Tag: home recording

Fire and Fury, blah blah blah

I’m not so sure I’m gonna bother finishing “Fire and Fury”.  It’s not telling me anything that I didn’t already know; it’s just further confirming that the White House is stacked with dangerously incompetent fools, none of whom actually expected to be there in the first place.  It’s also a pretty trashy read, and Wolff’s writing is pretty terrible.  This is an actual sentence/paragraph from Chapter 5, entitled “Jarvanka”:

“On Friday, February 3, at breakfast at the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown, an epicenter of the swamp, Ivanka Trump, flustered, came down the stairs and entered the dining room, talking loudly on her cell phone…”

There has to be a less ridiculous way of writing that sentence, right?  And he does this ALL OVER THE GODDAMNED PLACE.  There are also a bunch of little typos and errors that may or may not be due to the conversion from page to e-book – who knows how these things work – and that may very well be because the publisher decided to rush this thing out the door.

In any event; it’s not breaking news that our President is a fucking lunatic.  It’s just disconcerting that we now have 400 pages full of receipts.  That being said, I’d like to think that this is what makes him finally collapse.  The Russia story is far more important, but among Trump supporters nobody cares, and until Mueller comes out with what he’s got, it’s all breathless speculation (regardless of how many hundred-threaded tweets Seth Abramson churns out).  On the other hand, Trump being a lying sack of shit who loathes everything about this job and who will backtrack on all of his promises to his supporters?  That might actually carry some weight.


My wife and I have made a concerted effort to be more creative this year; or, rather, to allow ourselves some creative time during the daylight hours on Sunday.  She works from 10-12 in her office; I work from 2-4 in the recording studio.  I took my opportunity to blow the dust off of my MacBook and make sure that my stuff still works… and, um, it doesn’t.  To be fair, my MacBook is nearly 8 years old at this point; it’s amazing the thing still turns on.  But it’s not recognizing my input device, which means I can’t use MIDI, which is a big deal.

Last night we had dinner with my old bass player and his family, and I told him about my issues, and he told me that my MBox 3 is probably no longer supported – which means I can get a new input device for less than $300 and maybe that’ll solve the problem.  But I’m sure that I’m gonna need to drop a couple thousand on a new computer sooner rather than later, which is disconcerting.  I have no problem spending money, as you know, even when I don’t have any money to spend, but… this is a big deal.


To follow up on last week’s post, and as we are in the winter release lull, I’ve been going back through my Xbox One X library and replaying some older titles on my new fancy TV.  I am sad to say that not every title gets the “enhanced” goods, or even benefits from all the new horsepower.

Now, as noted in previous posts, I feel obligated to reiterate that there are a few of these “enhanced for Xbox One X” games that really do look astounding.  Wolfenstein 2Assassin’s Creed Origins and Rise of the Tomb Raider are among the best-looking games I’ve ever played on a Microsoft console, and given that I played them on both new and old hardware the differences are stark and profound.

But there’s other stuff in my library that I haven’t fully put through its paces.  I gave a quick look to both Titanfall 2 and Destiny 2 last night, and they both look quite good as well.  Perhaps not good enough that I’m going to play them again for any significant amount of time, but still.

I’ve also been running a race or two every night in Forza 7, and that game definitely looks great (though, curiously, not as good as Forza Horizon 3 did – the trees and foliage are quite obviously 2D sprites and it can be jarring if you look too closely at them).  That being said, I haven’t spent serious time with the mainline Forza games since maybe 3 or 4, so if nothing else it’s very interesting and revealing to revisit some of the tracks in 7 that I’d already run hundreds of times in those earlier games, but now in glorious 4K HDR; I get deja vu quite a lot.

But anyway, the point of this whole section here is that while some games do look quite stunning on the new hardware, not every game on the Xbox One X looks and performs better than it did on the vanilla X1.

