Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Fixing vocal pops

This blog is really turning into me ‘getting inspired to write about something’, then not revisiting for ages. This post is an example of that, so hopefully this pops up (see what I did there?) for people searching how to fix this issue.

In radio school, I was always told by lecturers that there was absolutely nothing you can do about vocal popping in a microphone in post production. For years I looked with dismay at those little pieces of distortion creating an annoying and unprofessional sound in my interviews.

I imagine they told us this so we would simply fix our popping habits rather than fixing it in the editing stage, but I decided that it wasn’t good enough. I had a fiddle and found a way to fix them. There are a number of pop filter add ons/presets that either come with editing programs, or cost upwards of $30 each – don’t buy them. There is no need. With even free editing programs like audacity, you can recreate the settings I’ll take you through in this post.

Explanations and how to’s after the jump…

Continue Reading »

Hello There, Pecan Pie

I’ve enjoyed the odd pecan pie and I’m having a stressful week:

pastry cooking + stress = swearing and perspective.

I use pastry cooking the same way someone athletically inclined may use a punching bag, suddenly instead of worrying about how much you fucked up the interview for your dream job – you’re yelling at your biscuit crust because it won’t combine. Plus, at the end of it all you potentially have a wondrous sugary plate of stress relief to ingest.

After re-watching the scene of True Blood where Sookie Stackhouse sits sobbing while wolfing down her dead grandmother’s pecan pie – I decided it was an appropriate choice.

She really likes that pie.

I combined a couple of recipes for this one and it turned out wonderfully. The golden layer on the top there is a honeycomb-ish crust encasing the pecans, which sits on top of a creamy caramel layer. In the end, it was pretty easy and if you get all the right ingredients, you should be fine.

Crust

  • 2/3 cup pecan halves
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 110g chilled butter, cubed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecan halves
  • 80g butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Begin by preheating your oven to 180°C and spread all your pecans for the recipe in one layer on an oven tray. Keep an eye on them and give them a shake at around 2 minutes. Once they’re fragrant and sizzling, remove them and allow to cool slightly.

Take 2/3 of a cup and grind them in a blender or food processor. If you have a food processor, you can simply add the butter, salt and flour, pulse together – then add the cold water and pulse until it forms a ball. I only had a blender, so I combined the flour, salt, butter and ground pecans in a bowl, combining into a crumb consistency by hand. I then added the water, stirred it together and kneaded it a little by hand to get it to the right consistency. I had to add a little more water, but I think I’d been generous with the pecans.

Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Flour a surface and roll out your dough the best you can into a quarter inch thick round. The dough is very crumbly though and hard to keep together, just grab pieces of it and push it into a medium sized pie/tart tin until it evenly covers the base and sizes without any holes. Prick the pastry several times with a fork to prevent it from rising and place in the oven for 15 minutes, watching that it doesn’t brown too much (mine stayed pretty much speckled white for the entire cooking process). When you remove it from the oven, reduce the temperature to 150°C

While the tin is in the oven, melt the butter for the filling in a medium saucepan and remove from the heat. Using a whisk, combine the butter with the salt and sugars (not the syrup yet) until it forms an even paste. Add one egg at a time, whisking it together. Add the vanilla and corn syrup (tricky, you may need several spoons) and continue to whisk until it’s all combined.

Return the saucepan to a low heat and continue whisking constantly to avoid the eggs scrambling at the bottom of the pan. After about 5 minutes, the mixture should become hot and glossy at which point you remove it from the heat. If you notice any bits of egg floating around, you can strain the mixture into a bowl before stirring in the rest of the pecans.

Place the hot crust on a flat, level surface and pour the filling in until it’s just full. Place in the oven for 45-50 minutes.

During the cooking process, the filling will rise – though once cooled, it fill flatten again so don’t let it worry you. In my opinion, it tastes best after a night in the fridge – though you can enjoy it warm after an hour of cooling.

Enjoy!

Listen to the audio version of this interview with Luke LaLonde

According to the band, the new release Say It from Canadian indie rockers Born Ruffians is “the project they left school to finish — a declaration that they’re smart and ambitious enough to make it on their own.”

