Day 14

Day 14. A song that no one would expect you to love

No one? Like, absolutely no one? That's ridiculous. (Don't you kid yourself.)

If I limit no one to "no one on LiveJournal," then I might have a better chance of it. I just spent half an hour going through my iTunes library, and there's nothing in there that would surprise anyone. Jevetta Steele, Jane Siberry, k. d. lang, Aimee Mann? mamoosh knows my secret shame. Dan's seen me listening to most everything, and nothing else should be remotely surprising, not even Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers, Mahir, Modern Talking, or Crazy Frog. That CD of East German cowboy-and-Indian movie music from Aquarius should come as no surprise to anyone who knows of my fondness for odd stuff; that shelf includes the Conet Project as well as copies of Shut Up, Little Man and random business-card-shaped 3" CDs.

The only place I suppose I get really surprising is "classical music" - I know, oh, no other people that listen to that stuff (other than relatives). Yes, there's Stockhausen, Reich, Xenakis, Varèse, and Riley. However, the least likely candidate is probably... Morton Subotnick.

Here, try some. I first hear this when I was working at CompUSA; we had Voyager CD-ROMs for sale, and Subotnick's was pretty fascinating to me at the time. I bought the CD of this ages ago, and I still love it. Yes, it has kind of a cheesy factor to it, but I like the empty spaces that aren't music really, just texture. It's music that's mostly timbre, I guess; no real melody, just "a feeling," at least not for the first part (before the really dated Synclavier-esque keyboards kick in). Reminds me of Stockhausen a little bit, but much more of Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai.

Here's something unrelated from Paris a couple of years back:

But I digress. What songs would you think I wouldn't like at all?

Day 13

Day 13. A song that is a guilty pleasure

Oh dear. Some candidates: the first nine tracks of Sous Hit by DAT Politics (because they're so incredibly horrible that Dan gets angry if I listen to them while he's anywhere near the house), Christmas Tree by Lady Gaga (thank you, Amazon, for the free MP3), Boom Boom Pow by Black Eyed Peas (I'm especially ashamed by that one), but my all time guilty pleasure has got to be this rockin' teen number:

Why guilty? This song features more or less everything I profess to hate about music: women singers (OK, this is a dude, but it still sounds like a woman), shameless slap bass, excessive Fairlight CMI orchestral hits, overuse of the pitch bender thingy on cheesy synths, bright, shitty guitar that sounds like it's there only to make it more "pop," lyrics that include words like "girl", "love," and "oooh baby," terrible sounding fake drums, terrible sounding fake brass section, terrible sounding fake everything.

Worst of all, I just Googled the lyrics and realized I've mishead this line for a quarter century: How could two muffins be so sweet? Go figure. Guess I spent too much time listening to Spinal Tap.

Day 12

Day 12. A song from a band you hate

These guys are from England and who gives a shit?

The day U2 was released, I bought a copy at Amoeba Records in Berkeley. The clerk warned me that I was not in fact buying a U2 record; my first instinct was to tell her "well, why the fuck else would I be buying this record?"

For the record, I hate U2. Really, really, really hate U2. Here, let's take a typical U2 song:

Damn near eleven million people have watched this video, which features four middle-aged, obscenely wealthy Irishmen cavorting in what I assume is not Ireland. True to form, they're hamming it up in a foreign country (this time, it's Spain) in a way that only the most successful entertainers can afford. Watch as they rock out in a giant Target logo (OK, not really) featuring thousands of euros worth of gravel. Thrill to their listless miming of archaic, tired rock 'n roll styles - everything from the disaffected cool of Charlie Watts to the anemic almost-windmilling of Pete Townshend affected by some doofus who's ditched his real name for something cribbed from Euclid. Oh, and the sunglasses. The sunglasses. Always the sunglasses. At least they make sense in this context.

Listen to this song for a minute without looking at the screen and I find myself wondering what laundry soap commercial this is... no, wait... what second tier car marque this is advertising, probably with a chesty blonde in a convertible somewhere near Big Sur. Look back up at the screen; the only thing missing are the usual MPG statistics. This isn't a song, it's an advertisement for frozen entrées or Cialis; it doesn't really matter. Hey, there's nothing quite like middle-aged men, shirts unbuttoned to Club Med depths, clutching at their tacky necklaces in the Spanish desert sun, is there? Oh wow. Cool.

