Need help from those of you that sell art and/or merch using fulfillment services. (𝘢.𝘬.𝘢. The return of A-Maze Mugs & more?)


So, Ci3 closed up shop… and with it went A-Maze Mugs. Not sure that any were actually sold anyway? I know I have 2 prototypes and we did work up art for the box. I posted about them a few times. I also did a (very) poorly recorded jingle.

I feel like I just sit on all my maze art, while others are able to monetize their art projects. This is me reaching out for advice from my creative peeps.

I know there are no-money-up-front printing/fulfillment services. Does anyone have good (or really bad) experiences with any of those? I clicked a link on one, and 30 are showing up in my FB ad feeds. Are any more reputable/profitable/flexible than the others?

Even better, does anyone local do printing & fulfillment services, like Commonwealth Press?

Would it be worth it to save & invest some money into it?

I would like to put my mazes on all kinds of stuff. I get likes on my mazes on Instagram. Occasionally someone sends me a solution. Maybe T-shirts would be useless… unless you had one on the back and wanted someone to complete it as a sort of massage? Ha ha.

Tiles may be interesting. The socks that Mike worked up were super cool! Mugs seem to be out but those new stainless steel tumblers are in. Maybe a beer stein? Maybe just a book of mazes? My thing though, is most of my stuff has no theme. They’re just mazes. I have a TON drawn. They just need scanned & maybe cleaned up a bit.

I’m not looking to get rich, but creativity funding more creativity never hurts. Right?

These look like a fun product IMHO, anyway. Finding someone to ship a mug and a dry erase marker AND do the printing may be tough?

The 4 initial maze mugs maze ideas.

I’m open to any and all suggestions and solutions. I feel like I’m just sitting on these, have been for years, and should be doing something with them.

Spalding Responds. Sort of.


I mean, at least they pretended to care. My review finally went live on Amazon. Wonder if anyone will find it helpful?

Got this seemingly automatically generated super polite “thanks, but go [fornicate] yourself” email:

Politely worded, no further need for follow up on their end. Bravo.

I also reached out via FB Messenger and DM on Twitter. Got this through Facebook, nothing from Twitter:

Shenanigans abound.

Did anyone actually try this? Assembling a Spalding basketball hoop according to the instructions. 🏀🤬


The kids have shown a commitment to their respective basketball teams over the years, so it was time for a significant upgrade in height and backboard size.

We bought a Spalding Ultimate Hybrid® 60″ Performance Acrylic Portable Basketball Hoop off of Amazon.

So, following is my review that should eventually go live on Amazon. I thought you may get a kick out of it.

🏀 This is a sturdy stylish basketball hoop. It is the described height and backboard size. The delivery was courteous and professional despite the dilapidated box. 🏀

That concludes the positive portion of my review. Putting this together was an exercise in patience & mental fortitude, and I failed. I mean, is it together now? Yes. Did it take much longer than it needed to? Yes. Am I, perhaps, just an idiot that can’t follow instructions? I doubt it, because every piece of furniture or children’s toy that I have purchased from the late 1900′ s to now has involved my dumb☆$$ assembling it. My resume includes, cabinets, beds, desks, dining room sets, shelves, dressers, Batcaves, a Kid Kraft Kitchen, doll furniture, the TMNT lair, Barbie’s dream house, and even an outdoor swingset treehouse thing. I have gotten pretty good. I even build LEGO as a hobby. I can follow instructions. I am quite familiar with my local Harbor Freight and Home Depot stores. I have some power tools and I know how to use them. 🔧🔨🪛🗜🚧

This manual had to have been written by someone that has never seen a basketball, a bolt, a screwdriver, or assembled anything. The frustration therein is compounded by the fact that the packaging was obtuse and the instructions at times were actually absurd.

I’m not even sure where to begin. Most furniture to be assembled has the packaging that directly labels the parts. Maybe stickers, maybe it’s stamped, maybe there is a cardboard backing to a pack numbering or lettering each bolt.

