Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Yeah yeah, it seems as though I don't exist. But I do, and I will prove it eventually, although not in the same fashion as Descartes. I've made significant progress on the album - I upgraded my monitor and my speakers, so now I can actually hear bass when I mix songs and I'm not embracing my monitor when I work anymore. This is a good thing.

Just pray that I don't start playing World of Warcraft anytime soon.

I can't believe Ohio State is in the national championship game AGAIN. When you're from Ohio, you PLAN to lose. This doesn't feel right. At least the Browns are keeping us in check. By the way, Tressel is a genius and hiring him straight out of Youngstown was one of the greatest decisions ever made at Ohio State. Also, my sister is at school there RIGHT NOW and she won the student lottery for a ticket to the game. And by some confluence of luck her school's basketball team is historically good as well. Must be nice.

Here's my 2 cents: the Cavs need to start sitting LeBron more often. The offense is stifled whenever he's on the court. Yeah, he scores, but that's because he's the whole offense, especially since Hughes is still (!) injured. I agree with Sir Charles - LeBron shouldn't be a point-forward. Yes, he can do it, he's very capable at it, but he'd be better as a finisher. Watch an old Bulls game from the early/mid 90s - Jordan often won't touch the ball until the shot clock is down to 12 or 10 or so. When I was much younger I never understood this, I thought you should give the ball to the best player so he could just jump over the defense or something. Now I know better. I also know that the best outside shooter in the world doesn't have as good a field goal percentage as your average power forward/center. Give Z more than 6 shots a game. Please. He's on my fantasy team. So is Gooden, who had a tremendous preseason but has been inconsistent all year because he's too busy getting out of LeBron's way. Seriously, give the rest of the team a chance to develop as a unit. I'd rather see that than see Gibson and Brown become marginal contributors in their rookie season. Well, Gibson's development could be significant to the team down the road, but at least try to work him into an 8-man rotation. Who is our coach again? Doc Rivers?

No, I'm not trying to become the next Sports Guy. I think my writing ability makes that abundantly clear.

Can't decide which next-gen video game system to purchase? Then let me make the decision for you: get the Wii. My roommate bought it on launch day, and I'm seriously impressed. Not so much by the current library, but by the obvious potential. Wii Sports, which comes with the system, is nothing more than a fun demonstration of what the motion-sensing controller can do. But as you play each game of tennis or bowling or baseball, you begin to think about how a fully-realized tennis or bowling or baseball game would play, and it's pretty hard not to get excited. Red Steel pretty much blew it in the control department, but my roommate and I have already come up with alternative control schemes (in theory only, of course) that will probably be implemented in the next generation of shooting games. I'm not sure how Ubisoft let that game get out the door as-is though. But anyhow, I'm recommending the Wii primarily because of its price at this point. Your $250 is at very little risk - Nintendo has made and will make incredible games in the next few years and the controller has opened up brand new possibilities. The PS3 and 360 could both be great, and the 360 already has some solid games, but if money is an issue I really don't see the point in throwing down your hard-earned cash (and lots of it) on an unproven console. Especially on an expensive trojan horse.

I know I've been promising a big update to this site for a while now, and someday it will happen. I recently got some new programs that will aid me in this endeavor, but I have to learn how to use them first. I'm thinking about a massive three-minute flash intro that shows me flying onto the screen on a winged horse...

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

I've finally got some big news: all Lost on Purpose songs will soon be available for purchase at www.spindividual.com, a cool new mp3 site started by a couple of Cleveland natives. They get major points for that alone, but the site is really geared towards being a parter in and facilitator for the careers of independent artists like myself. They truly value great music over profit margins, and for that they deserve your support.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In the movie Groundhog Day, did Bill Murray's character ever try to stay awake past midnight in the company of other people? I've seen parts of the movie, but not all of it, and while he definitely tried to kill himself I don't know if he ever tried this out. Like, he should have gone to a bar to see what happened at midnight - if the day was going to repeat, then everyone would have to magically disappear at midnight and go back to their physical positions at the beginning of the day, right? Does anybody know if he tried this? Also, did he always wake up at the same time/place on Feb 2? If he fell asleep out on the street did he always wake up in bed again? I think this answer might be a yes. These are the types of things I think about.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I'm back in LA after an incredible trip to Europe. I might be posting pictures and my journal along with an overdue update to this site eventually. In the meantime there is music to write and a time zone to get reaquainted with.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

This post is coming to you from Constance, Germany. In a few minutes we're heading out to Munich for Oktoberfest. Next show I'm wearing leiderhosen.

Friday, September 8, 2006

So a few months ago I signed away my soul to a TV production house. They're porting over a few Mexican telenovelas to America and they *might* be using 'Lonely Road'. Apparently the first series began on 9/5. I won't be watching.

