That's much better!
If you've been reading this blog the past few days, you know I've been having woes with my bass tone (or, to be more specific and/or honest, with the sound man).
Well, Saturday night I changed my EQ to something closely resembling a bass sound, and turned the volume to a reasonable level. The first comment I got was from Miss Amy
, who was standing right in front of me on stage. "Your bass sounds really good tonight," she said between songs the first set. I asked her if my bass was too loud. "No," she replied. "It sounds good - don't change anything."
During our first break, I talked to a fellow musician in the audience who had been at the show Friday. Before I said a word to him, he said, "Geeze, your bass sounds MUCH better tonight! I can actually hear it for a change. It sounds good. You must have changed your EQ a little..." As he said that, I glanced back at the stage. There was the sound man, changing the EQ on my bass. Sure enough - he'd changed it back to the way it had been the night before. He did that on every break the band took. And every time I changed it back to the way I wanted it. I'm bringing some duct tape to the next gig - I'm going to get my settings the way I want, then I'm gonna put duct tape over the whole thing to keep prying fingers out. The only negative comment I had was from our guitar player, and half of that comment was positive, actually. There was a song in the end of the second set or beginning of the third set that he didn't have to play his guitar on, so he was free to wander around the stage a bit. As he came closer to my side of the stage I could see his eyes get wider. "Wow," he said. "The sound is really 'tight' on this side of the stage. That sounds pretty good... But can you turn down just a bit? There's a low-frequency rumble coming from somewhere that's making it hard for me to hear myself..."
So, I feel much better about Saturday night. Friday night left me wondering if I was cut out for the music business after all, but Saturday night reassured me quite a bit.
Blogger is having problems today. I just lost two hours of writing, and I still can't upload photos. I've cleared my cache and all that nifty stuff, to no avail. Oh well... Hopefully they'll get it all figured out.
Here's a statistic the Bush administration can be proud of... The number of poor people has risen by 17% since Bush was appointed. (I got that from an Australian newspaper's web site. Now that I wanna cite them as a source, I can't find the site again.) The gap between rich and poor continues to grow, and that makes me sad.
That reminds me of an article I read in Reader's Digest
(pp. 38-44, October 2005 issue) about Stephen Crawford, a man who was co-president of Morgan Stanley
for a little over three months. For those 100 days of work he received $32 million. That works out to $54,000 an hour. It's obscene that Mr. Crawford accepted (and felt he rightfully earned) that money, but it's even more obscene that Morgan Stanley gave him that amount of money! I wonder what the poor schmuck who mops the floors in the corporate lavatory 50 hours a week for minimum wage thinks about that. I wonder what their investors think about that. I'm pretty sure that if I had money invested in a firm that pulled that kind of stunt I'm think awfully hard about letting them use MY cash...(Side note:
Reader's Digest seems to me to be naught but a shadow of the fine magazine it was in the 1960's and 1970's. My grandparents, and my mother as well, encouraged me to read the magazine when I was a kid - and they had a LOT of back issues for me to pore over. In the 1980's I noticed that
Reader's Digest was becoming more and more political, so I quit reading it. The past few years I've been reintroduced to the magazine, and while I do end up reading it eventually, I'm constantly disappointed. The writing doesn't have the clarity and insightfulness it used to [perhaps because they no longer rely on reprinting outstanding articles, but now use articles written in-house], and there is so much advertising in the magazine it's hard to find the real articles. Disappointing. The "old"
Reader's Digest magazines seemed to be like Walter Cronkite, whilst the "new"
Reader's Digest seems to be more like "Fear Factor" or, at best Fox News - two facts [one of which is usually wrong] and a lot of noise dressed up and wearing a tie.)
In other odd news, Cindy Sheehan, the lady who camped out in front of our appointed leader G. Walker Bush's ranch while he was on vacation this July and all of August, has been arrested. Apparently she went to Washington D.C. and sat down on the sidewalk in front of the White House with "several dozen" supporters (one newspaper mentioned the number 300 instead of "several dozen"). source
I guess it's illegal for an American citizen to sit on a sidewalk now. Maybe I should start calling the police to come investigate every time I see a homeless person in my neighborhood.
I'm sure Ms. Sheehan must have broken a law, and I'm sure she knew about the law (whatever it is) when she broke it. But it seems odd to get arrested for sitting down in a public place.
