Saturday, November 30, 2013

Scotty or Somebody ... Warp Drive 8 or Something

This isn't Trekkie stuff as this warp drive stuff is getting quite far enough out of hand without anything from Star Trek.  Right now a scientist is leading a team to build one ... with NASA's support.  (io9:  How NASA might build its very first warp drive)

Harold White, the physicist running this square dance, is working up a proof of concept to determine if the warp drive concept would really work ... or melt the Universe like a giant snow cone.

One possible spacecraft design looks like something from Orange County Choppers so perhaps mankind will go tooling around the Universe in faster-than-light Harley hogs.

Assuming the science is right and it really does work, it would probably take, say, twenty or thirty years to build the first one.  Man got to the moon in ten years but this is a trip to a star.  The packing will probably be just a wee bit different.

The trouble with twenty to thirty years is that I don't get to see it and that frosts my goznitch.  Why?  I'll tell you why.  It will mean I read all that damn sci-fi fer nothin'!  I was ready for starships, man.  I've been reading about them since I was a wee lad.  I would hide somewhere with a sci-fi novel, a bag of potato chips and a 16-oz Pepsi.  That was kid heaven.

But where are the starships now.  Nothing.  And still they may take another twenty or thirty years.

I'm just going to start reading cheesy romance novels.  Pfft.

"All Delighted People" - Sufjan Stevens (video)

Sufjan Stevens is ...deleted due to error...  This recording is live from the Sydney Opera House in 2011 and it's the best thing I've heard from him so far.

Update:  I've read the Wiki and I don't think Sufjan is the son of Cat Stevens.  (Wiki:  Sufjan Stevens)

He has a whole lot more material on YouTube and he gets into all kinds of things.  It's not prog rock but it's way out there in progressive.  The kid is incredible.

"Gimme Shelter" - Playing for Change (video)

Screw Black Friday.  This is what is really happening.  Playing for Change has been doing these global collaborations for some while now and has created many of them.  This is one of my favourites:

Who Killed JFK is Back

This is the conspiracy theory that never goes away and there's a good reason for that:  the official explanation doesn't make any sense at all.  You can see from the video the most likely sources for the bullets that hit Kennedy but that doesn't jibe at all with what the Warren Commission reported.

WARNING:  the video is highly graphic.  I have not embedded it for that reason so instead you can view the video on YouTube.  Again, warning, as the video includes autopsy photographs.  It also runs about an hour thirty.

I'm seeing quite a lot of interest in this just now.  Oliver Stone must be jumping up and down in L.A. and screaming It's About Damn Time.

I don't know about all the hocus pocus with spies and counter-spies in the background but I can see from the Zapruder video that the explanation officially given just doesn't work.  If there's another shooter then there's definitely a conspiracy and the darkness of any story behind that is, unfortunately, quite imaginable.  I don't know about that story but I can see what happened in the video.  Their story makes no sense.

The Return of the Smack Troll ... and a Poem

Anyone would have thought he would have died in a gutter by now but, nope, the Smack Troll lives.  Apparently the state is still giving him money to get his heroin ... and methadone for the rare times in-between.  This is the Number One, far and away, most flagrant and egregious world-wide abuse of the Fundamental Doper Law:  if you don't got the scratch, you don't get the blizz.  Britain has got the fucking Eternal Buzz going for these creeps and the clinics don't even test for heroin use when dishing out the methadone.  WTF?

Some Brits are kind of annoyed at me writing about this but it's what I saw.  If I had seen a group of ginger-haired lassies dancing about a field and singing Celtic songs, I would be telling you about that instead.  There are many extraordinary places in Scotland and a lot of it is with the strange beauty of a cold and dreary Diane Keaton movie with lots of fog and mist ... but that's not where I was.  There was no way of going out to find the Faeries and Magick of Scotland while there was a clear and present danger of a junkie stealing my shit and, make no mistake, a junkie WILL steal your shit.

The Smack Troll is a beady-eyed little beastie and he's from the west coast of Scotland.  They're the ones who would go up to the Highland clans to steal sheep ... for sex.  Don't ever trust 'em.  Pfft.

So the Smack Troll wasn't good for much but he did inspire a poem.  This was written months ago but there's a constant debate in me over whether to publish the dark ones.

"Times Gone By"

It did me wrong, the world's not fair
It's a rotten deal and nothing's square.
But these things are known to everyone
and none of us are spared.

Their eyes are dimmed by heroin
they look mostly to the ground
they are whipped and beaten savages
in a lost and lonely town.

They live in dreams of history,
of gloried days and blazing nights
but these thoughts just come to bury them
and they don't even try to fight.

The home I found in this strange land
speaks a language I don't understand.
Just call out to the Mother
and she will take your hand.

She's got money, she's got drugs,
she's got a place for you to live.
And the more you keep on asking,
the more she tries to give.

This woman is not my Mother,
she died so long ago.
But the junkies keep on coming,
saying, "It ain't so.  It ain't so."

Sticking the Equipment Together - Updated

This is the wait time for the Galaxy Guitar to come back from the Guitar Doctor but there is plenty to do in getting the equipment connected.  As the really-expensive guys who work on big computers will tell you, "You've got to get yer guzzintahs and yer guzzouttas matched up."

I don't know about guzzintahs and guzzouttas.  I do software.

(Actually in systems even the software guys need to know guzzintahs and guzzoutahs.  Sad but true.)

Best Real Life line from a hardware guy, said as he rose from behind a cabinet with his screwdriver still smoking, "Are you down?"

So ...

There's a Boss RC-50 looper that is now connected via MIDI to a Boss DR-880 drum machine.  The connection is good as starting / stopping a loop on the RC-50 will start / stop a drum loop on the DR-880.  It's more complicated than that as each loop has to start the correct drum loop so more testing needed but the general setup is working now.

The other side of it is feeding the RC-50 correctly.  If there are multiple instruments plugged into the various inputs then each of them is attenuated even though, usually, only one is active at a time.  The solution is to run all instruments into a mixer and then run the output from that to the main input on the RC-50.  This gives much finer adjustment for levels and prevents overdriving the looper mixer as you can easily turn a loop to mud if you're not careful.

So the status report is that a synth and a bass are currently connected to the looper and this goes quite well.  The drum patch does not change when I switch loops on the RC-50 so this is a problem but it's just some annoying switch somewhere that will correct that.  So far there is no mike connected but that's a simple thing as it will plug directly to the mixer because I don't have anything for vocal effects.  That will make it kind of dry but so it goes.

Update:  The MIDI sync option on the Boss DR-880 must be set to MIDI if Tempo and Program Change, etc are to be received.  If it is set to REMOTE then only stop/start messages will cause the DR-880 to do anything and it won't act on Program Change.

The only cabling hassle after that is connecting a computer interface between the primary mixer and the computer.  That may yet be a problem requiring hardware to be moved as the cables are too short.  I'll know how that goes before the week-end is out.  I won't try an online test unless Cat can be there as I know she would get a kick out of that so likely that will happen early in the week.

The Voice of Germany

"Voice of Germany" is a television program which is similar to "American Idol," "Britain's Got Talent," etc.  I've seen snippets of such shows previously but they always seemed quite brutal to me with lots of crying and I really, really didn't like it when they brought out people who were obviously not qualified to enter such contests as those ones would be openly ridiculed.  "Voice of Germany" is not at all like that as the judges are mentors and the contestants get second chances.

Since Cat and I are multiple time zones apart, we watch the show by synchronising on the clock in the video.  That gets us within a few seconds of each other and we can watch it together as she hasn't seen the show either.

You know how it goes with these shows as you pick your favourites and damn the people who send in wrong votes to screw things up.  Last night the voters got it wrong several times and then Cat and I could object mightily because of course the voters were wrong and we were right.

A big weakness of these shows and one of the reasons I didn't watch them much in the past is there is no band.  There's a studio orchestra to support the singers but that is not at all the same as a band.  This crushed Nader last night as he covered "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.  He did a great job of the cover but he had that crap-ass studio orchestra behind him rather than a band around him so that undermined him and he lost.  He sang hard but he had an elevator band behind him and they just didn't get it done.

