Friday, July 31, 2015


I have a gig tonight. As with any performance, the key is to be (as Fats Dominoes said) "ready, willing, and able to rock and roll all night." Welll, I am ready. Actually, I am way too ready

My readiness started a little over an hour ago , when I found myself completely unprepared. A friend texted me, asking when I go on. I told him I had no idea, and then I went online to find the bar's phone number. Only I found out the show was scheduled to start at 7...and it was already 6:15. So I grabbed my gear and a few pieces of cold pizza and ran to my car. Of course, when I got to Frankies Inner City, I found out I don't actually go on until 11:30. Sigh.

Getting ready for the gig really only meant hauling my guitar into the bar. I went ahead and also set up my merchandise table, but even with the handy dandy new TheMikeDuBose shirts, that only killed a few minutes. I would just hang out with my band, but my drummer is currently in his rv, driving westward. That is all anyone knows. Hell, he doesn't even know where he's going. So I don't have a band with whom to hang. I would hang with my trombonist, but he's at home, resting up after a hospital stay where he had a tube stuck down his throat. Said tube was sucking lettuce out of his colon. That's all I know, and frankly, that's all I want to know.

So now I am ready to go, but as I don't actually go on for four hours, my level of readiness is a little too high. What do you get when you are way too ready? If you're like me, the answer is "bored."

So please come down, talk to me, and maybe even buy a shirt.

food for thought 7/31

"The worst thing in the world is to kind of start thinking you know what the score is, 'oh, I know about that, I understand because the minute you do that, then you start to close down, you get old."
--John Cleese, on the Nerdist Podcast

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

the future looks bright.

In case you ever hear anyone complain about "the kids today" and how we're all doomed, you can tell them all that the future will be in fine hands. How do I know this? Because the last few days, whenever I help my daughter out of the car, she grabs my hand and says "thank you, my fellow."
Relax. We're in fine hands.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

writing in new forms

Tonight was a writing night for me. I've been pretty productive as of late, and I have about 5 or 6 songs which I haven't played out as of yet. Tonight was a good one, as I polished off/up two songs and got a draft of one which has existed only as a fragment for several months. As I was packing up my supplies, I realized my songs have been really different lately...and I figured out why. It was all because (sorry about this) I took a look in a book.

(Insert theme music here)

I've known for a while that I needed to expand my music career. For the most part, I play a lot of shows which are both low exposure and low paying. Most of them are in only a few area bars. I think and have been told that I'm reasonably okay at what I do, and I feel my music is good enough to where I'd like to get more people a chance to hear it. So, the summer mission was to get a bit better at this music game.

One of the things I decided to do was to learn a bit more about the songwriting process as practiced by professionals. I have never really had the desire to be a professional songwriter myself because my songs are largely my own attempts at self therapy. But I thought if I could benefit from seeing another view of the craft, I could maybe make my own process a little more effective and productive.

I got a pretty good book on songwriting (I'd tell you which one, but it's late, and I don't want to wake up my kid) and dove in. The biggest takeaway for me was thinking more explicitly about the process and the theory. I started to think about exactly what I'm doing. And the theory indeed does help me write more effectively. I'm still me while writing, but I am much more aware of what I'm doing...and I think that has led to better songs.

As I was packing up tonight, I realized my last five or six songs haven't had choruses. I've long known that songs didn't have to have choruses. One of my favorite bands the Drive-By Truckers have tons of songs without choruses. It wasn't something I ever did myself, though...with the exception of a blues song or two. Now I have lots of them.

So what does this mean? I have utterly no idea. I don't know if this a new weapon in my arsenal, or if it's one of those things. The songs are cool enough, though. And they are different enough from what I have been writing to stand out in my sets. So, if it is because of the book, that's pretty cool.
And to think it all happened because I looked in a book.

Wednesday emergency gig

This Wednesday (tomorrow...or today, depending on when you get this), I will be doing an emergency show. I play the Hump Day Revue at 9:45. There will be several world debut if you like me, there are good reasons to come on down.

There's a bigger reason to show up, though, as it is the Bowling Green farewell show of my friend Maddox. For those who don't know, I've been playing with Maddox for some time now. I met him when he joined my band Magnosaurus, where he played drums. During that, when he heard that I was thinking of recording an album, he agreed to play drums on it and then offered to record it.

We really got to know each other during the process...because, as I've said before, recording is a long, dull, and generally boring process. But we both cared deeply about the process, and we taught each other about the art, recording, and ourselves. I am fiercely proud of our work together. Maddox was also the only constant in every incarnation of my band. So, to say I owe him is an understatement.

So if you don't come to see me, come out to see Maddox.

today's food for thought

"Just being self-reflexive and self-deprecating, that doesn't make you a bigger person, it doesn't make you a smarter person. Sometimes it's just being...selfish, or being insecure."

-Simon Helberg, The Nerdist Podcast

Monday, July 27, 2015

gig, gig, and potential gigs

Shows are on my mind...both real and potential.

First, the news. Friday, I play at Frankies Inner City in Toledo. This was originally scheduled a few weeks ago and should've been our last band show. Then...something...happened, and the show got delayed to the very day my old drummer is moving. So it's now a solo show. Should still be a good time, though, so contact me if you want a ticket.

I probably will not have my trombonist with me, though. He's currently in the hospital, getting lettuce sucked out of his intestine through a tube. If you see him, ask about's sure to be a humorous story.

Contrary to previous reports, I will not be playing Saturday. I was scheduled to do a benefit, but said benefit sort of imploded...or is it exploded? Gotta get my metaphors straight. So if you wanna see me this weekend, you have one option.

I do have a farmer's market show in a few weeks, but that's the only thing on the schedule. My attention is now on finding new places to play. As well as spending this weekend upgrading the website, I also put together a new demo and took off Saturday with a colleague to hunt for new venues. We hit three places. The first was a chain place that was a cross between a Scottish pub and a Hooters. The manager was very nice, though, and he seemed genuinely interested. This is more than I normally get from bookers...they are generally not the most effervescent people in the world.

Place two was an outdoor bar with a good firepit. It looked really cool. The booker wasn't there, but the bar manager said he was looking forward to listening to my demo on his way home. They also have the place next door, so that could be a nice score.

Place number three was a nice tavern which happened to have the same name as a southern restaurant chain which is known for their pies. The booking manager for this place also not there, but the bartender told us she runs a booking company which covers several places. Later, I found out said booking company also extended to several states. Again, this has the potential to be a wonderful score.

In addition to these places, I have a list of other potentials. In addition to wanting to break into a more financially viable array of Toledo shows, I also want to expand my reach. Ideally, if I could get a paying show once a month, I would be over the noon.

Details forthcoming as soon as I get them.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

vegetarian side effects

I've been a non-meat eater for about a year now, and I'm still discovering new stuff. My latest realization is entirely about mustard.

I like mustard. We used to be connoisseurs of the stuff, always having several varieties of mustard on hand at any time. At the least, we would have a yellow, a whole grain, a Dijon, a German, and  honey mustard. Since I quit eating meat, though, my mustard consumption has plummeted. I hardly touch the stuff anymore. I never realized it was such a meat-centric condiment.

And now you know this as well.

physical artifacts and ego

I've always had geeky rock star fantasies. While I always knew at some level that I would never be a world famous rock star, I did still want some of the trappings. This was the impetus to do silly things such as get customized guitar picks. Yeah,  not absolutely necessary, but there's something to be said for stupid joy in what is at least partially an exercise in ego in the first place.

This is why, when the rest of my first band was less than enthusiastic about getting tee shirts made, I set up an online store at a print on demand company. There were a lot of drawbacks, most notably that the shirts were very expensive...too much so for our few broke fans. Plus we didn't have anything to sell at shows, so we ended up selling next to nothing. That was okay, though; I mostly just wanted a shirt for myself.

My next band did get shirts made. Moreover, they were both good sellers and moneymakers for us. Quite often, we would make more money from merchandise than we would get paid for the show itself (which, to be fair, is also due to how badly we were getting paid as much as anything else). In fact, we would've ultimately done okay financially, but we broke up a few days after ordering more of the damn shirts. We had to give away our back stock of shirts at that last gig just to get rid of them.

My next band didn't stick around long enough to get shirts made...much to my chagrin. I didn't even get a sticker for my car, and I'm still ticked about that. Any my current alt country band doesn't have any merchandise either. In a certain sense, it's like those bands don't fully exist in a physical sense...I have no evidence of my efforts in either, and that hurts my geek sensibilities.

For my solo work, I have made progress on the physical artifact end of things. I got stickers early on, mostly so I could see my name in print. I released my album, and I got actual CDs made in addition to making it available online. I spent way too much time doing the artwork, particularly for something so few have purchased. I don't care. I just wanted a physical manifestation of the album. After all, I do have an ego...somewhat.

To this point, though, I have not done shirts. Even though they could be moneymakers, I just haven't had the available cash. Hell, I'm still trying to pay off album one while socking away enough to get album 2 pressed. But shirts have been on my mind. Aside from the ego thing, I could use another source of income. I do hope to be able to do more albums in the future, and they don't come cheap. I just hadn't figured out a way to make it work.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered something which might change everything. I ran across a web page on how to make bleach stencil shirts. The end results look pretty damn cool, actually. They would also be a whole lot more durable than any other DIY shirts I've seen. Every home silkscreened shirt I've had has started to peel within two washings, and that just can't happen with a bleached design.

The best part about the process, though, is that it seems eminently affordable and doable. All I would have to buy is some shirts, bleach, and freezer paper. Finding the freezer paper would actually be the hardest part. And this should be cheap enough to where I can have an attractive price point. I'm going to have to engage the crafts-oriented portion of my brain (which generally are not tremendously adept), but I'll do it if it gets me cool merchandise.

So, hopefully, I will have shirts by this weekend's gigs. Shirts. My geeky fantasies demand them.

rethinking my online presence

I've been trying to think of a way to make my online presence (primarily as a musician) more effective. Online really is all I have. I have no budget for advertising, and putting up fliers only is able to target so many people. The internet can be a great tool, and I've decided I need to make it work better for me.

This is particularly an issue for poor broke indie musicians such as myself. I have a ReverbNation page, but I don't know how effective it is, and, the more I explore it, I think it's mostly designed to get musicians to buy into their advertising and services. I have a Facebook music page, but at best, they only send my updates to 25% of my followers. It's usually much lower...again, they just want me to pay money for ads, and I don't have the money to spare...being a starving artist and such. Anyway, Facebook is kinda creepy, and I'm trying to minimize my patronage of their service.

So I've decided to centralize everything around my blog. I've added a music page which has a few songs available to stream. There's also a video page with my latest live music videos. I list my upcoming shows in a widget on the right. I've also started a mailing list for updates about my music; sign up in the box on the right, and I will update you with any news and developments about upcoming shows, recordings, and whatnot.

Of course, this website is still first and foremost my blog. If you're only here for the music stuff, I'm perfectly fine with that. The tools I've added are there for your benefit. If you want more of me, though, please feel free to read the blog. I talk about my music here, yes, but it's pretty much a place for me to open myself up and explore anything which comes to mind. Dive in as deep as you wanna, and if you feel like engaging in the comments, that is always welcome.

I'll still keep ReverbNation and Facebook somewhat active, but I think this should be a much better venue for my music career. And if you want to get to know me better, the blog and comments sections are there for you.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

the lessons of asphalt fumes and hard work

They just redid the parking lots in my apartment complex...fresh layer of asphalt, new lines on the spaces. Constant repair on roads, sidewalk, and parking lots is one of the realities of living in the North that I didn't expect when I was getting ready to leave Florida. Our winters are very hard on the infrastructure, so everything is in a constant cycle of dis- and re-pair. Quite often, when I smell the tell-tale odor of asphalt, my mind can't help but thing of structural issues. This time, it's different. This time, every time I step outside, I'm reminded of high school and work.

While I spent the vast majority of my 16-28 years working at the pizza place (and yes, I still have dreams), my first job was actually working in construction during the summer before my junior year. My brother was in community college and got a summer job working at a pavement marking company--they painted lines on parking lots and roads, installed concrete parking bumpers, and so forth--and his boss asked him if he knew anyone who could use a job. Pretty soon, I was working with him.

My first introduction to the world of work was laboring over chemical fumes on freshly laid asphalt in the 100+ degree Florida summer. The work would be grueling even if not for the heat, but with the sun, it was nigh-unbearable. Add to that our boss. He was a really nice guy, but he was as amped up as anyone could imagine. He'd bring us coffee, for instance, but it was terrible convenience store coffee, and he wouldn't bring cream or sugar because it took too long. We got a half hour lunch break, but when he was with us, he would inhale his food in five minutes and spend the rest of the lunch rushing us so we could get back to work. And what could we do? Knowing that we needed the money and could be easily replaced, we complied.

