Category: Flotsam and Jetsam

04
Jun
2020
17:18

“Wish You Were Here”

I’ve been getting random musical urges lately. The latest was a sudden desire to perform “Wish You Were Here” using my looper. So here it is. It is uncomfortably far from perfect, but I find I very often get bogged down in letting perfection become the enemy of good.

Playing music is so powerful and therapeutic for me. Putting things out for public consumption though, I NEVER feel like they’re good enough. I recorded a take of this last night, then upon reviewing the footage noticed some visual things that were unacceptable. I did a couple of more tries today. I finally got one I could live with so I went to render the audio and when it came time to grab the video, I found I had mistakenly deleted it, and since I used the Filmic Pro app, there was no “trash” to recover it from.

2 or three more tries and eventually it was starting to lose its magic and become tiresome, so I decided that this one was it. No more. Hopefully what it lacks in perfection, it makes up for in soul.

03
Jun
2020
18:21

A Tale Of Forbidden Hydration

I had noticed a filtered water machine at the gas station down the street from me. In an effort to more easily stay hydrated, I ordered a gallon water jug thinking that I could just walk down to the store and fill it up for $.35. Now I have a big water filter in my room, but to fill it I have to make multiple trips from the kitchen with a jug, and monitor the particulate count with a meter (or just notice when it starts tasting funny), buy filters, change the filters, fill out a form and mail in the filters to get recycled and get a credit on some new filters, make sure the cistern stays clean, etc. It seemed way easier to walk down to the store and pay $.35 and, BAM! Gallon of clean tasting filtered water.

I used the jug multiple times, but then one day I went to fill it up and the machine was apparently out of order. I would check periodically but it was out of order for quite a while. Then one day, there it was, all lit up again, ready to dispense me some lovely, life giving oxygen combined with a pair of hydrogen molecules! Yay!

But then soon after it was out of order again. After a few trips with it still being out of commission, I decided to ask the store clerk about it. He went to check it out and found it was simply unplugged. Well, good thing I asked about it! I told him I would have to come back with my jug. Today (a day or two after that last encounter), I grabbed my trusty gallon jug, prepared to stop drinking so much Diet Mtn. Dew and get some of that incredibly beneficial water into my system again! I needed some sun and air anyway, so I walked on down to the gas station on my quest, 35 cents jangling in the pocket of my Forest Green gym shorts.

As I approached, I was stopped dead in my tracks and my mouth went agape. There were no lights. In fact, there was no machine. The water machine was gone. A discolored patch of concrete next to the ice machine where it had once stood. For some reason, I walked right up to where it had been, as if maybe I wasn’t seeing something correctly. Just air where there had once been metal and plastic containing a menaga-a-trois of hydrogen and oxygen within, dancing together in their liquidy embrace.

I walked back home, defeated, wondering why the universe wanted to deny me my simple hydration wishes. As I walked, two Hispanic men in a work truck yelled something in Spanish that I didn’t understand. I looked at them, and the driver made drumming motions. I just laughed and smiled and they laughed and smiled back. When I arrived home, I made three trips from the kitchen with a kettle full of water to fill my filter. And now I sit here typing this while drinking some Diet Mtn Dew.

16
May
2020
23:57

Lynn Shelton, Filmmaker, 1965-2020

I find myself surprisingly affected by the death of Lynn Shelton (filmmaker), but through my empathy with Marc Maron who she was dating. Let me explain.

This is not meant in any way to discount her work or achievements, it’s simply that I didn’t know her name until she started dating Marc Maron because I listen to his WTF podcast. I’ve literally spent hundreds and hundreds of hours listening to him. Getting to know him through his interviews. I watched his last comedy special with Lynn directed. I’ve heard him go through several relationships. I’ve been so pissed at his immature, condescending, judgmental attitude that I considered not listening to his podcast any more.

When you spend that much time, even just listening to someone, someone who puts a lot of themselves genuinely into what they do, I do believe you “get to know them” as absurd as that may sound. Sure he could be a dick, but mostly he seems like a good-hearted, intelligent, empathetic guy who has been through a lot of shit and is self-aware enough to have made a lot of improvements and seems to endeavor to be a better person every day, which is the best any of us can do.

I remember when their relationship first started. I’ve listened to him talk about her. I’ve heard her in the background or pop in to an intro to say something. I’ve heard stories about them or her being in the other room. About her work, her movies.

