oh hello

My Friend and I Would Like a Word With You

The photos from the Bethesda booth finally showed up! More at Flickr.


Woah, VCON starts tomorrow! I’m on a bunch of panels and my concert is Friday at 7pm, with the possibility of an ish on that because I don’t know if that includes the setup time.

Because I’m just goofy, I’m bringing like three instruments just for the show, plus a few others for a panel, and I’m doing some really old material and a couple of things I’ve just written. BRAND NEW AND FRESH FOR YOU!

Over on Dreamwidth, Batyatoon asked if she could get a listen to the surprisingly cheap and trashy and awesome sound the octave mandolin makes when it’s tuned to an open power chord that’s down a bit. Since she’s all East Coast Tribe and stuff, and therefore far away from any likely shows, I’ve decided CAN DO, SPORT!

This is a raw single mic recording I just made of the “Thirteen” riff, no effects at all, barely any compression for levelling, but it’ll give you the idea:


I love how overdriven it sounds even though there’s not a hint of actual overdrive. I’m still getting a feel for it and a SRS BSNS PRO probably wouldn’t play it out yet but SINCE WHEN HAS THAT STOPPED ME? Muah ha ha!

Relatedly, Part Two of the Doctor Who series opener… surprise! It was pretty good! I’ve got a nit or two to pick, but nothing major, and again, several bits I really quite liked. Still on probation, but this is the best it’s been in a while. I don’t know what happened, but I’m glad it did.

Anyway – see you at VCON, I hope!

said count by the minutes and count by the hours
you’ll see a future that you never knew
but the path’s all covered with the blood of strangers
raggedy man, there’s too many of you

separately, that quote

That quote in the previous post about Happy Fun Pope – specifically, the quote where I’m talking about traps – is from Missy/The Master in the first episode of Doctor Who this year. I rewatched it last night while Anna was watching it for the first time, and it held up! So… yeah! Better than anything last year, which is certainly a very low bar, but still. And quotable, even.

Watching part two tonight, with fingers crossed.

BREAKING NEWS: pope still h8s queers

I don’t normally get into this kind of politics here, but I have to, because it’s so hilarious, in that horrible way.

I’ve been watching all these people go on about how awesome Pope Francis is. How great and progressive and and and. I suppose in contrast to recent history, you can talk about that, and sure, he’s not Pope Palpatine – but then again, who is?

And the thing is, I’ve seen all sorts of anti-queer stuff still coming out of this pope, because of course you do. It’s the goddamn Catholic Church. And every time it’s brought up, I see it downplayed, and dismissed as unimportant, and I count the he-has-to-but-really-doesn’ts that keep popping up.

But I’m a supervillain: I know better. “I know traps, traps are my way of flirting. This is a trap.

Happy Fun Pope himself(!) arranged a private meeting(!) with Kim “God’s Law Trumps Real Law” Davis. Commended her courage, gave her and her husband rosary beads he blessed. I don’t know how much bigger an endorsement you’re going to get out of Catholicism while still alive.

So oh look, the Church still hates queers. omgwtfbbq. Happy Fun Pope is part of the Chruch. GUESS WHAT HE’S NOT FOND OF?

See, thing about reality is… Reality always comes back to kick you in the ass. Always. Never forget that, and never just gloss over it, hoping it won’t for you.

Reality doesn’t make exceptions. Not for you; not for anybody.

eta: Here’s a post with links to some of his interesting statements and actions as a social conservative.

eta2: BackBackBackBackBACKpedal: Vatican says they don’t support Kim Davis in specifics.

this mic kit looks fun

Over on Facebook, Boris L. tagged me on a link to this instructable on making a steel can microphone. I don’t care much about steel-can microphones (though they are apparently a thing?), but I was curious about the actual pickup element inside. That pickup turned out to be this balanced-output piezo contact microphone, which comes in a kit form for reasonably little money.

The assembly instructions for it are online. As I’m reading, hanging around in the back of my head have been these pressure zone microphones (generic name boundary microphone) that I’ve performed with once, and have seen discussed several places. They’ve always struck me as kind of interesting to play with, but never enough to justify purchase.

You can probably see where I’m going here: the outdoor versions of these PZMs look a lot like contact pickups attached to sheets of rigid plastic, suspended in air via a cord framework. I can certainly build that.

I’m considering a couple of designs, but this is my thinking: since this element is a piezo, it works best with direct contact with a resonating body. That could be a sheet of rigid lightweight plastic, much larger than the pickup, to gather sound and resonate. Hang that sheet-plus-attached-pickup from a rigid outer frame, using some form of elastic suspension. Low-density foam might work, for example, like with a speaker. Then that can be hung anywhere.

That’s the simplest of the ideas I have, and makes sense in that sniff-test kind of way. It’d be large, but every mic of this type I’ve seen has been large, so that’s fine. Depending upon what happens, I could also poke around with hanging it on walls, as is the usual use for boundary/pressure-zone microphones.

So, yeah! I won’t get to it immediately, but when I do, I will of course post about it. Mostly, I’m hoping I don’t have to build some sort of multi-layer frame around the large plastic pickup plate. That’s one of the more complicated designs. I could do it, but the more complicated these things get, the worse they tend to sound.

