November 30, 2004

Lotsa freaky instruments....

Music Thing has been on a roll when it comes to strange and bizzare guitars.

Posted by Casper at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

What's that word mean?

A dictionary of musical technology terms.

Posted by Casper at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

Close, but not quite

A gallery of album covers that are oh so close to a more famous one.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:29 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2004

A D&D Geek calendar

How to make a twelve sided calendar.

Posted by Casper at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2004

50 best covers

From the Guardian.

  1. Don't Leave Me This Way - The Communards, 1986
  2. Hazy Shade of Winter - The Bangles, 1987
  3. Fell In Love With A Boy - Joss Stone, 2003
  4. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Devo, 1978
  5. My Way - Sid Vicious, 1979

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004

Another round of suits

761 more for the RIAA.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

Another interesting guitar

The naked lady bass.

Posted by Casper at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

Jaxx for sale?

Jaxx, the local venue where metal bands go to die, might be on the block. Figures being tossed around are anywhere from $750k to $2M. It'll be worth it if new management takes a decent space and starts to book worthwhile bands. I've been to Jaxx a few times (even played there once). The venue has the potential to be so much more than it is.

Thanks to Here's A Hint for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

Lessons from light FM

A few examples

  • The time Elton John joined George Michael on stage for a surprise duet of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" was the Light FM equivalent of Woodstock and the Sun Sessions all rolled into one, and as such needs to be honored four times a day.
  • By the same token, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack is the Light FM equivalent of Nevermind.
  • There is some wish to listen to Barry White songs even at ten in the morning while hunched over a keyboard, trying to tweak the Excel spreadsheet.
  • Phil Collins, Lionel Richie, and Hall and Oates are all still apparently still recording new material.

Thanks to Michael for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2004

Cube farm pranks

Go away for a vacation, things may happen.

Thanks to Lynn for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

Antidisestablishmentarianism no more!

I used to think that anti-dis was the longest word in the English language. I was wrong. 310 letters wrong, to be exact.

Posted by Casper at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

Like mother, not like daughter

Madonna doesn't want her daughter to "follow in her raunchy footsteps."

Posted by Casper at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Simon on Madonna/Fad

Oooh, Madonna is really pissed off that some people call her faddish infatuation with Kaballah a fad. She's gone on CNN to fume about how she's really serious about this:

"I wouldn't say studying Kabbalah for eight years goes under the category or falls under the category of being a fad or a trend.

"Now there might be people who are interested in it because they think it's trendy, but I can assure you that studying Kabbalah is actually a very challenging thing to do. It requires a lot of work, a lot of reading, a lot of time, a lot of commitment and a lot of discipline."

Yes, maybe "fad" is a bit unfair... how does "culty obsession" sound?

Posted by Casper at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

This is just wrong

Of course this is used for warming up on a guitar. What did you think it was for?

Posted by Casper at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Madonna is serious

About Kabbalah, that is. 'Not a fad,' she says. Unlike talking with a British accent and pretending to be from anywere other than the US, I suppose.

Posted by Casper at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

Trust me, the E flat 7 is a pain to get right....

A motorcycle guitar. Or is it a guitar motorcycle?

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

One callback

Saturday asked me if I wanted to make a return trip.

Posted by Casper at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

The Muppets are back!

First, the good news. Their own website, then a Disney movie. Now, the bad news. Disney owns them.

Posted by Casper at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2004

Tivo messes up

Tivo, one of my favorite toys at home, has made a rather poor decision. Now, when you try to fast forward past the commercials on a recording, a banner ad will appear.


Posted by Casper at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

Oh, shut up already.

Ashlee Simpson speaks yet again.

Ashlee Simpson spoke to MuchNews last weekend about her disastrous appearance on Saturday Night Live earlier this fall. "It was a situation that wasn't really my fault," the 20-year-old singer said...

No, actually it was your fault. You're the one who acted in a supreme unprofessional fashion, did a jig off the stage and tried to blame it on your band. But, in case you might think that there's a modicum of perspective, here's her dad:

...Did we do something wrong here? Nothing we did was dishonest.

