Friday, February 28, 2014

The Once and Future Lemur

Kill Bill lives.  We didn't know if he would as his nutrition kept falling and we didn't know how to get him to eat.  But the cracking good medical support team (i.e. Silas and Cat) brought him back to health and now his nutrition is just fine.

After all that, of course Kill Bill needed a nap.

In fact, all of the lemurs needed a nap.

This is like Lemur Nursery School in which all take naps at the same time and pretty much wherever they are at the time.

But later it was time to dance

Karneval mit Lemuren ... nür mit SL!

"All About Cat" - Silas Scarborough - Live at Cat's Art MusikCircus

"All About Cat" is a looper bit from last night and it runs for about nine minutes.  As I was wading into it I was thinking, yep, there's a groove in this and I know Cat hears it.  At first it's kind of precious in trying to be jazzy but then it will kick it up and hopefully you'll like the difference.

It's on the Ride the Dragon podcast or you can link directly to play "All About Cat."

I also like doing the slow anthem tunes at 60-80 bpm as that deep mournful stuff is the ultimate singing guitar to me.  "All About Cat" is not that as it's 120 or 130 bpm to get some pop to it.  "I Love Rats" is 160 bpm and I've tried it faster but that just makes it sound ridiculous.  Beyond a certain point, speed isn't music anymore and becomes an auto race.  Maybe you'll find it interesting that the same thing happens with square-dancing.  By itself, it's a silly and pleasant way to spend an evening ... but ... when they start competing, it gets faster and faster, and turns into a total drag.  Dali knew it best as what damn good is something if you can't eat it.  Anything really good he would call 'delicious.'

Gratuitous plug:

Voodoo Shilton will be playing tonight and he very well understands the balance between speed and melody.  Words alone can't explain that, you've got to come and hear him.  He will start at 3pm SLT / PST.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

About the Plane Crash in the Gig

There was a Tweet I sent out earlier that said there was a bad sound that ended the gig, the sound you get when you try to land an aircraft without putting the wheels down.  There was nothing for it but to stop but this fortunately didn't happen until after I'd been playing over an hour anyway.  I was all set to keep going ... but then the plane crashed.

Just a brief explanation:  the problem was caused by a dirty slider on the mixer.  Always cover your gear with a cloth of some kind when you won't be using it as this will help keep the dust out.

After wiggling the slider a bit, the connection is largely restored.  I've toyed with the idea of taking the mixer apart to clean it but that would be a monumental bitch.

This audio problem was an example of an SMF (Spontaneous Machine Fault).  I was nowhere near the mixer when the audio went bad.  I did not touch it.  I did not even look at it.  However, a slider on that mixer magically changed itself and the plane crashed.  Do not ever think machines like us.  They don't.

There was a tune of some unknown substance in the gig but it felt like a Cat groove as I was in it and that really went flying.  I knew she would know that I was onto it and that I hadn't done it before so that added a very special ingredient.  I'll review the recording later and hopefully have something to upload.

Lefty and his Work with Frog Hair

lefty Unplugged plays every Monday at Cat's Art MusikCircus and his set has been different in recent weeks.  Previously he would sometimes do improvs in his show in which there was no telling what he would play but they would invariably be excellent.  He has been more focused lately on polishing his existing songs and that is working beautifully but what happened to the improv.

In lefty's blog you can read about his struggles with learning to play a violin, his 'secret' weapon.  It's not really secret as he has even put videos on Facebook about it.  When it's also on his blog, it's safe that it isn't a secret anymore.  (lefty' Blog:  Diary of a 55yr old left handed violin beginner part5)

Yep, it looks like lefty's soul has been stolen by a violin.

(Ed:  what about the frog hair?)

the more you play, the more you respect string players for precision fine as frog hair! 

Read the whole article to really get the feel of it.

lefty's respect for the difficulty of learning violin has gone up tremendously as he knew it would be difficult but not this difficult.  It's only half facetious that I wonder if the violin has stolen lefty's soul as he would never have learned how to play guitar as he does without being determined.  It really does look like this woman has taken him and you can see from the article that she owns him.

The article was written three weeks ago so I don't know how things go this minute but I suspect that secret weapon will show up in lefty's show one of these days.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Equal Time for Slashing Atheists

The reason people want to punch atheists isn't so much what they believe but rather they are so fucking smug.  The Atheist has got everything figured.  He understands the cosmology, the Higgs Boson, and every kind of scientific gimcrackery known to the "Popular Science" magazine.  There is no God.  No God.  Got it?  You dumb fuck.  It's obvious there is no God.

There are any number of ways to wreck an Atheist's life and the easiest is to keep pushing the model of the Universe bigger until their explanation of it explodes.  Say there, Satchmo, there are patterns of movement of galaxies that are so large that they could only be explained by the influence of external Universes.  How does that work in your precise world of dials and knobs.

Without logic, an Atheist flaps his arms and gasps for air but there is no logic in a Universe of stars appearing for no particular reason and there's damn sure no logic for quite a number of Universes doing it.

But the biggest counter to the Atheist isn't that there are billions of stars but rather that there are billions of stars and they work.  If you're God in your Heavenly metaphysical place and you decide to create a Universe, it's got to have all manner of Laws of Physics or it plain won't work.  The damn thing will blow up and then you need to make another Universe.

You can play Intelligent Design all night long as any other explanation requires the Universe to 'invent' the Laws of Physics as it goes along after the Big Bang and this is just another form of determinism.  The Laws of Physics could not have existed prior to the Big Bang as there wasn't anything there.  Either God invented them or rocks did and you've got to ask yourself which is most plausible.

(Yes, there's the Noise in the Woods When No-One is There situation in the question do the Laws of Physics exist even if there is no matter affected by them.)

If you've got one of those Prizefighter Atheists on your hands, he may not have cracked yet as he'll respond that invention of the Laws of Physics is irrelevant.  They are defined by the nature of matter and space so invention has nothing to do with it.

Here again, the existence of the Laws of Physics isn't that interesting but it's very interesting that they work.  For example, you take maybe a pound of uranium and pound it in whatever esoteric ways.  This pound of stuff will blow up in one monumental explosion thus showing the astronomical power in a very small amount of material.  Looking around you and understanding just how much material is there, why would you not ask why it all doesn't just explode.  It's not just interesting that it works, it's absolutely amazing.  Do you not think it would take multiple tries to get a Universe right.

Note:  you get the big win if you can get the Atheist to say 'miraculous.'

Good luck.

The Lord of the Lemurs

And so a small party of the lemurs went out to investigate.

Others decided to sleep and do nothing.  We call these ones politicians.  They sleep right by the food bowl and politicians do this too.

Here is Cat with Bill who is otherwise known as Kill Bill.  She won't eat and we even tried feeding her asparagus.  Kill Bill seems a little confused.  You are now confused also as she is not Cat, she is Kill Bill.

We also have Justin Lemur and he, naturally, is the singer.  There's Boudika Lemur in case the Romans come back and Franzi Lemur, Paprika Lemur and Schnitzel Lemur hang out looking pretty.  Schnitzel sometimes catches fire and explodes ... but he recovers quickly.

Two mornings ago, we had no lemurs.  This morning, we have nine of them ... and they aren't even mature for breeding yet.  There's a good chance of a lemur population explosion once they start mating.

Coolest MusikCircus Pic of the ... well, Ever

Reis is at the center of the explosion and I would like to emphasize that I didn't do it.  Aldo is in the back but he exploded too.  It was very sad but it made for a wild picture.  Cat and I are dancing in the bottom right where we are just outside the blast radius.  Sadly, it doesn't look like it went well for Paris.

Reis uses the most tremendous displays when she and Aldo play and I have no idea where she gets them but you can see the result.  Now imagine it moving.  I very much believe the lights enhance and are part of the music so I get a big bang out of these performances.

Reis and Aldo will be back next week and again the following week when they will do their Carnival show.  We don't tell any guests about clothes but Carnival is special and you can definitely expect to see some really mad outfits for this show.

You can find more about Reis and Aldo on their Artist Profile on Cat's MusikCircus Web site.

In the Midnight Hour at Cat's Art MusikCircus

There is usually not much happening at Cat's Art MusikCircus during Yankee hours ... but that needed to change last night.