And that's my biggest problem with these shows.  They're looking for singers and I understand that but bands are more than singers.  Imagine Robert Plant saying to Jimmy Page, "Hey, mate, how about you lighten up on all that guitar playing so I can carry the band over here."

What I've just described doesn't happen much as the studio orchestra is actually competent for most things, they're just not a rock band.  Where you will also die is if you ask them to back you on the wrong song.  One of the girls last night started into a song which was quickly recognisable as "Wrecking Ball."

Cat and I were immediately typing back and forth,

NOOOOO, that's Miley Cyrus.  What is she thinking!

She's doomed.

Why, why, why did she pick this song.

So, yep, she died.  Dumb ideas will kill you too ... but at least she didn't twerk.

(I'm offended by twerking because kids think adults will be shocked by it.  Kid, we came from the fucking sixties.  Do you seriously think you can shock us with ANYTHING.)

Cat and I have a lot of fun watching these shows even if I don't think it's a good thing to focus so hard on any idea that The Singer Is Everything.  That's only true for lounge acts or people heading for Las Vegas and you can see it all through Second Life where singers get some back tracks from Make You a Star commercial cheap-ass back tracks company and use them for their shows.  These are the iPod Queens and some have quite good voices ... except they're worthless in such a banal musical setting.

They asked me when I went to see the Guitar Doctor how I got along in Europe when I am so poor on European languages and I said, "Lotta pointing.  Lotta pointing, man."

Pointing doesn't work so well for a television show so it drives me harder to learn German but it also shows me I have a LONG way to go.  They aren't so prissy as on American television and every so often you'll hear one of the mentors, the singer from Lifesaver, saying, "You fucking rock!"

I don't know how it would go if he said, "Sie ficken rocken!"

Probably about the same ... Germans aren't stupid.

So, for now I point to Google Translate as it's still hugely cool that such a useful resource is free.

I can't emphasise strongly enough to learn a language, any language, before you go to Europe.  The way the Euros do it is they will try different languages on each other until they find one that both speak at least enough to understand each other.  You don't have to be a walking dictionary, you just need enough words to make yourself understood.  I think pidgin English only has about a hundred words in it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Shoppers are Amateurs - Updated

The people who shop on Black Friday will buy any kind of cheap crap just to get that Christmas shopping done.  They will trample each other for a toaster and trade their children for a TV set, they're definitely not an interesting group of people.

When you get your best class of Christmas shoppers is on Christmas Eve as no-one goes out shopping on that evening unless they really want to find something special for someone and they're not going to screw around with some cheap holiday junk.  This is not a night for Elvis clocks.

Procrastinators are the best.  They're fun too as we all recognise each other as procrastinators.  There is no disguising it if you're shopping on Christmas Eve.  These are the people who will have fun with Christmas or will not do it at all.

So, what I advise is to use Black Friday to stay home and buy my cool "Abandoning Paradise" book.  Don't give it away, read it.  Maybe you'll dig it.  Then go out on Christmas Eve to shop with the procrastinators.  They won't trample you as they won't do anything if it's not fun.

Update:  The final score in the Black Friday Death Count was seven dead and eighty-eight seriously injured.  This is like "Death Race 2000" ... how many people would you kill to get a TV set.

Numubu, Scooby Doo Boo

Numubu is one of the latest music-sharing enterprises and you can use it to stream audio and even video.  YouTube is also starting to permit live video streaming but they're going slowly in rolling it out to people whereas Numubu is doing it now.  (Numubu:  Silas Scarborough - my profile)

We don't know how it got such a dumb name but it must have cost big bucks to launch it so someone took it fairly seriously.

The first warning sign is that everyone on Numubu is your friend.  I am so damn tired of all the friends online.  There was a time when your friend was someone who would give you a ride to the airport or maybe even loan you some money when you're screwed but now friends are whomever Facebook says they are.  Pfft.

Something unusual is that one of the first to friend me on there was Uriah Heep, the actual band, after seeing one of my videos.  If you don't remember "Easy Living," then you must have missed the sixties / seventies altogether.  So apparently there are some pretty cool people on there.  Why they would have any interest me is your guess but that's what happened.  (The video was "On the Road with a Mouse and a Chicken" in which I play in the dark with lasers on my fingers.)

I'm not sure how far I will investigate Numubu.  You can play gigs in there and it even has a mechanism for tip jars so you can make some jingle from the show but I can do that in Second Life already and I like the animated environment a whole lot.  It's not just words that playing at Cat's MusikCircus is special, it really is.

What Numubu may have solved is the problem of how to stream to a whole lot of people at once.  If Second Life tries for more than about a hundred, it gets a bellyache and crashes.  While you would make more jingle from a larger audience, you would also lose the intimacy of the relationship with the audience in Second Life where it's not hard to see the name for anyone attending and talk to them.

More to come on this but one thing is definite:  the first gig I do will be at Cat's Art MusikCircus.  That's not a sentimental thing.  I really want to do it.

Send in the Clowns

Police in Norfolk, U.K., would like to stress that it is not against the law to dress up like a clown.  (Metro:  Police warn of clown epidemic in Norfolk)

After multiple sightings of clowns in full costume in Norfolk, police advise people not to give them any attention as 'this is what they are after.'

Thank goodness for the police who can explain what the clowns want.  It isn't that the clowns are out for a bit of fun in a world that is twisted in on itself by violence, killing, and relentless political corruption.  It couldn't be that clowns are trying to bring you a smile when not so many really give a rip if you're smiling.

As soon as we get a photograph of one of these Norfolk clowns, we will certainly pass it along to you.  After all, how can you protect yourself from an epidemic if you don't know what it looks like.

Careful with that Axe, Eugene

Ordinarily, the lies on the news are about the righteousness of drone strikes or how bankers are your friends but there are much better lies than that.  According to this one, some Italian guy ate fifty grams of magic mushrooms at Glastonbury and went trippin' for two years.  (Wunderground:  Italian Man Missing Since Glastonbury 2011 Found Wandering The English Countryside)

There's only one mushroom that will trip you that much, Amanita muscaria, and it's called Alice in Wonderland by its fans.  There is only one problem with taking that much of it.  Amanita muscaria is quite poisonous and will definitely kill you.  In small doses you will trip in a big way but large doses are fatal.  This is fun if you like Russian Roulette, throwing snowballs at police cars, or telling a woman her new jeans really do make her ass look fat.

So fifty grams of magic mushrooms make a nice handful and will definitely send you trippin'.  But two years??  No possible chance.  Mushrooms don't even trip you for two days ... although it would be swell if they did.  I really like mushrooms.

My theory on this subject is that our Italian Stallion spotted himself a mushroom lady during the Glastonbury concert and wound up doing what Italian Stallions do.  They lived in mushroom bliss for two years but then the mushrooms ran out.  Then he had to find a way to hook back up with his original English hippie girl again and also explain how he has so much overstayed his visa.

Yah, I was trippin' so hard that I was wandering around the forest all that time.  Yah, that's what happened, Baby.  You've got to believe me.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Friday - Ain't It Grand to Be Poor

Anyone who has any money would gladly pay not to have to deal with the rubbish of Black Friday as most days are better without a vibe of trample or be trampled.  Besides, saving a couple of hundred dollars on a TV set doesn't impress them much as they already have TV sets.  They don't buy them for friends as they also already have TV sets.

Most of the people in the Black Friday stampedes are America's Untouchable caste, the people of Wal-Mart.  People on Facebook like to look at us and giggle while they pretend the people on Facebook are not just as fat and homely as the ones at Wal-Mart.

People on Facebook tell us all to Boycott Wal-Mart because of the corporation's dealings with slaver sweatshops in other countries.  Fair enough.  But there's one little problem.

Pro tip:  people who shop at Wal-Mart don't have the money to shop anywhere else.

It's so easy to spout those Directives for Humanity when you're Myrtle on your cheap-ass got-it-on-sale Windows computer and you are trying to change the world on Facebook.

