Archive for the ‘songs’ Category

sadly, it’s not just me – overwatch season iii was a cesspit

Turns out it’s not just me having racism and misogyny problems in Overwatch competitive. I saw Wil Wheaton reblog this article from about it, as well as this thread on the Reddit Overwatch forum, and yeah – it did get a lot worse in Season III.

And so far, nobody official seems to be doing much about it. And people doing it won’t stop until it hurts them, so I’m definitely going with my announcement and plan as a de rigueur thing before all competitive matches in Series IV.

Meanwhile, back in quickplay, I’ve started singing what I call the Tracer Tank song again, because Tracer is a tank in the right circumstances and the right levels. NO, SHE IS, REALLY. I have golded so many times for objective time as Tracer that it’s hilarious.

Tracer tank / Tracer tank
movin’ the payload
’cause somebody has to

where the fuck is Reinhardt?
where the fuck is
i could be that Reinhardt
if i really wanted

let’s all move the payload
i said everybody
okay fine I’ll do it
objective gold again

I mean, think about it. If you’re on offence in a payload level, and you’re good at her dodging motion/blinking/rewind, it works out to an effective hitpoint/armour total of easily 350 points, assuming only one rewind – much more if you’re lucky and good. I have beaten back one-on-three facedowns across the payload, more than once.

How does that work? Base health/armour of 150. Near-double that to 290 from your own health, doubled, with use of rewind. You get 10 points per second back from being on the payload; survive five seconds – not hard if you are good with her movement – and that’s another 100 points (with the single rewind), which gets you up to 390. Survive 10 seconds, that’s 490. Survive 15, 590.

Survive, oh, 2:09 like I did in one game last night as Tracer Tank? That’s 2580+300 hit/armour points (tho’ that assumes more rewinds, as it would), for a total of 2880.

Bulletproof. Reinhardt? Roadhog? Paper people.

And that’s not even getting into how the payload is functionally a motion-restricted shield with infinite hit points and infinite duration.

Tracer is a tank.

(Really, of course, Tracer shouldn’t be your group’s tank. For one thing, this whole shtick falls apart if they have a Sombra who knows what she’s doing. Even without that, it’s not Tracer’s best mode, and usually if I’m doing it, the team I’m on isn’t very good. But we all know the number of people that just won’t get on the goddamn payload, right? I was on one of those a couple of days ago where I literally solo-escorted the payload from Objective A to (just short of) the Eichenwald castle gate entirely by myself. It was hilarious.)

your manic pixie murder machine

oh look, it’s a top-of-post eta: All of Bandcamp’s profits today are going to the ACLU, so that’s awesome. Go cruise around, check other bands not just us, see if there’s anything you like, buy it. Doesn’t have to be our work, just go do the thing, eh?

Anyway, so, yeah. It’s been more than a little bad-crazy and it shows no signs of stopping. Hell, just staying my current degree of sane these days involves a lot of Overwatch, so let’s talk about that.

I’m a Tracer main. I play a good bit of Pharah and and I’m not a half-bad Ana or Zenyatta, but the outright majority of my playtime is Tracer.

One of the things I drive for is damage efficiency. And by that, I mean no “trash damage” – damage done that does not lead to a character elimination. So if I gold medal in damage, and don’t gold in kills and/or objective kills? I’m not playing well, even if we win.

It’s not like with Junkrat, who has so much splatter weaponry, right? Splash damage is part of his game. There’s enough of it that even “trash damage” has impact, just by tying up enemy support. My area of effect, by contrast, is tiny, and therefore, it needs to be effective.

There are four primary offensive stats in Overwatch games: total kills, objective kills, time spent on the objective itself, and total damage. If I get golds in all four, that’s good! But if I gold/gold/gold/silver or gold/gold/gold/bronze (total kills, objective kills, time on objective, total damage)? That’s great. It means I’m not wasting my shots. It says my damage output is disproportionately effective, and says better things, to my mind, then four golds. (And I kind of wish Overwatch acknowledged that.)

