Dr. Starinken's Failed Adventures.

experimentation & exploration

Insomnia + Summer + Weekend = SURVEY

I haven’t posted anything here in a while… mainly because I get paid to write for this place daily and more people read what I have to say about that than my random musings here. I think only one person really knows about this (WASSUP ELLE?!). The only person that sort of read this is my girlfriend Emily, who is knocked out sleeping next to me. Don’t you hate when you’re unable to sleep and the person next to you is just sleeping peacefully? 


1) Put your iTunes on shuffle. Give me the first 6 songs that pop up.
Robert Walter, “Super Heavy” 
Souls of Mischief, “Never No More”
Arctic Monkeys, “This House is A Circus”
Chris Potter, “Shiva”
Journey, “Anyway You Want It”
Duke Ellington & Coltrane, “In A Sentimental Mood .”
2) If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be?
3) Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 23, give me line 17.
….i’m not leaving my bed to get a book. 
4) What do you think about most?
How to take over the world. 
5) Ever had a poem or song written about you?
Yeah Emily’s written songs about me :) 
6) Do you have any strange phobias?
I hate flying, beans, and I really hope that I don’t get re-incarnated into a mongoose in the next life (if that’s actually a thing). 
7) What’s your religion?
Christianity is a world-view and a belief that Christ died for your sins, not a religion. (i like this answer). 
8) If you are outside, what are you most likely doing?
Running late for something. 
9) Simple but extremely complex. Favorite band?
It used to be The Roots and I still love The Roots. To work for a company that’s slightly associated with Questlove is a dream come true. That being said, I don’t really have any more favorites in music. 
10) What was the last lie you told?
Read number six. 
11) Do you believe in karma?
No. At the simplest level, karma dictates that if I do good then good is comes to me and if I do bad then bad comes to me. There would never be a truly good deed if karma existed. The things I do for people I do because I want to do it for them, not because I’m expecting something in return. Likewise, if someone does me harm, I wouldn’t want to inflict harm back to them…. Unless you’re a fuckboy who wants to throw down for some arbitrary reason like the dude who said I have a head the shape of a beluga whale. 
12) What does your URL mean?
Doctor Starinken is a former Soviet scientist who created a time machine and visits me every now and then to give me advice. (pretty much the same).
13) What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength?
My greatest weakness is that I am unable to tell you my greatest strength. (omg this is freaking brilliant. i really like my answers. why couldnt i be this witty all the time?!) 
14) Who is your celebrity crush?
Do pornstars count? 
15) How do you vent your anger?
You don’t wanna see me mad bro. 
16) Do you have a collection of anything?
My brain is a collection of neurons. (again! BRILLIANT!)
17) Are you happy with the person you’ve become?
I’m not unhappy but I’m not completely ecstatic. I don’t think that I really have spent much time thinking about it. I feel like I’ll figure out if I’m happy when I’m a little older. At the moment I’m still trying to become. 
18) What’s a sound you hate; sound you love?
I don’t know if I can answer what sound I hate, but I can tell you that I love the sound of the piano. 
19) What’s your biggest “what if”?
20) Do you believe in ghosts? How about aliens?
I believe in Ghostbusters and X-Files. (geeze i’m so witty)
21) Stick your right arm out; what do you touch first? Do the same with your left arm.
Wall; Emily. 
22) Smell the air. What do you smell?
Air conditioner air? 
23) What’s the worst place you have ever been to?
24) Most attractive singer/s of your opposite gender?
Emily Miele, Emily Miele, and Emily Miele. 
25) To you, what is the meaning of life?
A Tumblr survey does not merit a response to this question.
26) Do you drive? If so, have you ever crashed?
I totaled my mom’s car. 
27) What was the last movie you saw?
do documentaries count? if so then this documentary on comic books
28) What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?
Sprained left elbow. 
29) Do you have any obsessions right now?
30) Ever had a rumor spread about you?
This asshole Satoru Sasaki told people that I forced a girl to give me a blowjob back in high school. Not like I’m still bitter about it or anything.
31) Do you tend to hold grudges against people who have done you wrong?
When you have a big dick, you can forget about simple things. 
32) What is your astrological sign?
33) What’s the last thing you purchased?
Penis pump. 
34) Love or lust?
