A small saga

How I got my soundcard to work:
(1) Notice a rapid clicking sound during playback
(2) Reinstall the drivers, to no effect
(3) Switch to the onboard soundcard
(4) Find the clicks are still there, but with more background noise, and a lower recording level
(5) Attempt to buy a new soundcard over the net, to find the vendor's website is down
(6) Buy a new soundcard from a shop
(7) After installing it, find the same problems as the onboard card
(8) Put the old card back in, to find the clicks gone. And then back again.
(9) Reinstall the drivers again.
(10) Realise the problem is a noisy video capture card.
(11) Take out the video card, and try to remember what you wanted to do with the soundcard.

(11a) In the meantime, write a song, meet six men online, fail completely to get off with any of them, meet a seventh by accident and arrange a date with him at the weekend.

H...Y *3

There are times when I seem to be permanantly ravenous. There are other times when I'm just desperate for sex all the time. Right now, it's both. I'm hungry and horny.

My mind is capable of other things. Four out of the five backing tracks for my upcoming stage debut are now complete. I've fixed the soundcard problems on both my computers. And I've resumed copying music cassettes to CD. Oh, and the gym I'm building in the basement is almost ready to use.

The songfight board is moving to http://www.dumbrella.com/bb/. I still don't plan to re-enter than community till (say) the start of November. I'm missing regular contact with Nick, but I promised myself I wouldn't contact him for a week. He's enormously busy, and doesn't need the destractions I can bring - music and friendship.

I kept my doctor's appointment yesterday, just in case the current respite from depression ends. I've got a prescription for something called Citalopram - I'll know in a few days whether I'll need it. At the moment though, I'm happy, hungry and horny.


I don't know about anyone else, but when I feel an emotion, I understand superficially that I feel other emotions at different times, but I don't 'grok' it.

When I'm happy, the sadness of an hour before seems faintly baffling. When I miss a friend, it seems unconvincing when I tell myself that I won't always feel this way.

The transition from hurt to comfort that often comes after an hour of crying always takes me by surprise, as does the sudden sadness when a familliar object reminds me that good times are gone forever.


I'm actually quite happy today.

Two days ago I found myself opening up to four seperate friends - Christine A, Gareth E, Lee S and Mark S2 - in series in one evening. Then yesterday with John M. It was all amazingly tearful, and exhausting, but at the end it felt like some blockage had been released.

Then last night a special email from D. That's twice he's let me down gently from my own rollercoastering emotions about him. This little personal recovery process isn't over yet, but after being stalled for months, it's finally moving.

So now I can actually concentrate on things, somewhat. Getting a decent soundcard for the portable, writing songs, jumping through cretinous hoops for the job centre, resuming work on the basement gym, political events...and maybe even finding someone who can care about me as I care about him.

Less down

Less ill and less depressed today.

After two days of messing around with maths, I've got five working softknee compressor settings on Audition. If you don't know what that means, it means I can take music I've composed and make the quiet bits louder, the buried instruments clearer, and the whole sound richer.

There's a Marxist Forum tonight, which I nominally organised, and will probably end up chairing. I'll try to record it.

Tomorrow I should go into the university, to try to discreetly find out what the hell is happening about my old job.


I'm ill, depressed and worried about Nick, who is ill and depressed.

I'm trying to create a decent softknee amplitude compression algorithm, to use in Audition. I've got some that sound reasonable, but none that sound great.

I've started to keep an audio diary, using the dictaphone. The idea is to record thoughts, feelings and ideas as they happen, instead of summerising them afterwards in the blog. These recordings are more raw and less considered than the blog entries - I've cried on more than one of them.

There's plenty to do - transfer my cassettes to CD, work on the backing tapes for UKSF, resume work on the gym - but it's difficult to get motivated. It might help if I got into a sleeping patten that didn't involve sleeping at 5 and waking at 12.

One More Song

Well, I managed to throw together some lyrics and a backing track. The result is called 'One More'. I couldn't sing it terribly well for the recording, possibly because I was recovering from some mild food poisoning. These are the lyrics, though I expect to change them for the eventual final version:

One more morning
After the night before
One more nameless face
That leaves without a trace
I never want to go
Each time I say it's the last, but
I always go anyway, and I
Always find a reason to stay

Look into the eyes of the
Man in the mirror
Try to read his mind but the
Eyes are blind
Look into the face of the
Man in the picture
Try to see his soul but the
Eyes are cold

One more time, and
This time I hope it's for real
Do you like girls or boys?
Do you like lots of noise?
If I could only sleepI might dream of love
One more night, one more day
Can't go on this way


Oh great. I've eaten something that seriously doesn't like me, Nick is depressed and angry, and I've got some meaningless beaurocratic hoops to jump through for the job centre. Lots of little things to do, but all I want to do is get some rhyming couplets written and recorded.

