have you ever thought…

…about how warm it is in the English-speaking world, in general? Yes there is Canada and there is Alaska, but just how many people exactly live there? And just how popular does the web content they generate get?

I mean, just how often do you see the “advice” to “skip blow-drying” your hair? Framed in all sorts of good intentions, from “keeping the hair healthy” to “being environmentally conscious”.

This is so ubiquitous that it just goes to show that while we all live under the same sun, it definitely heats some regions more. Whatever that implies.

See, in Moscow, unless it’s high summer and it’s like 30C in the shade, it will take you more than an hour to fully air-dry average-to-moderately thick hair that falls below your shoulders. Even if you start with towel-drying it.

And if it’s below 20C in your apartment, which happens quite often here in Moscow between September and July (for a number of reasons that are beyond the scope of this post), you will end up with a nasty head cold from walking around with damp hair for all that time.

I’m not even talking about the fact that you will need to leave the apartment eventually, and preferably looking professional – to which damp hair doesn’t lend itself that well. Ten minutes blow-drying doesn’t seem that bad of a tradeoff. Surely beats getting up an extra hour earlier.

Oh by the way, blow-drying in and out of itself won’t harm your hair. You blow the same air on your scalp as well, and so you aren’t going to make it hot enough to be dangerous. Unless you maybe ruined it beforehand by bleaching or whatever. That I have zero experience in.

Maybe if you use some special “heat styling” techniques with your dryer, then maybe you will reach that temperature range. Maybe. No idea. I can’t style anything with a hair dryer; to me, it’s just a machine for not freezing my head off.

And “environmental impact” of a single person is a can of worms that I’d rather not start discussing, since it has become a freaking religion. A lot of those beliefs make zero sense from the scientific standpoint, and yet people will get offended. So yes, a religion it is.

If you really want me to make a statement… Let pig farms and coal power stations worry about their environmental impact. For everyone else, just make sure not to leave your trash in the forest reserve, thank you.

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never been a fan of Apple…

…but that Genius algorithm in their iTunes player is damn robust.

I mean, it’s smart enough to start off a Blind Guardian track and then play a selection of Hansi Kürsch session appearances, only getting distracted by Helloween and Falconer. And given that my library only contains one Kiske!ween track (guess what it is… yup, Tale; everyone’s first Helloween track back then in the 90s) and no Derris!ween at all, this is all plain great.

 

what’s that with…

…80s US bands recruiting Angra members? First Megadeth, now W.A.S.P.

I suspect it’s because Brazilians aren’t yet aware of the fact that the leaders of these two bands are notoriously hard to work with. =D

I just wish W.A.S.P. would go back to actually working. As in, writing songs and recording albums. It’s not like Blackie Lawless has to slave away at a day job in two shifts, right? You’d think he would have an album’s worth of songs in no time.

today I learnt…

…that HDR maps exported directly out of the Sky Lab in Bryce 7 as EXR are kinda different.

The torus on the left uses the Cook-Torrance model built into 3Delight’s trace() shadeop. The torus on the right uses the Ashikhmin-Shirley one. Look closer, and you’ll see that the A-S model somehow thinks the skymap is grayscale, while C-T does not.

It’s not the best example, really, but it’s a fact. I’ll post a more noticeable one later.

moreweirdbryceskylabmaps.png

My old skymaps I rendered to HDR “normally” are seen by both models as coloured.

I need to see if saving to actual Radiance HDR will change anything about the way Sky Lab exports maps (it’s significantly faster than having the whole scene render!!). Failing that – I’ll have to figure out what all those parameters mean and if they affect the export somehow.

I don’t even know the mechanism that may cause this to happen. Damn, I honestly don’t feel like reading through the whole OpenEXR specification.

this is among the most offensive things…

…I’ve ever read.

TheRangePlace permanent page on Stevie Nicks.

TRP have a history of this shoehorning non-classical people into Fachs that make zero sense. I sort of kept on getting annoyed, but was willing to let that slide.

