Choose Your Destiny (or It Will Be Chosen For You)

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Pickle Rick is BADASSSSSS!

Making mistakes are inevitable. You learn what you can from them and try not to make the same ones twice. But, as I’ve been told, I “never know when to quit.” I guess there are upsides and downsides to that. I’m persistent.

I’ve always hated the business side of art & music. There are some aspects that I don’t mind doing myself. But, most of it I’ve always left for someone else to handle (booking shows, collecting the door, etc.). I’m just really bad at it. But, as a club owner once told comedian / performance artist Andy Kaufman, “This is show-business. Show… Business! Show…Business! Without the business, there’s no show.” It took a very long time to beat that into my head. But, I still relied too much on others to get things done.

I’ve always known how important it is to have backup gear; strings, cords, cables, picks, etc. But, I never considered having a backup for other contingencies. A friend would set up a show for me and I’d prepare to get by at that one show. If something went wrong, though, I’d be fucked. I’ve been stood up by bandmates at booked gigs. I’ve had important pieces of equipment fail. If something CAN go wrong, it usually does.

I was, recently, reading a blog explaining the pros and cons of touring alone vs touring with a band. It got me thinking about how I can better prepare myself. I should ALWAYS have a backup plan ready for when shit goes wrong, “Always have a plan A, B, C, and D.” If an offer comes along and I don’t have a backup plan for it, then I probably shouldn’t accept it. I’m not ready. The best way to avoid this from happening is to DIY all of the work, as much as possible. If I’m bad at it, then I’ll learn how to get better. I’ve always been bad with cars, but eventually I had to learn shit or it didn’t get done…period.

If I’m setting up a show by myself, I can control the variables and take precautions. If bandmates flake out or cannot show up, I can still do it alone. If a piece of equipment fails, I can do something else instead. Whatever happens, I got this.

Part of this mindset is influenced by my “prepping hobby” or whatever you want to call it. I liked the TV show “Doomsday Preppers”, while it lasted. Sure, there were lots of nutcases on there with too much money to waste and not enough common sense. But, the general principle is a sound one, “Be prepared…for anything.” It got our grandparents through the Great Depression. The pioneers survived travelling across the wilderness because they prepared for it. Shit’s gonna happen, inevitably. What are you gonna do? Cry about it? No. If something needs to be done, get it done. No one else will do it. Think ahead, then you won’t have to worry as much.

I have repairs & replacements that need to be taken care of. But, I would like to set up a few mini-tours down the Midwest or The East Coast. Whether that is with a group or alone (or both) I’d like to somehow make that happen. If I can secure a decent-priced rental van and insurance with Roadside Assistance it would make a world of difference. Would it be a deal-breaker if I can’t? I’m not sure.

Another thing that has taken me a very long time to learn is, “If you can’t do it the way that you want to do it, find another way to do it. Then, do it anyway.” Being stubbornly perfectionist can really hold you back. I’ve had to learn that the hard way. I’ve had some great ideas which would have been fantastic to see materialize, “only if…” It’s always some details that prevented it from happening, when I could have done it in some other fashion and at least gotten SOMETHING done – instead of nothing.

This kinda goes back to my point of being more self-reliant. I’ve often needed someone around to break me out of my depression,  get me motivated, and to bounce ideas off of. If I had simply recorded & performed everything myself, all along, I could have accomplished so much more! I thought that I NEEDED other people to do things. But, I really only WANTED them. That is a big difference. It is a huge mistake to wait for anyone for anything, if you can avoid it. “Don’t wait around for help, because it isn’t coming.” Otherwise, you’ll be sitting there, forever, Waiting For Godot.

One of my favorite cartoons is “Rick & Morty.” I think that the best episode, so far, has been “Pickle Rick.” In this episode, the title character (transformed into a limbless pickle) is physically helpless, trapped down a sewer drain, but manages to save his own life through sheer ingenuity and persistence. Just like one of my other favorite TV characters, MacGyver. He could have simply despaired there at the bottom of the sewer, hopelessly crying to himself, until the rats and roaches ate his lifeless corpse. But, instead, he used his environment to escape and survive. I’m a little envious that I don’t have more positive moments like that myself. It is something to strive for, though.

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PICKLE RICK!!!
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My Routine, Paintings, Records, and Halloween

 

I’d love to get any feedback from you.

When I get stuff in the mail, it also gives me fodder for making zines and things.

 

 

Today’s Blog

Music For The People

I haven’t posted much on my website blog in awhile. I have kept myself fairly occupied most of the time, despite outward appearances.

I’ve finally closed the door on The Island of Misfit Noise, as a recording group for good. It is still the title of a no-budget movie and comic book. But, for the purposes of collaborating with other musicians, it has outlived it’s usefulness. I will think of something else if I need it. I’m currently working on a new album with some friends and am keeping an eye out for available musicians to perform live with again.

