Distant early warning: January 30-February 1, 2015

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: We will be having the official release event for Bone Walker: The Free Court of Seattle Original Soundtrack Album at Conflikt 2015 in Sea-Tac, just south of Seattle, Washington. It will also be the release event for book two in the Free Court novel series, also called Bone Walker.

This is going to be a full-band event, with readings, details of all of which will be forthcoming once everything’s nailed down. Certain key guest players from the album will be joining us on stage, and it’s going to be awesome.

Otherwise, sorry I’ve been a bit quiet, things are happening. More to come soon. Lots more, I hope. :D

something entirely new: recording horns

Getting ready to try to record horns in my personal studio – a trumpet and a trombone. Frankly, I’m not sure this is going to work. But Shoreline decided we couldn’t use their facilities once they found out there was money involved, which limited our options pretty dramatically – here, the park by the lake, maybe on the bus? That’d add a unique sound – but one way or another, we’re trying it.

Maybe it’s for the best we didn’t get to use Shoreline’s studio. I’ve always used virtual boards, and when I walked into the control room at Shoreline, it was kind of like this:

so many switches

…only much bigger, because they have had some upgrades. Apparently Paul Allen gave them a bunch of stuff and I was all, “…I know what all these knobs do… in theory…”

So, yeah! My studio it is. Wish us luck.

edible geodes!


SCIENCE! Sort of.

happy I bailed when I did, I suppose

I’ve been hearing about the finale for this year of Doctor Who, and most people are really unhappy. Had I not already bailed, I would’ve turned the finale off halfway through, for certain, when they pulled one reveal involving a particular Cyberman. So I’m glad I wasn’t there for it.

Aside from that, though, I’ve never heard The Doctor Who Podcast people this upset and unhappy. I’m hearing a lot of reasons, and many of them sound awfully familiar.

Several episodes ago, in response to “Kill the Moon,” I sent in some audio feedback they chose not to use. I’ve transcribed the core of it, taking out introductions and the like and adding a phrase to clarify a point that was clear in spoken form, but not clear in written text. It is otherwise unchanged. I present it for your consideration.

Audio feedback for The Doctor Who Podcast
Recorded 11 October 2014, transcribed 10 November 2014

I just watched “Kill the Moon.” And I can’t care anymore.

I have seen almost every surviving episode of Doctor Who. There’s a few I’ve saved, kind of holding in reserve – but the local PBS station here runs them all in sequence, starting way back at William Hartnell and chugging right through to the end of the classic series, and then starts over again. Which is how the second doctor, or as I used to call him, Shemp Doctor, is my doctor. Because that’s where I came in.

There are a lot of reasons why I’ve been unhappy with Mr. Moffat, but I’ve been sticking with him, thinking, ‘I’ve made it through Colin Baker, I can make it through this.’

And then “Kill the Moon” happened.

Doctor Who has descended to a point of incoherence I associate with the television show Superfriends. This was an animated show, a superhero saturday-morning-cartoons little-kid’s show, and pretty much literally anything could happen at any time. It didn’t have to make any sense.

And here we have an episode of Doctor Who wherein… the moon… magically doubles its mass, turns into a space dragon, flies away, and leaves a replacement… moon egg… in its… place?

Lost in Space would’ve thought twice about this.

I don’t expect hard science from Doctor Who. It’s space fantasy, I get that, it’s science fantasy, I get that. But I expect things to make some degree of sense. I expect there to be some coherence. I look for some relationship to the world in which it’s set.

Now yes, yes, yes, yes, it’s a fool who looks for continuity in the annals of Doctor Who. But I’m not talking about continuity across episodes, I’m looking for coherence within one.

Right now, there are fewer rules in the Doctor Who universe under Moffat than there are in Hogwarts. It is a more magical – by which I mean random and arbitrary – place than the Harry Potteruniverse.

And I can live with that to some degree. I can live with that if it’s a light hearted and kind of silly environment. For example, The Thrilling Adventure Hour. That is totally a magic world; anything can happen at any time, and it’s hilarious.

A lot of old Who, when it gets kind of magical and random, at least has a charming eccentricity to it, kind of a lightness that you can go along with, that you can follow along with, and you like the people on screen.

