I posted a blog yesterday, immediately regretted it, then promptly went back and deleted everything. It was just too negative (more than I usually am). I know that I can be a downer, sometimes. You don’t need to be reminded of that. But, I did want to leave a few updates for this overdue blog.
I spent a couple of days trying to shoot a vlog. But, the webcam is broken. I kept fiddling with it and looking for a software solution. It has got to be the hardware, though. Everything else is fine.
The transmission on my van is going out and the wheels wobble. I don’t know why, yet. Yesterday, I aired up a flat tire, drove my decrepit van to the post office, got the mail, changed the cat’s litterbox, fed her a can of food, busted a guitar string, wrote some letters, etc. Mostly, I’ve been sleeping a lot. I think I missed taking my meds three or four times this week, including today (and I really feel it). I hate when I do that.
Tom Zarzecki, of Death Cat, is planning another film festival later this year. I think I will pass on that this time. I wasn’t very happy with how my previous contribution turned out and the festival itself last year was kind of a bust. Practically no one but the filmmakers themselves showed up. It was an insightful experience, though. Now I’m more aware about some mistakes to avoid when I’m performing live.
My homemade drum kit (aka The ShitKit) has a problem. The bass drum pedal is totally broken. I was building a wooden base for the kit when I noticed that pieces of the kick pedal were missing. Shit. I don’t have any money to replace it. Maybe someone would accept a trade? They could possibly repair it if they have the parts.
My friend Max Grean is putting together a Glam-Core group (whatever that means). Not exactly sure where he is going with that. He asked me to contribute to it. So, I guess that I am the keyboardist. I have one decent quality keyboard (on loan from my ex). The rest that I own are cheap crap. We will see what happens.
This is a mixed-media painting that I finished a few months ago. It will probably end up as a zine cover, at some point, eventually. Just to have SOME consistency here, I will continue to show you my paintings & artwork in each blog, w/ a song from my record collection included. Maybe that will help me, somehow, to remain in a better mental state.
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.
I’ve been kinda busy lately, helping my aunt and ex-gf move. I was also not feeling well for a week or so. Then, my van broke down. I’m behind on my projects, including providing this month’s MP3 for Patrons. I’m doing my best to catch up.
I received a small batch of comics, recently, that I contributed to. It’s called Five O’Clock Shadow. This is issue #25. I’m including them with orders and donations on my Bandcamp page, while they last.
I am recording a bunch of exclusive music for my supporters on Patreon, as well as contributions to The Residents, David Liebe Hart (“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”), and some new collaborators who want to put a band or something together with me. Lots of stuff going on!
Issues of “Theee Urban SpaceCat” Cassette-Zine have been held back for an absurd amount of time, mostly for financial reasons. I’m always broke. Just to get them out there in some form, , I will be releasing the first couple of issues digitally (PDF & MP3). They may get printed physically at a later time. But, look on the bright side. At least you can download them instantly instead of waiting by your mailbox.
Another project that I’m working on is a series of paintings, each including a compact disc of unique material. I will show them for you on future videos. Plus, there is all of the other art that I’m making every day. So, perhaps good things are happening.
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I know that I need to put myself out there more if I want to accomplish my goals. My natural inclination is avoid everybody, though.
Procrastination is another big problem of mine. I “rack disiprine.”
I try REALLY hard to do better. But, I’m my own worst enemy. I self-sabotage everything.
I have put myself on a regular schedule, of sorts, to take care of everyday things, so I don’t have to think about it much. I make myself a daily to-do list. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d get anything done. But, it isn’t foolproof. I still get sidetracked with something else a lot. I tend to fixate on something, to the exclusion of everything else, and lose track of time.
I was thinking about the creative process, the thinking process. If I document it, publicly, maybe this will help to keep me motivated, creative and honest. When I write to friends or collaborate with other people I seem to get more stuff done. It helps, I guess. I might be less likely to throw everything away before I’m finished.
I’m blogging for my Patreon-supporters (the Superduper Secret SpaceCat Blog) almost every week-ish . I share things to keep it interesting.
