Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Trials of the CAPTCHA
|(This is a pretty tongue-in-cheek essay about what a musician has to go through to be all networky on Myspace these days, all for the sake of anti-spam safeguards. Please don't take it too seriously...because I certainly don't).|
Ok, so I'll own up. I spend a lot of time on Myspace. I prefer to think of it as "networking" and "discovering new artists" rather than wasting time...and it can suck you in. You find a great deal of neat people and music, and as is now the vernacular, you want to "friend them." And then maybe you want to leave a comment. Innocent enough.
Except I guess evil comment-making robots have taken over the internet, so Myspace (and a great number of other sites that allow commenting and the like) now require you to sometimes type in a CAPTCHA to prove you are a real person. In fact (nerd alert), CAPTCHA stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart" (thanks, Wikipedia). Wow. Of course.
So when you're up late at night, maybe like I was, deciding to friend some people because you like their tunes, and did I mention it's late and you had a long day with a 3 hour gig and then maybe you saw your friend's band play and it's...late? So here's how it goes for me, and why the CAPTCHA probably needs to die. (Note: I don't know how real CAPTCHAs are made so just bear with my lame examples).
First time...an annoying string of letters, usually readable:
I will occasionally screw this up. Maybe a "J" looks like an "I", or something. So it spits out another CAPTCHA at me to try again:
For whatever reason, I swear it's always longer and slightly more askew. This skyrockets the chance that I will type this one in wrong, too. Sure enough I screw up, and now my humanness is in question. Try again:
WHAT. Instead of the CAPTCHA machine thinking, "Wow, this might indeed be a human but a slow one...maybe we should lighten up," we inevitably get an even longer one with twisted letters and symbols that don't exist on a keyboard. At this point I get annoyed and bang out something approximate. I just want to comment on Katie's wall that her new cat photo is cute. That's all I want to do! Next:
Oh that's nice. In a fit, I probably type something like, "HJA592QJAJDJ34SDJ4224FJ#)$*@)#*$@." Because that will fix it.
Now the CAPTCHA wants to play games.
Right. So I guess Katie will never know her cat is cute. Not due to me, anyway. And that Indistrial-Folk-Punk band from Glasgow I wanted to friend? Didn't happen.
I hope you're happy, CAPTCHA. You have denied my humanity.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Dan's Secret Life
|Dan has been photo blogging his Southeast tour, and apparently he has been mistaken for Elliott Yamin, the American Idol contestant, no less than 5 times on this tour. Each time it's been at a Cracker Barrel (those porterdavis kids love them some CB).|
I'll admit it, I'm a little not up to speed on American Idol, so I had to see for myself. It's kind of creepy:
Dan with Cracker Barrel employee/Idol Fan:
Has anyone seen these 2 in the same room at the same time? Hmmm?
Friday, April 25, 2008
"Be Wise Not Weird."
|It's time for another round of Humorous Search Terms...weird keywords that were Googled and somehow sent these poor, confused (and sometimes suspect) people to my site. I don't think any of these are Jamie trying to mess with the system...she's admitted to doing that. (Now she's too busy being ENGAGED! Congrats, Jamie and Mike!!)|
1. "funny drug posters" -- oh like maybe...this one?
2. "hilarious pie charts" -- anything involving pie is usually funny. Unless it's mom's rhubarb pie for breakfast. That's all business.
3. "bunny girl" -- I have no idea.
4. "email contact of farmer @ yahoo.com" -- I mean really. How many farmers have a Yahoo email address? Maybe 10 at the most. I hear Gmail is more of a farmer thing. Eesh...needle in a haystack. Pun intended.
There we go. A little Friday fun. I'm off to organize my receipts and log my miles. Apparently this new way of life requires new ways of accounting. Office supplies rock!
