“Autumnopolis” Is Going To Be So Great

Surprise and Fear and Amazement!

Last week I had a meeting here in Southern California with Chicago-based composer Trevor Watkin, my long-time best friend and infrequent collaborator. I can say with all immodesty that this may be the best show in Chicago this year. Well – maybe, maybe not. But after my meeting with Trevor, I’m as optimistic as I’ve ever been about something I wrote. Continue reading ““Autumnopolis” Is Going To Be So Great”

U2 and the Rock & Roll Proletariat

U2 - Rock Ninjas, or Corporate Pawns?

I’m seeing outrage all over my Facebook feed – not because of actually outrageous things, mostly because of this illicit U2 album that allegedly every Apple customer received on their apple device. The story goes like this: upon announcement of various new Apple products to finally answer the call of “Hey, Samsung is doing it, why isn’t Apple,” Apple CEO Tim “Not Steve Jobs” Cook also declared that Apple had suavely pushed U2’s new album, “Songs of Innocence,” to all our devices. (I think that’s how it goes. I didn’t watch the Keynote, and I sure as fuck didn’t read anybody’s tweets about it.)

Here’s the thing, though, I didn’t get mine. I saw the news that this happened and went and checked my iPhone, my iPad and my MacBook and NOWHERE did I see any U2. What gives? I thought. Why am I alone here?

So like a fucking peasant, I had to open up the iTunes store and OH MY GOD GO OUT OF MY WAY to download it. It took nearly 45 goddamn seconds, too. Surely, now, here was my outrage manifesting. I will not be left out of the pool of ruggedly outraged individuals who cherish a self-curated music collection of independent rarities.

Interestingly, much of the outrage on social media is now being hailed as a good thing – a sign of life for those who demand a great divorce between corporate global capitalism and good old-fashioned rock & roll. You wouldn’t break into someone’s house and slip a vinyl record onto their shelf, so why is it okay to do the digital equivalent?

A corporate mindset didn’t see a problem with that, but the rock and rollers of the world rejected that notion outright. And maybe, in dramatic denouement fashion, maybe we’re seeing the people rock band together and fight the big white capitol.

But here is the question no one’s asking: how is the new album, anyway? Is U2 still cool? Well, I mean, obviously NOT, but if, hypothetically, this whole download debacle hadn’t happened, would we appreciate the album?

My answer: maybe. The album is good. It’s actually good. Not the best, but not the worst. I’m no U2 scholar. They’ve never really played a huge role in my life, and I don’t over-sentimentalize Joshua Tree. For a long time, I thought all their songs sounded the same. Of course, I know better now, and I like quite a few U2 songs, but still, they’re not my most favorite band and I just don’t know if this lives up to the standards of long-time U2 fans. But it’s a good CD to keep in the car (yes, I burned it to a CD) and it’s nice to see an aging band still throw some hot energy into studio recording.

I guess I’m the luckiest in all of this. It’s a decent album that I downloaded myself, without the stigma of having it forced upon me, and without any loss of money for purchasing an album I wouldn’t have otherwise bought. And all around me, I see the spirit of rock and roll exploding all over corporate America.

I am alone. I am Patrick Bateman.

Don’t Stop Talking About Depression

Robin Williams - DepressionWhen news of Robin Williams’ death surfaced, and shortly thereafter news that it was self-inflicted, we were naturally all quite stunned. It shocked and appalled us to learn that someone with so much talent and energy could possibly be suffering from – gasp – depression.

And after the nation went through our standard week of mourning and opening up and sharing and seeking change, the conversations about depression pretty much dried up. We had a rough week losing a national treasure, but then we had a nice weekend, and anyway, much worse things continued to happen in the world, so it was back to business as usual for us, pretending that depression doesn’t exist.

But we need to keep talking about depression and its place in society. We can let Robin Williams the individual rest, but let’s keep Robin Williams the symbol alive. Let’s keep talking about depression the condition, and not depression the social taboo.

Why Continue the Conversation?

