4/30/2004

Overdrive

This entire week has been a lesson in pushing myself too hard. Stuff with Drop Trio has been coming fast and furious, especially with Ron's baby (born last night at 3am!!) and the announcement of the Houston Press Music Awards (please vote for us!). I've been trying to get the word out about that, while simultaneously planning our upcoming shows, coordinating publicity & advertising for our current shows, and, oh yeah, working full time. Gah.

Wednesday night we played a show at the Rhythm Room with Tea Leaf Green and Plump. The attendance was less than stellar, but we had a good time anyway.

Last night I drove to Beaumont and hung with the super cool folks at the Art Studio. There's an interview with me that'll air on KVLU tonight at 9:55 pm (we taped it last night) in which we discuss Darth Vader, among other things. We also got to tour the venue (looks great) and grab some great pizza at Graffitti's.

This morning I got up to work out at 6 am because I AM TOTALLY INSANE. Tonight we're at Brasil, and tomorrow we're playing the Candu show. And maybe Sunday Jill and I will go see Amy Goodman speak.

And now ... I think I will go have lunch. Ha.

4/26/2004

Tiring Weekend

Weekend was busy!
  • Friday night, hit Cezanne for a smokin' show featuring Joe LoCascio, Warren Sneed, Eddie Lewis, David Craig & Bash Whittaker. It was great - I am continually impressed with Eddie Lewis, and Joe is one of my favorite musicians of all time. (Listen to a clip from a LoCascio composition on Sneed's album "Q"). Anyway, after the first set, I veered over to catch some of the funk jazz fridays show at Brasil with Stucco Fish, and they were great. Then I trucked over to Last Concert to see the New Monsoon show, and they were terriffic. Props to Tapir for putting that on.
  • Saturday, after a rare chance to sleep in on a rainy morning, I took some first steps towards editing Leap (the new Drop Trio record), in ProTools. Starting to get the hang of it, a bit. Some ill-chosen mexican food put me to sleep a bit early, but I got up late and did some midnight editing as well.
  • Sunday, I played the morning new music service at St. Stephen's, then spent the afternoon working on Echo. Had an evening rehearsal with Patrick, our latest Drop bassist, and then hit the sack...
  • ... only to get up at the crack of dawn on Monday for my KTRU shift (here's my playlist).
And now, back to the daily grind here at my recently sold office (the building was sold, not the company).

4/23/2004

Mostly Harmless

OMG, they're making a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. That's the best news I've heard since seeing the first trailer for LOTR and realizing how much it was going to rule. I can't wait until there's a trailer for this one. Martin Freeman (from the brilliant BBC comedy The Office) plays Arthur Dent. Chills.

4/22/2004

Gmail has arrived

So, I got to sign up for my gmail account (thanks Blogger!).



I was just in there playing around with it, and it's very well done. Blows Yahoo & Hotmail out of the water. I can recommend it to anyone who's using one of those services as their primary email provider, but I'm not going to switch over, at least not yet, for a few reasons:
  1. They show ads, and don't give you the option to buy an ad free version. Worse, they draw on the content of your email for the ad targeting. That may be the way of the future, and I know it's all automated, but I still want my private stuff to be private. I'd be happy to even pay for the service without that.
  2. They don't give you any way to spoof emails from your own domains, like me sending from ianvarley.com. So everyone would see the mail is coming from you@gmail.com. Like I said, if you're already using Hotmail or Yahoo, that's no problem, but I need to be able to send out from my own domains. I don't know how they'd verify that you actually own the domains; I guess that's the problem.
  3. They don't give you any kind of export abilities yet. If I want to switch away from my current IMAP provider, I just open Outlook and drag my messages to my new IMAP provider. If I want to switch away from Gmail ... good luck.
  4. It's very efficient web-top software, but it's still web top. I want it to integrate with fully functional desktop software. It's theoretically possible, but I reckon that's still a few years off (though who knows, maybe they'll open up XML APIs like they have on their search and then people can build such a client.)
That said, I think there are some really elegant things about it:
  • No deleting email. Finally.
  • Treat threads as single items all the time, and show the messages within the thread. Totally.
  • Searching is elegant, Google-fast and Google-complete. That can hardly be said of what I'm using now.
I think I would convert over if I could get points #2 and #3 above. I'll live with the ads if it's functional in the other ways I need it to be.

