Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in Baltimore

Merry Christmas!

Hi all, I hope everyone has a merry, safe and joyous Christmas.

Remember that "Christmas" is about Christ, after all.

To my secular friends: If you don't like that, then don't celebrate the holiday, and don't spoil it for others. Go to work that day and delight in your special insight.

Have a good one, all.

How to Apply Lessons Learned from the Great Depression

How to Apply Lessons Learned from the Great Depression - wikiHow:
"Recent economic times may mirror what American grandparents or great-grandparents went through in the Great Depression. While this time may be a challenge, it may be an opportunity to look back and learn how previous generations coped with tough economic times. Hopefully, we'll never need to relive their lessons learned, but at the very least we can appreciate their resourcefulness and gain perspective on our own situations."

Friday, December 19, 2008

RIAA will stop suing individuals downloading music

RIAA finds its soul, will stop suing individuals downloading music - Engadget:
"When you retard fair use with pointless DRM and then sue anonymous children for illegally downloading music while ignoring those of the execs at the top of the music industry, well, you're asking for a public relations nightmare. Now, with more than 35,000 lawsuits to its credit, the RIAA says it will finally end the legal assault against consumers that began back in 2003"

Monday, December 15, 2008


"I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.
- Joseph Baretti"

Friday, December 12, 2008

And Boy, is He Getting Off Cheap! - Canadian Man Builds Himself Robot Girlfriend - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News:
'A Canadian man, apparently unable to find the perfect woman, has done the next best thing — he's built himself one.

Le Trung, a 33-year-old software engineer who lives with his parents in Brampton, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, says he's spent about $20,000 so far on Aiko, a 5-foot-tall female android with clear skin, a slim if shapely figure and a wonderful disposition.'"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Music Thing: SH Stompin' Bass: a real wooden stompbox

Music Thing: SH Stompin' Bass: a real wooden stompbox

Musicians Protest Blistering Music Used in Prisons to 'Break' Inmates

Musicians Protest Blistering Music Used in Prisons to 'Break' Inmates

I dunno, maybe it's patriotic...

But why now are these musicians so concerned - they don't seem to be so angry when teenagers who listen to their stuff blow off their heads. Maybe they're too fearful of a Muslim backlash.

Rock the Casbah, baby!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Honey the Christmas Lights are up! why won't you speak to me?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How to Define a Problem - wikiHow

How to Define a Problem - wikiHow:
"Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution. This quote does illustrate an important point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it. Here are strategies you can use to see problems from many different perspectives and master what is the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

American Music Awards fashions

I love music fashion, I really do. It tells you when to cross the street.

American Music Awards fashions --

Why I Have Egg on my Face

Don't tell anyone, but I'm staring middle-age in the face. And I don't mean that history that we've all forgotten from grade school.

I've been looking for a protein-rich, carbohydrate-poor food that will keep my muscles going. Enter the egg. It was there all along.

The egg in the picture fits better in my pocket.

American Egg Board :: Health & Nutrition:
"Nutrient-rich, all-natural eggs are a welcome addition to any diet. One egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, healthy unsaturated fats and antioxidants, for only 70 calories. Eggs' nutrient package aids in the following:

* Weight management: The high-quality protein in eggs helps you to feel full longer and stay energized, which contributes to maintaining a healthy weight.iv

* Muscle strength and muscle-loss prevention: Research indicates that high-quality protein may help active adults build muscle strength and help prevent muscle loss in middle-aged and aging adults.v

* Healthy pregnancy: Egg yolks are an excellent source of choline, an essential nutrient that contributes to fetal brain development and helps prevent birth defects. Two eggs provide about 250 milligrams of choline, or roughly half of the recommended daily intake for pregnant and breastfeeding

* Brain function: Choline also aids the brain function of adults by maintaining the structure of brain cell membranes, and is a key component of the neuro-transmitter that helps relay messages from the brain through nerves to the muscles.vii

* Eye health: Lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in egg yolks, help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related blindness. Though eggs contain a small"

George Burns

"I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.
- George Burns"

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Introducing The ROUND SOUND 2X10 Speaker Cabinet

Odd little cabs. Read on...

Introducing The ROUND SOUND 2X10 Speaker Cabinet - eBay (item 180308090261 end time Nov-30-08 16:20:49 PST): "The speakers are round...why can't the cabinet be round also?"

Dumas and Merton

Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest.
- Alexandre Dumas

The least of learning is done in the classrooms.
- Thomas Merton

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yet another new bass

For those who have not followed my Yamaha bass saga, here is a recap:

I bought one of those fancy-schmantzy, lighted-dial, uber-light RBX5-A2 basses. The bridge nearly fell apart and the neck got wonky. China, he said. Back it went.

That one was exchanged for an RBX-375. I wrote about this bass, basically saying it was the coolest cheap bass ever. I rescind those remarks; not only did the neck get a kink, but something weird happened with the pickups, causing distortion and making a sound like the strings were hitting the pickups (they weren't). I checked everything out, but back it went. China, he said again.

You can see I'm lucky to be able to return these wonky instruments. That's what good customer service is all about.

I was still on the hunt for a good Yamaha bass. I wanted Yamaha because I like the necks, and generally I've really liked the quality of Yamaha gear. To get 2 basses from them that were both crap has been a very unexpected experience. But along the way I developed a jones for a Yamaha TRB-1005, so I went looking for a black one.

I found out that Yamaha stopped making colors in this product line; all they now make is natural. Bummer. So while tottering around Guitar Center in Towson, MD, I saw a knocked-around TRB-1005. Not black, it was natural, but the thing played like, as they say, butta. It had a bunch of dents and such on it, and the battery door was broken off, the battery held in with black gaff tape. I'll never understand how anyone can not take care of a nice bass like this, but maybe this was meant to be. I got it for a sweet deal, and Eric at GC threw in a really nice gig bag, and even paid for a new battery box (which I replaced in about a minute).

So how is it? So far so good. I'm still working out the sound, but it plays great. Honestly, I liked the sound of the RBX375 better; it was clear and deep without any tweaking. This TRB-1005 requires a bit more finesse, but it's also got more knobs on it, and it sounds anything but lame. And more knobs is always better, right?

It's a great bass, and even had I paid the "new" price for it (currently running around $800), I'd be really happy with it.

Nice Little Tool Bag

I added this little bag to my kit, to hold small tools and such. But it's not marketed as a bag: it's a pencil case, from Staples! Yes, they come in colors.

GC - What a great experience!

I thought I'd drop some creds here. I'm not being paid for this, so you know.

I wanted to let my musician friends know about the great experiences I've had at Guitar Center in Towson, MD. Manager Eric Dixon has been taking excellent care of me, but that care extends throughout his staff. Ryan also went out his way for me, for nothing. For once, the peeps at GC are knowledgeable, and friendly, and cutomer-oriented - something hasn'tr been true at GC since forever.

Eric has really turned the place around. And he says if you don't see the deal you're after, then ask. I did, and got what I was looking for.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Picasso and current art

"There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
- Pablo Picasso"

I remember my first day at Maryland Institute College of Art. I was chatting with one of the painting students, and I asked about her work. "I do abstract," she said. Then offhandedly, she remarked that she couldn't paint anything that looked real.

I was surprised; seemed like a poor artist, to me; it lacked the fundamentals. But there she was, working on an MFA.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh, the irony

Maybe Madonna is a good judge of "unreasonable behavior." Still seems weird, though.

Madonna & Guy Granted Preliminary Divorce - Breakups, Guy Ritchie, Madonna :
"According to a document released by the court, 50-year-old Madonna – the petitioner – said in a sworn statement that she is divorcing Ritchie for his 'unreasonable behavior.'"

Rene Magritte's birthday

Some you know who Magritte was, some not. I mention it here because he painted the cover for one of rock's more important albums, Beck-Ola.

The painting on Beck-Ola is entitled, The Listening Room. However, my favorite Magritte painting is called The Human Condition (left). He painted it in 1933, before television, and I think it depicts us now more than it did then.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sometimes, You've Just had Enough. - Attendant Helps Land Plane After Pilot Is Sedated, Restrained During Breakdown
"DUBLIN, Ireland — An Air Canada co-pilot having a mental breakdown had to be forcibly removed from the cockpit, restrained and sedated, and a stewardess with flying experience helped the pilot safely make an emergency landing, an Irish investigation concluded Wednesday.

The report by the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit into an incident in January applauded the decision-making of the pilot and the cockpit skills of the flight attendant, who stepped into the co-pilot's seat for the emergency diversion to Shannon Airport in western Ireland."

H. Rider Haggard

"As I grow older , I regret to say that a detestable habit of thinking seems to be getting a hold of me.
- H. Rider Haggard"

Murdoch to media: You dug yourself a huge hole

Murdoch to media: You dug yourself a huge hole | Coop's Corner - CNET News:
"With newspapers cutting back, and predictions of even worse times ahead, Rupert Murdoch said the profession may still have a bright future, if it can shake free of reporters and editors who he said have forfeited the trust and loyalty of their readers.

'My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the Internet is this: It's not newspapers that might become obsolete. It's some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper's most precious asset: the bond with its readers,' said Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corp. He made his remarks as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Australian Broadcast Corporation.

Murdoch, whose company's holdings also include MySpace and The Wall Street Journal, criticized what he described as a culture of 'complacency and condescension' in some newsrooms.

'The complacency stems from having enjoyed a monopoly--and now finding they have to compete for an audience they once took for granted. The condescension that many show their readers is an even bigger problem. It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time gettin"

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Problem all these years

"The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous.
- Shana Alexander"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Perfect for my Son! iNap!

You know young people - stay awake all night and sleep on someone else's dime. Maybe this can get some work out of him! Now if it could just wake me when I get to the chorus...

iPhone and iPod Touch Application List » iNap:
"iNap is a 'next-generation' travel alarm. Using the GPS in your iPhone it will determine where you are, and wake you when you are close to your destination! Using the integrated user-friendly Google Maps you determine your destination by typing in an address, city, train-station etc. And you are ready to take a nap!"

Going too far?

Here's an (arguably) nifty musician tool: 4 tracks of recording for your iPod.

Now, I'm old enough to remember the days when the cool thing was a Teac 4-track reel-to-reel. If you had one of those in your home stereo or studio, you were really something. But now, that same functionality (and much more, actually) can be had in an iPod.

I dunno, there just seems to be something too convenient about humping a 4-track around with you all the time...

Sonoma Wire Works

Geting the Flu?

Google has a nifty tool to let you track the location of the flu on a state-by-state basis.

Google Flu Trends

What is the flu?

Influenza (the flu) is a serious contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Millions of people in the United States get the flu each year. Most people are sick for about a week. Some people (especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems) can get very sick and may die from the flu.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The American Voter

To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
- Gustave Flaubert

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Outstanding Quotes Today

"Sometimes the mind, for reasons we don't necessarily understand, just decides to go to the store for a quart of milk.
- Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.
- Frank Zappa

It is better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming up it.
- Henry Allen"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

TSG Backstage: Rage Against The Machine

Ultra-liberals and Dom Perignon, an unlikely mix. These are the guys who are supposed to be politically alternative, but their menu reads like a GOP fund raising dinner.

TSG Backstage: Rage Against The Machine

Friday, November 7, 2008

What did it say?

Learn to love your computer. Or at least not to beat it with the zeal it so richly deserves.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Antares Auto-Tune Evo Pitch Correcting Plug-In

It was bad enough when Gison came out with a self-tuning guitar, but calling this the holy grail of recording? How about a pox upon music? No longer do singers need talent, just plug 'em in!

Now we know how Madonna got so far...

Antares Auto-Tune Evo Pitch Correcting Plug-In:
"Hailed as a 'holy grail of recording,' by Recording magazine (and adopted worldwide as the largest-selling audio plug-in of all time), Auto-Tune corrects intonation problems in vocals or solo instruments, in real time, without distortion or artifacts, while preserving all of the expressive nuance of the original performance - with audio quality so pristine that the only difference between what goes in and what comes out is the intonation."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Insults Before "Modern" Education

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire

Winston Churchill

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.

Clarence Darrow

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.

William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.

Groucho Marx

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.

Mark Twain

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.

Oscar Wilde

I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend... if you have one.

George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one.

Winston Churchill's response to George Bernard Shaw

I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here.

Stephen Bishop

He is a self-made man and worships his creator.

John Bright

I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial.