Yah, and, by the way, save the otters.

Save the otters and the people of Wal-Mart.  Then the world will be good.

Maybe you think I'm pissy about Black Friday because I have no money to spend but I didn't deal with Black Friday when I did have money.  Back then I already had a TV set too.

Voodoo Shivers Me Timbers

Last week I was talking with Voodoo Shilton about his heresy that he really doesn't much fancy Godin guitars.  What he said made good sense but of course I will not repeat it as I don't wish to share his Fate of a fire pit in the depths of the Earth for his heretical thoughts about Godin.

Actually I can tell you as I will likely burn anyway.  He's ok.  He's got the Voodoo.

He also asked something that made good sense about my Galaxy Guitar:  is it real ebony on the fingerboard.


I had never questioned it as there is a very different feel between the ebony of a Godin fingerboard relative to rosewood or other types of fingerboards.

But any wood can be stained and perhaps some magic oil makes it slink enough to get by.  Who knows.


Here's a question and answer with some violinists trying to verify their instruments have real ebony on them.  How to Tell Real Ebony

The easiest solution is ultimate low-tech:  stick your fingernail into the fingerboard on an edge.  If it makes a dent, it's fake.  Ebony is very hard and dense and you won't be able to dent it.

So there's the ultimate test for when the Galaxy Guitar comes back. 

Peanut Butter Thanksgiving

Before you say it's sad to celebrate Thanksgiving with a peanut butter sandwich, let's review the fact that one of us will be washing dishes this afternoon, lots of dishes.  Who would you guess will not be doing that.

Meanwhile, I've been taking a look at WIX as it says you can make your own Web page there for free.  Of course you can't make your own Web page but you can make one using their tools and they look fairly presentable.  The Web page that gets created is not awash with WIX advertising so you may find it useful.  You can learn more at WIX.

This is one I made for the Yum Yum Good Candy Company.  I have it on Facebook that I worked there during my professional career and people did not believe such a company existed.  Now it does.

Yum Yum Good Candy Company - Look for that label or it's not Yum Yum Good

Cars to Thrill You in 2014

The Wall Street Cheat Sheet (is there any other kind of sheet on Wall Street) has published an article on what it apparently views as the most thrilling cars coming to you in 2014.  Judging by the line-up, we think Wall Street Cheat Sheet probably gets turned on by old women eating bread pudding.  (Wall Street Cheat Sheet:  8 New Cars Coming to Thrill You in 2014)

A good many of these rubbish cars are hybrids but these are even more absurd than the Queen of Rubbishy Hybrids, the Prius.  There will be a Cadillac eCar and it will have a range of thirty-five miles.  And that's high compared to the others.  The Mercedes offering only does fifteen miles.  They tout a Porsche as being impressive as it goes over 200 mph but it switches to electric for low-speed travel ... for eighteen miles.

These cars are not just rubbish, they are worse than the problem they claim they are solving.  The only way these cars would seem green is relative to Chevron's Ecuadorian oil drilling.

If you want to make a serious effort to be green, buy one of the little four-door Eurocruisers as they get an incredibly-high number of miles per gallon without creating yet more environmental problems with huge and poisonous batteries for an electric motor.

Then buy a McLaren for the week-ends.

Or a Jaguar F-Type

Or ...

The King of Them All

a Pagani Zonda

Wall Street Cheat Sheet even listed a Volvo as 'thrilling.'  Yah, right.

And Now It's Thanksgiving

I'm dead broke and don't even have a pair of blue jeans left but I'm thankful for a lot of things.

I'm thankful I have such good friends that they will bail out the Galaxy Guitar from the Guitar Doctor when she is feeling better.

I'm thankful I still have the Galaxy Guitar even if she is a little sick just now.

I'm thankful I have a hot Hamster girlfriend who is smart, can dance, dance, dance and really loves music.

I'm thankful that there are no junkies around who will come through the door at random times and threaten to throw me out to the Scotland homeless shelter.

In fact, I'm thankful there are no junkies of any kind about.  I don't like junkies.

I'm thankful that my brother and my sister were so cool as to rescue me from Scotland and fly me the hell out of there.

I'm thankful I have a little something to send each of them when I can get the shipping together.

I'm thankful that Yevette put me up in a place to stay and play in the U.S. and it's even warm here.

I'm thankful that I don't have to deal with the U.S. dollar exchange rate anymore as that took $850 and turned it into £500 which might have been good if the pound were worth more but it isn't.

I'm thankful that no-one cares if I leave the house on Black Friday.

I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to do the most insane thing I ever did in riding across Europe and I never would have made it, would never have had the faintest chance, without my family and friends.  No government or benefits or any kind of bat crap like that had anything to do with it.

I'm thankful that good people like to come to visit to read the ridiculous stuff I write.

Thank you all and I hope it's a day of most excellent outstandingness for you today with great chow and your football team of choice wins.

"Abandoning Paradise" is Now Available on the iTunes Store

"Abandoning Paradise" has now got through Apple's quality assurance and is available on the iTunes Store.  It can be read on any Apple iPad or any Apple computer running OS X Mavericks or higher.

This was one of the most extraordinary journeys of my life and "Abandoning Paradise" is a three-part telling of riding a 150cc motor scooter from Greece across Italy, through France, and up England to Scotland with the Galaxy Guitar and everything else I owned strapped to the back.  The first part talks of why Greece is such a Paradise.  The second is the diary of the journey along with a whole lot of pictures.  The third is what I found in Scotland.

About 230 pages w/many pictures

See it on the iTunes Store

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I've Seen This Guitar Before - Steve Lamb

Yevette was gracious enough to drive me over to the Guitar Doctor, Steve Lamb, and the Galaxy Guitar is in his hands now.  I was describing the problems and he was looking over the guitar when he said, "I've seen this guitar before."

It was pretty cool that he remembered as that was at least two years ago and I'm sure taking her back to him was exactly the right thing to do.

As I had hoped, it will not likely cost very much unless there is a problem hiding but I don't have any reason to believe that.  He said she may even be ready next week.

This is a glorious relief and maybe it seems twisted to be happy that your girl has gone into the hospital when usually the happiness is when she comes back out but I'm really ecstatic as I'm very sure she is in the right hands.

CD Baby - Pricing for CD Releases

Deceptions Digital was thinking it costs $300 US to release a CD to iTunes but it doesn't cost anything close to that.  CD Baby is a very reputable outfit and has been doing business for quite a few years in retailing digital and traditional media CD sales.

For a full album release, it will cost you $49 US.  You might want to spend $20 extra for a UPC code but you won't need it if you only market through CD Baby.  They have more exotic plans as well but these basics are all you need to get your music online and it will look just as slick as the downtown crew can do but you can easily do all of this yourself.

You can get the full details on all their pricing at CD Baby Pricing.

They are straight-up.  I've dealt with them multiple times and they can get your music onto iTunes very quickly and you can sell digital copies from CD Baby directly.  They also offer distribution for your traditional media discs for which they take $4.00 US for each sale and you take the rest.  You take 91% of digital sales.

I withdrew my CDs a while back as I wasn't satisfied with the quality of them.  The quality will not magically improve so I'll re-release them one of these days.  If you ever expect to be really satisfied with things you have done before then music is probably not a good idea for you.

"Drecking Ball" - Moonpie Cyrus (video) - Chatroulette Version

Even the worst of songs can find life.

Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" couldn't knock over a doll's house but it's still the reason America and England have no future as they listen to it a LOT.  If I had a penny for each time this piece of crap played while I was over there then I could have chartered a plane to fly me back.  Whenever I hear even a little bit of the song now it elicits a reaction.  I start dribbling and shaking.  I am one of Pavlov's dogs.

But ...

The song is not entirely useless.  Take it away, Chatroulette:

The Shows at Cat's Art MusikCircus Last Night

Maestro Michi Renoir returned last night after an outstanding set last week.  He said something about being Richy Bitchy before playing and no-one knows what that means but then he said he would play some romantic stuff.  That's when you start thinking, Maestro Michi, no, no, no.  Don't do it.  Save yourself.

