“Experiencing Rush” – book update


My editor just sent the final pages of Experiencing Rush: A Listener’s Companion to the printer, and I should be getting my copies by the end of September. It will otherwise be available starting in October or November. For further information, see: my book summary and proposal and/or the publisher’s web page (where you can pre-order the book).

Experiencing Rush - full cover

Experiencing Rush – full cover

Big Moose Lake (vacation)

Standing near the dock at the lake

Standing near the Dock at the Lake (Big Moose Lake)

From August 1-8, I was on vacation in the Adirondacks in Upstate New York, staying at Vicky’s family’s “camp” (a.k.a., cottage) at Big Moose Lake. The camp was given to her grandfather (an attorney from Albany) for helping recover money lost by some inn-owning sisters. Big Moose Lake had also been the site of a notorious murder, in which a young man used the remote location to kill the young woman he had gotten pregnant. The story was transformed by Theodore Dreiser in his novel: An American Tragedy (1925) and then also further transformed (and re-set in California) in the classic Hollywood movie: A Place in the Sun (1951).

the Lucas/Orvis cottage at Big Moose Lake

the Lucas/Orvis camp (formerly called the “Hinman Cottage”) at Big Moose Lake

Emma, Dougal, and ducks

Emma (Vicky’s daughter), Dougal (their Cockapoo), and passing ducks; loons were also commonly heard, especially early in the morning

living room

the living room, including a library, a stereo (mostly featuring a CD of “bear songs” for kids!, although NPR and a few other radio stations did come in), and an old Victrola

foyer, fireplace, staircase, kitchen and dining room in background

the front foyer, staircase to the upstairs bedrooms/bathrooms, Baylor (Vicky’s Irish Water Spaniel), and fireplace, with doorways to the dining room and kitchen in the background

We thought we’d be roughing it, because a tree had landed on the roof and cut out the power a few months earlier. However, the electricity had been back for a few weeks by the time we got there and was more properly repaired on one of the days we were there. On the other hand, there’s no cell phone service in the area (but there is a land line), limited internet access (sporadically from a nearby inn or by parking near the local fire station), and no TV (although some camps do have satellite dishes).

Big Moose Fire Station

Big Moose Fire Station

shoes hanging on wire

shoes hanging on wire, right beside the fire station (yes, that IS weird!)

The best option for internet, etc. is the nearby town of Inlet (a 20-minute drive), which has a public library, an excellent ice cream shop (Northern Lights), and other nice stores and a great restaurant (the Screamen Eagle). The next nearest town is Old Forge (about a 30-minute drive), and it is quite a bit larger.

an excellent ice cream shop in Inlet

the excellent ice cream shop in Inlet

I missed out on a fairly major hike on August 4 (Chimney Mountain), because I was trying to get over this swollen-gland and sore-throat thing and also had plantar fasciitis in my left foot. So, I hung out with Vicky’s two dogs, took some pictures, listened to a bit of NPR, and rested a lot. I also started reading this book I’ve been meaning to get through, as well as the Sunday, August 3 newspaper from Utica, brought by some additional family friends visiting from there.

Vicky with Jeannine and Tara (friends from Utica)

Vicky, with Jeannine and Tara (friends from Utica), August 3

much of the gang

much of the gang, including some of our Utica area visitors, August 3

When the others were around, I went to a craft sale at the Big Moose Community Chapel, helped with meal preps and cleanup, occasionally swam a bit (and/or floated on this plastic, inflatable island thingie), and so on.

Community Chapel craft sale

Community Chapel craft sale, August 2

Big Moose Community Chapel

Big Moose Community Chapel; it’s an historically-registered site

Community Chapel

Community Chapel

We got some nice photos behind the chapel and down by their dock.

Vicky, the Queen of the two-person selfie!

with Vicky, the Queen of the two-person selfie!

With Vicky near the dock at the community chapel on craft sale day

With Vicky near the dock at the Community Chapel on their craft sale day; I had just purchased that hat, in addition to a balsam-fir-scented decorative pillow; August 2

Unfortunately, the family staying with us (the Pyles, who are close friends of Vicky’s) unexpectedly had to leave on August 5, because their basement in Burlington, ON got badly flooded during a very heavy rain storm the previous night.

getting ready to load up a canoe

The Pyles getting ready to load up a canoe

Miko (about to go kayaking?)

the Pyle’s big dog Miko (about to go kayaking?)

From mid-day August 5 until August 8, it was mostly down to three of us (Vicky, Emma, and me), except for a visit by Jeannine and her husband Charlie on August 7. On August 6, I joined Vicky and Emma for the hike up Bald Mountain.

"Bald" Mountain (no comment!)

“Bald” Mountain (no comment!)

Vicky and Emma, halfway up Bald Mountain

Vicky and Emma, halfway up Bald Mountain; this is the spot where they met Jeannine some years earlier

proper footwear, intertwined

proper hiking footwear, intertwined

the fire tower at the top of Bald Mountain

the fire tower at the top of Bald Mountain

Vicky at the top of the fire tower at the top of Bald Mountain

Vicky at the top of the fire tower at the top of Bald Mountain

from fire tower at the top of Bald Mountain

from the fire tower at the top of Bald Mountain; that’s Emma sitting below

Bald Mountain

coming down Bald Mountain

a knotty section halfway up Bald Mountain

a rooty section halfway down Bald Mountain

Vicky's wicked root/route (she's OK!)

Vicky’s wicked root/route (she’s OK!); remembered fondly (?!) on the way down

early, foggy morning

early, foggy morning

Computer Maintenance

I just ran Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (the free version) on my computer for the first time in a couple of months. It scanned 548772 objects, so I guess I’ve been more productive than I thought! I also have AVG AntiVirus (free) installed, occasionally run an older version of AVG PC Tuneup (they haven’t charged me anything to keep using it), and use EaseUS Todo Backup (free). Those are some good options, although they are less “cloud”-oriented than some of you may like. They are also not exactly fast, so run them overnight.

Website Downsizing?

I’m not sure if moving from self-hosted WordPress (which costs money for hosting) to WordPress.com (which is somewhat more limiting, but free) is “downsizing,” exactly. However, I’m now most of the way there. The URL will be http://durrellbowman.wordpress.com until my web-hosting account expires, by which point I will have reassigned http://durrellbowman.com to come here. This is also a test to see if this post gets to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and/or LinkedIn.

Rush – Vapor Trails (2002) and Vapor Trails Remixed (2013)

I finally got around to a “Pepsi Challenge” re Rush’s album Vapor Trails (2002) and Vapor Trails Remixed (2013).  The original version was widely-discussed for being exceptionally “loud,” but I never really knew what that meant.

I can hear now that the 2002 version keeps too many of the various, heavily-layered multi-tracks (guitars, drums, bass, and background vocals) across the front and centre of the mix.  It’s almost as if someone set all songs on the album with a kind of preset to keep 80% of the composite tracks very close to the same position and volume.

Vapor Trails Remixed uses more of the stereo field, as well as wider dynamics.  One can now hear individual parts (and even instrumental and vocal effects, sometimes very quiet ones) that were almost completely buried before.  Also, many things aren’t centred nearly as much.  The lead vocal of a song is now usually the main thing that’s front and centre.  Incidentally, the songs “One Little Victory” and “Earthshine” were already available in remixed form on the Rush anthology “Retrospective III” (2009).

I listened through the two albums by interleaving them by song: AA’BB’CC’… — taking into account some of the differences I heard, but without making any specific notes.  Then, I wondered if I’d be able tell which song-version I was hearing if I set the playlist to shuffle and listened to the first minute or so of each song.  The challenge turned out to be quite difficult for me, because I can hear things like melodies, rhythms, and other structures much better than I can hear things having to do with mixing.  The former elements were not really changed at all in the remixed versions, in the same (“album rock”) way that Rush’s live song versions are very similar to its original, studio versions.  One would first have to get very familiar with the aural qualities for the “loud” version of each song on Vapor Trails, before confidently hearing the differences in its “remix” version.

The remixed album generally “sounds better,” in terms of how things are balanced.  However, I think it would also be fairly difficult for most other people to hear and explain exactly why and how that’s the case.  In any case, these are not “remixes” in the sense of substantially-revised interpretations, such as with newly-introduced material.  For Rush, the term just means “mixed over again.”  Many other musicians, though–ranging from classical string ensembles to death metal bands (and everything in between)–have re-worked Rush’s music more substantially than the band itself has.  I’ve written about that elsewhere.