cover photo

Mike Macgirvin

You know you got 'da blues when

  from Diary and Other Rantings
You know you got 'da blues when -
  • You break 'da last string on your geetar, and you don' have a dime.
  • Not even 'da dawg will come a runnin' for a piece o' meat anymore.
  • Cain't sweet talk 'da barmaid into a drink, 'cause 'n her hubby got a new shotgun.
  • 'Da boss is paying a nickle to dig out his cesspool, but you can't get across 'da ravine through 'da rain and mud.
  • 'Da wife calls you a mean, no-good drunk as she hits you in 'da hed' wit' her wine bottle.
  • 'Da neighbo' 'pologys for shootin' your dawg, but he was caught stealin' his chickens. You're so upset you drop 'da drumstick.
  • 'Da purty gal down 'da way won' share her pie wit' you 'cause you're "older than her dad". Dat's 'da same thing her mama said.
  • 'Da lady in red on 'da corner wants a dime an' you realize you just spent your last nickel buyin' a 'skin.
  • The Reverend Fire N. Brimstone stops by to hear your wife's confessions. He comes back two hours later to look for his socks.
  • You sell your soul to 'da devil for a dime - an' find out he's 'da neighbo' who shot yo' dawg.  
Learning to play guitar (again)

  last edited: Mon, 22 Sep 2008 12:16:12 +1000  from Diary and Other Rantings
The brain is such a fascinating machine. Whenever you exercise it and stretch its abilities for one thing, it makes new synaptic connections in seemingly unrelated areas.

I'm learning to play guitar all over again. Don't get me wrong - I've been playing for forty-some-odd years now and can play quite well.  But I play backward. Not just left-handed, but upside down as well. A few years ago, this led to a desire to play 'true' left-handed so that I could learn to Travis pick (fingerstyle).  The exercise didn't go as planned because it made me mildly schizophrenic. The strings were all backward - even though I was using the same hands I'd always used; and you've no idea how confusing this is. Depending on which guitar I picked up I could be strumming/picking and fingering chords either one direction or the other.

But after doing this for several weeks, I discovered that I was soon able to Travis pick backward - which I couldn't do before. Granted I only used my index finger and thumb, but it was quite dramatic. I no longer play with a plectrum (guitar pick) as fingerstyle sounds so much better. I've improved this style in the intervening years, and can play some awesome stuff backward, but once again felt limited as I wasn't using the whole hand to pick.

So a couple of weeks ago, I took on learning to play both upside-down and backward - or actually the way everybody else plays guitar - right handed. This didn't lead to the schizo problem I had a few years ago because both hands were now doing different things entirely.

The first thing I discovered was how hard it is to learn to play in the first place. I was starting over from scratch. For the first week, the fingers of my left hand were tender and blistered, and my right arm ached. It takes time for the ends of your fingers to get damaged and heal again - and eventually callouses develop. My right arm wasn't used to playing rhythm, it was always doing melody and complex fingerings.

Now a couple of weeks later it's starting to get easier to play and progress to barre chords and all the other stuff one needs to learn to play effectively.

But something changed.

If I flip the guitar over and play backward again, all of a sudden I find myself able to do a full clawhammer; the ultimate in fingerstyle picking. I've tried it before but wasn't pleased with the result. Now it suddenly becomes completely natural - as if I had been doing it for years. With clawhammer picking one can produce an entire orchestra of sound with intertwined rhythm, melody and harmony. I've managed to include everything but the pinky in my clawhammer, which will take a bit more work. It's really strange and difficult having your pinky beat out a rhythm on the bass strings, but I find there's no problem doing it with my ring finger. So now I've got four fingers actively picking out rhythm/melody/harmony instead of just two (and sometimes three).