Up, down, and left of centre

This morning I dragged myself out of bed to go to a 'solidarity event' in Southampton with the Fire Brigades Union. All four of us in the car had a different version of what we were going to - it turned out that a single member of the FBU is a member of the BNP, and is standing for a position of power within the union.

Most of the FBU are against this, and we three carloads of people from Portsmouth were there to add numbers to the picketing of the Southampton headquarters, demanding that the fascist be excluded. Of course, the leaders of the FBU did not exclude him, and neither did they endorse him.

As I sat drinking tea with Gareth E and Donna S, Gareth said he thought going was a complete waste of time. I think it's better to build solidarity by turning up to pointless events than to risk alienating potential allies by staying away.

God politics is boring, national and local.

I missed an important political meeting tonight, simply because I forgot. People have been reminding me about it for a week, but I got engrossed in work on the 'rhyme' project. The Portsmouth branch of RESPECT was holding a seminar, open to the public, to put forward it's views on asylum and immigration.

More politics. I wish I could escape from it. I sometimes wish I didn't have the decency to get involved. No, not really.

There another mouse in the room - it looks larger than the other one. I've plugged in the ultrasound pest repellant.

Something else has happened which makes me feel guilty, but I can't talk about it here until I've discussed it with the person it concerns.

My feelings are so sensitive. Last nignt's IRC chat with Nick bouyed me up, now a mouse and a small mistake make me want to cry. Talking with Gareth was great, but a complication in the rhyme algorithm makes me despair.

Singe rhymes with Orange!

I think I've come up with an simpler algorithm for the rhyming dictionary. Without going into details, it looks like this:

(1) Accept a word to be rhymed from the user.

(2) Identify the final vowel of the word, and any consonants that come after it. That this segment matches the final segment of a word under comparison is the minimum criterion for rhyming.

Two - /t o/
Say - /s ei/
Give - /g i v/
Point - /p oi n t/

(3) Create a list of words that share the same final segment, taking into account any differences which have been set to ignore. So, assume word strees is being ignored:

So these words rhyme:
Pain /p ei n/
Gain /g ei n/
Slain /s l ei n/
Pentane /p e n t ei n/
Insane /i n s ei n/

But if the destinction between /m/ and /n/ is ignored, these words are allowed:
Same /s ei m/
Game /g ei m/
Aim /ei m/
Nickname /n i k n ei m/

(4) Sort the resulting list into order of how many phonemes match for each word.

/p l ei n/ has the minimum 2 matches with /p ei n/, as has /f o n t ei n, but /b l ei n/ has three. If the difference between /l/ and /r/ is being ignored, then /g r ei n/ also has 3.

The main problem with this algorithm is that sometimes a phoneme is skipped over when rhyming two words, and this algorithm can't cope with that. Porridge (/p o r i dZ/) almost rhymes with Orange (/o r i n dZ/). Similarly, Review (/r i v iu/) with Renfrew (/r e n f r iu/). I don't know whether this is important.

Not a good day

The £60 has been stolen. I know where it happened, and how, but by the time I realised, it was half an hour later and I was on the other side of town.

I realised when I tried to pay cash for a dictaphone - an olympus VN240 - which I was led to believe could upload what it recorded to a PC. It can't. That ability belongs to the VN240PC which, of course, is not available in the local stores.

So, I'm down £110, and not terribly happy.

Tomorrow I've been roped in to show solidarity with firefighters who are picketing a collegue who is standing in an election for the BNP. And in the evening is a major meeting for RESPECT on asylum and immigration.

I just want to lie down and forget about all this for a while.

What rhymes with 'Orange'?

I really should write about my first day of paid work in months, but it was on the one hand so complex, and on the other so tedious, that I don't have the will.

However, I've been working on an algorithm for a rhyming dictionary. One that works the way songwriters work - allowing for loosening or tightening of the rules for what constitutes a rhyme.
Take the word 'Game'. There's plenty of strict rhymes for it: Blame, Came, Dame, Fame, Flame, Frame, Insane, Maim, Lame, Same etc. But there's also some 'half-rhymes' - Bane, Again, Drain. What happens if the rules are relaxed still further? Queen, Say, Aging etc.

