I haven't figured out if Instagram lets me embed images, but I can just post a few of them here. No particular order.
I listen to podcasts. Today I heard the argument from context on two different shows: The Halli Casser-Jayne Show and Dogma Debate.
The Halli Casser-Jayne Show featured an interview with Mubin Shaikh, apparently a "former militant jihadi turned undercover agent" who argued that the militants in ISIS/ISIL have taken sections of Muslim holy texts out of context in order to move their Islamic State forward. Starting around the 15:00 mark, Mubin speaks,
It goes on. He insults those who "misunderstand," who do "superficial shallow readings," and "ignore contexts." It's some classic "No True Scotsman" stuff. In effect, he's saying "They get it all wrong because they hold to an ideology that doesn't respect context."
Later in the evening, while walking the dog, I was listening to Dogma Debate. A pastor claimed that we need to appreciate "context" in order to understand God's orders in order to understand the creation myth and whatnot. Starting around the 59 minute mark, the pastor says,
I heard arguments like this a lot growing up. "You need to take the Bible in context" is how I usually heard it, and there was never any need to have discussions like this if there wasn't some serious logical or ethical confusion. This discussion took place after reading about Yahweh's many murders and massacres and whatnot. Always, when God acted like a jerk, or humans got credit for unethical behavior, somebody would say "You have to take it in context."
There are a few problems with the argument from context.
Really, that's the crux of it. No god worth worshipping would leave it up to us to interpret so many layers of context. A worship-worthy god would just tell us. Gods who can't take "context" into account aren't worthy of praise.
The argument from context should always be a red flag: it always attempts to justify bad behavior or incompetence. I can't think of any other purpose for the technique.
A couple Saturday nights ago, I played live at a private fundraising dinner. I practiced quite a bit and had a pretty good set lined up, or so I thought.
When the time came to play, once again I forgot words to songs, mixed up my verses, and generally screwed up. I felt humiliated.
I'm tired of this.
So I'm done with performing live on my own. It just doesn't work. If I can't remember lyrics right after all these years, it's not going to happen.
So I asked my wife/partner if she'd like to accompany me, and she said "Yes," and this makes me happy.
All in all, it's a matter of shifting my focus. I've been told by many people that my music is quite band-driven. I've always wanted to be a singer-songwriter, but I don't think I really fit with the mold. I'm not introspective enough to fit the singer-songwriter label. I play rock and roll and love to make music that keeps people happy.
I think I need to reach deep into the dregs of my upbringing and remember the types of music with which I've been most successful through my live: as a bassist in post-rock bands or the leader in worship and praise bands.
So I'm done with trying to do it all on my own. I need someone to help me with my cues; I need someone to talk with; I need someone to help me with the vocals. I can still arrange the music and keep my name in the forefront; I just need to let other people join up with me.
I'm looking forward to these adjustments to my direction.
After five months, I still miss the physical keyboard. I haven't comfortably transitioned over to the touchscreen.
The S5's camera is much, much better than the Torch's camera. However, there was a certain crispness to outside photos that I miss from the Torch. Here's a side-by side example:
Now I admit that I bought the S5 in the middle of Winter; I simply haven't really had many chances to use its camera in proper sunlight yet. And the S5's camera is most certainly overly superior. But I miss the old Torch camera a little bit and hope I get it together enough to use it now and then in the future.
As for "influence," the electronic hi-hat is something I often try to mimic and I love to make big contrasts between rock and roll and electronics. This song tells me it's OK to carry on with that tradition.
"Touch And Go" is an excellent little pop number, although it might be a little too long for its purpose. It features one of Ellott Easton's most melodic guitar solos, and Greg Hawkes' keyboards fit perfectly in spite of the song's sort-of country-ish tone. Ben Orr, whose bass playing was usually quite straight-forward for The Cars, gets to play some unique, melodic offbeats during the verses. The song gets stuck in my head quite a bit, although I don't think I really like it very much. It's not a bad song; it's just not really my style.
The album features a couple throwaway tracks: "Down Boys" and "Misfit Kid" don't fully make the cut for me. I enjoy them, but never choose to listen to them. "You Wear Those Eyes" isn't an overly strong outing either, although I'm sure it made a few girls swoon in 1980. "Running to You" could have been a pop hit, although its rough-around-the-edges tone makes it less ideal for radio. These songs, although they weren't exceptionally strong in contrast with the best of The Cars' catalogue, still sound pretty good and refreshing today.
