Archive for October, 2014

there were no consumer-grade cd players at best buy

A couple of years ago, I could still walk in to Best Buy and test mixes on an assortment of consumer-grade CD players. And while I’ve been calling CDs “concert souvenirs” for a while now – that’s what they are, people want them, people want you to sign them, they still have value – I haven’t entirely realised how true that is.

Part of that is because CD sales as of 2013 (iirc) were still the largest single sales segment. And they’re by far the largest sales segment in albums, despite vinyl’s resurgence.

But… a couple of years ago… I could still walk in to Best Buy and test a CD full of music tracks on an assortment of consumer-grade players. While it’s partly a ritual, it also serves a real purpose – does your mix survive all these different weird players?

And now I can’t. I couldn’t even test it one one, because there weren’t any. The only CD audio players were in the Magnolia HiFi audiophile ministore.

But that’s fine, right? I’m not stupid, I have exactly the same track mix on my phone, and for this exact reason. But then it got really annoying, because I couldn’t test-listen with my phone, either. Sometime in the last year, Best Buy tied all their display gear down to preset sample tracks, which no doubt hide their flaws and emphasise their strengths. Play your own music to see how that sounds? Nope.

Not cool, Best Buy. Not cool at all.

It’s a little surprising, to be honest, because of those sales numbers. Are all those CDs still being sold – a decent number – going into older, legacy players?

So I went poking around online – Best Buy is the midrange, let’s drop down market segments a little. Target’s page on audio brings up a turntable before a CD player, but they at least have a few – Crosley, the maker of retro-styled audio gear, and Jensen.

It took going to Walmart to find a bit of a selection – or Amazon, of course. But what you seem to have is audiophile and low-end, and not a whole lot in between. Just like the American economy. Aheh.

Which leaves home theatre as the last mass-market stop for physical media. But do people actually do this? Do people play CDs on home theatre systems? I don’t. Never have. Anna doesn’t either. We’ve had it set up for AirPlay for a while, along with all the other audio – we pipe mp3s over the LAN.

But most people aren’t going to do that until it’s a standard feature, or at very least, common. So maybe other people pop CDs into the BluRay player? Is that a thing?

Of course, the CD… it’s a concert souvenir, so it doesn’t really matter. Rip and put in the souvenir box, right? No big.

Until computers stop having optical drives in three years’ time. Then what’re we going to do for souvenirs?

space sounds for super songs

Most of my weekend involved power outages and damage control, fortunately relatively little of the latter given everything. So it’s a music links roundup of awesome.

NASA have dumped a huge library of space sounds you can use in music. For free. They’re public domain. THIS IS AWESOME. I have no idea what I’d use any of this for, but I WILL FIND A REASON.

Not on Bone Walker, maybe, but I will find a reason.

Here are some posters about music theory which I have confirmed are incredibly useful, particularly if you can read music. (I can’t, I’m still getting a bit out of them. Also wow some of this shit is weird.)

My friend Ben Deschamps of The Heather Dale Band has finally started releasing some solo work. It’s one of those song-a-week things, and he’s been building up a backlog of material in a bunch of different modes – instrumentals, silly, rock. You might enjoy giving a listen; he’s a really strong guitarist.

And I don’t know Four-Stroke at all, but if you like your punk thrashy, 80sish, and funny, check out Ottawa’s number one punk band on Reverb Nation. I particularly like “(I Wanna Be a) Suburban Jihadi,” which is a free download.

So, yeah. How was your weekend? Less power-spikey, I hope.

we are at milestone 3

Bone Walker OST Test CD 1

This is where you make the test CD to carry around and put in random players everywhere you stumble across one. Only one track on this CD is not an official release candidate – Anarchy Now/Song for a New Court. Everything else has the “release candidate” tag.

Also, the bonus tracks (oops, did I say tracks?) and the readings aren’t on here yet. Readings get recorded in November.