The rules for a strict rhyme looks something like this: Take a word, let's say 'Gridlock', and convert to phonemic transcription - /grIdlok/. Now break the word into segments - /g rId l ok/.
This is not exactly breaking the word into syllables. Starting from the end, ask whether the final sound is a vowel, or semi-vowel+vowel pair. If it is, that is the final segment. Hence:

Frappe - /f rap ei:/
Greywacke - /g rei: wak i:/
Mondo - /m on d o/

In the case of 'Gridlock', there is no terminal vowel. So, identify the final vowel sound and the final consonant, treat them as a unit, and work backwards in the same way.

Gridlock - /g rid l ok/
Telephone - /t el ef @u:n/
Cassette - /k @s et/

The phoemic stream is devided into vowel-consonant pairs, with some isolated consonants, especially at the beginning. 'r' is treated as a semivowel that only occurs before other vowels. 'h', although it is strictly speaking vocalic, is treated as a consonant. This system of segmentation is eccentric, but (I hope) optimised for finding rhymes.

A strict rhyme should occur on the stressed syllable of a word, so stress is indicated thus:

Frappe - /f ~rap ei:/
Greywacke - /g ~rei: wak i:/
Mondo - /m ~on d o/
Gridlock - /g ~rid l ok/
Telephone - /t ~el ef @un/
Cassette - /k ~@s et/

So, we now know that a strict rhyme for 'Mondo' must end in /~on d@u: /, so 'Condo' /k on d@u:/ is acceptable, though 'Condor' /k on dO:/ is not. A rhyme for 'Salient' must end in /~ei:l i: @n t/, if such a word exists.

What about looser rhymes? Well, we can relax the rule about stressed segments by ignoring stress marking, so rhymes for 'Peregrination' (/p e reg rIn rin ei:S @n/) need only end in /@n/ or /rin ei:S @n/, for instance.

More usefully, some destinctions between consonants can be ignored. In particular, destinctions between nasals. If the three-way destinction between /m/, /n/ and /N/ is relaxed, the following words rhyme:
Pan /p An/
Sam /s Am/
Sang /s AN/

Destinctions between long and short vowels can be ignored, or between vowels preceeded by a glide and those not etc etc.

This is what I worked out during a quiet half hour at work. Implementation is the hard part. I'll need to brush up on my ASCII phonemics (most likely the SAMPA system), and refamilarise myself with a programming language (BASIC is probably adaquate, though not elegant).

Troll Theory

Hans Van Meegren was a Dutch painter of the early 20th century, ignored partly because he tried to paint in a style of 200 years previous, but mainly because he just wasn't a good painter.

He wanted to be accepted by the art establishment, to be appreciated and celebrated. But he also wanted to humiliate and perhaps destroy that establishment, in revenge for not appreciating his work.

This combination of contradictory impulses I call the Van Meegren syndrome.

He painted a fake Vermeer, intending to put it on the market as a lost masterpiece of the great painter, let the critics fawn over it, then expose the fraud after the sale. In this way he hoped to humiliate the art world. It took him 3 years to create the painting and artificially age it - a painstaking process.

Of course, when the painting was indeed sold, and landed him with a small fortune, he decided to forstall the exposure, and make some more. However, it is the psychological impulses behind the first painting which interests me here.

I suggest that the same syndrome is responsible for the prankster - one who disguises cruelty as humour, one who manipulates others from a position of power, but demands that his victims forgive him and appreciate his cleverness.

Similarly for the hacker. He tries to destroy or disrupt a computer system, but can never resist bragging about it, in the hope that his specialness will be seen and applauded, even by those who suffer from the disruption.

And finally, the internet troll. Here is someone who wants to be accepted as a powerful, respected, loved member of a community, but believes he would always be regarded as an inferior. So, he combines the desire to be at the top of the heap, with the desire to kick the heap from beneath him, in vengence for being at the bottom of the heap.

He becomes one who gains power within the group, by causing tension, by starting arguments, by irritating the group members. He may justify his childish games as 'making the discussion more interesting' or 'toying with lesser beings', but these are transparantly false.

One with Van Meegren syndrome can never win. Either the group ousts him - or ignores him, which comes to the same thing - or he destroys it. Either way he loses the game, or makes it impossible for him to win.

There is the question of why there are so many pranksters, hackers, and trolls around. Even though they all believe they are highly special and guifted. It's obviously true that intelligent or talented individuals are crushed and become resentful - this is a commonplace of modern western culture. However, only a handful of these troublemakers actually are intelligent or talented.

