Yearly Archives: 2007

Waterloo Records acquires huge classical collection in estate sale

Capital of Texas

Russell McCullogh, the classical expert at Waterloo Records, mentioned the store had recently acquired an extensive classical and jazz collection from an estate sale. I stopped by Waterloo last night and browsed through some of the classical offerings. (They’re laid out on a pair of tables in the back corner of the store’s north section.)

Russell mentioned most of the collection includes 20th Century tonal composers, and while I did see a smattering of Krzysztof Penderecki and Arnold Schoenberg — with a Mahler and a Beethoven here and there — the collection had an impressive diversity. I managed to find a number of albums I owned on cassette but never upgraded to CD: orchestral works by Joan Tower and Tobias Picker, as well as Kronos Quartet’s recording of Witold Lutoslawski’s string quartet.

But if you’ve been reading The Rest Is Noise by New Yorker writer Alex Ross, a lot of the composers in that collection will sound familiar: Max Reger, Bohuslav Martinu, Paul Hindemith, Alan Hovhaness, Samuel Barber, Ned Rorem, George Perle, Morton Gould. I went to Waterloo thinking I’d just pick up the new Ex-Boyfriends album and be done, but no … I spent half an hour sifting through that collection, and I didn’t even scratch the surface.

I don’t know if any of the jazz offerings are out on the floor, but the classical selection includes a lot of tempting titles. I should be greedy and not mention it, but really — fans of this kind of music ought to check it out.

Missed it by that much


I knew it was around the time of the year for my credit card to get charged for my hosting. I’ve been a Dreamhost customer since 1998, and my plan was grandfathered in with a number of rate changes from many, many years back.

So I logged into my account to see when the charge would happen, and I discovered the hosting plans have changed — or rather, hosting plan. Dreamhost did away with all the various programs to offer one hosting solution for a price significantly less than what I’m paying for right now — $10.95/month, with discounts for paying in advance.

Good news, right? It would have been had I heard about it earlier.

My current plan had already been auto-renewed, and my credit card was days away from being charged my six-month grandfathered rate, rather than for the single cheaper plan. So I changed to the One Plan to Rule Them All but still got charged for the two weeks I was under the old plan. It came to about $13, which isn’t too bad, but it’s $13 more than $0, which I could have saved if I knew about the damn change. And that’s roughly $3 more than the monthly price I get for paying a year in advance ($9.95/month.) Two weeks of service under the old plan > one month of service under the new plan. Suck, no?

At least now the charge on my credit card will be for an entire year of service, which means a total savings of $156. The plans changed back in September 2007, so I didn’t really miss out. Had the plan changed after May 2007, when I was last charged at the six-month rate, I would have cried foul.

Upgrading the Closet

Technophilia Aural

The recent release of Cakewalk SONAR 7 has me covetous of new and upgraded studio software. Just about every piece of software in the Closet — that’s what I call my studio — has an upgrade available. This entry is more of a note to myself, to weigh the pros and cons of dropping all that cash to keep everything current.

So I’m making myself a handy table:

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Evaluation period: Native Instruments Kontakt 3, Cakewalk Project5 v.2, Cakewalk Rapture

Technophilia Aural

As deep as I am into home studio recording, I’m not much of a synthesizer guy. For the longest time, I used preset sounds because I had no idea what all those knobs and settings did. Even after taking classes on synthesis, I’m probably more inclined to use sampled sounds than to create my own. I pretty much write music for live bands, but I don’t have a band. So I use synthesizers and samplers.

Cakewalk recently released SONAR 7, the 2007 update of their flagship digital audio workstation software. The company has also bundled SONAR 7 with its other large products — Project5, Rapture and Dimension Pro — into a package called Cakewalk Pro Suite. The bundle sells for about $799 retail, but since I own SONAR 5 Producer Edition, I qualify for an upgrade price of $479. The upgrade price to SONAR 7 Producer Edition is $229. For $250 more, I can get software that would cost $707 to get separately with entirely new licenses.

So that begs the question — do I need them?

