Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pedalboard 2.0

My quest is at an end.

I mentioned before I was going through an overhaul of my guitar effects. The project took me places I didn't know I needed to go.

First I sold my analog echo pedal. I've had it four years, gigged with it and still made a profit. In its place, I put a BOSS digital delay that cost about half and took up a third of the space. It's also immensely powerful, going up to three seconds before the sound repeats, plus it adequately copies the warm analog sound. It was a very good decision.

I'm a fan of modulation. I've always had a chorus or a phaser in my board. I originally planned to add a BOSS chorus and a tremolo to the MXR Phase 100. A bit much but I wanted choices.

Then I discovered the Line 6 MM4. It had all three effects in one pedal, plus 13 more! I had already bought the BOSS chorus but the deals on ebay were too good. I ended up getting one for 65% off on ebay.

It showed up a half an hour before our last jam session (and I can't tell you how I look forward to those!). I plugged it in and tried it for the first time in a band setting. The sounds were good but a little weak.

I did some research and found that Keeley did a modification on this processor. They swap out the chips for higher grade electronics and improve the response. Sounded vague but Grant loves his Keeley effects so I sent it out. Even with the extra cost I'm still up on the deal.

It came back yesterday. And it's like a different pedal. The sounds are richer, stronger, louder. The LEDs are even brighter. And blue.

It's still a bit limited in range. None of the models can achieve the crazy, no- musical tones the individual stompboxes reach when they're turned up too far. But considering the price and space options, plus the added bonus of a true bypass signal, I'm satisfied for the next few years.

While I was at it, I took the opportunity to velcro down the tuner and run it in the chain, add a 5 in 1 adapter so I could power everything with one plug and vacuum the damn thing out. You have no idea what four years of catnaps will do to velcro.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

26 Great Cancelled Shows

Entertainment Weekly has a list. "Firefly" is on it. "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" is on it. And I thought "Life on Mars" was still on.

Check it out!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I've just received some sad news.

After two years, NewsGroper is going on haitus. At a time when I was banging my head against the wall trying to get published by the comedy sites, they reached out to me and offered me a spot. They've published about twenty of my articles and featured many. I'm sorry to see them go.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Last Battlestar Galactica

Was very good.

I've been watching this show since season one. I didn't want to. I had no love for the original series and the attempts to relaunch it in the 90's were even worse. But Robert and Bill wouldn't leave me alone about it. Plus it was created by Ron Moore, my favorite Star Trek writer (and when you consider he wrote "Sins of the Father", "All Good Things" and "First Contact", he's yours, too). So I watched one episode. Then the next. Then every one until now.

The show had a serious dip in the third season. Season two had one of the greatest cliffhangers and they simply could not follow it. Fortunately, they picked up in season four and it became a massive movement. BSG was a basic cable cult hit that everyone I knew watched.

And now a two hour finale. It's not worth going into spoilers. It's not even worth going into themes. It's such a perfect completion to 83 episodes. If you haven't seen 82 of them, anything I say to you would have no meaning.

Every series is judged by its final episode. That's why so few get respect. people point to "Newhart" and "Star Trek: the Next Generation" as classics. They ended well. they also began horribly but that's besides the point. "The X Files" is snickered at. It had six phenomenal seasons and limped into nine. I was always on the fence about "Battlestar Galactica". The finale put me over. It's more than an improvement on the first. It's a classic.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Just completed the first draft of my fifth screenplay (and my favorite). Took two years.

Now what?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Had a Dream Last Night...

That Comedy Central gave me an audition. They sent a video crew with me to a wine tasting. The idea would be that I would riff and they would show it on either "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report".

Time got muddied (like it does in dreams) and when I came to I was hung over. I turned on the tv and Andrew "Dice" Clay had a new show on Comedy Central. He was introducing a segment called "Look at this Drunk Idiot". It showed me the night before, slurring, stumbing and humiliating everyone around me. And they spelled my name right.

I don't know if that says more about entertainment or neurosis. But it says a lot about me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

"Sesame Street" Lays Off 20% of Staff

It's a television legend. It's an incredible learning tool. It's a career goal. It's a local production. And it's a shame.

