oh look, i’ve stopped screaming

After we got back, I discovered that my digital audio workstation had decided to Not anymore. No idea why; it was fine when I turned it off, it was Not At All Fine when I turned it back on.

I blame Bond, James Bond, somehow. Or maybe that turncoat Q. He used to be a supervillain scientist, you know. That bastard.

Anyway, since Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was going to fall out of support in the spring anyway, and since the problem appeared to be some sort of USB driver issue with the new sound interface, I decided I’d upgrade. That went… very badly. (See also, see also, see also, see also, there’s even more on my personal Facebook account, and none of this even covers the first half.)

But I did eventually get it working, and! I found a good use for an under-desk add-on keyboard tray. Look! It’s a LazyRack!


Hello!


Are you still there?


Targeting acquired!

I can do this because unlike my old interface, it’s meant to rack-mount, so almost everything is front-facing. Reclaimed desk space, and pushed back, all the cable ends are still out of the way! It’s great.

Also, I love these mic preamps oh my gods they are so much better. This probably won’t mean much to you listening on laptop speakers, but here’s a quick zouk sample straight into the mics I recorded last night, once I had things up and running. No processing at all, as there shouldn’t be… it’s… it’s just that these preamps (and same mics I’ve had before!) are picking up all these subtleties in the low-end that the TASCAM buried, and I’d have to dig back out with EQ and stuff. This is an absolutely raw recording and it’s all just there already.

It’s kind of like I didn’t just get new mic preamps, I got new microphones too thrown in.

I’ve written many times that you can do a lot on the cheap, and I think I’ve proven that, but I’ve also always said you’re trading time and knowledge (work) for money. I finally decided to run that trade the other way, and still ended up with a boatload of work thanks to Ubuntu. But for the improvements I’m hearing so far, in the studio? I’ll take it.

clallam bay comicon 2016 post-con report

So, yeah! Back at the lair, back directly from Clallam Bay Comicon! The Party on the Peninsula, Donna’s Weird Little Comic Show, Clallam Fun Days Adjunct and excuse to go relax on the coast for a weekend. Call it what you will, we even made the sign this year:


In a small town, that’s a big deal

Leanne Franson, this year’s GoH in from Montreal, does not stop. She’s the only person I’ve met who can match Donna Barr one-on-one. I bought a bunch of her books. I also finally picked up the Stinz collections – both volumes – and Volume 2 of Winging It, which I’d somehow never read back in the day.

Aside from the usual stuff, CBCC is where I will run little experiments, in front of tiny audiences who are just kind of surprised you’re there at all, so extremely tolerant. TO WIT:

Experiment number one! Remember “USSR,” that YMCA-based Soviet Disco song I wrote in response to a challenge on Tumblr? Well, here’s me doing it live, karaoke-style. I’d embed, but I had to put it on Tumblr because YouTube doesn’t like you uploading Karaoke performances, even if you wrote your own lyrics.

The crowd at the show was quite good, as you can maybe hear in the camera microphone, until about halfway through the show when the sky – which had been threatening all day – really opened up and the rain got serious, at which point an outdoor concert is not the most fun thing ever invented and a lot of people ran off. (Hey, I was sheltered…)

Still, a good day for me – as was, honestly, the whole weekend. You don’t go to CBCC to make money, but damned if I didn’t. Not sure what to make of that.

Experiment number two! I’d gone with the intent of running a panel on building old-technology microphones, but I realised as I was packing that I could haul along enough gear for people to hear their own voices, and make recordings I could hand them via Dropbox.

So I set up at our table, with the carbon mic hooked up to my laptop, and let people go at it all weekend. This was surprisingly popular. Several people made recordings – even when not in use, the microphone remained an attention magnet. Here’s Donna Barr singing an old Ukranian (I think) folk song, trying specifically to sound like a performer from the 1910s or so.

Interestingly, everyone wanted to use the carbon mic, and not the crystal, though they were curious about how both worked.

Experiment number three! I can’t tell you about experiment number three, so instead, have a picture of this other bay that’s on the way there, but I’ve never stopped to visit until now. Very nice.


