I have two lifetime goals. They are both insane and probably impossible to achieve, but so it goes.

The first of these goals is to achieve Frank Marino's level of technique and fame as a guitarist. Of these, his fame is the more accessible of the two.

The traditional formula for this goal is to practice eight hours a day, never having sex (or, for that matter, any kind of meaningful social interaction at all) for several years.
I, alas, spent the formative years of my life from a shredder's standpoint - my grade school career, when you don't have to work for a living - not playing guitar. (I suppose I could always make like Frank Marino, drop enough acid to totally destroy my psyche, get myself institutionalized and use that as an opportunity to practice, but that seems like a bad idea.)

(A subsidiary goal of mine is to reach John Paul Jones's degree of proficiency on the non-bass instruments he plays by the time I'm his age [read: anything with strings.] This I consider to be a much more reasonable goal, on the grounds that I still have forty years to work on everything.)

My other major goal is to have the ability to read an amplifier's tone off the chassis. To be able to look at it and understand, first, how exactly signal goes from one end to the other - and secondly, to be able to pick out any individual part of the circuit and identify what it's doing to the tone, and what would happen to said tone if I swapped it for a part with different specs. It may be on par with learning to read machine code - but it is doable.

Have you ever looked inside an old point-to-point amplifier? A David Reeves Hiwatt, an early Vox, a Jim-made Marshall or a Randall Smith-made Mesa/Boogie? Me neither. But my understanding is that, if you do crack 'em open and look at them, they're goddamn works of art. Craftsmanship on par with any Grecian urn or Masamune sword - and, like them, meant to be used. I'd like to be able to make something like that.

These two goals are closely intertwined. My interest in amplifiers directly stems from my realization that forming a metal band is no substitute for an actual plan to pay my way through life rather than bumming off my parents. (Everybody in Napalm Death and Meshuggah, last I heard, still had to hold day jobs to keep the bands afloat.) Being able to make toys seems to be a more reliable way of making money than being able to play them.

In fairness, there's also a lot of overcompensating going on here. Hypothetically, tone is a crutch that I can rely on to offset the fact that I really need to learn to play guitar. (They're both necessary, but tone takes precedence. If anybody wants to argue with me, explain why ZZ Top is easier to listen to, and listen to repeatedly, than Dragonforce.)

Hampering these goals are my aptitudes. Specifically, I'm not very good at either, and while I'd certainly like to be good at both, neither comes easily in any way.

So what am I good at? Writing. Which means nothing. Quite a few people write hundred-page stories. Most people write poetry sooner or later.

And anybody can write a mediocre self-reflective blog like this one.


i has a sonnet nom nom nom

Originally posted here. Twice.

So when Tiel asked me to post it on one of my blogs, I figured that I probably should.

How could they not have known, I heard them ask,
Their child was an embodiment of sin?
How could they never once see through that mask
In all those years, to glimpse what lay within?

"How could they not, indeed?" I think out loud.
"The signs were there, and waiting to be read.
"Perhaps it was denial... maybe not..."
And let my thoughts run silent through my head.
Two Shoah survivors whose only son
Claimed families of victims to his name
For each new month that he stayed on the run -
How could they face that magnitude of shame?
And so I picked their bodies off the floor,
Threw them in the furnace and shut the door.