Irvin S. Cobb

He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.

Samuel Johnson

He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.

Paul Keating

He had delusions of adequacy.

Walter Kerr

Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?

Mark Twain

His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.

Mae West

Winston, if you were my husband, I would poison your coffee!

Lady Astor to Winston Churchill at a dinner party

Madam, if I were your husband, I would drink it!

Winston Churchills response to Lady Astor

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."

Moses Hadas

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure."

Jack E. Leonard

"He has the attention span of a lightning bolt."

Robert Redford

"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge."

Thomas Brackett Reed

"He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them."

James Reston (about Richard Nixon)

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."

Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."

Forrest Tucker

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any one I know."

Abraham Lincoln

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."

Mae West

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than illumination."

Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."

Billy Wilder

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.

Oscar Wilde

"You, Mr. Wilkes, will die either of the pox or on the gallows."

The Earl of Sandwich

"That depends, my lord, whether I embrace your mistress or your principles."

John Wilkes's response to The Earl of Sandwich

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about."

Winston Churchill

Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and John McCain

Aerosmith’s Joe Perry walks this way with John McCain -
"Aerosmith has generally left the politics to bands like U2 and the Dixie Chicks, but axeman Joe Perry says national security and economic woes have prompted him to split from the rest of the entertainment world and throw his support behind John McCain.

“We pretty much stay out of it, but seeing so many people come out for Obama, I just felt like ‘What the hell, I might as well raise my hand for this side,” Perry said from his Duxbury home."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Life Time

one cigarette costs 2 minutes of your life.
one bottle of beer costs 4 minutes of your life.
one working day costs 8 hours of your life.
'Love is an art like music'.
- Pierre Louis (1870-1925)"

Thursday, October 16, 2008


"In Switzerland, 500 years of democracy and peace. And what does it produce? The cuckoo clock. ~ Graham Geene, The Third Man"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And who could blame him?

Ringo Starr News on Yahoo! Music:
"The fan fatigue led the former Beatles drummer to post a sometimes angry sounding short video clip on his Web site telling fans that any mail sent to him after Oct. 20 will not be read or answered. British television stations broadcast the video on Tuesday.

'It's going to be tossed,' he says on the video. 'I'm warning you with peace and love, I have too much to do. So no more fan mail. Thank you, thank you. And no objects to be signed. Nothing. Anyway, peace and love, peace and love.'"

Sunday, October 12, 2008


"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
- Samuel Johnson"

Friday, October 10, 2008

How to Accept Criticism With Grace and Appreciation - wikiHow

How to Accept Criticism With Grace and Appreciation - wikiHow

This nice, but it doesn't mention the 9th possibility: bare knuckles. Show the critic what's what.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Survey Finds 'Bleak Picture' for World's Mammals -

Survey Finds 'Bleak Picture' for World's Mammals -
"BARCELONA -- A quarter of the world's wild mammal species are at risk of extinction, according to a comprehensive global survey released here this morning.

The new assessment -- which took 1,700 experts in 130 countries five years to complete -- paints 'a bleak picture,' leaders of the project wrote in a paper being published in the journal Science. The overview, made public at the quadrennial World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), covers all 5,487 wild species identified since 1500. It is the most thorough tally of land and marine mammals since 1996."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

That Quote by Nabakov

It seems rock music and musicians have a good bit in common with Russian philosophers:

"My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music."
- Vladimir Nabokov

Friday, September 26, 2008

"I couldn't hold it no more"

This is just too good to go unnoticed. Cops: I can hear you now: "Ooooooooh (sounding like little girls)!"

But the real question remains: Where did they stick the breathalyzer?

Flatulence gets DUI suspect charged with battery -
"SOUTH CHARLESTON, West Virginia (AP) -- A West Virginia man who police said passed gas and fanned it toward a patrol officer has been charged with battery on a police officer.

Jose A. Cruz, 34, of Clarksburg was pulled over early Tuesday for driving without headlights, police said. According to the criminal complaint, Cruz smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and failed three field sobriety tests before he was handcuffed and taken to a police station for a Breathalyzer test.

As Patrolman T.E. Parsons prepared the machine, Cruz scooted his chair toward Parsons, lifted his leg and 'passed gas loudly,' the complaint said.

Cruz, according to the complaint, then fanned the gas toward the officer.

'The gas was very odorous and created contact of an insulting or provoking nature with Patrolman Parsons,' the complaint alleged.

He was also charged with driving under the influence, driving without headlights and two counts of obstruction.

Cruz acknowledged passing gas but said he didn't move his chair toward the officer nor aim gas at the patrolman. He said he had an upset stomach at the time, but police denied his request to go to the bathroom when he arrived at the station.

'I couldn't hold it no more,' he said.

He also denied being drunk and uncooperative, as the police complaint alleged. He added he was upset at being prepared for a Breathalyzer test while having an asthma attack.

The police statement said he later resisted being secured for a trip to a hospital that he requested for asthma treatment.

Cruz said the officers thought the gas incident was funny when it happened and laughed about it with him.

"This is ridiculous," he said. "I could be facing time."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shut Yer Piehole, Second Helping

I posted some time ago that artists need to get a brain and leave their politics out of their professional lives. This past week, there is a case in point.

Jill Greenberg, both acclaimed and infamous photographer, was hired by The Atlantic Monthly to shoot John McCain. Greenberg, a ferocious Democratic supporter, photographed McCain in a very unflattering fashion, going so far as to alter the pics to give him blood-dripping shark's teeth. To reiterate, she did all this on her own for a paying client.

The fallout for her is that A), her client was forced to issue a personal apology to the picture's subject, McCain; B), she was not paid by her client for her work, and may be sued by them; especially interesting, C), she lost the respect of many in the pro photog community; D), she was dropped from her high-end agency, Vaughan Hannigan, affecting her future work. She was picked up by another agency, but has now branded herself as an activist for liberal causes. How do you think that will play out in right-wing circles (i.e., nearly all high-end corporate gigs) when considering her for projects, especially now that she's well-known for pulling these stunts?

Another curious thing: this Mensa reject is Canadian - not even an American. What a fool.

This is akin to us musicians standing up and saying at gig, "Here's to John McCain winning the election over that asshole Obama." Meanwhile, you're playing at the wedding of the daughter of the head of the local Democratic party. Or how's about professing your love for Jesus at a gathering of Muslims. Nice move, genius. Where's your next gig?

The question remains: For what are you being paid? If the client asks for shark's teeth on McCain, fire away if you are so inclined. But if they're looking for a middle-of-the-road shot in your style, give them what ask for. Or turn down the job. We're talking about professional responsibility, not social engineering on someone else's dime.

So, take as much interest in politics as you like, I encourage you to make an informed choice. But, in public, entertainers need to leave it alone. News Forum

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Holy CRAP I'm in the wrong line of work

Hugh Laurie Gets a Raise - 'House' star may also get a producing credit - Zap2it:
"Hugh Laurie will reportedly become one of TV's highest-paid stars under the teams of a new deal with Universal Media Studios.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Laurie's pact will keep him with his hit FOX drama 'House' through the 2011-12. The trade paper says Laurie's new salary would be in the roughly $400,000 per episode, or more than $9 million per season.

Laurie, whose original 'House' salary was only in the mid-five figure range, may also get a producing credit of some sort. The Emmy nominated star's last salary bump had come in the summer of 2006 when his per-episode rate increased to $250,000-$300,000.

Even after the new deal, Laurie's salary will still lag behind his network cohort Kiefer Sutherland, who makes roughly $500,000 per '24' episode. Both FOX stars can only envy exiting 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' star William Petersen, who makes a reported $600,000 per episode."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pink Floyd keyboardist Wright dies

Pink Floyd keyboardist Wright dies -
"LONDON, England (AP) -- Richard Wright, a founding member of the rock group Pink Floyd, died Monday. He was 65.
Richard Wright (right) and a reunited Pink Floyd earn cheers at 2005's Live 8.

Richard Wright (right) and a reunited Pink Floyd earn cheers at 2005's Live 8.

Pink Floyd's spokesman Doug Wright, who is not related to the artist, said Wright died after a battle with cancer at his home in Britain. He says the band member's family did not want to give more details about his death.

Wright met Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and Nick Mason in college and joined their early band, Sigma 6. Along with the late Syd Barrett, the four formed Pink Floyd in 1965."
Richard Wright is at far right in the photo above.

Good News for Bad Spellers?

"Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


"REMEMBER when MTV had veejays who actually knew something about music and aired programs that focused on, um, music? Neither do I.

This week, the music channel-turned-Democrat agitprop machine celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Video Music Awards show by turning the spotlight on an America-bashing, Sarah Palin-trashing 'comedian' from Britain as host.

The freakish Russell Brand is famous across the pond for his booze and sex addictions (which earned him multiple 'Shagger of the Year' accolades). Oh, and he made headlines for gleefully dressing up as Osama bin Laden the day after the Sept. 11 jihadists struck on American soil.

Could MTV stick a bigger finger in the eyes of American viewers on the seventh anniversary week of those murderous attacks?"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Harry's New Toy - Zoom B2.1u

I found that surrendering to the masses isn't so bad after all. This bass multi-pedal is nice. I bought it specifically to fatten up the sound of my Ashdown single 15 combo while playing in 3 piece groups, and it does that handily - with other FX, as well.

So far, I'm still playing with the presets in the box. The Ampeg SVT/810e preset seems good on paper, so I started with that. Guess what? It actually sounds a bit thin. The fattest straight amp sound so far is the SWR model. Through the Ashdown, I actually got it to growl. The Marcus Miller sound is also a good one.

I had looks from all the other players when we went into a Sly and the Family Stone song and I buggered in the funk-wah. Hoo boy, where's my furry pimp hat?...

I needed to be careful of the flanger - this is a powerful effect in this stomp box with a lot of range, and can cut the low end tremendously if not set judiciously.

So far it's fun and useful. The only downside is the foot pedal - the stroke is too short to make fine adjustments, and I think I'd have been better off getting the pedal-less model.

More later...

I have succumbed to the mournful wail of bass multi-effects. Actually, I am just looking for something to fatten up the sound of the 3-piece groups with which I play, and my old pedalboard is just too big to bring out to these little gigs. I have no stage room to put it.

Enter the Zoom B2.1u or whatever the hell it's called. Must've been named by a crackhead or something, uttering sounds through his drool. But there it is.

The unit does a load of stuff, and the learning curve for programming it is high, indeed, because it does so much. I'll be commenting more on it as I get more familiar with it.

Wish me luck...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shut Yer Piehole

Don't you wish musicians could keep quiet about politics? Every time I hear a musician or, especially, an actor, spout pronouncements politik, I head for the gag bucket. Their stupidity and lack of knowledge about the subject is apparent and breathtaking. And this is true no matter which side they support.

The problem for entertainers is that discussions of politics and religion divide and anger people. And that's not a good thing when an artist is trying to develop and support a fan base. So in this sense, it's even more stupid than the things they say about each candidate.

From my perspective, I know that if I cover a song from someone who supports a candidate that I don't, then my effort will lead to that musician prospering from my work, and therefore I am, by proxy, supporting his candidate. So my rule: If anyone espouses politics with which I don't agree, I don't play their songs. Terrible situation, ain't it? And I don't like being put in that position.

I like the rock answer best: Shut the !@#$ up and play.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

That pesky rear port

The trend in cab design these days (and for the past decade, it seems) has been to place a port for low end frequency extension on the rear of bass cabs and combos. This can work well in some situations, especially if the player is mindful that he can tune the cab by adjusting the distance to or from the wall of the cab.

However, these ports can prove more trouble than they're worth. For example, in a reverberant room, the low frequencies (which is all that come from those ports) can travel down the walls in both directions, making the wall a big bass horn, increasing the volume to absurd levels in the audience, while leaving you, the player, unable to hear yourself. It can change your sound and make it "boomy." Perhaps the worst of it, other players onstage can be blasted with an overdose of bass. We want to be heard, but who wants to deal with volume complaints about the bass all night?

The solution is to get some material, like foam, and stuff-stuff-stuff those ports. Fill them up. It will make the cab/combo sound different, in most cases tightening up the sound. If you don't like it, just remove the foam.

On many recent jobs, just to control the volume I've had to stick my coat behind my amp (at least unltil I foamed the ports).

Try it and see. You may like the result.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

working writer

"Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
- Christopher Hampton

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back to the beginning...

The more things I try, the more I find the old things were better. Considering strings, it's Rotosound.

Back in the day, I remember the first roundwound strings I used were Rotos. Chris Squire and Stanley Clarke used them, so who was I to argue? Light gauge and stainless steel, they were bright, durable, and the tone lasted a long time. But they were also, at the time, a little pricey.

In the forthcoming years, a lot of developments took place in the string market: fret-friendly nickel wound; sci-fi inspired cryogenically-treated strings (will they still be alive after I die?); pressed; ground; hex-core; round-core; chopped, sliced and diced, whew! The choices have come a long way since nylon tape wound.

I was a pro, was playing a lot, like 6 nights a week, and I like a really bright tone. Even Rotos couldn't stand up to what I needed; the boiling trick didn't work so well on them, because, being steel, they rusted. I went through a lot of different brands, and settled into a departure from the old standby Rotos, Ernie Ball nickel-wound in medium gauge. I used these because they were bright, cheap, and stood up to repeated boilings very well (I boiled them every day).

These days, I've got this new bass, the Yamaha RBX375 (still going strong). It came with GHS nickel strings which sounded very nice, but no man ever left anything successful alone, so I wanted to try some new strings on the RBX. After initially overlooking Rotos (I had forgotten about them, actually), I went to and bought a set of Roto Swing Bass in light gauge (RS 66LC), like I used long ago. In short, they smoke.

I had put a set of Dunlop Light gauge steel roundwounds on the RBX (they were laying around), and they were OK, but when I got on the gig, I had mucho problems with weird overtones and a general lack of articulation. I wrote this off to the room acoustics (I was playing on a concrete floor after all).

I played the same room with the same setup a week later, but this time with Rotos. The bass sounded like a different instrument. Articulate, no boom, controllable overtones, all with the simple change to Rotos. And they feel good, too, just like they always did.

So for the RBX, it'll see Rotosound strings for awhile yet.

As they say, the more things change...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Youth and writing

"A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor."
- Ring Lardner

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Copland on the Meaning of Music

"The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, 'Is there a meaning to music?' My answer would be, 'Yes.' And 'Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?' My answer to that would be, 'No.'"

Aaron Copland (1900 - 1990)"

Truth of the Day

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
- Umberto Eco"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Television in April

"We are drawn to our television sets each April the way we are drawn to the scene of an accident.
- Vincent Canby"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.
- Alice Kahn

Friday, June 6, 2008


"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."
- Arthur Schopenhauer

Sunday, May 25, 2008

UPDATED: Yamaha RBX 375: Is it really that cheap?

This whole fiasco is updated-the RBX 375 failed me and went back. Read here for more info. The upshot: buyer beware.

George Bush bought me a bass. Well, sort of. The economic stimlulus money burned a hole through my pocket, and I happened to be standing near a Yamaha RBX 375 bass when it did. Good thing; I like it! (Special Thanks to Tod Eliot at Washington Music Center for his imcomparable help with this purchase.)

The RBX 375 is a 5-string bass, in Yamaha's cheapie RBX line. The upside is that the bass is on par with anything out there. The neck is very nice, featuring wider fretboard dimensions, for those of us who like that (I play fast as all get-out on wider necks; go figure). Sound is clear and strong. Fit and finish are good; however, only 3 colors are available: Black, red and silver, the last having a cheap look, to my eye. I wish they made a satin black finish, like the finish Yamaha puts on the back of the neck; that would be cool!

The RBX 375's sound is deep and powerful; the neck pickup has a decidedly P-bass tone (a good thing). The active electronics work well, with the frequency locations for the treble and bass well-positioned. To my ear, the low frequency Q is lower, and the high frequency Q higher than comparable basses. Again, that's a good thing, because it leaves the midrange more or less alone, allowing one to adjust the tone well using only two active tone sections. Other controls are master volume and pickup balance.

Overall, the RBX 375 is not really so much a great value, but a really good bass at any price up to about $1000; yes, it competes favorably in that category. The fact that it's less than half that price is really astounding. How does Yamaha do it? Now for the downside: It's made in China.

I guess Chinese-made things are just part of life now, and we have to accept it. But we don't have to like it, considering the negative impact on overall global economics, and especially local prices of pretty much everything. Allow me to diverge:

By the time you read this post, gasoline prices in the US will be around $4 per gallon. People with no economics background will mistakenly blame greedy oil producers for the price rise. In actuality, it's the speculation taking place in the oil futures market that's causing the price increase. The speculation is taking place because, as China becomes more and more of an industrial powerhouse, and as more of the Chinese population forms its budding middle class (meaning they can afford things like cars), the thinking among speculators is that oil even at the record-breaking price of $135 per barrel will be cheap compared to that in the coming months and years. The trading price increases, actual price goes up with that, and voila - unprecedented oil/gasoline/energy price inflation. I'll reserve comment on this being a self-fulfilling development, caused by the traders themselves.

It's all happening because we want cheap goods. I've said before about this: pay now or pay later. We're in a pay later mode.

Doing the math, I can buy a $1000 bass made in China for $400, saving me $600 right now. Then pay an extra $200 per month for gasoline, which eats up the savings in three months, then starts to drain my wallet quickly. Or I can pay $1000 for a $1000 bass, save the $200 per month, and then save serious cash in gasoline over the life of the bass. Using these numbers, I'll be saving $2400 per year, all by paying the proper price for something made in my own country. If the bass has a useful life of 10 years, it actually costs me more like $24,000 for the cheap bass.

This is a very simplified example, because the actual monetary impact will save even more money; things like an increase in local jobs and the impact on transportation costs (which also affect food prices) are not accounted for here. But you get the idea.

Well, we live in the now, and it is what it is. The RBX 375 is a really nice bass, and I'm enjoying playing it in my house. I play it at home because I can't afford gas to get to the gigs.

UPDATE: After mortgaging my house for a tank of gas, I played a gig yesterday using the RBX 375 through a SansAmp Bass Driver DI and Ashdown C115-300. Really nice rig. It sounds like bass (not guitar-esque as many modern basses do), with deep lows and defined midrange. The high end is not mentioned because the amp doesn't really do crisp top end well, so that will remain for another day. Overall, however, the bass played well, with a fast, comfortable action. It even garned a compliment from my keyboard player. Of course, the amp ws immediately behind him, so perhaps we was afraid of what I would do with the volume if he said bad things. Nevertheless, the bass performed well and felt good.

Of course, all was not pefect. In the Harry is Sometimes Stupid Department, in the second set I was having immense trouble getting a sound; I was losing volume, it seemed distortion was increasing, and the punch had gone from the sound - all signs that the battery might be dying. On break, I discovered that, in my mind, I had reversed the locations of the active bass and treble controls; when I thought I was turning down high end, I was actually turning down the low. So the problem was fixed with a simple turn of the knob. Sheesh. In defense of myself, my prior main bass, a Spector, had these controls reversed from the Yamaha. So there.

Ok, Play on...

Thursday, March 27, 2008


"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.
- Dorothy Parker"

Friday, January 18, 2008

HTPC: Where I've Been

Sorry for the dearth of posts. I've been bitten by the HTPC bug, and have had to learn a whole new set of skills aside from my video production chops.

For the uninitiated, HTPC = Home Theater PC. I've long had my fill of movie theaters, with the excessive prices to sit with rude, cell-phone-talking rubes. So I watch movies happily at home, now using a variety of toys which I'll discuss in a series of posts. These include my tests with: NTSC, ATSC and QAM, and why you should care, the HP MediaSmart TV and why mine was returned, Philips HDTV and DVD recorders, Windows Media Center 2005 (XP), Windows Vista Media Center, Beyond TV, Sage TV, the open source MediaPortal, the HDHomerun HD Tuner, analog tuners from ATI, Pinnacle, and AVerMedia, and running all this over a wireless G network. And more.

Yeah, I've been busy. And Elgato EyeTV PVR software for the Mac is on the way!

Stay tuned...

Don't miss lessons Radiohead, Reznor offer | Crave : The gadget blog

Don't miss lessons Radiohead, Reznor offer | Crave : The gadget blog:
"But they also illustrated that the music business is probably better left in the hands of businessmen. Musicians are not the new labels. Artists need someone to provide financial support and business acumen. If we end up ridding the world of labels, we'll only have to re-create them--in some other, probably more nimble form."

Zebron and James