Best of all, this song features lyrics that are no better or worse than any other U2 song. They're vapid, they're cliché, and they probably sound incredibly meaningful to either American tweens searching for something "adult" or (more like) to anyone whose native language is not English, which would explain a lot in terms of their worldwide profitability/popularity. All of the following feature in Vertigo alone:

  • Counting in a foreign language
  • Mistaking fourteen for four
  • Exhortations to increase the volume
  • Comments on ambient lighting
  • The jungle (is this where Toto blesses the rains?)
  • Heads and their innate inability to rule hearts
  • Feelings and how they're stronger than thoughts
  • Your eyes, wide (open or shut not specified)
  • Souls and their inability to be bought
  • Intermittent Spanish ejaculations (perhaps in a bid to increase chart sales in Bogotá?)
  • "You give me something I can feel" (hopefully "something" != "a natural woman")
  • Twinkling bullets that feature sky-ripping mechanisms made of gold (?)
  • Dance-challenged boys
  • Rock and roll
  • A girl featuring nails á la Nomi Malone
  • Jesus straddling her face
  • "Swinging to the music" (Trig Palin style? This is not further specified)
  • A positively Nabokovian reference to chess for no apparent reason
  • Product placement for U2 the b(r)and ("All of this can be yours!")
  • Didactic, palpable love (not sure what this refers to - an audio-animatronic Steely Dan?)
  • Kneeling
  • Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah (sic)

For those of you on my friends list who love this song (or, hell, even this band): Why?

Day 11

Day 11. A song from your favorite band

Easy. Band means that: a band, not one person, but a group of people who tend to play together, preferably live. Not one person with a backup band, not one person with multitrack recording capabilities, and not fucking U2, just because.

There is only one band that I've seen live more than twice, and the would be the Melvins:

It's hard to describe what exactly the Melvins are. I'll just say this: there really aren't any other bands like them. They've been going strong for a quarter-century or so; bassists come and go, but King Buzzo (guitar) and Dale Crover (drums) have been constant. Every record they release is wildly variable (in the best sense of the word): Lysol and Eggnog were the first ones I got into, but every single one, even the generally awful ones (Prick being potentially one of the worst CDs ever released) have had at least one awesome song on it.

What they play ranges from more-or-less straight up speed metal (this track?) to almost country (Lizzy?) to pretty much WTF (the one the trombone solo). They've had two drummers and an insanely woofy bassist for a few years now and have never sounded better live; I sure don't miss Hat (well, that's what we called Mark Deutrom, the guitar player from Clown Alley who played with them in the mid-90s - he proved the adage that you should never, ever hire a guitar player as a bassist (noodle alert!!)), but they can do virtually no wrong.

This song, we all love JUDY, is as good as any as an introduction to the Melvins, but I will say that it suffers from being taken out of context of this album. The track the follows it in particular sounds like something from that Squarepusher bonus EP Vacuum Garden; it is emphatically as not metal as this song is, but makes the perfect interlude between this song and their cover of The Green Manalishi that comes later on.

Bonus beats: the only bands I've seen live more than once are Dweezil Zappa (walked out on the second show as it was terrible), Foetus (same story; the second show happened during his alcoholic Gash period), Swans, and Primus (they opened for Swans at the I-Beam in the '80s; Melvins opened for them in the '90s).

Day 10

Day 10. A song that makes you fall asleep

The summer of 1987 was a particularly good one; it was also necessarily the end of my childhood. I spent my days working at Thrifty Drug in my home town of Stockton, California; it was a brutally hot summer. I remember tarmac sticky with heat, but also soothing morning cool that almost made having to show up at work at 5 AM to unload the truck bearable, even if I was stuck wearing tan polyester slacks and a cheesy Thrifty polo shirt.

When I'd get paid, I'd take my money and head up the 5 about an hour to Sacramento, home of the original Tower Records; I knew where all of their locations were and was fortunate in that their buyers did their very best to import all kinds of wonderful records that other shops just didn't have.

Predictably, summer ended. I was just 17 when I started at UC Berkeley; I went back to school a week early so that I could attend (don't laugh) band camp. However, much to my chagrin, the Cal Band had a strict "no beards" policy, so I quit band the after marching around in the hot Davis sun for two days. Those few days waiting for the semester to start in my cool, indifferent room in Cheney Hall were the last few quiet days I had for what seemed like years.

School started; I was excited to be almost on my own for the first time in my life. I was also excited to (hopefully) finally find a fellow Bear; I figured that sooner or later it was bound to happen. It was the Bay Area, there were thirty thousand students, and surely it wouldn't be too hard to find a similarly inclined furry fellow, would it?

