Riker's Mailbox

Monday, October 30, 2006


Blogger's new beta is slowly emerging from its shroud of secrecy as of late, and this blog's author is succumbing to the allure of a new interface. Though it's self-admittedly incomplete and potentially buggy, I am confident enough in Blogger's (via Google's) expertise that any remaining problems will be eliminated promptly. So I went ahead and transitioned everything into the new format.

What does that mean to you? For starters, it means that Prose Justice is looking a little greyer, a little wider, and left-handed. Just like me; that is, the left handed part... and maybe the wider part, but not the greyer part. Oh, the updated archived post navigation methodology is worth the price of admission alone*.

I'm anticipating the influx of photo galleries from those who took pictures at the Halloween Haunting II at The Lodge this past Saturday. Once those are in my possession, I'll drop back and write about the party. Meanwhile, enjoy the following:

Drink to your health!

* - Yeah, the price of admission is free, but don't let that technicality take anything away from the compliment.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Just hosting a couple images here. It's graphic design time again... there's an enthusiast forum for a particularly awesome car (with a very gay acronym for its model designation, but that's secondary), and I'm an active member. They're taking submissions for a new t-shirt design and I figured I'd throw a quickie together. Needed a place to host it. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


When a band gains popularity, change is inevitable. The list of venues expands, the groupies get hotter, the tips fill bigger jars, the beer gets colder, and most importantly, the band gets new equipment.

Shelby Three and The Harmony*, however, is more efficient than your typical band. We skipped all those steps of getting popular and such, and went straight for the new gear.

Of course, we justified it. "We're going to be getting bigger, playing all these new gigs, making all this good money. Well, to do that we've got to be prepared." We got the stuff before we needed it, because we knew that someday... we would. Might as well take all this time to get familiar with it. And on Tuesday I'm getting fitted for my tux. You know, for Grammy night.

The biggest change is definitely the IEM setup. IEMs (or In-Ear-Monitors for short) take the place of those angled cabinet speakers** that sit on the ground facing the band members. When a band plays a gig, typically their loudspeakers are positioned in front of them, which is great for the sound in the listening area, but wretched for the sound on stage itself. Monitors allow you to "monitor" your own sound clearly while performing. I just don't know why they call them that.

Since our band skipped the 'get popular' process, we don't have roadies. Rather than spend the money on big heavy floor cabinet monitors that we don't have room for anyways, we decided to go with a personal monitor system. Easy fix, right? borrow your fashionable white iPod ear buds, get an extension cord, and plug in!

Unfortunately, that ain't the ticket. Stages are loud. iPod earbuds have to be cranked up dangerously loud just so you can hear their output over the rest of the noise around you. IEMs, on the other hand, have a dual functionality. They are designed for safety first, acting as protective earplugs that isolate the performer from loud and distracting sounds, thereby preventing hearing loss and embarrassing mistakes. They also have small accurately tuned speakers embedded within, but they don't have to be turned up nearly as loud because of all the sound isolation.

Just so we're on the same page here, the IEM industry uses the above paragraph the way you or I would use the words "stupidly expensive."

But really now, can I put a price on saving my hearing and improving my performance on stage? Well, yes, but that's beside the point.

The point, for those of you keeping tabs, is that wearing IEMs is a strange and wonderful experience. This is what my monitors look like:

They go deep inside your ear canal... so deep that they actually touch each other right behind your eyes; when you wear them, you lose auditory contact with the outside world. connect them to an audio source and the sound seems to be piped directly into your brain. It's amazing. But, as you might imagine, those silicone umbrellas are not the most comfortable thing to jam into any orifice. But, there is a solution, which is actually what prompted me to write today: custom-fit earmolds***. When custom sleeves are used, they look like this:

Now, in order for the manufacturer to know what shape to make these things, they need to know what shape your ear is. Which means you (well, I actually mean "I", don't I?) have to visit an audiologist and they have to take 'full-shell ear impressions'. What follows is my account of the process.

Joe Farnsworth (who is also getting this procedure done for his IEMs) and I sat down in the examination room. The audiologist placed what I can best describe as ear-tampons, these little sponges on a string, up against our eardrums, then she brought out a little caulk-gun of a device with two tubes of hot pink silicone gel. She attached a long nozzle and injected the cold, gummy sludge into our ears. Immediately the world got quiet and disgusting. She worked her way around the helix of my ear like a cake decorator might apply frosting to, well, an ear. While the procedure was completely painless, it was uncomfortably awkward. In order for the impressions to be taken correctly, I had to move my jaw the way I would when using the earmolds. Simply put, I had to sit in the chair and sing for five minutes without being able to hear myself. After the material set, she grabbed the tampon string and pulled, twisting the solidified material in order to ease its passage out of my body. I will never come closer to understanding what it's like to be an uncorked bottle of wine. It was... wierd.

The whole appointment was over in twenty minutes, and when Joe and I walked out that door to the car, we walked in silence, wearing on our faces the expression you'd wear if you and your friend just saw each other get head-raped. But while we felt confused and addled, we were also happy, because they didn't charge us for the impressions and in about three weeks we're going to have a really nice add-on to our gear that will simultaneously improve their performance and make them much more comfortable to wear for extended periods. Which is why we also stole a handful of ear-tampons.

* - Joe Farnsworth performing solo: '
Joe Unglued'.
Add Kevin Savino-Riker on guitar/vocals: still '
Joe Unglued'.
Add Brian Douglas on guitar: '
Add Shelby Prendergast on percussion, Chris Newbold on bass guitar, and swap Brian's guitar for a keyboard: '
Shelby Three and The Harmony'

** - Out-Ear-Monitors, I guess you could call them. If you really wanted to.

*** - Not like a spore colony growing due to lack of hygeine, but like a cast. Ask an artist.