Of all the pop/rock music that ingrained itself in my impressionable young mind during the mid to late 1970's, I have to say that Supertramp wins the prize for being able to transport me instantaneously back to the era, as foggily as I remember it.
Steely Dan is a close second.
Since I started learning Scruggs-style banjo, I haven't actually spent any time learning any tunes as played by Earl Scruggs himself.
I spent a good amount of time this weekend learning Home Sweet Home as played by Earl on the Flatt & Scruggs Foggy Mountain Banjo album; the song is transcribed down to the last phantom slide in the Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo book Kimhotep gave me for my birthday.
It's been a while since I sat down with a new banjo tune and set out to learn it by heart, as opposed to casually sight-reading and playing along to the tab. There are always a couple of measures that defy comprehension at first, notes that don't sound right until you slow even further down and count them out carefully... the moment those notes click and the passage suddenly falls into place is one to savor.
After that it's just repetition, repetition, repetition. I slowed the Flatt & Scruggs recording down 50% using Audacity and find that I can just about keep up at that speed. I've got a long way to go if I want to play this style anywhere other than my living room.
No matter how many times I make pastry cream, I am always amazed and delighted when the tempered custard/corn starch mixture solidifies. It happens instantly – like something out of a chemistry kit experiment, except you wind up with dessert.
One Boston Cream Pie coming up...
(An oldie but goodie. Open up Emacs and execute the command 'psychoanalyze-pinhead'. This fine command pits a Lisp implementation of an ELIZA style "psychoanalyst" program against the "Yow" command, which quotes Zippy the Pinhead at random, ad infinitum.)
ANN JILLIAN'S HAIR makes LONI ANDERSON'S HAIR look like
RICARDO MONTALBAN'S HAIR!
Why do you say that?
.. or were you driving the PONTIAC that HONKED at me
in MIAMI last Tuesday?
Is it because honked at you in miami last tuesday that you came to me?
Jesus is my POSTMASTER GENERAL..
Earlier you said honked at you in miami last tuesday?
PUNK ROCK!! DISCO DUCK!! BIRTH CONTROL!!
Maybe your plans have something to do with this.
I OWN six pink HIPPOS!!
What makes you believe you own six pink hippos?
Are we live or on tape?
What do you think?
Ha ha Ha ha Ha ha Ha Ha Ha Ha -- When will I EVER stop HAVING
What happened when will you ever stop having fun?
You mean you don't want to watch WRESTLING from ATLANTA?
Are you sure that I might want not want to watch wrestling atlanta?
I'm wearing PAMPERS!!
You mentioned that honked at you in miami last tuesday?
I was in a HOT TUB! I was NORMAL! I was ITALIAN!! I enjoyed th'
Is it because of your life that you are going through all this?
They don't hire PERSONAL PINHEADS, Mr. Toad!
After a few months of so/so shaving with an electric razor and/or some cheap disposables, I decided to grit my teeth and shell out for the outrageous cost of some replacement blades for my Gillette Sensor. If you've never used a razor with refillable blades, it's pretty much the same business model that inkjet printer manufacturers use: The initial cost of the razor itself doesn't seem too bad considering it comes with some blades already, but when you go to buy refills you discover that it would be cheaper to buy a whole new frigging razor.
They didn't have Sensor blades, so I bought a pack of blades for the Gillette "Mach 3", foolishly assuming they would be backwards-compatible with the handle of the Sensor.
And of course, I didn't discover this until after I had torn the box open, so now I have to go buy a new razor to recoup the almost $9 I spent on these stupid blades. Bastards.
The Bruins just traded Dave Scatchard, a center, to Phoenix for David Tanabe, a defenseman. The B's are hurting on defense right now for sure, but I don't know why they decided to get rid of Scatchard, who seemed (to me) like a solid addition to the team this year. I would have opted to get rid of Fitzgerald over Scatchard from what I've seen this season.
Bruins are dead last in the Northeast division. It's going to be a long winter.
When applying CSS to an unordered list, the list will only render with bullets (disc, circle, square, image, or otherwise) if the 'display' style of that list's <li> elements is set to "list-item". ("list-item" is the default, but in this case I had set it to "block" for one special circumstance, and then wanted to override that. It's a long story.)
I just spent way too much time figuring this out.
It's not very often that I stumble onto a band that I like instantaneously without any context; usually I know of a band because a member used to belong to some other band that I like, or somebody will tell me about them.
Once in a great while, I will be drawn in by cover art (as was the case with the U.S. release of Big Sugar's 500 Pounds) or a curious name and noteworthy record label (as was the case with Hissanol's 4th and Back on Alternative Tentacles) and discover some really good, unique music that I would never have had a clue about otherwise.
Something like that just happened while poking through my Amazon "Gold Box"... something I do intermittently and without much enthusiasm. The idea, if you've never seen it, is that you open your Gold Box and see 10 fabulous discounts on various Amazon merchandise. The catch is that you have to buy within an hour to get the discount. Usually it's crap that nobody wants to buy, like a $10 off a $300 juicer.
Today a couple of CDs by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum showed up in my box. I declined the $0.67 discount, but intrigued by the band name and cover art I went tracked down some MP3s on their web site. I am an instant fan, and I'm fighting the urge to go special order one of their CD's on my way home from work.
(I suppose it could be argued that the encounter was not truly "random"; I suspect Amazon recommended them to me because I have some Scissorfight and Pelican CD's in my wishlist - but I had never, ever heard of these guys before.)
