2.23.2011

8 Minutes - Hello

Hi. It's Joe.

Sorry I have been lax on writing.

My new job rocks and I am putting a lot of time in at work because I really like it. I am a tech writer and it's what I want to do with my life. Technical but also creative. A great balance.

Also good people and a great and supportive work environment. My boss is eccentric but also funny and cool, unlike the life force sucking energy vampire of a boss at the vitamin company I used to work for.

Incidentally, I found out the vitamin company was one of douchebag WI governor Scott Walker's biggest contributors. There is poetic justice in this. But I don't have time to go into why.

Ignore the vitamin company hyperlinks above. They are purely for gratuitous backlinking purposes.

One day GOOGLE will recognize how totally fucking awesome this blog is and put it at the TOP of every search for things awesome.

GUPPY EFFECT is learning "The Government Totally Sucks" by Tenacious D.

Time.

2.18.2011

10 Minutes - MadisonBeatnik.com

Hi. It's Joe.

My band, GUPPY EFFECT, had an article about us published on the web site MadisonBeatnik.com and it is really good. You should read it HERE.

In full disclosure, I am a volunteer staff writer for MadisonBeatnik.com. However, this is more an effect of the GUPPY EFFECT article being written, rather than a cause. The administrator of the MadisonBeatnik.com site has been a fan of GUPPY EFFECT since long before I knew about this awesome web site, and he fully intended to write the article about us irrespective of my interest in being a contributor to the site.

But when I found out about the site, I thought it was kickass and I wanted to be a contributor to its success. And I am. But I didn't write the GUPPY EFFECT article, and you should still read it.

I started my new job last Tuesday and so far I love it. The technical communications work is exactly what I want to do, and the people who work there are awesome. Unlike the vitamin company I worked for previously, this company actually contributes meaningfully to improving health, and everyone is there to promote the same life saving vision, rather than their own petty self-interests. It is really refreshing and great to be doing work I enjoy and am passionate about. It's hard to explain how different this company is from any place I have ever worked. The people here are intellectual power houses, physicists and engineers who really know what they are doing, unlike my former managers.

Their work (and mine) directly affects the health of cancer patients, so we know we have to be as awesome as we can be because lives are at stake. The dress code is casual because the company isn't about image, it is about results. The vitamin company was all about image and this is why meaningful scientific research fell by the wayside there (and ultimately was the reason I "fired" my boss and the company to pursue other things).

Time.


Beatnik Fashion Statement
by Cactus Joe
© 2011 Cactus Joe Productions LLC


BACK LINKS

1. Make Your Own Business Cards.

2. Gentle Leader Head Collar for Dogs.

3. Fifties Clothes: A Beatnik Fashion Statement.

2.11.2011

15 Minutes - Rode Microphone (NT1-A Studio Condenser Mic): It Will Be Mine. Oh yes. It Will Be Mine.

Hi. It's Joe.

Rode Microphones NT1-A Condenser Mic Bundle 889406483484I start my new awesome job on Tuesday. One of the first things I will buy after I receive my "underwriting" from THE MAN is a NT1-A Rode Microphone (an excellent vocal condenser microphone) for my home recording studio.

Why?

Because my songwriting and recording buddy, Bryon, out in Iowa has one that he uses for home recording and it sounds great. It also does not cost a small fortune.

There is no better review of music equipment than a peer-to-peer endorsement. In addition, we recorded vocals for a song using his Rode NT1-A last weekend, and the sound quality for vocals was awesome. Field testing is also critical for a music equipment review.

CLICK HERE to listen to the demo song we recorded. Even though it was a slapdash recording effort for February Album Writing Month (FAWM.ORG), the vocals are crisp and sound excellent in the mix. The demo song also appears below, if you have Flash installed.

After I get my Rode mic, and use it a bit, I will give a more detailed review here, as well as on my songwriting web site, www.cactusjoeproductions.com.

Time.

Direct Sound EX-29 Extreme Isolation Headphones BlackP.S. I am also getting a couple sets of THESE excellent (extreme) isolation headphones for recording.


Two (2) Minutes or Less
by Cactus Joe
© 2011 Cactus Joe Productions LLC


BACK LINKS

1. Make Your Own Business Cards.

2. Gentle Leader Head Collar for Dogs.

3. Creativity Quotes.

Rode Microphones NT1-A Condenser Mic BundleRode Microphones NT1-A Condenser Mic + Accessories

"The Man" is buying me one of these...



2.10.2011

30 Minutes - Creativity Quotes by Hugh McLeod and Myself

Hi. It's Joe.

A while ago, I reviewed the book "Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity" by Hugh McLeod, for Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby). It was a privilege to be selected to review this book, and I have subsequently "paid it forward" by lending the book to other creative types, as Derek suggested.

