Category Archives: arts

31 frets

Here is the neck of a guitar that I’d like to have made someday, if I should ever develop the dexterity to make it worthwhile. The blue stripes show where standard frets would be, for comparison.

The tuning is my tweaked version of meantone: compared to just intonation, each factor of 2 is sharp by 1/16 comma, each factor of 3 is flat by 1/8 comma, and each factor of 5 is sharp by 1/4 comma. (A comma is the difference between 64:81, the Pythagorean major third derived from compounding fifths, and the more harmonious 4:5.) This makes the thirds and sixths much truer than in equal temperament, and the fifths slightly truer than in traditional meantone, which puts all the error in the 3s.

This design has 31 frets in the first octave: 12 flats, 7 naturals, 12 sharps. To reduce crowding, the second octave has only three flats and three sharps.

The bent frets in the first octave span the difference (~151:152) between 18 of my sharp octaves and 31 of my flat fifths. The bent frets in the second octave span the difference (~50:51) between G♯ and A♭.

The charts below should look familiar to players, if you squint a little.

escapism within escapism

I recently read the Long Earth saga by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. The story begins in the near future when an eccentric engineer anonymously publishes plans for a “stepper box” which takes the user to a parallel world, adjacent in a chain of millions.

It soon emerges that a few humans have the talent of Stepping without a box. In one episode, two of these (including an ancestor of a main character) help the Underground Railroad, provoking in me a question they did not ask: Rather than sneaking the escapees to Canada, what if we leave them in a side-world? They’d have to learn to live Paleolithic-style (metallic iron cannot be transported), but that life evidently was not so bad.

Billy Budd

Last night I watched Peter Ustinov’s adaptation (1962) of Herman Melville’s story Billy Budd. In 1797, a young merchant seaman is drafted onto a warship, where his sweet nature is admired by all except Claggart, the cruel master-at-arms, who resents Budd’s inability to fear him (because Budd is too innocent to see evil in anyone). Continue reading

a wave in the air

“Radar Love” (1973) is the biggest hit of the Dutch band Golden Earring. Some folks strongly prefer a cover (1989) by White Lion. I don’t; is there a reason for that, other than my notorious conservatism?

White Lion’s version fills the ears more fully, and I can understand that some fans prefer that. But when it’s all high energy all the time, there’s no room for crescendo. Also, I find the implied silences of the original more appropriate to the story of the lonely night road. The entry of an organ at 2:38 and lead guitar at 2:48 suggests headlights appearing in the distance; they need the darkness for full effect.

curious about causality

Without trying, I can think of five webcomics authors who changed their pronouns long after they started posting: Dana Simpson (Ozy and Millie), Joey Alison Sayers (Thingpart and now Alley Oop), Allison Shabet (Deadwinter), Elli Stephens (Goblins), and now Maelyn Dean (Real Life).

Is there something in the ink?

LATER: add Jodie Troutman (Sporkman), Jackie Lesnick (Girly, Cutewendy), Daisy Finch McGuire (Gastrophobia)

early webcomics gallery

Joe Average’s first anniversary strip features characters from 37 other strips. Can you help me name them? Some have fallen off the Web.

Nukees S.S.D.D Look What I Brought Home (?) Superosity
Road Waffles ? Life at Bayside (?) Bobbins
Krazy Larry Ashfield When I Grow Up
Bruno the Bandit Avalon High Joe Average
? Soap on a Rope (?) Melonpool
? ? It’s Walky
Awkward Zombie (?) ? ?
Help Desk Clan of the Cats GPF
Sinfest ? ?
Everything Jake Real Life ?
Alice Funny Farm The Class Menagerie
Down to Earth (?) Suburban Jungle ?

a sense of place?

I read Jack Vance’s memoir, of which many pages say “We went to Ireland / Tahiti / Kashmir . . . found a pleasant cottage and stayed there for a couple of months, cranking out stories.” It would be pleasant to know what was written where! Perhaps Jack himself did not remember. But it is impossible not to imagine that “The Moon Moth” was conceived on the houseboat in Kashmir.