New ambient drone piece. Improvised; one track, one take. Fortunately, my speakers did not blow out handling all the loops and delays.
New ambient drone piece. Improvised; one track, one take. Fortunately, my speakers did not blow out handling all the loops and delays.
The cover art for my upcoming album consisting of some new songs as well as ones dating back to around ‘00-‘02 (when I first began recording digitally onto computer) and several in between. This has been a long time in the making…I’m currently putting the tracks in order and finishing the mastering on them to even out all the levels. The plan is to release it as a “name your price” digital release on Bandcamp (I don’t expect to make any profit off of this, but people taking the time to listen to my work is payment enough for me) as well as have a limited run of CD copies to give out as gifts and sell at whenever my next live set will be. I hope to have this finished by the end of the year.
I found myself in an absurdly long-winded, pedantic debate via exchange of emails over the course of a week or so with a favorite English professor (and personal friend & mentor of sorts) of mine over the use of ‘alright’ vs. ‘all right.’ I wrote a letter to him in which I used my preferred ‘alright’ variation, resulting in the response:
"It’s spelled "all right." Ever the English teacher, I correct away. Which is what you’re looking for."
To which I responded:
"Thanks, I just think ‘alright’ is more visually appealing and I prefer it to ‘all right.’ I hope that won’t be a problem."
"OK. Yeah. In the same way sentapeed is. Keep arguing with me and we’ll get along great."
The thesis of my defense:
Actually, it’s nothing like that, as this entry from Merriam-Webster explains: "The one-word spelling alright appeared some 75 years after all right itself had reappeared from a 400-year-long absence. Since the early 20th century some critics have insisted alright is wrong, but it has its defenders and its users. It is less frequent than all right but remains in common use especially in journalistic and business publications. It is quite common in fictional dialogue, and is used occasionally in other writing." (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alright)
Which prompted this long response, some of which I omitted:
"Good for you, Dylan. Well played, well defended, especially since you like the way the word looks on the page. As with all things in your work, you are the final arbiter of its fashion, its style. Don’t let any conventional critics like me sway you, awright? Or as one of my football players last year liked to say, "Aight?" I think that’s how it’s spelled.
As with many aspects of language, it’s often which dictionary or scholar you consult that helps determine your own particular bias. My position is that if a word calls too much attention to itself, it distracts the reader from what you’re trying to say. And if you read the word (or phrase) aloud, it sounds the same with either spelling. This note below makes more sense to me, especially the underlined part:
USAGE NOTE: Despite the appearance of the form alright in works of such well-known writers as Langston Hughes and James Joyce, the single word spelling has never been accepted as standard. This is peculiar, since similar fusions such as already and altogether have never raised any objections. The difference may lie in the fact that already and altogether became single words back in the Middle Ages, whereas alright has only been around for a little more than a century and was called out by language critics as a misspelling. Consequently, one who uses alright, especially in formal writing, runs the risk that readers may view it as an error or as the willful breaking of convention.
The point being here, as I said above, that readers are thinking about something other than your subject matter, scene, description, whatever, and are wondering if you’ve made a mistake. To move them to that (their own) notion, that you might be in error, means you are in error because they are moved away from your notion. Thanks. You’re helping me with revisions to my book.”
And my final summation of my stance on the matter:
"I see where you’re coming from. I think that especially in creative writing, it’s more important to do your own thing even if (especially if, actually) it defies convention. Knowing rules and thinking of unique and imaginative ways to break them is appealing to me, and I know you for a fact you feel the same. However, when it comes to article or essay writing, yes, I agree that conventions ought to be stuck to because they exist for the reason you stated. For instance, in papers I write for school, I’ve adjusted my habit of using the U.K. versions of words (e.g., ‘anthropomorphise,’ ‘recognise’) in favor of the standard American English ‘zed’ spellings, at first out of frustration of having instructors mark every instance of it in red pen, and later because I realised that conformity in language does serve the purpose of maintaining a common ground between you and the reader so they can concentrate on what you’re trying to say without getting too caught up in how you’re saying it. However, on a creative level, how things are said are, to me, just as important as what’s being said, as it introduces texture and personal style, which is why in my poetry and fiction / creative non-fiction (and emails, as you’re now aware of), I tend to stick to my own linguistic preferences. It all boils down to the level of formality in what I’m writing.”
