Okay, money just got a little tighter than I like. (Current flavor of Straw That Broke The Camel's Back: glasses frames snapped.) And I'm not ready for any kind of Kickstarter yet. So: I have lowered the price of EVERY ALBUM AND LIVE SHOW at my Bandcamp site to "Pay What You Want".
This will be at least until St. Patrick's Day, and I will have a couple of new live shows and possibly something else released before then.
If you can help out, many thanks, and I hope you enjoy the music! If you just want to get some music free, now's the time.
Lordie, I haven't posted on LJ/DW for two entire weeks. I guess I am finding FB easier. Sigh.
Hope you're all doing well. Nothing much to report, except I'll be updating my 2014 convention schedule this week (I have to get in touch with GenCon if I'm gonna make that happen). And I'm trying to have some new music, not merely new live shows, in the next month or so. We'll see.
All right here. I highly recommend the lovely (and surprisingly controversial) Coca-Cola spot "America the Beautiful", the Budweiser one with the puppy, the SodaStream one for sheer prurience, the Jaguar one for your British bad guy fix, and the faux ad for Monsanto.
There is, apparently, some sporting event or other today. I suspect it has something to do with Tom Riddle, as the organizers get very touchy when someone tries to actually use the name of the thing. Fortunately, a simple slide of one letter to the left produces Superb Owl, a much more glorious thing to celebrate.
What are your plans for this year's commercial-laden testosterone fest? I'm going to get a pizza this afternoon, work on music, play too much Marvel Puzzle Quest, and wait for the Captain America: The Winter Soldier teaser, for which there was a teaser the other day:
Legendary ConFusion is going on right now at the Doubletree Hilton in Dearborn, MI (just west of the Southfield Freeway at Ford Road -- turn right at the Wendy's). Lots going on, lots of great people. Lots of great music. And me!
2:00 pm - Songwriting Workshop (Windsor)
3:00 pm - Mass Autograph Session 1 (Huron/Ontario/Erie)
4:00 pm - FSM Gospel Magic Show (Fairlane)
6:00 pm - Tom Smith in Concert (Michigan)
9:00 pm - Super Heroes and Space Cowboys (Fairlane)
There's also an open filk at 10:00 pm, but I'm not sure I'll make it.
The ConFusion Programming Schedule is up, and I am in a daunting position. I can deal with 6:00 p.m. Saturday, that's fine. But whose bright idea was it that I go right after the Heather Dale Band (Heather, Ben Deschamps, probably S. J. Tucker, and who knows who else will show up)!? I'm doomed.
Or else we'll all have a great time. One of the two.
Oh, and markbernstein is the Fan GOH! He gets inducted into that worthy office at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, then has his own concert at 3:00. And there's howardtayler and other artists doing stuff, and lots of Maker panels, and Anime all weekend (if you're up at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, they're running an ep of the marvelous Code Geass), and more writer panels than you can shake a Selectric at, and gaming, and costuming, and and and.
If, for whatever reason, you have never been to ConFusion, this is a really great year to start.
As a reminder, I'm in extreme west Ypsilanti, MI, basically just south of the Ann Arbor/Ypsi border. At this writing, I have about 4" of snow on the porch. I just spoke with my sister, NW corner of Ann Arbor, and they've been shoveling all day -- sounds like at least a foot.
In other words, highly variable amounts of actual snowfall, but a decent amount no matter where you are. And the cold is comin' tomorrow.
I don't have to go anywhere, and I'm not planning to. As long as the power stays on, I'm great. And I've only had it go out for more than a few minutes twice since I moved in here five-and-a-half years ago. (I love underground power cables. The only time we have a serious outage is when the cables leading into the complex go down. Although there was the one time a transformer loudly blew, the next block over....)
How is it where you are, and how are you holding up? More importantly, do you need any assistance that someone online could provide?
