Point Break at Oscars Outdoors

Actress Lori Petty, Howard Smith (editor), and David MacMillan (sound mixer)

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On a songwriters’ forum, one poster was asking if it’s safe to post original songs to Youtube that don’t yet have a copyright (meaning registered with the U.S. Copyright Office). Here is one response:

“just have a copy of the song with an earlier date. I think that would be enough.”

Good thing it’s prefaced with “I think” because that doesn’t work. You can adjust your computer so it displays any time and day you choose. Consequently, creating a copy of any digital file with a time/date stamp isn’t going to help when it comes to making a copyright claim.

Additionally, the age-old “poor man’s copyright” technique doesn’t hold up, either. We did this a few times, many years ago, in one of the rock bands I played in: slide a CD with your original music on it into an envelope and mail it to yourself. The envelope shows the day the stamp was cancelled, so the government’s involvement makes it official, right? NO! Envelopes can be tampered with. Heck, you could probably tuck in the flap on the envelope (so as to not seal it), send it through mail that way, AND THEN plop a CD in there at any later date… or tape down the flap, send the CD, and retape it later when you’ve got a disc with more songs (or whatever) on it. Point being, the “poor man’s copyright” will, unfortunately, do nothing for you in a bind.

What you can and should do is this: pony up the $35 registration fee and make it official. Admittedly, when I first registered, I was concerned about how much it would cost. Would I have to register all my songs individually or what? Generally speaking, and be sure to read the descriptions on the Copyright Office’s website before taking this at face value: You can clump all your demos together (if the songwriters are the same on all of them) and use Form PA (Performing Arts). That registration will protest the gist of the song, melody, and words. For a completed album or final song mix, use Form SR (Sound Recording). Remember, though, bundle what songs you can together so you aren’t continually paying the $35 fee.

Registering your work can eat up a fair amount of time, and money, as mentioned. But if you’re serious about your artistic work and the time and effort put into it, you need to make sure it’s protected.

Lastly, it’s important to note that a copyright happens automatically WHEN YOU CREATE A WORK. But proving that creation is key. Whether you’ve registered or not, put one of these little doodads next to your work if you’re concerned someone might try to rip you off – ©

Here is where you can register your work (here in the U.S.) and find info that’s, you know, not on a forums or a blog! – http://www.copyright.gov

my feelings
they have become so confusing
the complexities
of modern life
have taken a toll
on my well-being

 

i’ve become so predictable

no longer analytical

little time left to think anymore

about who I am or where I’m going

 

i think I can remember a time
when it didn’t hurt eyes
to see the sun rise
or to know that i’m on my own
god, i’ve been in my own for so long

 

no longer analytical

i’ve become so predictable

little time left to think anymore

about who i am or where i’m going.

 

Anywhere but Here

04/30/2013

I’ve watched our lives
ebb and crest
Watched the waves
crash into time
…and the tides…
They pull me under
with reckless abandon.
I just wish I could
I just wish I could be
anywhere but here,
anywhere but here.

People are mad. Wahhhh. Boo hoo. “Why should Jay-Z and Beyonce get to go to Cuba when I can’t?” Well, the truth is, you might be able to. People just rush to conclusions because they heard someone say something about an embargo and travel restrictions and such. Honestly, until recently, I thought to get to Cuba, you would have to go through Mexico or some other country. Officially, the State Department says something like “If you do go and get in trouble, we can’t help you. But you can go if it’s sanctioned.” That last part is really important as, just before people started boo-hooing about these celebrities who get special treatment anyway, I received this email from my alma mater (in screenshot form and sorry it cuts off due to my blog theme – click to see the full image):

Image

So there you have it. Officially, the U.S. government only grants regular citizens access to Cuba if it’s “educational.” But IT DOES grant U.S. citizens access to Cuba. And if it must be educational and your only purpose to go there is to explore, is it not simple to make the argument that you’re learning about a different culture? Thus, it’s an educational experience.