But this isn’t that. This is trying to be drama. But in this environment, there can be no consequences, there can be no results of actions, there can be no results of decisions. Drama relies on all of these happening, and without them, fundamentally, there can be no drama.

Right now, anything can happen, at any time, for no reason. That is not drama. You cannot run drama that way, it doesn’t work. But that’s where Doctor Who is right now.

All the things that make a magic world work are missing. I don’t like any of these people; there’s no humour; there’s no light touch; it’s all very heavy handed; it is deathly serious and because everything is arbitrary, there can be no drama that functions as drama, which means there’s nothing left.

Fortunately I have Big Finish, which I will continue to attend to closely, and I have the classic series. But the current series… I’m just done.

Wake me up when Moffat’s gone. I’ll give it another go then. But not until.

numbers stations are passé

Check this out: listening to dead satellites. Or at least semi-dead satellites. These are satellites with dead batteries but with transmitters which turn on whenever the solar panels are in the right direction anyway. Some of the noises they make are weird and interesting.

I particularly like Transit 5B-5, launched 1964, for military navigation purposes. But recordings of many different satellites can be found at the link. Echos of the cold war – fitting, don’t you think, for the days surrounding the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall?

holy hell play this thing right now

I’d seen this going around day before yesterday, but hadn’t hit play. It should’ve been labelled MAD GENIUS AT WORK – HIT PLAY NOW. Because goddamn.

Yaybahar by Görkem Şen from Olgu Demir on Vimeo.

The idea of using long heavy metal cables as resonance objects in and of themselves is pretty brilliant. (Tying them to the soundboards makes it loud, but isn’t the source of the sound generation.) And keep playing after the initial bit; yes, the damn thing is tonal.

It’s called a Yaybahar (emphasis on yay) and was invented by Gorkem Sen. It sounds like a hurdy-gurdy and a sitar and an electric guitar and a cello and an early moog somehow managed to have one very large and kind of weird kid. And I want to invite that kid to my party.

(And thanks to @djwudi for the tip.)

mozilla and firefox careen into a ditch

So Mozilla’s The Open Standard published a pro-GamerGate op-ed on Tuesday and has been on a “gamergate is a legit issue with facts on both sides” rampage on Twitter.

Of course, the very idea that there are “facts” on the GamerGate side other than having been set up to harass and force women out of gaming and tech is laughable. As those of us with sanity keep pointing out, we have the goddamn chat logs, this is proven.

But then they went reaching out to the stalker ex-boyfriend with a restraining order to write for them, causing the GamerGate misogynist crowd to come cheering in en masse.

Now, I’d been in this already, but bringing in the stalker ex-boyfriend with a restraining order?! Really?! So I threw that in their collective face, and apparently, that was a little too embarrassing or inconvenient or something:

But despite that, they’re sticking to their facts-on-both-sides legitimisation of the whole misogynist movement, talking about encouraging “active participation.” The official Firefox account was spending a lot of time on it in particular. (Here’s an image if the tweet doesn’t load.)

So yeah, that’s awesome, by which I mean horrible. Given the degree of Brogrammer Rampage I’ve been hearing secondhand out of Mozilla dev offices lately – from guys, I might add – I can’t say I’m entirely shocked. Disappointed that it’s so official, yes, but not shocked.

Still, it’s a bit of a kick to the face. Guess I’ll be adding “delete Firefox from Lair computers” to my todo list today.

eta2:: Hello and welcome, surprise flood of Facebook users! You may find my other posts on GamerGate and related topics of interest as well.

eta: Oh look, here’s a writeup of previous Mozilla tacit support of GamerGate.

ps: It was a pretty quick explosion, I have to say. Blogosphere events last a few days; Tumblr ones do, too. Twitter, though – this was up and down in a few hours. I went up to double-digit interaction updates per refresh in about 10 minutes, sat there for a while just trying to keep up, then back down to a more normal one or two an hour by evening. Very strange to see happening. I’ve had stuff go viral before on Tumblr – far larger than this – but this felt really ephemeral in ways those didn’t. Interesting.