Case in point:  my son has been really into Lego Batman 3 of late, and this in turn reminds me that I very much love the Arkham games.  So I’m sad to report that Batman Arkham Knight, otherwise known as the one with the endless Batmobile sections, looks like shit.  Now, to be fair, Arkham Knight is not an “enhanced for Xbox One X” title, but I was still hoping to see some sort of performance improvement.  Alas, it looks pretty goddamned terrible.  It’s got a stable frame rate, I suppose, but it’s jaggy as all hell – and maybe it’s my TV, but it arguably looks even worse than it did on the original Xbox One.

Another case in point: Recore, which actually is an “enhanced for Xbox One X” game.  I’d given it a cursory 10 minutes when I’d originally downloaded it last summer, and then promptly forgot about it.  I took it for a more sincere spin this weekend, and… well… it’s not necessarily a bad game, but it does feel very archaic in its design – it feels a lot like “Baby’s Very First Open-World Action RPG” in terms of, well, everything – and the graphical improvements aren’t all that noticeable.  I certainly wouldn’t point to it as a technological show-stopper.  But, of course, it’s not necessarily meant to be; it is what it is.  I could see myself spending some more time with it over the new few weeks; it’s pleasant and diverting enough, for the time being.

But also:  Resident Evil 7, another enhanced game, looks like absolute shit.  I’d rented it on PS4 last year and played the first few hours, and even on a vanilla PS4 on a regular TV it looked far better than this enhanced for Xbox One X version on a 4K HDR TV.

Basically:  if the patch to upgrade your “enhanced” game is under 1GB, it’s not gonna be all that noticeable.


I already have a gigantic book backlog, but given that it’s a new year, it’s time for The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2018, and GODDAMN there’s a lot of stuff there that I need to read, like, immediately.  Off the top of my head, I need:

  • “Lost Empress”, by Sergio de la Pava;
  • “Grist Mill Road”, by Christopher J. Yates;
  • “The Afterlives”, by Thomas Pierce;
  • “The Immortalists”, by Chloe Benjamin;
  • “The Infinite Future”, by Tim Wirkus; and
  • “The Sky is Yours”, by Chandler Klang Smith.

And I should also point out that Nick Harkaway’s “Gnomon” is coming out this week, I think, which is a book I pre-ordered as soon as it was announced.  So what I’m saying is:  I’ve got stuff to do.

Weekend Recap: The Muse is Dead, Long Live the Muse

I was away all weekend, so there’s not necessarily much to talk about.  Although there kind of is, actually.

Let’s do the three things, though, because one of them is related to the above paragraph’s cryptic nature.

GAMES:  Nothin’.  I am kinda sorta really wanting to play Sunless Sea, even though I’m not really sure what it is or if I’d actually play it more than once.  I’m tempted to wait to pick it up after I finish recording, as a kind of reward; or perhaps pick it up in a Steam Sale, since the last few sales have been pretty barren as far as stuff being on sale that I don’t already own.

On the other hand, I’ve been thinking about Evolve, and a few things became apparent rather quickly: as much as I really liked the Left 4 Dead games, you really need a reliable group of friends to truly enjoy what they have to offer; my PS4 friends list is pretty small, and I’m honestly not sure if my XB1 friends remember who I am.  In any event, I wasn’t going to be online all that much over the next few weeks anyway (because of this music project), so by the time I made myself available, it’s entirely possible that the Evolve scene will have moved on to something else.  So I’m taking that one off the table, and instead it’s the first entry in my “Notable Omissions” column in my “2015 Games Played” spreadsheet.

BOOKS:  Finished Patton Oswalt’s “Silver Screen Fiend“, which I liked very much even if it wasn’t nearly as dark as it kept implying it would be, and which also has an absurdly long appendix listing every movie he watched in a 4-year span, and which I did not actually read all the way through.  Immediately started Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please“, because reading memoirs by my favorite comedians is a very pleasant way to spend my time.

