Monday, April 27, 2015

Good Times in Crayonville

The Crayon enjoys some lobster and some beer and some ocean and each other's company.

After doing a show at LC Live in SL on Friday night, I wanted to keep the musical ball rolling, but in another direction. As has been the case the past few weeks, we spent almost the entire remainder of the weekend with activities relating to our band They Stole My Crayon. First, a kind of different but nonetheless exciting development. Artist Kristine Schomaker, who is a friend of mine and Christina's from SL, had created a video to help showcase her latest virtual art installation that she calls "BLOOM". She needed some ambient music to go along with the video, and chose our song "Things Under Trees". The only problem was that the video was five minutes long, and the song was only 4:03. So, Bunny created an extended mix of the tune, and we happily provided it to her. She used the video at this weekend's "Brewery Artwalk", a twice-annual open house of the well-known huge art complex here in Los Angeles. We were surprised by the amount of news coverage this event got, and I hope a bunch of people are enjoying Kris' video with our song that, if I must say so myself, goes very well with the imagery she's created.

Kristine Schomaker's "BLOOM" virtual installation, set to the music of They Stole My Crayon's "Things Under Trees (Extended Mix)".

That afternoon, as we'd planned, Bunny came down here to the South Bay so we could do three things: hang out/have fun, talk about the plans for our current batch of music, and then eat dinner at a nice restaurant along with my teenaged son. I'm happy to say all three goals were met and then some. Without giving away too many Crayon secrets, what we did was do a listen to each of the songs we'd created, and determined which of them were worthy of inclusion on our upcoming debut album. With the narrowed-down list, we also made notes on what needed to happen next on each song... i.e., re-doing a background vocal, replacing a bass part, and so on. This was tremendously helpful.

Here I am with my bandmate Bunny and my son Sonny. No, that's not his name. It just rhymed well.


I should mention now that despite the fact that we're narrowing down the songs for our first album, we're still writing and creating new songs. On Thursday night, I'd sent out an acoustic demo of a song I came up with, and the following morning I awoke to a lyrical/vocal contribution from Bunny on that song. Saturday morning, I started working on fleshing out that song, and by the time Bunny arrived, we had a pretty interesting song going. I tell you this to explain what I did on Sunday, which was to take a bunch of the notes we'd done on the songs, and start making the changes we'd discussed. That included work on the new song as well as detailed tweaks on "Bag of Nothing", "Favorite Things", and "When I'm Gone". We're really moving at breakneck speed, at least for our mellow little band.

The only other thing I want to mention for now is that as we start to get toward the end of the recording process, we're also talking about how this music will be released so the world can hear what we've been doing for all these months... er, years. Much like the music you can't hear yet, things are planned in that regard that we can't say yet... mostly because they may or may not happen, and we don't want to lie to people. For the time being, suffice it to say that we want to have the recording complete in the summer, and the album out in the fall of this year. Many things need to happen in between those seemingly simple goals to make it as good as can be, but we're ready for the tasks ahead.

LC Live (04.24.15)

Friday was a typical day here in Zakland. I did typical stuff including working and being a parent. Kat, who has a residence of her own about a half block away, came by rather early, and after we picked up my son from the high school, we had coffee but we didn't have time to linger: I had a show to perform at LC Live in Second Life at 5PM. LC Live is owned by a very nice guy named Tyro Hollwood, and he doesn't host a ton of shows there, so it's pretty rare that I get a chance to play his venue. However, when I do, it's always a good time. As I've been doing lately, my focus has been on my band They Stole My Crayon, and I've been using my SL shows to start familiarizing people with the songs we're working on. Despite my being the only musical entertainment at the venue that day, we had a nice crowd who seemed to be having fun. That's all I ask for.

All photos by Kat.

One musical note: for various reasons, I'd never done a Chicago song before now. Let's face it; it's not easy to do a song arrangement where people are used to hearing a bunch of horn players (and a singer in a super high register a la Peter Cetera) while playing solo on an acoustic guitar. But Kat happened to tell me that "Wishing You Were Here" was her favorite Chicago song, and it actually came out much better than I'd thought it would.