Why? The answer is simple: to move past the stigma, and actually do something useful and lasting in our culture. When depression and bipolar disorder are stigmatized, we force the sufferers into hiding. And when we force people into hiding, bad things happen.

Depression is no one’s fault. It’s a condition, like Type 1 Diabetes or allergies. It ought to be treated, not shunned.

If we get rid of the stigma, we can improve everything from health care to the wage gap to gun laws. We can start preventing school shootings. We can mend relationships that may have been strained.

A Call to Those Suffering From Depression

If you’re suffering from depression, or have suffered from depression at any point in the past, please come out and let everyone know. The more the world sees it, the more normal it will become, and that is the gateway to greater understanding.

A Call to Those NOT Suffering From Depression

Please be open to the idea that anyone around you may be suffering from depression, and you might never know it, because people with depression tend to be really, really good at hiding it. That’s actually part of the problem – it’s such an unspoken terror in our society that people with depression grow up learning how to hide how they feel, and instead of getting better, we all just get worse.

When someone tells you they are suffering, do not judge that person. (And don’t offer advice on how to cheer up.) Just try to understand and stay open, open, open. It’s hard to stay open, but you can do it. You really can. It is possible.

These conversations apply to everything everywhere, I promise. So now that we’re all past the shock of a brilliant comedian ending his own life, and now that we’ve all expressed our initial reactions, let’s do something about it. Like, for real.

What can we do, then? What, exactly?

I don’t know. Something will come up. Just keep talking about it.

To that end, I’ve created a page to list the conversations, posts, articles, etc. that have come out about this since Robin Williams’ death. Some were written long ago and have resurfaced as a result, some were written just in the few days following the news. I’m going to make an effort to keep adding these resources as I come across them, but please, feel free to add your own in the comments on that page.

Click here to view the page.

 

There Is No Such Thing As A Non-Marketable Skill

Punch Me In The Face

Having majored in theatre in college, I know a thing or two about “useless degrees” and “unmarketable skills,” and I will tell you two things right now that everybody needs to hear:

1. Every single kind of degree is useless.

2. There is no such thing as a non-marketable skill.

The first thing, I know because I’ve met lawyers and doctors and PhDs of all sorts, and some of them – some who make zillions of dollars a year – have absolutely no common sense, let alone any decent skill at running their own business. They have teams of people who help them make money, and without these people, they’d be lost. They’d be working part-time at coffee shops hoping for a big break. Your JD or MD or BS or whatever degree you hold means absolutely nothing. You make your way. Your degree doesn’t make your way for you.

The second thing, I know because I have been working for so many years in various aspects of marketing. Every skill set is valuable, and the more you refine it, the more valuable it becomes.

Here’s the catch: it’s on you to make money from it. If you’re really good at painting, then sell your paintings for money. Don’t give your paintings away for free. If you’re really good at acting, then don’t act for free.

I know it sounds like a catch-22 (“How will they know I’m good at acting if they don’t see me starring in a play?”), but trust me: there’s always a way to make money. So many of us are so unwilling to become our own advocates, so unwilling to sell our services for what they are worth like Capitalist sales-pigs, that we stick our heads in the sand and pretend that if we just work for free long enough, then some generous billionaire will fall in love and sponsor us and we can quit our day jobs and live happily ever after.

YOU ARE A STUPID HEAD IF YOU THINK THAT IS TRUE.

I’m sorry to get all harsh-truth on you, but that’s the way it is.

I actually hate those bumper stickers that say, “Pay artists!” I resent them. Artists, make them pay you. Agree in advance to get paid, and then demand payment when it is due. It’s not greed, it’s self-worth. It’s not rampant corporatization of your passions, it’s ensuring that you don’t have to waste your time at a temp job when you could be using your time to make more art.

Get some business sense. It’ll make you a better artist, I swear. Take a business class if you have to. Contact me if you want. Just find a way to make money, because I guarantee this much: if you have a degree in something, then you have a marketable skill set. Use it right.

The Week Technology Died

Bil Angry. Bil Smash!

Bil Angry. Bil Smash!

Technologically, the last week has been shitty for me. It was techno-shit. I blame solar flares. Here is a list of problems the solar flares caused:

The Website Redesign That Fucked Everything Up

In the midst of a redesign, I switched WordPress themes. The Yasmin theme nearly destroyed BilGaines.com. I had to download an FTP client, remove the theme from my server, and start again. So I tried an alternate theme, Virtue. Same thing. I tried a third theme, Isis, and it didn’t destroy BilGaines.com, but it did look like bantha shit, so I deleted that one, too.

The iOS Update That Fucked Everything Up

Updating to iOS 7.0.6 broke my goddamn iPhone. I literally couldn’t even restore it to factory settings. The logic board was fried. It was a hardware issue, and the only replacement hardware was a brand new iPhone. I was left with no option to go to the Verizon store and, since I was a couple months away from my contract renewal, I had to finance a new phone.

The Web Host Domain Shutdown That Fucked Everything Up

A client’s web host just decided that they don’t want to host that domain anymore. We had less than 24 hours to come up with a solution. So, adios, good luck, don’t let the door hit your domain’s ass on the way out. Scramble time. We pulled it off, but it was stressful.

The Domain Expiration That Fucked Everything Up

I received an email about a website outage and, lo and behold, it was still out. Gone. Domain parking webpage instead. Apparently the domain expired. My immediate reaction was, “if I pour coffee all over my laptop, then this expired domain won’t bother me.” But I wanted to drink the coffee, so I had to deal with the problem instead.

The Power Backup Battery That Fucked With My Head All Week

The beeping. The incessant beeping. There was some piece of hardware that beeped for days, and that hardware was located behind a refrigerator. You know the sound – the high-pitched chirp of an electronic device crying pathetically for a new battery. Blend that with the frozen hum of the fridge and you’ve got space madness descending upon you.

Technology, you’ve really dropped the ball lately, and no offense, but I’m going to avoid you this whole weekend.

The good that comes from technology failing: I have a renewed appreciation for the non-digital world.

Track Order Matters: “El Camino” By The Black Keys

The Black Keys - El Camino

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Black Keys’ 2011 album “El Camino.” That album is super-good, but there was always something missing, something mysteriously wrong. I finally figured out what it was: the track order is not what it should be.

Don’t get me wrong: as it is, it’s still a really strong album. But I get the sense that they intentionally front-loaded the best songs because, I don’t know, maybe they thought they’d get more record sales that way? Could be a number of reasons. The track order was clearly chosen carefully.

The main problem is that the best song of the album by a light year is placed fourth. “Little Black Submarines” is so brilliantly amazing that you almost don’t even realize it the first few times you hear it. But it is.

For those that don’t know the album, here’s a quick recap:

