Monday, June 30, 2014

Equipment Failure

Tonight I went to record a voiceover gig, and discovered that my trusty Zoom H2 was dead. Wouldn't power up with batteries, A/C, or USB. I shouldn't be completely surprised, I guess; I've been using the little portable recorder for many years now with nary a hitch, and nothing lasts forever.

But the timing was sure horrible. I don't currently have the money to replace it, and although I have a good microphone, the USB interface that I have doesn't work with my new computer. And so I find myself hauling out all kinds of old equipment and going back to my Mac Mini G4 running Tiger.

It works alright, but I have to go back to an old version of GarageBand (so old it only exports to iTunes), and I can't use my favorite, simple software, ocenaudio (although I can use it to edit and convert, thanks to the magic of networked computers).

I do love the sound of the microphone, a relatively inexpensive large-diaphragm condenser by MXL. But I wish I could upgrade my interface so that I can use it with my latest software and computer. But if I do that, I won't be able to replace the H2, which is my go-to field recorder that gives me such good sound on my videos.

I feel lost, and I feel like I've lost an old friend.

At least now, though, finally having hooked up my old audio interface, I can try out some of the microphones I have lying around to see what I think about them. I'll be able to pare down, but I also might find a few forgotten gems.

With any luck, you'll get the hear some of the results the next time I record one of my songs.

However I end up doing that.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Now that I've decided to cancel the Challenge, there is a fair amount of work to do the change the theme of my Internet presence from one event to the subject of me. My, that doesn't sound right.

And yet, it has to be about me, and my work, because that's really all I have to sell. Not that I don't think my work can stand on its own. But I do think that it's easier to draw people into your work if they know about you. Assuming your story is interesting. And I have to assume, or at least hope, that my story is interesting, because here I go building a narrative about myself for all the world to see.

Or, at least, as much of the world as stumbles upon me online.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Calling It Off

For a few reasons, some of them personal and some of them practical, I'm calling off the Challenge. Note the changes in the blog and YouTube channel already; my SoundCloud and Twitter accounts and my main Web page will soon follow suit.

On the personal front, there are things happening in my family life that, while not necessarily bad, are very time-consuming, and have to take priority over the Challenge.

But while it feels strange to be giving up on something I've spent around 270 days keeping track of—though not keeping up with—it isn't bothering me as much as I though it would.

For me, the Challenge had two goals. One of them it has failed at, and another 95 days, no matter how hard I work, will not change that. That goal was to gain a following. As a gimmick for attracting a following, it did not work.

But the other goal of the Challenge was to get me back to being a full-time, year-round creator. And on that front it has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I might not be making the numbers, but I have created some wonderful songs, and there are some written works in the works that I am very proud of.

It has been an eye-opener, too. I am not as productive when doing post-production on video as I am doing all the phases of songwriting and publishing. I could take that as a sign to more-or-less give up doing video, but I like the results so much that it seems more likely that I will change my approach and probably join up with someone who is better at post that I am.

I'm also finding that trying to make numbers is distracting me from creating good work, not only for the Challenge, but for my clients as well. And so I'm shifting gears and, although I always cared about quality, I am concentrating on it instead of (though not to the exclusion of—a guy's got to make a living) quantity.

But even with the Challenge cancelled, I hope that those few of you who have followed me and kept track of my exploits will continue to do so. There may not be a definite deadline, but there is still a lot of cool stuff coming down the pike.

Because I'm still creating, 52 weeks out of every year.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Old Notes

Wow, this going through old notes is really making my songwriting life easier! I found some lyrics that must be nearly 20 years old, and with my new-found lyric-writing skills, I was able to fashion them into a cute little kids' song in hardly any time at all.

The song is called Now That I'm One, and I should be able to lay tracks for it in a day or two.

I wish I could get that kind of inspiration and productivity on the video front! Maybe I need to keep looking through old notes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Outdoor Inspiration

As I mentioned in my last post, my family went camping this weekend. It was three lovely, rainless days, a bit chilly but a pleasant change from the weather we've been having lately. I, of course, brought my guitar, and although I didn't get many chanced to play, I did play some of my new songs for the group we were camping with, who hasn't seen us since the Challenge started, and the songs were very well received, especially Nickled and Dimed.

I wasn't able to perform my newest song, because I forget the lyric sheet, and I haven't had enough practice to do it from memory. Next campout, perhaps.

While I was sitting in our screen room, just plucking on the guitar, I think I came up with the basic tune for Living As If It Matters; I pulled out my iPhone and recorded it to a Voice Memo. Love the technology!

Now I can start adding lyrics. It's the opposite of what I usually do, though it won't be the first time I've started with the melody.

And, of course, I can't guarantee that the melody will stay the same. But I think it's a good start.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Just a Song Before I Go

Finished up my latest song just in time for a weekend camping trip. Here it is:

This song demonstrates why it's important to capture even small, seemingly-insignificant ideas whenever you can; they can come in handy in the future. Even unexpectedly far in the future.

I actually wrote a couple of lines for this in a notebook I use to carry when I worked at the National Passport Center. I couldn't bring any electronic devices, so I'd jot down ideas in a big blank book for later use. I ended up using this one about eight years later.

The only line that actually came through unmolested, and it's just a tag line in the final version of the song, is "I could get drunk, but I don't drink." The rest is all new.

And now I know where to look if I come up short of inspiration down the line. But right now I'm trying to write a non-rhyming song, kind of inspired (in form, not in subject matter) by Paul Simon's America.

While I'm thinking about it, I'd better pack my notebook.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sliding Back Into It

Now that the vacation is over, I'm trying to shift gears from carpentry to writing, video, and song. It's not easy, especially because I still have carpentry assignments in my planner, something on the order of making sawdust while the sun shines, especially because Spring took it's sweet time getting here in the Northeast.

Yesterday I filled in the last few lines for my latest song, I Guess I'll Learn To Live Without You, and this evening while washing dishes, the tune popped into my head. I made a quick scratch recording using my iPhone (not GarageBand, just Voice Memo—I like to keep things simple) so that I wouldn't lose the tune.

And after uploading it to iTunes and having another listen, I find that I still quite like it. So, a better demo recording is coming soon, perhaps tomorrow. Meanwhile, on to more lyrics, for a song that I am trying to do without rhymes, and a new short story.

Being very bad about editing video, which is ridiculous, because I have a lot of footage. I might be dumping five or six videos into the playlist all at once next week. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I keep plugging away. Although the numbers seem increasingly impossible, the exercise is doing me a world of good, and helping me sort out what I want to spend my time going after the 52-Week Challenge is over.

And the Rest-Of-My-Life Challenge starts.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Poised and Paused

I'm paused this week because my creative project during my wife's vacation is her camping trailer, the Lady-Bugout. I am applying my meager carpentry skills at her behest, and along with paid voice work and rehearsing for the theater, I'm not left much time for my own personal work.

But the vacation is coming to a close, and I have several irons already in the fire, so you should be seeing several new works popping up in the next couple of weeks.

I am also continuing the process of simplifying my online life, and I will soon be moving one of my Google accounts, the one that this blog officially connects to, into the one that I use for the Challenge. So YouTube videos and ads on my site and blog may come and go erratically for a few days after I start the process.

This blog should stay pretty much the way it is, except that a new profile will appear once I make the final transition.

Thanks for sticking with me. I don't know if I'll make my numbers when I reach the end of this self-imposed deadline, but I hope I'm created a lot of work that you enjoy.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Other Videos From a While Ago

I decided that I was being too hard on myself by not including the videos that I have done for my other channels in the Challenge, since they take just as much time and effort. I have only made two of those since the Challenge began, but more are in the works. I still am not including any videos on the status of the Challenge, and none of the video that I make for clients (obviously).

Here they are. One how-to video from On a Smaller Scale, and a how-I-do-it video about an additional use for my teleprompter.

There are a lot of videos in the post-production queue, including three of the miniature how-to videos, and at least one filmmaking how-to. To see all the videos from the challenge, look for the playlist rather than just my list of uploaded videos.