Now they have some kind of band rating thing going on at this link. You click on the big ENTER button and then you can rate Lost on Purpose as 'Hot' or 'Not'. Right now I'm at 2% hot and 1% not (this is after I voted myself 'Hot'). Warning - you have to give them an email address as you vote. Now that I think about it, I can't believe someone essentially junkified their email address because they felt so strongly that I was 'Not Hot'. Sad.

You can also view a couple previews of the telenovelas which are chock full of dubious (and unintentionally hilarious) acting. Not that I'm recommending this.

At 2 AM Pacific Time I will be landing in Dusseldorf, Germany to begin my European Tour. The first show will be the headlining spot at the Reading Festival.

Monday, September 4, 2006

So it goes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yes! I have finished the song for the upcoming poetry/fiction/art magazine out of New York (name/availability and further information coming soon) . Here it is.

Since this is a one-off song not meant for an album I took some liberties with it. Hope it both delights and disappoints... then I'll know I've done well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'll have a new song up probably tomorrow - it's for a poetry magazine being published in New York. Yes, a poetry magazine. I don't think the song will be on the upcoming album. You want to know this, I know.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I've been wanting to put up a new demo for a while, so here it is. I'll keep it up for a day or two.

I took it down - you're too late!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just got an email from a French guy who made a sweet dance remix of Black Widow Falls (except he calls it 'Black Window Falls').

(I keep trying to post a link to the file but it disappears whenever I publish the blog. I'm confounded).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fresh off a trip to IKEA, I now have a matching desk and bookshelf. I didn't plan on them matching, they were just the cheapest things there and happened to be of the same style - 'Flaarke' - which must mean 'cheap bastard' in Swedish. But now I have more space, a newly-formatted hard drive and operating system for my recording computer, so all systems are go for the new album. I am planning (honestly) on putting up some demos soon. Also I'm working on a song for a friend's poetry mag so I'll have that up by the end of the month.

In other news, City-State has found a new guitarist/keyboardist/tech guy and we are very, very excited about the possibilities. Looking forward to the Spaceland show on the 28th. That's August 28th, at Spaceland in Silverlake, at 9:00 sharp. Come early and get the good parking. You know you want to.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Well, the first show with City-State went well. I couldn't hear any vocals during the first two songs but once that was resolved I think things sounded good. We've finalized the date for our next show - Aug 28 at Spaceland. www.myspace.com/citystatemusic for info.

In LOP news, work on the new album continues, I need to update this site big time (but keep finding reasons not to) and a Japanese distribution deal might be in the works. This is cool.

Cool band to check out - Electric President.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another day of wasting away at work, visiting the same websites for entertainment: wired, joystiq, you ain't no picasso (even though he doesn't seem willing to reply to my emails, strange), cockeyed, cnn and espn page 2 (only Bill Simmons). Of course there's the occasional Malcolm Gladwell perusal as well. Any other sites I should be checking out?

What is math, but a question to keep us alive?
A giant rubik's cube to entertain our tired minds
The market's just like nature - only the strong survive
But if monopolies are destructive - why are humans sublime?
If we know that oil lasts for just a fixed amount of time
Why do we drive giant trucks that speed our nation's decline?

-N. Vargas

Thursday, July 6, 2006

The first City-State show will be July 25 at the Scene in Glendale. We'll be playing a handful of LOP songs along with more new stuff.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In a way, I'm glad the world cup only occurs once every four years: I haven't gotten a thing done in the past three weeks.

If you're not a soccer afficianado here's a brief overview of what's happened so far: every single one of my favored teams is already out of the tournament. Poland played to 'not lose' and did just that, Czech Republic somehow disintegrated after destroying the US, the US apparently forgot what group they were in, Mexico played an incredible second-round game and lost on the goal of the tournament, Switzerland were anticlimactically blanked on a pk shootout, and Holland - oh Holland - what a disaster. Up 11 men to 10 and then 10 to 9 they still couldn't get a decent shot off. I don't know why Van Nistelrooy wasn't playing - I think he was slightly injured in the previous game, I can't quite remember and I don't want to go online and find out because I'll probably accidentally see the scores from today and I Tivo'd them this morning. To top it all off my least favorite team, Italy, advanced on the most atrocious call of the tournament - a non-foul in the box with literally 10 seconds to play in regulation. I am convinced this has all happened because the tournament is being held in Germany. In some way, no matter how slight, Hasselhoff must be involved.

Friday, June 9, 2006

It's 9:07, the world cup just started, and I'm stuck at work trying to watch the match on a 4-inch tv using computer speakers as antennae (don't ask). It's in black and white, by the way, which wouldn't be such a big deal if the screen wasn't flickering and fuzzy. Oh, and it's en espanol. Germany just scored two quick goals and I have a ton of work to do. I'm a dead man.