If I continue down this path, it should be amusing to try a public performance. Start out right-handed and play something impressive; then flip it upside down and blow everybody away.
Another Perfect Guitar

  last edited: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 10:43:20 +1100  from Diary and Other Rantings
I've got this Minarik Goddess Special Edition guitar that I picked up to sell a few years back, and it never sold. So I kept it. It's really an awesome guitar, but I could never quite figure out why I didn't like it. It's 'meaty' (the best way to describe it). Not a speed demon. Should be great for jazz, rhythm, or chordings like heavy metal or ACDC. Beautiful to look at, exceptional tone quality. But it sounded like shit. I didn't do anything with it until recently because of this, and the fact that it was best left as-is as a collectible to hopefully sell some day. (Serial # 000025).

But finally I figured that it wasn't much good to anybody if it sat in the case year after year. So I put some decent strings on it, changed the neckstrap button to play it backward, and then did a setup (to match the new strings to the scale length). That improved things quite a bit. It no longer sounded horrible. But it was still lacking sustain. Curious because being so meaty you'd think that is where it would shine. The problem was the frets - big meaty badass frets that had been hand shaped. And therein lies the problem. The hand shaping left them a bit rough. It took a few weeks of playing for the strings to 'polish' both the frets and the intricate inlays and smooth them out. Now it sings like a bird. I can add it to the list of 'perfect' guitars that I've acquired over a lifetime of searching. It doesn't matter that it's 'meaty' because that's a quality that makes it suited for particular uses. No guitar is perfect for all uses. They all have their special qualities which makes them best suited for one thing or another.


Looks pretty much like this one,  except hers is left-handed. Mine is right-handed but I play it backward (left-handed). Don't ask. The answer will make your brain hurt.

Coincidentally, my Phoenix acoustic (which is currently showing in the main website banner) also has improved recently - although it was already near perfect. This was from a batch of guitars I bought a few years back that were all awesome except they all cracked and split. I've spoken about this previously. This one didn't actually split, but developed two hairline cracks on the backside (that didn't affect the sound or beauty). Anyway, I'm pleased to report that with relocating to a more humid environment,  the hairline cracks completely vanished! It's perfect once again, and as far as I know, the only surviving specimen of this incredible line of guitars.
Thanks Brian...

  from Diary and Other Rantings
Drove to work this morning with the sound of Greg Douglass' guitar echoing off the escarpment walls. The new (Lost Masters) CD is awesome. The canyons of the Illawarra never heard rock-n-roll like this before... In comparison to the FreeFlyte release which had a British invasion flavour to it, this one was a step back to the days when guitar heroes ruled the earth. If anybody wants a copy, you'll have to look up Brian (Kilcourse) and ask him. I think these were duplicated on his home PC.
Haight-Ashbury Music Closing

  last edited: Sun, 20 Jan 2008 23:39:51 +1100  from Diary and Other Rantings
Thanks to Joe for letting me know - Haight-Ashbury Music in Sunnyvale seems to be the latest victim of the music industry fallout, closing today. That's funny in a twisted kind of way. It was almost exactly two years ago that I shut down Sonica Music for good. You can't run a viable business when you've got no customers. It's easy to say that both of these businesses failed to compete and deserved to die; but what you're seeing isn't isolated. It's more an indictment of the industry behind it; with their arrogant licensing terms - which had as much involvement in the death of these institutions as the changing tastes of the customers.  

Lots has happened in those two years, but the guys at Sunnyvale Music World (what Haight-Ashbury used to be called) were all friends, even if we were competitors for several years. Sad to see them go. It's only a matter of time before it all hits here in Australia. You can see the local music stores slowly dying, both of them. It's the same story all over again. There's just nothing anybody can do about it. One guy who had a NSW music shop almost begged me - you ran a music store? Please buy my store from me. You know you want to. I'll give you good terms.

Funny thing though, I don't want to. Watching a music store die is not enjoyable for anybody concerned.

Coincidentally, Intel also closed down its last Silicon Valley fab plant.
The best fan club ever

  last edited: Wed, 02 Jan 2008 23:53:27 +1100  from Diary and Other Rantings
Now this is cool. I got an email from Brian Kilcourse, who played in a rock band called Mistress with Greg Douglass (Hot Tuna, Country Weather, Van Morrison, Steve Miller, Greg Kihn, yada, yada) some years back. Before the microprocessor, folks. They made one album and disbanded. "I noticed that you were one of the folks who bought FreeFlyte". (Yeah I did - This was a demo CD that popped up on an obscure German label [Taxim] about 4-5 years ago). "We just found some more unreleased Mistress studio masters and wondered if you'd be interested in a CD". What is interesting is that I bought the FreeFlyte CD through an internet distributor in Oregon - so how my name showed up on any purchaser list that Brian has is beyond me - but hey this is the age of data collection.  

Unreleased Greg Douglass you say? Absolutely! Sign me up.
IMSLP closes down

  from Diary and Other Rantings
The lawyers are winning. Found this over on Night Passage (one of my favorite jazz websites):

IMSLP.ORG, the Internet Music Score Library Project has closed down, the founder of the site sadly announces:

On Saturday October 13, 2007, I received a second Cease and Desist letter from Universal Edition. At first I thought this letter would be similar in content to the first Cease and Desist letter I received in August. However, after lengthy discussions with very knowledgeable lawyers and supporters, I became painfully aware of the fact that I, a normal college student, has neither the energy nor the money necessary to deal with this issue in any other way than to agree with the cease and desist, and take down the entire site. I cannot apologize enough to all IMSLP contributors, who have done so much for IMSLP in the last two years.

There were more than 10.000 music scores in the public domain on the site
I must add I am not surprised at all, as I wrote in my previous post I re-started playing piano, and I was so happy to find on IMSLP the whole Mikrokosmos by Bartok, a serie of studies divided in 6 volumes, very popular among piano students. It was an old Sovietic edition with titles in cyrliic, but all the studies were there. The problem is: Bartok died in 1945, 62 years ago, therefore Mikrokosmos does not comply with the rule life+70 years and it's not in the public domain. But this is not the only case. I really hope they open again, but being more careful about published scores.
 music  feeds
Where's that confounded bridge?

  last edited: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 08:33:51 +1100  from Diary and Other Rantings
I think Kenneth Donnell (Glasgow, Scotland) takes the cake for being scalped for concert tickets.

He paid almost $200,000 for the privilege of seeing Led Zeppelin re-unite for an evening in London. Yup, the return of the satanic coke-heads that can't remember what song they're playing from one bar to the next.


Dude, they're old. Brains long since fried. Have any of them made any memorable music in the last 30 years? There you go. Do you remember the Cream re-union? It was freaking horrible - and Clapton still plays guitar for a living.  A year from now the DVD of the event will be in the discount bins at K-Mart for $4.95. Why not spend the money on a new Ferrari or something?
Let me put this another way. Those of you buying Led Zep tickets are probably wanting to see this person play guitar:


But what you are going to see instead is this person playing guitar...

I might have to eat crow on this one. Had a look at the concert footage and was quite impressed (though streaming video to Oz from the UK was a bit of a challenge). They definitely did better than Cream for 60+ years old rock-n-rollers.

It's also worth noting that Afred's picked up the distribution rights (I got the email this morning since I'm still on the distro lists for most of the big music supply houses). Alfred's will keep it out of the discount bins at K-Mart and in the Classic Rock section of your local music store for years to come - at a premium price.
Axes: Bold as Love

  last edited: Sun, 14 Oct 2007 21:21:19 +1000  from Diary and Other Rantings

Took this composite. Clockwise from left:

Martin SPD-16TR
Martin Acoustic Bass
Phoenix VG-180
Gibson Flying V
Minarik Goddess SE
Epiphone EB bass
Schecter Scorpion Elite
Ibanez RocketRoller II
Turser Warlord
Epiphone Biscuit (resophonic)
Epiphone Les Paul (lefty-righty)
Turser ES (lefty-righty)
! (That's the name, I built this in 1997)
Minarik Inferno Xtreme

Visitors to Sonica (my former music store) might recognize a few of these.  Especially the oil painting of the girl with the violin, which hung in the center of the shoppe for a couple of years.
Juli@ sound card and Vista

  from Diary and Other Rantings
If you're looking for a decent mid-range sound card and don't want to spend a fortune, the ESI Juli@ is pretty respectable. I really like the fact that it's about the cheapest card that'll provide balanced line. You do this by flipping the card around. Unbalanced connectors on one side, balanced on the other. It's a pretty neat concept.

Anyway, if you're trying to install one of these suckers on Vista, forget the installation CD. You can just throw it in the trash if you want. Even though the latest driver is for XP/2005, just go to the website and grab the latest. The driver on the install disk is a piece of crap and you'll be wondering why you bought such a sucky card. Can't even get the basic speaker test sounds to come out without about 300% signal distortion, dropouts, odd harmonics, etc. In short, the sound you get is almost totally unrecognizable.

The website driver makes it actually work.

Oh, and to use with Sonar, don't use the WDM channel. Just go with ASIO.
Let There be Noize

  last edited: Fri, 12 Oct 2007 13:21:31 +1000  from Diary and Other Rantings
The sound studio is just about back in full operation - for the first time in several years.


I've been doing all the tests and configurations, and only have a few more cables and a bit more PC configuration until it's ready for use. It fell into a state of entropy about 2002 what with combining two households and trying to run a music store. Half the equipment ended up at the store, and I never quite had a dedicated PC to spare since. I've been able to use all the tools for making music in the ensuing years, but the ability to store it conveniently has been lacking.

A lot has happened since the days of Maxwell Silverthorn. My music has evolved considerably, and my life has been through some pretty radical changes.

It's time for a new CD.
Hi Mike,

Do you like to play in public, or with others? We have a little bunch of people who play a bit of rock 'n roll, or some softer stuff, at the CTC on Thursday nights. If you want to check it out, email me (in advance) and I will make sure I will be there. You can come and listen, if you want to "test the waters" first. Some nights are better than others - it depends on who turns up.

Denis - I've been toying with playing in public again and have been meaning to check out the CTC happening. I just frequently run into other obligations on Thursday night and haven't gotten to it yet.

I found out how much they were paying the musicians at the pub, and how bad most of them are - and said, gee, I could do that. Maybe get a little extra beer money and let the folks listen to something that actually resembles music. Not that they're all bad, but it's really hit and miss.

Seems the trend these days for the pub 'rockers' (and I use the term loosely) is to avoid the hassles of a band and just play guitar and sing to a karaoke CD. I wanna' puke every time I hear yet another person at the  pub doing the obligatory karaoke version of  'Sweet Home Alabama'. They get good money to do it and it's quite a lucrative hustle.

I can certainly do that, but I'm also capable of actually entertaining folks without any backing tracks.

I pretty much avoid the band myself. Been there, done that. Found out years ago that you could buy the equipment reasonably cheap and replace them all. No more drunk drummer, bass player missing practice because he slept with the vocalist and got in a fight with her, etc. As a friend once said, being in a band is like being married to five people (that don't get along).

And the last few years, I've worked on some pretty intricate/complex guitar stuff. Bass, rhythm, melody - all at once. I no longer even need the equipment to keep a beat going and get people dancing.
I'll take dribs and drabs until the finished product is available! I've certainly enjoyed the previous work.

Ah yes, the pub scene and karaoke (ew). Could be why I stay away from them now. Hard to find a decent pub in the US anyway. ;-)
Aussie Power (Digitech)

  last edited: Thu, 04 Oct 2007 12:32:45 +1000  from Diary and Other Rantings
This is yet another informational post to save somebody a lot of headaches. It's about trying to convert a Digitech guitar effects board to work on native (220-240V 50hz) power.

In this case the model is a Digitech RP-12, which isn't made anymore, however this applies to most of the large pedal boards that Digitech has made in the last ten years. The actual power supply is a separate component that likewise isn't made anymore. They do offer a replacement (the PSS3), with an adapter (PS4BC) to fit the non-standard DIN power socket on the pedal board. These run about $110 AUD. Yikes. It's really a $20 power supply, and there's plenty of profit selling them for $20. I refuse to pay over a hundred. It's a freaking hobby transformer, fercrysakes.

It turns out there are reasons they charge so much. Nothing else seems to work. The ratings as specified are 9VAC, 2.1A. Simple enough. I can do this - yes?

Not quite. The commercial 9VAC wall-warts usually stop at 1 amp. A couple of months ago I tried to get around this by purchasing an adequate transformer and building a box for it. After much effort, I finally plugged it in and tried it. HUM and BUZZ. Loud and nasty. Not something you want for studio recording. I scratched my head a while and went back to using the original (110V/60hz mains) unit through a step-down transformer. No hum. So clearly it's not the 50hz that's causing me grief. I brought the original supply into work and put it on an oscilloscope to see what was special about the Digitech branded supply. Couldn't find anything obvious, except that it was a cheap transformer with a lot of inductance artifacts and the waveform was skewed a bit - pointy instead of pure sinusoidal.

So I took one of my 9VAC 1A wall-warts (that I have several of to power other equipment) and tried it briefly - maybe there was something wrong with my wiring. The 1 amp unit likewise gave me nasty HUM and BUZZ. I didn't leave it plugged in long enough to cook it.

There's no ground and no shielding in the Digitech supply, but I even tried grounding and shielding the lines to reduce the hum - no luck. I tried phase reversing both the primary and secondary (one at a time) in case it was phase sensitive. Nope. There's something obviously different about the Digitech supply.

Hmmm. Back to the drawing board. OK, looks like I just have to use the original 110V supply through a step-down transformer. It's the only thing that makes it work. I gave up on the project and that got me by for the last month or two.

Then last weekend, I turned everything on and the pedal board was dead. Defunct. After some probing it looks like the Digitech transformer just decided it was time to die. Open primary. This gave me an excuse to open the hermetically sealed enclosure to find out what was magic about the Digitech unit.  

Absolutely nothing. It's got a transformer and a fuse. Period. (And the fuse was still good.) OK. So I pulled out my homebrew transformer again. It's only a transformer. What's wrong here? Why is my solution so darned noisy? Why is a generic 9VAC supply so noisy? How do I get rid of the noise?

I tried to order a new 110V supply from the states (to save $50), but nobody will sell me one (even with the huge profit they get). They are forbidden from sending new Digitech products overseas. Even if it's a just a wall-wart that I need to make my old pedal work.  

So getting desperate, I tried a 9VDC supply. The logic boards work and the display lights up, but there's no audio signal at all. So obviously the audio circuitry requires AC. That's weird and I can't imagine what the engineers were smoking when they made that decision, but it doesn't matter - that's just the way it is.  

So I started trying different voltage taps on my homebrew transformer box. I went down to 3V. Nothing worked anymore. Not enough voltage to drive the logic boards. 6V, logic boards work, but the noise is back. 8.5V, noise. 9V, noise. 9.5V, noise. But now it's getting dangerous. Too much voltage can cook something. However, I've got nothing to lose. Right now it's all just an expensive paper weight. The absolute worst that could happen is that I'd be forced to buy a new pedal board, which wouldn't be horrible but the good ones run about $1000 here. Yeah, a new PodXT Live would be ok, as would a GNX4. But maybe, just maybe - my old board just needs a little bit more umph than they claim it does.  

So anyway I cringed (as one normally does when doing something that could end up being a thousand dollar mistake) and tapped into 10.5V. Bingo. Everything works, no noise, no hum. I breathed a sigh of relief. I finally found the issue. They lied. It doesn't take 9VAC, 2.1A. It requires something above 9.5, and probably about 10V for everything to work properly.

So that's the bottom line. If you need a replacement Digitech power unit, ignore the 9V rating. It won't work worth a darn. Get 10.5V (to be sure, since I don't have a variac handy to figure out exactly where it starts working).
Something about a flying V

  last edited: Thu, 04 Oct 2007 10:10:37 +1000  from Diary and Other Rantings
There's something about a Flying V guitar. It's not for everybody. Even fifty years after its introduction, it retains a small following in the heavy metal set, but still is a rarity. That's because the guitar makes a statement. You can't just pick it up, unless you intend to play it with attitude.

I remember watching patrons of my music store getting uncomfortable as they got near one on the rack. In four years, I think a grand total of three people besides myself actually picked one up to play. Everybody else went for something more conventional. Myself? I've got three of the things.

That's all a long-winded way of saying that I kinda' like this picture.  


I think it's Grace Potter, 'cause she's one of the few girls (OK, the only one) I've seen that has the cajones to play a flying V in public.
 music  guitar  sex
Miscellaneous Stuff

  last edited: Sun, 02 Sep 2007 20:27:19 +1000  from Diary and Other Rantings
The neighbor backed into my car yesterday. Smashed up both doors on the driver side a bit. (That would be the right side). It's still drivable. Took out her tail light.

It was just outside the front window, which I was sitting in front of, but I didn't hear a thing. My ears were occupied. Finally got the bulk of the studio wiring in place and I was busy adjusting the digital delay units for the virtual drummer - and otherwise going through system tests to make sure all the gear was cooperating after being relocated on the other side of the earth.

This setup had been delayed by a lack of suitable speakers. Speakers here cost a fortune, as does everything else. Professional recording gear has always been one of those maximum gouge industries and it's no different here. The difference is that it's a captive market. To buy this stuff overseas you'll end up with the wrong power supply - or in the case of speakers, a hefty bill for shipping. A pair of Yamaha monitors that I can get on eBay for $100 costs about $800 on this side of the pond.

So I did a lot of comparison shopping and found a pair of Chinese 12" wedge monitors for about $125 each. That's quite affordable so I ordered a pair. The speakers themselves are crap, but it's the boxes I was after. Someday I'll find a used pair of JBL or Eminence drivers I can drop in and bring them up to my standards, but they'll work for now. I can smooth out any shortcomings with the equalizer. It will be a lot cheaper in freight costs to import a couple of better transducers than it is to import a couple of quite hefty wooden boxes. I've been down this road many times before. I know what it takes to get just the equipment I require within a reasonable budget. You can't hang out waiting for the best, or you'll spend your life waiting and not doing. During the dot-com boom I could buy the best (and did). Now my planning is once again like my starving student days, except that I've still got a bit of good gear to work with.  

Anyway, the speakers finally arrived this week and I picked them up yesterday morning (the weekend). The other thing I've been waiting on for the studio setup is furniture. We sold all of it - remember? So off to Bunnings (that's the local equivalent of Orchard Supply Hardware) and I came home with three folding utility tables.  The ones that cost about $30 at Home Depot. I paid about $55 each.

But it was the last piece of the puzzle that I needed to get everything setup and working. So now I can finally get that jumble of cables off the floor of the living room and make Amanda happy (and myself, since I'll be using them for their intended purpose). Glad I didn't leave any of those behind. Each cable runs between $20 and $50 here. And I need a few hundred before all is said and done. 64 RCA cables for patch buses, 16 MIDI cables, 24 XLR's, and 24 1/4 inch cables, 7 or 8 mini (PC sound card) to twin RCA for starters; you do the math. It starts adding up real fast. $40 for a MIDI cable. And that's for a single one meter cable. Ouch. Luckily I've got enough of all this stuff that I don't need to do the math.

