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!

Read 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’“:

Read More »

It is Finished?

Christians know that Christ uttered the words “It is finished” before temporarily giving up the ghost on Good Friday.  The “It” to which He referred was His Own Sacrifice for our sins.  Of course, Christ wasn’t and isn’t finished—He arose three days later, and He has promised to return again.  He’d finished the key moment of offering His Blood as atonement for our sins, but that closed one chapter and began a second, better one.

The question of completion is always an interesting one, especially for artists of every stripe.  My real-life buddy and poet Jeremy Miles wrote a post yesterday entitled “When Can You Call a Piece Finished?”  It’s an interesting reflection on some of the major questions that plague artists, chiefly “is the piece done” and “who am I to be putting this stuff out there?”

Like Jeremy with poetry, I’ve recently published a collection of absurdist short stories, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard.  I’m fairly shameless about self-promotion—why be shy about asking for money?—but I still have moments where I think, “is it really right for me to put out a collection of ridiculous stories I wrote in high school and college”?

Ultimately, I take Jeremy’s advice here:  “stop.”  That’s the same advice I’d give to my students, too, and to artists in general:  stop doubting yourself, and just do it.  In the world of music, the cardinal sin I see musicians commit is not charging enough for their time and talents.  Apparently, jazz pianist Thelonious Monk missed out on a lot of gigs because he demanded a fairly high rate for his playing.  That may have limited his exposure somewhat, but he knew what he was worth.

Read More »

SubscribeStar Saturday: Concert Postmortem

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.

My poor health recovered, I tested negative for The Virus, and the Spring Concert was a smashing success.  I managed to get back to work Wednesday, giving me time to build—for the first time since the 2019 Christmas Concert—my Frankenstein’s Monster sound system, rehearse my students, and wire up a ton of microphones, amps, keyboards, and the like.

After every big concert, I spend part of a class period conducting a “concert postmortem,” my pet term for reviewing the highs and lows of the previous night.  It’s a good opportunity to discuss elements that could be improved for the next concert, but also to allow the students to bask in the glory of their performance a little longer.

Not surprisingly, this process tends to work better with high school students, who have developed politeness filters and know how to phrase suggestions diplomatically.  They’re also veterans, so they understand better the realities of live performance, and don’t have unrealistic expectations.  Middle school students tend to either be over-awed by the experience (one student Thursday evening exclaimed, “That was awesome!”) or very critical of small errors.  That’s why we frame these discussions as “constructive criticism,” which helps the students understand the purpose is to build each other up and point out areas where we can all improve.

Regardless, I’m letting readers in on that process a bit with a general “concert postmortem,” including our finalized set list.

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

TBT: Gig Day III: Spooktacular

Tonight is the Spring Concert at my little private school, an event that The Virus denied us in 2020, and which my illness earlier this week seemed to threaten.  Indeed, it’s the first true concert the students have given since the ignominious Christmas Concert 2019, which veterans of my class have dubbed “Corporate Christmas” for reasons I cannot elaborate upon here.

In the spirit of live music, I thought I’d look back this week at a post about the first Spooktacular, before the epic front porch Spooktacular II.  This inaugural Spooktacular was back during The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago, when coffee shops still would let me gyrate behind a keyboard for tips on Halloween.

The show ended up being a huge success, and inspired the at-home, front-porch sequel in October 2020.  I’m currently planning a springtime front porch concert for Friday, 28 May 2021, but I’ve gotsta get through tonight first.

With that, here is 2019’s “Gig Day III: Spooktacular“:

Read More »

Sheet Music Burning

The latest target of the woke elites and their braying mobs is—that great symbol of imperialism and Western dominance—sheet music.

Apparently, some Oxford dons are considering removing sheet music and the ability to read traditional notation from its curriculum.  One quotation from The Telegraph article notes that “The Oxford academics went on to pronounce that teaching the piano or conducting orchestras could cause ‘students of colour great distress’ as the skills involved are closely tied to ‘white European music’.”

This latest crusade is the musical equivalent of the effort in English departments across the country to downplay the teaching of grammar.  Sure, one can make plenty of excellent music without knowing how to read notation, but why limit one’s self to tabs or lead sheets?  I can certainly communicate certain ideas without adverbs, adjectives, or even pesky commas, but doing so severely limits the range of expression.

Read More »

SubscribeStar Saturday: Concert Preparations

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.

Next week my little school will host its annual Fine Arts Festival.  It is for artsy students (and their teachers) the equivalent of the State Championship game for athletes—a big stage onto which the students have an opportunity to showcase their talents, and to demonstrate the works they’ve been laboring over all year.

It is a fun, stressful, exhilarating, and exhausting week, all in one.  As both the Music teacher and the de facto sound and lighting guy, I have the dubious task of constructing a sound system that works for dance performances, a concert, and a Shakespearean play.  I call this setup the “Frankenstein’s Monster Sound System,” as it consists of various bits of differently-branded technology, all linked together in a glorious tangle of cables.

But the effort to build an ad hoc sound and lighting system in a high school gymnasium is worth it in the end, especially during and after the concert.

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

Here We Go Again: Yet Another Bandcamp Friday

Happy Good Friday, readers!  Not only is it the day Christ gave His Life for our sins, it’s also—say it with me now—yet another Bandcamp Friday.

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 blog, my music, my 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 remainingFlamin’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 Friday, Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work TODAY, Friday, 2 April 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 individuallyTo 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:

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