I wrote up a big long post explaining how I'm not going to be writing for this blog anymore, it might just totally disappear someday, etc, and then when I tried to insert a link Blogger deleted everything I wrote. Because Blogger sucks now and as far as I can tell has no one working on it at all.
Here's my new blog. Musicianship Titanic. It's me writing about music stuff. So far I've actually been able to keep it updated on something approaching a regular schedule. I'm going to try to keep it that way.
It's been eight months since the last time I posted anything. Wow. That's a new record. I might, but probably won't, write something about what exactly it was that led to such silence, but I'll sum it up as an effective combination of business, ennui, and overwhelming lack of motivation.
The natural question is, why am I posting now? Well, since last night, I have had a burning interest in Ashbory basses. I was merely minding my business, window shopping for new electric bass at Elderly Instruments, when I saw a bizarre shaped bass.
Now, it's not unusual to see a strangely shaped guitar or bass. Even casual observers have seen plenty of unorthodox body shapes, let alone amateur enthusiasts such as myself. It wasn't really the shape that struck me, so much as the shape coupled with the Fender brand name. "Surely," I thought to myself, "There isn't a Fender bass that I'm completely unaware of?"
That was enough for me to look a bit closer. And the mystery developed. Not only did this seem to be a Fender bass I had never heard of, but it has... Silicone strings? I'd never heard of that before. Never even thought something like that could be a possibility. Mildly curious, I sent a text to my dad asking if he'd ever heard of silicone strings before, and he professed that he had not.
I forgot about it for a few hours. But at the back of my mind, it nagged at me. Silicone strings? What is this? So I Googled it. Read the Ashbory Wikipedia page. And I became deeply fascinated. I don't want to recap all the information I picked up, but maybe just talk about some of the things that I found particularly interesting.
First of all, it turns out that silicone strings are pretty awesome. They're lower tension, so the neck doesn't even need a truss rod. They also last much longer than metal strings - supposedly, up to decades. The downside is that, rather than the 2-3 days it takes for metal strings to stabilize after restringing, it can take silicone strings 2-3 weeks. Also a bonus for a traditionalist like me, silicone strings are best suited for finger plucking, and don't reward picking.
It's also not really a Fender. Long story short, Ashborys were almost made by Martin, but the deal fell through. Then Guild Guitars got a manufacturing deal. That kind of dead-ended, but fortunately, when Fender bought Guild, the creators had a contact that got them in touch with some important people in Fender's DeArmond name, who were responsible for all of the Guild properties. Thus the Ashbory was revived under the DeArmond name.
It also turns out that Ashborys sound completely awesome. The silicone strings give it an unbelievable acoustic upright bass tone that I've never heard from a bass guitar before, let alone a ukulele-sized instrument. The active electronics play a part, of course, but from what I've seen and heard it seems to primarily be the resonant quality of the strings.
I very strongly recommend reading the history of the Ashbory. It's a fascinating read by Nigel Thornbury, co-creator of the instrument. Also take a look at the list of famous players/owners; names like Jack Bruce, Doug Wimbish, David Gilmour, Nathan East, Les Claypool, and Bootsy Collins(!) prove that the Ashbory is much more than a novelty.
I've already resolved that I have to playtest one over the summer, and I desperately want to spend a paycheck on it. (By the way, don't buy one from Elderly Instruments; they seem to be about a hundred dollars over-priced.) I wish I had first-hand experience to add value to my inflamed posting, and if I do acquire an Ashbory over the summer, I'll have to follow up.
So it's been, like, three months. I've been wrestling with whether or not to delete this blog. I might, I haven't really made a decision yet. I just don't have the focus for it.
A lot has happened, of course. I graduated high school and spoke at my graduation. I got a car and my driver's license. I went on vacation and got my first real job. Then I got my first second job.
Two weeks from today is move-in day at my college. This summer has sped past much faster than I wanted it to, but for once I feel like I really got hold of the summer. The difference really was being able to get myself around.
My job this summer was an interesting experience. I worked for three weeks as a counselor at an art camp, working with 6-10 year-olds. I was one of three male staff members, and the only one who worked directly with the kids. That's where the title of this post comes from.
I'd write more about it, but I just don't want to. That's the main reason I've wanted to delete this blog. I have lots of things to write about, but something is holding me back. I don't know if it would help to move to Wordpress, or if I found a new application to post from, or what. The novelty of blogging wore off, and now there's just not much attraction.
The one possibility I can see is if really worthwhile stuff starts happening to me in college. That might be motivation enough - this could be a reasonable communication tool to keep me in touch with my friends who are going other places.
So I guess we'll see what happens. I'd like to get back into the habit, but I just don't know.
The past two years, I've attended the NCACS conference with my school. This year, the conference is being held in Colorado, which is too far for my school to get to. Next year, after I graduate, the conference is actually going to be held at my school. Of course.
To replace the trip, we tried to plan an outreach sort of thing, where we'd travel around and say hello to some of the other alternative schools. For whatever reason, all the plans lost momentum and eventually fell through. Finally, one stuck. A two-night trip to a state park.