I find it amazing that Australian musicians can ever get to the world stage. They would need a lot of capital.  

Oh yeah, Happy Father's Day! (They observe it in September here). Also yesterday was the first day of spring. I don't completely understand, since it has nothing to do with the equinox, but then I never understood how it worked in the states either (for instance they call the equinox the 'first' day of summer, winter, whatever). But the equinox isn't the beginning or end of a weather trend. It's smack dab in the middle. Oh well. I've argued the point 'til I'm blue in the face already. The declaration of seasonal endpoints as occurring during the equinox is logically incorrect but it isn't going to change anything. Just like it doesn't change the fact that Australia celebrates the coming of spring on September 1, which has nothing to do with anything. Happy spring anyway and a toast to the end of an extremely long winter.
Sunday Evening in Robbo

  last edited: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 21:51:56 +1000  from Diary and Other Rantings
Went over to the tombola tonight. Hey, we won two trays of meat (about $40 worth of steak and sausage) from a $5 raffle ticket. Coulda' been worse. Amanda was busy catching up on and spreading gossip. That's the favorite past-time in a small town.

Over on the far corner of the room were a few twenty-somethings. Completely out of place in the bowling club, though we get 'em in here now and again. The drinks are cheaper than the pub around the corner. I'd go to the pub myself - it's closer; except that they only serve Toohey's and Victoria - the local equivalent of Schlitz and Coors. There are only two Aussie beers that I can tolerate ("Pigs Fly" and James Squire "Amber Ale"), and I go where ever they've got at least one of 'em.  

My eyes were glued to the monitor above the jukebox. Oh yeah, vintage AC-DC. "You shook me all night long" - the concert footage. I remember it well. I was at the Back in Black concert in Denver way back when.

In the late seventies and early 80's, the U.S. rock music scene was exporting Van Halen.  Pyrotechnic guitar. Let's ignore Bruce Springsteen. England was still trying to show us up with Jimmy Page and David Bowie.  Germany chimed in with Michael Schenker and Scorpion. These were really out of place in the U.S. as we had no need for esoteric and intellectual rock-n-roll. What's the point?

But everybody had a place for Angus and Malcolm and their bare bones, no-frills 3 chord rock and roll from down under.  There were no airs about it, no 'fastest guitar on earth' to challenge. No intellectualism. Just rock-n-roll, cut to its basics. Simple, loud, driving. Ya' have to respect that. Especially when you add such eternal lyrics as "Too many women, and too many pills".


On a related subject, as I listen to Aussie radio, there's a notable lack of rap music. That's understandable, there's no ghetto culture here. The dark skinned folks are usually aboriginal, and there is a lot of racial angst towards them - about which I'll write another time. What I would think of as 'Africans' are usually exchange students from England, and they're usually well respected here as part of the intellectual class.  They generally talk in thick British accents, which makes whatever they currently call 'street talk' in the states a foreign tongue completely. Nobody here can understand it.  The Prince of Bel Air and the Romeo Show might as well have been from Mars.

What I do notice about Aussie music is that there is an emphasis on trance and techno for the last fifteen years or so.  Obviously ecstasy and rave dancing were very big problems here at one point in time (at least in Sydney, I don't know how much the rave culture spread to the suburbs, as it is historically an urban phenomenon).  It's interesting what you can find out about a culture by knowing what they request on the radio.
Courtney Love - American Idol Judge (?)

  last edited: Thu, 08 Feb 2007 09:38:42 +1100  from Diary and Other Rantings
Seems that preliminary talks have been going on to get Courtney Love to replace Paula Abdul as a judge of American Idol talent. Ms. Abdul if you recall is still on the show even after influencing the decision on a contestant that she also slept with a year or two ago. The fact she's still here is just short of incredible, and proves the old adage it's not what you know.  