  1. “Lonely Boy” – great start to a great album of straight-up rock & roll. Lyrically, it could be sad and mopey, but the driving beat and the steady burn of the guitar take it much faster and higher than the lyrics would have you believe, and you know right away you’re in for more than you bargained for.
  2. “Dead and Gone” – a switch in tone from the previous track, but just as hard-drivin’. Whatever the first track left wanting, the second track picks up.
  3. “Gold On the Ceiling” – the breakout single of this album. A great, great, great rock song. Simple, accessible, but clever enough to switch gears seamlessly multiple times and keep you on your toes. If you listen more closely than your average radio listener, you get even more, because this song is secretly complex and beautiful behind its dirty façade.
  4. “Little Black Submarines” – by far the best song on an album full of great songs. It starts off slow and quiet, evoking both lyrically and musically a picture of a sad, pathetic man at a payphone. A haunting melody from an acoustic guitar leads the way. Then, all of a sudden, halfway through, for a split seconds it stops so completely you can almost hear the smoke clearing. And out of nowhere, the rockingest band since Led Zeppelin shows up and blows you back to the 70’s for a few more minutes of Rock Heaven before releasing you back to the present, back to “El Camino.”
  5. “Money Maker” – Back to the tone of the earlier part of the album, we are now faced with a fine tune, but it’s not strong enough to remove the memory of the track we just listened to.
  6. “Run Right Back” – by the end of the track before, we’re back in the zone and ready for some more hard drivin’, and that’s exactly what we get with this alternate hit single. Interestingly, there’s a pain we can sense by the end of the song, and it’s not resolved at the end. Which leads us into…
  7. “Sister” – one of the album’s more underappreciated tracks, this one takes the lingering whatever of the previous track and spins it into a dangerous-sounding beat. If this song is the soundtrack to your night, you are gonna find some trouble. Or else trouble is gonna find you.
  8. “Hell of a Season” – this track expands on the finghting tone of the previous track, but takes it down a notch from near-anger to near-introspection, and thematically, takes a broader view of time and whatever space the main character of our story inhabits.
  9. “Stop Stop” – lyrically, this song is fit for the poppiest top-40 radio station, but the fuzz and the drums of the Black Keys keep it away. This track also somehow carries the infusion of melancholy from the previous two tracks. At this point, the album is showing us its internal struggle, and we see where the arc may be headed but we don’t know what the outcome will be.
  10. “Nova Baby” – here’s that song that wraps most of it up. With one high note ever present above every sound in the chorus, watching over the Black Keys like some useless angel, this track makes a damn fine last chapter, but leaves plenty of room for an epilogue.
  11. “Mind Eraser” – Our final track here is where the problem always occurred to me. The previous four tracks do a marvelous job of getting the listener ready to be knocked out of his or her own lifetime, but this one does not do that. This one is fit for the middle of the album; it’s a good song on its own, but of this entire album, it may have the most forgettable outro. Thinking about it now, I can’t even remember what it sounds like as it fades out.

And the solution is so clear to me now. The entire journey peaks one third of the way through the album…the thing to do is switch the fourth and eleventh tracks. That would not only solve the problem of the strength of the ending, I believe that would elevate the album from “one of the best of 2011” to “one of the best of all-time.”

See the graph below:

The Black Keys - "El Camino" (As-Is Track Order)

See how you spike early and then the rest, though still good and better than most albums, simply feels like a letdown. Now see the optimized track order:

The Black Keys - El Camino (Optimized)

You can see from scientific evidence that with the optimized track order, “El Camino” would rock its listeners hard for a solid chunk of time, and then, for those who stay with the band for one more track, it would reward its most loyal listeners with an epic song unlike anything heard within a decade, and we’d exit the album on the highest of highs.

Track order matters, everyone. Track. Order. Matters.

If you’ve made it this far, go ahead and check out the official “Little Black Submarines” music video below. Do yourself a favor: turn the volume all the way up.

Cheating Death With Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour HoffmanI spent all of Super Bowl Sunday pretending that Philip Seymour Hoffman was still alive, because I didn’t want to force myself to enjoy a day of revelry in the light of one of the greatest tragedies of the artistic world, but I didn’t want to waste a day of revelry.

The same principle applied after reading the open letter that very same morning from Mia Farrow’s daughter accusing Woody Allen of molesting her as a child. It was literally too horrifying for me to deal with so I opted out of dealing with it. (Thoughts on that later.)

So I went right ahead and I enjoyed the Super Bowl, well aware the whole time that I was, in a sense, cheating death – the death of my enjoyment of an over-hyped sporting event with somewhat high standards for the enjoyment of the game itself and the impossibly high standards for those miniature moments of cinematic marketing brilliance. Who will be the crowd favorite? Who will be crowned King of the Super Bowl Ads? How many ways can the Seahawks embarrass Peyton Manning? How long is the Chrysler commercial? How much did Esurance pay for their moment in the sun? I wonder what Philip Seymour Hoffman is having for dinner tonight. What was the point of the Jaguar commercial? I missed it, I was busy tweeting about the previous commercial.

