Larry David is a real Ground Breaker…NOT

OK this one I will try and keep short.  Why is there a hub-bub over Larry David peeing on an image of Christ? Ever since I was old enough to go to art galleries and any kind of art appreciation class, it seems like there was always some “Artist” who wanted to make a “Shocking” statement about Christian religion. So many artists, visual, musical, etc have trodden this ground in the late 20th Century that there is nothing new here. This whole Larry David Pee thing is so lame it is boring!  Did he REALLY think it was truly controversial? Was getting a 45 second blurb on the 24 hour news cycle worth the effort it took  create that scene? Did he think he was being “risky”?

More like, “Risky Free” as the Nigerian 419 scammers are fond of saying.

Making fun of Christianity is, dare I say it? Passe’ worn, tired, totally played out. It’s like spitting on a toothless tiger from behind bulletproof glass. Oh sure some Catholic Defence group will wag their fingers but in day or two (if that) the episode will be relegated to the dustbin of history. It’s not funny, not provocative and as a matter of fact it pretty much caters to an audience that already makes jokes about christians anyway. It’s as safe as playing to the crowd can be.  Now let him do schtick about peeing on the Koran or spreading feces on an effigy of Mohammed, or that clubbing baby seals for fur is fun, THAT’S risky!   Shit, he would get a Fatwah issued on his Jewish* ass so fast it would make his head spin. HBO would probably not air it because it might “offend” someone. 

Let me rephrase that; It might piss off people who would cut your fucking  head off on TV, car bomb your office and eviscerate your children.  And for those of you thinking that I am being your typical American Racist. FUCK YOU! Yes I said it!  Look at the news and compare how often extremist Christians behead artists who make fun of them or blow themselves up in markets vs their extremist Muslim counterparts. Only a fool would deny it but the world is full of fools tools isn’t it?  But I digress,  the point is, if Larry David wants to pee on a picture of Zombie Jesus he can, but don’t think he is actually making a statement or think he is being “Edgy” because it isn’t. Larry, you’re just being a tired old comedy hack milking a dead cow for people who like rotten milk.  You want to be “Edgy”? Poke fun at people who can hurt you  and your benefactors “for real”. Not a religion that has not seriously persecuted anyone for over century. But you won’t,  because their religion is more to them, than your “art” is to you, and they are more likely to make you pay more for your “art” than you are willing to give.

*disclaimer I’m married to a Jew and raise my children Jewish and at this point in my life have probably seen the insides of more Temples than Churches so if you have a problem with the quip, well you know where to go and how fast you can get there.

Put Balloon Boy’s Parents in jail?

I was on my Facebook page and of course I get polls from friends about well, whatever. Most of the time it is bullshit but this one caught my eye as I was very interested in the Balloon Boy story. The poll was about whether or not Balloon Boys parents should go to jail.  Apparently I am in the Minority about Balloon Boys Parents. Look people, take it from me JAIL SUCKS. As general rule It helps NO ONE and should only be a place to put violent sub-human animals who are menace to society, and Bernie Madoff and his ilk :). Not irresponsible parents and Fame Whores mmmkaay? (or people who drive suspended licences or people busted for Pot etc). It’s a sad fact that America already puts too many people in Jail for Bullshit. It’s not rehabilitation its revenge.

Jail should be reserved for “Real Criminals” and Violent offenders (I don’t have a revenge problem there, but unlike most of our society I’m willing to admit it). Not people who are basically a danger to themselves. America is incarceration happy and people do need to be punished when they fuck up but is jail the answer? Will getting abused by guards and molested by fellow prisoners REALLY help them? Or will it lead to more resentment of society and anti-social behavior? Now having them pay stiff fines (but nothing that they can’t realistically pay back without jeopardizing their ability to take care of their family), or better yet perform meaningful community service is better. I have a dim view of counseling BTW, thats just a head game where you sit there and you agree unil your time is up. Now Pavlovian behavioral modification, that might work but we get into “A Clockwork Orange territory there. It would certainly be more useful than paying to keep them locked up.  Incarceration costs money and keeping idiots locked up is not how I want my tax dollars spent.  To be honest, the harshest punishment would be to have their children removed from their custody until such time as they can get their shit together. That would probably be the biggest slap back to reality they could face and hopefully make them better parents.