I sent out very few messages about playing and somehow Voodoo Shilton heard about it.  He came and he sent a very cool message offline to me about the jams and it's most appreciated as the man knows the subject of music upside-down and backwards.

Sister Julie came over with LuLu and Chris was levitating in and out of there too.  I couldn't really tell very well who was there as I was pushing buttons and chanting arcane spells at the equipment.

If they're really good, maybe I will take them to see the lemurs sometime!

(Ed:  lemurs?)

Long story!

Voodoo, I did see that about clippage and you know the infuriation of changing a knob over here only to need to change more knobs in twelve other places.  Perhaps I exaggerate a wee bit but you know how it goes.  I'm thinking it might be time for the GAR ... Global Atomic Reset.  That would give coolness in forcing reset of volume levels everywhere and that would be annoying but could yield much goodness.  I would lose existing loops but really I need to re-record them anyway as nothing else will really, really get the levels rights.

As to key changes, most of the time I really don't even think about it so much.  I'll find some notes the chords like and things will evolve from there.  But lately I've been looking for getting more elaborate and to how to pull off key changes with a looper.  I mentioned previously that a huge problem is there's no way to modulate. You can be in A and then you can be in B but there's no good way to be anywhere in-between.  This is not even in any faint way an excuse; it's the way loopers work.

(Carry the above through a little bit.  How about a looper that permits ten phrases so then you can be switching back and forth between bits in tremendous complexity.  Think long on a device as sophisticated as this because you could very well find yourself spending more time playing the device than playing your instrument.  I don't mean in terms of hardware hassles but rather that you could easily find yourself making a whole lot of loops just because you can.)

It would turn into a lengthy bit to go into detail on the structure of a song using an RC-50.  The main things needed to picture it are that there are the three independent musical phrases, all of which are probably but not necessarily at the same tempo.  At present, they will probably also have the same associated drum pattern.  You will be tempted by that third phrase as it's not such a deal to come up with two phrases you can use and switching back and forth between them is entertaining ... but what will you do with that third one and how will you handle juggling now that you have three balls in the air.  Know all the while that the audience doesn't give any kind of a tinker's damn about how you do this.  Just don't suck.  And, of course, why should anyone need a PhD in Electrical Engineering to understand what you do.

Key changing is where there's a huge potential for drowning in artsy-fartsy as what reason do you have to change a key.  The key change adds musical interest but it just becomes an exercise if there's too much interesting and not enough feeling.  Maybe you could jazz up a love song by playing in a sweetness and light key and then shifting to the key for being attacked by flying monkeys when the relationship breaks up.  (There's a previous article on keys and emotions or feelings associated with each one.  I don't see much point in memorizing it as the important thing, in my view, is to fully consider that the different keys really do have significantly different 'personalities.'  If you know why they have different personalities then you are probably just about ready to pick up your degree in music.)

Something that's of huge interest to me but is, I think, beyond current looper technology is that there's no elegant way to deconstruct a loop.  That is, you can't take parts out of it after you have recorded them.  There is one level of Undo on an RC-50 and that has musical coolness and application but hitting the Undo button again will put that loop bit back into it.  What I would like to do is to keep on peeling off levels.  I imagine Voodoo has the same interest as he often goes at least five or six or more levels deep in adding instruments to his loops.  If it were possible to peel those levels off then one can make a graceful exit from a song rather than bringing it up to a full boil in a loop and only to find the only way out of it is to run it into a wall.

On one thing I get more and more clear:  I only want to play for friends and Cat's Art MusikCircus is the best place to do it.  I will likely go to Avination and do something similar over there tonight as it's similar.  Zaphod and Ichi are in Germany so I would do that more toward Euro time but we'll see what's best as the day goes along.  They're very good people and surprising them with some jams would be quite nice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Urgent Medical Update

My deepest apologies for failing to keep you apprised of the status of my toe.  I'm sure many of you wish you could only forget the moment of the toe injury in Italy and, truly, it is the same in my life.  If only I could forget.

There were some who doubted and thought, verily, this is a mere cut to a toe which is nothing more than a subsidiary appendage, a digit of insignificant measure or means, a mere trifle of an extension.  What possible news of any value could be contained in such a report.

In some small ways, their critical assessment of the situation was as accurate as someone with little vision can perceive.  Yes, it was a toe.  Yes, it was cut.

However, that was not the beauty part.


After some while of exquisitely enervating pain, the whole fookin' nail came off me big toe.  It must be about six months later now and the good Lord has given me back some kind of mutated toe nail but it doesn't have the glorious strength and form of the other one.  Someday, when the toenail fully grows back, I hope to feel whole again.

It probably will not be necessary to post any further toenail updates unless there is a critical medical need ... or if that li'l piggy goes to market.

Praise the Lord and Pass the String Theory

A discussion took place recently and the only consideration was whether one can request miracles through prayer.  Yep, if you just believe in God and what's in the Bible, here's what you'll get.  But don't ask for Lotto numbers as only the tacky hoi polloi do that.

Johnny, tell 'em what they've won.

Hey, hey, you've not only won the Love of Jesus but you ... have ... won ... a ... BRAND NEW CAR!

I love you, God, because I want to get free stuff.

And, Lord, I want to go to Heaven.  I know I get bored on Sunday afternoons sometimes but I really, really want to spend billions of years with you, doing nothing but being blissful or some shit like that.  Maybe we could get together sometimes and make stars or new diseases or something.

The rampaging hypocrisy just gets insufferable at times.  One of the oldest rules of all is Thou Shalt Not Kill as this is Old Testament stuff that came down to Moses.  However, there are all sorts of escape clauses in the New Testament to make it alright.  People get really angry about this one as they'll insist that God will still love them if they kill people.  And, sure, that makes sense.  It's only bad when other people kill people, not when you do it, honey.

This has some similarities to the United States Constitution in which it says that all men are created equal.  Later on it says that a black man is 3/5 of a white man and that was the part that prevailed.  To some extent, it still does and those who support that thinking are just as self-righteous as a mountain preacher with a bottle of moonshine.

Those who think God loves them and consequently loves executions will frequently point to abortion as if that's ok then executions must be ok.  That they don't have anything to do with one another is irrelevant, the purpose is to assuage the troubles in their hardened hearts and it really doesn't matter if the deflection is performed through a sideshow debating trick.  Stick to the point or sit yer ass down, Sylvester.

And then I mentioned Zoroaster ... but that's when the One Who Knows really went berserk.  Zoroastrianism is the philosophy that was very strong in Persia prior to the religions which have survived to the modern age.  Much of the Judeo-Christian beliefs came from Zoroastrianism just as Christianity drew from the Old Testament and subsequently Islam did the same.  Mormonism came after that and much of that was drawn from some scribbles on the wall of a Texaco restroom in Illinois.  Scientology most likely came from a bad acid trip.  Judging by Hubbard's sci-fi, it must have been pretty cheap acid too.

I should have backed off at that point as the One Who Knows was obviously bluffing but sometimes it's almost irresistible.

But none of that has any particular value at all and certainly doesn't prove anything.  Where religion gets interesting is with regard to any notion of determinism.  In other words, do you have control of your life or is it preordained by God.  Sure it's possible there's some mix of the two but that seems quite a lackadaisical way to run a Universe.  Sometimes God will make the call, sometimes you will or sometimes we'll just leave it up to cute li'l Suzy Parker at the end of the street to decide what will happen next in your life.

Determinism pops up frequently in gambler thinking.  If the roulette wheel has come up with 35 three times in a row then that makes some difference to whether 35 will come up on the next spin.  In the Laws of Probability, there is no difference to the odds.  Gamblers don't think that way, however.  Determinism also plays massively in music but that's a thesis in itself.

As one goes back in time, religions get more deterministic and free will doesn't get much play.  Why would anyone even give a thought to free will during the course of the Black Death during which maybe half of the world's population died.  People use the word 'horrific' today and it shows little so much as an egregious lack of knowledge of history.  How can there be free will when everyone is dying in horrible ways all around you.  Free will means nothing.

Prayer has some bearing on this as say you ignore Jesus' fervent request and you do, in fact, pray for winning Lotto numbers.  When you win there's a Eureka moment in which you are filled with the Love of the Lord.  See, God really does love me.

However, God knows you will buy a boat with that money and you will use it to catch fish and those fish will go to feed starving African babies.  God wasn't answering your prayer, he was giving you a job.  Either this truth or Eureka, God Loves Me may be real and possibly even both if you like a Monty Python Universe.

