Sunday, August 31, 2008

What a Show

If anyone has been following my progress in leaving my current employer, the penultimate chapter has been posted over at my other blog The Mister.

This Saturday night marked a milepost. Years ago a group of high school kids formed a production company and really got the local youth music scene going. Eventually the company petered out and one of the members opened Main Street Coffee (Come Get Some). To keep things going he had been hosting shows there and the place became the center of indie music in the immediate area. To give you an idea of what a flourishing scene it was, a lot of people you might have actually heard of played there, not just the local kids. Moneen, June, The Myriad, Gym Class Heroes... yeah buddy, we rocked that place so hard we almost tipped it right over a few times.

Well, the guy is closing down his current location to move into one that will hopefully sell more coffee for him, but will not allow him to continue to do shows. I doubt he'll be able to put down promoting completely, but it's going to be a hassle now without a ready venue. So to end things off with a bang he booked up the month of August with a few last shows. Last night's was the very last one and man was it ever a beautiful thing. Not the crown jewel, but a mighty fine effort to cap off eight years of shows.

Six bands were booked, including two reunions. For one of them, their entire career has been encompassed by the efforts of our beloved promoter. It was almost like a family reunion, or a funeral. It was an event so loaded with emotion for a lot of us that he hired a film crew to make a DVD, I'm cutting the audio for it as we speak.

Now I've written a few times about all the lousy gigs I do in order to occasionally mix one that really makes me know why I got in to this in the first place. Last night I got to see band after band turn in killer performances. Some of these guys I've been mixing since they were fourteen years old. Now, many, many gigs, albums and tours later, the seasoned pros returned to the nest.

One performer who has recently moved to New York City to pursue his career came back and had one rehearsal with a couple of the local heavy hitters so he could play with a full band. It was flawless, just flawless. Another act that consists of The Viking on drums, a front man singing and playing guitar, and a CD player that is not just a device playing the exquisitely produced backing tracks but actually a full fledged member of the band, rarely plays out and left the crowd aching for more.

The crowning glory of the night came at the end. My good friends' band, that loves Jesus and POUNDS when they get on stage turned in a performance for the ages. I was standing outside with our beloved promoter, reminiscing about old times when they tore into the intro for my favorite song of theirs, I'll Be The Rock. We looked at each other, dropped our drinks and sprinted back into the room. I haven't been in a mosh pit in almost ten years, but I showed some young whipper snappers how it's done. (!) At the start of the second chorus we were all leaning on each other, breathless from the effort, and still found air enough to scream the first line with them, "BLOOD RED ROSE-AAAAAAAAAAAAS!" I get a little shiver just thinking about it.

After the gig let out, I was striking my gear with an abnormally large crew. Even the old techs that used to help me out had turned up to coil a few cables for old times sake. We talked over the events of the evening. Our excitement about watching the DVD. How many people we had seen crying throughout the night. How great it would have been if Down To Earth Approach had actually taken the stage for an impromptu reunion. (They're not on the best of terms with each other and it was only by a miracle that they were all in town at the same time. Bloody shame that none of them remember how to play the material. For a frame of reference, they were some local boys that got picked up by a national label and actually had a go at making it in the industry for real, local heroes.)

So, now it will all take place somewhere else. The bands will still play, I'll still mix, the fans will hopefully find their way in front of different stages, life will go on. But a comfortable home base is gone, and a chapter has closed. Oh, but it was sweet while it lasted. What a ride.

Thanks Rob. We love you.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Next Killer App From Apple

I was standing in my back yard last night with some friends. We were having a beer and looking at the cabbages in my garden. The question on the table was, "Is there a machine that can pick cabbages?" If there is, it must be pretty expensive, cause we only ever see migrant workers picking cabbages. We decided to invent a cheaper cabbage harvester. That way our evening wouldn't be wasted if we had something to show for our back yard idleness. Tossin' back a few wouldn't be a total waste of time if we could provide the world with a cost effective method for harvesting cabbages.

The best we could do was a machine that would scoop them up and pass them off to people who would then take off those pesky loose leaves, leaving the pure, clean cabbages ready to go to market. It was basically an over sized corn picker with chairs on it for migrant workers. OK, OK, so we didn't come up with an engineering marvel, but at least those poor guys could have a seat and get a little shade over em. (What did you expect... it was pretty late to come up with a true marvel of engineering.)