Except expose yourself as a fraud on national TV as lip synching to a tape when you were nominally supposed to be "live." That wouldn't be at all dishonest.

Hey, moron, just go away and take your talentless spawn with you.

Posted by Casper at 11:29 PM | Comments (1)

An interesting little story about a band and a bar

Lindsey recounts the tale...

(Here is the story of the Biggest Douche I've Ever Met. Since he happens to be famous, I'm not going to say his name, but you'll know who it is.)

In Christmas of 2002, I went home to Tallahassee, Florida to spend the holidays with my family. As usual, I hung out with my good friend there who owns Tallahassee's best music venue. He told me about the show they were having that night, and rolled his eyes as he said who the band was "It's that guy from that (edgy drug movie). He has a band now."

"Omg, ___ ______ has a band?" I said.

"Yeah. They made us give them a $7000 guarantee even though nobody has ever heard of his stupid band. And get this - his booker called a couple weeks ago, after the deal was done, and told me that I can't refer to (Douche) in any way when I advertise the show. So, basically, I've guaranteed them $7000 for a show nobody is going to go to. Apparently, he wants to "make it as a band the traditional way without using his name as an actor"

Posted by Casper at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

Adding keys

Tonight, we got together to try out a keyboardist. Playing as a three piece is good, but there are times when an extra voice would help fill out the sound. To that end, Brett tracked down a keyboardist, and he sat in with us tonight.

We went through a few tunes, letting him find a place in the mix. On the one hand, we didn't open up enough room for any other instrument, keys or otherwise. The songs tend to be rhytmically dense, with lots of ghosting and grace notes. Both Brett and I backed down to try and open up some space, but I didn't think it gelled quite as much as I had hoped.

Now, to be fair, coming in as a keyboardist in an original band is a task -- not only do you have about a bazillion possible patches to choose from, you also have to try and match the chords (with all the qualities and accidentals) on the fly. We didn't help as much as we should have, either. A little preperation would have been a good thing. While we were playing, I stood next to him and called out the chords as we moved through as best I could.

Posted by Casper at 09:12 PM | Comments (2)

Aspect ratios explained

A co-worker is trying to sell me his old big screen TV. And, just in time, here's a guide to all the different aspect ratios, complete with examples.

Posted by Casper at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

The secret history of Band-Aid

With Band-Aid 20 coming out (resurrecting that hoary chesnut Do They Know It's Christmas), FreakyTrigger steps in to keep us all up to date with the goings-on since Band-Aid 2.

Posted by Casper at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Another Toy Story

Disney is caving in to Pixar's demands, particularly after the success of The Incredibles.

-- Update --
I stand corrected. Pixar's not involved.

Posted by Casper at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

Young Buck wanted

He's being sought in relation to a stabbing at the Vibe awards.

-- Update --
In related news, it seems that rapper 50 cent acquitted himself quite well during the fracas. I'm not sure as to how, but the articles says he's "been branded a hero," so it must be true. When was the last time an article didn't get it right?

Posted by Casper at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2004

Hollywood apes RIAA

Why didn't I think of this; all the lawsuits from the RIAA have been so very successful at shutting down music file trading, so it makes perfect sense for the MPAA to follow in their footsteps.

Posted by Casper at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

World's biggest subwoofer

It's made from bricks, 60 cubic meters inside, and probably loud enough to cause sterility in large animals.

Thanks to Tom W for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

Some driving tips for DC

  • Rain causes an immediate 50 point drop of IQ in drivers. Snow causes an immediate 100 point drop in IQ and a rush to the local supermarket for toilet paper, bread and milk. IF it might snow, schools will be closed. If it is already snowing then the bus will pick up the children and they will immediately CLOSE the schools after 8 inches of snow has fallen. All parents must leave work upon arrival to pick up their children.
  • The morning rush hour is from 5 to 11 AM. The evening rush hour is from 1 to 8 PM. The lunch rush is from 11 AM to 1 PM. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning, especially during the summer on Route 50 eastbound.
  • Traveling south out of DC on Interstate 395/95 is the most dangerous, scariest thing you will ever do. There is nothing more frightening than seven lanes of traffic cruising along at 75 mph, BUMPER TO BUMPER. It's not speeding, it's NASCAR time, let's DRAFT!!!
  • Of course you could take the subway, known locally as The Metro. Remember that either the Orange or Red line will be shut down or single tracked due to an accident. Unless both are shut down or single tracked. This is most likely to happen during rush hour. The escalators rarely work, the elevators even more rarely. However, the trains are very clean, kept that way by highly motivated police who will not hesitate to arrest a 12 year old for eating a french fry.

