Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook probably knows by now that I’m working on a semi-top-secret (wha??) rock opera. Yes, it’s true!
I am not yet ready to reveal the full details of the project, but suffice to say it is in the late stages. It’s mostly down to recording vocals, which is sure to be the most time-consuming part of the process. I am shooting for a January-February 2013 release date at this point.
But it’s time for a first listen now! Of the 11 tracks on the album, 7 will have vocals. But I’ve made one of the instrumental tracks available in a rough mix form now on Alonetone. You can check it out here! (Or, if your browser is adequately HTML5-itized, you can play it below.)
All of the sounds on this track come from Atari 2600 video games. Specifically, they come from actual Atari and Activision games that were available in the early 1980s. I sampled these sounds out of the commercial emulators for these games that are available for the iPhone, created a software instrument from the samples (using this technique), and played them on my keyboard to produce the music you hear. The sounds are minimally processed… other than some EQ and reverb, they sound exactly like they did in the original games (especially Super Breakout, which provides most of the “melodies” you hear).
At work, I plug my 11-inch MacBook Air into a 23-inch LCD, which I use as my primary screen, with the Mac’s display as a secondary screen. Frequently, due to some combination of not closing it then unplugging the Mini DisplayPort plug in the proper order, or… something… I will find that when I open up my computer the next day, my desktop background (a.k.a. “wallpaper” for recent Windows switchers) on the MacBook Air is gone, replaced with a far-too-bright light gray generic background. Yuck!
Previously I had resorted to logging out and back in, or even rebooting, to fix this problem, but yesterday I searched and found an answer. It’s really simple! But it does require opening Terminal.
Go into Applications > Utilities and open Terminal. Then at the command prompt, type this (and, of course, hit Return):
That’s it! The Dock will quit and automatically restart, and the desktop will be restored!
In honor of the pending release of the first of four new feature-length Futurama DVDs, Wired magazine has an extensive feature about the past and, erm, future of the show. But it also has a feature on the original “Futurama” of the 1939 World’s Fair.
I’ve read a bit about the 1939 World’s Fair, about the eager anticipation of emerging from the Great Depression into a brighter and better “World of Tomorrow” (circa 1960), laughably naive from today’s perspective. But until now I’d never actually seen the film of the Futurama exhibit, with its swelling, dramatic score and overwrought narration. In some ways it felt like I was back in high school, watching the long-outdated science films our district had elected not to replace, devoting the precious funds instead (and to little avail) to our perpetually mediocre sports teams. But my response was deeper, and more disturbed.
It’s true that in many ways they got things right, though it may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy: the “world of tomorrow” is dominated by controlled-access superhighways teeming with (free-flowing) traffic. It’s easy now to forget that back then, freeways didn’t exist. The idea that they would relieve congestion is laughable (or lamentable) however, especially considering that they also envisioned a megalopolis where residential, commercial, and industrial districts (I feel like I’m playing SimCity) are separated, for “greater efficiency and convenience.” (Ha! Good one, GM!) The current trend of revitalization (and gentrification) of depressed and/or abandoned inner-city industrial areas as mixed-use residential/commercial developments (such as the “North Loop” neighborhood of lofts and coffee houses comprised of converted warehouses and new-construction-designed-to-look-like-old-converted-warehouses here in Minneapolis) would suggest we’ve learned the error of that particular vision. And yet, the ominous portent of elimination of “undesirable slum areas” in the relentless march forward remains. (Just ask the former residents of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green projects… wherever they’ve been dispersed to today. It’s not that slums — and the side effects of concentrated marginalization of the economic and/or ethnic “Other” — are a good thing, it’s just that you can’t simply displace all of those people and expect their problems to magically vanish.)
On a lighter note, the enthusiastic prediction of a floating dirigible hangar in the city’s river brings some comic relief to an otherwise suffocating, earnest yet ultimately soulless and hollow, view of a future of “penetrating new horizons in the spirit of individual enterprise in the great American way.” For some, anyway. Women and slum dwellers need not apply. Freudians welcome.