4/19/2004

KTRU Set List

I have posted my radio set list for today. Finally got to bring in some music of my own, so Righteous Buddha and Little Brother Project both made their KTRU debut. Woo hoo. I'm also working on reviews of these CDs (and a few others that people sent me) so they can take up residence in the KTRU library.

Sllllooooowwww Down, Beethoven

For my at-work listening today, I am giving an ear to 9 Beet Stretch. It's a project that took Beethoven's 9th symphony and digitally slowed it down (without changing the pitch) so that it lasts for 24 hours. It sounds sort of like new-age / ambient music, but with a strange edge, and more development than that music usually has. I'm about 20 minutes into the first movement (which, I guess, is actually something like 1 minute into the original). All I can say is: whoa.

4/18/2004

Filing

Here I am, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Am I enjoying the weather by laying out in the park? Am I going hiking or biking or waterskiing?

No, I am filing.

Our house - living room, study, dining room, even kitchen - has been, for some time, overwhelmed with stacks of paper that's "to be filed". Bills, letters, receipts, etc. We're always meaning to file them, but, well, we just never get around to it. But my new contention is that it's this glut of unfiled paper that keeps us from keeping the house as clean as we want to. Whenever we get in cleaning mode, we're stumped by the presence of large amounts of paper, and we stop, defeated.

But today, a friend asked if they could come by and use our printer. Which is currently under 3 separate stacks of paper. So I figured it'd be a good time for some filing. Whee.

4/16/2004

F'd Up

So I'm sitting here, at my desk, and it's 5:09 pm. "Ian," you might say, "what are you doing at your desk 9 minutes after you should have left?" That's a great question. I am sitting waiting for something to stop being f'd up with my IMAP provider long enough for me to copy my sent mail from my local IMAP outbox to my sent items folder. I did a windows update today, and my Outlook has been flaky ever since. But it seems like my Imap provider is also down. Whee.

Which reminds me that I've been looking for a new IMAP provider. Any suggestions? .mac is pretty costly and the email is capped at 200MB. I'd like to get a Gig or so, and hopefully have less downtime than .mac has (a day doesn't go by when I don't get a message saying my provider is "temporarily unavailable".) I'm not down with the GMail privacy invasion thing, but I'd love to get what they offer if I could pay for it and lose the peeking. The Gmail concept is exactly what I've been saying email should be for the longest time (without the privacy invasion part, of course.) C'mon Google, offer a for-pay version without ads!

Speaking of f'd up, did I ever mention my friend Mike Gardiner's idea about making a calendar called "f'd up trees"? He wanted to design and print a calendar where each month was a different f'd up, gnarled, weird looking tree. Like:



Never quite got off the ground, but I think it'd make a great calendar.

OK, it's 5:30 and my email's still down, so I'm going to go home now, defeated. Poopie.

4/15/2004

Good Day

Not only is it ├╝berjam's birthday today, it's also National High 5 Day. Rule.

And even though it's tax day, we're not stressin, cuz ├╝berjam already did our taxes! Does she rule or what?

4/14/2004

Musicians Meetup

So I am the host for tonight's Musicians Meetup over at West Alabama ice house. Should be an interesting experience - I have never hosted a meetup before, I don't know if anyone will show up or what.



The up side is that even if nobody shows up, I still get to go hang out at the West Alabama Ice House. :)

4/12/2004

Anger and no one can feel it

Man, today was such a busy day at work that I hardly had time to do anything; I barely even got time to post my KTRU set list.

On my way home, I was listening to a news report (on Democracy Now, of course) saying that the US Army has laid seige to Falluja, killing six hundred Iraqis (including many women and children) since the "ceasefire" was called - a "massacre", they're calling it, and if there's any truth to it at all it can't escape the major US papers for long. We all knew it was going to get ugly soon, with the resistance to the US occupation getting steadily stronger. The report had a young Iraqi boy talking about how his schoolmate was gunned down in the school yard by an American sniper. Hard to "spin" that one.

Don't you just feel so much safer? There's nothing like making an entire generation of people hate everything you stand for, to decrease the chances of future terrorist attacks. The "war" went great; the "post-war" war is a disaster. At least they found what they went in there for.

Have you seen this moving image? It's a mosaic of the faces of all American servicemen who have fallen in the line of duty. May they rest in peace and honor, they died fighting for our freedom, and they deserve our utmost respect (I mean this in all seriousness). May their deaths weigh heavily on the miserable failure who put them in harms way (I mean that in all seriousness, too).

