This morning I ate Wheaties because we are running low on raisin bran. On first blush, this is the kind of trivia of the "uploading 12 pictures of my cat, one for each zodiacal sign" variety that makes weblogging such a curious thing.
Yet I posit that one is a different person post-wheaties (and perhaps it is also Post Wheaties, I suppose but have not checked) than either post-raisin-bran or even Kelloggs'-raisin-bran. I'm not saying the Wheaties unleashes one's inner Terrell Owens (an American football player much in the news today for possessing the singular gift of combining talent with a poor attitude usually found only among poets with tenure and remixing producers).
I posit that a bowl of raisin bran nips the nattering nabobs of negativity in the bud, as surely as pruning shears but without the attendant klutz/gash prospects.
Yesterday, based on a fellow on a remixing board saying "your EQ and sound levels are out of control, causing clipping and needless distortion" with rather more gusto than I preferred (I believe the phrase was along the lines of "Christ, man!.....You're shattering speakers and eardrums!", which phrase, despite its stark trinitarianism, failed to impress me in a positive way), I took down my various songs posted on that site, the assiduous sufferer through this verbose exercise in self-justification I call a weblog will have no doubt already realized that I have within me, not known to all, a secret determination, even at things at which I lack any skill, to run faster and jump higher, while insisting that I run with my own gait and jump using my own spring-shoes. I resolved to change my ways and sound better in all respects. No more red-lining for me. I was going to kick the clipping junk, and drive the monkey from my back and into my mixer.
I spent the morning solving my recording level problems, actually managing to get some decent material down into my computer. I learned a key new fact, which is that when my computer's volume control slider says "master", it is not really a true "master", because the wave controller must still be used to really bring down the noise levels. I recorded a new song, featuring an elegant synthmorph of a gourd kalimba, a can-jo, and a percussive organ played through my music notation software (virtually the only musical instrument other than kazoo and autoharp that forgives me for being able to read music but being almost entirely non-dextrous with playing notes on things). I uploaded the results to a site or two I like, including the non-offending "offending site" in which I felt trolled (though in fairness, the fellow who irritated me perhaps merely wished to communicate rather than to offend, although invoking the Holy Family in a criticism always seems to me about as unfortunate as using
descriptive restroom metaphors while trying to describe a thing of beauty). I seem to like to remix everything I hear lately, which is fun as a learning experience.
By 11:00 a.m., I readied myself for a walk, asking my friend and canine companion, Ted, our secret code words for such matters (i.e., "Ted, do you want to go for a WALK?"). We headed to Trinity Trail, where we walked with gusto in 70 degree weather past fields of tall weeds and green cedar trees. The drought still afflicts the lake, but we did see the last seasonal butterflies and brown grasshoppers.
My wife had had a huge breakfast in lieu of Wheaties, so I fended for myself for lunch. I headed over to the Noodle House, where I had spring rolls and a pho ga'. I read a book while I ate which described how the Russians beat the Germans at Stalingrad, which has a lot of human interest amid all the inhumanities of fascism and Stalinism which colored the narrative.
When I arrived home, we decided to go see "Dreamer", a wonderful horse movie which we found beautifully filmed and completely uplifting. I make no apologies nor excuses for liking small films with great cinematography in which people work through their problems and bond and heal. "Dreamer" is perhaps the best such tiny all ages film I've seen since a very different film, Mamet's remake of "The Winslow Boy". I recommend it to all.
After the early movie, we went to dinner at Sushi Rocks, a place in Plano. I enjoyed sushi featuring smoked salmon, mackerel, cooked shrimp, and a roll which had salmon and hot mustard called "death in Plano". I note in passing that I must have some residual puritanical streak, as I am far more likely to order the special entree with death in the title than the other special entree with sex in the title. The food was heavenly--truly fresh, and I wish I had another two pieces of the smoked salmon.
We then went to World Market, where we marveled at the holiday ornaments, stockings and cards. I had requested that we go there (a rare time I request to shop anywhere not selling books or music), because I wanted to see if they had any of those inexpensive musical instruments similar to the grourd kalimba I've enjoyed so much. I found a treasure trove of things suitable to record into my sampler, all for prices like 7, 12 or 20 dollars each.
