Letters from Somnolescent June 30, 2021

Spring 2021 — A Change of Pace

by bulb

Yeah, been a bit, hasn’t it? I was pretty good for over a year about doing these on a monthly basis, but so far this year, I’ve skipped the first three months! What madness! I can’t handle such out of left field changes to my schedule, Cammy…

Too bad, because now, they’ve gone seasonal. Click along, I’ll explain why, and then we, well, recap! Got three months to go through and about 3,000 words and Lord knows how many pictures. It’s a work-in-progress, yeah?

Where’d the recaps go? (And where are the recaps going?)

So…yeah. Recaps haven’t quite been happening like they used to. To be clear, this isn’t because Somnolescent is any less active as a server, but mostly because we just haven’t had a ton of stuff to show off per-month. I mean, you have to be really active and really trying to make things for people to see to have month after month of recap.

Likely, the content will continue to get more sporadic as the world opens back up, our younger members go back to school/graduate, we all find work, all that good stuff. I wrote a bit about the shift in the winds on the (now sporadically-updated) Scratchpad in a post called “What Am I Using the Scratchpad For?”. It’s certainly not that I’m done making stuff, lordy no! And neither are Caby, borb, and dcb, who have all been to varying degrees of busy with their art and sites. It’s just that it adds up to less that we could show off in our traditional recap structure.

So at this point, we’re transitioning to seasonal recaps. I’ll try to get these done as close to the change in season as possible from here on out, but also, I’m not all that off from the start of summer, so no harm no foul. Got art, got computery stuff, new pages on our sites, all that good stuff you’ve come to expect. Let’s start with the biggie!

Wassat? Pennyverse?

Yes! With another Pennyverse Month just around the corner (and no Quake maps or over-the-top Art Fight performances to distract from it), we’ve slowly been getting back into the habit of working with our lads in Apricot Bay. To start with, back in May, I broke ground with “A Conversation With Colton”, a mock interview with the lad for a City fanzine circa 2002-2003, so a bit past the main plotline we’ve been exploring thusfar. All grown up, with a college-bound Madeleine come to visit, Colton…responds to all questions like indie kids do:

Stranger still is just how such an isolated, young, guarded heart got his music in front of The City in the first place. Colton credits some of the circulation to the rise of the internet. “That was Madeleine’s idea, really. We run the 4-tracker into the back of her computer and she turns them into MP3s, and those go on a few sites and Napster and some other places…but how people find it, I don’t really know.”

Perhaps he should look closer home. In mere months, Colton’s music has become a staple on KCCB-FM’s Out in Orbit, their prime unsigned rising star indie band and artist showcase, both on campus and around campus.

“Sometimes stuff comes totally out of the blue and you just have to let it rip,” senior disc jockey and senior at Cascadia University “Uncle” Wayne Martin told me when I interviewed him at the start of the past school year. “I got this tape from one of my Raiders, and it had this cute, handmade cover and it said “Colton” all over it. And my guy said “Wayne, you gotta listen to this tape, this kid’s amazing.” And goddamn, he was right! We’ve been trying to get him into the studio to play for us, and we can’t because no one knows where to find him!”

On the visual end of things, Caby decided to take part in Pride Month by drawing one of our more underrated couples, Riley and Giulio, once-a-day every day. Some of her best pieces full stop have come out of the event. You can catch them all for now on her Twitter, and hopefully she’s got a gallery page for ’em at some point (Pennyverse Month~…), but for now, have today’s entry, a crossover between Pennyverse and Pinede that I’m ridiculously fond of (click for full size!):

"Fantasy Gays" by Caby

Ah, more Pennyverse? A little bit, yeah! I’m horrible at actually finishing stories (that ends tomorrow though, with a certain Long-Term Writing Project I have planned…), but there’s a bunch of really promising drafts in the works you’ll no doubt get to see as the year rolls on. I have some stuff started with the Apricot Bay librarian, an old grumpy mage bunny who might not be from here, and a bit of a prequel story starring Gonzo back in his stormchaser days. In fact, since only Caby’s seen it so far, I’ll end the section off with a bit from that:

“I bet some of those antennas,” the sneering, tinny radio voice figured, “are for toying with the atmosphere.”

“For what?” Another voice piped in.

“Who knows? I’m not in the military.”

That afternoon, Gonzo hung his map in the van window and drove south. Every mile saw the once visibly healthy vegetation wither further and further into scrubland subsisting not far from bare sand. The dry heat only grew spicier. It was the first time he’d seen a dust storm, kicking up around him in clouds of orange until the visibility was nonexistent and nothing around could take a breath. Thankfully, Gonzo was in a van.

All the traveling landed him within spitting distance of where he thought he’d get some answers: Fort Garfield. No, he didn’t intend to break into it—one look at the camouflaged patrol in the towers with their rifles and carbines and the stern, sun-bleached warning signs to trespassers showed how horrifically bad an idea that was—just watch it. From a safe distance. And see what the big deal was.

Guitar Hero II Deluxe/marfGH: Volume 0

This is only related to Somnolescent because it’s me, but it also kinda blew up, so it’s definitely recap-worthy. If you’re into rhythm games at all and you saw all the waves about Guitar Hero II Deluxe a month or two back (seriously, over 26,000 views on the launch trailer), you might be curious to know I was actually on the team for it! All the new flavor text (the controller guitars, basses, the new headlines, the readmes), I wrote, I ported the GH1 guitars to GH2, and I was responsible for bringing the new final song, ExileLord’s absurd “Speed Test”, into the game and doing the stage events, bass authoring, and undercharts. I also built the website, which I decided to post to Neocities, because some things never change.

The splash screen to marfGH: Volume 0
I still really like this title screen. Maybe Volume 1 will have a mari I drew? Is a possibility…

The release also led to, at long last, the start to a new series of custom discs I’ve been working on since 2014(!) or so called marfGH. These will be occasional custom discs (seriously, run them on a real PS2 if you’ve got the right stuff for it) featuring my custom charts and ports from other rhythm games with all the game-quality custom shit you could want. YouTube famous brown man Acai was quoted as calling it “dope”, so you know it’s good. I’m currently on hiatus from GH2 modding, but Volume 0 came out earlier this month, featuring ten songs, and later ones will have twenty. Grab both discs from archives.

winvid2

Following up on the development of winvid from earlier in the year, dcb’s made a number of quality-of-life upgrades to the tool and forked it into winvid2. Now, not only can you grab YouTube videos in the kinda quality your old devices are up to handling, but you can transcode audio from fancy new formats like Opus and AAC right to WMA or MP3, right there in the app! (Flash video and straight AAC ripping without transcoding are also now supported.)

Moving to DreamHost for plain HTTP support is still planned, so stay tuned and let the lynx lad know if it’s been of any use. It’s a fun tool. Gonna remember it next time I have the eMachines Box on (which will hopefully be tomorrow).

lince.somnol gets an upgrade (and other page highlights!)

And speaking of dcb! It’s always a good day when he updates one of his sites, and his little digital garden in lince.somnol has got a new look and a tiny Lince with a WebPC to match!

The new homepage for lince.somnol
Table layout, that background, that Lince! Very, very hot.

It’s been an analog kinda year so far, so here’s some highlights from what he’s got on offer and more hand-built pages from the rest of us:

  • Lince’s Artchive: dcb’s been getting surprisingly bold with his art lately, it’s been cool to see! (I just started myself; no, you’re not seeing it yet…) I think this is one of the pages where he’s using something fancy in FrontPage to maintain it too. Lovely stuff. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to have uploaded that Plushie Lupe drawing, which is seriously some of his best work so far.
  • Fractals: There’s often stretches of days where all we wanna do is be on MSN on an old computer, and dammit, we do just that. To that end, dcb spent a bunch of time back in May toying with a fractal generator on the WebPC, and they have an appropriately early OS X/Vista look to match. If you’re still running at 1024×768 (and really, that should be enough for anybody), they’ll make great wallpaper.
  • supermoon: dcb takes a lot of pictures. If you’ve only got time to look at one, look at this crystal clear full moon he got back in May. Made me go “whoa” when I saw it.
  • borb’s Park Visit: Onto the stuff from the rest of us! Well, borb only has this page, but it’s a good page. She built it surprisingly quickly too. It’s from her visit to New Jersey a few weeks back, and some of the pictures she got are actually pretty nice. Look, black swallowtail!
  • Into the Greater Somnolescent Multiverse: I’ve really been enjoying having cammy.somnol around, I really have. Just a simple, less structured place for whatever ideas pop into my head for pages, all done up in RetroZilla Composer because it’s actually pretty damn usable (minus the publishing quirks). The Greater Somnolescent Multiverse was this idea I came up with a few years back to stitch all our worlds together, and since I’d never written anything about it, I decided to do just that. It’s trippy, it’s a little freaky, but hey, you want Wyn in Pinede? Boy goes through the weird, tingly void.
  • Exploring Pocono Creek: Everyone’s taking nature photos, lemme do some of those too. We found this neat park not far from our house, very secluded, lots of natural trails, a big creek, overhangs, and even some destroyed vintage electronics around! Forgot my camera the first way through, so I made sure to bring it the day we came back. Such a fun place to explore, hoping to go back soon.

Nirvana: Sound of Dentage (and more of other people’s music)

And let’s end off with some more of my junk. Back in April (so about the start of the recap period), I decided to start putting together a Nirvana boxset that I felt improved on the official one, With the Lights Out, that I picked through on this very blog in November 2019. I tried to pick better songs, no chaff, just wheat, and what I shared with the official boxset, I tried to use better sources for. I eventually called it Nirvana: Sound of Dentage and put it up on cammy.somnol and archives for people to download. If you like Nirvana or you know nothing about Nirvana, I would indeed recommend it, though I’m biased.

The album art for disc one of Nirvana: Sound of Dentage
Still fond of the cover art for these. Simple, but effective. This would’ve been the cover of the entire boxset, but I couldn’t justify using Chad on the right there instead of Dave.

And coming full-circle, today, I finished another remaster-type project involving other people’s music, Brad Sucks’ I Don’t Know What I’m Doing. I used to be really into grabbing stems and trying to downmix them on my own, especially since it lets me fix dumb mastering decisions and brickwalling while I have fun toying with music I like. While all my work survives on archives, I’m not terribly loud about it anymore because I’m not too sure the bands I like have previously enjoyed someone going “hey they did it wrong, here’s a better version for free”. Ah well.

Comparing the waveforms between two different mixes of this Brad Sucks album
Original CD mix up top, my remaster in the middle. A bonus track on the bottom.

While I had the other two Brad albums done (there are only three of them, so we’re clear :blobmari:), this one had to be reassembled from the (oftentimes wonky) loops, and sometimes reverse-engineered from the final mixdowns entirely. It was a process, to say the least. I threw it up on my Trello in July 2020 and only just tackled it in the past week, finishing it very late last night. It’s been a very “random personal project” sorta year, but the lads like how it came out, so grab it from archives under the “mari’s Remasters” section as said, your choice of FLAC or MP3.

Blog highlights

Even if the Scratchpad, the Patio, Caby’s art blog, and such places are all in a bit of a lull at the moment, it doesn’t mean the group blog has to be too. In fact, the fact that blog posts are so rare from me at the moment makes me feel a whole lot better about posting them here! I think there’s currently three or four drafts sitting in the Posts panel in WordPress, so yeah. Stay tuned.

  • mariversary 3.0: The Platypus Years by mariteaux (April 1): “Still, I’m pleased at least something of that time still exists. I take much better care of my stuff now–I know how precious it’ll be when I’m 30.”
  • Somnolescent Radio: Spring 2021 by everyone (April 8): “Devon suggested bringing it back, and given how another person means an even wider array of genres to choose from (plus more of a chance for anyone with a bad case of shyness to sit one out–no judge, it happens), it only made sense.”
  • Zip Drives! by mon (May 31): “In hindsight, it was still a worthwhile investment, purchasing a Zip drive – their disks are relatively high-capacity considering the machines they’re meant for, work with a wide variety of vintage computers, can be used to boot in a pinch, and can theoretically be accessed by any modern computer with a parallel port and a VM.”
  • Notice to All Somnolescent Hosting Customers by mariteaux (June 3): “We have upgraded from that little web server Python comes with to Apache, like real hosting companies use.”
  • How Do the Somnolians Organize Their Desktops? by everyone (June 10): “The gradual move back to our chunky old PCs got us thinking about our own desktops and how they stack up to the workspaces of old, and honestly, to each other’s. As such, have a compilation of screenshots and a whole bunch of rambles about how we get around our machines and how we keep things organized (or not).”
  • A forgotten era by Devon (June 17): “Seeing common things in them, like lot of them play on subject of urban life of somewhat “hip” people that was a trendy thing to show. Just look at some other media from turn of the millennium – Spaced which shows a group of people with “cool” occupations and rave/club culture, pokes fun at YBAs and features massive amount of current electonic music or all of these lifestyle or fashion magazines that were constanly appearing on market and folding after 2000.”
  • The Absurd Netherworld of Internet Archive Tape Transfers by mariteaux (June 24): “The existence of Squirrel Nut Zippers here at all is proof positive this was actually dubbed by some girl in the 90s and isn’t some revisionist period piece that skips right from “Teen Spirit” to “Today” to “Mmmbop”.”

Art highlights

And we’ll end off with some cute stuff to look at, yeah? Caby had a hell of a time picking ones for this because she’s been so absurdly busy with art lately–but hey, not complaining about lots of Caby art! (Click any one of these for full size.)

"I'M ACHY" by borb
“I’M ACHY” by borb (April 25)
"dcbori" by dcb
“dcbori” by dcb (June 21)
"Swimming" by Caby
“Swimming” by Caby (June 22)
"Apache" by dcb
“Apache” by dcb (June 23)
"Festival" by Caby
“Festival” by Caby (June 25)
"Takin a stroll" by borb
“Takin a stroll” by borb (June 28)

One last bit: if you’re participating in Art Fight 2021 this year (which starts in a few hours, give or take a few days for the site to invariably collapse), be sure to attack the Somnolians! You got Caby, borb, and surprisingly dcb all participating! (You’ll need an account to visit those links.) Especially for the latter two, provided you’re not quarterassing it (Art Fight is not a way to get free art, ahem…), if you attack, you’re more than likely to get attacked back. Godspeed, soldiers!

Hoo! I know that was a lot to get through. I’ll look to tweaking the format for seasonal recaps in the future. Should keep you occupied if you go browsing though, and hey, that’s the point. Never count the Somnolians out forever, because they’re probably just asleep. (It is currently 8:00 in the evening and borb has yet to wake up today. Shame, shame.)

About bulb

Group posts, recaps, and things we all contributed to. Hopefully, our hum-to-English translation is intelligible enough.


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