One of the tenets in the book is not to force inspiration, but to wait for it to come. I have grappled with this one for a while. You can sometimes wait a long time, and if you don't hunt inspiration down and clobber it, sometimes you might not create anything for a long time.

On the other hand, when I wait for inspiration to hit, I generally create some of my best stuff. It doesn't seem forced or cliche or stupid. It's actually pretty good.

By the same token, forcing inspiration, even if it generates crap, is a good exercise. It is literally exercise, in the same way that athletes train for sports. It's not that they want to get up and exercise for hours each day. They just do. And then when they compete, they are in top form.

It's also one of the reasons I do 10 minutes of free writing every day. Most of these blog posts are nothing to write home about. But the exercise of doing them frees my brain waves and, I believe, makes them more receptive to inspiration when it hits.

As a songwriter, I generate my best work when there's a fire of inspiration burning in my belly. But I also do February Album Writing Month (FAWM) every February, and sit down to force song writing inspiration out of my brain every couple of days on average (the goal is to write 14 songs in 28 days).

A lot of my FAWM stuff is mediocre, and I don't deny this. But a small amount of it is very good, and generally inspired by a transient passion of some type. What is important about FAWM is that you go through the mechanics of song writing on a regular basis. Sometimes inspiration won't be there, and you will be blocked. But sometimes the inspiration will be there, and if you didn't sit down to do the songwriting task at hand, you might not have captured it.

So I guess what I am saying is there are two (maybe three) components to creative inspiration. The inspiration itself is the first part. Doing the creative action is the second part. By making time for it, you will sometimes strike gold. If you have inspiration, but never sit down to create something based on it, then the idea is lost. So the more frequently you go through the process and the mechanics of creating, the greater the likelihood of encountering inspiration that leads to a kickass creation.

The third component, that I didn't really emphasize here, is the tools, such as the tools of songwriting. You have to learn the tools of any creative endeavor to do it well. Then you also need to practice with those tools.

For example, part of song writing is recording and production. In the modern age, if you are not going to write songs by putting pen(cil) to paper, then it is necessary to record the music in some other form of tangible media, usually digital recording in a home studio.

A crude analogy to all this would be, if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket. The difference here is that the tickets only cost time and effort and the chances of a reward are increased the more tickets you buy. So the lottery analogy is a weak one at best.

Time.





Roundhouse
by Cactus Joe
© 2011 Cactus Joe Productions LLC


BACK LINKS

1. Make Your Own Business Cards.

2. Gentle Leader Head Collar for Dogs.

3. Top 100 New Songs.

2.06.2011

1 Minute - Left Leaning Community Center and Robbery

Hi. It's Joe.

I just wanted to touch base quick to say I had an exhausting but fun time watching 36 bands in 12 hours at the Ames Progressive Rock Marathon in Ames, IA, to raise money for a new PA and lights for the venue, which someone subsequently stole during the course of the night. Great event, only to have it end in a $2000 bummer of a theft.

Depending on weather I may head back to WI on Super Bowl Sunday. At least the roads will be deserted in WI. But if I am having fun (and so far I am), I will head back early Monday.

Time.

2.04.2011

30 Minutes - Top 100 New Songs: Add ROUNDHOUSE to the List

Hi. It's Joe.

Another FAWM song is done. It is called "Roundhouse," and it appears below for your listening pleasure. It's a raging punk rock tune, up tempo and energetic. Angsty too. The bass guitar takes high precedence in this tune and the hook/chorus is phenomenal. But the bridge is also phenomenal, and comes close to relegating the chorus/hook to second class citizen status, which could be viewed as a negative from a purely commercial standpoint. But F commercial, this is punk rock dammit!

I am ahead of schedule on FAWM songs, so I am going to take a break from song writing today and instead practice a bunch of songs on bass. It should be noted that some of my best songs start on bass, not guitar. But even when I write them on guitar, the bass usually takes a more melodic/harmonic role than is traditional in rock. For example, my FAWM song "Blizzardzilla" actually has two (2) separate bass lines panned left and right in the stereo mix. You can't really tell at first, which is what makes the song sound good.

GUPPY EFFECT, the best band in Wisconsin, has a show on Friday February 11 at Carp's Landing in Lake Mills. We only have a couple of new songs we are adding to the list, but I feel like the band has be faltering on momentum and I want to lead by example and go above and beyond the call of duty, in hopes my band mates will also strive for maximal excellence. There's been a lot of circumstantial factors, like blizzards, that have put the kibosh on practicing. But such factors should not become EXCUSES to avoid practicing because you don't want to. If you don't want to, then just don't, and when the gig comes and you look like a buffoon on stage, you will smack yourself for not practicing more. The universe tends to balance everything out, which is the great thing about karma. Karma dictates that I only have to strive to be as awesome as I can be, and not worry about anyone else. I wish more people had this philosophy of working on their own awesomeness and minding their own business when it comes to other people.

I don't really know where I was going with that. I don't really have any issues with my band. I realize no one can ever hope to come close to meeting my high expectations and I am OK with that, preferring to take a laissez-faire approach and not getting worked up about mediocrity. Mediocrity is excellence when compared against hackery, right? And there's a lot of hackery out there, so it's fairly easy to sell mediocrity as excellence. Not that I want to do that, but I can't just NOT have a band. I need an outlet for my creative juices.

I got my CD BABY download cards in the mail. 100 "Gingerbread (Zombie) Army" single ($1 each) download cards and 100 Cactus Joe's "Inspirado" CD ($5 each) download cards. These are a lot simpler (and cheaper) than actual physical CDs. Downloads are where it's at with music today. Anyone who is still doing hard CDs is putting a lot of effort in for very little return.

I have a new policy that anyone who stays until the end of a Cactus Joe solo show will get a free download card of "Gingerbread (Zombie) Army." I'm only out $0.50 cents a card and it's worth that to keep people at my show enjoying my music, I suppose.

Time.


Roundhouse
by Cactus Joe
© 2011 Cactus Joe Productions LLC


BACK LINKS

1. Make Your Own Business Cards.

2. Gentle Leader Head Collar for Dogs.

3. Top 100 New Songs.

2.03.2011

10 Minutes - Top 100 New Songs Will Include "Blizzardzilla"

Hi. It's Joe.

I wrote my second FAWM 2011 song today. It didn't come easy, but it is called BLIZZARDZILLA and I embedded it below for your listening pleasure.

I should back link to the actual song on the FAWM site from a keyword like top 100 new songs. There are only nine (9) sites in the world with that keyword phrase in that word order in the URL. Since I titled this blog post the way I did, the URL for this post should rank in the top 10 (nine?) for a Google search for that phrase. I guess we will see after I post this.

I think the URL has to be in Google's index. I am not sure if that happens automatically, or if I have to go index it somehow. Sparxmind would know. Maybe.

Anyway, I started on an idea for FAWM 2011 Song #3. It's going to be catchy pop pop punk. I will work on it some more tomorrow.

I have really squandered this 10 minutes doing Market Samurai searches for good "new music" keywords. I hope all that effort proves fruitful.

Time.


Blizzardzilla
by Cactus Joe
© 2011 Cactus Joe Productions LLC


BACK LINKS

1. Make Your Own Business Cards.

2. Gentle Leader Head Collar for Dogs.

3. Bicycle Indoor Kinetic Trainer.

2.02.2011

10 Minutes - Bicycle Indoor Kinetic Trainer


Hi. It's Joe.

I work out a lot more in the winter now, since my mom gave me her indoor bicycle trainer (make and model shown on right).

I am not a cold weather person. I don't mind activities like sledding or snowboarding, but they aren't my passion either. When it is really cold out, forget it. Nothing worse than freezing on a ski lift as it carries you back up the hill, just so you can tumble your way down it again. I guess if I was better at snowboarding, I might not mind. But honestly, I don't think of it as much of a workout, even though I am usually sore afterwards.

I like warmth. I will workout outside when it is 95 degrees of pure heat and sweat balls, no problem. But if it is under 40 degrees, I can be easily persuaded to stay in.

I would probably do snow shoeing or x-country skiing before I would do downhill skiing/snowboarding. Snow shoeing seems like a decent workout, especially if it is hilly. Plus, it seems more social because you can walk around with friends and talk and stuff while you are doing it.

Even when I exercise on the trainer, I need my house to be fairly warm, like 70 degrees, at least in the rec room where I keep the thing. I usually drink a hot beverage beforehand to warm me, even though I know I am going to sweat. Maybe I have poor circulation.

The trainer itself is cool, because I can ride my own bike, rather than an exercise bike. I can adjust the tension and use the shifters to make it harder or easier as I go. I also get caught up on my Netflix cue while I am riding my bike, which is nice.

It's also cool because you don't have to do anything to the bike. The wheel stays on and the trainer clamps onto the axle bolts, with no adjustment needed.

I'm not a lazy person, but I have needs when it comes to working out. I don't think I should sacrifice luxury for a workout. This is America dammit! 21st century America no less.

I've got songs to write. It's February Album Writing Month (FAWM). I wrote one so far, and you can grok on it HERE - fawm.org/songs/10939. It is called "43 (is Prime)." I think it is pretty catchy.

I heard Google is favoring more original content when it comes to searching the web. That should help get me more web traffic. I pity the fools who are not yet subscribed to this blog and its karmic power.

Time.


43 (is Prime)
by Cactus Joe
© 2011 Cactus Joe Productions LLC


BACK LINKS

1. Make Your Own Business Cards.

2. Gentle Leader Head Collar for Dogs.

3. How to Hard Boil an Egg.