The Other Bay

Experiment number four! Very similar to experiment number one, except for being “Kaiju Meat” instead of “USSR” and being able to properly mic up for a Godzilla footwear bridge solo. YOU WANT SOME GIANT LIZARD PODORYTHMIE I HAVE SOME GIANT LIZARD PODORYTHMIE

From a technical standpoint, this worked far better than it had any right to. As a performance experience… I think I’ll hold it for when I have an actual live band behind me. Doing it solo… with “USSR,” it felt like the Karaokeness added to the silliness in good ways. In “Kaiju Meat,” the combination didn’t feel like it worked as well.

But the Godzilla Footware Solo is definitely staying in.

Experiment number five! Field recording, using the new windscreen I’d bought, the kind that looks like a tribble got stuck on the end of your microphone. Result: SMASHING SUCCESS. Despite a constant ocean breeze, I got very clean recordings of waves on the shore, and of birds in the foliage nearby. Best investment is best!

Not as many photos this time, but I did take a few. As always, larger at the Flickr feed.


Clallam Bay


The Makah are building a canoe fleet



I realised I haven’t taken many or any pictures of the actual Clallam River heading into the bay. So I fixed that.


Fisher Who?

back from clallam bay!

Back from Clallam Bay after a particularly successful event! More tomorrow, after I unpack and get things cracking here again. But in case anybody thinks there aren’t geeks out on the Olympic Peninsula, here’s one of several dozen wooden fence fish painted by students at the local high school.

That’s not how I’ve pictured the eye of harmony, but who am I to lecture people about their headcanons? XD

i forgot my favourite picture!

HOW MANY GODDAMN ZENYATTAS DO THEY HAVE ON THEIR TEAM ANYWAY?!


all the ultimates, all at once

(stupid Overwatch addiction. stupid Zenyatta. stupid Zenyatta’s stupid orbs of discord always messing with my D.va. i’ll show him!)

not so much a blogging lockout as a blogging slowdown

SO BUSY! We’ve landed back at the Lair for a couple of days, just long enough to help another supervillain unload gear into her lair – also mountaintop, also geologically active, good choice – and we’re headed right back out tomorrow. Really, it’s kind of a laundry stop more than anything else. Blogging will continue to be sparse for another couple of weeks.

I have a few photos from Westercon 69, though. Bigger on Flickr, of course.


Sunset from a Hotel Window


Society of the Crossed Keys cosplay. It’s from The Grand Budapest Hotel and utterly made my day.


Sometimes, the Gods are Kind, and you have one real pop in a sea of Shasta.


Panorama from a Hotel Room Party

And we’re back

Back up again, after yet another Puget Sound Energy power outage. That’s… six this year? Four during good weather?

I can’t get those atomic generators back up to speed soon enough, I’m telling you. But: we’re back. At least Bandcamp stays up!

On the other hand, George the cat is snoring, and it is adorable.

life with supervillainy: on the road edition

We’re sitting in the hotel restaurant tonight, waiting for our food, when suddenly we are enveloped in stank. Not restaurant stank, either: worst case body stank.

Solarbird: Oh my god. Wow.
Minion Anna: Yeah.
Solarbird: This is… this is bad. And we’re just… swimming in it. I mean, damn, this is…
Minion Anna: <nods>
Solarbird: …somebody has cut some fierce cheese.
Minion Anna: <starts laughing>
Solarbird: What?
Minion Anna: Fierce Cheese is my Cows With Guns cover band.
Solarbird: …well done.

Westercon and Clallam Bay Comicon

Who’s going to be at Westercon in Portland? That’s this weekend! Anna has a share of a dealer table, so you’ll find us at least some of the time in the dealer room – at both conventions, actually, because that’s how it works out sometimes.

To be honest, we weren’t originally planning on Westercon, but a bunch of friends from afar are showing up, so we decided hey, let’s go for it.

About the only new thing here aside from my Overwatch addiction – my username is solarbirdy, surprise – is that I got a 6m long MIDI cable so I could try to get the electric piano’s MIDI output over to the desk.

See, I’d got this keyboard only after I’d bought a very large MIDI-only keyboard controller (because reasons), and said MIDI-only keyboard controller – a Roland A-30 – is nice, but it’s huge and kind of a pain in the ass to set up for small things. I have to get out the ironing board to use as a support, it’s wider than the desk, etc, etc, etc.

But I had some idea that the electric piano’s MIDI didn’t work, and it didn’t when I tried it, but I dug out how to reset its internals, and did so, and that made the MIDI port come back online, which was great, except that also turned on this auto-accompaniment feature which takes away like a third of the keyboard and wow it is terrible, like a parody of piano music, terrible in that oh-god-oh-god-how-do-I-stop-this kind of way, in that either-this-has-to-go-or-I-do kind of way, in that I need to stop this right now or there are going to be detonations kind of way, and I’m just saying we got unnecessarily close to tire explosions before I was able to dig out how to turn that shit off.

