Friday, January 31, 2014

"Ocean Avenue - Kites in Rhode Island" - Alan Fraser (video)

The video was shot and edited almost ten years ago but I discovered it while rummaging about through my files.  This is one of the very few recordings in which I'm playing an acoustic guitar and it was a 12-string Yamaha my ol' Dad bought.  That isn't what plays the lead but you'll hear it.

Ocean Avenue is a drive next to the Atlantic at the mouth of the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.  You won't see the ocean in this but you will see a lot of kites, some of the strangest kites I ever saw.

Is It Cool Enough for Cat

Before you think there is even the faintest hint of trying to be patronizing, know that you can only hope to have a musical knowledge as comprehensive as what Cat is carrying.  She's not only heard every musician there ever was, she remembers them and how to find them.  It's a bit like my ol' Dad after visiting Warren Bennis, then President of the University of Cincinnati, in his library.  He said later that Bennis had shelves of books from floor to ceiling on all four walls and ... he knew where they all were and what was in them.

I'm not the only one who wants to be cool enough for Cat as everyone who plays there knows she can hear every tiniest part of a piece ... and she is listening.  The MusikCircus isn't a venue in which there are shills constantly throwing up message distractions to tell you to come to the Fish Fry on Sunday.  It's all about music, really about music ... so it's got to be cool.  This maybe makes it seem like she is harsh but that's not it as she gives you magic on coming there and it's on you to turn it into something.

Voodoo said quietly the other day that I was playing a lot of stuff in E minor and he was right but I hadn't been paying that much attention.  E minor, for me, is easiest and a sketch will often start out there.  Maybe it goes to another key later if I want to screw with the vibe but E minor is like a pair of old slippers as your feet can find them in the dark.  Voodoo is very cool as this is not something he would ever say in public chat as in, "HEY, FELLA, YOU SURE PLAY A LOT IN FUCKIN' E MINOR.  FUHGEDDABOUDIT."  (That's the New York version.  New Yorkers say 'forget about it' a lot.  I don't remember why.)

So this one is in F minor and, sure, that's only a letter but now do it on a piano.  Going from E minor to F minor is simple on a guitar as you just move up the fingerboard a little and do the same thing.  On a piano, however, those pesky black keys get into it, don't they.  In fact a lot of them get into it.

For a guitarist, working with a piano gives a very much better perspective on the differences between keys.  If you only play a guitar, changing a key really doesn't mean much.  Start here and you're in G, start there and you're in C.  It all feels to the fingers pretty much the same.  (That's also how a capo works as it lets you change keys without knowing what you're doing.)

However, if you change keys on a piano then the actual physical distances between the keys become much more apparent and this gives a much better appreciation of intervals (i.e. the musical distance between notes).  Obviously the keys sound different but a piano gives the best perspective on why.

No need to go into detail on the new tune as that would give the impression that I actually think about what I play.  As to when the Internet will stay up long enough to let me play it for Cat, we shall see.

The Only Saving Grace

Wednesday was the worst kind of personal Internet disaster as there was no warning and no way to notify Cat.  It happened again yesterday and the only saving grace was that Cat would have known from the day before why I wasn't there.

Just to be really mean and evil, the Internet demons brought it back up again on Wednesday just a few minutes after my scheduled gig was to end.  That's when the little bastards want to tell you, yah, we could have brought it back in time, we just didn't want to do it.

On Thursday night, they wanted to destroy my scheduled gig at Cat's Art MusikCircus or anything else I might have tried to play later as it was down until around midnight.  Evil little demons, they are.

There's no whine in this as it's business.  It's love when it comes to not wanting to let Cat down but arranging gigs overall is business.  Fortunately, Cat has been in that business for years now so she knows how it goes.

How you know this is not whining is when I tell you what came from it.  Armand said he would like a try a night other than Wednesday as possibly he thinks that night is jinxed now!  Of course we can move it so that will be arranged today.  There was also a message from Cat about someone else who wants to talk about scheduling yet another gig.  There are many things one might expect from the Internet crashing but getting more gigs is not among them.  And yet that's what happened.

There is one more saving grace in that I've had more time to work out "Is It Cool Enough for Cat" and, after working with it for some while yesterday, Yevette came back to say, "I hope you recorded that."

I hadn't recorded anything but that was a good sign that maybe it's time to bring the tune to a show.

On Wednesday, the cable guy said the outside work would be completed in 24-48 hours.  That span will be finished just in time for the shows with Joaquin Gustav and Voodoo Shilton later.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

As to the Gig in Flames

Armand at Dirty Dancing Warehouse was very cool and exceedingly generous about the problem last night and he said he's game for one more try next Wednesday.  It's more of a big deal to me than it would be otherwise as this is the first live show he has staged in Second Life.  I'm not just representing myself but also Cat for recommending me and even SL jammers in general as enough of a problem with this and perhaps he swears off live performers and just runs radio shows instead.

It's been random noise in the Universe that has blown the gigs the last two weeks as neither could have been predicted.  It was particularly aggravating yesterday to have the Internet blow two hours before show time leaving no way to contact anyone to tell what had happened.  It seemed the Internet problems of Greece and Scotland had been left behind so Cat had no idea what had gone wrong.

Tonight I will play at Cat's Art MusikCircus and Sonya Jevette will play the first set.  I'll probably do something like I was going to do last night but that's an easy prediction as there's only one thing I know for sure I was going to do.  Maybe the title goes "Is It Cool Enough for Cat" as I've been playing with it for a few days and thinking about it.  Probably tonight I will find out if it's cool enough for Cat.

The Ultimate News Headline

You're old.  Fluids leak from your body in embarrassing ways.  You think Celine Dion is hot.  You wish you had bought that Harley Davidson.  So you suck, you're boring and the world won't miss you when you're gone but at least you've been around.  You've seen the most lunatic things people are capable of doing.

Oh really.

You've heard the most deranged things anyone could ever say about a politician.

Oh really.

You haven't seen this:

EXCLUSIVE: Obama's high school pot dealer who he thanked for the 'good times' was beaten to death with a hammer by his gay lover

(Yes, of course that was in Mail Online.  Even Fox News wouldn't be sleazy enough to run that one ... maybe.)

I rest my case.

The world is demented.

Obama Forcing All Americans to Buy Pot ... and Fly Spaceships to Mars - Hannity

Sean Hannity is an absolute marvel and an inspiration to any kid in the country.  No matter how lackluster your thinking or your capabilities in anything at all, there's still a chance you could be the next Sean Hannity.  You, too, can get up there on Fox News to say President Obama is going to force Americans to buy reefer.  (New York Times:  FOX: OBAMA TO FORCE ALL AMERICANS TO BUY POT)

It doesn't take more than a few orbits around the Sun before you stop asking if there's a limit to how stupid people can be so there shouldn't really be much shock over Hannity making a career out of idiocy like that but still it's worth scratching your head a little bit.  For big bucks, it would be worth being the news equivalent of a crack whore, right?

Another beauty part came when John Boehner was advised Obama had said reefer is no more dangerous than alcohol, to which he responded, "I saw that as an insult."

If Boehner had more substance than a soundbite, we might know why he thought that was insulting or what he thought was being insulted.

I don't write these to make myself feel superior as I don't feel that way, not even a little bit.  Hannity is probably not stupid but he is profoundly damaged and how did money become such an obsessive need in him that he became such a whore to get it.  If you protest at all then he either whines or makes it clear, "I know Ted Nugent and you've heard him.  He'll kill you.  That fucker is crazy."

I'm quite clear on people, particularly politicians, becoming whores and we can call that the Jerry Springer Syndrome but the difference is that Springer pretends he performs a public service whereas Hannity is at least intelligent enough to know what he is saying is utter rubbish.  Maybe he's stoned.

(Jerry Springer was Mayor of Cincinnati and quite a good one ... until he got busted due to a visit with, get this, a hooker.  As long as there are American politics, comedians will never run out of material.)