According to one poll I saw recently, two-thirds of Americans now think Presidential Appointee Bush has mishandled the war in Iraq, and over half think we should end the war now before any more lives are lost. Mr. Bush is directly responsible for the loss of 26,092 Iraqi citizens source
and 1,904 American soldiers, and is indirectly responsible for at least some of the thousands of American casualties of Katrina through inept administration. President Bill Clinton was nearly hounded out of office for showing his privates to a government clerk. Appointee Bush has actually done harm. Why is he still in office? It baffles me...
Here's an example of Mr. Bush's disregard for human dignity... (This will take a minute to explain.) A company named Kenyon International has been contracted to set up a morgue in Louisiana. Kenyon International is a subsidiary of Service Corporation International (SCI), located in Mr. Bush's "home" state of Texas. (From what I understand, there was no bidding for this service - SCI was simply chosen to do the job.) Source.
It turns out that the head of SCI is a friend of Mr. Bush, and of Mr. Bush's father, legally elected President George Herbert Walker Bush. In fact, SCI has donated something like $150,000 to the Bush family's political machine in the past few years. So, it's another case of Mr. Bush handing a lucrative government contract to one of his pals. But it gets better...
SCI subsidiaries have recently been implicated in "illegally discarding and desecrating corpses." In fact, they've already paid $100 million in settlements to bereaved families. In 2001 investigators found that a SCI-owned company had been removing bodies from cemeteries in Florida and dumping the bodies in the woods to make room for more bodies. In 2000, fifteen different SCI-owned funeral homes were sued for piling bodies outside or stuffing them in sheds instead of cremating the remains.
Investigators also found that SCI companies were being creative in their use of vaults. They found the remains of 67 individuals in a vault made for just one person.
When presidential Appointee George W. Bush was governor of Texas, Texas Funeral Service Commission Director Eliza May filed a lawsuit against Mr. Bush accusing him of obstructing investigations into SCI methods. Oddly enough, Ms. May was fired and the case never came to trial.
So, our government has not only given a big government contract to a company that has close ties with the Bush family, that company is itself inept. And, to add insult to taxpayer injury, according to one mortuary professional, volunteers would have done the job AT NO CHARGE.
What is our government doing to us?
Pictures of the Day
This is silly. I've been trying to upload a photo for an hour now. Blogger must be having technical difficulties. Hmmm... I shall have to try again later.
Odd. I've never had problems with Blogger or any Google product before. They told me to clear my cache and delete my cookies. I've done that, but it still doesn't work. I'll try again later.
Later yet... No luck. I'm getting perturbed. Google-related software is usually reliable. Hmmm...
Still later... Nope. Nothing. *sigh*
The next day - no dice. I guess they don't want me to upload pictures this week.
A week later... Success! Almost. I can only get one photo to work.
Just as I feared...
In my last post (see below) I mentioned that I actually dread playing with my band in public these days. Last night my soundman woes happened pretty much the way I feared.
Before I had even played a single note, as I was turning on my amp and tuner, the sound man came up behind me. "Turn that slider on the left side of your EQ all the way down. Don't use that channel at all, ever. And I need you to take some of the low end out..."
I complied. I spend about half an hour or forty-five minutes trying to get a good sound out of my bass without using the "forbidden" channel on my EQ, without having "too much low end," and without using my second speaker cabinet (also forbidden by the sound man, at least for indoor shows). Needless to say, all I could come up with was a twanky, wooden sound. "Oh well," I thought to myself. "My volume is turned so low that no one can hear me anyway. The soundman will make sure I have a good tone 'out front' through the main speakers..."
The first set went okay. I did turn my volume up a smidge, then right back down again. I'm turned down so low that if you turn the knob a millimeter you double the volume. During our first break I wandered over to a table of familiar-looking faces. It turns out that Miss Amy's
other band was there to see us. "I'm sorry about your bass," one of them said. "What happened? Do you have a bad cord? Or is your amp broken?" I reassured him that all was as it should be, and that my bass was fine. "Oh," he said. "We couldn't hear you at all out here. We assumed something was broken. I can see your fingers move, but no sound is coming out..."
"No," I explained with a sigh. "My sound man likes me to keep my volume low so he can control it from his sound board."