In one month, when Holland wins, I will be laughing.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Well, the band that once was Lost on Purpose is now City-State. And me, the original Lost on Purpose, is still Lost on Purpose. Make sense? Basically LOP is the same as it always was, but now a band exists and it's called City-State (but it used to be the live band version of LOP). The really confusing part is that City-State plays some LOP songs, since they used to be LOP. Get it?

We're working on some shows, and a website, but for now we have a myspace account. I hate myspace. But I will use it for the forces of good. Be our friend here.

For now, to complicate things even further, here is a Lost on Purpose song, recorded by City-State, when City-State was still known as Lost on Purpose: right on

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My internet was down last night so that's why this wasn't up yesterday.

The inquisition interview with Jeremy Schmall (links to his writings will be up soon).

Me: How were you drawn towards poetry? Have you always liked it?

Jeremy: I started writing poetry accidentally as an undergrad. I didn't consider it poetry, I just knew I found it really enjoyable and compelling, in a compulsive way. So I'd lock myself in my room at night and scribble the worst poems ever written in a notebook. When I look at them now it's hard not to laugh, but at the time they really meant everything to me, and carried me from day to day. I'd never written poetry before that, or read any. I eventually realized I was doing something people might consider "poetry." When I overcame my embarrassment, I went to the library and started digging into the work of real poets. Naturally this blew my mind.

Do you find that certain themes/media inspire you more than others? How influenced are you by other poetry? As a musician, other music has a far greater impact on me than visual art or movies; does this same relationship hold true for your poetry?

In terms of themes, I'm always drawn to something new and exciting, something I'd never considered before, something that breathes life into my banal day-to-day. I love to find or see something that raises the ceiling on what's possible in the creative arena, and to gain new perspectives.

I'm definitely most influenced by poetry, since it's the most applicable, but music has a strong influence on me. The lyrics of David Berman (The Silver Jews) are pretty amazing, and Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices) basically opened some door in me in terms of realizing what you're allowed to say. His use of non sequitur language is incredible.

But lyrics aside, texture and tone are so important in music, and I've thought a lot about how to match musical chords with images. In a lot of ways I'm wildly jealous of musicians because music cuts straight to the core. You can play a combination of three chords on the keyboard, accompany it with a sparse guitar solo, and the whole audience will be in tears without even thinking about how abstract that is. If I try for something like that in poetry, people most likely would just respond by scratching their heads, because words are so strongly tied to meaning. Instead of letting these strange abstractions settle over them, they try to wrestle them into linear meaning in an attempt to "get" whatever's in the poem. It's a natural inclination, because that's ultimately what Western civilization is founded on, but it can be destructive.

That's a fascinating thought, the idea that you really can't use abstract words to generate mood. I think it's true, and I think that's a big reason why music is a billion-dollar industry and poetry is a... somewhat less industry. At the same time though, I'm often frustrated by the fact that song lyrics tend to fall to the wayside. You have to really pay attention to lyrics to understand them (and sometimes they're still indecipherable) and that's pretty much expected by the modern music audience. I occasionally feel forced to work harder on the music because it gets most of the attention, despite the fact that well-written lyrics are ultimately more satisfying.

Just to clarify, it's not that I don't think abstract language can generate mood, it's just that the way our culture perceives language circumvents it. For example, A+B+C=angry or sad. I think it's just a matter of being open or tuned into language, or perhaps having different expectations of it. There's definitely writers who create poetry that is based almost completely on tone and texture. The poem doesn't add up to anything, or there's no rising, tense narrative; whatever's in the poem permeates it, and the feelings sneak in that way.

So right now you're studying at the New School in New York City. What is 'studying' an art in an institutional setting like? Is there actually any studying done, or is it essentially like an artist colony? What are the benefits/drawbacks of working in that setting vs 'real' life?

I was definitely skeptical of the program going into it, because it is a contrived environment, but it's won me over. I think an M.F.A. program could be the worst experience if the professors were a certain way, and if the culture of the program was oppressive and hyper-competitive, but my experience has been great. There's a fair amount of studying that takes place, especially in terms of reading literature, and the New School also has an amazing live reading series. Last night I was at a reading for Wave Books, and the poets who read just blew me away. I would probably never even have heard of these poets if it wasn't for the program.

The other great aspect is the focus it forces on you, and the way you're always surrounded by writers. My group of friends here are the only people I know who--the drunker they get--the more intense the conversation becomes about poetry. I would never have met these people otherwise, and I think just having people as focused as you are on an art form can really lead to great things. That being said, I'm glad I waited a few years before going back to school. Had I gone directly to grad school, without the rough 'real' life experience in between, it wouldn't be the same. And of course it feels nothing like school did as an undergrad. I work full-time, then a few nights a week I go to class.

I know you also spent a year in Korea. Was being linguistically isolated a good or bad thing (or neither) for your writing? What about when you moved back to the US? Was there a palpable feeling of relief or dread that translated to your work?

