Cerebral Flotsam And Jetsam - My Mental Maelstrom

19
Apr
2020
0:46

The Timeless And The Modern

I previously wrote about how sometimes I want to express something and yet simultaneously don’t necessarily want a lot of attention on it and so this rarely (if ever) visited website is a perfect medium in some ways.

Sometimes, a little snippet of poetry (though for some reason, I hesitate to call it that) comes to my mind. It always feels a bit strange writing poetry or lyrics about modern things like texts or social media. I’m not sure why. I guess, art feels so ancient and powerful and it feels strange or somehow shallow or dumb to write about that stuff, though I know that’s ridiculous. We live in a modern age and art can express anything we want it to, so why should modern subject be any less valid or meaningful?

Anyway, if this is about you, I apologize. I checked my analytics and I’m fairly positive the subject that inspired this mental snippet on my walk tonight never comes to this site, so I don’t think there’s any risk of guilt or poking sore places.

Do you ever secretly hope it’s me?
Do you feel a phantom vibration and reach for it, somewhere deep in the electricity of your brain, the blood in your veins, the air in your lungs, hoping to see my name?
A faint, strongly denied and resisted flicker of desire to see the combination of letters representing my being on one of your digital avenues?
Or have you really so thoroughly deleted me from your neurons that not a single synapse fires on my behalf any longer?
Null.

15
Apr
2020
14:00

Thriving In Quarantine

Things I’ve done since lockdown that you should definitely (I mean, if you wanna) check out. #shamelessselfpromotionedition

  • Recorded and released a new song. Here’s all the details including the story of its making. I also thought of a few last-minute production things that made me cackle with glee even though most likely no one will detect them but me so it was just updated today with the final version. I say final because if it isn’t I’ll have to rename the song “Someday, I’ll Stop Tweaking This song, But Not tonight.”
  • Redesigned my website. You’re looking at it now.
  • Re-wrote the problematic lyrics to the Rolling Stones song “Brown Sugar” into something tasty and useful.
  • Wrote a special Quarantine Love Song.
  • Covered an apropos Jellyfish song.
  • Recorded a dramatic monologue for the #OneMinuteMonologueChallenge on Instagram.
  • Live streamed a dramatic reading of Masque Of The Red Death and then a very not-dramatic reading of it.
  • Re-mixed the Friends Theme to have way more claps because of an off-hand silly comment on a friend’s post

Recorded VO as a foul-mouthed pirate cat for a web series, began recording audiobook narration for 4th book in a series by Andrew Hunter (I also narrated the previous 3). Played a lot of video games. Slept a lot. Took lots of walks. Got my diet in much better shape. Have stuck to a regular push-up regimen. Edited a series of videos for a friend and re-formatted his book. And probably a lot of other stuff I’m forgetting.

I”m not bragging or trying to detract from the seriousness going on in the world, but for me keeping track of the good and the light is the best, most productive and positive thing I can do. Everyone’ handles things in their own way, and however you are handling it, it’s right and okay. Maybe some of the stuff I’ve done can entertain, make you smile, or have some positive impact. That’s all I can really hope for is to try and put my little orbs of light out into the world. #quarantinethrive

14
Apr
2020
0:23

A Love Letter To TikTok

This is what I love about TikTok. It feels like an open playground. A creative sandbox where you can just play with any old idea that pops into your head no matter how inane, random, stupid, or absurd. It’s so freeing and has made me realize how often we stomp down or throttle our own creativity because we deem it “not good enough” for a million different reasons or just cerebral flotsam and jetsam. I feel it’s good for the mental muscles to just let it run free like we did as children. This video was literally just a spur of the moment random neurons firing. I talked myself out actually capturing it 3, 4, maybe 5 times because it was stupid, nonsense, meaningless, of no value.

Then I just did it. And I kind of liked it. It made me smile. A lot of humor I like has those same flavors. Much of Monty Python could possibly be described similarly (not that I’m at all comparing myself or this to their genius). It felt good to let go of that fear of judgment and just let my brain spit out the piece of absurdity it wanted to play with. Because this is me. And I have a thousand moments like this or more every day.

When I joined TikTok to check it out, I really thought I’d hate it. That it was an app that teens used. I thought I’d check it out and pretty much immediately determine it was not for me and delete it (which is exactly what happened with Snapchat) but to my surprise I fell in love. There are all kinds of people making all kinds of videos and I find myself endlessly sucked in and scrolling and getting crushes on all kinds of awesome people I wish were my friends. But most of all it feels like a wonderful outlet for literally anything my mind wants to express. It doesn’t have to be genius, or fully formed, or polished. Or even good. It just feels so good to stretch those creative muscles and the worst case scenarios is that you get a few views, maybe a crappy comment and then the moment is over. But it still felt good to let it out into the universe.

11
Apr
2020
14:37

Clapocalypse

You ever spend way too much time and effort on a throwaway joke? Like when a post by a friend makes you jokingly say that you want to create a version of the Friends theme that has claps through the whole song? So you get the Friends theme and painstakingly find some group claps in your drum software, and then tune them and tweak the Abbey Road Chambers reverb plugin trying to perfectly match the sound and tone of the original claps? And they’re still not perfect but you realize how much effort you’ve put into this and all the much better things you could have put that effort into so you call it “good enough” and move on with your life?

No? Just me?

MOAR CLAPS
05
Apr
2020
4:03

A Visit From A Muse

From a spark in my brain to finished song: 13 hours.

Long version: I had some dreams last night. I woke up at one point this morning and the idea and chorus for this song were in my head. I was still tired and wanted to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. And this song kept nagging at me to give it life. So I got up and fired up my studio. I knew this was going to be different from anything else I’d ever done. I knew it was going to be all synthesizers when I’m mostly an organic guitar-driven guy. I knew the exact vibe and atmosphere I wanted. I also knew I was going to write it in a way that I’d never written before: as I went along. Just tinkering with sounds and parts.

So, where to start when you have many different synths, each with hundreds if not thousands of sounds? I did a search for every sound that had “Dream” in the title. Then I started going through them all and finding ones that I thought might work for what I was going for. I ended up with about 20+ tracks of synths ready to be used. I started piecing it all together part by part. After about 10 or 11 hours, the music was done and I had a verse and a chorus of lyrics. I took a walk at around midnight and finished another two verses. I got back home and finished the last of the lyrics, thinking I would record vocals tomorrow.

Then I realized that I was going for a very soft vocal style on this song, so despite sleeping roommate’s and roommate’s child, I decided it couldn’t wait. I recorded all the vocals, did a few overdubs and edits, and here we are. Approximately 13 hours from when the muse kissed me, her gift is done. A song completely unlike anything I’ve ever written or recorded before. Everything but the vocals was done with Reason 11 in Reaper.

Some of the identifiable (to me) influential ingredients in this musical casserole:

  • Billie Eilish
  • David Bowie
  • St. Vincent
  • Pink Floyd
  • Jellyfish
  • Cars
  • Annie Lennox
  • Adele
  • Muse

A list of (most of) the synth sounds used (all the “dream”-based sounds):

  • Analog Dreams
  • Dream Sands
  • Ethereal Dreams
  • Galadriel’s Dream
  • Alan Turing’s Dream
  • Dreampark
  • Wavetable Dreams
  • Porpoise Dreams
  • Spock’s Dream
  • Start Your Dream
  • Acoustic Dream
  • Toy Dream
  • Dream Central
  • Soft And Dreamy
  • Dreamsong
26
Mar
2020
18:12

One Capo To Rule Them All

Guitartists: I have found the one capo to rule them all. The G7th Performance 3 ART capo.

I have used Kyser, Dunlop, Shubb, D’Addario, Thalia ($75!) and they all have their issues. The most common capo issues are that guitars have different neck radiuses (or Radii) or how flat or curved they are. Capos are a fixed radius and therefore may not follow the profile of your fretboard perfectly and could cause buzz on the outer or inner strings depending on the capo vs. your radius. The Thalia capos seek to remedy this by having different shaped inserts for the capo. You pick the one that matches your guitar’s radius. However this means that if you want to use the capo on another guitar with a different radius, you have to change inserts. I also had to order a special pack of XL inserts to fit my Rain Song acoustic. The standard ones weren’t tall enough. I also found the Thalia too bulky. Playing a B7 shape at the 7th fret was difficult with the high profile of the capo. The Thalia also suffered from the other common problem…

The other is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitar, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

The other common problem is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitars, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

Then I discovered the G7th Performance 3 ART capo. They ART stands for “Adaptive Radius Technology.” The pad on this capo is built in such a way that it can adapt to the radius of your neck. It also has a really cool and unique tensioning mechanism where you squeeze it on and it stays however tight you squeeze it so you can put just enough pressure as necessary to get a nice clear sound without pushing strings sharp.