Also, people who actually are in some way special, and who are crushed down, do not in general become Van Meegren syndrome sufferers.

Why sleep if you do not wish to dream?

It's 01:00. I should have been asleep 2 hours ago. I have to be awake at 05:00 this morning, and it's a long working day tomorrow. Of course, I'm not remotely tierd, I'm fired up with musical ideas, and actually happy for the first time in 24 hours.

Jeff hasn't got back to me, and I don't know what the situation is with him. I've invited Anna to the SFUK event, and she's checking her availability. Simon M has got a new old computer, and I'll have to canibalise the CD drive and hard disk from his old old computer to make it work. I've put together an algorithm for a new analog drum kit, the SP400 - now there's just the tedious process of putting it into practice. I now have to transfer several gigabytes of mp3s from the portable computer to the main one - can't do it tomorrow because I need the portable cleared just in case it's needed for the job tomorrow.

The job involves me getting to a local shopfront by 06:15, being driven to Brighton, setting up 5 or 6 projectors for Powerpoint presentations, hanging around for six hours in case one of them stops working, being driven back, and eventually paid £60.

It's for some dreary arts management conference. Speaking as one who used to manage an art gallery, and who possesses a higher degree in art theory, I don't give a flying rat about exactly what the conference is about, who's speaking, or what they're saying. And no one has thought it worth telling me.

The £60 will go on a new soundcard and a digital dictaphone. It's 01:25, and I'm going to connect the two computers together, and lie down.

Where's my muse gone?

Why can't I write lyrics at the moment? Words have never fallen easily onto the page for me, but I can usually force some out.

It may be that when I write lyrics, they are part of a larger project - usually a musical experiment. Goodbye Monster was an experiment with James Brown style funky drumming, and a vocoder. Elvis in Space was just part of teaching myself to sing. Let It Be was me trying to express how I felt about D, and Ring of Steel was an attempt to encapsulate the end of that phase of our friendship. Have You Ever was about my breakup with M, as well as a (failed) attempt to write in the style of Goldfrapp. Does She began as me trying to make something resembling Some Speculation by the Pet Shop Boys. And 12 Monkeys was me trying out some new drum sounds, and figuring out how to make the Reason NN-XT module make acid basslines.

In other words, I can't write songs simply to write songs - I need to be exploring some sonic possibility that has nothing to do with the meaning of the lyrics. Maybe this is the real reason why the music so often comes first.


I've just realised: It's September 11th today.

3 years since it became impossible to satirise televison, have intellgent conversations about politics, or hear the words "I'm not a racist but..." from people who consider themselves tolerant.

3 years since we could open a newspaper without lurid headlines about people who are:
(a) Dark skinned
(b) Arabic or Middle Eastern.
(c) Islamic or Islamicist or Militant Islamicist
(d) Remanants loyal to the old regime
(e) Part of an isolated pocket of resistance
(f) Fanatical
(g) Anti-American
(h) Prominant members of Al-Qa'ida, or having links with that mysterious organisation, or inspired by it.
(i) Invisible
(j) Everywhere
(k) Amazingly well financed
(l) Impossible to reason with
(m) Suicidal
(n) Extremely good at recruiting others
(o) Motivated entirely by an incomprehensible religion
(p) Benefit scroungers
(q) Smelly
(r) Supported by communists and anti-war protesters
(s) Celebate
(t) Stupid
(u) Pro-palastinian
(v) Misogynistic
(w) Speaking funny languages
(x) Better organised than the American military
(y) Very well armed
(z) Planning an attack on your home town. Tomorrow

Odd how we never noticed these people before.

Slave to the rhythm/system

I've got a few pages of notes for a song. Provisionally titled 'Come Down', its an attack on the blind mystical optimism of rave culture. Here's a few notes to illustrate:

last night a dj saved the world
out of your head or out of your mind
buying in and selling out
living in a trance
the future is in your working hands, not your swimming head

The chorus looks like this:

As long as the music's loud enough
As long as the drugs are strong enough
You can stay lost in sound
You might never come down

Obviously a lot of work still to be done, but the core is there.


The last post was a little bit overblown, and the ones before that quite trivial. However, I make a small promise to myself. I won't edit what I have written, except to correct spelling.