ETA: A total of about 7" here. Shifting winds and who knows what other factors meant we (Ann Arbor/SE Michigan) got hit with between six and thirteen inches, depending on where you are. Thankfully, the same kids who took care of my porch last week just got done clearing it again, so I'm officially ready for any damn thing.
Much of the country is under a thick layer of snow and a worse layer of sub-zero wind chills. Here in Ann Arbor and environs, it got down to minus Too Effing Cold last night, with a wind chill of Jayzus God Put The Dog On My Feet. Tomorrow it's supposed to reach a balmy 29° F, and then in the evening we have a Winter Storm Watch predicting up to 12" of new white stuff, followed by yet another bitter cold snap. (The forecast high on tuesday is -2° F.)
Please bundle up, don't go out unless you have to, stay alert, stay safe, and check in.
How are you getting through this? (It's perfectly all right to get through it by being someplace warm. We promise not to hate you. Much.)
To sum up: 2013 was a rough year. For just about everybody.
Here we are at the cusp of the calendar -- one of those times when the entire world celebrates an arbitrary time of the year as an opportunity to, basically, reboot our lives. Start doing things differently. Become the change you seek.
Thing is, the world changes around you as well. And you can't always tell how or when it's going to do so.
One of the oddities of social media like Facebook that can sustain conversations -- and it's a feature, not a bug -- is you end up being more intimately connected with the lives of people you don't necessarily know that well. This is, no question, a good thing -- one of the best things about FB, in fact. But people tend to be more open about all aspects of their lives online, especially to their Friends (or on their relatively private Walls)... which results in those friends getting the bad with the good, the lows with the highs, and usually with little or no warning.
A lot of us had a rough, rough year.
Illness and injury. Financial trouble. Friends and family and pets dying. Car trouble, expensive home repair, lost jobs, lost homes, political arguments breaking up friendships and families, bullying, racism, misogyny... and that's just the personal stuff. Not counting our screwed-up government, religious fervor causing turmoil across the nation and around the world, climate change generating insanely destructive weather, our news medias' obsession with the utterly frivolous rather than stuff we actually need to know....
There has been much good this year as well... but sometimes it doesn't feel like it. It's hard to see the rising tide over the recurring storms.
So: Those of you who have had bad things happen, or are currently going through sour times... we feel for you, and we care. And those of us who can, will help how we can. You are not alone. Never, never alone.
Those of you who have had good things happen... well, that's just about all of us. And I know it's tough to remember that. I like the idea that's been floating around FB, of keeping a jar or pinboard or somethin' with little notes reminding you of every good thing that happens, so you can go back and go Yeah. It's certainly possible to do it online as well -- that's one of the few things a hashtag is good for.
For myself... I'm doing okay. Not great, okay. I hope to be doing better. I do know that I'd be nowhere near as okay as I am right now without the help of a bunch of people, good and generous friends who lend their time and help in ways small and large. I love every single one of you; even if we occasionally carry on cranky at each other, it's only because we care.
We have to take care of each other. If we don't, what's the point?
May The Year of the Common Era 2014 be better for all of us.
For the most part, the forecasted Icepocalypse did not take place, at least not in Southeastern Michigan. A few places got a few inches of snow, there's a bit of a glaze of ice, but 'tain't nothin' like what they warned us about. So there will be a quick trip to Kroger today, to get my official French toast kit and some fresh fruit, and then the ol' Hunker Down For A Couple Of Days play.
Dunno why everybody's so shocked, shocked! that a 67-year-old duck call maker from the backwoods spouts racism and homophobia.
Nor am I surprised that Rush Limbaugh defends him on the grounds of FREEDOM OF SPEECH!
I'm not even piqued by the stance of the rest of his clan, that their fatigues-and-whittlin' Simple Country Honesty™ cannot possibly move forward without their patriarch.
However, I am slightly annoyed that Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) is jumping on the FREEDOM OF SPEECH! bandwagon. But then, he's only supposed to be one of the new breed of conservative intellectuals (which I'm sure we all remember from his Mr. Rogers-style SOTU rebuttal in 2009).
