Cautious Optimism

The United Kingdom has approved one of the Covid-19 vaccines (Pfizer’s? I think?). They are starting to work on actual distribution.

There is suddenly a very tiny pin prick of light at the end of this long, black coronavirus tunnel.

The United States isn’t there yet. I’m not sure what the FDA’s timeline is, or even if they have a timeline yet. I’m not sure what Pfizer and Moderna need to do to proceed. I’ve heard that first responders and elderly folks in homes will be the first Americans to receive the vaccine. I’m good with that. After that, I don’t know what the rumors are. I hope my step son and his immune deficiencies will be near the front of the line. My weight problem puts me at risk too, but I want him taken care of first.

It’s still going to take months for that tiny pin prick of light to grow into an opening big enough for us to walk through, and it is WAY too early to start making plans. Still, we have a high school graduation in the Spring. We are hoping to go back to Disney World in the Summer.

I’m spending my lunch break today listening to a podcast where two part time musicians are fantasizing about getting their bands back together in the Spring and what that’s going to be like. I don’t want to look that far ahead. I don’t want to get optimistic. I don’t want to start fantasizing. But… that first band practice is going to feel like a victory parade. We’re going to play like garbage and it’s going to be the most enjoyable rehearsal in the history of rehearsals. The first gig… when we can fill up a room with friends and family and music lovers and people from all walks of life… that is going to be a celebration like no other. That is going to be an amazing experience. I mean, yeah we’re just a silly cover band, but it’s going to be a wonderful thing.

Don’t get cocky, Robert. Cautious optimism is all you get for now. Maybe stop thinking about that tiny little point of light at the end of the tunnel. Try, at least.

“Happy” Seven Months

It’s October 13th. Happy (I mean that sarcastically) Seventh Covid-Quarantine Monthiversary.

This fucking sucks.

Last night one of the guys in the band floated the idea of having a mask-wearing, spread out all over the room band practice. Another guy immediately said yes. The third guy commented but didn’t say yes or no. Then I was the asshole. I’m really tired of being the asshole. Like… really tired of it.

I was going to mix one of the songs last night. I replaced all the bass and drum parts and made sure everything lined up correctly. There was one spot toward the end of the song where the vocals sounded weird. I had two tracks singing the same thing. I’m not sure why I did that, but I did it for the first three songs I recorded. In this particular instance there was a drop out that cut a whole word out of one of the takes. How did I miss that?

I listened to just the vocal tracks, one at a time, and there were little drop outs all over the place. What the hell? I was mostly able to comp together one full track out of the two that I had, but there was one line where both tracks had a drop out. Fortunately it was in a chorus so I was able to fly in that line from another part of the song.

It really pissed me off though. How did I miss that when I was in the car? I knew I was having signal loss issues that day but I thought I was catching them as they happened. I’m so mad at myself. I did the same thing with the two other songs I recorded that day and they both had a drop out or two, but they weren’t nearly as bad. I comped together a full take pretty easily. I then did the same for the four songs I recorded yesterday, when I wasn’t doubling tracks, and everything was fine. I don’t have to redo anything, but it still pissed me off like crazy.

I also had my first bad news on the exercise front, though it wasn’t unexpected. When I started this I said I was going to do the intermittent fasting and 30 minutes of exercise each day and see what happens. I explicitly said I was not going to screw with what I ate, just when I ate it. I have been weighing myself every Tuesday morning and I was losing weight. Today was the first weigh in where I was up. Only a pound and a half, but I was not happy. Not even a little bit. I told myself that weight loss wasn’t my primary goal, but now that I’m up a pound and a half I think I have to face the reality that maybe it actually is my primary goal. Crap. I thought I was more evolved than that (that’s a joke, I didn’t really think that).

The good news is, last time I cut the grass I would do about 10 minutes of mowing and then have to sit for half an hour to recover. After a month’s worth of multiple little “work outs” each day, when I cut the grass this weekend it was more like 20-30 minutes of mowing with little 5-10 minute breaks to recover. That was my original goal for all of this shit. I consider that a small success in an otherwise garbage universe.

Kiss my ass, Covid-19.

Small Business

I just received a notification on theBookFayce* that made me laugh.

Yeah, Lizardfish is a small business all right… really small. Loud, but really small.

*note: I say Bookfayce because I have this clear memory of Strongbad saying Bookfayce, but I can’t find any documentation to back that up. I think it was in one of the posts where he reads his email. I’m going to have to watch them all now so I can find it… assuming it exists.