35) In a relationship?
Emily Miele =D
36) How many relationships have you had?
Serious ones? Just Emily. So this means that if you consider yourself an ex-girlfriend, you don’t count. Why should you? We were probably really young. Let’s be honest, there is no way that the two of us could possibly say that what we had was a relationship. 
37) What is your secret weapon to get someone to like you?
My disarming good looks and my dashing and oh so debonaire charm… I don’t know dude. 
38) Where is your best friend?
Sleeping next to me. 
39) What were you doing last night at 12 AM?
Writing charts.
40) Are you the kind of friend you would want to have as a friend?
Nah. I’m vibey as fuck.
41) You are walking down the street on your way to work. There is a dog drowning in the canal on the side of the street. Your boss has told you if you are late one more time you get fired. What do you do?
This would never happen to me…. 
42) You are at the doctor’s office and she has just informed you that you have approximately one month to live. a) Do you tell anyone/everyone you are going to die? b) What do you do with your remaining days? c) Would you be afraid?
I would tell everyone I knew I had one month to live and that they should take me out to eat since I’m dying in a month. No, I wouldn’t be scared. I could eat all I want and not give a damn about gaining weight. It would be the happiest freaking month of my life.  (BEST ANSWER EVER). 
43) What’s a song that always makes you happy when you hear it?
"Act Too (Love of My Life)," The Roots. (still true)
44) In your opinion, what makes a great relationship?
Being in love with your best friend who also loves you back, 
45) How can I win your heart?
Become a cardiac surgeon and make a bet with fellow cardiac surgeons on whether Robin and Ted eventually end up together. If you win, then when I’m on the operating table you can splice me up and grab my beating heart. (BEST ANSWER EVER!)
46) Can insanity bring on more creativity?
Creativity brings on creativity. (I used to think that but now I do think that you have to be a little loopy to be “creative.” But what the fuck do I know? I’m a hack). 
47) What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far?
Moving to New York. 
48) What would you want to be written on your tombstone?
"There’s no point in visiting the dead. Should have hung out with me and bought me food while I was alive." 
49) Give me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “heart.”
50) Basic question; what’s your favorite color/colors?
Don’t have one.
51) What is your current desktop picture?
My mom, dad, and sister.
52) If you could press a button and make anyone in the world instantaneously explode, who would it be?
53) What would be a question you’d be afraid to tell the truth on?
Number 53 of this survey. 
54) You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what’s even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What is that power?
55) You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?
There was this one time when was a child living in Singapore. I guess it was particularly hot or something that day and I was super hungry. Singaporean children usually take the train and the bus to get home since public transportation is ridiculously efficient there. Anyway, it would have been a normal day that I came home from school hungry and tired, but when I got in the door the smell of my grandma’s cooking immediately captures me. I can see the smoke rising from the bowl of prawn noodle soup that she made and a bowl of fresh rice. I call out to say thank you and there’s no reply because she was out picking up my sister from pre-school. When I approach the table everything is already set for me, plate, glass, utensils, placemat, everything is all there. All I have to do is plop my sweaty ass and eat.
I was young, but not very young, maybe 8 or 9? But at that moment, I remember clearly thinking that for all the miseries of this world, my grandmother loves me. (yeah. I’d still re-live this moment. this was the moment that i learned that i have a family). 
56) You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?
Deciding to do this stupid survey because I’m freaking tired now but I have to finish it because if i dont then i wont be able to sleep. 
57) You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who would it be?
I wouldn’t cheat on Emily. 
58) You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?
59) Ever been on a plane?
Numerous times and I still hate flying. 
60) Give me your top 5 hottest celebrities.
What a stupid way to end a survey. I’m going to add a 61 because this a dumb question. 
61) Write something you’ve never told anyone before
Something you’ve never told anyone before