A touch of self pity

This blog is for three people:
(1) My old friend Paul B, who reads it sometimes.
(2) Nick
(3) My future self

It seems to me that I've lost more than thirty years of my life. I want to somehow hold onto what remains. The last 20 years, which should have been the best, were largely wasted because I didn't know what to do with them.

So many things I should have done, and so many I should have avoided. I had the chance to see other countries, but didn't because I was afraid. I should have encouraged the good relationships, and ditched the bad ones, but I didn't try because it seemed beyond my control. I should have tried harder at learning languages, reading books, and making music, instead of playing computer games, pretending to study at university, and watching worthless television.

I want my teens and twenties back, because I know now what I should have done with them.

I used to keep philosophical notebooks, so I wouldn't forget my ideas. Now that the flood of new (and usually stupid) ideas that came from my mind has slowed to a trickle, I don't want to forget my life. What remains of it.

Twice in one night

How can I be stood up twice in 12 hours? First Jeff finds he's going out with a female friend who's just got back from holiday. So I ask Steve B online if he'd like to meet up later, for talk, hugs, and sex (followed by more hugs and talk). He says he can get to me sometime after eleven, so I go for a 2 hour bike ride and at 23:30 he texts to say he can't come because the MOT on his car has lapsed.

So I go cruising, and run into Brian. He is the ex-boyfriend of an ex-boyfriend. I was Russell's boyfriend when I was 20, then it was Brian, then Mark (who was abusive), and now finally David. Russell is a serial devoter - he loves one man at a time, absolutely.

I like Brian - he's intelligent, completely non-threatening, and would make a good friend. I got his number, but I think he doesn't want a friendship. Not because he doeen't like me; just because he wants a break from any kind of emotional involvement.

We'll see whether Jeff actually does want to meet. And what Brian wants. And maybe even what I want.

Eastern Promises

With any luck, I'm meeting Jeff at his house this evening. Judging from his revised Out profile, he's amazingly demure. He didn't want to meet in a pub, as that 'wouldn't be comfy'. Nothing wrong with that - I don't like pubs much myself - but it's odd that a karaoke singer dislikes being in pubs.

He makes a big thing of being asian - I wonder if his name really is Jeff?


UPDATE: He's gone and cancelled. Or postponed until some other time. It's all quite plausible - I think he's still interested, as am I.

Bits and Scraps - Update

Blogger has been having trouble publishing new entries today, which is why the last one was late.

I've sent a message to Jeff, asking if we can meet, but he hasn't so far replied. I chatted with Nick for an hour at 19:00 - he's extremely busy with professional work that doesn't interest him at all, which I can certainly understand.

I reinstalled Windows 2000 on my machine - took 3 goes to get it to work. But the popups and spyware have gone. As usual, there were a few files which I forgot to back up, largely because I hadn't stored them sensibly. I'm a great one for classification, but not it seems for filing.

Called Steve B, but only got his answering service. Went out for a healthy bike ride for an hour, but weakened when I saw a KFC and...ate a lot more calories than I burned. I'm putting on the weight I spent the last six months losing. It's true that I lost most of it through having no apatite because of my relationship with D, which I'm now mostly over. But even so, it's not good, and not inevitable.

Regardless of what time Blogger thinks it is, it's 03:55, and I should sleep.

Bits and Scraps

I haven't spoken to Nick on IRC for (i think) 6 days, and I'm missing our chats. Even though we've swapped some emails. He's submitted a minimal but brilliant song to Songfight this week, which I rather gushed over in my last email to him.

Last night I exchanged a few messages on Out (http://www.outintheuk.com/) with an asian fellow who lives near me. He's 33, a nurse, into cycling and karaoke, and is rather unsavvy about computers. Goes by the monkier Jeff R.

I want to meet Jeff, and I also want to chat with Nick. So I tried to phone Nick to ask if he's going to be available tonight, but there was no answer. I really hate not knowing what's going on.

Eddie called me. He's got 40 minutes of raw footage, shot at the last Unite Against Fascism gig, and he want's to know how to edit it into a 15 minute film. Editing is a long and tedious process, which Eddie doesn't realise, and I don't want to get heavily involved. So, I'll transfer his footage to MJPEG on CDRs, give him Premiere, show him how to use it, and leave him to it.

Mark Shaw - he who gave me his exercise equipment - has recommened me for a 1-day technical support job. There's a conference in Brighton next Monday, with lots of PowerPoint presentations, and it's my job to make sure the projectors work properly. It's £60 for the day, and I don't know or care what the conference is about.

