SubscribeStar Saturday: 1000 Days

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.

Well, here it is—the 1000th consecutive day of posting to WordPress (I hit 1000 posts about 114 pieces ago; now I’ve reached 1000 days of consecutive posting).  It’s crazy to think, but this latest incarnation of The Portly Politico has been going for roughly two-and-three-fourths years, a fresh post every single day.  I’ve written so much at this point, I’ve forgotten a lot of it.

Granted, some of those have been filler posts, saying, “Oops, I will have to post a real post later,” but I tried to avoid those as much as possible, and I have generally made them up (especially to you paying customers).  I’ve also come up with some series, like Monday Morning Movie Review and Supporting Friends Friday, to help with ease the load a bit (not to mention Lazy Sunday and TBT, both of which let me off the hook with some reblogging of old material).

It being the 1000th day, I’ve decided to look back at this latest incarnation of The Portly Politico—where it was, where it is, and where it’s going.

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

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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The Return of Bandcamp Friday

After taking off during the long summer months, Bandcamp is bringing back Bandcamp Friday today, and continuing it the first Friday of every month through the end of 2021.

For those that have forgotten—or steadfastly ignored my many, many, many, manymany posts about it—Bandcamp Friday is when Bandcamp waives the 15% commission they usually take on sales through the site.  So, if you buy, say, Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse for $4, I get almost the full $4 (PayPal takes a small cut still), instead of $4 minus $0.60 to Bandcamp.

Another, more dramatic example:  if you buy my full discography at $19.98, Bandcamp doesn’t take their $3 cut, so most of that goes directly to me (again, minus the transaction fee PayPal assesses).

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.

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

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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