DanMichael @ 25 years olds, 5 months and 17 days

I don’t make much money doing what I’m doing, but I don’t give a fuck. If I cared about money then I’m sure I would have studied finance. It’s not that I think money or having it is bad because money is definitely necessary, but I definitely don’t need a lot of it. I don’t need a nice apartment, the one I have at Bed-Stuy does right for me. A Moog would be nice, but I’ve learned to design software synths and have tricked classical composers into thinking they’re listening to a live orchestra when it’s really just me in my bedroom fucking around on Logic. I write for this website and they pay me; I compose music for a few clients and their films and they pay me. Sometimes I get big paychecks and sometimes I get next to nothing. But for me, there is no difference between a paycheck that pays for three months worth of rent and a paycheck that barely buys me an appetizer at Todd English. 

It’s not about the money and it will never be about the money. I’m not writing for Revive/Okayplayer for the measly-ass paycheck I get (no diss to the company). I’m composing for people’s films because one person pays me over a grand and the other gives underpays me egregiously. I don’t haul keyboard and amp over to Queens to play for a fucking meal that I can prepare for myself because I can’t afford food. I do all of this because it because my writing, compositions and my music is an extension of who I am as a person. 

If you truly want to know who I am as a person and if I’m being honest to you, then who I am as a person is clearly revealed in all my articles, the few films I’ve scored, and in my playing. My work is a direct expression of who I am at the moment and judging from my work then I would say I’m where I need to be. 

My writing, compositions and playing show promise. It has a voice and it has flair. I definitely think that it can be spotted from a mile away and anyone who would be familiar enough with me will be able to recognize that it’s me. I have a distinct taste for things and it shows in my work. But having good taste isn’t half the battle, it’s a quarter. The execution, technique, and language still sounds like a 25-year old trying to get better and that’s where I am right now.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see six figures in my lifetime, but I don’t give a fuck. I would rather live my life a thousand times over - thank you eternal return - and fail each time in pursuit of what I believe is my calling than betray myself. That last sentence is really fancy talk for the colloquial, “I gots to keep it real.” 

Some people can work for money and have their paycheck be their end goal. There’s people I know who like the idea of what society ascribes to being a prestigious job. This is all fine and dandy and to each their own. I’m not attacking anyone’s life or life choices. I’m merely writing this for me. This for me to remind myself that when I see my name on an envelope from Blue Note Records and in the envelope contains tickets to a show that I’m supposed to review, I get happy. When I see my name plastered on Revive/Okayplayer’s website - a website that I’ve followed for years - I feel pride. When people come over the apartment and I record them in my living room then show them the final product a week later and see their face go “that’s us?” gives me validation. When I turn in my work to the director, producer, writer and s/he says “You really helped bring out my film,” a part of me wants to hug that person for 10 minutes and not let go. When I’m playing and I hear the crowd go “WHOO,” I forget that I’m not getting paid for this gig. It’s not about the money for me and it never will. 

The law of diminish marginal utility states - in a nutshell - that the first bite into a burger will be the best bite you’ll have of that burger and each bite you have won’t be as good as the first. I’m not so sure my obsession with music is the same way. I’m at the height of my musical prowess and I can’t stop. If 25 year old me played for 18 year old me then the teenager would say “If I could just get to where he is at 25. I’ll be set.” The 25 year old is wise enough to know that there isn’t a “get to where s/he is” ever. The first time I ever played there was this feeling I got and that feeling has never left me. I still feel it when I listen to The Roots and I still feel it when I write - even now. 

It’s not about the money and it never will. I don’t care about prestige. All I will ever care about is the chance to live my life in its fullest capacity at every waking moment. What matters to me is being the best I can be at the moment while pushing the envelope. I’m okay with living like this for the next few years. I know that this is temporary and I’m working to attain a higher goal. I also know that the day I get to where I want to be, I’ll enjoy it for two months and start figuring out where I want to be again. 

That’s the joy of music. There might only 12 notes I’m working with, but all the possibilities with those 12 notes… 


How do I explain that an eight year journey that started at a little known music academy a few minutes from my house has ended? Or was it the at the LAX Marriott where I played my first gig where our story began? Perhaps it was the day of the Berklee audition or the day I got rejected from Berklee, maybe it was my audition into Fullerton College. 

Wherever the story does start, it definitely didn’t begin in New York and somehow I have the slightest feeling that it doesn’t end in New York either. 

This isn’t my winter break, this is the one month respite to take it all in and reflect on what it means to have finally graduated. 

So what does graduating mean? It means that I can finally move on with a chapter in my life that took more than one plot turns. Finally, I can close this part of my life and start another. I look forward to the new headaches, challenges, and whatever my next goals, aspirations, and dreams are. 

