Archive for the ‘non-music related’ Category

Oops, forgot to mention…

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

I just realized I never mentioned my latest new iOS app. It’s codesigned by Josh Warren, who I worked with on the Aquarium 2 app. It’s interesting enough visually and user interface-wise to mention here, and we made our own custom alarms (I made the “Ascending” and “Descending” alarms using Ableton Live.)

The app is what we’re calling a “personal sunlight assistant” and the official app is titled Sol: Sun Clock. You can read more about it at Juggleware.

Or just go straight to the App Store. It runs on iPhone or iPad.

Upon Discovering That Hollywood Really Is Making a Movie Based On the Battleship Board Game

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

[SCENE. Office, Big Hollywood Studio. Producer behind desk. Director stands in front.]

PRODUCER: What board games haven’t been made into a movie franchise yet?

DIRECTOR: Pretty much all of them have, I think.

P (gently prodding): All of them? Come on, think! What’s left?

D: Well…. there’s… there’s…. no I can’t say it…. it’s too stupid…

P (more loudly): Spit it out man! This is Hollywood! Nothing is too stupid here!

D: Well…. um…  there’s (gulps) … Battleship?

P: Battleship! Genius! That’s it. Now, how to make it zing? What’s that thing we always do?

D: Add aliens?

P: Someone give this guy 10 million dollars! Cause we’ve got a hit!

Create, Consume, Communicate, or Practice?

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

After hearing a well-known food writer talk about how he forces himself to write first thing with coffee every morning, I’ve been thinking about how much time a creative person should allocate to the following areas:

  • Create: For a writer, forcing yourself to put pen to paper. A musician: actively composing. An artist: paint must be on the brush—whether or not you are feeling the Muse.
  • Consume: Reading, listening, participating in the arts passively. It’s hard to think of an interesting musician without finding a person who listened to older records obsessively. Same goes for all other artists, with few exceptions, and most of the exceptions are liars.
  • Communicate: Talking to others about/within/around the topic; sharing stories; formal and informal meetings. Online communication is certainly a big part of it (What I am doing now with this blog entry in fact). Writers have retreats. Musicians have jam sessions.
  • Practice (This was gong to be “Learn” but “CCCP” was a better acronym): Includes all forms of active study, from practicing your instrument, to attending lectures, to reading instructional materials. It can even be watching TV or YouTube if it teaches you something.

It seems there must be some kind of balance, and I suppose it depends somewhat on the kind of work you do. Communication seems less important in most of the visual arts, and Practice is probably hard to do if you’re a writer unless you’re actually writing, and that puts you in the Create area.

I am curious to hear from anyone who’s developed an approach to this. As a self-taught musician, and a wanna-be writer, I used to believe that everything was in the Create zone. I felt guilty, even angry at myself when I was doing anything but writing. It’s taken me a long time to realize how important the other 3 areas outside Creation are important. I think I have got the Consume area down — now I could definitely could use more Practice in my life.

One thing I have noticed is that you need to understand where you are on the curve of learning vs the plateaus of inspiration. If you are finding it hard to be inspired, there’s a good chance that your energies would be better spent learning. Study someone whose work you really respect. Immerse yourself in it. Don’t worry about being a copycat—you’ll probably only retain 5% of what you learned anyway, and you’ll synthesize whatever you retained into your toolbox. The next time you try to create, you’ll have a new palette to choose from. That’s my take anyway, and I’d love to hear yours.

more food for thought

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

[preface: obivously, this blog is going to be about more than music, I guess, since I don’t really have a better place to write about this and I really don’t want to create another blog. ]

Last week after much procrastination, the wife and I finally saw Food, Inc, which directly assaulted something I’d been fairly ambivalent about for over a decade now.

Let me set something straight: I love eating meat. I love steak, hamburgers, fried chicken, bacon, pepperoni, you name it. In particular I love roast beef po-boys, Cuban sandwiches, Reubens and above all, North Carolina-style pulled pork. For this latter my passion was extreme: with my old band Shinola we went on several day tours, during one of these Barbequests™ in eastern Carolina we ate at five Q shacks in one day — and created the first N.C. BBQ resource ever on the web back in 1996. In the past few years I’ve had great times smoking pork shoulders in homemade smokers (a la Alton Brown) and homemade hot vinegar sauce made from peppers grown in my backyard.

But before that, as a late teenager and in college I was a vegetarian… not primarily for health reasons, but for all the reasons this film brought back to me. When I started eating meat again it was the result of going through some especially dark times that brought on a nihilistic phase, and while my family was probably relieved that I was eating like a normal American again, I felt like I had sold out somewhat.