Wiredog offers quite a few insights.

Posted by Casper at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

Playing with Lloyd Dobler Effect

Tonight, I had an audition with the Lloyd Dobler Effect. Phil, the lead singer, had sent me a CD of the group recorded at a live show earlier this year. The good news is lots of good-time music on it.

The not so good news about it is that I only received the CD yesterday afternoon. Twelve tunes on the disc, and Brian Buracker (one of Anthony's students, and a pretty accomplished player in his own right) playing bass on the tracks. While a number of the songs are fairly straightfoward, Brian is a pretty ambitious player, so quite a few of the bass lines are not trivial. To be honest, I think he overplays some of the parts from time to time, but it's still can be a workout.

Making the job a wee bit more challenging is the mix of the CD itself. For whatever reason, the bass sits way back in the mix. More often than not, I can hear some articulation (from the percussive nature of Brian's attack on the strings and fretboard), but I can't quite tell completely as to his note choice.

In other words, I was up to about 3am last night, trying to take notes on the songs so as to not make a complete fool of myself.

So tonight, I make it out to rehearsal, drag my rig in and wire up to a 4x10 that was already there. Phil and I were joined by Chris on guitar and Donnie on drums. After a small warmup, we got rolling. We went through In The Water, Radio, Sabrosa, Sold Out and Stranger. Given that playing with these three was the third time I had ever played any of these tunes (first time was initial stab, second time was taking notes), I played all of them very conservatively, hanging back, holding the groove and not really getting all that aggressive. I probably hung back too much, though. During Sabrosa, I lost track of where we were and forgot that there was a bass solo until there was only about three bars left. At that point, there wasn't much left to do except flail around a bit and try to catch up. I whiffed a number of other spots in other songs, but I think I did okay. We also just did a free form groove over two chords for awhile. It was pretty slow and moody, just moving back and forth with some nice breathing.

It was fun playing with the guys. Phil mentioned that they are checking out a few more bass players, so this will be another one that I suppose we'll see if there's a callback.

Posted by Casper at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

Shocked. Shocked, I say

A fight during a hip-hop function. What are the odds.

Posted by Casper at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2004

A second chance

Ashlee Simpson really wants a second go round at SNL.

Posted by Casper at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

Firefox rules

I've been using Firefox for a while now, and it's easily the best browser I've seen in a long time. The bandwagon grows.

Posted by Casper at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2004


Old Dirty Bastard collapses dead in a recording studio at 35 years of age.

Posted by Casper at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2004

A sideman audition

Having recieved a CD a while back with four tunes on it (Pat Benetar's Treat Me Right, The Go-Go's We Got The Beat, Aerosmith's Don't Want To Miss A Thing and Bon Jovi's You Give Love A Bad Name), I went over them a few times. I used to play Bad Name in a few bands back in high school, so this was mostly an effort in remembering both the bass lines and backing vocals. I think I may have trounced through Beat once or twice back in high school with some band that had a girl up front, but never anything serious. I've usually managed to turn the Aerosmith song off every single time it came on the radio (even to the point of turning off other people's radios). As far as Ms. Benetar is concerned, if I had heard this tune before, I've supressed the memory.

So, tonight, I skip out on a friend's birthday party (again, sorry for missing it Michael!) to go to the audition. Frank, a fellow bassist, arrived just a bit before we got started. While the two of us were setting up (and comparing rigs -- bass players can be geeks sometimes), both the manager and the producer set up the PA. Towards the end of the setup, the guitarist wandered in (I think his name was Ahmed).