Turns out it was, alas. I joined the Gay Men's Undergraduate Support Group the first week of the semester, somehow finding it in me to show up at a dingy basement room in the university hospital that smelled of Betadine. Instead of meeting a bunch of friendly guys that I could hang out with or maybe even snog, I instead met a bunch of effeminate, gay gays whose primary interests appeared to be going to the End Up, wearing tasteful sweaters, and generally being horrified at anything they didn't like, including but not limited to big, furry bearish fellers such as myself. I don't think I've ever met a group of folks more openly hostile to me than those folks were; I lasted a few meetings, but ugh: how depressing.

And I do mean depressing. That first semester at Cal was an unmitigated bummer. (The only bright spot was meeting a fellow Bear named Steve, but I'd just turned 18, didn't realize he was hitting on my exactly, and at any rate was kind of panicked about the situation, so we didn't wind up actually doing anything. I just ran into him last May for the first time since 1987 and we recognized each other, though, which was awesome.) Given my emotional state - mopey and generally blue - and given the noise of the dorm, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. Thinking it would help, I did scratch together the cash to buy a CD (at the time, they were novel and expensive) of a recording of summer rain that I hoped would help me sleep:

Summer Rain (at

It did, mostly, but what helped more was meeting cbertsch; it was an unbelievable relief to finally meet someone who didn't have a problem with not just my sexuality but also my personal preference for, you know, bears. Odd, really, that the only validation I got back in the '80s was from straight folk: it wasn't until later on in college that I met other students, all of them graduate students, who were cool with the bears - and then of course I eventually met bix02138 and then Mark, but that's another story for another time.

To this day, I still listen to that Summer Rain CD: I have a $5 MP3 player with just enough room for the mp3 version. Add a AAA battery and cheap earphones (and preferably an Ambien as well), and I've got everything I need to sleep through tedious intercontinental flights. I definitely got my money's worth on that one.

Day 9

Day 09. A song that you can dance to

Some fun facts about me and dancing:

- The first dance I remember going to was in 7th grade. For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, much of the music was very black in a New York City kind of way, which was awesome. This struck me as very odd given that Lodi is a mostly white Central Valley farm town, but what the heck: who wouldn't want to hear Genius of Love at a junior high school dance? Awesome.

- I generally don't dance, but there was one notable exception all the way back in 2002. At the Mardi Gras party in Sydney, I danced my fool ass off with nzbear5 at the Hordern Pavilion. Rachel Auburn was doing something absolutely amazing that night. I've since had a listen to some of her solo work and it wasn't anything like what she was playing: bummer.

- I can dance to pretty much anything, largely because I can't really dance. As a result, what's mostly interesting to me is "will this sound awesome in a big club with an amazing sound system?" Sometimes I'll hear a song and think, hm, not interesting as music really, or not as a song, but I bet this would be freakin' awesome in a club. Here's an example:

It only gets going about a minute into the track, and then there's a bit at about 2:10 that almost makes my ears hurts. Almost. I really, really wouldn't mind hearing this at top volume someday.

In the meantime, other options would include stuff like Mueve La Cintura (sample here), which always sounded like it was designed to play in clubs.

However - no surprise here - you probably won't see me dancing any time soon, alas.

Day 8

Day 08. A song that you know all the words to

One of my great weaknesses is an inability to remember all of the words to just about anything. Even as a child, the most terrifying things I had to do were to memorize poems (to read in class) or (even worse) music (for recitals). Every single God damn time I had do that it just didn't work: no matter how many times I was asked to memorize and even the simplest e. e. cummings poem, it simply never cohered. I used to have dozens of "thanks for showing up" third-place ribbons from frustrating competitions where I was supposed to play something on solo piano or saxophone; the only thing I can even remember how to play at all is about the first measure of a Gershwin piece whose name completely escapes me.

I just spent the better part of an hour trying to find a single YouTube video which features a song for which I know all of the words; if I couldn't write down the lyrics before listening to the song, then it didn't count. Even Hooch, a song for which I know most of the words, didn't cut the mustard.

Instead, I give you this:

Of course, this is actually what I was looking for: Severed Heads, Alaskan Polar Bear Heater, which features the following lyrics:

"Well, if you like it that much, you oughta do it again. You like that? Wanna do it again? Do it again."

Listening to it again, however, I realize that I've forgotten half the lyrics. Sigh.

