This is also a music blog now, I guess

Let’s talk about a funny thing that I hate.

That video by the Axis of Awesome is legitimately hilarious deconstruction of I-V-vi-IV, probably the most common chord change in popular music. It’s well done, and I really like the goofy tangent on Five for Fighting’s Superman. My problem with it is just that it approaches the music from the wrong angle. Axis of Awesome looked at I-V-vi-IV and concluded that everyone was just being lazy and derivative. Granted, I-V-vi-IV is just a safer version of Pachelbel’s Canon in D with simpler chords and a more regular resolve, but that’s still not the point. How amazing is it that millions of songs from hundreds of countries from thousands of bands and hundreds of years share identical or nearly identical structures while remaining distinctive? How did that happen? I-V-vi-IV shows up in every genre, but even if it originated in classical music, pop-punk has held indisputable squatter’s rights for years. Why is that, and how come the change still regularly escapes into new genres? And how does it work semiotically to use the same form for so many different meanings? How can a chord progression be considered “reliable”? what could that possibly mean?

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Protest Songs of the 2015 Election, Reviewed

Now that the votes have been counted, the victory champagne and consolation whiskey sipped, and the school gymnasiums returned to their regular functions, it’s time to get some serious analysis on one of the most important issues of the 2015 election: Which protest song was the best?

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Refinishing my ukulele

Back in 2009, before I rode my bike from Edmonton to Thunder Bay, I went to the now-defunct Gordon Price Music and purchased a $20 ukulele. The idea being that I’d have something to practice on, loosen up my hands after a day of riding, and if it got crushed in transit I would just buy a new one.

It was the chosen one of $20 ukuleles. The variance in the factory tolerances, so lenient that the usually only generate crap, had aligned: The tuning pegs held tune, the bridge was at just such an unsquare angle that the shoddy intonation was compensated for, the pine plywood just dense enough to generate a loud, bright tone.

This uke travelled with me far and wide, and although I did eventually buy a more professional uke with a properly made neck and a pickup and everything, I’ve made sure that the blue uke stayed in rotation. It’s so tiny and light, it fits in most bags and it’s almost good enough to be a real instrument. Canadian standard tuning, too, which gives it a different range than my concert uke. Continue reading

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Homemade Wire Brushes

I made these prototype wire brushes!

Brire Wushes

They’re made from derailleur housing with the plastic casing stripped off, and the handles are a cut-down aluminium tent pole. The hockey tape is just for grip. They look pretty good, but I think they might sound better with longer wires. I’m not a percussionist at all, though, so really who knows.

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I built a cajon!

it's so much more than just a box. except, nope, it's just a boxWith the indispensable help of wood shop mastermind Derek, I constructed and stained this excellent cajon, which, if you don’t know, is a percussion instrument based on a shipping crate that probably came from Peru, although it depends who you ask. It sounds great, and a neat thing about cajons (cajones?) is that because they’re based on actual repurposed boxes, any mistakes, scratches, or poor joins can be written off as authenticity. Apparently it sounds better if you leave it full of sawdust.

the sides are 1/4″ plywood, and the face is, uh, something thinner than that. I’ll post a tips and tricks guide to its construction soon.

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I’m so famous, small children in China* dress up as me.

it turns out that my wolf mask is popular with more than just furries. This appears to be a performance of the three little pigs, and the wolf design based right off mine. It’s pretty darn adorable.


I can’t read a word of this site, I’m afraid, but I am seriously excited about this. it’s completely hilarious to me, and I don’t think I’ve been directly credited on something like this before. hooray! plus, googly eyes!

*I don’t know if this is actually in China, but the writing’s in Chinese, although again I have no idea what kind of Chinese

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Portrait of the Artist as Homestar Runner

I bought pencil crayons! Here’s a very, very hasty self portrait.

everybody! everybody!

Relevant: I did not add the hearts to this drawing

I feel like a portrait of me as strongbad would be fundamentally unsatisfying.

I’ve got a fairly big thing in the works, and pencil crayons are involved. Stay tuned, all you fans of adventure.


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Heroes of Evolution: the Trilobite



I broke a spoon; I carved a trilobite with my pocket knife and a nail. It’s a teaser because now I should find some sandpaper and stain.

I love these little guys. They’re like a rough draft of a horseshoe crab, but they lived through five or six extinction events (If you’re keeping score, Humans haven’t even fought a single match like that yet). Only the Permian extinction managed to take them down, and it made chumps out of 96% of everyone in the ocean and 57% of all species. Actual scientists call it “the great dying”  So, you know, no shame in that.

I picked the title as a joke, but now I think I actually might do a Heroes of Evolution series.

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Is there a word for simultaneous disdain and admiration?

I think I have that for steampunks.


The processor’s not bad, but you have to wrap the antennae with tinfoil to get decent wifi.

Here is the coal powered laptop I’m running. It’s actually not much of an exaggeration. I have a ten year old macbook pro, and it runs hot enough that there might actually be a little boiler in there. I have to write my blog posts in word because the browser can’t handle it. No starting crank for the hard drive, at least. But yeah, this is why I can’t play minecraft.

Thanks to Jill for the request.

Also, I started another blog about music. I don’t know yet if it makes sense to anyone but me, but I’m excited about it, anyway. What is blogging if not blatant self-promotion?

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People give up on Ikea furniture so easily

It’s kind of understandable. The pine is cheap, and if it’s not put together right it splinters and breaks easy. That works out for me because it means Edmonton’s alleyways are always full of straight, planed, unvarnished wood. Here’s a table I made for my sister out of two other tables that were junked.


It’s made to fit out on her balcony, but during winter it’s more of a side-table. Not too shabby for about two hours’ worth of destruction and re-assembly.

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