But this!..

Stevie’s voice finally seems to settle as a contralto as opposed to a lower set mezzo-soprano here – she seldom reaches above A4, with notes in the fifth octave being particularly rare and uncomfortable for her. However, her lower register begins to sound really strong – she reaches into the second octave occasionally, with notes in the lower third beginning to sound like mid range to her.

I don’t even know where to begin because blatant self-absorbed ignorance of this sort makes me violent.

So I’ll show you something.

Contralto

This is a page from the vocal score of Rossini’s Tancredi that I downloaded off one of the best sites on the web, International Music Score Library Project. This is a fragment of  (everybody’s) favourite Perché turbar la calma. I highlighted the contralto part for you and marked two notes, two Cs.

Unlike the tenor part, the contralto is written as-is, no mental transposing done. Yes it’s your general G-clef. No magic here.

Now look. Just how many C5s are there, just in these few phrases? Can you locate the E5? And what’s the lowest we’re dipping to here? Any “low third octave” in there?

Of course not.

Not even every tenor would willingly go down to the tenor low C, C3.

And most contemporary “contraltos” out there would start creaking a bit even under that C4.

A true contralto voice – who can sustain above a tenor and dip well down into the tenor tessitura every now and then, down to F3, and project equally well at both extremes – is a very rare and prized voice.

A woman who has trouble singing above A4 is not a contralto.

There is no name for that voice in classical European music, it just doesn’t exist.

You cannot belong to a Fach if you can’t sing standard roles of that Fach; that’s obvious, I hope.

So here’s a true contralto… who can actually sing below the tenor low C, but it’s not what is generally required from a “generic contralto”. You want F3-F5, and that high F should always.be.there.period (which means your warmup range should extend at least a tone above that). Yes you may only need the high F a couple of times per evening, but you will need it. Listen on.

…how do we call those “low-voiced” female singers who aren’t contraltos, then?

The answer is: by their names.

it’s been over 20 years…

…since the release of Daggerfall, so yeah, it’s about time Beth started implementing all the features that were in dev but never made it into DF back then.

Sadly, the capitalist reality we have to live in means that they’re doing it for their current flagship, which is Skyrim, and anyone who’s been following me for a while knows what I think about Skyrim.

But yeah, this is finally a step towards a better game.

And yet, what (naturally!) interests me way more is how well the Daggerfall Unity project is progressing. I do have hopes for Lucius’ XLEngine still (being a Blind Guardian fan teaches you that good things come to those who wait), but if we eventually have two recreations, it can only be for the better.

so while we’re waiting…

..for Stet Howland to recover, let’s look at the history of the band again.

I haven’t managed to figure out the exact date when the video for In Harm’s Way was released, so I can’t tell for sure whether Mike’s “It’s about a serious subject” remark on the Dynamo’91 live recording is related to the video or not.

The point is, the video is… I hesitate to say “glamorous”, but, well, it’s as close as it gets with Metal Church, right?

David Wayne once said that Queensryche were “a good looking bunch of guys” while the MC guys apparently “always knew [they] were the ugly band”. Which is kinda perplexing to me because the concepts of “Queensryche” and “good-looking” never mixed in my world. Quite the opposite.

But, well, there is a grain of truth to this statement, in the sense that the Wayne era looked a bit lacking as compared to the Howe era.

If anything, there are very few frontmen of Mike’s caliber. Dickinson maybe. Younger Snider. And that’s kinda it.

So we get all this rock star splendour coming from Mike, moves, bare chest and all; Duke Erickson being a worthy competitor in everything but the hair department (he’s taller, though – can’t have it all =P ); and let’s not forget John Marshall’s almost Goth-like impression (well someone did write those lyrics based on a Poe’s story… yeah right, you get a new guitarist in, and it’s, like, the first thing he does).

But the song is indeed about a serious subject. It’s about child abuse.

