2 Years and counting

Cool and Groovy Blog graphic by Stevie C

A biennial review of sorts

22nd April 2014 - 21st May 2014…

Foreword: Although I have been involved in sound and lighting amongst other things for the Balcony Bar Dundee (reopening as an underground disco/dance club of sorts) during the time scale of this blog entry, I have elected to save all Balcony-related stuff for its own special entry (primarily for pragmatic SEO reasons if I’m honest). Balcony has been - and for some time looks like it will continue to be - a big project, so it only seems right that I devote an entire blog entry to it.

The file name for this entry stems from the fact that the folder on my thumb drive that started holding my revised website files (while still at college) is called “website 9feb 2012”. Just recently, I’ve been thinking “It’s been 2 years and counting? Blimey!” Or words to that effect… I feel old. Time is running out.

Adventures In Aspieland

So as I’m sat here alone typing this in the dead of night (actually, I’ve procrastinated so much that it’s now daytime 2 weeks later), I’m wondering a great many things. I have one of those minds that just will not shut up. Despite my best efforts to force shut-down via CTRL-ALT-Drink_Lots_Of_Alcohol, this only seems to shift my brain into overclock mode - no wonder I feel so hot. Remember, alcohol gives one the spark of creativity for an idea and caffeine provides the stickitivity required to see the idea thru to completion. So, lets apply my new Applied Systems Thinking (sounds cool, doesn’t it? I got it from Robbie Coltrane’s character in The Planman) to one of my current thought threads: friends. I have always maintained that I’m more of an acquaintance person.

As someone diagnosed as being an Aspie (though to what extent is debatable - especially by those who have no idea what they’re talking about), I am constantly being made aware of not only my natural limitations - but also of what I can do to work around them. Indeed, I’d have balked at the idea of casually walking into a public bar when I was 18, ordering a drink, and casually striking up a conversation with either the barman or a perfect stranger. Seems quite petty now, especially in writing, but I cannot quite convey the sheer terror these situations once inflicted on me. I have since learned to work around these types of problems, even if a little rigidly and computer-like. I may still be described by others as “overly shy”, “introverted” or as having “a poker face that no-one can fathom”, but a workaround is a workaround. What really gets on my Bojangles however is the number of probably-well-meaning idiots telling me to “SMILE!” or that “it can’t be that bad, cheer up!”.

So anyway, there are things that I am better at than I think, and there are things I’m not as good at as I think I am. This brings me onto 2 things: making, but more importantly, keeping friends. It admittedly took a fair amount of time to realise that these were 2 separate sub-systems, yet parts of the same process. Bearing this in mind, I’m wondering if it’s entirely possible I am just shy, quiet and introverted. My poker face has come in handy quite a few times before. What I’m naturally most worried about is if I’m losing contact with friends simply because we’re not as compatible as once thought - or because I’m not working hard enough at keeping the friendship alive. I should probably put more thought into this before typing it on the internet.

I took some pictures of the moon. I like to see the moony.

I like to see the Moony

I like to see the moony. :)

Paint The Wee Toon Red

As DD8 Music have scheduled BonFest for later in the year to coincide with the statue unveiling (which in turn has been pushed back to coincide with the town’s regeneration plans), we needed a replacement music festival for this time of year. One option was to hold the Ska Fest whose place was now taken up by BonFest, or to organize an all-new music festival. So we decided to Paint The Wee Toon Red. The main festival was held in Kirriemuir Town Hall, with smaller events taking place in the many pubs in Kirriemuir Town Center.

I arrived as usual mid-morning at DD8’s studio to the usual speaker graveyard, trying to cobble together several working PA systems for the days events. We had been given a Seck 122, which I connected up, had a quick listen to and thought “blech”. Plan B was using the Peavey XR212 that had been earmarked for another band, and sprinting from one pub to another with it at the end of one band’s set with 2 minutes to go until the start of another’s. That, and using a pair of Wharfedale wedges turned around and used as tops, with a single Peavey top box used as a wedge. Just Don’t ask…

Stevie C helping on the Gairie Inn Kirriemuir Stage - Using Wharfedale wedges as tops

Stevie C helping on the Gairie Inn Kirriemuir Stage :)

I was later asked to step in for one of the follow-spot ops who had taken ill earlier in the day. I never realised how much my brain was stuck in Panto mode (i.e. instead of picking up someone as soon as they entered the stage, I had to pick them when they were singing only - which is a hard instruction set to get my brain to accept). The usual hand-burning applies.

audioWAVE Sound & Joe Hawke Lighting audioWAVE Sound & Joe Hawke Lighting

audioWAVE Sound & Joe Hawke Lighting :)

If only I’d thought a little quicker I could have had my multi-track recorder hooked up to the group outs of Mitch’s sound desk. Note to self: remember this for BonFest.