I don't think spending a year in Korea had a huge impact on my writing, though it definitely made me think about language differently. You become like a deaf child trying to communicate sometimes, pointing at pictures or trying to motion what you want, speaking in broken English. It made me think, what is this magical language thing that allows one person to communicate complex thoughts and emotions to another. It's pretty amazing. I also tried to learn some Korean, which made me realize how tied our thoughts are to language, and how tied our language is to culture, which in some ways makes your thoughts a cultural by-product. There were things about Korean that I just couldn't understand. I'm sure there's better examples than this, but because hierarchy is so important, they conjugate verbs depending on the level of respect they want to show. So the same sentence will sound differently depending on how formal the occasion is. It got me thinking how different systems of language--different codes really--how that affects behavior, how it is they were ever organized, and whether a sharper, more efficient system could be produced in the future.

Upon returning to the U.S. I expected to feel a sense of relief, but moving straight to New York was really difficult. The transition from Korea would've been hard anyway, but doing it while adjusting to life here made it twice as bad. I was confused and exhausted all the time. I couldn't quite remember what "normal" Americans talked about. I didn't have a normal, casual conversation for months. It was really strange. I wrote a lot, but none of it made sense. It would just tie itself in knots. It was like I'd forgotten how to write normal sentences.

That's bizarre. The whole 'culture influencing language influencing thought' idea reminds me of 1984's Doublespeak. Now I want to reread that book.

You mentioned your friends at school... does collaboration ever play a role in poetry? It seems like poetry is a very individual art, like drawing. Obviously you are influenced by
everyone and everything you interact with, but have you ever actively involved someone in your writing process? If so what was that like?

I'm actually working on a collaboration with a friend of mine right now. It's a two-column piece, meant to be read at the same time. I write one column and send it to him, then he responds on the other side of the page. We stole the idea from John Ashbery. He wrote a long poem called "Litany" where he wrote both columns himself. We saw him read it a month ago and it was amazing. There was a woman reading one column, and he read the other column. I didn't honestly expect to enjoy it, but it was great. It went on for about 45 minutes.

The other collaboration I've done is writing lyrics for my brother's band. It's tremendously rewarding to hear something I've written interpreted into music. It's forced me to think about the rhythm of language differently, and to discover a voice that was distinct from the poems I was writing at the time.

My friend Wes and I are also in the early stages of collaboration, but neither of us knows precisely how it'll turn out. I sent him some poems that I wrote to fit what I think is the theme in a lot of his paintings and drawings. I honestly have no clue what he intends to do with them.

How exactly does the two-column poem work? Are the columns read at the same time or are turns taken?

It's meant to be read at the same time. It's weird. When I saw the Ashbery poem performed, I thought it was an interesting concept, but would be unpleasant (perhaps in a good way) to sit through. But it was brilliant. Because I couldn't focus, in a way I was hyper-focused and my mind just soared. I wrote a poem during the reading, which is something i would've thought impossible because of the obvious difficulties with concentration. And the poem turned out great.

Listening to the Ashbery poem, I would listen to one narrator for a while, then shift to the other, then one would stop for a few lines and it would be like a dramatic drum solo, and no matter what they said would seem incredibly profound. The style he wrote the poem in, which can be really frustrating for some people, really makes it work. His writing's really deceptive, and constantly hinting at profundity. All these really profound ideas appear and then as you're starting to put it together have suddenly been replaced by another and you didn't realize that the first had left.

Do you have a direction for your poetry? (Do you want one?) I've read some poetry by people who've just 'let the words flow out' and it's often fairly incoherent. It does an
admirable job of creating mood, which we talked about, but it means nothing to me. Your poetry is different, you've elevated your subjects to your conscious mind, and I'm wondering how intentional that is. I guess I'm basically asking you how much time you spend erasing.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by elevating my subjects to conscious mind. In terms of direction, I guess I'm pursuing more experimental, fragmented writing. Whatever gets me excited to be writing is what I'm after. It's all experiment and surprise.

My process is basically to 'let it flow,' and see what comes out. The yield, in terms of what's usable, is incredibly low. In mathematical terms, I'd say maybe 35% is workable material. I sit with the workable material for a few weeks, looking over it now and again, slowly scraping it down to only the essentials. Eventually something will be finished and I'll show it to a few people for confirmation. Probably no more than 5% of what I write actually ends up worth finishing. But even a poem that isn't worth finishing will sometimes have a solid line in it that will set up a chain reaction that results in a good poem weeks or months later. Then there's also streaks where I'll like a lot of what I'm writing with minimal editing, but that's rare.

That's what I was trying to ask you - how much editing do you have to do once words are on paper.

For you, is poetry a means to an end, or an end in and of itself? When you're done with school, will you live your life to write poetry, or will you write poetry so as to live your life?

For me poetry is an end in itself. I don't expect my life to change much when I'm finished with school.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tonight I will be posting an inquisition with poet Jeremy Schmall. I will also be recording. This will eventually result in more news. I might post a studio version of Right On as well.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Here's the Justin Rice (of Bishop Allen) e-mail inquisition you've all been waiting so patiently for. Enjoy.

