The Playlist Didn’t Work

Okay, so yesterday when I posted the playlist from hearthis.at that had all of my May music project songs on it, it embedded into the post okay, but it only played the first song. Jerk.

So here are links to the 2020 music projects so far. I don’t do this because I expect anyone to click on them, I just do it so I can look at it and say, “awwww.”

I’ve already made a trello board for June. Starting in July the tracking gets weird because July through September fall under the 50/90 FAWM challenge. I still want to try to have at least 10 songs started and finished during each calendar month while slaving my way toward a total of 50. Like ya do.

I still have one song from April that is unfinished. It just needs a guitar solo and a mix. I might complete that today and tomorrow and then be ready for June. I don’t want to declare any gear restrictions but I am thinking it’s just going to be my ES-335 and my RYRA Klone pedal. I’m a little worried about the buzzing on the first string of the 335 though. I might try to raise the action a smidge but that will probably screw up the intonation… though the intonation might already be screwy. The guitar did sit in the cellar for almost two years.

Who knows. Well see.

The year of music projects will continue, starting on Monday.

May Music: Finished

Well, February, March, April, and May all have 10 song RPM Challenge style recording projects (February and April actually are officially RPM Challenges) that were all finished on the 29th day of the month.

May has 11 songs. I just finished mixing the last two.

Is it good?

Nope.

Do I care?

Nope.

Music and Money

I’ve mentioned that at the start of March I decided to curb my post-RPM Challenge blues by doing another RPM Challenge.  I’m still working on it though it is very easy to be distracted by other things right now.  I’ve got two songs done, six more partially done, and I still need two more.

This morning there was a post on the RPM Challenge Facebook group (I didn’t check the actual RPM Challenge website, it might be there too) suggesting we all take advantage of being stuck at home indefinitely and do another RPM Challenge in April.  Good idea!  I mean, I was already planning on it, but I don’t have to do it alone.  Why not?  Why not use our stay-at-home time to do something creative?  I’m all for it… but I would have been without a global pandemic to lock me in the house so I guess I’m not the target audience there.

Turning to politics, remember when Andrew Yang was running for president and proposed giving everyone in the USA a $1,000 stipend every month?  I thought it was a good idea.  A creative way to help those in need as well as to stimulate the economy.  I also loved the implied, “you think Sanders is a socialist?  Wait till you get a load of this” vibe.

Yesterday Mittens Romney threw out a similar proposal.  Today Joe Kennedy did as well, though he provided some actual details with his idea.  Now it sounds like the fucking white house is jumping on the wagon.  They may be considering a plan similar to Yang’s.

First off, let me get it out of the way… if the dickless president really wants to make being anti-socialist a platform in his campaign, then giving away money isn’t a good way to do it.  I expect that anyone who ever said a negative word about socialism should refuse that money, right?  Just like they refuse public schools and public fire departments, and trash pick up, and police, and snow plows, and highways, and all of those other socialist things.

Second, can we just make Andrew Yang president now?  Like, let’s all vote today and just give him the job.  The proposal he made that everyone laughed at could very well be law within days.  Good work, Mr Yang.  Smart leadership is what we need and it is literally the furthest thing away from what we have.

So as for the social distancing, today is my second day working from home.  Yesterday felt like a normal telecommute day.  All day long I had this idea in the back of my mind that I would be back in the office tomorrow, same as any other telecommuting day.  It really wasn’t until I got up this morning and didn’t drive to work (I drove to the super market instead) that it really started sinking in.  Things are different.

There is a little sense of stir craziness, sure, but mostly what I am feeling today is the sense that this is going to be really hard to do.  Some how removing the commute and the office from the work day equation is going to make things more difficult?  I don’t get it, but that feels like where this is heading.  I wish I could explain it, but I can’t.

There is so much wrong with the world right now, and I’m not even talking about that textbook nazi prick in the white house.  There is so much out of wack that I can’t figure out what to focus my worries on.  I’m trying to only worry about things I can control like stocking the pantry and working from home and making sure everyone has what they need to do their work/school work without driving each other to drink (wink).  I don’t want to worry about all the other shit.  I don’t want to worry about the projections or the infection rates, or the mortality rates, or the stock market, or layoffs or closings, or the fact that I am weeks overdue for a haircut and now can’t get one (anyone want to lend me their flowbee?).

