Deposing Bib Fortuna… with LEGO

Remember Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt’s oily Twi’lek consigliere with the tentacles coming out of his head?  Thanks to the power of imagination and LEGOs, you can now roleplay his downfall!

Like any self-respecting man-child, I’d been lusting after set #75326, Boba Fett’s Throne Room, for some time.  To me, it’s Jabba the Hutt’s iconic throne room, just without the lovably disgusting, sluggish crime lord.

Unfortunately, this bad boy MSRPs for a whopping $100.  Fortunately, my brother found it at Costco in an example of mercantile serendipity—he didn’t even know I wanted it—for $60.  Finding any new LEGO set for 40% off is like, well, finding forty bucks on the ground—it doesn’t really happen.

I finally got around to building this bad boy over the weekend, and it was a pretty fun build.  It wasn’t as deeply satisfying as some other sets I’ve done, but it also didn’t become tedious.  All in all, it was pretty fun to put together, and I love the variety of mini-figures—especially the porcine Gamorrean Guard and the aquatic Quarren.

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TPP in Self-Reliance Magazine

It’s a celebratory time of year.  Sunday was Mother’s Day.  Social media was abuzz all weekend with graduation announcements.  Wedding season is gearing up.  And summer vacation is just around the corner.

So is the 2022 TJC Spring Jam.  This year, I’m making the first portion of the Jam into a recital for my private music students.  That’s going to make for a fun evening, and I suspect it will boost attendance—all those parents and family members coming out to hear L’il Billy play his piano piece.

Last fall, I submitted a piece to Self-Reliance, a magazine about independent living, entitled “The Front Porch Concert: Opportunity for Musicians in The Age of The Virus.”  They accepted it and cut me a check some time ago, and I’ve been waiting patiently for the article’s publication ever since.

Much to my delight, I arrived home from a school event Saturday evening to find the Summer Issue, Issue #25 of Self-Reliance, in my mailbox.  There on page twelve is my article, taking up four beautiful pages.

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Easter Weekend Updates

Hi TPP Readers,

I wanted to send along some Easter weekend updates.  To celebrate Holy Week, I’ve released a free collection of recordings on Bandcamp, The Lo-Fi Hymnal II.  It is free to download (though you can pay more if you wish).

I’ve also cut the price of ALL of my paintings to $10.  Free shipping in the United States.  I also have two new paintings for Easter (and soon a third):  “Easter Eggs” and “Neon Cross.”

Here’s wishing you all a safe and happy Easter Weekend!

—TPP

Embracing the Dark Side… with LEGO

Regular readers will have surmised that, in spite being thirty-seven-years old, I am very much a kid at heart.  Often, I am also a kid in practice.

I was blessed to receive two incredible LEGO sets for Christmas:  the Imperial Shuttle (#75302) and the Darth Vader Helmet (#75304).  These sets are 660+ and 800+ pieces, respectively, and are probably the largest LEGO sets I’ve done.  I did have the legendary Black Seas Barracuda (#10040) as a kid, which is nearly 900 pieces, but I never built it—my older brother did.

Both of these builds were deeply satisfying.  I was sick with a low-grade fever and a sore throat (but tested negative for The Virus, no worries) the week after Christmas, and was generally enduring some low times besides the sickness, so I had plenty of time to dive into both of these kits—and was eager to do so.

Here, I’ll share some pictures of the builds, and discuss a bit of what it was like constructing them.

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December Bandcamp Friday

Yep, it’s my monthly Bandamp Friday post!  I know it’s not the most exciting post in the world, but, by God, I’ve gotta try.  Can you blame me?  It being the holiday season, there’s never been a better time to buy my music, my merch, or my book.  Read on.

It’s the first Friday of December, which means it’s another Bandcamp Friday! That means it’s the best possible time to purchase my music.  Indeed, my entire discography (seven albums!) is just $19.98, a whopping 35% discount (just £15.01 as of 30 November 2021, according to Bing, for my British readers).  That’s $2.85 (£2.14) per release, the kind of deal you only get on cassette tapes at the gas station (or from yours portly!).

It’s also a great time to pick up my debut book, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot.  It’s just $10 (and available in Britain, too).  Christmas is approaching, and with Christmas comes parties—and what self-respecting doesn’t have a White Elephant gift exchange?  Those almost always call for a $10 gift, and you’d definitely have one of the oddest contributions at the party.

For that matter, why not buy four or five copies to hand out as stocking stuffers to your friends?

Bandcamp began doing Bandcamp Fridays during The Age of The Virus, when most musicians (myself included) witnessed a catastrophic drop in their revenue.  Venues closed or stopped live music; parents withdrew students from one-on-one lessons; and private parties were cancelled, meaning fewer of those lucrative gigs.  Also, fewer live performances meant fewer royalties for songwriters.  It’s only $10

Fortunately, that situation is improving, and people are eager to get out and hear live music again.  Still, pitching in a few bucks helps immensely—and you get some good music in the process, too!

So, on with the sales pitch!  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 a couple of years 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 at some point.

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

November Bandcamp Friday

It’s the first Friday of November, which means it’s another Bandcamp Friday! That means it’s the best possible time to purchase my music.  Indeed, my entire discography (seven albums!) is just $19.98, a whopping 35% discount (just £14.64 as of 1 November 2021, according to Bing, for my British readers).  That’s $2.85 (£2.09) per release, the kind of deal you only get on cassette tapes at the gas station (or from yours portly!).

I’m also sitting on a lot of great, but unsold, Spooktacular merch, including my shocking original painting “The War on Halloween.”  If the price tag is too rich for your blood, contact me and we’ll work something out.

It’s also a great time to pick up my debut book, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot.  It’s just $10 (and available in Britain, too).  Christmas is approaching, and it’s a great time to read absurdist, ludicrous detective stories by the fire (or to give as gifts—why not buy four or five copies to hand out as stocking stuffers to your friends?).

Bandcamp began doing Bandcamp Fridays during The Age of The Virus, when most musicians (myself included) witnessed a catastrophic drop in their revenue.  Venues closed or stopped live music; parents withdrew students from one-on-one lessons; and private parties were cancelled, meaning fewer of those lucrative gigs.  Also, fewer live performances meant fewer royalties for songwriters.  It’s only $10

Fortunately, that situation is improving, and people are eager to get out and hear live music again.  Still, pitching in a few bucks helps immensely—and you get some good music in the process, too!

So, on with the sales pitch!  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 a couple of years 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 at some point.

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

Lazy Sunday CXXXIII: Inspector Gerard

It was a long, grueling week at work, including a Saturday morning spent proctoring the SAT.  It was one of those weeks where my job and my various sidelines all coincided to leave me utterly exhausted.  Anyone who has ever worked a job knows the kind of week:  seemingly everything must be done at the same time.

Well, self-promotion never ends, and after working myself weary this week, I figured I’d make another attempt at schlocking my various wares to you, my faithful readers.  As such, it seemed like a good weekend to revisit my book, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard, and my various blog posts about it.  Also, some of my students learned of the book this week, so it’s on my mind (and currently only $10 in paperback):

  • Inspector Gerard eBook is Coming 1 April 2021 (Out NOW in Paperback)!” – Ah, yes, the first, excited post announcing the arrival of Inspector Gerard to the world.  At that time, the Kindle edition had not yet released, but was available for preorder.  I actually did pretty well on those, and, of course, enjoyed the initial surge of book sales from friends and family with the announcement.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Inspector Gerard Preview” – The day after my announcement, I posted three Gerard stories, “Dial ‘M’ for Malfeasance,” “Sleazebag in the City,” and “Inspector Gerard and the Video Rental Caper” to my SubscribeStar page.  Considering I was selling the paperback version for $15 at the time, that made a $1 a month subscription a pretty good deal.
  • Lazy Sunday CX: Inspector Gerard Reviews” – Soon enough, the reviews—mostly from blogger friends—began pouring in.  I think most of the reviewers “got” the book, and I even got a shout-out in a mailbag episode of Z Man’s podcast after I mailed a copy of the book to him.  I really appreciated the reviews.

Christmas is just around the corner—why not take the lazy way out and buy yourself or a loved one a copy of my absurdist book?

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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***NOTEThis link is NOT a subscription to my SubscribeStar Page; it is for a one-time donation/tip via PayPal. To subscribe to my SubscribeStar page, use this URL:   https://subscribestar.com/the-portly-politico***

October Bandcamp Friday

It’s the first day of the best month of the year!   My annual Halloween Spooktacular is tantalizingly close—just twenty-nine days away!—and my interest in horror movies now takes on a seasonally appropriate veneer, instead of just the odd obsession of a potentially deranged individual.

It’s also another Bandcamp Friday, which means it’s the best possible time to purchase my music.  Indeed, my entire discography (seven albums!) is just $19.98, a whopping 35% discount (just £14.76 as of 28 September 2021, according to Bing, for my newfound British readers).  That’s $2.85 (£2.10) per release, the kind of deal you only get on cassette tapes at the gas station (or from yours portly!).

What better time to spin my classic hit “Ghostly,” a spookily unhinged ballad in creepy 3/4 time, or the electronic opus “Zombie Unicorn,” featuring irregular multi-meter insanity and shades of Saint-Saëns?  They’re on Contest Winner EP and The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse, respectively.

Not in the mood for spookiness?  Then enjoy the boppy, poppy fun of perennial fan favorite “Hipster Girl Next Door“—or the pleading piano-pop balladry of “Greek Fair.”

Are your tastes inclined in a more heavenly direction?  Then check out The Lo-Fi Hymnal, a love letter to hymn singing and playing recorded on over a tiny phone microphone.  Trust me—it’s better than it sounds!

In short, ’tis the season for merriment and fun—and for forking over your hard-earned cash to support the blogger, musician, and teacher you love:  me!

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The Inexorable Forward March of Bandcamp Friday

Yes, poor readers, here it is again: another Bandcamp Friday.  Other than one of the earliest times I posted about this glorious monthly holiday—during which Bandcamp waives its usual commission on sales through its site—I don’t know that I’ve ever made a sale hawking my musical wares via the blog.

Well, if at first you do not succeed, pester, pester again (alternatively, doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, but all musicians are a bit crazy… right?).  Also, with my lovely new readers from the British Isles, it’s never been a better time to bilk them out of their hard-earned pounds sterling.

Fortunately for them—and you, my fellow countrymen!—my entire discography (seven albums!) is just $19.98, a whopping 35% discount (just £14.50 as of 1 September 2021, according to Bing).  That’s $2.85 (£2.07) per release, the kind of deal you only get on cassette tapes at the gas station (or from yours portly!).

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