So, in the future, if I use “alright” and anybody corrects me, I’m just going to link them to this blog. Even if it somehow comes up in a verbal conversation, I will write this address out for them and not even bother with defending myself, because if I go the rest of my life never having this same discussion again, I’ll be happy. Alright?
"Into Vapour" (2011)
An ambient/drone piece I created on synthesizer & effect pedals (using an iPod Touch microphone of all things to record) a few weeks ago and stayed up late last night post-processing on my computer with various VST plug-ins. This will probably appear on a new, as-yet-untitled album I’ve been working on this summer.
I recently did a Google search of my screen name just to see what would show up. One of the results was a Tumblr entry containing this photo I’d taken in Kula on the mountains of Maui back in the summer of ‘07 and had uploaded to my Flickr account. What was shocking to me was the amount of attention it received…my blog entries tend to get a handful of ‘likes’ or reblogs, but 970 people had liked & reblogged this one (and now it’s over 1100 people - that’s nearly two hundred more in the course of just a few days). It’s been reblogged & re-reblogged so many times I lost count looking at the various Tumblr blogs with this photo in them (many of them are ones entirely dedicated to reblogging other peoples’ things). I’m very perplexed as to why this photograph in particular is so popular…none of my others have gotten this kind of attention, not even on my own Tumblr or Flickr accounts, and, in my opinion, this is not particularly one of my best shots. Still, I’m happy so many people seem to like it so much.
A classic geography lesson provided by Street Fighter II; likely where most American kids in the ’90s learned where other countries were.
As with most middle class kids growing up in America in the ’90s, I was raised on videogames. Atari, Coleco, Nintendo, Sega, Sony PlayStation…these were staples of my childhood as important as many albums, movies and books were. Fighting games were never my favorite genre, but I did (and continue to) enjoy a good brawl from time-to-time as an outlet and break from homework, reading, or even from other videogames (more intensive, involved RPGs and the like). Street Fighter and Tekken remain two of my favorite games in the genre…I have the latest iterations of each and occasionally visit their predecessors when I crave the nostalgia. Something I’ve observed even as a child from these two games in particular that’s never been directly pointed out (as far as I know) is how blatantly they illustrate the way the Japanese think of the rest of the world (in a very hammy, exaggerated way, of course). Nowhere else in Japanese popular culture is their perception of other countries and their peoples as evident as in videogames, and specifically fighting games. Both Street Fighter (SF) and Tekken are developed in Japan and contain characters of an array of nationalities and ethnicities. More than that, they share in common the ways they depict specific cultural backgrounds. In each game, there are Japanese characters who are the typical silent, stoic warriors, noble and strong-willed (Ryu in SF and Jin Kazama in Tekken being the two prime examples, and each being their respective game’s lead character). The Americans, on the other hand, are depicted as cocky and flashy, very self-assured and boisterous in their display of it (Ken and Guile from SF, Paul Pheonix from Tekken); the Chinese are all either Bruce Lee lookalikes, chefs, or detectives (Fei Long from SF and Marshall Law from Tekken both sharing many traits of Bruce Lee including his signature fighting style and battle cries). Koreans are hot-tempered and similarly arrogant & flamboyant as Americans…Russians are very large, hairy bear-guy commies…Indians are stick thin from fasting, pseudo-spiritual and habitually in a meditation pose…South Americans are either dread-locked Rastafarians or green jungle monsters… the list goes on and on.
This always struck me as, while not exactly racist, a blatant perpetuation of stereotypes hammed up and taken to a cartoonish extreme. It reveals an inherent Japan-centric view of the rest of the world (quite literally - notice how Japan is the center of the world on their map in the above image) – their society is one of quiet, honorable stoicism, and by comparison, many other cultures are obnoxious, narcissistic, overly emotive & conspicuous, or just plain zany from their perspective. This is a topic worthy of a master’s thesis, and while I have no intention of reading that deeply into it (I’ve already spent a lot longer on this blog entry than I intended to), there is a pile of subtext in what appears on the surface to be mere button mashing time wasters enjoyed primarily by testosterone-driven males aged between ten and thirty. What little back story there is in both Street Fighter and Tekken has always been very vague and continually amended to suit new sequels, but all the background one really needs for these characters can be provided by observing their mannerisms and presentation in the context of who develops these games and for what market.