I had a busy week or two, making a bunch of horror movie themed paintings for a show at the Phoenix Cafe’ and putting together a short movie for the Planet 9 Film Festival. Now that it’s over I’m catching up on neglected housework and van repairs.
Moving on to the next thing or so;
Working on issues #1-3 of“Theee Urban SpaceCat” cassette-zine. It has been held up for a ridiculous length of time already. It was always my intent to publish new issues every three or four months. But, I never have any money to do so. I’m considering just posting MP3/PDF versions online until I can get enough cash together. I have a growing backlog of material to do something with or discard.
Building new custom instruments, ShitKit 2.0 and miscellaneous noise machines. Everything was taking up space and had to be moved. My grandmother needs her garage back.
“The Island of Misfit Noise” movie might make a little more progress. The recent experience of making and showing a short film has been educational.
Recording new music for collaboration albums: David Liebe Hart (“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”) and The Residents!
Of course, I will continue to collaborate on other things as well. I may have found a new drummer!
I doubt if I will perform alone again for awhile. Had a bad experience a few weeks ago. Was offered another gig in two months. But, I’ll pass, just stick to recording for the time being.
Recently, I showed my art and submitted a last-minute entry into the Planet 9 Film Fest, I Dream of SpaceCat. The festival is appearing in Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The Detroit date did not go as planned. Well, the event got relocated three times and was scheduled as a matinee. A few of the bar regulars and the filmmakers themselves showed up. But, I think that was about it. Oh well. Maybe it will get played in the other cities. I dunno.
If you were unable to see this short video in the full context of the festival, maybe you would like to see it here. I doubt that I will ever commercially release it, as-is. Maybe elements will resurface in other projects, someday. It’s possible. Admittedly, it’s not a cinema masterpiece by any measure. But, all things considered, for what it is it turned out pretty good, I think.
I was going through my hard drive, looking at designs for new guitars and custom instruments. I didn’t know if anybody would care about this sort of thing, except other musicians… maybe. Of course, lacking any money, I build these things as opportunities come along. I can probably work on the cheaper ones for awhile.
I always liked the customized design of Jimmy Page’s Les Paul Guitars, with push-pull knobs enabling coil-tapping and phase-shifting. But, I like baritone guitars a lot, too. The first draft at my version went something like this:
I kept making further refinements. Although Les Pauls have a nice tone, the original construction needs work. The headstocks are notorious for breaking easily. So, I changed it to a Zachary Guitars “samurai sword” style headstock. Also, I prefer guitar bodies with an offset waist, for comfort. So, I would keep the maple top mahogany body, just shape it more comfortably like a Fender Jazzmaster or Jaguar.
I played around with different pickup configurations, different woods, a graphite reinforced neck, etc.. I gave a Fender Bass VI style body a try.
Then, I moved on to basses. I want to combine a Fender Jazz, Precision, and Rickenbacker style tones together. Maybe a Gibson Thunderbird. Maybe not. But, I know it would not sound like any of them if I tried to do that. A close approximation would be nice, though.
It is possible that the only way around this is to build a different one for each specific tone. But, I thought about including Line 6 Variax Bass wiring hooked to a piezo pickup for variety. Not sure if it would work.
This is all out of my price range, for now. I considered having the body made, then adding parts as I go along. The neck is the most expensive piece. I don’t know to what degree solid graphite necks can be customized. Having a comfortable neck is very important. I think a “Soft V” contour is the right shape for me. But, I’m not sure. If a pro shop could work out details like that with me it would be extremely helpful.
Making experimental “noise machines” is a lot easier for me to put together on a low budget. The most common that I like making are basically stringed instruments built from scrap wood and junk.
Anything that makes a sound is fair game, though.
One thing that I thought about getting, for a long time, is a DJ rack case & table. It could store all sorts of effects, make room to operate small devices, and give me something to stand behind. But, they aren’t cheap. This is at the very bottom of my wishlist.
So, there it is. That is just some of the things I’ve been working on, for a long time. I’ll probably build the noise machines sooner than the rest. It would great if I could scrape together enough money to do the basses / guitars, though. I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing until then.