Lastly, I thank God for blessing me with a life full of love, laughter, friends and family, and most importantly, music. 

What I’ve Learned in Music School.

1). Discipline and Diligence

Musical mastery doesn’t care about your background. The end of the tune requires your opinion and your artistry and pays no heed to whether your parents were both music professors at a conservatory or if they were deaf. I have classmates whose parents teach at a conservatory level whose development isn’t as refined as those who have parents that aren’t musical. While growing up in musical hot spots like Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, etc does have an impact on a young musician, I also know people from Eastern Europe that can bop with the best of them. In a world of youtube and internet forums, there is no excuse of not doing your homework and not learning any specific musical language. 

Phrases like “I started later in life” are also not to be given any quarter. Whether the musician grew up in a musical family, went to a performing arts high school, or learned music through the streets, proficiency on an instrument still requires hours in the shed. Sentiments of feeling behind compared to child prodigies are also thrown out the window because the only thing that separates us from them are the countless hours spent behind the instrument. 

To be good at this art from, the musician must be driven to obsession, even if it means walking to a metronome and synchronizing your steps to the upbeats of the click.  

2). Your place in history

The reason Jackson Pollock’s work can stand toe to toe with classical masters is because of his awareness of where he stands. Similarly, Robert Glasper is able to play a hip-hop jazz fusion and be considered a great jazz artist a la Art Tatum because he’s a contemporary of his time while understanding his instrument’s history.

This understanding is what separates artists from journeymen and women. The complete artist is both a historian and a rebel. Historical context must be learned before we can push the envelope. An understanding of the harmony of Bach can be applied to producing Dillaesque beats, and eventually you learn that there are more similarities between the two than differences. 

3). Outward appearances don’t mean shit

Ryan Knapp and I have attended the same school from Jr. High all the way to college when we were both at Cal Poly Pomona. During our time with Cal Poly we would look at people and notice how they carried themselves, the clothes they wore, and the way the spoke and immediately make a knee jerk judgement about them. This doesn’t work in music.

The most outspoken extroverted life of the party person won’t get gigs or play with anyone if s/he can’t play for shit. On the contrary, the weirdest motherfucker who secretly has a taxidermy job on the side could be the one hitting at Vanguard every night because that person knows how to navigate his/her way through music. 

Maybe in the business world the difference between an Omega and a Bulova watch makes a difference, but on the bandstand it don’t mean shit. 

4). Play what you hear, never back down

After all the homework and learning your history properly, your opinion and your personal voice must be heard. Learning how to be fluent in any musical language is difficult, but learning how to speak and have your own style is harder. 

It’s like English, we’ve all learned it through grade school and perhaps have even taken classes in college, but very few people can write like David Foster Wallace. 

Bill Evans played some of the baddest shit ever and it would probably take me decades to develop playing like him, but at the end of the day I need to play what I hear in my head and not worry too much about criticism. 

This is very hard to do. On one hand a sense of objectiveness about your work needs to be in tact to be able to take advice so I can hone your voice, but on the other hand, a sense of individuality must be rooted deeply in your core so you don’t get jaded and lose your voice.

The world doesn’t need another Robert Glasper or Brad Mehldau, it needs us. Glasper had Dilla and Mehldau had Radiohead, we have new musical outlets that they don’t know about and it is our job to show the world what goes on in our heads.

5). Humility

I have the hardest time with this. It’s not easy to listen to someone say that you’re at the beginning stages of your development as a jazz musician when you’ve been playing it for over five years. Five years is the an undergraduate degree with one year of experience in work for most people, but for the musician, five years is a small scratch of an eternity of work. 

The realization that our work as musicians, writers, filmmakers, producers, composers, and artists will take a lifetime to master is a humbling experience. It keeps us in check and always leaves us in a place wanting more and reaching for higher things. There’s a difference between a workaholic and someone who is passionately pursuing something. The former can’t stop working - as per the definition of the word - the latter understands that life mimics art and realizes that creating art is purely for art’s sake. 

There is huge pantheon of heroes in any creative field, the artist must come to the understanding that humility is a key trait to begin to follow in the footsteps of great men and women from Camus to Holliday. If perhaps one day the artist is so lucky and fortunate to gain notoriety for his/her work, then let it be for the refreshment of the human soul and the glorification of the ultimate Creator.