Note: many of you are looking the song "Mercy" by Duffy, because a good 20 hits are from the search term "beggin' you for mercy." Well...Youtube it. It's catchy.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Red Leaf Rocks Photos
There's my fun and fabulous Monday Night Women's Group (Ladies of The Night...or whatever we call ourselves) playing U2's "Running to Stand Still" at the Red Leaf anniversary show. I got to play my Telecaster in public. Happy. Emily is in the middle, singing like awesomeness, and Amanda is on the right holding down the rhythm section. Such fun to play with those two.
Anyway, there's tons more photos of all the bands and my Red Leaf family up on the Red Leaf Flickr site. Yo.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Katie and Jana take on Gruene Hall
Oh Katie. One might call her a partner in crime, or maybe an enabler. However you word it, Katie agreed to roadtrip down to Gruene Hall with me to see one suSANG! play. I love seeing shows at Gruene because the town itself is all cute and German, and the Hall has a great historic, gritty vibe. Plus Katie made sandwiches.
It starts as all good blog posts do, with an inside joke.
These curry chips were on stage all night. That is all.
Jana: Too bad her last name isn't "Miller."
Katie: Yeah...then it would always be HER TIME!
I brought in a contraband Diet Coke. Because it was in my bag, dangit.
So Katie took a dark photo of my drinking the contraband. Recycled the evidence.
I took this photo of the artist and the tip jar to reiterate to all you kind folks:
LOVE THE TIP JAR. That is all.
There's "Johnny (Hearts) Jessica" and such written/scratched all over the ancient Gruene Hall tables.
I suppose we are not to take photos of evidence yet again, but...well, we had to.
I hope to go back to Gruene Hall in 2028 and see this note.
Did we mention there's a new CD coming?
Head to the Myspace to hear a track or dos.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
What Quackery Is This?
|Another fun Artist Market set or two today...it's right along 6th Street here in downtown Austin, and when the weather gets nice the tourists come out. There's a company that drives tourists (or locals with nothing better to do I suppose) around in a giant tank-like land/water...thing. I'm sorry, let me google the correct terminology...|
Ok they're called Austin Duck Adventures and they drive people around in British Alvis Stalwarts...or land/water vehicles that can carry five tons of supplies and were used in Eastern Europe in the 1960's in case the Warsaw Pact was violated. Ok that's actually kind of interesting.
So today I was done with my gig shift and about to cross 6th to load my gear, and as I stood on the sidewalk a duck tour comes by, and all of the sudden over the loudspeaker you hear...
"THERE'S A MUSICIAN! THIS IS THE LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!" And I got quacked at rather ferociously. I waved like a cool musician standing on the corner after a gig would do. I felt like a hip museum piece or something.
So, duck tour people, if you ever want me to stand idly on 6th Street with my guitar case and gear bag to give an example of what a musician looks like, I'm up for the gig. Call my people.
(No camera today so these pics are lifted from the duck tour people's very nice site).
This is probably what I'd look like, if you needed an idea. I stand on dirt, concrete, and the occasional gravel pile. I can wear open-toed or close-toed shoes. Two 15-minuite breaks per shift, please.
Friday, April 18, 2008
The Last Time This'll Happen
|It's always nice to have goals, and I'm going to go out on limb here and publicly state one. |
I got my ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) statement in the mail today. You know, the one where it tells you how much cash you've earned off all the times your songs are played everywhere (radio/TV/etc.)
As you can see, I'm not exactly rolling in it. I'm rolling in nothing, actually. Which is not a shock as my previous demos are not registered with anything, nor have I tried to get them any sort of airplay.
This next year, though...new music. New rules. Watch out, ASCAP. Get your number crunching digits ready.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Day 3 of the Newness
|Can I just say that right now I am at a coffeehouse at 12:45 PM in the afternoon? And it's not like I have a "day off." It's just my day's flow now. I'm going into Red Leaf in a little while and the students will be there en masse and so it goes from now on. |
I told myself that this week would be a slow tranistion kind of thing with rest and time to plan my schedule. I thought I'd kind of treat it like a "vacation" which...based on my usual crazy busy schedules...usually meant I slept a lot and accomplished little. That's how vacations in college and at the county used to roll, anyway.