And the next day I went to work in the morning, came home at night, struggled in vain to get my daughter to sleep in her own bed, and passed out with her in my bed, not having brushed my own teeth. Still no time to process the news.

But over the last few days I have, in fact, been reading – surprisingly ravenously, I might add – all the wonderful eulogies and nice things people are writing about Philip Seymour Hoffman. I cannot express a single thing that has not already been said in this short span of time.

But I will post the one original thought I had. The sad, beautiful irony of him dying of a heroine overdose is that it makes us reflect on his body of work, which, as a whole, really compels us to confront our demons (which is exactly what dying of a heroine overdose is NOT doing). He didn’t necessarily portray heroes who boldly confronted their demons and lived happily ever after; on the contrary, the characters he played were often so immensely flawed that they were incapable of dealing with problems head on, but he played them so well that we couldn’t help looking inside ourselves and doing something. He compelled us to confront our demons. And I guess in a way, now his life compels us to confront our demons as well.

For me, one demon I’ll work on confronting is my confused grief over one of my favorite actors, who died alone in the middle of New York City, in the middle of eight and a half million people crammed into just three hundred square miles.

The easy way out of this grief is to remember that I didn’t know him personally. I only know him through his filmography. And because of that, he is immortal. And because his work is now finished, his filmography contained in a definable time period, the future of his career no longer uncertain, we may now deify him.

And once again, I cheat death.

Bland Car Enthusiast: It Is Okay To Drive A Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry - Fucking RadIT IS OKAY TO DRIVE A TOYOTA CAMRY.

This is a declaration that never gets made, so I’m making it now.

It is also okay to drive a Honda Accord, or a Chevy Malibu, or a Volkswagen Passat, or any other family-friendly midsize sedan.

Critics and auto bloggers everywhere love to get in their jabs at the Camry for being so “vanilla,” maligning it for being slower than a Ferrari, for having a smaller engine than a Boeing 747, and for having more doors than a Porsche. But nobody thinks about these cars the right way. If you think they’re boring, I will tell you straight up you’re wrong.

These cars are designed for efficiency, for safety, and for practicality. Think that’s boring? Shut the fuck up. Efficiency means less gas consumption, which means less smog and more going places, which means more of our population checking out places like Yosemite and Griffith Observatory and the Mojave Desert, and seeing those magnificent places with fewer particulates in the air obstructing the view. Efficiency in cars means opportunity. Safety means less chance of dying on your way to a ziplining tour; it means cheaper insurance so you can buy even more gas and go even more places; it means the difference between being alive and being remembered. Safety in cars means more risks can be taken. And practicality? That’s a no-brainer. Going somewhere? Cool. Taking people? Even better. Taking people and a bunch of stuff like sports equipment, camping equipment, maybe a dog? Super-awesome. Long car trip ahead? Sure would be nice to listen to your favorite music without a roaring engine pounding your ears the whole way, huh? Practicality in cars means more excitement in life.

Here’s what really gets me: when “sensible” is used as some kind of insult. So, really, are we supposed to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for something that’s NOT sensible? Sensibility is good. Reason is good. Logic is good. Without these essential ingredients to our national makeup, we end up with government shutdowns, economic bubble collapses, and open letters to Miley Cyrus.

Does “sensible” equate to “boring?” No. Sensibility is sexy. Sensibility is what fuels industry. Sensibility gives us E=mc2. Sensibility solves problems and takes us to newer, wilder heights. It provides a launch pad for things that are silly and fun, and catches us gently when, like children up past midnight, we fall down asleep. Sensibility doesn’t hold us back, sensibility saves the day. Sensibility should be our fucking hero.

So yeah, it’s okay to drive a Toyota Camry. In fact, it’s better than okay. It’s fucking rad. So go live life. Ride a roller coaster if you want cheap thrills. Drive places in your Camry for everything else. Leave the excessive, obnoxious sports coupes to those with less imagination.

And another thing: I like vanilla. It’s delicious. So there.

