Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For those of you who have not yet cleared out...

For those of you who have not yet cleared out, cursing the procrastinating ways of this busy blogger, or who have not figured out that the saga which this blog was designed to capture has, more or less, wound down (it has, by the way; the summer is decidedly over and there will not be a tour any time soon): I am pretty busy these days and will likely not be blogging here again.
However, I do have enough time to keep my Posterous account going. You can see it at http://ryepdx.posterous.com/

The nerd content is quite high, so beware if you're allergic.

For those of you not familiar with Posterous, it's a website centered around the sharing of webpages with comments from the blogger tacked on to the end. It's the only type of blogging I can manage right now, what with keeping a social life, a band, a full-time job, and a novel going.

For those of you still around, thanks! I appreciate the loyalty (or boredom, whichever it is) that has kept you coming back. Consider this post the shuttering of this blog until further notice.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Canada

They have railroads in Canada? Who knew!
I'm back from Canada, guys! While my initial plans called for three weeks in the land to the north, I quickly discovered that it wasn't all that different from the States. In particular, the part we (my friend, my brother, and I) were in bore a striking resemblance to Oregon. Consequently we got bored pretty quickly and began wondering why we'd even made the trip. At the very least I'd expected a good pub scene, but it turned out Portland pretty much had Vancouver beat. Lots of pubs, but as far as we could tell none of them had anything going on beyond televisions with sports. Maybe all the Canadians headed south to take part in the parties on the 4th?

Not everything was completely boring though. Here are the highlights from the trip:

1) Being detained at the border.

Turns out the border checkpoint is not the place to get philosophical. If the guard asks if you are going to meet anyone in Canada, do not pause for a moment to consider how your answer could be considered foreshadowing in a plot, or how cruel Kismet might turn your answer against you. Just say "yes" or "no." Otherwise the guard's next question will probably be "Why did you pause before you answered that?" The situation will then deteriorate and you will be held for questioning while your car is searched.
On a side note, it was somewhat amusing to note how nervous the guard we were passed on to was when he let us through. He'd done all the questioning with an American accent, but when he made the decision to let us through, explaining to us that the Canadian-US border is not as porous as European ones and that we need better documentation next time, he was definitely sporting a strong Canadian one.


2) Zombie attack in Vancouver!
I have never seen so many meth addicts in one place! Nor homeless people. The greatest concentration seemed to be around the corner of Gore and Cordova, ironically just two blocks away from the police station. No exaggeration, it felt like there was a convention in town. I had a flashback to the scene from Shaun of the Dead where the protagonists pretend to be zombies in order to pass through a zombie horde.


It only helped that we'd slept in the car the night prior and hadn't had a shower yet. At that point I felt we blended in pretty well.

3) Getting panhandled
The homeless people in Vancouver are aggressive! If you ever visit Vancouver and happen across a homeless person, ignore them. Otherwise they'll wrest the money for their next meth fix from your succulent little wallet the same way zombies wrest brains from succulent little skulls. I fell for both the good ol' "ask-if-they-can-break-a-dollar-and-then-take-the-money-in-their-hand-and-run-off" trick as well as the "be-as-obnoxious-as-possible-until-they-throw-money-to-get-rid-of-me" trick. After that I got a little better at handling the homeless problem in Vancouver. I'm particularly proud of escaping a pincer attack attempted by a man and a mailbox as I was walking down the street.
Normally I do try to help homeless people out. I used to hand out food and clothes in downtown Portland for crying out loud. It's just really hard for me to believe someone desperately needs money for a bus ticket when their arms and legs are covered in needle tracts and they've got meth sores all over, no matter how many times they yell it or how in-my-face they get.

4) Lake Alice
I have to admit, the forests in British Columbia are really beautiful. We spent our second day exploring the campgrounds at Lake Alice and then visiting places nearby, such as Whistler (which we only passed through as we could see no reason to pay $16 for parking), Britannia Beach, and Pemberton. At Lake Alice everything was really green. There were a lot of coniferous trees. In other words it looked exactly like Oregon, only we'd driven a few hundred miles north to see it.


Beautiful? Yes. Foreign? Not at all.

5) The waiter
I've heard the people in Canada are the nicest people in the world. I've also heard Canadians are pretty much welcome in any country. I always figured that had something to do with the fact that they never invaded anyone else (except the United States that one time. I'm sure you heard about it in history class. After all, they did burn our capital to the ground!) Maybe they really are just super-nice. I don't know. The only people who talked to us were the pan-handlers, the people at the visitor centers, and waiters and waitresses.
By the second day my friend and I had decided there was little point to staying up in Canada and spending a bunch of money when there really wasn't anything there we didn't also have back in the States. My brother took a little more convincing. It wasn't until he overheard a waiter at The Pony in Pemberton bitching to all his staff about how we were only ordering three drinks (and two of them from the cafe side which, apparently, was not part of "[his] restaurant") that he decided Canada wasn't worth paying to stay in.

