Electricity

I don’t mean to brag, but the electricity
in this coffee shop is just
exceptional.
My screen is showing colors
I’ve never seen before.
Silver-Red? What the hell is that?!
My keyboard is warm.
The CD eject button is borderline propulsive.
I’m not sharing this
outlet.

Hippies

I’m talking with politics with my son (who has a heart as big as the
outdoors) and he says, innocently enough, “Hippies are people who don’t
live anywhere and sneak into people’s backyard, right?”

So, OK, he’s pro-hippie now. We’ve worked that out.

But close call, right?

Virtual LP: Single-Cell Critter & The Reuben Kincaid

A little twist in the ongoing Virtual LP story this week. After a few years of recording fun, including collaborations with swell folks like Yaniv Soha, Jake Vortex and the notorious eb, MC DD von H, Shonny Vortex, Power Vortex, and others, I’ve gone and joined a band.

We’ve been messing around with various tunes, including a few of the tracks on this site, some new ones, and the occasional cover. (We’ve playing “I’m in Love with a Girl” recently and I’m hoping we get to record that soon.)

We’ve been calling ourselves “The Reuben Kincaid,” a name uke-master Christian Crumlish came up with about 15 years ago, and a few of us fell for in a “boy, if we ever have a band…” kinda way. So really, TRK has existed in that “if we ever have a band” part of our minds since the mid-90s

In addition to uke-master Crumlish, TRK features “So-Called Bill” Cassel on bass, Ryan “don’t call me Bryan” Short on bongos, and me on guitar and sometimes keys.

Here’s our very first track, a tune called “Single Cell Critter” that just may be the angriest song about a sea full of bacon ever written.
time: 2:09 seconds; specs: 5.2M
Press Play to play.

Comparing Compressor Recipes for Vimeo and YouTube

I spent a little time the other day running several different Compressor recipes so I could compare different compression options. I thought I’d share the results here, in case they’re of use to other folks on the interwebs. And of course, if you’re reading this and you spot anything that looks wrong, please shout out – corrections and additional input encouraged…!
For my test I was working with a 4:05 movie edited in Final Cut Express and sourced in AVCHD on my Canon HF100. I started by exporting it to a 2.4 Gig QuickTime file for archive purposes. The main attributes of my first test, which turned out to be a pretty good recipe for YouTube, particularly when in a time crunch, were:

  • bitrate max of 10,000
  • full resolution
  • left FPS as is
  • single-pass compression
  • deinterlace under the Frame Controls rather than Filter.

(Full specs on this later in the post, along with all the tests and a few notes on the results.)
A few top-line conclusions:
Deinterlace: Using the deinterlace filter in Compressor chewed up my text; using deinterlace under Frame controls worked like a charm.
Resolution: Dropping resolution by 50% hurt the image and softened text but didn’t really speed things up or shrink the file much, at least going from 1280 x 720 down to 640 x 360. Of course, there will be situations where you have to drop the resolution, but both YouTube and Vimeo suggest leaving HD resolutions at 1280 for HD, so in this case there was no reason to downsample.
Bitrate: Changing the bitrate had a direct impact on file size (2500 = half the file size of 5000) and a noticeable impact on the image, though going down to 2500, the image still looked pretty good for web video. YouTube currently suggests not capping bitrate, Vimeo requests that you set a max of 5000, which is what I did for example #6, below.
Multi-pass: Multi-pass adds a lot to encoding time (4X in this case) but did give me a higher contrast image with richer colors. So if time allows, it looks like multipass is better, but in a time crunch, single pass can work.

Continue reading

New Movie: A Visit to the Olive Operation

I posted a different kind of movie (for me) over the weekend — a 4 minute micro-documentary in which my buddy Joel and I get a tour of our pal Kirk’s chicken house followed by a look at how Kirk makes olives.

It features: fearsome fowl, sleight of hand, spontaneous slurry stirring, and little bit of shtick. Also, chicken trivia. It was a lot of fun to make — hope you enjoy it.