A)  God loves you and he would like it if you feed African babies.

Maybe God let you win that Lotto because he loves you and he just hopes you will see that buying a boat to catch fish and feed African babies is good.

B)  God loves you and he doesn't give a rat's ass about starving African babies.

Sure, you prayed for the Lotto.  God let you win it and now just go ahead and blow it on hookers and cocaine.

C)  God doesn't give a rat's ass about you and you're just a tool to feed starving African babies.

If total determinism is real then the person who buys the boat and catches the fish doesn't really matter that much as God's actual purpose is to feed African babies.

Whether you can get free stuff through prayer isn't of much interest to me as it seems much on the order of whether Santa Claus is real.  That's cool if you're hoping for an electric train set but it doesn't mean much beyond that.  However, whether you have any real control of your life is, in my view, a very big deal.

You can see various forms of determinism all over the place.  Maybe somebody driving a car splatters a motorcycle rider and then tells the cop he didn't see the bike.  That makes it ok as obviously God put the bike there and it was meant to happen.  Or maybe young Billy and Suzy Parker get busy behind the barn.  They say they couldn't help it.  The only answer left is God made them do it.

Christianity has an escape clause in Satan as any bad thing that happens can be tagged to Satan's influence and that gives God a pass ... but that doesn't really work as an omnipotent God could over-ride anything Satan did.  There's all manner of theological pandering on the matter but omnipotence is pretty clearly defined.  You are or you ain't.  I therefore reject Satan as an explanation for anything.

So when Bad Things Happen, God owns them.  Say there's a plane crash and maybe you think God killed them all and, sure, He did.  That either makes him a vicious bastard or someone who was sitting and watching the aircraft while he thought, "Damn it!  That is NOT how I told you to build that aircraft.  Now it's going to crash and all those people will die.  Start over and build it right this time."

If you're looking for an answer behind all this you may not be quite understanding the game.  It's maybe like thinking something will change if Obama is not President.  That shows an amusing faith in democracy.  Nevertheless, if things really are preordained then it's God's Will that Obama is President.  So, uh, how do you like determinism so far.

It's amusing insofar as America has two deeply-separated personalities.  There's religion more extreme than most other developed nations and this form of it demands a fairly high order of theological determinism.  However, it's the same country in which at least half strongly believe in the power of democracy and electoral process.  They can't have it both ways so they spin around in circles a lot.

(Ed:  where is the string theory?)

It isn't anywhere.  What sucked me into the original discussion was a statement to the effect of I have studied Taoism and string theory.  I thought that would be funny and it was but now (cough) you have been sucked into it the same way.  Praise the Lord.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Untolerable Bohemian and Lefty Unplugged at Cat's Art MusikCircus

This report is very late from last week ... or just in time for the shows tonight at Cat's Art MusikCircus.

1:00 PM PST / SLT - Untolerable Bohemian

Last week Untolerable Bohemian was focusing yet more on his electric work.  There are mechanical aspects to that like pushing buttons and how long does it take to set up each song but the important thing is that he's doing it.  I have a strong bias toward improvisation but it's not like I hide that feeling and I really hope Bo keeps on doing more of it.

Bo is very much like two performers as Electric Bo does songs quite different from Singing Bo.  Come to find out what he does tonight.

2:00 PM PST / SLT - lefty Unplugged

The biggest news lately has been when Lefty brought out his Fender Telecaster to play as the sound is a delight.  Going back and forth from acoustic to electric is quite difficult unless you do like Mark Knopfler and fingerpick everything.  There are many arty reasons for making a decision like that and you could fill a book with them so we'll stop right there.

Lefty seems to be working on polishing and crafting his songs more than coming out with new ones just now.  He makes exceptionally well-crafted songs and he's one of the best for the dynamics of a song.  The dynamics are much more than whether a song is loud or soft and this seems to be getting a lot of attention from him lately.  It's tough to spot as these kinds of changes are often so subtle that you feel them more than hear them.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ranger Rick and the Singing Beagles

This was the show that almost didn't happen as we tried to get up a collection for $100 US plus a case of Mad Dog wine to get Ted Nugent to play in the barn this week-end.  It turned out that no-one thought he was worth it.  We did get $50 US and we called to try to make the deal but were told that Nugent only feeds off politicians these days.  So be it, we called Ranger Rick.

Fifty years ago, "Stranglehold" was cool but what's cool today is Ranger Rick with his Singing Beagles.  No matter how much you love music, hearing these singing Beagles will make you love it even more, particularly when they do "Oh my Darling, Clementine."  This was the opening number and the Beagles owned the crowd from the start.

What makes it even better is that Ranger Rick has trained the dogs to do tricks.  During the performance he will ask if any kid has a birthday.  Sure enough, there was one on Saturday night and Ranger Rick wanted the dogs to make it special.  The dogs went over to the kid and then one after the other stood on the back of the dog below it.  When they were all in position, the dogs sang "Happy Birthday" to the great delight of everyone.

After the gig, Ranger Rick asked if we might like to do it again and, sure, of course we do.  He suggested asking Miley Cyrus to play first as it's always cool following her show with the dogs because their tongues hang out of their mouths the same way as hers.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lighten Up on Bieber

As we saw with Lindsay Lohan, fat girls attacked her because she's young, talented and beautiful.  Punks attacked her because they couldn't have her.   As the situation unfolded, the bloodlust got more and more intense as no-one would be happy unless her face was rubbed into the dirt and she could never get back up.  Any excuse in law was used to harass her and this from the same people who did absolutely nothing about prosecuting bankster crimes.

The same thing is happening with Bieber.  It's not enough any more to make the annoying boy singer go away, now he must be crushed and destroyed.  There's a gross disparity between the way he is being treated and the way anyone else would be.  An example of this is the suggested punishment for his debacle in Florida.  (Mail Online: Justin Bieber's 'DUI and resisting arrest charges will be dropped if he agrees to random drug testing in new plea deal' )

In punishment for reckless driving and a small amount of marijuana, the cop thugs want:

  • Forty hours of community service
  • Attend an alcohol education course
  • Attend a victim impact panel
  • Have an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle for three months
  • Must submit both his travel plans and touring schedule to the Florida court so that he can undergo random drug testing anywhere in the world (at his own expense) for up to nine months

No-one who ever turned a key in a car's ignition had so much thrown at them for so little.  If he ever gets a parking meter violation, Florida will probably want to cut off a hand.

Healing Friday at Cat's Art MusikCircus

Joaquin Gustav started calling it Healing Friday at Cat's Art MusikCircus as his performances are always very gentle, sweet, and romantic.  In the picture he's playing for Morgana and I'm sure she speaks Spanish but I'm not sure which country.  So here we have Joaquin, in Argentina, playing from Paris in a German venue for a lady who may well be in a fourth country and you have some mutt in the U.S. taking the picture.  It's more than a Second Life, it's a life which would be almost impossible any other way.

There isn't a flashy report to write as Joaquin doesn't do flashy things.  He definitely makes music for dancing and I can cheerfully report that Cat and I spent some while sorting through how a crazy (i.e. verrückte) dance machine works and now it really does work.  There are many more dances available and Cat has found some really extraordinary ones.

Something different in Joaquin's approach is that he plays a tremendous number of shows in Second Life.  This is important for anyone who plays in there as your time can go toward performance or in developing new material but it's very hard to do both.  Joaquin's set won't change quickly but, to a large part, Joaquin's audience doesn't want it to change quickly.  They come for the Joaquin vibe which is the love, the healing, the gentleness ... but don't you go without playing some Tangos.

Voodoo Shilton plays for us while I try to work up some skills as a virtual light man to get the show up to the level of his music.  Voodoo has probably been playing for twenty years so it may take a little while (i.e. twenty years) to catch up but the lights are fun and you can see Voodoo inside a purple bubble at the top.  Cat and I are dancing on the bottom left and that's Kasandra making the yellow explosions.

This wasn't an evening for any Vooquakes (you like that??  Voodoo earthquake??) in which he released a new original but it was smokin' in other ways.  The Tetra Galactar made another appearance and we haven't heard from that axe in a while.  Voodoo said he got it from some blue people in a fog.