They recorded the album over 2 1/2 weeks at the larger scale Metalworks studios in Toronto. Lead singer/guitarist Luke LaLonde said the decision to do this was an obvious one despite the venues’ lack of ‘indie cred’ “The price seemed ok, everybody seemed to be cool there and it seemed like an interesting place to record. It sort of has a stigma attached to it as being a ‘cheesy’ studio – especially in Toronto because a lot of mainstream records are recorded there.”

The stigma didn’t stop the band from choosing to use it and producer Rusty Santos (Animal Collective/TV on the Radio/Panda Bear) decided to push aside the digital recording systems for an old tape machine sitting in the corner: “They literally had to dust it off and fix it because they hadn’t used it in so long” Luke said “We ended up recording the whole thing to 2 inch tape, that was Rusty’s call.”

The record echoes some communication challenges the group have encountered recently. Drummer Steve Hamelin announced a year ago that he would be leaving the band after extensive touring for their previous record ‘Red, Yellow & Blue’. Lalonde revealed that a long, honest talk brought them back together and inspired the theme for Say It. “We kinda sat down, had a beer and talked about everything really honestly – it was the most honest conversation we’d ever had as  band.” he said, “That’s where the title comes from, because through talking about the issues we realised the issues were really nothing. If we’d spoken to each other earlier, they wouldn’t have even been an issue.”

Despite the problems Hamelin had with touring, Luke mentioned their most recent Australian tour was really enjoyable for the group “That was actually meant to be the last tour that Steve did with us. It was just like a vacation.” Luke also said the band didn’t realise they had so many Australian fans “The shows were a huge surprise for us as far as how many people seemed to know our music and cheer for us, singing along. It blew our minds.” Luke revealed the band will probably be returning to Australia in January.

Born Ruffians also achieved a world first with their music video for ‘What To Say’ when they teamed up with director Jared Raab and artist/computer programmer Rob Bairos . The video depicts an animation of the band on an oscilloscope – a device usually used for monitoring in medicine and telecommunications.

Luke said it was the first time the device had been used to show such intricate images “The oscilloscope can only do one line images, so it’s tricky to animate a face. People have been trying to animate on these things for a while, but nobody’s been able to do more than simple shapes like a square or a triange.” Rob Bairos invented new software to translate the movements of the band into an audio signal that the machine can animate into the image.

Say It is available now via Warp Records.

Hi /r/food! After a childhood growing up with 2 multiple-job working parents – I never had the opportunity to learn to cook well. For the last little while at the age of 23, I’ve been challenging myself as much as possible by taking on difficult projects.

My latest was a rabbit and pistachio terrine that turned out beautifully and (as you can tell by the photos) has been a massive hit. I meant to take pictures of it for you before everyone started eating it, but it seems I was too late. In the photos you can see the last remaining quarter.

I apologise for the grubby plate – I had to quickly snap these photos before the last of it was devoured by ravenous coworkers.

From the front

I took it along to a bbq for a starter and served it with some pickle relish. Though I’ve realised this one tastes a bit better on its own – perhaps even with some bread.

The original recipe comes from here, though I halved it and did some improvising. From the recipe I’ll provide here you’ll get about 20 slices which you can cut in half to serve 20 people for an hors d’oeuvre or leave the slices whole to be served with pickles and crusty bread as an entree for 10. Continue Reading »

Exciting news about the Australian Government Attorney General’s department releasing a discussion paper about the possible future R18+ rating for video games. This is where you come in: they are seeking submissions from the public on the issue and I’m hoping that Reddit gets in on the action with me for a group submission.

I’ll post my raw arguments here as well as the quotes from well known R18+ opponent – SA Attorney General Michael Atkinson. Post your suggestions and thoughts in the Reddit submission, or below if you’re not a redditor.

It’s all after the jump:

Continue Reading »

On the Edge of Murderous Rage

There are a number of Australian political issues that leave me deeply heartbroken. Mandatory detention for Asylum Seekers, the inequalities before the law that same sex couples are forced to experience and some too many others.

