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lacerate your brain

And so, unpopular as it may be, I wanted to mention a few apps of note that I’ve come across lately.

First one, just yesterday, is google translate which could potentially be a game changer in that it will change the game I play weekly to get money. The one called teaching english as a second language. I just speak right into the phone and it uses voice/word recognition, then via the internet connection translates up to a whole sentence into the 2nd language and shows it on the screen in that language, but you can also click to have it come out of the speaker as a computer voice.

I may need to practice and adjust how I talk when I talk to it because when I said ‘people in this country are idiots’ it thought I said ‘people in the country of India’.

Second is, as recently mentioned, Angry Birds, which only just recently became available to buy in korea. I know I’m wasting time with it but in any given day there are minutes which if they are not wasted in one way, will surely be wasted in another. There’s not much to say about angry birds. It’d be a challenge to write an essay on the narrative underpinning angry birds, but I’m sure someone will try. One thing I did find interesting was that a couple of the green pigs’ structures were adorned with a little swedish flag and I thought it might be a sign of some light ribbing toward their scandanavian neighbours, but then there was also a finnish flag in the same place in one screen as well.

Third is an iPad app, put out by the people who run the Ultimateguitar.com website. Very crafty on their part. The app itself is free, and you buy a subscription (8 bucks for a year) and it serves up the data from the website in the form of guitar chords and tabs. They have thousands and thousands of songs on there. Again, crafty because all of those song chords were submitted by people ‘the community’ and now the website is making a pretty penny from it. And of course you don’t really have to pay—you can still use a web browser and see the songs that way. One neat thing the app can do is transpose chords up or down however many keys you need.

I figured it was worth paying for because sitting around learning and playing songs is infinitely more constructive than playing computer games. We were playing Ziggy’s Rock And Roll Suicide last night.

 

, , , , — YS @ 9:56 am, December 4, 2011

Lazy days

It’s been a lean month at the sunny breaks. Not for any particular reason, and again it’s not as if I’ve been especially busy. But hey, there’s always December.

I got a new guitar. Here’s a rather flat little foto of it.

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I really like it. It’s a fender Squier in the telecaster style and with the ‘classic vibe ‘50s’ model name. Like the tele deluxe I have, the colour is rather unassuming, but the sound is very nice. Both pick-ups are fairly lightly wound giving a clean sound. The body wood is pine. When I first heard about pine being used for guitars, a couple of years back I sniggered, thinking that anything that bunk beds are made out of couldn’t be good for making sound. But as is the idea with the classic vibe series, they did actually used to make some guitars out of pine way back when, And I was surprised that it’s quite light to sling around the neck and doesn’t hinder the sound at all.

Anyway, so I’m trying to play country songs. I’m dipping very slowly into country, and still only around the edges. Like Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, and a bit of Marty Robbins—a few of his songs I really like. Country-rock sits a lot better, or “cosmic american music” like what Gram Parsons called what he did. I have a real affinity with Gram. The two Burrito Brothers albums he was on, the byrds Sweetheart of the rodeo album and I’m starting to listen to Grevious Angel and GP but they haven’t grown on me the way the Burrito’s stuff has.

, — YS @ 12:01 am, December 1, 2011

word power is job power

I’ve been thinking about buying a Play Station 3. I wouldn’t say I’ve been feeling consternation about it, which is to say, I haven’t been consterned, but it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I mentioned this to the g/f and she wasn’t impressed. She says it’s one of the things that she likes about me, that I don’t play computer games, a national scourge among men young and old on the peninsula. They’re like crack.   It’s like saying, well I have a decent job, I’m studying part-time, I have several healthy hobbies including growing cooking herbs and learning easy songs on the guitar like ‘Heart of Gold’, and Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’, but you know what? I think I’m gonna take up smoking crack.

Maybe I’m making too much of it. I’m telling myself I’m interested in studying the narratives embedded in the games. You know I could’ve even done my thesis on narrative in computer games. I like car driving games. And ones where you fly a plane.

oblivion

“Soon, we will all have special names.”

I watched Videodrome (1983). The first third or so was pretty good. It was like Marshall McLuhan’s ideas combined with a William S. Burroughs plot. The last two thirds were more like Nightmare on Elm St combined with nothing. It had Deborah Harry in it. She’s really gorgeous, but in a real, ‘I don’t bleach my teeth’ kind of way.

debharry

*   *   *

Got to Jam with my old buddies last weekend. Played the Tele deluxe and my goodness it sounds good. I hit a chord and it goes, _“Klang!”_  Just a real bell-like Jang sound that I’ve never heard a guitar make except on records. So that’s its name now, Klang.