The point here is that most people really have absolutely no idea what any of the Cuba-related travel restrictions are and aren’t. I’m not an expert on them, but I’m not going to go overboard, either, about some restrictions that shouldn’t even exist at all. I know a few folks originally from Cuba. They’re good people and have insight into the country that I otherwise never would have gotten. Like with North Korea, Cuba is largely known as being a poor nation, but it’s not the leadership that’s suffered from decades of trade embargoes – it’s the people.

If our country were so free, we shouldn’t have to justify trips to anywhere by saying it’s “educational.” More-so, we should be able to travel simply because we want to.

1. Ministry – “Thieves and Liars”
This song has always pumped me up. I remember listening to it back in high school, before football games on Friday nights. I was probably the weirdest high school player ever… I put a lot into it and didn’t really think too much about going to football practice wearing black nail polish. I also didn’t think overthink changing out of my leather pants at the end of the school day in favor of football pants.

2. Nine Inch Nails – “Gave Up”
I played in an band in, well, I always played in a band until about 5 years ago… but one band in particular – Candy Apple Red – covered this NIN song. We were all broke then, and Pro Tools wasn’t so cheap, so we recorded our cover of “Gave Up” on a 4 track (cassette) recorder in my dad’s basement. I can still hear parts of that cover in my head. The drumming was superb, and one of the fills recording in the cover version was one of the coolest accents in a song I’ve ever heard. Kudos to, ahem, that drummer.

3. Pink Floyd – “Comfortably Numb”
The “Pulse” version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen… truly. The first time I ever saw it, I remember my cheap, white Stratocaster was resting on my lap. I was watching, and the mirror ball opening was mesmerizing, and David Gilmour’s guitar tone during the big outro solo was elating and literally brought me chills. Absolutely amazing work.

4. Refreshments – “Banditos”
This song is classic 90s. I’ve always loved it. The Star Wars reference is the same to me as the Sufjan Stevens reference is in the Snow Patrol song “Hands Open” is… it’s like “yeah, nice tribute… it’s not something I’m crazy about, but I still love the song.” But also, I saw the Refreshments in 1996 at Edgefest in Dayton, Ohio. That was the first time I had ever crowd surfed. And I remember the guitarist was wearing some tall, mushroom, hippy kind of hat. Pure 90s.

5. Sublime – “Sublime” album
This band doesn’t define the Leaving Celestia sound by any stretch, but I have always had a deep respect for Bradley Nowell, and the rest of the band’s, work. I bought this album just outside of Washington D.C., in an underground mall (Crystal City shops, maybe). The self-titled album is really a great one and, at that time, was on repeat on my CD player. I remember on that trip, my buddy Roland borrowed the CD and was jumping up and down on the hotel room bed while listening to it with headphones on. That was years ago. My CD is still nice and safe. I hope Roland is, too.

6. Local H – “Bound for the Floor”
The raucous nature of this song provides a better direct-correlation to the music of Leaving Celestia. As I understand it (and have for a long time), Local H was originally a three or four piece band (or whatever). The other member(s) apparently departed, and the two dudes left put out the album they had been working on. It hit the charts hard, and “Bound for the Floor” is still being played on the rock radio stations today. It’s such a great groove, and I find myself screaming “you keep it copacetic, and you learn to accept it, you know you’re so pathetic!” every time it comes on. Technically, this came out in the “post grunge” era (whatever that means), but it still has that grittiness that makes me want to categorize it as grunge. The song is super catchy, and that grittiness, coupled with my draw to the song, taught me that music doesn’t have to be polished to get your point across.

7. Nada Surf – “Popular”
This song spoke to me on different levels. As mentioned, I played football in high school, but I wasn’t truly a part of the “jock” crowd. They were good friends of mine, yes (the jocks – not Nada Surf!), but there were also great differences between us. I loved, and love, the song “Popular” because it’s kind of a mockery of those who take themselves too seriously, and because all of us guys secretly longed to be the captain of the football team who gets all the girls.