So it was romantic night and it was pretty but it wasn't explosive.  Come back next week as he never does the same show twice and when Maestro Michi blows stuff up you don't want to miss it.

Deceptions Digital came back last night and she had some seriously twisted beats happening.  This was very cool and she was traveling all over the place with them.  Her music is all recorded but she doesn't actually perform any deception as she gives a commentary on the music as it goes along.

I was pleased to tell her that NO it does not cost $300 to release a CD through CD Baby.  It really costs only about $30 so she's seeing savings of two hundred and seventy bucks from what she thought.  Whacko!  If you see her releasing a CD soon, it might be Cat's MusikCircus that lit a fire under it.  Whacko!!  My ol' Dad used to say that a lot if something was really good.  Whacko!  (He was a smart man ... really.)

DD mixes her playing with some samples and all manner of electronic magic to create her sound.  She's very good at it and comes up with a highly-exotic sound.  Keep an eye on the CALENDAR at the top of the blog for when she will be appearing next.  The Tuesday scheduling changes from week to week but we will keep the calendar up to date.  It's usually refreshed for the coming week on Sundays.

And of course Cat and I danced!

What'sa mattah?  You never saw a Guardian Clown dancing with a Hamster before?

Pro tip:  If you're going to dance with a Hamster then bring carrots or what kind of cheap date are you.

The Song That Defined the Sixties

Woodstock wasn't the coolest festival of the sixties, that had happened a few years before at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and if I could only take my Time Machine to one of them then it would definitely be Monterey.  I wasn't at the concert but I have imagined I was many, many times.

There were two huge events in the concert as Bob Dylan played an electric guitar and folkies just don't do that.  The folkies wanted to burn him at the stake for betraying folk music.  These days folkies have gone back to Martin guitars and three-piece suits but there was a time when there was a folkie revolution and Dylan did it at Monterey.

The other event was Hendrix covering Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and it emphasised all the more just how important Dylan was and just how far out into space you could take his music if you gave it to Hendrix.

And there you have, in seven minutes, a prime example of what has gone largely down the toilet in the so-called New School.

Electric guitar does not have to be note-perfect, played at 240 bpm, and employ musical scales only known to Tibetan monks.

There has been some kind of neurotic quest for perfection in electric guitar playing over the last twenty years or so and it has produced something that is, in a way, musically perfect and yet is spiritually empty.  I recently heard some guy who was playing to claim a speed record and he was unbelievably fast but I was just shaking my head at him.  Dude. WHY?

Hendrix' playing here is almost sloppy at times and yet the FEEL of it is enormous.  That's what was lost and I will likely never understand in people is if you don't want to bring a feeling to people then why even swing the axe.  If you want to impress people then why not get into a spitting contest or hit things with a hammer.

A Second Life example is Anek Fuchs as in earlier SL days he was one of two Shred Gods and he played fast, fast, fast.  (Harleykillernl Back was the other one.  Unknown what became of him.)  Back then you'd go to Anek's show and think, fark, that cat is really fast but it really wasn't happenin'.  These days he has slowed down and not due to physical infirmity but rather he is playing for the soul of it and this music will capture you.

It's not my purpose to blow past the lyrics of the song as they were at least as important as the style in which the song was performed.  The lyrics have just as much meaning now and in the same way as at the time.

You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain't it hard when you discover that
He really wasn't where it's at
After he took from you everything he could steal.

There are many, many diplomats today and all of them with chrome horses.  The trouble is that they usually suck as diplomats and they send the chrome horses to be built in China.  The Scots pull oil out of the North Sea but the money goes to London.  Siamese cats are expensive.

It amuses me in a dark way that the one time diplomats were possibly successful was in the deal with Iran so now all the other diplomats on their chrome horses are bucking up and down while screaming The World is Going to End.  Yah, Peace has such a bad history of wrecking the world, doesn't it.

Lamb's Music in Fort Worth, Texas

Steve Lamb is the man to whom I took one of my guitars once before when I needed some setup work on it.  He's a good guy and his work is very good as he's been a luthier for thirty years.

Lamb's Music
8533 Camp Bowie W
Fort Worth, TX  76116
(817) 244-8600

It wasn't possible to get over there in time yesterday afternoon as he closed at 1700 so there will be an expedition over there today.  Yevette keeps vampire hours and she is often going to sleep when I'm waking up so timing will be interesting but that's the mission:  must get to Lamb's Music by 1700 today.  (1700 is 5:00 PM in Texas Time)

Satan Loves Tattoos

Leviticus is often used as the basis for banning homosexuality as it proclaims one shall not lie with another man.

And that's where Moms Mabley might get into it to say, honey, those men don't just lie together.  And Moms Mabley can say whatever she likes as she was as gay as they come ... back in the thirties ... when they would drain your blood and quarter your body for being gay.  She wasn't just gay, she was gay and out in the thirties.

But this isn't about being gay as I figure there's practically nothing anyone can say about being gay that hasn't been said already.  Even if there is, I'm not gay and don't have the interest to find it to write it myself.

Maybe you're thinking you're not gay either so you won't go to Hell.

But you've got that cute little tattoo of a flower on yer butt, don't you.  It's time to face it, baby.  You're going to burn.  That's in Leviticus too.

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. (King James Bible)

So, there you have it.  Sorry, cupcake, but, yep, you're going to burn right along with all those guys who lie with each other.  All for a tattoo of a flower on yer butt.

Pro tip:  when you decided to use Leviticus to bash gay guys maybe you should have looked at what else is in that part.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Got That Guiltar Guilt and Lost Me Woman Blues

This isn't a feeling sorry for yourself bit as it's my fault the Galaxy Guitar is sick.  I don't really know what did it but no question it's my fault.  Whining about how sorry you are doesn't mean a whole lot if you've already mistreated her and she's getting on the train for Philadelphia.  Losing your guitar is pretty much the same as losing your woman except guitars don't have cats.

At worst she will need a new neck but I don't believe that's true as there is no sign of a warp (i.e. twisting from side to side) and the neck is being pulled loose rather than actual bowing (i.e. curving from top to bottom).  I don't believe a new neck is necessary, the current one just needs to be seated properly and securely.

There's also a long-standing problem with the bridge and that's why I was going to take her to the guitar doctor in the first place.  That was my fault too as I kicked the twang bar in the dark and the bridge really hated that.  Even so, I doubt that is an expensive repair either.

So I'll take the guitar over there this afternoon or tomorrow, depending on when Yevette is free to give me a ride.  I will leave the guitar with him no matter what.  There's no question of it getting fixed, the question is when.  The Unidentified Benefactor lit a fire under doing it now so this will happen.

You can hear the pitch shift from the neck being out of whack.  I was trying to tell myself that it would be ok but it's not true.  Cat has got an exceptional tuning in her ears and going off-pitch would drive her agitated very quickly.  That is definitely Not how the First Gig Back is supposed to go.  I have to cancel for this week but will be going again very quickly after the Galaxy Guitar is back as I will use the intervening time getting other electronics dialled up.

I'm figuring at worst it will be two weeks to get her fixed.  That picture buried me.  I couldn't see it well enough at the base of the neck without the close-up from the camera and then I was horrified.  You callous bastard, how could you let this happen.

Untolerable Bohemian and lefty Unplugged Exploring Cat's Art MusikCircus

Last week I wrote about Untolerable Bohemian's show at Cat's Art MusikCircus but I'll do it a little differently this time as here's a video of what he didn't do:

Bo hasn't been playing electric for a while but this is what it sounds like when he does.  Regardless of whether he plays acoustic or electric, it will be explorative stuff and he does that with his singing as well.

Here's Bo:

I said I wouldn't keep writing the same reviews over and over so let's leave this one with the taste of Bo's electric side and I'll see what else I can find for next week.

lefty Unplugged played the second show and I hadn't heard him play since before going to Scotland. Visiting with he and Mrs lefty was one of the coolest things about the expedition.

