Thursday, August 11, 2016

New song...I know, been away for a year...

So, been away for a year...but I'm still around.  Moved to the coast (was time to get out of the valley heat).  Anywhoo...the title of the song, "Nine Sisters", is reference to where I now live...and the pic above are some of those Nine Sisters (if you look it up, you can learn about it...volcanic morro's...yadda yadda yadda).  Bass was a little muddy at intro, but I cleaned it up as best I could.  The second part/end of song was inspired by Echo and the Bunnymen by the way...and yes, another instrumental!



Monday, June 8, 2015

Jurassic Park and OSHA


You know, after seeing a few Jurassic Park movies, and then the trailer for the latest, I've got to say I'm surprised OSHA* hasn't shut the park down. I mean, their safety record is, at best, "spotty."

I have this image of the Federal Inspector touring the park's raptor pit with a park representative. I would imagine the conversation would go something like this:

"OK, look. That's like the third....(flips through papers on a clipboard)...no, fourth employee that was eaten this year. I mean...come on. Were they wearing their orange safety vests? Gloves? Hard hat? Did they watch the initial 2-hour "Raptors and You" safety video? You guys are getting pretty lax here..."

(park rep) "Dude. They're carnivorous pack hunters. What are 'ya gonna do? You want to make a raptor, you're going to have to crack a few egg...heads. Haha? Get it? Egg HEADS? 'Cuz it's a play on words on a colloquialism and I worked in how paleontologists are known as egg heads? Funny! Amiright?????"

(OSHA guy...unamused) "Uh-huh. Look at those raptor barriers. Clearly a trip and fall hazard. And all this loose wiring (gestures wildly with his ball point pen) is an electrocution waiting to happen. I'm telling you...one more T-Rex rampage and you guys are DONE." (rips off warning citation and hands it to park rep)

(park rep) "Yeah, yeah. We'll take care of it." (mutters under breath "effing bureaucrats")

(OSHA guy) "ONE. MORE. T-REX. RAMPAGE. Just try me..."

Etc.

*OSHA=Occupational Safety and Health Administration 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Star Wars, hipsters, and their unholy union...

Hipsters.  They have an amazing ability to co-opt things they didn't invent and make them popular.  Too popular.  Annoyingly popular.  Stupid popular.  This irritates me.  I have touched on this before.  Things I have enjoyed for decades in relative anonymity have now been thrust into the corporate spotlight (due to corporations slavish devotion to try to sell ANYTHING to that all important 18-25 demographic*) as well as all over mass media.  This has had the unfortunate effect of driving up the prices on things I love, as well as making them nauseatingly trendy.  The list (although not all-inclusive) of these items include: bourbon (I've been drinking it forever, and it's been the adult beverage of choice in my family for generations.  Previous 20-something's view of bourbon, and really, whiskey, in general: "Ewwwww!  Tastes like gasoline!  Where's the Smirnoff Ice????" Now?  "It's soooo good!  You can really taste the " as they try and not gag and secretly wish there was a melon flavored something they could enjoy without shame); maple syrup (fake pancake syrup is gross.  I have held this standard as far back as I can remember.  Generally, if it's not available, I will change my breakfast order to a dish that doesn't require syrup.  It just tastes BETTER.  By far.  Now?  Somebody has decided that real maple syrup has some kind of anti-oxidant benefit and is an acceptable "natural" sweetener for a New Agey diet.  It's been lumped into Agave syrup and other exotics.  Whatever.  Thanks for doubling its price you twats**); butter (been the family standard cooking fat of choice since I was born, as well as the obvious choice for toast, etc.  I used to go to friends homes as a kid and they'd offer me margarine and it was all I could do not to wretch as I tried to choke it down.  I discovered grass fed butter when I went to England in 1995.  I loved it.  Kerry Gold was the closest to it you could get here, and I used to buy it as a treat...was awesome on sourdough with blackberry jam.  Now?  It's the uber cool thing to mix into your coffee.  Um...ok.  So now, every Silicon Valley master of the universe is mixing it into their fair trade, organic, lizard dung beans every morning for it's transformative health benefits.  Again, giant "what-evs" from me...other than, again, thanks for driving the price through the roof); bacon (used to be bacon was Satan's candybar.  The nitrates!  Meat is murder!  Cancer!  Etc. Etc.  And it was cheap...generally, the cheapest cut of meat at the grocery store.  Now?  Every dingleberry with a beard and waxed mustache has webpages devoted to the worship of it, and restaurateurs and food trucks have entire lines of cuisine devoted to it.  Again, the end result?  Bacon is like the price of steak now, and suddenly a delicacy that can be found coated in chocolate, on donuts, and mixed into ice-cream); slim-cut jeans (when I was in high-school, you could not find a slim-cut jean.  Most folks had to either fold over the pant leg and cuff it up, or, if you were a bit more punkish, some folks would safety pin them up along the seam.  Me?  I got tired of messing with it and would rip the seam out and have my mom...who could blissfully sew...re-stitch them up to my satisfaction.  It wasn't perfect, but it would do.  Now?  The glockenspiel and flannel shirt crowd wears jeans so tight they must cut off circulation to their ankles.  Fine.  Whatever.  But when I wear a pair of jeans with a slender cut, the same way I have since about '84-'85, I feel like I'm being shamelessly trendy, as opposed to wearing the same jeans I have for the last 30 years, and will continue to wear when they are no longer in style, and the "kids" go back to wearing jeans that fit like a circus tent); desert boots (I've been wearing them since 1988, and I have the pics to prove it.  For reasons I do not understand, they became "the shit".  Again, prices exploded.  Blissfully waiting for the day they become passe, and I can wear my Clarks in peace again); tacos (how much do I love tacos?  I found one of my mom's old diaries where an entry talks about when I was 3 yrs. old and recovering from pneumonia, my mom knew I was on the mend because I ate TWO tacos.  It used to be you had to go to the latin part of town to find a good taco, because the only other choice was Taco Bell...which is fine if you're drunk, or starving and in a hurry, or both, but it's hardly the epitome of the taco.  Now?  Food trucks roam the streets featuring things like Korean rib and kimchi tacos.  For some reason, it has been decided the fried corn tortilla has been declared the hipster food delivery starch of choice.  I'm waiting for the maple infused bacon taco with a bourbon reduction to emerge from the pierced eyebrow crowd), etc.  You get the picture here.  There's more, like the sudden re-emergence of shoegaze music, but I'll save that rant for another time.  So, my latest annoyance?  The worship of STAR WARS.

I have a strong emotional attachment to Star Wars.  I saw the original release when it debuted in 1977, and remember being a wee tyke standing in line for HOURS outside the theater in a line that wrapped around the building multiple times.  I remember thinking "this is stupid....why are we waiting so long?  I want to go home...you're screwing up my Saturday and cartoon watching time".  Then, I finally got into the theater, and my mind was absolutely blown for the next two hours.  It was a game changer.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING had ever been made like that before.  I was instantaneously hooked.  I bought the soundtrack records (yes, records.  33 1/3 baby...) and listened to them obsessively.  I saw it in the theaters on its original run like 4-5 times (a big deal back then), watched the Christmas specials, The Muppet Show specials, had every toy released, etc.  In 1983 for Return of the Jedi, as a brand new teen, I honestly developed my "Slave Leia" obsession (this obsession was only nearly equalled by that other transformative female lead in a Sci-Fi moment I had experienced years earlier: Jenny Agutter in Logan's Run...ah, memories) by actually seeing Carrie Fisher in the movie in an unexpected way, as opposed to it being some sort of now cool nerd fetish.  When Empire was released, I found a pair of ski goggles and would wrap a sock (I didn't own a scarf) around my mouth while wearing a winter jacket (this is in the middle of a Fresno summer, btw) so I could look like the Rebel troops fighting the Imperial Army on Hoth.  My parents thought I was more than a little odd.  Years later, when the prequels were released, despite how I may have felt about them, I watched and enjoyed them for what they were.  I didn't go on tirades about how George Lucas had screwed up the franchise, etc. (here's a concept: it was HIS franchise.  He could "do" with it as he pleased).  I was especially galled when 20-somethings, too young to have seen the originals when they came out, or even most theatrical re-releases, wrote long and lengthy pieces about how they felt their childhood was now tarnished by these new abominations.  Really?  What childhood memories?  What Kairotic moment?  Sitting at home on the sofa and watching them on VHS/DVD while you simultaneously played your Nintendo DS?  That's not an investment.  That's not a transitive moment.  They simply cannot know what it was like to stand in the heat for 4-5 hours to see something wholly new.  So new, Lucas had to invent new cameras and XF techniques just to make the movies.  These Gen-Y, Gen-Next nattering nabobs of narcissism grew up with the XF blockbuster.  The movie world was transformed long before they started watching movies.

Anyways, something happened in the last few years to where Star Wars became a "thing".  Girls are now sporting hoochie R2-D2 dresses and Slave Leia costumes at conventions, guys are getting Sith Lord tattoos, blah blah blah.  Whenever I see a 23 year old exclaim, "I'm such a Star Wars nerd!", I want to ask, "Why?"  Did they stand in line as a child for hours on end to see the films because there was no cable or at home video?  Did the movies open up a new world of fantasy that had never been seen before?  Just why, exactly, do you have a Wookie tattooed to your ass?  I'm curious...please enlighten me.  I don't think they really know, other than some Borg-like, nerd hive-mind somewhere decided "Thou shalt like Star Wars!  Oh, and bacon and whiskey too...", and like the empty headed lemmings they are, they all swan-dove off of the bearded, craft brewed, locally sourced cliff.
So, here we are, another thing sullied by the hipster d-bag crowd.  Is it too much to expect these folks to come up with something on their own?  Or are they too creatively bankrupt?  Maybe their electronic interconnectedness has prevented anyone from breaking out from the crowd and come up with their own thing?  Their generation blockbuster movies are all based on comic books going back decades.  Where's their George Lucas?  Actually, that's not entirely fair.  They have been great at technical innovation.  I give them credit for taking the internet revolution and running with it.  But they seem so tech heavy/savvy, so obsessed with the technical, the digital, the STERILE, they seem to lack the ability to indulge in the ephemeral, or even the corporeal.  They're so bored and over stimulated, they've never experienced a true visceral moment.  Seems kind of sad...***

Anyways, here's a few other things I massively enjoyed in my younger days.  Let's see how long before they become bastardized by the hipster crowd: original, un-pc Warner Bros. cartoons, especially any featuring Daffy Duck in a satirical role (Duck Dodgers, The Scarlet Pumperkickel, Duck Twacy, etc.); ska logo t-shirts (Specials/The Beat, etc); the Ibanez MC 800/900 bass guitar; pot roast/beef stew; the Tom Collins; and bikini underwear on women (as opposed to the "thong"...bleh).
Let's see what happens...

*when KFC and Budweiser are making commercials featuring the mustachioed crowd, the supposed lovers of irony (as evidenced by their beloved t-shirts) are failing to grasp that they, themselves, have become ironic  
**my chosen name for hipsters, and often used together.  See "hipster twats" in previous posts.
***Sad or not, you've stained Star Wars...and for that, there is no sympathy or forgiveness      

Saturday, April 11, 2015

So, I recorded this song a little while ago with the idea for a story, and the song became a sort of soundtrack in my head as I put it together. Well, just for kicks I put some imagery to it...which necessitated changing the story a bit. The story now: A "fixer" gets hired to eliminate a target...a young woman. He's not told why, just that it needs to be done, and he needs to leave town as soon as the job is completed. He's given his up-front money, a stolen pistol, a fake passport, and the address and a picture of his target. He travels to San Francisco and follows her throughout the city and back to her apartment, where he plans to finish the job. However, this is no ordinary young woman, and she's waiting in ambush for him (she was obviously tipped off to his presence). A bloody exchange happens, and the fixer heads for the north coast to escape and heal his wounds. The woman's fate is unknown. Revenge on his mind, the fixer heads back to the city, and finds the man (a Russian mob boss) who hired him at his downtown club. The mobster practically ignores him stating "I was hoping the both of you would take each other out...but I see you're still with us. Congratulations. Now get out ...before I finish my oysters." The mobster arrogantly goes back to his dinner and figures the man he hired will be on the run and fearing for his life...and won't dare to retaliate (such is the mobster's reputation). The fixer stares at the mobster a moment longer, and then quietly walks out of the club and waits in the shadows across the street for the mobster to finish his dinner and get into his car. The fixer sees his revenge complete, leaves town, and puts that fake passport and money to use. Anyways, I only spent a few hours looking for public domain photos to use, so I didn't really geek out on this, it was merely a pleasant diversion. But, I still think it came out fairly well considering the self imposed limitations (like having to use one photo of a toy pistol, for instance;)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

California and other musings...


-I live in California. This is not really an amazing fact, but merely a fact in and of itself. California is a place, and it's where I happen to live. Having said that, I don't think about it much. And why would I? We all have lives and other more important matters to fret about, and where we happen to geographically be located normally falls pretty low on the daily thought scale (unless you happen to live in Somalia or Fallujah, for instance. I'm sure folks who live there think about what that means quite a bit). Anyways, where I live is a decent sized city of 500,000 people. However, it is surrounded by farmland and hills/mountains, so it's a surprisingly rural place given its size. Anyways, I sometimes forget that a mere 15 minute drive from my home is geography like this:


It's easy to forget something as beautiful as this is right outside your door. Literally. I had forgotten my hometown had this kind of geography...and it is easy to do. Sometimes we need to just walk outside our door, and put life on hold...if even for only a few hours. If we don't, views like this might as well be a 1,000,000 miles away. This brings me to another point: our drought. If you look at these pictures, you can see where the normal waterline is, and where we are currently at...and it's the end of the rainy season. Not good...at all. Still, it's not like the state sits next to trillions of gallons of water or anything. I mean, how handy would it be to border an ocean, right? If only somebody would invent some sort of handy-dandy process to extract the salt from seawater, perhaps our water issues could be solved. Clearly, that is but a fantasy scenario*

(* This is, of course, hyperbole. California needs to get real and line the coast with desalination plants. If the Middle East can put water slides and ski slopes in their malls located in the middle of the Sahara...courtesy of desalination plants... I would think the world's 7th biggest economy** could do the same and spare us from having to refrain from flushing our toilets or taking a "not more than" five minute shower. Just build a solar farm next to them to supply the power, and presto...it's even green and self sustaining. Naaaah...makes too much sense, and, until a corporation figures out how to charge us for sunlight and seawater, they won't be interested...which is why California needs to make this THE public works project of the 21st century. A water independent California would be an economic juggernaut unlike the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, such ambitions requires foresight and long term thinking/planning, something westerners, and specifically Americans, are typically quite poor at....)

(** California is the world's 7th largest economy. Suck it Texas and New York...outside your own mind, you're just not that important)

Other thoughts:

-why can't I get breakfast past 11am in most restaurants?  What's the issue, man?  For whatever reason, the restaurateurs of America have decided "Thou shalt NOT eat a pancake, bacon, and scrambled eggs after 11am!....no exceptions!!!"  Why?  Is there a time lock vault that locks up the eggs and bacon after 11am?  Is there a rotation of staff that occurs at 11am ON THE DOT that, while perfectly comfortable grilling up a hamburger and fries, have no concept of how to scramble a fucking egg?  "Scramble an egg?  What am I?  Houdini???"  Or, in most restaurants, is the staff with knowledge of all things breakfast summarily executed every morning at 11...which explains the high employee turnover at most restaurants.  Seriously.  What the hell?  On a weekend when I sleep in...or while on vacation....I don't want to be in a panic to get up early to make the "breakfast hour".  I want to enjoy myself at a leisurely pace, and, what I don't want, is a shrimp cocktail or lasagna with my morning cup of coffee.  I want biscuits and gravy.  French toast.  'Ya know?  A fucking FRITTATA. Not a roast chicken.  Who's with me on this?  "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!!!"  "Attica!  Attica!" etc.  Anyways, as you can see, this really irritates me.

-why is the world generally set up on a 8am-6pm schedule?  To take advantage of sunlight?  Is that the reason?  We're no longer an agrarian society.  I don't get up at dawn to milk cows in an unlit barn.  We live in a world of electric light.  We can have light whenever we want it.  It's glorious.  There's no need to chase the sun like an 18th century farmer anymore.  Let it go.  Nobody, and I mean, NOBODY, is at their best at 8am.  It takes a gallon of coffee and the stress of a commute to wake us up.  Study after study has indicated the early morning hours are not the time for peak human efficiency.  Furthermore, these same studies have shown that this is just about the WORST time to try and educate a child...so naturally our schools are set up on this inefficient and archaic time system.  Along with extending breakfast hours, we need to push back the work day to something like 10am to 8pm...seriously.  There needs to be a grassroots movement on this.  I'd do it, but I'm too exhausted from getting up so goddamn early (ha! A joke!).

-ok.  Not my best efforts here, but I rushed through it just to put something up.  I've been meaning to do it for a few weeks, but never seemed to get around to it.  So...ta da and all that.  Now, I'd write more, but I need to shower as I just finished a run a little while ago.  No, I don't enjoy running.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say it sucks.  What I enjoy even less, however, is the couple of extra pounds from the holidays that have stubbornly set up camp in my midsection.  Amazing how such a fleeting amount of pleasure can result in such a protracted amount of misery (if that's not a constant analogy for pretty much all of life's experiences, I don't know what is).        

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New Song (edited)

OK.  Here's the edited version of last song I recorded minus the sound effects (i.e. record needle scratch, siren, desert wind, etc).  This is just basically the straight forward song itself.  It's an odd amalgamation of influences of mine: The Charlatans and The Church (and maybe a little Radiohead with the some of the background guitar atmospherics).  Specifically, the Hammond organ is all Charlatans circa their Some Friendly album, and the guitar is a lot of The Church circa their Starfish album (again, with a light dusting of Radiohead).  Recorded with nothing but an old Mac, and a Fender Strat and P-Bass.  Mixed pretty well, so use headphones!  As always, an instrumental, as I cannot sing...at..all.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New Song



So, I like to fiddle around with music. Might as well put the old guitars to some sort of use. What I don't do is write lyrics. Not my thing. It doesn't come natural to me, and it's just not a strong suit of mine. So, I say that to explain this: since my music is all instrumentals, I tend to have a lot of visual imagery floating around in my head as I compose something. This one is no different. But I'm getting ahead of myself. As far as the song itself, it's a mishmash of a lot of bands/styles/genres I love. Specifically (in this instance): Ennio Morricone/The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; The Charlatans from their Some Friendly period; The Church from their Starfish album; U2's Unforgettable Fire; Catherine Wheel's Ferment album; and even a little Depeche Mode and Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique in the intro and outro. So, back to the song: I thought of it as a soundtrack to a highly stylized movie from the late 60s, early 70s (not the music itself, just the movies imagery...although the hammond organ in the song is very retro sounding and that was intentional). The kind of movie Lee Marvin would have made or maybe George Clooney when he wants to be grittier. Here's the plot in a nutshell and how the song corresponds with the story (at least, in my head):

-The Lee Marvin/George Clooney character is a "fixer" for LA mobsters. He's very good at what he does, and supremely confident in his abilities. But, he's also grown tired, weary, bitter, and cynical...and is thinking of getting out and "retiring". As he sits alone in a dark downtown bar, he gets a phone call for a job. As he prepares for the job, and goes about doing what he does to complete it (let your mind wander as to what it might be), that's the first part of the song. It's the intro (prepping and driving to the scene), and the verse (doing the job, and doing it well). However, it dawns on the fixer something isn't right, and his "bosses" have set him up to take a hard fall. That's the short bridge after the verse...when it occurs to him he's in deep trouble and been deceived and double-crossed. The second part (or chorus, although it only occurs once), is his flight out of the city with danger close on his heels. He's heading to the desert where an old flame of his lives. She's the only person he can trust, and she's somebody he's never told anybody about in order to keep her out of harms way from his seedy life. He's had years of regret for walking away from the relationship years prior, as she was easily the best thing he had in his life. But, being who he was, he felt she was better off without him...but he's never gotten over the regret. The repeat of the bridge is their meeting in the desert, and her hiding him out until he can figure out an angle to clear his name from the incident. She agrees to go back to help him if he promises to leave the city and be with her (she still holds a candle for him too). He agrees. The repeat of the verse is them both going back to LA, and the fixer getting his revenge and the bosses getting their just desserts. The ending bridge is the fixer and the woman driving back out to the desert and never looking back.

Now, a movie like this needs a highly stylized poster, which i would imagine would look something like these:










Anyways, that's my musical process and some insight into my brain. I know...nerd alert. Oh, and the sound of the record skipping at the intro and outro was just an homage to the Beastie Boys Pauls Boutique album. I had fun making the recording sound like it was a record where the needle would get stuck and you had to bump it to get it going again, and then hastily dragged the needle over the groove at the end putting it away. The siren/car chase at the beginning was my idea of the "listener" of the record listening to another track on the record (say, the "chase scene of the fixer getting out of LA"), and the needle got stuck, so they drug the needle over to the next track, this song. Then song ends as it's the last track, so the listener drags the needle a bit as they put the spindle back in its cradle. No real purpose other than my own entertainment.

PS:
This song was a pain in the ass to mix and master. Different sets of headphones/earbuds would produce wildly different results, so I kind of had to make a compromise where it didn't sound perfect on any of them, but decent on all of them.

Followers