A few minutes later a quick deal was struck between the Smokin' Clams
and Miss Amy's other band, and they agreed to do a song or two. I showed their bass player up to the stage and gave him a quick lesson on how to run my amp. "The volume's over there, this is the EQ I'm using, the tuner is right below," I said. "Feel free to change any settings, but don't touch the left slider on my EQ. My sound man hates that." He thumped a few strings experimentally. "Geeze," he said. "Where's the low end? This doesn't sound like a bass at all! Where's the volume? I can't hear anything! How can you play like this?" I just sighed again and pointed at the sound man.
A few seconds later they started their song. I was hopping up and down on one foot, impatient to hear how my bass sounded to the audience. For the first thirty seconds of the song, there was no bass at all - just kick drum and guitar. I could see the bass player's fingers moving, though, so I knew he was playing. I made a beeline to the sound board, ready to tell the sound man just exactly what I thought. He saw me coming and hit a button or turned a knob or something, and WHAM - there's the bass sound.
Satisfied, I sat down and kept my peace. "Vy are you so agitated," my beloved bride Dagmar asked. "You were so happy all day. You were happy until you got here, where you get to do your favorite thing and play with the band. So vy are you so unhappy all night? What can ve do?" I have to admit, I really was pretty upset. "You know," I told her, "I'm really sick of this, always bickering about my sound. From here on out I'm going to bring all my speakers, I'm going to set my speakers up where I want, and I'm going to EQ my sound the way I want. The sound guy can just deal with it."
"What vood you do if the rest of the Clams don't like it?" asked my vife. "I don't vant you to quit the Clammies. I really like them. They're your friends."
"It has nothing to do with friendship," I told her. "Of course they're our friends. If they don't like the way I play bass or they're uncomfortable with my attitude about things, they're welcome to find another bassist. I'll stay with the band until they find a replacement, if that's what they want to do, and I'll help teach him the songs. I'm not mad at any of them or anything - it's just this constant struggle about my bass tone. It's killing me."
Fast forward - the Clams are back on stage again, doing the second set. There's a song that Clam Dan
plays bass on, giving me a chance to hit the loo (something I ALWAYS have to do halfway through the second set). I handed him my bass (which I had turned back up a smidge in response to the audience reaction the first set) and made my way off-stage. They started the song - no bass. Again, I could see his fingers move, but all I could hear was kick drum and guitar. It was evident the sound man turned me down again. I was peeved, to say the least.
When I got up this morning I had a very nice e-mail from a friend and fellow musician. "The sound man works for the band," he wrote. "Not the other way around." He encouraged me to play with my "old" sound and be comfortable.
Tonight I have to play again at the same place. I'm gonna turn the volume where I want, and I'm going to tweak my sound the way I want (even the forbidden left slider on my EQ), and the sound guy can deal with it. Next time we play I'm gonna bring in both speakers and set up where it's convenient for ME, not where it's convenient for the sound guy, and I'm gonna play my bass the way I want to - the way I always have. And, something I just thought of... I'm gonna try to put a microphone in front of my speakers instead of letting the soundman run a cord straight from my amp. (He runs a cord to his sound board from the back of my amp, before the signal goes through my amp itself. This gives him what he calls a "clean" signal. Unfortunately, I don't want him to have a clean signal - I want people to hear the same sound that comes out of my speakers, AFTER the signal has run through my tube amp and my equalizer.) In a way, it's disrespectful for him to do that - everyone else in the band gets full control over their sound except me for some reason.
Wish me luck. I think there's a fifty-fifty chance that I'll simply shut my yap and keep going the way things are now, just to keep the peace.
On another note, my neighbors have parked in my driveway again. They're standing out in their back yard screaming at each other at the top of their lungs. There's gotta be something I can do about this... Maybe a "No Parking" sign in my driveway (but why should I have to pay to have a sign in my own driveway?) would do the trick on the parking situation, but what can I do about them always yelling and raising a ruckus? Poor Dagmar's trying to sleep...
Well, I don't know what to think. I've been offered the opportunity to let people advertise on my blog. My immediate reaction was "no." I hate advertising. Then I though, well, if I make twenty bucks a year to let people advertise on my blog, that covers part of the expense of the web site... Hmmm... Well, okay.