So we gave up on that and turned instead to the infinitessimal. The media have been crowing about nanotechnology for years and so far the best we've heard of is some advances in high tech materials that lead to incremental improvements in stuff that we already have. So, yay... microfiber golf shirts benefit, and electrochemical double layer capacitors are hard at work in the regenerative braking systems of Prius-es everywhere.

Where are the freaking nano-bots already?!

It's been a pretty long time since Rick Moranis starred in a little screen jem called Inner Space, with another dude cruising his innards in a microscopic submarine. Popular mechanics has been printing articles about tiny robots that will be able to wander the convoluted byways of our bloodstreams and help out our immune systems and stuff.

So where the hell are they already?

We went into the shop to see about taking matters into our own hands. After a significant ammount of time spent on some solid theory and engineering problems, we decided that we just weren't going to be able to get it done with the tools on hand. So, we packaged up our extensive research and e-mailed it to Steve Jobs.

Popular Mechanics was touting pocket computers with crazy interconnectivity decades ago. So now that the iPhone is out, that's pretty well sewed up. We figured with all the luck Apple has been having revolutionizing personal technology, they were the perfect folks to get nano-robots on the market, and not just to fancy pants technology companies either. They need to be on sale at Target and soon.

So, with our ideas resting snug in an in-box somewhere at Apple headquarters, I feel confident in saying that it won't be long now before you'll be seeing uber-hip ads on TV for iBots - the new injectable prouct from Apple. And you know Steve Jobs is going to totally beat the pants off of anybody else working on a similar product. iBots are going to make other nano-robots look like cassette walkmen sitting next to an iPod Touch (if there even are any... I'm so fed up with scientists right now!) You can bet iBots will not only totally kick the sub-microscopic asses of any other little bots on the scene, have half a dozen features that you never even knew you needed (I mean needed) and on top of it all be sexy, cause you know Steve Jobs makes some sexy products. I don't know how you make machines that are smaller than a chromasome look sexy, but I have full confidence that the iBots will be the absolute envy of the industry, completely untouchable on the cool factor.

It may be a little premature to be posting this to the web. Of course Apple will have to first deny that they're even working on nano-bots. I'll probably get sued over it, but it's going to be totally worth it when I come home with that sexy little white box. I'll fill the little syringe with millions of sexy little sub-atomic robots and poke up like a junkie. Then I'll sit back and relax while those little guys star bustin a groove and working their magic on my innards. Stuff like:
  • Scouring my arteries to help prevent heart disease.
  • Repairing my liver from any damage during my college days
  • Aiding my memory with gigabytes of their own
  • Giving me x-ray vision
  • Allowing me to listen to Motorhead through my central nervous system
Yeah... it's gonna be pretty sweet.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Two Beers

An old drinking buddy just sent me a fwd, which is something I ordinarily hate, but he doesn't do it very frequently and only sends the good stuff. This one's motivational, which I also ordinarily hate, but hear it out.

Some students walked into philosophy class one day to see that the professor had an empty jar on the podium. When they were all seated he opened a box of golf balls and emptied it into the jar, filling it to the brim. He then asked the students if the jar was full to which the answer was, "yes".

He then opened another box and poured small pebles in the jar, shaking it until all the spaces between the golf balls were filled. He asked again if it was full and the reply was a quizzical, "yes?" Next, out came a box of sand which he sifted in until the all the remaining voids were full. "Is this thing full yet?" he asked. It was, the class was positive.

The prof went on to relate that the golf balls represented all the important things in your life. Family, religion, work, home, etcetera, if you were left with only the golf balls your life would still be full. The pebbles stood for all the smaller things that take up our time, meals, cleaning, bills, yard work, and so on. The sand is all the pesky annoying stuff that serves to pack in our schedules.