Hey, sorry for all the radio silence. Too many irons in the fire at the moment to blog much – nwcMUSIC stuff, a big show that I’m hoping I can put on in late January, all that sort of thing. Lots of exciting possibilities, but nothing to announce until it happens.

So here, have a costume I made, from the “Korra, Alone” mini-arc which ran a few episodes ago on Avatar: Legend of Korra. (If you haven’t seen it, she’s going around in Earth Kingdom peasant-wear, due to reasons.) It’s not as green in the photo as it is in real life, and I don’t know why, so assume More Greener and you’ll get the idea. I was pretty happy with how it came out, particularly for such a rush job.

Did you cosplay for Halloween? Post pics if you did! :D

In Character

Out of Character

ps: More costume and cosplay pics from the party on flickr.

there were no consumer-grade cd players at best buy

A couple of years ago, I could still walk in to Best Buy and test mixes on an assortment of consumer-grade CD players. And while I’ve been calling CDs “concert souvenirs” for a while now – that’s what they are, people want them, people want you to sign them, they still have value – I haven’t entirely realised how true that is.

Part of that is because CD sales as of 2013 (iirc) were still the largest single sales segment. And they’re by far the largest sales segment in albums, despite vinyl’s resurgence.

But… a couple of years ago… I could still walk in to Best Buy and test a CD full of music tracks on an assortment of consumer-grade players. While it’s partly a ritual, it also serves a real purpose – does your mix survive all these different weird players?

And now I can’t. I couldn’t even test it one one, because there weren’t any. The only CD audio players were in the Magnolia HiFi audiophile ministore.

But that’s fine, right? I’m not stupid, I have exactly the same track mix on my phone, and for this exact reason. But then it got really annoying, because I couldn’t test-listen with my phone, either. Sometime in the last year, Best Buy tied all their display gear down to preset sample tracks, which no doubt hide their flaws and emphasise their strengths. Play your own music to see how that sounds? Nope.

Not cool, Best Buy. Not cool at all.

It’s a little surprising, to be honest, because of those sales numbers. Are all those CDs still being sold – a decent number – going into older, legacy players?

So I went poking around online – Best Buy is the midrange, let’s drop down market segments a little. Target’s page on audio brings up a turntable before a CD player, but they at least have a few – Crosley, the maker of retro-styled audio gear, and Jensen.

It took going to Walmart to find a bit of a selection – or Amazon, of course. But what you seem to have is audiophile and low-end, and not a whole lot in between. Just like the American economy. Aheh.

Which leaves home theatre as the last mass-market stop for physical media. But do people actually do this? Do people play CDs on home theatre systems? I don’t. Never have. Anna doesn’t either. We’ve had it set up for AirPlay for a while, along with all the other audio – we pipe mp3s over the LAN.

But most people aren’t going to do that until it’s a standard feature, or at very least, common. So maybe other people pop CDs into the BluRay player? Is that a thing?

Of course, the CD… it’s a concert souvenir, so it doesn’t really matter. Rip and put in the souvenir box, right? No big.

Until computers stop having optical drives in three years’ time. Then what’re we going to do for souvenirs?

space sounds for super songs

Most of my weekend involved power outages and damage control, fortunately relatively little of the latter given everything. So it’s a music links roundup of awesome.

NASA have dumped a huge library of space sounds you can use in music. For free. They’re public domain. THIS IS AWESOME. I have no idea what I’d use any of this for, but I WILL FIND A REASON.

Not on Bone Walker, maybe, but I will find a reason.

Here are some posters about music theory which I have confirmed are incredibly useful, particularly if you can read music. (I can’t, I’m still getting a bit out of them. Also wow some of this shit is weird.)

My friend Ben Deschamps of The Heather Dale Band has finally started releasing some solo work. It’s one of those song-a-week things, and he’s been building up a backlog of material in a bunch of different modes – instrumentals, silly, rock. You might enjoy giving a listen; he’s a really strong guitarist.

And I don’t know Four-Stroke at all, but if you like your punk thrashy, 80sish, and funny, check out Ottawa’s number one punk band on Reverb Nation. I particularly like “(I Wanna Be a) Suburban Jihadi,” which is a free download.

So, yeah. How was your weekend? Less power-spikey, I hope.

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