So it is that tomorrow I'll be speeding towards Maryland with a few of my friends, and a few kids I go to school with. There are some cool people going, so I think it should be a pretty good time. My biggest fear is that somebody gets caught doing something stupid and everyone gets stuck in meetings.
But yeah. I'll take photos and stuff. I'll have my cellphone with me, but I don't know if I'll get a chance to recharge, so I'll only have it on for a few minutes a day to check my messages and such. I'll also check my email, and I'll probably twitter some too.
The title comes from where we'll be camping. Apparently it's got wild ponies running around. I may try to ride one.
At this point, I've heard back from all of the colleges I've applied to. Of the five I applied to, I got admitted to three and waitlisted at two. I'd name names, but that would probably be a little unwise since I want to see how these waitlists play out.
Of the three choices I know I have right now, I have decided which one to put my deposit down for. Earlier today, I RSVPd for the admitted student's thing they have this Friday. It's a good school, and I'd be very happy with going there if the waitlists don't go my way.
Again, I don't want to give too much detail, just in case. I've been surprised and really pleased with things so far. I was really worried about my applications; the only thing not sketchy about my transcript were my admittedly good SAT scores. Besides those, everything I had to show was really all over the place.
I was also lucky to get some excellent recommendations from some excellent teachers. It's unlikely they're reading this, but I really owe them a lot of thanks. It's also lucky that colleges are looking more kindly upon homeschoolers.
Getting that first letter saying I was admitted was a little mind-blowing. The impact of the knowledge that, regardless of what else the mail brought, I would, for certain, be going to college in September really struck me - and still does. Even though I've had some college experience already, I wonder if I'm prepared.
I'm lucky because I know I'll be able to handle the work. I know that, like at previous schools, I'll gravitate to the awesome people. It even looks like I'll be going to a school within weekend-commute distance of Rachel, which rocks. But I've never really lived on my own before for more than a week's time. I've never had a roommate, or had to deal with living in close proximity to a bunch of college "dudes".
Despite all of that, I do think I'm up to it. I'm anxious, of course, and somewhat apprehensive. My mind is naturally drawn to think of all the ways that things could go wrong, and makes the best-case scenario look increasingly unlikely. I know everything will be all right; if the past four years have taught me anything, it's that I can bounce back from a lot. I'd still like the least amount of non-academic strain.
I only have two credits to make up to get my diploma. Graduation is approaching terrifyingly fast. I have some trouble dealing with the feeling of time running out - I do feel like I haven't gotten enough done during high school. I just have to make the most of the next four and a half months and look back on everything that I have accomplished.
I spent Thursday through Sunday in Cape Cod with Rachel. Her grandparents live up there and Rach's parents joined us Saturday.
Things got a bit of a rocky start. We wanted to have more time up there than we if went with her parents, so we decided to take a greyhound out of Philly. We managed to get on the 8:30 bus, but that where things stopped going our way. Basically it was just a run of misinformation and bad luck that had us sit in NYC for four and a half hours.
I was pretty nervous about things, to be honest. I have met Rachel's grandparents before, but seeing people at dinner is different from living with them for four days. Most of the anxiety was from that I knew her grandparents are fairly devout Catholics, and even though I'm always pretty careful on the subject of religion, I was afraid of a misstep.
Fortunately, there weren't very many awkward moments. Though of course I absentmindedly ordered a sausage-and-egg breakfast sandwich Friday morning. I tried to hide the meat in the egg, but it didn't really work. Other than that it was a good time.
Mostly we just drove around and looked at beaches. It was extremely cold and windy, but many of the views were breathtaking. The food was also delicious. The highlight was undoubtedly when I bought my tiny red accordion. Rachel saw how much fun I was having with it and had to pick one up for herself.
It was a great weekend and I'm really hoping I get invited up again. Maybe when it's not so cold.
Things have been happening recently. Good, life-affirming things. I finally got my high school transcript together and sent off to colleges, and as part of working to do that, I got reenrolled at school. I'll be finishing the year out there, not so much for the last credits I need to graduate, but just to keep me from stagnating alone in my room.
The school's changed from when I was there last year. There are a lot of new kids, way more than usual, and a lot of the pivotal people graduated last year. Maybe it's just me, but the atmosphere is just different. More closed, somehow. It could just be me; but I'm having a harder time feeling like I belong. I've still got friends and all, but they don't seem to be around like they used to.
That's not to say it isn't a great feeling being back. This place has been a second home to me, and I'm getting to play music with people a little bit again. I don't know if it would be different if I had been here from the beginning of the year. Maybe I could have helped keep things awesome. But I probably would have just changed with everyone else.
Aside from school, the other good thing that happened is that I got my voter registration card. I wanted to register Independent, since that would have been honest, but more than that I wanted to vote in the primary this year. Thus it is that I am a registered democrat.
The new dilemma in my life, or at least more prominent that it was, is that my driver's permit expires on Friday. I've certainly clocked enough experience to pass a driver's test, except that I've never parallel parked. I also feel like it's a little pointless getting licensed, because even if I do, I still won't have a car of my own to get around in. But I will renew my permit next week, as I am reluctant to relinquish the small amount of liberty it bestowed.