6) Britannia Beach
Along highway 99 there's a little place called "Britannia Beach." And I do mean little. We spent most of our time there trying to figure out where the beach was and how to get there. Fortunately a local was kind enough to inform us that the little dock we were standing on was the beach!

7) "Where are all the fat people?"
Because I can't allow every single one of these highlights to be negative, here's a positive one: it seemed like pretty much everyone in Canada was fit. We had a hard time finding overweight people. It was noticeable. So... go Canada.

At any rate, even though the trip was a bit of a disappointment, I'm glad I went! Otherwise I might have spent the rest of my life wondering what the hell Canada looked like. :-p

Thursday, July 1, 2010

No album. Going to Canada.




The title of this post may or may not be a little melodramatic.

The title of this post may or may not be completely accurate.

Believe when I say the Universe has been up to its usual antics

But I think that now I've had enough; yes, I think I've had it.

Europe, Japan? Both were scams. A safe bet? Canada.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Wedding Done. Summer Album, Here We Come!

I shouldn't blog right before going to bed because the siren of sleep ensures I keep my posts more brief than is perhaps prudent. I would like to go on for a bit longer about the wedding than I probably will, especially since it involved OST's two #1 fans, but I also would like to stay awake at work tomorrow. (Which is not to say sleep will be forthcoming: I feel a bit hyperthymic at the moment.)


The wedding went over well, I thought. It was an nerdy, epic affair. I loved it. A triple layer cake laid out like a D&D map. 20-sided dice on the tables at the reception. The music: the Tetris theme for the entrance of the wedding party, the Jedi theme (from John Williams' "The Throne Room") for the entrance of the bride, and the theme from the original Star Trek for the recessional. Afterward there was a reception DJ'ed by none other than Lauren, and a live set from Original Sound Trash. (She'd ended up in charge of all the music, start to finish.)

Not gonna' lie, the set could have gone way better. Though Chad and Sheri are fans of our music, it seemed most of the guests were not. Apparently our punk-accented indie rock did not please the elderly relatives which comprised most of the crowd. Only a few people, all young folks, gave us a positive reaction. A couple songs in we got asked to turn it down, and then we had to wrap it up a few songs early because we were getting on elderly nerves. Which I admit is perhaps somewhat understandable, elderly ears being attuned to different frequencies than those of youths, but it still annoyed.

The dance music was good though, and all parties came out ahead: the old folks (and possibly anyone who actually knew how to dance) got to laugh at us nerdy young folks and our spastic microseisms, our micro-seizures, while we nerdy young folks got to (somewhat rhythmically) step and twitch the hours away. It was more exercise than any of us will probably get all year. I was still a little bit sore from it this morning.

Finally, I get a month off of work starting after work this Friday. Lauren and I are gonna' try to get a full-length album recorded, mastered, and minted in that time, so wish us luck! If you happen to know of any professional studios in the Portland area that are both good and cheap, let us know!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

That was quick

I collect projects. It's true: right now I'm trying to teach myself enough about electronics to be a successful hobbyist, trying to learn Norwegian (forstår du norsk?), writing two novels, setting up a small business with a friend, making a touchscreen table and a touchscreen picture frame, and putting together a portable recording studio. Some of these projects have stalled out (I haven't touched the small business in about a year, it seems) and yet others seem to be going strong. It's funny how the things you're *really* interested in seem to get done much more quickly than the things you *should* be interested in. (Wait, "should be?" Damnable dutiful Puritan ideals.)

The portable studio is pretty much bought already. At least, its roots are. The day after I posted about the MacBook I went back onto Craigslist and found a better laptop for only $400. Went down to Portland and bought it the same day. It's a PC but it has a Firewire port so I figure it'll work.

I did some more research and found out that a lot of people had problems with the MOTU audio interface recommended in that almost 8 years old article linked to in my last post. I dug a little deeper and discovered the RME Fireface 800: a firewire audio interface with better specs than the MOTU unit and not a bad review in sight. A new unit carries a $1,699 price tag but I managed to snipe an eBay auction for a used one at $925.

After that I got a pair of used AKG headphones for $89.95 and a Rode NT1A small diaphragm condenser microphone for $192. ($229 if I'd bought it new.)

Two days and somewhere around $1,607 later I'm more or less broke but pretty much set as far as my portable studio project goes. I still want to get Cubase 5 ($499) but I'm gonna' have to wait on that until after Lauren and I get that CD professionally recorded. (I *did* save a decent amount for that!)