As for the job as a whole, I was torn. There were things I did like about it, and (forgetting the boss/worker tendencies of all involved), I liked my coworkers. However, I hated feeling drained to the point of collapse each day, and I hated knowing that ultimately, I didn't really make a difference to the organization as I was so easily replaceable. And if there was anything the job taught me, it was that I did not want to do construction.

I learned a lot from each of my jobs. I worked for a temporary work service, and that taught me how easily workers can be seen and treated as disposable entities. I worked in several warehouses, and that taught me I could continue to physically operate while mentally checking out. My time in the pizza industry taught me many things: how to deal with coworkers, how the general public looks down on those who serve them (that is, when they see them at all), how to talk on the phone, how to multitask, and many more things. It did also reinforce the "disposable worker" element as well, because for my first few years, the company refused to hire plumbers to clean our grease trap and made the employees do it (which was highly illegal, particularly when they told us to throw the hazardous waste in the dumpsters).

For years, I wondered if the "disposable worker" thing was just me. I know that being treated as a replaceable machine cog helped facilitate my mistrust and hatred of authority figures and structures...but then again, I always have been a bit of a depressive. But several years ago, I started a day in class where I polled the students on their worst jobs and what they learned from them...and surprise, surprise, I found out that everyone knew in their guts that workers are almost always disposable. Two years ago, I started asking students who've worked register (at restaurants, retail, or grocery) how many customers actually looked at them in their eyes. The answer? Usually around 5%. This means that 19 out of 20 customers treat the person taking their money as beneath their notice.

A week or two ago, one of the 2016 presidential candidates said words to the effect that people just need to work more hours, and everything will be okay. My students certainly know better. Even the ones who are not hard workers know this, because they have been taught that workers and work are not particularly valued. I learned this throughout most of my jobs. Hell, one of the reasons I stayed at the pizza place so long was because, as I was in management, I honestly felt I was making some kind of impact on the company and my area...and one of the reasons I left was when I fully realized that I was as replaceable as anyone.

Workers are not the problem. I know that in my heart. I know that in every bit of work experience I have ever had. I know that from the tales my students tell. And I'm reminded of that every time I smell the asphalt fumes.

Monday, July 13, 2015

the logical fallacy referee

I'm always looking for a way to liven up my teaching and grading. So when I found Logical Fallacy Referee, I knew I found a good tool. And because I love y'all, I thought I would share

Sunday, July 12, 2015

gifts are welcome!

While I never really expect anyone to buy me anything for no good reason, I would certainly accept free stuff. Generally, I try to have some type of humility, but greed does overtake it from time to time. So, if you ever feel the need to indulge me, I would, for the record, be just fine if someone bought me this mounted T Rex head trophy.

random weekend observations

In lieu of a proper post, here's what's been on my mind this weekend:
  • Feel lost in this world? Well, heroes do exist...and they look good in costume.
  • I got to see my tattoo artist to set up an appointment to finally finish the Lego half sleeve! I was unable to convince my wife to set up an appointment for a full back piece. Ah well.
  • The best thing to do when caught in a dying field is to find interesting ways to fiddle...such as when a friend who works in radio did a segment entitled "men's tennis or gay porn."
  • I saw articles about how Michigan natives and idiot twins Kid Rock and Ted Nugent both support Southerners who want to keep flying the Confederate flag. Look, "I wasn't trying to offend you" is a legitimate response to a claim of offense. Every one of us has done thoughtless things. But, once someone tells you that you did in fact offend them, you can no longer use "I didn't mean it" as a response. And if you continue the offensive behavior in question, you are just putting your own desire to be a jerk over a fellow human's emotions and dignity. And if you do this, you're a real ass.
  • My daughter told me she loves me because I make her smoothies. Take this how you will. When I told our favorite diner cook about this, he thanked me for finally telling him how to please women.
  • I saw some friends's bands on Friday night. It was great. It did, however, make me think about how none of them ever came to see my band. Cue Saturday's depression fit.
  • We went to the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist church today and watched a documentary on the 2014 Elk River disaster. Just a hint: everything even slightly related to coal and coal mining can kill you.
  • The church was weird. I didn't have a single instance of anyone telling me I was inherently evil and was doomed to burn. I don't know how to handle that.
  • They do have a church kid's area. At first, the very mention of it caused my daughter to start crying. By the time we went to pick her up an hour later, she asked me if she could come there every day.
  • I love it when I get to experience the "small world syndrome." When we dropped off our daughter at the kid's area, I thought the adult in the room looked familiar. After the service, I found out she was a friend of our from about 12 years ago. Neat!
  • I also got to post a video of my band playing at the Old West End Festival!

Friday, July 10, 2015

entering yesterday's new internet

I like to think I'm a pretty forward-looking guy when it comes to technology. I got online in 1995 and had my first e-mail address (using the glorious PINE e-mail program, no less!); there were computers in the university library, and I had time to kill between classes, so I thought, why not? As I've been sticking with the tech, I've seen many trends come and go. Some left deservedly (IE4's push technology, for instance), and others have stayed undeservedly (Facebook). None of this has really freaked me out, because I keep in mind that the internet is far from settled technology. It is instead still constantly in flux. Really, the internet is so young, we don't really even know what it is yet, so it only makes sense to ride the wave. As a result, I tend to dive in and give everything a try. Why not? In the end, no one's going to hold my brief time on Friendster against me.

Yet in spite of trying to adopt this view, I am often frighteningly behind the curve. I didn't get a cell phone until 2004, for instance, and I didn't get a smart phone until last year. Finances often hold me back. Other times, though, I just have no excuse. I did not, for instance, listen to a podcast until last week. And this is one I wish I would've corrected a long time ago.

I don't have a large listening list yet (I am open to suggestions; to what should I be listening? let me know, please). However, I can full-heartedly recommend Mark Maron's WTF podcast. Yesterday, I finished his talk with Laura Jane Grace from Against Me!, which was inspiring as hell (I'll write about this after I have a chance to fully process it). I'm now listening to the Barak Obama episode, and it's also revelatory. I love the depth of insight you can get from a less structured discussion, and I wish I would've started this earlier.

I wonder what current thing I'm ignoring?

Thursday, July 09, 2015

flags redux

I really, really hate to admit this, but I was wrong. In my 6/22 post a controversial opinion in the aftermath, I argued that the battle over the Confederate flag only really had value as a distraction from the real issues of racism. This view of mine was (shudder, shudder) not right. The flag controversy has, instead, real value in that it has brought a rang of conversations into popular debate.

Two articles in fact stand out so far in my readings. First, Their Flag and Ours examines the competing Northern and Southern Civil War nostalgia. It's great as a study of how victory (or lack thereof) affects memory. The second, The South's Heritage Is So Much More Than A Flag (written by Patterson Hood of The Drive-By Truckers, no less) makes the case more eloquently than could I that the flag is the worst possible representation of the South anyway.

New opinions are always good.

Monday, July 06, 2015

my Onion horoscope, 7/6/16

Once again, my Onion horoscope goes beyond humor into "peering deep into my soul" territory:

"It's rare that people can live a happy, healthy life without friends, so the crushing depression you're feeling is perfectly normal."

Friday, July 03, 2015

bloatware labor

I work in a University where, even in the face of budget crises and such, has an ever-increasing administrative level. This makes it much like every other university in this (and probably other) countries. Under our last administration, class sizes and teaching loads went up because of lack of funds. But at the same time, the College of Arts & Sciences was split into five separate colleges, each with its own level of administration. It never ceases to amaze me that the powers that be favor everyone except those who do the actual work of the institution.

Note I said "amaze," not "shock." When I teach my students about the traditional model of class, my undergrads are all quite clear that the middle managers don't bring any capital to production nor actually produce anything. I tell my students that some organizational theorists say that the heightened pay of middle managers is only really a symbol of power for workers who, in the end, don't really add anything of value to the chain of production. My students are not surprised by this...indeed, they already know it instinctually.

Unnecessary software on computers or phones is called bloatware. But what do you call uneccesary workers? I don't have a good term. I do know they, with their artificial power and lack of productivity are usually annoying. But there's another angle on this I did not consider until I read the article (salty language warning) On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs. Yes, the article comes with an inherent bias, but to my mind, it hits pretty much spot-on. Besides, who couldn't get behind the fifteen hour work week? Imagine how much saner it would make the world.

my crazy kid ii

Yesterday, when me and my daughter were getting bagels, the bagel shop had an easy listening radio station playing. The REO Speedwagon song "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" came on. After a minute, my daughter quite solemnly turned to me and said, "this is my ballet song."