Random Stuff

No real theme…just goin’ with it…

  1. Wasn’t feeling so hot this morning…stayed home.  Feeling better tonight.  Should make it in tomorrow.  Super-sorry to my co-workers, if you read this.
  2. The Feldman record is progressing.  I have a voicemail from Mike to listen to, which probably has some notes…but all in all I think it’s moving in the right direction.  I have some concerns about mixing the background vocals, but there’s always something difficult on every mix-down.  All things considered, something with the word BACKGROUND in it isn’t that big of a problem, and if that’s as bad as it gets, we’re in good shape.
  3. I think UPS lost a shipment of Christmas gifts I’d ordered.  Fortunately, the good people at Amazon have re-sent everything with overnight shipping FOR FREE, with the condition that if the other shipment ever shows up, I should return the duplicates.  Nice folks.  THAT’S how you do business!  (You should ALSO do business with FedEx…but I digress…)
  4. The Blue Tattoo record seems to be taking forever, doesn’t it?  Yikes.  Just need to finish vocals and my guitar parts (and maybe a quick bass re-record from Dave?) and we’re good…but man…it’s been a LONG, LONG TIME.  It’s to the point that I can’t remember NOT working on it anymore, and I’m pretty much just wanting to be DONE with it.  My interest in finishing it is actually starting to wane, it’s been so long.  That’s not to say it isn’t GOOD…it is.  It’s very good, and I’m very proud of the results we’re getting.  It’s just taking us forever to finish the thing.  Hopefully soon…
  5. Finally SAW—with my own eyes—the mouse in my basement.  It wandered by as I was recording a vocal part on Saturday.  Or at least I think it was a mouse.  Mouse…flightless bird…something brownish…  Actually, I’m not convinced it’s the same mouse as before.  I think the first one left of its own accord when it warmed up for a little bit, but then it got cold and a new one wandered in.  Just a theory.  Anyway…here’s hoping the traps work.  Kinda creeps me out to see something blurry run by while I’m singing.  🙂
  6. They’re showing some of the really crappy episodes of Star Trek on TV lately…here I come, DVDs.
  7. Gotten some positive feedback on the free downloads over at the site.  Thanks to those who’ve checked it out…and if you haven’t, please give it a listen.  I think you’ll like it.  And, y’know…the price is right…
  8. I’m just going to say it…  Keenan is now OFFICIALLY my favorite SNL cast member.
  9. Getting kind of excited about Christmas.  I’m pretty much out of money…I still have to buy for Grandma, my aunt and uncle, my cousins, and maybe one more thing for Susan…but I’m excited!  Just have to do the last bit of buying AFTER I know how much of the paycheck I’m getting this week is going to bills.  🙂
  10. Belated happy birthday to Valerie (said it the other day, too…but haven’t blogged it).  Enjoyed the giant steak—seriously, that thing was ridiculous AND delicious!  Hope you’re digging the DVDs, which even stacked on top of one another probably aren’t as thick as my steak, but will probably last a lot longer, all told…
  11. Re: Tiger Woods…  Don’t really care about what’s going on, how many mistresses he had, etc.  (Though I do think there’s probably at least one fraud in the bunch.)  I mean, sure, I don’t AGREE with his behaviour, but it doesn’t really change my life or his accomplishments in the sport he’s famous for playing—which now apparently he CAN’T play…  But, all things considered, I will say this…  I hope David Letterman sent the guy a frikkin’ AWESOME fruit basket!  🙂
  12. Seriously…I’m like OUT of money.
  13. Anybody else miss Alyson Hannigan’s shorter, redder hair?  I sure do.  Just watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother from the first season, and I totally miss that era of her hair.
  14. I think I’m going to take a super-hot bath, read a little (while bathing), and then go to bed.  You should give that kind of thing a shot once in a while if you don’t already do it.

 

G’night…

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Current Listening:

  • A weird, kind of random list of songs by secular rock bands that offer an opinion on religion—and I’ll probably post that playlist soon, for those that’d be interested.

Just So You Know — FREE STUFF! :)

Just so you know, I’ve uploaded three FREE tracks over at my website.  click over to www.derekbrink.com and check them out.  They’ll only be available through about Christmas or New Year’s, depending on when I remember to pull them down…  So act fast!