I'll get something recorded and up here once all the pieces arrive.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Focus (again)

I'm thinking about building a cheaper version of this once I get all my other projects put together.

There's a MacBook for sale on Craigslist for $600 which I hope to make the first piece of my version of that portable studio. I also hope to tap some of the talent at Fox for some sick recordings once school resumes this Fall. I really, really want to do a cover of "Sunglasses At Night" with a real orchestra! :-D

Hellz yeah!

In the meantime, my "box 'o sound" project has stalled as I contemplate how very, very wrong my design was. That glare is impossible to get rid of! I'm planning on starting over. I'm just waiting for my next paycheck to roll in so I can feel less bad about buying more things. I already have the picture frame and floodlight I plan to use. All I need now are a webcam, a light socket, some heater cord, a wall plug, and a frame (of the non-picture variety) of some sort to mount everything to. I'm thinking it'll end up looking something like the picture to the right, only classier.

I'll let you know how this next attempt goes once I know for sure how much is on my next paycheck and get a chance to try things out.

On a more positive note, my touchscreen table project seems to be moving along nicely. I finally got the mirrors set. Now I just need to get a projector mount and figure out how to make it work with the rest of my table...

Okay, and the reason I titled this post "focus" is because I have realized I really need to start *focusing* on a few important things rather than just chasing around everything and wasting a bunch of time. I've started working out (just push-ups and sit-ups on the floor of my apartment, but hey, waddya' want?) and it kinda' occurred to me today (as I was trying to get my atrophied muscles to obey me) that I rarely focus in on the moment at hand, or the task(s) at hand, that my mind is often racing ahead and wandering down paths of possibility. While this usually makes life infinitely more interesting for myself, it kinda' also means I miss out on a lot of things in the present. More applicably it really makes it harder to do push-ups when you're also trying to contemplate the way the media shapes gender relations (and how it has probably directly led to the upper-body exercises you're presently straining to get through).

Y'know what I'm talking about, right? (Okay, at least pretend you know what I'm talking about.)

So I'm gonna' try to figure out what the hell I'm doing with my life and focus.

Like a candle flame.

I'm feeling all Buddhist or something all of a sudden. Zen. I dunno. There's a Batman Begins reference in there somewhere, but it's 11:30 and I should be going to bed soon. I'm gonna' try to keep this blog going but obviously that's hard for me. It might help if you let me know what you want to hear. Seriously, I'm still having trouble grasping this "blogging" thing, probably because I don't actually read blogs all that much. Less navel gazing, more "here's what I did today?" Okay, let me know. Otherwise you get what you get and (enter Jewish mother mode) you'll have no-one to blame but yourself!

Take care, dear readers! I'll see you when I see you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Of Coffee Shops and Weddings

I've been spending a lot of time in coffee shops recently due to there being no internet at my apartment. It's given me the chance to listen in on conversations and think about human nature a bit. In Newberg the human scene is definitely of a particular kind. Here is a paraphrased exchange (or rather monologue; the man was rather silent for the most part) I once heard in one of the shops:

"That's why I locked myself in my room for a couple of hours with my Christian music turned up. I could feel the devil attacking me, just weighing down on my soul; I had to rebuke him and so I just lay there on my bed with my music up until I felt the feeling pass."

(She looks around the coffee shop to see if anyone has heard her discussing these things)

"And I know I'm under attack, even at church. I know they want to get rid of me because I push the envelope. I'm trying to get things changed and they want me to toe the line."

(She looks around again.)

Everyone wants to feel special. I know it doesn't take an anthropologist (or psychologist) to figure that one out. We each have ways of making ourselves feel special. For some people it's religion. These are the people who go on and on about how screwed up the world is and how they want to save it through Jesus. They don't want to save it through Jesus. They want to save it for themselves, for their own ego. Then there are the people who find it in music. You can pretty much replace the word "Jesus" with "music" in the preceding sentences and get their marching rhythm.

I'm playing at a wedding next week. It's for a couple of awesome friends, my band's #1 fans. They're having us play some very specialized music. I don't want to give any spoilers so I'm not going to divulge the pieces, but they fit the pair really, really well. They are icons for what makes them special.

I've been messing around on guitar recently. I haven't written or recorded anything in a while but I'm hoping to get some things together once my internet connection arrives this Sunday. Summer always seems to bring a special mood of creativity upon me and I think this year's season will bring with it a bumper crop. I've begun work on a second novel and it's exciting to me. I'm trying to carve out something the way Stephen Bloom from The Brothers Bloom carved out his cons, "the way dead Russians write novels, with thematic arcs and embedded symbolism and shit." I've also had a bunch of song ideas, which I need to write down. (This morning I came up with two full songs, but I haven't written them down and may forget them... hopefully I won't forget them! :-p)