If you have any design knowledge of these sorts of things, share some knowledge in comments! I haven’t seen other attempts at DIY PZMs using this approach, which kind of surprises me. That might mean it doesn’t work at all, but it might also just mean nobody else has thought of it. Piezo isn’t generally very well regarded outside of instrument contact pickup applications. Maybe it could turn out to be a thing.

anna’s octave mandolin is a cheap drunk

Autumn is on the right

Well-known filk band Vixy & Tony have this song, “Thirteen,” that Vixy wrote. It’s on their previous album, and I liked it the first time I heard it. So I wrote a song around their song (a “filk”) that made it about Doctor Who, which, of course, makes it correct for only the geekiest of venues.

I don’t get to play the song often, partly because of the venue issues, but also because arranging Tony’s guitar part into something that you can legitimately play on the zouk isn’t easy. Functionally, it demands special tuning. And for one song? Well, I’ve already talked about what a pain in the ass that was to try to do with a single instrument on stage. (Moral: Don’t.)

Now, Anna has had an octave mandolin for a long time, called Autumn. It’s not a zouk, but it’s a relative. I haven’t liked playing Autumn in the past, because something about it hurts my hands. I don’t know what or why, but my fingers get achy and weird. So I didn’t think of borrowing Autumn just for this one song (pre-tuning to the open-power-E tuning “Thirteen” needs) until today. So I finally did, and tried it.

The resulting sound is trashy as fuck. I love it. And it’s entirely unexpected. Normally – in regular tuning – Autumn is pretty quiet. Autumn’s a little reedy, a bit woody, and very traditional-instrument-sounding in the way that my Irish bouzouki and mandolin aren’t.

But bring that tuning down a few steps, release some of that neck tension, and suddenly Autumn is knocking back whiskey, smashing the end off of bottles, and trying to start knife fights. Who knew an octave mandolin could be such a cheap drunk?

I’m all, “Hey, Autumn. I like this version of you. Maybe we might ought to get to know each other better.” I’ve been wanting to do some esoteric tunings – I was fiddling around with an open-sus-2-major tuning not long ago. Maybe this might just work out.

the newest muppet show

dMuppets/d30Rock = (theOffice)Muppets + 1/(GarryShandlingMuppets) – Vaudeville

…where theOffice, GarryShandling, and Vaudeville are all constants. It’s trickier than the usual prime-time equation, but not exactly unsolvable.

…though no matter how you solve it…

(wait for it)

…it’s kind of derivative.

ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar ar

Honestly, though, I thought it was pretty hit or miss, but when it hit, I laughed like a hyena. I’ll give the second episode a go. XD

my vcon 40 schedule

Hey, I just got my panel schedule for VCON 40! The concert is 7pm on Friday – exactly where I don’t yet know, because some things are apparently still in flux. Otherwise, here’s where I’ll be:

I hope you’re coming, it’s always a lot of fun in Vancouver. ^_^

do not see stonewall

Stonewall, the “fictionalisation” of the Stonewall Riots that I talked about back in August, is finally getting reviews.

It is even worse than originally feared, rewriting history carte blanche to eliminate and/or outright mock the actual people of the Stonewall riots, replacing it with a straight-looking white-guy butch hero narrative, filled with caricatures of pathetic too-femmy-to-ever-find-love gays, abusive and vaguely pedophilic drag queens, and comic-relief trans and gender-variant people of colour.

It rewrites history, taking the actual revolution from the hands of the real heroes – the transwomen, the lesbians, the bulldykes, the drag queens, almost all people of colour – and actually has the straight-passing cisgendered corn-fed white-boy hunk start the action. (In real life, those guys mostly hid out in back, because they could pass, and didn’t like going to jail. Can’t blame them for that – and neither did the cops, who generally didn’t arrest them.) It’s whitewashing, it’s erasure, it’s the elimination of women and people of colour from history, all exactly as the trailer promised. It is a bundle of abominable racist lies.

From Vanity Fair‘s review:

Real-life Stonewall hero Marsha P. Johnson only gets a little screen time, and is played as comic relief, flatly, by Otoja Abit. Many of the characters who don’t look and sound like Danny are rendered as jokes, silly people who need Danny’s relatively rugged masculinity to get them angry and organized. Stonewall is ultimately yet another cartoonish fantasy about white saviors and square-jawed heroes; it should be called Independence Gay.

There’s lots more like that. Do not see this film. Do not support it, do not give it your money. Do not participate in this travesty. Simply. Do. Not.


You know you’ve got a decent rep as a supervillain when a Dalek comes to you for help finding parts. I mean, I don’t mean to brag, but screw that, actually, yeah, I’m kinda bragging. I’d say that depends, cyborg – whatcha got for me?

On a not-entirely-unrelated note, I decided over the summer that I’d give the new series of Doctor Who a chance, after last year’s trainwreck. I’m not convinced – it’s got a bit too much fanservice and we are again retreading old ground, even if they do acknowledge it outright – but it’s still better than anything I saw last year. I quite enjoyed the first 15 minutes, which is something I couldn’t say about last year at all.

Regardless, it looks like they’ve backtracked on a few bad ideas, and I do like Michelle Gomez’s take on Missy/The Master – particularly with these rectons – so… we’ll see. Modern Who is back up to probationary status, at least for the moment.

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