At first I was thinking this new twist is likewise just short of incredulous.  Courtney knows what it takes to be a professional musician? Really? I can hardly sit through her music without conjuring up words like 'CD frisbees', 'gag reflex' and 'projectile vomit'.

...And I'll listen to almost anything.

Then it dawned on me. Sure, she has zero natural talent. That's a given. But maybe she'd be OK on AI. She hooked up with the late Mr. Cobain after all. It's entirely possible that she has some inate ability to recognize talent.
Strings and Things

  last edited: Sat, 27 Jan 2007 08:58:44 +1100  from Diary and Other Rantings
The waiter seating us at Chilis looked at me quizzically.

'Hey, what happened to the (music) store?'

Sonica? Closed it. Went broke. (Nice to be recognized though. I still run into former customers occasionally).

'When did that happen?'

It was almost exactly a year ago.

'I went there to buy some ESP strings last week and it was gone. Now it's a Chinese store selling crafts and furniture and stuff. Had to go to Guitar Center.'

Sigh... That's Castro Street. I was perhaps the wrong ethnicity to survive there.

So I know you change your strings less than once a year and don't buy anything else at music stores. That's one of the reasons why the store didn't make it. But really - you went twenty miles to buy a $5 set of strings(?). Probably spent $5 on gas. Starving Musician is right there(!) - about 500 yards from where we are standing, and I'm pretty sure that they've got ESP's. Haight-Ashbury (the largest Sunnyvale music store) is about a mile that direction and they've also got ESP's.

Oh well. Whatever. It's long gone now, the memories starting to fade. Can't look back.
Fun, fun, fun

  from Diary and Other Rantings
It's sometimes amazing the kinds of things that the brain works on after the lights go out ...although I'm certain that the alcohol had some non-trivial effect. This dream lasted the entire night. My sub-conscious was diligently working out how to play all the intricate harmonies to the Beach Boys' "'Til Her Daddy Takes The T-Bird Away" --- on a grand piano.

By the time daylight struck, it was really rockin'.
Number 9...

  from Diary and Other Rantings
The order was ready at the fast food counter. The girl leaned into the microphone.

Number 9!

(no perception of activity in the nearby region...).

Number 9?

Number 9!!!!

Number 9.

Number 9!?!

By this point I was howling in laughter.  She was probably not more than sixteen years old. Gave me a quizzical look as if to say 'I don't get it. What's so funny?'. Which is precisely why I was rolling on the floor. ...Because she didn't get it. Didn't have a clue.  

I'm probably going to be asked to explain this but I won't. Those of you who understand will likewise find it amusing. Those that are clueless will have to remain that way.
Speaking of media tyranny...

  last edited: Thu, 04 Jan 2007 06:37:13 +1100  from Diary and Other Rantings
All of this noise over DRM and copy protection. It should be called what it really is - profit protection. The good news is that eventually it's all gonna' die. The bad news is that a dying business behemoth can still do a lot of damage.

Why am I so sure it's gonna' die? Numbers my friend. Sheer numbers. I loaded up my MP3 player last night with about two months of music. You've probably never heard any of these songs before - yet they all have good qualities. There are thousands more where they came from. I would be so bold as to state that it is now entirely possible to listen to a different musical work every single waking minute of your life, and never hear the same song twice. This certainly isn't good for the music business - which is all about making you play stuff over and over until you wanna' puke.

With YouTube (oops I meant Google Video) we're about to see the same explosion in video media. Maybe this has happened already. Then it will be entirely possible to sit in front of a TV set forever and never see the same thing twice.

The interesting part is that you can do this today without ever touching any of the sacred media which the labels are fighting so hard to protect. Do they have the best content? Who cares? It no longer matters. New content is coming online much faster than you can digest the old content. It's essentially an infinite content stream. All the labels can do is increase this to infinity + n; where n is some absurdly large number. There isn't enough time in your life to take it all in.