And the way CNN reports it is offensive. What the hell does that "Mad TV" sketch have to do with anything? They might as well have had Dave Chappelle saying "Bitch, I live in a trash can!" Way to take the easy joke, news channel.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Babylon 5

I just finished Walter Koening's autobiography "Warped Factors" (thanks to Cromely's recommendation). There's a lot of discussion in it about how good he is, not only on "Star Trek" but "Babylon 5". People seem to love this show, the way they loved "The X Files", "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Firefly" and other shows I ignored when they aired. The first two seasons are free on Hulu so I'm giving it a try.

I hate it. I'm nine episodes in and it's terrible. Anyone a fan of this show? Can anyone tell me how good it's going to get? "Star Trek: the Next Generation" and "Buffy" had lousy first seasons and now they are two of my favorite shows. Someone give me some support.

This is the pilot episode. It is garbage, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Edge

So I'm selling effects, buying effects. Most of my pedalboard is changing. But no matter how far I go, I will never have those two refrigerators that the Edge has behind him.

Part 1:

Part 2 (where the Edge gets confused about his own equipment):

Part 3:

Saturday, March 07, 2009


When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time in my room. So much that if my dad wanted to talk to me, he had to knock on my door. And one day he did.

"The book club said this was a good comic book. Here." And he handed me Watchmen. Over the last twenty years I've read it twelve times. It's not a book I love, it's book I awe. So there's no way I could sit through three hours of the movie and not compare it to the book.

It's a good adaptation. Probably as good as anyone could do. Terry Gilliam would have had more inspiration, but it would have been a mess. Darren Aronofsky would have been humorless and navel gazing. Zach Snyder does the same job he did on 300, treating the word balloons as a script and the art as storyboards.

But there's things he missed. And some of them I miss. I don't like the handling of the females. The book had women. This movie has girls. Carla Guigino is the perfect woman and she can't save her gender here. Dr. Manhattan seems pissed rather than clueless of humanity. And I have some trouble with the new ending. It makes more sense for the cinema but it's got a glaring logical hole.

Rorshach is the stand out. He was my favorite character in the book and he is here. I haven't seem Jackie Earl Haley since "The Bad News Bears" and he's gotten way better. Snyder felt the need to take the most violent scene with the character and make it way more violent. He amps up the gore without increasing the impact. I don't see why.

"Watchmen" is the greatest comic book ever made. Any attempt to adapt it has to be phenomenal or it will be seen as a disappointment. This movie is a disappointment. But it's not a failure.

Friday, March 06, 2009

U2 on Letterman

Wait. U2 has been on Letterman ALL WEEK? Isn't this something my sister should have told me?

Luckily we live in the age of the internet where every clip is up.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Guitar effects

We've got a jam session running with a full band of comedians. A lot of ex-musicians are on stage telling jokes. We're renting time at the same rehearsal studio I went to with three different bands. It's great to play loud again.

So I've been trying to fine tune my guitar sound. The last time I bought any effects was four years ago. My analog delay pedal has a great 80's "Edge" sound to it but it does little else. The vibrato and chorus are almost useless. And it takes up way too much room.So I'm getting a much smaller BOSS digital delay.

I love modulation effects so I just bought a BOSS Super Chorus. I use tremolo a lot now so I should get another pedal. And I'm keeping the Phaser. That's three pedals where I had one.

And Line 6 makes one pedal that does everything. But I don't know anyone that has one. There are a MILLION Youtube videos with reviews and demos. But the compressed sound isn't really helping.

Videos like this are not helping either. But they are what I see when I close my eyes.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

My Script Made the Finals!

Finally, some good news.

Steve Klausner and I wrote a horror screenplay three years ago that we both liked. Steve's movie "Headspace" had just premiered and I was honored he wanted to collaborate on my ideas. The script went well but there was something missing.Last year, we figured out what it was and did an extensive rewrite.

Today we got this message:

Dear Paranoia Screenplay Finalists,

We at Paranoia would like to personally congratulate you on being chosen as a finalist in our film festival. We will be announcing the winner of our Screenplay Category at our award ceremony on Sunday March 15th, which begins at 8:30. We will also be posting it on our website the following day. If you can't be there physically we will notify you by email and inform you how to go about receiving your prize.

Best of luck,
The Paranoia Team

So I'm not as funny as I'd like to be but, apparantly, I'm scarier than most.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Snow Day

Yesterday we got a foot of snow. Between shoveling, keeping Ben inside from the wind, encouraging Ben to go outside in the drifts, comforting Ben when he cried from the cold, cooking, shopping and cleaning off the car, I had no time to post.

Good God, I'm a woman.