Cops Are Pissed Off - Ain't That a Bitch

With over two hundred million guns in America, a whole lot of people get shot for stupid reasons and it shouldn't be too much of a surprise when cops shoot each other.  My only thought when it happens is that it sucks to be the cop but why are people getting all weepy over an inevitable event.  When you put all those guns in circulation, what did you think would happen ... or did you think about it at all.

The cop rationale is they need heavy artillery because the streets are so dangerous.  The thug rationale is that they need the big guns because the cops are so violent.  One line of reasoning cancels out the other and you are left with nothing but the glaring conclusion that what you are doing doesn't fucking work and results only in lots of dead people and jam-packed jails.

I might be more sympathetic to cops but they gave away respect in favor of fear when they got tanks, helicopters, and heavy weapons.  Even with that ridiculous firepower, I might still be sympathetic if they didn't work as serfs for the Crown with their Interstate speed traps that serve only to make money while making the Interstate more dangerous.  I might even be sympathetic after the volumes of records of police brutality that are being continually replenished by new assaults.  And macing those unarmed girls from OWS at UC Davis was really special too, wasn't it.  In general, I find people are more afraid of cops than we are of criminals ... and with good reason.

The rampaging racism in police prosecution isn't hype but a matter of public record in the gross disparities between arrest of whites and blacks for the same crime.  This is particularly evident with regard to arrests for smoking marijuana in which the incidence of use is roughly the same with whites and blacks but blacks get busted four or five times more often for it.  In the current day of for-profit jails, there is a great incentive to keep the jails full and reefer is one exceptionally easy way to do it.

The Cop / Thug polarization is similar to Fox News in which everything's Obama's fault.  If you buy a candy bar that was on the shelf too long and went dry, it's Obama's fault.  I don't like the skinny little fascist either but the ludicrous polarization results, as above, in nothing but dead people.  The solution to the problem is significantly greater than simple enforcement.  Just as acting like thugs in Iraq only destabilized the country, it won't work in east L.A. either.

When it comes to getting more guns in the country, cops are first in line to defend the right to bear arms.  The cops also say the streets are so dangerous that they need tanks and helicopters.  From this it seems reasonable to conclude that cops don't rely much on logic nor do they have much understanding of cause and effect.

It's all very well to be pissed off with me but I'm not the problem as the only gun I've ever fired was an M-16 and I'm not interested in another one.  You'll get sympathy from me when you stop acting like fools and not before.

Today's offering:  Police shoot pregnant mother's dog in her own driveway

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Today's Million-Dollar Idea - Stoner Fog Juice

Fog juice is stuff you use in fog / smoke machines to make fog for the stage.  There are two kinds of fog juice and they have different effects.  Oil-based fog hangs very low and thick on the stage.  This looks very cool but it has a little drawback:  it's toxic.  The water-based fog spreads much more and this is particularly good if you're using lasers.  Although a water-based fog contains glycerin, they say it is non-toxic.

When you buy fog juice at Guitar Center, it's going to cost you about $25 US for a gallon.  I do not have $25 US for a gallon so I wondered what is in it and discovered the juice is very simple.  It's one part glycerin to 4 parts water.  Dilute it as you like for less thick smoke.

So that solves the financial problem of getting some fog juice but then it dawned on me that it could be so much more.

Making marijuana tea is relatively easy and it's one way to get something useful out of cheap reefer.  And then I thought, hmm, what happens if you put marijuana tea in the fog juice.

Stoner Fog Juice is what you get!

I don't know if this would work but it seems to me that it should.  In fact, it might work all too well and you'd get so stoned you wouldn't be able to play.  I don't know how stoned that would be as I've never managed it.  I suspect it probably means you are dead.

Before trying this, I need to have at least a fairly reasonable idea on whether it will make me dead.  It seems harmless as the fog will dissipate without needing any attention so you can get as stoned as you like.  Apart from the possibly getting dead part, it seems like a fairly cool idea.

Here's the Million Dollar part:

Assuming my brain doesn't explode from trying this, the next move is to put the machine in a donut shop.  Add rock music, some stoner fog juice, and an unlimited supply of donuts and those stoners will never go home.

And a Gig Burns Down

For the second week in a row, the gig at the Dirty Dancing Warehouse caved at the last minute.  Two hours before the show the Internet went down.  At first there's some hope, just as when it happens to you, that maybe it comes back soon.  But after a while it was clear that it wasn't coming back and the cable company was called into it.

I don't know if Armand would ever invite me back after that but I'll definitely talk to him to tell him what happened and at least apologize.  Missing a gig is not an 'oh well' kind of thing with me and I doubt I've missed a dozen gigs since I started in Second Life ... and now two in two weeks.  Arrgghhh.

So that sucked pretty hard as I was looking forward to playing and I have a tune that might be ready to try in front of Cat.

The Internet link is not entirely fixed and may be erratic for the next 24-48 hours.  Cat and I decided to go ahead with the show tomorrow night regardless and it will be a cool thing as Sonya Jevette is playing the first set.  Looks like Thursday is Texas Night at the Circus.

The entire day was not fraught with suckage, however.  I went out to VA earlier for an eye appointment.  I was expecting to hear I need cataract surgery as one eye was done years ago.  It turned out I only need a new prescription.  Finding I don't need surgery was outstandingly cool but there was more as I got two prescriptions for glasses filled for thirty bucks total!

Please, please don't tell those monkeys at Fox News about the VA.  If this damn socialism gets out of hand, people might ... get healthy.  They will want that stopped.

Hear Maestro Michi Renoir at Cat's Art MusikCircus (audio)

Maestro Michi Renoir returned last night to play at Cat's Art MusikCircus and he got into all kinds of things.  You never know what he will do but sometimes he will do more of it ... whatever magical thing it is that he does.  This time you can hear for yourself what the show was really like as he has generously provided a recording of it all:

Recording of Michi Renoir's live show at Cat's Art MusikCircus on Tuesday, January 28

It makes no sense to tell you what is in the recording when you can hear it for yourself but what I can suggest is how to listen to it.  Listening to it while you do something else is not a good idea as you participate in music at the circus.  It's not something for background while you sort mail, strip some carrots for dinner, or monkey wit' yer woman.  One performer after the other has remarked how people at the Circus listen very intently and this is one of the things that sets the Circus apart.  Something the performers don't recognize so much is how talented they are and how engaging their play.  The combination is what makes the magic.  Listen to the recording and hear for yourself.

Sure we danced!

So, You Want News of the Strange

Tip:  Never try to escape the law with a canoe.

Fugitive leads law enforcement on canoe chase

Tip:  If you're pregnant and busted for shoplifting, asking the cop if you can shoot some heroin before going to jail is not a good idea.

Police: Woman under arrest asks cops if she can do heroin

Tip:  Thanking God for saving you from getting killed in a skydiving accident doesn't make much sense after the parachute failure already shows God doesn't like you very much.

Mackenzie Wethington, Teen Skydiver, Survives Parachute Failure

Tip:  David Cameron said he would schedule bake sales and car washes for Queen Elizabeth but he won't do it.  He hates the poor.

The Queen's Down to Her Last Million Pounds in Her Rainy Day Fund

Tip:  If you try to have sex with a cow and it rejects you then don't tell the jury.

Animal Sex Jury Erupts in Laughter After Hearing Man Was Rejected By Cow

If You Bring a Cow to Dinner ... Keep the Window Open

If you have ninety cows in a barn and the ventilation is not adequate, you will have methane, a LOT of methane.  Cows, cleverly enough, can belch methane in addition to farting it.  Previously it was thought only politicians could do this but science has predicted cows could do it too and now there's a barn in Germany that knows it for sure.  What convinced them was when the barn exploded and blew the roof off.  (AP:  Gassy German cows blamed for barn explosion)

It was verified later that there were no politicians inside the barn at the time so the only remaining possible cause was the methane from the cows.  When asked how it happened, the cows, like all politicians, lied about it but we know they were playing with matches.  Cows love to play with matches.

Germany is leading the world in the implementation of solar power ... and now, apparently, Germany also leads in exploding cows.

Note:  No cows were seriously injured in the exploding of this barn.

Hat tip to Lotho for this story.

So, You're a Middle-Aged Fat Guy with a Harley

You think you can ride now, don't you, Crenwinkle.  Yah, well let's see you do this:

Trials riding has been a recognized form of motorcycle competition for many years and you can see it's only for the best.  They don't do drag races, they don't do stupid tricks in the air, these boys just ride.  The rule for trials riding is that your feet must never touch the ground.

I doubt a bunch of outraged Hells Angels will come to kill me and take my water.  Most of the Hells Angels are probably in the AARP by now.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fracking Fun and Profit in Texas ... as in Nearby

Azle, TX, is only a few miles from here and there has been extensive fracking in the area ... they have also experienced about thirty earthquakes since it started.  (RT:  Texans angrily protest fracking after 30 earthquakes hit town)

“Caldwell said there are three small fault lines directly northwest of Azle,” the station reported. “He thinks it is likely that water being injected back into the earth at fracking disposal sites is leaking into these fault planes.”

Taking a wild guess, I'd say it's likely that three small faults will lead into a bigger one so what say we screw around with that.

How did it come that fracking is even necessary.  According to all the pods on the right hand of God (i.e. conservatives), we would never run out of natural gas.  It's everywhere, abundant riches, etc, etc. and, based on the raw numbers, the U.S. should have outrageous reserves in natural gas.  WIKI:  List of countries by natural gas proven reserves)

Since America is fifth in total available reserves, it doesn't seem logical that it would be worthwhile to spend all the money for fracking when it would be more profitable to get it using other, easier ways.  They're doing it so there must be some business incentive but it's not clear what it would be.  Whatever the profit, you would think they would back off when they start causing earthquakes but this isn't the first time nor the first place earthquakes have happened as a result of fracking.

The Obscenity that is America - Capital Punishment Edition

Last week, Dennis McGuire was executed in Ohio and it took between fifteen and twenty-six minutes to kill him during which time he was making strangling sounds and showing other signs that this was far from the 'antiseptic' execution officials had planned for him.

One or more prison guards say now that McGuire's attorney counseled him to make a show of his death for the effect it would have on capital punishment in the country.  (Mail Online.  Prison guards say executed man was 'coached' by his attorney to fake symptoms of suffocation during 'agonizing' death from new drug)

Here's a wild tip:  there's no way McGuire could have done anything if he were not still alive to do it. The guards are using the lowest, sleaziest excuse they can possibly find to cover their own incompetence.  The drugs did, in fact, take that long to kill him and any idea that he was staying alive just to make some political point is some of the most depraved thinking I have ever heard.  He was staying alive because he didn't want his heart to stop beating.

The reason this sort of thing has become an issue is that European Big Pharma is where the U.S. gets the drugs it needs to abuse for an execution but the Europeans have consciences and stopped selling the drugs once it was clear what the U.S. would do with them.  The U.S. jails turned to other combinations of drugs and as well to lethal single doses of other drugs.  Some are reputed to be using the same drugs used to put animals to sleep.

That the state can kill a man and not even have the balls to own it is pretty much typical of what America has become.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bo and Lefty Experimenting at Cat's Art MusikCircus

Untolerable Bohemian was feeling pretty lousy last week but he's almost all repaired now and was singing again.  He wants to sing as he wants to know how far his voice will go and he launched into some covers.  Maybe you think you know where this set is going but you don't.  He surprised everyone quite handily about halfway by switching to improv on his original songs and that was a whole different Bo.

Bo is about the last guitarist I would ever say is playing to impress anyone.  He plays a note because it needs to be played and he's never going to play faster than necessary even though he is quite capable of doing it.  He plays a thinking lead line and I'd be very surprised if he is not improvising it as he goes.  Lori was one of the guests and she said one of the songs made her think of 'midnight on the ocean.'  You've definitely got it happening when you're conjuring images in the minds of people who are listening.

So Bo has a bit of a conflict in front of him as to whether to push his vocals the most, push his guitar the most, mix it up.  It's confusing but it's a sweet dilemma to be good on multiple instruments.

Here's a shot of Bo's tip jar to show what happens when you put some Lindens in it:

That's Bo on the stage behind the mushrooms and Cat and I are dancing in the front.  The lights are, of course, healing lasers to cure what remains of Bo's cold.

The crafting of Lefty's songs has been intriguing me more and more as I was wondering tonight how long he takes to write one.  There's a deep thoughtfulness to the playing and the songs are often poetic short stories about relationships.  Without the words of a short story, he uses instead impressionist snap shots and these become the words of the song.  How long it takes him to do that I don't know but I bet it's not something he knocks out in an evening.  There's very elegant artistic crafting that goes into these songs and my descriptions can only hint at it.

Lefty has not yet unveiled his Secret Weapon.  It's not too secret on Facebook but thank the Great God Mescalito this isn't Facebook.  (Mescalito is the God of Stoners and Trippin' People)  I don't believe it will be good for me to blow the secret as some of you may not know and the surprises in music are a huge part of it so I'll just tease with it for now.  I have no doubt that sooner or later it will come.

Dance, dance, dance!

Wir Haben ein Deutscher, ein Schneeball, und eine Steinschleuder (English)

Tell me Germans aren't funny.  Dies Deutscher ist sehr lustig!  (This German is very funny!)

This guy is a demon.  I love the laugh when he fires that thing and when he speculates how much it would hurt to get hit by it.  Hook him up with Lotho and you would have all you need for a seriously dangerous garden party.

Maybe another time I'll get some video of Bavarian cow races.  Who needs rodeo.  Bavarians are a riot.

What's Hot on the Podcast (audio)

This is the latest report from the Ride the Dragon podcast:

(I don't look at this report all that much as the site has made the password requirement so difficult that there's no chance of remembering it ... so I reset the password every time I go to the site. Seeing the modern Internet at work is nothing but a marvel.)


I'm pleased to see "For Shan Chard" is number one and with more downloads than I think I have seen before for any song.  Right after that is "Things Love Makes" which is also extreme in the same way.  This is somewhat useful in that if they like it here then they will probably also like it in a show but still it shows what a majority thinks and majorities haven't done anything interesting since the French Revolution.

The 'Do Not Listen' List

The Do Not Call list in the United States has been fairly popular as it's one of the few ways to stop corporate pigdogs from inviting themselves to your dinner table with their damn telephone solicitations.

However, people who are given publicity even when they don't deserve it don't simply waste one person's time but often the time of millions and this is why the Do Not Listen list was invented.  People on this list are guaranteed to say something stupid every single time they open their mouths:

Sarah Palin
Bill O'Reilly
Sean Hannity
Ted Cruz
Rand Paul
Mitch McConnell
Ted Nugent
Any blonde bimbo on Fox News
Nancy Grace
Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump
Mike Huckabee
Wolf Blitzer
Anyone who ever lived in Idaho
(The Department of Fish and Game in Idaho has some people killing wolves because they kill elk and they have some other people killing elk.  Digital Journal: Idaho game management killing elk after killing wolves)

While you may think John Boehner or Paul Ryan should be on this list, they're not stupid.  They're smug and vicious but those don't amount to the same thing.  While there's no purpose in listening to the stupid ones, it's important to keep an eye and / or ear on the smug and vicious ones.

People on Facebook often quote the baggage from the Do Not Listen list but the only purpose in doing that is to make yourself feel superior.  Apparently they don't realize that any link from Facebook is a blessing for the stupids on the List as it gives them more credibility on a Google search.  We all help the cause however we can, don't we.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ghostery - Blocking the Blue Meanies, Trackers, Parasites, and Ticks

The evolution of the Internet hasn't been too impressive lately as there's been an enormous drive to make Web sites as egregiously annoying as possible with pop-ups, pop-downs, pop-overs, etc everywhere and, I anticipate, gratuitous flatulence will be coming soon.

