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When I started Headphone Sacrament it was as an experiment. I’d played around with blogs before, but I could never get one off the ground. My past attempts had involved a scattershot approach where I posted what ever the hell I felt like posting. With HS, I decided to try narrowing the scope a bit and focusing purely on music, hence the name.

I’m not sure how much of the equation was the narrow focus of the blog, and how much of it was just lucking into meeting up with Z and Church fairly early on, but HS was able to get some legs under it and stick around.

Over the past several months though I’ve begun to feel a little constricted. Music will always be my primary geek passion, but thanks to meeting folks like Jason and through my conversations with Z, Church and Lizz, I began to see what I wanted to write about shift from music to geek culture. At first this wasn’t a huge issue, since my writings on geek culture tended to be coming from a musical point of view. I wrote about WRock and nerdcore and other similar things. I felt a little tinge about the name. A slight longing for something that reflected the geek kink in what I was writing, but it wasn’t major. And I really liked the name Headphone Sacrament.

Then came my Geek Culture Debate with Jason and two interesting links that Jason forwarded to me. (here and here) The short of it is that through Jason my Geek Culture Manifesto had wound its way into the livejournal vidding community and many of them had embraced it. I’ve been seeing a slow trickle of LJ links popping up in my logs since (though, I can’t read any of these posts, so I’m not sure what people are actually saying). This caused me to realize that while I’m thinking of geeky music when I write these things, other elements of geek culture are also appreciating them. In some cases, they appear to even be adopting them. And so, the name Headphone Sacrament started to feel a little more claustrophobic.

Which brings us to today. I haven’t given up the name Headphone Sacrament just yet, it may resurface at a later date, but for now I’m re-christening this site free_geek.

With the new name comes a few new changes to the site, beyond the obvious layout change.

1) I’ve created a page that houses links to all the relevant posts between Jason and I and out little debate. If Jason ever replies to my last post ( :) ), I’ll put up new links.

2) I’ve also added a “Cast of Characters” page. This is a group of short introductions of people whose name pops up here again and again. This way I can avoid constantly having to reintroduce people and constantly link to them again and again. I’ll also be adding to this as time goes on.

3) I also figured this would be a good time to overhaul the About page in the sidebar, which I’ve never been happy with.

4) Finally, it has been decided that Z is, in fact, a crack dealer. It was Z’s peer pressure that convinced me to finally set up a myspace page and now the bastard has gone and gotten me to set up a Twitter account. The link is over on the side bar. I figure it is only a matter of time before either he or Lizz gets me on facebook.

OK, I think that’s enough for tonight. I’ll let these changes sink in. Nighty night.

Written by Matt

May 6th, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Posted in site info

Stop Standing Still

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So, last month I dropped a couple of hints about a top secret project that I’ve been working on. Well, today’s the day of the grand unveiling.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Geeks of all fandoms.

I give you…

Stop Standing Still!!!

For those that may be curious, Stop Standing Still is a site that I’ve set up to help promote the idea of geek culture. For now, it does this by providing a listing of geek centric shows that are happening around the world. Overtime, and after I develop an application with a better tool set for users, I’ll expand on this idea to include other things.

Heading over to the site, you’ll probably notice that the listings are a little sparse at the moment. This is just the beginning. I wanted to get a core list of artists into the system so people could get an idea of how things worked. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to work on expanding the offerings available for the geek music connoisseur.

Speaking of which, if you would like to help, please let me know. There’s a breakdown of the kind of help I’m looking for in the FAQ on the site.

OK, if you’ll excuse me, I’m kind of beat. Between the site and work and other things, I’ve been going non stop for the past 4 or 5 days. At the moment, I need to go to bed. More later.

Written by Matt

October 31st, 2007 at 9:18 pm

More on the Top Secret Project

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I really do plan on getting this project off the ground. I really do. It looks like next week probably won’t happen though. I have a reason this time. See, I accepted a job offer with a new company on Thursday. I’ll be starting the new job on the 8th of Oct.

On the plus side, the new job will drastically reduce my commute time. (I’m currently in my car a minimum of 2 hours a day. The new job will reduce that to probably around 45 minutes a day max, unless traffic is completely horrid, probably even less) Which means I’ll have more time in the evenings and won’t be completely useless when I get home. That will make keeping on top of this new project, and may be even getting a little more action here, easier.

On the minus side, the next two weeks are likely to be very busy weeks. I’ve got two weeks to transfer a lot of knowledge to my replacement. I also have a couple of projects that really need to be finished up. And I need to create some documentation to explain the applications that I have created. On top of this, there’s a couple of technical areas, in the new position, where I’m lacking. I just bought a couple of computer books this morning. My hope is to start teaching myself these new technologies so I can make a good impression at the new job. (they are aware of my short comings, which is one reason I don’t want to have them anymore when I start)

I’m going to tentatively push things back to Halloween. I’m not sure what the new job is going to be like though, so I’ll warn you now that it may get pushed back again. It will happen though, that I promise.