The only blue people I ever encountered were very small and they had very large teeth.  They wanted to kill me to take my cigarette lighter.  Some dreams are better than others and Voodoo's dream with the Tetra Galactar was exceptional as he was using a capability in his looper to play the music backwards.  He was then playing on top of that and this got into some trippin' to places where blue people just want to hear the music.  I guess they already have cigarette lighters there.

OK, that blue people report was a little strange, I see that.  In another segment, Voodoo got a request for a cover of a tune by Paco de Lucia.  Voodoo did an excellent job of it but what's remarkable about it to me is that it flowed in his set just as if it were another of Voodoo's originals.  Which is to say de Lucia don't got nothin' on Voodoo.  The man is that good.

In a way it's unfortunate that I'm so admiring of Voodoo's skills that it makes me sound like a shill but I'll say again that I'm not.  I like him personally as he's a very good human and he does good things.  As a musician it's always important to follow people who are better than you or how would you ever learn anything.  Voodoo isn't just the best I've heard in Second Life, he may well be one of the best I've ever heard anywhere.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Beauty and the Beast at Cat's Art MusikCircus

Laralette Lane played the first set last night at Cat's Art MusikCircus and I'm happy to report she is staying with the electric guitar.  She always gives a very sweet set singing in English, German, and Dutch.

The biggest difference in Lara's set over the last couple of her performances has been the change to electric.  She doesn't make it do tricks as with echoes or whatever but she may not have any interest in that sort of thing.  What it definitely gives her is a richer sound and I haven't spoken with her about what's in her kit so I don't know how she is doing it.  Regardless of what magic she uses, there is a great fullness to the sound that is coming from it and I'm glad she pushes forward with it.

On the other hand, there was no sound at all when I came up to play.  There were some problems getting the audio stream connected and, on reflection, that's kind of funny as Siggi is a new performer in Second Life and he is learning about connecting streams now.  Last night he got a lesson in how not to do it ... but things got sorted before everyone got fed-up and left.

A false start rattles me every time as I'm tuned for the start of the show.  The Rainbow Bridge is right there and I'm looking at it.  No-one can cross until the music starts but I'm focused and ...

Thud.  The stream didn't work.

Time passes.  Tick...tick...tick...

I knew what I wanted getting started.  It's cliche to have that fat synth chord filling the hall in the darkness before the band plays ... but it's still one of the coolest ways to start a show.  I had left the loops pre-recorded in the looper so a big nasty synth chord had its time to start and then ... whammo ... straight into it.

I did what I've mentioned previously with similar chord patterns in different keys for two of the phrases and a two-chord bridge-like thing for the third phrase.  This was kind of good and switching back and forth worked well.  However, changing keys is not the same as modulation.  If you go from F to play in C then you changed keys.  Yahoo.  A way to take the audience with you is to guide them from F to C with some intermediate bridge chords and that is modulation.  ("Summertime Blues" is an example in which they don't modulate a key change.  Modulation is only required if the tune needs it.)

The reason for going on with this is that it's not so much about me but rather looping in general.  Maybe you'll see something you would like to try or you'll see something I've done and think, damn, that's rubbish.  I sure won't do that.  Either way, you get something out of it.

The biggest problem with pre-recorded loops is that 'liveness' is gone.  You also lose the 'build' time in which you develop the loop to where you want it to be.  All this is part of the journey to whatever magical place you are trying to create.  If you throw that out with a pre-recorded loop, it may feel like lining up people for the Rainbow Bridge and then firing a starting gun so it's a one-hundred-meter dash to run over it.

Two of the most gifted 'loopists' who perform at Cat's Art MusikCircus are Lefty Unplugged and Voodoo Shilton.  Lefty doesn't do it so much but he is exceptionally smooth at it.  Voodoo has been building up loops for the last year and now his set features them quite a bit.  One of the coolest things about that is he gets the freedom to play more instruments and he is going wild.  Lately he has a passion for strings.  Voodoo will be playing again tonight and who knows what he will do.

The other problem last night was that it was too loud.  That's the one thing that's extremely difficult to reach as I almost never change it during a set so it's not positioned to let me do it.  Other knobs also have to be changed when the master volume changes so there is no quick way to recover.  There's nothing much else to say about it and this is just a note to say I know and that was one of the first things fixed after the set was over.  (I can't keep the cats off the gear and stuff changes sometimes.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Terpistone - The Music of Dance

Leon Theremin is most well-known for the invention that carries his name.  A theremin is a musical instrument which is played by waving your hands in the air around it.  The movements are quite a bit more sophisticated than that but the key point is that there is no actual contact with a string or anything of that nature.  (Wiki:  Theremin)

Theremin also considered what else might control music and that's when he invented the Terpistone, a larger version of the Theremin.  A dancer in front of a Terpistone moves up and down to control the pitch and then forward and back to control the volume.  (Theremin.Info:  Leon Theremin's Musical Dance Platform)

Only one example of the Terpistone still exists but that's not such a tragedy.  Theremin was building these devices in the 20's and 30's or so.  The electronics he had at his disposal were ridiculously primitive relative to what is available today so making another one shouldn't be a huge feat.  There are theremins for sale all over eBay, the electronics just couldn't be that tough.

The only question is why would you bother to make a Terpistone today.  So imagine three or four dancers on a stage all, in effect, jamming with each other through the movements of their bodies.  If you're clever enough with your electronics, one or more of these devices could also be used to control lights.

So, find yourself an E.E. (Electrical Engineer) as there are probably lots of them since so much electronic production was cleverly shipped overseas.  Get cracking on this project and let's see what it looks like.  I know some dancers in the Knoxville area who would make something like this shoot sparks at the Moon so, yah, let's see this device in production.

Paris Obscur Brings the Darkness to Cat's Art MusikCircus

Paris Obscur is a very dangerous man as it's one of the most extraordinary ironies of this time that people are more afraid of truth than lies.  What makes him exceptionally dangerous is the passion inside him to sing these songs for us.  After singing of a particularly painful story, we can hear in his voice how much it has affected him and he has to collect himself for a moment.

As one example, one of Paris' friends was raped and he wrote a song about it.  On hearing the song she was at first back into the pain of the moment but ultimately it helped her deal with it.  Rape is one of the darkest acts people are capable of committing and Paris won't let it slip away as a paragraph in a newspaper on the tenth page.  He brings an emotional surrealism to things that might otherwise slip away and in doing it finds something that may well be more important than whatever is on the front page.

There are many conclusions on can draw from Paris' work but it would insult that work if I identified any of my own as Paris doesn't do it either.  He presents his observations in a fantastically dramatic way and it is up to you to decide what you make of them.  Perhaps you will decide it is gratuitous muckraking ... but I very much doubt you will do that.  If you'll permit a rather inelegant way of saying it, if your underwear is dirty, it really makes no difference if there are no spots on your tuxedo.

Don't leave thinking Paris sings nothing but baleful laments that make the audience want to commit suicide.  In fact he varies his songs up to hard-punching screams and I don't exaggerate as the anguish in the growl of his voice is immensely powerful and extremely intense.  I was turning the lights on and off for the heavy parts and I don't know if I'm much of a light man but hopefully that added something.

It was an exceptional show and he will be back again next month.  Paris is very clear that doing too many shows runs a risk of over-exposure and he's quite right.  He will get exposure anyway as his is a unique talent and today he is featured in the Sim Street Journal with an interview.  The article was written by Eleanor Medier and she was at the show last night.

NSA: We Are Peeping Toms NOT Revolutionaries

The NSA today angrily denounced statements that they have had anything to do with the coups in Ukraine and Venezuela.  They said all of that is the CIA's doing as they're the ones who have such a hard-on for regime change.  The NSA is doing what it has always done:  interference in foreign banks, businesses and governments for the purpose of making illegal military contracts.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pushing Yet More Buttons on a Boss RC-50 - Updated

The Boss RC-50 looper permits three independent loop phrases.  The problem to solve is ensuring each phrase has the same tempo.  The problem I have been having is that the tempo would change for no apparent reason when I switched from one phrase to another.

The fast answer is that the GUIDE has to be on at all times.  While I am using a Boss DR-880 for the drum patterns, it is still necessary for the drum GUIDE on the RC-50 to be active.  The reason is that the RC-50 will use some type of algorithm to calculate the tempo if you turn off the GUIDE and you may (i.e. probably) won't like what it does.

