And the winner is…


Adam wrote me last week to tell me he had won first place. He notes that “…some folks even said that they ‘had never seen a choreographed flower stick routine'”.

Here’s an mp3 of the final mix, which we adjusted to soften some of the ending cues, and we slowed the tempo a little as well. The groove changed significantly, in my opinion.

I’m looking forward to seeing the video of Adam’s performance. I’m also pretty sure we’ll put together a longer version and make a video. Stay tuned.

As a result of this collaboration, I’ve started investigating poi a little. I’m fascinated by it – I fell in love with watching it one summer evening in Barcelona with my pal DJ Fizz. (Note to the universe: if you can, tell Fizz to drop me a line.) But during my investigations, I read this cautionary tale about fire breathing. I recommend it if you think you want to play with lamp fuel in the future.


I’m working on a tight assignment – under two minutes of music for a devil sticks performance at the 2007 IJA Festival.

This piece is commissioned by Adam, one of Johnny Blazes’ friends and co-performers with the Ocircus Summer Tour of 2007. When we’re through tightening it up, there’ll be a video made of the piece which will be shared somewheres, probably here at

Since the piece is largely textural, I used a technique that I’m sort of calling “planned stochastics”. Basicallly, I enter a lot of notes into my favorite midi editor or notation program. I have a scale or mode in mind, and I quickly write lots of notes within a given register and tessiatura. I repeat this technique in different registers and with different note densities and generate as many tracks as my poor little brain can stand at one sitting. Very often, melodic motives will somehow automatically replicate themselves through the filter of my ear. Sort of like crossing Phillip Glass with Johann Bach.

Then, I import the notes into Reason, and spend the rest of the day and night creating synth sounds and samples. Lots of cut-and-paste and reacting to the raw materials I’ve created. Often, I’ll go back into the midi editor and create more material, and I’ll also play static texture into Reason directly.

The thing I like about fulcrum is the way the space opens up from time to time. I think I’ve managed to capture some of the pure joy I’ve observed in Adam as he plays the sticks. At least, that’s my sincere hope.

UI violation

I wish I could hand out violation tickets on the web. But since I can’t, I think I’ll rant a little instead.

I don’t know about you, but I get really annoyed when a designer decides to resize your browser window for you.

Why does this annoy me, I asked myself? Am I being unreasonable?

Well, I guess the answer is that I am selfish. After all, I’m the one who chose to use Firefox instead of Safari. I’m the one who chose to go Apple instead of Dell. I installed my own RAM. I installed my own wireless router. I’m in control here, I know what I’m doing. I parse out my screen real estate carefully when I am working. I’ve got a browser window shoved here, a text editor on the other side, Flash windows and palettes all over the place (that’s another UI story), chat windows, email… No wonder I feel stingy with my screen space.

My screen space: that says it right there. I feel proprietary. I’ve gone to the trouble to arrange all my windows just so… and then some cocky designer decides to take control of my desktop and mess it all up for me. Why, I ask you, Mister-or-Mizz designer? Because you authored a Flash presentation that’s 871 pixels wide, and you want to make sure there’s enough white space around it to make it look like Yoko Ono’s living room?

OK, rant over. Thanks for listening. I feel much better now.

Virtual reconstruction

I got my laptop back from being repaired.

I’m a little mixed about mentioning who did the work. I’d rate my satisfaction as neutral – their customer service was abysmal, but the kid who did the work was OK. So, I’ll neither endorse nor diss them – they’ll just be consigned to anonymity.

Luckily, I bought the Apple Extended Warranty, so I didn’t have to pay to have the drive replaced. Also luckily, I managed to back up my user directory to an external drive, so all my Reason and Live files are intact, as well as a bunch of other important stuff.

But alas, I can’t seem to locate all my installer disks. This is worrisome, because I’ve just been asked to make another piece of music for devil sticks. My ideas often get worked out notationally in Finale – and the Finale installer is the one I can’t lay my hands on. The other bummer is that I lost a bunch of Refills and patches from the Applications filesystem.

I’m stuck meditating on how we grow to depend on these silly little, brittle machines, and how much effort it’s taking to reconstruct my little virtual home. Things could be a lot worse, though – so I won’t complain too much.

Resume on line

Stop the presses?

OK, well, I haven’t told you the cool part. The cool part that’s so… last year.

I’m looking at my resume, which is in Word, and I’m thinking, “This is so lame. I’m supposed to be a technology/marketing/creative dude, and all I have to show for all that is this Word document?” So, I decided to rewrite my resume in XML. That way, I can write XSLTs to generate whatever I want. I could even post my resume as an RSS feed – if I wanted to do such a thing.

But seriously – I’m planning on writing a transform that’ll output the vital info from the resume into a format that I can feed into Flash. I’ve also got a plan for writing a DHTML version. Stay tuned…

Unemployed, for now

The Monitor and I have parted ways amicably. Actually, it’s been that way for two weeks and three days, as I write this.

Why the delay in writing about it? Well, look at my track record. It’s not like I post here every day, you know.

But it did occur to me that it would be a cool idea to document at least some of my efforts – or at least some of my thoughts and reactions – while I go through this process. It’s been five years since I was in the job market. Not much has changed, except that there’s maybe a few more opportunities now than in the Dry Gulch days of 2002.

Leave it to Murphy’s Law: my laptop – no, my nerve center – died on me last week. Hard drive kaput, everything else seems OK. Lucky for me, I bought the extended warranty with it. I’ll get it back next week some time, but then I have to reconstruct it to the point where it’s useful. Meanwhile, I’m camping out on my Mac Mini.