Archive for February, 2014

link roundup for 28 february 2014

Off to Festival du Bois for the weekend, soon; won’t be back until late Monday night. I feel strange heading out after four months mostly stuck at home recovering from eye surgeries, but a little stranger stepping out while the Bone Walker soundtrack is going so well! My calendar feels like one unending game of Jenga sometimes.

I’m keeping the collective noun for a group of microphones poll open until I get back. If you haven’t seen that list, do – everybody came up with great suggestions, and some of them are really funny. The poll for favourite is surprisingly close.

Meanwhile, I’ll be on twitter and stuff, but have some links to keep you busy ’till I get back.

Enjoy! And see you Tuesday.

lets go to the big board

Well, that’s a lot more colour, isn’t it? Lots of colours! This soundtrack project has some goddamn momentum.

The Big Board, 27 February 2014

Colourful, and well more than half yellow (indicating we have our recordings and they’re in some stage of comp/edits) or blue (meaning it’s basically finished).


And if you’re new – welcome, Metafilter readers! – I’m talking about The Free Court of Seattle fantasy novel series soundtrack album, our current project in progress. It’s been delayed a few times thanks to things like emergency eye surgery, but we’ve put up a couple of work-in-progress instrumental tracks here (“Kitsune at War”) and here, recently, as we’ve built momentum.

We also have some free-download songs, the most recent being Kaiju Meat, the track we did for Jaegercon, the Pacific Rim fan convention this past summer. Have at!

never ever do this

I have seen a fair number of Kickstarter burnouts and explosions, but I have never seen one like this.

A few years ago, there was a truly great and hilarious webcomic called Sad Pictures for Children. I always thought – despite reading it during almost all of its run – that it was called Pictures for Sad Children, and I still think that’s a better title, but that’s not important right now.

It gained a following, and, as such things do, eventually wrapped up and the writer/artist launched a Kickstarter project to fund a collected book edition. It kept ramping up, and went way, and I do mean way, over the creator’s head – particularly as stretch goals started piling up, and super-arty features got added, like … okay, the last comic in the book included a joke about a dead wasp. Of course, it was only a drawing…


As it snowballed, and costs exploded, and we find out that really, the creator didn’t include any budget for his time and labour in the project, things started to get goofier and goofier.

This is the final update, which just went out.

Yep. That’s a video of him burning a bunch of his own books. And, posted along with the video, you’ll find many pages of anti-materialist philosophy and anger, interspersed with bold text inserts like this:

I called this post “never ever do this,” but not because of the business aspect of this implosion, and not even because of the spectacle of the whole thing. All that’s obvious. I could talk about successful Kickstarters I’ve run, and why things like this shouldn’t put you off the ones I’ve been promoting this week.

I call it that because…

This shit ain’t healthy. I mean, seriously, not. And that’s obvious, isn’t it? But it’s like the (apocryphal) boiling frog, I think.

There’s an old Dilbert cartoon from the 90s, called “When is it time to quit your job?” and, of course, you get a whole series of panels that end up with Wally or Dilbert or one of them hanging themselves and thinking, “Yep… this is better than work,” and everybody laughs.

This artist didn’t get to the last panel, but… yeah.

So. Don’t let anything get there. Don’t let anything here, for that matter. It’s not worth it for anybody. Including you.

ps: I got my book, 18 months or so ago. Just had it down last night. It’s genius.

the second project worthy of support

Back on Monday, I mentioned two artistic projects I thought worth supporting. Heather Dale’s Celtic Avalon came first, and you should go read about that if you didn’t already.

The second is The Inspector Chronicles. It’s basically an Inspector Spacetime movie, feature length, though they can’t call it “Inspector Spacetime” because NBC won’t let them. XD

This time, they have Travis Richey (The Inspector), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager, Stargate Atlantis), Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), and, get this…

Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor, Doctor Who, The Hobbit).

I canโ€™t believe theyโ€™ve talked an actual Doctor Who into working this parody project. XD

The first “season” of short episodes they did – Boyish the Extraordinary – was pretty good, and won some awards and stuff, but to be honest, the script was not as tight as I’d hoped.

But the prequel for the movie – already produced, and almost as long as “season one” all combined – is totally great. You can watch it here. This is what I was hoping for, and it looks like they’ve got it together now.

But! Big names aside, it’s still a fannish project, and no money means no show. So to watch the prequel, then go throw your support behind the project, particularly if you think Moffat’s Who needs a bit of parodying. I certainly do, and thus, already have.

life with supervillainy: a brief conversation with my massage therapist

I had a brief but hilarious conversation with the fill-in massage therapist today.

Solarbird: We were talking about why I needed not to be face down throughout the session, because my sinuses will get cranky and I’ll have a headache all day, and I mentioned allergy shots having done me a lot of good.
Solarbird: And he asked what was in them, and I said, “Well, allergens, actually, it’s an exposure technique, they aren’t actually entirely sure how it works…” and he started going off about “Yeah, like homeopathy.”
Solarbird: Now right there, I started laughing…
Solarbird: “Okay, you will get absolutely nowhere with homeopathy with me.”
Fill-In Massage Therapist (FIMT): “As in you don’t respond well, or…”
Solarbird: “As in it doesn’t work.”
FIMT: “But it’s the same thing.”
Solarbird: “No, the allergen is actually present in allergy shots.”
FIMT: “So it is in…”
Solarbird: <laughs> “No it’s not.”
FIMT: “Okay, but the essense is…”
Solarbird: <laughs more> “No, it’s not.”
FIMT: “…you sure have a lot of opinions for somebody who didn’t use their biology.”
Solarbird: “Yes! Yes, I do! Also, possibly degraded social skills from being four months at home. But I was a researcher in genetics. I have papers. They were published!
Solarbird: “Water memory? No.

And then we started talking about folk music instead.

back in the saddle sores

Four months of repeated eye surgery takes a toll on you, sometimes in unexpected ways. I haven’t been completely idle – in fact, I have a tendency to push beyond what I’m supposed to be doing – but I’ve been “taking it easy” at most for months.

But Tuesday was a Back-in-the-Saddle day in a new way: live acoustic instrument recording.

Take 1

“Something’s Coming (2014).” It’s the first studio version of this song – the version on Dick Tracy Must Die is a live recording. Five takes of aggressive, snarling, hard-driving zouk.

And I am wiped the fuck out. My arms feel like noodles.

I may be back in the saddle again – no, I am back in the saddle again – but I’m gonna have some sores for a while. Mmmmmm, chafing. XD

ps: The collective nouns people came up with for a group of microphones were pretty funny. You know, like murder of ravens and parliament of owls and all that. Check them out. XD

Collection: the fan tracks

Several tracks I have up on Bandcamp are free downloads, and always will be. There are various reasons – generally because fandom, sometimes because licensing, and sometimes because they’re light-production live tracks, which doesn’t mean they aren’t fun.

This is a compilation of those free tracks. Some of them say “buy now” because of how Bandcamp works, but just enter $0 if you want and that’s totally okay. Enjoy!

  • The Blue Morpho is a new character in this year’s The Venture Brothers, and he’s basically their Green Hornet – a superhero who pretends to be a super-criminal and everybody buys it. I decided the Blue Morpho pilot made in 1964 for ABC Television needed a theme song, which once again demonstrates I only do really obscure fan music.

  • An altered-cover song, I wanted to do the “filkiest” thing I could come up with for Conflikt, a filk convention (geek folk music) which brought me in to MC the event as Toastmuppet. So I took an existing Vixy & Tony filk track and – with permission – made it even geekier by making it about the 13th Doctor Who, out of regenerations, and contemplating his own mortality. Topical and relevant! For about six weeks. THANKS MOFFAT.

  • Written and performed for Jaegercon, the 2013 Pacific Rim fan convention. It’s what happens when we get the most electronic. Listen on headphones. Guest artists are Pacific Rim fans tereshkova2001, via Tumblr, and Kathryn Tewson, via Facebook.

  • Found on Cracksman Betty (2012), a song about the days of computers old, when they mostly came as kits. Not components: kits, with zillions of parts and soldering. No, really, this was a real thing. This will make very little sense unless you know that, and also know that the S-100 Bus was the first expansion standard for what became personal computers.

  • Live from Mars is four songs from one of the first live shows I ever did, at the Mars Bar in Seattle. To be honest, I mostly released it because I wanted to have an album called Live from Mars that actually was live from Mars. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • A team-up of Crime and the Forces of Evil with Twelve Good Measures for the 2010 Great Big Sea Karaoke Contest. Being us, we couldn’t leave well enough alone, and added more instruments and lyrics over the originally-wordless bridge. We had the most listeners by far in the viewer-response part of the contest, but weren’t included in the band-selected final tally, probably because of that. Ah well, it was still fun. ๐Ÿ˜€
  • The Diesel-Driven Eight-Dimensional Jet Car Blues (2009) (not on Bandcamp – direct mp3 download) – a joint effort with The Hong Kong Cavaliers. It always bugged me that Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers were big rock stars in the cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, and yet, we never see them perform a whole song! We see them start, twice, but plot keeps happening, so… I fixed it. All the Cavaliers are on this, including Buckaroo Banzai himself, and every one of their notes (except, like… three?) are scraped off the film soundtrack in tiny, tiny slices. Seriously, there are eight billion edits here, and I’m still proud of how you can’t hear any of them. And, of course, since it’s a joint appearance with us, Crime and the Forces of Evil are here too! Those are my lyrics (since the film didn’t have any – in character, they’re B. Banzai/P. Tommy), and we’re on zouk, and mandolin, and a bunch of kinds of drums, and some other sounds.