Shameless from Fife playing onstage at Kirriemuir Town Hall Paint The Wee Toon Red

Shameless from Fife playing at Paint The Wee Toon Red :)

Jericho Hill playing at Paint The Wee Toon Red

Jericho Hill playing at Paint The Wee Toon Red :)

Dundee Dance Event 2014

As PTWTR was thankfully only a one day event - instead of the usual weekend-long event forcing me to be in 2 places at once what with Dundee Dance Event to help with as well - it meant I could actually have at least 4 hours sleep in between events. However, it did not make getting all my disco equipment from Forfar to Dundee any easier - I had 3 holdalls worth of lighting, effects and cabling, in addition to the PA equipment I had already fixed up Dundee.

The PA in question was the same system we had inherited for use in The Balcony - that is, the same broken system. Earlier in the week, I had another speaker’s graveyard on the go - swapping out bass drivers, soldering crossovers and fitting cheap piezo tweeters. I had been told by several live audio people that I could expect said Piezos to at best sound horrible and at worst, break down in minutes. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Certainly for deep-house DJ playback, Piezos sound amazing - especially when one considers they only cost a few quid each.

The Balcony Bar Speaker Graveyard: Stevie C fixing speakers

The Balcony Bar Speaker Graveyard :)

So as you may be able to see - we had a pair of Peavey Hisys XT bass bins (which just needed a very good clean), a pair of Peavey International Series mk3 (which needed a very good clean, the crossover re-soldered and new tweeters installed) and a pair of Laney Theatre 1300s (which needed new woofers, new tweeters and a crossover). For the Peavey International Series full range cabs I just used 2 (each) off-the-shelf super tweeters wired in series. As they would be fed via a crossover network, they would be protected by the in-line circuitry, and as they were wired in series, there was no danger of their maximum power input being breached. The Theatre 1300s however presented a more difficult problem as they had no inbuilt crossover. The Piezos I used in this case were the slightly more costly (though not much more) Monacor super tweeters, with a series protection resistor. Now all we needed was some amplification.

Dundee Dance Event Salty Dog Amp Rack

Dundee Dance Event Amp Rack :)

Due to the fact that we needed to buy amplification, and we were in a hurry, there only was one place to go: Maplin. Before you balk let me walk you thru it. We had the existing Pioneer DJM600 mixer feeding my Peavey PV231EQ via XLR, this is turn feeding a ProSound crossover via XLR-TRS. The crossover outs then go to a ProSound 1600 amp for bass, and to a ProSound 800 amp for everything else. This may not have been Yamaha etc, but I honestly couldn’t notice the difference. The bass response was rich and the mid/high detailed and crisp. There was plenty of headroom - alas they were plugged into a outlet which had been wired into a lighting circuit. So as we were testing the system in The Salty Dog, the music built up, the drop came in, and the power went out. Solution: run a mains flex from an outlet on a different circuit up to the dance floor. According to my mains power monitor, the RMS draw of both amps was about 400 Watts, which surprised me.

Dundee Dance Event Salty Dog

Stevie C: system tech for Dundee Dance Event at The Salty Dog :)

Sound aside, I also had a ton of lights to set up - in the lounge as well as the lower bar. Mirror balls with a Fresnel lamp, 2 smoke machines, 8 club scanners, 6 lasers, 4 moonflowers, 5 LED floodlights, 3 LED matrixes… All in a day’s work.

Dundee Dance Event Salty Dog Lighting

Stevie C lighting up Dundee Dance Event at The Salty Dog :)

Dundee Dance Event Salty Dog Lighting

Stevie C lighting up Dundee Dance Event at The Salty Dog :)

The Friday Night Project

I had been asked to provide a lighting hire as well as run sound and DJ for Kirriemuir CLD’s Friday Night Project - as this was their 5 year birthday/anniversary.

Kirriemuir CLD’s Friday Night Project Lighting - Just Katie Kirriemuir CLD’s Friday Night Project Lighting - Just Katie

Kirriemuir CLD’s Friday Night Project Lighting: Just Katie :)

Kirriemuir CLD’s Friday Night Project Lighting - Disco Kirriemuir CLD’s Friday Night Project Lighting - Disco

Kirriemuir CLD’s Friday Night Project Lighting: Disco :)

National Trust Scotland Shindig

I had also been asked to provide a lighting hire for The National Trust, Scotland at Barry Mill for a re-opening ceremony. Having never been to Barry Mill nor being provided with specific details (just that it was to be held in a marquee and that they needed some lighting), this was certainly a challenge. I naturally decided to go with my instincts and supply 2 festoon harnesses and some LED light strings, which seemed to impress the clients.

I’m convinced I saw my old English teacher at the ceremony/event. I even managed to hold conversation with several people I had never met before - no alcohol required and no anxiety involved (this goes back to what I was saying about learning to workaround my limitations)…

Stevie C providing marquee festoon lighting for The National Trust Scotland Stevie C providing marquee festoon lighting for The National Trust Scotland
Stevie C providing marquee festoon lighting for The National Trust Scotland

Stevie C’s marquee festoon lighting :)

I Didn’t Think I Was This Moany

In my initial blog entries - set up primarily as part of my Sonic Arts module, though for other sound engineering modules as well - the entries were short and sweet. I kept a note of my thoughts and how the ideas traversed from thought to being, and what reaction - if any - they garnered.

