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That Was Refreshing (Also, Moooozik)

18 Jun

Went to bed at, like, 10 pm. Woke up about fifteen minutes ago. I needed that.

Culture mavens will be pleased (???) to know that Weird Al has already written and performed the song “Polka Face.” Oh yeah. (The pun seems to be irresistible — prefer the original, retracked as a polka? Okay.)

I suppose crawling back in bed and pulling the covers over my head won’t help, will it?

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>Aggh! Morning!

3 Jun

>Somehow still trading sibling text snipes consequent to my frustration last night — is this trip really neccessary? I should’a knowed better but I had promised to make the offer. 😦

Did find a kewl comic strip: Mythtickle. Hey, anyone who gets Ra, Set and Horus on the funny pages and draws the latter as a hulking, annoyed budgie is worth a look!

>Music: Stu Brown Gets It

30 May

>Hi. I’m Roberta X and I’m a fan of Raymond Scott.

–So are you, probably, if you ever enjoyed animated shorts (no, no, not that kind, the movies); his work is used so extensively (in everything from Bugs Bunny to The Oblongs) that you can’t avoid it. Given his success at doing what his 1930s bosses claimed was impossible, writing music most people liked the first time they heard it, you wouldn’t want to. (Even Rush quotes a Scott tune).

The best examples of his pre-electronic work are his own recordings of his band. An awful lot of his compositions* deliberately quote natural sounds — a ticking clock, seagulls and buoys, an auctioneer, steam engines at least twice — and it’s not an easy feat. Other times, he’s creating the sounds of things more fantastical: dancing wooden Indians (yes, cigar-store statues of Native Americans, who certainly ought to get a night off now and then), water bubbling in a cannibal’s pot, ghosts celebrating New Years Eve. This stuff is hard to play; you can get all the notes right, be right on the beat, and still miss the sound.

Otherhandedly, the recordings Scott supervised are decades old; most precede magnetic tape. The noise floor is high and the dynamic range limited. Transient response is slow and tends to “grit.” Oh, they are excellent work for the day and have been remastered with affection and respect, eminently listenable.

–But there’ve been few modern recordings that capture the elusive Raymond Scott sound; the man drove his musicians remorselessly, knowing precisely what he was after. Technical excellence will take you a long way but it’s not enough alone.

With that for background, I’m very pleased to tell you that Stu Brown’s Raymond Scott Project gets there. Maybe it’s just Edison’s 90%/10% formula or the plain willingness to play it until their eyes bleed. Maybe they’re just that much better. But for whatever reason, here’s a band that knows what live steam sounds like, that doesn’t flinch from dancing mummies, and got it all down in digital storage.

Majorly recommended.
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* Composed, according to those who were there, on the the band itself, not on paper. This is a little rough on the musicians but Scott’s notion was that, at least until the composition had taken final form, a written score got in the way, causing all involved to defer to the map instead of the territory, the abstract symbols rather than the real sound. When a Julliard grad says that, he’s not expressing a mere quirk or whim and the results he got prove him out.

>She’s Baaaack!

30 May

>Have I mentioned Planet Karen has gone active again, with new work that reminds me of Eisner? Forsooth. And she’s even dreamed up the most terrifying crossover imaginable!

Enjoy.

(Also, if I could pick anyone to illustrate I Work On A Starship? Her. Mind you, I still want Robb Allen to do the cover graphics.) Link

>Happy Birthday To Meeee!

28 May

>So, you search Technorati for blogs dealing with “science of mind” and who’s the number one result?

Me, of course:Heh. Some gift!

>There’s A 2:24 a.m.?

27 May

>Why yes, yes there is. Plenty to do at home and work this morning, so I’m posting something just to get the day started.

Thanks to Leeanne (and maybe even me), the “chap-hop” meme seems to be spreading. Good! Professor Elemental and arch-rival Mr. B (the other Mr. B!) are good, harmless fun, though one does dread that they may themselves come to fisticuffs if ever they share a stage.

>"Lines I’ll Never Live Down" Dep’t

25 May

>See, I own a nice, classic Bud 19″ equipment cabinet, but it’s seven feet tall and the basement at Rosholme is 6′ 10″ in the ham shack corner. So when I saw a six-foot version at Dayton, I exclaimed….

Well…
Turk tells the tale.