Posts Tagged JoCo

My MacBook (My Monkey parody)


It’s Poetry Writing Month again! I’m not sure if I’ll write a poem every day for the rest of the month, since I’ve recently landed back in Vienna and should be concentrating on looking for a job, but I have one I prepared earlier. Also, I recited the poem I opened last NaPoWriMo with at Open Mic 2.0 on the first of April. The audience seemed confused, so I followed it with a cover of the more self-explanatory Chicken Monkey Duck.

This is a parody of Jonathan Coulton’s ‘My Monkey‘, but since I don’t have a monkey butler named Brian Dennehy, I project feelings onto my MacBook Pro instead. I wrote it a few weeks ago after being away from my Time Capsule for quite a while.

My MacBook gets homesick sometimes.
My MacBook has a lot of things that need to be backed up.
My MacBook lacks power sometimes.
My MacBook’s not the only one that’s starting to act up.

‘Cause every MacBook needs time to thrive
when not all processes are queued live
to wake recharged with a renewed drive.
It doesn’t mean my MacBook doesn’t love you.

[My MacBook Sneuf is new and shiny still, but she’s worn out and she is sorry]
[My MacBook, she loves you. My MacBook loves you very much]
[My MacBook says My MacBook says]
[My MacBook says she’s sorry she’s a MacBook, but she’s got to be a MacBook ’cause she’s so insanely great]

My MacBook gets frazzled sometimes.
My MacBook’s used to Europe and needs sockets to adapt.
My MacBook gets bitter, sometimes.
My MacBook feels cut off when high-speed data use is capped.

And while there’s no pain in her diodes,
and she’s not going to send you STOP codes,
it’s hard to hold back all these uploads.
It doesn’t mean my MacBook doesn’t love you.

[My MacBook Sneuf is new and shiny still, but she’s worn out and she is sorry]
[My MacBook, she loves you. My MacBook loves you very much]
[My MacBook says My MacBook says]
[My MacBook says she’s sorry she’s a MacBook, but she’s got to be a MacBook ’cause she’s so insanely great]

My MacBook feels lacking sometimes.
My MacBook cut herself up so she wouldn’t weigh you down.
My MacBook feels lucky, sometimes.
My MacBook hopes that you will always carry her around.

She says she’ll stay with you for always.
It doesn’t matter what Tim Cook says,
’cause every MacBook model decays
It doesn’t mean my MacBook doesn’t love you.

[My MacBook Sneuf is new and shiny still, but she’s worn out and she is sorry]
[My MacBook, she loves you. My MacBook loves you very much]
[My MacBook says My MacBook says]
[My MacBook says she’s sorry she’s a MacBook, but she’s got to be a MacBook ’cause she’s so insanely great]

It doesn’t mean my MacBook doesn’t love you.

In other news, I have uploaded videos of the first Jonathan Coulton concert on JoCo Cruise 2015, which has pretty bad audio but interesting video during Re: Your Brains, at least. I’ve also uploaded the Adam Sak and Hello, The Future! show, the first jam session, the Patrick Rothfuss and Paul and Storm concert, the Magic: The Gathering match between Jonathan Coulton and Storm DiCostanzo, and the first part of the concert with The Oatmeal in it. More forthcoming.

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Better (Robot-to-Human version)


I’ve been thinking of getting my robot choir (an app I wrote to make my Mac’s speech synthesis sing) to sing Jonathan Coulton covers for a while, but as many of his songs involve robots, singing them with a robot voice forces a change of perspective. I rewrote Better to be from the perspective of a robot whose partner is becoming human, rather than a human whose partner is becoming a robot. Here‘s a rough recording of it using the Trinoids voice and the karaoke file for the song:

Here are the lyrics:

Where did we go?
When was the moment that we came unplugged?
I think I know.
In fact I am sure ’cause I’ve had your chips bugged.

I remember the first big surprise,
the day you came home with your infant-bred eyes.
I looked inside them and lased you a note
but your return signal was smoke.

But it’s not smoke, it’s fire,
and your burning desire
to turn into something
that I don’t require.
You used to be OK
and I liked you that way,
but I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.

Started out small:
some lungs and a heart and your lasers unwired.
Now you’re just six feet tall.
Even when fully charged your organics get tired.
And I’m tired of the evenings I spend
making small talk with your new human friends
and their stupid insistence on blocking my lasers
when they know I know the three laws.

And you climbed the wrong way out
of the uncanny gorge.
You went from bad data
to bad Geordi La Forge.
You used to be OK
and I liked you that way,
but I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.

So that’s how it goes.
Tap my interface once if you still understand.
No data flows.
Wait, are your digits just five on your hand?
I can tell by your insider art
There’s more than a pump in your chimpanzee heart.
I tried to reason, but something’s gone wrong.
Why am I singing a song?

