Saturday, June 20, 2009

James Howard Brings the Content

Yes! I may have been absent from blogging for the past couple of weeks, but they were a productive past couple of weeks! And frightfully busy, of course, but what else is new. So what sort of shenanigans and goings-on have been shenaniging and going on? Well, let's start with my strong point and talk about what I wrote:

Uptown Magazine! The heart, hustle and soul of the game!

My article for the previous week's edition may be accessed here, and superficial facetiousness aside I think it does need to be understood that A) each province is ultimately the architect of its problem-gambling population and B) no, they are not going to do anything about it.

Does it make sense to bring in increasingly captivating gambling machines and then act surprised when increasing numbers of gamblers are addicted to them? Common logic would seem to indicate otherwise, but I've yet to see a government anywhere that runs on common logic. No, governments run on money, and that means grabbing it no matter how stupid or disastrous the outcome might be. I suppose the ensuing argument in defence of provincially run gambling (or liquor or tobacco or whatever) is that people seem hellbent on blowing their money on these things regardless, and that at least this way the money goes back into the government coffers where it can help people instead of going to the evils of private industry (brrrrrr) -- but then who actually gets helped when helping people would derail the gravy train? Would there be more support or less support available if the government weren't profiting directly off these things? And if governmental control is the best answer because of its ability to turn otherwise dirty money towards nobler goals, then why haven't we -- to crib from Jeffrey Rowland -- legalized pot and taxed the crap out of it? These are all very important concerns, and I put aside all of them to crack a joke at Sophie's expense because seriously fuck that show.

Writing! Yeah! And with that out of the way, let's all watch the quality of this post careen downhill and talk about what I drew.

During a group presentation in the Evaluation of Children's Materials, Birth to Seven Years class -- god I love this faculty -- in that class the presentation was on wordless picture books and it was brought up that, while there may not be actual narrative text written in these books, there may be environmental exceptions such as 'STOP' written on a stop sign or sound effects like a snowman going 'brrr'. These were offhand examples, but then I couldn't stop thinking about that last one; if a snowman is going 'brrr', wouldn't that mean he's cold? Wouldn't that actually be unspeakably awful if a snowman was capable of perceiving freezing temperatures as unpleasant? What can he even do about it? He can't go inside to escape it, because that would kill him, but then he has to weigh that against the continued torment of being made entirely of a freezing substance, and--and this went on for a while until eventually I doodled it in the margins of my notes, which drew some laughs and some astonished glances from classmates later.

Poor snowman! I'm sorry, little dude, but I don't make the rules.

Drawing! Yeah! And now, because this post isn't terrible enough already, let's break out the headphones and talk about what I... recorded?

Yes, another class I'm taking this term is Digital Publishing for the Public Sector -- god I love this faculty -- and one of the assignments due earlier this week was to use audio creation and editing software to produce a short audio recording suitable for podcasting or other digital distribution. Other submissions made by peers for this assignment included poetry readings with background effects, picture-books-on-tape, discussions of the interplay between books and music, and all kinds of interesting ideas. I went in somewhat of a different direction, because I am an incurable goofball.

James Howard - LCCR 100.1 (Station ID -- DJ Segment -- Wolf Hope, Ranganathan)

ha ha ha ha ha ha what on earth is this

My original idea was to write and record a song about Ranganathan, who pops up in library schools like Marx pops up in history faculties, but some issues soon arose with this. Firstly, the song as written was not long enough to fill the requested time by itself; secondly, the guitar I have in this town has no electronic pickups in it (I bought a while back at a downtown pawn shop that was going out of business -- I was lucky it had pegs on it), so the recording process was severely compromised; and, thirdly, I have barely played the guitar at all in the past year or so and I am stank awful at this now.

So I effectively built an imaginary radio station around the song, and I think all things considered I did a pretty effective job of replicating the charming but irredeemably awkward nature of campus radio. I thought this was a particularly good idea because then I could write off the song as a 'demo', which is a music term for a 'recording that is going to suck'. I threw together the background tracks for the radio segments in GarageBand, because this class takes place in the one room of the building with all the Power Mac G5s and keyboards and stuff in it, and recorded some obnoxious and/or incompetent chatter over it -- which was pitch-shifted for effect, so no my voice doesn't sound like that shut up. Of course, then the GarageBand background music was sonically far superior to the actual meat of the assignment, but hey -- demo.

You will note, as I cringingly did and do, that there are a few extremely wonky notes in the singing of the actual song. I had intended to go back and correct these, or re-record them, or anything that would make me sound like less of a tool, but I couldn't replicate the recording conditions of the original sufficiently convincingly to substitute audio and then ultimately I had to cave in and submit it by the, you know, due date.

So this is quite dramatically awful, which at least is partially on purpose, but it's also still pretty funny and I liked it well enough that I figured it should at least be heard. There were also other parties who had expressed interest in hearing it, as well, so here it is and remember that you brought this on yourselves.

You know, I probably should have saved the Uptown article to end the post with, but too late now! I need to get on with the rest of the week; I have intramural softball, a Linux evaluation assignment, a reading-week paper about the publishing industry and a reading-week trip to Calgary (!) to prepare for. Never a dull moment!

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