Saturday, July 31, 2010

I rescued a couple of books off of the curb late last night.  They're based on the Doom video games.  I can't wait to read them.

Today's song:  Honestly, while the song is catchy, the video that these people made is what really stands out.

Ninjasonik - Daylight Remix

Today's thing:  I recorded a little more of that Sorrow demo from yesterday.  Also, I wrote part of a script for a short skit.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to sitting here in 90-degree weather trying to be creative.  I came up with an idea for a cover, as well as a couplet or two of lyrics, but that's no surprise by now.

Today's song:  Here's the Bowie song that I was like "oh hey, we could totally do a punk-rock cover of this" about.

David Bowie - Sorrow

Today's thing:  Here's the demo.  I butcher the solo, but the rest of the song is basically the kind of vibe I want.

sorrow test

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Okay, wow.  That movie was pretty damn great.  From neat filmmaker tricks to editing to sound mixing to sight gags to memorable lines, it was... well, it was a hell of a ride.  I'd recommend it.

Today's song:  This was in the movie.  Do not confuse it with the new Katy Perry song of the same name.  One is a classic.  One is dreck.  This one isn't dreck.

T Rex - Teenage Dream

Today's thing:  I know it sounds like a cop-out, but MORE LYRICS.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tomorrow, I see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a movie that I've been anxiously awaiting for quite some time.  I won advance-screening passes to it yesterday.  I'm pretty jazzed.

Today's song:  This song's in a movie that I LOVE.  Some of you will know which movie I'm talking about and sigh, shaking your heads and smiling slightly.  Others of you need to see Stranger than Fiction.

Wreckless Eric - Whole Wide World

Today's thing:  And even MORE lyrics.  Not many, but some good ones.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Well, Modest Mouse was excellent.  The opening band, Morning Teleportation, was great, too.  I ran into its frontman outside after the show and told him that I thought they rocked.  He ran inside, got me a t-shirt and signed it.  Awesome stuff.

Today's song:  I guess I should post something of Modest Mouse's.

Modest Mouse - Dashboard

Today's thing:  Guess what - it's more lyrics!  Woo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In class today, I talked about image and musicians.  It was a huge ramble on a lot of things I've talked about here - carefully-groomed images, personas, stage names, band names and so forth.  Basically, we had a big ol' conversation about music.  Fun times.

Oh, and I'm seeing Modest Mouse tomorrow because a friend has an extra ticket.  Awesome.

Today's song:  A blend of jazz and hip-hop.  This is great.

Mr. Scruff - Jazz Potato

Today's thing:  Mostly, it was teaching my class, but here - I've been toying with this, I think it has some promise.  I'll work on it more tomorrow.

WAS type demo

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The project I was talking about was a success.  I subjected myself to a real-life adventure game.  It was intended to play like the old King's Quest games - you see your character's surroundings, then you control your character by typing commands like "GO LEFT" or "PICK UP ROCK."  In order to replicate this feel, I ran the game on Facebook via my cell phone.  I'd take a picture on my phone of what was nearby, then send it to Facebook.  Everyone who was playing would see it, then comment commands on it.  My friend would then text me the most popular commands, I'd do one or more of them, then take a picture of the results and upload that.  And so on.

Said friend and I set really vague "goals" ahead of time and were amused by the creative ways that everyone went about completing them.  Over the course of the evening, I went to the 38th floor of a hotel, was given a lei by a stranger and gave a bag of chips to a homeless man.  I did plenty of other silly things along the way, of course, and somehow managed to only spend $1.60.

Anyway, it went well and was a new experience, but there are still plenty of ways we could improve the game, like using a two-man team in order to keep the constant picture-taking from clashing with the actual game actions.  We'll work on it.

Today's song:  A friend sent me this, it's pretty rad.  He got to see the DJ in person.

Kid Koala - Moon River remix

Today's thing:  That adventure game.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tomorrow, I try out a project I've been putting together.  Hopefully, I'll explain it tomorrow. 