I never did convolute a reverb using Logic’s Space Designer plug-in. Nor did I get around to recording those other Binaural experiences. I moan far too much about my computer woes. While this can be monumentally scary just before a presentation/demonstration, no-one wants to hear about it - especially if it’s just in my day-to-day activities. I am just an insignificant tiny little dot on a has-been planet, I get it. No-one needs to hear how skint I am or how Organization-X is screwing me over. The odd little comment noting how bad things are is fine - what I didn’t notice was how much they built up over time. I’m also contemplating that I may not be as good as I think I am at anything.

I need to get back to basics. I need to get back to the place where it all started: The 208 Pub Perth.

Looking at my life through the bottom of a glass

Stevie’s life through the bottom of a glass :)

In conclusion: lighting and sound (and the occasional foray into AV or computing - as much as I hate computers), is all I could ever do. It’s not as if I can go become a brain surgeon or anything that my brain doesn’t understand or see the point of (are you listening, everyone?). 2 years on, and I seem to be getting better at some things, although staying much the same at others. I think self-confidence has a lot to say for itself - maybe it’s just a lack of confidence that prevents me from interacting with others… It certainly prevents me from telling a guitarist to turn his amp down on-stage or demanding payment from a venue owner - but I’m getting better all the time. I’m still on the lookout for my ideal theatre job, however (having seemingly been unsuccessful at those I have recently applied to). What’s the alternative?

Bond villain Gustav Graves said it best:
“You can’t kill my dreams - but my dreams can kill you!”

Dieticians Hate Me

I didn’t used to think much of those “doctors hate her” type articles - especially as, for the most part, they were pseudo-science click-bait crud. Why would a doctor hate anyone? Could you eat what you wanted and still lose weight? Or what about all those stories - admittedly in tabloids of questionable integrity - about certain diets curing Autism? I always thought not.

I started losing my anxiety about meeting strangers and/or socialising and many of my other Autistic traits when I started going out drinking. I also started losing weight when I stopped weighing myself, stopped eating healthily and kept to a strict diet of chicken kebabs, fish suppers and pies.
Pseudo-science conclusion? Alcohol cures the side-effects of Autism. Junk food helps you lose weight. It must be true as you are reading this on the internet.

Let’s face it - you got curious and clicked the link to find out if and/or how I lost 4KG in 4 minutes. My evil plan worked. You wouldn’t be reading this if it didn’t.

So how did I lose 4KG in as many minutes? Easy. I weighed myself on gravity-powered scales which read my weight as 80KG. I then weighed myself on digital scales that told me I was now only 76KG.

Stupidly Happy?

The hugs have worn off. :(

One More Thing…

The unveiling of the Bon Scott statue is going to be delayed to coincide with the 2015 Kirriemuir Facelift operation - or whatever the council have called it. However, The Bon Scott Statue still needs your help - click him to find out how you can help.

Stevie’s Top 40

I should probably point out that unlike my Last.fm profile, these Top 40 are just the songs I love the most at the moment - not necessarily what’s been played the most or been recently added.

  1. Living Well Is The Best Revenge R.E.M.
  2. Truffles Wheatus
  3. D’you Know What I Mean? Oasis
  4. 19 Paul Hardcastle
  5. Out The Blue (Club Mix) Sub Focus
  6. I Want Your Love (Todd Terje Edit) Chic
  7. Soldiers Make Good Targets Stereophonics
  8. Pass The Buck Stereophonics
  9. Raised On Rock Scorpions
  10. Catacomb Stereophonics
  11. Time The Australian Pink Floyd Show
  12. Comfortably Numb The Australian Pink Floyd Show
  13. Generations Of Love (Ramp Club Mix) Boy George
  14. Don’t Stop The Dance (Todd Terje Remix) Bryan Ferry
  15. Control Matrix & Futurebound
  16. Feel The Vibrations (Hoxton Whores Vocal Mix) Boy George
  17. It’s My Life Talk Talk
  18. I Got 5 On It Luniz
  19. Time Is Ennemy Quantic
  20. Now Or Never (Original Mix) Tritonal
  21. Fresh Blood eels
  22. Don’t Pay The Ferryman Chris de Burgh
  23. Beat Organ (Original Mix) 16 Bit Lolitas
  24. Snorkle (Original Mix) Opiuo
  25. Clumpy Cider (Original Mix) Opiuo
  26. La Fong (Original Mix feat. D-Sens) Opiuo
  27. Your Woman White Town
  28. Pushing On (Original Mix) Oliver $, Jimi Jules
  29. Acid Pants Orbital
  30. We Are The Night The Chemical Brothers
  31. Can’t Play Dead The Heavy
  32. Be Mine The Heavy
  33. You Could Be Mine Guns n Roses
  34. The Low Road Scrimshire
  35. Isotope Deetron
  36. Revolution (Vocal Mix) R3hab & Nervo & Ummet Ozcan
  37. See The Sun The Kooks
  38. I-Motion Elegy
  39. Never Mind Infected Mushroom
  40. Dying Day Slackwax