CatSynth Pic: Big Merp and Modular

As promised in yesterday’s Weekend Cat Blogging post, here is Big Merp with our main modular system.

He always wants to be wherever the action is, and at that moment the action was in the studio, where I was editing our latest episode of CatSynth TV, which itself has a feline theme.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam and Big Merp

It’s been a week of both progress and setbacks as we work to make a happy home for both Sam Sam and Big Merp. To help give Sam Sam more of a sense of territorial ownership over the loft level, and to give her more diversions, we bought her a wall-to-ceiling cat tree. After tentatively exploring it for a week or so, she finally claimed her place on the top platform as “queen of the loft within the loft.”

Sam Sam on her cat-tree in the loft

With these and other steps, she has been becoming bolder and more confident. I was able to capture this close-up showing her radiating happiness and beauty.

Sam Sam is a beauty

We also got her a Cat Cave, a cozy and calming little place to sleep, which she liked as well.

Another positive step is that she was able to remain while Big Merp entered the room. No fight or flight. Things were tense but peaceful, and both cats hung out in the same space for quite a while.

Sadly, it was not to last. By the latter half of the week, Sam Sam had retreated back to hiding in the studio, while Big Merp resumed encroaching on her spaces. I know that he just wants to play and be where the action is. Whether I’m doing business or creative work in the studio, he always wants to be nearby and be “the little helper.”

Merp helping with a coding project
Merp hanging out near the modular synths

Indeed, there were enough studio pics from the last few days that we will feature him in a “Man-Cat Monday” post tomorrow complete with synthesizers. On the downside, the studio is one again becoming ground zero in the territorial conflict between him and Sam Sam. I do really want comity between them or at least detente, so we can all enjoy these spaces together.

CatSynth Video: Big Merp & Rick-and-Morty Pocket Operator

I managed to order one of the new Rick & Morty Pocket Operators from Teenage Engineering, and it arrived at HQ yesterday. I decided to film the unboxing and initial attempts to play it for CatSynth TV, but Big Merp decided to get in the act. You can see our fun in this video.

The Pocket Operator is a tiny synth from Teenage Engineering that comes in several models of which the Rick-and-Morty-themed version is the most recent. Once I fully get the hang of it, I will do a proper demo, probably in conjunction with the modular or Field Kit.

CatSynth Pic: Big Merp, Modular Synths, and the Cone of Shame

Big Merp with synths and the cone of shame

Big Merp jumps up on the ledge behind the modular synths (the main system as well as the RackBrute). Also present are the Deptronics Thunderbell, Moog Mother 32, Roland Boutique VP-03 (with owl), and the Korg Volca Beats.

Poor Merp has had to wear the cone of shame since his surgery on Friday, but as this picture shows, by Wednesday he was feeling much better and back to his regular mischievous self. So we decided to liberate him from the cone.

He seems much happier without it 😸

Weekend Cat Blogging with Big Merp and Sam Sam

We have exciting news. Big Merp (aka “Marlon”) has come to live with us at CatSynth HQ!

Big Merp on the sofa

That is a soulful face a cat who has seen a lot in his short life (our vet thinks he actually isn’t that old, but life on the streets can certainly age one quicky). Due to circumstances beyond the scope of this site, our buddy in Oakland found himself needing a new place to live – otherwise, he would be back out on the streets. We’ve come to know him and love him over the past year, so it seemed like the obvious solution to welcome him into our home. Things were rather tentative at first, a new place and concept in a new city.

Big Merp arrives at HQ

But it didn’t take long for him to get comfortable, and now he practically owns the place.

Big Merp on the balcony

Sam Sam, on the other hand, is not too pleased with this intruder into her idyllic life. She has been a bit nervous and skittish, often looking for places to hid and decompress.

Sam Sam hides in the studio

She has mostly stayed on the upstairs level while Big Merp mostly stays downstairs for the time being. Their encounters to date haven’t been all that friendly, but Sam Sam is slowly gaining confidence. She prefers to stay upstairs, and I’m doing my best to shower her with affection and remind her that this is still her home and she is my special little girl.

Sam Sam is a wonderful and pretty cat

Merp is a very friendly cat, but Sam Sam has had some bad experiences in her past and it’s understandable she’s taking a little longer to adjust. I certainly hope that in the long run, they get along.

Sam Sam comfortable but wary

CatSynth Pic: Big Merp and Roland JD-Xi

We all know and love Big Merp, but he never had a “CatSynth pic”. Until now. Here we see him sitting in front of a Roland JD-Xi synthesizer.

The JD-XI is a cool little instrument, a hybrid analog-digital synth with a built-in vocoder. I haven’t had a chance to try the vocoder yet, but I’m curious how it compares to our VP-03 (also from Roland).

