Archive for July, 2014

last day of Faerie Blood eBook edition sale

Anna has had Faerie Blood, the first book in the Free Court of Seattle series for which this soundtrack album will eventually be for, on sale for 99ยข this month, and today is the last day. So go! NOW! if you want it at that special price.

As for the soundtrack delays – I’m frustrated too. And a little embarrassed.

It’s been a bunch of different reasons; my inexperience with arranging so many players caused some of the early delays. That’s on me – but it was, at least, a valuable learning experience. But everything was ready to go last autumn for a winter of work followed by a spring release date.

And – and my eye exploded. Not quite literally, but close. That’s totally not my fault. Three rounds of eye surgery kept me mostly immobile for four months, and there’s going to be a fourth round – but not until after this album comes out.

Then spring! And lots of serious progress! And I’m thinking end of June or end of July for sure! And now it’s the end of of July… and I’ve just spent six weeks on day job stuff, working on restoring a 1924 apartment (with the 1958 kitchen I posted about earlier) 10 hours a day seven days a week that entire time. But … you gotta pay bills, you know?

Sorry if that shatters any illusions.

Believe it or not, we’ve made album progress over the last six weeks. Some of it is really important. John Barbour is the slow, quiet, calm moment in the centre of what is a high-energy upbeat storm of an album. It’s stripped down, it’s really bare, it has subtext of amusingly inappropriate behaviour, it’s six minutes long(!), and it needs to be there. Musically, it gives the album a chance to breathe. Thematically, it’s the lead-in to Song for a Free Court/Anarchy Now.

It’s the opposite of what I usually do, and despite that, it’s gonna be really good. I’m just waiting for the third vocalist to get his material in. (He’s not late – I got him the tracks to record into late last week.)

But it’s not coming out today.

The intent is to dive in now, throughout August, and Get Done. I’ve got Day Jobbe Fun coming up in September, so wow, do I not want to slip into that. Fortunately, there’s no reason we can’t finish this project, and finish it right, this month.

But that’s been true before. Multiple times – each one of those eye surgeries was supposedly the “last one” and I was ready to dive in when the next one happened. So I’m not announcing a new release date, as much as I want to.

I swear to you, this is not Chinese Democracy. It’s not going to take 13 more years. I just need a month with decent working conditions and no explosions. I realise, as a supervillain, that this is a lot to ask. But I’m asking.

normally not where I would post this

But yeah, I’m gonna, because it’s been weeks of work and it’s done.

See, this kitchen used to be a total pit. I mean seriously.

That’s not quite point zero, that’s right after starting work, but all that meant is the appliances are out and there’s some junk on the counter, and the chemical stripper has started on the one set of cabinets.

I’ve been talking about this as I went at it on Livejournal and Tumblr, so if you want intermediate pictures go look there. I’m picking up with the last of the lighting – the same kind of tape I used in my recording studio.

I decided to build some over-the-counter lighting with angled supports, to protect the lighting tape and angle it more forward.

I had a row of those and a side-ramp angling more lighting even further forward over in one particularly dark corner.

Once assembled, this end looked kind of like a Kubrick set:

Watch Out for Monoliths

And the other end looks like a Starfleet maintenance access tunnel:

Reverse the Polarity of the Neutron Flow

But from a normal position in the room – well, mostly normal – it all combines to look a lot like this:

The fact that this former pit can have a legit glamour shot makes me very happy

Reflections in Aluminium

The Lower Cabinet

I was worried about the horizontal bar at first, connecting the two cabinets, but I’m so happy with how it worked out. Creating new trim for the right-side cabinets to match the glass-door cabinet trim seemed pretty obvious, but I wondered if the bar with no cabinet – intended for a light tape, as above – might seem a little precious. But I think it worked out.

This rig controls the whole light set, both below and above lights:

The plug is a hair-dryer style protection cutoff, leading to a 12V DC power supply, leading to an LED controller with remote pickup. The colour is 12-bit – eight levels of red, green, and blue, in any combination; I played with it until I got a warmish white that I liked.

It wouldn’t be one of my photobomb posts without, of course, panoramas! They’re tiny here, of course, so There are larger versions on Flickr, as always. The first is from the doorway, the second is from where the stove will go when it arrives on Monday.

For the first time in six weeks, I don’t have anything to do in this building tomorrow. So totally about goddamn time.

But that said, I’m really happy with how it came out. My plan had been to remove this kitchen, eventually, but, well, now… I guess it can stay. The tipoff had been the glass doors and the 1958 blue formica, which I gambled I could clean up and restore. Everything else in the room is designed around them. I think it worked.

eta: Now with appliances!

More pics here and here and here, if you’re really into restoration and cabinetry. I tend to post that stuff on Livejournal.

almost done and then

Almost done with the restoration work, and then a trainwreck happened. I put details over on my LJ, since I don’t really think vintage kitchen restoration is really band material. Anyway, there’s a lot of money, some more work, and I cut my left hand in a pretty ouchy way, but I’ll be okay.

But goddamn I’m angry about some of that.

This week tho’ – it’s mostly more money on other stuff than more work, so in a day or two I should be playing again and I can get those Lukey zouk re-records done. Anna is deep into the Rebels of Adalonia third book right now, so can’t do readings this week after all.

Things just take. so. many. little. times. away. from. each. other. Crazymaking.

Oh, we also just gained a bonus track. It’s actually already ready, as are many things. We’re 95% done – that just leaves the last 95% to go…

and thus the powerpuff girls…

…were delayed at Dallas/Ft. Worth but eventually arrived in Seattle, apparently. I was in the airport, and saw this, and sure, you tell me this isn’t their luggage. I dare you.

studio time again

Vocals recording today! Possibly mine, certainly Shanti of Leannan Sidhe, who is guesting in chorus on one song and has a co-starring role in another.

Plus we have some more Awesomebombs dropping in from afar via Dropbox from Collaborator To Be Named Soon, No Really, Somebody You’ve Heard Of. Well, most of you. hee hee hee hee hee ๐Ÿ˜€

It’s really good to be getting back to proper music work. I’ve been doing mostly kitchen renovation/restoration/kind of a mix for weeks. Here, have some pictures from the most recent work. There’re a couple of “before” shots in there too, so you can get some idea of how far it’s come since the first of the month. And the end is in sight. That’s pretty important at this point. Yeah.

Oh! And and and! A new gig announcement – I’ll be playing a joint show with Leannan Sidhe at The Dreaming in the University District on August 23rd. I don’t have the time yet but it’ll be on the shows page as soon as I do. It’ll be a free show and it’s on a Saturday and it’s a comic book store so c’mon out! SUPERVILLAINY!

I may have to hold the store hostage. That may have to be a thing. I’m just saying. ๐Ÿ˜€

bee done with this already

Swamped with day job work; I mentioned some of that here. But I did find time to go see and write up an analysis of Maleficent, and lament how it should’ve been great, but wasn’t, quite. Near-misses are so painful sometimes, and this is one of those times. I lament the film it should’ve been.

I can’t be done with this kitchen restoration soon enough, I gotta tell you. I’ll be at it all day again today, then tomorrow hopefully recording some vocals with Leannan Sidhe. Until then, have some flowers.

Can’t Bee Done With … ar ar ar ar ar

Blue and White and Edges So Sharp

eta: I put some kitchen pictures in comments.

missing from maleficent

Just back from the first movie I’ve seen in months, Maleficent. I wanted to see this before it fell out of theatres, mostly because of the trailers with her wings, because yeah.

Let’s talk about the good parts, first: Angelina Jolie is wonderful. It looks great. The green fire which is signatory to this version of the character was lovingly rendered and just felt right. The christening scene, reinterpreted here? Perfection. The later interactions of Aurora and Maleficent, ages, oh, 13ish to the end of the story resonated well, and just worked.

But… while so many things are right, I can’t get past “pretty good” as a response. Not great. Merely pretty good. That’s because I just can’t get past the fact that in this film, too many things are too easy. I don’t mean physically easy, tho’ there is some of that; those parts are not so important. No, I mean emotionally easy.

And from here on out, we’ll be heading deep into spoiler territory, so you have now been warned.

Let’s start with our antagonist, King Steffan.

Sharlto Copley plays Doctor then King Steffan well, given what he has to work with. But there isn’t enough meat in the part. There should be; all the bones are there. But Steffan’s arc is missing too many important, difficult notes.

His needed to be both a more political story – it’s a very political tale, after all – and a story about ruined love. Okay, sure, there was never “one true love,” as the film fairly points out – but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a kind of love there, and I think there was. And, well, betrayal of such things is a staple of royal histories. It’s entirely in theme.