But you’ll go through a couple of these discs, so that’s not a big deal – particularly given that most of what’s not here are readings. Still, making this milestone – that is a big deal around the lair. Making all this work into a physical object, no matter how raw, still carries some…


(ar ar ar ar ar ar ar.)


you guys you have no idea how hard it’s gonna be to sit on this album until January, I know you won’t be as excited as I am but yeah I am really excited about this

But it's not about misogyny

I feel the need to drop in after the Felicia Day dox in response to her blog post how GamerGate misogynists are affecting her life, former NFL player Chris Kluwe tweeted that despite writing this epic slamfest:

Why Gamergaters Piss Me the Fuck Off

…nobody doxxed him, and he says he’s not even a tough target. But they went after Felicia Day. Ineptly, but still. Choice of target says everything.

So go on. Keep pretending this isn’t about misogyny. I fucking dare you.

Also of interest:

But it’s about “ethics.” Not about hating women.


a personal note: catching up one item at a time

So after all the eye surgery adventures last winter, I fell six months behind on everything, and then summer was filled with surprise extra tasks and work that aren’t related to music… or, really, fun… at all. But I had a lot of catching up to do, and it needed to happen.

And I finally have been. I haven’t been around the last few days in no small part because I have finally beaten down my to-do list to items that were on it before GeekGirlCon 2013 (the weekend my right eye went lol no) and all of those adventures. I diagnosed the roomba’s problem and repair parts are on the way. The minor ceiling repairs (cosmetic, really) upstairs that I started right before all that? Finished. The small mountain of weird credit union rewards points I apparently had? Sorted and spent! And so on.

Not to mention the album, of course. I just dropped Release Candidate 1 for another track. o/

The downside of all that kind of catch-up work is that I’m really kind of out of performance shape, and I need to start working on that now. Studio shape – that, I’m in. But that’s very different to performance shape.

I guess it’s a little like the difference between being trained for sprinting and trained for a marathon. Right now, I’ve been in studio a couple of months, I’m real good at short bursts, because that’s what you need, and you need to be your best at it. But that’s tiring. Live, you also need to be at your best, but in a different way that doesn’t crash your stamina. And I need to switch back to that.

Plus, I need to be booking events. I mean damn. But it’s about time to be thinking about spring anyway, so at least, this time, I’m not late.

But yeah. Catching up, one task at a time, and far enough along that old things are coming off the stack. I’m tired, but it’s the good kind of tired, and now, the decks are almost clear, and we can be moving forward again.

A false symmetry I will not accept

Over on Facebook, a person trying to be “middle of the road” on GamerGate says that he sees both sides of GamerGate as extremist, and as being pretty much the same. And no, as automatic as it seems to be to set up such false symmetries, I won’t accept that.

One side is explicitly and specifically intending to drive women out of the industry and feminist discussion of video games, with particular focus on a few specific hate targets. This isn’t speculation; I’ve read the chat logs. There are screencaps; there were more logs actually provided by GamerGate leaders who screamed “context” when those came out, but they really needed to learn that calling context should only be done when the context helps your case, not hurts it.

So the nature of this movement isn’t really disputable. Here’s a reasonable Wired article that points to a lot of original sources, from last month, before the bomb and shooting threats became a weekly problem.

And here an interview with Eron Gjoni, the ex-boyfriend with a restraining order against him whose post really set off the misogynist explosion which had been smouldering for a while, and became GamerGate. In the referenced post, he accused Zoe of cheating on him and sleeping with a reporter to get better coverage of her game. Problem is, said reporter never wrote about her or her game, aside from a very brief mention months before they are even alleged to have become involved. And despite everything that this has exploded into, and the harassment that has spread to like wildfire, he says he would absolutely do it again.

And he has in fact recently resigned form his job to spend more time coordinating GamerGate. Oh, and he declines to either stop violating his restraining order or stop seeking to have it removed.

If someone is consciously associating with “GamerGate,” this is what they are associating themselves with.