Me: On January, it feels like you're channeling late 60's Beatles in terms of sonic quality and overall structural playfulness. Was this intentional, or do you prefer to let a song 'write itself' and ignore any desire to consciously steer a song in a particular direction?

Justin: To me, writing songs is a kind of thinking. The process starts with a fragment -- a picture, a story, a snippet ripped from a book I've read, a melody, a rhythm -- and that fragment begins to generate corollary fragments. Those I begin to piece together, and eventually I start to get a sense of the overall shape and character of the song. The goal is to see it through until it's fully realized, to shape it so that it begins to breathe on its own. It's a kind of thinking that is both conscious and unconscious. I don't try to write a song that sounds like something else from the get go, but sometimes I do discover similarities, and they don't often worry me. It seems natural that music I like should have a place in the music I make.

However, Christian Rudder, who writes with me, is the Beatles man. Maybe he's channeling that stuff without telling me.

How do you stay motivated? Do you have any routines when it comes to writing, either in general (such as the old 'song a day' adage), or during the actual process of turning an idea into a song?

I get up everyday in the morning. That's the first step. I don't like getting up, and I don't enjoy life the first hour I'm awake, but I make myself do it. I go to our practice space and play the piano for a while, then start recording. I work there until at least six o'clock, usually later. At night, starting around ten, I work on words. I do these things whether I feel like it or not. For me, being productive is mostly about discipline. Nobody makes me do it, so I have to make myself.

Why did you choose to pursue music? Do any other art forms inspire you the way music does? Ultimately, why do you write music? To have your message heard, self-therapy, some combination of the two?

I'm still not sure why I chose to pursue music. Lots of days, when I can't play things the way I want, or when I can't fit words into the structure of a song without mangling them, I think I should quit making so much damn noise and start only just writing. I've got piles of books, and I like being around them. I don't, however, have a record collection. Or an iPod. I also used to watch maybe two hundred movies a year, and I still work on movie sets sometimes.

However, several years ago, Christian Rudder and I recorded a few songs -- "Busted Heart," "Ghosts Are Good Company" -- and I let loose some strange compulsion. Thinking in songs fits somehow fits with my brain, and I find that I do it all the time, like it or not. I enjoy working with Christian, and with Christian, and with Jack, and there's great comfort in company. We urge each other along.

Has a general pattern emerged in the way you and Christian work together? Do you tend to write alone, then work out details together; or are both of you involved with each song (more or less) from the ground up?

The way we work changes from song to song. Sometimes we'll both work on a song together from the beginning, sometimes one of us will bring in a song mostly finished. Usually, it's somewhere in between. Some days I'll sit at the piano and Christian will play the acoustic guitar with his hands and the drums with his feet. Some days we'll both play electric guitars. Some days I'll play the banjo and he'll play the glockenspiel. Some days I'm in there by myself hashing through the protools sessions trying this and that, and some days Christian will be in there by himself doing the same. Often, we'll share parts, and those parts -- dozens of them -- will float out in the ether looking for their complements, and then, one day, one of us will put the right two together. I usually think about the words walking all around the city, and work late at night putting them together and sanding and polishing the joints. It's a very fluid process.

If you're like most artists, you're never satisfied with your work. Is there a particular goal you're trying to reach (even if it's unattainable)? If your answer is "I just enjoy the process", then what are your career/personal goals for Bishop Allen?

When you're working on songs, you deal mostly with details. You work out melodies, chords, and structures, and decide on the tempo, the key, and the time signature, so you mostly don't think big picture. I am not sure what I want, but I am learning more and more everyday how to better write songs, and it's the process of learning that keeps me interested. True, I'm never satisfied, but I think what keeps me going is the hope that I can always do a better job than I've done before. It's chasing an ideal. It's trying to scratch an unscratchable itch. And it's finding new details to obsess over.

Just for the hell of it, what's the funniest three-word phrase you can think of?

Free hot bread!
I need help getting WOXY to keep playing Lonely Road - just go to http://www.woxy.com/ and click on 'request a song' (in the middle right part of the page - you'll find it).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

WOXY is playing some LOP Thursday at 9 PM ET on their unsigned show. It's reairing Saturday at 6 PM ET and a podcast will be available on Friday. This is exciting of course; WOXY is one of the best indie music radio stations in the country. I am elated.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

I have not been posting much, mainly because there's not much going on. I am writing and recording many new songs. I am writing a score for a friend's short film. I am recording an album in a full-blown studio with the band Mere Mortals - it sounds really good (and I am mad that I didn't bring my camera in and write up a story about the recording process. I suppose I could take some belated pictures and stage some 'day 1' shots though. Hmm...). I am rehearsing and writing songs with my own band, which used to be the 4-man version of Lost on Purpose but which is now City-State (unless we come up with a better name). We have six solid songs and a couple more are waiting in the wings. Our 4-song EP (including live versions of 'right on' and 'black widow falls') are being mixed/mastered right now - actually, they should be finished by now. Once we have those in our hands we will get some shows and start playing out.