Again, The Cars made better albums. But I come away from Panorama with a smile. I feel it shows the ways The Cars matured after two successful pop records, and I enjoy the angry, experimental layers that it featured. I feel as if they wanted to add a few less-pop-ish songs to their live shows, knowing that they'd have to play "Best Friend's Girl," "Just What I Needed," and "Let's Go" for the remainder of their careers. But Panorama gave them some room to express some anger and angst, something that lacked from their first two records.
I've tried to write Wikipedia entries about him on two separate occasions, but they've deemed his influence and importance as negligible. I guess they're right. However, Rebecca Bradley over at the Skeptic Ink Network, has written a more-concise-that-I-could-ever-do summary of his characteristics:
I think it's important, however, to also highlight the folk-art industriousness with which William Tapley has made his videos. There's an artistic quality and sense of balance in Tapley's videos that most YouTube cranks don't come to realize. He pays attention to little details: in his earlier videos, for example, he stands or poses out in nature near his home in upstate New York, framed carefully by interesting, irrelevant backgrounds.
Chronologically, he has adapted to new elements in his videos: in his first video, he speaks directly to the camera, but he holds a microphone by his fifth video; for his early outdoor videos, he moves to a different location for each video; for his indoor videos, he stands in front of a flannelboard with Bible verses printed on coloured sheets of paper, always with a slightly different background; I was a little disappointed when he started using a green screen, but he's started to become quite adept at interacting with its images and mixing digital and handmade elements. He adapts to new technology quickly, but also appears to have a good "get things done" sense of quality control: if the flannelboard and Comic Sans printed papers are more effective for his purpose, that's what he'll use.
I'm not saying that his videos are "high quality" or anything like that—they're exceptionally cheesy and lo-fi. But there's a quality to them that's certainly more interesting than the "talking to a webcam" style that pervades a good portion of the videos on YouTube. He's actually trying to produce a show. He's doing his best to set up a way to get his message out there.
A few of my favorite Bill Tapley videos
I first heard William Tapley when I saw "It's Prophesied" posted to a few weblogs I read. However, a few weeks later, Tapley released this little ditty with some of the worst end-rhymes I've ever heard. It was a tough choice, but I think "Doom & Gloom" is a better song than "It's prophesied."
Here's a video where Bill discusses his sculptures of "attractive young ladies."
This short video has some impressive conservative misinformation and a very pleasant background.
There's one more I wanted to share, wherein he starts by showing himself making maple syrup in, I assume, his back yard. But I can't find it right now.
All I can say is that I hope I am as productive as Bill is when/if I get a chance to retire. He's a real creative workhorse, even though I don't agree with a thing he says. I admire his determination to produce new work each week.
Last night I played 4 songs at Tractorgrease Café for the Music Business 101 thing that I've been talking about. I was happy to have a chance to redeem myself after my cold-infused vocal performance was so weak on the otherwise excellent video they made. I think I did OK, although certain problems with my live show still shine bright and clear.
I played 4 songs. I played sloppily; I didn't forget many words; my loops were generally effective.
The other performers played much, much better than I did. Or at least they were a lot more polished in their delivery.
I made a little compilation video of some of the more sane moments of the performance. My family took this video on my partner's iPhone.
After I made the little compilation video there above, I took the time to make a couple vodeos for a couple other performances that my family captured on camera:
I might write a little more about each of those performances at a later date.
I see a bit of a difference between "albums that influenced me" vs. "favorite albums." I hope to post a few discussions of my distinctions.
INFLUENTIAL ALBUMS are the records I desire to emulate in one way or another, such as:
FAVORITE ALBUMS are the records I like to listen to, even if I don't think I'd ever bother to try to emulate any aspect of them. These include:
Writing about music has never been my forté, but I'd like to share a little about why all these records, and more, are so important to me. They may not necessarily be the best records from each of these artists, but I think they're important.
So I broke down and joined Twitter. Follow me at @jeffnords.
So I put a few tracks—one rock, one ballad, one pop—through LANDR and this is how they turned out: