terriko: Yup, I took this one. The eyes are paper, not photoshop (chair)
It's apparently the New Mexico centennial (even though Albuquerque itself is quite a bit older) so I gather ABQ Summerfest was bigger than usual. I have no point of comparison, but there was a fair amount of stuff going on for a free street party!

I like that they're willing to close off the main street through downtown for a street party. It was pretty similar to Westfest in Ottawa: info booths (and free stuff) from various organizations, music at small stages here there and everywhere, food and other random stuff for purchase. Although Westfest doesn't have civil war reenactors hanging out in the park with cannons, I suppose, and it's smaller. The only jarring thing was actually how much security there was: I think they'd called in police from the surrounding areas and the state, plus we saw a bunch of guys in TSA uniforms wandering by (no clue if they were working security or just happened to get off work together and come down, though). I don't know what sort of trouble they were expecting or if it's just that everyone volunteered to work the festival, but I didn't see them doing much more than walking around and smiling at folk, so that was nice enough.

It was hot, so I think my favourite moments involved hanging out in shady parks, listening to bands I'd never heard of previously. To be honest, that's often my favourite part of any summer festival anyhow, and since they were showcasing a lot of New Mexican stuff, there was plenty I didn't recognize.

I walked around plenty on my sandals and had no problem with my ankle, despite having done a Zumba class on Thursday and walked around a bunch on Friday, so I think I can assume it's sufficiently stable. It's still a bit uncomfortable to kneel, but I remember that took something like 6 months before I could sit on it pointed straight last time, so I'm not too surprised. I pinched the stupid nerve in my leg sometime last week while our friends were out visiting, and it's been acting up when I walk, but it's slowly working its way back to normal too, so walking around was actually pretty pleasant as long as I stopped to sit and listen now and again.

All in all, a lovely festival!
terriko: (Default)
I started writing this for the CU-WISE Wednesday fun feature, but it kills me that it won't be shared for a couple of weeks, so you get it now:

There are a lot of covers are the mario bros theme, but this one Jimmy Wong's version is especially cute and singable because it goes beyond the source to make something really fun:

And as if the song itself weren't amazing, the artist himself is a pretty neat guy. Check out the NPR story on him: Jimmy Wong Saves The Internet:

Jimmy Wong reminded me that the tools that can be deployed by the so-called cyberbullies are also freely available to those they harass.


The lyrics are funny and good-spirited, and effectively turn the tables on the original rant. And the song itself has a catchy hook, has been viewed about 800,000 times, and is now for sale on iTunes.

When I was a kid, here's one thing I never thought of saying to a bully who was about to pummel me:

"Hey, don't mess with me. I've got a quirky sense of humor, a great singing voice, and I know how to code!"

But Jimmy Wong and many others are proving those types of creative skills could be a decent way to put up a defense.

Jimmy's Mario song is available on iTunes along with a bunch of his other music, and proceeds are currently going to the Japanese relief efforts.

Other game fans might also love his legend of zelda medley, which is what I'm listening to right now.
terriko: (Default)
When we were playing Kinect games at Dan's on Saturday, a few of us got into a conversation about what other genres of Kinect game we thought would be cool, and we came up with this idea for Kinect Conductor, the symphony conducting game.

I was reminded of this idea when I saw this video promo involving paint, speakers, and a conductor. (More behind the scenes pictures and even a link to the 3d version here). And now I've spent a bit of time this afternoon contemplating what exactly the Kinect Conductor game would be like.

Brainstorming ideas from the weekend and from while I was making lunch today:

Basic Gameplay

  • You'd have to learn the basic conducting patterns: 4/4, cut time, 3/4, 6/8, etc. and keep them up/change when necessary
  • Gameplay could include giving cues to various sections (in real life musicians will often be fine without cues, but in game maybe we'd make them more reliant upon you? Or with a % chance to fail if the conducting isn't great?)
  • Will the game speed up/slow down the music with you, or will you have to keep up with a runaway orchestra? Both modes might be interesting for game play (and both happen sometimes if you conduct...)

Celebrity conducting gigs

  • Celebrity symphony orchestras? I'd love to conduct the Boston Pops, or my local NACO... (And, ok, I admit it, I'd love to have real symphony orchestras getting bonus income from video games!)
  • Mickey Mouse mode, where instead of seeing a symphony you get to do something like Mickey in Fantasia with stars and waves and awesomeness. Like those paint-covered speakers in the image above, maybe? Might be too trippy, but fun?
  • Speaking of cartoons... what about conducting to match other famous ones, like the Bugs Bunny/Barber of Seville one?
  • Or what about musicals? Famous movie-musicals?

Advanced Modes

  • Will you get a full score with actual sheet music on screen? Maybe a simplified one? Is real sheet music too hard to use or is it enough to get the shape of things even for those who can't read music? (I think it's doable, but I've got a lot of musical training, including conducting.) Would full sheet music be "expert" mode? Would full sheet music even be legible on a TV screen?
  • Will you have to turn the sheet music yourself? Again, could be a different game mode/advanced mode like racing games that sometimes force you to shift a manual transmission and sometimes go all auto.
  • Soloist game mode, where the conductor has to follow a soloist who may interpret the piece in a different way on different run-throughs? Hard for people who are only really good at pattern repetition and not improvisation and adaptation, but probably more reasonable.
  • Actually, I wonder if you could work improvisation into some sort of disaster recovery mode for the main game? Some conductors are amazing at skipping a beat and grabbing us again if necessary.
  • Stage musical game mode, where the conductor needs to learn when to cue music into a scene and needs to learn to repeat sections if something happens on stage and the scene goes too long?

I'm much too excited about this and kinda want to try some kinect hacking, since it seems doable if I set up a little midi orchestra to make some music... but I don't really have time, so I'm braindumping it for now and hoping that'll help me clear the fixation and get back to my day job.

But I kinda wish I could just put this in the xbox downstairs and play now!
terriko: (Default)
Apparently I was in the local news today. An old picture of me dancing at Westfest accompanied their story about moving the venue (again) to a larger spot. Since for some reason the site requires JavaScript to let you see the picture, here's a copy:

A crowd (including me) dancing at Westfest. Photograph by: John Major, Ottawa Citizen

Mom tells me that the friend behind me isn't cut off in the version actually in the paper. Woo!

Also, yeay, new larger venue for Westfest! The previous one could get very cramped, so I'm looking forwards to seeing the new setup this summer.
terriko: (Default)
Techcrunch has this great little post, Just Four Dudes Jamming On The Subway — With Their iPhones As Instruments.

You know what I find most astounding about it? Not so much that they're using phones (I've been to multiple concerts which used phones as instruments [1]), but that they conceived this stunt, brought the equipment on a train, and were able to just do this. No one called security, freaking out when they brought speakers on board, even though the person quoted there said that was her first thought.

Here's the video:

Amazing what a real band can do with what's on hand, eh? Now I want to perform random acts of music using all that computing power that fits in my pocket. The phone's a whole lot easier to carry around than my guitar, and a lot easier on my fingertips... Anyone want to work on some tunes?

[1] My personal favourite was Danny Michel at Westfest a few years back. He performs by himself using a loopback device and often doesn't make much deal of it (in fact, I've been with folk who didn't notice) but for one song he laid down the intro using the beeps of an older cell phone, and worked that into the mix that was repeating throughout. It fit incredibly well with the fact that he was singing a song heavy with nostalgia ("In Full Effect").


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