all kinds of updates

Anna has all kinds of updates over on her blog – most relevantly to you the Bone Walker novel and soundtrack notes. We just had Shanti from Leannan Sidhe over doing some final chorus work. We are 98% done, less the readings.

You have no idea how excited about this album we are. You just don’t. I listen to these tracks and think ‘I can’t even believe this came out of my little studio, and I was there.’ Normally I’d be sitting here thinking ‘don’t oversell, don’t oversell,’ but I did not expect this album to turn into a serious business monster, and it has, and there’s just no way around that.

I have learned a lot since Dick Tracy Must Die, and it shows in every note and every beat. Goddamn I am excited about this. So is everyone who has heard it. You can still be one of these people – sign up for a review copy.

Readings get recorded in November. Mastering and replication follows in December. ARCs will go out then, too, and possibly (ahem) a limited/soft pre-release. Full official release January 2015.

Two and a half months. I swear, it’s gonna kill me. But seriously, I can’t wait.

Off to VCON and Canvention!

Off to VCON today! And it’s also Canvention, the Canadian national convention. Aurora Awards will be given out, and I WILL DRINK CIDER AND FROLIC IN MAPLE SYRUP WITH THE BEAVERS wait that’s not right OR IS IT?

I look forward to this con every year. Despite that, I’m kind of “nnngngh album so close to finished don’t want to leave the studio!” but yeah screw that, it’s VCON!

I’ve also been asked to join up at the last second for some programming, so a thing will happen, but I’m not exactly sure what. But something. I know a sing-along is involved.

You coming? Well, good! You should be. See you at the hotel!

well, that didn’t last: bongo drum mic clip take two

Remember my unexpectedly easy mic stand mount for a pair of bongo drums? It lasted exactly as long as it needed to, but not one second longer. The midrange drums recording I was doing – they may be bongos technically but I wasn’t playing them in that style – I got completely done. Then when I started taking the drum off the stand – CRACK! The epoxy separated and that was that.

But having the drums on a mic stand was pretty cool, and I’d like to be able to do it again later. So I’ve come up with a Mark II mount system! I’ll call it the Drumclip, even though “drum clip” means a different thing elsewhere. I’m not 100% sure this is a final design – I’ll talk about that more below – but it’s 98% final.

Like the previous attempt, this is very simple, and still under $10. First, order a cheap but metal microphone bar, or double mic attachment. This is a small device you can screw onto on a single mic stand to make a little platform that will hold two to three microphones. I found this one online for under $10, with shipping:

Now like the name says, this is a drumclip, a mic stand clip for drums. And it’s going to attach to the connector bridge between the two drums.


Sadly, I can’t do it that way. I have to do it with hammers and an anvil and a big bench clamp. But if you have those tools, it’s very simple.

Remember the hole I drilled into the drum’s bridge, for the first attachment? It’s still there, and looks like this:

Take the mic platform and pop the centre mic attachment into that hole. Make sure it’s perpendicular to the plastic bridge, and mark where the sides of the platform would meet the metal if the corners weren’t so rounded.

If your bridge is more square than mine, you can just mark where they meet. Mine is all rounded at the corners so I have to allow for that. You may not need to. But just follow the wall down to where it would meet the metal, if it didn’t curve in first.

That’s where you want to bend your new drum clip. Draw lines on both sides. I used a knife, but whatever is visible works.

You could also measure the width of the bridge and mark that, centred, on the bridge. It’s the same thing, and again, those marks are where to bend the clip.

Then remove the microphone attachment knobs and centre mic attachment. Place the platform bar into the bench clamp so that the top of the clamp is right on one of the lines you made, and start hammering it over!

this is why it needs to be metal. plastic is not so good here.

You want to hammer down near the clamp point, or you’ll end up warping the base of your new Drumclip. Don’t worry about getting “too sharp” a corner, you won’t. Just make sure that clamp is nice and tight, so it doesn’t slip! Then flip and do the other side.

If you do warp the base a bit, you can hammer that back to flat pretty easily. However, you only want to do that once, because doing that repeatedly will weaken the metal. So if you start to bend it, don’t fix it immediately; get the sides bent into place, then hammer the base flat again, so you’re doing it only once.