That’s a Lot of Noise

I played a lot today. More than I expected.

When I finished playing on Thursday night, June Music had nine songs with all of the rhythm guitars. I had an idea for a 10th song, but it was just a single chord change. On Friday after work I found myself wishing that I had more to do. I’ll have to do leads eventually, but I like to save that for last, and I still have to write and record the vocal parts before I get there. What to do?

I wrote out music for two more songs, that’s what. I invented new stuff for me to do. Today I recorded the rhythm guitars for those two. Neither one is the 10th idea I had socked away, so now there are 11 songs with guitar/bass/drums and one that’s still only a snippet of nothing.

When I finished the second song today I saw that my MacBook’s battery percentage was still above 70. I didn’t want to stop. That’s when I remembered there was a song left over from April that had everything except lead guitar. I brought that up, finished it off, and now I have a song that’s ready to mix.

There was also a ton of battery left, and I still didn’t want to stop. What to do next?

I’ve mentioned about 100 times that in 2015 I started a project where I would re-record the least awful songs from all of my prior RPM Challenges and stuff. Every so often I try to get some work done but I never seem to finish anything. Screw it, thought me. I picked a song out of that batch, scrapped all of the guitar parts that were already done and did ’em again. When that was done I picked a second song. When that was done… my battery was below 10% and I had to help cook dinner.

In the grand scheme of things it’s all stupid and pointless and silly but damn if it didn’t feel good.

For the June and April songs I didn’t use my pedal board. I played the 335 into the RYRA The Klone and the Keeley Super Phat Mod. I had the gain dialed pretty far back on both, but with the Bassbreaker 15 that was enough for some good, chunky distortion. For the lead on the April song I just upped the gain on both pedals a smidge

For the 2015 Project songs I only did rhythm parts and I switched back to the pedal board. The most recent plan for this project was to use the same setup I use with Lizardfish. I followed that rule for the pedals but that’s it. Technically the 335 is still retired and not allowed to leave the house, so it’s not a Lizardfish thing. The Bassbreaker 15 has never been used with Lizardfish, though I still have the idea of pairing it with a Vox AC15 and using that with the band. Guitar Center’s website has a listing for a used AC15 for under $500. I am really tempted.

The signal path today was 335 to Klon KTR to Keeley D&M Drive (just the Dan side) to the Bassbreaker 15. The problems I was having when I first switched to that have been fixed. As expected, lowering the output level on the KTR by a ton really did the trick. No more mushy compression. Everything sounded clear and dynamic and great.

I noticed one other little detail. For one of the 2015 songs, a song that was written for the 2014 50/90 Challenge, I had previously added rhythm guitars to it. The song requires a clean sound and a distorted sound. When I recorded them before there was a little weirdness in the transitions that I hadn’t done on the 50/90 recording. I didn’t catch it until a couple of days after I finished the takes but it was reason enough to redo everything. Today when I finished each take I listened back to just the guitars, with everything else muted.

I don’t think I’ve done that for any of the recordings I’ve done since March, and I’ve only used the 335 on the most recent songs, so maybe it didn’t happen… When I had the distorted guitars solo’d and there were no other tracks playing, I realized that the microphone is actually picking up a little bit of the acoustic sound of the guitar. You can hear the pick hitting the strings. It’s really subtle, and you can’t hear it within the full mix, even when the guitar tracks are cranked. Either I was bashing the guitar really hard, or the amp isn’t as loud as I thought it was. I might go back to some of the old songs and see if it happened while playing a solid body guitar. Interesting.

Anyway, here’s a picture.

287/365

Fulltone Free

The Fulltone OCD has been replaced by the Keeley D&M Drive and the Fulltone Clyde Deluxe has been replaced by the Dunlop Cry Baby.

My pedal board is Fulltone Free* and while using those two pedals that I had already owned for years prior to Fuller’s bullshit** made no difference at all to the universe as a whole, dumping them soothes my conscience and maybe it’s even the karmically correct things to do. Most important, no one is ever going to come to a bar where I’m playing and see any of that guy’s work in my gear.

I’m not doing business with some racist who thinks that storefront windows are more important than the public execution without trial of a man whose crime was allegedly passing a bad $20 bill while black, and while in his eyes my support for life and equality over business might mean I am both underserving of using his products and unable to piss standing up, I stand by my belief that his words mark him as a piece of shit and I don’t want to have anything to do with him or his company or his products ever again.

I feel better.

Fulltone free, at last.