However, some issues just make me uncontrollably angry.

At the moment, this is SA Attorney General Michael Atkinson’s seemingly personal agenda regarding a lack of an R18+ rating for video games.

Non-gamers often see this as a non-issue. A deflecting topic that need not be considered when there is so much else going on. Hopefully, I can give you another point of view.

If you read even a small part of the six page letter Mr Atkinson sent to Aaron John Percival of  activist group ‘Grow Up Australia’, you may start to recognise a concerning seed of ignorance and personal agenda on display.

It’s exceedingly pathetic that in his letter, Mr Atkinson references a Bond University study that recently sampled a random selection of 4852 Australians. He mentions that 62% of Australians don’t consider classification influences their decision when buying games (In my opinion this only suggests that they are adults that don’t feel they need to be dictated to – or parents who believe that without an R18+ rating, there’s no need to when buying for their 15+ year old children) However, when questioned about the other results of the survey that don’t treat his opinion so well, he brushes aside any statistics reported that don’t support his view as an ‘industry body’ was involved in the development of the study. Regardless, it found that a staggering 91% were in support of an R18+ rating for video games.

Now before you assume that this is an issue only for a small percent of the population, consider this:

88% of Australian households have a device for gaming and 68% play games. 68%! This is an issue that effects well over half of the Australian population. The average age of these gamers is 30 years old.

Despite this overwhelmingly clear and unbiased evidence – Australia is still well away from an R18+ rating for video games. Why? Because Michael Atkinson doesn’t want one.

I’ve never encountered anything so frustratingly obvious. It’s no secret that our elected officials are often putting personal bias ahead of the views of their constituents, however – at least for the most part these personal agendas are masked by data supporting their cause. Michael Atkinson has presented no such thing – he’s just flaunting his smug bias it like a badge of honour!

Does anyone else find this dangerous? There is one person in charge. One ignorant, stubborn and condescending person in charge. Lucky this issue isn’t about the death penalty, conscription or internet censorship (oh.. wait).

He’s not going to change his mind. Despite pages and pages of hard evidence disproving his understanding of the situation – he’s made it very clear he will not change his stance on this issue.

This is exceedingly unrepresentative and it has to stop.

One of his arguments is that if other states let uncensored R18+ games in – they won’t be able to stop it coming into SA…. So? That’s the point. What makes South Australians so prudish that they don’t want an adult game to play? More importantly, what makes South Australian 15 year olds so mature that they should be let loose to hack up a bunch of zombies in Left 4 Dead 2?

Another is that he somehow imagines that children can (possibly by magic) get through a gaming console’s lock out system:

If adults think they can devise a lock-out system to defeat children, tell ‘em they’re dreaming.

Maybe if you give them the password. I love it how all the technological neanderthals we seem to have elected are now going to compare every lock out system in existence to the government’s excuse for a net nanny system. Just because the system was so much of a steaming pile of horseshit that my cat could get past it by sleeping on my keyboard – doesn’t mean every developer creating a lock out system will make the same stupid mistakes.

One of the things that creeps me out the most about his responses is that he seems to keep vomiting out this term ‘depraved sex’. Which part of sex is depraved, Mr Atkinson? The bit where the penis goes into the vagina? Or maybe the part where the natural milk giving mammary is exposed? I’ve got to assume that Mr Atkinson thinks that all sex is depraved because he hasn’t mentioned anything to the contrary. He can only conjure up one set of examples of games where what most people would describe as ‘depraved sex’ is occurring. These are games that have only been released in Japan and banned elsewhere. They would not be allowed release in Australia under existing guidelines – and nor should they.

I’m absolutely disgusted that he’s gotten this far unchecked. I’m also not counting on this national discussion paper of theirs to actually do any good at all. As you can hear in his interview on Radio Nationals ‘National Interest’ late last week – Atkinson doesn’t want it released as it seems anything that takes a balanced perspective that supports neither side of the argument is plain ‘advocacy’ in his eyes – yes he’s very happy to ‘discuss’ the issue – but only on his terms… which is a impossibly childish perspective to take.