So last night, I got gold/gold/gold/NO MEDAL in a victory, which means like no junk damage. Led team in total kills, objective kills, and time spent on objective, despite being no higher than fourth of six in total damage done.

That is some goddamn efficiency.

I don’t think I’ve managed gold/gold/gold/NONE before, and I’m really happy about it.

I’ve got a song I’m writing, “Manic Pixie Murder Machine.” It’s very much not together yet but I think I see where it’s going, and of course, it’s about Tracer. And that is the kind of Tracer I want to be in-game.

Surely some of you have to play Overwatch. Who do you main?

i’m not your goddamn limey waifu honey
i’m a manic pixie murder machiiiiiiiiiiiine

the most amazing thing

The most amazing thing about 2016-2017 is that I managed to write, record, and release as a single an actual song about Republican politics and pee obsessions

…and it’s not about this.

They managed to come up with a completely different pee obsession scandal.


huh, it has a riff

Looks like “You’re not comin’ for us / we’re comin’ for you” isn’t just a slogan, it has a riff.

Lots of atonal power chords, go fig.

No idea if it’s a whole song yet, but here’s hoping.

cyberrrrrrrr mondaaaaaaaay

It’s Cyber Monday, apparently, which means LET’S PUT EVERYTHING ON SALE. I’m doing my part – I’ve put out four singles this year, so I’m putting all of them on pay-what-you-like.

It’s funny, but the most recent one – We’re Not Friends (The Future Has a Place) – has really changed on me since the election. Particularly with Mr. Pence involved, it’s stopped being a celebration, and has turned into a declaration of defiance.

Fortunately, I’m real good at defiance.

Here’s the 2016 tracks. I think they’re real good. Pay what you like – and thanks.

legend of korra fandom has been exploding

Legend of Korra fandom has been exploding a bit since Mike Dante did an AMA on Reddit over the weekend – oh, hi, we’re back from VCON, by the way – with commentary like this:

Also, apparently the comics start literally seconds after the end of the series. I mean literally seconds:

I knew exactly where I wanted to start – moments after the finale ends, with Korra and Asami entering the spirit world…

So yes, I think it’s fair to say that all of us deeply into this fandom (remember, We’re Not Friends/The Future Has a Place is explicitly about the fandom reaction to Korra and Asami being a canon couple) are pretty buzzy right now. C’MON C’MON C’MON C’MON GIMMIE 😀

Welcome back from one of about a zillion different events!

PAX, DragonCon, Burning Man, Bumbershoot, Fan Expo, Faerieworlds, I don’t even know what else. And, of course, a bunch of people stayed home. Where were you?

I, of course, was at PAX, riding a dragon.

I also released a single. It’s one that’s super-personal for a lot of reasons, and I wrote a big post about it here which you should read because I think it’s the kind of thing that will mean a lot to a bunch of other people as well.

And, of course, you can go right on and play it right here, which you should do. It’s on Bandcamp and also on Soundcloud.

But PAX – wow, yeah. I didn’t intend to do all four days, but I did, and I’m glad I didn’t sell the extra passes. Totally worth it.

First, in a lot of ways, I figured out why it’s felt different the last few years, but still good. PAX got too big to be the “instantiate the internet” event it started out being years go, and, having now spread out over several blocks (all the way to the Westin!), it’s become a gaming-oriented theme park overlay for the city.

That’s a very different experience. But the thing is? I like theme parks. I had a great time. For example – I don’t give two figs about Magic: The Gathering but I loved tooling around the insanely-decorated Paramount. I liked that there was a VR-events hotel. I liked the teeming hoards of geeks up all night downtown, the sidewalks like party wing hotel corridors only not so cramped. I liked finding said afterparties, as well. It was epic.