Kurdt Vanderhoof wrote the lyrics for it, and there’s that line:

It’s not that mommy hits that hurts me, it’s when she goes away

Kinda ties in with what I was saying about psychological violence being way worse.

…my world.

Most of my “original fiction” tells stories of a very specific culture, non-human but humanoid, as seen over a thousand+ year course of history. Genre-wise, it’s hard fantasy meets soft SF, for lack of a better definition. Style-wise, I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to fully write in a truly “commercial”, palatable, relatable voice without hating myself.

The existence of someone like J M McDermott sort of gives me hope, and yet. That dude’s a native speaker, at least.

Surely Joseph Conrad wasn’t, but I’m not sure I’m _that_ good.

Either way, since I decided that illustrating my “original” stuff would limit the reader way too much, I’ll be posting bits and pieces from now on.

This is a vignette written almost five years ago.

Encounter

They came from the northeast, like they always do. Tall, on horseback, an entourage of what looked like females, but you can never be sure with the Ingäriisse. On most occasions, they gallop past, whipping dust from under the horses’ braided, chained, swinging tails.

This time, they stopped.

Stopped just before entering the village lot, three dismounted, the rest silently watching, wary gloved hands patting the horses’ filigree-wire adorned manes.

‘We’ve come for the child,’ was all that was said.

The tallest one was speaking: voice of a nearing storm; sea-green eyes and skin like polished stone under the first rays of dawn; feathers of hair around pointed ears, against shoulders, tousled, pinned up – anthracite, ruby, platinum, and anthracite again; leather and deerskin, tooled, pierced, laced over and over; silver and steel – niello, jutting, hugging, hanging, wrapping, overlaying in chainmesh and maille; and they all are the tallest one, thrice and again, painted birds, veiling smiles in earnest, look away, look away…

They’re being led to the child. A newborn, a scorn of our prayers. Sea-green eyes and sunset cheeks, but what’s that if not what we asked for…

Yet the ears are pointed, and the flowers on the window-ledge bow to the child at night, and the mother does not want to see the curse that befell her anymore.

And the smiles burst out, and the child is cradled in the arms of the tallest one, and no words are spoken.

When the dust settles down again, the silence makes way.

They harvested the fruit they’d planted.

“age-appropriate”?

I’m not buying into the popular adage that goes along the lines of “exposing a kid to –something– depicted in media will hurt their psychological development”.

Why?

Well, simple: I’m not the world’s most psychologically stable person, and yet I sort of grew up fine.

Even though my classmates smuggled porn mags and extremely explicit punk rock to school way before we were of age (and I checked all that stuff out and giggled at it).

Even though my classmates smoked and drank way before we were of age (and I didn’t, and giggled at them).

Even though in our Russian lit classes, every May, since we were ten, we’d had to read and analyse WWII fiction chock full of very graphic written depictions of actual Nazi violence (and I felt sickened, but had to write the essays because good marks looked nice next to my name).

Even though I’ve been playing FPS, RTS and CRPG since I was around 13, with all the then-8-bit blood and gore you could only imagine.

It’s all fine.

It won’t hurt. It’s all very innocent. And in the case of games, therapeutic even.

It’s damn easy to blame someone’s mental disorder on the media they consume. It’s the Judas Priest 1990 case all over again. I know firsthand that whether you want to kill yourself or not comes from other sources, not media. Ah heck, there’s a song about just that.

// disregard that album cover, plz; it’s not their worst, but it really… doesn’t fit, period //

Let’s be frank: we – most of us – have short memories. We forget what we were like. Or maybe some remember too well and they’re ashamed. And they want to pretend their children are different. Pure. Whatever. And they should be protected.

yeah right

Dudes and dudettes, you’d better learn to be open and honest with your kids. Don’t shrug off any “difficult” or “inappropriate” questions they may have. Yes it will make _you_ vulnerable. But it will make you better people. And your kids will thank you.