Musings @musicandmeaning.com

I'm dreaming still of who we were.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for March, 2005


Monday, 28 March 2005

I’ll be your little boy running with that egg on his spoon

[cover art of Crowded House's first album] I read the news about Paul Hester‘s suicide last night on MetaFilter and couldn’t believe it. He was probably best known worldwide as the drummer for the Neil Finn-songwriting-driven band Crowded House, one of my all-time favorite groups.

I was just listening to the album Woodface for the gazillionth time the other day. It’s a great CD — my favorite CH album, and I highly recommend it. Hester wrote perhaps one of the most fun tracks, "Italian Plastic." The title for this entry is a line from his wonderful lyrics. He also wrote/co-wrote a few other songs during the band’s history.

If you’re not too familiar with the band but you at least have its self-titled debut album (i.e. the one with "Don’t Dream It’s Over" as shown here), Paul Hester is the winged man flying away on the album cover art (painted by the third core Crowded House member, bassist Nicholas Seymour).

I’m going to listen to some Crowded House now.

Posted at 1:49 pm | Filed under Music, News commentary | 2 replies »

Sunday, 27 March 2005

Links should work now

I just noticed that a few of you trying to access musings from your RSS readers may have run into a 403 error and a message about being detected as a referrer spammer. Whoops. There should have been a link, at any rate, allowing you to click into the site, but still — I’m sorry about the mix-up.

The reason for this happening: I installed Referrer Karma last week and didn’t add FeedBurner to the list of approved referrers. I’ve just added the domain, so you shouldn’t have a problem getting to the site from your feed readers now — but please let me know if you do. If weird things like that happen, just keep in mind that I’m still playing with WordPress and I might unintentionally do things that break the site every now and then.

And yes, Referrer Karma is one of the subjects on my list of WordPress-related items to discuss later. (If you don’t have the tool, I recommend downloading it. It works even if you don’t use WP, as long as your pages run PHP.)

Posted at 8:44 am | Filed under Tech/geek |  

X-Files fans rejoice

Well, sort of. In a way. Okay, this post has very little to do with The X-Files except for the David Duchovny connection (but I will mention something about the show in a sec). He wrote and directed his first feature film, House of D, which premieres next month. And for the promo push, Duchovny is writing a blog (Flash required). It’s interesting to see his writing style and his typing style (very few caps; single paragraphs), especially since — as hardcore XF fans will remember — he pursued a PhD in English literature before leaving Yale for an acting career.

I’ve been out of the entertainment industry news loop for years — I remember reading something about him writing his first movie, but didn’t think about it after that. Anyway, I just now happened to catch the link to his blog while on the Blogger site — his name was at the top of the list of "blogs of note." I figured it was a fan site, but nope, it’s really him. Check it out. There are audio posts, too, although I haven’t listened to them as of yet.

(Note: Clicking on the orange banner for the movie at the top of his blog leads to the wrong site! Oops. I wonder how long it’ll be before someone fixes that.)

Based on the two X-Files episodes that Duchovny wrote and directed ("The Unnatural" is still one of my favorites), I’ll definitely put his movie on my to-watch list. (I haven’t done much XF web browsing in a really long time, but Fox TV has apparently replaced its excellent resource at x-files.com with product pages for the DVDs.)

Okay, here’s the news about The X-Files: in Duchovny’s entry for March 23rd, he says at the very end:

speaking of x files, i think we’re getting very close to getting a start date on the x2. my guess is we’ll be filming early next year.

Cool. I know absolutely nothing about the sequel other than that, but I hope it’s better than the first movie. That reminds me, though…the last two seasons of the series…weren’t my faves. I wonder what the story will be about? I’m already a little sad that the Lone Gunmen won’t be in it. Who knows? Maybe they could be.

Posted at 6:42 am | Filed under Film, Television |  

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Thanks Dad, for my first tape recorder

I just posted about the Ask MeFi thread — I actually read it a while back, but wanted to post it today, before this entry. Oddly enough, the MeFi thread got me thinking about today, and about music and audio.

Today is my father’s birthday — he would have turned 66. Aside from other cool fatherly things, such as taking the family on trips and teaching his kids how to ride a bicycle, he provided an extremely rich musical background. There was always music on in the house, or in the car. As a kid, I listened to Tchaikovsky and Chopin; Jim Reeves and Nat King Cole; Verdi and Bizet; the Platters and Marty Robbins; Neil Diamond and the Kingston Trio…and lots and lots of other folk music, children’s songs, and Disney movie music, courtesy of those orange Disney cassettes for kids, and albums by the Chipmunks and the Smurfs.

My father gave me my first tape recorder when I was in the first grade. It was a new red Panasonic model, shaped like a cube, with a telescoping antenna and a headphone jack. I could listen to AM/FM and play my cassettes, but I remember being more excited to be able to record sounds and music. Most often, I used it to dub favorite songs from the radio. (One of the first tunes I taped: "I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues" by Elton John.)

Once, I tried to record the theme to The Smurfs by placing the recorder up to the TV speaker, and trying to shush anyone who made noise around me. I think I was disappointed by the results of the recording — since the Panasonic had an omnidirectional microphone, it picked up a lot of the ambient sounds.