Positivity used to be the hardest thing in the world for me before I met Jen.  It’s still not easy, but it is closer to my normal mindset.  I am trying real hard to stay positive through all of this.  I may need to bash my guitar around in order to pull it off, but I owe it to everyone to do my best to keep the ship upright.  (I typo’d ship as shit and somehow that sounds better to me, hehe)

So keep your shit together, planet Earth.  I have faith in you.  You can do it.  Now let’s all celebrate St Patrick’s Day in our self imposed isolation by listening to some Irish music.  No, not U2.  No, not Makem and Clancy…

Rory Gallagher (I wanted the Irish Tour album but those pukes at Spotify don’t have it)

Projects

March kinda sucks.

I go through this every year.  I finish my February music projects and then feel this gaping hole in the universe during March.  From reading blogs and forum posts on rpmchallenge.com I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way.

So what to do?

A few months ago I was working on a way to add the rest of my old myspace blog to this site.  I started up on that again last night.  WordPress.com is able to back date posts but it’s a royal pain in the ass to go back to 2007 and 2008.  Instead, I created a Blogger account and I’ve been posting back dated entries there.  Once I have them all I’ll export them to an .xml file and import them here.  That should work fine.  The myspace blog covered pretty much all of 2006 through November 2008.  I had pulled all of 2006 into my previous wordpress.com site so those are all here already.  As of last night the Blogger page has almost all of 2007.  I think I have about 75 more posts to go.

I’m still going with my Flickr photo-a-day project.  It suddenly feels difficult though.  It was easy last month.  There was always music happening so I could take pics of that, and Disney made things even easier.  Now?  What the hell do I take pictures of now?  Where’s the cat when I need her?

Back in January Jen and I did a tutorial for a javascript extension (I think that’s the right way to describe it… a scripting language built on top of javascript).  It was fun and interesting but my javascript knowledge is ancient and more or less nil at this point.  I thought I might have gotten more out of it if I did a javascript tutorial first.  I would like to try something like that in the coming weeks.  I would like to be a better all around programmer than I am right now.  My company’s development tools and programming languages are proprietary, so even if I’m firing on all cylinders at work it doesn’t really extend to the rest of the world.

Years ago I found a set of wordpress.com tutorials called Blogging University.  There are various beginner and intermediate level courses to help you get the most out of your wordpress.com experience.  There were classes for customization, writing, photography, and interacting with other blogs.  I might give some of those a try again, just for schnitzengiggles.  If I remember correctly they were mostly prompts.  Things like, today you should write a better About page, or today you should take a picture of water.  Stuff like that.  The photo stuff would be fine to redo, as I just said I’m always looking for ideas for photo-a-day.  The basic blogging stuff is probably too simple for this page, but there is always the lizardfishmusic.com page.  I could make some changes there.  I don’t think I’ve made any changes to the layout there since I first created it.  Maybe a face lift would be fun?

Exercising should be an obvious target for new projects.  I had a really bad night Weight Watchers wise last night and I’m feeling a little crummy about myself today.  I got home from work and just started shoveling food into my face and I really didn’t stop until I fell asleep.  I need to be better than that.  The gym might help in that regard, or at least minimize the damage of any future bad days.  Right now I am having a problem with one of my feet (again).  My right foot feels a little swollen and it hurts to walk.  It’s not the same thing I had a month or so ago, and it’s not nearly as bad, but it is slowing me down right now.  Once that eases up I need to get back to the gym, and I need to get into a regular routine.

There is always more music to record, and more songs to learn for Lizardfish, and more practicing in general to do.  Just because February is over doesn’t mean I can stop playing.  I was doing pretty well with finding time to practice back in January.  I need to keep up with it.  I’m tired of feeling like the weak link in the band.  I’m also thinking of trying something new gear wise.  I want to try to run a two amp rig in the band, but most of the amps I have now are way too powerful and if I paired them up I’d be unable to not drown out the rest of the band during rehearsals.  I keep looking at my 15 watt Fender Bassbreaker as the solution.  If I could pair that with another lowish watt amp that could work.  I am thinking about going to Guitar Center to inquire about trading my Fender Stratocaster in for a Vox AC15.  I think that might be the key to making it all work.  A Fender Princeton reissue could do it, but it’s only a 10 inch speaker and I’d prefer to stick to 12 inch speakers if I can.  I just like them better.  We’ll see.

Should I start looking into using in-ear monitors?  One of the guys in the band uses them.  One of the hosts of the Gig Gab podcast swears by them.  So much so that he’s always inspiring the other host to try them, even though he has a hard time with them.  I don’t really want to spend money on it, but we’re getting to the point where we’re going to be mic’ing the room during rehearsals and I always wear ear plugs anyway.  Is it time?  I’m trying to decide.  I’m definitely on the fence.  We’ll see.