Last night lefty Unplugged started out exploring.  He has a sophisticated studio and he was bringing in a looper, an echo, and other types of things as he went off on a journey that went for between ten and fifteen minutes.  After he finished, he said he was just 'messing around' as if it had no value but that was pure lefty innovation, right off the top of his head, and it was excellent.

lefty Unplugged is also one of the best poets in Second Life and he has a unique delivery for all his songs.  There's one called "Blacker Than" in which he pulls out the voice of what I suggested might be a serial killer as it's perfect for the song.  Maybe you wonder what's romantic about a song like that and, well, nothin'.  However, he does a great job of making a song to show what you probably don't want to be.  Of course there is a purpose to that or every song would be about ducklings and kittens.

Where I screwed up last night was that I was going on about how lefty's 'messing around' tunes are exceptional and really need to be recorded.  That might not sound like a bad thing but I was too enthusiastic about it ... so I'm probably being too enthusiastic right now as well.  So I'll just say that stuff is damn good and RECORD IT.  So, there.  I said it and I'm glad.

And Cat and I danced.  She looks happy but that's because I didn't tell her yet that I broke the script in the door.  Whoops.  Maybe I can fix it before she needs it.

Today's Dose of Excessive Cuteness w/Penguins

You've been enjoying some of the cute entries of the last few days so here's another one.  What happens when a butterfly gets into the penguin enclosure.

Butterfly in German is Schmetterling.  Now you know.

Lowest Kind of Conservative Smear Job

Yesterday provided a prime example of the sorry state of discussion in the U.S. today.  After displaying the information regarding the wealth inequality in the U.S. there was a broadside from someone, obviously a conservative.  That was parroted by another one who agreed with  the first one's speculation and compounded the stupidity of it with even less thought than the original.

The fundamental conservative thought and which they are incapable of thinking beyond is that everyone wants their money and everyone is going to come and take their stuff.  Everyone wants their guns and will come to take them.  In short, don't screw with my stuff.

That might be mildly-interesting if it had anything to do with what I wrote but it didn't.  Let me take a wild assumptive leap and guess that no-one in this reading audience is actually in the One Percent.  That being the case, there isn't ANYONE in the audience who is being asked to give up anything.

This has nothing to do with benefits except in the most general sense that redistribution of wealth benefits everyone but not in so simple a matter as who gets handouts.  It would grease the entire economy.  What do you know, consumers can't do their little jobs of buying stuff and using it up if they don't have the juice to pay for it.  Whether Welfare Mama has ten illegitimate babies and gets money from the state isn't the point.

Whether I get benefits from the state has nothing to do with it.  I've never taken any benefit and the only time I tried (V.A.) it went nowhere.  If you want to attack that, knock yourself out but at least get the damn facts straight.

The responses yesterday were the lowest kind of cheap shots.  Review the information, form an invalid speculation, and then attack the speculation instead of saying anything with any content regarding the information.  It was fucking stupid and you will see that same gambit on Fox News over and over and over and over.

Monday, November 25, 2013

State of the Guitar - Updated - And Updated Again

Text doesn't cover it as maybe I'm exaggerating, right.

The strings are way too high off the neck.  If you look closely, you can see a gap between the neck and the body.  It doesn't take a very big gap to multiply to a huge difference for the strings.

I have no idea how this could have happened.  There is no possible chance the strings did it while flying.  The strings were so loose that the only things keeping them still attached were the tuning key locks.  They absolutely did not pull the neck due to low temperature in the aircraft cargo hold.  All I can figure is that the temperature in the flat must have done it as that was the only other time she ever got cold.  It doesn't matter now as the only concern is getting her fixed so she will stay fixed.

This doesn't just change the tone as it also changes the pitch and that's the killer.  I know I have to call off the gig but I don't want to do that.


This came out of nowhere yesterday.  An as-yet-unidentified benefactor said to take the guitar to a shop to get a quote.  Of course I know the benefactor but I don't know if he wants to be identified and will ask first.  I think there's a good chance that fixing the guitar will not cost much, I just don't have it right now so the offer is a lifesaver.  Thank you!

Updated Again:

I wasn't sure how to find the man who worked on one of my guitars once before but I finally tracked him down just now.  Lamb's Music is the answer and Steve Lamb has been a luthier for thirty years.  The work he did before was excellent and his prices are fair.  Yep, getting over there as soon as I can catch a ride.

Why Taxing the Rich is Not a Bad Idea

This should cover fairly effectively that it's absolute rubbish that anything trickles down from the rich.

They screwed the entire country and the conservatives act like cheerleaders for them.  There's a fundamental difference between a fair profit and blind greed and how else would you account for the staggering disproportion in the distribution of wealth.

Deleted Some Entries - Updated

There were a couple of articles that didn't warrant bloggishness and I have deleted them.  The only thing that matters right now is the neck on the guitar and I don't know what will come from playing it.  The action on the guitar is something you come to know for each guitar right down to the micron so any change to it is something you can feel.  I only have one so it gets sick and I get sick.

Maybe it's a matter of using the tools at your disposal but I do have some concern about it getting worse as I don't know how it happened in the first place.  I'm timing it for a few hours to really get to know how she feels.  That will be interesting to schedule as Yevette keeps vampire hours and she will melt if sunlight gets on here.

Nothing much for it, I suppose, but to play it out and see how it goes.

Update:  I didn't realise Yevette was still awake so I played some.  It's significantly harder to play but the main thing is the tone.  Yevette didn't throw food so it was ok with her.  I'm not fishing for anything as you can't possibly know what I mean without hearing it.  Situation is quite disturbing and I will play some more later to finally make up my mind.  What happened earlier was about fifteen minutes lead on top of some looper chords and it felt pretty swell roaming around with it.  I'm leaning more toward going for it and playing than I was earlier.

You Want Some Holiday Mushy Stuff

There's already an article about Andrea emailing me to thank me for running the videos of the singers so here's one with a bit more mush ball stuff.  It's a video all about what people do when they think no-one is watching.  Get that image in your mind, right.

OK, roll it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Reagonomics and the Death of America

What Reagan started has been progressively destroying America for the last thirty years.  (Yahoo Voices:  How Three Decades of Reaganomics Destroyed the American Economy)

There's nothing particularly complicated about it as the tax rate on the rich was 70% before Reagan took office.  He slashed that rate and it's never gone back up again.  Income to the state was drastically reduced and the country has been going bankrupt ever since.  This is the glory of trickle down.  First it trickled all over the poor.  Now it trickles all over the middle class and now, suddenly, they're interested.

You can argue about which President bought the most military weapons (Reagan and Bush the Lesser) but that really doesn't matter so much as all of them will find ways to spend money.  What makes the difference is who made sure there would be no money to pay the bills and that goes directly back to Reagan.

Many are well pleased with the stock market and it's dance with 16,000 points but those are directly invested in it know better than others that it's all a bubble.  It only takes the right pinprick to make it all fall down, Greenspan made sure of that.

So it's still not clear whether Reagan or Obama is the Worst American President of All Time.  Reagan did the most damage to the American economy but Obama did the most damage to American integrity.  It's still a tough call ... or maybe just call it a tie and tar and feather both of those bastards.

Conrad Murray and His Unlimited Suckness

Conrad Murray is the doctor who killed Michael Jackson and many say Jackson would have died anyway but only a doctor could give him the drug he was taking.  I've used a whole lot of street drugs  in my life but I have never yet heard of Propofol in circulation.  (CNN:  Conrad Murray talks about Michael Jackson's death)

Murray goes on about how he didn't have any toys when he was a kid.  Big fucking deal.  Now you're a doctor and you massively fucked it up.

This whining bastard administers one of the most powerful sedatives known to man and then absolves himself of any responsibility for what the stuff does.  It's like a heart surgeon cutting your heart out to fix it and then forgetting to put it back in again.  Then he says, fuck it, you wanted to die anyway.

This response comes because he is now out of jail and is giving self-righteous interviews so he's still making money on Jackson.  This guy absolutely disgusts me.

Of course Murray says he's innocent, every murderer says that.