I record several gigabytes of music each year, but I’ve only recently begun to properly label and organize the files (apart from specific projects I deem “finished”). I’ve been going through some older recordings and I found this looped electric guitar improvisation I made back on March 04, 2010 and haven’t heard since. I like the basic idea I captured here and plan on expanding it into a larger piece sometime. I just added a fade-in & some reverb and uploaded it to my SoundCloud page.
Acer Aspire One model 751h with 11.6” widescreen (1366x768 resolution), Intel Atom 1.33GHz processor, 1GB memory (expandable), and 160GB hard drive.
A friend of mine owned this netbook and through careless downloading had infected it with so many viruses that it was rendered unusable. I tried reinstalling the stock Windows XP operating system from the restore partition; this failed because because the partition itself was infected. As luck would have it, she wound up buying a new computer and giving this to me, and it became a project of mine for the spring of 2011. I initially installed Ubuntu (a Linux distro) on it and spent some time learning it, then experimented with Windows 7 starter edition and a Chromium build (basically a clone of the Google Chrome OS which a lot of netbooks are starting to come pre-booted with), but I wasn’t really satisfied with anything until, at the suggestion of a friend, I tried Jolicloud, an open source, cloud-based Linux distro built around Chromium. I am truly amazed at how robust and full featured it is because it’s so streamlined and lightweight. This netbook hasn’t run this quickly or smoothly since I initially helped set it up back in September ‘09 when it was purchased.
I would describe Jolicloud as a sort of combination of Linux and the Mac iOS used on iPhones and iPod Touch devices. Unlike Ubuntu, you needn’t spend time hunting down packages or writing code. Jolicloud uses an App Store approach to installing programs…you simply search for compatible programs (of which there are many, and more are continually added), click “add,” and they appear on your desktop, ready to use. Likewise, external hard drives and other peripherals are readily accessible as soon as you plug them in. In addition, you can sync your desktop to your online Jolicloud account and access it from any computer, and you can use the built-in Dropbox and Google Docs apps to upload files you can access from anywhere. Another big advantage it has over the Chrome OS (and what developers of the upcoming “Chromebooks” should seriously take notice of) is having a full-fledged file management system with access to customizable file directories.
Jolicloud has breathed new life into this netbook, which is now one of the best hand-me-downs I’ve ever received. It’s a joy to use with a wealth of customizable features and expansions beneath a deceptively simple interface. It’s the most streamlined and user friendly Linux-based OS I’ve ever worked with, and it’s ideal for netbooks (much more so than Windows) as they have limited processing power and this requires very little to run. I could’ve dual-booted it with any other of the operating systems I’ve tried, but I liked it so much that I just wiped the netbook’s drive clean and used it as my sole operating system. I highly recommend it to users of netbooks, tablets (it has touch screen capabilities), and even Windows-based laptops and desktops, as it takes up very little hard drive space and is easy to dual-boot. There are some bugs and issues I have with hardware compatibility, but according to the developers I’ve talked with (who are helpful and quick to respond), those will be fixed in future updates, which I am very excited about. Best of all, like all Linux distros, it’s completely free. I give Jolicloud a full five star rating.
More of my photos passed through the Tiny Planet filter (this app is too much fun). No originals this time, as Tumblr has a ten photo limit on these posts. However, if you’re interested in what these looked like before the processing, they’re all viewable in my Flickr and Picasa albums, the links to which are to the right.
Running some of my photos through a filter in this app called “Tiny Planets” which creates a neat effect reminiscent of the Photoshop “liquify” effect.
Created on my iPod Touch using a fractal design app and Photoshop Express.
Like you (but without the lies!), I’m going to use this question as an opportunity to take an inventory on what I generally carry on my person on a day-to-day basis and let you decide what the strangest thing is.
