Plague Masquerade

My mother lovingly crafted the most hideous masks for our family out of flannel and cotton. They’re surely about as effective a disease resistance tool as wrapping a shirt around your head, but it’s really just to keep her calm. I took it out for its first spin today to get some grocery essentials.

I was a little anxious to wear something so laughably pointless but was reassured as I pulled into the (packed) parking lot of the supermarket and saw that I actually possessed one of the better crafted masks. Thanks, Mom!

Surely most people are only wearing masks for show. We know that dust masks don’t do anything against a virus but if it makes people around us feel safe, it’s not a huge concession.

There were a few people there who obstinately refused to wear a mask and they fit the stereotype you surely have in your head: fat, old white men with American flag shirts and dirt-caked jeans. Every crisis the country faces pulls us further and further from that idealistic belief that there’s no such thing as white trash and poor folk are just as intelligent and streetwise as the rest of us. Utter bullshit. (I should clarify that what I mean by “poor folk” doesn’t necessarily mean people living in poverty. It’s more of a lifestyle and mindset than an economic status in my lexicon. There are poor people who simply haven’t found the means to move up in life yet but eventually will)

I was even checked out by a few attractive women while there. Well, at least their eyes and figures were attractive, I couldn’t see the rest. Same goes for me though. Maybe I should conceal half my face more often! The poor access to food combined with loss of appetite from Adderall has given me quite an athletic figure, myself. Haha.

I took my brother with me because he’s been itching to get out of the house. He can’t drive as he lost his license due to his DUI’s. I knew that he’d be buying liquor before we even left but it still saddened me to see. He’s gone weeks without it during lockdown so far. That just goes to show you though… when an alcoholic can’t drink, it doesn’t mean they’re recovering. Nobody has a problem quitting when they don’t have access to alcohol. I never did. Once I got money again or got back from vacation… whatever the reason… I went straight to the liquor store.

Not my business, though. The early-recovery me who was passionate about addiction and sobriety is long gone. I only care about myself as far as that is concerned. I’ve been let down too many times by people I had tried to help and I don’t mean for that to sound dramatic or melancholic… I simply don’t care anymore. It doesn’t even really bug me when they die.

Anyway that was a bit off topic. Was there a topic? I don’t know. Masks I guess. Wear masks, God dammit. If only to make people feel safe.

Why Everyone Should Avoid Social Media

What was once lauded as a way to connect to new friends all over the planet has become an inescapable scourge that is actually destroying mankind.

Many of us here on the Internet are older; we remember fondly the delucive techno gold rush of the late nineties and early twenty-first century. When everybody under thirty had their own website, or at the very least a Livejournal or Geocities landing page. Many of us made lifelong friends on the information superhighway. To this day, I’ve never met many of my oldest friends face-to-face and yet they know more about me than anyone I know on the physical plane.

Change is inevitable and all promising developments are eventually tainted by greed, unchecked ambition, and the general stupidity of the masses. These days the Internet is a useless churn of advertisements, moronic egotism, and bald faced lies. We’ve been headed in this direction for a decade but until recently I was able to trumpet the unoriginal “but at its core, the Internet is still useful” mantra spread by my deluded futurist compatriots. Every year it gets more difficult to repeat that line with a straight face, at least not without feeling a little sick to my stomach.

As an information technology professional, I’m torn. I can obviously still see the promise of long-range, unbridled communication, but I feel that in my middle-age, I know too much of the world to believe that anything positive can come out of it. I’m not an anti-Capitalist and I don’t begrudge people their expensive toys but it’s disheartening that for all of humanity’s progress and innovation, all we have to show for it is six new models of cellphone a year, endless subscription services for things that used to be free, and an ever-growing tidal wave of social anxiety and depression. Eventually this monstrous wave of illness and hatred will crash against the shore. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know how catastrophic it will be.

I firmly believe that social networks are the rotten core at the heart of our disease. We went from a civilization in which most people focused on their day to day lives, cared for their families, and did their job to one in which even the most vapid ignoramus believes that their opinion is not only valid and true, but needs to be known by every man, woman, and child in the world.

I understand the irony in writing that sentence on a social network.