And I'm rather annoyed, and simultaneously bemused, at the FREEDOM OF SPEECH! outcry from the same people who boycotted the Dixie Chicks for saying they were embarrassed to be from the same state as Pres. Bush, the same folks who followed Ari Fleischer's despicable lead in warning people to "watch what you say".
Let's remind everyone, especially Jindal and Rushbo, of a little basic law: The First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of speech, does indeed guarantee anyone the right to say anything (within the obvious limits of "fire" in a crowded theater, etc. Let's not cloud the argument with bullshit). This even extends to outright lies -- goodness knows enough of them have gone unchallenged.
And it guarantees that the government cannot legally suppress your speech.
It does not guarantee you an audience.
And, if you are a representative of a private company -- in this case, the A&E Network -- it does not guarantee you a job if you say shit that said company thinks is damaging to their image.
You'd think that someone who started from nothing and built his hand-carved duck calls into a fairly big corporation and a reality TV show would have people to mention these things to him. At least someone in his immediate family.
At my BandCamp site, you can get 60% off between now and the end of the year with the discount code "cm2013lj". I'll also be putting up some pay-what-you-want concerts over the next few days, so shop early and often. ;)
Intuit is sponsoring a contest, Small Business Big Game, wherein a small business can win television commercial time on the broadcast of the Super Bowl. GoldieBlox, an awesome company that makes engineering toys for girls, is in the Final Four. You can see their video (and the other three in the running) here, and vote once per day on every web-accessing device you have. Check it out, won't you? Even if you prefer one of the other companies, it's great exposure for deserving small businesses.
This is probably a really good time to ask you all about a possible crowdfunding project.
First off, understand that this would be for three purposes: reprinting some CDs that I've run out of or nearly out of (e.g., The Last Hero On Earth and Homecoming: MarCon 2005); getting some spiffy new printings of some of the ones I've been burning myself, complete with actual covers 'n' stuff; and paying for some personal stuff that I need -- dental work, auto repair (or even replacement), that sort of thing. (That precludes Kickstarter, by the way, which doesn't allow fundraising for personal causes. The likeliest site would be Indiegogo or GoFundMe, but I have a few to check out.)
I need to be right up front about that. Neither I nor the economy is what it was six years ago; I'm no longer able to just squeak out a living at filk, not like I did. SocSecDis just about pays my regular bills; my food and any extras are covered by online sales and conventions. I'm not suffering, but I'm sure not flush -- it's the old every-time-I-get-money-in-it-goes-out game, with a side of one-bit-hit-could-leave-me-in-deep-trouble.
My original thought was to basically write at least one album's worth of songs in January and February, say, a dozen, with an initial goal of $5,000. That would cover the reprints of the two albums I'm thinking, the production of the new album itself, the dental work, and a new set of tires for Cashmere (the "new" van, the goldish one -- it definitely earned a name on the trip out west. Ran like a dream).
Stretch goals would include another song every $1,000 or so. Add-ons would include downloads of other albums, house concerts (where I come to you), maybe a personalized song (assuming I don't have any others in the fire), stuff like that. And the resulting cash would give me a buffer.
Leslie even suggested I run an online game for a few people. I have to think about that, but OOOOOOH it sounds great.
Lexi wants me to come out with a song book. I've been puttering at that for ten years; maybe this is the time to spend a month finishing the damn thing.
So. Thoughts? Are those levels reasonable, at least as talking points while I think through the details? Am I being a jerk about this, getting you guys to fund my dental work?
Home at last from the Great Adventure. Quite wonderful adventure, really -- FenCon was excellent, spending a week with my mom and NOT sightseeing was restful, ConChord was great, and the travel itself was awesome (although there were a few mountain roads that kinda freaked me out).
Da Big Finale, of course, was OVFF, and I think this year's unofficial theme was The Summer Of Love, because we were pretty much all over each other with hugs and affection and support all weekend. The music was pretty great, too, and Alexander James Adams, S.J. Tucker, and Betsy Tinney -- collectively Tricky Pixie -- finished on Sunday with one of the absolute best concerts I've ever attended.
Now I catch up with my sleep, a few TV episodes I have to watch, and getting ready for WindyCon next weekend. I think I'll try to finally get to Gravity either Tuesday or Thursday.
Ted Cruz is so in love with freedom At least all his people tell him so Hates the poor and doesn't want to feed 'em, Thinks Obamacare just has to go, But a functioning government sucked out his compassion, Good thing he's not Canadian anymore
Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz crazy Just be glad it's him not you If you had Ted Cruz's ego You might be Ted Cruz crazy too You'd flash your big white phony smile You'd break Congress's rules (alternate: "You'd dominate the news") And you'd be the only man on Earth Who didn't hate Ted Cruz Oh no, you wouldn't despise Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz is always getting odder He knows he'll never be that sane again And when Ted Cruz looks for cannon fodder He sees the welfare queens and union men He knows someday he'll have to play A very subtle race card, He reads "Green Eggs and Ham" and gets it wrong
Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz crazy Just be glad it's him not you If you had Ted Cruz's viewpoint You might be Ted Cruz crazy too You'd threaten the economy While your colleagues drink their booze And you'd be the only man on Earth Who could even stand Ted Cruz Oh yeah, you wouldn't loathe Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz thinks somewhere there's a place for him But he's not of this world anymore...
Somewhere in his White House playset Poor Ted Cruz sits staring at the wall A voice speaks in his head, and he obeys it He never fails to heed its call There are millions who know his name Everybody hates him Guess he's just not making himself clear...
Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz crazy Just be glad it's him not you If you had Ted Cruz's ambitions, You might be Ted Cruz crazy too You'd stomp and scramble over folks Who have much more to lose And you'd be the only man on Earth Who didn't despise Ted Cruz Oh no, you wouldn't much like Ted Cruz.
Yesterday was the longest single driving day of my life. Seventeen hours in the car, starting at 7:00 a.m. Central and going until midnight. But at the end of the road was FenCon.
A bunch of friends were there -- Tim, Russ, Tim, Rhonda -- along with some other nice folks, who whisked me and my stuff up to my room. And I already saw Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps.
Today I have the GOH luncheon, where I hope to not make an ass of myself in front of Cory Doctorow and Sandy Petersen. I also have a concert at 9:00, to be immediately followed by some awesome kinda gaming session w/Mr. Doctorow and Mr. Petersen. (I have brought my Zombie Dice and my primary gaming bag, the crisp pretty new Crown Royale bag I found at GenCon two years ago. I have the rules to RQ, D20, T&T, C&S, and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying on my iPad, along with Puzzle Quest, Dungeon Raid, and my current favorite, Giant Boulder of Death. My gamer cred is not only intact, it's gettin' kinda full of itself.)
I have an Interview the GOH panel at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow, the mass autograph session at 1:00, another concert at 3:00, Scooterball w/Teresa Nielsen Hayden at 6:00, and a caberet slot sometime after 8:30.
And then, Sunday morning at 11:00, I moderate (if that is the correct term) Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Release The Unreleased is a bunch of things I've written and recorded over the past few years, including a few commissioned songs, a couple of FuMP releases, a couple of traditional Irish drinking songs... it's an eclectic mix.
I'll have the lyrics, graphics for the CD label and the inserts and such, up as quickly as I can -- I hope tonight, certainly something by Friday -- but you can go listen to, and download, the whole album for free right now. (It's another pay-what-you-want deal.) (Subscribers -- don't pay. It's already in your folder, along with something else I think you'll like.) I hope you enjoy it!