I keep meaning to meet up with Steve B. We've met 2 or 3 times, had sex once at 02:00 in a cold field, and chatted on MSN lots of times. Steve is a compassionate man, and a good shoulder to cry on. My feelings are slowly getting more stable, but it's taking months, and I could use some big hugs.

Bring the noise

I want to make new sounds in my music. If physical modelling is to difficult, then I need new ways to create pseudoanalog sound, which probably means new software.

Propellerhead Reason. This is the one I use at the moment. It's very powerful and flexible, and has a correspondingly steep learning curve. There are two major problems - first, it lacks VST support, and second, it lacks audio recording capability.

To be able to use VST plugins would be extremely useful. However, I have to consider the difficulty of trawling through the thousands of available plugins to find good ones. Plus, the existing Reason modules are like the best of the VSTs.

I have a system whereby I compose the backing on Reason, dump the audio to WAV, and dub the vocals (and other sounds) in Audition. It may not be an elegant way of doing things, but it works.

There are features and modules in Reason that I still know little about - Malstrom is intriguing but very strange, and the NN-XT sampler can be used as a wavetable synth. I could just explore Reason more.

Synapse Orion. There's some good features here, and it is VST compatible, but it's more primative than Reason, and is oriented towards the techno musician, whereas I am more in the chillout/triphop/ambient scene.

Arturia Storm. Essentially, the same remarks as for Orion. Though the virtual minimoog is impressive.

Imageline Fruityloops. Again, it can use VSTs, but it's really a techno looper program, and I don't used loops - I like to have variation in repetition.

Native Instruments Reaktor. The ability to create my own analog synths and effects is seriously tempting, but I don't know enough about Reaktor's other features. Can it record multiple audio streams, is it friendly as a sequencer, and can the modules be wired together as easily as in Reason?

Applied Acoustics Tassman. Same sort of remarks as for Reaktor, except that the synthesis seems less geared towards the analog, which is intriguing.

Emagic Logic. I've used a demo of this - it seemed powerful, but with latency and crashing problems. Also, after version 5 it is only available and supported for the Mac, so there will be no upgrades for PC users like myself.

Cakewalk Sonar. I used earlier versions of this for years, when it was still called Cakewalk. It's more of a sequencer than a studio. There is the steep learning curve, and a reviewer has said it has become more loop oriented. But, it accepts VSTs, and I can easily get a copy.

Steinberg Cubase. Again, a sequencer with studio plugins. I used an early version of this years ago and found it very unfriendly. This though has apparantly improved, and yes, it is VST compatible. And as with Sonar, I can get a copy from the back of a lorry.

Well. It looks like I have the choice of exploring Reason further, or switching to Cubase. I think I'll do both, but stay with Reason for the next two or three months. I need a program I'm familliar with to make demos for K Twins songs, and backing tracks for the SFUK event.

Let the good times roll

A story idea that's been floating around in my head for several months:

The Grandfather Paradox

The military of a superpower develop an experimental time machine. They can send a small team (3 or 4 soldiers) back, and return them. They reason that they can win battles that have already been lost, or send spies back in time to gather information about enemies who were not known then to be dangerous.

There are, of course, objections from scientists. Time travel makes paradoxes possible. Also, minute events in the past could be accidentally changed, leading to unforseen changes in the present. All these objections are overridden.

As an experiement, a team is sent back one week. They keep themselves inconspicuous, doing little more than take up space and breathe air that they didn't do the 'first' time the week happened. They are returned, with no apparant ill effects, no paradoxes, and the only changes to the presents are those defined by the experiment.

Another team is selected, and, feeling more confident and adventurous, they go back a whole century. And promptly cause the death of one of their grandfathers. In shock, they return to the present, to find it unchanged. The soldier who's grandfather was killed, and who's father never existed, still exists.

But anomalies start to turn up in people's memories, and in historical records. There are two timelines, simultainiously existing, but one one track instead of side by side. One has the grandfather, the other doesn't. As time progresses in the present, it is progressing at the same rate one century in the past, and the grandfatherless history is erasing the original one at a rate of one second per second.

The 'new' timeline will never catch up with the 'old' one, but the past is being continually rewritten.

Another team is sent back to try to prevent the death. They botch the job, and a third timeline is introduced, erasing the each moment of the second, soon after the second erased each moment of the first.

A fourth team goes back 20 years, intending to set the past right by introducing a substitute grandfather for the one lost by the soldier. The soldier now finds his memories of 21 years previous show him with one grandfather, but those of 19 years ago show him with another. And each day his memories change.

