Sunday, 29 March 2009

Earth Hour

I had never heard of Earth Hour before, but someone told me about it at school, so I turned off all the lights and stuff, lit up a bunch of candles, got the guitar out and sang a bunch of my old songs.

Also this weekend, I read Watch You Bleed:The Saga of Guns N' Roses.  I found it fascinating, and can't believe they actually got famous, given how messed up and clueless they were at the time.

As an experiment, I've been reading my online news each morning, first from the BBC, and then from the North American papers (which are kind of interchangeable).  I've been watching to see kind of stuff doesn't get reported in ours.  So far, a car they have designed in India which sells new for just under $2000 USD, and the fact that the Chinese government, not content with censoring and filtering their citizens' access to the Internet by a giant firewall, has been hacking into computers in all the surrounding countries, and into the Dalai Lama's computer to try to cause him grief.  Not really newsworthy stuff, I guess.

I took a trip in the heavy, cold, grey rain to record Mindy, this time trying out some piano, and beatboxing to her singing.  Then it was off to the folks' house.  The niece and nephew were in fine form, so a lot of rough-housing ensued.  Things like a one-year-old walking around with his grandpa's rubber boot stuck on his head like a giant hat.

Then home to mix some of the music.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Breaking Hard

Once the first part of the week was over, things picked up. I drank Guinness at an open stage and played quite a few different kinds of songs to positive reaction there. Then Michael came in from out of town and I picked him up and we recorded some songs with my sister. Then we all went out to a pub with an excellent party music band playing and had Guinness. Yesterday I drove him to Montreal to visit his sister and nephews, and as it was late, I slept over after playing quite a lot of Soul Caliber on Wii after watching quite a lot of Call of Duty 4 and Gears of War 2 getting played until the XBox 360 fried. Today has involved visiting and playing pool. No Guinness, sadly. Michael was supposed to leave on the train back from Montreal to NYC today, but the directions to the train station which we were given had a "West" where there was supposed to be an "East" and he didn't make it. He'll go tomorrow, by which time I'll be back educating the largely unwilling. I'm putting off driving back home, as it's a boring, featureless drive. Should go soon.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Not Wasting the Whole Break

Usually I end up lazing around any time I get time off.  I'm going to count today as the first day of the break, as it is Monday.  I did not get to see my family today, but not only did I shower, I washed a bunch of dishes, scrubbed the bathtub to some avail, and replaced a broken belt in my vacuum cleaner.  As for lazing around, I started Watching the Watchmen ("Motion Comic" thingie they did, in which every panel of the original graphic novel is shown, read aloud by a narrator, and minimally animated as well).  It's cool.  I don't know why they didn't go slightly farther and get a woman to read the female dialogue as well.  They already have incidental music and sound effects.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Break Starts

I got my pre-March Break stuff wrapped up without much incident or injury. Our school is doing Footloose for the musical this year. Hello gay 80s plastic pop. I am getting into the idea of recording the kids singing their songs, using my Pro Tools-equipped laptop. They are working really hard, and the music is quite challenging to learn, so getting a quality recording rather than the traditional "videocamera one with crowd noise all through it" recording would be awesome.
Friday I took my laptop in, but only got the music teacher playing "Holding Out For A Hero" in a fairly distracted fashion (he was directing the harmony girls, who are learning their parts) and the girl who is learning the lead melody wasn't there, so he sang part of that too. He wasn't near the mic, so it didn't pick up well (though him flipping pages and telling the girls where the rests fell did) so I took the laptop home and tried singing the melody of this teenage girl/Bonnie Tyler song written by Jim Steinman to give the recording a lead vocal until I can get all the girls to do their thing. Pretty funny to have me singing it. Wrong octave, wrong gender. It's here.
Another good thing is that continual and annoying problems with my laptop and the way I had Pro Tools configured on it pushed me to finally open the instruction manual and learn a couple of things to set differently so it would work much better. I thought I was allocating lots of resources for Pro Tools, but actually I was allocating all the resources just for the effects, most of which I wasn't even using. Toning down the computer resources allocated to effects made the lap top record and playback much more smoothly.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Recording Sunday

I put ProTools on my newly XPed laptop without any trouble today, watched a good cam of Watchmen and went shopping before heading out to my family's house. I was in luck, as to wanting to record someone or other. Only my sister was home, with her 4 year old. Everyone else was out, including the baby. We recorded some stuff, too engrossed even to notice at first that there had been a rather dramatic car accident ending on the front lawn in the front of the house across the road from us. Eventually my brother-in-law got home with the baby, and seeing what we were up to, got the baby settled and then we had a recording session with him too. Right now, though it is midnight (daylight saving time) I've got a load of wash in and am dumping down some rough mixes of stuff so I can mp3 it and email it around.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Living a Bit Large This Weekend...

On Friday I bought my first laptop ever (an HP G50-215CA for portable recording, getting tracks of people performing on their very own couches), and saw Watchmen with friends at the excellent Elgin Street Diner.
I am currently in the process of partitioning the laptop's hard drive so I can have a go at installing XP as a second operating system so I can get rid of Vista, because Vista absolutely isn't what I want on it. Midway through that process.
I had the best Philly cheese steak in town before Watchmen (I should probably have wrung the grease out of it before I started eating, as the grease seemed to actually be soaking into my skin and not wiping off), and then chatted about video games through the decades with a friend of a friend until it started. Watchmen was delightful for anyone who has always wanted the world to enjoy the graphic novel, but knew many people wouldn't read it. It's got way too much stuff in it for one movie, which means your head is packed full about halfway through. I didn't care, though.
As with V For Vendetta, I think anyone still complaining over the changes made from the book is being a little mean-spirited. That something like this came out of Hollywood is astounding. It really seems to take people from outside America to have (and create an artistic vision sharing) an objective, outsider's viewpoint on that country.
I love Rorschach in the book and in the movie. Unthinking, driven bravery, and fatal-flaw integrity with no fear of acting or being a bit insane, but having feelings underneath it all. No ability to compromise, really. No ability to look after himself or find joy in life. I liked the fact that the movie looked so very much like the book, yet enough changes to story and dialogue were occasionally made that it wasn't just watching a well-known story unfold. You had to watch to see how Snyder's take on the film unfolded. I've never seen a "superhero movie" with so much violence and nudity, and all done in a different way. In Watchmen if a superhero is going to beat some people up, you are going to clearly see that those people have been badly hurt (i.e. they will not just shake their heads with birds chirping, temporarily stunned, nor will they camera cut away from them quickly so we can forget they were there, once we've seen them get knocked over).  To do otherwise is to make the violence cartoony and not show its consequences. In Watchmen, you have to decide to like or dislike the people who are hurting other human beings and maybe getting off on it a bit, and quite realistically, it's a bit hard to like people who hurt other people, especially if they're into it.
Now, the superhero movie bar has once again been raised. All the people clamoring (for some reason) to make Ghostrider II, Avengers, Spider-man 4, X-Men Origins:Cannonball and so on will have to live with the fact that this movie, which to all intents and purposes is just another example of a superhero movie, just "has more stuff" in it than anything yet made in that genre. It's full of thoughts and thought-provoking things. Unless some honest work is done on superhero movies in future, they will all inevitably seem laughably empty by comparison. In this movie the costumes were cool, the action was there, the music was great, the effects were effective, the dialogue was fun and perfect, the human interactions were deeply everyday, the politics were paranoid, the violence was properly troubling, the romance and sex, along with the growing apart of a couple, were there and were graphic and uncomfortably real to see on the big screen... in other words, like the book, the idea behind Watchmen is "Yeah, but what if we throroughly explored the idea of superheroes actually being REAL, instead of just putting together a movie designed to make them cool, and what if we tackled the "difficult questions" about them head on instead of glossing over all of that?"
The Watchmen movie: full to bursting with stuff. I could have lived without about an hour's combined screen time of computer-generated glowing blue penis, but hey...