The Bass Geek - Words about Music, Circuitry, and New Orleans
The Bass Geek

My Work Computer Is Feeling Violated

A friend of mind brought back the most wonderful gadget back from Japan for me. Needless to say, it came to work with me for demonstration to my co-workers. It went over well, although I have to admit that my desktop seems to be a little ashamed, maybe even a little humiliated. I've decided against using it on my laptop - I do have to live with it, you know.

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It’s Finally Here. Our Long National Nightmare Is Over.

The space between Fountain Square and work, otherwise known as downtown Indianapolis, is pretty much closed for business today. Later this afternoon, fans will brave rain, packed crowd, and the sounds of Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill and Hinder to celebrate the official opening of football season. The preseason is over, the cuts have been made, and all is ready to begin. That's a good thing. A spectacular thing, in fact.

Not that I'll actually participate in today's happening. It's for the Colts fans, and I'm not one. Instead, I'll retreat to my home and await Sunday, when the Steelers face the Browns. It'll be a good game - I expect a solid effort from both teams. That mantra got me through both the Super Bowl and last season, so it's a comfortable and reassuring friend.

My Jerome Bettis jersey, long the target of comments due to both the team from which it originates and the somewhat old and worn status it has achieved in its lifetime, is being retired in favor of a new custom jersey, due to arrive soon. It probably won't make it in time for this weekend, but soon folks will wonder who the hell "Sweaty B" is and why they never saw him on the offensive line, as the number 63 might indicate.

Due to some incomprehensible NFL merchandising rule, you can't buy custom jerseys for retired players. So I chose the name as mine but used the number 63 for Dermontti Dawson, probably the best center of his time. Mobile, agile, and crushing. It was awe-inspiring to see him clear opposing teams out for whatever running back trailed in his wake. He also spent his entire career with the Steelers, a rare feat in today's world of free agency and Rooney stinginess. Were I given more time, I could try and write a nice little monograph on how bassists and centers share the same tendencies (doing all the work in the trenches, getting no recognition, supporting the team while others grab the glory), but I'm on lunch, and I'm tired of sports analogies. I can't run for daylight, and most athletes can't manage a walking bass line to save their lives (special recognition given here to Wayman Tisdale, who could dunk on my ass AND play rings around me. He is a smooth exception).

Put him in the Hall Of Fame, already

Anyway, enough geekery. Let the games begin. I've gotta dig out my Terrible Towels now.

I'd also like to point out that, despite my geekery, I'm not this crazy. Wow.

That's a lot of ink.


Bass Porn For Today

The 12-string bass:


No, not that one. That's just silly. You'd probably find yourself playing a Malmsteen solo at some point, and that's not right. I'll bet that guy's thinking "SHRED!" right now. Maybe "Now I'll finally be able to finish my 13-part song cycle on the Dragonriders of Pern!"?

Man, I bet that would be a cool 13-part song cycle, though.

THAT'S the one.

Between King's X and Cheap Trick, I think I've lusted after this for a long time. While other basses lay down the bottom end in fashion from subtle to grooving, I'm fairly sure this instrument cuts broad swaths of destruction across the soon-to-be-barren earth. Plus, you get to sound like a bass and rhythm guitar without having to put up with an additional guitarist. Always a bonus.


How many iPods can there be?

Just because the iPod started with the Model T version doesn't preclude the evolution of the species, I suppose. There are a hell of a lot of options now, though. We now have the Shuffle, the Nano (with video), the iPod Classic (with massive hard drive), the iPod Touch (with spiffy interface), and the iPhone (we've heard about the last one enough). I admit, I clicked a few times on websites for updates on the keynote speech, so I'll cop to at least latent fanboy tendencies. There are some good points and weak spots in today's announcement.

Good Points

  • Huge HD on "classic" iPod
  • At least one touch-screen option without the phone
  • Price breaks on the huge iPod
  • Video on Nano (although how much video are you going to want to fit on a small device like that?

Weak Spots

  • Only 16 GB on the iPod Touch?
  • A hybrid-drive iPod would have been nice
  • Can the Wi-Fi devices network together like the *shudder* Zune?

I do like the Wi-Fi store, though, and I think that could be very important very soon. They just removed the computer from the equation and made it easy for just about anybody to get in on legal downloading. And that's key - legal downloading just became a lot cheaper. It'd be nice to have a computer to back it up to, but that's the techie in me.

Also, a quick note - if TNT starts showing episodes of "Law And Order" at 6pm, runs it for a few hours, but only calls the shows from 8pm the "Law And Order Mini-Marathon," what does that make the two episodes between 6 and 8pm? A mini-marathon preview? An exhibition match? Also, I'm quite surprised they JUST NOW got around to playing the dogfighting episode. They need to rip stuff from the headlines a little more quickly.

EDIT: I forgot about the Starbucks deal.


I don't go to Starbucks 'cause I think the coffee tastes not-so-good, so this feature really means nothing to me as a consumer. It does extend the culture-branding power of Starbucks, which will result in a huge rise in Putamayo and Paul McCartney sales. The tech is interesting (it allows people to see what's playing in the shop, as well as the pat 10 tracks), and when it's eventually implemented, it'll be interesting to watch. Link it to and the funk shows from KCRW, though, and I'm sold.


See A Little Light

I'm not entirely sure why hanging an old chandelier appeals to me more than a simple trimming of the lawn. It's probably because the project stays done once it's completed and doesn't creep back maliciously, spoiling for a rematch. It might also be that I've never been shocked or zapped or otherwise injured by electrical wiring, while errant poison ivy and lawn contraptions have sent me seeking medical attention on at least one occasion. Nevertheless, it took little time and surprisingly little wiring to get the monster up and running this Labor Day. As long as it doesn't come crashing down amidst chunks of plaster, I'll call it an unqualified success.