All I can suggest is that you write to your state attorney generals, demanding some transparency and respect for the Australian public. Even if you’re not a gamer – this is your chance to stop this disgraceful parenting of the Australian adult population. First it’ll be the games. Then films, television, books and of course the internet. I know it seems this is a whole lot over nothing, but what I see is the start of something dangerously controlling and an arbitrary dismissal of our personal liberty.

If you’re still not convinced, consider this well known poem and think of how it may apply to you:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Sex is a wonderful thing. A really great thing. It often single-handedly orchestrates human society – making people congregate, fight and earn money.

It’s important to every person in varying degrees. The people who go through life telling everyone that they don’t mind being consistently undersexed and alone are lying. It’s responsible for the highest earning industries, oldest known employment and the continuation of the human race.

People who can’t get it feel like there’s something wrong with them and people, who get too much of it… well, sometimes have something wrong with them.

And it often happens on a first date.

article-1192999-0557CD1B000005DC-501_468x323
See What I Mean? Only Hot People Could Get Away With This Shit.

In my experience, this is unfortunately the end of any potential for a continuing relationship.

This is how it goes, using internet dating (another damaging factor) as the example:

You’ve been chatting online to someone you met on an internet dating website and you decide it’s time to meet them. You turn up. The guy’s not Brad Pitt, but he’s not that bad. You have an enjoyable evening albeit with the odd awkward silence, a fair few drinks and things are going well. The alcohol and the conversation are moving your first impression – maybe this is going to work out.

He seems interested in you and the things you’re saying. He’s actively engaged and you’re getting that little flutter of hope in your stomach that he’s as impressed as you are.

Apparently he is, because you come to the mutual agreement to polish off a bottle of wine at your place to escape the every increasing din of the crowded bar.

You arrive, get comfy, and after a few more glasses – he clumsily launches himself at you. You’re surprised, though willing – the deed is done.

It wasn’t, horrible – but it wasn’t all that great either. As you both gradually sobered up throughout the process things seemed to get a little more disjointed and distracted until it reaches its end and you both lay with eyes closed pretending to be asleep, holding clammy hands.

You awake early and try to find something in close proximity to cover your nakedness so you can make a run for the morning wee. When you return, he’s up, dressed, ready and avoiding eye contact as he stumbles out some excuse for not staying. You offer him shower, food and drink and he declines – busy day ahead. You farewell with an awkward almost-on-the-mouth-but-not-quite kiss and he’s gone.

Since you hosted the event, you give him the courtesy of making the next move but you never hear from him again.

Familiar? Maybe not. However, I constantly get my freak self in this situation. I’ll tell you why.

As previously stated, sex is a wonderful thing – but there’s a very good reason you should only do it with people you know and know well.

Everyone has a different insecurity with their body. Some have massive insecurities. Luckily, most of these can be obscured with clothes and makeup so you don’t have to go through day to day life naked and in tears.

When you have sex you completely lay it all out. Not only are you unclothed with all your naked insecurities shining bright – you’re showing them to a complete stranger. Ok, not complete stranger – you had like a whole hour long conversation!!!

(That doesn’t count)

On top of all this you’re in one of the most vulnerable states of your entire adult existence. People tend to ‘lose themselves’ in the moment during sex and who knows what that looks like? Well this guy does now. If someone took a photo of your face at the moment of orgasm and showed it to you, I doubt you’d be entirely impressed – let’s just say it’s not the new facebook profile picture.

Plus, usually – the more you get to know someone, the more physically attractive they’ll become. You’ve known this person for a few hours, I doubt you’ve really reached your full potential on the attractiveness scale – and you’ve just shown him your least attractive state.

Don’t only take into account that his perception of you has just gone to the shitter on some kind of emotional rollercoaster to hell – but he just did the same to you. If the relationship survives this, you’ve got it made.

I imagine with extremely toned attractive people, this problem wouldn’t pop up quite so often. But what am I saying? They wouldn’t be online dating! They’d be frolicking along the golden paths of hot sex as most single hot people seem to do.

Well I’m glad that’s settled then.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.