And now, the food industry is more consolidated, more streamlined, more disgusting, more dangerous, and more cruel than ever. I don’t want to say too much more, other than you owe it to yourself to see this movie. (You might have to wait for it to come out on DVD at this point, depending where you live.)

It hasn’t made me commit to be a full-on vegetarian again, but it’s made me change my habits about where I buy my food, and not just meat either.

I’ve been researching places to buy meat that comes from cruelty free farms (preferably local), both for home cooking and restaurants. New Orleans, where I live, is a culinary Mecca, but not particularly green. I’m hoping that some of my favorite places to eat are thinking about getting on the bandwagon, if they haven’t already.

Otherwise, sad to say, no barbecue for me.

You say tomato, I say Con-agra: a true tale of farmers’ market scam.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

I was just at one of the local New Orleans farmers’ markets, to be specific the Mid-City Green Market that’s every Thursday in Mid-City. I’m trying to buy local more often, and support small farmers… those that have survived anyway after the assaults of agri-business and large supermarkets.

I was a little early and everyone was still setting up their tents and putting out their crates, baskets and baked goods in the brutal heat.

Having just come back from Western North Carolina, where I consumed some delicious peaches from the farmer’s market there, I went to the peach stand first and bought some peaches. The lady told me they were from Alabama, which seemed reasonable enough. I remember getting peaches from her before, and she telling me they drove in from Alabama.

Next I went to look for tomatoes, and there was a couple of guys—looked like a father and son team—putting out a remarkable assortment of vegetables. Tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers, peppers—a variety of vegetables that all looked beautiful, where most other vendors usually just had one or two varieties of produce. I had been under the impression from these markets in the past that either not too much grew in Louisiana, or that it was difficult to produce many varieties for small farmers, but these guys looked to have diversity and quantity, and from a superficial glance, quality. Maybe they had some really magic soil on their farm?

They asked what I needed and I said tomatoes, so they pulled some crates out and started filling the table.

“Where are these from?” I asked. “They grown in Louisiana?”

Folsom,” the older guy replied.

“Good. I’ll take a handful.”

“Get him a bag,” the older guy said to the kid, who looked to be about fourteen.

The kid pulled out a plastic grocery store bag, and I started looking at the tomatoes. They all looked good, but something was amiss. None of them looked bad, and none of them looked great. It was like looking at produce at the grocery store, and I started to wonder if these were hothouse tomatoes. The best tomatoes I’d had usually were less evenly colored, even less red in parts. I was about to ask, wondering if they had their own private hothouse on the farm, when my question was answered by a tomato.

Or rather a sticker on the tomato.

“Vine Grown in Arkansas” it read, complete with a supermarket PLU code.

It took me about 5 seconds to calculate the (un)likelihood that a supermarket sticker accidentally stuck itself to a farm-grown tomato, or that a tomato from a passing grocery store truck had bounced out on the highway and into their pick-up.

The kid came back over to see if I had made my selection.

“This one says it was grown in Arkansas,” I mentioned.

The kid snatched the tomato from me and looked at it, then quickly turned around and peeled off the sticker with his back to me as if I couldn’t see him and put it back in the crates. He then turned back towards me as if nothing had happened and his removing the evidence had returned the tomato to its farm-grown local status. Heck, it might have even been organic at that point!

He then nonchalantly (sort of) turned over a few more tomatoes to make sure the whole batch wasn’t spoiled then casually sauntered over to the older guy, who was unloading more crates at the truck. He looked back and I pretended to be still selecting tomatoes, then I looked up and I saw him whispering briefly to the older guy.

“Goddamn son of a bitch!” the older guy exclaimed under his breath but probably not at all as quietly as he wanted to. I suspect it was the kid’s job, or maybe his brother or sister’s, to remove the stickers after the dad bought them at Sam’s Club, and that the dad had told them repeatedly how important it was to remove all the stickers.

The whole thing, especially their reaction to my finding the sticker, was like a couple of small time crooks that got busted for heisting the March of Dimes jar, and I don’t want to make too much of it, but at the same time, I do want to support local farmers and the local economy, and if I can’t do this at the farmers’ market, then Wal-mart has already won.

In retrospect, I should have taken a photo with my iPhone, but I was too flabbergasted to think. There’s a part of me that thinks, maybe these guys are hard on their luck in this economy and they are just doing what it takes to get by. But at the same time, one of the main reasons we’re in this situation is people have put all their eggs in one basket (so to speak), and in the food world, we can break the cycle by buying local and breaking the chain with global food conglomorates who will ship you blueberries from Chile when they are growing in your neighbor’s yard, consuming more oil in transportation, working against diversification, encouraging large-scale use of pesticides, and many other reasons. I’ve seen the trailer for Food, Inc. and it looks like it will blow a lot of minds…