LC Live set list...
Carry Me Here and There (They Stole My Crayon)
Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
Behind Blue Eys (The Who)
*Wishing You Were Here (Chicago)
Blew The Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (Leadbelly/Nirvana)
Tribute (Tenacious D)
Big Empty (Stone Temple Pilots)
Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Things Under Trees (They Stole My Crayon)
Fire and Rain (James Taylor)
Never Run Away (Kurt Vile)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Big thanks to all who came out to see me at LC Live, especially the following who helped support my show!
Triana Caldera, TheaDee Resident, Richy Nervous, RoxxyyRoller Resident, Kat Claxton, Aurelie Chenaux, Neeria Resident, my manager Maali Beck, and the great hosting staff and management of LC Live including owner Tyro Hollwood!

Monday, April 20, 2015

And Yet More Crayonisms: "Bag of Nothing"

It's time for me to rectify an opinion that I put forth in my youth that turned out to be wrong. Well, not 100% wrong. But wrong enough to issue this retraction.

It's in regard to the act of creative collaboration. While I've been in many bands and collaborated with many musicians on the creation of original musical content, I was generally of the opinion that true creative output is an individual task. Using music as the example (since that's what I do), one person wrote music, and another lyrics. Or perhaps one person did the verses and chorus, and another did the bridge. My point at the time was that while people could work together to make a unified musical creation... a song, an album, whatever... even then, it was the work of individual musicians/composers each working on discrete aspects of the piece that then got glued together. I felt strongly enough about this at the time that in college, I actually did a thesis paper on the role of the individual in creative output.

It was an interesting and seemingly sound concept that I backed up with many specific examples, citing the work methods of famous songwriting tandems and so on. There was just one problem: it was wrong. My current way of working with Christina and Bunny in They Stole My Crayon disproves the entire premise. What we do in the Crayon may be unique, but I doubt it. Take a look at our upcoming song "Bag Of Nothing" as a great example. I came up with the song's title and did the basic progression; Bunny wrote its lyrics and created its melody; Christina chipped in invaluable ideas on the vocal and instrument arrangements. We're all now throwing ideas around regarding the song's production details. And here's the point: not one of us "wrote" the song. We all did. Remove any one of our specific contributions, and the song is less good than it is otherwise.

So, for the record, true creative collaboration on an artistic project is not only possible, but even preferable as long as you have the right combination of people who know how to leave space for the others to add their special contributions. I'm feeling more and more lucky to be in such a band, and I'm glad I clarified that. I'll be even more glad when the album is done and I can let you hear all of these songs instead of just reading about them. Getting closer every day.

Some Geeky-Ass Music and Recording Notes
A couple of things about "Bag Of Nothing". A week ago, I mentioned that it had been a bit of a challenge translating all of this song's wacky time signature changes when it came time to move beyond the original demo. It certainly took a little longer than my usual process, but I can say now in retrospect that it was completely worth the effort. Christina and I were saying last night that now the weird timing of the song feels totally natural to us at this stage, and would seem odd any other way.

Another note, this one as much for my own benefit as for any of my readers. When we started the They Stole My Crayon project, both Bunny and I were long-time users of the ubiquitous recording software called Pro Tools. For a variety of reasons, both Bunny and I have now switched over to our choice of Apple's Logic as our primary DAW software. I won't get into all of the reasons (which are likely different for both Bunny and I), but I will say that my last version of Pro Tools was getting pretty old, and I was using an outdated audio interface as well. I needed to make the choice for a long-term commitment toward a primary DAW, but while making that decision, I had to go through an intermediary position of having to use Apple's lower-end Garageband software as a stopgap measure until yesterday, when I finally purchased the full version of Logic Pro X. Here's what I will say:

1. For being a free piece of software that came with my latest Mac, Garageband was super impressive. Yes, it certainly had limitations that made it not at all the ideal choice for professional-quality recording. But I'm not sure why anyone would expect pro quality for free. In any case, it allowed me to continue working and creating music easily while I waited to choose what path I was taking in new recording software.

2. Speaking of which, Apple is pretty brilliant (which should come as no shock to anyone who recognizes their success). The workflow differences between Garageband and Logic Pro X are minimal, so my familiarity with one allowed me to immediately start working on the other with no interruption. The higher-end features I needed from Logic Pro X that I've used so far were intuitive to find and use.

3. And, at the end of the day, Logic Pro X costs $199 for software that a decade ago would have cost way over $1000. Way, way over, especially once you start to consider the quality of the reams of virtual instruments and plug-in effects that come along with the software.

This is Apple's Logic Pro X. This actually isn't my first go-around with Logic; I used it (along with a number of other DAWs) going back to when creating music via digital audio software first became a thing back in the late 80s/early 90s.