(WHY DOES “SYNC” MEAN “OFF” THIS MAKES NO SENSE WHAT IS GOING ON IN YOUR HEADS YAMAHA?!)

So, yeah, basically, it’s been quiet. See you at Westercon or Clallam Bay? Hope so! I may nerf you, but I still love you.

field recording is more than it used to be

This is a good article on field recording. I don’t mean that in a technical sense of the mechanics of field recording – it’s not a DIY or howto article – but in the aesthetics and the artistic intent.

Here’s an example track they included; it’s really neat. Give it a listen.

65 woman-fronted metal bands Decibel can’t bother talking about

This is kind of a guest post, a sharing – with permission – of a list of female-fronted metal bands that Decibel magazine can’t seem to bother talking about. It was assembled specifically in response to both an older article ranking bands, and a more recent idiotic article claiming that “social justice warriors” are destroying the underground metal scene. (Other metal magazines and websites are not impressed either. See also.)

So, courtesy Ian, let’s go down this list of 65 female-fronted metal bands of at least equal quality to their d00d counterparts. Why don’t you know the majority of them? Editorial choice. Period.

From A to F we have: After Forever (symphonic metal, Netherlands), The Agonist (metalcore, US), Amaran (power metal, Sweden), Amberian Dawn (symphonic metal, Finland), Angtoria (blackened symphonic metal, Sweden), Arch Enemy (death metal, Sweden/Germany), Asrai (gothic metal, Netherlands), Astarte (all female black metal, Greece), Ava Inferi (art/doom metal, Portugal), Battle of Mice (post-metal, US), Battlelore (power metal, Finland), Beautiful Sin (power metal, Belgium), Benediction (gothic metal, UK), Birthday Massacre (Hot Topic metal, US), Blood Ceremony (doom, US), ChthoniC (black metal, co-vocals, Taiwan), Delain (pop-gothic metal, Netherlands), Diathra (doom/gothic metal, Belarus), Doro (power metal, Germany), Eyes Set to Kill (metalcore, US), Eths (nu metal, French), Epica (gothic progressive metal, Netherlands) Evanescence (pop-goth metal, US), Eyes of Eden (symphonic metal, Germany), Fairyland (symphonic speed metal, France)

F to L: Firebrand Super Rock (heavy metal, Scotland), Forever Slave (symphonic gothic metal, Spain), Gallhammer (terror-doom/black/crust metal, Japan) The Gathering (Progressive metal, Netherlands), Holy Moses (thrash, Germany), Kittie (alt.metal, Canada), Flyleaf (nu metal, US), Hammers of Misfortune (doom, US), Iwrestledabearonce (spazz metal, US), I:Scintilla (industrial rock/metal, US), In This Moment (metalcore, US), Jarboe (unclassifiable, US), Jex Thoth (extreme doom, US), Julie Christmas (alternative metal, US), Kylesa ( female guitar/ vocals, sludge, US), Lacuna Coil (pop/death metal, Italy), Landmine Marathon (death metal, US), Leaves’ Eyes (symphonic metal, German-Norweigan), Lita Ford (glam metal, US), Ludicra (shared-vocals/black metal, US),

And finally, M to W: Madder Mortem (progressive metal, Norway), Made Out of Babies (post-hardcore/noise metal, US), Melencolia Estatica (one-woman black metal, Italy), Nashville Pussy (camp peckerwood metal, US), Nightwish (symphonic metal, Finland), Octavia Sperati (gothic/doom, Norway), Otep (nu/feminist art metal, US), Penumbra (gothic-progressive metal, France), Pythia (heavy metal, UK), Rolo Tomassi (mathcore, UK), Saros (death/doom, US), Sirenia (symphonic metal, Finland), Subrosa (unclassifiable, US), The Devil’s Blood (Satanic classic metal/rock w/ female vox, Netherlands), The Project Hate MCMXCIX (Sweden, melodic death/art metal), Tristania (symphonic doom/goth metal, Norway), Unsun (pop-goth-metal, Poland), Within Temptation (symphonic metal, Netherlands), Walls of Jericho, metalcore, US).

You’re welcome.

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