Sunday, 15 February 2009

Long Weekend

It's being a very long weekend so far. Due to having Monday off, due to it being the newly-created "Family Day" holiday in Canada, and my neice and nephew being sick with colds, my visit to go see them is being delayed until Monday. I'm kicking a really gross, week-long cold that was absolutely crippling for some people, but which I weathered, perhaps due in part to taking ginseng-laden Cold Effects pills and heavy duty Vitamin C/B effervescing tablets. I've been passing the time in downloading obscure things (live action Asterix and Obelix movies they made in France, Three Musketeers-related films, and some Le Gendarme and Alain Delon movies).
I keep forgetting I sing songs, and getting out to an open stage or band practice is touch and go stuff, so I decided to stop merely describing songs on the Internet, and to actually put them up where people will, in theory, hear them. On my main website, I started a "Song of the Week" link. This week's song (a cover of "Birds" by Neil Young) came of me looking at the microphone stand sitting lonely in my living room, while my throat and lungs were awash with mucous the consistency of egg white. My voice was all raspy, and I've always secretly wished I could, on command, sing with a rasp the way that Rod Stewart, Sting, Bryan Adams, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and so on probably can't help singing with. Thing is, when your voice is all messed up, you lose control over pitch and, well, pretty much everything, most of the time.
The song doesn't end up sounding very raspy (it's not "Don't Know What You've Got Until It's Gone" by Cinderella), mostly because the more times I sang it into the microphone, the more the phlegm got all cleared out. Also, I was trying to sing with a breathy rasp, not an anguished rattle, followed by a cough. I'm working on playing the guitar and singing together in one take, no redo's, and making the guitar sound rich, and voice close and intimate.
I found a couple of online recordings of Frank Shaeffer speaking, which I really enjoyed. He has good points about North Americans electing people based on them proving they do not "induldge" in anything but the most black and white positions on key issues, and are completely innocent of the nuances and concerns surrounding them. Shaeffer grew up with an insider's view of the evangelism industry in America, and says that these groups enjoy "non-profit organization" tax exemptions, and carefully give their leaders pay that is modest on paper, but coupled with a benefits package which looks like it's for a member of the Saudi royal family, including (literally, in some cases) fleets of private jets, sixteen body guards, and so on.
He said that fundamentalism is "the exception" religion in America, getting all the breaks of a state religion. He said Billy Graham's 28 million dollar compound, with its animatronic talking cow (not golden, I hope) welcoming visitors, would never be possible for a Jewish rabbi, a Catholic Bishop or Anglican priest. No president would consult or pray with those latter folk, either.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Pro Tools

Since the 90s, when I looked in audio magazines, there were the programs that normal people could buy/pirate and use, and then there was Pro Tools. Pro Tools was a combination of external soundcard/audio module, with software that only worked with it. It cost thousands of dollars and there was no point pirating a set of programs that would only work with the hardware.
So, I was looking into buying an inexpensive breakout box (external soundcard/audio interface) and found that, for a fair bit less than a thousand dollars, you can buy one with Pro Tools nowadays.
Friday was payday. It was also the opening of the stop-action adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novella Coraline, which I've taught in my English class many times. Friday, I managed to finish up the school day, have an important yearbook meeting (which I rushed selfishly,) and then I put the pedal down and got to and across the city, only slightly impeded by rush hour starting around me, got to the theatre in the city which was showing Coraline in 3D (early, rather than late, as I'd expected to arrive), bought tickets, scoped laptops, picked up a new Sookie Stackhouse book (upon which True Blood is based), and read it until the movie started. Loved it. Coraline was pretty staggeringly psychadelic. Lots of additions and changes from the book, and I didn't really mind a one. Also, in 3D, the experience includes things like an extreme closeup of button, with a needle poking though, giant-sized, into your eye. Every single time something scary happened, on side of the theatre, a chipmunk-voiced child went "EEep!" and on the other, a bevy of little girls burst into absolutely delighted, post-startle giggling.
Then I booted across the city and got to the store in time to pick up a breakout box/software Pro Tools package. I've spent today messing with it, and also making tacos and trying out old Nintendo games with Joel over.