Footloose was pretty good. It dragged a bit at the beginning but picked up pretty hard and was down right impressive. Not as good as last year's production, but definitely worth the price of admission. The problem was just that it's not that great of a musical. But they did an amazing job with it.
The Gogol Bordello concert was, well... Mixed. The opening band, some shitfest called Skin Dred, was bad enough that it made me consider just leaving then. I'm also not much of a fan of the mosh pit. I'm just not okay with people touching me without advance notice and me being able to see them. It was okay at first, people shoved, I shoved back.
When GB finally took the stage, it was a different story. They are really good live. It's obvious enough that everyone in the band is up there playing because they love doing it. Eugene is one hell of a showman.
Sunday I went into the city with Rachel. She's got a huge school project coming up, and being the stand up fellow I am I volunteered to help. The project is to do a (condensed) claymation version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I didn't do much of the actual sculpting, but I helped take photos and some other grunt work. It was a surprising amount of fun.
Not much has happened this week. Just sorting some stuff out with college apps, making sure colleges have everything they need. I can't wait to be able to move on from this stuff.
It's the last day of February, thank goodness. I've hated this month for a good many years, and it seems this year it's been especially bad. Not even just for me, but also for those around me. I guess that's why it had to be a day longer this year.
Last weekend I hung out with Rachel and on Sunday went over to Gus' to hang out with him and Ben. We had planned to play some music and some D&D, but we ended up just playing D&D. It was a lot of fun though, it's been about nine months since the last time I played. I'm out of practice, but my velociraptor-riding halfling ranger is getting me reacquainted.
I've been in a bit of a slump this week. Just feeling pretty tired and lackluster all the time. General symptoms of depression, they'll get better as I get back into actually doing stuff. I've been too idle. I did hang out at Chris' yesterday and had a very nice time, it helped a lot to lift the monotony.
Hopefully, today should break the streak. I'm going to go see Rach's school's production of Footloose with her. It should be a good experience, even if it can't hope to match the awesomeness of last year's performance of Sweeney Todd. Tomorrow we're going to get to see Gogol Bordello at the Electric Factory, which should just be super awesome.
Valentine's Day was okay. I meant to blog sooner afterwards, but never did. Rachel was feeling pretty under the weather and traffic was terrible so it wasn't all that it could have been. Better than last year, but there's some room left for improvement. I'm just glad I got to spend it with her. We saw Atonement which I thought was just terrible but Rachel seemed to like it.
I recently picked up Super Mario Galaxy and Guitar Hero III. Both have been affording decent entertainment, and it's good to be actually playing my Wii after about a year of disuse. I am just getting more and more excited for Super Smash Brothers: Brawl. I preordered it through Amazon, I don't know what that means vis à vis delivery times but it'll be good enough for me.
So in the time between my last post and this my attitude towards where I go to college has changed a bit. That is to say, I'm now constantly worrying about where I'm getting in. Every college I applied to I did so because I want to go there, but what if I just don't get accepted? I know at least one place is a sure thing, but still.
A couple weeks ago I had to update GmailThis! to reflect some changes that Google made. While I was at it, I had some time to waste and added a PayPal donation button. To my immense surprise, somebody actually gave me $5. Man, if I had added that three years ago, maybe I'd actually have some cash. So I just wanted to thank that awesome dude who did that.
The weekend wasn't amazing. Friday didn't turn out really like I would have liked. Rachel and I went over to Gabo's to model for her. We went out afterwards to see some live music that wasn't terrible but wasn't stunning either. It could have been a decent enough time but the timing of the whole thing was terrible. Personal stuff that it's not my business to go into. I definitely feel responsible since I sort of planned it.
The painting came out pretty nicely though.
Saturday was okay. I spent some of the day in a Starbucks that I'm starting to have weird feelings about. I always run into people there. I didn't mind this time because it was a pretty cool person to bump into. Still, given that I never seem to bump into people I know, I feel like that place is some sort of odd nexus in my life.
Sunday was also not so great. Rachel got sick and felt pretty terrible all day. I was happy that I got to be there for her and fetch water and so on, but I hope she gets better soon. Her mom's having a party Wednesday that we're going to be waiter-ing at, and I certainly don't want to be carrying around those plates of shrimp-on-a-stick by myself.
I got my voter registration mailed recently. I wanted to register Independent, since that would be honest, but I ended up registering Democrat so I can vote in the primary. I had been previously supporting Edwards because I thought he was just adorable, but with him dropped out I guess I'm an Obama man. Truthfully I get more nauseated by Hillary every time I see her. She unsettles me on an Uncanny Valley sort of level.
Valentine's Day is coming up and I'm feeling a bit hesitant about it. I think right now my official policy is going to be "I don't need a greeting card holiday to mandate when I express affection to my significant other" but I've got a few tentative things planned that would make that seem marginally hypocritical. Shh, don't tell.