 

An Open Letter To Miley Cyrus

Miley Singing Her FeelingsDear Miley,

This year I have been a very good boy and I would very much like a pony for Christmas. The pony is not for me, but rather for my two-year-old daughter. As you can see, my selfless generosity, as demonstrated by my plan to donate my own Christmas gift, is further evidence that I am a good boy all year long, and not just at Christmastime.

I know what you’re thinking: my daughter is, perhaps, a little young to care for a quadruped as large as a pony. However, she is very smart for her age, and anyway, I believe that any mishaps that may befall her whilst caring for her pony will only serve to teach her valuable life lessons. My ultimate goal of educating and preparing my daughter for the future is yet another example of how I am indeed a good boy all year long, and therefore highly deserving of a pony.

I do not believe that my wife will mind keeping a pony in our condo. We already have two cats, so what’s one more animal to snuggle into bed with us at night? That reminds me – one of our cats is very old and will probably die soon, so the timing works out really well, too. Obviously, my desire to ease the pain of death that my daughter will no doubt experience demonstrates once again that I am a very good boy all year long.

If possible, I would like the pony to be an American Shetland pony – that’s my favorite breed of pony – but I would understand if one isn’t available. My understanding in this matter should exemplify the maturity level one would expect from a good boy who is good all year long.

Thanks for reading my letter, Miley! I hope your music career is coming along. Good luck!

Sincerely,

Bil Gaines
Father

 

 

Artists & Money: A Follow-Up

Artist & MoneyLately I’ve been thinking a lot about artists and their money woes. It’s a stereotype that artists choose poverty – or else simply don’t understand how money works – and it’s a stereotype for a reason. My previous post reacting to Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk was intended to be my way of working that little demon out of my ears, but I’ve only been thinking about it more and more since having written it. And I suspect that one follow-up post will not satisfy my brain either, so instead of this being the follow-up, this is simply a follow-up. Everything else around me notwithstanding, my thoughts go like this:

One of AFP’s most important points is about connection and understanding. Her work is widely accessible, despite being described as a post-punk cabaret act (which sounds like it wouldn’t be widely accessible), and her work stands on its own, meaning a fan can sit in their room alone, holding the CD case and listening to AFP’s songs, and the audience is moved. However, the studio recordings played back by a machine are not the same as a live performance, or meeting her in person.

She has two things going really strongly for her: her live performance and her accessible songwriting. As an artist and as a human being, AFP connects with people. This is one core aspect that comprises her ask-don’t-force payment philosophy.

So the question now is how does this translate to bands? Or theatre companies? Or artist collectives? Or, really, any group of more than one artist contributing to the same work of art? Is every single member required to connect on a human level the way AFP does?

Not necessarily. I want to believe that the art is what sells itself, and all it takes then is one person to hold out one hand. But unity is important. Each individual really ought to be on the same page for this philosophy to work in actual real-world practice. Not every musician in the band needs to ask for money, but every musician needs to know where their money is coming from, because any disagreement on this spells automatic discord and possibly doom for the band.

Furthermore, “sales” in general is something that doesn’t just happen. Art doesn’t sell itself. You can convince an audience that your art is worth paying for, but the actual process of transferring money from audience to artist is, for some reason, avoided by artists. Sales also requires human interaction, especially if, like Amanda Palmer, you are literally accepting cash into the palm of your hand. Or into your hat. Or a credit card into that little slider device that plugs into your iPhone. Or anything. Sales is a tricky pickle, and it requires time and presence. And, like art, most of us are not instantly good at it. It’s a skill that takes time and practice, and the more you do it, the better you get.

There’s this amazing blog post from artofhustle.com, and I strongly recommend every single artist in the world to read it. It’s extremely important, and it hits the nail on the head.

http://www.artofhustle.com/2013/03/a-must-read-for-every-artist/

The biggest takeaway is that artists need to realize their worth, and they need to not just understand their craft, but they also need to understand real-world finances.

I think coupling this punch-in-the-face message of “artists need to know they should get paid” with Amanda Palmer’s message of “allow your audience pay for the art they enjoy” will bring the happy medium artists need to stay artists in the long term. If this can be adopted on a large scale, it’s possible that as audiences, our society will place ever-higher value on art, both with money and with emotional connection.

Is it too soon to whisper, “Utopia?”

Amanda Palmer’s Business Advice For Artists

Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk is still making the rounds on the Internet, and I’ve seen both praise and criticism in plentitudes. I personally think it’s a video that every single working artist should see. Not just musicians, but anyone who produces works of art from any medium that they would like to share and make a living from.

If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch it now. Set aside fifteen minutes – 13:48 for the video, and 1:12 for your blown mind to settle back down.

If you don’t want to watch it, the basic message is “Ask people to pay, don’t force them to pay.” She talks about the connections she’s made on a human level that helped her be more successful without a record label than she ever would have with one, because when you are free to connect with your audience, your audience will support you emotionally and monetarily, and it’s a win-win for everybody because the good vibes are immeasurable.

I’m a very big fan of this TED talk, but not everybody else is. Her talk is wonderful in sentiment, but like many works of art, is more on the sentiment side than the reality side. The cynics among us decry the talk as being Marie Antoinette-ish, somehow labeling her an out-of-touch aristocratic idiot because she was successful before her unbelievably successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s so easy, they say, to raise $1.2 million when you’ve already got a fan base as large as hers. No small-time artist who’s never signed a contract can launch a Kickstarter campaign successful enough to pay for a proper studio album and tour, they say.

Perhaps that’s true. The Dresden Dolls spent time under a contract with a big record label that may have given them the shaft in many ways, but they did help their fan base grow immensely, perhaps more than they would have been able to achieve on their own in the early days.

Amanda Palmer's TED Talk

But it’s not like The Dresden Dolls – or any band on a major record label – can afford to just sit around and not work while they’re under a big contract. Amanda Palmer definitely worked her ass off, and worked even harder after she broke free. I think a lot of this criticism stems from what may actually be the biggest flaw in her talk, which is that the final message doesn’t encapsulate the entirety of her career. It’s incomplete. “Let them pay, don’t make them” is perceived as a business model for artists at all stages, but it’s not a business model. It’s a sales technique.

Artists: take note. You ought to have a business model. Your business model ought to involve hard work and a consistent effort to connect with your audience. Don’t sit back and moan that they don’t understand you in your time. Work to be understood. Work constantly to be understood. And work to understand them, too. All the time. If your audience and you don’t understand each other, either find new audiences or change your game plan. Create something truly awesome. Create something that people love, that people desire, that people embrace. Find ways to give this creation to as many people as you can. And then let them pay for it. That’s the business model.

Seriously, Jen Rosenstein, You Can Use This As Your Logo

Goodtimesaurus - For Partying Dino Style

Jen Rosenstein, you can use this Nintendo-playing Goodtimesaurus as your logo if you want. No offense taken if you would rather pass. No money need change hands. It’s not even copyrighted.

I drew it for Draw A Dinosaur Day last month, and I was going to do something interesting with it, but giving it to you for a logo is much more interesting than anything I would have done.

Let me know if you want it. If not, I’ll give it away to starving children in a developing nation somewhere. Maybe Bangladesh?

 

Cheerleading November 2012: Caleb Dann

Caleb Dann's Movember Mutton Chops
For the ladies: shirtless & mutton choppy!

The art and science of facial hair as demonstrated by Movember rock star Caleb Dann brings balance and joy to a troubled world.

As a Tour de Cure cyclist, Caleb knows a thing or two about health for charity and charity for health. He also knows a thing or two about handlebars, so Movember, it seems, couldn’t be a better fit for one single person. I don’t know too much about physiology, but I’m pretty sure his active lifestyle has contributed no small amount to the strength and glory of his too-enviable ‘stache.

If all this wasn’t enough to make the twee fans swoon, Caleb is also a home brewer, meaning he WEILDS CONTROL OVER EARTHLY CHEMICALS. This is especially impressive to me, a guy who got absolutely terrible grades in chemistry, despite good grades in math and other sciences. Chemistry is the one that eluded me, and having worked at a brewpub, I know just how complicated and delicate the chemical process of crafting beer is. I’ve got mad respect for people who not only know how to do this, but can actually do it in their own home.

Clearly, Caleb is a gent bent on world-improvement. But he needs your help and your money to do so – won’t you donate some funds to his MoSpace?

Cheerleading November 2012: Matthew Jackson

Matt Jackson, Movember Man
Is that a dog on his face, or is it the world’s burliest mustache?
Movember champ Matthew Jackson deserves your donations because he’s JUST SO CUTE.

I know Matt from our time at UC Riverside. We both majored in theatre, and we also had at least one Spanish class together. As an actor, Matt Jackson is the perfect ingénue. Matt has since gone on to grad school at UC Irvine for stage management, and I can only assume that as a stage manager, Matt Jackson is – again – the perfect ingénue.

Seriously, he’s one of the top ten nicest guys I’ve ever known. The fact that he’s raising money via Movember to give to cancer charity is just one more feather in a cap full of feathers.

You wouldn’t know it from recent photos, but Matt’s ‘fro is a ‘fro to be feared and admired. His hair, like his heart, is very strong and very curly. What kind of mustache can a head like this grow? I’ll tell you: the kind that fights cancer, that’s what.

Give money to cancer and show your love for Matt’s mustache here:
http://us.movember.com/mospace/5450037

Cheerleading November 2012: Stephanie Hammer

Stephanie HammerStephanie Hammer is a professor of mine from way, way back in my days at UC Riverside. Devon & I recently met up with her again in Hollywood and got all caught up on kids, books, kids’ books, and film noir from the 90’s. We also briefly touched on NaNoWriMo, and let me tell you all: when Stephanie Hammer says she is going to do something, she does not mean she is going to just kind of do that thing. She means she is going to DO THAT THING. With gusto. With applomb. With verve. She does it all the way and then some.

She is currently rocking a word count that most people would be happy with having written in a whole year, and we’re barely halfway through the month. But you know what? That’s no reason to start coasting. Now is the time for the slow clap.

Clap…

Clap…

Clap clap…

Clap clap clap clap clap clap *HOOOORAAAAAAY!!*

DO IT, STEPHANIE HAMMER! DO IT ALL THE WAY TO THE END OF THE MONTH! YOU GOT THIS!

Whoo!

Cheerleading November 2012: Brent Hayes

Brent Hayes, Mo BroCarrying on with the cheerleading for November of 2012: on the other side from NaNoWriMo is Movember, a global initiative to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues like prostate cancer and the like. Gentlemen all over the world start the month clean-faced and spend thirty days avoiding any kind of men’s hair removal. Grooming the finest mustache they can muster, which, of course, is the truest test of manliness known to man. I did it last year, but this year I had to meet some people for the first time on November 6, and six days into a mustache race leaves me looking pretty awful.

So instead of participating myself, I’m rooting on others that I know of. First mustache to the plate is one Mr. Brent Hayes of somewhere-near-Jacksonville, FL.  Brent is a harcore bad-ass for many reasons, not the least of which is his impressive (most impressive) Star Wars fan status. This guy like Star Wars as much as me, if not more so. If being a Star Wars fan were a martial art, Brent would be a blackbelt.

Another thing that makes him bad-ass is his job. Brent does that FAA super-stress-out job like the guy from Breaking Bad, only Brent has never allowed any airplanes to crash in midair. That’s pretty hardcore bad-ass if you ask me. That job is mega-tough, and never once has he complained about it on Facebook.

What’s more, Brent goes for the glory. The mustache he’s growing? That’s right, it’s a Captain Morgan mustache. Nobody can ever say Brent aims low.

AND THE BEST PART: If Brent’s tally at the end of the month is $1,000 or more, Brent will keep this mustache FOR A FULL YEAR.

Make it happen, folks!  Donate to Brent’s MoBro fund here.