I guess this is the only song to which I actually know all of the lyrics:

Sad, isn't it?

Day 7

Day 07. A song that reminds you of a certain event

First off, I'll be blunt: I'm gonna cheat on this one by misinterpreting "an event" to mean "an episode of my life." I'd apologize, but whatever, you're getting this for free so it's not like you're losing out or anything.

As mentioned in an earlier post this month, I moved in to a rental house in Oakland (the garage, actually) after graduating from university. I'd know the rest of the housemates there because cbertsch was the previous tenant of that garage; most everyone in the house was a grad student (English department) at UC Berkeley at the time. This included a strapping young red-bearded man by the name of Josh.

Now listen up, kids. Back in 1992, bears were not widely known. Bear magazine numbers had just crept into the double digits, the Internet was not widely used, pop cultural references were virtually nil, and things were on the whole, well, different. In my social circles at the time, however, it was generally known that I was attracted to men who looked like myself, even if the two boyfriends I'd had up until graduation were only marginally bearish. As a result, I was fortunate to have friends looking out for one of my best interests. Now, I didn't know Josh well, and we were never friends, but we did become housemates. Josh was straight. Josh was also a reader of Granta, the UK literary magazine. And one day in 1992, Josh handed me a copy of Issue 38 of Granta, which contained a story entitled Bears in Mourning, written by Welsh novelist Adam Mars-Jones. (You can read this story here if you'd like.)

Oh, to be young again. Bears in Mourning affected me deeply. Being 22 and not as self-conscious as I am today, I borrowed other housemate's Ben's Macintosh IIci and wrote a fan letter. (I am cringing as I type this.) Much to my amazement, Adam wrote back (even though I had mistakenly read the story as autobiography and not as fiction, which is making me cringe AGAIN as I type this.) A friendship developed; we met for the first time after reading from his Monopolies of Loss at A Different Light in San Francisco over dinner at Ma Tante Sumi along with Bruce, the guy who gave me the copy of the new recording Einstein on the Beach. A year later, I flew to London to visit for a week, and danlmarmot picked me up at the airport. I had a blast: Adam was then the film critic for the Independent, so I got to sneak in to a press screening of The Hudsucker Proxy with him. We saw Eddie Izzard perform in a David Mamet play. I rode around London on the back of his Harley. I met Salman Rushdie at Erica Jong's book launch (for Fear of Fifty) at the Groucho Club. And I met a young girl that enjoyed a particular song very, very much:

As a result, I think of Adam whenever I hear the word Albuquerque; I was reminded of him when mlr mentioned the city. It's just one of those things.

Sadly, it all ended badly. I'll just say that I made mistakes - sadly not surprising for a 24 year old - and didn't do by right by our friendship. In early 1997, his new book arrived in my post box in Sunnyvale, CA. The dedication reads in part thusly: For Christopher, in memory of friendship.

And that's the last I heard of Adam.

Day 6

Day 06. A song that reminds you of somewhere

Have you ever seen a Toyota Corona? Not a Corolla, but a Corona? The Toyota Corona was a classic 1970s econobox: underpowered, not much to look at, and pretty obscure, at least here in the States.

I graduated high school in 1987. Thanks to my less than stellar performance in high school, every single college to which I applied rejected me save for two: Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California (now famous as Barack Obama's alma mater) and UC Berkeley. I went with Berkeley because it was cheaper: I suppose my parents would have gladly paid for either of them, but I figured that Berkeley was not only somewhat more prestigious, but also a hell of a lot cheaper. This turned out to be a mostly good decision; the big problem was that I was overwhelmed by it all when I started there as a 17 year old. That first semester was depressing and rough, but it got better the second semester.

My high school friend Kevin started at Cal the same time I did, and he was the proud owner of a Toyota Corona that barely ran at all. He was living in an apartment upstairs from the Radio Shack on Shattuck. From a graduate class of about 120 students from my high school, about ten of us were at Cal, but we didn't see each other much; the others were generally what I can only describe as good students, and I wasn't: I'm pretty sure I was only there thanks to incredibly good SAT scores (as I'm fond of pointing out, I had the highest combined SAT scores in my class, but was the only one out of 12 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists not to actually get a scholarship, presumably thanks to my pathetic GPA). It wasn't that I was disinterested in learning - not all all! - but that I had a habit of not turning in homework, figuring that exams would prove I knew what I was doing (which they did, but you of course don't get the grades except by doing the homework). Regardless, it happily turned out that I was a better college student than I was a high school student, and I managed to graduate with a 2.99 GPA, which really wasn't bad considering the competition.