This time, though, I guess my brain knows something is up and doesn't want to be a giant pile of lazy. So I have been to the gym and stocked up on groceries (the fridge before consisted of corn tortillas, water, and an onion...I let it get pretty desolate last week!) and worked on Red Leaf stuff and worked on guitar stuff and various other things. Cleaned my apartment. Worked on a new song. I need to start thinking about moving. Anyone have boxes? And a large van? And a decent chord progression? Haha.
So that's where we are. Caffeination and Getting Stuff Done.
PS: Dan's got a photo blog of his tour life up! Go to Tumblr to check it out.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
More Hearts and Stars for Sugarland + New Music
|I know, I know. Commercial country Nashville yadda yadda. As I have said before, I will defend the gloriousness of Sugarland, and here is more proof. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush lead their tourmates (Little Big Town and Jake Owen) in a really cool cover of "Life in a Northern Town." This song is an ode to Nick Drake and was recorded originally by Brit folk-rockers The Dream Academy.|
So not typical Nashville. So cool. This song combines a bunch of my favorite things: big guitar sounds, good harmonies, nonsense word choruses, and Jennifer Nettles' voice. Yep. Dig. There's your musical break for the week.
Also, Kris Delmhorst's new one is available, it's called "Shotgun Singer" and from my first listen through, it rocks. Kris always delivers quality stuff.
Susan has a couple of her new tracks up on her Myspace page -- totally stoked for the new record.
Kevin and I have jumped into a big pool of soul guitar at my lessons, so my assignment for the week has been to listen to The Staples Singers and various other soul legends, and watch the documentaries Wattstax and Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Tough life. (Mavis Staples is SO GOOD! I know I'm slow).
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The Weekend That Was
|Oh kids, I am a little tired. Friday I left work, went to sign my new apartment lease, and then hit the road. I was a little scared as to how the day started, though...with a weird incidence of traffic on my usually smooth commute.|
But soon I was on the road headed north looking like a...well, a driving person. Person who drives. Right.
I went there to visit my friend Kate and her folks, who own a fabulous music venue in downtown Winnsboro called Crossroads Coffeehouse and Music Co. What a killer amazing spectacular place! It's something I think I want to attempt in the future and I think business partner Josh will agree (somewhere else, of course, like in New Mexico)...a music venue/instrument store/place to hang out.
Adler and Hearne, who played Saturday night, and who were awesome) have created a great place to hear music. I like that. Kate played with them on their set and rocked. Of course.
Most of the time you find a beer and a cigarette on stage with a musician.
Kate's gear includes gum, a cell phone, and a frappucino. I like that.
Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group were the main act and I have seen them twice before back in Albuquerque. They're great performers and now I pretty much need to buy a banjo. Linda makes her's sing. Mine might cluck or screech for a while, but I'd like to know my way around it a little more for sure.
I'm excited to go back to Winnsboro soon -- at the latest I'll be there July 5th opening for Susan Gibson. Woohoo! We'll have a time. For now, I think I will concentrate on the fact that I don't have to be at work at 7:30 AM tomorrow. What does Monday hold? Possibilities are endless.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Yes, I realize my photos have disintegrated into "look what I can do with stock effects!" land. But it's fun.
This post, like most of the things I do, was brought to you by Starbucks. Note the new old logo on the cup. I like it. Notes:
- Today is my last day at the county job. Thanks, county! Clover power.
- My Chile Rant seems to have sparked a lot of hometown love over on Duke City Fix. I'm glad to know I'm not alone. (Warning: for you people not from Nuevo Mexico, there's some "out-of-stater" mocking...but come on, we're not threatening).
- At 6 AM Thursday morning I am pretty sure either a bomb went off or a single giant crack of thunder made enough noise to wake me up AND freak me out in one second. I'm hoping I'm not the only one who heard that. (Update: I am not -- my coworker and neighbor did, too. Phew).
