Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall

A number of things happened this week that have left me a bit strangled for time and/or a subject on which to discuss.

You're disappointed, I know.

Or maybe you're just disappointed there's no Woo update.

Or maybe you're misdirected here looking for Bob Dylan lyrics.

Or maybe you were hoping there was lunch going to be served.

You must be having a bad day after all of that.

But, have no fear:  I will return and so will Woo come next week.




with love,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Hills Are Alive

One of you asked me recently what it is that I do when I am sound "designing."  I didn't have a good quick answer at the time.  Someone else asked me what my hobbies are.  And aside from fangirling over my dog, I do a lot of random things.  Most recently, I've begun the Mt. Everest project of tracking down my family and studying our genealogy.  But, there is one thing I do doI just made you hear doodoo in your headroutinely and for hours on end.  It's called mixing.  And mixing, is really at the heart of any design.  So, here's a rundown of what it involves.

Anyone Who Has Ever Spent Five Hours Messing Around With One Curve In Photoshop To Get It Just Right Will Understand The Anal Retentive Side of Mixing.

I think that title pretty much sums up what I'm trying to get across.  Basically, if you know what you want out of an artistic project that also has an ultimate final product point to it, it sometimes takes forever to get exactly what it is you want. 

Here is a walk-through of the process I go through when editing music and sound effects:

No, I did not do a recording of Lakme's Flower Duet.

I open up a new, blank file in Garageband.  Yes, Garageband.  I get the sneaky feeling that it's embarrassing in the sound world to admit that you use Garageband.  But, screw it.  It works and it doesn't cost me $5500.00 to get all the hardware, software and computer that can handle both.  Then again, if anyone would like to donate a new MacPro, LogicPro or an Apogee One audio interface to me, well...I'm certainly not going to turn them down.

The Process.

The process is pretty straight forward.

First, you press the record button and do a "take."

Then you do another.

Then you do another.

And another.

And then you trim it.

You don't like what you trimmed or the most recent take is after all not what you wanted so you go back to the first one.

But, it still doesn't sound right.

So you re-record another.

Then you do another.

And another.

Then one more just to be sure you can't do any better.

One more.

Then you trim that one.

Then you edit the volume and panning.

Distortion?  Echo?  Reverb?  These things are all here to help you avoid hearing what you really sound like.

Then you realize that background ambience isn't lining up anymore so you should copy and paste a bit of it from the top of the track and splice it in between where there was only silence.

Then you realize you've been listening to the same song for four hours.  

The Product.

This is about when your project starts to look like this.

Still scrolling down...

There we go.

What you're seeing above is actually my most recent project.  It might not look like it, but this is a cover of Radiohead's "Creep." 

I'm actually not particularly in love with this song, nor do I think it's Radiohead's best work.  But, it's a great song to practice vocal training and harmony.

Music, Lend Me Your Great Ear 

Even after playing/singing/vocal training for the past ten years, I do not have the best ear.  I remember I used to annoy my ex-girlfriend once due to my inability to harmonize (but, ever in denial, I would try whenever a song I knew came on the radio.)  I have worked on it though, sometimes doing the same harmony to a melody of a few notes over and over to get it locked into my head, which can get a bit repetitive. 

Anyway, Creep is pretty straightforward and repetitious.  

And if there is one thing I can do without fail it is straightforward and repeititious.  

So the final product?  Here it is.  I'll let you decide what to make of it.  I've transformed this song a lot.  It's slower, it's more (if you can believe it) melodramatic and it's also got a lot more voices on it than Thom Yorke had in his mouth.

I'll upload it on Facebook as well through my music page and profile.  But for now, you have the inside scoop.

One bit of advice though, if you ever end up recording and re-cording for hours on end, I'd suggest choosing a song that doesn't repeat the words, "I'm a creep" as your surrounding neighbors will inevitably hear it and will avoid talking to you at social engagements.



Woo isn't very particular about her music tastes.  She doesn't mind classical, rock, spoken work, rap, latin american, mariachis, country, or folk.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

No One Likes Surprises: Firecrackers and the Mystery Flavor

"Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable." 
- Mr. Knightly, in Emma, by Jane Austin

I got gum.

It was "Mystery Flavored."

I feel the best way I can describe the following story is via a pictoral dramatization.

Do not attempt this at home.

Or, if you do, post pictures of it step by step like me and send the link to me.

It started off fine at first--like most diabolical happenings in the world, you're unaware when you're hit with the evil.

And then, something funny kind of happened.