And so Steffan commits a great treachery, setting events in motion, becoming King Henry’s heir. But that sort of treachery – so personal a treachery – needs confronting. In the film, all we really get is a big fight scene.

That’s letting him and the audience off easy, and it’s a failing. We in the audience need to know his self-justifications – how it was right for him to cut off and steal her wings, how it was right for him to seize the throne from a dying King Henry, how everything since then – the economic hardships, the battles – have proven how he and King Henry both were right to hate and desire the faerie lands.

How it’s all self-defense. How it’s all her fault. Not his. Not King Henry’s. Her fault.

Never his.

We shouldn’t buy it, of course. We don’t need to believe it. We just need to believe he believes it – even if only by lying to himself so strenuously for so long. We needed Maleficent to confront his justifications, and deny them, laying the lies bare.

We needed to see that, and we didn’t. Steffan’s descent into paranoia – see also, “uneasy rests the head that wears the crown” – played out well, but that’s not enough. We needed to get into his brain, and find him lacking.

It also would’ve been nice to see some of this from Princess and then Queen Leah’s view. It’s clear that King Steffan’s isolation grows throughout the film; it would’ve been nice if we’d known some of that has come from Queen Leah’s knowing that something happened between him and Maleficent. Sure, she knows about the wings; that’s why he’s king. But there was more to it, more that he’s lying about, something both more and rotten. Something that makes her suspicious, then untrusting, then isolating.

In short, his betrayal should ruin two potential loves. Ruined love already underlies the text; it should be a stronger undertheme, since it’s what unlocks his character. Love doesn’t have to be “one true love” to still be love; Steffan ruins it through betrayal for the sake of power, every time he acts.

It would make a nice parallel to the the other easiness problem in the film: the too-easy relationship of Maleficent and Aurora.

Maleficent’s affection for Aurora comes too quickly and too trivially, in film-time. Less so in story-time; it spans many years in character. But that’s not communicated well, and even in story-time, Maleficent’s saving Aurora’s life from the inept fairy trio’s overwhelming incompetence* mere days after cursing her to die.

And it doesn’t resonate; it doesn’t work. Maleficent’s complex and multistage arc should be awesome – from young love, to betrayal and ruined love, to justified hate, to claiming her revenge… and then turning back from that, working through to regret, and to building an adult, parental love, and reclaiming her life for her own, from the wreckage wrought by Steffan.

Most of the pieces are there, but… it’s hollow in the middle. We needed a better arc of her hate. The arc is set up nicely. The betrayal is agonising. And so, she cursed an innocent baby to “sleep like death” tragically on the cusp of adulthood, as per her symbolic death with the rending and theft of her wings, and we’re kind of on board with that. We can see how she gets there.

So she can’t just step in and save Aurora over and over again without a good emotional reason, even if only to tell herself. Yes, it’s the turning point in her arc. Yes, from her own curse (irony!) she’s fated to love Princess Aurora in some form, as everyone who interacts with Aurora will come to love her, though not “true love” her. Maleficent is hoisted by her own petard here, and that’s fine.

But as with Steffan, there are always rationalisations for things done. Steffan needs to rationalise his evil; Maleficent needs to rationalise her goodness, in symmetry.

It could be simple – Aurora has to live to 16 so that Maleficent can see the curse she laid down become true, and watch King Steffan’s agony and failure to stop it. That’s a bit stock – a bit, heh, easy, really – but it’s a starting point.

Saving infant Aurora is a critical change at a critical moment. We needed some emotional support for that, and we didn’t get it. I’m not looking for All! The! Angst! – I’m looking for more emotional struggle to sell me the progression of character. Maleficent initially needs to save Aurora out of hate and revenge, not out of “well, guess so.” “Might as well” is just too damned easy.

Which is a damned shame.

Still, pretty good. Not what it should’ve been, though. That always hurts; good and great are awesome, terrible is terrible, hilariously terrible is even better. They are what they are and could be. But the near-misses like this one… they hurt. Maleficent could’ve been brilliant. Instead, by letting characters and the audience off too easy, it was merely… pretty good.

Not great. Pretty good.

And that’s a damned shame.