Emilie Autumn Concert @ in Orlando Oct 17th 2009

BTW  originally In this post I was going to use the EA concert a basis for commenting on what Electronic Artists have to do  to keep the audience engaged, and the “Ethics” of charging Fans for personal meet and greets (I don’t have a problem with it BTW). But it turned into a Concert review. So sue me I love EA mmkaay?

I went to the Emilie Autumn concert on Saturday Oct 17th in Orlando and I must say it was a GREAT show.  While I normally have a very dim view of  Track Dates, (shows where a singer performs to a backing track or in the case of Britney et al. Lip synchs YUCK!)  This show was an exception. Why?  Well this was NOT your typical “sing the pop songs and bail”.  Emilie is a one woman act, She writes, creates, and performs all her own work. From choosing/designing the sounds to rosin-ing up the bow of her Violins, Emilie is “The Real Deal”.  Electronic music is difficult to do live while keeping the audience interested (as guy who stands behind a laptop and synths for gigs I really understand).  So She has her backup “dancers” the  “Bloody Crumpets”,  Naughty Veronica (a Kissing Bandit) , Aprella (Sniper), Captain Maggot (Pirate), and the Bloody Contessa (Cannibal), inhabiting the “Asylum” onstage with her. However to call them “Backup Dancers” is really a disservice to them as they are more than mere dancers. They are an integral part of the show which is more like a Broadway Musical, in the vein of Sweeny Todd, or a demented Vaudeville/burlesque show.  From Captain’s  Spinning Hoop act to Contessa’s Cirque du Soleil style aerialist shenanigans the show was more like a three-ring circus. In many ways it reminded me of a Butthole Surfers concert but with out the Porno movies. However there is A LOT of Girl kissing, Girl-piles, as well as poisoned Tea parties, Baked goods for the audience, simulated torture and fake blood but its not Grand Guignol like GWAR or Skinny Puppy. It’s dare I say it?  Tastefully done.

 As for performance of the music, yes she sings (and screeches and growls and coos) to a backing track for many of the songs, (“Dead is the New Alive” woud be the bees knees with a full band) but Emilie does have a Yamaha controller keyboard onstage she uses for her harpsichord parts thats she blazes on (The Tempo of song “Shallot” live is twice as fast as the album and you can tell she is really playing). But Emilie really shines when she whips out her fiddle and starts shredding on “Liar”, “Unlaced”, “Face the Wall” and her amazing cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (OMG)  All the Crumpets are doing all sorts of things on stage involving stilts, ribbons,hoops, knives, meat cleavers and shotguns. Look you just have to see it OK?

Now the crowd was interesting too, it was an all ages show with lots of young EA fans (man I felt old and out-of-place).While in line I spoke with a mom in line with her daughter and we laughed at how we were when we were “that age” all dressed up in our finest regalia ready to go see our favorite artists (Cure, Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy, Cocteau Twins etc).   Some of the parental units looked like they walked  straight out of Central Casting for “Plump Midwestern Soccer Moms with Sensible Shoes”.  They were standing next to their Raven or Scarlet-haired daughters in full Goth-loli kit and just hanging out (While the kids did their best to pretend they were not there). Then there were a few old guys like me, not sure if they were there for Emilie or to glom onto young hipsters but whatevah. I’m sure I looked like a Chester. I know, I know.. I have the leering Molester look in my Photo-op with Emilie. But in my defence I had already downed 4 Captain Morgan and Cokes  so getting into the spirit was easy (Fun not Molester mmkaay?).  TBH I don’t know what those parents thought of the show or the music but I will tell you this:   When Emilie started singing “Bohemian Rhapsody”   I looked around and everybody and I mean EVERYBODY, from the Bar-Backs to the “Plump Midwestern Moms in Sensible Shoes” were singing along every word, bellowing out “BISMILLAH” with such gusto, it was as if we were all in some kind of Rock and Roll seance attempting to channel the spirit of Freddie Mercury himself. All the while Emilie was singing and prancing onstage and Tearing up the Brian May guitar solos on her Violin like a Corsetted, Mad Woman on Speed.    There really was only one word to describe it.