If you have to do it more than once, for a small drum pair, it’s not too big a deal. But if you did this for larger drums, it would be a bad idea in general, really a very big deal.

You want to hammer the platform into a sharp-cornered U shape, but so that the sides are just past vertical, and angled in just a bit, to give it a better grip on the bridge connecting the drums. Once you’ve done that, it’ll slide on and hold pretty well.

This is where I actually needed that hole I made for the first attempt – it’s there so the platform stand attachment that came with the microphone bar (and which you removed earlier) can screw all the way in. That provides an extra bit of attachment security.

In my case, I ended up gluing that attachment into a permanent vertical position. I also tried doing it using double-sided tape on the silver metal piece as glue, because I like reversible changes better than I like epoxy. But that wasn’t strong enough, and the drum set kept tipping slowly over, so – epoxy it is.

Of course, after doing that, I realised that you don’t need the extender at all. This drumclamp will screw straight onto the mic stand just fine. So yay, unnecessary work. But that may not be true for other microphone platforms. And even in my case, it’s a little less awkward to use the platform stand attachment as kind of an extender than to attach directly to the stand, so it’s not a total loss.

Here’s the drum and clip and extender on the mic stand:

Yay! It works! But this gets to the design bit I’m not sure about.

You’ll remember from the first picture that the platform comes with knobs on each ends. These are for attaching other microphone clips so you can then attach microphones.

Right now, I’m using them as very slight tensioners on the sides of the drum’s bridge. Or that’s what I tell myself. In practical terms, it’s really just for storage and appearance. It does look better with them, don’t you think?

The question is: should I drill two more holes, one on each side of the plastic bridge, so that these knobs can screw all the way in? That would certainly make the drumclip more secure; it simply couldn’t move left to right.

But I’m also worried that two more holes might overly weaken the bridge. Were it metal, I wouldn’t be concerned about that. But it is of course plastic, so I am.

Any materials engineers got opinions?

readers react: the caretaker

If you’re following the Doctor Who “Caretaker” post, you really want to check out this comment thread on the Livejournal echo.

Also, you’ll find this pair of comments on the primary blog post illuminating: Tony Cross on the classist military PE teacher trope, and my reply on how that matches racist tropes in North America.

This is really interesting. I hadn’t expected to get a convincing explanation here, and I rather have. This is an element of class I had been aware of in, say, a Great War context, but not as current.

way too much to dislike at this point

So, yeah. “The Caretaker.”

I’m getting pretty close to “ring me up when Moffat is gone from Doctor Who.” And I’m not that entirely sure I’m going to turn on my phone’s ringer. Because right now, there is so very little to like and so very much not to, and I am out of patience with Mr. Moffat.

I don’t like – to paraphrase James Nicoll – that at the rate we’re going, we’ll end up with an entire episode consisting of the Doctor negging Clara for 50-odd minutes straight by the end of the season.

I don’t like Clara again being defined so entirely by what men think about what she’s doing. I particularly don’t like – as Leeson on The Doctor Who Podcast said – that it feels like some sort of competition of who is better at taking care of her. She’s a goddamn adult, she doesn’t need taking care of.

I don’t like Danny Pink anymore, in no small part because of what I just said. I kind of liked him in the first episode; since then he’s become more and more weirdly erratic and demanding in ways that set of alarm bells for me. (I did like him when he went all soldier-and-officer on the Doctor, though, in this episode. I’ll say that.)

I don’t like the Doctor demanding explanations about Clara’s boyfriend, even if I don’t like that character. Wanting to know? Sure. Feeling hurt or isolated if he’s kept out of the loop? Okay, I can see that. Demanding like he has some sort of goddamn right? Fuck you, Doctor.

This show has made me think, “FUCK YOU, Doctor. FUCK you.” And wow, do I not want to be thinking that.

I can take an abrasive Doctor. Sometimes I like it. It’s a delicate balance, a challenge, and I’m not convinced it’s a good idea, because in episodes like this, you end up with nothing to like about this Doctor, or any of these characters. Don’t get me wrong, that can work. You weren’t supposed to like anybody in Absolutely Fabulous either, and that didn’t stop it from being completely genius.