, , , , — YS @ 6:47 pm, May 10, 2010

blackdog

Last sunday I caught the train into the city to hand over one of my guitars to a lucky buyer. Despite it being one of the busiest days for people using the train, services for lilydale & belgrave are combined, making fr a rather pakt carriage by the time it gets to hawthorn. I was sitting in a special needs seat, because if there was ever a dude who had special needs, it’s me.

But I did move my case to  make way for an old lady when pulling out of Glenferrie. Is that a bassoon? she asked. Why yes it is! Said I. I’m the bassoon player for the Royal Philharmonic.

My daughter used to play bassoon, she said. I’m also a member of the Melbourne Pops Bassoon Quintet, I added. In fact, I own and run a shop in East Camberwell called, “Bassoons A’Plenty”—not to be confused with my arch rival’s shop, “Plenty of Bassoons” in Plenty rd, Lower Plenty.

Several years ago I wrote a book titled Baboon with a bassoon on the subject the complex social strata of African Yellow Baboons, and the implications of handing out bassoons to them.

My daughter never visits me now she has her own family, said the old lady. Yeah bassoons are great, I replied.

*   *   *

I have to say australians are a bunch of wussies when it comes to actually bidding on a guitar on ebay. There were 15 watchers for the Jaguar and not a single bid. I got several emails after the auctions saying, ‘ah yeah, do ya still have that guitar?’ Selling pedals last year went rather smoothly in comparison, but I guess there’s something about the larger monies involved, and buyers needing some sort of token, ritualistic touching of the instrument before buying.

I met Ballarat country father & son at the vic markets. They bought it. Son was about 16, wearing a nirvana t-shirt and had long hair. I could see that Lobo (lonesome bones) the jaguar was going to a good home.

The black tele custom sold today, but not after a weird stand-offish situation with a (frankly) bad-vibed chap last night who came to look at it and attempted to haggle. I really don’t like haggling, even as purchaser, much less as seller. He called back today and said could meet minimum price and despite it being a couple of bits of inanimate wood I felt a little unsure of handing it over to strange man.

, , , , , , — YS @ 10:46 am, February 12, 2010

exhale

Interesting that apple aren’t going to service computers that’ve been in smokey environments now. I read that they say the internal components get covered in a goo that stops the machine from venting heat. Don’t remember if they said ‘goo’ exactly but whatever the wording was, it left a pretty vivid little picture in my head, and a nasty one.

This is a 1981 Bullet, fender guitar.

81bullet1

I was pretty keen on buying it a while back but the chumps wouldn’t post overseas. These aren’t cool yet but I predict they will be. Something about the wear on this, the chipping of the paint on the pickguard, and the combination of colours reminds me of an old plane that’s crashed into the side of a foggy south american mountain and created a cargo cult. I don’t know if this particular guitar lived in a smokey environment.

The way inanimate objects get stained makes me think how well the human body is able to take in this stuff and somehow push it back out, but at the same time, how crazy it is to do it at all. Strange that I did for 11 years.

, , , , , — YS @ 10:34 am, December 2, 2009

red, green

It is a time of hellos, new beginnings. I got a couple of new guitars because I couldn’t stand not having clutter around the joint.

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This is my first venture into vintage guitar ownership. This is a 1966 Fender Duo-Sonic II. These were originally brought out as student guitars. The colour is known as Dakota red—it’s a very red red. I’m assuming it lived most of its life in and around Birmingham, Alabama, since that’s where it came from and there’s a little sticker on the back of the headstock that says Phipps Music, Birmingham, Alabama. I’m fascinated by the history of it, but mostly it’s for rocking out. I’m calling it Tallulah because I happened to watch Hitchcock’s LIfeboat the other night and Tallulah Bankhead is in that and I thought, that’s a nice name, and as it turns out she was from Alabama too.

I know beating a Kraut to death with a boot-heel is wrong, even when they are smug, but hey it was wartime.

Around the same time I finally decided to get an acoustic. That was supposed to be part of the whole country rock plan which hasn’t unfolded quite the way I imagined it would.

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It’s green which is a non-traditional colour for acoustic guitars, but it’s not like I was able to afford an interwar Gibson or anything like that. The Segovia brand is Korean, and I’d been looking at this one on and off for a year or so. The price came down recently. It has a Mexican vibe to it that I like, and it’s not as big as most acoustics—more like a Hank Williams size. I like the inlay on the fretboard. I didn’t notice if much until I was playing it and seeing it from an ‘up-side down’ position but it reminds me a bit of the Hitchcock Presents silhouette.