The other aspect that people hate is tracking and there is one easy partial solution for it:  Ghostery (free download, etc)

Ghostery is software that will post a small window to the top-right corner of your screen to list everything that is trying to track you on visiting a Web site.  You then have the option to disable them, whitelist the site, or whatever combination you like.  Note:  disabling them will sometimes cause the Web site to stop functioning as these trackers are moneymakers.

Don't expect this to have any effect on the NSA as they track in many ways but all they really want is bank information and / or anything they can use for political blackmail.  Recall the FBI put a bug in Martin Luther King's bedroom.  The governmental objectives are likely just as stupid now as they were then as you still have pigdog perverts like J. Edgar Hoover only now he's General Keith Alexander.

In my view, Facebook and the like are considerably more dangerous as people give up information a whole lot more casually.  It's not just primary Facebook but also the games have access to your cellphone number, assuming you're stupid enough to put it online, which they in turn can sell to other venues or whatever.  You can remind Barbie the Cute Little Huggle Muffin that her cellphone number is being taken for who knows what purpose but she goes off to play Candy Crush Saga anyway.

Facebook is one of the worst of the trackers and you will see that in what is revealed by Ghostery (e.g. look for Facebook Connect).  The software is easy to install and easy to use.  You can go through all the names of trackers (i.e. hundreds) and disable them up-front or you can let Ghostery find them when you visit Web sites and turn them off at will.  I find the latter convenient as I didn't want to deal with blinding lists of tracker names.

Note:  Ghostery is free as a public service.  People ask what you can do to fight back against all this snooping, tracking, and generic Internet perversion.  Well, the author of Ghostery did something about it and charges nothing for it.  The software was originally written by David Cancel and was acquired by Evidon in 2010.

As to why bother.  It's not so much that people are watching to see if I go to Russia Today or whatever but rather the trackers take my computer time.  The more trackers there are, the more of my computer power is wasted.  Laptops don't have power to waste so I will resist and will have some of that compute power back, thank you.

So, You Want to be Snow White

Well, isn't that precious, you want to be Snow White.

There are some things about Snow White you should probably know if you're really going to get into this.  Adriana Caselotti was the speaking and singing voice for Snow White and that's pretty cool as hers became one of the most recognizable voices ever ... but ... she never worked again.

Walt Disney did not want Ms Caselotti appearing anywhere in more movies or any other type of appearances as they would have reflected against Snow White and possibly damaged her reputation.  There's some validity to his position as, in an extreme situation, maybe she decides to do porno movies later and then you've got Snow White doing Dallas.  How does Walt Disney explain that to all the kids.

The reason for the article is to pose whether you would take the deal.  I'm not clear whether Ms Caselotti knew she would never work again after Snow White as her original deal was for about $15,000 (today's dollars) for playing the part.  What's not clear is whether there was any additional stipulation at the time regarding future work.  I suspect there was not as this was 1937 and it was Disney's first feature film.  He couldn't possibly have known how big it would get or even that it would get anywhere at all.

"Snow White" was shot when Ms Caselotti was about eighteen years of age.  So, here's the deal:  you can be the star of one of the sweetest movies of all time ... but ... you can never be in anything else ever again.

Note:  Disney didn't abandon her in the desert as there was some kind of arrangement with her, presumably with a contract, and she stayed in Hollywood for many years.

So, would you take the deal?  I'll make you famous one time ... but ... you will spend the rest of your life after that driving a Volvo and doing nothing more than going to Jazzercise classes in it.

Assume this is not just fifteen minutes of tabloid fame after you do something inane like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.  You have a real talent, as with Ms Caselotti, but you can ONLY use it this one time.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Doctor Phil Asked If I'm Happy

Doctor Phil on Twitter said he didn't think I'm happy.  There are some problems with this, tho.  Doctor Phil is a simpering buffoon, Twitter is meaningless, and happy doesn't mean you want to run around all the time blowing sunbeams and baking Betty Crocker cupcakes.

People often think I'm angry but I'm not.  When one of the cats is in-heat, she will piss me off but little else does.  I keep telling this dumb ass cat that I cannot give her sex and her furry ass isn't my type anyway.  She doesn't listen.

Meow, meow, meow .......  SPLASH!

Can you swim, honey?

(Ed:  you drowned a cat?)

No, but I seriously fantasized about it.

(Ed:  just to be clear, these cats have not been injured in any way?)

No.  The cats are in perfect health so they can continue annoying me into the future.  I do confess they have been quite wet at times but I did try to avoid getting any water on the floor.

People make themselves unhappy trying to be some kind of happy that doesn't even mean anything.  I'm not clear where it's written that life is like hanging out with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and whistling little songs all the time.  In fact, my life is closer to that than it has ever been as I can play pretty much any time I feel like it.

Here are some things you probably didn't know:  the song was written by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey and there seems to be some confusion about who sang it but they say it's 'unofficially' credited to a voice actress named Adriana Caselotti.  The vibrato would be annoying for anything else but it's perfect for this. (WIKI:  Whistle While You Work)

You want some happy?  Here's Snow White (for real).  Adriana Caselotti was also Snow White's speaking voice in the movie.  I thought she might even still be alive but, sadly, she's not.  She had a very unusual arrangement with Disney after Snow White and you may find that interesting.

As you get older you get a better perspective on happy as being alive is quite enough, thank you very much.  Anything beyond that is icing.  Them young 'uns may read that as defeat but that's not it at all, it's education, experience, whatever you want to call it.

Happiness is bending a string and hitting exactly the pitch, not a few cents up or down, it's on it.  You don't do a slow bend and sneak up on it, you go straight there.  This is happiness.

Happiness is when you and yer spouse can be talking and you finish sentences for each other.

Happiness is seeing how happy your dog gets when you come back to it.  Happiness is watching animals do just about anything, for that matter.

Happiness is seeing some idiot go speeding past you in a stupid way ... and then you see him pulled over by the Highway Patrol a few kilometers later.

It doesn't affect any of those things to be massively frustrated with a country that's eating itself.  There is no happiness in watching microcephalic newscasters on Fox News and CNN trying to give 'happy news' in which they're laughing at their own wit.  How is there happiness or laughter in this when they are talking of murder and death.  It makes no sense at all but it has nothing to do with happiness.  That sort of thing is all-out insanity and I will respond to it.  Read it as anger if you like but that's a sensation for the young.  I really don't have time for it.  See above about knowing what happiness is.

Joaquin Jams and Silas Crashes Cat's Art MusikCircus ... Twice

Joaquin Gustav returned to Cat's Art MusikCircus for his Friday night gig and he started out by saying he would be playing his hollow-body guitar.  That one is most similar to the one his avatar is playing in the picture.  I wrote an article last week about Joaquin's guitars and you might want to take a look as he has some highly-exotic instruments.  Joaquin Gustav's Guitars - Godin ACS-SA and Fifth Avenue Kingpin

Joaquin doesn't do very much sound modification to the signal coming from the instrument so it's extremely important to him that the guitars have different sounds.  The Godin ACS-SA has a jazzy sound that's very precise and a bit drier than the Fifth Avenue Kingpin which is the hollow-body guitar and has a fuller, bluesy sound.  In one of the early songs in his set he played both of them and this showed exactly why some guitarists play multiple guitars.  Both guitars sound beautiful but they also sound quite different from each other and this makes a beautiful mix.

Voodoo Shilton was to play tonight but he had a real world commitment.  He will be back next week at the regular time.

Since the show was booked, I said I'd play.  I'm happy to play for Cat anyway and you can't have a show booked but then close the doors.  So, set up the stuff and play.

(The picture was from the night before but I don't have one from last night and Vivian aka Rula Rayna took the trouble to shoot it so thank you!)

Things went fairly well for maybe thirty minutes and then the sim crashed.  When that happens, you don't know if it's just you, the sim, all of Second Life, or what.  (A sim is a large unit of property in Second Life and each will have its own configuration, appearance, etc.)

The strange thing for a performer is that the audio stream into Second Life doesn't go down when your avatar crashes.  The best thing is usually to keep playing until you know for sure whether it's just you or everyone.  Trying to do that while you're playing can be an interesting exercise.