Uplifting and Inspiring

It's not often I'll get an email with a comment on the blog but I got one from Andrea today to say specifically how much she had enjoyed the articles with the videos of the contestants on various television singing shows:  "The Rose" - Christopher Maloney Auditions for The X Factor (video) and More Kid Makes Good Videos from Singing Contests

She said they make her cry ... and I hope so as they sure made me cry.  These are some of the finest stories people can tell as all of them show a total nobody becoming a major somebody and they, maybe more than anything else in the world just now, show that it really is possible.  They say also to me that maybe it would be a better thing to treat people with just a wee bit more respect as there are surely many more major somebodies out there who haven't yet worked up the courage to go for the title or don't believe they can do it.  As with a lot of the best stuff on the blog, Cat put me onto it.

Thanks to Andrea for the email and for the encouragement to keep the vibe where it needs to be.  There was a similar feeling back on the road when Lotho said the story of the trip to Scotland had inspired him to explore Europe too.  I hope he does but most of all I hope he or anyone else going over there takes the time to live it.  When you do a whistle stop tour, just landing here and there like a butterfly, you never really get to know anyone.  You will see a lot of things but you won't necessarily feel anything.

In Greece there was Harry and his family and the relationship was so beautiful that I was often eating with them and I even went to Easter services at a Greek Orthodox church with them.  In Manchester, there was the time with lefty Unplugged and Mrs lefty for a really wonderful experience getting to know them and their musical friends.  Scotland was largely misery except for hanging out with my cousin but it was still an education and an expansion of my life.  (I don't know what has become of the book.  I published it and I check each day but it's not online yet.  It'll come.)

I have no doubt that the biggest adventure of all is going to Germany for the many, many reasons I've written here.  People are arguing up and down about Iranian nukes just now but that won't happen with Germany.  The Germans do not build nuclear weapons.  Germans are also very funny and you can see some of that in another article:  Kylie Minogue klatscht Raab eine! / Kylie Minogue Pops One on Stefan Raab.

One thing I can't emphasise strongly enough is to Learn the Language.  Even if you do no more than learn some manners such as Please and Thank You, it's a good way to show respect and make no mistake about how much people appreciate it.  You can waltz about expecting people to speak English but that will only mean you will come back with nothing more than pictures of Here I Am At the Eiffel Tower.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Galaxy Guitar is Wounded

The neck on the Galaxy Guitar has a bow in it.  This is not as bad as when I went to Greece but the action on the strings (i.e. distance between them and the fingerboard) is definitely too high.

I don't understand how this could have happened as I did follow the rules.  There is absolutely no question in my mind that the strings were so loose that you could play jump rope with them when the guitar was in the hold of the aircraft.  The neck should not have bowed and yet it did.  Perhaps it was because of the extended cold in the flat.  I wasn't exaggerating, it was very cold in there.

The guitar is playable but it's awkward and the bow affects pitch.  If you're listening for it then you'll probably notice but not otherwise.

Right now I'm quite a bit disappointed but I will play it some more tomorrow to decide whether to gig with it.  She can go to the guitar doctor in a couple of weeks and will probably be there for a week.  It won't do any more harm to play her in the mean time so we'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Galaxy Guitar Comes Back to Life

The last record of changed strings for the Galaxy Guitar is lost to ancient Greek history but it is now done.  There was one tiny problem for changing the strings all that time:  the guy who worked on the guitar in Pyrgos put the plate for the rear access panel onto the guitar backwards so there was no way to extract the strings.  It's not a hard thing to fix but I didn't have the teeny tiny screwdriver I needed to get the thing off until now.  The strings are stretching so just now they're whining like a bunch of Texans on shower day but that will settle down quickly.

There's a shortage of power points so I can't get everything access to power.  That will take some fiddling but I think it can be worked out enough to hold until I get can get a power strip.

The strangest thing is getting used to playing through speakers again.  Putting all the knobs on ten is a bit unusual just yet but I'm sure it will come.  The object in doing that isn't to get brutal as you have to be incredibly gentle with the guitar when it's cranked that hard or it will sound like a cat being run over by a lawnmower.

Definite progress now.  It's not complete but the annoying mechanical aspects are all mostly done.  Now for tinkering and knob twiddling, neither of which are particularly interesting reading material but they do yield cool sounds.

I'm shooting for Thursday and we will update the calendar by, I guess, Tuesday evening if it's happening.  The time-consuming aspect is getting the looper and the drum machine all set up in a cool way.  The DR880 is highly-programmable which means hours of time suck so we shall see.

More Kid Makes Good Videos from Singing Contests

Get some Kleenex for this ride as these are all videos from people you would never expect can give you a really astounding performance.

Sam Bailey in her debut singing "Listen" by Beyonce

Here she is again a few weeks later.

Paul Potts in his debut singing "Nessun Dorma"

Here is Paul again, now in a tux and singing "Ave Maria:"

Susan Boyle in her debut singing "I Dreamed a Dream" on "Britain's Got Talent"

In her first video, Susan said her dream was to be as big as Elaine Paige and here she does a duet with her.  The harmonies are stunning.

"The Rose" - Christopher Maloney Auditions for The X Factor (video)

Cat and I have been watching the Voice of Germany as it's the German version of "American Idol" but it has a very gentle feel because the kids get second chances and the judges are their mentors so they really, really, want them to succeed.  I never watched this kind of show before and it's been really charming as Cat doesn't know what is coming either and we can boo the judges when we believe they have made a mistake.

A similar show in England is "The X Factor" and this video is one of those kid-makes-good shows but this kid is thirty-four and he is absolutely terrified.  If you ever ask why people play or sing even though everyone tells them to stop then watch this one.  Yes, it will likely make you cry.


There will be tears the second time around too.  I just tried it.  He's not actually the best singer I ever heard but he so much puts everything of himself into the singing that how can you not like him.  His Nan is also charming and the whole crowd was on its feet for both of them.  This is straight out of a movie.

Peace for Our Time

Whenever anyone does anything substantive toward peace, there is almost invariably a charge that people are behaving as did Neville Chamberlain when he cut a deal with Hitler.  However, criticism from war hawks shouldn't be taken too seriously given their stunning array of failures with one country after the other destabilised and every intention of doing it to more.

Afghanistan - They said they were going to get bin Laden.  The country is now a bomber's paradise with skyrocketing heroin exports and the US military now apparently committed until 2024.  Well done.

Pakistan - Relentless drone strikes have created a terrorist recruiting bonanza and another country on the verge of civil war.

Iraq - Bombed all to hell for no better reason than American governmental caprice.  Now it's yet another bomber's paradise.

Libya - America did business with Gadafi for forty years and then decided to kill him.  Now it's in chaos.

Egypt - America supported the 'Arab Spring' as if it were another Woodstock.   The logic that supporting the Muslim Brotherhood was a good idea is something they must have pulled out of a goldfish bowl in a fortune teller's parlour.

Syria - Yet another country that was going to be bombed into wreckage but this time America was thwarted by something the U.S. government really hates:  common sense.

The nuclear agreement reached in Geneva breaks a stalemate that has existed for some years.  Cuba has withstood America's bullying for decades and never folded so it shouldn't have been a surprise that Iran could do it too.  But now there's a signed deal to the apparent satisfaction of all.  Obviously Israel isn't satisfied but that country is just as afflicted with phoney exceptionalism as the U.S.

Since Netanyahu has been shooting his mouth off just as stupidly as Ahmadinjad had been doing, I guess one concern is if Israel decides to take a shot at Iran anyway.  He's already shooting off his mouth about the agreement but that fool has been more determined to prove his inadequacy in statecraft than be much of a leader.

The most stunning aspect of all this, to me, is the way the war hawks hang onto their programs of interference in other governments because they say 'this is necessary to be a world power.'  Well, no, as you can hear from the German comedians in another article, they thank America for bombing Iraq because that made America more hated than Germany.  The war hawks hang onto their beliefs like tetanus-afflicted animals without the slightest recognition or concern about their repeated failures.

