flwyd: (raven temple of moon)
Despite growing up in Boulder, I'd never seen an owl in town until Halloween of 2005 when Tam and I were waiting outside the Fox Theatre to see My Morning Jacket. An owl was chillin' across the street, probably above Albums on the Hill. We figured he might have tickets to the show, because they'd just released the album Z with this lovely cover:
[owls within owls]
The next time I saw an owl in Boulder was, IIRC, a little after midnight on November 2nd. I was standing on top of the parking garage after the annual DeVotchKa Halloween show and an owl was hangin' out atop the new condo at 15th and Pearl. Maybe he'd just seen the show, too.

This year, I didn't go to any Halloween concerts. With my troubles eating lately, three hours spent expending calories by dancing and not eating anything has seemed like a risky proposition. But early this evening, as Kelly and I were raking leaves out of the ditch in front of our house, we heard an owl hoot. We looked up to the mostly bare tree across the street and saw the telltale silhouette of an owl perched on the highest branch. Maybe he missed seeing me at the show and wanted to check in on me.

Thanks, owl. It's been a rough year, but I'm hanging in there. I'll make it to next year's show.
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
There's an old computing proverb (emphasis on the old): Never underestimate the bandwidth of a hurtling station wagon full of 8-track tapes.

In the process of moving[1], I put all 600 or so of my CDs in my Subaru and took them to the other side of Boulder. Assuming an average length of 40 minutes (350 megabytes) and a 20-minute transit time (Foothills Parkway is the only part of the trip where I was really hurtling), the bandwidth was 1.4 gigabits per second, which is faster than most Ethernet. And my station wagon was only half full.

Of course, I spent about two hours putting the data into cardboard-protocol packets. And my back was sore after moving them all up stairs, through the house, and to the car. So maybe there's something to all this copper wire.

This is also the sixth time I have carried over three decades of National Geographic, a very dense publication, to a new location. Reading material relocation is my primary form of upper-body exercise.

[1] More about this move later. The destination is a wonderful house in northwest Boulder we're calling Lucky Gin.
flwyd: (currency symbols)
Eric Garland has a collection of articles about Guitar Center, the company which set out to do for musical instruments what Circuit City did for consumer electronics. The first was a short post about how their business model is failing and their bonds were degraded to junk status. A few months later, he wrote a little longer article with a great title Guitar Center's real problem: their customers are broke, pivoting from the store to the disappearing middle class and the country's significant unemployment problem despite a nominal recovery from recession. His latest piece focuses on the byzantine financial structure Guitar Center's set up with private equity firms Bain Capital and Ares Capital Management and the parasitic effect these financial shenanigans have on the economy.
When I recognized how much the financial markets have become like 2006, I finally figured out why some other financier could shell out $50 or $100 or $300 million for Guitar Center junk bonds. For the customers of private equity, a few million isn't that much money. These investors actually need some higher-risk assets in their portfolio, rather than let their money sit around in a zero-interest rate environment. They might be like Warren Buffett and already have huge stakes in sensible things like Too-Big-To-Fail banks, railroads or Coca-Cola. This just rounds out their overall position. Make 6-9% with the chance that the company could finally go tits-up? Why not! If it pays out, then great, and if it doesn't – tax write off!

In the business reporting during the financial crisis of 2008, you might have heard the phrase "appetite for risk;" this is what they were talking about. When an investment is risky (which basically means the thing you're investing in is more likely to fail), you can charge higher interest rates (which basically means you get more money until it fails). So that's why a few big financial companies can spend the better part of a billion dollars on a company that's likely to have a fire sale and go bankrupt: they've got a budget spreadsheet that says "Spend $XX billion on investments at 6+%."

Imagine an alternate world where the same financiers took the same $3 million per Guitar Center retail store and invested, say, $1 million in each of 940 community music centers. A community music center could be something like a coffee shop of sound, with instruments for sale, music lessons, rehearsal space, and an "intimate" concert venue. This would help foster a local music economy and boost both supply and demand for music.