Today's song:  Traditional Asian music with a hip-hop twist.  Awesome.

Milky Lasers - Tai Chi

Today's thing:  Here's a clip of something I started work on today.  There's more to it, but I'm most excited about this bit so far.  I just figured out to do that pitch-bendy thing so I can't wait to make more use of that.

City Noise snippet

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The good:  It's not above 80 anymore.
The bad:  It's 78.
The ugly:  I live on the third floor of a brick building with no AC.

Today's song:  Here's one of the original songs Beck did for the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack.  I really like the lyric "I'm drinking shampoo and I'm tasting my grave," because it's pretty damn Beck-like.  On the other hand, the song's supposed to be by a fictional in-movie band, so maybe it being Beck-like isn't the best of things.  Hmm.

Beck - Summertime

Today's thing:  I recorded this and worked on some lyrics for it.  I'll have to add a little more melody (I think, anyway) as well as give it more variety, both drum-wise and in general.  But I think it has promise.

Stage Fright City demo
Well, I was indeed pretty productive.  I recorded some stuff, wrote some stuff and brainstormed some stuff for a completely different project.  I also figured out some material for this coming Sunday's class.  Looking forward to working on more tomorrow.

Today's song:  So here's a great mashup.

Somebody Rock Me

Today's thing:  Though I worked on several other things, I figured I'd throw this up since I'd added a lot to it since I last demoed it.

8-Bit Rock second demo

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

 I'm gonna be insanely productive tomorrow, I can taste it.  Er, somehow.

Today's song:  You know who I miss?  Smash Mouth.  Well, their older stuff, anyway.

Smash Mouth - Diggin' Your Scene

Today's thing:  I worked on more lyrics and started recording another song.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll have enough of it together to post.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So, I picked up the sixth and final volume of Scott Pilgrim when it was released tonight at midnight.  I just finished it, and I have to say, it was a slight disappointment.  I guess it just seemed that there were SO MANY things that had to be wrapped up and it turned into a systematic checklist of taking care of them.  Also, a lot of change happened between the fifth and sixth volumes.  Anyway, books, expectations, etc.  More music-making tomorrow.

Today's song:  I'd had this song in my head for the past few days (despite not hearing it for almost a year or so), then a friend posted lyrics to it on Facebook.

Barenaked Ladies - Bull in a China Shop

Today's thing:  A good chunk of the day was spent traveling to and from Rhode Island.  At least I figured out some of my lesson plan for this coming week's MIT class.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Note to self:  Look into making music videos for a living.  That'd be cool.

Today's song:  Man, I love The Hives.  Especially this song.

The Hives - See Through Head

Today's thing:  I taught my class.  That's totally a thing.  Also it took up most of my day.
I think I finally managed to properly prop up that futonframe today.  Also I recorded a lot of different bits of songs.  I've got my class to teach tomorrow, and by teach I mean "tell people about acting games and yell GO."

Today's song:  A few days ago, Old Spice released a TON of ads that were all personalized answers to online comments that people sent them.  Then some guy made a song by remixing clips from some of those videos.  I thought it was pretty cool.

Old Spice Remix

Today's thing:  I recorded real bass (instead of computer generated bass) parts for something I was already working on, as well as adding on an entirely new part.  Then I started two other songs.

B punkish fuller

Downgroovin' demo

175 BPM demo

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lot of walking today; Back Bay, the South End, the North End...  But on the bright side, I did a decent amount of musicwork.  There's more to do tomorrow, too.

Today's song:  I'm really not sure why this popped into my head.  I swear.  Did I mention my grandmother reads this blog?

Electric Six - Gay Bar

Today's thing:  I added some frills to yesterday's thing, as well as more of a bassline that I recorded.  I also threw this together - it's a song Beck did for that Scott Pilgrim movie that I can't shut the hell up about.  The song's in the trailer and I figured I'd try to play it by ear.  Turns out it's pretty damn easy.