So: the second semester of college saw me taking the usual kind of classes. Because I'd taken a bunch of AP exams and done well, I had virtually no requirements to fulfill save for the ones required for a major. I'd decided to do a double English and German major, which left plenty of room to do pretty much whatever I felt like. This mostly became spending hours and hours in the library reading up on things that interested me, none of which was valid as coursework, but what the heck. Anyhow: as you can imagine for a German major, there was always kind of a low level buzz about who was going to go abroad for a year, a semester, or even just the summer. In the spring of 1988, I heard incredibly last minute that a local community college over by Cupertino had a summer jobs program in Switzerland - and the only way I could get there in time was by borrowing Kevin's Toyota Corona, rust yellow, and a few jugs of water for the inevitable radiator boilover.

Two hours and fifty miles later, I'd arrived after several radiator refills, interviewed with the creepy Swiss guy running the program, and got a job. A few weeks later, I packed up all my stuff, drove home to Stockton, and found myself on an Air Canada flight to Zürich via Frankfurt a couple of days later. After a chest X-ray to prove I didn't have tuberculosis the Swiss approved my work visa and I went to work a day later as a lifeguard/sauna attendant at Säntispark, a shopping mall, bowling alley, sauna, swimming pool, hotel, restaurant, you name it complex, then newly built, about an hour east of Zürich on the way to St. Gallen. I spent the summer living in a lovely room in a large apartment shared with a Swiss-American couple (the American woman, an Italian-American from New Jersey, was teaching aerobics at Säntispark) and a young Mormon Cal student in the next room over. Lots of memorable things happened that summer: the Mormon turned out to be gay and a huge enthusiast of cruising parks for sex, which he tried to introduce me to (I demurred), and it also marked the first time I was ever hit on (which I didn't understand at the time, sadly, leading to my first big regret of my adult lite).

At this point, you're probably asking yourself what the point of all this is - and of course there's no point, not really. I worked at the swimming pool for three months, clad only in short turqouise shirts, a Säntispark polo shirt, and a Speedo underneath for when I had to jump in the pool. I taught water gymnastics, fanned the air regularly in saunas after dousing the oven with eucalyptus scented water, and made sure small children didn't get sucked into the wave machine. It was a wonderful summer, even if I couldn't afford to eat anything for the first month (they hadn't paid me yet and I didn't have much money), living off of fried potatoes, onions, and mint tea for a while. I got along fine with my coworkers, learned to speak Swiss German reasonably well, and was treated to a wonderful couple of days in Ticino by the company at the end of the summer. It was a blast.

The only weird thing, though, was the Muzak that played in the sports complex. I don't remember any of it except for this one song, done of course in a 101 Strings manner:

Sitting in the cafeteria on my lunch break, eating a carefully chosen, small selection of salads (because it was the cheapest thing they had), drinking out of a carton of Ice Tea brought in from the supermarket, watching affluent Swiss splash about in the pool, my attention would occasionally wander and then I'd suddenly realize that White Lines, Muzak-ified, was once again playing throughout the complex. I'd look outside, up towards the Alps, smiling, happy because life was so strange.

Day 5

Day 05: A song that reminds you of someone

Oh, let's see, only about a hundred different songs to choose from... here's a short list before I actually go off on a proper tangent:

mamoosh: Max Tundra, Lysine - Matthew housesat for us for nine months in 2002. When I got home, I was very excited because the new Max Tundra album had arrived the week we got home. Matthew got giddy after hearing this very small "- - -" percussive thing that happens in the song.

danlmarmot: Heartbeat Reggae, which is a compilation CD I've never listened to. Dan doesn't listen to a lot of music. He does however have a few CDs from his college days which have been lying around our house for decades, unlistened. Most of them have long since wandered off to Amoeba, but this one stays because it's such a WTF: he doesn't like reggae, so what's the story here? I have no idea.

cbertsch: The Cure, Catch. I've never actually heard this song, but for at least a decade I would go through every Cure section in every CD shop I visited to try to find a copy of this CD single. I never did, unfortunately.

tpratt: Melvins, Lysol. Tim invited me to a Melvins show at the Kennel Club almost twenty years ago. They played this album. It was a transformative moment for me: I'd never heard anything like it and I was utterly transfixed. I stopped making fun of Tim's MRR days and realized that the man had good taste. Although I eventually became a fan of Steel Pole Bath Tub and Helmet as well, though, I'm still not really a punk/metal kind of guy.

itchwoot: Grauzone, Eisbär - because we saw Knut together in Berlin. Proof here:

50poundnote: Severed Heads, Greater Reward, because of his tattoo. Alternatively, the Max Tundra remix of Fledermaus Can't Get It - because even though I've sung the praises of Max Tundra for a decade, Jeb is the only person I know of who's ever listened to any of it on their own volition (unless Matthew has, I suppose). Frustrating really.