Logic remote on the iPad. It's little things like this that make me happy.

So, the cool news is that everything that I'd started in Garageband easily opened in Logic Pro X, and now I can continue working on the detailed stuff that I couldn't have done previously. Oh, and one other thing: if you're a user of Logic (or even Garageband, as it turns out) and have an iPad, go immediately to the App Store and grab the free Logic Remote. As the name implies, you can control nearly all of the functions of your DAW via your iPad, which really comes in handy when you've had just about enough of leaning around microphones or having to put down a guitar to press record, or to tweak a track level.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Islands of New England (04.16.15)

I have a sticky floor in my kitchen. The reason I have a sticky floor in my kitchen is because I performed last night at The Islands of New England in Second Life, and afterwards I was starving, so Kat came over and I made a huge pot of spaghetti with meat sauce, covered in delicious parmesan and romano. We scarfed down that dinner, and as I was cleaning up, Kat's sweater caught the top of an open bottle of Coke, which upended and somehow managed to spray in 360 degrees of carbonated insanity. I thought I'd mopped it up sufficiently last night, but then this morning, my sneakers were behaving as if they were partially glued to the linoleum. Apparently, I have more mopping to do, but first, I'll tell you about the show I did previous to the dinner and the Coke incident.

First off, I should note that my pal Taunter Goodnight was performing directly before me, and while Taunter is well known as a great singer and an entertaining performer in general, a lot of her material is in the pop and even traditional realm. So imagine my surprise when she ended her set with two completely rocking songs. The lady was belting out tunes Janis Joplin-style, and then wrapped up her set with "Tush" by ZZ Top. So basically, I found myself in the position of having been out-rocked by Taunter before I'd even strummed a note on my guitar.

Most of you know that I'm doing less and less shows in SL. The reasons are very simple:

• Less venues are able/willing to pay artist fees, and I don't perform for free or for "tips only".

• Along with Christina and Bunny, I am extraordinarily busy with the creation of the first They Stole My Crayon album, and there are only so many hours per week that I can dedicate toward music. Even if every venue in Second Life wanted to book me every day, I still wouldn't be able to perform more than once or twice a week, max.

• Perhaps most importantly, my personal perspective is that performing too often causes a musician to have less of an appreciation of each individual show. Therefore, since I'm playing less frequently, each show becomes something more special.

Crayon song debuts
I want to specially note that this show marked the live performance debut of two brand new They Stole My Crayon songs: "Carry Me Here and There" and "Disarmed". Both debuts went very well for a first-time performance. I find that there's a special aspect of trying to do original music in the stripped-down environment of one instrument and one voice: when people get to hear the fully fleshed-out version of the song that we do in the studio, with multiple voices and instruments, it's a fun experience for them. They're already familiar with the song, but they get to experience it in a whole new way. So, as was the case with my last solo album, I will be continuing to do Crayon tunes at SL shows as often as possible. I should also note that my performance of "Carry Me Here and There" was also the first time I've ever played a song live whose music was written by my lovely Kat. While she's contributed to our band's lyrics quite prodigiously, "CMHAT" is her own debut as a musical composer, and I think it's great (and by their reaction, so did my audience last night). It was nice being able to show off her skills via my performance, as I've often done with songs that Bunny or I created.

All photos by Kat.

TIONE set list...
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
Carolina In My Mind (James Taylor)
*Carry Me Here and There (They Stole My Crayon)
*London Calling (The Clash)
Wakin On A Pretty Day (Kurt Vile)
*Disarmed (They Stole My Crayon)
Sleeper In the Valley (Laura Veirs)
Comes a Time (Neil Young)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
It's Choade My Dear (Connan Mockasin)
Everyday I Write The Book (Elvis Costello)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Massive thanks to all who came out to my show at TIONE, especially the following folks who helped support it.
RansomTalmidge Resident, Kalie Indigo, TheaDee Resident, Sesh Kamachi, Richy Nervous, Kat Claxton, Taunter Goodnight, Aurelie Chenaux, Celeste Ewing, Barbara Mixemup, my great manager Maali Beck, and the lovely events manager of TIONE, Christine Haiku!

Monday, April 13, 2015

More Crayonisms

One thing that any creative person will probably tell you: while you're on a roll, stay on that roll. I was still feeling the high of the previous weekend's explosion of musical output that I wanted to carry it over and keep the creative juices flowing. So that's what I did, along with the encouragement and participation of my bandmates in They Stole My Crayon, Bunny and Christina. As soon as I wrapped up work on Friday, I launched into the creation of yet another new song, "Bag Of Nothing". On Saturday, I did the same thing with our song "Disarmed". All three of us emphatically agree that this recent slew of music is among our very best stuff. We couldn't be happier.

April 10: "Bag Of Nothing"
I actually had started working on this over the previous weekend, and gave up. Why? Well, heh heh... when I did the original demo on acoustic guitar, I was all over the map in time signatures. Not accidentally; I like creating songs that don't do what people expect. But when it came time to put the song down with multiple instruments and so on, it turned out to be an unexpected challenge. The time signatures do not repeat other than in small sections. What may have been a 2-count in the first verse is a 3-count in the second. What was a 4/4 measure in the second verse is a 5/4 measure in the third. None of this stuff is rocket science, but it's also not simple and intuitive. I could have taken the easy way out and just changed the song to be consistent across its length, but where's the fun in that? We are an alternative music band, and we should try and push some boundaries and expectations. I have to say, "Bag Of Nothing" came out great after I delivered the tracks to Bunny and he added his lead vocals. Like the rest of our songs, this is still in progress, but it's off to a great start.

Like pretty much everything else in your life these days, recording is done by most people using a computer, with various applications called DAWs... Digital Audio Workstations. The main reason why The Crayon uses this type of recording tool is that it's very easy for us to send tracks back and forth to each other so we can collaborate from a distance without it being a big pain in the ass. We also use them because recording and mixing music via a computer is a lot less expensive and a lot more convenient than doing it in a studio on analog tape, despite the fact that we'd all prefer the old-school way if that was a real option. Here's a shot while working on our song "Disarmed" which, like most Crayon songs, contains a combination of live audio recordings and virtual instruments.

April 11: "Disarmed"
Here's a case where the song did change significantly between the early demo and the recording, but wow, what a change it is. Like many tunes, I'd done the initial version on acoustic guitar, just putting down the initial chord progression and giving Bunny something to write lyrics and sing over. When it came time to record, however, I stumbled into a groove that was undeniably fun, and I decided to roll with it. I'm never certain that Christina or Bunny will like it when I pull a song in an unexpected direction, but most of the time they are onboard with my thought process, and this was certainly true here. Unlike "Bag Of Nothing", where I left all the quirkiness of timing in the recorded version, I did tweak "Disarmed" to make it a little more dance-friendly with that great groove we'd found, and I'm happy I did. The music itself has enough oddness in it to withstand the simplicity of a straight-up 4/4 beat. Anyway, like our other recent stuff, we shipped off the tracks to Bunny who recorded his lead vocals, and then Christina and I spent our Sunday afternoon/evening adding our own backing vocals. A quick temporary mix later, and I was dancing around my studio to this song that really didn't exist about 24 hours earlier.

The Crayon has a lot to do. There's much more to making an album than most people realize, some of it directly having to do with the music, and some of it having to do with how people will end up being able to hear the music. We're still a pretty long way off from being done with this album, putting it out, and moving on to the next one. I can pretty confidently say that I think before the end of 2015, a Crayon album will be available for the world to check out and hopefully like. My goal is really simple: if we can make a serious connection with even just one person who really loves what we're doing musically, the whole process will have been more than worthwhile.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Three Days, Three Songs

The real title of this post should be "Seven Days, Four Songs", but that wasn't nearly as snappy.

I'm going to tell you a little bit about how my band They Stole My Crayon creates songs together, but I'll start with the exciting stuff first: we just finished three songs in three days... except a) they're not at all finished and b) instead of being made in three days, they were made in about two years. Confused yet? I hope so. It would be odd if you weren't.

Here are a few of a nearly infinite number of ways to write and record music
My current philosophy is that putting too much effort into and/or overthinking the act of writing a song is almost always a mistake. So, let's say I'm noodling around on a guitar (while I play multiple instruments, I almost always write on acoustic guitar), and I come up with some interesting series of chords that might be a new song someday. I immediately turn on some kind of recording device. The most convenient for me is the webcam on my computer. I point it at myself, press "record", and play the song. And sometimes, heh heh, I forget about them at that moment. Seriously, I forget they exist. More on that later.

More often, I share them with my bandmates, usually by popping them up on YouTube and sending them a private link. At that point, several things might happen. If neither Christina nor Bunny do something with the song (i.e. create a melody, write lyrics, or the like), the song might sit there in musical limbo forever. I might eventually pick up the ball myself and create a demo of the song. Other times, Bunny will surprise me and send over a link with audio of him singing along to this embryonic tune. It's always a fun moment when I hear that for the first time. To better illustrate some of these concepts, I'm going to tell you about four TSMC songs that we worked on over the past week.

March 29: "Carry Me Here and There"
This song (which we'll call "CMHAT" for brevity's sake) started in a fascinating way. In mid-2014, Bunny was working on one of his songwriting projects, and asked Christina and I to give him a batch of song titles that he would use as inspiration to write new songs. We randomly gave him dozens of titles. Nothing but titles. Some of them he used, but most of them sat there doing nothing. Some were very silly... I mentioned "Bad Bush Day" and "Choad of a Toad" on that group of titles. One of the titles was "Carry Me Here and There". That's all it was... a song title. On December 14 of last year, Christina told me that she wanted to try her hand at doing some music composing; not the easiest thing for someone who is a relative novice to music creation. I helped her through some ideas, and she came up with a nice little tune. And then, it sat there for a few months until Bunny, on March 16, sent over a new demo where he'd recorded some lyrics he'd written with a melody over the original live recording of acoustic guitar. Then, a week ago Sunday, I fired up my computer's DAW software and "fleshed out" the song, adding drums, bass, and keyboards, and re-recording the guitar. Then Kat and I did some vocals for it. One note: we'll often record things that we know for certain will never end up on the final version, but are helpful to keep pushing the song forward. We call those "scratch tracks". Now you know.

So, "CMHAT" is now back in Bunny's capable's hands. I expect that he'll re-do his lead vocals and change some stuff in the mix, adding and removing parts until it's closer to what we want to have on the final version. Then the song will come back to Christina and I to revise our parts. In any case, it's a lot closer to being an actual song than it was before.

April 3: "Favorite Things"
On September 24 of last year, I did something I do often: I picked up my shitty guitar and wrote a bunch of chords that seemed interesting. I video recorded myself doing it, and sent a link to Christina and Bunny. They seemed to like it, and on October 19, Christina wrote a batch of lyrics for it, calling it "Favorite Things". On January 10, Bunny took her lyrics and my chord progression, did some refinement, and recorded himself singing over the original video. Voila... another song was born. But then it sat around for awhile. I liked the song from the very start, and couldn't wait to turn it into a fully arranged recording. But, you know, I got busy and blah blah blah and... it sat around for months. On Friday of last week, I was intent on making use of as much of the entire weekend as possible to work on music, and this time, I actually stuck to the plan. I did a full version of "Favorite Things" that evening. I started it at about 5PM, and before 9PM, it was done and sent to Bunny (Christina was already here, listening to me as I recorded and mixed it). Now Bunny has to do his contribution, re-recording his vocals and all that jazz.

A typical scene of me writing a new song. I'm holding a guitar and playing something I've never played before. Don't ask me where it comes from before that... it's a mystery that's been analyzed for thousands of years and no one is any closer to an answer than ever.

April 4: "Picked Up Off the Floor"
Much like "CMHAT", "PUOTF" is a song for which we'd created a title, but nothing else. On June 28, 2014 (a Saturday, unsurprisingly), I was chilling with Christina and came up with a tune. You can see me playing a rough version of it in the video below, which is typical of the rough sketch ideas I share with my bandmates. I didn't bother with lyrics, but I did have a feel for the chorus placement and melody, which I sang.

The actual original recording of "PUOTF" to share with Bunny, never before shown to the public at large. We have dozens of songs that start like this. Some die at that point. Others move ahead.

Then we sent it to Bunny, and then... nothing, for ten months. Suddenly, on March 16 (the same day he surprised us with "CMHAT" lyrics and melody), he sent over a new version of "PUOTF". Christina and I loved it, and so on the Saturday of my musical weekend, I spent the day working on the song. By 9PM, I'd sent over the new full demo to Bunny. As per above, we're now awaiting his new contributions. It's exciting and fun, especially when a song has taken a long time to gestate like this one. We could have conceived and delivered a baby faster than this song has taken from the start until now, but that's okay. Speaking of which...