Beck - Sex Bob-omb

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On being broke

Having little to no cash makes life interesting.  I no longer use the subway, choosing instead to walk and save the buck-seventy that a T ride costs.  I eat (ramen) before leaving the apartment and I appreciate finding free samples of food far more.  Still, the city is an exciting place regardless of amount of money in my pockets.  Plus, managing to have adventures despite lack of cashflow is immensely satisfying.

I'm almost tempted to crack open that bottle of cheap wine I picked up at the beginning of the summer so I can celebrate how bohemian I am, but I can think of better things to do.  Like being sober.

Today's song:  Another neat drum 'n' bass song, as well as an excellent fan-made (I think) music video.

Venetian Snares - Szerencsétlen

Today's thing:  After almost a week of various adventures, I'm getting back into the creative groove.  Today, I started working on making something fuller out of one of the mini themes I did a little while back.  Here's what I've got so far.

Raphael theme reworked WIP
Excuse me while I continue to try to get back in the groove after those friends visiting.  Excuse me, also, while I post this far too late.

Today's song:  I ended up playing this earlier today and thinking of my first year at college.  Funny thing, that.

The Killers - When You Were Young

Today's thing:  Some sort of strange band meeting with visiting friends.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

That concert was good.  The opening acts were a little out of place - not like the headliner at all. Aside from them, though, We Are Scientists were excellent; plenty of good banter, as well as solid enthusiasm and stage presence.  As expected, it made me want to get with the whole songwriting thing.

Today's song:  I've been watching a lot of a certain trailer; thus, I've been hearing a lot of this song.

LCD Soundsystem - Big Ideas

Today's thing:  A little tiny bit of lyricwriting, plus a little bit of composing/arranging.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Okay.  After a long and busy weekend, I'mma get back to working on projects tomorrow.

...Except Hampshire friends are visiting and we're seeing that We Are Scientists concert.  But I'll do my best before they get here.  Here's hoping for productivity.

Today's song:  Here's a classic.  I've been learning the bass part for it since it's so much fun to play along to.

Cheap Trick - I Want You to Want Me

Today's thing:  You guessed it - more lyrics.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Today's class was interesting and, for the most part, excellent.  Introductions were made, the class format was explained, and a small amount of circuit bending was done.  Although not everyone stuck around for the actual putting-things-together portion, a good chunk of people witnessed the taking-things-apart bit, which seemed to be just as engaging as the actual constructive time.  We didn't get to make anything as complex as I was hoping for, but people still seemed genuinely interested in what they were doing, so that was fantastic.  Admittedly, the whole circuit-bending thing was better suited for a smaller class, but hey, now I know.  Next week, we'll be playing acting games, so that should include more people.

Today's song: Here's another mashup. This one uses 15 different songs, with the lyrics all blended together to form a different set of (cohesive!) lyrics. It's pretty impressive.

DJ Earworm - Like, OMG Baby

Today's thing:  I taught my first class, like I said.  We came up with a strange sculpture formed out of (carefully and tastefully) melted-together red fireman figures, with a working LED light, switch and all.  It now sits on my table as some sort of bizarre nightlight.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

On that MIT thing

I have to admit, I feel all braggy every time I explain "the MIT thing" to someone. The easiest way to jump into it is starting with "Well, I teach at MIT." It sounds great, but then I have to explain that it's not so much teaching as it is me running around a room of high schoolers going "I really think this is cool, let me tell you more about it, also MAN DO I THINK I'M AWESOME." It is an impressive thing, I guess, but I really just see it as a lot of fun. Saying such, in turn, though, almost makes me feel like I'm bragging even more, like I'm trying to impress with my selflessness, when sometimes it feels the opposite of selfless. I mean, it REALLY feeds my ego.

