Wednesday, May 27, 2009

California, despite a previous blog post to the contrary, does not rock

"In addressing the issues now presented in the third chapter of this narrative, it is important at the outset to emphasize a number of significant points. First, as explained in the Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th at page 780, our task in the present proceeding is not to determine whether the provision at issue is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals, believe it should be a part of the California Constitution. Regardless of our views as individuals on this question of policy, we recognize as judges and as a court our responsibility to confine our consideration to a determination of the constitutional validity and legal effect of the measure in question. It bears emphasis in this regard that our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.

Second, it also is necessary to understand that the legal issues before us in this case are entirely distinct from those that were presented in either Lockyer or the Marriage Cases. Unlike the issues that were before us in those cases, the issues facing us here do not concern a public official's authority (or lack of authority) to refuse to comply with his or her ministerial duty to enforce a statute on the basis of the official’s personal view that the statute is unconstitutional, or the validity (or invalidity) of a statutory provision limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman under state constitutional provisions that do not expressly permit or prescribe such a limitation. Instead, the principal issue before us concerns the scope of the right of the people, under the provisions of the California Constitution, to change or alter the state Constitution itself through the initiative process so as to incorporate such a limitation as an explicit section of the state Constitution."


"Describing the effect of Proposition 8 as narrow and limited fails to acknowledge the significance of the discrimination it requires. But even a narrow and limited exception to the promise of full equality strikes at the core of, and thus fundamentally alters, the guarantee of equal treatment that has pervaded the California Constitution since 1849. Promising equal treatment to some is fundamentally different from promising equal treatment to all. Promising treatment that is almost equal is fundamentally different from ensuring truly equal treatment. Granting a disfavored minority only some of the rights enjoyed by the majority is fundamentally different from recognizing, as a constitutional imperative, that they must be granted all of those rights. Granting same-sex couples all of the rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples, except the right to call their "'officially recognized, and protected family relationship'" (maj. opn., ante, at p. 7) a marriage, still denies them equal treatment.

There is no doubt that the ultimate authority over the content of the California Constitution lies with the people..."

Read the rest if you want.
It's logical and legal, but it's also weaselly and reprehensible. Lucky thing these guys weren't deciding Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka.

Monday, May 25, 2009

One of the little-known hazards of baldness

Scary grocery cart wrangler at the Flower Avenue Giant: "Can I hit you on the head for good luck?"

Me: "Excuse me?"

Scary cart wrangler: "Can I hit you on the head for good luck?"

Me: "No."

Scary cart wrangler: "Ok."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sensory Overload

Drool... gibber... er... MASTODON! Last night. 930 Club. Wow. Man. Yeah. Er.

And Intronaut. And Kylesa. But especially Mastodon. Yeah. Unbelievable.

More later, I think.

Later. Ok, Tes, here you go.

Intronaut: thunder and crystal, hard nasty grooves. A richly nuanced sledgehammering.

Kylesa: two drummers, frontwoman Laura Pleasants (could a metalbabe have a better name?) pumping sheer brutality out of her gold top Les Paul and growling and snarling like some kind of growling snarling thing. I lean over to Tina and shout "I'm in love!" in her hear.

All this stuff is, of course, unbelievably loud. The music is tactile. My pantlegs are flapping. Every thump of a bass drum sends a ripple through my torso. This is the sensuality of metal. It's a full-body experience; it demands surrender. You cannot maintain a safe intellectual distance. Resistance is futile. I'm really happy I brought earplugs.

Mastodon's first set is the new album Crack the Skye verbatim. It's a huge, sprawling work that I'm still getting my head around. There are indescribably beautiful moments: the surprise last chorus of "Oblivion," the point at the beginning of "Quintessence" when the arpeggiated guitar figure kicks in, the restatement of the first verse at the end of "The Czar." Projected images behind the band from Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky. The band is tight, professional, and clearly having the time of their lives. We're up in the balcony on stage right, close enough to see Brent Hinds grinning ear to ear. Most of the floor of the club is a mosh pit. Three security guards, calm and impassive in the storm, watch the writhing pile of humanity from behind the barricade and pull crowd surfers out when they get too close.

The second set kicks things into an even higher gear: time to have some fun with the back catalogue. "Bladecatcher," "Colony of Birchmen," "Crystal Skull," "Iron Tusk," "I am Ahab," "Magalodon." The closer is "March of the Fire Ants," Brent Hinds swaying in ecstasy during the intro. As the house lights come up at the end, Brann Dailor comes out to the edge of the stage with his quiver of drumsticks and throws them, one by one, into the crowd.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ah, the smell of solder on a sleepy Saturday afternoon

This is one of those posts that's only going to be of interest to other guitarists, possibly only to other telecaster guys.

Stock telecaster wiring looks like this.*

Zooming in on the critical area:

Now, this works perfectly adequately (of course it does, otherwise Fender wouldn't do it this way), but it presents a few problems. I like to use the volume knob to control my level of distortion, but with the pot wired this way, the treble dies as I roll off the volume. Things get way too muddy way too fast. Plus, the tone knob doesn't seem to really do anything until it's turned almost all the way down.

But there's a very easy mod that makes all this better. Just move the wire from the outside lug to the middle lug of the volume pot. Piece of cake.

This changes the order of the two controls: the tone control now comes after the volume control in the signal path. It makes the machine come alive! My tone stays the same all the way through the volume knob's range, and for the first time on any electric guitar I've owned, the tone knob is useful. This is an enormous improvement to a guitar I already loved. I don't know why all telecasters aren't wired this way at the factory.

So now it's on to practicing my Roy Buchanan licks. Based on watching this video, I'd be willing to bet that his guitar was wired this way.

*The wiring diagram is copyright 2006 Seymour Duncan/Basslines. I shouldn't have cropped off the copyright statement, but the diagram would have shown up illegibly tiny otherwise.