It turned out the whole sim had crashed so everyone at the show got logged off the system.  After some delay, we got back onto SL and got the show going again ... and not so long after that it went down a second time!  I'm really not sure what took it down the second time but the sim restarted and everyone was logged off.

Cat couldn't make it back into SL again but I did and I was surprised people came back a second time.  That can only mean play some more so the show continued for another twenty or thirty minutes.  Kasandra Barony was there for this part and she has some outrageous laser displays that look fantastically cool from the stage.  I think she had someone else doing it too as there were lasers all over the place.  Just the thing for "I Love Rats!"

As to what was in the set, there hasn't been anything using back tracks in the last few gigs.  Even though I recorded the back tracks myself and some of them are fairly elaborate, they're too restrictive.  There's no chance I can get as a good a mix of instruments for a song on the looper as I can with tracks but the looper gives me a lot of freedom.  With a back track, if I want to go long with a tune, I can't.  If I make the back track long and I decide to go short, I'm screwed.  A looper has neither of those problems so lots of experimenting is happening in these shows.

Again, Voodoo Shilton will be back in his regular time after Joaquin next week.  Don't miss the show!

Don't You Wear That Olympic Uniform

United States Olympic athletes are advised to do everything possible to show people Americans are the biggest pussies on the planet.  Most countries already know this but what the athletes are being asked to do will settle it forever:  U.S. Olympic athletes warned against wearing uniforms outside venues in Sochi

There were terrorist warnings about Americans most of the time I was riding about Europe and, except for one puffed-up little trollop in France and a couple of fleabag junkies in Scotland, people could not possibly have been nicer.  Any terrorist could have taken me out with a dime store slingshot  as it was pretty obvious I wasn't from around there.

People are just quivering in fear in this country and part of it is because there's never been a war here.  The Civil war doesn't count as the statistics show that to this day Americans enjoy killing each other. They only get excited when people from other countries try to kill them.  (Huffington Post:  At Least 9,900 People Have Died From Guns In The U.S. Since The Newtown Shooting: Slate)

There was even some Dagwood who was saying on the news that the Olympics are just too dangerous now, largely because of what happened in Munich quite a few years ago.  Yah, and that's right, everything is just too dangerous.  It's too dangerous to wash your hands unless you use anti-bacterial soap, it's too dangerous to drink soda pop with sugar, and it's too dangerous to represent a despotic government that drone bombs civilians.

Hmm...on second thought.  Maybe they shouldn't wear those uniforms.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jams on a Friday Night

When the Galaxy Guitar broke I said I wasn't whining for money but I could use a break.  I didn't think there was any chance I could fix it myself but, what do you know, that happened the next day.

She doesn't tune up so easily as she did but that's probably because the tension on the strings was getting jacked so much.  There are only so many bends a string will tolerate before it will get as a lifeless as one of those bimbo broadcasters on Fox News.  (Everything you do to a string stretches it, even if it's just fingering a note without playing it.)

The way it will go today is that I'll be attending when Joaquin Gustav and Voodoo Shilton play and that will start in about an hour.  Sometime after that I'll play here but I have no particular plan to take that online.  There's some stuff that wouldn't be at all fun to hear as one thing I need to do is to work with the bass sound to get the instrument I really want.  If I were you, I'd go off and listen to a political speech instead, it would be more exciting.

Maybe it would work to play on US time later in the evening.  We'll see how it goes.

Untolerable Bohemian Plays at Cat's Art MusikCircus

Maybe you have created an image in your head of what Untolerable Bohemian looks like based maybe a bit on his avatar in Second Life, what I've written, etc.

OK, so hold that thought and there's an article I wrote earlier today in which I presented a video of his real world persona, Frederico Botelho, performing "Tainted Love" but I didn't say who it was.  Now you can put the two images together:  Jam Freddy

Take it Away, Jam Freddy

You have read what I've written about various performers at Cat's Art MusikCircus so how about doing this one the other way around.  Check out Jam Freddy and you tell me who you think he is.

Your clues are that he plays regularly at the MusikCircus and I've written about him multiple times.

It does him no good if he doesn't get some kind of a plug out of this so here's another clue, his Facebook page:  Frederico Botelho

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kickin' Out de Jams at Cat's Art MusikCircus

There's an ultra-paranoid part that goes after doing anything to the guitar and in that time every squeak or anything unusual get analyzed for whether it's the guitar failing or I'm just being a stinky guitarist.

Backing up a few hours ...

When I got back from Dallas, I figured my game was pretty much over as I was totally beat.

But ...

Cat was still up in Deutschland and we talked a little bit.  Thursday is when I play for her and I didn't want to throw that away.  Cutting that part of my story short, after a while she was tending to some stuff she had to do while I set up opening an audio stream into Second Life so I could play for her.  We planned to meet again when the set up was done.

I be dogged so this be short.

I didn't do anything to tell people in SL there would be a show except to send a Tweet but Cat did some magic and I was extremely surprised at how many people came.  You may think it's poofy crap to talk about Cat Magic but here's a tip:  I'm not the only one who says it and it's a whole lot more than making people appear for a show.

There was no plan to play a whole set as I wanted to play for Cat and I knew it was late for her.  However, with people coming you don't just start it up and walk away so it went over an hour.  The twang bar never failed so I'm calling her fixed.  What I'll need to remember as part of the pre-flight before a gig is to check the springs to see if one is trying to work its way loose.

So I'm most pleased as I was happy to play for Cat and happy the Galaxy Guitar was able to do it.  I also talked to Armand and the gig from Wednesday is now re-scheduled to next Wednesday.  Peaches all 'round!

Many Republicans Say Evolution Does Not Exist - Here is an Example

- Should any political party attempt to abolish social security unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

- In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

-- Dwight Eisenhower

- Nixon was the most dishonest individual I have ever met in my life. He lied to his wife, his family, his friends, his colleagues in the Congress, lifetime members of his own political party, the American people and the world.

- I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.

-- Barry Goldwater


-  No.

-- Mitch McConnell

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

All Kinds of People Played at Cat's Art MusikCircus

Due to a touch of equipment carnage, I haven't been focused too much on reporting on shows at Cat's Art MusikCircus so this is a catch-up round:

1:00 pm SLT on Mondays - Untolerable Bohemian

This last Monday wasn't Bo's best as he's got a raging case of malaria or dysentery or some horrible thing that wrecked him for singing.  However, that didn't stop him from playing his guitars and that meant breaking out the electric again.  I'm greatly pleased to hear him playing electric so that was a very good surprise although I prefer it not be at the expense of his health.

Bo's having some other troubles as it was taking quite a bit of time between songs.  Since that can be quite annoying, here's why:  when you're switching between instruments, it's not just a matter of pulling the cable out of one and putting it into another.  It can be fairly complex and you have to be very careful while you're doing it as the simple act of plugging a cable can make a noise that will break your monitors.  So please do cut him a little slack on any delays as he is experimenting and there's a little more time needed for that.

2:00 pm SLT on Mondays - lefty Unplugged

lefty brings a unique style as he will inevitably because he does it all.  He's writing the poetry, doing the composition, playing the instruments, the whole package.  He doesn't do Hallmark greeting card poetry as there's always a great depth to it and he takes his composition just as seriously.  I don't know it for sure but I think he's charting (i.e. writing out his song in musical notation) everything before he plays it.  What do you know, just like the downtown boys.

Three-chord blues don't do it for lefty as every song will be an excursion.  He will bring the song up and down as to how hard he throws it at you and he's definitely not going to stick to those same three chords.  The excursion is the main thing as there's another world in parallel and he's trying to show it to you.

At one point lefty was joking about the leathers he wore during his bike racing days.  (Suddenly Lotho perks up at the sound of 'bike racing.')  The thing that amused lefty was that his leathers were pink.  Now it's really not clear why they were pink but you can talk with Mrs lefty if you have problem with that but I can tell you she's lovely and Mr lefty is a lucky man.  The reason pink leathers are significant will become clear in a moment.

and Cat and I danced

Am I pretty in pink or what!  I thought it was red for a ringmaster when I wore it but that sure doesn't look like red in the pic.  However, so long as my beautiful dance partner stays with me, the color isn't a problem.