My disability pay has not come yet. I’m annoyed. A mistake has been made by the Social Security Administration. I updated my account information with them over a month ago. But, they deposited this month’s payment into an account that is no longer active. I called their office and the bank. Hopefully, it will be straightened out soon. I need supplies to work on a few projects and it is holding me up. I have a lot of stuff to catch up on;

  • This week’s mail is ready to go out as soon as I get some postage.
  • My homemade drum kit (aka The ShitKit) is coming along really well. I need to get some parts from a hardware store to put it together.
  • I’m working on a short film to submit to a film festival next month. I need a few items for building props, sets, puppets, etc.
  • I have some incomplete paintings that require art supplies.
  • Someone is offering a free drafting table on Craigslist. I’m out of gas, though. Hopefully, it will still be there when I can refuel again.
  • I need funds to send my zines to the printers, if I am to have them ready in time for upcoming events.
  • I have VHS tapes that need to be transferred to my computer for editing. But, the VCR needs cleaning badly and I can’t find any tape head cleaners anywhere. I gotta get replacements.
  • Of course, there is also the matter of monthly bills and mundane household things; rent, phone, internet, debts, medications, food, dish soap, cat litter, paper towels, toilet paper, car insurance & license plate renewal, etc.

I recently sent out an email to those on my mailing list with a few details of upcoming events and a plea for financial support. I doubt that anybody will take me up on it. But, it never hurts to ask.

I’m writing a new horror story to be made into another low-budget movie, after “The Island of Misfit Noise” film is finished. It is a little more ambitious. It will actually require a REAL budget and not be made piecemeal like the IOMN.

Another project that I will undertake, a little bit later, is a compilation LP.  It will be funded collectively by the contributing artists. Everyone submits a song or two and their share of the budget to produce it. After the vinyl is pressed, everyone gets their percentage of the finished product, to sell at gigs. It is an old method of doing things, that I have participated in before. Another share of the records will be sent out for promotion, through radio and press.

But, before I embark on these and other projects, I need to finish up a couple of things and sort out my financial situation. I have enrolled in a debt consolidation program. So far, my credit cards seem to be under control. But, I have yet to get my payday loan debts arranged. I don’t believe that I can do that this month, because I have to buy a car insurance policy to renew my license plates. We will see how that comes along. Anyway, that is what I’m doing lately.

Vlogging Update: May 2017

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Hey y’all,

Sorry for the long absence.

My computer died.

I gave it to my aunt to work on.

She does IT work for the local school district.

Unable to fix it, she gave me another one that a school was getting rid of.

I tried to salvage what I could from the old one.

But, most of my programs and files were lost.

I’ve been searching for the missing software and restoring what I can.

My scanner/printer didn’t want to cooperate with the new computer.

I tried replacing it.

But, the replacements didn’t work either.

After a couple of days messing with it, I finally got it running.

My van has a million problems.

But, at least I got the front tire fixed that kept going flat.

I’ve replaced that tire THREE TIMES and it still kept going flat.

I thought maybe the rim was bent.

I had it looked at and they found a piece of metal lodged inside.

They patched it up.

Now, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Only cost me $15 bucks (thank God)!

I tried to repay my grandmother $700 dollars I owe her.

She forgave some of it.

My ex forgave the $200 I owed her, too, since I’ve been helping her relocate and move her stuff.

Not sure how I’ll get my other debts paid.

But, I try not to get stressed out about it.

That really fucks up my creativity.

Groundhog Day

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I was gonna record a vlog to go with this (including a new song!). But, I didn’t get around to it. I’ll try to get it out this weekend, maybe. I have been digging through my old practice tapes and recording new demos for a couple of months now. I am not happy with a lot of it. But, you always have to dig through a lot of shit to find anything useful. Since I haven’t put out anything in a long time, I have been contributing to other people’s projects. I was asked by Uncle Ghoulie to provide some artwork and sounds to Truth Porn MilitiaNo Budget Radio Podcast. So, that is cool. I will be getting that out soon. There have also been some zines and other things requesting my input. So, I haven’t been completely unproductive, I guess.

I’m really beginning to wonder if maybe I should just give away my notes & artwork to let someone else make my movies. At least then they would get produced SOMEHOW. Tim Burton had almost nothing to do with making Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, yet his name is still in the title. He just gave his old sketchbook to another director and said, “Here. Knock yourself out.” Good idea? Bad idea? I don’t know. But, it looks like if I’m gonna produce it, it will likely be a few years until it it is done. Even if I cut costs to the absolute bone and it looks like dogshit, I don’t think I can get it done.

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that I can get Theee Urban SpaceCat finally going this month. I should have enough raw material for a few issues already. I’ve been continually painting, drawing, recording, writing, etc. It really comes down to paying for putting it out there. I’ll deal with other expenses later, if it becomes necessary.