To solve the problem altogether, set the GUIDE volume to anything but zero and then send the output to SUB.  That will segregate the RC-50 drum pattern from whatever you're playing and it doesn't matter if you plug SUB into anything because you don't want to hear it anyway.  (MAIN identifies the output ports for your main speakers and SUB identifies the ports for a sub-woofer / sub-channel.  All are quarter-inch connectors on the back panel.)

For all phrases in your patch, set TEMPO SYNC to ON.  There is one exception as perhaps you don't want one of the phrases at the same tempo as the rest of the patch.  In which case, turn off TEMPO SYNC for that phrase and set the tempo to whatever you like.  I haven't tried this yet and there may yet be time to do it today.

Update:  Nope, that does not work for setting a different tempo for the third phrase.  It may be that I have to stop recording, turn off GUIDE, and then record the third phrase.

Note:  all of this will probably apply to the Boss RC-300 as well.  I didn't see anything radically different about it.

Note 2:  The 'time to play' factor for any song in performance will go through the roof with this.  It takes quite a while to build up a phrase anyway but multiply that by two to do some or all of it in another key as another phrase ... and then add some more for some dream sequence at 40 bpm.  That's a very long time.  For really elaborate stuff, I may have to compromise on Everything Has to Be Live just because it takes so damn long to build it.  More to come on that.

Maestro Michi Renoir and Fried Chicken

Yesterday I missed Deceptions Digital (DD) in her bi-weekly performance at Cat's Art MusikCircus as I was out of the house for some more doctoring.  There's nothing any more interesting about my doctoring than your doctoring so there's nothing to say but I was a wee bit disappointed when they weren't serious about being able to put a third eye in the center of my forehead.

Although I did not see DD's performance, there are two things I know about it:

  • She did not do the same show as the last time I saw her
  • She brought her dog to the show

Deceptions Digital makes new music so fast that she will have one or more new tunes with every performance.  Come to hear her in two weeks for some gorilla walk percussion in really extreme compositions.

There's really no solid review of Maestro Michi Renoir's performance either.  He improvises his set from start to finish but that doesn't mean he goes floating around aimlessly.  To fully appreciate his set, it's always best to hear all of it because there's a flow all the way through it.

Michi Renoir is a 'head-down performer' which is to say he is absolutely absorbed in his music.  If the house were burning, he wouldn't notice until the firemen burst into his studio.  We were talking as he played last night about trips and excursions in music and trippin' music is definitely what he plays, Michi will never be down and out with a tune in three minutes.  That just will not ever happen even though at one time he performed publicly with a punk band.  These days he plays what he wants and what he wants is to go traveling ... and the audience goes with him.

Mein Wort für Michi ist noch sagenhaft!

(My word for Michi is still fabulous / amazing!)

Und letzte Nacht Cat hat einen anderen Musiker gefunden.  Er ist auch einen Deutscher aber er ist nicht so gut mit Englisch als Cat.  Sie hilft ihm und das ist sehr süsse.  Vielleicht werden wir ihm bald hören.

(And last night Cat found another musician.  He is also a German but his English is not so good as Cat.  She helps him and it's very sweet.  Perhaps we will hear him soon.)

(Ed:  Hey, hey, hey.  What about the fried chicken?)

Ah yes, the fried chicken.  The schedule was a bit scrambled yesterday so I was looking at the clock on the way back from Doktor Krankenmaus.  I could see Michi's set had started but I was thinking there was still time to be there for at least some of it.  There was no time to stop anywhere to eat so there were only one question to be answered:  how many steps does it take to get to the fridge to get some chicken and then to the computer to see Cat and the show.

The Galactic Peace Tour recommendation on fried chicken is not Kentucky Fried but rather is Church's.  In part this is because I saw a picture of KFC's Colonel Sanders with Alice Cooper and I thought, hmm, these guys have pretty much the same product.

Church's doesn't get gooey in the fridge like KFC and it tastes better before it ever goes into the fridge.  Church's makes the best fried chicken ... unless you go to see The Preacher in Cincinnati as he made the best chicken in the city and perhaps in the whole Universe.  The Preacher's chicken was so hot with spices that your fingers would catch fire from it.

Whether Maestro Michi's music is better with or without fried chicken is a subjective determination so I can only suggest trying it yourself to find out.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Reefer Miracle Cure ... But That's a Problem

The medical literature is expanding as more of the health-giving aspects of marijuana are discovered. There's no point in, erm, rehashing that as much is common knowledge and you can read the latest news.  What is most interesting just now is a specific piece of that news regarding the extraordinary benefit that came to one child.

Charlotte Figi was having up to three hundred grand mal seizures per week and nothing worked to give her any relief ... until someone gave her a specific variety of medicinal reefer.  Since then there has been a radical improvement in her physical condition and in what she is capable of doing.  (AP News:  Colo. pot aids kids with seizures, worries doctors)

While this is grand news for Charlotte, it's really not so good for medicine as what is Dr Welby to say when a patient comes into his or her office to ask for the same treatment for another kid.  There's nothing much that can be said as there is no verified optimal dose, length of treatment, etc.  In this regard, the science lags far behind what is being learned in the field.  Given the evidence, any researcher capable of doing more than paraphrasing other people's work will dig into it to determine if it's real and repeatable.  Being repeatable is hugely important.  If the reefer cures Charlotte then you've got a good story for Reader's Digest.  If it cures all those kids then you have a good story for a Nobel Prize committee.

It's dangerous business.  Reefer is fundamentally harmless ... unless you are vulnerable to it.  For children such as Charlotte who are prone to seizures, giving them a strain of reefer with any measure of excitability to it is likely to cause far more problems than it solves.  There's no way any doctor would risk that so the value of the plant in formal medicine is not, at present, too high.  Nevertheless, other benefits (e.g. pain relief) are known and documented but they're obvious whereas improvement of circumstance for someone afflicted by seizures is dramatic and previously unknown.

Reefer will be legal soon enough.  States are falling all over each other getting it on the books.  Governors are sniffing out easy tax dollars as there's nothing that excites the libido of a politician so much as another sin tax.  Some states will hold out as Kansas and Iowa have pretty stupid ideas about a lot of things but even they will yield eventually.  At the rate it's going, it would probably be a surprise if it takes more than five years for medical marijuana to become legal across the country.  That deal is really already done, it's just a matter of letting the clerks (i.e. politicians) fill out the paperwork.

The biggest interest is in how quickly the medical community can respond.  Whatever the phenomenon with Charlotte Figi, science needs to understand it and very quickly.  Much of the study is being handed to them but it remains to be seen how long it will take for an effective evaluation to the point at which doctors can prescribe this treatment for others.

Don't expect the Food and Drug Administration to move quickly on this.  While criticized constantly regarding time-to-market concerns, the FDA has remained the most steadfast and effective defense against bad medicine the world has ever seen.  Please don't waste my time with hysterical examples of failures as I haven't forgotten when the Thalidomide babies were on the cover of LIFE magazine.  The examples of those failures exist but they do not refute the validity of my initial contention that no-one has ever been better protected against bad drugs.

As a parent of a kid with the same affliction as Charlotte, your first thought on being rejected by an actual doctor is to get in touch with Charlotte's parents to find out what they did.  For this reason, it's crucial that the research be conducted quickly.  Charlotte's people will mean well but they may provide information they thought was helpful in her treatment but really was not.  That information will then become part of a folklore that will be almost impossible to replace once the actual science is known.

It's a complex problem.  Anyone would want the same relief for other kids that Charlotte seems to be getting but no-one would want to make their problems worse.  Science will have to do some serious skating to keep up with what's happening.

Leon Theremin Playing the Instrument He Invented (video)

The theremin is one of the most mystical instruments of the sixties even though it was invented long before that time by Leon Theremin.  (Wiki:  Leon Theremin)

The most famous example of anyone playing a theremin in rock is Jimmy Page and that bit may have been the coolest a theremin performance will ever get ... but ... that's not all it does.

Leon Theremin thought it would be cool to see if he could direct music and lights from the movements of dancers.  We can only try to envision what that might have looked like and then wonder why it was not continued.  It seems this could still have enormous potential for expression today and, in fact, I have some firestarter nieces / nephew in Knoxville and they would be just the ones to do it.

