Los Angeles, California Brazilian Wax

Stopped to get gas before returning my car at the airport. A guy walked up and tried to sell me two fat, shiny rings that I assume he purchased legitimately and then decided he didn’t really want them and then decided to sell them at a gas station.

At check-in, another guy told me he was $18 short for his plane ticket and asked if I could help him out.

Wow. Them’s balls!

I am left to wonder: if he’s $18 short of a ticket, where exactly is he going? And what’s he going to do with himself when he gets there?

I’m flying Virgin America; hands-down my favorite domesitc airline and the only one I know of with mood lighting in the cabins.

One more random plug: I donated an XO laptop for Christmas and unwittingly received a complimentary year of wireless service from T-Mobile. That means I have free wi-fi everywhere there’s a Starbucks, which as we all know is pretty much everywhere. Hot dog!

I’m down here to record music for the new video. We only recorded guitar and drums. I’m coming back in a couple weeks for strings, piano, and vocals, so this was sort of about laying the foundation.

We went back to Martinsound in Alhambra where we recorded the music two years ago.


That’s Garry, the composer, eyeing me with bottled irritation. As the client, they’re all somewhat obliged to put up with me.


Dan Blessinger on drums.

Dan engineered the 2006 video. He really wanted to play the drums on this one, so we gave him a shot. It turned out great.

I’ve been playing Rock Band for 6 months now, which means I’m pretty much an expert drummer. I didn’t want to steal his thunder, so I let him perform on the actual recording, but I taught him a thing or two between takes.

Next stop: Kevin Dukes’ house in Woodland Hills. Kevin played guitar on the 2006 video and the 2007 outtakes. We also recorded the outtakes at his house. He laid down the guitar in a very short time.

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The way Kevin works is to get all the existing tracks up on his Mac, then just play through the song adding licks as needed. He can add layer after layer of guitar and switch instantly between instruments, since his Variax can digitally reproduce the sound of pretty much anything that uses strings. It’s absurdly efficient.

Despite his obvious proficiency, I was able to share some important guitar-playing tips. For example, he had no idea how to achieve Star Power. He’d never even heard of it.

I am, once again, exhilarated by the experience of watching the video come together right in front of me. They put it up on the monitor while they were playing. It was a cut I’d only just thrown together the night before. I lined all the clips up to the beat of Garry’s demo, then let it render while I slept, so it was all new to me. Once the drums started crashing and booming and banging in all the right places, I was floating on air.

This is the first time I’ve really felt like this new video is better than the last one. It is it’s own beast. It’s probably less irreverent, but it packs more of a wallop. And that’s what I set out to do. I wanted to wallop.

And get this: I’m not even done yet. I’ve still got one more trip to go — albeit a highly abbreviated one.

Shortly after returning from the Middle East, I discovered, much to my surprise, that Brazil requires travelers to get a visa in advance of entry. I honestly just assumed we were buddies. Not so, apparently. Brazil has one of the most intensive and demanding application processes I’ve encountered. I had an easier time getting into Burma.

Here’s a thing: Brazil is the only country in the world that requires US citizens to pay for their visa with a postal money order. Oh, and it costs $140. I had to pay a whole lot more to get it expedited, more still to Passport Express to have them courier my passport into the D.C. embassy, more still to FedEx, and way way more when the embassy declined my application because I’ve run out of pages on my passport (the third time that’s happened — you’d think I’d have figured it out by now). I had to go through a whole separate expedited application process and have Passport Express pick up my passport, deliver it to the US Department of State for additional pages, then bring it back to the Brazilian embassy to try again.

Apparently it’s a reciprocity thing because we make it really difficult for Brazilians to get into the US. Now everyone gets to suffer.

So anyway, that cost me more than a week of traveling time in South/Central America. But cutting Brazil out of the video for logistical reasons wasn’t really an option. I’ve got about 500 emails from annoyed Brazilians wondering why a place so famous for its revelry has thus far been snubbed. The answer is because of their gigantic, hairy spiders, but I don’t dare tell them that.