8. Stabbing Westward – “Shame”
This song has long been an anthem. It just rocks. It’s dark, gets the point across, and is full of emotion. Stabbing Westward has always been a big inspiration because, not only were they a talented band, but they also also really cool. As a teen, I used to hang out behind Bogart’s – a venue in Cincinnati – to chat with my favorite bands. When SW was in town, the guys – Chris, Andy, Mark, etc., would answer all the questions I had about being in a touring/recording band, and it made me really feel like I was a part of something important for a while, coming from Small Town USA. I loved how Jim, Stabbing Westward’s bassist, noticed that the big, local rock radio station, WEBN, sponsored the show. “They don’t even play us, do they?” he asked. “No, they don’t,” I had to tell him. Good times.

9. Stone Temple Pilots – “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart”
I really started liking STP when other people starting liking them less and less. Really, “Interstate Love Song” was kind of bland compared to other stuff that came later. Okay…. so I’m really just trying to make excuses… But to change the subject, holy crap, I saw STP in 1996….!!! Get this – the opening band was Local H. Bill – my best friend’s stepdad – drove us all to the show, and he didn’t want to see the opening band (even though I did), so we hung out at Chi-chi’s Mexican restaurant for about a half-hour after the time posted on the tickets. We then headed over to the Nutter Center. Due to the boycott of Local H, we ended up missing the start of the Stone Temple Pilots set. Gee, thanks a lot, Bill!

10. The Doors – “Light My Fire”
I grew up listening to The Doors on vinyl. My brother had a record player and, when he was gone, I would sneak into his room and listen to The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles. I also played his drum set when he wasn’t around. SHhhhhh!! “Light My FIre” is one of the songs, among many, that have had a lasting impression. “The End” is another that’s amazing and timeless. But I really have always loved “Light My Fire” and Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Jim Morrison on the Ed Sullivan show, as exaggerated as it may have been. And, naturally, there is some sort of kinship between me an Val Kilmer. I know we’ve crossed paths, so it’s only a matter of time until we run into each other..

11. The Dandy Warhols – “Heavenly”
This tune comes right after “The Last High” on the album “Welcome to the Monkey House.” That mentioned track is one of those best on there but, for some reason, “Heavenly” makes me think of vacation. Specifically, it takes me back to being in Daytona Beach with my dad and brother in the early 90s. A giant hurricane was about to hit, our hotel threw all the beach chairs in the pool so they wouldn’t blow away, and we took off for Orlando. I had discovered Tom Petty right around that time. I don’t really know what it has to do with “Heavenly” specifically, but it’s one of those songs that conjures feelings and emotions relating to a very specific time and place.

12. Kansas – “Carry on My Wayward Son”
This is one of the greatest, timeless rock songs of all time. It’s filled with changes and a clever melody the whole way through that makes for a great singalong. My buddy, Dan, is a drummer in the country music scene in Tennessee, and he formerly played in a band with the son of one of the guys in Kansas. I seriously had a dream of jamming with Kansas as a result because, even before that all going down, “Carry on My Wayward Son” was already one of my favorite jams.

13. Tin Star – “Raincheck”
It’s safe to say Tin Star has been my one and only foray into listening to what some label as “trip-hop.” I’m sure this music discovery came from my old buddy, Mike, but where he found it I can only guess… maybe 97x played them (the once-famous and now defunct college radio station Dustin Hoffman referred to in “Rain Man.”) “Raincheck” has a certain mellow, lovely ambiance that has always blown me away. The smooth/thick/synthy bass, the slightly overdriven guitar accents throughout the song, and the vocals all come together to create a mix that transports me to a really comforting place.