When society course-corrects in order to solve a systemic problem, it often overcompensates in a big way. We have countless examples from history of this happening. Fascism, communism… even democracy is an imperfect, hastily thrown together reaction to constitutional monarchy. We humans aren’t known for our logical reactions. My fear is that in responding to what I essentially call toxic freedom (I will write more on this in the future though I imagine it will offend many of my more progressive readers), we will plunge ourselves into the worst tyranny any of us has ever heard of.

So what can be done? Well, if history is any indication, nothing. Most of us are simply too stupid and too lazy to be relied on to do the right thing when it counts. My instinctual reaction is always to murder anybody who vehemently disagrees with me but that’s hardly rational or measured. When the whole world is sick all we can really do is ensure that we are better than the chaff. Educate yourself, keep reaching for positions of prestige and responsibility so that you can distance yourself from the writhing mess of gnashing teeth below.

One thing is for certain: none of the world’s most respected people give a shit about Facebook.

4th Iteration of My Home Studio is Finished!

Finally! After weeks of my gear being on backorder and a few days of FedEx “misplacing” my packages, everything is here and set up. I spent the afternoon troubleshooting some issues such as having a crappy 2nd hand desk on which there is no place to clamp my microphone boom (figured out a workaround and I will be building my own desk in the near future) but now I am ready to start recording! That’ll be tomorrow’s project and I’m not sure how long it’ll take but I hope to have something to show for it by the weekend.

Microphone Shipped Today

so I should have it by Friday, hopefully. Finalizing the first draft of my script today and I’ll start recording over the weekend! I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to edit together but since I’m pretty familiar with audio engineering already it shouldn’t be a stressful process.

I’ll be trying to make two edits; one with music and one without. Just in case.

While doing research on my initial episode, I was blown away by how useless the internet has become over the years! When I first began studying music in my early 20s, it seemed like every single band and genre in existence had a dozen fan sites with mountains of even the most minute information. Now, most artists get a paragraph in a Wikipedia entry. I’m sure there are still fan sites out there but since scummy marketing sites and foreign botnets manipulate SEO so well, you’ll never see them.

There’s always Reddit, I guess.

Nihilistic Mystics, Apistolic Alcoholics

Today’s post is brought to you by my rediscovery of the fact that you can format your posts to make them more legible. You’re welcome, internet.

Personal Life

I was a bit of a bad boy this weekend. I’ve really gotten into a game called Satisfactory in which you build supply and logistic chains while exploring an alien world and turning its natural resources into toilet paper. A strange mix of themes, to be sure, but it really strokes the perfectionist and organization junkie within me.

So I played. A lot. But that was the weekend, now it’s time to be a big boy again.

Work

I woke up early today despite not sleeping much but I feel pretty good and have been very productive. All of my schoolwork for the week is finished (my weeks end on Monday) and I’ve still been working from home… likely through most, if not all, of May. Sometimes I forget that I have a job. I feel unemployed but I know I’m one of the lucky ones in the US still getting a consistent paycheck.

Podcast

Still waiting for my damn microphone to arrive. As far as I know it hasn’t even shipped yet; the store is still waiting for it to come in. I emailed the sales rep last week to ask if I could exchange the USB mic I ordered with the XLR version since I have a swanky new audio interface now but he never responded. Maybe I should call… but a USB mic wouldn’t be so bad… it’d be more portable in case I ever needed to record on the road or started doing interviews.

Music (about which it turns out I have a lot to say today)

Music has still been a point of stress for me. Art is hard. That’s probably a fact that everyone who’s ever tried to make something they’re proud of has discovered. Part of me knows I just need to persevere and finish any song, just to get the practice in… but once I start I end up going down endless segues in which I try to make the most rhythmically and tonally complex music I can muster… even though I’m really not skilled enough to be trying that yet. I spent 2 hours on Friday editing the sound of a woman screaming to try to turn it into a keyboard melody. Haha! Stuff like that is why I never get anywhere.

I am learning and getting better, though. Hell, 2 months ago I didn’t really even know what a chord was. I thought I did. But now I have many major chords memorized and even a few minor ones. I know the formula you follow to make a major and minor chord so, in practice, I could actually play any major or minor chord. I know what inversions are when I didn’t even know they existed last year. I can play two full pop songs on the piano when a month ago I could barely play Jingle Bells.