I certainly don't expect a lot of my politically-right-leaning friends to read this exhaustive article in the Daily Kos about how the Republican party has fought against the Affordable Care Act with lies, disinformation, and more lies; I expect even fewer to think about it. But I thought it was worth it to at least have the information out here, where you can find it.
Discuss it to your heart's content. I will not join in. Please be polite, no personal attacks on other commenters -- we're all friends here.
Second is Carbon Costume, another DIY costuming site with some innovative stuff going on. Some of their costumes are pretty pricey, though.
At the other end of the spectrum, Cosplay Tutorial covers everything from make-up to PVC, from wig-making to LEDs. NOT a quickie-costume site, but if you want to seriously get into cosplay it's an amazing resource.
Today's KS signal boost is a very cool tabletop-miniature accessory. Folding buildings, easily stored and transported, and strong enough to handle all the minis you want to put on top of 'em. Your very own siege display! Check it out at the Kickstarter page for Tabletop Castles.
Go wild. For what it's worth, I thought it was excellent -- a natural progression from both Avengers and Iron Man 3. Clark Gregg is simply splendid. And did you notice the Special Thanks in the credits to Jim Steranko? That's from where we got Lola.
They took a break last year, to get their stuff together... and, this year, ConClave lives again! It's over at that very nice Doubletree we've been hangin' at in Dearborn, just off Ford Road and the Southfield Freeway, and the big GOH is author Allen Steele.
They've already got an extensive science track, lots of writing and SF-specific panels planned, gaming, anime, a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a Saturday night dance, and Uncle Richard's Trash Videos. Really, you can't go wrong. For much more info, click here.
Ahem! Good friends: I'm going to be in the Phoenix, AZ area the weekend of Oct. 12. Is there anyone out there interested in hosting me in a house concert between, say, Thursday the 10th and Monday the 14th?
Twelve years ago, twenty men decided to take the lives of several thousand people in a most attention-getting way.
Our world has been fucked up ever since, and it's not getting any less fucked up the more we continue to encourage fear, bigotry, violence, and greed.
I don't think things are going to improve until we remember that our first priority as a species is... the preservation of ourselves as a species. Helping each other, loving each other, embracing the differences that make us unique, celebrating the commonalities that make us one.
Today is not a day to keep the flame of vengeance alive.
I don't think it's any secret that I've had it up to HERE with what the writers and editors at Marvel and especially DC Comics consider to be cutting-edge material, mostly because their material tends to include lots of cutting edges. But this is just frickin' nuts.
And I see the stuff in the comments on that page about the potential meta and meta-meta context. Nope, sorry, no biscuit. DC's animated wing is doing just fine without this crap; Marvel's animation is nearly as good, and of course the movies are great. No, the people in charge at DC Comics these days are the sad, repressed damaged goods people used to think were caused by comics.
I can certainly deal with violence in comics (said the guy who loved Frank Miller at the beginning of his career, long before most people had heard of him). Absolutely sexuality (said the proud owner of the three-volume hardcover Lost Girls, every issue of XXXenophile, and lots of other smutty goodness). But there are... not limits. Standards. There's an old adage about rules, and how they're made to be broken... but sometimes they're made to be followed, because they work.
Every once in awhile, someone posts an old page from the earliest days of Spider-Man or Fantastic Four, or even Superman during the Curt Swan heyday. And it's wonderful how much story and characterization Stan and Steve or Julie and Curt crammed into six or nine panels... and how there actually was story and characterization going on.
Remember the chest-burster scene in Alien? Ridley Scott famously didn't tell the cast what was going to happen, to make sure that their reactions were all believable... to force everybody in the film, and thus everybody watching the film, into a new and unknown realm of horror.
Sometimes I feel as if modern comic creators are trying to do that all the time.
It ain't the medium -- it's the people who have forgotten, or never learned, storytelling... and, possibly, how to have fun.
Between SHI (shitty hotel internet) and just So Damn Much Happening before and after DragonCon, I haven't updated LJ/DW in about two weeks. Sorry, gang. I is back, and with news.
DragonCon was moderately financially successful and amazingly fun. I had dinner at the Banquet with the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, and TV's Spartacus, Liam McIntyre (and his gorgeous fiance Erin). My Banquet set went pretty well, as did my other FIVE sets. Busy busy busy. Saw friends, saw great costumes, did NOT see anywhere near as many of the great costumes as I wanted to. Briefly met Rob Paulsen, which was wonderful. So, many thanks to Pat Henry, Regina Kelly, Robby Hilliard, Chip Brazell, Walt, and everybody else who helped make D*Con good this year.
During that weekend, the 2015 WorldCon bid was won by Spokane, WA. And now it can be told: I'm their Music Guest of Honor! I'm incredibly flattered and humbled and WOW I must be doing something right. Anyway, Sasquan in late August 2015 -- be there!
I will be uploading new noise very soon. Everybody who wondered where the heck the TomBoat album was? I have it.
Another new album of stuff you mostly haven't heard before? I have it.
Sets from this year's DragonCon, to be put up pay-what-you-want? I have 'em.
Much more info on those over the next few days. I predict a LOT of uploading this weekend, along with staggeringly good barbecue to get me through.
Our old buddy Gary Wood, the filmmaker behind Saving Star Wars, is doing something cool for the next week:
Beginning today, August 23, through Friday, August 30, WoodWorks Films will donate $2.00 from every online viewing/rental of Saving Star Wars. We're excited to make this happen and hope you'll make this a Saving Star Wars/Make-A-Wish Weekend.
If you haven't seen it before, SSW is a great little picture, with humor, wit, and a lot of heart. I wrote "Rock Me Amidala" for it, and I'm proud to be a part of it.
Check it out, won't you? And, if you like it, boost the signal.
Pay-what-you-want, complete with cover, CD label, and tray graphics. Most notable for Toyboat backing me up on "Rocket Ride", a preview of the no-really-it's-coming Tomboat album. No donation required, any donation appreciated.
I am bummed that I did not make GenCon Indy this year, but it was my own fault. I really didn't plan for it, and I didn't save up any money for it. Even if I had made it, it would've been a skin-of-the-teeth thing, and that ain't no way to do something like GenCon. So, next year.
Meantime, I have a lot of upcoming stuff, and you can all be part of it:
First, of course, are the conventions I will be attending.
I think and hope I will have some new stuff for Dragon etc., and not just concert audio.
Second: The FenCon/ConChord/Back To OVFF trip. Between FenCon and ConChord, I will have about ten days to play with. Three of them will be spent in travel just getting out there; I'll likely spend a few days visiting my mom, out in Phoenix. Once I get to San Diego, I hope to spend one day up in Anaheim, at Disneyland.
I'd like at least one, and up to three, to be house concerts. If anybody's interested.
The available dates would be Oct. 8-14, depending on where I am on my westward journey -- e.g., it's much easier for me to do Texas on the 8th through 10th than on the 13th and 14th. Anywhere in Dallas, or possibly Austin; along I-20, or I-10, heading towards Arizona; or between San Diego and Los Angeles. A few hours of absolute insanity, live in your living room/den/gazebo/whatever. You know the drill: I ask a small donation; the host/hostess gets free albums and a recording of the concert; the other guests get serious discounts on merch; and everyone gets a silly, fun evening.
Just for everyone's convenience, my intention is to stay at a local hotel where possible, although we can talk about that.
Anyone interested in hosting something?
I've been thinking of doing a live video concert or three for awhile now... but the tech has always been a bit shaky. Not anymore. Concert Window has opened up the possibility of actually being able to charge admission and everything (including a pay-what-you-want option), while having WAY more robust servers than anything I could access otherwise.
So. If I had a half-hour to forty-five-minute online concert at Concert Window -- say, sometime in December -- would anybody be interested?