MUSIC:  So I spent Sunday afternoon going over last week’s demos and loops, and sent them out to a very small group of interested listeners.  I like working this way, I think; I’m definitely not falling into my usual “obsess over one demo and then stop working on anything else” routine.  Unfortunately, I’m also not sure if I still like any of the stuff I recorded, either.  But these Sunday audio dumps aren’t meant to fix problems; they’re only meant for collating and sending out.  Tonight I work on new stuff, rather than obsess and ruminate over last week’s stuff.  (I know I just said that I wasn’t sure if I liked anything I sent out; that’s not 100% true.  There is one idea in particular that I want to develop some lyrics for, actually, and if anything from last week ends up making the final cut, it’ll probably be this one.)

In related news:  I just got rather violently snapped out of that melancholy funk I’ve been wandering around in for the last 4 months.  On the one hand, this is great, because that mood was rather weighty and exasperating to deal with.  On the other hand, the prolonged nature of this mood was a motivating factor in putting together this recording project’s subject matter.  I don’t necessarily believe that you have to be miserable in order to capital-C Create… but… it’s also hard to tap into an emotion that you’re no longer feeling.  In the end, though, fuck it:  I’d rather be happy.  And I am happy.  Happiness is a muse, too.

More on the creative process, and etc.

As in my last post, three topics to discuss.

MUSIC.  It occurs to me that, as I glance down the calendar, I’m going to be losing quite a lot of recording time over the next few weeks due to being out of town on the weekends (which often involves travelling on Friday nights, too).  I’m still sticking to my plan, though; at least one loop a night, with no mixing or tweaking or editing or even listening, until Sunday evening.  On Monday night I put down 2 loops; last night I only managed 1, but I think it’s a strong one – or, at least, it probably has some potential if I sit down with it and work with it, though I won’t be doing that until Sunday.

It’s interesting to be working in this way, to just make something and then leave it alone and deliberately ignore it for a specific amount of time; it’s not how I normally work, but then again, I haven’t been this prolific in years.  (And it’s only been 2 days!)  I’m not worrying about if the loops are good or not; my only concern is that they exist.  The thing about loops is that they can be changed and extended and manipulated very easily, whereas whenever I’ve written down chord changes and verse/chorus structures and melodies and such, I have a much harder time deviating away from that script.  (Which becomes especially frustrating when I realize that I can’t accurately recreate on tape what I hear in my head, given my recording and budgeting constraints.)

As I said – I won’t be listening to any of this stuff until Sunday.  Curiously, I haven’t been listening to any other music, either, except at quiet moments at work, and those aren’t really the best conditions to really listen to anything.  I’m curious to find out what happens to my brain after Sunday’s mixdown session, though; will I start obsessively listening to these loops, and thus risk getting creatively stuck again?  Will I start listening to other music?  Will new tunes suddenly pop into my head?  I’ve been very much an empty page this week, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also created a little bit of a sense of disconnection between me and the stuff I’m recording.

It is what it is.  This is an experiment; it’s too soon to tell if it’s working or not.  I’m happy to be working on a regular basis, though, which is perhaps the best part.

BY THE WAY:  I’d mentioned in the last post that I’d had a friendly set of ears that was going to be helping me out with those Sunday mixdown sessions, and some other friends had piped up and said they wanted to lend their ears as well.  I’m inclined to let them, and you, too, if you want, though I’m probably not going to be handing these out to everyone.  Anyway, if you’re interested, let me know.

BOOKS.  Any concerns I’d had about the first two books in the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy have quickly been assuaged by book three.  There is, finally, action.  Plot!  Things moving in time!  Yes, there are still very long digressions and observational wormholes, but suddenly all these images from the first two books (described in occasionally excruciatingly tedious detail) are becoming relevant and clear and meaningful, and meanwhile the current story has a sense of momentum behind it that had been utterly lacking in the previous volumes.

