Sunday, June 24, 2012

Good Show

I have no idea who this guy is: He came up to the stage and asked for a birthday song, so I called him up and I think everyone in the club expected Becky to sing to him.
She handed him the mic and went to the bar, then the ladies room.
Birthday boy was stunned for all of 3 seconds, then started singing some old song--Janis Joplin maybe?--and then David, Jaime and I figured it out on the fly.

Probably my favorite pic of me in a long time, holding down the groove with our giant robot of drums, Jaime Flores: It was a great show, from all reports.

I know that in terms of bass tone and playing, it was by far my favorite.
Having new strings, a new tuner, new main cable, and an amp rig that I could trust and tweak for two weeks prior all made a huge difference in my comfort level.
Exhausted, sweaty, dirty, but fairly happy right now.
Too bad I have to get up in 5 hours and do an early outdoor show with A Beautiful Mess at Trader's Village Flea Market...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"The New Phonebooks Are Here!"

Actually, this is even better:

Televators first release is now available world-wide on iTunes.

I haven't heard this final mastering of Milk Run yet, but am confident that it sounds great based on earlier mixes--I mean, how bad can someone screw up my masterpiece?
(Don't answer that)

If you hate Apple or just don't have an iTunes account we'll be releasing our stuff on several other online outlets soon, or you could just show up at our next show:

Televators will hit the stage around 11:30pm to perform all of our original songs plus a few select covers.
We'll also play the official release of Milk Run nice and loud over the PA system during the intermission between bands.

It's a funny thing--in your head you picture some kind of dramatic setting when important news arrives, just like in the movies.

Got the call to join Televators while browsing kitchen utensils and picture frames at a local ROSS store.
The text re: producer Lee Popa wanting to make us famous came while running sound at a flea market on a cold Sunday morning.
Found out about iTunes in a text while buying crappy spare batteries and a shortass roll of duct tape from Dollar Tree.

I mean, it's such an incredible feeling when a song you wrote is suddenly rubbing shoulders with the greats (and not-greats) in the best-known online music marketplace...tingles and tears describes it nicely...but there's no lucky coincidental fireworks when you walk into HEB afterwards, or then go home to do the dishes and clean the stove.

Maybe IF I ever get to hear my music on the radio or TV, it'll happen in some kind of Hollywood universe where I'm surrounded by people who give a shit?


Nothing ever happens in real-life the way it's portrayed in the movies.
Except for Spinal Tap.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Trailers And Amps

Ever have one of those weeks when it seems like everything is a little off?


Coming home from a show in Kerrville in the wee hours of last Saturday morning, everything was fine.
Just two band brothers yapping about The Spurs and music and such while dragging a heavy trailer up those damned hills on IH10.
I pulled up in front of our house, unloaded my personal gear, and bid my boss good night.
Some time later he called with the news that the trailer's axle had parted company with the suspension in a most catastrophic fashion and asked my advice on what he might do about it:
Being late, I was tired and a bit in my cups, so I wasn't particularly helpful.
He was only a mile from his house, but had to call a tow truck to get the trailer the rest of the way.

The tire grabbed the fender and folded it up rather well while also shredding.

Somehow, the other fender sustained damage as well.
I'm just glad it didn't happen while I was driving in the middle of Nowhere, Texas.
We had to split the gear between our pickups for the next gig, which luckily was a private party that didn't require all of it.

He bought a new (used) trailer today that's a bit bigger in every dimension but height (to fit his garage) so the good news is more space for more stuff.
Bad news is I'm still going to hit my head at least twice a week for the next few years.


By my count I have used at least six different amp/speaker combinations since I started playing bass a couple years ago, first with Loud Nine and now for Televators. It gets old pretty fast, borrowing stuff and never getting the chance to settle on ONE amp rig that you can get used-to and fine-tune over time.
If I wasn't a sound expert I think I would have gone insane, but luckily it's fairly easy for me to get wildly different products to do what I need them to do.
Doesn't mean I like this situation--it really blows and I hate it.

A big step forward was buying a Peavey bass speaker cabinet from my friend Buz.
It was part of the rig I used with great success in the studio two months ago.
Still need to pay him for it...

While working up amp situation #7 this week I took a peek in the rear port of the cabinet and spotted this:
Never seen such a thing--a bottle of something was neatly wedged between the frame and cone of a speaker.

Mickey Mouse Shampoo & Conditioner.
The kind you find in your hotel room at Epcot Center or Disneyland I suppose.
Buz had zero idea where it came from or how it got there.
And yes, it's location will have an effect on the sound but with the other 3 speakers involved it would be hard to notice, even for an "expert" like myself.

It took a while for me to take a hard look at the bass amp that's been sitting in Bex Televator's practice room, rather than treating it like a carpet-covered nuisance that's only good for banging my knees and holding up my soda and camera bag. When I finally had no choice but to use the thing there were issues with random volume drops, so I brought the sucker home and took it apart.
As I suspected there were some cracked solder joints on the input jack, and a couple more on one of the power transistors.
Fixed in mere minutes thanks to the best invention in recent years--the cordless drill/screwdriver. (Mine is a 24-volt Black & Decker we got at Target for a mere $36 with many accessories).

As it turns out, for a basic "practice" combo amp it has WAY more features than usual.
In fact, it's preamp section is a near clone of the one Buz let me use in the studio minus the tube section--it's all solid-state circuitry. Good thing I have a tube preamp/direct box to put in front of it for some old-school tone through the amp and also sent to the PA system.
I did a bunch of stuff to the 4x10" cabinet, including the addition of a big metal 1970's vintage Peavey logo and removing the casters so it'll stack nicely. Not done yet, but getting close.

Used this rig at practice tonight and we all agreed is sounded fine.
I'll be using it for the next Televator's show, June 23rd at Charlie Brown's on Starcrest. Hope to see some of you there.

This doesn't change anything. I still NEED a complete bass amp system of my own.
I've selected the specific items I want, and it's going to sound way better than rigs costing 3x as much.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Crops Are In--Spurs Are Out

Since moving back to the suburbs I've grown a lot of peppers in my own lazy way.
I found chiltepins growing in the alley, grew a small bush from those seeds plus one from seeds I got from Sylvia's Dad. Still have them both, producing major heat in convenient little packages.
Then jalapenos for a season, followed by those big Anaheim chilis, serranos, and finally banana peppers. Last year I gave up on seeds and mild off-brands and went back to basics with some jalapeno seedlings from HoDep.

I've kept my biggest pot of last year's 'penos, but improved results for this season by planting in the (modified) plastic liner from a half whiskey barrel. All I know is that it took a lot of Miracle Grow soil and is much deeper than anything I've used before.
The results are spectacular.
Never seen leaves so big, plants so tall, or peppers so plentiful. And they grew faster than ever before.

And what peppers they are!
Smooth perfect skins, rich colors, better flavor than any store-boughts, and hot enough for the whole familia.

All I know are the basics: good soil that's as deep as possible and drains well, the right amount of sunlight, lots of water, and some wood mulch on top to protect the roots and dirt. I probably put more effort into meeting the sys-req's for zero $$$ each year than trying to get the best results.

Over the winter months I made mucho progress with my salsa recipe, and the general consensus is that someyear I might beat a mentionable percentage of the stuff in jars and local restaurants. Having fresh jalapenos and the hotter little ones right outside the door makes sense, and it's a nice dream to think of growing ALL my own ingredients someday.

Congrats to the OKC Thunder.
They whipped us fair and square.
Hope they uphold the Western Conference standards and demolish whatever team survives from the East.
LeBron still hasn't proven to me that he deserves a ring, and I would hate to see that loudmouth KG get one this year.
Like everyone else in SA I'm walking wounded, going through the motions and trying to keep myself distracted from the pain of what just happened.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Most Unexpected

Why won't my snake eat???
She's been extremely active lately, as in climbing and cruising all around her tank 24-7 for weeks. You would think all that exercise burns enough calories to make a snake powerful hungry, but there are two mice living in our garage that prove otherwise.

When the timer tripped and lit up her tank the other day, I looked over my shoulder and it took me quite awhile to process what I was seeing:
Snake eggs!
And smaller orange not snake eggs...

Poor girl was exhausted from pushing them out and didn't move a muscle for over 24 hours. Yesterday I was able to harvest them, and clean 'em up for a portrait:

After Googling for a few minutes I found out that it's normal for a captive female corn snake (and other species) to lay eggs and "slugs" without ever coming into contact with a suitable male during breeding season.
Last year at this time Candy was just as active and uninterested in food but didn't push out any weird stuff, although I suspected that her behavior was mating related. She was already an adult when I found her 5 years ago so it's odd that all of a sudden this stuff happens.

Over the next year I might try to find someone local with a suitable male who's interested in breeding. Hopefully I can find a male with normal corn snake colors, since the plethora of selective-bred fancy colors don't interest me as much--Candy being the exception because she's mine and oh so sweet.
I once built an incubator on the fly with stuff laying around the house when a lizard someone gave me dumped a clutch of eggs, and successfully hatched a half dozen babies 2 months later. No reason I couldn't do it again but much better with minimal investment.

When I get the time for dissection, we'll see if there's anything inside these eggs and slugs worth seeing.