt to prompt him to say things that would be likely to produce a passable outcome instead of an abject failure.
At any rate, this is what I ended up with at the end of that ordeal:
Unfortunately by the time I finally got him to cooperate with filming the video and I finished editing and uploading it and waiting for an industry insider friend to vet it and advise me about it, it was so close to the audition date that they were probably fully booked by then and he was not called for a live audition, even though he almost surely could have killed it on a gig like that. Shit….