And, the old parts are still there. I spent a fair amount of time in the handheld lounge and having people want to know where the hell this weird-ass handheld I was playing came from and how they could get one. POCKETCHIP YOU OWE ME. (I was mostly playing Celeste on it, which is kinda brutal. I’m 1km in so far. Hard game is hard.)

From a coming-games standpoint, VIVE did what Oculus Rift did not do, which is convince me that goggle VR has a place in computer gaming in the very near term. It’s kind of like – okay, things like the Virtual Boy and predecessors (which existed!) weren’t quite yet up to Pong. Kinect was maybe Advanced Pong. Oculus Rift made a big jump forward, and is kind of an, oh, maybe an Atari 2600 experience – fun to play with, but not fun to play.

Vive, though – yeah. Vive reaches the level of being actual fun. Look, here I am shootin’ a bazooka and throwing grenades at Nazis! Because fuck Nazis. Really, I wish they’d been doing the greenscreen for another game called Raw Data, because that was the most fun, because it was 100% I AM TRACER ONLY FOR REAL WITHIN VR. That was great.

And sure, it’s probably about the Commodore 64 / Atari 800 level of VR device, particularly since there are still controllers with buttons – even if they’re a lot less intrusive than, say a gamepad. But as we all know from history, Commodore 64 is Good Enough. Game ON.

Oh, what else. The Overwatch cosplay was thick, I shot every Overwatch cosplayer I could grab (which was not all I saw) and put a bunch of photos on Flickr.

I entered a lot of hardware raffles (like usual) but did not win (like usual). I played a hilariously stupid game called Gang Beasts which is technically a fighting game, but all of the characters are floppy plushies. I won one round by deciding I’d just go jogging around the outskirts of the arena instead of fighting and the other players all accidentally threw themselves off the edge of the world. VICTORY THROUGH JOGGING! And I scouted out a lot of hardware, like y’do, for when there’s money again and I can think about building a VR gaming PC.

Like y’want to, at least. 😀

Where were you, and was it fun? Play the new song while you’re telling me about it. It’s the kind of thing I think a lot of us are going to need heading into the rest of this year, and for now, hopefully, we’re all coming off a good long weekend. Time to get back to work.

we’re not friends, we’re not lovers, we’re not people you know
different clans, different colours, and a whole different flow
but i know that when i see you that it’s true even so
that the future has a place for me
and the future has a place for you
and the future has a place for both of us now

i come back to you now, at the turn of the tide


This is a super-personal song, so of course it takes me a zillion words to talk about why.

“We’re Not Friends” wasn’t going to be released until 2017, on Din of Thieves. But a couple of months ago, SJ Tucker posted that the mood out there – she tours a lot – was the worst she’d ever seen it, and called upon everybody she knew to release their most uplifting stuff, because maybe we can’t do much, but we can at least do that, because maybe, just maybe, it would help. And having written this in a flurry and surprising my band with it right before a really big show – and not just saying, ‘we’re doing this’ but saying ‘we’re doing this and closing the show with it,’ I thought, “Okay. I’m in.”

What this is about… at the topmost level, it’s about representation, and what it means to those who are not represented in media and culture when suddenly you’re there.

You see, there’s this whole history for queers – if you’re represented at all in media, it’s somewhere in the range of “psychotic” to “tragic,” and there is – historically – no such thing as a happy ending for the faggots. TV Tropes has several sections on this; you can start with “Bury your Gays” and it gets worse from there. The number of exceptions – well, in the Anglosphere, you can count them on one hand, and arguably on one finger, before a couple of years ago.

And that won’t sound like much to most of you, who have had this since before you can remember, and got sick of it, and started writing other and more complicated and more interesting things, and that’s cool because those are good and important stories too. But you still go back to these happy endings for comfort, for relief, and even if you don’t, you have the comfort of knowing it’s there. Hell, you’re swimming in it. The message is: this is normal, this happens, this is good. You can get this.

By contrast, the message we get is: die alone in misery, faggot.