- I got to see Susan Gibson and Shelley King songswap Wednesday night. That made me happy.
- Dan's going on tour for 3 weeks. It makes me proud that his band gets to kick butt, and sad that he won't be in Austin! Thank goodness for internets and in his case, iPhone geekery. When he gets back we hit EP 1 mixing hard and also start woodshedding guitar, voice, writing, and all that good stuff. Excited!
- Apparently my "experimentation in college" (that sounds a lot worse than it is) is fine and not all that weird...because a lovely commenter named Miss Tenacity says, "College is not necessarily the time to limit oneself to experiments with in typically sweet foods... I'm *ahem* well past college and I STILL put chile in my oatmeal, and I've made a wicked-good batch of green ice cream for a dinner party." Whaaaaaat? Can I come over? Can I can I? Awesome.
- I am packing to go to Winnsboro! Woohoo! I promise to take decent road trip photos.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I have gotten a few, "Giving up sweet government benefits, hmmm?" comments...but I don't go to work every day just so I can get my teeth cleaned for free once a year. (For the record...I'm buying my own insurance. No sense in being a "starving artist" type with no means to go to the doctor in this day and age. That is so 1968 commune chic).
---------------- DIGRESSION ALERT! ----------------
Also I would like to point out for the record that as I was graduating with my history degree a couple of years ago, someone looked me in the eye and said, "Congratulations. Would you like fries with that?" Yes I would. Fries and a side of LIVIN' THE DREAM.
------------------------- PHEW ----------------------------
For the most part, though -- people who spend time around me know how I spend all my "non-working-hours" and they approve of how working at a music school aligns with that. I guess in the end we should all cheer our fellow humans on to whatever lights their fire. Delight in their successes and transitions. Give them a good word when they have a moment of doubt. That keeps the world full of excellence with plenty to go around for the next set of seekers, stumblers, and happy souls.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Times, they are a'changin
Heckuva last week and a half or so. I put in the aforementioned two week notice at my current day job. Four more days at the office and I'm out. I will visit -- spending a year-and-a-half with people makes for some nice friendships. Plus I still visit my boss (aka Life Guru) from UNM when I am in Albuquerque. I get kind of attached sometimes.
This weekend I am so excited to be going up to Crossroads Coffeehouse and Music Co. to hang out (and write!) with my friend Kate and see Robin and Linda Williams perform. R&L are fine musicians and quite the entertainers.
I joined a gym last week -- which, if you knew the horrors of P.E. I had to endure as a grade schooler, you'd be amazed at this turn of events. But this gym has a big dark room full of TVs tuned to various things like CNN and the Lifetime channel. I like that. I can cycle for miles. It makes me feel better.
I also found a new place to live. The one I'm at has gotten too ritzy for me, apparently, because the price keeps going up and up. What excited me most about the new one is that I will have a BEDROOM. (Scream!) It's been studio life for the past 2 years and before that, shared dorms and apartments. This will mark the first time I will have TWO rooms to spread my crap around in. (My mom just said, "Tsk." Trust me, she did). Gotta start boxing things up. Well, maybe I'll wait until next week. Or the week after.
Thus are the things I type on my porch on a Monday night.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Mean People Suck
Sunday, April 6, 2008
A Culinary Break: Let Me Explain Chile with an "E"
|Hi. I'm a New Mexican. I can't help it, and I hope that's ok with you. Hailing from a state whose entire population is on par with that of Austin and it's surrounding cities, there's not a whole lot of us statistically speaking. Also, I think a whole bunch of us have moved to Texas because I keep meeting expat Burquenos and such.|
When I do meet a fellow New Mexican here in Austin, after the usual niceties are exchanged, we look at each other with a slightly glazed but still smug look in our eyes and say, "I miss chile." Then we look around and one of us will inevitably say, "Yeah, this stuff here is...it's not chile."