I don’t think I realized how much personal connection I felt to Marc Maron, and by proxy to my “friend’s” new girlfriend until I saw the headline today and felt gut punched. For someone I barely knew, via someone I only virtually know. But I felt (some infinitesimal speck of) his pain. I couldn’t imagine what he must be going through. I wrote him a personal email, composing the best, most comforting words I could put together. They seemed happy (and were according to the statement he released). In these crazy times, it was even crazier that it was in no way related to COVID-19 but was some previously undiagnosed blood disease, I’ve read. I know how much it hurts to simply lose someone in a breakup, but I can’t imagine that kind of loss of someone you love. And if you personally know this pain, you have my love as well. Many hours later, I still find myself taking a walk and thinking about it.

As I wrote to him, and as I have written to many of you in times of pain (I hate to sound repetitive or trite but I just can find no better words and they really do bring me some degree of peace), in times like these I like go to science and the Law of Conservation of Energy which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms. And what are we all, our souls, our consciousness, if not energy in some form. It will never cease to exist, it will only change forms.

And if I had to pick one line to sum up life to me it would be this:

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

-The Beatles “The End”
06
May
2020
22:50

Sense Memory Time Machine

Sense memory is so powerful. It’s always amazing to me how some smell, sound, tactile feeling, taste, or image can instantly transport you to some moment from practically any time in your life.

Today I was taking a walk and something about the temperature, the sun on my skin, the way the breeze blew across me gave me a sudden flash in my brain. I was a child going to College Hills Elementary school. I wasn’t at school, but was taking a walk, perhaps walking home from school on a day that felt just this same way. I was thinking of a book I’d read from the school library, a compilation of Science Fiction short stories. It’s a book I’ve thought of often throughout the years, or more accurately, tried to think of through the years but can’t remember much about it and the vague details I do remember, I have to question their accuracy after all these years. Who knows how corrupted they may have become with each time I’ve tried to recall them over the years since.

I remember it being a larger sized book. Perhaps with purple and black theme to the cover. I remember a story about…someone…a boy? Who finds a robot. A theme that could fit probably thousands of stories if not more. The more specific detail I think I remember is a story of a team who lands on a foreign planet and ends up encountering some creatures that resemble large fleas or ticks perhaps, with spiky crystalline backs.

This book was one of my earliest encounters with Science Fiction and I’ve always wondered what it was. And all of this from the simple feeling of sun and breeze across my skin on a walk.

23
Apr
2020
3:47

Fear, ‘Tis a Silly Place

“Fear is the mind killer.”

– Frank Herbert, Dune

“On second thought , let’s not go to Camelot. ‘Tis a silly place.”

– King Arthur, Monty Python And The Holy Grail

A friend gave my name to someone who was looking for a musician to play acoustic and sing in the courtyard of the condo complex she managed. She contacted me about it, and I told her that I’d love to do it, but it might have to be a little later as allergies have been wrecking my voice.

Now this is absolutely true. But it was also a convenient excuse. An excuse because the truth is that somewhere in me I was scared of doing this gig. Now, if you know me at all, then you are probably thinking the same thing that I was thinking at myself: “That’s ridiculous. This is not only one of your careers, but also one of the things you feel is your reason for existing. One of the things that makes you feel completely in your element, fulfilled and like your truest, brightest self. Why would you possibly be scared?”

Because fear is stupid but almost ever-present. It is the root of almost all negativity in one form or another. Yes I am a professional musician and I love it, but my usual element is playing with bands or recording. I haven’t done much solo playing in a long, long time. I love working with others and being a part of a team. When it’s just me I feel so much more exposed and vulnerable. I feared because I hadn’t been honing my solo act, that I wouldn’t have enough good material to play 90 minutes. That my real voice problems would make me perform at unacceptable (to me) levels. That people in this complex would not want music foisted upon them. That they would not like my song selection. one would be too obscure and no one would know it. The next would be too cliche and played out. There were infinite reasons to not do this gig. All of them, ridiculous for the most part.

Just picking songs that I do with bands and could do solo would be far more than enough material. Yes my voice isn’t 100% but it’s probably not noticeable to anyone other than me. Every song will be loved by some and hated by others, it’s the nature of art which is totally subjective. In this time of being quarantined at home, most people would probably love a little music in their lives. Were my fears completely unfounded? No, they were within the realm of possibility mostly, but pretty far fetched and unlikely.

I had referred her a couple of friends’ names as possibilities as well (she had someone who was supposed to play tomorrow flake out on her at the last minute). In the end, I messaged her and said that if she needed me tomorrow, I could do it. It still scares me. I still find that ludicrous as well. But most importantly, I don’t want to live and make decisions based on fear. Especially when it keeps me from doing something I’ve meant to do and wanted to do for as long as I can remember, which is actually get my solo act going.

And this is how we arrive at my Dune/Monty Python quote mashup: “Fear is the mind killer. Tis a silly place.”

15
Apr
2020
14:00

Thriving In Quarantine

Things I’ve done since lockdown that you should definitely (I mean, if you wanna) check out. #shamelessselfpromotionedition

  • Recorded and released a new song. Here’s all the details including the story of its making. I also thought of a few last-minute production things that made me cackle with glee even though most likely no one will detect them but me so it was just updated today with the final version. I say final because if it isn’t I’ll have to rename the song “Someday, I’ll Stop Tweaking This song, But Not tonight.”
  • Redesigned my website. You’re looking at it now.
  • Re-wrote the problematic lyrics to the Rolling Stones song “Brown Sugar” into something tasty and useful.
  • Wrote a special Quarantine Love Song.
  • Covered an apropos Jellyfish song.
  • Recorded a dramatic monologue for the #OneMinuteMonologueChallenge on Instagram.
  • Live streamed a dramatic reading of Masque Of The Red Death and then a very not-dramatic reading of it.
  • Re-mixed the Friends Theme to have way more claps because of an off-hand silly comment on a friend’s post

Recorded VO as a foul-mouthed pirate cat for a web series, began recording audiobook narration for 4th book in a series by Andrew Hunter (I also narrated the previous 3). Played a lot of video games. Slept a lot. Took lots of walks. Got my diet in much better shape. Have stuck to a regular push-up regimen. Edited a series of videos for a friend and re-formatted his book. And probably a lot of other stuff I’m forgetting.

I”m not bragging or trying to detract from the seriousness going on in the world, but for me keeping track of the good and the light is the best, most productive and positive thing I can do. Everyone’ handles things in their own way, and however you are handling it, it’s right and okay. Maybe some of the stuff I’ve done can entertain, make you smile, or have some positive impact. That’s all I can really hope for is to try and put my little orbs of light out into the world. #quarantinethrive

14
Apr
2020
0:23

A Love Letter To TikTok

This is what I love about TikTok. It feels like an open playground. A creative sandbox where you can just play with any old idea that pops into your head no matter how inane, random, stupid, or absurd. It’s so freeing and has made me realize how often we stomp down or throttle our own creativity because we deem it “not good enough” for a million different reasons or just cerebral flotsam and jetsam. I feel it’s good for the mental muscles to just let it run free like we did as children. This video was literally just a spur of the moment random neurons firing. I talked myself out actually capturing it 3, 4, maybe 5 times because it was stupid, nonsense, meaningless, of no value.

Then I just did it. And I kind of liked it. It made me smile. A lot of humor I like has those same flavors. Much of Monty Python could possibly be described similarly (not that I’m at all comparing myself or this to their genius). It felt good to let go of that fear of judgment and just let my brain spit out the piece of absurdity it wanted to play with. Because this is me. And I have a thousand moments like this or more every day.

When I joined TikTok to check it out, I really thought I’d hate it. That it was an app that teens used. I thought I’d check it out and pretty much immediately determine it was not for me and delete it (which is exactly what happened with Snapchat) but to my surprise I fell in love. There are all kinds of people making all kinds of videos and I find myself endlessly sucked in and scrolling and getting crushes on all kinds of awesome people I wish were my friends. But most of all it feels like a wonderful outlet for literally anything my mind wants to express. It doesn’t have to be genius, or fully formed, or polished. Or even good. It just feels so good to stretch those creative muscles and the worst case scenarios is that you get a few views, maybe a crappy comment and then the moment is over. But it still felt good to let it out into the universe.

11
Apr
2020
14:37

Clapocalypse

You ever spend way too much time and effort on a throwaway joke? Like when a post by a friend makes you jokingly say that you want to create a version of the Friends theme that has claps through the whole song? So you get the Friends theme and painstakingly find some group claps in your drum software, and then tune them and tweak the Abbey Road Chambers reverb plugin trying to perfectly match the sound and tone of the original claps? And they’re still not perfect but you realize how much effort you’ve put into this and all the much better things you could have put that effort into so you call it “good enough” and move on with your life?

No? Just me?

MOAR CLAPS