A fifth team is sent back to sabotage the time experiments, in the hope of 'resetting' the present. They succeed in the sabotage, but those in the present find they are living with the effect of time travel, while remembering the failure of the time travel experiments, and still possessing the technology, which now was never developed.

Panicking, dozens more teams are sent into the past. Some return and some don't. Some are killed by teams sent to undo what they did, others are then unkilled when their killers are retroactively killed. The past becomes a mass of conflicting histories, each being constantly rewritten and restored by each other.

As the story ends, each person's memories, their lives, even their existences are subject to constant and unpredicatable change. And more and more expeditions are being sent out to fix it.

Hit me with your rhythm stick

I love the sounds of analog synthesis, but I want to experiment with other sounds. I'm looking at demos of three programs: Tassman 4, Reaktor 4, and PhyMod 2. The former two allow the user to construct virtual synthesisers from 'componants' like oscillators, filters, resonance, noise generators, and effects. They also claim to perform realtime Physical Modelling synthesis, but it seems to be a limited version.

PhyMod is a genuine PM synthesiser - so it's not realtime and requires some mathematical knowledge and a lot of patience to use. Also, the company that make it may no longer exist, so registering the full version may not be easy.

Systems like Tassman and Reaktor - and freeware like Buzz which does the same thing with less snazzy graphics - do seem a genuine step up from Reason. To create custom analog synthesisers and effects (possibly as VST plugins) is
(a) awesome in it's potential
(b) needful of a grasp of calculus and DSP that I simply don't have, and
(c) still in the pseudoanalog realm

So, systems like these would take a great investment in time to master, and aren't where I especially want to go. Which is unfortuante, tempting as they are. The Cymatic system of PM looks promising, but just isn't on the market yet.

All this started when I wanted to make custom realistic drum sounds. I've been using Stomper to make electro drum sounds for years, and I think I'm pretty good at it. But real drums - especially the more exotic ones - are just more....exciting.

...Just to make it feel right"?

Someone's actually been reading my blog. There's a brief message of appreciation for the Does She lyrics, from Frogspots. I write more for myself than others, but it's nice when an unsolicited bit of appreciation drops into your mailbox.

Frogspots sounds like my friend Anna - a sensitive, intelligent girl, who likes other sensitive intelligent girls. If Anna were a man, I'd marry her ;-).

I got a call today from someone who said 'Hello?' then hung up. I called them back, and got M answering. We talked for half an hour. On the one hand, he's still angry with me for walking out. On the other, he still cares about me and sugested meeting again. He said I should have been honest with him from the start - that I should have told him he wasn't what I was looking for. I thought I did, but maybe he's as bad at taking hints as I am.

M is both a kind, warm man, and a self-rightous twit. He tried so hard to impress me, not realising I wanted a genuine man, not a wonderful man. I tried to be diplomatic with him, not realising he wanted to be told straight out what I felt and wanted. He's also very possessive - I can be guilty of the same crime, but usually find it opressive in others.

One small irony: It wasn't him who called me. I pressed the wrong button when trying to return the mystey call.

By the way:
Are you sleeping with someone special tonight?
Does she drink tall drinks,
Just to make it feel right?
- Lawnchairs, by Our Daughter's Wedding

Where did all the times go?

Transferring my cassetes to mp3 is proceeding. I'm about to copy New Order's Substance 1987 collection. I remember buying it, on the strength of the single True Faith. That was 17 years ago.

17 years is 884 weeks, or 6188 days, or 148,512 hours. These numbers are meaninglessly large. How can anything that happend so long ago still be part of me? How can I have lost six thousand days? I must have been 15 or 16, but I can't imagine being that age.

That's how I feel today. Last night I spent 2 hours on IRC with Nick - which itself seems a long time. I who usually have such difficulty finding things to say to people, and who fade into the background in groups, chatted easily for two whole hours about nothing very profound, and enjoyed it.

He likes Does She a lot, and is going to try to write a song for us in the next few days.

"Does she drink tall drinks...

After spend much of the day trying to write verses for the song, I finally managed 8 lines, written in 10 minutes. These are the lyrics as they stand:

That telephone call
She wouldn't leave her name
Where did you really go
When you went out with your friends, yesterday

Does she
Stand and dim the light
Kissing you goodnight
Does she
Sit with you and listen
When you
Tell her I'm your prison

If the price of love
Is to lose it all some day
If you have to go then go
But I'm asking you to stay

Does she
Let you stroke her hair
When you
Tell her that you care
Does she
Ask for your devotion
When she
Toys with your emotion

Does she
Call you on the phone
To check
That you're still alone
Does she
Hold you as you sleep
While i
Close my eyes and weep

I've come up with a good demo backing, and should be able to record vocals in time for Nick to hear them tonight.