OK, that's enough logrolling for one post. On to the crux of the biscuit, and that's this song:

ケン・イシイ, EXTRA (1995年)

Here's how this story goes: when I graduated from college, I took the only job I could find, which was a position at CompUSA #297 in San Bruno, California, just a mile or two away from SFO. I was living in Oakland at the time, so the commute was kind of a hassle - and I could barely afford the coupon books I needed for the bridge tolls. However, my rent was $200 or so as I was living in an unfinished, unheated garage at the time. (I know, glamorous.) Eventually, though, I had the great good fortune to meet sinnabor, danlmarmot, and other various Silicon Valley tech/nerd types who seemed to think that I could certainly get a "real" job at one of the tech companies in the South Bay if I wanted to. After all, these were early days; there was no outsourcing to India, everything was muy cowboy (in the sense that degrees didn't particularly matter and anyone who could demonstrate technical competence was a good potential hire), and business was booming.

By the fall of 1994, danlmarmot and I had become fast friends; those of you who attended our wedding may recall that our mutual AAA membership dates back to August 14, 1994. It was around that time that Dan, Brian, and I all moved into a rental together in Belmont, about halfway down the Peninsula to what I think of as Silicon Valley proper. Dan, who had started working in tech support at Claris maybe a year or so ago, convinced me to apply for a job there, which I thought was pretty scary given that I was not a FileMaker Pro user or even vaguely familiar with Resolve, ClarisWorks, or any of their products. However, what I did know something about was networking (I'd made that my specialty at CompUSA), the Internet, foreign languages, and of course (most importantly) how to deal with angry, frustrated end users who didn't know much about computers in general.

Long story short, I was hired, I started making an impossible amount of money (that salary was $34,000 a year), and within a year I had transitioned into software test engineering for FileMaker Pro Server and all Windows products, being the super sekrit Windows guru of the kind always in very, very short supply at Claris - after all, they were a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple and staffed mostly with hardcore Apple enthusiasts who would often ignore bugs in their Windows products because "Windows sucks" - so why fix it, right?

Anyhow: About a year later, we hired a guy I'll call Stan. We sat next to each other and struck up a pleasant workplace friendship. Stan was pretty much your stereotypical Jtard: he had taught English in Japan, had been dating (and I believe eventually married) a Japanese woman, had a container of My Shaldan in his car, snacked on Pocky, and was generally utterly smitten with all things Japanese.

At some point, he loaned me a Ken Ishii CD and suggested I'd like it. I did. I've got a good half dozen Ishii CDs these days, but it's Jelly Tones that always makes me think of Stan.

Sadly, though, our friendship came to kind of a crappy end by the time I left the company in July 1998. Being a naturally gregarious kind of guy, he ingratiated himself with the management team (by doing things I'd never do, like playing a lot of Magic: The Gathering) to the point where he'd become an unstoppable corporate ladder-climbing force, which I thought was tacky and, well, just generally lame. Of course, he also happened to be a very good test engineer and handy with Japanese localization, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that promotions and pay rises came so quickly and so easily. Me, I was younger and more prone to anger; I have vague memories of driving over to Shuei-do manju shop on a lunch break with Stan in the summer of 1998 and angrily lashing out at him for being such a brown nose - something about the pay rises and fancy new titles pissed me off. Shortly thereafter, though, I learned that the best way to get ahead is sometimes just to quit. I left Claris about a month later after accepting a position at Netscape that paid double what I was making at Claris, which of course felt pretty damn good in more ways than one.

I did return to work at Claris for a few months in early 2003 as a contractor; Stan interviewed me for the position and of course asked me if I was still going to be such a dick about his success. I was appropriately contrite - and I wasn't faking it; five years' experience had taught me a few things - and he gave a "hire" to the hiring manager. We were cordial, I was grateful that he gave me a second chance, and when I left that job to move to Redmond a few months later, that was the last time I ever saw Stan.

Music's still good, though.