Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Movie review of The Duff

Watched The Duff this Sunday night (8/30/15):  I'd stumbled across the trailer on YouTube, and it had looked promising.

It's about a high school girl with two attractive, popular female friends, who abruptly discovers that she's their DUFF: Dumb Ugly Fat Friend – basically, the “approachable” one that people use to gain access to the friends.

As with other teen movies, she is “mentored” by a popular male friend (a childhood friend that she's fallen out with over the years) to become more popular, and ends up with a makeover. However, the “makeover” is less extreme than in a lot of the movies, and a least one of the attractive friends is a computer hacker.

The protagonist also gets cyber-bullied -- which is an modern twist.

Way more swearing that was necessary, and some frank sexual references.

Not a genius movie – but I enjoyed it. Worth seeing once, I figure.



Good use of the dige

A talented guy.

Not sure that the song is "catchy" -- but it's a good sound.

Hat-tip to Cynical Guy for forwarding this to me.



Sunday, August 30, 2015

Resolving to play music more often

I really enjoy playing musical instruments -- but I never get around to it. 

Which is stupid, because once I start -- I really enjoy it:  it's just a matter of starting.

Last night I was doing some of my weightlifting, and during my three-minute rest breaks, I did some simple practice things on my cheap, secondhand trumpet. 

And I realized that -- hey -- if I actually practiced even 5-10 minutes a day, I might actually become... adequate.

So:  I'm going to try to play some sort of musical instrument at least a few minutes a day.  Possibly focusing on the same instrument -- but, if the mood pulls me differently, that's fine as well.

We'll see how long this lasts.  :)



Saturday, August 29, 2015

Balalaika shredding

Found this by accident.  I like it.

It's even more impressive when you realize that, not only does a balalaika only have two strings -- as opposed to a guitar's six -- but that two of the balalaika strings are tuned to the same note.

So he really only has the two lower strings to use for his super-fast runs.


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Friday, August 28, 2015

Simple yet catchy

Found this guy by accident.

I like it:  simple, yet catchy.

A strong counter-argument for people who don't think they can make music because they lack fancy equipment.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The end of the city

Well, that's the end of it:  I've watched the final episode of the final season of Sex in the City.  It was fun while it lasted.

The Sex in the City movie is apparently mediocre, and its sequel is supposed to be pretty bad.  So, I guess that's the end of it.

Ah, well:  it was fun while it lasted.

I guess now I need to catch up with Burn Notice.



Monday, August 24, 2015

My grandfather the haxxor

I have about twenty snapshots of the interior of my late (paternal) grandfather's house in folder -- and every two weeks I save a new one as my desktop wallpaper.

Yesterday, I installed a photo of his living room -- and realized that he was a hacker.

A "hacker" is someone who's not afraid to modify something, or figure out an innovative solution, in order to serve a pragmatic end.  So being a hacker isn't necessarily destructive; nor does it necessarily have to involve I.T.

In the above photo -- my dad was partway through methodically clearing out the house contents, after my grandfather went into assisted living -- there are a few hacks.  You may have to click the photo to enlarge it.

I'm pretty sure my grandfather made the bookcase next to his brown chair.  The green binder would tend to fall off the end shelf -- so, my grandfather installed a vertical piece of wood as a partial "cap" or bookend, to support the binders and notebooks.

You can also see the extension shelf, of a lighter color wood, which he installed so that he could keep the phone there, plus other items.

And, under the brown recliner, you can see the riser that he installed, so that it was easier for him to get up out of the chair.

For what it's worth:  he also built the small table in front of the brown recliner, which he also sometimes used as a footstool; the picture frames for the two photos; and the lamp behind his chair.  In fact, he built the house -- with the help of his father and his father-in-law.

There are also a few secret hiding places, scattered around the house.  I have a hunch that he took various people into his confidence about them -- such that no single person knows of all of the hiding places.  That's pretty cool.

Anyhow:  my grandfather, the hacker.

I do that, too.


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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bone guitar

While running some errands today, I came across a garage sale.

As usual, I asked if they had any music gear that they hadn't actually put out for sale, but would consider selling.  Turns out the guy had an electric guitar that he'd found during one of the "Place your large items on the sidewalk, and the garbage collectors will fetch it" weeks.

He sold it to me for five bucks.  Usually, at a garage sale, I'd negotiate down.  But, heck:  five bucks.

Here's the guitar.  It's a nice "bone" color.  It's what I refer to as a "fake Strat", with single-coil pickups in the neck and middle positions, and a humbucker at the bridge.

I tested the electronics by plugging it in to an amp, and holding a tuning fork next to the pickups, after removing the terribly rusty strings.  It passes a signal, and all three pickups work, as well as the pickup selector switch.  I can't tell what the actual guitar tone would be like:  I'll find out once I re-string it.

The volume knob doesn't adjust the volume:  it's permanently "on" (which is better than "off" -- because at least it generates sound!).  The tone knob for the neck pickup works -- but the tone knob for the middle pickup doesn't seem to.

But, hey:  five bucks.

Here's the headstock:  It's a Hondo H77.  I haven't yet done the research to see if that's a good model, or what.