I was hoping that by this point in 2020 I would be able to do something to help out with the Warren for President campaign.  I guess that isn’t going to happen.  At least it seems highly unlikely now.  I can get behind Bernie Sanders, but the idea of a candidate in his late 70’s who has already suffered a heart attack during this campaign is a little depressing.  Platform wise I can 100% get on board.  Human wise… ugh.  As for Joe Biden.  He’s a great guy and I love him to pieces, but he’s literally my last choice of all of the candidates we’ve had.  Dead last.  Yet another guy in his late 70’s but this time one who just feels like a frat boy who got lucky.  He just seems a little too dumb ass for the oval office, and we already have a total dumb ass in the office now.  If he ends up with the nomination he’ll get 100% of my support… I was just hoping the rest of the country would jump on the Warren bandwagon, that’s all.  Yet another reason to feel let down by my fellow Americans.

There are a crap ton of TV shows that I want to watch.  February has resulted in me falling way behind on all of the CW super hero shows that I like to watch.  I’m like two months behind on The Flash, Supergirl, and Batwoman.  I’ve been trying to get caught up on Star Trek Discovery.  Season two is really good, I just haven’t had time to power through.  The last season of Star Wars The Clone Wars is either about to come out or has just recently come out.  I wanted to binge the whole series before I watched the new season but… Jar Jar… he kinda killed my interest in that.  I want to finish season two of You even though it’s definitely meh.  I want to watch Lock and Key and The Expanse and I still want to get back into Breaking Bad and Preacher.  I’ve started both of them, but just haven’t been able to keep going.  I’m not sure why, the are both good.  I’m caught up on The Walking Dead, and the second spin off is just a month or so away.  One show that I did not fall behind on in February is Star Trek Picard.  It is so good.  Just, so very good.  I wish it was going to be a 25 episode season instead of 10 (I think it’s just going to be 10).  I don’t want it to end… ever.

I’m sure there are other projects I can come up with that are just there for fun and a sense of creative accomplishment.  If we get lucky and Spring actually gets here there are always day trips up to the mountains that I can drag my beloved Mrs to.  There are so many waterfalls, and so many scenic views up there.  They are all just sitting there, waiting for me and Jen and my camera to come and visit.

There’s also always Disney World.  Or Disneyland.  Or Euro-Disney, if that’s even still a thing.  I’d say Tokyo Disney too but I have a co-worker who was supposed to go there next week and he told me it’s closed due to some global pandemic* thing.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?

On an unrelated note, I am trying a new browser again.  The same podcast that inspired me to try Brave has inspired me to try Vivaldi.  This post is the first thing I’ve done with it.  Isn’t that exciting?  I’m just glad that the Last Pass plug in for Chrome works in Vivaldi too.  That makes life a tiny bit easier.

 

*Go wash your hands.  Seriously.

One Last RPM Post

I am still waiting on the good folks over at RPM headquarters to mark my album as received.  It usually takes a little while for them to acknowledge everyone’s submissions so I’m not concerned.  There was also the issue they had with the site crashing on the 29th so they let everyone have an extra day to check things in.  I had all of that done before noon on the 1st.

Here is my entry on the RPM profile page:

2020 Album name:

I Only Believe in Truth

Received

Date submitted:

02/29/2020

2020 Preferred Track name:

We’re Coming for You

About this preferred track:

Simple (mostly) 12-bar recorded mostly live.

About this album:

My original idea was half electric and half acoustic. That went out the window quickly and I ended up with a mostly disjointed mess of songs that are not so bad.

Favorite moment:

I used to be a sax player first and foremost, but once I started playing guitar while I was in high school I became a full time guitar player. On this album I decided to see if I could still play the sax. I can. Not well, but I can still do it. That felt great.

Words of wisdom:

I lost a full week due to a family vacation, though I did mix a few of the songs while sitting in a hotel in Disney World (we stayed at the Yacht Club). I was able to find the time to get all of the tracking done in plenty of time. You can do it if you need to, you just need to be creative with your time management.

Lessons learned:

I can still play the saxophone. A guitar played through two amps just sounds better than a guitar part played through one amp. Writing out a melody prior to writing the lyrics or sitting at a mic lead to me writing much more creative melodies that were not only more fun (and harder) to sing, but lead to songs that overall seem more interesting to me.

I also wrote a blog post during lunch today to act as a sort of recap for the month. Everything I wrote had been written on this blog at some point or another (except maybe the bit at the end about wishing I could change my mind on the sequencing).

I did it.  That’s nine years in a row with a finished album by March 1st.  I know that in terms of the real world it’s silly and stupid and not important, but for me it’s a huge thing and the feeling of accomplishment I feel cannot be overstated.