These are the things I need to remember whenever I feel like I’m not good enough or have no talent. Talent isn’t real… it’s really just perseverance, and in no small part, luck. Think about how many musicians there have been in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (so far) and how many of them actually work full time as musicians and are known by the general public. It’s not even close to 1% of the total! That’s true of any art, though, not just music. The same could be said for writers, painters… even speakers are artists and some of the dumbest and un-gifted speakers who have ever lived are world famous right now.

Why do some people get famous and others don’t? Partly hard work, that is an important thing to note because so many audiophiles believe this self-aggrandizing lie that pop musicians are talentless hacks who just record corporate music. It’s BS and anyone who says that understands nothing about music. It’s also partly having the right people discover their work at the right time. Now, I’m not trying to be famous but I would like to make some money off of my art one day. If that happened I probably still wouldn’t be happy and would just set my sights on the next “unachievable” goal, lol. But that’s who I am.

Da Blog

I’ve been using Skillshare a lot during the lockdown (if I was a professional level-99 blogger this is where I’d put in an affiliate link) and right now I’m watching a course on blogging. It’s quite good… one of those situations where it’s nothing you don’t already know on some level but having it presented in a thoughtful way reveals a few new things to you. I have some ideas on how to start doing things a little bit better. A little at a time…

If you’ve been keeping up with the progression of my Ultra-Exciting Blog Progression(TM), you’ll know that I self-hosted another blog at snarebox.com. It’s only a blog due to the fact that it runs on WordPress (which I suppose is a content management system, not specifically a blog), in reality it’s just the web-home of my music project. There likely won’t be a lot of writing on it but I will be sure to post here whenever something is added. I haven’t even finished the design yet so there isn’t much reason to go there yet.

Have you noticed that every Theme out there is like 80% of exactly what you’re looking for but nothing ever hits that last 20%? Perhaps I need to learn how to edit Themes.

Anyway that’s me for Monday. I caught up on most of your blogs this morning, you likely noticed me liking 3 or 4 of your posts at once… haha. You guys write a lot, I could have sworn I only missed 2 days!

Some Things Don’t Change!

It’s my “in the office” day today and boy is it a doozy. It looks like nobody bothered to sort any of the mail yesterday and since Friday was a holiday, I have to do two days worth. I was hoping to leave by lunch today but that likely isn’t going to happen.

Still, have to be grateful for the chance to work. Talked to two more friends who are laid off yesterday. While much of the nation is desperately waiting for the stimulus check to come and trying to make ends meet, my stimulus check will basically just be extra money.

All of my friends will be okay, they’re just temporarily laid off until the lock down is over and will be going back to work. I’ve run across a few people on the good old internet who are using their unemployment as an excuse for their racism and ignorance which is to be expected. Can’t really feel sorry for those people. One guy was complaining that he’s 59, lost his job due to COVID, and has $100 to try to live off of. That is just a gross lack of foresight.

Anyone truly struggling during this time should take it as a lesson moving forward. Save some money. Get an education. Find a job that matters.

2nd Sound Design Project

The second project for Andrew Huang’s production masterclass is sound design which I am super excited about because this is the one part of electronic music that is imperative that you’re good at and also coincidentally what I am terrible at. Already learned a lot! Only the first step is done… we recorded some sounds around the house with whatever we had. I just have my phone right now until my microphone arrives but it actually did a pretty good job at recording sounds without having too much background room noise to clean up.

This is basically what I did on Saturday.

So, here’s my attempt! Like I said this is just the very first part of the project and it’ll get developed a lot more over the next couple of weeks. We weren’t even really supposed to add melodies or a bassline yet but I couldn’t help myself, I was feeling the beat too much. I’m not happy with the snare but that’s the best one I could get out of the sounds I recorded. Might do another session and just clap my hands or something. Lol.

The audio was recorded on a free voice recording app from the Android Play store. All of the samples were edited, cleaned up, and sexified in Ableton Live 10 and the arrangement and synths were done in Reason 11 (which I impulse bought last night for $600).

Hope you like it! If you do listen, please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought.

As an aside, I did end up making a seperate page for my music. I will still be posting everything on this blog, but my music site will strictly be for my music and things I write about music, just so potential fans don’t have to read about my depression and laziness. Haha! It’s not done yet, but here’s the URL, feel free to check out what I have so far. I’m obviously customizing it a lot more than I ever have this page so it’s going to take longer.

Blog Specialization?