 

I’ll give you a short summary of them…  They’re all kind of along a similar theme—kind of a mini-concept piece with no real concept.  The one called “Sweet November” is about falling in love when you’re over the age of 30.  (A “May-December” romance refers to a couple where one of the two is much older than the other.  The older one is said to be in “the December” of their life…well, speaking as a roughly 30-year-old guy, I’d say there’s not anything wrong with being in your November and still looking.)  “Sad & Sweet” is more or less about someone from my life.  I think it kind of speaks for itself…but it’s basically a love song.  “You and Your Perfect Life” is about drifting apart from someone you love, watching them fall in love with someone else, and watching them live out a nice little lifetime.

 

 Also, I played everything on them.  There’s guitar, bass, DRUMS, and vocals…so, yeah…apparently I play the drums now.  🙂

 

Hope you like them.

 

And Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends!

Re-Watching the Watchmen…

Nerd-post…sorry…

 

I recently purchased for myself the “Ultimate Cut” of the Watchmen movie.  It’s awesome.

 

However…because I was bored, I browsed over to the Watchmen Wiki.  As we all know, (or maybe not if you’ve never read/seen it…so spoiler alert), the Comedian is stated to be Laurie (“Silk Spectre II”) Juspeczyk’s father.  Clicking around the Wiki, I found the timeline of events in the story and found something a little unsettling…  Here’s how the Wiki lists it (emphasis added)…

 

1948
Jon Osterman enrolls at Princeton University.
Comedian has another encounter with Sally Jupiter.

 

1949
The Minutemen disband.

 

1950
Laurie Juspeczyk is born.

 

Am I the only one that notices that there are significantly more than 9 months between Laurie’s supposed conception and her birth?  If the wiki is right about the dates, then it’s impossible for the Comedian to have been her father, and therefore pretty much the entire final act of the story is unmotivated.  If the Comedian is not her father, then Manhattan should find no reason to return, Rorschach should live and blow the whistle on Veidt, World War III should happen…and so on…  (Or, if they’re right, then Sally Jupiter should get a medal for carrying a baby for over a year…your call…)

 

I know the dates probably aren’t too specific, and beyond reading that one page, I haven’t poured over the whole of the story looking for answers—mostly because my brother still has my copy of the comic…but if someone(s) cares enough to post something on a Wiki, they’ve probably done their homework—or certainly, another fanboy would’ve caught them out by now, right?  These are people who have nothing better to do than think about the Watchmen story…and they’ve pretty much proved that there’s no way that the Comedian could be Laurie’s dad.

 

Am I really the only one to notice this in the past 25 years?  It’s kind of a big deal…

 

Can anyone disprove me?  Please?

Advance Supplement…

I’m not quite ready to post my top-ten records of 2009 yet.  I know what they are and what order they’ll be in…but I just can’t quite bring myself to do it yet.  Somehow, December 10th seems too early to do that.  So, I’m waiting about another week or so.  However, I thought I’d put SOMETHING out there about it, anyway, and reveal my list of “also-rans.” 

 

Below is the stuff that either just didn’t quite make the top-ten or was for some reason ineligible.  My rules are simple…the record has to have been RELEASED in 2009 and has to contain all (or at least like 90-95%) NEW material.  No compilations.  No “b-sides” or “from the vaults” projects.  No soundtracks (unless it’s a wholly new work).  No, “re-recordings” (IE – a band re-records an old record of their and releases “new versions” of old songs).  No live records.  Just NEW studio records.  What follows is the stuff that either didn’t meet that criteria, or that DID, but that I didn’t like enough to earn a spot in my personal top-ten for 2009.

 

…and no…I didn’t but Ace Frehley’s record…or the new Kiss, either…ugh.

 

Let’s go…

 

 

Stuff that was new, but didn’t make the cut:

  • Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings
    • This was hard.  This is the first time since I’ve been making top-ten lists that Dream Theater has released a new record that didn’t make the cut.  It’s not that the record isn’t good.  It’s that it’s not in my top-ten.  Pretty much, I feel like they need to take the producer’s credit away from the guys IN the band and get someone in from outside to tell them things like, “That’s a little TOO wanky.” or “I really don’t think Mike should sing on this one.”  (Seriously, Portnoy…you’re embarassing yourself and others.  You ruined at least two tracks on it for me.)  Technically, the musicianship is still amazing.  Some of the melodies are pretty memorable.  I basically enjoyed it…but to be honest, I really can’t imagine listening to it very often—and it doesn’t even make my cut for the top-ten DREAM THEATER releases, much less top-ten overall…  All you really need to know about this record is that their “special edition” version contained the complete record without vocals, so you could JUST listen to the musical wankery.  (Which, to be fair, did solve my Portnoy problem…but is still ridiculous and boring.)  Sorry guys.  Just do better next time.  I still believe in you.  (But do yourself a favor and listen to Mastodon’s “Crack the Skye” before doing the next one…that’s where you should’ve headed, but with keys.)
  • U2 – No Line on the Horizon
    • I like it.  I really do…it just barely fell short.  But any record that features Bono attempting to rap has just gone too far in my opinion.  🙂
  • Chickenfoot
    • Okay.  Blasphemy.  I know.  I love Sammy and Mike.  Don’t have any problem with the other guys, either.   This was the best selling rock record in recent memory, and I was really hoping to be on the bandwagon…but frankly, I only really like about half of it.  Don’t get me wrong…the half I like, I REALLY like…but the stuff I don’t, I REALLY don’t.  Just kind of feels like an unfinished Sammy Hagar solo record to me.  I’m thinking I’m going to like their second release more, though.  I think this just suffered from the fan reaction being so positive, for me.  I think that the band felt pressured to get something out there quickly and may have made different choices given the time—and there was just NO WAY they could’ve lived up to the hype.  I’m sure the second one will blow me away.  This one just fell a little short for me.  (I hope I don’t come across as completely slamming it.  It’s been on and off my playlist since it came out…  I DO like it…I just don’t LOVE it.)
  • Tori Amos – Abnormally Attracted to Sin
    • Okay.  I really like it…but I was hoping it would be more in the vein of her previous record (“American Doll Posse”).  I guess that one must’ve fallen flat with a majority of her fan-base or something, because this is NOTHING like it…  I was just hoping for something a little more rock-based.  It’s good though.  Just NARROWLY missed the top-ten.  It’s probably at #11.

 

Stuff that was ineligible, but that I liked a LOT:

  • Leonard Cohen – Live in London
    • If this hadn’t been a live album, it would have, without question, definitively, immovably been at #1.  It might’ve taken up spots 1-10, in fact, completely negating the need for a list at all.  Seriously.  Please check it out.  It’s great.
  • Leonard Cohen – Live at the Isle of Wight 1970
    • Kind of sleepy, but nice to wake up to.  Again, ineligible because it’s both live AND old!  🙂  Probably would’ve made the list, otherwise.
  • Pearl Jam – Ten (Special Edition)
    • Re-release, and therefore ineligable…pretty interesting, but frankly, I’ll take the original masterpiece, thanks.  Still kind of cool, though.
  • The Hold Steady – A Positive Rage
    • Live record from one of my favorite current rick bands.  I seriously don’t know how these guys aren’t bigger.
  • Drive-By Truckers – Live from Austin, TX
    • Live record from my FAVORITE rock band working today.  (Well…I guess The Who’s still technically working…but DBT’s releasing new material and The Who’s dragging their feet…c’mon Pete…gimmie a #1 next year!)  Anyhoo…this is a pretty good live record.  I love it…but at the same time, it sounds a little too “clean” to be a true representation of a standard DBT show.  I think they were under pressure to tidy it up for TV (it aired on Austin City Limits).  But, undoubtedly a great live album, and a must-have for any fan.  Don’t know that I’d start a non-fan here…but if you’re already on board, this is gold.
  • Drive-By Truckers – The Fine Print
    • B-sides, rarities, and unreleased stuff.  I like it…but out of the 12 songs on it, I think I’d already heard about 10 of them.  (Of course, I’m one of those crazy-collectors…so I probably didn’t have the same experience as some others on this one!)  🙂  Nonetheless…there are some must-haves for the BIG fans here.  Definitely not a good place to start…but awesome cover of Tom Petty’s “Rebels” and Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”  So…win.
  • Spinal Tap – Back from the Dead
    • The Tap-guys re-recorded a bunch of new versions of the soundtrack from the 80s.  I can’t even COUNT how many ways that’s ineligible…but it’s a lot of fun and you should really check it out.  🙂  Do yourself a favor and get the one with the DVD in it.  Definitely worth the price.
  • Cheap Trick – Sgt. Pepper Live
    • It’s Cheap Trick (VERY VERY FAITHFULLY) performing the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” live.  It’s really good—scary-good in some places—and the proceeds go to stop cancer.  So do a good deed and hear an awesome show while you’re at it.
  • Willie Nelson – Lost Highway
    • Collection of some of Willie’s stuff from his projects on the “Lost Highway” label, plus a few previously un-released tracks.  Well worth it, mainly for “Ain’t Goin’ Down on Brokeback Mountain.”  (I get it!)  …but it’s a compilation, so it couldn’t make the top-ten (or it certainly WOULD have).