At $45 it’s more expensive than any of the others except the $75 Thalia, but I think it’s worth it. My second choice would be the Shubb. Enjoy the fruits of my labors and the knowledge gleaned from way too much money spent on capos over the years.

The other is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitar, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

Then I discovered the G7th Performance 3 ART capo. They ART stands for “Adaptive Radius Technology.” The pad on this capo is built in such a way that it can adapt to the radius of your neck. It also has a really cool and unique tensioning mechanism where you squeeze it on and it stays however tight you squeeze it so you can put just enough pressure as necessary to get a nice clear sound without pushing strings sharp.

At $45 it’s more expensive than any of the others except the $75 Thalia, but I think it’s worth it. My second choice would be the Shubb. Enjoy the fruits of my labors and the knowledge gleaned from way too much money spent on capos over the years.

A video I made, pretty much just saying everything I just said here.

23
Mar
2020
13:05

Dream Theatre 53

I had a dream where someone reached to shake my hand and I was like “Hey, sorry, can’t do that right now.” Sign of the times.

I also had a dream that John Herndon was producing a western and I was one of the leads. He also then asked me to direct it. I was thrilled to do so but as we were setting up a shot, the gaffer seemed very stand-offish and resistant to me and had an attitude so I took him aside and introduced myself and was very kindly like “So what’s the issue here?”

He said he had worked with me on a few shorts and just didn’t like me or think I should be directing. I told him I was sorry he felt that way and hoped I could change his mind.

As we tried to get the next shot, we were very quickly losing the light and then very suddenly it was gone so I started looking for alternatives.

Later, I was trying to wrangle everyone to get another shot and everyone was kind of scattered. I asked what was going on and they said John and some others were part of a Q&A panel going on. That’s when I noticed that this ghost town we were shooting in was having some kind of festival and so there was a lot of people and music and stuff going on. We couldn’t do anything until the panel was over and even then with all the people and noise there was no way we could get a shot.

Someone asked if this meant we would be working super late and I said no, I didn’t believe in that. I was going to hold to reasonable days because pushing people gets diminishing returns so we’d figure it out later and try to move quickly and find ways to make up time and maybe shots we could cut.

Then I woke up. That imaginary gaffer is probably gloating.

09
Feb
2020
18:08

“Follow You Follow Me” by Genesis, Bass Tablature

Learning bass parts for an upcoming project, I decided to try actually notating the bass part to “Follow You Follow Me” by Genesis in tablature just to see if maybe that would be helpful to have in the future (usually I just learn by ear and memorize). Things I learned:1. It’s probably not worth the time it took (many hours), at least not for a complex bass part that has a lot of changes and variations. 2. I’m an amateur as far as writing notation so I may not have done it “optimally,” but I feel like things that are easy to “feel” and play look far more complicated on paper. Like, this bass part isn’t easy, but I don’t think it’s nearly as hard as it ends up looking when written.

“Follow You Follow Me” by Genesis, Bass Tabalture.

06
Feb
2020
1:57

My Rebellious Streak

I’ve posted before about this strange rebellious streak I have in me that I don’t really understand and sometimes find annoying. I found a perfect example tonight.

Learning some bass parts, I was thinking about how I really prefer playing bass with a pick. Now there are certain songs or reasons that I sometimes prefer using my fingers but in general, I like the feel and sound of a pick better and feel like everything is much easier for me. Now, there are some schools of thought (that I do not agree with) that think using a pick is “inferior” to using fingers. I can play great with my fingers too, but vastly prefer a pick. With a pick, everything is just so much more effortless for me, while using my fingers makes me have to “fight” a little bit more.

And yet, I play 90%+ using my fingers. I think partially for fear of not being taken seriously by bass snobs if I don’t but also because it’s harder and less intuitive for me and so a part of me thinks “Well then you should develop that muscle and strengthen it instead of just doing what’s easier and more effortless for you.” I researched different right hand techniques and even with that, instead of using the right hand technique that comes most naturally, I find myself trying to train myself to use other ones that I’ve never used before.

I am ambivalent about this streak in me. On the one hand, it’s great to always push yourself and try to strengthen weaknesses, but on the other, it’s kind of silly to throw needless roadblocks and obstacles in your own path for no good reason other than to “up the difficulty” or to please opinionated snobs. My mind is a fascinating place.