So I guess there's actually a hell of a lot going on right now, just not much that is newsworthy. I'm deliberately not posting new demos, I want some songs to be a surprise.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I haven't mentioned this website yet which is just plain wrong. I found Cockeyed about a month or so ago, and it's easily one of the best websites I've ever seen. Page after page of goofy science experiments, bizarre construction projects and the famous 'how much is inside?' demonstrations, the stories of which are told by the inimitable (and sharp-witted) Rob Cockerham (a modern-day Richard Feynman). There's over 500 megabytes of extremely entertaining content on the site but amazing I've already read through ALL of it. It's that good. And frankly I stole the whole format for the t-shirt page from it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yesterday I paid $3.11/gallon for gas. I was pissed. There's a lot of talk about using more ethanol as an additive in order to reduce our demand on foreign oil, but I have my doubts about ethanol production's efficiency. I might have to write about that another day.

What I don't understand is why we have so many SUVs. If it's really that big a deal, so big that our government is considering offering billions of dollars in subsidies to ethanol producers so as to produce more fuel, why don't we just minimize the amount of fuel we're currently using? Is the pitiful average mpg of SUVs even remotely defensible?

I did some searching around and found claims that by raising the mpg standard of SUVs to the same level as cars the US would save 1 million barrels of oil per day (we use approximately 20.8 million per day). That would be a significant reduction. I'm never satisfied with general claims, however, so I wanted to do the calculations myself.

I was surprised at how difficult it was to find good car-related data on the web. I'm used to finding what I want in a few minutes, but I searched around for about a half hour before finding what I needed, and I still didn't get everything. Here's what I found:

There are 16 million SUVs in America
The average SUV gets 17.8 miles per gallon
There are approximately 19.5 gallons of auto fuel in a barrel of oil

Assuming each SUV drives 12,000 miles in a year, these numbers calculate out to 553.15 million barrels of oil per year for SUV use, or 1.52 million barrels/day. That means to acheive the 1 million barrels per day reduction mentioned above SUV efficiency would have to increase by 66%. The resulting SUV would therefore have to get 52 mpg! That's impossible. According to my calculations (I've always wanted to say that), holding SUVs to the same requirements as cars (27.5 mpg) would result in saving 530,000 barrels of oil per day. That's no small amount, but it's half what many websites (including Senator Feinstein's) claim.

Believe me, I'm not trying to defend SUVs. Increasing their mpg requirements would reduce our dependence on foreign oil (security bonus) and reduce our gas prices (economic bonus). The only downsides would be losses for the automotive industry (who make a killing on SUVs) and a loss of self-esteem for the millions of Americans who need to feel powerful by piloting a large metal object.

I still want to get to the bottom of this number discrepancy. My data was taken from a variety of websites and I'm sure some of the numbers are from different years. If anyone knows of a good site where I can find all the data I need to make more accurate calculations please let me know.

In music news, things are chugging along. The t-shirts are selling fairly well and I've been writing a lot. Not sure yet how many songs will be on the new CD but I'm trying to make it a full-length; it's about time for one of those. You know what, it will be an LP, I'll decide that right now. 12 songs. I promise.

I've also been working on a few more Inquisitions. And yes, the Bishop Allen one is almost done.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Instead of doing nothing I'm going to post the first Inquisition interview. I know I promised that it'd be with Bishop Allen, but they're really busy at the moment and haven't finished the second part of the interview. And since I happen to have a finished interview all ready and waiting to go... well here it is.

An Interview with American Painter Wes Berg over an Afternoon Snack Consisting of Pizza Rolls and Ping Pong:

Hello Wes.


First of all, why do you paint?

I don't really paint as much as I draw, and really I don't necessarily split the two in my thinking. However, if asked why do I make visual art? then I can answer better. I feel that visual art is a completely different language than anything written or spoken, much like music is a different language.

I feel as though I can communicate ideas through visual art that are perhaps too ambiguous or complicated to present through other means. Also, I am a firm believer that through the body/mind connection, a visual artist can connect with something deep within himself/herself. I believe in the expression of a mark and the physical act of making something. Personally, I get a hell of a charge out of creating a new image that may somehow connect with my feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

What do you mean when you say 'I believe in the expression of a mark'? And what kinds of ideas do you try to convey? Are you trying to simply express your emotions on canvas (in a therapeutic way), or are you trying to tell personal stories?

"The expression of the mark" --by this I mean that the act of physically marking a surface with some sort of media is an extension of the artist's mind. There are conscious and subconscious thoughts and movements of the marking tool which I feel combine to create style and image. The ideas I try to convey deal with external and internal struggles. My current work deals with the thought that everything in our world (that which surrounds us) and everything in our mental world is touched, manipulated, and somehow controlled by us. Everywhere in the world essentially has been touched if not raped by human presence. In much the same way our minds are constantly manipulated and touched by outside forces. My recent imagery creates a world comprised of hand and finger elements. Architectural elements and characters are all shown as fingers or some mutation to reference the omnipresent "touch" I've referred to.

What keeps you motivated?

I stay motivated by doing. I get more excitement and energy from the process than the product. In fact, I tend to not care so much about the product once I've created it. I also really enjoy bringing imagery to an audience. I recently did a 2 person installation that transformed an entire gallery into a dark world of vicious and hilarious creatures. Viewers were taken to this world of inner-demons. The response was overwhelmingly positive. So satisfying an "art" audience is rewarding. But as I said, ultimately, I get the most satisfaction out of the making of the art--in the moment and existing in the moment.

Do you have a routine when you paint? If so, what is it?

I don't have a routine when I paint. I don't believe in working everyday regardless, like some writers will say... write everyday no matter what. So I tend to work in feverish spurts.

What goes through your mind when you're not working? As you said, you don't necessarily paint everyday, so does that ever worry you? Do you ever stress about not working?

When I'm not working, I'm carefully examining things around me. It could beconsidered simply as people watching but I tend to take it a step further... like I'll imagine their lives or make up scenarios in my mind about who they are. And recently I've imagined what people look like when they're having sex... and I have to say, once you start doing that it's hard to stop. A lot of my work in the past and even now has dealt with sex. I also enjoy looking for moments of humor. Humor, however dark, definitelyhas its place in my art. It may be snide or ironic or subtle but I definitely want it there. I don't stress about not working. I can always be processing ideas and formulating thoughts. Making art for me is as much mental as it is the physical act of doing. So, I'm still somehow making art when I'm not actually making it... if that makes sense.

Actually, that makes perfect sense.

Do you have a general plan for your work? Like, do you plan on working on a certain subject matter, or do you succumb to the process and let the art create itself, in a sense? Do you ever consciously emphasize your personal style?

I don't have a set plan for my work and style is something I've noticed over the years... as my work has shifted I can still look at old work and say "I definitely did that" The way I use line is my sort of style you could say. I once read "let your style be your surprise" which is the appropriate way to think. I don't think you can just say "I'm going to paint this way". I know an artist who really wants to paint abstractly...but he has been trained as a cartoonist and his talent and excitement really is there and not in abstraction. And you can tell when you look at his abstractions... they are completely forced. The best visual art is honest art; when the artist admits to himself who he is and somehow connects with that and uses his life and experiences as a conduit to express ideas on a worldly scale.

In what areas do you think you need improvement? I'm not just talking about your technical drawing/painting skills, I'm talking about your whole approach.

As far as improvements I need to make... I need to just keep reading, painting, draw draw draw, keep eating, try to sleep, and keep having sex. My imagery, work, monetary support, inspiration, and drive will undulate and shift my whole life. And that's what excites me more than anything because I'll always make art and that art will invariably change into things I can't even predict.

Thanks for your time Wes, your Mountain Dew shipment is on it's way.


I'll have this up on the Inquisition page soon - complete with pictures and such.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Kevin over at mp3hugger just gave me the one of the best damn reviews I've ever received. His blog is really great - lots of regular updates, good writing. I'll forgive the Bright Eyes comparison.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

I just realized that I forgot to put prices on the t-shirt page: They're $9.99 for US and Canada orders and $12.99 for everyone else. Shipping is included. I also noticed that there are a few formatting issues - I'll fix those tonight.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

As promised, the t-shirts are up for sale. And for your diligent patience I offer you a new demo: What the Hell (demo). Both are brought to you by Spaten Optimator.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Tomorrow night, 4/4/06, I will have t-shirts ready for sale on this site. Sorry to those who've been waiting, hopefully the righteous coolness of the shirts will make it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Oh yeah, there's also a review at HANX, a Dutch review site. Any translators out there?
There's a very nice little review about me at Label Worthy.

Each day draws us nearer to the long-awaited LOP t-shirts. For real.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Best artist I've heard in a while: Field Notes. There's no mp3s on his site yet, but there's two here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What's new you ask? Not much. I've been splitting my already-thin time between new songs and a soundtrack for a short film. The original score used music from Last of the Mohicans - I'm having a heck of a time putting together songs that can compete with with that soundtrack. I think I'm going to have to steal my roommate's keyboard to give it a big enough sound, but it's already taking me forever. Hopefully it will be good when it's finished; if so I'll probably end up releasing it in some way.

Want a t-shirt? I'm finally ready to sell them... only my camera ran out of batteries again. Once I get a fresh charge I'll get everything posted. I promise.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Anniversary received an editor's pick over at Smother magazine.