 

…and there you have it.  That’s the stuff that had a shot (for the most-part, anyway), but either fell short or was disqualified.  The real top-ten is forthcoming, as well as maybe a few more honorable mentions, if I recall any.

Telecaster

I mentioned the other day that Mike Feldman gave me a Telecaster as part of my payment for engineering his record. I thought it might be interesting to post a picture of it, as it’s got a few unique qualities about it. Sorry to anyone who’s bored by musician-speak. I’ll try to make it simple for laymen—and I mean no offense in calling you laymen! 🙂 

 

This is the whole thing...already looks kind of interesting and different, if you're into guitars.

 

It’s been pretty heavily modified. There are three pickups as opposed to the usual two on a standard Telecaster. Plus, they’re all single-coil, which I know means nothing to most non-guitarists…but let’s just say that’s a pretty interesting modification to a Telecaster. 

 

1...2...3!!!

 

The little switch you see by the volume knobs has five positions to it. Most Telecasters have a THREE position switch. This provides a greater dynamic range and pretty much just boosts your high or low end depending on where you place it. On my Strat, I’m a “middle” position guy most of the time, but so far, I’m liking this one more toward the “lower” end. 

 

1...2...3...4?!...5!?!?!

 

The tuning machines (at the top of the guitar, where you tune your strings) are locking machines. I keep meaning to install those on ALL of my guitars, but I never have. It’s only like a $60 upgrade, but it’s really a helpful modification. Helps add speed to changing strings and also helps promote accurate, stable tuning.  Definitely have to add these to at least my Strat and my Gretsch.  Just upgraded the ones on the Les Paul to custom tuners…but couldn’t find the locking ones to match the gold hardware, so that’ll have to wait. 

 

You can't really tell a difference from the top...but they're there. 🙂

 

…moving on… 

 

The most significant modifications come at the bottom of the guitar.  This is where the guitar gets particularly weird and interesting.  You see the big, metal tailpiece at the bottom?  That’s weird.  I’ve only ever seen that on this guitar and on one that Marty Stuart played (plays?).  

 

Super-weird!

 

On the left of the tailpiece is a “D-Tuner” which drops the tuning of the lowest string on the guitar to play some notes you’d normally have to spend time and effort to re-tune to reach.  This does it at the flip of a switch, in about 1-second.  No pressure…no trouble…and it brings the tuning back up to standard in the same way.  (They call it a “D” tuner because it’s most often used to drop the string that’s normally tuned to “E” to the note of “D,” but you can go lower if you want…personally, I like experimenting with a low “C” sometimes as a super-low note…but we’re getting a little nerdy here…so let’s move on…) 

 

To the right of the tailpiece is something REALLY weird.  It’s a “B-Bender,” so named because it is located on the “B” string of the guitar and it bends the note upwardly to about a “C” to “C#” tone.  (I’ve currently got it set at “C#.”)  Think of it as pulling upwardly on a standard whammy bar, but only on one string…and not with a typical whammy bar.  The bar on this slides into a slot on the tailpiece and hangs out over the back of your guitar.  You bend the note by putting pressure on the bar with your hip and physically moving the guitar neck outwardly a little (hence the brand-name—“Hipshot”—on the tailpiece).  You’re pretty much using the entire guitar as a whammy bar, for just the effect of changing the tone on one string!  🙂  It’s kind of cool.  Sort of creates a pedal-steel effect if you use it right, and would be really useful for someone trying to mimic that sound in a country band.  I’m not sure how often I’ll use it…but as a gadget-head, I really find it fascinating, and I’m glad I’ve got this in my collection. 

 

The butterfly was put on there by Mike...not my idea. I just haven't removed it yet!

 

Otherwise, it’s a black, Mexican-made Telecaster.  (American-made ones are technically “nicer”—which mostly means they just cost more—but with the changes made to this guitar, it about breaks even, if not surpasses the cost of a standard American Telecaster.)  The pick-guard is custom, too…and it actually exactly matches the guitar-strap Mike gave me to go with it.  I don’t mind it too much on the guitar itself, but I think the strap looks a little cheesy, so I’m probably just going to use a plain black strap with this guitar. 