More murals are popping up on the alley's walls. We're close to becoming an Electric Company skit soon, and I mean that in a good way.

Most of my author review for the podcasting book is completed, and there's only a couple more items to attend to. It's like moving, where you've already got the big boxes loaded out to the truck, and now you have to go grab the coffee maker and bathroom trinkets and hustle them out as well. They're minor details, but there are always more, like small breeding rabbits of text.

The "Composing Digital Music For Dummies" author made me unreasonably happy for mentioning the Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee in the book, and the world is a better place for it.


Downloading Music (and other things) From Just About Everywhere

I'm starting to think that the fate of the CD and the controversy over HD-DVD and Blu-ray just don't matter anymore. The fate of shiny plastic discs pales in comparison to what's available via a network, but it goes further than that. When you take the discs out of the equation, that changes the hardware needs as well. Does it matter that Apple doesn't have a format preference yet, or that Microsoft has committed to HD-DVD while Sony is pushing Blu-ray? As long as the files come down a pipe and not through a disc, the whole thing becomes moot. In this way, the format wars play out differently than Beta vs. VHS. I can't imagine this is a new or groundbreaking sentiment, really. Landmark Theaters are already pushing out movies on hard drives, most digital cable services have movies-on-demand, and iTunes (and probably soon Amazon) are selling via the 'Net. But it does make it easier to skip ahead over the physical model, and therefore a content distrbution network, entirely.

Some Dell laptops I deal with on a regular basis don't have built-in optical media drives. They sport connectable drives if you want to use them, but it's perfectly capable of functioning without one (once the system is loaded, that is, assuming you don't use a USB or Firewire drive to load the system). The signs, paired with downloading services, point the obvious direction. So what tips it over to abandoning physical media?

The iPod succeeded in fetishzing the device instead of the music. The common listener didn't want the disc anymore, they wanted the device, and the listening came along with it. Since there usually aren't liner notes that go along with a DVD, that need is eliminated, too. I'd think a download that included the same features that a DVD now includes (extra scenes, features, etc.) would do well. Since video games are now often based on movies (and the cut scenes in non-movie video games are pretty much movies unto themselves), maybe pairing the movie and the video game (with extra scenes unlocked through gameplay or something) would be a good sell. The Matrix may have pointed the way there - designers will just have to make sure the final product doesn't suck.

And the ay has already been pointed with music as well. Like downloadable multitrack sessions from Trent Reznor, why not write games or small movies around the music? It's not terribly rock and roll, I suppose (unless you're Marillion and writing hobbit rock songs paired with a trip through Middle Earth or something), but these kind of projects carry new content and avoid the disc entirely.

And if you just want to listen to music? Download the music. That part's already been done, although rumor has it Apple wants to take it from the home PC to the kiosk. Disclaimer, though: I've never heard of this site, and that principle seems to violate the premise of comfort and ease Apple enjoys. I'd bet more on touchscreen iPods on OS X for this next announcement.

Nothing groundbreaking, here. Maybe just another brick in the new structure.


Bass Porn For Today

In between lust for The Stick, I was thinking about a six-string fretless. My current fretless is servicable, and I don't play it that much anyway, but I just got this "mwah" sound in my head I can't shake right now.

Spector Fretless Six-String

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I’m going to have to start begging people . . .

. . . to start shows at the publicized time, man. Showing up at 7 for a show that doesn't start for another hour-and-forty-five-minutes makes me feel both impatient and like a grumpy old man, yelling at kids to get on with it, already. I've waited two hours for Prince before, but that was Prince, and he's the only one.

That said, there was a pretty good lineup at the Irving Theater this very night, if a little mismatched. Scourge of the Sea started with a folky, almost Crooked-Finger-esque sound. Svetlana achieved some moments of real beauty, and Hey Hey Melodica had some noteworthy songs (even if the dual glockenspiels and the slide whistle were a little precious). I wish I could have stayed for more of Johnny23, with their impressive live soundtrack to striking onstage video and film projection, but I just gave out. Even with the chemical assistance from both Cognizant Coffee Company and Lazy Daze, I just couldn't make it.

The sound of the Irving Theater is markedly improved, and I'm curious to see what the new renovations will bring to this venue. Maybe it was their couches lulling me to sleep. I dunno.


Friday Night in Fountain Square

Tonight we tried salsa dancing at Radio Radio with Orqestra Bravo. The music was stellar - my dancing less so. There were two decidedly different groups: the amatuers who needed the free lesson provided before the band started, and the experts who were just waiting for us to clear and and leave the dance floor to them. Jennifer and I danced for a bit before her injuries took a toll, I think. She vowed to wear closed-toe shoes next time, and I was reminded why I should probably stay on the bandstand.

The music also prompted me to go back and dig out some Mandrill (and the Don Byron record featuring his Mandrill covers). Not salsa by any stretch, but the influence seemed right. i want to try playing some of that, too. The bassist was great at moving between a standard two-beat and the more Latin feel.

Also, we were treated to another drunken yelling match from the neighbor previously mentioned. He was picking on someone different this time, though. Nice to see he's sharing with all.


Online Magazines

Within the past day or so, two of my favorite magazines (Bass Player and Electronic Musician) have hit my inbox with previews of upcoming issues (and the offer to subscribe to online versions), and a third resource made itself available to me (Bass Musician Magazine) via a free e-mail edition. I have to admit, I'm a little psyched about the last one, as I pulled up the latter's website and was immediately confronted with an 11-string bassist using MIDI. That's darn close to heaven for me. I'm still keeping the print editions (mostly in binders in the office, gathered by year for easy reference), but I'm glad to see some additions to the standard paper fare. I'd even sign up for Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey's site if the $100/year cost wasn't prohibitive. That's two sets of strings, right there.