Friday, September 22, 2017
So, I decided it was finally time to get me one of those fancy cameras. My point & shoot had finally died from being dropped one too many times, and I went to see Chris Isaak only to have him appear as nothing but a big white blob on my phone. Since I take a lot of pictures already, it seemed a good use of my annual fun spending. We have a DSLR camera at work, and I liked the pictures it took, plus it has that good old-fashioned "clickity-click" sound when you shoot.
My main worry was actually the size of the camera. I went to a photowalk once and people seemed to be competing in a who-can-lug-around-the-biggest-Cyclops-beast-around contest. My tiny hands and achy shoulders can't handle that sort of thing.
When I did a Google search on "small DSLR cameras" I learned about mirrorless cameras. My photography class teacher said that the lens is actually more important than the body of the camera for taking good pictures, so why not get a small camera that can still change lenses? Some of the big-name photography sites liked the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, which I developed a gadget crush on right away.
OK, let's face it, some objects are just more esthetically appealing than others, and it's not terrible for that to be a factor in your purchase decisions. As long as it does what it is supposed to do and doesn't clean out your bank account, why not? I have to admit I love the retro look of the OM-D and sometimes I take it out just to look at it. That's why that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up stuff doesn't work on me, I have a TON of things in my place that give me joy when I look at them. My motto is "Everything I do got to be funky", not "Everything I do got to be boring but utilitarian", after all.
Also, the controls have a good hand feel for me and seem like they'll last a long time.
The main drawbacks of having a camera that is both fancy and schmancy are 1) worrying about something happening to it and 2) spending money on endless accessories. For 1) my vow is that OM-D will never be removed from either a case or a very-sturdy camera strap and for 2) I just have to parcel it out slowly and put things on my Amazon wishlist. Like did you know that the straps that come with fancy cameras are no good and have to be replaced with something better if you don't want it to slip off your shoulders? And that there are separate bags for cameras, lenses, and your whole kit? But that makes no nevermind now that I can take night shots that don't look like those weird light shows you sometimes see when your eyes are closed.
Tuesday, June 06, 2017
It's Reunion time again, and I was back on the wheels of steel. The theme for my radio show this year was Cyberpunk, a musical soundtrack from the 80s to today for movies like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, or books like Neuromancer and Synners.
Here's my archived radio show:
"Making Of Cyborg" - Kenji Kawai
"Ghosts" - Japan
"Vienna" - Ultravox
"Morningstar In A Black Car" - Ashbury Heights
"Crash" - Mesh
"Kingdom" - VNV Nation
"Neon Lights" -Kraftwerk
"Big Electric Cat" - Adrian Belew
"I Want You" - Cabaret Voltaire
"Driving The Dynamite Truck" - Breaking Circus
"Burning Inside" - Ministry
"Headhunter" - Front 242
"Self Control" -Raf
"Guardian Angel" - Juno Reactor
"Nothing At All" -Lights Of Euphoria
"Love Via Revolver" - Valkilly
"Prayer Praise & Profit" -Pig
"Underbelly Of The Beast" - Danzig
"Underpass" -John Foxx
"Just For A Moment" - Ultravox
"Go" - Tones On Tail
"Musika Atomica" - Syrian
"Timekiller" - Project Pitchfork
"Destroy Everything You Touch" - Ladytron
Friday, May 12, 2017
Some of my old mixes from back in the day.
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
I've been making mix tapes since high school in the early 80s when my best friend spent a year in New Zealand. It kept going in college for high school friends, then it kept up when college buddies went their separate ways. As friends got older and had families, it became my go-to New Year present, as it is a way to show you value your friends while spending minimal cash & not obligating them to buy you anything after spending all their money on presents for family members.
I've gone from tape to CD to online playlists, although I still do CDs for presents so people have something tangible. In the old days, when my only computer was a TRS-80 model 100, I went to Kinko's with some art to copy and cut up and the song list hand-written in large type to reduce to fit a cassette case. Now I have DiscLabel software for that, or I can just upload songs and screenshots to 8tracks.
One thing hasn't changed, though, are certain rules I have more making a good mix, based on years of experience and trial and error.
RULES FOR MAKING A GOOD MIX:
- Pick your mix type first. Mixes can be personal (geared to one person) or public. Other main organizational principals are - time period, genre, mood, subject of song, season, region, and mixes inspired by other media (usually a book or movie). To have a good mix, start with an appealing organizational principle.
- Variety is key. Back in my college DJ days, I learned the rule of three. DJs typically play 3 or 4 songs and then tell you what songs they play. Of course, with mixes you don't have to take breaks, but it's still a good principle to group similar songs and then change it up a bit every 3-4 songs. Ideally, I try to have some connection from every song to the next from the beginning to the end, whether it's type of vocals, genre, time period, mood, both are cover versions, etc., but if it's a case of connections vs variety, variety always wins. Even if you are doing a mix that is all punk or metal, you have to mix it up with subgenres, types of vocals, eras, a bit harder or softer, more or less poppy, etc. More than one song by the same person or group should be avoided in most cases. Basically, a mix that is all the same is a boring one.
- Know your audience. If you are making a private mix for one person, you need to keep their preferences in mind. For example, one person told me they hate female vocalists who sound like little kids, so no MIA. Conversely, if you feel pretty sure someone already has the song, no need to add it to their mix, unless it's a case of a song that reminds you of a certain special time or event. For a public mix online, swearing in a song will limit when people can listen. I sometimes have swearing in my public 8tracks mixes, but label them "NSFW" in case people I know would be offended. Also, good to avoid too much audible swearing for a party mix or anything that might be listened to by children.
