July 23, 2016

Poem: Spartanburg Dim

I wrote this poem a few months ago, but waited too long to post it, and now it's no longer relevant. However, I still think it's pretty good, so I'm posting it anyway. While Spartanburg, SC may have slain their dragon at the polls, there are plenty of other places across the USA where the advice in the last four lines still applies.

aerial view of Spartanburg, SC


The town is plain, unadorned
A model of the civic norm.
But look: inside
Its borders something hides.
Stupidity is sheltered there,
Ignorance has made its lair.
It sprawls, it rules,
It gibbers, shouts, and drools.
The light of knowledge flickers dim,
A brown-out of the brain within
This town. But wait,
It's spread across the state!
The people there have set it loose
To grow, breed, reproduce.
Who can suppress
This plague of foolishness?
Just like a fungus, like a mold
It's taken root and taken hold.
Look out! Despair!
The crazy's everywhere.
The folks back home now hold the key
To break the spell and set us free:
One man, one vote.
And while I breathe, I hope.

Increasing MIDI Volume in GarageBand

Years ago, I bought an Edirol PCR-50 MIDI keyboard on eBay. Just this week, I got it hooked up and working with my new iMac running OS X El Capitan. But there was still one problem, something that had frustrated me back when I first bought it: the volume of the MIDI tracks in GarageBand was too low.

Even with the track volume turned all the way up, the green bar barely showed, no matter how hard I pounded on the keyboard. Naturally, I turned to Google to solve this problem. I found a lot of old, irrelevant advice. The closest thing to good information I found was this FAQ page (warning: do not click unless you've got a good pop-up blocker), clearly geared toward an old version of GarageBand.

But that old info pointed me in the right direction, and I found the answer. Here's how to get it to work.

GarageBand visual EQ manual settings


  1. With your MIDI controller (i.e. keyboard) plugged in, select the MIDI track in GarageBand.
  2. Over on the right, select the Edit tab, highlighted here in yellow.
  3. From the Visual EQ dropdown list (also highlighted in yellow), select the Manual option.
  4. A pop-up window like you see on the left here will appear. Click and drag on the blue line to increase the volume.
The settings you see here aren't necessarily the best - play around with it until you get something you like. It might vary depending on the instrument you're using. For example, I needed to raise the Bass and Low Mid to increase my overall volume, but didn't touch the Treble or High Mid. (My keyboard's all about that bass, no treble.)

I rushed to take a screenshot and post it here so that anyone else out there using an old MIDI keyboard with a new copy of GarageBand would be able to find this information. If you actually know something about MIDI controllers and EQ's and all that jazz, please post in the comments and correct any mistakes I might have made. Thanks, and happy music-making!

February 19, 2016

Poem: These Clothes Do Not Fit

illustration by S. King
This suit of clothes which
You have given me
Looks finely made, but
I have to tell you,
I am afraid that
It does not fit me.
The sleeves are set so
My arms can't reach them.
The legs are too short,
The collar too tight,
The waist much too loose;
I cannot wear it.
Now, I suppose that
I could change my shape.
Given enough time,
Patience, strength of will,
I could make myself
Fit into these clothes,
But I hesitate,
Asking, is it wise
To change who I am
In order to fit
This suit of clothes which
You have given me?