Unfortunately, there was no drummer. Either the drummer auditioning decided not to come at all, or he was late/lost/having a bad night. Actually, I think that both conditions were true, just for different drummers. No keyboardists, though, nor any other guitarists. Ahmed said that he hadn't recieved the CD, so he didn't know the tunes. As a result, it didn't look like we were going to be able to play the tunes as a band; rather, we get to follow along with the recording.

This marks the second time in which I've done an audition that consisted of me playing along with a CD. This time around was much harder; the CD was playing through the mains, with all the musicians set up behind the speakers. It;s very hard to keep track of where the drum track is when it's turned down very low and throwing away from you. Toss in with that a guitarist who very clearly didn't know what he was supposed to play, and it's a recipe for bad things. So, we've got a few minuses right off the bat -- no drummer, the only melody instrument doesn't know his part and having to play along with a CD sans monitor. But, the show must go on and what not.

We noodled around for awhile, Frank and I taking turns playing along with the CD as best as we could, while also helping Ahmed with some of the guitar lines when we took the occasional break. Mostly though, we all supported the particular singer for whom all the festivities were occuring, mostly responding to her calls as she made them.

After a bit, Gobi (I think that's the spelling, it's a short "O") the drummer arrived and set up. WIth a complete rhythm section, we could take a stab and doing the set. Since I already was strapped on and plugged in, I took first crack at the bass arrangements. We went through the tunes, then Frank waltzed through them and that was about it. The singer started to loosen up more as the night wore on, warming up the music. I sang some backups, but not much (mostly on Bad Name. She and I only had a few minutes to work out the harmonies (mostly me pulling either a unison note or an easy 5th).

I suppose we'll see if there's a call back.

Posted by Casper at 10:41 PM | Comments (8)

November 12, 2004

How to involve other members of the family

Some instructions on how to clean your toliet.

Posted by Casper at 09:35 PM | Comments (2)

Honestly, I'm surprised there were any more at all...

Beyonce says that the latest Destiny's Child album might be the last. Given her success as a solo artist, I wasn't particularly thikning there would be all that many more anyway.

Posted by Casper at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004

After a week off

The three of us got together a little over a week after our last show. Things have been crazy busy for me at work, Brett's wife has had surgery; it just wasn't a good week for trying to carve out some time for practicing.

Last week, I dropped by Shahin's place for a few minutes to go over a song that he has written. It's very Mediterranean Spanish in style, calling to mind a bull fight. That the good news. The not-so-good news is that it's yet another standard tune -- key of F, Phrygian mode, 100 bpm or so. I understand that it's a comfortable place for Shahin to write in, but we really need to branch out beyond it.

After going over it a few times, Shahin just started noodling around on his guitar. He was just playing an easy chord change (Gm to Cm and back again), but he was playing it in a very Americana folk style. So, Brett and I jumped in and we worked out the structure for a basic tune. For now, we're calling it Robert Frost. It's a very open, pastoral kind of song. I think some piano would set it off very nicely, building a melodic structure on top of the breezy chords.

Posted by Casper at 09:34 PM | Comments (2)

Anthony gets featured

Anthony Wellington, bass player, teacher and friend, is the featured artist over at Congrats, man!

Posted by Casper at 01:40 PM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2004

Ob-La-Di worst song ever

It's hard to argue with this BBC poll. The major association I have with that song is Corky, which hardly helps.

Posted by Casper at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

A new low

Literally, in this case. The RIAA files suit against a 10 year old boy.

Bravo, guys, really. Top drawer work there.

Posted by Casper at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

And then there were three

Rumor has it that AOL has let go all but three of the employees at NullSoft -- the good folk who brought you WinAmp, the lightweight, fast mp3 player.

-- Update --
It's confirmed.

Posted by Casper at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

Academy nominated short film

This claymation flick is touching, in an odd way.

Thanks to Andy for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Small, licensed samples ruled legal

The Beastie Boys sampled a small phrase of James Newton's Choir for one of their rap songs. When they did so, they paid a license fee for the privilege. Newton sued under copyright infringement. The Beasties won.

The sample consisted of three notes. Now, I wonder how this fits with the NWA/Funkadelic copyright decision.

Posted by Casper at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2004

Dennis DeYoung to play doppleganger

Dennis DeYoung will be in the latest Hillary Duff/Heather Locklear movie playing the role of lead singer in a Styx tribute band. If you look really closely, you can see mirrors all the way to infinity.

Thanks to FARK for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2004

Insert witty headline here

As much as I'd like to say that I've been jetting off to cool places or doing something interesting musically, I've just been obscenely busy at my day job. Hopefully, things will get better after, oh, fifty, sixty hours of sleep.

Posted by Casper at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2004

Busy day today

Three hours in line to vote, really busy at work. Talk to you later.

Posted by Casper at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2004

Writing about music, a scholarly look

I have two kinds of student writers. One kind is very good at style and atmosphere. They can talk about music in relation to their lives, tell how certain songs make them feel, relate their likes and dislikes. The other type knows musical terminology, and can describe music in intelligent detail. The first type of writer is entertaining to read, but ultimately merely subjective; the second is more persuasive, but a little dry and lacking in color and emotive effect. Almost none can yet combine the best of both worlds. The first type are almost all pop music aficionados; the second type tend to be classical and jazz musicians.

The big question for me is, is this an inevitable correlation? Are pop-music preferences necessarily subjective, or could they, given the criteria of a certain genre, be grounded in objective distinctions? Can one prove, if only on paper, song by song, that the Beatles were better than the Stones, or vice versa? What I sometimes love about the subjective pop style is its sense of how important music is to listeners. They really love the stuff, it’s crucial to their sense of self-identification. The classical/jazz people are better at proving they know what they’re talking about, but less good at making the music sound important to them. There is a rather obvious correlation here to the music business in general. Pop music accounts for something like 94 percent of all CD sales, classical and jazz for about 3 percent each - or at least, that was the case a few years ago. If classical and jazz writers worked harder at identifying with the music, making it sound life-consuming and identity-defining (as, God knows, it generally is), could those percentages improve? Do classical music and jazz stay under the radar because they inspire a technical, specialist sensibility? or just because we talk about them that way?

God knows I've thought about this on more than one occasion. It's been a while since I've written seriously about music -- I've been surpassingly busy, I haven't really heard a lot of music recently that makes me want to get up in the morning, writing (well, writing with any sort of quality) isn't my strong suit. Maybe I should get bakck at it...

Posted by Casper at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

Sony & Grokster in talks

Actually, it's gone beyond that now. Sony and Grokster have inked a deal for legal P2P distribution.

Posted by Casper at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

The Best Photos of 2004

Kind of hard to argue with some of these.

Thanks to Lynn for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

Too much time on their hands

A dissection of whether or not Superman could have children.

Granted that the poor oaf is not entirely sane. How could he be? He is an orphan, a refugee, and an alien. His homeland no longer exists in any form, save for gigatons upon gigatons of dangerous, prettily colored rocks.

As a child and young adult, Kal-El must have been hard put to find an adequate father-figure. What human could control his antisocial behavior? What human would dare try to punish him? His actual, highly social behavior during this period indicates an inhuman self-restraint.

What wonder if Superman drifted gradually into schizophrenia? Torn between his human and kryptonian identities, he chose to be both, keeping his split personalities rigidly separate. A psychotic desperation is evident in his defense of his "secret identity."

But Superman's sex problems are strictly physiological, and quite real.

The purpose of this article is to point out some medical drawbacks to being a kryptonian among human beings, and to suggest possible solutions. The kryptonian humanoid must not be allowed to go the way of the pterodactyl and the passenger pigeon.

I don't know why this kind of obsessive behaviour still amazes me. I mean, Klingon is taught as a language in some schools. I just wonder what actual good -- something that might even benefit our fellow man -- is going undone because of these efforts.

Posted by Casper at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

Will whore myself for Bill Gates

Gladly, if I can get the same amount as Sting did. And I'll even do more than eight songs.

Posted by Casper at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

It's an easy call

Go Vote tomorrow. Vote for Bush, Kerry, Mickey Mouse, whomever speaks to you and shares your values and ideals, but have your voice be heard.

If you need more info (on voting), check out JustVote or MyPollingPlace for more details. If you need more info on the candidates, check around for what you're looking for, it's surely on the Internets.

Posted by Casper at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)