In the meantime, I am throwing out a call for information from folks. You’ll probably be able to guess from the below questions that the new project is a new web site. I’ve talked to a few folks about this, and still need to talk to at least one more person. So far, I have received enthusiastic responses from everyone, so this will hopefully be very very cool. Here are my questions though,

1) I need a new register to hold my url and I’d like to just register the new site with them. I’ve sent a couple of questions to the folks that hold and have never heard back from them once. If anyone has their URL registered with a company with good customer service, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not asking for anything to tricky. I would like to have someone respond to my emails though.

2) I need a designer. I’m fine when it comes to coding back end stuff, but my abilities to design a user interface that doesn’t look like crap, are lacking. If anyone feels up to doing a little design work, please drop me a line. I can’t pay you, but it could be a decent chance to pad a portfolio. If you’re interested, drop me a line (mattwsweeney AT and please include links to examples, if you have them. I’m looking for a layout that’s very simple and very clean. I can handle the coding of it (though I may have a few questions) or we can work something out. I just need someone with some kind of design talent.

Written by Matt

September 22nd, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Posted in News,site info

On the subjects of videos and new projects

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Remember how I said that I’d have a new project to debut this week? You didn’t really expect me to follow through on that did you?

Seriously, this week has taken a change for the weird so I’m pushing the new project back to Sept 30th. Possibly earlier, but that’s the date I’d expect to hear something if I were you.

As penance for my sins, I offer you videos,

Billy Bragg video for the song Great Leap Forward,

Live version of the same song, with different lyrics,

Billy Bragg video for Sexuality

And just to show that Billy apparently seems totally incapable of doing a decent video, here’s The Boy Done Good (this song isn’t political)

Live video of Billy playing with The Levellers, doing the song English Civil War

From the same DVD, The Levellers doing their song Riverflow

And finally, a video for The Levellers song One Way. The video may cause motion sickness, but the song is good.

These videos are offered as proof that if you really want to change the world, give your message a good beat that people can dance to.

Written by Matt

September 11th, 2007 at 9:36 pm

Posted in other,pop,site info

Reassessing the mission statement

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If you read the various lists offering advice on how to have a successful blog there’s one comment that seems to pop up a lot. Pick a subject to write about and stick with it. It makes sense. If you’re writing a blog about toys, ranting about politics is probably not smart. The fact that none of my earlier blogs had any kind of central theme, beyond whatever the hell I felt like talking about, and none of them got very far, seems to lend credence to this advice.

So when I started Headphone Sacrament I decided that I would talk about music and only music. It made sense. Once upon a time I could write about music until the zombies came home with out taking a breadth. I was also some what good at it, if I do say so myself. And since I missed those days. It seemed like a good chance to may be get them back.

The problem is that back then I was writing about music that I loved and I was definitely hooked on the jamband scene. Finding new bands and tracking down good shows was not a hobby, it was a need! There was a time around 97 when I hit any show in the DC/Baltimore area that I could get to. If the band had anything to do with the jamband scene, and I could figure out how to get there, I went. And when I found those new bands or went to those shows, I felt compelled to talk about what I had experienced.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve heard some amazing music in the past couple of years, but none of it lit a fire in me like back in the 90s. And so my writing has dwindled to nothing. Even what I have written here has largely been forced as opposed to the free flow of words that I used to deal with.

I’m taking some steps to address this situation. Back in mid-June I drove up to Baltimore to see The Recipe play. It was the first time I’d seen the band in over five and a half years.

The Recipe were the last band that I was hardcore about. In early 2001 they were doing a lot of shows in VA and NC. At least once or twice a month I’d get off work on Friday, run home and grab my stuff, then drive down to Charlottesville, VA (about a 2 hour drive from where I lived at the time) to see the band play. After the show I’d grab a room in the hotel where the band stayed and catch some sleep. The next day, after breakfast, we’d drive out to where ever the next show was. Sometimes it was a short skip over to Harrisonburg, VA. Sometimes it was a haul down to Greenville or Boone down in NC. After that show it was back to some hotel or a meeting with some friend’s floor and a little more sleep. In the morning I’d make the long trek back home alone so that I could be at work bright and early on Monday morning. I loved it.

The Recipe were also the last band associated with the jamband scene that I cared about. I say that I left the scene in Sept of ’01, because that’s the last time I saw The Recipe. Truth be told, I left the scene a long time before that.

Needless to say, I wasn’t completely sure how the night would go. In the end though, my only real complaint is that I’m not as young as I used to be. I was tired as hell from dancing by the end of the first set. Halfway through the second I had no more energy, but I pushed through. I got home and considered writing a review. Instead I popped a bunch of Tylenol and went to bed.

With that wonderful night behind me I’ve been strategizing on how exactly I can reintroduce myself to the jamband scene. Familiarize myself with the new bands, but also process through all the baggage that accumulated over the last 5+ years. I’m still working on that piece (while I’ve been writing this, I’ve grabbed four shows off The Live Music Archive to check out. Three of the bands are groups I’ve never heard before. The fourth was an old Day By The River set that I felt compelled to download when I realized I didn’t have any live DBR shows. They were such a great band.

