Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Here goes nothing....

OK, bluesandbeyond has moved back to it's own domain. This is just a test to make sure everything's working.

There may be some dead links, because of this... I'll fix them as I run across them.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Put the Question to the Night - machinima music video

I've been playing RuneScape off and on for a few years. It's a very nicely designed massive multiplayer role playing game, with very well written storylines in its quests. I have a lot of fun there.

So they're having a machinima (videos made in a game engine environment) contest at RuneScape and I thought I'd try doing a video for my recent remake of "Put the Question to the Night". And here it is:

If you decide to visit RuneScape, my name there is Radikulo - the same as my old Esperanto stage/recording name. Look me up. And I sometimes play as Dox Myth.

In the video, Radikulo plays Doctor Oakroot and Dox Myth plays both himself (the dude with wild pink hair) and the dark-skinned woman in the green dress (RuneScape has a sex-change mage one can visit for a different perspective on thing, lol)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Horses are tricksy

At my most recent riding lesson, Tonka showed how tricky he could be... I haven't learned cantering yet and the gait makes me feel like I'm about to fall off. Tonka figured this out, so we'd start trotting, he'd veer away from the rail, I'd correct him to bring him back to the rail, and he'd start cantering... knowing that the next thing I'd do is stop him... and he'd get to stand still for a while, lol. Just what he wanted.

Well, we over-developed apes are even tricksier, lol. We have language. I talked it over with Camille (instructor) and she explained how to bring Tonka back to a trot without stopping him completely. It was still pretty scary, but it worked... just a little rein pressure (while correcting his position with my leg and shortening the rein and remembering to keep back straight and heels down... it's amazing how many things you have to do simultaneously on horseback - much worse than driving standard transmission... similar in complexity to landing an airplane.)

Camille posted some lesson pics of my wife Rebekah and me as well as our riding classmate and friend Phillip and instructors Camille, Kate, and Tara here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Riding Lessons.

Not long ago, I wrote about my first time riding a horse. Today I had my third lesson. It's going pretty well. Today we did figure 8s, two point, trotting, and, accidentally, a little cantering.

That's me and Tonka in the picture. We (Tonka and I) had a lesson-long discussion about whether or not he was going to stay next to the rail like he's supposed to and by the end of the lesson, I mostly had him convinced - even when trotting - that it was a good idea.

Bust through the Fence... again

At my show, Thursday, I introduced Bust Through the Fence in the usual way:

We have horses... retired from Heads Up! Therapeutic Riding and since we got them, I've learned three things about horses:

  1. Everything near a horse gets filthy and has to be cleaned or discarded.
  2. Everything a horse touches gets broken and has to be fixed or replaced.
  3. Every dollar you earn goes to take care of the horse.

Well, right off the bat, one of the horses broke through the fence... and here's a little song about it...

And I went on to play Bust Through the Fence. You can download the song and the rest of the Falling From the Sky album here.

Well, the next morning when I went down to feed the horses, Phoenix, our blind pony who is the subject of Bust Through the Fence, was wandering around grazing outside her fence... she'd broken through again... actually cut through the fence wire with her horseshoe, I think.

Fortunately, she didn't get hurt this time.

So I spent the afternoon, rebuilding the fence... after spending a bunch of money on supplies for it... proving two points of my list, lol.

I'm also exhausted... maybe there should be a fourth rule about horses wearing you out :\

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Falling Star

Here's a little video segment I've been working on to learn 3D animation. The music was played mostly on the Cyclops CBG.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Electric Banshee Kazoo Mask

Here's a trial run of my new electric cigar box kazoo and banshee mask. It's actually just a low quality microphone made with a piezo disk attached to a plastic diaphragm. Mounts on a mic stand. Offers some cool possibilities on stage.

First Time on a Horse

So, I've been working with horses for while at Heads Up! Therapeutic Riding and we own three ponies - two retired from Heads Up! (yeah, I'm a soft hearted sucker, lol) and one an ill thought-out gift to (step-daughter) Rachel from her dad... but had never riden a horse - for one thing, all the ponies I know are too small to carry my 287 lbs. - until yesterday.

Recently, Heads Up! acquired some new horses (not ponies this time) and one of them, Tonka, a pinto gelding, at 1200 some lbs is just big enough to carry me. And Heads Up! is offering adult riding lessons as a fund raiser for our main focus of providing hippo-therapy and therapeutic riding for special needs kids.

Tonka is fairly new to the program and I haven't worked with him much... just caught him and led him to where he was to be groomed for a lesson a couple of times... and had already had to "explain" personal space to him a couple of times. He likes to push his nose right into your face - a problem coming from a 1200 lb animal. He seems very friendly about it, but I'm told that this is a serious dominance challenge, so I take it seriously.

So I went with Rebekah for a group lesson yesterday. Rebekah had had a couple of lessons already. As it turns out, the other student in our group had to cancel and Camille, the instructor, was training another instructor, Kate... so we actually ended up having one-on-one lessons with the two instructors. Very cool.

I groomed and tacked Tonka under Kate's supervision - I mostly knew how to do this of course, since I've been doing it for Heads Up! lessons. But I did learn some things about saddles - we mostly use surcingles for the kids.

For the actual riding I was working with Camille, who is a very talented instructor. The first two minutes on the horse were really scary... I felt like I was about to fall off even standing still. How am I going to stay on when he starts walking?

But a couple of minutes later, it wasn't so bad - I guess my body was adjusting to the new requirements. Of course, I've been participating in lessons in which kids learn to ride for a couple of years now and had lots of examples to model... that helped a lot. My training in aikido helped too - weight under, balance, breathe - all applicable to horse riding too.

A lot of horse control is done with the legs... and it hurts - at least at first. Squeezing the horse uses a couple of muscles on the inside of the thighs that don't get used for anything else. (Well, I think women use them for something else, but men don't.) I expected to be in real pain today, but oddly, it's just a little soreness in those two muscles - otherwise I'm feeling good.

Funny thing is, during the ride, I felt like I was sticking my legs out in all different directions trying to signal the horse... felt like I was getting waaaay off balance and would fall at any moment. But, when I looked at my legs while I was doing this, I discovered that the leg motions were not visually detectable - at least from where I was sitting. The leg motions that signal the horse are really tiny... amazingly so.

Overall, I learned a lot and I'll be back. Next time trotting. Rachel has ridden Tonka and says he has a very smooth gait trotting, so it shouldn't be bad.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Blues Jam Special No. 13

Recently, I've been attending the biweekly blues jam at the Broad Street Cafe in Durham, NC. I've been playing bass on the Kickin' Bass - which works out fine, and also acting as band leader while playing guitar on the Cyclops and singing...

That's led to a few problems:

First, and most shocking, I found that some of the other players don't know much about blues before about 1970... so when I called for "Back Door Man" - what I thought would be a conservative choice that everyone would know - I just got blank stares... and I never did get them to play the chords right. I guess after 1970, no one ever stayed on the "I" through the second four, lol. Since then, I've tried much easier songs with less deviation from the stock 12 bar formula... but any deviation seems to throw them off, unless it's a blues/rock/jazz song that they already know. ("Summertime" works OK. So does "Stormy Monday"). Now I don't want this to sound like I'm bitching about my fellow players - this is a much a failure of my pickup band leadership as anything - a new skill I need to learn, lol.

Second, I really need much more volume in my solos than at other times - but the Cyclops doesn't have a volume control.

Third, I find that the bottom two strings really kind of interfere with the bass player's part, more than add anything useful to the mix.

And finally, there's one guy there who seems to be unable to play in any key I ever sing in... but apparently, he can play in C.

So what does a cigar box guitar player do to solve some problems? Why, build a new guitar of course!

So that brings us to the Blues Jam Special No. 13. (No. 13, because it's my 13th instrument of 2009).Four strings, tuned CEGc - ideal for playing blues in C without interfering with the bass- and a hand wound pickup, which allowed me to add a volume control (I'm not convinced a volume control would work with the piezos I usually use)

So next blues jam, I'll show up with the Blues Jam Special No. 13 and three songs in strict 12 bar form in C and see if we can make it work. The songs I've chosen are "Ninth Street Blues", "Good Morning Blues" (Ledbetter), and "Old Willie".

Here's a sample of what the Blues Jam Special No. 13 sounds like. This was recorded straight into the computer from the pickup with no effects. Download a Sample Tune.

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Living without faith is like driving in the fog...

Living with faith is like driving in the fog... and knowing it's OK.