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Tuesday, 9 November 2004
And now for something completely different . . .
Mood:  a-ok
A couple of months ago, I announced that I'd been remixing This Space for Rent and preparing it for a re-release. In fact, at the time I'd thought that I'd finish with it in pretty short order.

Silly me.

The good news is this: I finally walked far enough away from the whole project to put it into someone else's hands for the final touch ups. A fannish buddy of mine who has some serious studio credentials is currently listening to my mix and preparing a master from it. If all goes well, this will be the final work done on the remastering and I'll go into duplication from there.

This is, of course, if all goes well.

First time for everything, right?

Stay tuned, gang.

Posted by Pete at 11:09 PM EST
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Friday, 5 November 2004
Birth Pangs
Mood:  cool
Well, it's over, and it's all beginning again.

I know I'm not the only one who was getting tired of the endless campaigning. Even though I had (and still have) a great deal of faith in my candidate, the whole election process had worn me down and I feel that I can heave a huge sigh of relief now that it's over, but I've been thinking about this year's election and I'd like to share those thoughts with you.

Last weekend, I spent some time in Columbus, OH, at the Ohio Valley Filk Fest, a convention for people who enjoy the music which has grown up around Science Fiction conventions over the past 40-odd years. Fans of this music, or fen, as we call ourselves, are usually quite left of center, politically and culturally, and pride themselves on their inclusiveness and tolerance, but there wasn't much tolerance for George W. Bush last weekend. The vitriol that flowed through the halls and from the stage was astounding. Judging from the number of deragatory remarks and rude songs hurled in the President's direction, I suspect that every family represented there must have had a soldier wounded or killed in Iraq. Even after 15 years as a part of this 'fannish' crowd, I've never seen anything like it. It offended me so deeply that I walked out of several concerts and spent most of the time in my hotel room watching movies or practicing on my guitars. It was difficult to hear a man that I admire and support being used so abominably; it was doubly difficult because many of the people who used him so were friends of longstanding.

Now that the election results are in and the nation as a whole has truly spoken, I cannot help but wonder how my friends are reacting. It is somewhat tempting to gloat over the disappointment they may feel. After all, with well over 70% of eligible voters casting ballots and over 59 million votes to confirm his work to date, the President's victory cannot be attributed to voter suppression or sloppy accounting. Considering the efforts made by the mainstream news media, the Kerry campaign and their allies, including dozens of entertainment figures, voter ignorance of the President's flaws, real and imagined, can also be ruled out. All that's left is the stark realization that nearly 60 million people not only rejected the message of John Kerry and the Democratic Party, but made a point of rejecting it in the voting booth, suiting their actions to their beliefs. Not only did liberals fail to regain the White House, they lost seats in both houses of Congress and saw 11 states pass legislation that tears the heart out of another liberal priority, gay marriage. Nearly 60 million people made it clear that they do not identify with the platform of the Democratic party. That's a pretty serious slap in the face and I'm sure some of my friends are feeling it as deeply as I felt their attacks against 'Dubya' last weekend. The desire to say, 'I told you so,' runs deep in my veins, but, upon reflection, it's the wrong thing to do and now is the wrong time to do it. There's something more important to be said here.

I cannot help but think that these past few months have been a time of learning for many of my countrymen. It certainly has been one for me. And, as anyone who has ever paid a tuition bill can tell you, education isn't free. There were millions upon millions of dollars spent on producing and airing campaign advertisments (Want to lower a deficit, provide healthcare or feed the world? Here's an untapped source of funding!), but I believe each of us also paid something individually. The price I paid for the lessons I've learned since January is found in the sense of disappointment I felt in seeing so many of my friends, fine, kind people, mocking and reviling President Bush as though he were lower than a common thief. (One songwriting buddy of mine even set him on par with Adolf Hitler, although I believe Der Furher is ahead in the bodycount by well over 4 million and never attempted to set up free elections for the French, Poles, Czechs, Slavs or Belgians. How anyone can blithely overlook those bits of reality and thus trivialize The Holocaust is beyond me.) As much as I love and respect my friends, I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at them again the way I did at last year's convention. Pundits and politicians alike have chanted 'divided country' like a dire mantra, and perhaps, for once, they're not too far from the truth. I can see that divide yawning between my liberal friends and myself and I know that this presidential race has deepened it. The accusations hurled by both candidates and both parties were of the most serious nature and some, perhaps most, have not been laid to rest. I certainly continue to have doubts about Sen. Kerry; I'm sure my friends have doubts about President Bush. But we have had, and continue to have, the opportunity to test those accusations and prove those doubts and that is a Good Thing. We are also called upon by our culture and our form of government to set aside as many of our differences as we can to focus on those things we agree upon, and this is another Good Thing. It is time for all of us to approach one another in a spirit of respect, humility and charity. It is time for the winner to magnanimously reconcile with the loser; it is time for the loser to acknowledge the loss and re-evaluate his position, drawing a greater wisdom from it, rather than a bitter determination for revenge. It is time to put away our quarrels.

In a sense, we recreate the United States of America every four years. We tear it apart, piece by piece, from the time that the Presidential Primaries begin until election day, and then we re-assemble it the day after. We give our nation a new birth every four years and no birth is without pain and cost. For the freedom that we enjoy, even this year's election, as painful and costly as it was, remains a small price to pay to maintain our America.

Posted by Pete at 9:50 AM EST
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Thursday, 23 September 2004
An Open Letter to the Pittsburgh and Altoona CBS Affiliates
On Sept. 8 of this year, Dan Rather reported that President George W. Bush had received un-due consideration from his commanding officer in the Air National Guard and had not served his time in the Guard satisfactorily. When Mr. Rather and CBS were challenged on the story, they insisted upon its veracity until enough members of the general public came forward and forced the network and its star news anchor to reconsider their position. Thanks to the Internet, copies of two memos, one Mr. Rather referred to in his story and another that had been carefully authenticated, were available to anyone with a computer and Web connection. If you haven't seen them, I've posted them here.

After comparing these two dosuments, I must say that only the most incompetent observer could miss the glaring differences in typography, language, punctuation and form. If Mr. Rather genuinely believed that this document was legitimate, he would better serve his audience in general and CBS in particular by cleaning up its public restrooms. Anyone who could not immediately spot the painfully obvious differences in these documents does not have the intellectual acumen or proper eyesight to anchor a major news service. If Mr. Rather's intellect and vision are not to blame, one must then question his bias. It is sad to think that a man with as much to lose as Mr. Rather would be so driven by an apparent bias against President Bush that he would not only prostitute his sense of professional ethics to attack the President, but that he would base his attack on 'evidence' that is so lame. (Perhaps Mr. Rather's judgment was (or is) impaired and he really is a helpless, foolish victim in all of this.) If, as I strongly suspect, he was attempting to damage the President for his own selfish reasons, he should own up to that and restore CBS's reputation by resigning immediately. Other senior executives and producers who followed Rather's lead in airing this story, including Mary Mapes, should join him in the unemployment line.

In any event, CBS News' strident defense of the indefensible has now eroded its credibility so seriously that I will only consider watching any of its so-called 'news' programming when I can't find re-runs of 'Frasier' or 'Seinfeld' or when I'm unable to purchase a copy of 'The National Enquirer.' While I'm not too keen on these as sources of news, they, at least, don't insult my intelligence by pretending to be unbiased, rigorous and professional.

Very truly yours,
Pete Grubbs

Posted by Pete at 11:02 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 24 September 2004 9:50 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 28 July 2004
Everything old is new Again
Mood:  quizzical
Sometimes being a geek can be troublesome. Being a perfectionist geek can be more so. Let me explain:

In my mind, geekiness is that quintessential melding of the desire to get things done with a fascination for the tools needed to do those things. It doesn't matter if it's woodworking, music performance, sound support, recording and production, computers or gardening, tools are tools and work is work. I'm fascinated by all of it, which is why I spend my bread on tools instead of vacations, satellite dishes or groceries.

When I first recorded and mixed This Space for Rent, I had a very modest studio to work in. I had 3 or 4 mics, a small Mackie board, a few guitars and a couple of basses and a couple of cheap pieces of outboard hardware. In other words, I had a few of the tools I needed to get the job done, but they were pretty close to inadequate and there were more tools that I needed that I didn't have. It's hard, perhaps impossible, to make something that's above average if your tools are below average, no matter how hard you work or how talented you are.

Fast forward to yesterday. I've grown increasingly dissatisfied with the overall sound of the CD since the day I released it. I've come to really hate one of the tracks and I've found other issues with the rest. In the studio, I have things a bit better. I've pulled out some of the inexpensive gear and upgraded to slightly more expensive gear. My collection of microphones includes a couple that are definitely within the Professional Studio range and I've added some pretty sweet axes to my guitar portfolio. I've also picked up more experience as a mixdown engineer by doing a number of other, shorter projects. So here I am, a guy who is, by nature, preference and habit, a perfectionist, faced with a CD that is less than satisfactory, sitting in a room with gear that would allow me to create a better sound. What do you think I've been up to?


As of this posting, I have done completely new mixes on 5 of the original 12 tracks found on TS4R. I'm working on number 6 and hope to have it finished by day's end. I intend to remix everything on the original CD except the tune I dislike but I'll be including a new mix of 'Still Standing' in its place. If all goes well, the entire project should be ready to release before the end of August. You'll find all of the tracks available as MP3s on the MP3 page of the website. I plan on putting complete songs there for free download. Anyone who's content to have those songs in that format is welcome to them, gratis. (I won't complain if someone wants to toss a few bucks in my tip jar and I'll be setting one up for that purpose, but the files will be still be free, tips or no.) If you've got a copy of the original CD and want the new mix on another disc, I'll be putting those together for around $6 or $8 USD which pretty much covers the cost of media, packing and shipping. I won't include a jewel case or inserts since you've already got those. It's sort of a 'music upgrade;' you don't get all of the pretty packaging that you got with Version 1.0, but you're getting a better sound.

As always, I'm interested in my audience's opinions. If you've got some thoughts about my work, please share them with me.

Posted by Pete at 11:19 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 27 July 2004
Con Report -- Confluence 2004
Mood:  lazy
I'm currently recovering from this past weekend in Pittsburgh at Confluence. I've been a fixture there for at least 5 or 6 years, if not longer, and I did the sound support for this year's concerts and play as well as doing a concert on Friday night.

A few comments about the con:

My concert sucked. ::sigh:: Here's hoping for a better show next year.

Many thanks to all of the musicians who were so gracious when working with me. Overall, the technical stuff went well. My hat's off to Chris Conway, our filk GOH, who turned in an excellent show late Saturday night. Many in the audience never suspected that Chris had been quite under-the-weather for the entire con and was not 100% on Saturday night. I think you can get a pretty good idea of the man's talent and dedication from his performance. Speaking as his soundman, I can say that he was very cooperative and pleasant. I feel awfully sorry for anyone who missed his concert.

I would like to comment on this year's play, as well. Unlike past years, this year's production was not a musical but a drama, and what a drama! Spectacular costumes, amazing special efx, scintillating dialog, and stupendous acting; the audience was riveted to their seats, literally. Many will carry the scars from that performance for life. The show, a dramatic recreation of the STNG pilot, was filled with an existential sturm und drang not often experienced in hotel ballrooms. I'd like to share my most memorable moment from the play.

In a vain attempt to escape the Queue, Capt. Placard calls for greater speed:

    Capt. Placard (to Cmd. Datum): Warp factor 9!
    Lt. Warp (the Klingoff): 3 times 3, sir!

You can't find entertainment of this quality on cable, let me tell you.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank the concom for their kind treatment and generosity. I've never had a bad time at Confluence and the hard work these folks put into the con shows. I can't say enough about the amazing job that Randy Hoffman has done for the filk track. I can remember a time when filk at Confluence meant one concert and 8 or 10 people sitting in a hallway to share songs. Thanks to Randy's excellent work, Confluence has had some outstanding performances from the likes of Joe Giacoio, Kenny Young and the Eggplants, The Fibs and Chris Conway and there are rooms for fiking and many filkers to fill them. He's really brought the filk track a long way. I'm privy to one or two of Randy's plans for the future; if they pan out, you'll see even more coolness at this con.

All things considered, this was a very good weekend. If you haven't attended a Confluence yet, I whole-heartedly recommend it.

Posted by Pete at 2:15 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 27 July 2004 4:27 PM EDT
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Thursday, 20 May 2004
When it works, it's cool . . .
Mood:  d'oh
If you've hit the website in the past week or two, you may have noticed that the hit counter was stuck at 2,024. The reason for this is totally beyond me, but, while I was tidying up a few corners of the code, I decided to monkey-fuddle with the counter and now it works. I'm fairly certain that I did nothing to fix it. I believe it just got tired of displaying the same number.

When all this techno-stuff works, it is pretty cool, but it's sure a pain in the arse when it doesn't.


Posted by Pete at 10:43 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 20 May 2004 11:05 PM EDT
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Thursday, 29 April 2004
Good Intentions
I've meant to add a blog to my site for quite some time, now, but there have always been too many other fires to chase. If Tripod hadn't built a creation tool that was fairly simple to use, I'd probably still be putting off the whole job. Since they did give me something reasonably decent to work with, I slapped this together in an hour or two.

I'll use this space to post updates on new recording projects and plans for the website. I'll also have a rant or two to post here, but most of them will remain on the Rants page.

While I remember to mention it: Unless (and until) I hack the HTML that the Tripod blog tool made for me, it seems like you'll have to use the 'Back' button on your browser to return to my Home page. I'll fix that as soon as I can . . .

Posted by Pete at 10:54 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 April 2004 12:48 AM EDT
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