EPIC 

Post Show:

I had paid for a VIP meet and greet @ end of show With Emilie who met us with all the graciousness and theatrical aplomb of a “Great Lady of the Theatre”, she really does know how to give good fanservice (I just learned that term).  I couldn’t help but be amused that here I was in Orlando waiting to see the “Princess” much like my daughters wait at Disney world when we take them. But it was really neat, the reading about leeches and the acoustic set and sing along, (and you really MUST sing along with her you wouldn’t want to break her heart). The Photo and Autograph signing part was well organized & Emilie was awesome and really knows how to relate to her “muffins” (fans) young or old. Hey look, she gave me kiss and called me a handsome man, now I’m all grown up and I know  its just fanservice but man was my heart racing, I really could have walked on clouds.  I felt real lucky to have scored the VIP tix.  But it got even better! As a cool bonus I got to have a nice chat with Inkydust (Emilie Autumn’s engineer), earlier at the sound booth. Now how cool is that? I mean meeting and chatting with the guy that helped put together one your favorite Albums! For a Techie thats a definite highlight. (Emilie and Inky=OMGWTFBBQWINSAUCE!) I learned that Inky had switched to Reaper from CuBase for the new material. I was kind of surprised since I know Emilie is huge Mac fan with CuBase and changing up your DAW (Digital Audio Worksation) is a big deal. We also discussed the “Holy wars” (Mac vs PC vs Apple) and how silly it can get and other Music geek stuff.  When Inky mentioned that the Switched over to Reaper for the new material my Drunken Ears perked up! “New Material?” as in New Album?? did he just let me in on something?  I did not press him though, he might have talking about the post Opheliac EP’s so don’t get your hopes up on my say so.

Later after the show and meet & greet, while waiting for my friends to show up @ another club I see Inky walking down the street past me and we have another quick chat, I offer to buy him a beer and he lets me know he’s going to eat across the street after he fetches a mate and to meet him there. Schweeet!  Well it would have been, I guess I’ll have to find out another time. Unfortunately I could not get a hold of my friends to tell them I would meet them later (I was staying with them at their house and they were my ride home) who showed up right about the same time as I needed to be in the restaurant and I wasn’t about to ditch them abruptly because thats just rude. Of course they would have understood (they know me) but also I didn’t want to appear like some Crazed Stalker Fan so I missed my chance. Hey Inky I owe you drink next time your in SoFla!

 

Hmm Its BROKEN!

Damn it! The M-Audio Expression pedal I special ordered arrived at my local Guitar Center. I gleefully opened it in the store to check it out & it was BROKEN! a little plastic piece the connected the the pedal to the rocker arm cracked. and the pedal flopped about wildly. The look on my sales guys face was pretty funny/sad. (he felt bad for me) Now I know this is only a $25.00 part but I was very disappointed. I retunred it for another one, which also needd to be special orderd. I hope it makes the trip, I know I will have to gentle with it. Well at least I didn’t have to travel far to return it.

Hmm not so sure about Novation now..

Damn you Guitar Center!  I went there to get an M-audio expression pedal (which I had to special order) so I could try out the Wah-Wah on the Line6 in Propellerhead’s Record.  In the Sale Rack they had a Novation Nocturn for $92.00! thats pretty darn cheap so I figured “why not?”  Installation of Automap and the driver went OK. But Configuring for use with Live was not pretty and Record (and Reason) Locked up up hard when configuring Automap (Yes I did RTFM).

Then the BSOD occured. Bear in mind I am using Windows 7 RC and have have not seen a BSOD even once. I was very unhappy. I rebooted and still could not get Automap to work worth a shit and I gave up on Reason, when it BSOD’d  again. So I figured maybe I should update the software let me check on Novation’s forums.  Well the Sorry excuse for forum was useless as was their non answers about Windows 7. I know I should not be so critical but comapred to the Propellerhead and Ableton forums it was a letdown.  At any rate I downloaded the Automap 3.3 and to make a long story short, it would not install at all. I would get a DOS screen that would pop up an error that I could not read and then it would quit.  I tried the usual compatibility mode tricks without success.   In hindsight I should have used Win7’s Problem Steps recorder to really start troubleshooting the issue and read the pesky error but it was late, I was getting tired and quite frankly I have never had to work this hard to get any of my other other controllers to work.