And by funny I mean painful.

"Mystery Flavored" apparently translates to "So Sour The Factory Couldn't Get Away With Shelving This Product As Regular Gum So We Put the Label 'Mystery' On It To Get Rid Of It."

I eventually gave up trying to eat it.

When I finally released it from my mouth I could see that it had doubled in both size and sourness.

Maybe they were trying out a new "Just Add Saliva!" campaign for mouth-expanding painful gum.

I don't know.

Lesson No. 578 I Have Learned:

If a package says "New Mystery Flavor!" on it and it's the cheapest thing on the shelf, do not buy it. Do not be fooled by the happy-go-lucky color scheme of white, pink, purple and light baby blues.  This product is not for you.  And it will melt your face.  You will feel like a fool for purchasing $1.10 gum and expecting something better, when you know you should have just gone with the Orbit gum because even though it's expensive, it's dependable.

Dependability, I realize, goes a long, long way.

This post comes in the wake of my finding out that my latest attempt to go out of state has been thwarted once more--this is the third in trip in a row that I had Surprise! to cancel.  I was displeased.

That's when I decided to treat myself to some new gum.


Woo Update:

Woo doesn't like surprises, either.  Generally, she doesn't like anything outside of her routine.  I think that's why she gets angry when the weather is anything but sunny and has to exist in it.

She also likes her normal routine of sleeping 18+ hours a day.

Yesterday, however, that routine was sharply ruined by our neighbors down the street.

Apparently, they've gotten a hold of their very own mini-arsenal of fireworks and a Saturday morning was the perfect time for them to set them off.

Woo did not approve.

She ran up and down the stairs, while I was weeding, and proceeded to burrow herself away in small places, kind of like a foot-soldier hiding in the trenches, whilst the faraway CRACKS!  and BOOMS! went off in the distance.

I felt bad for her, so I stopped weeding and took her back inside, but she still kept doing the whole "I'm going to stay so quiet so I can listen for the scary booms outside," thing which, unfortunately for her, means not breathing--no, I'm not joking.  She holds her breath.  Even Woo knows that her respiratory system is not the quietest in the world.  And she has to listen to make sure she's aware of the evil outside.

I try to distract her, so that she remembers to breathe.  I try to interact with her to allow her to feel safe.  It was all to no avail.

I have video documentation, because unlike a caring and sympathetic companion to my dog, I like to enhance her alienation and film it:

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Family's Big Love: I'm Descended From Polygamists


I got sick.  I caught a virus that rendered my throat incapable of doing anything a throat is made to do (pass breath, handle the food, the drink and the other body-stuffs we pretend doesn't happen, like food that burps back up but we swallow back down--I mean, what?).  

I'm trying to look on the positive side, though.  Right after my throat burned itself into a no-entry zone I found out that I do not have Herpes, HPV, or HIV/AIDS.  It was a win/sorta lose kind of moment.

Anyway, in getting so sick I deliberately separated myself as much as possible from my friends.  Being quarantined, I can say now from experience, is not fun.  I get antsy enough as it is when Downton Abbey episodes have run dry on Netflix.  So, in a vague attempt to avoid stir-craziness I started up my latest Campaign of Learning and began researching the people I could socialize with and avoid infecting:  my ancestors. 

You Know When You Kind of Know About Something But Don't Really Know It Until You Actually Start Researching What It Really Means And Then You Wish You Hadn't?

When I was a kid I had heard about my family on one side having more than one family.  Or that two sisters had the same husband.  Or that my grandpa had left a church.  I had asked questions about it in the past, but for some reason even after repetitive explanations from my mom and dad, it didn't quite sink in what it all really meant.

I started off with the photo that had confused me for a long, long time.  It had been sitting on the family mantel surrounded by a pretty antique metal frame.  One day, while hacking up my lung (and lunch), I decided to take a closer look inside and break out the photos to see what they said on the backs.  

This is how I destroy antiques.
Meet Charles Henry Haderlie:

Or, as he was fondly called back in Switzerland, Karl Heinrich Häderli. Yea, that last name was hard for me to pronounce first time I saw it.  Think "Hey!-D.A.R.E.-lie" Sounds kind of like an anti-drug abstinence program.

Karl--or as I like to think of him, Crazy Charley--was a polygamist.  No, that doesn't mean he was an avid gamer, as I had foolishly hoped. Charles had more than one wife.

To make matters even more intriguing, his wives were also sisters.

Meet The Schiesses.