After over a year of keeping my stuff in storage, lacking enough funds, I recently had to let go of my storage unit. I have downsized a lot of it. So, at least I can fit everything in my grandmother’s garage (between the Christmas decorations and patio furniture). She gave me a nice bookshelf that was no longer wanted. So, I finally have somewhere to keep what is left of my vinyl LPs. I was very disappointed to realize how much of my collection that I’ve sold off.

She also gave me a free pizza promotional card that she got in the mail from Domino’s Pizza. I later brought the pizza back to her house. She, my nephew Michael, and I enjoyed a large deluxe. Mmmmmm.

I gotta finish cleaning up here, soon. There is an apartment inspection coming Monday. The landlord is making sure that no bed bugs have returned. Thankfully, the place has been pest-free for a year now. As a matter of fact, it was during the bug extermination last winter that I began renting my storage unit. So, it lasted one whole year.

I just got a small loan to cover my rent problem (last month’s check bounced!). I needed to pay two month’s rent and late/returned check fees IMMEDIATELY or I would get evicted. I’m not sure how much more financial Jiu-Jitsu I can pull off before it finally catches up with me. The van has a lot of mechanical problems needing fixing. I still cannot afford to put insurance on it. I’m risking jail time for driving without it (a misdemeanor in Michigan!). I’m in debt to my eyeballs to doctors & hospitals, credit cards, collection agencies, etc.

I set up a Patreon account. Maybe, I can find a little help from some folks, to fix my money situation. It is a long shot, I guess. But, what have I got to lose? I will post music, videos, and other stuff for patrons that won’t get released anywhere else. I’ll be adding more bonuses for supporters (t-shirts, stickers, magnets, flamethrowers, meat cannons, etc.) when I have them available. Any assistance is appreciated! Thanks.

Become A Patron!

Is There a Mike Nobody Sound, or Visual Style? Maybe.

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When I am jamming with other people, they motivate me and kinda help focus what I am doing.

So, I am always bouncing ideas back-and-forth with them, trying to see where their talents and interests are.

If half of the group is into a specific style of music, that gives me a vague reference to work from.

I know what will work and what won’t.
My improvisational skills are kinda crappy, I admit, though.

Ironically, I need people to get out of my way and let me work alone when I am writing original music.

Cutting & pasting jam sessions into songs kinda works.

If I have no one to work with at all, I am kind of at a loss.

The music can go in all sorts of different directions.

So, finding my own “sound” can be difficult sometimes.

I am trying to shape what I do into a cohesive sound of my own, without tying my hands too much.

I would like to maintain the freedom to play whatever that I want.

Near as I can figure it, I guess that I kinda sound a little like Beck with a weird bass setup and tapes, maybe.

My working process, and limited resources, probably have more to do with any style that I may have than anything else.

I don’t have a drummer.

So, for percussion I must rely on drum machines, keyboard sounds, and whatever found objects that I can bang on.

I do not have other band members.

So, I rely on recordings of myself on guitars, noises, and assorted samples, to fill out the sound.

Compositionally, I like the cut & paste approach of artists like Magma, Cardiacs, Omoide Hatoba, Boredoms, Melvins, Ruins, Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, John Zorn, Carl Stalling, etc. and “mixtape style” of the Butthole Surfers, Ween, Faith No More, David Bowie, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc.

I like a mixture of Hi-Fi and Lo-Fi in recordings = Mid-Fi!

But, I prefer a specific squashed compression sound found on early Primus, Ween, and Butthole Surfers records.

I was able to ask guitarist / producer Paul Leary once about how he achieved that sound for the Butthole Surfers.

He said it was due to cheap tape recorders, and only having one microphone.

So, I think they recorded directly from their preamps a lot.

I know that Primus did.

That works great for me, since I only have shitty cheap microphones anyway.

Vocally, I have a kinda nasally high-pitched voice that I never liked.

Kind of a bit like Neil Young, Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Curt & Chris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets), Marc Bolan (T. Rex), etc.

Although, I try to give it a little bit of a Tom Waits-like growl on the lower end.

I guess that I compensate for my voice with cheap microphones and whatever vocal effects that are available, trying to bury it.

Visually, of course, everything is very cheap by necessity.

I like papier-mâché and cardboard props and sets.

Puppets and miniatures can be very useful, too.

Green screen, data-bending, and other cheap effects.

My mixed-media paintings and artwork kinda have a cheapniz aesthetic, too, I suppose.

I use stuff from thrift stores, hardware stores, dollar stores, and found materials a lot.

I tend to visualize the exterior world, the “real” world, in black & white colors.

A cold, decaying, dying, world.

The interior world, the world of the mind and imagination, by contrast is warmer and more colorful.

It is vast and endless.

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I will probably post more about my gear setup & playing techniques later.