You – the generic “you” – can make a real good point about journalism being a farce. You can make a better point about it being systemically corrupted. But you can’t ignore that this is a systemic problem through journalism, and you can’t ignore that this subfield isn’t any worse (and may indeed be better than) the field as a whole, and you can’t ignore that the only thing that made these people care is…

…an ex-boyfriend, against whom there is a restraining order he keeps trying to get overturned, making a ragepost against his ex-girlfriend, saying she’s cheating with sex to get her games better coverage they clearly don’t deserve.

As a movement, this was started on and is still centred on rage against women commenting on and contributing to videogames.

On what you’re calling the other side – there isn’t a movement, in a greater sense, like there is with GamerGate. There are a lot of people opposed, sure – but to what? A lot of things. To harassment, death threats, bomb threats, rape threats, misogyny, and the silencing of women, and – ironically – the attacks on journalism, like the Wired UK article I linked above. All of these things appear to make you, in the GG world, a “social justice warrior.” (Personally, I think of myself more as a social justice rogue, but maybe that’s just how I roll… my stats. XD)

But there’s not an identity, like there is with GG. There are a lot of different identities, sure – but if opposing the Tories makes the Bloc, Liberals, NDP, and Greens all one movement, then I’m not really sure how you can define “movement” in a way that has any meaning at all.

Essentially, a Green saying “Harper’s agenda must be stopped” doesn’t make them part of a group lobbying for Quebec separatism. But calling yourself a GG does make you part of a group that is actively misogynist and is actively and continually threatening people.

Saying those two situations are the same is a false equivalence. That matters, because it makes “both sides the same,” which is about as untrue as can be managed in a socio-political situation. And that, in turn, downplays what the actual movement here – the GamerGate movement – is trying to do.

Through threats of violence, intimidation, and harassment, the visible bulk of the movement wants to force women and feminist commentary out of games – and, if you believe some of the threads on 4chan and 8chan, then out of geek culture as a whole. (They’ve gone fishing around for support in comics fandom already, I’ve seen it.) I do not believe it would stop there, and I do believe the evidence shows that it is profoundly misogynist.

And that is not the same thing at all.

See also: Chainsaw Suit.

sometimes you just need the right inspiration

And in this case, the inspiration I need for these vocals is a psychopath who can throw lighting around like confetti. So I made a little shrine to Azula. I got the idea when I spontaneously added the line, “not you, Zuzu” in rehearsal.

“I imported it from the Fire Nation. They make the best red stuff there!”

Also, you might notice I moved the studio closer to the lava core for this track. Fire nation, j0.

Do you have a crazyspiration, or is that just a supervillain thing? You should get one. It’s motivational.

getting down to it

Eventually when making an album you start mocking it up in players so you can carry it around and play it on random devices and at random people, just to get reactions.

We actually got to that point two weeks ago (less readings and bonus tracks, of course). Here’s a screencap, in iTunes.

It always feels good to get here. Exciting. Particularly when you start playing somebody a really long track, they listen all the way through, get to the next one since it doesn’t autostop, then instead of stopping they keep listening, think they’ve got the idea, reach up to start taking off the headphones…

…and stop halfway up, because oh wait, they don’t. And they keep listening.

I can’t wait for January to get here. 😀


PPS: I have like two keyboards that can play idk six or eight different pianos from samples not including electrics and also a real actual piano but I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever recorded actual piano playing.

PPPS: spoiler alert: I am not a very good piano player.

PPPPS: …but I am a pretty good editor. XD

PPPPPS: a clew!

midi is still hilarious

Okay okay okay so I’m playing my way through fast scales over and over, while running the midi device selector up several dozen instruments towards the one I want, which means the instrument being played by the keyboard is changing constantly? And I let go of the “next instrument” button as I quit playing (on the tonic) and it lands on “orchestral strike.”


I could not do that on purpose if you paid me. XD


Looks like we’re finally going to get that gnome problem in the garden sorted out.

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