Strange hangups on talking about it aside, I'm excited about starting this summer's session today. While the class is the same theme that I usually do – a different subject every week – I've got new stuff planned. I figured I'd take advantage of all the stuff I've learned over the past year or so by passing it on. Besides, that way I'll learn more about it. I'll post about how it goes.

Today's song: This just goes to show exactly how similar pop songs can be.

Ke$ha - Tik Tok / Katy Perry - California Gurls mashup

Today's thing: More lyrical stuff, which usually ends up being a line or two here or there. I think I've said this before, but one of these days I'll manage to pull them all together.

Friday, July 9, 2010

On rock star personas

Okay, I'm FINALLY getting to this.

A week or so ago, I talked about rock stars having stage names.  Well, even more often than crazy names, they have crazy personas, these augmented, exaggerated or completely fictional versions of themselves.  This isn't just limited to rock stars, of course - pop stars have them, DJs have them and even pianist Tom Waits has one.  Again, these images vary from real to unreal, but regardless of truth, they're there.

I thought about this while remembering a pop singer I'd seen on a British talk show.  She seemed to be imitating Lady Gaga, from the silly dress to the crazy hairstyle.  Her band was carefully chosen to ALL look like Keanu Reeves.  Even her offhanded comment, "Most of my songs are about murder, actually... I'm not a psychopath, I swear!" seemed calculated to subtly shape the public's perception of her.  Why did I remember and consider all of this?  Because I'm working on doing it, too.

Lately, along with contemplating a good stage name (see last week's post on the matter), I've realized that I'm thinking about an entire look to go along with it.  After all, like I said, I need to be as over-the-top as I can with as much as I can to distract from my lack of musical complexity.  I'm planning an outfit to wear, a style of music to play and a stage demeanor.

Here's the thing, though.  I'm doing all of it for fun.  I'm not doing it because my record label thinks that I'll attract more fans if I allude certain things about myself.  I'm not doing it because it's "in" at the moment (in fact, what I'm doing is silly as hell).  Instead, I'm doing it because I like the things involved:  the list of possible names mostly borrowed from titles of old-school video games, the ridiculous shades, the musical style itself.  I'm not using any of these things ironically, like hipsters who lack the courage to step up and say that they like something uncool.  Nor am I doing it subtly; all aspects of my image are rather garish and obvious.  I'm just creating a character that I like and running with it.

Isn't that really what it's all about?  Everyone wants to be "the guy" (or girl, of course), but everyone has their own personalized opinion of what that is.  Why shouldn't we all be the artist we want to see out there?

Today's song:  These guys are going to be playing in Cambridge on Tuesday.

We Are Scientists - The Great Escape

Today's thing:  More lyrical work, woo.
Okay, okay, okay.  TOMORROW I'll have something better to write, I swear.

Today's song:  Oh man I like Metric do you guys like Metric here's some Metric

Metric - Help I'm Alive

Today's thing:  I finished up a second speakerhead.  Also I put something together for Sunday's class.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Okay, I know I said I'd write about personas today, but I've been running around trying to prepare all sorts of electronic things for this weekend.

Today's song:  Oh man it's like there's a theme or something.

Billy Idol - Hot in the City

Today's thing:  I worked on a few more speakerhead assemblies.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Remind me to write a longer post about musicians and their images tomorrow.

Today's song:  What is this I don't even

Peelander Z - S.T.E.A.K.

Today's thing:  I put together a few more lines of lyrics, thought about structures of songs-in-progress and came up with ways to beat the heat (a wet towel in the freezer?  It's better than dripping with sweat all day).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Once again, it's way too hot out.  Even writing is making me sweat.  This is no good.

Today's song:  Hurf durf

OK Go - You're So Damn Hot

Today's thing:  I planned some more of my first class over at MIT, which'll be this coming Sunday.  I also picked up some stuff for it, though it's a secret for now.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

So yeah, it's the 4th of July and I'm hearing fireworks while watching cars inch past my window, backed up to lord knows where.  Happy America.

Today's song:  I'm just looking for an easy out.

