Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whale Costume: The Latest Software of 2008

Whale Costume is the latest in my series of hand-crafted computer programs. You can download the program for free, listen to a demo recording and find out why I code digital clothing for aquatic mammals in Missouri.Whale Costume lets you play your live voice like a polyphonic keyboard. Just put on some headphones, sing into your computer and type on the home row to make perfectly tuned harmonies like Cher!

Whale Costume works with your normal computer keyboard, but it should work with MIDI inputs as well. So give your pitch-bend wheel a spin! You could even use a MIDI sequencer to pre-program all the melodies of your favorite holiday tunes. Your live voice sings all the parts in unison to make performance fantastic!

Here is some of what I was thinking about as I made Whale Costume...
I've been interested in early animation. It must have been an amazing feeling to first make a living image of thought for all to see.

I think it would be easier to invent a new technique for communication than to dream of content that uses a new medium's full potential. I like to think about the strange possibilities early animators realized.

In the first decades of the 1900's Windsor McCay danced with dinosaurs, fed Manhattan to a dog and avoided foreclosure by flying a house to the Moon. His characters obeyed new laws of fun house physics drawn from ideas.

There was a cartoon from 1946 that I used to watch when I was a kid. It was called "Willie the Operatic Whale." It was a Moby Dick story about a singing whale with three sets of vocal cords. A sea captain is hunting Willie because he believes that the whale has eaten three opera singers. Willie makes performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York singing all the parts at once all by himself.

So I made a program called Whale Costume that lets you sing with multiple voices.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holidays Rule

The Holidays were different for me this year because I live in Kansas City. When I lived in California I would be part of the rush of merry revelers traveling home for the holidays. This year I hosted Christmas Dinner at my apartment. And instead of waking up at my mom's house Christmas morning, I layered my pajamas and jaunted across the neighborhood with presents in tow.

But I do like the formal consistency of the holidays. Everyone gets all dressed up to find their people and have a good time.
I made my annual mix CD to exchange with the Fam. It's a way of keeping up. This year's mix features many familiar voices and celebrities including Conner Martin, Dylan McKeever, John Acquadro, Max Bennett-Parker, Spencer Owen, Thor Andersen, Tyler Martin, Walt Bodine and Yours Truly.

I've witnessed two holiday miracles in the last couple days. First, it is suddenly warm enough to go without a coat. And second, this bike is still in front of the apartment. I don't know who's it is. It's been parked there with confidence and no lock for at least 2.5 weeks. It makes me want to leave all the doors unlocked, the windows open and the computers outside.

And if I haven't given you a wintery hug this week because you are halfway across the world remember that distance isn't relative to our bodies. We are jumping the network.


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Currently, I'm back in Sacramento for our California Christmas! When I left Kansas City a few days ago it was 8 degree, only 8 degrees and so its nice to come to Sacramento for its "T-shirt weather". There were a few things that were really strikingly different from Kansas City that I hadn't realized before, most notably, orange trees just all over! Just on the street, for free, everywhere! Maybe I've mentioned this, but Jamie and I have been trying to get most of our produce from the farmer's market, as sort of a culinary challenge to get creative. Last week, I realized after buying a five pound bag of turnips, that I just don't like turnips or as my grandma said "I turnup my nose at turnips". So turnips, potatoes and cabbage are what's available at the last stand not selling doggie cookies at the farmers market in KC and the streets of Sacramento are bathed in oranges.
This is a plant in my parents' backyard in Sacramento. A similar plant in our conservatory in Kansas City completely froze and is now literally bleeding all over the hardwood floors. In other words, things are getting really cold in KC and I didn't really notice until I came back to Sacramento and saw what a lush tropical paradise it is!

There is a lot excitement with this unbelievably cold weather though. Jamie seems less impressed, expecially since I'm always screaming, "Jamie! Look how cold it is now! Its 5 degrees but says 'feels like' negative 10! Aaaahhh! Looook! Aaaaah!" I'm sure this sort of clammering can get tiresome. Epecially since I say the same thing about our favorite neighborhood cat Jungle Kitty, "Jamie! Look at Jungle Kitty now! Aaaaah! Loook! Aaaah!" You get the picture. I can not believe this! Now 23 degrees is balmy and comfortable
When it gets really crazy cold, we like to go on a walk (that couple is not us, but they must have a similar mentality) so I can know what 12 degrees is like. Very thrilling!

Here I am in my standard winter fare, no kidding my sweet California babies. Winter wonderland also means new winterwear on my Etsy, take a look!
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Box of Worms Disaster

In an effort to combat certain policies that Kansas City has about recycling (they disagree with it), we've decided to go overboard! We've been trying to make a worm compost bin with little success. We started it a few weeks ago and only got about twenty worms (it turns out you need hundreds) and it turned into a disgusting poo smelling mess. We think the problem is that it is way too wet in the bin and not enough worms.

We haven't completely giving up though, and my dad bought us some worms online and had them sent to our apartment. They didn't quite make it though, they were sent by this company in a cloth bag with some newspaper in a cardboard box. How can they live like that? They can't it turns out. Anyway, we're still hopeful and there is still a bin that smells like rotting food and mayo on the back porch/garbage zone. In a similar vein, still no recycling for our apartment complex, even though I called the city to argue with someone about it! They are stubborn devils!
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Have patience Kansas City

I was raised in KC and when I visited Memphis I felt a link. Both cities grew up on the river. Kansas City's Muddy MO drains into Memphis' Old Miss 'Sippy. We were reared like siblings, drinking from the same source. As the cities matured, they got angsty and moved out. They tested their limits, discovering layer after layer of suburb while shedding their childhood identities as capitols of corn, beef, wheat and cotton.
Both cities still work to figure out who they are, who they have been and who they want to be. They wake from dreams with words on their lips... Will I ever find my vocation? Is it OK to be friends with Mom? How can I accommodate people, places and ideas to achieve the total participation and successful production that's right for me?
Don't worry, it has already started. Just keep doing what lays before you with the brilliance that suits you best Memphis. Have patience Kansas City.
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