In individual performance, I don't think a theremin would be all that cool except for something to do when you're really wasted.  I don't typically get really wasted but I would be willing to sacrifice myself if I had one of these.  They don't cost so much (e.g. about $125 - $150 US) so it might even happen.

When playing the instrument, you're not touching anything.  This is all so gloriously intellectual but there are no sexy bits so that's a strike against it immediately.  The other is that it would be a physical bitch to do it.  When you're playing a physical instrument, your arms can relax at least a little bit some of the time but that won't ever happen when you hold them out in space like that.

Irrelevant Side Note:

During the Charles Manson trial, li'l Chuckie and all his li'l Mansonites assumed in the courtroom a pose of a crucifixion by holding their arms outstretched on each side of them.  My ol' Dad laughed at them and said they were idiots, no-one's arms are strong enough to hold that position for long.  Of course that's not what happened as the judge reacted to try to force him to stop and Chuck got all the drama he wanted.

Getting e-Cigarettes for Cheap Online

Tinkerbell got an e-cigarette device from an outfit called Clear Smoke and it cost her about $80 US.  She has been well-satisfied with it and has now stopped smoking conventional cigarettes.

Spending $80 US was out of the question so I asked for more information and Someone Who Knows suggested the following, all of which comes from a Fast Tech supply house in Singapore.

== Items ordered ==

#1. SKU 1518100 - 2-in-1 510 USB Charger (71cm)

#2. SKU 1357202 - Vivi Nova V5 Electronic Cigarette Round Mouth Atomizer w/ Two Heating Cores (3.5mL)

#3. SKU 1408803 - EGO-C Twist "1100mAh" Variable Voltage Rechargeable Battery for E-Cigarette

#4. SKU 1312213 - E-liquid for Electronic Cigarettes (100ml)

== Order total ==       $28.15

As to the bits working together, I'm informed that all bits of this type are pretty much compatible with everything else so it doesn't matter which vendor makes one bit or another.

Suddenly the cost is almost down to a third of what it would have been and this order has been placed.  It will arrive in, at most, two weeks.

The term 'e-cigarette' is boring and stoners call the same thing a 'vape' or a 'vape pen.'  Vape is ugly but it's not as bland and boring as e-cigarette so it will have to do.

I don't know if this device can be used for smoking marijuana but I assume it can if you have the equivalent of the goo that's used instead of cigarettes.  I don't know how such stuff would be produced from a bud of marijuana but that's not the moment's subject anyway.  If you want to learn about such devices, take a look at "High Times" as they have plenty of information on the matter.  You will find the devices frequently cost more than $200 US and there's little to nothing on whether they can be used with nicotine goo as well as marijuana goo.

Some may think it's senseless to spend money on this at this stage of things and maybe that's so but I'm not the only one in the house who smokes.  For less than thirty bucks, two people will try it and the Texas Tallboy may even give it a go as well.

I'll report on this as it goes along and the product should arrive in about two weeks, hopefully less. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Billion People Ranting or Oh Gee, Let's Have a Protest

There was a deal on Valentine's Day about a Billion Women Rising.

(Ed:  what happened?)


A few days before that there was a deal on We Won't Take It Anymore regarding the NSA.

(Ed:  what came of it?)


Both of the causes are good.  Things should be fair for women.  Obviously.  People don't want perv cops from the NSA looking in our underpants.  Fair enough.

But ranting doesn't do anything.

In fact, I don't believe I've ever seen a recording in which Noam Chomsky has even raised his voice, much less got angry, and he has worked harder and longer for peace and equality than most people alive.

Causes are so common that they have Web pages which have long lists of them.  There are charities for everything from rescuing African babies to saving chipmunks.  There are protests, uprisings, and conflicts coming from everywhere.

But there isn't much unity in anything.

My interest is in what happens when the causes unite for the people.  We've seen what the rich will do and we've seen it for millennia.  They will make slaves drag rocks to build pyramids, they will put children into coal mines, and they will flog the living hell out of you to make it seem like it was all your fault.

There's a rich man who made a fortune at a young age and then he set about to give it away.  He amassed nearly seven billion dollars but then decided it was ridiculous as there was no way he needed so much.  For the last ten years he has been going about building hospitals, schools, etc, etc.  He gives money so poor kids can go to college.  It's incredible as this guy is a walking, talking saint.

Obviously he's a saint and that's a magnificent thing but the point is the difficulty he has had giving that money away.  It has taken him ten years of determined effort and it's still not gone.  (Forbes:  Chuck Feeney: The Billionaire Who Is Trying To Go Broke)

And you seriously think that increasing a tax on the rich will affect their lives in any perceptible way. Right.

Again I emphasize that I don't mean Johnny Appleseed who has been planting apple trees all his life. He's worked hard, got married, raised some little whippers and maybe saved up a couple of million bucks.  Don't screw with Johnny Appleseed as he's good people.  The rich I mean can throw millions around like it's a confetti storm for a returning astronaut.

However, focusing only on taxing the parasites won't solve the problem as that turns into just another rant on just another day.  The actual focus is that a lot of people are fucking starving and it's a rich fucking world.  They starve for food, they starve for spirit, and most of all they starve for opportunity.

My nephew went off to college and got a degree in history.  In the old days, that meant you would end up in sales and that's ok.  You've got to survive and history doesn't pay the rent.  Today, however, my nephew looks around and there's nothin' there.  Of course there's something and he just hasn't found it yet but it's much, much harder than it once was even for a kid who has put in the time.  He is one example of many as I can point to a very long line of high-performance kids who are being absolutely wasted in pointless bullshit jobs that will never go anywhere.

My ol' Dad once whined that he thought the entire generation was lost to drugs.  Perhaps it was but that's a different subject.  In my view, it's an even greater tragedy when a generation is lost to apathy.

It may not seem to be apathetic for a billion women to rise but the apathy is going into it knowing not one damn thing will come out of it and, as you saw, nothing did.

The only strength is in unity.

Everyone should have equal access to the misery of marriage.

Equal pay for equal work.

Everyone should have food and medicine.

Everyone should believe whatever the hell they want without worrying being blown up by some asshole who believes something else.

These things are self-evident and yet you would have at least four causes out of them, five if you count people arguing on Facebook as to whether unity is even necessary.

There is only one cause and it's the people.  When that is recognized and people rise up as one, there will be change.  Until that time, there will only be talk.  Maybe there will be periodic flare-ups that cops will easily crush but nothing will change ... but ... as one, we can change anything.

The point isn't so much that Martin Luther King had a dream but rather where is yours.  There were so many people in Washington when he gave the "I Have a Dream" speech that you couldn't see the ground.  That's what happens when people unite.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the White Castle Slider

White Castle was established in 1921 as what may have been the first hamburger franchise.  They quickly got a reputation as the worst hamburgers that will ever be made ... but that didn't stop the franchise from spreading all over the northern U.S. and it continues today.  That cheeseburger is now known in song and in legend as The Slider.

A friend once came back to Cincinnati to visit and said there was nothing to do in Cincinnati except get wasted and go to movies.  However, he left out one thing:  you can get drunk and go to White Castle at two in the morning.  (You can also go to Skyline Chili when you're drunk at two in the morning and it's a much better bet.)

White Castle was already the hands-down worst value there has ever been in cheeseburgers.  By weight, there's no more-expensive sandwich on the planet but they cleverly came up with a way to make them even more expensive as they have a line of frozen products.  Despite the poor value, a package of these cheeseburgers jumped into the cart at Wal-Mart and an epiphany came over me:  it is time to introduce White Castle to Texas.

The introduction did not go well, despite initial enthusiasm from my friend.

"Errrmmm, I don't know," she said.

In Texas English, that means 'it really sucked hard but you are my friend and I do not want to say it ... y'all.'

(The lack of enthusiasm is likely because Fort Worth is home to Kincaid's, purveyors of the finest cheeseburger in America and probably the entire world.  Texans can't make chili worth a damn but they do make good burgers.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

About those Jams w/Boss RC-50 and DR-880 - Updated

There's been nothing public but that's ok as there was progress in the Rockhouse anyway.

Most of the focus has been on the Boss RC-50 looper as it permits three independent phrases but I usually only play with one of them.  Something you might do is use Phrase 1 for a twelve-bar pattern in C and then use Phrase 2 to record it again in E.  With those two phrases in-place, you can flip back and forth between them and the RC-50 is intelligent enough to play out a phrase before switching to the other.  Then you can play some lead in each key and sound like you know what you're doing.