12:00 pm SLT on Tuesday - Deceptions Digital (DD)

DD plays recorded music but it's important to understand she is not a DJ as everything she does is her own work.  She uses samples for some of her music and a few of you may have opinions on using them but this isn't a time for editorials.  Samples are legally within 'fair use' so there's nothing musically or legally wrong with doing using them.  It's an usual form of expression and DD is very much in pursuit of unusual.

Samples are a part of her music but only a small part as she uses every sound and technique at her disposal.  The result is a punchy techno vibe that she keeps moving for the whole set.  I don't care much for all the genres as, to me, there's instrumental and anything that's electronic instrumental is some form of techno.  Beyond that the labels mean little to me, I'm just interested in whether I like the tune.

DD does techno very well and I'm happy to announce she will be playing a regular set at this same time.  These will take place bi-weekly and I believe the first is next week but I will confirm this with Cat before updating the calendar.

1:00 pm SLT on Tuesdays - Michi Renoir

Maestro Michi Renoir will give us trips every time.  With almost every set he starts out at the top of the hour and plays to the end of it, hardly talking at all.  One of the most intriguing things about that is the incredible number of voices he uses in making his trips.  He also uses an exotic looper as he is able to switch different bits in and out of a piece without having to add and remove them in a fixed order.  This gives him tremendous flexibility and his music goes trippin' all over the place.

2:00 pm SLT on Tuesdays - Reis and Aldo

Reis and Aldo will usually play at 2:00 pm but they are frequently on the road for recording sessions in different countries.  Right now they're on a four-thousand kilometer expedition around Europe for a variety of sessions.  It will take at least two or maybe three weeks and then they will be back to perform again at the MusikCircus.

And sure we danced!

We are taking this act to Vegas!

Guitar Surgery Seemingly Successful

Maybe it would have been cooler to get some pictures but I imagine you have seen springs before so I doubt seeing more now would do much for your musical libido.

If you run into the problem on your guitar, the solution is pretty much the same for any guitar with a twang bar.  First loosen the strings as re-attaching the spring will increase the tension on them.  Next grip the end of the spring with the needle nose pliers and then pull the twang bar down to meet the end of the spring.  It won't work the other way around if you try to stretch the spring back to the attachment point and you may very well break something trying to do it that way.

The consolation to what happened is that the problems with the Internet today meant I wouldn't have been able to play the show anyway.  I canceled the show yesterday as soon as I knew there were troubles as it sucks to cancel a show anyway but it ferociously sucks to do it on the day of the show as that completely screws the venue owner.

Since I will be seeing the Dallas Doctor tomorrow, I can't play the show at the circus for the gig scheduled there ... but what I can do is play later when I get back.  That sucks for Cat as it gets me coming off Euro time onto US time but Cat and I have talked about doing MusikCircus gigs on US time for a variety of reasons so perhaps I'll do the first tomorrow.  (The reason we have talked about US time had to do with other performers but that news will keep for another time)

I will play some more tonight to satisfy myself the lady is really ok and I'll update if she's not but I don't think that's likely to be the case.

Doctors and Guitar Gigs

With the Galaxy Guitar suffering from a bad case of malaria, tonight's gig won't happen but the Internet isn't running worth a damn so maybe it wouldn't have happened anyway.

I'm scheduled to play at the MusikCircus tomorrow night but that one couldn't have happened either as I won't get back from the Dallas Doctor in time.  I need to be fairly specific about these doctors as the Dallas Doctor isn't the same one as the Guitar Doctor who isn't too far from here.  (The circus calendar hasn't been updated yet as the Internet is so docked.)

Cat had an idea that maybe it would be possible to get a loaner guitar and for practice it would definitely be cool but I'm not so sure it would work for live.  For a lot of a live show you run on 'finger intelligence' as the little guys just know where to go.  If you need to think about that too much for a different guitar, the fingers will get all confused.

Here's the best idea to come from the bottom of a pot pipe so far today:  see if anywhere is stupid enough to give me credit and then get another guitar so there's a backup.

Late-breaking news:  I've discovered what happened.  There are springs used for the guitar's twang bar and this is standard for any guitar of this type.  One of the three springs came loose.  That in turn changed the tension on the strings so they all went out of tune.  This is definitely the cause so now I need to find some way to fix it.  If anyone wants to Magic Express a pair of needle-nose pliers on down here, please do so.

More Boredom of the Vanities

The most notable thing about the ultra-rich isn't how much they have accumulated but how singularly unimaginative they are in spending it.

Egyptians built pyramids, etc, etc.  The rich today don't do anything.  Maybe they buy a super-size MacYacht or build some more stupid shit in Dubai but that's it.

Sam Kinison revisit:  I see them sending those trucks of food out to the starving people in Ethiopia but here's a tip.  Why don't you use the trucks to bring those people to where the fucking food is.

(Before you bust me for the flaw behind that thinking, I know the flaw.  That's not the point.)

So, sure, it makes brilliant sense to build an ultra-resort somewhere that offers nothing but heat and sand fleas.  If you ever think American Republicans are the most stupid, just take a look at an Arab sheik and the idiotic stuff he does.  But at least they're somewhat imaginative in their stupidity whereas American Republicans usually confine themselves to the same infinitely-hackneyed themes.  Oh sure, honey, tell me more about evolution in school and how Iowa views science.  You won't mind if I slash my wrists, will you.

Kennedy said let's go to the Moon in ten years.  So, cool, here's a richie with an imagination.  Sure, let's do that.  Let's go to the fuckin' Moon, man.

These days it's all such a blazing bore.  In other times in history, the richies built all kinds of cool stuff:  pyramids, castles, cathedrals, there's stuff everywhere.  But what do our richies do?  Fuckin' nothin'.  Trump builds another boring casino.  Christ.  What a drag.

Our friends at Lockheed Martin are ever so proud of themselves as they're building the latest Trillion Dollar Titanium Penis (i.e. F-35) and this is probably supposed to be regarded as some incredibly impressive feat of military technology.  I'm sure it will just scare the living shit out of some asshat with a truck bomb.

So the problem of redistribution isn't simply about a giveaway program.  The ultra-rich don't spend their money on anything except making more money.  They really have turned world finance into a game of Monopoly with just as little point.  When Egyptians built pyramids, a ton of people got jobs out of it, a whole lot of money got spent, and all so people could look at them today and wonder why the hell they did it.  Maybe it's because their richies understood economics one hell of a lot better than the richies of today.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Galaxy Guitar is Sick Again

Just now there was kind of a pop from the bridge and then all the strings went out of tune.  The guitar can't be re-tuned as it seems something has broken within the bridge.  There's no question she needs to go back to the Guitar Doctor as this isn't something I can fix.  This was the second time playing today and the twang bar was a significant part of it.  That matters as the twang bar works through the bridge so that may be what broke it.  I wasn't doing Irving the Heavy Metal Hammer God so ... fuck it, just call it karma.

This isn't a plea for money but a break wouldn't be bad about this time.  There's a pay gig tomorrow night so that's flushed and blah, blah ...

(Ed:  do try to avoid whining, please)

My thought exactly.

So, sticking with the news, I estimate it will gain take about two weeks to get her fixed up.  Don't think badly of her or the Guitar Doctor as the Galaxy Guitar has lived very hard and the Guitar Doctor is a luthier, not a clairvoyant.  There's no way he could anticipate something that would happen.  He set her up perfectly as she was again quick to tune, very good at staying tuned, and she was sounding perfect.

The 'lemonade' part of this is that the Guitar Doctor will have to go into the bridge anyway so I will ask him to review the situation with the synth access and then I will find out for sure where it's failing.  The worst answer is that it's in the synth as that can't be repaired and it's $800 US to get another one.  If it's the cable, that's $80 US and that's at least survivable.  The last possibility is that it's in the MIDI 'pickup' in the bridge.  It sucks if that's broken but this is the time to repair it if that's true.  All of those answers suck but the lemonade is finally knowing for sure.