So now there's a little bar up at the top up there somewhere that says "Ads by Google" with a bunch of ads after it. I guess, in a few days when everything gets finalized (there are "fake" ads there now) I'll get a fraction of a penny for every person that clicks on an ad from my blog.
If this bothers anyone, please let me know. Hopefully it'll be discreet.
The Smokin' Clams
are playing at Rhonda's this weekend, both Friday and Saturday. Should be a fun gig. I'm looking forward to it. Well, I'm sort of looking forward to it. I'm kind of dreading it, too. I've been having problems with my bass "sound" lately.
Here's the deal. I kinda spent a lot of money and time choosing the right bass guitar, the right speakers, and the right amplifier to get the tone I like. Before every gig I spend a few minutes tweaking the sound to get it the way I want it... Only to have the sound man tell me to turn the volume down or turn my speakers around. See, he's got a cord that runs from my amp to his sound board so he can control the tone and volume of my bass, as it comes through the main speakers, from his sound board. He doesn't like it when the sound from MY speakers (which sounds the way I like) interferes with the bass sound coming out of HIS speakers (which, in my opinion, has bad tone).
So, I'm looking forward to playing tonight, but I'm dreading the battle that always happens. I've already turned my amp sideways and hoisted the speaker up on a rack so it's pointed right at my ear so (hopefully) no one else can hear it. (Can you imagine how that feels? "Sure, you've spent fifteen years studying bass in your spare time, but we think the sound guy can do a better job, even though he makes your bass sound like a twanky guitar instead of a mellow bass guitar. So you just turn your speakers down and let the other guy control everything, okay?" It's kind of like asking an artist to paint a picture, but you let someone else choose what color paints he uses, and what brushes he can paint with. "But, you see," says the artist, "the sky is supposed to be blue. Why do you keep giving me orange paint?" Or like taking away the drums and making the drummer bang on plastic buckets, then telling him he has bad tone.) Anyway, I've already turned my bass down to the lowest possible volume and put the speaker right up next to my ear. But I'm dreading the sound man. I know, positively, beyond a doubt, that he'll come up to me and start turning knobs on my amp without my permission, or he'll tell me I'm too loud, or that my bass is interfering with the kick drum.
If I had a million dollars I'd buy a wireless in-ear monitor for my bass. Or better yet I'd get a Bose PA
for the band.
My buddy Monte's guitar, taken from the top down. (Photo taken December 29.)
This is Phillips Kiln
, the company across the street from my house. Gotta love the barbed wire fencing... It instills a sense of trust in the community. My whole neighborhood is like that... *sigh*
Busy busy busy
Due to an odd combination of vacations at Record Printing (my current employer) I've been working longer hours lately and have been too busy to write much. (I don't mind working longer hours, mind you, I'm just not used to it, and I wasn't prepared for it so it's been a little surprising. I need the money, though, so I'm not complaining.)
But, if I DID have time to write, there'd be lots to write about. Ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justices passing into the great beyond, ultra-unqualified FEMA managers getting the boot, ultra-small towns in Pennsylvania wanting to teach Creationism in science class - lots of good stuff there.
But the biggest thing on my mind is my neighbor passing away earlier this week. Nice lady. She was almost 90 when she died in the house her father built before she was born. The neighborhood is gonna miss her...
Well, time to go back to work.
(Sept. 16 - I just deleted a comment. Someone named edwarner6043 left a comment with links to his adult-oriented website. I do NOT normally delete comments as I oppose censorship and promote free debate, but this was nothing but a blatant advertisement for his rather dubious site.)
Kudos to Terry Cantrell!
If you read my post from yesterday, you know we've been having insurance woes to the tune of six-hundred bucks. As I thought about the situation last night and this morning, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Terry Cantrell of Bill Markve & Associates
is the person that we should hold responsible and accountable for the mess. Not that he himself did anything wrong, but as the paid representative for the insurance company, it's his responsibility to make sure that the customer (us) is taken care of. As of the end of the business day yesterday I had the distinct feeling that we were getting the brush-off from Mr. Cantrell.I was mistaken.
Turns out that Mr. Cantrell was indeed working on our problem, and has in fact found the error and corrected it. We're VERY grateful that he put forth the effort to rectify the situation! People like this renew my faith in humanity! So, a public thank-you to Mr. Cantrell - we appreciate it!