Here, we had none of that. They seemingly came in packs to facilitate the process, labeled 1B, 2B, 3B, etc. The book calls the packs Kit 2, Kit 2, Kit 3, etc. and of course the numbers do not correspond. The first bit that was maddening is that the #60 bolt from the first pack was one of the last bolts used. I found no discernable rhyme or reason to the contents relationship in packaging to each other at some points.

The backboard parts list shows an ¹¹/₆₄ drill bit. We’ll get to that in a bit (𝘱𝘶𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘥).

The list of tools required did include sand, a garden hose, a sawhorse, a “scrap wood board,” and “2 capable adults.” While we won’t pause to question if the authors at Spalding were calling me and my wife tools, I will ask you to note the distinct lack of a drill in the tool list.

The first indication that this whole project was, as the young people say “shady AF,” was the fact that to assemble the main pole, I had to measure and mark 3½” down from the top of 2 of the 3 pieces. There was no pencil, chalk, crayon or Sharpie mentioned in the tool list. OK. I have a pencil & a tape measure. The next step was the head-scratcher. The actual instructions are to jam the tubes together and 𝗯𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 (on top of your scrap of wood) until they’re properly seated at the mark you hopefully measured correctly and marked, perhaps scratching with the drill bit?

I mean, this could have been made exponentially easier and fail-proof by maybe marking it at the factory, or having the joints fitted and maybe lock together with a pin or bolt? I mean, the Christmas tree people have had that figured out since what, the 50’s or 60’s?

Throughout the process, I was repeatedly measuring the bolts… because while it said things like #18 or #12, nothing on the bolt or packaging indicated that number.

After most of the assembly, it was time to attach to board pads/edge guards to the backboard. There were no holes in the frame around the backboard for this. Odd. They did, however, include self-tapping screws and suggested that you try to use a ⁵/₁₆” socket wrench to break though the metal frame. 🤣 Here is the first time a portable drill is mentioned. It doesn’t even note using the inexplicably included drill bit, that conveniently is the exact right size. I know I didn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes there, but I did manage to figure that one out.

The rest of the assemble went as expected. I did get a sawhorse/work bench thing out of the deal from Harbor Freight. I mean, it was in the list, so I 𝘩𝘢𝘥 to get it, right?

I will say I made a layman’s error in building that I had to rectify after the initial assembly. When I attached to lower elevator tubes to the backboard brackets, I neglected to be sure that I had went through the screw-jack, and only went through the sleeve. You can imagine my f̶i̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶l̶a̶u̶g̶h̶t̶e̶r̶ absolute fury at discovering my error. 🤬 This, my friends, was all on me.

At the end, I had to literally use a tape measure to check hoop height. It does indeed go above 10′. I suspect that you expect me to measure the heights of the hoop to match of all the provided poorly-screened stickers and place them neatly on the screw-jack to be displayed by the conveniently placed hole in the sleeve at each of the 6 suggested settings? For what I paid for the hoop… those increments should have been stamped into or printed on the screw jack already. This takes me back to the argument that there is probably a better way to build the main tube for more efficient assembly.

If you, dear potential purchaser, have stayed with me this long, then you are brave, resilient, persistent and you may just be a masochist. If you have read all of this and still add it to your cart without selecting professional assembly, then may whatever higher power you ascribe to have mercy on your soul.

I may even email the address in the manual, and try to reach out directly to Spalding somehow either via email or social media.

I don’t want or need anything, other than for them to re-think their entire process.

Oh well. I am off to play basketball, poorly.

You don’t park here, do you?


I generally always park far out in a parking lot. I purposely like a bugger space. I back in or pull-through.

Just sayin’.

If I’m the white car, and you’re a red X, you suck. Am I alone in this?

I also hate it when there are 10 gas pumps, 9 are free, and someone pulls into the opposite side of the same one as me.

Tell me you’re not one of these people.

Cargo Shorts: Uniform of the Useful


Recently, while camping at a local Jellystone with the family (awesome for young kids, by the way!), it occurred to me just how awesome cargo shorts are. Luckily I have a fashion sense unfettered by current trends, or perhaps a complete lack thereof. Why are they so vilified?

