The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

My Newest Recording – Billy

July 29th, 2010 . by Alexander Fisher

chimney I could write a book or make a movie about my childhood friend Billy Thompson. But I doubt anyone would believe some of it. His parents and mine were very close as all had come from eastern Kentucky to Ohio in the 1950’s and I believe we were distantly related to one, or both of Billy’s parents, Estill and Ann Thompson. I always called Ann “mom” as she always treated me like one of her own. Estill played with a bluegrass band at my father’s funeral. I was close to the whole family and spent many evenings having supper with them and hanging around the cemetery next door smoking cigarettes with Billy.


[audio: Billy.mp3]

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Billy and I had been friends since elementary school and he had made it very clear to me about his bi-sexuality in fifth grade. It caused a little problem at first for me, but after awhile our other common interests, hillbilly parents, partying and music, would draw us together again. I’m not completely sure that he was gay, at least at first. He had a couple of girlfriends during that time. I also remember talking to him about girls while we sat in a tree at the cemetery. I would suggest girls for him but he always said no girl would ever like anyone like him. I think he was just bashful. Billy wasn’t an unattractive person, but he was also not very tall. I was just as scared of girls rejecting me as he was. Billy’s insecurity and height did not help him, no doubt.

By the the time we graduated, Billy and I had gone our separate ways mostly. We had attended the same vocational school and that allowed us to interact on a daily basis until then. After high school though, Billy and I didn’t see each other too much. I had a steady girlfriend and I wasn’t too interested in his new circle of friends. Some time later, Billy and his associates all moved to the west coast. After he lived there for awhile, I found out that he had been killed. I am not sure I know the whole story, but I was told it was no accident.

Billy always lived on the edge and I am surprised this hadn’t happened sooner. A few times I had to come between him and a certain beating by someone who wasn’t very happy with something he had done. Other times I just shook my head and told people, “You know Billy, You should have known better than to trust him.” I thought when I had heard of his death, that being so far from home, there was no one there to protect him. No one knew him like we did. Not a single person would just roll their their eyes and say, “…well you know Billy”.

The analog tracks were originally recorded on a Yamaha MT-100 II 4 track cassette recorder using high speed (3.75 IPS) and dbx noise reduction.

The acoustic guitar I played was a Takamine (maybe a Yamaha). I played electric guitar on a Fender Stratocaster (maybe an Ibanez Les Paul). The bass was a Rickenbacker 4001 (for sure). I recorded the drums more recently using my Ludwig’s. I also added some drum parts using a Yamaha MIDI drum pad and Session Drummer 3.

As on other analog to digital re-mixes I’ve done lately, I had to piece this together from audio tracks that were not in sync. This project was made more difficult because during the original recording, I did not use any rhythm device or metronome, just my own sense of timing. I think I did pretty good, but that made no real consistent timing reference to work with.

I played the original analog tracks into my Fostex VF-16 digital multi-track, then transferred the tracks to my computer. I processed and added audio with Cakewalk Sonar v8.5 Producer and Sony Sound Forge v9.

Super Tornado Outbreak April 3rd and 4th, 1974

July 11th, 2010 . by Alexander Fisher

Xenia, Ohio April 3 1974 I was watching a National Geographic Channel special called “Surviving the Super Twisters” about the Super Tornado Outbreak of April 3-4, 1974. I remember the day well. Although nothing of mine or my family’s was hurt or destroyed. I was definitely in the middle of the action that afternoon when it hit my town.

I had just recently gotten a job after-school at the local Otis Elevator foundry in London, Ohio as a janitor. My friend Dennis Brickey had gotten a job and then got me hired as well. Previously, I would hang around at the Gift’s Galore variety store and play pinball until about five PM and then go home, by parental order. The owner had just cleared a back storage room and installed five new machines. He had two of them out by the sales counter previously, but I bet the sight of several teenagers playing pinball didn’t do a lot for his other business. This had the advantage of adding more machines (more money) and getting us out of sight at the same time (more money) for him. I loved pinball and all of the regulars were above average players. As I would walk home at around five o’clock, I would walk right past the courthouse on my way from Gift’s Galore.

That day, Dennis and I went straight to his house after school to watch the cartoon Speed Racer and the game show Match Game ‘74. As usual we arrived at the foundry gates around four o’clock. The skies were becoming cloudy, but no storms were within sight. We were on the second floor cleaning the locker rooms and offices, when at about five o’clock, the power in the foundry began to go on and off. All of us headed for the foundry floor downstairs after the lights finally went out. There was enough light to see down there because of the open doors and windows. After a few minutes one of the foremen in the foundry came and told us there were tornado’s in the area and the safest place for us was back upstairs in the cafeteria in the front of the building. I wasn’t so sure that was the safest place, but if something happened in the foundry and molten iron was being blown around by a tornado, the cafeteria was fine for me.

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My Favorite Albums, Of All Time!

July 10th, 2010 . by Alexander Fisher

ShawnColvin-AFewSmallRepairs Recently I have said several times that a certain album is one of my favorite of all time. I thought that maybe I should make a list so that I (and others) didn’t think I was just making it all up as I went along.

I thought my first attempt at a favorite album of all time list would be a top ten list. Then I went for top twenty, etc. I soon discovered that unless I went to a top fifty, I wasn’t happy with the contents. The only criteria I used was that the album couldn’t be a compilation of greatest hits. Live albums were OK.

I have said many times that Shawn Colvin’sA Few Small Repairs” is my favorite album of all time. I still agree with that.

My Top Fifty Favorite Albums

(in alphabetical order)

Aerosmith Get Your Wings
B-52’s B-52’s
The Band Rock of Ages
The Beatles Abbey Road
Black Sabbath Vol. 4
Boston Boston
The Eric Burdon Band Sun Secrets
Mary Chapin Carpenter Stones In The Road
Chicago Chicago Transit Authority
Shawn Colvin A Few Small Repairs
Alice Cooper School’s Out
Davis Bowie Aladdin Sane
Al DiMeola Land Of The Midnight Sun
The Doors L.A. Woman
The Eagles Desperado
The Fixx Shuttered Room
Fleetwood Mac Rumors
Peter Frampton Frampton Comes Alive
Genesis A Trick Of The Tail
The Go-Go’s Beauty And The Beat
Humble Pie Performance: Rockin’ The Fillmore
Jackson Browne Runnin’ On Empty
Jethro Tull Thick As A Brick
Kiss Alive!
Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy
Letters To Cleo Aurora Gory Alice
Linda Ronstadt Prisoner In Disguise
Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced Leh’-Nerd Skin’-Nerd
Joni Mitchell Court And Spark
Montrose Montrose
The Moody Blues Seventh Sojourn
Mott The Hoople Mott
Nirvana Nevermind
Ted Nugent Ted Nugent
Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon
Return To Forever Romantic Warrior
Rush Rush
Stabbing Westward Darkest Days
T.Rex The Slider
James Taylor Sweet Baby James
Robin Trower Bridge Of Sighs
The Tubes The Tubes
U2 Boy
U.K. U.K.
Gino Vannelli Powerful People
Joe Walsh The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get
The Who Quadrophenia
Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life
Yes Close To The Edge
Neil Young After The Gold Rush

U.S. Declaration of Independence: The Signing Order

July 3rd, 2010 . by Alexander Fisher

US Declaration of Independence It always has really bothered me when someone would say they hated history in school. The nicest thing I can say is, that’s dumb. The other is that because so many people feel that way, we are doomed to repeat the lessons America has already learned, but also lessons that other nations have learned and sometimes had to re-learn.

Yesterday my wife called me with a question about which U.S. president signed the Declaration of Independence first. Her company was having a contest featuring Independence Day trivia. The choices were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or John Adams. Only two future presidents signed the document, Jefferson and Adams. So that would eliminate George Washington from consideration entirely.

There were two procedures in place for the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

  1. The colonies’ (states) delegates signed first in the order of north to south.
  2. The signers signed the document from right to left.

The only exception was John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress, who signed first.

The only reason I can think of for this procedure was a possible compromise to allow the northern states the honor of actually signing the document first, but it would appear to the British or any other interested party at the time, that the southern states had that honor. It probably was to keep everybody happy at the meeting. If you didn’t like history in the 21st century, It certainly would appear that the answer to the question, reading left to right, was Thomas Jefferson.

Knowing the procedure in place, at the time, would not allow you to come to that conclusion though. As John Adams was from Massachusetts and Thomas Jefferson from Virginia, looking at a map would show Massachusetts north of Virginia and looking at the document will show John Adams’ signature on the upper right at the bottom of the page.

Therefore the answer is John Adams.

When my wife returned home, she told me that the “official” answer she was given was Thomas Jefferson. I suppose someone just looked at the document and figured that it was signed left to right and John Adams must have arrived late to the meeting.

The world will not end because of that error. But it saddens me that July 4th in America is more about contests and mattress sales than remembering our country’s independence from the distant rule of kings, queens, and the Church of England. Many love the fireworks just to see something get blown up more than the symbol of our Independence they are.

I only expect the situation to get worse in the future.