Also I worked on a new song today. Here's the demo: No Name

Friday, March 3, 2006

I don't usually post things like this, but intrepid travel writer Rick Steves has a thoughtful and sincere essay about the perceived terrorist threat posted on his website. It echoes many of my own feelings on the subject.
There's a nice review by Jeff up at Delusions of Adequacy. I've always thought he's had the best independent music review site on the internet, and that's all the more true now that Splendid is defunct.

I've got a friend in town for a few days, but I'll post a couple new demos sometime next week.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

I'm going to renege on my promise to post all my songs on my site. My original thought was: the more songs available, the more likely that someone will hear a song they like and pass the word on. I was hoping to generate enough traffic to my site that I could eventually get signed to a label.

That's not my goal anymore. I don't want to be on a label, aside from my own (or a friend's), and thankfully the internet makes the traditional music model unnecessary. So, within a few days I will be removing a bunch of mp3s from the site. They'll still be plenty left up, more so than your average band's site, but download everything now if you haven't already done so.

I updated the site big time the other day - let me know if it looks messed up on your computer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I've got the comments thing working, but it's a little screwy. When you click on it a new page loads and the pictures don't show up for some reason. But it works, so comment away.

Bishop Allen have a great idea going - they're releasing an EP a month for all of 2006 which will lead up to their next full-length album. I might steal this idea and tweak it a bit to work with my schedule... stay tuned...

Monday, February 27, 2006

I need to learn more html; it took me a few hours to put the new version of the site together. Hope you like it.
In a few days I'll start posting interviews on this site - not inteviews I've been the subject of, but interviews I've conducted with various artists in regards to the creative process. It should be interesting; it's the kind of subject I like reading about, as opposed to the fodder that an interview usually consists of.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I finally was able to borrow my friend's battery charger so I'll get some t-shirt pics up soon. For now here's a little demo I put together last night... let me know what you think.

Navajo (demo)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Well I would have put pictures of the LOP t-shirts up if my camera hadn't run out of batteries (and I can't find the charger). So there'll be a delay, but hopefully I can get something up by the end of this weekend.

I've been in both Santa Barbara and Houston the past week, so I haven't been able to work on anything. I will try to be more productive this weekend.

Also, in a week the LOP band is going into the studio to record a demo/ep. I still don't know if the band will be called Lost on Purpose when we start playing shows, but if not it will still be a close cousin to LOP.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Anniversary has been named one of the best netlabel releases of 2005 by some Italian site/blog. I'm not sure how many netlabels there are, so this might not be a big deal, but I intend to use this as an excuse to drink heavily tonight.

If you can speak Italian, check it out: http://www.movimenta.com/netlabels/bestof05.html

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Work has begun on the new EP, Out of Sheerest Frustration, which will be released on Agriculture Records. I have no other details at the moment, but it will happen sooner rather than later.

Also, I've discovered an ancient scroll containing information on DIY screen printing. As a result, Lost on Purpose t-shirts now exist. I'll get some photos up soon, they're pretty cool.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Inactivity is stifling. I think I'm going to post a handful of demos within a week or so to clear my head. I've actually been writing a ton lately; I've got my hand in a few fires so I'm interested in seeing what develops.

Does anyone else use last.fm? It's another one of those music aggregators (like gnoosic), only it's very sophisticated. You actually download a plugin for winamp or media player or whatever you use, and it sends song info to the last.fm servers. Once you listen to enough music you get 'neighbors' who are into the same stuff as you and the program is able to make suggestions as to what else you might like. For all I know I'm the last person to know about this, so sorry if you wasted your time reading this paragraph.

My only New Year's resolution is to write more often in this news section.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Do yourself a favor and visit PaulMusgrave.com. Read. Enjoy.

Friday, January 6, 2006

I just stumbled across a super cool site called Gnoosic. It's one of those little programs you've heard about where you type in what you like (in this case, three bands) and it spits out names of bands you might like. The answers are all based on the bands that other people have inputed since the site's creation. It's a lot of fun to play around with. Of course, I would appreciate it if everyone would enter Lost on Purpose at least once, but I'm not gonna twist your arm.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Wow, it's almost been a month since my last post. What's happened since then...

I went home to Ohio for the holidays.

Not much else.

I had a good sports week while in Ohio: I saw the Cavs beat Chicago, then I watched them beat the (formerly) 24-3 Detriot Pistons on TV, the Browns beat arch-nemesis Baltimore (I'll ignore the previous week's beat down handed out by former arch-nemesis Pittsburgh), and Ohio State won big over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl (best game of the week). I know a lot of you music lovers care about sports. Really.

I've also mailed out a bunch of copies of the new CD to reviewers, radio stations, labels etc, so it will be a good 6 months before I hear anything from them.

I have a short soundtrack to work on for the time being (for a super top secret project), but without promising anything, I think there will be more music coming to the site in the next few months.