Gig Day V: TJC Spring Jam

After seven long months, it’s time for another front porch concert!  Following the success of Spooktacular II, I decided I should try the format twice a year:  the classic Halloween event, and a springtime one.  Thus, the TJC Spring Jam is born!

Halloween is easy, because it comes packaged with all sorts of fun activities:  Halloween songs, costume contests, spooky décor, etc.  A generic springtime theme is a bit more vague, and with it already feeling like summer here in South Carolina, the theme presented some initial problems.

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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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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

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.

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TBT^2: April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective

The Kindle version of The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot goes live today!  If you pre-ordered the book, it should pop up in your Kindle app today.  At $5, it’s a very easy lift, as is the paperback at $15.

It’s April Fool’s Day, a holiday for mirth and merriment, but one I dedicate to remembering the day twelve years ago when I faced unemployment during the worst job market since the Great Depression.

In rereading last year’s TBT and the original “April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective,” I’m reminded how good God has been to me.  Last year I’d lost most of my private lesson students due to The Virus; now, I’m back up to seven students (six weekly, one twice a month), and I’ve just released a book (the Kindle version goes live today!).  Gigging still hasn’t really picked back up, but Bandcamp sales have been decent (and another Bandcamp Friday is tomorrow!), and my front porch Spooktacular was a blast.

I’m still hustlin’, but I’m also taking more time to appreciate life.  Perhaps the hard slog of my twenties has finally paid off here in my mid-thirties.

With that, here are “April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective” and “TBT: April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective“:

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Reflections on Self-Publishing

I’ve released my first book, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot (available now in paperback, pre-order for Kindle).  For years I’ve wanted to dip my toes into the self-publishing space, but I finally had time to do so a couple of weeks ago.  I decided collecting my absurdist, postmodern detective stories from high school and college into one volume would be a relatively easy and fun way to learn the ropes of self-publishing on Amazon.

If anyone else is thinking of publishing your works this way, I would definitely encourage it.  I don’t expect to make tons of money off of my silly short stories (although that would, of course, be nice), but the process was quite easy overall, although slightly more involved than I anticipated.  Still, it’s an effective way to get your work out there.

To that end, I thought I’d share some of my experiences using kdp.amazon.com—Kindle Direct Publishing.

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Phone it in Friday XIV: TPP Self-Promotion Bonanza

It’s been another busy week for yours portly, and Labor Day Weekend has arrived just in time.  When I’m falling asleep at 8:30 PM after a day of non-stop teaching, it’s time to recuperate.

Also, when I went to check out my school’s football field sound system, the powered amplifier went up in smoke!  I spent all of my planning periods (and most of my lunch) jury-rigging a sound system from an ancient amplifier I found in a back closet.  It’ll get us through the first home game tonight, but it isn’t ideal.

As such, I figured I’d take today to give some blog updates, and to do a bit of shameless self-promotion.  Readers will know that the blog now has the new, spiffy, convenient URL, theportlypolitico.com.  That seems to have helped with traffic and search engine visibility, as I’ve been getting more hits since forking over $52 to WordPress.  On Wednesday evening—for no apparent reason!—I had a massive traffic spike:

2 September 2020 Stats Spike

I’m still planning on doing some “Five-Dollar Friday” posts for $5 and higher subs to my Subscribe Star page.  Those posts will include exclusive election season commentary.  As the 2020 election gets closer, be on the lookout for those posts.  Of course, I’ll continue with $1/month content on Saturdays.

On the music front, today is the first Friday of the month, so Bandcamp is once again waiving their commission on sales.  In other words, if you purchase any of my tunes TODAY (Friday, 4 September 2020), I get the full value of the purchase (minus PayPal’s transaction) fee.

Speaking of PayPal, WordPress has a nifty new PayPal block:

Donate to The Portly Politico

Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

$10.00

You can also send donations here, or you can subscribe to my SubscribeStar page.  If you send me a donation, I’ll e-mail you a bunch of my SubscribeStar posts in a PDF (just don’t forget to include an e-mail in the transaction process).

As for the blog, it’s been a blast to maintain lately.  The biggest thing you can do to support it is to share my posts far and wide.  If you read something and like it, please pass it along to someone else.

That’s all for this Friday.  I’ve got to head home, shower off the filth of sound guy troubleshooting, and get ready for tonight’s game.  Be praying for a running clock, as kickoff is at 8 PM (!).

Happy Friday!

—TPP

Support The Portly Politico

As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s been a tough year for musicians.  Fortunately, things are looking up on that end, at least for yours portly.  With school starting back this week, I’m hoping some of my old students will be comfortable with resuming one-on-one lessons, especially after sitting in class all day with other students (and with our new sanitation and safety protocols).  Still, 2020 will be a down year for lessons revenue, and especially for gigs.

In brighter news, The Portly Politico has more followers and subscribers than ever.  Currently, my SubscribeStar page has seven subscribers, three of whom are subscribed at the $5 tier.  Thanks to their support, the blog is bringing in $15.38 a month after SubscribeStar takes its cut.  That may seem like small potatoes, but that support means more than the dollar figure suggests.

If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to subscribe$1 a month is an easy lift, and considering the back catalog of posts is growing every week, the value of that investment continues to grow.  If you’re already a $1 a month sub, you may want to consider upgrading to a $5 a month subscription.

I’m also introducing more perks for $5 a month subs.  So far, the $5 tier has been the same as the $1 tier, just with Sunday Doodles tossed in.  Last week, I included some bonus doodles.  I’ll be doing that more frequently—not necessarily weekly, but often enough to make it a fun surprise.  I’m also going to be uploading more music, especially material that can’t currently be found on my Bandcamp page.

During distance learning, I amassed a treasure trove of history and government lectures.  I’ll be uploading some of those for $5 subs, probably starting with the Second World War lectures.

Finally, select Fridays this fall will be “Five Dollar Fridays,” posts that will be largely dedicated to 2020 election coverage and analysis.  As the name suggests, those posts will be exclusive to $5 and up subscribers.

Naturally, I’ll continue to offer free weekly content Sunday through Thursday, and some Fridays.  We’re closing in on 600 days of posts, and two years is about 134 posts away.  Of course, if you’re not subscribed, you’re missing out on 116 posts (as of this writing)!  That’s a ton of content (and doodles).

If you’re interested in a subscription, sign up here or here.  If you know of someone who might be interested in paying a small fee for quality content, please forward this blog post them, or send them here.

One final pot-sweetenerif we hit 10 subscribers—at any level—by the end of August 2020, I’ll upload some special, surprise content for all subscribers.

Thanks again for your support—and your patience with yet another sales pitch.  It is truly appreciated.

God Bless,

TPP

Special Election Day 2020

Last November, my little town held town council electionsNeither of the people I voted for won, and the two incumbents won reelection (there were two separate seats up, so we got to vote for two separate candidates).

In March, one of the Town Councillors resigned for reasons still unknown to me, which triggered a special election. I filed to run for Town Council on Friday, 13 March 2020—the Friday before all the schools in South Carolina shut down and went to distance learning.

With The Virus hitting, the special election was moved from its original date on Tuesday, 12 May to today, Tuesday, 14 July 2020.  My plan was to keep it simple, just talking to people and maybe going door-to-door, but quarantining—as well as a good bit of time on the road this summer—prevented that.  It also didn’t help that I was cooped up inside for two weeks with a gnarly virus (fortunately, I tested negative for The Virus, but I’m skeptical as to the accuracy of that test).

But that’s mostly me making excuses for myself.  I could have done more.  I did talk to my neighbor and a few other folks.  One older man approached me while I was loading my car up one morning and complained about a house with caged pit bulls in the backyard; he wanted me to introduce an ordinance banning pit bulls “when you get elected.”  I’ve actually given that a great deal of thought, and might explain my thinking on that proposal in a future post.  It will certainly become more relevant if I get elected.

As for the campaign, I resolved to spend $0 campaigning.  I didn’t do any fundraising, or even funded anything myself (other than spending $31 for the filing fee).  There’s no need to spend scads of money in a local election in a town of approximately 950 people.  Public office should be attainable to anyone, especially at the local level, and I want to see if that’s doable.

I did, however, create a small (free!) Facebook page eight days ago.  I wrote a short post explaining my vision for the town:

My basic pitch:  Lamar is centrally-located in a rapidly growing part of South Carolina.  Working families, especially young ones just starting out, are finding it more difficult to buy homes in the larger neighboring municipalities.  Lamar is well-positioned to welcome those young families with friendliness, affordable real estate, low taxes, and proximity to the three large towns in the area (not to mention two Interstates).

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