Sorry, I'm in an angry mood, but I don't know how else to feel in light of all this news. Is this what being alive during Viet Nam was like?

4/10/2004

Taming ProTools

So, little by little, I am starting to get the hang of using ProTools at home. I'm working on editing our Leap sessions (saving on studio expenses).

The first step was just to get the band a full mix of the session, with all mics turned on the whole way through (the rough mix we had from John at SugarHill was "on the fly", and had parts coming in and out randomly). So after I finally got all the hardware (MBox and 80 GB Firewire drive) and software (ProTools LE) working together, I tried to do a mix of the first 60 minutes down to wav file. Unfortunately for me, the computer I'm using (our home iBook) is the lowest spec possible for running ProTools, so it occasionally just stops doing whatever it's doing and says that it didn't have enough CPU to complete the task. Not a big deal during editing or playback, but rather frustrating 2/3rds of the way through an hour-long mixdown.

Once I finally did get the 2 big WAV files, I discovered that iTunes wouldn't open 'em up, cuz they were either too large or the wrong bit rate, I'm not sure which. Arrgh. It's OK, though, b/c I would have had to break up the resulting WAV files anyway, and I don't know any software that does that cleanly on Mac the way CD Wave does on PC.

So instead, I opted to place "memory locations" at the individual track points in the ProTools session, and do individual bounces for each track to WAV. That's 22 individual tracks the way I have it broken up now (which is with more generous track lengths than I used on the last tracked-out version I made). So, 22 bounce downs and 4 CD burns later, I've got the thing where they can listen to it. Fortunately, from here on out, we can deal with individual tracks, not the entire thing, so it'll be more manageable. And now we get to the fun part of actually messing with the arrangements, etc.

4/08/2004

Boycott Lowe's

Seems that Lowe's hardware stores want to build a giant shopping center around The Backyard, a wonderful rustic outdoor music venue in Austin. They'd be doing serious damage to that incredible place, and they'd also be hurting the aquifers that feed Barton Springs and Austin's drinking water supply. In response, a citizen's group has take them to court, and they're asking people to sign the petition to boycott Lowe's.

I'm not against retail development - it's unavoidable, and great when it's done right. But giant megastores like this one ruin the geography they inhabit, and when that geography is a place we care about (as musicians and music listeners), that's not cool. So sign up and boycott lowe's!

4/07/2004

Carrie's Front Page Story

My good friend Carrie, who is a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, has a story on the front page of the paper today. It's about the Ultrasound business. Carrie is also 9 months pregnant and ready to give birth any day now, so she knows of what she speaks. Go Carrie!

4/06/2004

Da News

OK, today has been an insanely busy day for many reason (some related to work). But the cat is out of the bag on my band's big news - Solange Knowles co-wrote and produced a song with us and it's on the Johnson Family Vacation sound track, just released today. Here's the press release. Woo hoo!

Can I take a nap now? Please?

4/05/2004

So far, so good ...

You know, I've had this strange feeling of late. Maybe it's from not clearing out my email inbox. Maybe it's all the pollen in the air. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I've had this sneaking suspicion that I'm forgetting something important - as if, 2 weeks from now I'm going to suddenly realize I left my kitten in the washer, or forgot to eat several meals. I wish I could put my finger on it, it's drivin' me nuts. I feel good overall, but I don't want to get too confident because there's this feeling like I'm about to be taken down a few pegs or something.

Anyway, all things are moving apace. Friday night was a chill evening with some friends. Saturday was a cool private gig with Adrian on bass; Sunday was lots of cleaning and practice. This morning was my first radio show in a few weeks (here's my playlist). Tonight is an interview. Today is me trying to stay awake after getting up at 8am. Tomorrow is the big announcement (OK, not that big, but it's exciting anyway - here's a hint). And then ... ?

What am I missing?

4/02/2004

Not quite 30

Happy birthday to me! I'm not 30 yet! Hahahahaha!

Actually, today has been a very chill birthday so far. I woke up in my own bed with my own wife, which is always a plus (especially after driving home last night after a gig in Austin). I had lunch by myself (which I prefer, sometimes - I like being able to sit and reflect without being in a social situation). And Magnatune posted video of our Elephant room show, which I am very excited about. So all is well, as long as I can get me a little nappage this afternoon.