Now, I'm not going to spend a blog post knocking Texas Chili. It's a part of Tex-Mex tradition and I respect all forms of regional cuisine, really I do. I'd just like to clear the air in terms of definitions and categorization. This came about after reading a very nice blog post about a Texan who lives in NYC, who made "Green Chili" based on a description her New Mexican friend gave her. Except the "Green Chili" turned out more like "Texas Red Chili" which is just...chili. It's a stew, it's got lots of junk in it like beans and stuff. It tastes good, but if you are going to talk chile, like...real New Mexican chile...THE CHILE PEPPER...follow me, dear ones.
A Primer on New Mexico Chile:
It's not "chili." Chili is that stew stuff with 10 million ingredients that Texans make (which I feel the need to reiterate because Texans are passionate about their cooking, too...I'm NOT knocking it).
It's chile with an "e". The chile pepper. There are tons of types of chile peppers...serrano, habanero, poblano, etc. We eat a lot of the New Mexico Chile Pepper, which has various varieties called things like "The Big Jim" and the "Sandia." It's cute. But can I just stop and let it sink in that the New Mexico Chile Pepper is an actual plant and type of pepper. It's not a "cuisine" or a stew. It's a pepper. We eat them a lot.
Then you get down to the actual state question (yes, our legislature passed a law giving us a State Question):
Red or Green?
No, really. I'm not lying. We care that much.
All chile peppers start out green. If you let them ripen, they turn red. So whether your pepper is red or green depends on when it was picked. The flavors are distinct, the red having a decidedly more earthy, smoky flavor. People try and pick favorites, but I think your red or green choice is best made in context. I always love red moreso in the winter, and it makes the famous carne adovada dish what it is. Without red chile, carne adovada would just be...pork. Green seems to go well with...um...anything. No lie.
(There may or may not be a story about me in college trying to mix red chile in with my morning oatmeal. I'm still convinced if I mixed it with the right amounts of sugar and cinnamon, I could come up with a tasty, heat-filled bowl. I still get mocked).
Ok so back to my semantics lesson. We have ascertained that "red chile" and "green chile" can refer to peppers in their undoctored, on-the-plant form.
Maybe because we're lazy and it's the Land of Mañana, but we also refer to the sauces we make out of these peppers as "red chile" and "green chile." This is where New Mexican definitions of what chile is really wrench away from Texas and just about everywhere else.
To make green chile, roast the peppers until the skin turns black and separates from the "flesh" of the pepper. Remove most of the seeds if you'd still like your tongue to work after eating. Chop it up (don't puree it or blend it, just chop it). Put it on stuff. That's it; that's green chile.
To make red chile, you'll need red chile pods which are dried and usually found in ristra form (great for decorating AND cooking!). You reconstitute the chiles in water, and this stuff is blended, as opposed to the green. Here's a step-by-step guide. That's it for red chile.
You will note the distinct lack of words like "beans" and "pork" and "cumin" and "cayenne" and "entrails" or whatever people put in Texas Chili (stew). It's pure and simple and tastes like earth, if earth was delicious and made your sinuses drain in a sweet epiphany of heat.
Did I mention New Mexicans are passionate about chile, both in pepper and sauce form? In college, Beth and I would even go to the International Fiery Foods Show, sampling row after row of burn-your-face-off goodness. Thankfully, they had a couple of ice cream booths to kill the pain.
Phew. Thus ends my thesis on "chile" versus "chili." Any questions?
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Milk and Cereal Revisited
Excuse me. I have an announcement. I was not trying to do this, because when I eat cereal in the morning the only thing I'm thinking about is whether I can pull off going back to bed or not. So imagine my surprise when this morning, I used up the last of my cereal.
AND THEN I USED UP THE LAST OF MY MILK.
(As you may recall, I posted about milk and cereal about a week ago, and how you always run out of one or the other, causing you to buy more and repeating the cycle).