April 5: "River Shallows"
This song is a little different than the three above. Here's why. I knew that I had dozens of song ideas that had never been developed over the years. For some, it's because they sucked, and weren't worth developing. But others were quite good, and just got lost in the shuffle. Even after spending the previous two days working on songs, I still felt inspired on Sunday morning. However, while other choices were available, I decided to take a trip down memory lane, and looked through my old files to see if there was something that I'd set aside and could be revived. Boy, am I glad I did that. Christina and I found a recording from May 12, 2013 (yeah, almost two years ago) of a song sketch I'd done, and then completely forgotten about. The song was great. I just forgot it. I never even showed it to Bunny. It happens, I promise.

This one had no title, and only mumbled fake lyrics with just a hint of melody. When we decided to make something of the sketch, Christina and I did something cool: we spoke about the vibe of the song and how that might translate to a lyrical idea. I really wasn't expecting her to come out with a great lyric on the spot, but that's exactly what she did. While I got to work on the song, she cranked out lyrics for it in record time. I'd say that she spent maybe 15-20 minutes writing, and the version we used had almost no changes from her first draft. Awesome! We had a good flow and just went with it, so now, "River Shallows" is a brand new Crayon song that was started 23 months ago. Bunny is into it, and I can't wait to hear what he's going to add.

While it seems pretty amazing that we have 20 strong songs for our first album, you don't even see the songs that we've either set aside or otherwise shelved. There are probably a total of 35+ TSMC songs that almost no one has heard... yet.

What's Next?
Who the hell knows? We work collaboratively, and Bunny needs to make his mark on these fleshed-out demos, which he will do when he's able and inspired to do so. Bunny also writes rather prodigiously, and there are a good number of songs that he originated that need to receive the contributions of Christina and I. In both cases, we're in no huge hurry. Eventually, parts of these songs will be re-recorded with higher quality, but for now, we've got a current total of 20 (!) really solid tunes that will be on our first album(s). I couldn't be happier, and am already thinking about next weekend's musical possibilities, even though it seems far away from my Monday morning perspective of the moment.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Short Shots

Some of my better days creating music start early, and if things are going really well, I don't have time to change out of the bathrobe. Or shower. Or eat. Or answer the phone. Or...

A few random things on my mind right now.

Get Well, Joni Mitchell
Anyone who knows me well is aware that Joni might be the single largest influence on my songwriting and one of the pop composers who most impressed me with her innovative approaches to both musical and lyric creation. All of her notorious eccentricity and ego aside, there remains no one like her in the world of music composition and performance, and her work in the early/mid '70s remains unparalleled. Yesterday, she was found unconscious at home and taken to the hospital by ambulance. She's 71, and we can't expect people will go on forever. But still, I'm not quite ready to live in a world without "Sweet Joni from Saskatoon".

Bunny and I Go EDM with "Kites"
While Kat was in Japan, I found myself with a pretty free weekend and a studio full of gear, and so I did what I often do: sat down to work on music. However, instead of continuing work on some songs we're doing for our band They Stole My Crayon, I inexplicably created a synth pop tune. Hey, why not? And then, because I thought he'd find it funny, I shared it with Bunny, who asked for the stems (the individual tracks that make up the tune). And then he added some parts, did some re-arranging of the elements, then wrote and sang vocals. We both agreed that it ended up being pretty cool, so we released it. Feel free to listen to and/or download "Kites" below.

Speaking of The Crayon...
We're heading back into a period of high-gear productivity right now, and are dedicating some time each week to work on Crayon songs that are in progress. A few days ago, we did a bunch of stuff for the new song "Carry Me Here and There", and we're going to be doing stuff on more new songs this coming weekend, possibly including "Favorite Things", "Picked Up Off the Floor", or "Bag of Nothing". Isn't it fun reading about songs you've never heard of (and that don't completely exist as of yet)?

The Crayon, last June in Joshua Tree.

Weddings Can Not Suck
I'm really not a cynical guy, but... well, we've all likely been in the position of getting dragged to a wedding of people you really don't know very well, or at all. Your cousin's best friend, your neighbor's daughter, or, as the case was for me on Saturday, your girlfriend's co-workers. But the people turned out to be extremely nice, and the wedding was held at Yamashiro, a famous 100-year-old Hollywood landmark with an outstanding view. The entire event ended up being really fun for both Kat and I, and I'm truly glad we went.

Kat and I overlooking all of Hollywood and greater Los Angeles at Yamashiro.

Last But Definitely Not Least
What the fuck, Indiana and Arkansas?