Minimalism is all very well if you're Picasso ... but I ain't.  In any case, I consider what I do to be highly minimal relative to what it was in my original vision.  The keyboard is present but it's fairly restrained and so is the bass.  I may do it in the future but right now the vocal mike doesn't even go into the looper.  I don't consider the guitar excessive as even when I'm playing as fast as my fingers will go, it's still only because that's what is needed at that moment.  I would consider it excessive if there were nothing else but other moments call to hold a single note for as long as it will sing and, happily, with the Galaxy Guitar that can be quite a long time as it has outstanding sustain.  (It's a bitch that she's so heavy but she sure can hold a note.)

The segue from a broken MIDI pickup to minimalism is that getting the synth access working might compound a problem whereas I don't see it that way at all.  The trick with using guitar and synth at the same time is finding the balance rather than to create something overpowering as it will be powerful in any case.  It can also create something very delicate as in playing a clean guitar sound with maybe a flute or an airy voice.  Why I perceive this as minimalism is that it cannot possibly be reduced beyond what it is and still say the same thing.  Acoustic musicians will likely disagree with that and it's their privilege but that's my position and I'm holding it.

I can't believe I broke my fucking guitar.

Time to check out for a while.


Nancy Grace Talking Out of Both Sides of her Mouth (video)

This one has been billed as Nancy Grace debating herself but of course she doesn't, the video just shows examples of her taking opposite sides on her position on marijuana presumably because one side or the other pays better at any given moment.

That'll about do it for any more coverage of Nancy Grace as it's about as interesting as she ever gets.  She does look like she's getting more pudgy in the more recent pic, tho.  Maybe next we'll be seeing Jazzercise from Nancy Grace and she'll come out with a cookbook.  If you're saying she's not fat then I'll take a wild guess and say you're probably coming from Facebook.

It's all very well to protest the horrors broadcasting on Fox News but it doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot when there are people like Nancy Grace broadcasting for what is ostensibly the home team.  Get her fat ass out and over to Fox News where she belongs with all the other dimwitted blonde harpies.

Bill Maher - NSA Stooge or Just an Idiot - Breaking the Set (video)

For some while, Bill Maher was nailing Ann Coulter and this is generally symptomatic of the fact that there are no rules for the liberal elite.  Obviously there are no rules for the conservative elite either but liberals can't take too much of a position on that when there is someone like Maher in our own house.

Abby Martin is more woman than Ann Coulter will ever be but the biggest difference is in Martin's principles.  Martin has them while Coulter never gives principles a second thought and Maher has just been a fool dancing about in a harlequin suit.

How DARE Maher criticize Snowden and Greenwald, the two who brought light to the travesty being created by the NSA, while all Maher ever did for the cause was fucking Ann Coulter.  He's just another in a very large pile of 'funny newscasters' who think it's more important to be witty and amusing than to be real or truthful.

(Nah, Abby Martin didn't turn me off Bill Maher.  I have had no use for the smug bastard for some while.)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nancy Grace Gets Away with Murder

After a televised assault of Toni Modrano, someone Nancy Grace called the Vodka Mom, Modrano committed suicide in a particularly horrifying way.  Her family sued Grace and CNN as Modrano had killed herself because of the torment from Nancy Grace.  The amount of the settlement is sealed by court order but the figure is irrelevant as the principle is that Grace bought her way out of it.  (Huffington Post:  Nancy Grace, CNN Settle Lawsuit With 'Vodka Mom' Family)

Nancy Grace has a reputation for being a vicious harpie and this isn't the first time anyone has committed suicide because of the on-air pounding that Grace so courageously delivers.  Melinda Duckett killed herself after Grace 'interviewed' her.

Now if you transplant all of this to Facebook, you would have Nancy Grace belting up and down on her Wall with her vitriolic spew about Toni Modrano.  As a result of that spew and how it compounded her guilt in killing her child, Modrano kills herself.  In this circumstance, after doing exactly the same thing and saying precisely the same words, Nancy Grace would not have been up on civil charges but rather criminal charges and she would have gone to jail for it.

Instead, Grace puts some green dollars on the table and then waltzes out of the judge's office so she's not late to the supper club.

Pickin' and Grinnin' at Merry Pranksters

They like to hold what they call a Picking Party at Merry Pranksters on a Sunday night and this is when a bunch of guitar pickers will get together to play a couple of songs and then turn the microphone over to someone else.  This goes around the circle until it comes back to you and then it starts over.  It keeps going around until either the lights go out or everyone is too stoned to continue.

Note:  south of the Mason/Dixon line the 'G' is not used.  It's a Pickin' Party.  Open a PBR or twist up a fattie, it's time to play.  It's all about pickin' an' grinnin'.

From left to right:  Veronica Weksler (contemporary bluish), Blueboi (blues a la Leon Redbone), Chip Takacs (classic rock), Silas Scarborough (mayhem), OneSummer Oh (blues), Bronze (ballads)

For my first bit, I did "For Shan Chard" again in part for the Lacey vibe and in part just because I wanted to hear it again.  That you want to hear it again may seem an obvious reason for playing a song but there are more reasons than that.  So for this one the sound surprised me quite a bit and a lot of that comes from the way the feedback hovers over a sustained note.  It's very delicate doing stuff like that but when you get the levels right you can do it fairly predictably and that is a very very good moment.  (The link is to the version I recorded on Friday night)

I was just wandering about as I had seen that someone was going over to a 'rock' venue to sing with an iPod and the only reaction to that was OH HELL NO.  (The problem isn't the iPod as do whatever you like but don't even tell me it's rock)  So I wound up at Merry Pranksters.  Jeannie Jannings asked me if I wanted to play and I needed a few minutes as I hadn't been planning on it but I ended up on the stage.

It's a cool thing that Prankster does and they have been doing it for years.  The only requirements for performing in the Pickin' Party are that you have some kind of an act and that you have got the stones to get up there and do it.  You'll get people who have been playing for a long time or a short time but it all works together for a very cool vibe.  This doesn't mean you'll get people who have only just mastered playing an A minor on a guitar as the performers are usually quite experienced.  There's also nothing competitive about it as no-one is 'cutting heads' and no-one gets eliminated, you just take your turn, make a little music, and then pass the mike.

As for good things to do in Second Life, this is one of them.  There's usually a good turnout of jammers and also with people to hear them play.  Try it and you'll probably like the vibe.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"For Shan Chard" - Updated Version of Tune Posted

"For Shan Chard" is a tune I recorded on Friday during the celebration for Shan Chard aka Lacey Lohner at Lacey's Place.  The version I uploaded yesterday was bone dry as I hadn't tweaked it in any way before uploading it.  I decided it needed a little better treatment than that so it's now got some compression, reverb, etc to 'sweeten' the sound of it.  The content of it is not changed as nothing was edited in or out of the tune.  (Ride the Dragon podcast:  "For Shan Chard")

I'm getting a lot more satisfied with the sound of the guitar and I'm sure it would thrill you to the Moon to tell you about what I tweaked to get it that way.  Still, I've been going on about what's in other people's kits so maybe a bit on that would be interesting to you.

The guitar goes into a Boss GT-100 effects box and then goes into a small Yamaha mixer.  The bass goes into a Boss GT-10B effects box and then it goes into the same mixer.  The keyboard goes into an echo box and then into the mixer.

The output from the mixer goes into a Boss RC-50 looper and that in turn goes on to the Peavey mixer which is the primary.  The RC-50 is connected via MIDI to a Boss DR-880 drum machine and the output from that goes to the primary mixer.

There are no effects on the vocal mike and it goes directly to the primary mixer.  The absence of effects is a problem and that will get solved in time.

The output from the mixer goes to a pair of powered speakers which keep things good and loud here in the Fort Worth Rockhouse.  There is also a USB connector which is what I use to send the output to the computer and in turn out on the audio stream to the Internet.