Anyways… While I do this I’ve decided to broaden the scope a bit here as far as what I talk about. The primary focus will still be music. Though, I may also throw out comments about other things that are striking my fancy; books, comics, manga, anime, what have you. I promise no politics, just geeky stuff.

So, that was the point of this long winded post. That little four sentence paragraph.

Written by Matt

July 3rd, 2007 at 9:48 pm

Posted in site info

Charity Auction

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Matt from The Whomping Willow is running a charity auction for First Book.

The winner of the auction receives the following goodies,

*original drafts of song lyrics for the entire Welcome to the House of Awesome! record, including failed attempts at songs that may never get beyond the brainstorming process
*original drafts of all my brainstorming notes
*a CD featuring demo versions of at least five songs from the new record (these demo versions will disappear forever from my myspace profile once I have the album versions finished)
*exclusive photos from the studio (i.e., my bedroom) that will not be made public
*other stuff I can’t think of right now

You can find out more here.

As I said in the comments of that post (or will, when Matt approves the comment) I’m going to match what ever the winning bid is. So, if the winning bid is $100 (current bid) then I’ll give First Book a donation of $100 on April 15th (my first pay check after I pay my taxes).

So go over to the willow’s myspace page and make me broke.

Written by Matt

March 18th, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Joining The Dark Side

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I think its time for me to just bite the bullet.

My RSS feeds are getting out of hand and there are more blogs that I really should be subscribed to, even if they don’t update that much. I really need to do something to rectify the situation.

And so, I’ve done something I swore I would never ever, ever, do, I created a myspace account.

I feel so dirty.

Accepting the situation, I would like to put a call out.

For the love of god, I need a better icon picture!

If anyone feels like helping, let me know.

Written by Matt

March 11th, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Posted in site info

More from Time

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I know I promised to introduce you all to the world of geeky indiepop, and I will. Unfortunately I’ve gotten sidetracked.

For one, Mr. Lev Grossman has posted another post about Nerdcore (more of a follow up to his previous post). And I felt the need to respond to what he was saying.

I’ve also started reading Dancing In The Streets, by Barbara Ehrenreich, and it’s been pretty damn fascinating so far. You can get an idea of what the book is about by reading this article. Yeah, that’s the way we roll around here.

So, more to come, I promise.

Written by Matt

January 29th, 2007 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Nerdcore,site info

I give up

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So last night I came up with this fun idea. Since I was bitching about the fact that doesn’t have an RSS feed, I decided to roll my own.

So, I did a little digging on the web and found a script to work with here.

I then banged around in perl for all kinds of hours (BTW, I don’t really know perl, but that’s never stopped me before) and finally got something up and running. Only to have the XML not validate when I tried to feed it into feedburner.

I’ve toyed with it for a little while, but I’m just giving up at this point. Especially since it looks like will have an RSS feed in the near future.

If there’s someone out there who understands the RSS specs and wants to poke around, you can find the file here.

To make all of this even more fun, Monday is a federal holiday and I work as a government contractor. I had made plans with my client to do some work in our BI tool to make up the 8 hours of work that I was going to miss on Monday. I had planned to work a couple of hours each day this weekend to get up to my full 8, since the work was kind of monotonous and not something I’d want to do for a full 8 hour stretch. Now though, I’ve spent the weekend hacking around on this project and doing other things. So, I am going to have to just suck it up and do a full 8 tomorrow.


I think I’m going to go do something else for right now. I’m burned out.

On the plus side, I learned some new tricks in perl, so that’s cool.

Written by Matt

January 14th, 2007 at 7:11 pm

Posted in site info

More Site News

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Two things,

First. Sorry for the sudden shift of the site from Blogger to WordPress. I hadn’t intended to leave blogger, but when I upgraded to the new version I found that I couldn’t log in with my Google account from third party apps. Not wanting to wait until either ecto or MacJournal got up to speed with Blogger’s change and knowing that I’d never get around to writing anything if I was forced to use the web interface, I made a split second decision to try out WordPress. I got it up and running on this site pretty quickly, liked what I saw and decided to just screw it and made the change.

The major pains of the move should be behind us. Let me know if you have any problems. Hopefully people can comment on these entries with out any problems (someone please try) if you do have problems. Drop me an email at mattwsweeney over at BTW, the feedburner feed has been fixed. I still need to create an about page, but that should be it.

Second, there’s no review today because I’m trying something new. Usually my reviews are sketched out in my head and then largely written in one swoop. I go back and do a little editing, but most of that is concerned with correcting errors caused by my inability to type as fast as I think (I also have problems talking as fast as I think, which leads to me sometimes sounding like an idiot. May be I just need to think slower…).

Tonight though, I’m trying to actually sit down, listen to an album and make notes on it while I do so. Then, I’ll come back later and write a review of the album. My hope is that this will lead to more focused reviews (he says while eyeing his reviews so far). Once the review is posted, please post any thoughts you have. This is really the first time I’ve tried something like this and I’m interested to get some reaction on it.

Of course, first I need to write the review and post it. Hopefully tomorrow.

Till then.

Written by Matt

December 30th, 2006 at 11:21 pm

Posted in site info