What's missing is modulation.  Usually when you go from one key to another, there will be some kind of bridge chords.  Those are missing with this type of recording so it becomes a bit like musical peek-a-boo as it goes now I'm here and now I'm there.  It's ok as there's definitely still musical coolness in it but working with it is novel.

The other aspect of play has been getting the Boss DR-880 drum machine to behave.  In recent shows the drums have sometimes been, at best, overpowering and sometimes worse.  Some of you have heard it when the drums changed tempo for no apparent reason but that problem is now, I believe, solved.  (Tech note:  the change was in the RC-50 to switch MIDI timing from AUTO to INTERNAL.  The manual says for this purpose to use AUTO but I have had multiple problems with that whereas INTERNAL results in a stable tempo with the master clock coming from the RC-50.)

UPDATE:  Scratch that.  It's not solved.  It was just waiting.  It has to do with TEMPO SYNC that's set at the Patch level but that has some concerns as well.  More to come as I experiment with it.

The crap drum patterns in the RC-50 are also definitely murdered as I've directed that output to a channel which isn't connected anything.  This also solves some intermittent problems as the end result is that the DR-880 is definitely providing all percussion.

Middle-Aged Twerking - A Mounting Problem

There was a time when the biggest worry with Aunt Harriet at a wedding reception was that she would grab the band's microphone during a break so she could do a drunken cover of "My Heart Will Go On."

Time also has moved on ... and now Aunt Harriet thinks she is Miley Cyrus.  When she tries to cover "Wrecking Ball," it's bad but when she tries to twerk with the band it's very bad.   She's shaking thirty years of Dunkin' Donuts like she's going to die if she doesn't get some bone before she leaves the stage.  Shake it, Aunt Harriet, shake it.

Aunt Harriet doesn't understand cellphone video or that she will be on YouTube and be a world-wide twerking sensation before the song is over.

Save Aunt Harriet.  You must.

But ...

If you didn't stop her then send us a copy of the video, strictly for informational purposes, of course.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Voodoo Shilton does "The Circle Dance" for Valentine's Day

This picture is so strange that I just had to go with it.  (If you could pull back then you would see these are part of a very cool stage of hearts)

"The Circle Dance" is Voodoo Shilton's newest song and he wrote it yesterday, as in yesterday before the show at Cat's Art MusikCircus.  That would impress you more if you had heard it as this is yet another extraordinary original.  The song is different in that there's a riff Voodoo uses and he jumps back and forth to start it on different roots so this change is always keeping you interested.  There is great coolness in the vibe as it felt bright and live ... but we'll never hear it again, at least not as it was last night.  Voodoo is developing it so you can be sure it will be different when he next plays it.  That's how Voodoo does and it's why it's a very good idea to buy his performances.  They don't cost much and they're all different.

The other part of the show last night that particularly needs mention was his electric guitar playing.  A big part of Voodoo's play is extraordinary precision as he never hits the wrong note and he never hits anything he didn't intend so there's no spurious sound.  His lead lines are fast but most of all they're coherent and you can follow every note as he goes.  Even if you only hear the two songs I've mentioned here, Voodoo's show would be a treat ... and then he plays for another hour.  I'll find out if there's any way you can hear a recording and will report back later.

It was a spectacle!  Cat and I are dancing on the far left in the middle of the picture.

Valentine's Day Show from Joaquin Gustav

Joaquin Gustav isn't going to play an exciting show as it's neither his style nor his purpose.  What he will give you is an hour of Argentinian romance that people have been enjoying in Second Life for six or seven years.  Listening to Joaquin is for when you're with someone you love and you want to dance but don't want to hear the latest crumby pop tune.  Joaquin covers some pop tunes but they're older ones that are getting the class of standards and he does them in a Latin jazz style.

What can be fascinating is that Joaquin's music seems so calm and yet if you listen closely you will hear his fingers blazing over the fingerboard.  He plays very quickly and with great tenderness which gives a delicate sound that goes all the more toward the romance.

Joaquin's show will vary as he was doing mostly covers last night toward the theme of Valentine's Day.  At other times he may play with lots of tangos and you can hear how much he enjoys playing them.  He doesn't even have to say it.  At yet other times he may play kind of a Latin jazz improv and these are my favorite in what he does.

Oh, did I say something about exciting ... check this out:

Don't worry about the audience going to sleep.  (That's Cat and I on the lower left and Kasandra exploding things mid-screen)

So, You Don't Think Cops Can Ride (video)

Here's a cop, Quinn Redeker, of the Ventura PD who shows how to ride a BMW R1200RT-P.  Yah, and you thought you could handle a big bike.  Well, well ...

I did ok with big bikes except for, well, nearly getting killed on one.  Lotho was the best and I'm pretty sure he never broke a single bone.  Of three brothers, he is the only one who never broke a bone on a motorcycle.  If you have guessed there might have been a bit of reckless behavior, that would pretty much cover it.

Too Cheap to Tip in Second Life

Well, actually, I'm not cheap at all and will tip performers whenever I hear them play, I always have.  However, to do that you must have some jingle in your pocket and that's when Performer Mathematics comes into it.  If you want to give away more tips in a week than you make in your own gigs then you will either have to become a politician or change the way money works.

Each week I'll go to six to eight shows at the MusikCircus.  At $250L per show, that could easily be $2000L per week.  I don't make that so I have two choices:  tip only some of the MusikCircus performers and play favorites or don't tip any.  Obviously some are better than others but I won't make any distinctions of that nature in what I write and I won't do it in how I tip so my answer is don't tip at all.

This is not a complaint about what I make in there.  I'm playing exactly where I want to play and I play for the people for whom I most want to do it, most particularly Cat.  No-one understands freeform like she does, in or out of SL, and she finds people who want that too.  It's not hyperbole that Cat's Art MusikCircus is different, it really is.

I just wanted to write this one to let people know there is nothing personal in any change to my tipping habits.  It is not a review or a criticism.

Friday, February 14, 2014

And Then Some Politics

Utah has introduced legislation to ban the use of traffic cameras that capture and identify car license plates.  This type of software is typically used with traffic light cameras and there is concern about extension of that to include capturing license plate information for every car.  That could then be used to track where people are going and, to some extent, what they're doing.

The company that makes the device that does the capturing is suing under the premise that its free speech rights are being compromised.  (AP News:  License-reader firm says new law curbs free speech)

The lawsuit is frivolous but the traffic camera situation is not and a great many people are livid about them.  At this point, with so many in-place, they're probably unstoppable.

Freedom of medical information

I said the other day that I would want to know if my kid has a genetic vulnerability toward addiction and I might as well extend that to knowing about any of my kid's genetic diseases.  The response was why not implant a chip at birth that has this information and abandon any pretense of privacy.

This one seems inevitable also as carrying your health records on some biochip inside you could be a tremendous health benefit, particularly in an emergency.  I also don't see any reason to pretend there is privacy as any individual information is stored by insurance companies already.

There are lots of security considerations as maybe you envision a sci-fi tracking in which they can follow your movements by satellite by tracking your internal chip.  Maybe they could but does it even matter.  What they can do really isn't the problem.  What people let them do is a very big problem.

Music and the Soul - Learn Those Chords

Willie said to learn those chords when the Lightning Boy wanted to learn how to play but he didn't say what the chords mean.  He learned it on the road and Lightning Boy would as well.

There are classical thoughts on the feelings and thoughts that will come from each musical key and maybe this is one of the oldest streams of musical thought.  You can read the detail for each key at Characteristics of Musical Keys.  It's ironic as the page is written with such pragmatism but it is expressing the entire scope of music.

Each musical key is physically different from each other as the distance or interval between each note in the key's scale is not the same for different keys.  Going into the reasons for that requires deep physics but that's not needed for the concept.  For the purpose here, it's only important to know this is not hocus pocus as the keys really are different so there's a physical reason they would cause different things to happen, have different effects, etc.

What intrigues me (i.e. mindfucks all hell out of me) is that the association with F minor is deep depression.

Fark!!  What?

I really wouldn't have said I am deeply depressed.  I am not exactly satisfied with my circumstance but I wouldn't have said I'm depressed about it.  I've been playing F minor almost exclusively, tho.