*: The three fairies were well too incompetent. It felt as though they were made even more spectacularly incompetent simply to provide more opportunities for Maleficent to step in and save Aurora. And again, that’s another case of letting things be Too Easy.

eta: Anna has a review up here, wherein she gets more into detail and less into overarching thematics. I agree with her about the wings and the new queen business, in particular. But you can read that yourself, if you like.

domestic bliss vs. home restoration: fight

This is not domestic bliss, this is kitchen restoration:

This is what I’m doing when not rehearsing for shows

I posted some details over on my old LJ blog, which I still maintain for stuff I don’t think people here will generally care about. But it’s been eating my life the last … five weeks and counting, so here you go.

I crossposted to Tumblr, too, but the LJ post has a followup pic in comments and bigger pictures.

photos from the bay

Some photos from Clallam Bay! More are on my Flickr photostream, as usual. Plus, they’re larger, which is really good with some of the panoramas.

Come enjoy a ferry ride! Kingston-Edmonds, of course. I like Kingston quite a bit. Edmonds, too. The downtown is a lot like White Rock, even if I can’t entirely say why. Reminds me of a BC town. Which is fitting, given that it used to have a Vancouver ferry.

Small towns on the peninsula are still kind of a lot of 1959. I present you with The Bay TV Phones Motel. I’m told it used to be the Bay Free HBO Motel back in the 80s; I like the current name better, it flows nicely. But honestly, I edited out reflections of other modern cars, but otherwise? Welcome to 1959:

Fireworks was the first order of the show. I didn’t take pics of those, but here’s Shanti of Leannan Sidhe and … Linden, I think? From Project Wonderful, hanging out with pretty much the rest of town for three hours of legal and not-entirely-legal fireworks.

I didn’t take any photos during the actual convention, mostly because I was too busy! But I did get in a nice beach hike, so you’ll get photos of these. There are several more good ones on my Flickr photostream, as before, but here are some highlights.

Let’s Go Beachcombing!

Acres of Not Clams
Shanti told me what they are called but I keep forgetting. I’m bad at nouns.

Panorama of Not Clams

I’ve tried to get out to the site of the old lighthouse every year, but I’ve never made it. To get there without at least wading, you have to be there at very low tide. This year, the timing worked out perfectly.

The Abandoned Approach
(Again, lots more ruins photography on Flickr.)

Standing on the Foundation Pilings

Tide had already started to turn, and there’s no way back without swimming once tide rises much, so we headed back right away. As the sun started to set, the clouds moved in just so to make the sunset look like a binary star system.

All those pointy bits that look like rain are the not-clams you can see in the acres of not clams photos above. Tide wasn’t taking its time.

We found a bunch of really cool random things on the beach. I only posted pictures of a couple (some didn’t come out). While I didn’t keep it – I don’t tend to be much for keeping objects – I loved the deep blue of this shell:

Oh So Blue

Next year’s Comicon has already been announced, with an official convention hotel and everything. Looks like people want to make this thing succeed. I hope it works out, it’s a lovely place to spend a hot summer weekend – even if the Clallam Bay Inn no longer serves the most excellent waffle fries. (They went to wedges! They’re still good, but not that kind of good.) But I still got my cooked-fish fix, the bay is still gorgeous, and the fireworks are still insane. The important things endure. ^_^

adventures in clallam bay

Another year, another Clallam Bay Comicon! Donna Barr has a write-up here, with several photos. More programming this year than the previous two; Project Wonderful came in and did an interesting presentation about how they work. I’m going to follow up on that.

Next year’s con has already been announced. It’s funny – it’s not so much that the con (still very much a party hosted by Donna) hit critical mass this year. It’s more that it hit that pre-critical mass of people going, “You know, we could turn this into a real and bigger thing.” So next year, there will be a multi-person concom, there’s an official convention hotel, and multiple-room function space, and possibly some SCA tie-ins… yeah, it’s still very DIY, but more people are going to be involved in the doing.

Assuming everybody does what they’re saying they plan to do, of course. XD

Personally, I had my best year there yet. Bringing Leannan Sidhe along was awesome and both our shows went over pretty big. We had people coming back from last year who remembered the songs I did again, we had new people, some of the folks from town came over, and overall we just had a good old time. And sold CDs, which doesn’t hurt anything either.

There may be some video. I haven’t checked it yet. Fingers crossed.

I’ll post a picture-spam post from the hike we did of the continuing-to-be-gorgeous bay. For now, have a picture of a pretty moth I took, while setting up for the concert. Gorgeous wings, don’t you think?

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