*My little/backup/stay at home pedal board is over Mike the Bass Players house and has been since January. I understand the irony of the stay at home board not being at home, but that’s irrelevant. That board currently includes a Fulltone OCDge (complete with Fuller’s signature on it). That board still needs to be cleansed, but I promise it will be before I actually use it again. For now, it’s staying where it is until the coronavirus crisis has passed.

**I’ve written about this over and over again, but if you don’t know what I’m talking about here is a story from Guitar World, and here is another from Guitar.com.

Video Files

As I type this I am downloading two very large .zip files containing four songs performed by the Mighty Lizardfish at my 30th High School Reunion.  I was then and am still now convinced that it was the worst public performance of my public performing life.

The question I have for myself is…

Should I watch the videos?

The follow up question is…

Should I post them on the band’s website (assuming I have the rights, which I’m not actually sure of)?

My gut feeling is the answer to both questions is a resounding no.

Live Streaming Music

Tonight while I was cooking dinner (chicken breasts [because my wife rules], instant mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli) I was listening to today’s new episode of the Gig Gab podcast.  They were talking about making the best of every bar and club and music venue in American being closed and all of their gigs canceled by live streaming their bands.

Lizardfish has done that a couple of times and it’s always goofy fun.  Listening to the discussion really made me want to get the four of us into a room together to just play for Facebook Live.  It’ll be a couple of weeks as we’re not all riding it out in the same general region of New England, but I think once we all are back in the same state again we should do it.

Turns out I’m not the only one thinking of this.  Neil Young let it be known today that he’s going to do some live streaming from his home.  His wife is going to run the camera.  His wife is Daryl Hannah.  I had no idea he was married to a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, though she never got that Hattori Hanzo sword, did she.

After hearing this, I think we absolutely have to live stream our next practice.  I mean, Neil wrote “Rocking in the Free World.”  We play “Rocking in the Free World.”  Now we can have two things in common with Neil.  It’s pretty much our destiny, don’t you think?

Projects

March kinda sucks.

I go through this every year.  I finish my February music projects and then feel this gaping hole in the universe during March.  From reading blogs and forum posts on rpmchallenge.com I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way.

So what to do?

A few months ago I was working on a way to add the rest of my old myspace blog to this site.  I started up on that again last night.  WordPress.com is able to back date posts but it’s a royal pain in the ass to go back to 2007 and 2008.  Instead, I created a Blogger account and I’ve been posting back dated entries there.  Once I have them all I’ll export them to an .xml file and import them here.  That should work fine.  The myspace blog covered pretty much all of 2006 through November 2008.  I had pulled all of 2006 into my previous wordpress.com site so those are all here already.  As of last night the Blogger page has almost all of 2007.  I think I have about 75 more posts to go.

I’m still going with my Flickr photo-a-day project.  It suddenly feels difficult though.  It was easy last month.  There was always music happening so I could take pics of that, and Disney made things even easier.  Now?  What the hell do I take pictures of now?  Where’s the cat when I need her?

Back in January Jen and I did a tutorial for a javascript extension (I think that’s the right way to describe it… a scripting language built on top of javascript).  It was fun and interesting but my javascript knowledge is ancient and more or less nil at this point.  I thought I might have gotten more out of it if I did a javascript tutorial first.  I would like to try something like that in the coming weeks.  I would like to be a better all around programmer than I am right now.  My company’s development tools and programming languages are proprietary, so even if I’m firing on all cylinders at work it doesn’t really extend to the rest of the world.

Years ago I found a set of wordpress.com tutorials called Blogging University.  There are various beginner and intermediate level courses to help you get the most out of your wordpress.com experience.  There were classes for customization, writing, photography, and interacting with other blogs.  I might give some of those a try again, just for schnitzengiggles.  If I remember correctly they were mostly prompts.  Things like, today you should write a better About page, or today you should take a picture of water.  Stuff like that.  The photo stuff would be fine to redo, as I just said I’m always looking for ideas for photo-a-day.  The basic blogging stuff is probably too simple for this page, but there is always the lizardfishmusic.com page.  I could make some changes there.  I don’t think I’ve made any changes to the layout there since I first created it.  Maybe a face lift would be fun?

Exercising should be an obvious target for new projects.  I had a really bad night Weight Watchers wise last night and I’m feeling a little crummy about myself today.  I got home from work and just started shoveling food into my face and I really didn’t stop until I fell asleep.  I need to be better than that.  The gym might help in that regard, or at least minimize the damage of any future bad days.  Right now I am having a problem with one of my feet (again).  My right foot feels a little swollen and it hurts to walk.  It’s not the same thing I had a month or so ago, and it’s not nearly as bad, but it is slowing me down right now.  Once that eases up I need to get back to the gym, and I need to get into a regular routine.

There is always more music to record, and more songs to learn for Lizardfish, and more practicing in general to do.  Just because February is over doesn’t mean I can stop playing.  I was doing pretty well with finding time to practice back in January.  I need to keep up with it.  I’m tired of feeling like the weak link in the band.  I’m also thinking of trying something new gear wise.  I want to try to run a two amp rig in the band, but most of the amps I have now are way too powerful and if I paired them up I’d be unable to not drown out the rest of the band during rehearsals.  I keep looking at my 15 watt Fender Bassbreaker as the solution.  If I could pair that with another lowish watt amp that could work.  I am thinking about going to Guitar Center to inquire about trading my Fender Stratocaster in for a Vox AC15.  I think that might be the key to making it all work.  A Fender Princeton reissue could do it, but it’s only a 10 inch speaker and I’d prefer to stick to 12 inch speakers if I can.  I just like them better.  We’ll see.

Should I start looking into using in-ear monitors?  One of the guys in the band uses them.  One of the hosts of the Gig Gab podcast swears by them.  So much so that he’s always inspiring the other host to try them, even though he has a hard time with them.  I don’t really want to spend money on it, but we’re getting to the point where we’re going to be mic’ing the room during rehearsals and I always wear ear plugs anyway.  Is it time?  I’m trying to decide.  I’m definitely on the fence.  We’ll see.

I was hoping that by this point in 2020 I would be able to do something to help out with the Warren for President campaign.  I guess that isn’t going to happen.  At least it seems highly unlikely now.  I can get behind Bernie Sanders, but the idea of a candidate in his late 70’s who has already suffered a heart attack during this campaign is a little depressing.  Platform wise I can 100% get on board.  Human wise… ugh.  As for Joe Biden.  He’s a great guy and I love him to pieces, but he’s literally my last choice of all of the candidates we’ve had.  Dead last.  Yet another guy in his late 70’s but this time one who just feels like a frat boy who got lucky.  He just seems a little too dumb ass for the oval office, and we already have a total dumb ass in the office now.  If he ends up with the nomination he’ll get 100% of my support… I was just hoping the rest of the country would jump on the Warren bandwagon, that’s all.  Yet another reason to feel let down by my fellow Americans.

There are a crap ton of TV shows that I want to watch.  February has resulted in me falling way behind on all of the CW super hero shows that I like to watch.  I’m like two months behind on The Flash, Supergirl, and Batwoman.  I’ve been trying to get caught up on Star Trek Discovery.  Season two is really good, I just haven’t had time to power through.  The last season of Star Wars The Clone Wars is either about to come out or has just recently come out.  I wanted to binge the whole series before I watched the new season but… Jar Jar… he kinda killed my interest in that.  I want to finish season two of You even though it’s definitely meh.  I want to watch Lock and Key and The Expanse and I still want to get back into Breaking Bad and Preacher.  I’ve started both of them, but just haven’t been able to keep going.  I’m not sure why, the are both good.  I’m caught up on The Walking Dead, and the second spin off is just a month or so away.  One show that I did not fall behind on in February is Star Trek Picard.  It is so good.  Just, so very good.  I wish it was going to be a 25 episode season instead of 10 (I think it’s just going to be 10).  I don’t want it to end… ever.

I’m sure there are other projects I can come up with that are just there for fun and a sense of creative accomplishment.  If we get lucky and Spring actually gets here there are always day trips up to the mountains that I can drag my beloved Mrs to.  There are so many waterfalls, and so many scenic views up there.  They are all just sitting there, waiting for me and Jen and my camera to come and visit.

There’s also always Disney World.  Or Disneyland.  Or Euro-Disney, if that’s even still a thing.  I’d say Tokyo Disney too but I have a co-worker who was supposed to go there next week and he told me it’s closed due to some global pandemic* thing.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?

On an unrelated note, I am trying a new browser again.  The same podcast that inspired me to try Brave has inspired me to try Vivaldi.  This post is the first thing I’ve done with it.  Isn’t that exciting?  I’m just glad that the Last Pass plug in for Chrome works in Vivaldi too.  That makes life a tiny bit easier.

 

*Go wash your hands.  Seriously.