Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CD Review - Legends & Literature

So what is Mark listening to these days? Legends & Literature by Margaret Middleton.

Legends & Literature, henceforth L&L, is I believe Margaret Middleton's first album. This one is self published through Middleton's M-cubed Ventures, with Oasis as the press. Oasis does a good job (which is why I used them for my album.)

First impressions:
Top notch cover art, rear art nonexistent, CD art very nice.

19 songs = WIN. I am so sick and tired of folks putting out a 10-12 song 40 minute album and wanting to sell it for the same price as a full album.

Nice clean liner notes. No liner note art, but that's ok. It's hard to get your liner note art light enough that the text is visible.

The folks at Studio Joe did a great job of mastering the album. Middleton's vocals are strong, and you can hear the lyrics above her guitar work, which is important in any album, but especially in a folk album.

The Songs:
All 19 songs appear to be covers, which means that this was a pretty expensive album to produce, since royalties add up quickly. Several of the songs I have on other albums, many I've heard once or twice and am glad to have a copy of.

Most of the songs are very well done, some are quite excellent. Middleton does a yeoman's job on Leslie's "Fellowship going South", likewise on "Puck's Song", Don Simpson's "Laughter from the Loch", and Ecklar's "Roxane".

She also does a very nice rendition of "Quest" by Martha Keller, page 32 of Brady's Bend And Other Ballads, and yes I have a copy. Music by Longcor, whom I've never met.

There are some fun songs as well. "The White Whale", my Gary McGath (aka The M'Gath) is a great song about the obvious which I'd never heard before, and Gallagher's "Monsters in the Night" is likewise another fun song I'd only heard once or twice.

The indifferent:
The chords she uses for "Song from the Pig's side" are not quite the right ones. I suspect she is using the chords Bob Kanefsky has on his songworm website which are not correct. Also this tune normally has a very recognizable base run, the absence of which I find rather lacking. It's not a tricky run to play, but you have to know how to do it. Joe Bethancourt showed me years ago how to play this song right, so while there is nothing really wrong with the way Middleton does it, it's not the way I do it, so it seems a bit off.

Every album has one or two songs that are not up to the rest of the album, and L&L is no exception. Julia Eklar's "Daddy's Little Girl" is a very popular filk song, based on Steven King's Firestarter. I've heard it played in very different ways. Most people play it straight the way Julia wrote it, although I heard Seanan McGuire do it as a rock song once, and it's been done slow and somewhat creepy as well. Middleton plays it straight, but she simply does not have the range that Ecklar has, and struggles a bit with the high parts. In fairness, most people don't have the range Julia does.

On the other hand, she has no trouble at all with "The Miracle Worker", which is a bit lower in register.

The other song that sounds a bit off is Tom Smiths "Operation Desert Storm" which is a hilarious take on the Coyote vs. Roadrunner cartoons from the Coyote's point of view. This song is a fairly hard song to play, as it's a bit syncopated, and Middleton's playing sounds a bit flat with her simple strumming pattern. I've been at cons where the whole room has sung the song together, and it's a lot of fun.

All in all a very nice album. I understand it's a limited 500 piece run, so get yours now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Mother of Invention

Y-man (who lives in Nigeria) has posted an excellent description of how to convert birdshot loads into slugs.


Note he is using European style shotshells with a roll crimp, but recrimping fold crimp shells is easy enough with the proper tools.

You 'da man, Y-man

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blind Pigs and Eric Holder

As the old saying goes, Even a Blind Pig finds an acorn now and again.

Now Eric Holder is quite possibly one of the most evil men alive today. Remember he is the one directly responsible for murdering the folks at Waco, and the one who ordered the pre-dawn raid on Elian Gonzalas.

see: my earlier post

Unfortunately for all of us he is currently the US Attorney General.

Nevertheless, credit where credit is due and I must point out that Holder in an unprecedented display of common sense is ordering the US Justice Department to:

Stop Prosecuting sick people using marijuana and go after the Mexican drug cartels


Yes shocking isn't it. I mean your Granny smoking pot to help her with her appetite loss due to her chemotherapy is clearly the greater threat here, at least it was under the Bush administration and the first 9 months of the Obama administration.

Now the only real difference between the Mexican Mafia and the US Dept of Justice is that one has badges. Both are criminal gangs, and this is clearly a case of one gang wanting a bigger piece of the action.

Still, it's encouraging... Even if it's for the wrong reasons.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Physicists Working

Yeah, it's really like that:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beautiful 80-something day for a walk in the desert

Must have walked for 3-4 miles yesterday morning. Beautiful day.

Technically we were quail hunting. Quail hunting is different. It's like a combination of pheasant hunting and trying to jump shoot dove.

We were somewhere southeast of Florence. Lots of growth. In Arizona pretty much all of the undergrowth is "pokey", so wear good boots. Much like pheasant hunting you can be walking or standing and all of a sudden a bird or two will fly up from around 20 feet away, more or less heading away from you. They make a whirring sound when they fly, much like pheasant as well.

The big difference? Quail are a little bigger than a dove, while a pheasant is the size of a chicken. My partner and I hit 4 birds total, and recovered two. I HATE losing birds. Quail might be even harder to find than dove believe it or not. There was so much cactus that taking a dog would have been cruel to the dog, so we were without canine companions.

It's been a dry summer, so the quail numbers are really low this year. Still, a bad day hunting beats most things...

And besides, how many places can you go hunting in mid October and then drive home with the top down on the convertible?