TBT: Nintendo Labo Piano

My Spring Jam is approaching very quickly, and I’m dedicating more time to preparing for it.  I’ve dusted off the piano and have been putting in some practice time to make sure I’m sharp.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to look back to a post from last May, in which I detailed the construction of the Nintendo Labo Piano.  It was a fun but lengthy project, and I’m not even sure if my niece and nephews have played it since then, but it’s really cool seeing the imagination Nintendo is putting into their products.  Nintendo is to video games what LEGO is to toys.  If you get that analogy, then you understand.

Here is 19 May 2020’s “Nintendo Labo Piano“:

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Midweek Short Story Recommendation: “The Visit That Wasn’t”

Good old Terror House Magazine continues to publish some of the best short fiction being written today (including my own absurdist writing), and it’s my pleasure to recommend another story by one of their contributors, Adrian David‘s “The Visit That Wasn’t.”

The story is a short parable riffing on the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side.”  Visitors to the protagonist’s land keep telling him how terrible and crummy the place is, and instead brag about the greatness of their home.

The glowing talk of the visitors’ homeland churns away in the mind of the protagonist, until he finally decides to pay a visit.  What he finds depresses and angers him:  nuclear war, corruption, violence, declining birth rates, normalization of pedophilia, famine, depravity, etc.

Feeling cheated, the protagonist returns to his own home, and realizes how much he took it and its charms for granted—but there’s a twist (I recommend reading the story, which takes about three minutes, for the full impact; twist revealed below).

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Tuesday Morning Television Series Review: Sasquatch (2021)

Thanks to Audre Myers at Nebraska Energy Observer and the documentary Missing 411, I’ve become interested in Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yeti, etc., etc.—cryptid humanoid megafauna of various stripes.  I’m not sure if they exist, but I’m open to the possibility.  Indeed, I want to believe they are out there, wandering in the deepest forests of North America, living their secretive, hairy lives.

So I was quite interested to watch the Hulu series Sasquatch, a three-part true-crime documentary about an alleged Bigfoot attack in Northern California in 1993.  The attack left three Mexican migrants dead on a pot farm, with their murders unsolved to this day.  Indeed, it seems (from the documentary) that the murders were never actually reported to the authorities.

Let me say up front:  while the documentary was quite good, it was incredibly disappointing:  an egregious example of bait-and-switch.

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Monday Morning Update, and Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

Happy Belated Mother’s Day, Mom, and to all the other mothers out there.  I didn’t serve my mom breakfast in bed, but I’d like to think my presence was enough to brighten her day.  She did go to the trouble of making a delicious banana pudding, proving once again that moms are great—at least my mom, anyway.

Given that we all enjoyed a fun, busy Sunday, I’m a bit behind on the blog, and plan on returning with more substantive posts tomorrow.  I’ll likely pick up with a belated Monday Morning Movie Review, but on Tuesday.

Maybe if I follow that logic to its natural conclusion, I’ll end up doing Lazy Sunday on Monday, and SubscribeStar Saturday on Sunday.  TBT will be on Friday.  Not since the French went to their absurd ten-day-a-week calendar has such belabored calendrical tomfoolery been afoot!

In all seriousness, the blog has been doing pretty, with fairly consistent daily pageviews and a small uptick in readers leaving comments.  Work and my illness late in April have eaten up some of the time I can dedicate to writing, but summer break is fast approaching, and I’m hoping to resume work on my next book, a collection of the first fifty editions of Sunday Doodles, and begin working on a planned collection of new, original short stories.

I’ve also finally hit ten subscribers to my SubscribeStar Page!  That’s an exciting milestone.  If you’ve been thinking about subscribing but haven’t done so, take a few minutes and do so now.  The $1 a month subscription comes out $12 a year—the cost a single three-topping Stuffed Crust pizza from Pizza Hut.  I’m not saying my writing is as good as a Stuffed Crust pizza, but seeing as there are nearly 200 posts on my SubscribeStar page already, it’s plenty of brain food to chew.  And think of the calories you’ll save giving up one pizza!

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Lazy Sunday CXII: Responsibility

It’s another Lazy Sunday, a day of rest and reflection, a day to forget—albeit briefly—about life’s responsibilities.  And yet, here we are, reading a Lazy Sunday about responsibility.

I’ve been meditating on this topic more lately, and how difficult and important it is to be responsible.  One very sobering realization is that, as a public figure (albeit a very, very minor one), my words and actions have an impact on my community, and must be considered carefully.

That’s also true of teaching.  The Bible says that teachers who mislead the young are bound for hellfire.  Yikes!  That’s a massive responsibility.

So, on this day when we’re all desperately forestalling the start of another workweek by cramming in leisure (or putting in work to make the rest of the week easier), here is a trio of pieces about responsibility:

  • Monday Morning Update: Back to Work” – This post featured some general updates to kick off the year, as I was returning to work after a glorious Christmas Break.  I didn’t follow through with my lukewarm resolution to walk more this year (at least not yet), but I did publish a book!
  • The King of One’s Castle” – This piece explores the lighter side of responsibility, chiefly the joys of home ownership and the pleasure that comes with improving one’s little plot.
  • Heavy is the Head” – Alternatively, this little essay examines the heavier burdens of responsibility, and how draining it can be to be the one to whom much is given and, therefore, required.  Ultimately, though, it is a blessing to serve others.

Well, that’s it!  Here’s hoping these posts about responsibility didn’t bog down your Sunday with weighty thoughts of the troubles of the world, but rather offered a sense of the joys that responsibility brings.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Fat

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.

In 2011 I undertook what I call my “Weight Loss Odyssey,” which saw me go from around 285 pounds or so down to—at my absolute lowest—172 pounds in about eleven months.  I’m not sure if that’s too fast, but it proved to me that, with the right mindset and loads of self-discipline, losing weight is easy.

Well, the concept behind losing weight is easy.  Like most things in life, the solutions are straightforward; they’re just unpleasant, or difficult in their implementation.  I’m no nutritionist, so take that into consideration, but my method is simple:  consumer fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight.

Your body burns calories just by existing, and the heftier you are, the more calories you burn by default.  There’s a handy weight loss calculator that makes it easy to figure out the maximum calories you should consume to meet your weight loss goals within a certain timeframe (it also warns you if your goal is dangerously unhealthy; my twenty-six-year old 113 pound drop in weight loss was, apparently, safe).

Lately I’ve been eating way too much.  I could offer a host of excuses, but it really boils down to self-indulgence.  I enjoy eating.  Food is good, even the crummy stuff I like to eat.

Ultimately, though, it’s all a matter of self-discipline, and the benefits—not just physically, but mentally and spiritually—are well worth the effort.

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

For the Love of Crumb Cake, Please: Not Another Bandcamp Friday!

Yes, dear readers, I must apologize—it’s another Bandcamp Friday, which means I am obligated to put out another copy-pasted sales pitch in a futile attempt to squeeze some of your precious Imperial Credits out of you.

Of course, if you haven’t already done so, I’d highly encourage you to pick up a copy of The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot, available in paperback and on Kindle.  The reviews are quite good!  If you’ve already purchased the book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon—it helps, apparently!

Now for the copy-pasted bits:  I’m not going to belabor all the statistics about the hard times musicians have endured in The Age of The Virus; you can read all about that in last month’s Bandcamp Friday appeal.  Instead, I’ll cut to the chase and let you know all the great ways you can support the blogmy musicmy book (now on Kindle), or even just me.

For one, I have some intriguing merch available.  I’m currently offering two completely original doodles, “Bird of Paradise” and “Bleeding Heart,” for just $10 each.  There are no other physical copies in existence, so you’d own these lovingly doodled marker pictures—and no one else.  They make great “bathroom art”—the kind of thing that would look good in a guest bathroom, or maybe a tacky beach house.

I’m also clearing out the last few remaining “Flamin’” t-shirts for $15 (plus $5 shipping).  These shirts are rare and I won’t be making any more of them.

Most obviously, because it’s Bandcamp FridayBandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work TODAY, Friday, 7 May 2021.  You can pick up my entire discography for $19.98 (or more, if you feel so inclined), a full 35% off the price of buying each album individually.  To purchase the full discographyseven releases in total—you can view any of my albums (like Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse) and find a button/link that reads “Buy Digital Discography” (unfortunately, there’s no way to supply that link directly).

You can also purchase albums individually, either at their listed price or higher.  Here are my seven releases, in chronological order:

  • Electrock Music (2006, $5) – Twelve tracks from my senior year of college, all instrumental MIDI tunes.  I gave physical copies to my Fiction Writing Workshop class; I wonder if they still have those little homemade copies.
  • Electrock II: Space Rock (2007, $7) – I’m obsessed with the idea of the sci-fi rock opera (I actually tried to write one for piano and vocals back in 2012-2013, but never finished it)—it’s the most decadent, self-indulgent form of musical expression.  That was the driving spirit behind this rockin’ collection of out-of-this-world jams.
  • Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse (2012, $4) – My younger brother introduced me to a song call “Biomachinery” by some melodic death metal band, and the rhythm of that word inspired the lead-off track of this four-song cycle, “Cyborg Unicorn.”  Of course, the instrumental chorus of that track is basically Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” so it’s true what they say:  composers swipe from each other all the time.
  • Electrock Retrospective, Volume I: Dance Party (2013, $3.60) – I had a number of tracks stored up for a never-completed Electrock III, so I thought I would begin dribbling them out as part of repackaged “retrospectives.”  This first one, Dance Party, features “Robobop,” which is also a perk for $5 subscribers to my SubscribeStar page.
  • Electrock Retrospective, Volume II: Technological Romance (2013, $2.14) – Technological Romance features “Pwrblld (Ballad II)“—with apologies to Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration.”
  • Contest Winner EP (2015, $5) – This album is my tour de force.  I recorded it in a real-life studio, overdubbing my vocals with my piano part.  It was an amazing experience, and these tunes are staples of my live shows (especially fan favorites “Hipster Girl Next Door” and “Greek Fair“).
  • The Lo-Fi Hymnal (2020, $4) – I started playing piano at my little Free Will Baptist Church about a year ago, and I began taking little recordings of offertory, invitational, etc.  I compiled the four very lo-fi recordings into a short compilation.  I’m hoping to record a second volume soon.

An easy (and free) way to support me is to “follow” my Bandcamp page and my Amazon author page.  I post updates about new merchandise, new music, and other interesting offers about once a month to the Bandcamp page, and new books will pop up on my Amazon page as they’re published.  It’s a good way to keep up with the latest news on my musical adventures.

Another free way to support me is to turn off your ad-blocker.  The site delivers several thousand ad impressions monthly, but most of those are blocked, which means they don’t pay out.  You can usually find the ad-blocker as a little widget or icon in the upper-right-hand side of your browser; click on it and it will usually give you the option to “pause” or stop the blocker from running on this site.  I know ads are annoying, but seeing a few DuckDuckGo ads helps out in an incremental way.

Even if none of that entices you, no worries!  I’m just glad to have you here, reading my self-indulgent garbage and my lengthy advertisement posts.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

TBT: My Musical Philosophy in Song: “Delilah”

Later this month I’m hosting another front porch concert, following the success of my Spooktacular event in October.  I’m quite excited to do another front porch concert, and I’m interested to see how the May date will stack up compared to Halloween.  I’ve also ordered some great t-shirts, which I will have available on my Bandcamp merch page soon.

In preparing for the concert, I thought it might be a good time to look back at a post I wrote one year ago today, about the Tom Jones song “Delilah.”  The first time I truly heard the song was when I heard Bruce Dickinson’s version.  The Iron Maiden singer nailed the performance, and I immediately set about learning the song.

Of course, I wrote all of this a year ago, so I’ll let the original speak for itself.  Here is 6 May 2020’s “My Musical Philosophy in Song: ‘Delilah’“:

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Heavy is the Head

Last Wednesday I wrote a piece, “The King of One’s Castle,” in which I wrote about the joys of home ownership, and the sense of import that goes with that responsibility.  Putting time in working on and around the house gives me a sense of accomplishment, and deepens the pleasure of ownership.

As a corollary to that post, I’d love to offer up this slight counter:  to whom much is given, much is required.  I’ve been hearing that bit of Biblical wisdom from Luke 12:48 my entire life, often when I resisted doing something with my musical or oral talents (I possess a deep, rich, chocolate-y radio voice, and am often called upon to announce).

I am blessed to have been given much by way of talents, though I quickly temper that proud statement with sincere humility—there are many others far more gifted and talented than I am.  Nevertheless, I do think I possess some attributes that increase my responsibilities to those around me.

That burden is not always easily borne, but it must be, whether easily or not.

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