Sometimes I’d record myself playing piano or singing. I remember the first time I listened to my voice on playback — speaking and singing — and being shocked by how I sounded nothing like what I’d thought (aren’t we all?). I also quickly discovered that if I set the recorder a few feet away from the piano (rather than right on top of — or too close to — the instrument), the recording sounded better.

I was terribly shy as a child, and never let anyone else listen to the tapes of me playing or singing; they were just for my ears. Once on a road trip somewhere, I started singing along to whatever was playing on the car stereo — I don’t remember what it was. Except I just sort of sang it quietly, under my breath. My aunt noticed, and she smiled and told me to sing louder. Frightened and flustered, I just clammed up. And one time at home, my dad found an unlabeled tape and played it — it was me singing along to either a Phil Collins or Genesis song. I was embarrassed beyond all doubt (embarrassed by my singing, not by the song…or maybe both ;) ). I may have grabbed the tape and run away, red-faced.

In fourth grade, my class got split into groups that had to write and produce original plays. There were two phone calls scripted in my group’s play, and I used the red Panasonic cube to record the ringing of the phone at home. I recall putting the recorder near the phone in the living room, and waiting for a call to come in. I didn’t have anyone call purposely — I just waited for someone to ring. Back then, we had rotary phones — you know, with actual dials (I know, the stone age!) — and the ringer was a real analog bell that clanged. Phones don’t sound like that anymore. Anyway, so I got home from school, and set it all up, and waited for the phone to ring…and waited…and in the evening, it finally did. I ran to the phone in the living room while saying, "Don’t answer it!" and then hit the play and record buttons (a blue arrow and a red circle) to start taping. And I let the phone ring…and ring…and ring. I finally picked up on the fourth one, I think. I waited for another call, for safety, or at least to get another take (of course, back then I just thought, "Just in case"). I ended up using those rings for the play.

Years later in high school, I was the assistant sound designer for the school production of Our Town, and did sound tech throughout high school and, even later, in college.

As a kid, I never dreamed of being a musician, or that I’d write and perform songs and put them on a CD for other people to hear. And yet, here I am, doing exactly that. It’s still hard for me to believe.

My dad bought me my first guitar when I was a junior in high school. It turned out to be his last Christmas gift to me. He never got to witness my playing ability progress, or hear any of my songs, or see me break out of my apprehensiveness about singing.

I still listen to Jim Reeves and Nat King Cole, and Marty Robbins and the Platters, and Chopin and Tchaikovsky, and Verdi and Bizet…

I still have that old Panasonic tape recorder. And it still works.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Posted at 1:33 am | Filed under Favorite posts, Musings & everything else |  

Seedlings

Last month on Ask MetaFilter, jeremias asked:

Life-altering experiences. Can you point to a single experience in your life, as a child, which you can define as having contributed to the person you are today?

The result: one of the most engaging and interesting pages I’ve read on the Web. It’s quite a long thread, so don’t expect to digest it all at once…but it’s worth the read.

I don’t normally read Ask MeFi — I usually just skim through the MetaFilter XML feed. I happened to visit MeFi’s front page a few weeks ago; it had a link to the thread above (it still does). I happened to click on it, and I’m glad I did.

Posted at 12:43 am | Filed under Musings & everything else |  

Saturday, 5 March 2005

Migration to WordPress 1.5 complete

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally done. It took me long enough, but I have switched this, my main blog, to WP 1.5. The installations of WP have been fairly simpler than my experiences with Movable Type. I had no problems upgrading from 1.2.x to 1.5, or installing a fresh 1.5. The time consuming aspect is having to re-learn a completely new system. The tags are different, the protocol is different (I didn’t know anything about PHP), and the templates are different. I’ve played with earlier versions of WP before, but Strayhorn has many more features. It took me a very long time to figure out how not to break the PHP (which I did a few times while I modified the templates), but I’m still not sure how to do certain things.

Wrestling with the templates and getting everything to look right on the pages with CSS and the WP tags took me a few days. I couldn’t have done it without the scattered help out there — thankfully, there’s a ton of more documentation (official and otherwise) now, compared to when I first installed WP about a year ago (a very empty Wiki). As time progresses, I hope to post more about this latest migration experience, and to specifically mention the blogs and other sites that helped me along the way.

Some things post-migration:

The site still has some display quirks that I need to iron out if I want to make the blog more user-friendly. Some of that involves the PHP end of things (figuring out how to modify some navigation, for one thing), so it depends on how long it takes me to learn. The most obvious thing you may notice will be the weird line breaks on some of the archived posts. MT had an auto line break toggle, but WP does not. So the posts that did not use the auto line break feature in MT — well, now they have breaks in strange places. I remember reading about this a while back. I hope I can find some way to fix those posts without having to go through each one manually…then again, that may be my only option. It shouldn’t take that long. We’ll see.

The URI for the XML feed has changed, so if you subscribe to musings that way, please update ( http://www.musicandmeaning.com/site/musings/feed/ ). I’ve set up redirects for the old link. For now, the new feed is enhanced through FeedBurner, and apparently will be compatible for all readers.

That’s about it. Comments should work, although I’ve shut off trackbacks for now. Let me know if something doesn’t work.

So my brief review so far: WP 1.5 is pretty nice — there are some very cool features, e.g. non-date-based pages and the new templates. It just took me a while to figure everything out. I’m sure I’ll have a better idea of the WP vs. MT aspects after I’ve spent some more time posting and managing.

Posted at 9:54 am | Filed under WordPress |