Things I Love: M

Jade Park continued this meme, where you blog ten things starting with the same letter, and was handing out letters a while back. She gave me the letter M.

  1. Mom. The letter M presupposes that I am going to mention Mom — I have to do it. If I don’t, I’m a bad person. Well, anyway, my mother and I have our disagreements, though they’ve been more sympathetic and less forceful in the recent past, but I still love her. We happen to live in completely different universes, but I love her just the same.
  2. Maewoon eumshik. Okay, it starts with a mi-eum, not an “m”, but it’s the same sound, so I’m gonna cheat a little and sneak ‘er in there. I love spicy food. I’m not using the Korean word for any reason other than that it starts with M, by the way. The widespread misperception that Korean food is very spicy is laughable, as I’ve had food from all kinds of countries that is much spicier. There are limits to what I can eat, mind you — there are some curried beef dishes I’ve made that had produced violent reactions on my part, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat anything with more than one habanero pepper in it ever again — but I still love my hot food.
  3. Mixolydian mode. When I was learning how to play jazz and blues music, this thing saved my life. The mixolydian mode, as used by jazz musicians, is really just a major scale with a flat 7th. You use it when you’re improvising on a dominant chord for that scale — for example, if you’re playing a blues in C, the first bar is C7, and you’ll use a C-mixoolydian mode. At least, that’s how you start out, until you learn how to make melodies with the chord structure in mind instead of ad-hocking melodies out of scale patterns. But anyway, the mixolydian mode was my bread and butter for years. Which brings me to…
  4. Monk, Thelonious Sphere. Though my posting habits might suggest otherwise — I almost never write about music anymore — my love of music did not get killed by playing in a band, although the experience did increase my appreciation of silence. Right now I’m half-listening to Thelonious Monk’s album Monk’s Blues. Great stuff. Monk did amazing things with the piano, and when my girlfriend expressed a desire to learn to play jazz piano, the first CD I bought her was this one, Monk’s Blues. (I wanted to get her a copy of Monk alone, but it was nowhere to be found.) Apparently in Korea, Bill Evans is more highly regarded. That doesn’t surprise me one bit since Evans is far less quirky, less ragged and weird and angular. Evan’s playing is good, mind, but it doesn’t express the deep, unique weirdness of an artist in the same way Monk’s does. Monk the arranger, Monk the composer, Monk the improvisor — it’s all good.
  5. Masala. Not masala chai alone — though I do love the stuff — but masala as an approach to things. Masala means “mixture”, and while Indian “Masala Movies” sometimes carry it a bit far for my taste, I like this approach to entertainment, to storytelling, to art, and to food. (Not to be confused with “fusion”, an annoying trend by which people hide their inability to eat foreign foods by Koreanizing or Americanizing them, and which I hate with a passion.) I like to think that my own worldview is a kind of masala worldview, an unexpected mixture of things thrown in and stewed together. Certainly my writing is like that — I play games by mixing and matching things in ways I’ve not yet seen, and sometimes I get chickens instead of feathers. In an era when orthodoxy and conservativism have pervaded into not only politics but also the arts and entertainment fields — where people seem to prefer retellings of stories they already know to having their minds blown by something they’ve never imagined — it may not be the most lucrative approach, but we’ll just have to see. In any case, it’s more interesting than playing along with the purists and their boring, faked-out classicist orthodoxies.
  6. Milk. I didn’t when I was younger. I never liked the taste of milk, or the way it felt in my throat. But now, I love the stuff, and I go through lots of it. Nowadays, I actually drink it as a beverage. (Not so often, but often enough to need to buy more every week or two.)
  7. Montréal. My time there wasn’t easy, and in the end, I regret having attended the graduate program I did — all I’ve really got to show for it is a few good friends, honestly, and I can’t say that I learned all that much there, not for want of my own effort. UBC’s program probably would have done me more good, but frankly, I think studying something other than creative writing altogether would have been my best choice. However, seeing Montreal again with Lime this past year was a revelation. I enjoyed it. I liked the vibe of the city, I liked walking down Montréal streets, and once I was properly bundled up, I didn’t even mind the cold so much. When Lime proposed to me that she’d like to live again in the cityk even just part time or for a couple of months during some future holiday, I was surprised to find myself more amenable to the notion than I might have expected. It’s an alright place, and has a special place in my heart, who knows why.
  8. Modern medicine. You know, there are lots of frustrations to be found here, but really, the quality of human life these days, for those of us with access to modern medicine, is so much improved over what or ancestors enjoyed. (At least, when insurance companies and governments don’t get between us and proper treatment.) It rocks that so many women don’t die in childbirth; that so many diseases that destroyed lives for aeons and aeons are now treatable with a short course of pills or injections; that when asthmatics cannot breathe, inhalers can save them from nasty experiences. Like anything, modern medicine has its problems, but I’m all for it, just the same.
  9. Movies. If there’s a reason that my grades in undergrad were lower than they might have been, it’s because I love movies. While I was going to university, the second-run theater hit Saskatoon. Suddenly, I could go see movies for $1, movies that only a few months before, I couldn’t have afforded to see in the regular cinema. Movie rentals, too, provided an inexpensive way of watching movies that I couldn’t otherwise see, since our local repertory cinema was too far for me to visit often, and never ran the kinds of films I wanted to see, or at least never seemed to when I was checking. THough I read a lot more these days, I am still a film junkie.
  10. My girlfriend. You knew that was coming, right? I won’t get into the million reasons why here, because she’d be embarrassed, but I will say that my respect and admiration for her has only grown in the last year. She’s really a remarkable human being, and has done something this year that few people can do — gotten through an incredibly difficult year of stress, strain, and endurance-testing while maintaining her poise, strength, wisdom, and integrity. At the end of that, with the freedom to choose a more mercenary path of wealth and boredom, she has instead decided to follow a path paved not of gold, but one that will allow her to help make a difference and serve people in a way many will never even understand or appreciate. I’m so proud of her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *