second call for reviewers: is that you?

I listened to the mostly-completed Bone Walker today, seeing what’s left to be done, and the answer is honestly not all that much. We’re still waiting for the readings, I’ve got one (1) more flute track to put down, there’s a special surprise still outstanding, but… yeah. It’s about time for final vocals, and then we’ll be done.

So I’m looking for people who will post reviews (50-100 words or more, about the length of an Amazon customer review) if they receive an advance review copy. DO YOU WANT AN ARC? That could be you!

You don’t have to review music regularly to jump in here, and you most certainly don’t have to promise what kind of review (positive, negative, etc) – just give it some actual words and thought. And it has to be posted publicly online somewhere. PODCASTS TOTALLY COUNT. So does print, I guess, if you have that sort of thing. Fanzines? CAN DO SPORT. I just want a copy. :D

Interested, or have a pointer? Here’s the contact form. Let me know. Thanks!

15 films challenge

I got tagged on the 15 Films challenge. Consider yourself tagged, or don’t – I’m not fond of that part, and besides, this goes a zillion places.

But here, my top 15 favourite/personally influential films of all time – don’t consider these in order, or maybe do, if you want. I don’t. Also, I’m leaving out films I love in the ironic sense – the works of Ed Wood, Jr, the original Gamera trilogy, Robot Monster, Radar Secret Service, and so on.

1) Casablanca. How can it not be? It is a perfect film.

2) Brazil. Let’s take 1984 and h́̚a̢ͪ̉͐̽͜͏l̎̃ͪ̀ͨ͌̑͘l̑̇̋ͭ͏uͫ͆̆̂̊̏̚c̸̴ͨ̀ͯ̀̄̈́̀iͣͥ̉ͯ͡ņ̸̂ͯͩ̐ô̸ͦ̊g͆̈̾̎ͫ̚e̴ͤ̇́͐̒̐͏nͯ̈̿͞͡sͤͮ͒́̂ͩ҉ and see what happens. Answer: brilliance.

3) Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し). Transcendent in every way. For years, I was emotionally ready to dump everything and go work at Yubaba’s bath house if the opportunity arose. Magic lessons required, of course.

4) The Manchurian Candidate (1961). I would argue possibly the best cold war film, only matched by Doctor Strangelove. So paranoid, so relentless, so sad. Angela Lansbury is brilliant, perfect evil. I’d like to see her go up against Davros in Doctor Who. (Spoiler: she’d destroy him.)

5) O Brother Where Art Thou? If you don’t feel the gods intervening in the radio station, you aren’t reachable.

6) The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson trilogy), because how do you even realise this? And yet, they did. Astounding.

7) Pacific Rim, because I have never walked out of a theatre in a daze like that before, with my brain still going, what the fuck did I just see and can I see it again?!

8) On the Beach, probably the third- or fourth-best cold war film. (See also the last great one: Threads (1984).) Why this and Manchurian Candidate and not Doctor Strangelove? To be honest, I can’t quite tell you why. Strangelove is fantastic. But I had the unfortunate confluence of seeing that and reading Fail Safe at about the same time, and the mix is… hilarious? But not intentionally. And why not Threads? Different era, different world, I guess. I dunno.

9) Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫). I will possibly never watch this film again, because the first time destroyed me. I think… this is where I learned to love a film about losing.

10) The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension. Welcome to my sense of humour. Population: me.

11) Captain Blood (1935). Welcome to my sense of adventure! Population me, and a bunch of pirates. “You speak treason!” “Fluently.”

12) The Lion in Winter. Welcome to my idea about family! Population me, and all my horrible memories. Made beautiful by tremendous acting and actual razor wit. And occasionally, actual razors. Ah, family.

13) The Monolith Monsters. If an alien invasion film could be a procedural, this would be it. A minor film, but Science! and Rationality!

14) The Maltese Falcon (1941, the one with Bogie, the one you know about). The perfect detective film. Often overlooked; Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer, the gunsel. A small part, but watch him barely control – barely control – his crazy rage. There’s one point in particular where he is so angry he can barely move. It’s great.

15) Lilo and Stitch. A film I did not expect out of Disney, a love song to Hawai’i, funny, smart, poignant.

That’s my list right now. It’d probably have different items on it if someone asked again later. What’s yours?

internet slowdown day

Today is Internet Slowdown day, a mass protest and example of what the cable cartels will do and are doing to the internet with the end of network neutrality. There’s money on both sides of this fight, which means it’s one of those little windows of opportunity where public opinion can actually matter.

Over 99% of comments to the FCC on this were opposed to ending network neutrality. And the count was overwhelming. Now go here to send letters to the American Congress and President.

Go. Now.


gameovergate

SUPERB P0WNERSHIP is the phrase of the day. Zoe Quinn has been dealing with a misogynist campaign against her for months, and, whelp, guess who has been infiltrating 4chan’s chat rooms and logging the shit out of all of the entire campaign’s ops room? Oh yeah. That would be Zoe.

DEMOLITION.

Oh, her angry ex-boyfriend? He’s in the logs too, helping coordinate harassment. Hey, look, a revenge campaign for breaking up with him! SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS, DOUCHEBAGS! There’s even video. This is epic destruction.

If you have no idea what this is about, it’s about misogyny in gaming, and an ongoing campaign to force women out of gaming, focusing on several specific people, one of whom is Zoe Quinn. You can get a bit of a summary here, if you like.

eta: Judging from the h8r reblogs on Tumblr and the anonymous asks I’ve got, it looks like the attempt at “defence” here is, “It’s all out of context!” Hey, pro tip: only cite context when it actually helps your case. Unlike here. Where it doesn’t.

another new toy: roland sc-55

It’s a Roland SC-55 MIDI Sound Canvas from 1991! I can now make all the noises you heard in any videogame in the 1990s.


Cheese Factor Five, Mr. Worf – let’s see what’s out there.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but honestly not much of one. I got it from Ben Deschamps via his internet yard sale, for, as he put it, “a six pack.” XD I also had to fix it after it arrived damaged in shipping – I’m pretty sure the post office punted it here from New York State, given how quickly it arrived and how the left side of the front panel was punched in.

But hey, now I can say I’ve repaired a potentiometer. Not replaced: repaired. I did that because it’s custom and weird and was in three pieces. (Also the metal frame was bent, some parts got disconnected and also bent, a bit of the motherboard broke off but I’m pretty sure that was just a little bit of grounding pin and it’s already grounded. And I fixed all that, so it’s all good.)

Anyway, it’s a Roland, and my A-30 MIDI keyboard is also a Roland, and turns out, they know each other! Such a small world. All those useless buttons suddenly do things!

There is also a thunder and rain setting. This is hilarious, mostly because there’s really only one thunder effect, so I can use it exactly once ever. I have no plans to do so, but don’t push me, I got thunder.


not me. okay, kinda me last night. but not really me.

Honestly, though, while I expected mostly to be using it for things easy to get right (bells, chimes, simple pipes, synthy-effects, etc), this is 1990s pro gear. The strings and horns, while definitely cheesy, are much less so than what you find in, say, Garage Band today. With the right tweaking and careful, careful playing – it respects key velocity, aftertouch, all those cool tweaks on my keyboard – I might be able to use more parts of it than I expected, maybe even for the swing jazz version of Lisdoonvarna. That’d be awesome.

half a pax but a whole recap

PAX Prime tickets went up for sale while I was on the road, and by the time I could stop and add myself to the queue, it was too late. Thanks to Anna, I still managed a couple of days of tickets at face value.

This was the first time I’ve ever been nervous going to a PAX, mostly because of not just last year’s most recent round of crap (and before you ask, other than “I was here first, you fuckers,” here’s why I keep going) but because of the threatened protests by “men’s rights” misogynists.

Thankfully – and typically – they were too disorganised and cowardly to actually do anything in public. I only saw one I could even identify – he wore a “men’s rights” organisation T-shirt with a long name which makes an anti-women acronym; their logo is the venus/woman symbol with a big international NO graphic over it. I have a picture, but I’m not posting it.

But that wasn’t what the show was about; it was instead pretty awesome. I’m really disappointed I chose poorly on Saturday night and missed Abby Howard‘s feminism panel, her tweets made it sound excellent.

The queues weren’t bad this year. From this picture, that sounds like a “lol what” moment, but seriously, they weren’t. For one thing, crowd control second only to Disney. For another, even when long, the whisked right along, it was really impressive.


Welcome to Nerdvana

The big game buzz post-show this year apparently ended up being Gigantic. That surprises me, honestly, because all the buzz I was hearing Saturday night was about Lichdom, which is a lot like “we really like the magical combat and look of Skyrim, let’s turn those up to 90 and drop most of the other stuff.” I played it; if that sounds good to you, then you want this game.


Hadooooooooooooooken!

Evolve’s booth drew a lot of attention, too. Mostly because of the Big Guy here. Paul and I ended up scrappin’ with it ’cause that’s just what happens.

World of Tanks, as always, had a giant-ass tank. I’m pretty sure they bring in a bigger tank every year. Nothing will top the year they brought in an actual tank, but that had to be outside, so I get why they didn’t do that again. Plus there was this bioshock-ish angry bear next to the Gauntlet demo booth that I liked.

I did not know Lenovo had a 27″ Windows tablet! They call it a tabletop, and it’s about the size of one. This is the first Windows Tablet that’s made me go “ooooooh, I do want that, but it’s $1500. Still, that’s a lot cheaper than a “surface,” so maybe in another couple of years it’ll even be doable. I’m not picturing it as a “tablet” of any sort, but damn, as an RPG add? I hung out at the Intel booth playing Risk against the computer for 45 minutes, that’s how cool it was.

I didn’t take a photo, so I’m a bad person and should feel bad. But they had a picture on their website.

Alienware has a new high-end gaming PC that looks spectacular. I mean honestly, this is one gorgeous beast. They say that the atypical shape helps cooling by eliminating dead airflow pockets.

Frankly, I’m not convinced, particularly with the drive bay, and I’m nervous about the GPU bank. There are fans at each corner (or just offset) and I can see what they’re doing, and I’m… they know how to run airflow tests, I’m sure it works well enough. But even given that, the drive bay side smells like Bad Choices to me. And any other cooling options are kind of off the table, because of the shape. I think I want to like it more than I do.

Also, holy crow, I actually won something in a drawing! I enter all the drawings, but of course, so does everyone, so usually I just get a T-shirt or something. Or a cape. Intel did capes two years ago, that was awesome. But this year I won a gaming headset! I may do a review later. You know how I talk about headsets and amp equipment aimed at consumers trying to “help” and being terrible for mixing? Definitely that category. On the other hand, the positioning of sounds in this headset is amazing. I don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s neat.

Lots of cosplay! If I’d had a third day there I’d’ve had more pictures. But I liked Snow White playing Lara Croft, so I had to snap that, and a few others just needed photos even though I was running around so much.


Snow White Plays Lara Croft


Power Rangers!


Game of Thrones – these looked better in person than in photo. Acting!


The Best Ewok

Paul and I went to concerts on Friday night, about which I felt kind of bad later, because I was also going to go to Shubzilla and Death*Star’s big concert block off-site, but I thought that was on Saturday so I didn’t. And then OOPS SAME TIME ;_; but well, that’s how PAX works.

I wasn’t, I admit, into the Triforce Quartet that much – see, most of you people were Nintendo or Playstation people and are all up in the Zelda things, and some of us were SEGA!heads, and chasing rings with hedgehogs, and that’s just how we rolled. Still, they were good. Don’t get me wrong, they performed well and got a standing ovation – it’s just not my thing. But The Doubleclicks were definitely on, and in the last song they got Paul and Storm to join them a song early, and hilarity ensued. Those two groups together really multiply up the funny.

LOOOOOOOT. I don’t have the assortment of T-shirts or the giant balloon Gauntlet spiked hammer when I took this photo, I don’t know what was wrong with me. But HEADSET! and SHOT GLASSES! One of which I didn’t even have to pay for!

I also ran into some people I’d love to talk about and made some early possible arrangements for some other things I’d love to talk about that I can’t talk about, which is why not talking about them is all down at this end of the post because I can’t talk about them.

But if any of it comes through, it’d be awesome. And it’s definitively related to music stuff I do. And it could be pretty epic. And that’s all I can say right now.

I hate secrets. I’m so bad at them. But if they happen, these will be worth it. :D

creative tricks musicians can’t use but want to

I’ve just been watching artists and writers online talk about what they listen to or just generally have on in the background while they’re working. A lot of people are saying they are stimulated by that, it makes them more creative.

But I’m a musician, so I can’t do that for most of my creative time. I can’t have music on (because hi, I’m writing or performing music) and I can’t have a television on (because there’s no point, I’m watching the digital audio workstation), and I haven’t had much luck with spoken podcasts – I’m paying too much attention to the sound I’m working on and don’t get much of anything out of it.

But back when I was a visual artist, I could totally do that trick. I kind of miss it. Right now, I’m doing paperwork and stuff and have Anpanman on the background, which is about the right level of non-distracting stimulus.

I’d like something akin to that for the studio, mostly for when I’m doing tedious things like timing edits and comping. You know, the boring shit. But I have no idea what that would be. Anybody have any ideas?

no moral dilemma is much better than a dumb moral dilemma

So, yeah, the latest Doctor Who, “Into the Dalek,” tipped the metre into wretched. Seriously, if I wanted to watch people traipsing through a giant robot, I’d watch Lost in Space, so I’m going to talk a little about this episode using stills from the Series 2 Lost in Space episode, “Trip Through the Robot.”

So first, there’s explosions. In media res, and all that. It’s not as good as starting a story, but it works in a pinch. And hey, future setting! I like those. Explosions!

Then there’s more explosions, in case you missed the first ones.

But all that’s more okay than it should be, because The Doctor is watching! And he saves the one that hasn’t completely blown up yet, even though she keeps wanting to shoot him too.

Yay! Saved! The whole crew gets together and thanks The Doctor, but then decides well, we like you, but we still have to kill you. That’s how we show gratitude here in the future!

But that’s not important either, because in fact none of it matters a few seconds later because the The Doctor runs and gets The Companion, which The Crew apparently decided he could do instead of shooting him, because The Crew have serious mood-instability issues have a patient. WHO COULD IT BE? Whups, not yet, time for new credits.

…and then we run about with The Companion for a while, but then The Doctor shows up, and we all go find out who is The Patient. And who is The Patient? Dun dun dunnnnnn A DALEK! O NOES!

This Dalek is very sick – so sick it has turned into a drama queen.

So, whelp, there’s only one thing to be done for it – Let’s Get Small! Now, this makes no damn sense even for Doctor Who, because honestly, have you priced tiny atoms lately? Nobody has the money for that. Even Lost in Space knew better, and just made the Robot Dalek Robot really huge.

But that’s not important either! All that matters is that even at this size, it’s bigger on the inside, because really, who can manage scale. Scale is difficult, who cares, it’s Doctor Who, suspend some goddamn disbelief already. Anyway, The Doctor and The Companion go inside. (And to be fair, this was a visually interesting moment in the actual episode, and I kind of liked that bit. Now, back to the hack job I’m doing here.)

And there’s a bit of wandering around inside, and finding things. None of those bits might be important, could they? Eh. Oh, look, it’s the engine room of the BroTrek Enterprise, a.k.a., a brewery! This would be convenient, except alcohol did not help this episode, and believe me, right about here, I started trying.

But oh no! There are antibodies inside the robot and they’re after us! Anybody got some gum? It won’t help, but hey, gum!

Run! Run some more! Oh good, here, here’s a diode heart food storage area, we’ll be safe there – it’s too important to have defences! (STRATEGY!)

Oh, as an aside, Happy Christmas! Apparently. But I digress.

We need to Fix The Dalek! Because this Dalek is so broken it’s become ‘good,’ which apparently means ranting about killing the things a Dalek doesn’t normally want to kill, and sure, that makes ethical sense, but hey, carry on.

And they get inside the jukebox reactor which powers the Dalek, and weld together the broken bit with… a screwdriver. Fine, whatever. Radiation: It’s Fucking Magic. So is the sonic. I’m kind of okay with that, it’s part of the territory.

YAY! WE FIXED THE DALEK!

YAY! IT WANTS TO KILL EVERYBODY BUT DALEKS AGAIN AND CALLS IN THE FLEET! WHO COULD’VE CALLED THAT?! OH NOES, HERE COMES THE DALEK SAUCER!

OH NOES THE SHIP IS ASPLODES!

Strangely, the Dalek boarding party is really not very large. And they board instead of just blowing up the ship some more. Anyway, then there’s a bunch of running around while The Doctor and The Companion try to re-reboot The Dalek into Good Mode again. Because sure, enough hits on the reboot button has to do something, right?

And The Doctor climbs up into The Dalek’s brain chamber and talks to it for a while.

And The Crew is running around getting shot at and killed sometimes because they don’t run away very well. And who are these jerks, anyway? Mostly people who wanted to kill The Doctor for saving and returning one of their fighter pilots. They must just hate her.

But eventually, they reboot The Dalek again, and this time it comes back up Good! Yay! But that just means it wants to kill Daleks again, which they thought was good before, but now it’s all depressing for some reason, I guess because The Dalek found out that The Doctor really does not like Daleks. And that’s just like The Good Dalek! And that’s bad. So The Doctor is being all mopey about not being better than The Dalek, even though that’s bollocks.

There’s supposed to be a dilemma in there about how The Doctor makes a better Dalek than The Dalek, except we saw that in the new series before already, and frankly, we saw it a lot better and more convincingly.

But in the end it works out kind of okay anyway, because The Companion tells The Doctor hey, you’re trying, and intent – like radiation! – is fucking magic, and matters a lot more than saving the universe a couple of zillion times, and that picks him up a bit. That’s… nice? I guess?

And then The Doctor drops off The Companion and wanders off in television space and time again. l8r l8r don’t be a h8r.

Roll credits while rolling eyes. The moral of the story is, “don’t let the robot run out of power, you morons, you’ll need it later” “rebooting fixes everything” “everybody can be good” “any chance to redeem a murderous psychopathic alien should be taken so I can feel better about myself” “one good dalek who wants to genocide the right aliens because it saw a star being born trumps a couple of hundred other… humanoids… because… yeah I’ll get back to you on that” “Samuel Anderson is kinda hot.”

Or, you know, that’s as much as I gleaned from this mess. Moffet is starting to make me miss Most Hated (6th) Doctor and No Really I’m An American Companion Peri, and goddamn, that takes some work. Is he a secret Colin Baker fan? Is all this about improving the past’s reputation by contrast? Because yeah, which is better, “Twin Dilemma” or “Into the Dalek”? Some questions should not be asked.

well that was unexpectedly easy: bongo drum mic stand mount

I’m working on Fake Drumkit part for Song for a Free Court/Anarchy Now, and it needed more real drums, so I got out…

Oh, right, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about Fake Drumkit. So the musical shtick behind the band – as opposed to the political/theme idea – is, “what if a bunch of elves heard metal and thought WE HAVE TO DO THIS” and used what they had.

Since that includes a drumkit, I make what I call Fake Drumkit. It’s made of real drums like bodhran and djembe and bongo and wood block and metal and glass, and fake drums like big sampled bass taiko or at least things which sound kind of like taiko. Anarchy Now also has three tuned glass cymbals. It’s gonna be awesome. \n/

Anyway, I have a few drums recorded (and all those glass cymbals), but it needs more. And the bongos sound right so far. Not as bongos – I don’t play them as bongos, don’t expect that – but as midrange drums.

But I don’t have a stand, which makes them a pain to mic. So I drilled a hole in the little plastic bridge that holds the two bongo drums together, and epoxyed down one of those metal threaded rings that are on every mic stand ever and I don’t know why.


Anybody know what these are supposed to be for? They’re no good at anchoring mic clips, so that can’t be it.

I clamped it down with wax paper and tape, to keep the epoxy from sticking to the wrong things (like the clamp), and let it sit until this evening. Then I tried it tonight.


I’m holding the mic stand up, to be safe, but I didn’t need to.

Hey, it even looks kind of intentional:


Lots of room for underneath microphones

I’m a little worried about leverage on heavier strikes, but so far, so good.

Fake Drumkit is a lot of work, but I like it when it comes together. Wait’ll you hear the track for Something’s Coming. It’s not half as complex as this, but it’s totally bombastic – kind of 80s hair metal, really. BOOM BOOM BOOM awesome XD

would you review music, or do you know someone who does?

The soundtrack album may not be finished yet, but I’m looking for people who would post reviews (50-100 words or more, about the length of an Amazon customer review) if they received an advance review copy. Is that you?

You don’t have to review music regularly to do so, and you don’t have to promise what kind of review (positive, negative, etc) – just give it some actual words and thought. And it has to be posted publicly online somewhere.

Interested, or have a pointer? Here’s the contact form. Let me know. Thanks!

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The Music

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