a groupnoun for a collective noun of microphones

IF THE POLL IS SHOWING UP AS ALREADY VOTED AND YOU HAVEN’T VOTED, VOTE IN COMMENTS. The plugin seems to have broken on us mid-poll. ๐Ÿ™

Yesterday’s post about a groupnoun (apparently “collective noun”) for microphones generated a lot of suggestions – 28! – for alternates to “silly,” so we’ve made a poll! Pick your preference.

Each suggestion is followed by the name(s) of the person or persons who suggested it, and where they made the suggestion – LJ means Livejournal, DW means Dreamdwidth, G+ is Google Plus, FB is Facebook.

Pretty much the only places sitting this out were Twitter and Tumblr.

The question of a groupnoun for a collective noun of microphones – which would be applicable here – is left as an exercise for the reader. I might suggest a “redundancy.” XD

[poll id=26]

We Are Waiting

a groupnoun of microphones

If there isn’t already a group noun for microphones – you know, like murder of ravens, school of fish, and all that – there should be. I propose a silly of microphones:

A Silly of Microphones

I had all those wired up at once because we were doing some test recording of Anna for flutework on Kitsune at War. Despite appearances, the two mics on the far left are quite different to each other, due to their different head capsules having dramatically different pickup patterns.

The choices coalesced really quickly, as it turned out, because Anna’s metal flute is totally clicky in the keys. Lots of clicking sound, and no way to turn it off.

Not even when dampened with a shirt. Not even two shirts.

The funny part is, back when I was trying to get these couple of Octava 012s, I really mostly just wanted the cardioid heads. And one came with that option only. But another ended up having a set of three heads: cardioid, hypercardoid, and omnidirectional. And that’s come back to serve us well now.

See, most microphones you’ve used have either been omnidirectional (pick up in all directions fairly evenly) or cardioid (pick up in front of the mic in kind of a circular-bubble area in front of the microphone). A hypercardioid mic, though? It’s like a laser beam, or at least this one is. Instead of a circular pickup area, it’s shaped more like a dirigible. And that means you can zoom in on the sound you want, and simply not record a surprising loudness of noises coming from shockingly nearby that you don’t want.

Which is why it was a damn good thing I bothered hooking up two versions of that microphone. Otherwise, we’d be looking into rental flutes. But we’re not. Go us.

eta: Over on Dreamwith, Corvi suggests “a Feedback of Microphones.” I do like that! But feedback also requires speakers – or in extreme cases a turntable – so… hm…

eta2: With 29 more ideas for this from people(!), we decided to make a list and poll, here. Look and vote if you want!

two artistic projects worthy of support

Two arty/fannish projects are going that you may want to support. The first is Heather Dale’s Celtic Avalon touring show and DVD; the second is the Inspector Spacetime movie, with Travis Richey (The Inspector), Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), and, oh my gods, Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor, The Hobbit). I can’t believe they’ve talked an actual Doctor Who into working this parody project. XD

But that’s later this week. Today, I’m going to talk about Heather Dale’s project, Celtic Avalon.

The Celtic Avalon project is a combination of a new touring stage show, a DVD, and a youth education program, all based on the King Arthur legends.

Heather has been touring and writing for years now; she’s toured across all of North America and parts of Europe; she’s played the geekmusic festival nwcMUSIC that I run at Norwescon; she’s been producing shows with her band for 15 years; and she is, in my experience, one of nicest people I have met in this whole dman business.

The show itself will be about the legends surrounding King Arthur. She has a couple of decades of material to draw on, but knowing her, there’ll probably be new works in there as well. It’ll be accompanied by a professionally-produced concert DVD, which is where the DVD part comes in. That’s all the art side.

The educational programme will apply those legends to modern life. Heather’s more of an optimistic person than I am – of course she is, I’m a supervillain, so that’s not surprising – and draws a lot of inspiration from this whole founding English mythos. She thinks others can, too.

This is the biggest project I’ve seen her attempt. If any of this sounds even vaguely interesting, go read up about it here. She has acres of data and plans available for you to wade through. Or you can just say “Sounds good to me!” and throw in your support.

Oh, and for the record: this is not my project, I’m not involved, I’m not seeing a nickel of this. I just see some people doing some ambitious work and throwing my support their way. Hopefully some of you will, too.

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