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The occassional odd musing concerning an omniscient diety


One thing that amuses me about devout Christians is the fear of God. I remember the "Christian vs. Athiest" episode of Morgan Spurlock’s show 30 Days. The beefy Christian guy on the show was fretting so much about the well-being of his atheist guest’s soul, it made him sound … like a sissy.

Dude — if she’s hellbent, why stand in her way?

It makes me wonder something cruel. If God is someone to be feared, what would happen if it turned out he really didn’t care? Do you continue fearing a higher being who wouldn’t give you the time of day anyway?

God is all-powerful, so I was taught in grade school. In college, it was pointed out that part of his all-encompassing power was an ability to abandon his creations. His followers can’t deny him the free will granted onto them.

I would think ambivalence would be something to fear more than wrath.

aGLIFF program now available

Capital of Texas

The program for the 2007 Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is now available. Actually, it’s been available since last week, but this past Friday, tickets became available for non-members. This year, ticket pre-sale is happening only online — no station at Tapelenders, sorry to say.

I spent part of the afternoon leaving printed programs around south Austin, so if you want to pick one up, you can find a few over at Jo’s Coffee, Guero’s, Curra’s, Ruta Maya, Cafe Caffiene and Amy’s Ice Cream next to the Westgate Theatres. If they’re already gone, well, I’ll see what I can do about getting more. You should be able to find the printed programs throughout town.

It looks like this year’s festival is heavy on international films and documentaries. The films I’m planning to see are The Bubble (Israel), Boy’s Love (Japan), Eternal Summer (Taiwan) and Semper Fi: One Marine’s Journey (USA).

Instant radio hit (You’ll Dance to Anything by Terry Riley)

Technophilia Aural

I ran across a site called Hit Song Science, which uses the PolyphonicHMI algorithms to determine mathematically whether a song has hit potential. The site is offering four months of free service till Oct. 31, and I didn’t see much in the way of small print to determine what would happen after that grace period expires. I figured I may as well give it a shot with some tracks by Eponymous 4.

However much I may love the songs I create, I have this sense my music is too middle ground to fit any particular audience. It’s too commercial for the indie audience (with whom I have most affinity) but it’s experimental enough to keep it out of reach of mainstream taste. I went into this experiment knowing I probably wouldn’t score very high.

According to the site, a song with a score higher than 7.0 has less resistance to becoming a hit. Scores between 6.75 and 7.0 indicate a borderline hit which requires further marketing push. Anything below that, I guess, you don’t bother.

Here’s how it turned out.

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What I learned: You too can sound like you don’t suck at karaoke

Technophilia Aural

When dealing with the V-Vocal editor in Cakewalk SONAR, it’s important to know these helpful hints. For the past three weeks, I’ve been recording vocals, and I make no claims of being a singer. So the results often require lots of clean-up.

I tried figuring out V-Vocal on my own, but it’s a quirky tool and unstable to boot. I can’t count the number of times my computer crashed while I was using it. If you just look at it wrong, it craps out. Despite that inconvenience, it did work incredible wonders on my voice.

But to get to that point, it helps to know the subtleties of V-Vocal, which isn’t really spelled out in the documentation. In addition to adjusting pitches, V-Vocal can fix modulations (like vibrato or warbled notes) and smooth out portamento. That attack a little sharp? It can be flattened out. That long note a bit shaky? It can be tamed.

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The principle of the matter

Vital Signs

You’re in a store. A salesperson asks whether you need help. You say no because you actually have found what you’re looking for on your own. After a few minutes of more browsing, you start to leave. The salesperson stops you to say he needs to give you a ticket to hand the cashier when you make the purchase. You wonder why he needs you’re telephone number. He explains it’s required in order for him to get his commission on the sale. You take the ticket, but as you walk to the cashier, you realize he is going to get paid for not doing anything at all. What do you do?

Here’s what I did.

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Is it wrong for me to think this is funny? (Yes.)

Vital Signs

I pressed the close-door button on the elevator, and as the door was closing, another guy in the elevator held the door open for another passenger. After he got on, I made it obvious I was pressing the close-door button of the elevator. I got kind of ticked off that this guy would interfere with my intention to not letting anyone else on. But I also had to admit it’s rather dumb for me to be upset about something like that.