, , , , , , , — YS @ 5:20 pm, October 30, 2009

Peace, love and a nagging feeling that ur not right

I watched the movie ‘Woodstock’ last night. All of the footage of the late-60s young people, sometimes called hippies, made me uncomfortable. I think it was their aimlessness, pretending to be fine when they weren’t, and looking for something in all the wrong places that got under my skin.

Obviously there wasn’t three days of music on the movie, usually just one song from a bunch of people, but it was interesting how many of them were playing old stuff. Joe Cocker singing British popster song, ‘with a little help from my friends’—not very counter-culture if you get what I mean. I know I like Jefferson Airplane, but the song from them on it wasn’t that good. The only two bits that had a sound that was pushing into the future were Sly and the Family Stone (I love their horn section. And they were so dancey they were almost electronic before electronics were invented) and Jimi. He’s still light years ahead of the game even today. The way they edited it, he comes out onto the stage, just for a moment looks out into the dried-mud disaster area, says “I see that we meet again”, like Kung Fu and launches.

jimi

, , , , , — YS @ 10:20 am, October 17, 2009

Q.Freedom of Choice? A.muju

I’d been starting to think music was dead. I haven’t to listened to any good radio stn in years s I don’t know if there’s any good new stuff out there. I would keep an eye out for any of my fav artists to see if they’d put out anything new—but then what happens when they’re all retired?

Here’s three things:

There’s this person who puts all the songs made in australia and NZ in 1980 on youtoob. I thought this was pretty neat. I was just six then. A small boy. And these products of my mind were wearing vests made out of safety pins and the like.

Next is that william shatner album I’d heard about but not got to listening to. There was a couple of interesting things in it. Henry Rollins and bill shatner as muppets.

And while I those ones are the past, this one is new. I heard about the band, Battles, from reading my close personal friend’s blog – david byrne. He said at their gig they had their guitars slung up really high which is interesting and nerdy. I’m doing it now. It’s much more comfortable. I gather they are what is called post-rock. I like the middle part of the song where it actually does rock a bit. Not sure about the vocal style, I think I prefer the conventional rock style of singing. There’s a fair bit of chipmunk voices on the album ‘Mirrored’. In any case – I do like them and it’s a whole heap better than another so called post rock band I heard called Explosions in the Sky, which was dreary.

Also, it’s a time for saying goodbye and I sold another guitar. Goodbye to gold bass.
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, , , , , — YS @ 8:25 pm, October 12, 2009

red guitar sold

Red guitar you were such a peculiar looking thing when I first saw you out at that little shop at the end of line 7. I had to have you. I’m sure you weren’t made of the same stuff that real Ric’s are made of, but I didn’t care. Your tuning pegs badly needed replacing and often when I sat to play with you, your upper horn would jab me in the man-bosom—but being loansome with you in Icheon (2005, 06) is one of those memories I’m romanticising the further I get from it.

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— YS @ 8:20 pm, September 27, 2009

the crossroads

Y’know I’ve never been a huge fan of Gibson guitars, and the few occasions I come across a foto of the 1950s Les Paul man on the internet I’m struck by the unassuming look he had. I know it was the 50s and all that jazz, but I would mistake him for an accountant. If there had ever been anyone who seemed like they really did sell their soul to the devil for fame, I used to think it was that guy, but then it doesn’t really make sense that he’d only be playing jazz.

les paul n mary ford

Anyway, goodbye dude. You really were an amazing player and inventor. I’ll be really grateful if my hands work well enough to still be playing when I’m 94. Here is a mini-doco on your life. Okay I’m off to btjunkie to see if I can d/load some of yours and Mary Ford’s 50s jazz stuff. It sounds sweet.

*   *   *

While we’re on guitar stuff, I haven’t been buy much lately, but I did get a small pack of v picks aka plectrums. Initially one would baulk at the price that averages out to three buck US for one pick – a piece of plastic afterall, but hey whatever—I gave it a try and wasn’t disappointed.

I had been using a really thing (0.50 mm) pick for the last year, so to begin with the vpick felt way chunky – but it’s really nimble too. The thing I noticed first was how much louder the guitar sounded when playing unplugged. Also the thickness seems to encourage harder strumming which is not a bad thing.  Also, the pick is something that’s always used – so $3, at least the way I see it, pays for itself quickly compared to other things I’ve bought for 100 that I only use now ad then.

, , , — YS @ 6:30 pm, August 14, 2009

Guitar shopping in Tokyo

I got into Tokyo on New Years Day to find that most places were closed. There was a couple of the Ishibashi outlets open though, including Ikebukuro (an area of the city). That’s where I ended up getting the MIM Tele Custom two days later.