Now, this is made stranger by the fact that I am one of those weirdos that measures out both my cereal and milk with a measuring cup. I started doing it in college and never stopped. So anyway...it worked out exactly. And I don't recall opening a new carton of milk at the same time as the box of cereal (fyi it's Cinnamon Toast Crunch...I go through one junky cereal every couple months or so). So the fact that both carton and box reached their completion at the same juncture means two things:
- My blog has special powers to shift reality. This never would have happened otherwise.
- I have now broken free of the endless out-of-milk/out-of-cereal cycle. I am free. Free.
Do with this info what you will. I am now going to ponder my newfound cereal-less existence.
(The photo was taken so artfully by my friend Mary, whom I love, and who has her own story concerning a hole in her office ceiling. Ask her and she'll tell you. It's amazing).
Friday, April 4, 2008
Two Years :: Part 5/5
"It's been two long years now since the top of the world came crashing down. And I'm getting it back on the road now, but I'm taking the long way around."
- Taking the Long Way (Dixie Chicks)
So...the news is that I gave my two weeks notice at my county day job last week. I will be working at Red Leaf School of Music as their office manager. (I kind of want a laminated badge that says “MANAGER” hehheh!) I’ll also be helping with their new retail and repair store as needed. The school is growing and I'm honored to be a part of it.
Also...I will be finishing my EP, starting the next one (it's perpetual from here on out, this recording thing), practicing intensively, writing daily, and I will be around music. All the time. I can't stand it. There's a lot of stuff floating around about "lifestyle design" these days and I kind of feel like I am getting what it means. You find what you like and your surround yourself with the circumstances to grow in it.
I've listened to this Chicks song about a million times already. It's personal to them, but it fits pretty well.
Thanks for reading along...who knows what Year 3 will bring?
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Two Years :: Part 4/5
"Every story's got a chapter, and that chapter will be defined by what's before and what comes after; this one is mine."
- Better to Dream of You (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
Fall of 2007 through Winter 2008. Busy! Red Leaf studies going strong. JP Project No. 2 with Susan and another week in New Mexico. Workshop with Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines. Inspired.
And I started working 10 hours a week for Red Leaf in addition to my county job, plus my lesson time, plus starting the EP (with Dan! Amazing how those things happen). Acquired knowledge, had fun, flexed skills, tried not to be too tired! Sleep patterns have been adjusted, believe me. 17 hour days are kind of...intense. All worth it.
Except that one time I drove to 3 grocery stores to find a certain type of granola. Not worth it.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Two Years :: Part 3/5
"Many precede and many will follow; a young girl's dreams no longer hollow. It takes the shape of a place out west, but what it holds for her she hasn't yet guessed."
- Wide Open Spaces (Susan Gibson)
Spring of 2007. Susan Gibson called and asked if I wanted to open for her in for shows New Mexico. Of course I did. That was a great week. I wanted to do that more...the play music for people all over the place thing. I had to have knowledge and skillz that I could not acquire on my own, or it would take me 35 years to do so flying solo.
I called Red Leaf School of Music because one of the owners (Dan!) was in porterdavis, a band I liked. I started a curriculum in voice, guitar, professional development, and business. I learned a lot all summer and Red Leaf became a second home.
Happy Anniversary, Red Leaf!
|We interrupt this five part series (c'mon I know you all are chomping on your fingernails, dying to know if perhaps there is a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT on Friday, eh? Or maybe you just have time to kill between American Idol episodes. That works, too)...|
Anyway...this interruption is brought to you by:
Things smart people take to get smarter while having fun at the same time.
I want to wish Red Leaf School of Music a Happy One Year Anniversary! They opened their doors on April 2, 2007. I hadn't met Dan and Geno yet, but I got myself over there as fast as I could. You won't find a better business duo in the city...they work hard and their students and staff love them. And the one-liners fly. I think between them they have every line of every movie ever memorized and catalogued for appropriate usage when needed.
You can come check out sets from all the Red Leaf bands (and moi) at Red Leaf Rocks - an anniversary party on Saturday, April 5th at the United States Art Authority next to Spider House. (I hear there's cake, too!) Get the specs here.