Here's a closer look at the body.  Note all that "character"!  But I kinda like it.  I wouldn't ever artificially "distress" a guitar -- but if it already comes a little dinged-up, I'm OK with that.  A beautiful, unblemished guitar would actually make me nervous about putting the first scratch on it.

I found it interesting that there are two grounding wires to the bridge assembly.  At first I thought that this was a sign of quality -- but then when trying to remove the old strings I discovered that I couldn't, because of the copper wire across the string holes.  So it must be something a previous owner did, rather than something from the factory.

When I'm ready to finish changing the strings, I'll have to pry that grounding wire off to the side. 

Curiously, the strap button on the tail of the guitar was strongly recessed into the body.  This means that you couldn't mount a guitar strap on it.

I removed the strap button, and discovered that there was a recessed, painted plug down the hole.  The plug is painted the same as the body.  I don't know how this would've happened, or if it was intentional (and if so, why?).  Weird.

I needed a broad washer with a small hole, to keep the strap button from falling back into the recess when I re-installed it.  I didn't have a washer of the right size, so I did a "field repair" of flattening a bottle cap to a Cooper's brand non-alcoholic fake beer.

Using a bottle cap also served the purpose of personalizing the guitar.  I like to put a sticker or some other minor alteration on a guitar, just to personalize it -- but with this one, I didn't want to cover the paint color (which I like!) or change the visual balance of the headstock.  So adding the splash of red had both a functional and an aesthetic function.

The wooden fingerboard was looking rather dried out.  Note in particular the end to the left, in this photo.  (To see it better, you may have to click the photo to enlarge it.)

And here's the fingerboard with some rubbed-in "tool handle mix" of boiled linseed oil, diluted with alcohol.

So, yeah:  five bucks.  I'm pleased.  :)

Some other day I'll finish removing the strings; put new strings on; and intonate it.

And much later, I'll get around to correcting the electronics.   Or, just leaving it as ideosyncratic:  with only one knob (the bridge-pickup tone) that actually works.  Being quirky is more interesting -- and in this case, will take far less effort.  ;)



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Random acts

I like practical jokes -- but only the surreal, positive, uplifting kind.

Our local DVD rental place disappeared a few years ago.  But about a month ago we started using the self-serve machine in front of the local grocery store.

Last week I was returning a DVD (Project Almanac; I liked it), when -- on a whim -- I slipped in a $5 bill and a note saying "Congratulations!  You're (apparently) a winner!!!"

And on Friday at work, whenever I rode the elevators I'd leave a coin on the floor -- just for the next person to find.

So:  it amuses me -- but it makes people happy, rather than sad.


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Friday, August 14, 2015

Review of Project Almanac

So -- I rented and watched the movie Project Almanac.  I liked it.

The notion is that this high school guy who's good at science discovered the components for a simple time machine hidden under the floor of his late father's laboratory.  He and his friends travel a few days back in time. 

At first, things are good.  But then they accidentally make some minor changes, which changes the course of events for the worse.

There's also some romantic elements, in that the time travel endevours actually result in his long-time crush joining his circle of friends.

Some kind of sad bits near the end.  Some (light) discussion about sex and nudity; some cussing.  I don't recall any noteworthy violence.

Most of the time-travel aspects are logically consistent.  For the portions that aren't:  don't ruin a perfectly good movie by nit-picking.

Wikipedia says that it only got mediocre reviews.  But, heck -- **I** liked it.

I recommend watching it.  Although for myself, I'm not going to purchase it:  once was probably enough.



Thursday, August 06, 2015

Missing Seattle

Usually I'm perfectly fine about living in Australia -- even though I'd always figured I'd grow old and die somewhere in the Seattle area.

But today at work I took a moment to Google some Native American place names around the Seattle area, to see if my co-workers could pronounce them. 

One of the names was "Tulalip", which is an Indian reservation near Tacoma.  And when I saw the logo (see above), in the Pacific Northwest style of art (totem poles are from the Pacific Northwest -- from Alaska down to (I think) Oregon), I got a bit nostalgic.

As I told my co-worker, I still like Seattle -- but I'll never live there again.  My kids are here -- and once they grow up and get jobs and have kids, I need to stay here, too, if I'm going to see my kids at all.

Even if one of my kids moves to the States -- the others would still be here, around Brisbane.

So, I'm here:  I'm gonna be buried in another country.



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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Our past


"Our past is what gets us to the present.
Our personal history is what makes us who we are today."

--Gye Greene (Sat, Aug 1, 2015)


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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Guitar dream and waking up to songs

Last night I dreamed that I went to the Cash Converters to look for guitars.

I found one with an unusual body shape -- much like a Vox Phantom, but with the body rotated 90 degrees (see mock-up).

It was a stupid approach, because the pickups were **parallel** to the strings, so each string either had **all six** pole pieces under it -- or **no** pickup.

Then I realized that it **was** a Vox Phantom where someone had rotated the body: I could see the old screw holes on the back for the neck.

And then I woke up.  :)

Speaking of sleeping:  for about the last week when I've woken up, the very first thing that has gone through my head is the music and lyrics (either the chorus, or the start of the first verse) to one of the songs I've recently written.  The exception is that about two mornings ago I woke up to "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms -- probably because I'd stayed up late the night before, learning the song.


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