My Rule of thumb is if it takes more than 15 minutes to install a piece of hardware on my PC, and that time is due to installation /config issues not “clearly” covered in the manual then that hardware is going back.  M-Audio and Akai have really spoiled my in that sense. Their shit just works.  So unless I get some handy tips and tricks to try in the comments section I’m probably going back to GC to return it for a refund.   This experience has made me a little Gunshy about picking up the Launchpad, Which I have to special order since my GC won’t be carrying it in stores.  apparently they already have a lot of Merch, and they don’t want to crimp the sales of the APC 40 which I guess they have a better markup on. (So says my GC Sales guy.)

Novation’s Launchpad Vs Monome Vs APC 40

I was on  http://createdigitalmusic.com looking at a hands on review of the new Novation Launchpad, a dedicated controller for Ableton Live ( http://www.ableton.com/launchpad ). I started going through the comments section and I noticed a lot of emotion being dredged up over the new controller. I’m not at all surprised though, (the MAC vs PC vs Linux Holy Wars rage on still).   But I wanted to put my own spin on this as I think some some people are getting a little overheated.  I mean come on it’s shiny new toy for making music here!  Monome people shouldn’t get so defensive. Though considering the Open Source crowd that supports the Monome, it’s not not surprising about some of the more rabid supporters Anti-Corporate Stance.  I.E.  Novation (and by extension all major gear manufacturers) is the MAN corrupting all that is good and beautiful  about their precious, Open Source Monome and putting out mass consumer crap.   On the other side we have a few folks accusing Monome supporters of being elitist gear snobs, what with their 3 letter programming acronyms and scads of money/time/hookers/booze/yachts/frequent flier miles to spend on going to Monome meet-ups to go slap each other on the back and make fun of the Monomeless proles..

Yes Virginia, I am engaging in a bit of hyperbole.

I think Novation really has something here and that Launchpad’s ability to trigger Drum rack samples, its modular capabilities, and ability to use with other MIDI software, really sets it apart from the APC 40.  It looks fun to play with, easy to use and @ 199.00  is an easy target to save up for than much of the gear out there. Notable exceptions being the Korg Nano and the Akai clones. Which brings up another point. Is it really a clone of you do it better? (Akai’s LPK 25 is far more “playable” comapred to the Korg Nano KEY for instance)

I have an APC 40 and I really like it. It makes playing Live much more fun than mousing around. I also have ProMix I/O, and an M-Audio Axiom 49,  but I don’t mind the redundancy of faders and buttons. (I don’t take the ProMix out of the studio). I have different tools for different situations. As for the Monome, like a Tenori-On or Ohm, that’s been one of those OOOh Shiny, yet out of my price range and more work than I’m willing put in to get some use out of it kind of toy.  Would I like one? Sure. Do I need one? Well no (but I didn’t NEED the APC40 either). If I had one do I have the time and resources and skill to get the most out of compared to something I buy off the shelf? I’m afraid the answer is again no.

Then again, I am not the target audience for a Monome (or Ohm etc ), so my purchasing the Launchpad will not hurt Monome at all. Because of this I don’t think this will cut into Monome’s business. There will always be people willing to pay top dollar for boutique gear, that’s not an insult (far from it) it is a fact.  Just as there are people who want an affordable grid controller with blinky lights that “Just works” out of the box, and don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it (Also not an insult but a fact).

I dont’ feel ‘ripped off” by Ableton for having bought an APC 40 when it came out.  It was the right tool @ the right price and its a blast to play with (Notice I said PLAY not WORK).  Novation brings something a little different to the table, and so will Korg when they get into the game. Maybe Roland will but I doubt it.  They seem kind of stuck in the unimaginative yet expensive gear rut and have all but ignored us “budget” home studio people*.  What some people aren’t getting here is that competition and choice are good things as it brings the ability for musicians of all types and budgets to find what they need @ at price they are willing to pay.   As for me, I’ll be lined up @ Guitar Center to get a Launchpad.

* OK the SH-201  is an exception but the MINIAK and Micro Korg are cheaper alternatives. The new Juno-DI while Budget friendly isn’t exactly a showstopper,  its a 21st C  Korg M-1 IMHO). But I digress as I have all but abandoned most HW synths.