Category Archives: slacking

Fire and Project Round Up

So a large part of Texas is on fire. That’s a bad thing. A very bad thing. The state is severely behind in water. I heard a stat along the lines of under 5 inches of rain since February. I can believe it. Everything smells dry and dead. The entire landscape is brown. And the smell of smoke blowing in from central Texas is unnerving. It’s so bad that our family evacuation plan involves going to New Orleans. Think about that for a second. Running to New Orleans to escape a natural disaster.

Despite the destruction and mayhem, a project that is very important to me is moving forward at a pretty good clip. I don’t want to say too much about it to the six of you who read this blog with any regularity, but it’s going to be good. So good.

The important thing to note right now is that my manifesto has hit a bit of a snag. One of the major points I’m trying to make isn’t resonating like it once did. That’s probably a good sign that I’m finally giving the right amount of attention to my process and The Work. I wish I’d done this exercise twenty years ago, but everything is handled in its time. They’ll be more thinking out loud around here as that changes.

And while I’m at it, the weather has cooled off! It hasn’t been in the triple digits for almost a week! That means that I can get that OM guitar finished up and maybe start that solid body electric that I’ve been itching to build. I’m almost ready to order the bits and pieces. This weekend will involve cleaning up the garage and getting what passes for my shop ready for business! Pics to follow!


Last week was a great vacation. The family took a road trip to my ancestral homeland in the northern lands of Ohio. It was a great trip (though the drive home with the vomiting 3 year old was a bit much). While I was there, I got to experience what a world with temperatures in the double digits feels like. The 100+ days of Texas were replaced with sunny, breezy 70s with the high hitting a not-at-all-scorching 82! It was a great time to strum my guitar, write a few things down, and decompress.

I did some noodling around with GarageBand on my iPad and I’m amazed at how good the quality is. Sketching in that environment is friction free and completely portable. Taking along an Apogee JAM and a guitar cable was all I needed to make it work. Amazing. I captured some decent material and had fun.

There’s a lot of music being made right now and some of it is going to get to the site Very Soon. I feel weird not posting music as that’s what I do. Too much talk and not enough tunes makes me itch. So stay tuned and maybe, just maybe, there will be some stuff in the next week or so. I’m really ready to put out another six song collection in a sprint just to clear my mind and make me feel like this evil summer hasn’t been a total waste.


I have three projects in the works right now and nothing to show for them at the moment. Rest assured that I am doing a lot more than just thinking about The Work. It’s times like this that I’m glad to know really talented and busy people like my buddy Jeff. He has just taken on a really cool project with his photography and he wants us to come along for the ride. Follow his blog Highway 30. You won’t regret it!

Seriously Summer

Seriously Serving the Work

Is there any sin a creative person can commit that is worse than taking himself too seriously? Even a genius with a lifetime of brilliant work loses some credibility when it becomes clear that he’s doubling up on the gravitas. I catch myself doing this a lot. It happens most frequently when I am trying to motivate myself. I make what I’m doing seem so important and so dire that I usually wind up faking myself out.

Everything should be taken exactly as seriously as it needs to be and not a bit more or less.

Summer dreams

Thoughts like this only come to me in the summer. It’s something to do with the heat and my inability to do anything useful. The long days and heat make moving difficult and coherent thoughts aren’t as plentiful as they need to be for anything to get done. I can’t help but think that this is why we always read about famous writers and artists going to the ocean for the summer and living like wild animals in villas. Me? I have no villa. I have a nice deck that I can’t sit on when the temperatures hit the triple digits and a lawn that needs mowing. I retreat to the comfort of the ceiling fans and ice water at the very thought of moving.

In these long, hot days it’s very difficult to find that balance. The trigger needs to be tripped and it feels like the mechanism is rusted shut. I’m sure this has something to do with the academic calendar and the way that it drills “Summer Is Slack Time” into the mind of those of us who took our education a little too far. Thus in the summer, only the important things get done. The really important things. Like reading light novels and taking road trips. Or sitting very still on the couch and ignoring the sweat. It’s easy to see why one might resort to over-inflating the importance of one’s work simply to get the butt off of the couch and into the studio.

The summer requires a different strategy. Single sitting exercises. Write a complete piece in one hour. Whatever is done when the time is up, is done. I’m writing a lot of songs that way right now. I give myself the benefit of some editing during my daily review, but for the most part I’m knocking out stuff. It will turn into something when the time is right. Maybe it’s the creative equivalent of laying in stores for the long winter ahead.

gear purge

In my studio closet there is a rack of gear that I have not powered up since I moved to Texas. This tells me something. It tells me that it’s time for it to go. Some of the stuff doesn’t work any more. Some of it is experimental and home brewed. There are a couple of cassette decks that I will need one more time to transfer the last of my tape media to digital. Most of the equipment is junk that just has to go because it has outlived its usefulness. In a world of flash recorders and endless hard disk space, who needs DAT (more so one that doesn’t work)? No one in a home studio, that’s for sure. So I will be purging the closet. This is fairly momentous.

There’s a lot of history in there. I’ve lugged around a ton of that gear since my college days. The K2000 is a good example. It was a great synth in its day, but I can get better results with my laptop and GarageBand. There are effects in there that can go as well since I do most of my guitar tweaking through massive plugin arrays and digital constructs of my own again on the laptop. Getting rid of this stuff will be a big deal.

spiderman...irving spiderman...

If you know anything about musicians, you know that in our hearts we’re all gear whores. Especially the ones who swear all they ever need is a tape deck and a guitar and one mic and one pre-amp and… See? Even if the setup is as bare bones as it can get (and I have strong opinions about what a wonderful idea that is) we all still get the Musicians Friend catalog and flip through it with long, spindly webs of drool forming at the corners of our mouths. It’s the nature of the beast. What great things could I do with THAT widget or doodad?!? Think of the “Sonic Possibilities!”

In the end, it’s just more crap to haul when you move.

I would like for my studio to be focused on things that make sound. I have more instruments than I probably should (but I will never admit that to my wife) and that means that I should keep the rest of the gear as slim and trim as I can. It will make an entertaining pile at the electronics recycling center. Again, most of it hasn’t worked or been powered up in years. It’s the end of the era of big gear. It’s the beginning of the minimal phase. Soon enough, everything will be done on an iPad with a single mic or mixer anyway. I’ll try to get ahead of the curve on this one.