My personal aspect isn't that interesting except insofar as what I hear when I play it as I find it deeply soulful and expressive.  The chords are ridiculously simple but there's a huge effect in going from F to D flat that's relieved a little in going to C but then it does it all over again.  This is close to the simplest musical structure that exists and yet it is immensely powerful or at least that's what I perceive from it.  (The bit starts from F sus rather than F minor but it comes out the same.  The A in the F major is effectively an accidental and that's part of what interests me.)

If this is to evolve, perhaps it takes a key change but to what.  Going up a third is predictable but we go to A flat anyway and find that one is the 'key of the grave' so it seems our depression gets worse.

Going into the detail of this as it goes would be like trying to do musical paint by numbers but I thought you might be interested in some of the reasoning that goes on in the background and it may apply to your own music as well.

Learn those chords, Lightning Boy.

Bootscooting your Laptop

I have no idea what that means, I just want my laptop to go faster.  The biggest problem with laptops is that the internal disk often doesn't spin that fast.  Second is that the transfer rate from the disk is not so good and the result is that making it go fast is like pushing mud through a straw.

Check out what ports are available on your laptop.  If you can connect an external disk, then you can almost certainly get one that spins faster than the internal disk.  In my case, it's a Firewire 800 port so the transfer rate is also considerably faster.

After getting the hardware, you've got to re-locate your system disk from the internal drive to the external drive.  I'm not going to go into detail on this as the process varies considerably and you will be cold screwed if you try it without knowing what you're doing.  For Mac users, I have found Carbon Copy Cloner to be safe and effective.  You can clone your system volume for free under its trial and you can buy it for forty bucks for use as your permanent backup solution.  (Note:  Carbon Copy Cloner is updated for Mac OS X Mavericks)

The result of this gambit is it skyrocketed the laptop.  Launches are faster, programs run faster, blah, blah.  It's a big geek pain in the ass doing stuff like this but, whew, what a hassle when it runs slowly.


God Likes Fried Chicken and Electric Guitars

When payday comes, what you do is go off to Church's Fried Chicken and get a bucket as you can be eating from it for days.  So there was chicken joy on Wednesday which was followed by a two-hour show last night.  I never play two hours these days so I conclude God let me do that because he likes fried chicken.

There are no back tracks in what I am using, in part because I've used them too many times already.  Part of my responsibility to any audience is not to throw away my older stuff but it doesn't at all go where I want.  I don't hate the stuff, it's just too restrictive.  The biggest reason, tho, is that I hate computers.  I have always hated computers.  I worked on them for thirty years, hating them every moment along the way, but that was ok as they hated me too so it was a fair game.

(Ed:  you don't know what you played last night, do you?)


I know I opened with "Off the Wall" as it's so much in my head that it would be crazy to play anything else and have both competing with each other.  It's just some of the chords from "Cool Enough for Cat" and maybe there's a Cat symphony coming.  I just know if I'm going through any Gateway, I'm taking her with me.  Screw Valentine's Day cards, this is the Big Trip.

After the show had been going for a while, Cat said it had been exceptional and maybe she's blinded by love or not but her thoughts are huge as you've read me on her musical knowledge multiple times. Between her knowledge and my impressionism, there's a musical impressionism in the middle.  It's not that she will steer anything as you don't steer impressionism, you feel it.

I have listened to the archive recording, at least the first 13-14 minutes and was not satisfied.  The guitar sounded piercing and that's not at all satisfactory.  To get the sound I want, you've got to go right on the edge of something that will hurt your ears and I mean actual physical pain.  Just short of that is incredibly beautiful but push it too far and it's nothing but ear damage.  Even after all these years, finding the 'sweet spot' is just as delicate as it ever was.

But, what the hell, I think there's still some fried chicken left. know what that might mean is playing again tonight.  We already reviewed that God likes fried chicken.  It would be madness to follow Voodoo as you've already read that he's a total fuckin' genius but, hey, it's Valentine's Day.  By that time it's quite late in Deutschland so we'll see.  Whatever happens there will be a report tomorrow.

Sonya Jevette Gets All Sultry at the MusikCircus

Sonya was back a few weeks ago but she was really, really back last night.  There were some bumps getting started but they were not Sonya's fault as I'm highly sure she was a victim of the network being a bitch because it didn't have a date for Valentine's Day.  So we did a little fiddling up front to help her get her levels right and then on with the show.

There is a large crop of skinny white girls singing pop songs now and that's ok as kids like that but the problem for anyone else is that all of them sound almost exactly the same.  Sonya sounds like no-one but Sonya from the first note she sings and the sound is unforgettably beautiful.  So you can listen to a kid sing or you can listen to a woman and only a woman can give you sultry, a kid doesn't even know what the word means yet.

Sonya plays her own accompaniment and what's very unusual is that she often plays some lead.  Sure you can point to examples of women who play lead in RL rock bands but you'll find precious few who do it in Second Life.  In fact, I'm pretty sure Sonya is the only one.  She's got a big ol' Gibson ES-335 and the lady has come to play.  (That's similar to what B.B. King plays.)

What really sets Sonya apart is her singing and it's that little touch of vibrato that catches you.  I don't believe she charts when to use vibrato and when not but rather she has the simpatico.  She just knows.  If she used too much then it would become some corny Hollywood product but if she didn't use it at all then her music would be less.  Vibrato is a very high art and Sonya is exceptionally good at it.  (Vibrato is when you make a note 'warble' just a little bit and it's similar to using a twang bar on a note on a guitar.)

So I'm most pleased to tell you that Sonya Jevette has returned to Cat's Art MusikCircus and she will be back every two weeks on Thursday.  In a world that's full of lazy people playing Velveeta music (i.e. karaoke with backing from commercial SPAM tracks), Sonya has been out there paying her musical dues for years.  She plays, she learns those chords, and she takes that everywhere she possibly can to work.  Something you don't hear too much these days is about 'paying your dues' but Sonya can tell you all about that.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Off the Wall" is Deemed Not to Suck

After you play something, you've got to listen to it and perhaps many times depending on how many stab wounds you want to put into yourself.  I've listened to "Off the Wall" multiple times and the lead guitar is not loud enough but I'm ok with it.  I want it to scream but I don't want it to pierce and the latter has been a problem.  You know I can get a much better mix in recording independent tracks but I want it live.   It's on the Ride the Dragon podcast:  Off the Wall (free).

Yesterday I said the audio sucks but really it doesn't.  It's not at all a studio recording but I wasn't trying to make one.  The density of the backing loop is something of extremely high interest to me and I'm curious to know what looper Voodoo uses as he seems to have quite high flexibility in bringing phrases and/or loop segments in and out of it.  Those are the bits that layer up to make the loop.

Yevette heard the set from the other room and she said there was something she really liked.  Um, "Off the Wall" wasn't it.  Maybe there will be time to look for it today.

After all these years, the Galaxy Guitar is closer to sounding like what I always wanted from a guitar than anything ever has.  It seems the colors it can paint are limitless but the touch is crucial.  She is not a sissy girl who just wants to hold hands and look at ducks.  You won't hurt her and she wants you to show her the power before she will come out to meet it.  This is important anywhere on the neck but it is absolutely crucial when you get high up.  If you are timid or afraid, you will die.  Now that is one bad-ass female!

Complex arrangements don't particularly interest me just now.  What I want is to bust through the Gateway with some simple chords and then stay there.  How long it's cool to stay there depends on how much you repeat yourself.  Some repetition is necessary and some is blindingly beautiful but too much is boring.

For the total musical mindfuck, there's when you ask if you listen to it because it's good or just because you did it.  You can amuse yourself all day asking that one.

One thing I did edit was to remove the build-up segment from the tune.  To make a loop, first play some piano, then bass, then maybe some angel voices, then some clean guitar chords, blah blah.  Even for a short loop that can take a long time.  The only other choice is to pre-record it but then it's not live so that's a balance to make.  Some kind of variation of this will definitely come up in the show tonight so we'll see.

For any SL show, I've been using Cat's audio stream as it's exceptionally reliable, etc.  However, it wouldn't be ok to put the URL on the open Internet as I'm not the only one who uses it.  Therefore, I'm seeing some value in getting another stream as then I could post it here and if you are interested to listen, you could tune into it via iTunes, WinJam, etc.  You wouldn't see my studly avatar but I imagine you would survive.