14. VAST – “The Last One Alive”
Visual Audio Sensory Theater. The “Last One Alive” is the first track on the 2000 album “Music for People.” The song is a triumphant anthem, especially the chorus: …if the sun comes in your room and awakens you from your vanity, you won’t find me ’cause I’ll be on top a mountain pissing on your grave.” The “nah, nahhh, nahhhh” that follows is like a taunt, which would just be used as an accent to the music in any other song. It’s really a great, upbeat song that gives you a feeling of freedom while driving around town, belting it out, on a sunny day with the windows down and sunroof open. To gently come down from the excitement of this track, check out “I Don’t Have Anything,” which is the 3rd track on the same album.

15. Forget Cassettes – “Quiero, Quieres”
Okay, this one is super obscure. That intrinsically means nothing, good or bad… but, for me, this discovery was a cool one. My aforementioned friend, Mike, somehow already knew about this band, when I was set to run the sound board for them at an indie music festival in Cincinnati. Mike and his wife showed up, and we all hung out at the front-of-house mixing console while I worked… it was a lot of fun. A few months later, I went with another buddy, Brad, when Forget Cassettes were back in the area, playing at a small venue in Dayton, Ohio. I chatted with the band during a break and told the drummer that I mixed for them at the festival. “Aha! I thought you looked familiar,” he said. It was pretty cool, because it’s so cliche for people to say silly things like “Hey, I was in the front row at your show two years ago at the arena in Chicago… do you remember me?” Of course they freakin’ don’t. But I guess working alongside people makes you more memorable.

So anyway, about the song… the style is really hit-or-miss for some people. I’ve played it in the car while driving around with passengers, and some love it, and some hate it. On “Quiero, Quieres,” I love the drumming and catty vocals that are filled with so much emotion. The song just rocks, and it’s a great lead-in to the next tune, “The Catch,” on the “Salt” album. The singer, Beth, is an amazing musician. She can play crazy guitar parts while singing better than I can play the guitar alone.

16. Cracker – “Low”
This song has seemingly been around forever, as it’s really timeless. I like the mix of the acoustic, rhythm guitar with the electric, accent guitar. Those guitar bends during the verses give the song a dreamy feel, complimentary to the “like being stoned” chorus. The whole thing is borderline experimental, with the lyrics about cosmonauts and such and with the flanger on the vocals in the breakdown section.

The rest of the “Kerosene Hat” album leaves a lot to be desired. The second track sounds like a mix of INXS, The Refreshements, Blink 182, and Sex Pistols. Just stick with “Low.” It’s the first track on the album, for a reason.

17. Placebo – “Without You I’m Nothing”
Slow paced and heavy on the reverb, it’s like being in a tunnel. It’s kind of trippy, too, with a nice pair of headphones on, listening to the flange guitar pan back and forth during the bridge. “Without You I’m Nothing” is simply a gorgeous song. Some people are turned off by Brian Molko’s voice, but I just find it to be different. The original version version is on the album titled the same as the song, and an interesting version, found near the end of the “Black Market Music” album, features David Bowie on vocals.

18. AFI – “Love Like Winter”
The style of the “December Underground” album is weird. It’s like highly-produced poppy/synthy/punk/rock. Weird combo, but it’s catchy. Though I’ve been listening to this album on occasion for seven years now, hearing some high heels clicking against the sidewalk or tile floor with every step, I still think of the intro of this song. I love the rhythmic staccato of the bass during the verses, which is replaced by the guitar during the chorus. Also, I’m really adept at playing music by ear but AFI, quite often, takes a while to figure out on guitar or bass. The music flows naturally, but there are a lot of changes. It’s the same with figuring out some of Pete Yorn’s songs.

I work on one of the most-watched shows on TV. This is no small operation. Just like any other big, legitimately successful enterprise, we operate under a budget, but we also try to buy products that are going to be reliable. You know, as it’s said, “You get what you pay for.” But sometimes, what you pay for doesn’t turn out how you’d expect. Enter the Microboards G3 disc printer.