Jimi Hendrix - The Star Spangled Banner

Today's thing:  I did a hell of a rendition of Hey Ya on the piano just now, that'll have to do.
Today, I went on a self-proclaimed "Boston Adventure," a short walk of the area around Government Center.  It was organized by the Society of Spontaneity ( and involved following clues given over the phone, as well as decoding cryptograms chalked around the city.  The whole thing culminated in a game of freeze tag, weirdly enough.  Hey, it was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Now, I'm headed back to RI and spending the 4th there.  I'll watch some fireworks, drink some beer and do some laundry, then go back to Boston on the 5th.  I'd love to see Boston's celebration, but most of my friends and family will be in RI.

Today's song:  Like I said, I've been struggling with lyrics.  What I've come up with has been pretty ridiculous, messing with alliteration and in-line rhyming and all sorts of weird stuff.  I blame Barenaked Ladies being one of my early musical influences, just listen to the lyrics in this one - "...and my gastrointestinal festival's best of all, cardiovascular questions they ask you are less than the answers they give you are cancerous?"  Whoof.

Barenaked Ladies - Stomach vs. Heart

Today's thing:  I finally found some small toy keyboards.  I've been looking for them for a while now for a circuit-bending project.  I bought two, since they were six dollars apiece and I can cite them as an expense for the class I'll be teaching next weekend.  It's a necessary step in creation, at least - I also spent most of the day with relatives, so I'll take whatever productivity I can get.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

On Vuvuzelas, a second time

So, if for some reason you haven't heard, a vuvuzela is a loud plastic horn that you can usually buy at or near sporting events.  It's come into the public eye lately because of its prominence at South African World Cup matches; the instrument is a key component of their soccer (er, football) culture.  Thing is, when a large portion of an already huge crowd all blows them at once, the stadium sounds like it is filled with a giant swarm of VERY ANGRY BEES.  Since this noise is annoying as hell and impossible to ignore if you're watching the Cup, even on television, it's become a weird pop-culture thing.

Now, vuvuzelas, or at least the idea of them, are everywhere.  People are making jokes about them online.  Photoshops are cropping up, adding vuvuzela-blowers to famous pictures.  YouTube has even added a vuvuzela button, which lets you play a hellacious buzzing noise over the video you're watching.  I was at a bar the other night, watching a crowd of people play darts.  At one point, just when some guy was about to take a shot, all of his friends started going "BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ" to mess with him.  It's kind of like Kanye when he interrupted Taylor Swift, except anyone can buy their own Kanye to interrupt people with.

'Cause that's where things are about to get interesting.  With the 4th of July coming up, street vendors all over will be pushing carts full of vuvuzelas.  They always have, mind you - those long plastic horns in red and blue?  Yeah.  Those.  What makes this year different is that now they're popular, now they're a fad.  Now, people will go "oh, hey, vuvuzelas!" instead of "oh, that silly horn thing."  I'm forseeing - or forehearing - a 4th full of bees.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe those garish horns will go largely unsold.  There's always the chance that the public will go "oh, THOSE," shudder, and turn away.  I can only hope that this is the case.

Today's song:  No real reason for this one other than the fact that I like Franz Ferdinand and their newest album (which came out early last year) didn't get as much attention as their others.

Franz Ferdinand - Lucid Dreams

Today's thing:  I did more work on that 8-bit rock song.  STILL no full lyrics yet - they're slippery buggers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I walked from home (Mission Hill) to the North End today with a friend from RI, which was cool.  I hadn't ever seen that neighborhood before.  I'm pretty damn exhausted, though.  Whoof.

Today's song:  I mentioned Freezepop yesterday, so I re-listened to one of their albums.  Here's a song by them that I always like.

Freezepop - Plastic Stars

Today's thing:  I worked on some lyrics.  I'm accumulating a decent amount of them, but they're scattered bits of different songs... kind of like the songs themselves.  I've really got to bring them together.