Categories
ART

I made sandals

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they arrive at a fork in their road. They are faced with a choice. For some of us, we decided long ago what our answer would be. Some of us have no choice. For some of us, the fork is still in the drawer, hanging out with the spoons.

The choice I’m speaking of, obviously, is to make shoes, or not. I took a break from my regularly scheduled deadline production and I made some. They aren’t practical in the conventional sense, but, they can be useful.

I’ve been thinking about this project for a long time, and I have stored up materials to make other kinds of shoes. This month’s Punk Frocker’s challenge prompt is #pfSewNotClothes, so I thought I’d dip my toes in and finally start this project. I’ll write more about it when I refine this process and develop the other prototypes.

I think it’s pretty cool.

Categories
Joie de Vivre

Bay Bridge 10K

I did something today that, before last month, I never thought of doing. We ran the Maryland Bay Bridge 10K.

I’ve driven over this bridge at least 100 times over the years – either visiting family or coming/going to college. I know people have walked the bridge during certain events, and I always thought it would be neat to do that. And it was everything I’d hoped it would be. The view was stunning. It was windy, but not brutal.

I’m getting better at this, and even a little faster. Speed, however, isn’t my goal. I know I slow my partner down, but she is very patient with me. I just want to finish each race we undertake, not get hurt, and I don’t want to be the last one. Today, we were solidly in the middle of the various heats/ranks for gender, age, and even total runners.

The Two of us on the bridge
A map of our run across the bridge

After the race, we visited Chestertown, as it wasn’t too far from where we parked for the race. This is the house I lived in for my last two years at Washington College.

House in Chesterown

We stopped in Annapolis on the way home. I took Beverly to Chick & Ruth’s “Delly,” a staple of my childhood. We walked in and put our names on the list after a group of Naval Academy midshipmen. I made a joke to the hostess about getting seated sooner, and she did! It was awesome.

Waiter ringing up checks in Chick and Ruth's deli, Annapolis, MD

This place hasn’t changed a bit! It was great.

A very nice weekend.

Categories
Opinion

Tár

We went to see Tár this weekend. I really, really enjoyed this – and I’m going to say a few things about the film, and hope I don’t spoil anything.

A post pandemic #MeToo tale with several twists, Cate Blanchett holds us captive as the composer/conductor Lydia Tár. I won’t discuss the plot, which you can find on wikipedia, but I want to say I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the cis old white guy world of classical music (performance, recording and, to an extent, publishing) through her eyes. It’s a rich film. Some things that come to mind: the way the camera follows Tár as she harangues a student at Juilliard, or the dialog of a public New Yorker interview, the hundreds of small details that director Todd Field slips onto screen, and the the decor of the various homes and office was wonderful.

I’ve been spending the past year thinking about and experimenting with improvisation, which is the complete opposite of this world, and there are dozens of examples on display. It brought me back to days pursuing undergraduate degree, music history and even my time working along side the classical music buyers at An Die Musik in Baltimore.

We talked about the movie after we left the theater, while we were laying in bed, and over coffee this morning. There’s a lot to unpack in here. There are a few things that don’t add much (the metronome and nighttime fridge scenes) and don’t lead to any obvious conclusion. The point is, there’s a lot to think about, and it’s easy to return to this story after leaving the theater. I look forward to watching it again, but encourage you to find a good theater with the comfy seats to experience this film. The sound and music production is fantastic.

Categories
Music

Edward Gorey’s Oven (S.Ex 16)

Here’s a little number I call “Edward Gorey’s Oven.” Enjoy!

Sound Experiment no. 16.

Categories
Music

Four on the Floor

Andy is a friend from work who also plays guitar. We were talking about a podcast where the host asks each guitarist guest a question: “What four pedals are on your board right now?” The idea, I think, is to find out what four effects pedals are most important to their sound.

Andy has sent me a few audio clips of him playing through four of his pedals. It’s super cool, and it gave me an idea.

I wrote a tiny JavaScript function that randomly chooses four of my pedals, and displays the list on a web page. Here’s an actual example:

I hooked up these four pedals and made some sound. While this combination works really well together, I’m not sure I’d have put this together without this program. I’m going to use it for a week or so, and see what happens. I predict I’ll discover a lot of useful combinations I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen.

The program itself is very simple, and only checks to see that it hasn’t chosen the same pedal twice. I get decide the order of the pedals in the signal chain. One pitfall is that it may suggest truly unusable combinations – perhaps four distortion pedals (I have four distortion pedals). Maybe that would be cool for a second, too.

Next, it occurred to me that I might want split the signal at at the top of the chain with a signal blender. I like to record stuff as I go, and lately I’ve become interested in the idea of re-amping the signal. To do that, I need to record the dry signal directly from the instrument (an instrument might be a guitar, bass, tape deck, my iPhone, drums, some keyboard, thoughts transmitted directly to the pedal board, etc.). I also sometimes transcribe guitar parts so that I can recreate it in MIDI, and having a clean signal makes it easier.

So, the signal blender sends one channel to the pedal board, and the other channel straight to the direct box. The direct box sends the pair of signals to my computer, and both are recorded into Ableton Live on their own tracks.

I can also envision adding a looper after the pedal board, on rare occasions. I use loopers extensively, and they can record/save loops. Making loops in this step of the chain could be helpful. But, it’s not actually part of Four on the Floor.

Future iterations might include a switch that modifies the number of pedals: Two, Three, Four. I think more than four will lead to endless noodling, which is what I often do. For now, four seems like an ideal number. I could pre-sort the pedals into categories, to avoid having four distortion pedals show up, or four reverbs, etc. I think this might crimp some happy accidents from happening, so I probably won’t. Finally, I can see adding a way for other people to use this function. My pedal inventory is contained in a hard coded array, so I’ll have to make an easy way for others to add their own inventories.

I think this is an interesting little device. I like the constraints. I’m going to spend the next few months kicking this around.