 

…so that’s the new one.  I’ll try to post something a little more universally interesting next time.  Mostly just wanted to toss up a picture of the newest piece of my arsenal.  🙂 

 

In other news, I think I fixed the blog’s justification problem I was talking about yesterday…it’s an extra step every time I post, but it seems to be working…which means yesterday’s blog has a big red paragraph on it for no reason…but whatever…

It’s Getting Mixed Up

^ PUN!

 

EDIT – WordPress is removing spacing and justification from my posts for some reason.  That really sucks and I hope they don’t keep doing it or I’ll be finding a blog-site on which I’m able to post something in a format I like that is readable…sorry if this looks crappy on your screen as a result of their decision to start auto-“correcting” my formatting. Trying to fix it in the html…

 

I mentioned that I’m working on the new Feldman record in previous posts…now I’m going to go into slightly more detail, for those who might be interested in how this works.

 

The biggest plus is that those guys turned in some really great, clean performances.  They came in ready to record, having worked out most of the details well in advance.  Lesson to bands who want to do a demo or CD—THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT.  It makes the engineer’s job a lot easier and your day run a lot more quickly and smoothly.  There’s another band I’ve been working with on and off for MONTHS (has it been over a YEAR???  Yikes!) that has done five sessions and still feels that they have pretty much nothing they can use (apparently—I disagree and think they’re wasting WAY too much time on the scratch tracks).  Unlike those other guys (and a lot of other people), Feldman runs a tight-ship, and in the studio that really pays off.

 

So…the actual recording has been pretty easy.  We did about 10 hours on Saturday and 5 on Sunday.  The bass and drums were complete on the first day, as were most of the guitar parts.  The second day, we finished up the guitars and started vocals.  Tomorrow (actually today, but I’m going to bed in a minute, so it’ll be “tomorrow” for me) we will finish vocals.  Sunday, we’ll do keys.  Monday, we’ll finish up the background vocals.  Then it’s all in my hands.

 

The thing is, I’ve been working as we’ve been going.  I’ve been pre-mixing—which basically means I’m doing a rough work-up of what the volume-levels of each instrument should be, what fixes need to be made, etc, etc…  I’ve already put in about 10 hours on that (I’ve been noting it, part for my own records, but also to give Mike some proof that I did something, ha ha).  I’ve cleaned up all of the splices we’ve made so far.  I’ve started trimming some of the dead-space and pops-and-clicks that you don’t want in there.  I’ve started figuring out what compressors and EQs I’m going to want to use.  I’m already pretty far ahead of the game on this one.  (And yes, I’ve been backing up my files, too!)

 

Mike’s hoping to hear a final mix by the middle of January.  I’m hoping to have one to him just in time for Christmas.  We’ll see if that works out.  I don’t see why not.  I’m going to have everything recorded by Monday evening…no reason I shouldn’t be able to satisfactorily mix it in the remaining 15 days if I can keep up this pace, right?  Hoping to surprize him on this one.

 

…now, if I could just get that caught up on my actual JOB, that’d be great, ha ha.  I’m behind at work because of the holiday.  We all are, I think.  I don’t feel like I’m doing too badly, all things considered…but it is kind of frustrating to see the same number of unread e-mails when you leave as when you arrived.  Actually, that’s kind of good, because that means that I was making progress and that as the new stuff was coming in, it was just breaking even numerically…but still…kind of a bummer, since I usually am doing a little better than that.  You’ve got to learn to trick your brain into believing you’re actually about on task in that situation.  🙂  I should be able to catch up by the end of the week…it’s just kind of heavy work right now.  That’s cool though.  When I’m busy, that means the company’s doing well.  So I’ll NEVER complain about having more work to do!  That’s our bread-and-butter, and fortunately there’s absolutely NO busy-work involved with my job.  It’s all important…so that’s pretty cool, too.

 

So…ahead on the MFG record…a little behind on the e-mails, but not tragically…and Blue Tattoo should be finishing up our record (“Wrecked”) soon, too…plus, Christmas is just a couple of weeks away!  All in all…no real complaints.

————

Current Listening:

  • The Headstones — An awesome punk band from Canada who aren’t really working anymore.  (Though the lead singer did start up the almost equally awesome “Hugh Dillon Redemption Choir” a few years ago.)