I’m still highlighting passages by the dozens, though; sometimes these endless digressions contain deeply resonant feelings and ideas, and the translation is quite excellent as far as maintaining the author’s poetic prose.  There’s also this hilarious bit in Book Three, though, that is deeply ironic with regards to the narrator’s endless digressions – here he’s complaining about his boss, who also tends to ramble in tangents:

I wasn’t going to allow him to continue wandering and digressing, not on a night prolonged at his insistence; nor was I prepared to allow him to drift from an important matter to a secondary one and from there to a parenthesis, and from a parenthesis to some interpolated fact, and, as occasionally happened, never to return from his endless bifurcations, for when he started doing that, there almost always came a point when his detours ran out of road and there was only brush or sand or marsh ahead.

GAMES.  As noted before, my game playing is taking a backseat to everything else for the next few weeks.  I did one campaign mission in Far Cry 4 last night and upon its conclusion I was told that I should probably take care of any unfinished business before going to the next mission, which implies to me that I should probably finish those last 3 outposts, do that one last Fashion Week hunt, and maybe do the last 2 Shangri-La missions before finishing outright.

A New Tune, and The Same Old Story

MUSIC:  Not other people’s, but my own!  Yes, I’ve finally gotten my recording studio set up again – I disassembled everything when my kid was born in order to make extra room (and also to make sure he couldn’t knock anything over), but that’s just a convenient excuse for me saying “I’m too exhausted to be creative right now.”  I’ve been wanting to get back to work for a long time, and the other day I decided that I’d procrastinated for too long.

Now, I’m not necessarily going to be posting everything that I end up making – I gotta save some stuff for the album I want to make, after all – but I am going to post bits and bobs every once in a while.

This particular loop is basically the first thing I’ve recorded in… almost 2 years, I think.  This is mostly a proof-of-concept, that I could successfully loop something in a 5/4 time signature, while also serving as proof that I still know how all my software works.  I guess I’m mostly just pleased that it’s not terrible.  It’s obviously going to need some further development, but in any event there’s something about this in its current state that’s pleasing to me.

Pity, though – while I’m relieved that my MacBook still works and that I remember how to use Logic, it seems that my external hard drive is dead, and so all the rough drafts I’d recorded since 2011 (some of which are pretty good, actually) are going to remain in the rough draft form I left them in unless I re-record them all from scratch.  Perhaps I’ll upload those to Soundcloud as well, just so that they can exist in some form beyond my iTunes library.


GAMES:  When I’m in need of a recording break, I’m continuing on with Far Cry 4.  I’ll find a tower I need to unlock, or a base to liberate, and then once those are over, I’ll save/quit.  The individual arcs to each of these events are enjoyable enough, but the game is rapidly becoming overstuffed with random side-stuff, and at this point I have absolutely no idea where I’m supposed to go in order to continue the story.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing, given that what I’ve seen of the story so far is kinda dumb, and in any case the game is so tonally all over the place that I’d much rather make my own way than try to engage with the game in any serious way.  I’m mostly focusing on trying to finish crafting all the stuff I need to craft, which requires liberating towers in order to open up the map to see where the various necessary materials are, and then I just hope I don’t die along the way.

Also:  I’m always a sucker for a match-3 RPG, and to that end I must recommend Hero Emblems on iOS ($2.99), which is surprisingly deep for one of these sorts of things – there’s an element of strategy involved where you must think offensively and defensively, all the while setting up combos and match-4s and the like.  Plus, the writing is pretty charming thus far, and I almost always skip past the writing in these sorts of things.  (Also, the King’s name is Henry, so.  GOTY, is all I’m saying.)

I have no opinion on today’s Nintendo news.  A new 3DS?  Of course.  Would I be able to play the new Majora’s Mask on my old 3DS XL?  Have I even turned my 3DS on in the last year, ever since I was so thoroughly disappointed by the new Mario Golf?  Meh, I say.  The impending re-release of Grim Fandango is way more important to me than anything Nintendo’s got to offer.