There's a nice article about Pete Wernick in this week's Denver Post (linked for now, but it will probably be dead within a week or two), who is fairly well known in bluegrass banjo circles.
Part of the article talks about how, after earning a doctorate from Columbia, he pretty much turned his back on academia and has made his living playing, teaching, and writing about banjo ever since.
We Americans love our stories of people who have "left the rat race to pursue their passion", yet they always seem to be told with a jealous undertone:
"Don't you wish you were interested enough in something other than this week's episode of American Idol to want to quit your crappy job and pursue it?"
I'm sure a lot of these career sea-changes are not as spontaneous as they are sometimes portrayed; If you look far enough back in my employment history you'll see that I went from special effects shopmonkey to web designer in a single bound... but that was after several years of building web sites in my spare time for the express purpose of getting into web design as a career.
I am very, very interested in lutherie, but I'm not going to get manic and quit my proverbial dayjob anytime soon, if ever. The building of instruments is one thing... making a living at it is quite another. At the same time, I am not going to resign myself to a lifetime of pushing bits around because it's my most marketable skill right now.
While picking up a few groceries on my way home last night I made my usual sweep of the toy aisle. I knew there would be the same small selection of toys and games that they always have, but I looked anyway, especially at the board and card games.
I have this thing where I'll see an all-time favorite game, book, or CD in a store and I'll want to buy it again... not for the instant gratification of buying myself something, but for the hours of enjoyment the I know for a certainty the thing would give me. (Obviously, since I already own it.)
Decks of playing cards are probably the most insidious example of this; no matter how many packs of Bicycles I already own, those compact little boxes always make me want to buy more. There is nothing quite like a slippery, crisp new deck of cards.
Fortunately it's not a compulsion, or I would have a closet full of them.
I upgraded my cell phone service to a FamilyShare plan so that Kim can have her own phone. Since switching plans requires a new service agreement anyway, I took advantage of the equipment upgrade credit Verizon gives you every two years and ordered a free Motorola e815. It's got all kinds of bells and whistles - most interesting to me is the 1.3 megapixel camera, which appears to be capable of some pretty decent photos. The ability to capture video clips will be novel, too.
Still, I am left with a bad taste in my mouth knowing that Verizon has crippled most of the phone's useful features like Bluetooth OBEX file transfer; they want you to pay through the nose to shuffle your photos, videos, and music around even though the phone is capable of transferring all of those things right to your desktop. From what I have read you can get around this by using a TransFlash card for the photos and video.
If this is the case, I can probably live with that arrangement... I expect I will be taking quite a few photos with the thing. Five years ago, when I carried my Handspring Visor with me religiously, I took hundreds if not thousands of photos with my Eyemodule camera.
When the 1 year warranty is up I will probably take a stab at the seem hack so I can use the damn thing the way Motorola's engineers intended.
Google has grown yet another tentacle, and are now offering an Analytics service. I've signed up and dropped their tracking code into all of my various site pages (except for my old professional site.)
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, I can learn; the service is targeted more towards business and marketing types who obsess over click-throughs, page hits, and session length, not so much schmoes with weblogs.
Anyway, if you've got your browser privacy settings set to "paranoid" and you're wondering why this site wants to suddenly set cookies, that's why.
Given enough time, everyday objects accrue value to the point where they must be sealed in a display case, never to be used for their original purpose again; old silver, old china, old furniture... you see them on programs like Antique Road Show, gasp in amazement when their worth is revealed, then gasp in horror when you hear about how they've just been kicking around in the corner of somebody's musty basement for generations. Then you wonder whether the owner will ever really be able to enjoy the thing again, now knowing that their favorite hand-me-down dresser is worth $10,000.
One of the many things I've always liked about musical instruments is that they often continue to be used for their original purpose long, long after many other things made at the same time have been enshrined in antique collections. Violins jump to mind first, but there are also plenty of banjos from the famed makers of the late 19th and early 20th century that are still out there.
I came across a pair of Cole's Eclipse banjos (circa 1895) at an antique shop today. They were being sold only as a pair and at a cost well beyond anything I could afford, but it was lovely to see them. They are in need of some attention, but you can tell that there's still a lot of music to be made on them once new heads, a few new tension hooks, and new strings are applied.
The thing I wonder about most when looking at old instruments is what songs have been played on them, and how many people have memories of them; not only their former owners, but friends and family lucky enough to have heard the instrument played. I've never had an opportunity to play an instrument this old, but it must be a wonderful connection to the past.
(The photo was taken from an Ebay auction for a Cole's Eclipse with the Man in the Moon inlay exactly like the ones I saw today; I posted it on my own server so as not to steal bandwidth from chinasyndrome.net, who I assume took the photo originally. The auction finished at $2,078.98.)
The rest of the leaves have blown off the trees, and it's surprisingly noticable at night. There are a lot more stars visible through the branches.
I just took the dogs out for their last constitutional of the evening, and was lucky enough to see a couple of meteors. I wonder if they were part of the Taurids that are causing such a buzz this year, although neither of them was what I would call a fireball.
I've always found GarageBand's "Count In" feature to be somewhat useless when I'm trying to multitrack; a lot of times I don't have time to reach over, start recording, then grab my instrument and get into position before the 1-measure count is over.
Similarly, the built-in metronome is a nice idea, but there's no way I know of to make it louder, and it usually gets buried under your tracks.
I threw together this no-frills, 1-2-3-4 metronome loop using one of the percussion kits, and I've found it pretty handy: