It’s been nice to have a few extra days off. The idea was to recharge the batteries and to cut loose on a couple of projects that I’ve been putting off. It didn’t work out that way; I have had so many things that I wanted to do I worried about how much I had to do instead of actually doing it.
That’s not a productive approach. I doubt that this is one of the habits that the legendary Highly-Effective People indulge in. Of course, the specter of work was hanging over me the whole weekend* and that is a de-motivator if there ever was one. Still, at some point, I have to either stop using that as an excuse or just admit to myself that I’m not actually going to do these things and quit worrying over them.
We watched Fight Club again the other night. It’s a really odd document of it’s time, isn’t it? The anti-consumerist slogans still have some power, but not as much as they would I would have attributed to them when I was in college. The performances are spectacular and David Fincher really knows how to shoot a movie like this. It’s just that…well, I saw a tweet a while back saying that if a guy says that Fight Club is his favorite movie, get the hell away from him. That strikes me as a pretty solid take. Heck of a movie, but what it’s saying, or, more accurately, what some people will take away from it, is not something you want to be involved with.
My skin is starting to do it’s “thing” again, and none of the self-care regimens seem to be having any effect on its progress. Since the last time this happened, I wound up with MRSA, I’m having to treat each return with more respect than I have been. We’ve gone from “annoying but manageable” to “fucking scary and no permanent solution in sight”. My therapist has recommended that I meditate on it to try to discover the root cause and, while I am skeptical, it’s not like any other avenue has produced positive results.
One project I made a little progress on this week was to get the gear all on the same page and playing nicely together. This turned out to be easier than I expected. The modern Korg stuff (Volca Sample, Volca Beats, and Minilogue) sync nicely and all have their own sequencers, so there was no challenge there. I’m using a Beatstep Pro to set the clock and, it had to be leaned on a little to get it to talk to the Korgs, but in the end, that worked out ok. The Beatstep also sequenced the old Korg (DW8000) and the Radio Shack MG-1, so one controller was running or at least providing the beat for five other machines. I did a little goofing on the opening riff from Radiohead’s “My Iron Lung” and it came out well. I’d have been satisfied if it had just worked, but the fact that it sounded pretty good was a bonus.
For the thing I actually want to be working on, I needed some more “industrial” sounds and that took a little doing. Most of the sample packs for the Volca are aimed at trap and house music and that’s not the palette I was looking for. I wanted the sound of metal things hitting other metal things. I couldn’t find anything like that made for the Volca, but I did find this: The Warehouse by 99Sounds. Apparently, Richard Gould went to an old warehouse, smashed shit into other shit, and recorded it all.
The samples are free, but they’re 24bit and my little Korg won’t have anything to do with anything that refined. I had to convert them all to 16bit, crop them and convert them to mono before loading them (there’s only 4mb of sample space on the device, so “efficiency” is the word of the day). They are, in a word, glorious. They’re exactly what I’m looking for: LoFi, crunchy, glitchy fragments of the sounds of violent things happening to heavy objects. The Warehouse is free to download and, if this is your idea of fun, I strongly recommend it.
It has been called to my attention that our nation fired tear gas into another nation to discourage refugees from attempting to cross our borders. I can’t talk about it right now, and I don’t know that I have enough context to offer an informed view, but it sure as hell seems absolutely barbaric and just confirms that, as a people, we are no longer “the good guys” (if we ever were).
I’ve just finished reading Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Imaginary Beings. It’s a strange little document, a list of over 100 mythical or at least made-up creatures. It’s not exactly what I was expecting in that it’s a largely straightforward, alphabetized cyclopedia. There’s no over-arching theme, let alone a story. This was my introduction to Borges and, while I enjoyed it and intend to use it as reference, I expect it isn’t really representative of his work.
Next up of The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien. I know absolutely nothing of O’Brien or this novel save that it was name-checked by Grant Morrison in The Invisibles. If the other works referenced by Morrison are anything to go by, I expect that this will be an unexceptional, by-the-book novel with no surprises, dark overtones, or sardonic wit.
* My sister’s theory on the sense of dread of returning to work is not absolute but relative. Instead of arriving the night before returning to work regardless of whether or not it’s a weekend or a week-long vacation, the dread arrives when a certain percentage of your time off remains. So, if it’s Sunday night of a regular weekend (approximately 75% of the way through one’s time off), then, if you have a week off (9 days assuming weekends on either side), the dread should arrive around the middle of Friday. There’s actually quite a bit more to the theory, but this is the most useful and easily-calculated part of it.