-Cecil


Virtual LP: I Cook It 2 It

Here’s another track for Der Virtual LP in a blatant attempt to capitalize on the recent media frenzy surrounding Ira and my cover of “Welcome to the Working Week.”
This one’s called “I Cook It 2 It” and it’s, well, it’s sort of a hippity hop version of a recent blog post about me cooking.
Wearing a chef’s hat when I do it,
-Cecil
time: 1:10 seconds; specs: 1.6M
Press Play to play.

Virtual LP: Welcome to the Working Week

Here’s the latest addition to the Der Virtual LP. Ira Vortex (better known to some as so-called “So-Called Bill”) and I have started playing tunes of late. Mostly originals, including a few chestnuts from the VLP, but also a few covers. This ‘uns our first recorded venture, with Ira on bass as well as co-producing — it’s sorta of a jazzy hepster-ish version of Elvis Costello’s ode to spending money and getting so convinced.
In related news, Ira and I have also joined forces with the infamous Xian and the soon-to-be-infamous Ryan to forge a fearsome four-piece called “The Reuben Kincaid.” Watch this space for TRK tracks TK.
Waiting for your family’s big day to arrive,
-Cecil
time: 2:15 seconds; specs: 3.1M
Press Play to play.

Me, Cooking

I have a pretty low threshold for what I consider “me, cooking.” Pretty much, if I add Tabasco, I’m cooking.
So, for example, if I made toast, to which I wouldn’t normally add Tabasco, that wouldn’t count as cooking. (Or mebbe, if I added Tabasco to toast, that might count as cooking, but it’d count as bad cooking. I think. I need to try this.)
Similarly, if I made a can of soup, like some Wolfgang Puck’s Thick and Hearty Lentil, and I didn’t add Tabasco (which would be crazy) that also would not be cooking.
But, in contrast, if I made a can of soup, and I chose to add a few drops of Tabasco, in my heart it would feel like I had truly cooked that can of soup. Like the culinary choices (ok, choice) that I’d made had transformed that can of soup into a lentil-laden very personal and real expression of what I consider good eats.
Tonight, the lentil is hearty, yes. Thick too. I credit Wolfgang for this. But it’s also slightly spicy, and I think I’ve made my point.

The Dog Show

Late at night, every night, Daphne watched The Dog Show. Odds are you’ve never seen it unless you’re a dog. See, The Dog Show’s broadcast on top of human programs in frequencies only dogs perceive. It stars a beat up mixed-breed named Lucious, missing one eye, half an ear. Each episode, for nearly 15 years now, Lucious has slowly, meticulously run through one new trick, scribbling down notes on a stand-up pad, barking out directions for the next day’s event, going back to the start, dwelling in the middle, hammering home the exclamation mark.
Yap yap yap!
The whole enterprise was born from one simple question — what if dogs, night-by-night, trick-by-trick, could learn to do everything humans do? Or, as many as could be covered in a dog’s lifetime of weeknight TV shows?
It almost goes without saying, the first tricks involved filming and producing a TV show. Tricks Lucious had taught himself. After that came shows on how to make toast without burning your nose. How to open a pickle jar. How to make a pancake. Not all the episodes were about food, but the food shows got the best ratings.
About five years in, the focus switched to personal grooming. How to part your hair (extra tricky for stiff haired hounds). How to clip your own nails!
Now here they were on day 7,322. Daphne sitting in my rocking chair, nodding her doggy head, listening close, learning how to fix a carburetor. And that was when I walked in.

Common Sense Rules for Business: “I’ll have the number one!”

Whatever your business, consider organizing what you sell into groups of three products, and giving each group a number. For example, if you run a coffee shop, one group could be “a machiatto, a ginger cookie, and a kale salad.” Another group could be “a soft boiled egg and two single-espressos.” You get the idea.
That way, when a customer walks in, they can say “I’ll have the number one!” People love to say that phrase. Just look at how well McDonald’s has done!
Now sit back and watch the money roll in.

Berries

The guy next to me
at this breakfast joint
just said to his date
in a Jack Nicholson voice
that I think is really the way this guy talks
"looks to me like you're not a fan of berries." 
If he sees what
I'm typing
I'm a dead man.