The G3 is the second disc printer of the same model that my employer has purchased for the office. The first one was acting funky, so a second one was purchased as a replacement. Taking a quick stroll across the internet, most distributors selling this printer have a price of just over $1,000 on them. That strikes me as pretty expensive for the luxury of printing labels on 50 CDs or DVDs in succession. That’s really the extent of what it does.

The printer does make life a little easier, when it works properly, but the problem is that it’s finicky on a daily basis. “The printer cartridge is unable to move” is the most frequent error message, which is only remedied by shutting down the printer, restarting it, then setting up the print job again. On occasion, even the restart doesn’t help because the printer cartridge is still apparently stuck. Stuck on what, I have no frickin’ clue. It sure doesn’t look stuck.

So, today, after being fed up with getting the “Hey, I’m stuck again” message, I thought I’d give the ink cartridge a little push/pull to see if it moved. The result was that something clicked… and not metaphorically. I’m talking about the “Uh oh, did I just do something bad?” kind of click. I printed a test disc, and the alignment was was off… what should have been printed in the middle of the DVD ended up being far enough to the right that the 10 characters in one line had almost printed off the disc. I could see that the cartridge physically wasn’t returning back to its usual spot after printing.

Since I am fairly savvy with electronics, and such equipment doesn’t belong in landfills, I had tucked the old, disc printer #1 away in a cabinet. I almost pulled the old unit out, until I discovered something on problematic printer #2… Underneath where the ink cartridge rests when not in use, there is a plastic, square outline. I pushed the cartridge holder straight back, and it moved without any resistance, like it’s spring-loaded. Then, sliding the ink cartridge to where it should have been situated, I pushed the plastic square back, and the ink carriage finally popped back in place. A test print was successful, as the text alignment was properly centered on the DVD again. Whew! A thousand more dollars potentially saved.

I am very confident that this debacle hasn’t totally fixed anything – the cartridge will continue to get stuck on itself, and printing will continue to be problematic. The bottom line is that this disc printer is expensive, yet unreliable. Microboards is now trying to phase out the G3 in favor of the G4. But considering how long the G3 was on the market, my expectation that reliability has improved is admittedly very low.

Have your own experience with the Microboards G3? Let me know about it in the comments section below!

I just discovered some extreme ignorance I possess regarding one of my guitars. It’s a Paul Reed Smith Custom 22, which I’ve owned for probably seven or eight years now. Coming from the old school, plain old tuning peg world, I restrung the PRS tonight the same way I always have – locking down the string with plenty of excess slack, then continually winding the tuner until each string reaches its proper pitch. It doesn’t seem like rocket science… until you think there’s a problem with your equipment and just realize the problem is that you’re behind times.

When I got the guitar out and started this project, I thought “Hey, the tuning peg is broken! I can’t lock down the string… it keeps popping out of the string holder on the peg every time I try to wind it.” I was frustrated because, well, this guitar is really nice and has been super reliable for quite a while now. But after seeking some expert advice, this is what I found:

1) There is no need to wind the string around the machine head like on the old style tuners. Don’t do what is shown in the photo below. Rather, read on for proper instruction.

Image

 

2) My whole concept of the Paul Reed Smith winged tuning pegs was just completely wrong. When you’re finished setting up new strings, the wings on the machine heads should flare outward from the guitar, and the top and bottoms rows of tuning pegs should be fairly symmetrical.

To begin putting on new strings, loosen the cap screw just a bit (no more than a quarter turn is needed).

IMG_3487

 

Flare the wing on the machine head outward, and line up the string in the slot, as shown below. No string slack is needed.

IMG_3484

 

While holding the string in place, hand tighten the screw cap, then begin rotating the tuning peg. The screw cap will continue to tighten and, once the machine head aligns just right, the string will begin to tighten. Once tightening begins, push the flat side of the wing in towards the middle of the headstock to lock the string in place.

IMG_3489

From there, bend the string back towards itself, snip of the excess string, and continue tuning the guitar up.