Those same war hawks say they do such wonderful things for America and maybe some of those incredibly-expensive wonderful things will even fly.  The F-22 just barely flies.  The F-35 is nowhere near operational.  And now they are talking of a new generation of fighters with laser weapons. Lockheed Martin is in-process of building a drone aircraft that will fly even faster than the SR71.  If there's a budgetary constraint in the U.S. you sure couldn't tell it from the way the Offense Department behaves.  They couldn't behave more like spendthrifts if they were drunken cheerleaders with someone else's credit card.

It is my firm contention that the war hawks are doing more to destroy America than terrorists ever could.  Their relentless determination to bankrupt the economy through production of military equipment hasn't produced anything of any real value except tools they can use to manipulate foreign governments.  Aid packages to other countries are frequently military supplies as if this will do anything whatever to help that country climb up to the level of the major powers.

There's lots of heroics in the news about the deal but it really doesn't impress me.  My only reaction is that it's about damn time.  Peace for our time?  Why the hell not!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What About the Music - Updated

There is one tiny hold-up to playing anything:  I opened the package with the guitar strings and had them laid out ready to restring the Galaxy Guitar.  I had to get up for some reason and before I got back one of the damn cats got at them.  I have found five but the sixth eludes me.  It's ok as I'll get a battery soon for the laser fingers and I'll drive the little rotters crazy with little red dots.  Payback is a bitch, Felix!

I do have more sets of strings but I'm too cheap to open another one as I never replace an individual string.  If one string is gone then the whole package is gone.

As to upcoming gigs, I'll be playing for Zaphod Enoch in Avination in January.  There will be a show at Woodstock as soon as I am officially functional again.  There will also be one for twistin' at the poolside at Sister Julie's place.  Of course the first gig back will be at Cat's Art MusikCircus.  No way is that negotiable as I need to play for Cat before I play for anyone.  Cat's Art MusikCircus is home in many ways.

There's some futzing about with hardware taking place as the looper I have carried all over Europe is still alive and is still important to me.  I now have the option of using that to drive a Boss DR-880 drum machine via MIDI.  This means that starting a loop on the looper will also start a drum pattern or song on the DR880.  Note when you do this kind of thing that it's important to establish with each device which has the master clock or timing will drift.

While the DR880 has vastly cooler drum patches than the Boss RC-50 looper, it's still a hassle to get into electronic gimcrackery.  I'm not sure how much fiddling about is in my tolerance range and that's yet to be explored.

I've reviewed the Boss RC-300, the replacement for the RC-50, and one very cool thing is that it has more memory for longer loops.  The rest looked about the same but they don't say much about the drum patterns so likely they still sound like frog flatulence.  Whichever Boss looper you use, likely you will want external drum loops.

The Roland GR20 guitar synth is out of the question for a few weeks.  The cable to connect the guitar to the synth costs eighty bucks and they don't last any longer than a political promise.  They're way too expensive to break as quickly as they do but I haven't seen a reputable replacement from anyone else.

The last piece is to run the audio from the mixer to the computer interface to send it out on an Internet stream.  That gives the most of the 'presence' of playing in the room without trying to capture the audio over the air from the speakers.  The latter approach is more 'real' but it also has a tendency to sound muffled and remote unless you mike the speakers very carefully.

I'll run a picture of this once it's all sorted but right now it looks like an aftermath picture from a tornado visitation.

Kylie Minogue klatscht Raab eine! / Kylie Minogue Pops One on Stefan Raab

People tell you things are funny on the Internet all the time and they hardly ever are ... so you will just have to trust me on this one.  Stefan Raab is a German comedian and musician.  In this video he goes to teach a song to Kylie Minogue ... in German.

Um, no, Germans don't talk like Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes.  It's just a shame that 'everything in German sounds like a threat' (Michael Mittermeier).

All of the videos in the article are different kinds of German comedy and hopefully you will find them entertaining.  You don't need to know German to follow them as all are mostly English.

A politician for the Green Party in Germany said in a speech, "Gebt es Hanf frei!"

So what?  Well, in English that means 'give hemp free!"

OK, now I guess I have your attention so here's Stefan Raab doing a song on that theme (the voice saying "Gebt das Hanf frei" is the politician):

Apparently the studio was searched for drugs by the police after the video went live.  Judging by the video, I'd say there weren't any drugs left by that time.

Here's another German comedian and he's definitely Not Safe For Work.  He walks all around the park with his last story and it's very clever how he wraps it.

Michael Mittermeier is famous in Germany and he likes taking his comedy on tour in English-speaking countries.  As he says, he is a 'friendly Nazi.'

Phoenix J and Voodoo Shilton Getting All Magical

Last night was the first time to hear Phoenix J doing her set in Second Life at Cat's Art MusikCircus.  She's a singer from the UK and she has a sweet and beautiful voice.  She also has a too-small studio with a whole lot of wires all of which are conspiring to do dastardly things.  She plays guitar and keys and switches back and forth between them, apologising frequently for any sound from bumping into things.  I don't think there's much hope on that as likely there has never been a studio for letting you walk around without bumping into things.

Phoenix J started out her set with cover tunes and she does them in a jazzy / funky way to make them her own.  One of her covers that was a particular surprise was when she sang the original version from 1928 and was written in Germany.  That was "Mack the Knife."  She also distributed the lyrics translated to English which was a nice touch.  Phoenix knows ninety covers and she was performing them for the first half of the set.  This might get you thinking that tells you about her performance but it doesn't.

In the second half of the set, Phoenix switched over to originals.  She told me later she doesn't have any formula as in doing one half covers and one half originals, she just goes with whatever it feels like the audience would like the best.  I've always loved originals the best and Phoenix carries you away with hers.  There's a very gentle quality to them that is highly-captivating.  Hopefully the MusikCircus encouraged her to do more originals than she might have done as experimentation is the biggest theme there.

Her set is a delight and I'm pleased to announce Phoenix J will be performing regularly at Cat's Art MusikCircus.  Starting Friday, December 13, she will be playing ever two weeks.  This isn't just a plan as it's in the Calendar right now.  You can see for yourself using the Calendar tab at the top of the blog.

Here is part of the audience from her show:

Maybe you think that's not a very big audience but actually it was, it's just these ones who were not.  They're Tinies and have very much smaller avatars than most in Second Life.  They are huge fun, tho, and it's always a riot when Tinies come to a show.

Some things I didn't know about Phoenix J is that she has performed all over the place.  There was a performance at the UK Coventry Skydome Arena with fifty dancers supporting her set and she has even performed at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles.  She has also won a Best Dance Song award from US Just Plain Folks Music Awards.  You can meet Phoenix on her Facebook Wall or you can go directly to her Web site:  Phoenix J

I don't usually go into a performer's history but Phoenix J has a lot of it.  She was performing with a band called Greenhaus and their history goes back to the 90's.  I'm not sure when Phoenix J joined them but she certainly recorded at least one CD with them.  It's not just that she performed with them as the reviews of their performances were excellent.

Once again we see a Second Life performer who can crush any idea of getting gigs only in Second Life as Phoenix J has played all over the world.

Voodoo Shilton returned again last night for another sensational set.  He was very cool before he started as he knew I had audio troubles last week and he messaged me to ask if that was still the case so we could get it sorted before the show started.  That was all fine and he then told me he would start out with a bit of experimentation.

Performance of musical experiments has become the hallmark of Voodoo Shilton's show as it keeps evolving because he's pushing himself in all kinds of different ways.  It's not that you wouldn't recognise him if you last heard him a year ago but he sure isn't playing the same material.  There's been a tremendous growth and it's not slowing down at all.

Voodoo always has kind of a pensive expression to his face but there's high irony in this as his set is very much about joy.  He said last night that a friend had said joy is the essence of music and that's exactly what he wants.  It's really not something that's hard to find as you will immediately feel it from him in the way he talks and the way he plays.  (There's another article today with quite a bit about Voodoo's saxophone playing but that wasn't really a review of the show:  Voodoo and the Synthesizer Sampler)

Someone commented that Voodoo's music was very soothing and surely it is ... but then he gets ripping on something else and it's very exciting.  Even so, there's nothing jangling about it.  Voodoo is an excellent showman and is very good at keeping the pace of things moving up and down to a very cool pace.

