TBT: Touring the Solar System in Rural Maine

I’ve been on an outer space kick lately, especially with all my posts about Saturn.  As such, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to look back at this little post from 2019—one of my favorites!

Surprisingly, I’d never bothered to reblog this one in the nearly four years since it was first published.  It’s about a model Solar System in the State of Maine, The Maine Solar System Model (the website for which has gotten a facelift since 2019).  It’s been on my traveling “to do list” ever since I learned about it on Quora.

With that, here is 24 September 2019’s “Touring the Solar System in Rural Maine“:

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Minecraft Camp 2023!

It’s summertime again for yours portly, which means MINECRAFT CAMP!  Woot!

I’m back to spend my mornings playing the digital equivalent of LEGOs on the computer with elementary school kids.  It’s glorious!

By the time you read this post, we’ll be halfway through the first of two sessions of camp.  I have had a group of ten campers this week, with three students (two former, one current) helping out as counselors.  The second week has just three campers enrolled at the time of this writing, but I imagine that will change.  I had just five students signed up for this week’s camp as of last week and it doubled by camp day, so… we’ll see!

Minecraft Camp is one of the tentpoles of my summer hustlin’.  This time of year, lessons slow down considerably due to family trips and the like, and while I still teach quite a few in the summer, it’s nothing like the volume of the school year.  So Minecraft Camp helps to keep the lights on.

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Open Mic Adventures XXXV: “The Rings of Saturn”

Last week I wrote a short post about Saturn’s (extremely slowly) disappearing rings.  In that post, I referenced one of my songs, “The Rings of Saturn,” which I wrote way back on 7 August 2015.

Naturally, that got me thinking:  I should record that for Open Mic Adventures!  “The Rings of Saturn” is one of my personal favorites of my original tunes, but I wrote it after the release of Contest Winner EP, and I’ve never made it back into the studio.  It didn’t help that my life and work grew exponentially more demanding in those years, but I also went through a long spell of creative dryness that never fully relented.

That said, it was time for “The Rings of Saturn” to make its official Internet debut (and its YouTube debut).

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Saturday evening my neighbor invited me over to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) on his outdoor inflatable screen.  My neighbor, his wife, his son, and I had a blast watching this classic under the stars.

Raiders is one of those films that has so many iconic scenes, I sometimes forget the actual order of events.  I experience the same sensation with the original Star Wars (1977) film, which I also watched outdoors with my neighbor and his family:  I know the broad strokes of the story and all of the memorable moments, but I am always amazed by how much I have forgotten between viewings.

I don’t know if anyone else experiences this sensation when watching these modern classics, but I think it accounts, in part, for their enduring freshness (even if Star Wars looks like the 1970s in a samurai-western space opera).  Every viewing feels, in a small way, like seeing the film for the first time.  I suspect it’s due in part to the young age at which I first saw these flicks, and the marked but incomplete impressions they left upon my young mind.

But enough navel-gazing!  Raiders stands the test of time, and I was reminded again how great Hollywood blockbusters used to be.

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Lazy Sunday CCV: Myersvision, Part VII

As much as I love to beat a dead horse—or, in this case, a dead Bigfoot—this Lazy Sunday retrospective of the Myersvision series will be the last for awhile.  It’s a testament to Audre Myers‘s impressive output that I’ve spent seven Sundays looking back at her contributions to the blog.

Of course, there will be more Lazy Sundays featuring her work if she revs up the ol’ Commodore 64 and sends me some more juicy submissions.  Lazy Sunday typically comes in threes, and I have one additional post for the eighth installment of this retrospective.  That means Audre just needs to submit two more pieces, and we’ll hit eight!

Of course, there were only Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  Perhaps Audre’s writing is the Eighth:

  • Myersvision: A Very Good Discussion” – This title is quintessentially Audrean in nature.  The discussion in question is in a YouTube video shared in the post, but the real meat of the post are Audre’s theories about Bigfoot, based on what are likely hundreds of hours of research.
  • Myersvision: A Possible Language” – Apparently, Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) have a language, “Samari.”  Bigfoot enthusiasts picked that name because the alleged Sasquatchian language sounds like a bad overdub of an old samurai or kung-fu film.  That lack of seriousness and overabundance of hokiness tells you everything you need to know about Bigfoot enthusiasts (Audre being the exception here).
  • Myersvision: Consider if You Will…” – A video of what appears to be a bipedal ape creature rampaging through a snow-covered parking lot.  Gasp!

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Spring Jam 2023 Review

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Subscribers:  the annual TPP Summer Reading List will be posted soon (sometime this month—maybe next weekend!).  I’ll also be getting back to my series on Washington, D.C., this month as well.

Another Spring Jam is in the books, and I think it was the best one yet.  I should probably write that behind the paywall, but I’d like everyone to know.

Regular readers will know that in October 2020 I launched the TJC Halloween Spooktacular (I’d done a “Spooktacular” at a coffee shop in 2019, but that was a very different event), a Halloween concert on my front porch.  That first front porch Spooktacular featured two opening bands, followed by a couple of sets from my friend John and myself.  It was a rousing success, but in retrospect, it was too long (three hours!) and needed some streamlining.

Of course, in The Age of The Virus, everyone was starving for live entertainment and social interaction after being cooped up inside with Netflix and takeout for (by that point) seven months, so I could get way with a bloated bill.  It was a success, and most folks stuck around until we wrapped up sometime after 9 PM.

While I don’t think I’ve ever repeated the success of the first Spooktacular in terms of attendance and cashflow, I do think I’ve improved the formula somewhat.

The biggest change came when I made the Spooktacular and the spin-off Spring Jam into a recital for my private music students.  Following the doldrums of Summer 2020, when I had just one piano student every week, my private lessons empire ballooned to around twenty lessons or so each week (occasionally fewer, often more).  That has been a major financial and musical blessing, but it also means I have enough students to put on a pretty good recital, even if some students can’t attend.

With this latest Spring Jam, I think I have gotten it down to more of a science—but a fun science, like playing with magnets in the seventh grade.  There’s still the fun, relaxed, DYI-spirit of the event, but everything seems to be running more smoothly.

Like playing an instrument, practice makes perfect.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Phone it in Friday XXXVIII: The Rings of Saturn

Saturn is my favorite planet (after Earth, of course).  Who can resist those beautiful rings, and the clear demarcation of the Cassini Division?  There’s also something otherworldly and mysterious about it.  Just listen to the opening bars of “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age” from Gustav Holst’s The Planets:

Years ago I wrote a song, “The Rings of Saturn,” which has never enjoyed a formal recording.  That’s a shame, because it is one of my better songs (I write with all humility).  It will have to grace an edition of Open Mic Adventures soon.  The header image for my Bandcamp page is the a picture of the planet.

Needless to say, I like Saturn a lot.  I sometimes image what it would be like living on one of its moons, or if we’ll someday have mining colonies on the larger bits of icy space-stuff in its rings.

Well, it seems those beautiful rings are disappearing.  Fortunately, as with all things astronomical, none of us will be around to see them disappear entirely.

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TBT: Beethoven’s Routine

I’m on the cusp—in a calendrical sense, quite literally—of Summer Break 2023.  Going into summer vacation is like heading into the weekend at that magical moment around 4 or 5 PM on a Friday afternoon, except the “weekend” is two months:  endless possibilities spread out before me.

Of course, every summer I say, “I’m not going to squander this one,” and proceed to squander it.  Then it’s back to the grind in August.  But I’m sure this year will be different—right?

Yours portly actually does make the most of his summer.  I kick off June with a couple of weeks of Minecraft Camp, and I teach lessons all throughout summer.  My roster of summertime lessons is looking fairly healthy at the moment, so that should buoy my finances during the relatively lean summer months.

The key to success, it seems, is keeping a good routine.  I’m not always the strongest in this regard, but when I do keep a routine, I find it does make the rest of the day easier.  No less a genius than Beethoven adhered to a fairly regimented routine, and his was pretty awesome, full of strong coffee, long walks, and composing.

With that, here is 25 May 2022’s “Beethoven’s Routine“:

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You Can’t Cancel Music

My younger brother got me onto a kick of listening to YouTube videos from Turkey Tom.  Tom makes video documentaries covering the deep lore of various Internet fandoms and communities, with an encyclopedic depth of knowledge of the various controversies, nontroversies, and schisms that dominate the lives of the terminally online.

In the wake of the Spring Jam, which saw all sorts of young people and adults come together to make and enjoy music on my front porch, one of his videos really hit me.  It’s an example of cancel culture and AntiFa run amok, and how despite the cowardice of event organizers, plucky youngsters staged a fun, peaceful concert in the park.

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