I feel MUCH better now!
I'm not sure if anyone particularly noticed, but I've not written lately. There's a simple, though slightly unlikely explanation for that. I've been afraid to write.
You see, two months ago I started taking Wellbutrin (a.k.a. Zyban). It's an antidepressant that often helps people quit smoking. Being "lightly" depressed and wanting to quit smoking, it seemed to be the right thing to do. And indeed I did quit smoking! Things were going wonderfully. My plan was to keep taking the Wellbutrin for three months or so, as they say the mental addiction to nicotine should start easing up after ten weeks. Unfortunately, now that I'm on week six, I'm noticing odd symptoms.
The past two weeks or so I've been VERY edgy. Of course I blamed it on withdrawal. I've also had odd spurts of uncontrollable anger. My heart has been racing. My insomnia has been MUCH worse than usual (which was pretty bad to start with). It's been very hard to focus on things; following a thought through to its conclusion has been almost impossible. Depression loomed. The thing that got my attention, though was the paranoia. While I've always had a healthy dose of paranoia, I thought it was odd that I was suddenly convinced that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court died just to spite me because he knew I wouldn't like Bush's selection of a replacement.
Writing my thoughts and opinions in a public forum probably wouldn't have been a good idea.
So, at the urging of my wife, I started poking about the Internet to see what could be wrong with me. I was, of course, very careful to use a public, non-traceable computer so the government couldn't track me down. I eventually figured out that Wellbutrin will sometimes have that effect on people. Hmmm... So just yesterday I quit taking the happy pills. My urge to smoke isn't any worse than it was before, but my heartrate is already back down to somewhere approaching normal and I haven't been nearly as angry as I have been lately. No little spurts of adreniline. And I realize now that the government probably doesn't really care who I am - least of all a recently deceased Supreme Court Justice.
All in all, I feel MUCH better now. I'm back. Hurray!
On a different note, has anyone but me (and friend Dan) seen the Red Stripe Beer commercials? Great stuff! You can see them on the Internet, too - just go to www.redstripebeer.com
. It's almost as good as www.talklikeapirate.com
, but not quite.
Tonight is the opening night of the 2005 NFL season. Patriots against a certain team, who shall remain nameless, from the left coast I used to like watching until they hired Randy Moss. I really and truly used to enjoy the good ol' Silver 'n Black. But then they agreed to take former Buccaneer and full-time loudmouth Warren Sapp (a man once remembered for a friendly rivalry with Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, but now remembered only for dancing around in front of an opposing team's coach yelling obscenities and acting like a fool). I still watched the nameless Oakland team, but without joy. Now they hired Moss, who, in spite of once serving jail time (battery and smoking dope), persisted in trying to run over a Minneapolis policewoman a few years ago whilst smoking an illegal substance and acting like a fool. source
Classy guy. Go Pats!
Well, I just lost my good mood. Some of you may remember that a couple months ago I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. I now have a new diet, more exercise and another little pill to take. I don't feel any better, really. Besides having to pay for the little white pills, we just now got a bill for $600 for the lab work at the clinic. That's two weeks' wages. I worked half a month for that money. The main problem is that our insurance (United HealthCare)
has changed their policy, and neglected to inform ANYONE of the change. They used to cover blood work as part of the copay, but that's no longer is the case. Now it's out-of-pocket. My wife called United HealthCare representative, Terry Cantrell, who works at Bill Markve & Associates
(located in the very prestigious and upscale Dakota Dunes community), only to find that we are indeed boned to the tune of six-hundred dollars. Mr. Cantrell shifted the blame to our doctor's office (Family Health Care of Siouxland), who in turn shifted the blame to the company that processes the labwork, LabCorp
, a publicly held company. If I had any money left (which I don't as they already took all my moolah) I'd invest in the company (ticker symbol LH on the New York Stock Exchange). They're on track to make their rich stockholders a LOT of money, mainly by taking it from poor folk. I'm not sure who to write letters to, as everyone in this whole chain is pointing fingers at someone else, so I'll probably complain to the whole bunch of them.
You know, this wouldn't have upset me nearly as much if they'd just been up front about the whole deal. "We think you may have high cholesterol. It'll cost six hundred dollars to find out for sure." Okay, I'd grumble about that, but at least I wouldn't feel like they're stealing my money.