I got a Balinese Suling, for 3.99, which is a hip-sounding flute. My dog Ted is quite impressed with the action of my new Ghanaian drum, whose true name escapes me now, but it's action of having a little mallet attached to the head with a string impresses (this, too, was frighteningly inexpensive). I got a very simple but useful for my purpose Indonesian gangsa, a hip xylophone with a rich, other-worldly sound. I got Chinese windchimes with bamboo notes. The Kenyan osho shakers feature really worthy gourd percussion, with a nice rattling sound. A little harmonica called Golden Cup, from China, makes a truly melodious sound, as inexpensive as but much easier to operate than the harmonicas I could never play properly in my childhood. I got another gourd percussion device from Indonesia which looks like a a group of miniature black pool balls on marimba sticks, rather a Partch-like splendor but a more conventional sound. All in all, I got a treasure trove of things, but spent only 70 dollars or so.
I have a huge advantage in these efforts, in that they are things bought for "sound" rather than to "master them musically". The kalimba and even the can-jo are useful not as "song generators" but as sample generators. In the synthesizer I morph (alter as if transforming) them into other sounds, including pitch and timbre manipulation (using Slicer, my synth, it is far easier and less intricate than the sound of the phrase, as Slicer lets one merely move squares on a colorful graph to achieve the effect, using recorded samples of things like the kalimba).
So it's not as important to "play" the harmonica as it is to obtain novel sounds from the harmonica for use in creating songs on the synth.
After our World Market excursion, we headed over to Barnes and Noble, where I got some science fiction and magazines to read and my wife got a novel or two to read and books about critters like Olivia to give to young nieces and second cousins. We then headed home.
I got a chance today to listen to the podcast by my LiveJournal friend asphalteden, who knows ambient music as well as I know The Rule Against Perpetuities (a rule of law so abstruse that a published case actually holds, more or less that as a matter of law rather than merely a proven evidentiary fact in a given hypothetical at trial, that it's not malpractice for a lawyer not to understand it). I recommend that anyone who loves ambient and space music head over to Mr. Eden's journal forthwith, where his information about his podcast originates. He's just finished the second episode, which I found very well done, though I need to spend more time on the latter parts.
I have never met Mr. Eden in person, although we have known each other since before either of us weblogged, as we have similar musical interests. But I wished I had Mr. Eden with me tonight, as I browsed the science fiction section of the bookstore, as Mr. Eden is employed professionally in a publishing connection giving him specialized knowledge of new books. I wanted to get recommendations of new space opera and "hard sci fi" to read, as I am rather a traditionalist who thinks that among Tolkien, Narnia, Earthsea and Dune, not to mention those Pern-icious dragon riders, sword and sorcery has largely been done to death (including perdition in numerous alternative thieves-world afterlifes). I dislike works of fantasy which take the Legolas/Gimli exchanges about respective skills at orc carnage and turn them into full-length jokes of novels. I also dislike fantasy novels that read like they were written by computer software pre-programmed to insert, at appropriate places, the words "burnished her sword", "the demon princes of Altara" and "the spell went wide of its mark". Give me any day hearty tundra wastes and people named things like Tan Hadron of Hastor, and save me from the modern writers.
Of course, sometimes I am embarrassed at what I have not read. I think that weblogs, like written diaries, are good for confessing things that don't matter. So I'll admit that I am more embarrassed about the number of Phillip K. Dick novels I have not read than about the fact that I've never finished "Ulysses" or even the fact that I prefer "Slaughterhouse Five" to any work of Nabokov not focused on non-fiction about butterflies.
I have a theory, saved for another day, that mid-20th Century critics like Edmund Wilson suffered from an as-yet-undiagnosed-and-untreatable virus, similar to ebola, but less deadly, in that it does not strike one dead, but merely makes one a self-important deadly bore. The literary heritage these "critics" gave us leave me with much to criticize, but I will not criticize tonight, for I am several electric sheep short of a load.
This week I discovered a new ambient album available for free download at stasisfield.com, called "past andromeda". It's got a great Eno calm going for it--lovely stuff. An on-line noise publication editor in the UK dropped me a note to say he is going to review my CD, which will be fun, whether it is good, bad or (as may well be the case) ugly (the review's conclusions, obviously, not the quality of the review or the look of the fellow).
Now I'll go read a magazine, and try to remember to ask asphalteden for author recomendations,
and part only with a kind smile, as I remember the full bloom of our Mexican mint marigolds in our front yard this morning, and the look of fresh-planted violas in our plant stand. Everything is in bloom, though the cold days loom just ahead, and that's as it should be, really.