A thin line beween inspiration and plagarism and...collaboration

I've recorded the 'Alternative' double album by the Pet Shop Boys to WAV format. Listening to the tape play, I was surprised that I'd ever listened happily to sound of such poor quality. But there were also some songs that I don't recall.

One of these was the final track 'Some Speculation', which made me sit up and pay attention. It's a precursor to the current chillout music, and it must have been made around the time Neil Tennant was edging his way properly out of the closet - as were so many of us in the early 90s.

Here's the lyrics, which now don't seem so much ambigious as intelligently open:
There's been some speculation about a recent invitation
There's been some speculation about a recent invitation
What's your game?
What's his name?
Is it your inclination to accept this invitation?
Is it your inclination to accept this invitation?
What's your game?
Going away with someone new
Yesterday I went there too
Going away with someone new
Yesterday I went there too

The track has given me the spark of inspiration I've been chasing all day, for the song I promised to write. It isn't complete yet, but I'm pretty settled on the choruses:

Does she stand and dim the light
Before kissing you goodnight
Does she sit with you and listen

When you tell her I'm your prison

Does she let you stroke her hair
When you tell her that you care
Does she hold you as you sleep

While I close my eyes and weep

The song is from the point of view of an older gay man in a relationship with a younger one. But the younger one is being seduced away by a woman. The older man loves the younger very much, but is somewhat possessive, and the relationship may be doomed.

Out and down

Looks like I got out of SongFight at the right time. It's descending into new levels of bickering, backbiting and bullshit. It won't implode, but it will shrink as newbies are shouted out and those not in the inner coterie get pissed off.

I'm still up for the SF-UK meeting/gig in October, and I may return to SF in a few months. It depends on whether the atmosphere improves. In the meantime, there's some songs to write for The K Twins. My mind is empty of lyrical ideas at the moment. but I always try to keep my promises.

Paul B, an old friend, has started keeping a new weblog. http://www.livejournal.com/users/_adversarial_/

I've started copying my cassettes to mp3. The first was the 'Das Boot' album of U96. After getting frustrated trying several different cassette machines, and finding they all wowed or chewed up the tape, I lost my temper and pounded one of them with my fist. This was the Aiwa, which had severe tracking problems.

My fist broke the perspex cover of the top-loading deck. So that the cracked perspex wouldn't press down on the cassette, I played it with the cover up. And the tape played perfectly.

I have mixed feelings about this little incident. On the one hand, I have got what I wanted by serendipity. On the other, the casual and pointless violence - even directed towards an inanimate object - is troubling.

I have only ever used my fists in anger on one person, and the circumstances were extreme, but it worries me that I might unthinkingly do the same to a person who frustrates me at that moment what I did to a tape machine.

Greetings from a dead man

Kam listened to the demo of 'Have You Ever'. He says the lyrics are good, but the vocal melody is weak, and it should be possible to knock it into good shape. In short, he has the same thoughts as me, which is always nice ;).

I've made another rash promise to write a song by Friday.

I wrote a long post about how the old cassette 4-track technology I grew up with is now beyond repair, and how that makes me feel. But Blogger managed to lose the post. I may rewrite it sometime if I have the energy.

I'm trying to record my old commercial music cassettes to mp3 before they degrade beyond usability, but the playback equipment is now hopelessly unreliable. I can't find any shops that sell cheap cassette playback systems with output sockets.

Tomorrow is an idiotic 45 minute interview at the jobcentre. I should get some sleep to be ready for it, but that requires more respect for beaurocratic procedure than I can muster.

MS knocked on my door today. One day he will realise the reason he enjoys sex with me is that he enjoys sex with men. And women too, of course. We compared our respective relationship troubles and frustrations about home life - surprisingly similar.

I read some more of Lenin's 'Materialism and Empireo-Criticism'. Whereas Marx is overdense, allusive, and poetic, Lenin is overrepetative, clear, and polemical. It seems strange that Lenin thought the revolution could be threatened by such incohearant philosophical ideas. As strange, that intelligent committed bolsheviks could adhere to such ideas.

Sometimes it seems I'm trying to explain my life to a stranger. Sometimes that stranger is my own future self. Sometimes I wonder how much he will care.