- Don't be too obvious. If you are doing a Minnesota mix, you may want to consider that everyone who wants to own the music of Bob Dylan or Prince probably already has it. If you are including a famous artist, at least find a more obscure track. For me, a mix has two purposes - to entertain by creating a mood, and to inform the listener of music they don't already know about. That doesn't mean you have to be a expert. For example, I have a "Bollywood & Bhangra" mix, but I'm not an expert on the genres by any means. However, it's my most listened-to mix on 8tracks, possibly because the genre is not well-represented on the service, so it fills a niche.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
I meant to do this before the 4th season started, but oh well...
Post-apocalyptic media has had a field day lately, which I couldn't be happier about. Where else can you depict issues such as resource allocation, the nature of leadership, environmental devastation, the consequences of war, etc, AND have people in face paint fighting each other with kung fu and bizarre weapons?
When I found out we finally would have a straight, non-zombie post-apoc show (I tried The Tribe, but it was just too low-budget for me), I was was a little excited, but my expectations were low, since it was on the CW, the network to watch white teens get mopey about their crushes on (even their superheroes spend way to much time mooning).
Parenthetical rant time:
When will TV creators of action/detective/fantasy/science fiction shows realize that less is more with romance? Especially when stakes are high - it just makes the characters seem to have really bad priorities. There's a reason why "Romantic Plot Tumor" is a trope. Just give us a little and we can use our own imaginations - look at the fans of X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tumblr is full of people shipping the hell out of The 100 characters based on a handful of small scenes, which is the way it should be - not the creators boring us with what starts to seem like fanfic of their own characters.
Yes, there is love and sex on The 100, but these teens are spending too much time making hard decisions with no easy answers and trying to survive to do much mooning. Just give it a few episodes, as some of the younger actors aren't so good in the beginning and it just seems like a Lord of the Flies update. It gets interesting when the teens find out earth isn't as uninhabited as it might seem and what the consequences of that are.
The 100 is also pretty non-stereotypical as far as depiction of race, gender and GLB characters. No show has more young women in leadership roles. And it's nice for us older people that, although mature characters are ultimately supporting the younger ones, they have their own complexities and are not just there to support or thwart the youth.
Anyway, you can check out the first 3 seasons on Netflix.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Although a lot of sucky things happened in 2016, I'm going to focus on the good stuff.
Format once again ripped off shamelessly from the Librarian in Black:
Books -- Swing Time, You, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s, Frog Music
Comics -- Patience, The Flowers of Evil, Ooku
Movies -- Arrival, Dr. Strange, Green Room, The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened, Captain America: Civil War, Zootopia, The Big Short, Crimson Peak, Deadpool, Amy, The Man From Nowhere
TV Shows -- Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Better Call Saul, Bojack Horseman, Mr. Robot, True Detective, Archer, The Americans, The 100, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn 9-9, Broad City, The Expanse, RuPaul's Drag Race, Powers, Orange Is the New Black, unREAL, Billions, Penny Dreadful, The Walking Dead, Person of Interest, Orphan Black, The Path, The Knick, Veep, High Maintenance, The Magicians, Portlandia, Divorce, Insecure, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce
Albums --Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends: The Art of Murder, Various: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Flavor Crystals: The Shiver of the Flavor Crystals, Wo Fat: Midnight Cometh, Truckfighters: V, Scorpion Child: Acid Roulette, M83: Junk, Isaak: Sermonize, Droids Attack: Sci-Fi or Die, The Vaccines: English Graffiti, All Them Witches: Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, Beastmaker: Lusus Naturae, Windhand: Grief's Infernal Flower, The Sword: High Country, Ruby the Hatchet: Valley of the Snake, Royal Headache: High, Moonbow: Volto Del Demone, Hills: Frid, Fuzz: II, Baroness: Purple
Songs --Duo RAW: "Beat My Face", White Lies: "Death", RuPaul: "The Realness", Jidenna: "Long Live the Chief", Agnez Mo: "Boy Magnet", Bonnie McKee: "Bombastic", Charles Bradley: "Changes", The Oh Sees: "Poor Queen"
Apps --Flickr, Artstudio, Tumblr, 8Tracks, Instant Buttons, Instacart, Door Dash, Yahoo! Video Guide, myTuner Pro, Lyrically, Amazon Prime Music, IFTTT
Devices --iMac, Apple TV 4, Freedompop iPhone, Universal Laser Systems laser engraver, Afinia 3-D printer, Cameo Silhouette, Brother Project Runway sewing machine
Events --Convergence, trip to San Francisco/Ukiah, Anime Detour, ToshoCon, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends/Buildings at the Hexagon, Irvine Park photowalk, Ramsey After Dark: Victorian Secrets, William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time at SFMOMA, Musée Mécanique.
Items of clothing --Flower wrap dress, faux leather bomber jacket, gray hooded shirt, spats
Games --Plants Vs Zombies 2, Candy Crush: Soda, Tetris Blitz, Interface Zero, TimeZero, Sushi Go!, Tsuro, Feng Shui 2, Misspent Youth
Web sites --Great Cosplay, AV Club, TV Tropes, Paging Dr. Nerdlove, The Obelisk, Good Show Sir
Twitter Twerps ---@HeerJeet, @JosephScrimshaw, @SwiftOnSecurity, @loather, @LeVostreGC, @KyloR3n
YouTubers -- Screen Junkies, Afterbuzz TV, Diamanda Hagan, Vaginal Fantasy, Hey Qween, Kevin Smith, Adult Wednesday Addams, Willam Belli, MovieBob
Materials - Adhesive felt, LED strips
Boyfriend --In a surprise upset, JSeux wins!