Weekend Cat Blogging with Big Merp

This weekend, we check in with Big Merp.

He’s definitely enjoying indoor-outdoor life as a pet cat. Most, though, just wants to chill out. And, he loves his food.

With the dreary weather of late, we certainly can’t blame him for spending time indoors, and we are glad that he has a place where he is safe and loved. But he does like to go outside when there is a break in the weather, patrol the neighborhood, and find his friend Hissy.

We hope you are all having a good weekend, and staying warm and dry.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Big Merp

It’s been a little while since we last checked in with Big Merp. He had been splitting his time indoors and outdoors in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, but as the cold and rain started pounding the region this winter, he has gladly made the transition to being a mostly indoor cat.

He is definitely loving the posh and comfy life in his new home.

He does like to go outside now and then, to patrol the neighborhood, and to check in on his lady friend Hissy. But most of the time he is content to stay inside. Sometimes, we open the door for him to go outside, and he just stands there, thinks and goes “nah” and heads back in. As someone who hates the cold, I think this is a wise choice.

Yesterday, we got him a catnip toy from our visit to Cat Town cafe and adoption center, and he has taken to it with aplomb.

We hope you are all enjoying a happy and fulfilling Sunday, whatever you are up to.

Farewell to 2018

Click to enlarge

The end-of-year colage has become a long-standing tradition here at CatSynth, and one that I particularly enjoy. It was a complex year, and the images reflect that. Our cats Sam Sam and “Big Merp” (who has pretty much become an indoor-outdoor cat at his new home in Oakland), some great shows including outstanding performances with CDP and Vacuum Tree Head, a wonderful and restorative visit back to New York. It was also dark and fiery at times, as when the Camp Fire leveled the town of Paradise and bathed our sky in smoke and ash – beautiful and tragic all at once.

Another New Year tradition at CatSynth is to share some stats from the past year. First, the basics:

  • 309 posts
  • 169 Cat-and-music posts
  • 78 episodes of CatSynth TV

Our top posts for the year, using the somewhat shaky measurements of Google Analytics:

  1. Wordless Wednesday: Windmill (Golden Gate Park)
  2. Aretha Franklin: Rock Steady
  3. Secret Chiefs 3 and Cleric play Zorn’s Masada
  4. Women’s March 2018 in San Francisco
  5. CatSynth Pic: White Cat and Modular, Vertical View

It was heartening to see such a diverse set of posts top the list. However, this belies the fact that blog readership is way down, and eclipsed by Facebook and YouTube / CatSynth TV. Most of our referrals to the blog come from these two sources; but most activity stays on Facebook and YouTube. On the plus side, CatSynth TV viewership has grown significantly. Here are the top videos for the year.

  1. NAMM 2018: Mellotron! [Episode 34]
  2. Arturia MiniBrute 2 Part 1
  3. Arturia MiniBrute 2 Sequencer [Episode 61]
  4. NAMM 2018: Rossum Electro Music Assimil8or [Episode 31]
  5. Volca FM: Deconstructed Electric Piano [Episode 53]

Clearly, the NAMM reviews and synth demos dominate the channel, though I am proud of the diversity of art, music, and culture topics shared there as well. Overall, we at CatSynth do see the writing on the wall, and the efforts in 2019 will probably accelerate the shift from blog to video in terms of time, energy and investment.

On a more personal and introspective note, 2018 was a year we accomplished a lot. At the same time, it ends feeling like I both did too much and didn’t do enough. There are still so many things going on, even as we tried to consolidate and focus. One of the challenges going into 2019 will be looking at how to stay organized and even more focused, without giving up on all that we do. Also, like birthdays, a new year is a reminder that time is passing, and we are getting a bit older. Taking care of myself will also be a priority.

Thank you all as always for sharing this past year with us, and wish wish everyone a Happy New Year!

CatSynth TV Episode 99!

It’s the 99th Episode of CatSynth TV, and we have a special treat for all our readers and videos. It combines many of our interests: synthesizers, cats, experimental music and film, and highways.

Video shot along Highway 99 in California from Manteca through Stockton and heading towards Sacramento. Additional video and photography at CatSynth HQ in San Francisco.

Guest appearances by Sam Sam and Big Merp.

Original experimental synthesizer music by Amanda Chaudhary, based on melodies from “99 is not 100” by Moe! Staiano.

Synthesizers used:

  • Minimoog
  • Arturia MiniBrute 2S
  • Big Fish Audio John Cage Prepared Piano Sample Library (Kontakt)
  • Nord Stage EX
  • Mutable Instruments Plaits
  • Metasonix R-54 and R-53 2hp Cat module
  • 4ms Spectral Multiband Resonator
  • Make Noise Echophon