It's the change to Voodoo's music that's the biggest fascination.  At first he was playing a lot of jazz covers from Chick Corea and many others.  Then he started focusing quite a bit on originals, many of which have a worldly feel through making selections from Africa, South America, or wherever.  He's gone from jazz music, to world music, to what is now Voodoo Music in which he will play whatever the hell instrument he likes to get the sound and orchestration he wants.

And Cat and I danced!

Usually I'll go for a close-up for dance pictures of us but this one came from during Phoenix J's set and you can see the Tinies dancing in the background.  They were all dancing in-step with each other and they were charming.

Still Trying to Evolve in Texas

Texas has once again entered a debate on evolution, apparently in the thinking there is anything at all to debate about it except whether there's any potential for intelligence evolving in Texas.  Most do not think so.  (Newser:  Texas Relaunches Evolution Debate)

Rather than an endless and tedious diatribe on evolution, there's a much better way to show you how much people care about kids in school.  That would be to take a look at the revolting crap they serve them for lunch.  They're not just feeding them crap science in the creationist lab, they're filling them with crap food.

You can see a whole array of crap school lunches at Fed-Up and, baby, this is crap chow even the homeless wouldn't eat. (No, I'm not mocking the homeless.  I've been homeless for years.)

Is that mouth-watering good or what.

So, how about that Scopes Monkey Trial, huh?

People often quote the Scopes trial as a victory for evolution but that isn't what happened as Scopes (the teacher) lost the case.  The evidence was brilliantly presented by Clarence Darrow and gave as much justification for teaching evolution as it will ever need but the court ruled against Scopes anyway in favour of the Biblical presentation from William Jennings Bryan.

If you believe in divine retribution, it might interest you to know that William Jennings Bryan was, erm, visited by death shortly after the trial.

One of the pitches in the current campaign in Texas is that natural selection is a selective force and not a creative force.  However, if we open our Evolutionary Readers to page one, we will see that natural selection is not described as a creative force.  Any type of 'creation' comes from cosmic ray-induced mutations, natural recombination of DNA, or Martians, it makes no difference.  Most of those types of changes are lethal or useless and it's the latter case in the speaker for creationism in Texas.

It's not clear to me why this and often abortion as well are permitted to be used as devices to mass-install Christianity in the populace.  Often they will show their thoughtfulness and point out how they helped some Muslims build a mosque ... but they will damn sure never believe anything that happens inside the mosque or permit that thinking outside the mosque, particularly not in a school.  Yet they demand the precepts coming out of the Christian church will be accepted everywhere while prattling forth about freedom of religion in the country.  It's absolute rubbish.

Evolution doesn't even conflict with Christianity unless you take a severely fundamental view of it so what the hell is the deal with all this argument.  Are there really that many fundamentalists who have chucked science in favour of witch doctors and bloodletting.

Voodoo and the Synthesizer Sampler

Last night I was talking with Voodoo Shilton as I was very impressed by the authenticity of the saxophone he was playing as I know he doesn't play sax and yet the sound of it had all of the nuance of a live instrument.  You will have to hear his live set, preferably at Cat's Art MusikCircus, to fully appreciate what I mean.

Note:  Voodoo Shilton sells recordings he makes of each of his sets.  Each one is a value as every set he does is different.  I was going to drop a link to where you could get one but then it dawned that I don't know if that's possible.  I must ask as that seems quite a good thing to put on his Artist Profile on the MusikCircus Web page.

So I talked with Voodoo about how he gets the ultra-sexy saxophone sound and he told me Kontakt.  At first that didn't click but then I recalled Native Instruments and software I have used from them previously.  If you already know how that goes, here's a link to third-party samples for the Kontakt synth.  (As to which samples he uses, you will have to ask him that yourself as that's Voodoo magic.)

There are two general ways to get sound out of a synth:  one is through the synth hardware in the way Chordslinger Carstenz does it and the second is that you can use the keyboard as a controller and the synthesis takes place on another device or a computer.  Kontakt is the latter solution as it runs on an Apple platform (possibly PC as well but I don't know that).  In this way, you play a note on the keyboard and that information is transmitted to the computer via MIDI where it figures out what sound to make and that goes on out to the amplifier.

Note:  Chordslinger is back after some substantial medical stuff and he is recording again.  As I said to him, the song he sent me is mainstream but it's not the mainstream rubbish I love to slam.  I'll refer again to it in just a bit.

In music synthesis, there are two general ways to do that too:  either the synthesizer actually does 'synthesize' the sound using various clever algorithms or it loads the sound for any given note from a 'sample library' for that particular instrument.  Which is the best is something to leave for musicologists as our interest here is sampling because that's what Voodoo was doing.

Sampling came after the original Moog and similar type synthesizers as all of those were algorithmic.  What sampling permitted was the use of any sound source whatsoever.  For example, you could record a 'sample' of an F40 Ferrari accelerating and use that in a synth.  For highly accurate sampling, one records a sample for every pitch but sampling synthesizers can also pitch-shift a single sample to use it at any pitch.  In that way you could play "Chopsticks" only with the sound of an F40 Ferrari for each note.  How that might work we leave to the particularly-demented student to discover.

So, what motivated all of this is that the saxophone Voodoo was playing seriously kicked ass.  Plus he wasn't just trying to use the synth to whack out some chords so he could overlay that with some dazzling guitar work.  Instead he was really playing it and he wasn't playing it in a linear way as one will often hear from keyboard players.  The keyboard is linear therefore all scales shall be played in a linear way but most instruments aren't even close to linear.  Voodoo was playing some very cool sax jams and the fundamental sound (i.e. the sample) was killin' accurate plus the way he was playing it was highly-authentic.  Obviously I was impressed!

Where Chordslinger comes back into this is that he doesn't do any of it.  All of his synthesis is in hardware but, just as Voodoo doesn't really play a sax, Chordslinger doesn't really play a guitar and yet the guitar sounds he had in his latest recording were similar to what Voodoo was doing.  The authenticity of the samples was stunning and he was playing it the way a guitarist would rather than the way a keyboard player would do it.

The conclusion is that going with hardware or software sampling really doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of difference.  You go with whatever you play best.

Note:  There are some drawbacks to the computer solution and they do need some consideration.

1)  Native Instruments has the most annoying security on their software of any vendor I have ever encountered.  You practically have to give the software fingerprints, blood, and a retinal scan before it will recognise you as the rightful owner.

2)  Using the computer means you need adequate compute power or it will not be able to keep up with what you are playing.  Music synthesis is right behind video for the most compute-intensive thing a computer can be required to do so make sure your machine has the muscle or you will invariably be disappointed.

Stop Melissa Bachmann - Animal Trophy Killer

The reason for the repeated slams of Melissa Bachmann isn't that she's a vicious and selfish trophy killing monster as there are plenty of sporting goods store heroes who do that.  When even Viagra won't make a man out of you, there's always Africa where you can go to kill a lion using a super scope that lets you shoot the animal from ten kilometres away.

The problem is only in part what she does as the reason for the campaign against her is she has tried to use what she does to make herself a media celebrity.  She's not just a killer but rather she's a missionary encouraging others to do it.

The Facebook group, Stop Melissa Bachmann,  now has over 311K members and it's achieved that in only a few days.  A great many people are furious about what she's doing and want her removed from television.  There are many who also want to see her banned from various countries to prevent her from using their animals as toys.

Other hunters try to justify what she does by saying, gee whiz, the meat from her kills is donated to local tribes.  Well now, that sure makes her Florence fucking Nightingale, doesn't it.  Apparently the premise is the tribes would not be capable of catching the animal themselves without the grand white woman to come and do it for them.  Arrogant bastards.

The hunters all say they bring big tourism dollars to Africa but that's not true either as their contributions are very small relative to photographic tourists who spend a great deal more.  These trophy killers are self-justifying thugs but, fortunately, they are starting to be banned.

Makes you proud to be human, doesn't it: