Something else I thought of after SXSWi.
Category Archives: art
Last week happened. I think. I had a sinus headache on Saturday that made everything from earlier in the week seem vague and hard-to-remember, so I’m stuck looking for pictorial evidence.
This is a polaroid I took while walking around my neighborhood on … Thursday? I finished off the Artistic-TZ film pack I had in the SX-70, so next up is a pack of Fade to Black film, which does exactly what it sounds like, over a 24-hour period after the photo is taken. The scans I’ve seen online are pretty neat, so I’m excited to try it out for myself.
I also did a few things like go to the Open Source Bridge work session, and fix a couple of setup instructions in OpenConferenceWare that I found confusing. And I watched the Superbowl with friends, though honestly I’m a much bigger fan of Puppy Bowl. I think the mass appeal of watching puppies and kittens run around in circles must say something about human nature, or western civilization, or something like that. But I don’t know what.
Over the weekend, Lucas and I watched both Solaris and From Beyond, a combination that’s possibly as high/low style as one can get with SF. I love the interior of the Solaris station, the round walls, electrical panels, and piles of books shoved onto shelves. With From Beyond, I started wondering how to rewrite the whole thing as a police procedural—the original story is short enough you could do all sorts of things with it.
One of the enjoyable things about Solaris is that it combines a universe with space travel and alien intelligence with one that has paper books, tea, and long walks around the pond. It’s unevenly technological, past and present intermingling. Which is a good way to describe my music experiments the last week as well.
First, I should note that I’m using an iPhone app to tune my ukulele. It’s called Cleartune, and it’s a full chromatic tuner that can be used with any instrument. The graphics are beautifully designed, and downloading it was cheaper and more immediate than purchasing a hardware tuner.
I recorded myself playing Amazing Grace using AudioBoo, a handy little iPhone app and website for doing up to 5-minute recordings that other people can subscribe to in iTunes or a RSS reader. One of the interesting things about practicing ukulele is that since I like to sing as well, finding songs to practice is a balance between what has manageable chords, and what has a melody I already know (hopefully it fits my vocal range as well). This arrangement of Amazing Grace definitely hits that spot for me.
Then, on Thursday, I brought the UCreate mixer to the weekly hackathon at Lucky Lab. I still had one of the ukulele samples on there from earlier experiments, and Reid whipped up a little drum loop using TweakyBeat (yet another iPhone app, hmm?). Below is the result.
Reid had suggested that the 30 Hour Day recordings (from an awesome no-sleep fundraiser held in December) might produce some interesting clips for remixing, so I took the highlight video, split off some promising bits of music and conversation, and came up with something that makes me laugh (though I can’t speak for anyone else, and it probably helps if you know Rick and Cami, the hosts, personally).
So that’s what my week sounded like. And the future thing: I would’ve killed to be able to do this as a kid, you know? From as early as I knew I could use computers to make things, I wanted to be able to carry the pieces in my backpack, plug the parts together, and have it all just work. These kind of music experiments really highlight for me how we’re there, finally. I sat around at a pub on Thursday and plugged my friend’s phone into a toy mixer so we could manipulate the sound, and it was about as simple as it gets. That’s pretty neat.
I hope you are all having a good new year so far. Lucas and I started with a delicious NYE dinner at Nostrana, watching Star Trek movies, and a little knitting over the weekend. (He finished a really nifty scarf project and will hopefully post lots of pictures soon.)
I’ve been feeling like everything is slowed way down, muddled and difficult and confusing. I know this is part winter blah and part burnout, but I hoped between the end of the holidays and my near-hermitlike behavior over the last few months, I’d be feeling re-energized by now. So far, no luck. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this blank approaching a new year. It’s making it kind of hard to plan or set goals, and I like planning.
Ukulele has been loads of fun, though. I have five or six songs I can strum my way through pretty consistently. I’ve been tinkering with making a recording of something to show off, but I haven’t spent enough time at it to have a song ready to post. I do have a couple of bits of ukulele riffs looped and distorted on the UCreate mixer, though.
I think there’s a couple of sections in each of these that might be worth pulling out to use in something else. We’ll see. I collect a fair number of audio snippets that just sit in folders on my hard drive because I haven’t worked out what I want to make with it. In my mind I’m a budding electronica genius, but in practice, I need to actually finish something here.
Finishing things might be a good plan for 2010.
Lucas and I have a running joke about Mudshark being the Lurker in the [Hallway, Bookshelf, Closet, …]. When we were working on Yog’s Notebook , we both read the Lovecraft/Durleth novel The Lurker at the Threshold, which is about an encounter with Yog-Sothoth, the zine’s namesake.
I don’t remember who started it, but Mudshark is kind of an odd furry monster of a cat, so it stuck.
I came down with a cold on Friday, forcing me to cancel all my plans in favor of lying around coughing. I barely felt well enough to read (a dire situation!), so I was browsing around on my phone thinking about Halloween costume ideas when some line of free association got me thinking about historical expedition gear and Lovecraft . This led to finding some very nice patches and pins commemorating the 1930-31 Miskatonic University expedition to Antarctica (sadly, all sold out).
And that reminded me that I’ve never read “At the Mountains of Madness” (which describes the doomed expedition to Antarctica), but it’s available through Feedbooks for the Stanza iPhone app, so there you go.  Then I read “The Call of Cthulhu”, and “The Dunwich Horror”, and a few others. I think I’d been putting off reading much Lovecraft because I was afraid of liking the beasties more than the style of writing, but everything I picked up over the weekend was a lot of fun.
One thing I kept noticing was what sorts of details were emphasized, and what was glossed over. There’s a lot of “oh, I dare not speak of it!” with respect to the monsters, but at the same time a certain amount of gleeful scientific curiosity, and artifacts are often described in terms of how they match no known artistic lineage or culture (apparently the protagonists are well-educated in this area). Our narrators tend to be complete nerds about something (geology, medicine, architecture…) and enthusiastic about sharing everything through that lens.
Anyhow. All of this is a long way of explaining what’s going on with the image at the end of this post.  In “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, we encounter a town full of people who’ve been mating with the Deep Ones, a race of fish-frog people who provide them with food and wealth in exchange for sharing in their Cthulhu-worship, and eventually, creating a town full of fish-frog-human mutants who will then take over the world.  The narrator is happy to dissect the town’s architecture, but apparently he really does not want to ponder how you go about making fish-frog-human people, so we look the other way.
I’m sure I’m not the only reader to consider how the biology of this would work, but I’m a little scared to Google it. So I drew my own version. I think this is hilarious  but YMMV.
Maybe “Scenes Lovecraft Left Out” will be my next comic?
 Copies of both issues are still available, if you don’t have them yet. Buy them through the site or email me to pick up at an event.
 Alas, I don’t remember how I got these two topics combined. I was thinking about Dürer, and demon ladies, and …?
 Another case for ebook readers on the phone: sick days. If I could just download hot tea to go with it, I’d be completely set.
 It’s like a shaggy dog story. A creepy, wet, slimy one.
 Or something.
 Ask Lucas, I was laughing so hard I had to get up and have a drink of water before I could finish the sketch. I do not actually expect anyone else to have the same reaction.