The finished product doesn’t look anything like what I planned.  I knew I was going to lose a full week to a family vacation so I kept my expectations kinda low.  I wanted 10 songs.  Five arranged for an electric three-piece rock band, and five arranged for an acoustic group in a coffee shop: Acoustic guitar, cajon and hand percussion, alto saxophone, and vocals.

It didn’t take me long to change the 10 song plan to 14 songs (seven of each type).  That was simply due to me writing too much music.  Even the 7/7 plan went down the tubes as I kept writing electric songs long after I should have stopped.  I ended up with seven acoustic songs and 11 electric songs.

If that wasn’t overdoing it enough, as I was working on a couple of the acoustic songs I starting thinking that they would sound pretty good with a set of drums instead of just hand percussion.  Eventually all seven of them had bass, drums, and electric guitar parts added and I ended up with two different mixes.  One for the coffee shop and one for a rock band.  So now instead of 18 possible mixes to use for the final album I had 25.

I thought about doing a three sided album where side one was all electric, side two was all coffee shop (my coffee shop analogy is starting to get annoying, but I’m rolling with it), and side three was band mixes of acoustic songs.

I scrapped that idea too.  Instead I went through all of the acoustic songs and picked the mix I thought sounded best and then went through all 18 songs and sorted them into three categories: Good, Kinda Good, and Crap.  Two songs went into the crap bucket, and three into kinda good.  I decided to drop them all from the final album and just go with the 13 that landed in the good bucket.

Here they are… 13 disjointed songs that no longer fit to any theme or structure, but which were the least offensively bad of the batch:

I Only Believe in Truth

So what did that leave me with?  Seven alternate mixes and five outtakes.  Two of the outtakes were acoustic so I really had five alternates of album tracks, five outtakes, and two alternate mixes of outtakes.  12 leftover tracks.  I figured the alternate mixes of the album tracks were all still pretty okay so I packed them all together into an alternate RPM album:

I Only Believe in Alternates and Outtakes

The saddest part of all of this is that last night I was listening through the dropped songs and I really think I should have kept one of them.  If I had paid a little more attention during the sequencing I would have made a better decision and the final album would have been a little different.  I am afraid that when I listen to the main album I’ll decide there were things I should have dropped.

Oh well.  February is over.  As with all RPM Challenges it’s now time to figure out what I want to do next.

What do I want to do next?

So yeah… what do I do next?

My Final #RPM2020 Album

…and with that, it’s all done.

After all the talking about saxophones I only ended up using three of the seven songs I played it on.  Five of the seven acoustic songs made it to the album, but I used the band mix on two of them.

I needed 10 songs and I ended up using 13.  I still feel iffy about a couple of them.  Maybe I should have stuck to just 10.  The running time is supposed to be 35 minutes and I ended up with a little more than 43.  I never gave that much thought this year though as I knew I was going to have way more than 10 songs to work with.

Do I like this album?  As of right now, I kinda do.  Ask me again in a couple of days and I’ll probably vomit on you (figuratively).  Does it feel like an “Album”? No.  It feels like a disjointed mess, but I knew it would.  As soon as I came up with the idea of making the album one part electric and one part acoustic I knew it would feel sloppy.

Speaking of sloppiness, I lowered my standards for the minimum level of performance required for one of these projects.  There is a lot of less than wonderful guitar playing and some down right shitty singing.  The sax playing was going to be bad even at its best.  You can’t take seven years off from an instrument and then suddenly play like John Coltrane… not that I ever played like John Coltrane, of course.  I’m literally being figurative here, not literal.

Anyway, here it is in all it’s messy glory:

The Alternate/Outtake Album

I usually wait a week or two before uploading my finished RPM album to bandcamp, but I was up early today and figured what the hell.

Over the last few years I have been creating a separate playlist on alonetone to hold all of the songs that I cut.  Those songs usually don’t go to bandcamp.  Last year I didn’t cut anything and had enough for two full records, so everything went.

This year I had five acoustic songs that went on the final album and each one had an alternate mix that I think was good enough to use, and at one point I thought about putting them both on the final album.  Instead I decided to use them as the first half of the second playlist and to include that second playlist on bandcamp.

I uploaded those first so that the “real” album would show up as the most recent.

Here it is:

The first five songs are alternate mixes of songs on the actual RPM album.  The next five are songs that I dropped, three electric and two acoustic.  I put the preferred mix of the acoustic song first.  The last two songs are the non-preferred mix of the dropped acoustic songs.