But now that it's run by equity firms, approximately nobody in the Guitar Center management or financing chain is involved because of a deep desire to increase the amount of music being played, expand musical literacy, build a community of musicians, or even necessarily because they really enjoy selling guitars. They're in it because they think they've got reasonable odds of making a significant return on investment and the pieces of paper making up Guitar Center's corporate structure and debt obligations are an available vehicle for the financial joy ride they want to take. The folks running the show would be just as interested if they'd bought a national chain of soup canneries.

Trevor's Rule for Running a Great Company

Use profit as a tool to grow the business. Don't use business growth as a tool to obtain profit.

One of the things I really love about Google is how it's run, from top to bottom, by people who care about what we're doing. We structure efforts to be profitable so that we can easily invest in improving their quality and bringing them to more people–if YouTube makes more money than it costs, we can keep making YouTube better and serve more of the world's visual stories. Yet not every effort must be profitable on its own; many projects are done because they're good for the Internet or good for the world, with the foresight that a better Internet and a more informed world will be a better world for Google to be in for the rest of this century.

By contrast, a business run by people who don't really care about what the business produces or the people it serves (which is basically the point of private equity firms) has no reason to foster the long-term ecosystem its customers live in. When profit is the product, anything that doesn't put money in investors pockets–no matter how relevant it is to the company's ostensible mission–is likely to be slashed and burned. The private equity firm doesn't care if it clear-cuts the spending power of its customer base or strip mines the market for its colonial products as long as it extracts the monetary resources it needs to fuel its endless quest of profit for profit's sake.
flwyd: (xkcd don quixote)
Last week, some of the old Captain Beefheart fans at KGNU put together a three-hour Captain Beefheart special. You can listen at that link for the next week or so, so if my post eulogizing him last month piqued your interest, check it out. It's got a bunch of tunes I hadn't heard before.
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
With my final day off of the winter holiday season, I did some digital and physical housecleaning. In the one third of my desk I cleared off, I found a CDR in a slim jewel case with the following writing in sharpie:
CF 9 min
Y 40a
40b 37b

Thinking it might be some movie files or something, I popped the disk in.

In fact, it's an audio CD, unrecognized by cddb. It contains nine-tracks, ranging from 2:40 to 17:09 in length. The music is mostly contemporary Latin in style, but with random slices of other music like Pop, Bhangra, Another One Bites The Dust, and Weird Al's White and Nerdy mashed in for good measure. I can't discern any relation between the writing on the disc and the music. If you, or someone you know, gave me this disc, please let me know WTF it is.

And since surreal discoveries are best shared, you can share in my bounty. The upload is in progress as I post this, so if all nine tracks aren't there yet, come back in a bit.
flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
[Trout Mask Replica cover]Captain Beefheart, lesser known as Don Van Vliet, died yesterday at age 69.

It's okay if you haven't heard of him before. As a pure artist, he did everything from inspiration and intuition without letting concerns of business, money, or social expectations change his course. Insofar as he's known, he's best known for his unique music as Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band. Beefheart's vocals cut through the complex instrumentation, sometimes deep and soulful, sometimes pointed and direct. His saxophone and other blown instruments rival the greats of abstract jazz. The musical family ranges from psychedelic blues, as in his 1967 debut Safe as Milk, to poetry and rants to his brilliant but challenging avant-garde Trout Mask Replica, ranked 58th in Rolling Stone's greatest albums list (2003).

I knew I'd get along with my new college roommate one year when I played the used Trout Mask Replica CD I'd found and he said "That's pretty interesting" and didn't once ask me to turn it off. I've never heard anything else like it; it perhaps provides the best connection between a listener and raw creative impulse of any album. It's not always easy to listen to, so if you listen and it turns you off, try some of his more accessible tunes and come back to the fast and bulbous Trout Mask Replica.

Rolling Stone's 1970 article about the Captain is one of the best pieces of entertainment journalism I've seen in a long time. It gives a good sense of both Beefheart as an unconstrained artistic genius and as a difficult person for folks to work with. The description reminds me of Nikola Tesla, another inspired genius that didn't bother with playing by society's rules, to the detriment of his own fame and bank account.

[Boat and Blue Bodagress] Don Van Vliet wasn't just a musician. The Rolling Stone article above describes some of his prodigious output of paintings and poetry. In the early '80s, Vliet stopped performing music and focused on painting from his home in the deserts of southern California. I plan to peruse some of his visual works in the coming days. Two weeks ago, while wandering through Manhattan I stopped at a record store in Greenwich Village. The Captain Beefheart section was my first stop and to my surprise they had half a dozen albums and collections, most of which I was unfamiliar with. I snagged a collection of live tracks and "Poet Rock Musicians of the Desert: Rare phrases and poems from Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band & Jim Morrison (of The Doors) – two of the desert's greatest poet musicians," which I also intend to study soon. As I started poking through the late Bs and early Cs, a man asked if I could move over a bit, and then he looked through the Beefheart offerings. Maybe he's more popular than I thought.

Like many under-understood geniuses, Captain Beefheart was a big influence on people who became better known (and some that didn't, like me), and the Captain was all over Twitter yesterday. I've heard him mentioned along with Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground as the foundation for the music of Generation X and he's probably got a place in the heart of more college DJs than not.

If you, dear reader, are a fan of music, a lover of art, and a friend of genius I encourage you to explore the links above, listen to his music (The Dust Blows Forward is a great and mostly-accessible anthology), track down some videos on YouTube, and learn more about this amazing and unique individual. I know I will.

Captain Beefheart, a man who didn't need drugs because he was out there already, will be sorely missed.
flwyd: (escher drawing hands)
I was recently reminded of a fun episode on LiveJournal from five and a half years ago: Song lyrics in outline form. I got it from [livejournal.com profile] vvvexation post who got it from a post by Dinosaur Comics creator [livejournal.com profile] qwantz. At the time, I wrote my version of Personal Jesus.

Anyway, I've been listening to a lot of Grateful Dead lately and realized that Jack Straw is well-suited to this format. Here's a good performance if you're unfamiliar with the song.

  • Parties involved
    • Shannon
    • Jack Straw
      • Hometown: Wichita
  • Things we can share
    • The women
    • The wine
    • Yours
    • Mine
  • Murder #1
    • Location: Outside fence, 1 mile from destination (unknown)
    • Victim: The watchman
    • Perpetrator: Shannon
    • Loot: 1 ring, $4 in change
    • Situation: Cold blood
    • Shannon's opinion: Heaven sent
    • Jack Straw's opinion: Painful
      • To the ears
      • To the eyes
      • Empathy
  • Conditions of play
    • For silver
    • For sport
    • For life
    • For blood at knifepoint
    • Condition of the die
      • Shaken
      • About to fall
    • Stakes: Winner takes all
  • Travel
    • Depart: Texas
      • Date: July 4th
      • Weather: Hot, overcast, 100% chance of eagles
    • Depart: Santa Fe
      • Carrier: Detroit Lightning
    • Depart: Cheyenne
      • Carrier: Great Northern
    • Destinations
      • Across America
      • Tulsa
        • Carrier: Whichever train comes first
        • Goals
          • Settle score (1)
          • Settle point of pride (1, small)
    • Travel downsides
      • Nowhere to hide
      • No place to sleep
      • Constantly on the run
  • Murder #2
    • Location: Tucson area (0.5 miles from city limits)
    • Time: Morning
    • Victim: Shannon
    • Perpetrator: Jack Straw
    • Disposition of body: shallow grave
  • Final situation
    • Dead man (1)
    • Wanted man (1)
    • Speed: insufficient

flwyd: (charbonneau ghost car)
Follow-up to my previous post: You can listen to the radio show my dad did in Clover's honor for the next week and a half. It's well done and quite touching, even if you didn't know the man. Feel free to skip the several minutes of old news about the fire at the beginning of the show.

RIP Barts CD Cellar

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 09:32 pm
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
I'm very sad to learn that Barts CD Cellar is closing. This leaves Albums on the Hill, which doesn't have much space, as the only recorded music store in Boulder. The Denver area still has the fine Twist and Shout and Black and Read which both sell non-music items ranging from T-shirts and novelty gifts to RPGs and used porn. Now that I work in Boulder, I'll have to concoct more convoluted excuses for why I just happened to be driving by Black and Read with eighty bucks I absolutely had to spend right then. Denver's also got some smaller music stores, some local and some chain, of varying quality.

Aside from travel, I've probably done more discretionary spending on used CDs than anything else. There were semesters in college where after I paid my university bill (covering tuition, housing, and food), I spent more money on used CDs than everything else combined. I haven't bought any CDs since March because I don't have a good place to put them, but I'd better head to Barts this week to get good deals on stuff that won't be there if I procrastinated.

I don't know which hurt Barts more: Internet music sales or recession economy. For all that's great about the Internet, I love buying used CDs in funky local establishments a lot more than on my computer. The fact that selection is limited means I won't spend too much money buying everything I can think of. The search process means I find something interesting and get really excited, a much bigger "I'm Feeling Lucky!" experience than typing a few words into iTunes. Plus, CDs are a more robust storage mechanism. I'd have been really bummed if I'd lost thousands of dollars when I dropped my hard drive on the floor, but if I drop one of my boxes while moving stuff out of storage, I'll probably just crack a few jewel cases. Sure, CDs can get scratched and otherwise damaged, but that's only losing eight bucks at a time.

Update 9/28/2010: Apparently Bart is back in business on a small scale. Bart's Music Shack is at 236 Pearl St. And the focus is people like me who love finding an interesting used CD that they wouldn't have thought to download.
flwyd: (bad decision dinosaur)
Long story short:
I dropped my hard drive on the floor. It stopped working. The only stuff that wasn't copied elsewhere was music. I bought a big new hard drive. I copied a metric crap load of music from my brother's computer. I copied files from a whole bunch of MP3 CDs. I copied a bunch of music from my ex (from a hard drive that used to be mine). In the end, I have a lot more music than before and still have most of my original collection.

Long story long, a clear indication I'm not meeting my Write More Succinctly goals )

Current library stats (including a few thousand missing songs, excluding some audio books, but including others I haven't reclassified):
178,731 tracks
495 days, 17 hours, 21 minutes, 59 seconds
1,021.56 GB
8158 distinct artist names
12673 distinct album titles (lots of Some Album Disc 1/2 titles need to be fixed)
845 genres, though some are frivolous

Largest folders:
Various Artists11.82
Unknown Artist9.95
Frank Zappa7.63
Grateful Dead6.82
Arte Flamenco5.8
King Crimson3.45
Martin Simpson2.58
Pink Floyd2.44
Tom Waits2.38
Cocteau Twins2.08
Yo-Yo Ma2.01
Bob Dylan1.99
Kronos Quartet1.96
Joni Mitchell1.96
John Hartford1.95
Pablo Casals1.93
Lonnie Johnson1.92
Johnny Cash1.84
John Fahey1.84

Time spent on this project: Way too much.
Next project: Figuring out a genre/world music arrangement scheme so when I'm in the mood for something I have some idea what my options are.
flwyd: (bug eyed earl)
Hey anybody in the Midwest (*cough*[livejournal.com profile] sandbar*cough*): You're the next stop on Les Claypool's tour and Denver's best band, DeVotchKa (plus Saul Williams), is opening. DeVotchKa is worth seeing on their own; combined with Claypool it's hard to have a recipe for more fun at a concert.

I saw Les Claypool at the Fillmore on Saturday and had a great time. I missed most of the first opening act, but it was a cool-sounding metal band with electric violin and cello, among other things. Next up was Saul Williams, a philosophy-major poet and rapper. I really like his poems, but the disharmonic music when he raps is very discordant with the bands I've seen him open for. When an audience member said "Les does this just to fuck with us," I recalled DJ Shadow saying "I'll play a hip-hop track to piss off the indie rockers and then I'll play a folk song to make the hip-hop fans go 'Huh?' Because if I'm not challenging you then I'm pandering to you, and you're better than that."

Yard Dogs Road Show was the third opening act, featuring circus side show acts (sword swallowing, crazy juggling) and burlesque dance with good old music. As a fan of Ukulele Loki's Folderol Follies it's no surprise I thoroughly enjoyed their show. Claypool's band this time around included cello, vibes, and drums which gave an interesting twist to a few familiar Primus songs and some interesting long pieces I hadn't heard before. And Eenor, the world's only guitar-playing redwood tree joined them for Thela Hun Gijit. All told, the show lasted four and a half hours, which is a mighty fine deal.
flwyd: (inner maiden animated no words)
Somehow in all my previous listenings to the Cranberries song "Wake Up And Smell The Coffee" on the album "Wake Up And Smell The Coffee," I hadn't picked up on what words come after "wake up and" in the chorus. And yet I still sing along...
flwyd: (1895 USA map)
YouTube videos in honor of the day:
Chocolate City (Parliament-Funkadelic)
One Nation Under A Groove (Parliament-Funkadelic)
Funky President (James Brown)

It's a beautiful day in America.
flwyd: (requiem for a dream eye)
At the P-Funk concert last night, three people asked if I'd "Seen Molly." Since I'd already bumped into a friend of my brother's I didn't recognize, I had to stare at the first girl who asked and think "Do I recognize this person? Why would she be asking about my friend without introducing herself?" I answered "Not here" to see if she would ask a follow-up question.

In case you're keeping track, more people asked me for drugs at George Clinton & Funkadelic than at The Chemical Brothers. I don't remember anyone asking me for drugs at Michael Franti & Spearhead or Kraftwerk (all shows at the Fillmore). I don't think anyone's ever asked me for drugs at the Boulder Theater or the Fox Theater. P-Funk is also the only show I've seen where somebody (two, in fact) tossed a joint to someone on stage who then lit up. Caveat: I've never been to Reggae on the Rocks. And in a reversal of stereotypical roles, a black guy with corn rows secretly reached over and touched my hat. Oh, and Maggot Brain is totally awesome.

One of my favorite Onion articles ever was Clinton to Parliament: It's Time To Drop DA BOMB On Iraq.

Wednesday Gets No Love

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 08:20 pm
flwyd: (big animated moon cycle)
Thursday's Child comes up randomly on iTunes and I say "Hey, it'd be great to create a playlist with one song for every day of the week!" So I start building the playlist and discover one glaring problem: Wednesday. I've got at least two options for every other day, but I only have one mp3 with "Wednesday" in the title and it's by Tori Amos. And it breaks the flow of the other songs. And it doesn't even mention the day.

Allman Brothers Band - Stormy Monday
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Tuesday's Gone
Tori Amos - Wednesday
David Bowie - Thursday's Child
The Cure - Friday I'm In Love
Grateful Dead - One More Saturday Night
U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
The Beatles - Eight Days a Week

One of these things is not like the others. Any suggestions on better songs to cover the middle of the week?
flwyd: (farts sign - Norway)
LOCATION: The music counter at Black & Read, a store selling used books, movies, CDs, vinyl, board games, and porn. Stacks of jewel cases line the counters. Several signs hang in the store advertising a 15%(?) off sale for used RPG books and board games until mid-January. The need for this sale is demonstrated by several stacks of books on the floor next to the RPG shelves. Taped to the back of the cash register screen are a Westword Best of Denver clipping and a post from an Internet review board complaining about the store's customer service.

MANAGER is in his early thirties, wearing a sport jacket, drinking a margarita (or maybe just mountain dew with ice cubes) from an imitation ornate goblet. EMPLOYEE is in his late 30s, hasn't shaved recently, and is wearing a black T-shirt with an old band logo. EMPLOYEE is digging through the CD drawers to find a customer's selection. (When customers select a stack of jewel cases, there's about a 50% chance the clerks won't be able to find one of the discs.) DUSTIN's name has been changed because I don't remember the actual name.

PHONE: *ring*
MANAGER: Black & Read...
MANAGER: Maybe, can I tell him who's speaking?
MANAGER: Do you want to speak to a Dustin?
EMPLOYEE: Not really.
EMPLOYEE: He calls and asks if we have hip hop records.
MANAGER: All our employees are hung over so we don't have anyone else working on the CD side right now. Could you call back in, say, two hours?

Shortly thereafter, a CUSTOMER asks to look at a book of porn star portraits. CUSTOMER says he might buy it later when he has more money. MANAGER praises the book, saying it's great entertainment if you have drunk roommates. Several CUSTOMERS comment that the book looks interesting. MANAGER speculates that the book hasn't yet sold due to "the dick factor," theorizing that many prospective buyers don't want to own a picture of a few naked men even though they presumably watch hetero porn.

Holiday CarDs

Monday, December 8th, 2008 10:53 pm
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
In honor of winter holiday season, here's my non-standard "Christmas card" offer. Leave a comment with your mailing address and I will send you a personalized mix CD. Indicate your favorite winter holiday(s) so I can properly address the delivery. Comments will be screened so you don't broadcast your address to the world.

If you'd like something specific, please indicate what. Example requests:

  • I really like $band, give me stuff that's kinda like them.
  • I don't usually like $genre or $othergenre. Send me some stuff that's good so I can decide if my horizons are broad enough.
  • Give me a CD with songs about $theme.
  • Give me songs by bands with numbers in their name.
  • Fast and bulbous! The weirder the better, man!

I have over 500 CDs (including some not listed) and over 77 days on iTunes, but my genre coverage is nonuniform. If I can't reasonably fulfill your request, I'll let you know.

If there's a flood of interest, I may not get to your disc in time for your favorite holiday. I promise all will be sent before Chinese New Year. If you'll be moving soon, let me know so I can put your request higher in the queue.

If you're of the holiday card sending persuasion, here's my contact information. My favorite winter holiday is winter solstice, but I enjoy the traditions of all of 'em. I'll gladly accept a CD of your favorite music, an interesting card (hand-drawn or otherwise), or just an email or comment saying some variation of "Happy holidays."

If you're of the holiday gift giving persuasion, don't buy anything for me unless you know I'll really, really enjoy it (i.e., it's quite specific to my interests). I'll be moving all of my stuff in a few months and I don't want to shake my fist in your absence for some object I'm forced to relocate. If you feel you must spend money with me in mind, donate to a non-profit organization you think I'd support (EFF, ACLU, Wikimedia, a shareware or open source program you like, wilderness conservation, true progressive politics...). In return, I promise not to burden you with useless objects (unless we're in a White Elephant together).

flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
Image:MMJZ.jpgI lived in Boulder for 24 years and never saw an owl in town.

On October 31st, 2005, Tam and I saw My Morning Jacket at the Fox Theatre in Boulder. While waiting for the doors to open, we looked across the street and saw an owl on top of a building. The band was touring for their new album Z which features owls on the cover. They had a few stuffed owls on stage, too.

This year, DeVotchKa played at the Boulder Theater on Halloween and Day of the Dead. I wanted to go to the former, but tickets were sold out, so I went tonight. After the show, I stood outside the parking garage for a minute to enjoy the warm night air. Suddenly, an owl swooped down and landed on top of the building across the street. It sat for a minute or two before flying away.

WHO were you this year?
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. -- Frank Zappa

Some facts about my music collection:
  • In the past ten years, I have legitimately acquired nearly 500 albums of music.
  • The vast majority of these CDs I purchased used at one of the many fine independent music retailers in the Boulder/Denver area. I hope the RIAA takes note of the fact that when I buy a CD, I'm often inspired to do so by an unauthorized mp3 I downloaded in college.
  • I bring eight CDs to work each day and use the number I listen to as a productivity metric. If I don't spend much time listening to music in a day, I probably didn't spend much time programming. The converse is not necessarily true, though.
  • I select some albums on workday mornings much more often than other albums. In fact, I own CDs I didn't listen to for over four years.
  • I am running out of shelf space to file new CD acquisitions.

In light of the last two items, I decided in May that I should listen to all of my CDs so I could decide which to get rid of and which to listen to more often. Since I didn't think I would remember how I felt about each album five months later, I wrote a very brief review of each album in alphabetic order. Perhaps this 200KB of obsessive compulsion will be useful to someone else on the Internet. If any reviews pique your interest, let me know and I'll try to get you a copy on the condition that you don't use it as an excuse not to patronize your local record store.

Final reflections:
  • I indeed have some albums I'd incorrectly assumed were New Age crap. I also have some albums that are in fact New Age crap. (To be fair, I also have other crap. I bought a hair metal album before I knew what that meant because I liked the band's name.)
  • Symphonic rock covers are neither good symphonic music nor good rock music. With one exception (Us and Them), I have no reason to keep any of this abomination to human ears.
  • I realized halfway through the project that listing genres might help. However, some of the music I like is tough to classify and besides, I didn't want to provide it for just half of the artists. Maybe I'll add them all in a fury of boredom sometime.
  • Sometimes it's hard to come up with something distinct to say about an album. Sometimes this is because the music affects me in nonverbal ways. Sometimes that's because it's yet another Rush album.
  • Some music is very good, but not well suited for getting work done. One key factor is how well I know the album, making it hard for CDs to break into rotation.
  • I would love for rock to make up a smaller percentage of my collection, but I can never remember the names of awesome artists on my ethnic music compilations. Not that record stores usually have much flamenco or Arabic groove in stock.

And the winner is...

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008 08:31 pm
flwyd: (drum circle w/ fire)
Not only is Manu Chao's "...proxima estacion... Esperanza" a great album for getting stuff done at work, it's also the best music in my collection for dancing around the kitchen naked.

If you've never done that, follow these simple steps:
* Buy the album, or queue up some YouTube videos or the MySpace page
* Take off your pants
* Prepare dinner
* Be careful with that knife, Eugene!
flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
My new phone message. Call 303-980-5148 to be amused... or just to laugh at me.

Picture yourself on a phone with a Trevor
With tangerine rings and marmalade cats
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A boy with kaleidoscope hats

Telephone callers of yellow and green
Cell tower over your head
Look for the boy with the sun in his heart
And he's not home

Lucy on the phone leave a message...
flwyd: (rose red sky blue)
Two friends sent the free hugs campaign video to me while I was in China. Check it out!
flwyd: (Vigelandsparken heels over head)
Reminder: Winter Solabration is this Saturday from six until midnight or so.

Highlands Masonic Center
3550 N. Federal Boulevard in Denver

I'll be there. Possibly with bells on. Probably not with belles on, though.

Active Listening

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 05:52 pm
flwyd: (bad decision dinosaur)
I've had the same cheap pair of earbud headphones at work for almost four years. Every day I bring 8 CDs to work and can often gauge my productivity (or at least the level of external distractions) by how many I listen to through the course of the day. As I'm lost in thought or plowing through code, I often chew on the wire leading to the right earbud.

Today, all that chewing has crossed a threshold. When I started listening to music, only the left channel came through. I found that I could usually jostle the wires a bit to get the right channel to come in, but if I left the wire hanging, my arms would soon bump it and the right would cut out again. But if I put the right wire in my mouth, when it cut out I could usually fiddle with it between my tongue and teeth to bring the music back. So the likely original source of the problem is also the easy solution to the problem!

On a related note, does anyone know how to set the balance of audio output using ALSA? GNOME doesn't seem to provide a setup view to do it and the ALSA command-line and ncurses interfaces don't seem to give me the ability to balance all the way to the left.

Not So Productive

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 11:07 pm
flwyd: (escher drawing hands)
I just heard a remix of Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds" with an English guy responding to "What were the skies like when you were little?" with "The skies were grey and monotonous and dull... It used to rain a lot. Like it is now." As the question gets asked again, he gets annoyed and repeats himself.

I was just reminded that today's the last day of Daylight Saving Time, meaning tomorrow is my least favorite holiday. I made sure to save up lots of daylight today; while my car's oil was changed and tires rotated, I basked in the sun in a black T-shirt and wrote. Words have been somewhat stilted, the flow isn't there. Hopefully I can build that soon, or 50,000 could be painful.

1790 words today: Ding - Establishing the New (Cauldron), Cui - Bringing Together. I did spend a bunch of time trying to convince my cat to eat antibiotics in pill pockets and/or wet food. I also donned my pirate hat and plundered Vitamin Cottage of its oat milk and cat food. But 1790 words on a day off is pretty pathetic. I want to keep writing for another hour, but I think it would be more frustrating than cathartic. At least I made a tasty potato/egg/onion/paprika/cinnamon omelette for dinner. I hope I'm able to fend off the cold lurking in my throat.
flwyd: (what would escher do)
The Folderol Follies performance on Monday wasn't as awesome as the one I attended earlier this year, partly because there were fewer burlesque acrobats this time around. But the opening act more than made up for it.

Vermillion Lies is a sister duo who wear frilly undies while playing such diverse instruments as toy piano, bicycle, accordion, barbecue grill, and washboard/air vent with a egg shaker. I call it "Light Industrial." You can download their über-catchy song Global Warming (It's Hot! It's Not Cool!) for free. You can listen to the rest of their songs on their space.

If you have a chance to see these ladies (they're at Burning Man right now after a nationwide tour; their home base is Oakland), do so. Not only do they play great instruments, write catchy songs, and give eggbeaters to audience members for dancing, but they're pretty hot (and cool).

Puns From the Road

Friday, May 11th, 2007 04:08 pm
flwyd: (Akershus Castle cobblestones)
A a loose content management system could be called Orthodocs: a collection of documents orthogonally related to each other.

Lying in a hot pool at 1 AM gazing at the stars over the San Luis Valley, I thought of an album cover. The album is titled "Ursa Seventh" and the cover art shows a night sky with a guitar outlined in bright stars.
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
I just ordered tickets for Loreena McKennitt on Saturday, May 5th at Macky Auditorium at CU. It's certainly not a typical way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but it is the two year anniversary of filing my affidavit of common law marriage.

As is typically the case, the Ticketbastard charges accounted for over 20% of the total price. But careful examination of the seating chart let me save $10 per ticket for better seats. I'll take six rows back in the center over two seats next to the wall, thanks.

Sometimes the venue is the deciding factor. How can you pass up a breathy Celtic vocalist in a well lit castle? Like Red Rocks, I have lots of happy associations with Macky from Cinema Interruptus to Engineering graduation. And since I wasn't a film or journalism student, I have no negative memories of the place :-)

This definitely makes up for slacking on Béla Fleck; probably Sigur Rós too.

Dear iTunes,

Sunday, February 4th, 2007 01:26 am
flwyd: (mail.app)
Your constant stream of good songs on random is not helping me go to bed. Please play some crap so I can hit pause and leave the living room.

Yours, etc.
flwyd: (pentacle disc)
[livejournal.com profile] netgnomemom invited me to drum to accompany the Denver Women's Chorus concert last Saturday. After three rehearsals, I joined three other drummers for the encore, Siyahamba.

I've drummed several times before, but it's usually been at fire circles with ten or more other drummers. The fire circle context is very forgiving to inexperienced drummers: your drum's voice is fairly anonymous, you can drop in and out as you catch and lose the beat, and the rhythms tend to evolve dynamically with no goal more complicated than inspiring beautiful people dancing on their own. For this performance, each drum's voice was important, all the drums had to keep together, and the rhythm had to stick with the choral voice.

I played a simple beat sequence on hoop drum. I have more experience and comfort with that drum and know that if I tried to adorn my playing I'd lose track of the core. I think we did quite well; we received several compliments. I even gave my card to a choir member who said "It'd be fun to paint you." I first assumed she meant body paint, to which I was about to respond that I am deficient in paintable skin. I then realized she meant "sit for a painting," which is fun in a very different way.

On Tuesday, I made it to drumming at Full Moon Books for the first time. For a year now, I've gotten regular email announcements informing me that they host drumming every Tuesday at 7:30. I had an atrocious attendance record at bi-weekly Tuesday role playing sessions last year. On the other Tuesdays, I either lacked the time, presence of mind, or energy to pack drums in the car on Tuesday mornings. But in honor of Shadow Boxing Day and the fact that I'd already drummed in a performance, I decided it was time to just do it.

Apparently several other people picked this Tuesday to visit this drum circle for the first time or after a long lapse. The regulars said it was a great session and I got a chance to experiment with djembe positions and attempted to play along with Summertime on a flute.

I hereby set the intention of regularly attending drumming on Tuesdays. With practice I can be a good drummer. Now I just need a drum icon so I can report my progress.
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