So when Korra and Asami in Avatar: The Legend of Korra got that happy ending – the walking off into the sunset together holding hands ending – it sent shock waves through queer fandom. (And also through straight fandom, and a fair chunk of it reacted in rage. Not all, not even most, but a lot. Go look at the Wikipedia edit history around the end of the show, as it was me and one other person fighting every other editor about it.)

Seeing that, getting that ending – it felt like a giant aching wound in my brain I hadn’t even known was there suddenly got healed, like something deep and old and broken stopped hurting, and I’m still getting emotional as I type about it right now.

You can go look that up yourself, if you like YouTube reaction videos. People breaking down, sobbing. It took weeks to process what happened. That’s how much of a revelation it was for a lot of us.

But this isn’t a song specifically about Korra and Asami being canon girlfriends at the end of Avatar: The Legend of Korra, and it’s not about any of the other “red/blue” couples, as Tumblr likes to call them. It’s about our reaction to seeing ourselves in characters when we never have before, and it’s trying to tell you a story about stepping through getting this ‘hey, what’s going on’ idea, then going ‘nah, that can’t be right,’ then going ‘wait, this looks like a thing, but we don’t get that so it can’t be,’ then the shock and – for a while – outright incomprehension when it is.

When it’s us. When, for once, we get the happy ending, we get the walk into the sunset, we get the tomorrow ever after. We’re not friends with them, we aren’t their lovers, we aren’t people they know – but they’re like us, and they don’t end in horror and pain, so maybe we don’t have to either.

Maybe the future does have a place for us.

It’s one thing to know that intellectually. It’s another to have a story which supports it. Stories shape reality, or at least, people’s decisions about reality. Stories matter.

And that doesn’t just apply to dykes. Gods know there are a lot of oppressed groups – particularly racial groups, particularly the African diaspora, particularly in the US – who get the blunt end of the story stick.

Getting this story, then, is for us very much a turning of the tides – hence, the subject of this post. And if there’s a time when we all need that sea change, it’s now, in the dog days of 2016. At very least, we need to feel like it’s possible – I think we could all use that hope.

That’s a lot to try to pack into a song, but I’ve done my damnedest to do it. I just hope it speaks to you, too.

Solarbird, the Lightbringer
for Crime and the Forces of Evil

guest musicians and thanks

Tomorrow’s the day the new song comes out. I’ll talk about the song itself then, and how and why I think it answers SJ Tucker’s rallying call. But I wanted to throw out some thanks and acknowledgements here today.

First, thanks to Kathryn Tewson for the guest vocals. She hasn’t worked close-mic before, or much really with this kind of music but I think she sounds good, and she said she thinks she’s “never sounded that cool ever in my whole life” and that’s good enough for me.

Second, thanks to Alexander James Adams, for both chorus vocals and surprise fiddle! He surprised me with a recording when I was only asking for vox, and that fiddle track is all over the song now. That post I made a couple of days ago, “This seems unlikely,” with a picture of my Surprise Fiddle Part? The line above mine is labelled “AJA fiddle,” and that would be Alec. Lots goin’ on there.

Third, thanks to Klopfenpop, for listening to roughmixes and being the only person who caught me being out of tune in one of the harmonies for a bit under 40ms underneath hard consonants which were keeping my attention distracted. Goddamn, Klop, you have good ears.

And fourth, Anna, for joining that big thick chorus we have for this thing. This song needed a big group, and she helped it get there.

Tomorrow. Or tonight, midnight Pacific time, if you want to stay up. Watch Bandcamp, ’cause the blog post will be later in the morning. But Bandcamp – that’ll be midnight. We’ve got a torch, and we’re gonna light it up.

Midnight, on Bandcamp

oh right, singles need art too

I’ve been going through photos trying to find something nice. What do you think?

(yes the text trim is intentional)

The album will have original art of course, this is for the single this year.

Return top

The Music