Just my stuff

Leave a comment

a somewhat dark and foreboding new banner…

…which is ironic because it’s the opposite of how I’m feeling these days. Maybe I’ll redo this at night. Daytime indoor shots generally don’t work as well as nighttime ones. And yes, that’s a CRT monitor (at left). I like retro stuff. Picked this one up just when LCDs and LEDs had practically made it impossible to find a new CRT. It was a good deal. And I like it for watching old TV shows in the 4:3 format.


Salute to a pioneer


Wendy Carlos, Columbia Records

The other day a friend gave me a cassette tape. It’s got to be pretty old because the artist is credited as Walter Carlos. I liked it so much that I went to the library website to see if I could get my hands on a cd, which probably would sound clearer. The only name that came up in my search was a Wendy Carlos, so I assumed someone at the tape factory made a typo.

Turns out that Carlos suffered from “gender dysphoria,” as the DSM-5 labeling system puts it. So she underwent a sex change to become Wendy Carlos. The album, which some of you might remember, is The Well Tempered Synthesizer. It was a follow up to the very popular Switched-on Bach. How interesting, I thought. Not only was Carlos a pioneer in electronic music. She was also a pioneer in changing one’s sex.

When I was a boy S-OB, as the artist herself abbreviates it, was pretty huge. We never owned the record but the cover is so memorable, I remember it well. And the Canadian pianist and composer Glenn Gould spoke very highly of The Well Tempered Synthesizer.

Image via Wikipedia

Glenn Gould once wrote of Wendy’s Bach recordings (incidentally on the back of her Well Tempered Synthesizer LP), “Carlos’s realization of the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto is, to put it bluntly, the finest performance of any of the Brandenburgs—live, canned, or intuited—I’ve ever heard.”¹

Well, I’m not Glenn Gould and that track isn’t my personal favorite. But this tape is fascinating. The sounds are soooo 70s. Carlos also did the music for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and the atmosphere of WTS is pretty similar. There’s a haunting, nay, foreboding retro-futurism that I just love. One almost expects those droogies-gone-bad to be pounding at the door.

Apparently Carlos was instrumental in getting the creator of the Moog synthesizer to add touch sensitivity (i.e. a velocity keyboard). And after the colossal success of Switched-on Bach, Moog sales escalated dramatically.²

What a score this tape was. And free!

¹ http://lineout.thestranger.com/2008/05/wendy_carlos_switchedon_brandenburgs

² Carlos was a childhood prodigy at the keyboard. She was also highly gifted with computers and tech, making devices for herself. See http://www.wendycarlos.com/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy_Carlos

Leave a comment

One thing leads to another

A Netgear DG632 ADSL modem with an 8 pin JTAG ...

A Netgear DG632 ADSL modem with an 8 pin JTAG header at location “5”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a holiday here in Canada, so I was taking it slow this morning. Every now and then our internet connection needs to be reset by restarting the modem. That happened today, so I got up out of my comfy chair and went down to the basement where the modem sits.

I also have a personal reference library in the basement, so while waiting for the necessary 10 second “off time” before restarting the modem, glanced at some of my books. A dictionary of anthropology caught my eye. Browsing its pages while waiting for the internet to return, I found some interesting material on the idea of liminality.

You’d think I’d know all about this concept; it’s right up my alley. But as things go, I’ve only made note of it until now.

Some quick research on Wiki produced these two links. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in religion and the related idea of numinosity. Of particular interest is the distinction anthropologist Victor Turner makes between the liminal and the liminoid. The one is structured and expected by society, and more like work (e.g. going to Church); the other is free and playful (e.g. going to a rock concert). But both apparently have similar effects. They transport you somewhere out of the ordinary.

For me, going to Church is a lot more than just a “trip.” And I only go when I feel called to do so (not via social pressure). But that’s something I’ll elaborate on at earthpages.ca. In the meantime, I just wanted to link to these two exciting finds.

This second link is an interview with Talal Asad. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his views on postmodernism and religion. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. And it’s always great to find an “established” thinker who’s saying things that you’ve already thought about. It gives you a sense of reinforcement and encouragement. After all, a single innovative thinker is often ignored or marginalized (as has been my experience). More than one, however, and people start to take notice.

Apart from my personal story, I really believe that humanity would benefit from using all of the intellectual tools we have at our disposal… especially with regard to religion and society.

Leave a comment

The Next Day – sounds more like yesterday…

Image via Tumblr

This morning I gave David Bowie’s The Next Day another listen. It came out a couple of years ago, but I was going thru a challenging time when the cd was first released, so I thought I’d give it a shot during happier times.

Stress or no stress, my impression is about the same this time as it was the first time: Good… but not great.

Like an old NASA astronaut, Bowie is to be admired. But The Next Day, for the most part, feels really YESTERDAY. The only song I might listen to again is The Stars (Are Out Tonight), which is a nice 70s sounding tune… but not quite hit material. And the overall sound quality of the album is so ridiculously compressed. It sounds like music in a can.

When I was a kid Bowie was the cool freak. Among many associations with his music is walking down Yonge Street in the 1970s, and being fascinated by all the sex, sleaze and futurism it had to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I was just a kid. But Toronto was sleazier in the 70s. Sex workers (then called “hookers,” “prostitutes,” or worse) and strip joints were more visible than in these sanitized days. And a perceptive kid could easily pick up on it. Why else did kids like to go downtown?

Oh yes, pinball and video arcades…

But everything has changed. EDM has taken the place of what artists like Bowie used to do for me. It’s fresh. It’s new. Maybe a bit mechanical. But EDM is really exploring the fringe. New sounds are coming out. Sounds that build on the 70s greats. We wouldn’t have EDM without acts like Bowie, Yes and Genesis (Peter Gabriel version). But, for me anyhow, it’s definitely time to move on.

Leave a comment

another shot of bucharest

Bucharest – Google Earth via Tumblr – click image for fullsize

Being a perfectionist, it bothered me that Lady Gaga wasn’t quite vertical.. so I went back to Google Earth on my computer. The big screen is nice… easier to navigate and find your way around. Anyhow, thought I’d post another angle of the same scene. The red square at left is a McDonalds, or looks like one from another angle.


Sunday morning travels

i thought I’d travel, so to speak, with google earth and check out something interesting. I’ve been curious about Romania for a while, and have never been there. Much to my delight I saw that Google earth is getting better and better. Pretty soon we won’t have to fly at all! But what a joke, my exotic locale had this billboard plastered all over a quaint old building. Just when I wanted to escape from all the 21C hype!

Google earth via tumblr – click image for fullsize

Leave a comment

Wall of Sound (and attitudes)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 331 other followers