But I think the way Moffat is running this version only works if you have previous regenerations of the Doctor in your head. One, to remind you that eventually he’s not like this, and for another, to place this into contrast, which makes this in turn more interesting.

That’s called “writing entirely for the fans,” and over time, it’s a really bad idea.

But most of all – on top of everything else, the thing that really punched me in the face, the thing that’s making me think that maybe I’m done…

I really, really don’t like the Doctor turning the black maths teacher into “the PE instructor” over and over again.

I really do not fucking like the Doctor playing racist tropes as dismissals.

See, here’s the thing. I can take my own ox being gored with more … grace? With having more stomach? I can more easily deal with problematic material that’s problematic towards me than I can with problematic material that’s that so very problematic towards others. It’s one thing to be all dismissive of humans, I’m fine with that. It’s another to be pulling out racist shit.

Now, I’m willing to listen to people to say this isn’t such a fucking racist trope in the UK. I only want to hear it from Britons, and really, I prefer to hear it from Britons of colour. But I’m willing to listen to that.

Something tells me, though… I don’t think it’s that different.

eta: The original version of this post attributed a phrase to James at The Doctor Who Podcast; the statement was actually made by Leeson, and the post has been edited to reflect that.

eta2: Anna has added her reaction over on her blog. She has other issues I don’t.

blue means finished

Blue means finished, yellow means something reasonable is recorded, orange means fantasy, dreams, and laxness. Look at all that blue.

Why those colours – is it project management SCIENCE? …nooooooo those were just the colours of the little mini-post-it tabs they had at the store. *^_^*; BUT SO WHAT BLUE MEANS DONE OH GODS SO CLOSE. Just more vocals. And a couple of things not on this board like art and mastering and design and liner notes and how long can that take, right? Knock that out in an aftern… oh. SEE YOU IN 2015 EVERYBODY! Or something. XD

oh look, another new shiny thing

I’m solarbird on if you’re into that sort of thing. Mostly I’m camping the name, but if people use it, maybe I will too.

offline some today

The band site will be offline some today, for security mitigation measures which have actually already started. (Debian backports have not released a patch yet for a particular issue of immediate importance.)

Relatedly, if you haven’t patched any systems you have for this vulnerability, get on that.

look at all that blue

Will you look at all that blue? Some of that yellow isn’t really yellow even, mostly on Kitsune at War, which just needs a little bit of levelling work on backup fiddle.

By the end of the day one of those remaining orange tags will be gone, and might not be yellow but outright blue. And one of those vox2 yellow tags will go to blue – Shanti’s coming in to record one phrase on John Barbour and then that song is finished.

For comparison purposes, minus the few orange tags, this is what Mine to Love looked like when it went to mastering. You kind of lose track of updating when you’re changing six tags a day and there isn’t really a reason anymore.

And again, you can still sign up for an ARC! I got some amazing comments on the leaked track, but… sadly I cannot share them in public, because of reasons. But the lurkers support me in email! Except they actually do. I wonder if that’s ever actually happened before? XD

Bone Walker: Instrument Recording COMPLETE

All instruments (real, MIDI, otherwise) are complete. Flute was the last to the post, and I got that done over the weekend.

Vocals this week; final mixes next. Fun announcement hopefully shortly thereafter, and maybe not the one you’d expect given all the other things I’ve just said. There may be some surprises included in all this, oh, stuff. But I’m waiting on word from other people.

Once I know, you’ll know.

I have my first outside feedback on this album, or one song from it. A release candidate recording made its way further out than I intended. It leaked, like Doctor Who scripts leaking leaked; I had no idea until I got reaction mail about it on Sunday. So I’ve asked permission to quote that reaction mail, because I don’t mean to brag, or maybe I do, but this is the kind of reaction you really want to quote. It comes from an area pro, someone I know but not super-well, and involves the words “superb” and “addictive” and also “knockout,” and those aren’t all the good words.

Y’know, it’s still not too late to sign up for an Advance Review Copy.

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