Old Farts With Guitars

Agonizing Self-Appraisal

As a result of my experience in Corona at BGU Live this year, I’ve discovered a few things both about myself and some observations in general that might be of help to anyone who finds they are experiencing similar fears.

I overanalyze everything and frequently suffer from analysis paralysis. In my remaining years, I need to live a bit more in the moment and a little less worried about what the future holds. This applies to a lot more than just playing guitar.

Read more: Agonizing Self-Appraisal

I won! Hey, I has mad skilz!

Not really. Well, yeah, I won, but the mad skills is just click-bait. I just had an awesome experience and in a unique break from my usual self-deprecating, lowered expectations style. I had an incredibly good time on a visit to California a couple of weeks ago.

Read more: I won! Hey, I has mad skilz!

Spring Cleaning

The website has been largely ignored and that’s entirely my fault. This morning, I took a good long look at it and decided it needed a facelift. Right now it is in progress. It may change again according to my whim.

I always make the same promises… I’m going to try and post more. Maybe.

The secret to Egoraptor’s success on DanceOn

I’ve been watching with amusement the rants of Lindsey Stirling fans and their complaints that my son, Arin (aka Egoraptor) is leading in the vote count on DanceOn.com. I’ve been participating in my usual Paparaptor stalking style up until this morning, when I found myself unable to log in to the website and vote for my son. I have no idea what the voting will mean in the actual overall weight of the contest. The website description hasn’t given a clue. I’ve been opening a half dozen copies of Google Chrome at one time and calling DanceOn’s Egoraptor page, so that I could circumvent the 30 second timer. I actually saw the tip from one of Lindsey Stirling’s supporters. But I digress.

Read more: The secret to Egoraptor’s success on DanceOn

Hungry For Worms? No, Hungry for Words!

There has been some confusion about where this quote originally came from. It was used in Metal Gear Awesome, by Egoraptor back in 2006.

The quote actually came from an old “Reading Is Fundamental” public service announcement that ran during Saturday morning cartoons in the late 80’s. It’s one of those things that when you are a kid, sticks in your head and for some reason known only to you, it remains funny and one of your own personal inside jokes.

Which Key?

This gets a bit wordy, so if you’re into light reading, you might want to click away now!

My current interest is in the blues. If you’re playing blues guitar, you may never play a major scale in your life, but you should know what they are if you’re ever going to play in more than one key. The blues is usually based on some variation of a 12 bar pattern that repeats over and over. I’m probably not telling you anything new there.

Read more: Which Key?

Quality Of Life

No doubt about it, I’m not a kid anymore. You know that when people stop referring to you as “wet behind the ears.” I never knew what the meant anyway.

LIfe started out for me with a definite bent towards music. I played accordion for a number of years, until the accordion joined most Americans’ most hated list, right up there with bagpipes. Dick Contino, Myron Floren and Frank Yankovic notwithstanding, the Beatles and the British invasion of the sixties was the death knell for the accordion. Other than John West, playing the Cordovox in Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the sixties were devoid of any accordion heroes. So who was I to fight progress? I switched from being an “accordionist” to being a “keyboard player.” In the mid-sixties, other than Mike Smith, who played a Vox Jaguar for The Dave Clark Five, and Alan Price for The Animals, there weren’t many mainstream rock and roll keyboard players to emulate. My roots with the Natural Music Studios gave me an entré into the world of six stringers, which I immediately loved! I beat my first guitar nearly to death. It was a mid-fifties Fender Esquire, which was given to me by the studio owner so I could learn (and teach) guitar. Along the way, I owned any number of other guitars and basses as I slowly transitioned myself to stringed instruments from the keyboards.

Read more: Quality Of Life

Free Software! Yeah, buddy! (Part C)

So I’ve become somewhat comfortable manipulating various audio files around and Ardour is a really user friend and relatively easy to learn piece of software… at least relatively speaking. It’s still a beast, but it’s strangely addictive.

After working with Ardour for probably a month or so, I decided I wanted to add something new to the system. I wanted a MIDI Digital control surface. Simply said, it looks like a mixer. It’s a box with a bunch of buttons, knobs and sliders on it that connects to your computer with a USB cable. It is supposed to integrate into Ardour to allow the user to use it as a mixing console. The sliders are even motorized so that when you’re playing back a previously mixed recording, the volume controls will track the positions where you originally placed them. It’s a Behringer BCF-2000. If you would like to see one in operation, just go to YouTube and search on that model. There are a number of people who have done some pretty funky things showing the sliders moving around without human intervention. Pretty cool!Read more: Free Software! Yeah, buddy! (Part C)

Free Software! Yeah, buddy! (Part Deux)

So this new computer is happily running Linux and I’m starting to get used to it. It does pretty much everything I ever asked my computer to do. There is Bluefish, an excellent HTML editor, to replace an ancient copy of Homesite (for Windows) that has been on my computers for time immemorial. Open Office does pretty much everything to suit my needs. It opens and plays nice with all my archives from my antique copy of Office XP. Thunderbird is an excellent email program, which has been on my Windows computers for years after Outlook 2002 became outrageously flaky. Everything just works. However, it did take me considerably longer to get everything the way I wanted than it did with Windows.

Now comes Ardour and the ALSA/Jack audio part. I linked up with an excellent support site operated by the electronic music department at Stanford. The site is called PlanetCCRMA (google it) and is run almost entirely by one man, Fernando Lopez-Lezcano. The man is brilliant, both as a musician and a computer geek.?His best quality (from my viewpoint) is that he could explain the theory of relativity to Larry the Cable Guy so Larry could understand it.Read more: Free Software! Yeah, buddy! (Part Deux)

Free Software! Yeah, buddy! (Part One)

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a geek for pretty much all my life. When I was 11 years old (back when dinosaurs roamed the planet), I had a workbench in my bedroom, with soldering iron, a Simpson Volt-Ohm-Milliameter and a Knight-Kit oscilloscope (homebuilt). There was always a twin bed rather than something larger, because I needed the room for all the various junk I used to drag in to fix/cannibalize or otherwise tinker with.

That carried over to my later years as well. I worked as a counterman at an electronic parts house for a year and had to regularly inventory several thousand RCA vacuum tubes.

So, when Radio Shack came out with their first computer, the TRS-80 Model I, I had to have one. I even “lowered” myself to go to Radio Shack to buy one.Read more: Free Software! Yeah, buddy! (Part One)