I used to have an absurdly utilitarian approach to what I’d take out into the world with me, carrying everything including the kitchen sink in my pockets or backpack on the off-chance that stuff would come in handy (you never know what situation may arise that calls for a glue stick, a pair of scissors, a tape measure, and some instrument cable!), but I cut back on a lot of that out of simplicity’s sake and now just carry around the essentials + a few other bonus items. I also used to wear a wristwatch everywhere I went (a basic analog Timex white-face w/ black leather strap), but have gone watch-less for the last year or two. I like to say I have philosophical reasons for this, that I did it to break free of the constraints of time and to acknowledge that time is a human construct which doesn’t actually exist and only serves to place limitations on us, but really, it was because when I started swimming a lot the embarrassing tan line I had where I wore my watch disappeared and I got used to not wearing it everywhere. Apart from that, I wear practically no accessories, mostly because I don’t like having to account for them & because they weigh me down, but also as a conscious effort to not look like a douche bag. My fashion is essentially no fashion. I’m fond of t-shirts and jackets, long-sleeved shirts, basic button-up collared shirts, jeans, sneakers and boots, I don’t like logos in general as a rule, and I like dark solid colors (especially brown, navy, and black) and tasteful stripes and plaid, but apart from that basic taste [and from being generally well-groomed], I don’t spend much of my time on my appearance. It just detracts time I could be spending on other, more important things.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of what I carry with me on a typical day:
· Pair of Levi’s sunglasses purchased with a Ross gift card (if I’m wearing my contacts; if not, I’m wearing my plain black-framed prescription eyeglasses).
· Brown leather Fossil wallet (I never know what to get with Macy’s gift cards, so I usually just buy socks & underwear or basic necessities like this).
· Key chain holding keys, guitar pick holder, pill holder, and blue LED light.
· Super basic cellular telephone which just makes and receives calls.
· iPod Touch: the thing I own which single-handedly does the most. I have a netbook which I used to bring around with me, but this has all but replaced it (unless I need portable word processing). It serves as an organizer, a reference tool, a camera & recorder, a musical instrument, and an arts & entertainment device, and with a wi-fi connection, it’s my lifeline to the outside world. I also bring my JVC marshmallow earbuds to use with it.
· Swiss Army backpack which carries the following (and sometimes other things as well): pens (medium & fine point black + purple or green for corrections) and pencils (one mechanical, one lead), an eraser, hand sanitizer, pocket tissues, toothpicks, gum, sunscreen, basic lock and key, Swiss Army knife (no, I’ve never served in the Swiss military force), lighter, granola & energy bars for food supplementation, a bag of Genmaicha, a small notepad, a USB drive and SD card, a folder with school papers and documents, my school texts and generally at least one book I’m reading (right now it’s Ulysses by James Joyce), my lined Moleskine notebook, my iPod’s wall charger if I’m going to be out for long periods of time, and a bottle of water (this is essential, as I need to keep hydrated regularly and throughout the day) which fits into my bag’s side holder.
I think that’s all quite modest, especially compared to what I used to lug around.
I took this photograph at Crane Park in the Kaimuki-Kapahulu district where I grew up. The conditions here have greatly worsened since I was a child (thanks largely to errors of the previous administration) - the facilities are unkempt and in decay and the amount of people setting up residence here has increased tenfold. Poverty and homelessness are still largely ignored problems in this neighborhood, health care remains unattainable for many who are in dire need of it, and drug abuse has grown increasingly rampant (methamphetamine in particular is an epidemic in Honolulu and has become much more widely used in the last decade by people of all demographics and walks of life). From an outsider’s perspective, this is the Honolulu that is overlookable - Waikiki is a mere five minutes away by car, and outer Kaimuki is just a connecting point between town and the beach. However, this is the reality I grew up in and which hundreds of people pass through everyday. Scenes like this are commonplace, but sadly, it’s easier to just block it out and pretend it’s not there. I doubt many visitors even process things like this.
You will never see an image like this in a brochure for Hawaii; it’s much better for our tourism industry and economy if we push these people as far from the public eye as possible. Our local government would rather spend money on ridiculous things such as new “graffiti-proof trash cans" and bus stop pillars which are impossible for the homeless to sleep on than aiding its impoverished citizens because those renovations are perceived as improvements in a community which is so heavily dependent on its ability to draw in tourists. How do you think this person feels about what the large majority deems important in our society? More importantly, is anyone even asking him?