Personal Update: 2009

Posted in Music, Personal on January 2nd, 2012 by p14nd4

Introduction

I just want to get this out of the way: I am not good at updating my blog; I know this. For anyone who actually cares (approximately zero people), I’m sorry for that. I’ve had various approaches to working around this problem in the past, most recently being an attempt to just write as much as I can in one shot, picking up wherever I last left off. As of my last such post on April 1, 2010, that meant I was about a year and a half behind current events; as of now, I’m a bit more than three years overdue. I started writing a more extensive blog post about early 2009 back in late 2010, so I’ve got a fair amount of detail there, but that’s hopefully where it ends. It drives me a little crazy to do this, but I’m going to try to cover the first two of those years in about four paragraphs (after the extra detail for early 2009), and then spend a little more time writing about 2011 as it draws to a close.

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Wisconsin 2006

Posted in General, Music on July 10th, 2006 by p14nd4

Summerfest

Depending on how long you’ve known me (or whether or not you know me at all, I suppose), you may recall that I have a tradition of heading out to Wisconsin every summer, around the 4th of July, to visit a friend and business partner (Keefe) and see some concerts at Summerfest. I believe this was my fifth summer to head out there, and I hope to go back again next year. I left Minneapolis with a friend from school (Matt) around 4 PM on Friday, June 30 after having to get up at 0630 to make it out to Eagan for an 0830, 2.5-hour series of interviews with four different people, and we were lucky enough to hit absolutely awful traffic between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. When all was said and done, I think we made it past Saint Paul about 90 minutes after leaving Minneapolis … a trip that should take only about 15-20. Despite that somewhat sub-optimal start, we made pretty good time the rest of the way, and I think we made it to Milwaukee around 2230 (10:30 PM, for those of you unfamiliar with 24-hour time formats).

Although a few good bands were playing Summerfest that evening, the headliners usually start at 2200, so Keefe and I decided that less than an hour of a concert probably wasn’t worth $15 each, and walked around an office building in downtown Milwaukee for a while instead. The Wells Building, as I believe it was called, used to house the Techware Labs server, so Keefe had a key for after-hours entry. Among other things, we were able to get out onto the roof, which presented a good opportunity to take a few pictures, only a couple of which turned out well. (Sadly, I didn’t make any other good use of my camera during the trip, though maybe I’ll grab a few other pictures that Keefe took and put ‘em up later.) I generally enjoy going onto roofs of tall buildings, so that was a pretty decent way to pass the time for free, in lieu of half of a $15 concert. Later, Keefe’s girlfriend (Jenny) ended up calling from Summerfest for us to pick her up, which is no small feat, to navigate dozens of half-blocked one-way roads with thousands of people roaming around to find their cars. Among other things, we passed the same intersection no fewer than four times, and unnecessarily (unintentionally) drove ourselves to the back of a huge line of cars trying to exit a major parking lot. We never did end up finding Jenny near Summerfest, and instead ended up picking her up from a bar about 15 minutes away from downtown Milwaukee. It was somewhat unclear how she got there.

I don’t really remember everything I did for the rest of the week (until leaving the evening of Sunday, July 09), nor do I believe it would necessarily interest anyone to read it (much less me to write it), so I’ll just try to cover a few highlights.

  • The Sunday before the 4th, Keefe and I headed over to John Chaillet‘s house for a huge barbecue/grill/cookout extravaganza. I guess that many hours were spent preparing food before the hours of cooking could even commence, including making a few dozen hamburger patties with onions and peppers mixed into the meat. Needless to say, it was quite delicious. It was also cool to meet havoc (John) and chillywilly of irc.havoc.org #havoc in person, with whom I’ve been conversing on the internet for nearly half a decade. I played volleyball there, too, probably for the first time since 10th grade gym class. I dominated everyone :P.
  • Monday, Keefe and I went to a client’s business to install a wireless internet subscriber module and wire it up to their network. This was a somewhat daunting task, as the antenna needed to be on top of the 2-story office building (with only ladder access to the roof), then have the cabling run to two wiring closets on the two floors, and then to nearly the opposite end of the building to reach the client’s router. It took several hours, involved a lot of time on ladders and awkward places in ceilings, etc, but we got the job done, and now Keefe gets to make some more money. I’m still unemployed :P.
  • On Tuesday, I spent the day with Adrianne (my girlfriend) at Summerfest, and saw Punchline, Lucky Boys Confusion, and Bowling for Soup. Despite the fact that the bands weren’t necessarily a perfect match for my main musical tastes, the shows were very fun, the bands had good stage presence and high energy, and that was reflected by the atmosphere in the audience. It was also really nice to get to see Adrianne for the first time in a week, though it’s been almost another week again, which may not sound bad, but it feels like a long time (I guess that’s a good thing, hey?). We later met up with Matt at a coffee shop, and again the next day for lunch at the SafeHouse, which was a decently cool experience in and of itself.
  • I had a job interview with Google (over the phone) on Thursday afternoon. It was somewhat brief, but they had already emailed me and I completed ~4 pages of problems/programs/etc. they had sent me the preceding week. The position is located in Mountain View, CA at their headquarters, so if they offered that to me and I took it, that would mean moving out to California.
  • Keefe, Jenny and I went down to Summerfest on Friday and saw about half a dozen songs from Yellowcard, a little Cheap Trick, Train and Big Wu, and maybe another half dozen songs from Styx.
  • We went to Jenny’s birthday party on Saturday, and then Keefe and I departed for Summerfest, only for his alternator (presumably) to fail along the way. We barely made it off the freeway, and with a little help of my pushing, we got Keefe’s truck onto a side street. After about a $150 tow back to Hartford, and much disappointment about not getting to see Panic! At the Disco (and my added disappointment for missing my friend Brian (of Savin Hill fame) and 30 Seconds to Mars), we headed to a local bar. Having turned 21 only the month before, this was my first time in a bar, and the Mike’s Ice Hard Lemonade I consumed was only the third alcoholic beverage of my life. I’m not an individual of particularly large build, and have no prior tolerance built, so the single bottle containing ~5.2% alcohol did affect me somewhat, but having no desire to actually get drunk, insistently refused Keefe’s attempts to buy me more drinks. Sorry Keefe, you don’t get any embarrassing stories to tell about me doing stupid drunk stuff. (No one shall have such an opportunity so far as I’m concerned.)
  • I headed back home with Matt on Sunday evening. Aside from the massive storms around Milwaukee around the time of departure (of which I saw only a few minutes of a torrential downpour and a few pieces of hail slightly larger than peas), the trip went quite smoothly, and I think we got back to Minneapolis in about five hours (not counting the one stop we made).

Music

Among other things, one aspect of this yearly trip I make that sticks in my mind is the music I hear while out there. I don’t necessarily even mean the concerts I hear at Summerfest (although yes, those are typically very good), but rather just the music I hear on the radio while riding around rural Wisconsin. While this experience probably doesn’t translate well for others, I almost never listen to the radio throughout the rest of the year, so when I’m out in Wisconsin with Keefe for a week, and we do a fair amount of driving, I’m exposed to exponentially more radio than I am otherwise. Over the course of the week, there are, of course, various songs that receive a considerable amount of air-time, consequently impressing themselves in my memory in association with that week. While some years/songs leave a stronger impression than others, I figured that since I went to the effort of making a Music category for my posts, I might as well include some mention of some of these songs. If you’re not a radio-hermit like myself, have some other decent exposure to new music, or have convinced yourself that you’re too cool to like popular music, then the following brief list will be of no interest to you. It will basically just be a snapshot of some songs off the top-40 list for July 2006, but it might be fun [for myself?] to look back at this in a few years to remember what was happenin’ back then … er … now.

So, without further adieu, the list of songs (in no particular order) that I will henceforth associate with my trip to Wisconsin, 2006:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dani California. I actually started listening to this a few weeks before heading out there, having already picked up the album at Keefe’s recommendation, but I enjoy the song, and it got its share of radio play. There are some sections of the song reminiscent of Tom Petty – Mary Jane’s Last Dance, which I also like.
  • Angels And Airwaves – The Adventure. Apparently this band features the vocalist from Blink 182 (easily identifiable, to me, anyhow). It’s not the highest on my list of songs, but it’s worth remembering anyway.
  • Raconteurs – Steady, As She Goes. I’ll admit this song is fairly repetitive, but that probably makes it all the more catchy (kind of like another song we know). I may have heard it once prior to the trip, but I probably heard it at least half a dozen times over the course of the week, and it stuck.
  • Fall Out Boy – Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down. This song will mainly stick in my head as a result of Keefe’s repeated attempts to sing the song as performed by someone with a severe speech impediment. Apparently there’s some parody on the internet to that effect, which I haven’t seen, but shall forever remember regardless. Thanks.
  • Gnarls Barkley – Crazy. No, this isn’t like Britney Spears – Crazy (though I haven’t seen the video for this one yet, so you never know…). It has a little bit of an oldies feel to the vocal style, which I think maybe gives this song a unique appeal to a wider age range than most of these other songs. Also, with the name Gnarls, how can you go wrong?
  • Panic! At The Disco – I Write Sins Not Tragedies. I’d never even heard of this band, much less this song, prior to heading out to WI, but I liked it enough to want to see them in concert by Friday. I’m particularly conflicted about liking this, though, as they’re listed under the emo genre, which I tend to despise on principle. Also, the radio edit of the song censors god out of the refrain’s phrase shutting the god damn door, which is where I originally heard the song. I actually kind of like the sense of syncopation / off-beat emphasis the gap in the lyrics provides, but will manage somehow with the studio/uncensored version. This will probably stick in my memory more than the rest.
  • She Wants Revenge – These Things. The vocals in this song remind me somewhat of Depeche Mode, but to be honest, this song will just stick in my head because I heard the line from the song She’s in the bathroom; she pleasures herself. What more can I say?
  • All American Rejects – Move Along
  • Top 32 Songs @ 102.1 FM Milwaukee – July 2006 »

Music of the Moment

Posted in Music on March 27th, 2006 by p14nd4

I’m not going to claim to have great musical taste, or very much exposure to new music, or exposure to many bands outside of mainstream music (so all you zomg indie music! freaks can just stop reading now :-P), but I’m going to try something new in my blog, and it relates to music. It’s possible this is even more for my own benefit than yours (so I can go read my blog in a few years to remember what I was listening to back then), but I’m going to try to post [a list of] some music that I’m digging at the moment. I’d really love to post mp3s of some of this music too, since I think that’s really what music is really about, but the RIAA disagrees, and since they have more money than me, they’re obviously right (who am I to argue?). (Actually, I love arguing, but I don’t have the time or money to get into a [legal] argument with the RIAA at the moment, so I’ll play the safe side and stick with links to the artists’ sites, some of which post the songs or samples.) It should also be noted that I’m not necessarily posting these in any particular order of how much I like them, or how similar they are to the song above or below it in the list, or how likely you are to enjoy the songs … they’re just in whatever order I think of them.

I know, I know … I’ll get on to the list soon (or you can skip this, obviously) … but I just feel like since this is my first post in the newly created Music category that I should probably talk a little bit about my general musical background, taste, feelings, experience, etc. I don’t think I’m a musical elitist, musical snob, or a hardcore audiophile (while I do rip my CDs using strict quality guidelines and encode with lossless codecs such as flac or Monkey’s Audio / ape, I listen on average Altec Lansing computer speakers or $25 Sony supra-aural closed headphones). While I’d like to say that I try to put aside my general distaste for the stereotypical target audiences of certain types of music, I’m pretty sure that when ever a ‘generic emo song,’ for instance, starts playing, I typically just roll my eyes and think stupid emo kids. I’d say that I tend to stay away from: country (duh?), emo, screamo (does this deserve a separate listing), punk, and really hardcore/heavy stuff, or whatever the musical category for that stuff is, though, probably have some exceptions to these things; it’s not a strict rule, but a general guideline. For things I do tend to like, the range is somewhat wide: classical, techo/trance/electronic, classic rock, alternative, jam band, acoustic, piano, and I tend to get particularly excited about music that effectively combines classical and electronic components. Some highlights of my music collection include music from the following artists:

  • AC/DC
  • Aerosmith
  • Beastie Boys
  • Beatles, The
  • Beck
  • Ben Folds [Five]
  • Better than Ezra
  • Big Wu, The
  • Black Crows
  • Blink 182
  • Blues Traveler
  • Bond
  • Brad Mehldau
  • Bush
  • Cake
  • Chemical Brothers, The
  • Coldplay
  • Counting Crows
  • Crystal Method, The
  • Daft Punk
  • Dave Matthews Band
  • Depeche Mode
  • die Fantastischen Vier
  • die Prinzen
  • Dispatch
  • DJ Tiesto
  • Doves
  • Echt
  • Eels
  • Eminem
  • Evanescence
  • Eve 6
  • Everclear
  • Fatboy Slim
  • Foo Fighters
  • Frank Sinatra
  • G. Love and Special Sauce
  • Garbage
  • Gavin DeGraw
  • Goo Goo Dolls
  • Gorillaz
  • Grateful Dead
  • Green Day
  • Guess Who, The
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Incubus
  • Jack Johnson
  • James Brown
  • James Taylor
  • Jimi Jendrix
  • Keane
  • Killers, The
  • Lasgo
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Linkin Park
  • Live
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Madonna
  • Matchbox 20
  • Metallica
  • Michael Andrews
  • Moby
  • Muse
  • Nelly
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • Nirvana
  • OAR
  • Oasis
  • Outkast
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Panjabi MC
  • Paul Oakenfold
  • Phish
  • Pink Floyd
  • Polyphonic Spree, The
  • Prodigy
  • Queens
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • REM
  • Radiohead
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Red Delicious
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Robert Randolph and The Family Band
  • Rolling Stones, The
  • Semisonic
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Submlime
  • Third Eye Blind
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • U2
  • Wallflowers, The
  • Who, The
  • Within Temptation

Before you start tearing into me for things like <whiny voice>But p111144nnnd4, you’re such a hypocrite for liking the band ‘blah,’ since you said you didn’t like ‘blah’ type of music!</whiny> or I can’t believe you like such crappy music like the band ‘blah,’ please, just bite your tongue, and lie to me if necessary, and tell me how impressed you are that I took the time to type these all up. I really don’t care if you don’t like any or all of these bands. I’m not going to get into big discussions about the quality or merit of their music, or the people themselves (believe me, I don’t know about any of the actual band members or artists, I’ve just heard their music). These are some of the things I like, and you don’t have to like them, but I wanted to give you a `base reading’ of some stuff I’m into.

Anyway, now that I’ve wasted most of my time with the preparation, the rest of this seems rather insubstantial in comparison :-/. I think I probably could have come up with more good music for these `songs I think are cool right now’ section if I hadn’t just wasted so much time with the first half of this post. Sorry. Hopefully I’ll remember this, and edit it as other songs occur to me.

  • Howie Day – [Stop All the World Now #03] Collide [4:09]
    • Beginning with warm, clean acoustic guitar occasionally accented by light violin accompaniment, the song is soon joined by Howie’s mid-range vocals marked by a very slight/soft rasp (drawn out ‘h’ kind of) kind of characteristic of a ‘west coast’ voice, despite Day hailing from Maine. (I’d actually be kind of interested to hear an acoustic-only version of this song continuing in the style of the intro. That said…) The rest of the backup enters including a simple electric bass line, simple closed hi-hat/snare/bass, smooth mid-range violin moving harmony (and perhaps other elements of the 25-piece orchestra I’ve neglected to pinpoint), and admittedly kind of obnoxious ‘do-do-do-do’ backup vocals during the chorus, around 0:41. While the verses of the song (per normal) feature less intrusive background music, there are moments (such as the transition from a verse to the chorus) with either backup or over-dubbed vocal harmonizing as well as what I think is either harp or maybe steel guitar (1:57 and 2:00 respectively, for example). While the ‘do-do-do-do’ vocal background, a few of the prominent violin phrases, and some of the lyrics do give the song a little bit of a pop/big-studio feel, it remains a very catchy song featuring sections of simple acoustic guitar, full orchestral backing, and offers a sound that a variety of individuals should be able to appreciate.
  • Brent Palmer – [Stabilize #02] Asleep In The Back [3:36]
    • This song also begins with an acoustic guitar intro, though with a slightly ‘rougher’ feel than `Collide,’ with clearly audible fret/chord transition slides on the strings. While I think there’s also a single continuous soft cello note accompanying the first few measures, it does carry a more prominent harmony throughout several other stanzas of the song. That said, these are the only two instruments featured in this song. Brent’s voice is very smooth, and is accented by what is either stereo microphones during recording, re-voicing over the track a second time with very good precision but dividing between left and right channels, or maybe just using a single mono voice channel, but just marginally time-skewing them between the left and right channels for a unique effect. The stereo mixing of this track is particularly good for both the instruments and vocals, in my opinion, adding credit to the song (do yourself a favor and listen on speakers first, then headphones, if you have the means). Overall, I feel this is a very simple, but elegant song that has the potential to appeal to anyone from teens to their parents. Plus, Palmer was kind enough to post the mp3 on his site, so you really have no excuse not to give it a try.
  • Pink Floyd performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra – [Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd #06] Money [6:46]
    • As you might have guessed by the name, this album consists of several Pink Floyd ‘hits’ being performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I’m amazed that someone came up with the idea, and took the time to so wonderfully translate these Floyd songs into full orchestral scores. The detail is really quite amazing. As a[n ex-]percussionist, I really appreciate the prominent bells and xylophone featured during the first half of the song, too. Don’t take my short description of this song to mean anything other than it’s 3 AM and I want to go to bed, so I’m cutting this short.