Btws, Schiess is pronounced "sheess"not "shies," as I had again foolishly thought; that would have meant that they were the Shit family in Swiss.   
Mr and Mrs. Schiess and their children, Anna Barbara, Bertha (at age 5)  Jacob and John.
Around 1876 Johannes Ulrich Schiess, or as I like to think of him, Mr. I'm The Only One Whose Beliefs Matter, uprooted his entire family from their gorgeous little farm in Appenzell Switzerland to go Manifest Destiny with Joseph Smith and join the Church of Latter Day Saints.  

Big Love Just Got Very Real.

As hard as it may be to comprehend in the Post-3rd Wave Feminism world of the Bay Area, as hard as it is for me to see this as anything but some form of voodoo cult culture, the two daughters of Ulrich pictured above ended up being married to the same man, Crazy Charles Henry.  

Bertha (now age 17) with new hubby Charles Henry, who at the time was already married to her sister.
It gets better.

Meet The Haderlies.

Gotta love those 1940s up-doos and wide-lapel suits.  Pictured above are the thirteen--yes, thirteen--children of Bertha Schiess and Charles Henry Haderlie.  Just for kicks, here they are again as children in 1905, when Bertha had only had nine by that point:

The Haderlie 9; the baby is Mabel, little girl is Ina, top right is Clifford.

Déjà vu-Doo Cult?

Ok.  I really should stop passing judgment on polygamists.  I mean, without them and their crazy-breeding techniques, I would not exist.  Flat out that is the truth.


Charles Henry didn't just marry two women.  He didn't marry just two sisters and have an exorbitant amount of kids with his second wife.  

He also was simultaneously making thirteen other children with Anna Barbara, Bertha's sister, bringing that up to 26 children total. 

Wait.  What?  

26 children.  From three people...you can get 26?  Don't women's uteruses fall out after their fifth child?    Don't men's penises fall off after the 10th?  I don't understand.

Apparently Charles Henry Haderlie did.  Like a crazed scientist, trying to force a "solution" to his original crack-pot idea, he placed the two sets of children and wife on either side of the Idaho and Wyoming state border, both along Tin Cup Creek. 

That's right.  That was the dude's solution.  

Got two families?  No prob.  Put them in different states.  That way, no one will know and no one will have the awkward family reunion moment of wearing the same genes to the same party.  

That was a bad pun.

I apologize. 

According to what we have from record accounts, the families did not consort with one another, but merely shared resources (one owned a ranch, the other a lumber mill).   And, apparently tensions ran particularly high after one incident where one of the boys from the mill got fresh with one of the girls from the ranch and he and his siblings were politely met with gunpoint by their half-brothers upon a return visit.

When Did Mormons Become a Fad?

If you're interested to know how I'm related to all of this, it's quite simple.  I'm the great-grand-daughter of one of those thirteen kids pictured above:  Clifford Moroni Haderlie, to be exact.  His eldest son, Eugene, is the very same Eugene who just celebrated his 90th birthday a week and a half ago, aka my grandpa.

Eugene politely declined to be a part of the Church of Latter Day Saints as a young man, and was excommunicated.  Our relatives who still belonged to the Church kept trying to get him to come back for a while afterwards but they stopped when my grandma (a British war bride who had survived the London Blitz) said she'd haunt them forever as a ghost even after she died if they kept it up.

They stopped calling after that.

Anyway, it seemed fitting to "come out" to everyone about my family's somewhat sordid history.  The Book of Mormon, written by South Park's creators, has become the latest broadway smash musical.  Also, Big Love, the HBO series on a fictional Utah polygamist family, just concluded with its last episode only a few weeks ago.  I find it oddly coincidental that the two head writers of Big Love, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer are a gay male couple, as I now find myself in a slightly intriguing position:  

It's 2011 and here I am.  I am the great-grand-daughter of a devout Mormon family (among many others) and I am an out, lesbian atheist.  My existence is somewhat of the exact opposite of what Charles Henry Haderlie had intended in producing so many heirs; his religion was forgotten with my mom and standard procreation could easily stop with me and with that, his line of genes.

I find that fantastically sweet as a form of revenge, in the name of all and any women who were badgered into being second wives.  But, I don't like to end blogs on a vengeful note.  So, let's go back to genealogy.


This is Woo with HER extended family.  Here are her half siblings from the same mother.

Can you see the resemblance?

Woo, Blue and Roxy
Also, this is Woo's late mother, McKinley.

I like to think Woo got her mom's eyes.  Something about that bulginess and confused glassy stare...