The students all sat back with a grin or two at the cheesy life lesson that the prof had illustrated when he reached under the podium again and pulled out two cans of beer and proceeded to pour them into the jar. When the last drop had filtered its way down into the remaining air space, the prof looked up and delivered the final moral of the story:

No matter how packed your life gets... there's always room for a couple beers!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Give Up

I'm done with putting a brave face on things. I feel like seventeen different flavors of shit, from morning till night. I'm exhausted, everything hurts, I have no concentration, everything pisses me off. I'm sick to death of having nothing left for my family. And at home I'm sick of getting punched in the eye by the baby, shrieked at by the middle one, and either sulked at or made to play characters in a never ending play drama by the big one. I'm tired of the house looking like trailer trash live here, and being too worn out to do anything about it. I'm sick of sitting around numb late at night waiting for a small burst of energy to be able to talk to my wife.

OK God... I need another job. Immediately. I want to give two weeks notice at the end of the week and be done with construction by the middle of September. I want superhuman strength and concentration, un-swerve-able will to clean my house and be nice to my family. I want time to have conversations with my friends and play with my radios. I want to be able to pay my bills and my debts, all of them. And I need you to either make it happen this week or I'm not going to be able to control myself anymore. I'm about to develop a serious drinking problem, I'm about to start punching holes in the walls.



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hanging On

I'm getting ready to quit my job. I've actually been ready for almost a month, but prudence dictates that I have something else lined up before I live out that famous Johnny Paycheck song. At the end of July the last guy that was on the job when I started quit. That got me to thinking. I've only been at the company for six months, and not only am I not working with any of the people I started with, I'm not working with any of the guys that replaced them either.

To add to the problem, I told the boss one morning that I as thinking about leaving, not cut out for it, tired all the time, in pain all the time. So he made me a crew chief. It was enough stress just pulling my own weight and making sure the guy on either side of me didn't fuck up, now he wants me to lead some or all of the crew though things that I've done only once or never.

Anyway, the cool thing that happened in the midst of all the delerium was one of the songs in the show I'm mixing this week. There I sat, dog tired, in the back of the aud watching Jesus Christ Superstar for the second time in my life and trying to keep all the characters straight when Mary Magdalene's number "All Right" comes up. She tries to soothe J.C. after a rough day and it has lots of lovely sentiment in it to the effect of - forget everything and get a good night's sleep. I nearly cried the first time I paid attention to the lyrics. To my mind one of the best lines in the show is hers, "Let the world turn without you tonight."

So there I sat, sniffeling, wishing somebody would take me aside and soothe me and sing to me. Then God seemed to point out to me that he might possibly have had something to do with the choice of show and my sudden availability to work on it (My other yearly second-weekend-in-August gig finally gave me the boot. I've been trying to get fired from that miserable affair for years, but that's another post.) Anyway, God seemed to be saying that someone was singing that song for me. Not that the actress was dedicating the number to me or anything, but that in the middle of the chaos there was one scene that was easy to mix and I could just sit there and enjoy my work and be comforted by that song.

That's all I got. I'm surprised that there was even that much of a coherent thought in the parboiled mush between my ears. I'm going to go get into the bourbon and go to sleep.

Monday, August 04, 2008

How I Mixed A Show Via Txt Message

This is an exchange via txt message that took place while a band I mix for was in the (not) tender loving care of another sound guy, apparently a college sophomore by the sound of the bloke. The other person in the exchange is Amanda, the band's slave intern.

4:23 Amanda: Dearest jon dayton – know that you are beloved by the Relevant crew.

4:24 Myself: I just heard from them. Wish I could help.

7:39 A: you know… I think I could do a better mixing job than this guy. The vocals are pretty much muffled and they’re blaming Anth’s mic for the fact that he wasn’t in the house at all. (The singer brings his own Beta-57 to sing on. Ed.)

7:41 M: Go stick your elbow in the schmuck, take all the bottom out the male vocals and turn down the guitars.

7:42 A: Lol. I wish I could. I’ll do it in my head though.

7:43 M: No seriously, if nobody else has the bricks for it, you have to.

7:52 A: But other people actually know what they are doing, I do not. I need to read a live sound book.

7:53 M: Just tell the guy to roll off a LOT of lows from the boys and turn down the strings. Your sound guy said so.

7:55 A: He’s already been told to. He decided that turning up the highs was a better idea. It’s already a tough room to mix and this is just making it worse.

7:55 M: Get me this guy’s phone number.

8:04 A: He fixed it.
I can only imagine the thoughts going through this guy's head as the cute band chick comes over to ask for his phone number, only to find out that an angry sound guy wants to have words with him. Ha! Life is good!