The signal path might seem needlessly complex but the small Yamaha mixer is crucial.  This is what permits easily changing the volume and, to some extent, the tone of the instruments going through it and consequently into the Boss RC-50.  The ability of the RC-50 to loop sounds is quite good but it's not good at mixing them and it's very easy to overdrive it.  The Yamaha gives the flexibility needed to feed it better and get a better loop as a result.

The only device that could be eliminated is the echo box the keyboard uses but that one is just for the fun of it and removing it wouldn't change anything about the overall sound.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Healing Electrification of Cat's Art MusikCircus

Although it doesn't sound like it, Acoustic Night at Cat's Art MusikCircus is mostly electric.  Last night it got even more electric.

Phoenix J was up first and she mixes it up with guitar, piano, and her singing.  Her equipment is electric but she keeps her sound very clean and it makes a very pretty mix.  She's very talented on all her instruments so she's not just playing chords on anything.  Phoenix is also very good with a looper and this is how she plays multiple instruments at once.  Loopers are incredible tools and Phoenix knows very well how to handle one.

Phoenix has quite a long song list so there's no predicting what she will perform in any given set and there's no telling how many of them will be originals.  My preference is always for originals and Phoenix writes beautiful ones.  For the covers, she sings them the way she thinks they need to be sung and this is a big part of what makes her show as her adaptations make her show exciting.  Her voice is pretty anyway but her changes are what makes the set live.  Of course it lives but being live is something beyond that and she makes that happen.

You can learn more about Phoenix J on her Artist Profile on the Cat's Art MusikCircus Web site.  (There was a problem with some links to her pro site and that has now been corrected)

Joaquin Gustav plays with incredible delicacy and he may well be more focused on the romance of a set than anyone else.  He's been doing it for quite a few years and no-one has worked so hard on it as he must have done thousands of shows by now.  (When you do multiple shows in a day and work most days or even every day of the week, running up a thousand shows will come very quickly.)

I wrote an article a couple of days ago about Joaquin's guitars as it's interesting to me to learn what other performers have in their kits.  You may be interested as he plays quite unusual guitars.  Although it sounds like he is playing an acoustic guitar that's a big wooden thing with a hole in it, that's not what he plays at all.  NOTE:  don't read this as a criticism, it's just interesting to me what people play.  The decision on which guitars he plays was huge for him as you don't buy a guitar, you adopt it.

Joaquin plays a subdued set that's very much to bring a sweet romance to people.  He's so low-key in how he delivers the set that it's only if you're really paying attention that you realize how fast he plays.  However, he doesn't play to impress but rather to create the romantic feeling so people can dance and go with it for an hour.  It's a very gentle time.

You can learn more about Joaquin Gustav on his Artist Profile on the Cat's Art MusikCircus Web site.

Voodoo Shilton came up next and here you can see Medora Chevalier in a lovely outfit that matches the MusikCircus bubbles and she's got some magic bubbles of her own happening, all color-coordinated, of course.

The thing last night with Voodoo was his electric guitar.  He hasn't featured it in quite a while and I had never heard him play it before so it was sensational to hear it included in last night's set.  There was great coolness in this for a number of reasons.

Voodoo wasn't completely happy with the sound of it but what was important was the parts where he was happy with it as he's got an excellent tone.  With his touch and single-coil pickups, there's a touch of Hendrix in his sound.  In fact, later in the evening he covered "Little Wing" and after you stop groaning at another cover of the song, this isn't a version where he tried to knock it off.  He did it Voodoo style and he makes it live in his way.

(Geek note:  Single-coil pickups are the type used on a Fender Stratocaster by Jimi Hendrix and many others.  Dual-coil, usually Humbuckers, are used in a Gibson Les Paul for maybe a more bluesy sound.  The difference between these types of pickups would get into musical religious theory so it's best to leave it at that.)

The electric guitar didn't dominate the set so effectively it becomes yet another instrument in Voodoo's kit.  Electric and acoustic guitars are not at all the same instrument as they don't sound the same, you don't play them the same, etc, etc.  What that means is that it's not just another sound but rather a whole different liveness.

As to what he will do in his next set, I have no idea.  Maybe electric comes back, maybe it doesn't.  It's all part of the evolution and it's fascinating to watch / hear.

You can learn more about Voodoo Shilton on his Artist Profile on the Cat's Art MusikCircus Web site.

And Cat and I were dancing ... right about when Kasandra Barony exploded the place.

She blew up most of the MusikCircus with it.  Most impressive!

Using a Guitar with MIDI to Drive a Synthesizer

Voodoo Shilton and I talk about musical geek stuff every so often because, much as everyone hates hardware, it can do some amazing things.  One of the reasons I love my Godin xtSA guitar is that it has a built-in synth access and the action is quite fast ... but it's not the only way to do it.

Before getting supremely geeky with this, here are the basics:  a normal guitar output is a 1/4-inch plug and it carries an analog waveform of the total guitar sound.  It was good enough for Charlie Christian, it was good enough for Hendrix.  The extension on this comes via MIDI which goes from a 13-pin port on the guitar to a port on a guitar synthesizer such as a Roland GR-20.  There are multiple guitar synthesizers available but all, to my knowledge, use a 13-pin cable to connect.  NOTE:  This is not a standard MIDI cable and is significantly expensive at about $80 US for a twenty-foot cable.

The conversation with Voodoo part was about another way to do it.  Rather than having a MIDI 'interpreter' on the guitar that sends MIDI code out on an expensive cable, how about using the standard 1/4-inch cable and making MIDI from that.  A device that can do this is a SONUUS I2M and here's a video demo:

This gives a taste of MIDI from the guitar as you can hear sounds a guitar just doesn't make.  However, getting into what's beyond it is the supremely geeky part.

The SONUUS I2M has some huge advantages:

  • You don't have to replace your guitar with one that's got MIDI built-in
  • It's a very inexpensive device
  • No expensive cables
  • Convenient software to make it easier to use
  • No need to get a dedicated guitar synthesizer as you can use an inexpensive MIDI sound module to do the same thing for less  (a MIDI sound module is a synthesizer without a keyboard)

These are all very cool things but it's more complicated and saving a few dollars might not be your best move.

The more expensive solution goes two ways as you can get one of quite a few models of Godin guitars with built-in synth access.  With this solution, MIDI interpreting is fully-integrated into the design of the guitar.  A somewhat less-expensive solution is to get a MIDI 'pickup' that can be attached to an existing guitar near the bridge.  It's not a very elegant solution but it works and you get to keep your Stratocaster.

So what comes is that you need to decide on whether it's better to do the MIDI interpretation on the guitar or on the SONUUS gadget that's plugged into a USB port on your computer.  One of the most crucial points is the way the MIDI signal is created.  When it's on the guitar, a MIDI command will be generated for the activity on each string.  However, when it's done in the SONUUS gadget, the MIDI commands will be created based on a single waveform.  It's more complex than that but it's generally true and this means there will be more 'granularity' and consequently higher resolution and accuracy in the signal from the guitar.

Another key aspect to this is whether the 1/4-inch signal is lost at the point of the MIDI converter.  If that's true then you would have the sound of the synthesizer but you wouldn't have the native sound of the guitar.  That won't satisfy you for long as you will want to mix the sound of both, even if it's only to experiment to hear what it sounds like.  (There are multiple SONUUS units and likely at least one of them has a THRU that lets you send the 1/4-inch signal on to amplifiers, etc.)

Guitars with built-in MIDI have multiple ports so it's no problem to play normal guitar and MIDI at the same time.  The effect can be stunning as you might use a bright, clean sound on the guitar and just strum a guitar on one and then leave it to hold for the rest of the bar.  You'll get that bright, clean sound right away as it will have a nice attack and will present quickly.  If behind that you have a synthesizer voice doing a fat sweep, that will fill in as the bright, clear sound decays.  There's a glorious richness that comes from it so I'm quite sure you will not be satisfied unless you can play the native guitar sound and the MIDI sounds together.

Some of this stuff may be so esoteric and nitpicky that many people would never even hear the difference ... but some would.