Well, I like to think different, but it’s not quite the same.
If this is a trojan, I know who to blame.
You used to be flawless; now you’re F-ing lawless,
and I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.

Some lines stay close to the original when I perhaps should have struck out and gone with something completely different. If you have any suggestions, let me know; the beauty of robots is I can change the words and make a new recording in seconds.

The tune is based on Spektugalo’s UltraStar file for that song. I had to make some changes to the robot choir to handle the one-beat gaps between notes, and I made a few tweaks to timing after that, which probably messed up more than they fixed. When I started writing this parody, I assumed I had the source tracks of the original song to work with, but it turns out that song is not on JoCo Looks Back, so all I have is the karaoke version with some backing vocals. I’ve turned the volume of my vocals way up, both so they’re easier to understand and to obscure the backing vocals more when the lyrics are not the same. Consider this a demo.

Now that I have the tune done, I’ll probably record the original song and my entitled hipster parody of it soon. Maybe not too soon, though; I have a cruise to go on!

On the subject of cruises, I’ve just had some copies of my They Might Not Be Giants poster printed, and I’ll bring them with me on JoCo Cruise Crazy. If you are going on the cruise (or will just be in the area the night before) and you would like to buy one from me for less than it would cost through Zazzle, let me know and I’ll make sure I bring one for you. I can’t sell them on board the ship due to the cruise line needing a cut, but I can do so at the hotel before the cruise, the cruise port or airport after, or we can work out some kind of trade involving upcharged food or drink on the ship. They are A3 sized (just a tiny bit smaller than 11×17 inches) and printed beautifully on 300gsm silk-coated paper.

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Video: Christmastime is Wunnerful (Robot Protectors cover)


I felt a bit bad about having to truncate the full-length instrumental that Colleen and Joseph made for JoCo Day is Wunnerful, so, having already taught my robot choir the main melody, I decided to record my own cover of Christmastime is Wunnerful. I was toying with the idea of making it a mashup with Jonathan Coulton’s other Christmas classic, Chiron Beta Prime (since the source tracks for that are available), when I realised that even without modification, Christmastime is Wunnerful is quite amusing to listen to while watching Tom Ellsworth‘s music video for Chiron Beta Prime. So I decided to edit that video (with Tom’s permission) to match my cover. Here is the result:

For comparison, here’s the original Chiron Beta Prime video. I didn’t have to change very much, really:

I had to pretty much abandon the ‘daily’ part of Holidailies because ended up flyng to New Zealand, which in itself takes more than a day without internet. But here’s some more holiday for you.

The voices I used were, in order of appearance:

Adult human male: Alex

Standard robots: Zarvox

Festive holiday figure robots for the purposes of augmenting human morale and productivity: Trinoids

Adult human female: Victoria

Human male emulation for the purposes of undetectable redaction: Ralph

Juvenile human: Junior

I also used the bells and ‘Message redacted’ tracks from Chiron Beta Prime, and the ‘Machines’ track from The Future Soon.

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I signed up for Holidailies knowing full well I’d miss the first day. The reason why will probably not amaze you.


A couple of my friends (or was it the same friend twice?) mentioned this Holidailies thing, and although I have too many things to do already, I reasoned that I did get through half of National(?) Poetry Writing Month relatively unscathed, so maybe I should do it. I signed up for it on December 1, knowing full well I probably wouldn’t be able to post anything that day. You see, I was busy working on something that had to be finished by the end of December 1 in Brooklyn, but would be unlikely to be done before midnight in my own time zone. I did finish it in time, so I’m posting it here as either my December 1 or December 2 post, depending on whether I get around to making something else worth posting today.

I did the video editing for this collaborative birthday video for Jonathan Coulton from his fans, the sixth one so far. Tradition dictates that no matter how early somebody starts suggesting we make something, nobody actually does anything until December 1 is almost upon us, and this year it was really down to the wire; the first contributions were sent in on November 29, and although many people had previously expressed an interest in participating, in the last few days we could only gather four people, some robots, and a cat. It’s a good thing I’d already learnt the basics of Final Cut Pro while making the Paul and Storm karaoke video, so I could do a lot of things fairly quickly, even if I probably went overboard on the things Final Cut can do that iMovie couldn’t, and there are many other things that I’d have liked to spend more time getting right.

The song is based on ‘Christmastime is Wunnerful’ from Jonathan Coulton’s and John Roderick’s Christmas album, One Christmas at a Time.

Everyone did a lot; the two most musical of us each sent in many amazing instrumental tracks that it would probably take me months to figure out and years to learn to play. Meanwhile, as a software developer who’s only recently started learning about music, I simply made some robot voices sing in ways that perhaps amaze people who don’t know how that works. That was done using my robot choir, a program I wrote to sing using the built-in Mac speech synthesis, which I intend to rewrite with a decent interface and release on the app store one of these days. Maybe next year some time, if I don’t end up finding a new day job after my current one ends. I’ve released several mediocre songs using the robot choir.

Later this month I’ll be going to Norway for the first time, to celebrate Christmas with some friends, and I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging. But I’ll do my best. Perhaps I’ll write a sonnet on a mundane topic each day; sonnets are structured enough that they’re fairly easy to write when you have nothing to say. Leave topic suggestions in the comments and I’ll try to get to them. If your topics can only be expressed in dactyls, I reserve the right to write a sonnet about how you are a poopy-head.

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Better (Entitled Hipster Version)


This is a parody of Jonathan Coulton’s song ‘Better‘. You probably haven’t heard of that song, because it’s from before Jonathan quit his day job and got all famous. It’s way better than his new stuff, because it’s about someone who liked their partner before said partner turned into a cyborg and sold out to the robot overlords. Opinions expressed in these lyrics do not reflect those of the author.

What have you done?
I think you know what I’m talking about.
No more homespun;
I’d just bought in and then you just sold out.
I remember the Yale Whiffenpoofs,
Spizzwinks(?) and Pop!Tech and Little Gray Books.
Little short lines I read nothing between.
Nobody loved you like me.

But it’s not me, it’s you.
It’s the star you’ve turned to.
The day job you quit
like no artist would do.
You were my great nerd love
that no-one had heard of,
but I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.

You started out small,
some free tunes and some gigs as an opening band.
Now you must have it all;
you moved on to the sea once you’d soft rocked the land.
Now you tour with a real live Scarface,
big boomy drums and a super star bass,
and the act that you opened for opens your act;
you act like you don’t know your place.

Then you made record-deal ‘art’
and produced it with Flans,
denied us your real heart,
ignored your real fans.
You might be a giant,
but I ain’t no client
and I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.

So that’s how it goes.
Your whole cake is a lie, and you’re eating it too.
Everyone knows.
Why would anyone think I’d be happy for you?
It’s not about you, it’s all about me.
Here is a list of what I want to see.
Don’t please the masses, and don’t plead for cash.
Just be authentic for free.

Now, I’m not against gold mines
’cause I like sluice box muck.
But man, you’re the nugget,
the million bucks.
You used to like monkeys,
but now you’re like Snuggies
and I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.

 

Just for fun, I’ve included the titles of or otherwise strongly referenced the titles of at least five other songs of his, and one song by his opening band (that he used to open for) Paul and Storm. See if you can find them!

‘Better’ was actually one of the first Jonathan Coulton songs I heard, when I found Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms, and Jonathan was probably about halfway through Thing A Week when I found it. I didn’t find out about the Whiffenpoofs, Spizzwinks(?) or Little Gray Books lectures until some time later. I like his new albums too and I’m glad that he’s successful and therefore has the freedom to do whatever he likes without worrying too much about what will sell. I’m happy that if I mention his name at a geek-adjacent event these days, people are likely to know who I’m talking about. I even sang ‘Better’ at a karaoke event in Vienna recently, and it wasn’t the first JoCo song to be sung there.

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Let’s pretend this is the three of clubs: JoCo Day


Grand Unification: Strong nuclear force "freezes out" the original moustacheThis is a collaboration by many fans on Jonathan Coulton’s forums to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday, and it would have been nothing but an idea without everyone else, but I think I put enough effort into it (lyrics based on Pizza Day, video editing, and even singing) to count it as a card towards this Writing Cards project. It happens to feature the Jack of Spades, but I’ve already done two of those, so how about calling it a grand unification of JoCo fans. It’s the continuation of a tradition that started in 2009; I recommend watching the previous videos if you like this one. He seemed to like it.

This afternoon I might already record a video of what will probably be the four of clubs, a very short piece I wrote in the middle of the night which I feel like reading aloud. Then I’ll have brought my average back up toward one a week.

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Ace of spades: It’s not a (real) heart


I told you I wouldn’t just be writing this time. Here’s a music video for Jonathan Coulton’s Dissolve, using footage from my unboxing of the level 4 bundle for the album Artificial Heart, which this song is on, and some from JoCo Cruise Crazy and the things I did in Florida before that. I really hope you like it.

Long before I received the package in the mail, I heard that simply opening the box was quite an experience. I carefully avoided reading about what exactly was in the mysterious box, and decided to turn my unboxing into a music video for this song about a mysterious box. As it turned out, a lyric from the song was on the lid of the box. Clearly somebody had to create this video. Maybe somebody else has already done it; I still haven’t watched anyone else’s unboxing videos. If you want to understand what I’m doing, search for level 4 unboxing videos online. Some of them probably include the instructions we’re following.

I eventually received the box just four days before I flew to Florida to visit Universal, Kennedy Space Center, my very first standalone Paul and Storm show, and of course, JoCo Cruise Crazy 2, so I used some footage of those things in the last part of the video. Victory in the warm sun!

If I’d thought about it, I’d have started on the ace of hearts this week instead of the ace of spades. But a spade looks a lot like a heart when upside down, and there were a few other references to hearts on my aces of spades. It’s not a real heart, but it is a real artificial heart.

I filmed this using my new camera, a Canon PowerShot S100, which shoots in full HD and autofocusses while filming. My favourite moment is when I open the box and the camera automatically focusses on the lid of the box, then focusses back on me just as I start smiling. That was quite a lovely fluke. There’s also some nice changes of focus wile the nostalgia device moves around. Everything in this video was shot only once with no rehearsal, while I was opening my level 4 box, or in Florida, or on JoCo Cruise Crazy.  This is new for me; usually I spend far too long getting the footage exactly right. There is a small mistake on the calendar part; I did not do the KSC Close-Up tour two days in a row. I also left in another clip which I think I intended to replace by something else, but if I don’t tell you which it is it’s not bad enough that you’ll notice it.

In case you’re wondering, this video contains 11 ‘dissolve’ transitions, but the transitions that occur when Jonathan sings ‘dissolve’ are actually ‘fade to white’ transitions. Also, the yellow country you can see when he sings ‘here’ of ‘If you need me, I’ll be anywhere but here’ is Jamaica. That’s on a big globe at Geneva airport which I filmed as I was on my way to fly to Orlando.

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A video, full of sound and light, signifying Christmas


Last weekend I was on my way to a concert in Lausanne when I came across a building with a light show projected onto it. I stopped to film it in high resolution with my fancy new camera. Later I added appropriate music to the different scenes, to make it a bit more interesting. Here is the result:

Most of this music is explicitly released under a Creative Commons license, and most can be downloaded for free (there are links below), and most comes from artists who generally don’t mind people using their music and don’t have labels that are likely to sue me, but there are a few tracks I didn’t make 100% sure I was allowed to use, so I hope those artists don’t mind being included.

I tried to include as many different artists as possible so that people will discover someone new. The only ones I used twice are Jonathan Coulton (well, he only got a short bit at the beginning) Jonathan Mann (I planned from the beginning to use Penguins Having a Party, not suspecting that he’d written a song in which he said ‘building’ over and over, which is the perfect space-filler in a video of a building) and The Cow Exchange (I had many possibilities for the last song, but this one followed better musically from the one before it.)

I did this fairly quickly, to get it ready by Christmas, so most of the time I just searched my music library for keywords relating to a scene and picked the first song I found that seemed to fit. There may be better matches in songs which don’t happen to have the right keywords in the title, or which I don’t have yet, or which I ignored because I didn’t know what the artist’s or their label’s policy on reuse was.

You can get most of the songs for free, but I encourage you to support the artists if you can, and if you like what they do, of course. The songs are: Read the rest of this entry »

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If I Made Adverts for Hair Gel, Part Two


This is a mash-up of my first ad for hair gel and the picture Len drew for my video about Jonathan Coulton’s Thing a Week project. I imagine that the two parts would be on sequential odd-numbered pages.

Becoming super, the hard way: write a song a week for a year. The easy way: use Generic™ Brand hair gel

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Video: Anniversary Cards Redux


Do you remember Anniversary Cards, in which I wrote a ‘Roses are Red’-style poem for each of the songs Jonathan Coulton wrote for his Thing a Week project? Well, recently Jonathan ran a Thing a Week Redux in which he reposted each of the Thing a Week blog entries five years after the original, with some new commentary. Just like during the original Thing a Week, I didn’t get around to reading it very often. However, as I was catching up with it around five weeks from the end, I got the idea of revisiting those Roses are Red rhymes and turning them into a video to celebrate the end of Thing a Week Redux. I didn’t get it done in time, so I saved it for Jonathan’s birthday (December 1) instead. Here’s the video:

That was not specifically made for his birthday, but this other video I was involved with (mostly on ridiculous percussion that didn’t make the cut, and robot choir in the final few verses) was:

It’s based on A Talk With George, which Jonathan has said was his favourite Thing a Week, and rewritten, sung, strummed, mixed, filmed and cut by the great people on Jonathan Coulton’s forums, most of which I have met or will meet in real life at concerts in the UK or on JoCo Cruise Crazy.

And now back to overexplaining the first video.

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