It was cold in Tokes, but not ridiculously so.

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cutting to the chase, this is the one I eventually bought

Didn’t actually see much of Ikebukuro because the Ishibashi joint was close to the train station.

My currency translating skillz went awry when looking at this US made ‘72—in fact I didn’t see the US made bit. I was think it was roughly $400, probably because it was beat up and the pick up looked a little rusty. Add another zero to 348. It played nice.

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The next day I got over to another area, Nochonmizu, that has about ten larger, chok-full shops of new and vintage gear. I wasn’t epecting many of them to be open but most were.

This is the TL-52 SPL. That is, it’s a Japanese Fender, made to look like the 1952 model Telecaster, and the SPL means special. It’s special. And I was indeed considering it because it has that combination of a single coil and a humbucker, but the humbucker didn’t sound very good, plus the varnished woodgrain reminded me too much of YOUR MUM’S kitchen table.

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This is the one I was really hankering for a few months ago. But then the hanker gave out. It’s also a Fender Japan—a MG69 RLY. Mustang 1969 style in ‘rebole’ yellow.  O RLY?

Gorgeous colour, but it sounded too samey with the Jaguar I already have here. I may still definitely give one of these a try sometime though.

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Here is a bunch of pedals. At least in the 2nd hand dept, and for Japanese company-made pedals, the prices were pretty good at times, but if were not actually in the country, and were adding on shipping, it probably wouldn’t be worth it.

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Bunch of original Mustangs OMG :drool:

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This is a 1988 strat. It’d faded to a really nice pale yellow bananary full-moon colour. Check out the evidence of fading on the back, due to now-removed stickers. The fretboard was scalloped. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I don’t know why anyone would scallop anything other than potatoes.

Anyway, all up it was a really fun experience. The folks in the shops were always completely polite and okay with letting me have a try of pretty much any guitar that I wanted. Within reason I guess… there were a couple of Bass IVs in one shop, with the price on them at about US$4000 each, and as much as I was curious about the sound of them, I didn’t ask for a try. There’s slim chance I’ll ever own a bassIV.

But it was a cool thing to say, Hay, can I try this? and then be asked, would you prefer it through a Fender or Marshall?  Also, Japanese people’s English is pretty good. I found myself slipping into the terrible sounding pidgeon English that I mostly speak in here, only to find that it wasn’t necessary there. Maybe partly the reason is that there’s a lot more Australian and English people in Japan, so the locals are exposed to more variety of accents.

At some times the shops were quite busy and I would’ve had to wait around to try out something, but sometimes very quiet, which was when the sales staff were basically encouraging me to try their stuff, with no hard-sell tactics at the end. It was great—that style really works on me. It’s like, my brain thinks, well, if you’re not going to try and talk me into buying this $1000 dollar guitar, then it must be pretty damn good, in which case, I think I’ll just go ahead an buy it.

One thing that warmed the cockles of my guitar-purcahsin’ heart was seeing young teeny-bopper kids looking at stuff and buying stuff. In the Ikebukuro store I was watching this kid, must’ve been 14 at the most, nerdily looking at 2nd hand small clone and small clone nanos as if they were from another planet. I felt like saying to him, Get the standard one, it sounds better. In Nochanomizu there was a young teen girl with her mum buying a guitar starter pack too. It was great because I never see that here. The predominant demographic at Nagwon is old ajashis – and they own the shops.

So from the perspective of guitars and gear, I was reminded of how wealthy Japan is. Playing a musical instrument, guitar or other, is primarily a hobby—like fishing or pokemon – and in Japan people have the bux to spend on their hobby. Compared to here, where currently things are not looking good – I’m betting a few of those old dudes in the nagwon building go out of bidness soon.

In Nochan the biggest crowding I saw was at one of the shops that was having a sheet music book sale. It made me think, if there’s all these young dudes and dudettes in Jp with guitars, why don’t more rock groups come out of the country. I’m guessing, 1) the language difference is a big factor. There’s not much commercial viability in Japanese sung songs in English-speaking countries. Also 2) There’s a good dollop of the same mindset in Japan as there is here re creativity—that is – they’re more into following the rules, learning the sheet music, than wading into the murky depths or unexplored creative styles.

Even here, whenever I get to Nagwon there’s always someone shredding it up, trying out a HM-2 or something, but it was odd that as busy as all those shops were in Tokyo, I didn’t here anyone hot-dogging it with the guitars on sale.

, — YS @ 8:37 pm, January 20, 2009
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