 

The finished product should look similar to the photo below:

IMG_3493

FINALLY! After so long, this guitar has been properly strung. I’m read to rock, and hopefully you are now, too!

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Additionally, if you have benefited from this post, leave a little note or consider sharing this page. Thanks!

Holy cripes! This has been a very long, yet adult kind of day. For the first time, I’ve had Bulleit bourbon and Pinnacle Cake vodka… in a very short amount of time. Those are taking a toll right now, and that’s because both are awesome.

First things first, I guess I’m not quite a bourbon expert like I once thought. I can certainly tell the difference between Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark but, when it comes to Bulleit, well, it simply just tastes like bourbon.

Based on the recommendation from a coworker, I decided to give Bulleit a try today. My first impression is that it’s very woody (oak) and has a lingering vanilla finish. It’s good but just kinda tastes like… well… bourbon. There isn’t anything amazingly unique about it, but it’s good and enjoyable.

As for this Pinnacle Cake vodka…. wow. It’s really sweet. The first time I had Pinnacle vodka was when those closest to me toasted and gave me a shot at a local bowling alley. It was Pinnacle’s “Whipped (cream)” vodka, and it was really unique and surprisingly awesome… must be chemicals in there, sort of like those spoken about in the book “Fast Food Nation” that makes the drink taste pretty authentic. Whatever is in it, it’s good and makes for a fun Saturday night.

Tonight I made a “Buttercream Icing” drink which, according to the Pinnacle website, consists of the following: 2 parts cake vodka, 1/2 part butterscotch schnapps, 1 part half and half (I used milk), and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Aside from the whipped cream, the three ingredients are shaken and served cold.

For a full description of drink recipes, check out:
http://www.pinnaclevodka.com/downloads/Pinnacle-Vodka-Cocktail-Catalog.pdf

For the first time in a long time, I got a parking ticket. It was on Christmas Eve, and I’m not thrilled about it. While the federal government had the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign hanging in the window on that day, my fair city of Los Angeles was out contributing to the betterment of society, penalizing folks who prevented the streets from being swept. Previously, I had been so good about sticking my longest finger high up in the air toward the direction of City Hall and making sure the car was in the right place at the right time. But I guess we all have a down day… a lapse here and there.

Regardless of the $73 fine left on my windshield, the street sweeping system has always made me scratch my head, due to its sometimes incredibly confusing restrictions and lack of transparency. Ahhhh, yes, lack of transparency. Gee, that’s a new description for government programs!

A couple days before Thanksgiving, I parked on the street in front of a car that didn’t have a parking permit for my neighborhood. Parking Enforcement was in the middle of issuing a ticket, so I asked the officer what days they would be enforcing that week. He said they wouldn’t be giving out tickets on Thursday or Friday. In reflection, that’s very interesting, as it’s nearly impossible to find any sort of official Parking Enforcement calendar on the city website. That kind of thing is good to know for when you plan on having friends and family visit.

On a forum regarding this very topic, one person suggested looking at the Public Library calendar, to get an idea of the holidays observed by the city of L.A. The libraries were closed on Christmas Eve, so don’t trust that advice.

Finally, the one and only thing I could find (via a Google search – not the city website) was a scan of a directive from Mayor Villaraigosa to not enforce time-restricted and neighborhood permit parking areas on the following holidays:

1. New Year’s Day
2. Martin Luther King’s Birthday
3. President’s Day
4. Memorial Day
5. Independence Day
6. Labor Day
7. Columbus Day
8. Veteran’s Day
9. Thanksgiving Day
10. Christmas Day

Here is the full text:
http://ladot.lacity.org/pdf/PDF135.pdf

Hopefully this helps. Take care out there, and let’s do our best to starve the beast!

 

As an added note, if you are interested in this topic, check out these photos and stories of Parking Enforcement violating the same rules they give citations for:

“Other Parking Citations Received by Other Victims”
http://www.slapec.org/code/other2.shtml