How do you feel about specializing your blog toward one or just a few related subjects? I’ve posted about everything from audio engineering to alcohol addiction and my line of thought is that if someone follows me because of a music-related post they probably won’t be interested in the majority of what I write.

Creating more blogs for my other topics has been something I’ve mulled over a few times but I’m worried about how much work that would be! Certainly I don’t have to write a post on every single one every day, but I also can’t go for a month without posting something.

I know I’ll at the very least be creating a music blog. Posting my own music here is fine as this is my personal blog but I’m talking about for more audio-engineering and production discussions. The vast majority of my followers and people whom I follow are in the mental health community and obviously couldn’t give a toss about the new features in Ableton Live 10.1! I’m also quite passionate about music production so I don’t think it’d be difficult for me to come up with content whereas the well has run relatively dry on mental health for me (and I’ve been hemorrhaging followers, actually).

So I think that’s the conclusion I’ve come up with after talking about wanting to change up my blog a few weeks ago. This one will stay personal and will likely consist of my daily musings so if you enjoy reading that, good news. I’ll have the other blog set up today, I’ve learned putting something on a list to do “tomorrow” never happens, haha.

Also I’m on a bit of a streak right now, that’s refreshing!

Thanks to All of You Bloggers for Being Here

I never realized until now how much simply coming to WordPress and reading your blogs anchors my morning routine. I hit some low lows over the last couple of weeks and stopped checking in or reading anything my friends here have written and it just spun my life even further into chaos! Now that I’m back and reading your stories and noticing how well I can relate to all of you, I don’t feel nearly as lonely.

I said in the past that I try to comment on every post that I’ve read to just let you all know that I’ve read it but I have to admit I don’t follow this principle anymore… I just read too many posts every day and don’t always have something constructive to say. I still leave a little “kudos” like though!

That’s it, just wanted to thank you all. No big news today which sometimes is a good thing. 🙂

New Project

So I’ve come up with a “project” that I’d like to try. It’s a podcast which first off terrifies me because I am not proud of my voice to put it mildly. I definitely don’t have a powerful presence by any means! I’ve always had a passion for underground music and the history behind it so I decided to give my own show a shot. I’m still in the process of constructing the first episode… choosing songs and researching them to make sure I have my information correct as for some of them it’s been many years since I’ve thought about them.

I want it to be more than just a radio show though. I want it to be an education on the history of multiple genres, showing how even the most diametrically opposed sounds are actually quite related. I’ve always believed that all music is worth listening to and the whole idea behind “good music” is ridiculous and just an excuse for not wanting to leave your comfort zone.

So here’s just the intro I’ve written up so far, it’ll likely change especially once I start recording it as, believe it or not, I don’t talk at all the way that I write. I’m happy to finally have something productive to work on and I’m actually quite committed to seeing this through for once.

Hey everyone, welcome to The Infinite Playlist. My name is Brian and I’ll be your guide through the winding genres and basement clubs of the underground music community whilst providing some background and commentary on the songs I’ve selected.

First, I apologize for the quality of my recording right now. I have a professional microphone on order but it won’t arrive for a while due to the strain that COVID has placed on the shipping industry but bear with me for hopefully just this one episode and everything should be set up shortly hereafter.

So I’m sure a question on your might is “what is The Infinite Playlist and how is it different from a simple streaming radio show?” Well I certainly could have just edited a string of songs together on my computer and been done there, but part of what I love about music is learning the history of the artists, how they connect to one another, and the nuances in their music. One thing I’m asked quite often by friends who have seen my shall we say “indiscriminate” taste in music is “how do you find all of these artists?” Well therein lies the actual hobby for me. Learning the artists and technical staff behind an album and then connecting them with other projects is what’s fun for me. If I was a bit more organized you could picture me having a room with album covers pinned to the wall and red string forming a web between them the way obsessed detectives do in crime dramas.

It is my greatest joy to introduce people to new artists that they come to love, from bands who were overlooked in decades past to modern performers who don’t get the credit they deserve. I suppose, in a way, my hobby was always leading me to this show. So without further ado, let’s begin!

Any feedback is appreciated. Is it too robotic? Is more information needed? Etc. Thanks as always for reading.

Also WordPresses new editor is quite obtuse it took me quite some time to figure out how to rearrange my paragraphs as I originally typed this out of order!