My cargo shorts were the hero of the day for a Saturday camping adventure.

My shorts in the course of the day, at one point for quite some time, contained all of the following…

  1. Car keys
  2. Cabin key
  3. Wallet
  4. Cell phone
  5. Wife’s cell phone
  6. Wife’s lip balm
  7. 4 golf balls from Putt Putt that we need to return for a refund across the camp.
  8. The contents of one “fossil” mining sluice bag.
  9. The contents of one “gem” mining sluice bag.
  10. Tummy medicine.
  11. Campground map.
  12. Multi-Tool pocket knife thing:
    • Plyers
    • Cutters/Strippers
    • Knife
    • Saw
    • Ruler
    • Phillips-Head Screwdriver
    • Flat-Head screw driver
    • Can-opener
    • Other Can-opener
    • File
  13. Epi-Pen.

Tell me that’s not awesome. See the above FB post from my friend Dave, and the photo of backpack shorts found from the bowels of social media? Perhaps that is the only possible evolution to something more useful. Are you brave enough to try?

So, cargo shorts dad, or just cargo shorts man… you continue being you. Cargo shorts mom or cargo shorts woman? You be you too! Fashion will circle back around. Or not. Who cares? We stand the test of time.

I also wear high-top Chuck Taylor All Stars with shorts, which my wife erroneously and hilariously thinks is a faux pas. I mean, what?

I have also noticed that socks with Crocs is a thing. I got into Crocs almost like I imagine someone succumbs to an addiction. I thought they were dumb. I got some for creek shoes at camp. They were really comfortable. I got some fur-lined ones for slippers at home. I wore the regular ones into the yard to garden. I wear them to cut grass, take out the dog, take out the trash. I wore them for a quick run to Rite Aid. Wore them for a longer run to Giant Eagle. Wore them with socks while gardening or mowing the lawn to keep the dirt from getting in between my toes. Will I be wearing Crocs in socks to the kids’ school and sports activities soon?

Tell me in the comments what you store in your cargo shorts. What should I be keeping in mine? I didn’t even get into how different shades of camo PERFECTLY compliment my band T-shirts and Star Wars or Batman T-shirts.

You probably shouldn’t take fashion advice from a guy with lambchop sideburns anyway.

SPAMP+ :|. ¼” Stereo to Mono Adapter Cable!


So, remember the SPAMP+? It was a ton of fun. I wrote to ask the SpampMAN if I could get a ¼” stere-to-mono adapter for the headphone jack to make the headphone jack essentially an “out” for a guitar amp so I could use the Spamp+ as an effect or pre-amp.

Dude is solid, and sent me one! He may include it as an option with future builds! The grilled, chilled, & fried all work as you would expect and sound gorgeous coming through my Blues Jr.

Here I used my New York Pro StarGazer (with GFS Lil’ Killer Rails) into the SPAMP, then my Fender Blues Jr. The tones are still awesome! the volume differences are there, but if you pick one & go that rally shouldn’t be a problem. This is totally cool as a pre-amp effect! There’s no on-off, but I do have an A/B/Y switch that I could maybe use to put it in & out of the loop. At any rate, this is still super fun, and that’s what it’s all about!

I would say this cable is a resounding success!

Check out the Spamp page and Spamp Etsy Shop!

Smoked BBQ Burgers 🍔


My son & I made some smoked BBQ burgers. Thought I would blog it so I can refer back.

🍔

Used lump charcoal on a side smoker-box attachment on my Char-Griller grill, & a mix of wood chips – some Jack Daniels oak barrel ones and an apple/hickory/oak mix. I just put the chips in a foil tray on that grate, I don’t have a box for the

The burgers were just Ground beef, a few drops of A1, some Rib Rack Honey BBQ sauce, McCormick Grill Mates barbecue seasoning, onion powder, minced garlic, French’s crispy fried onions, & some chopped up slices of Gouda cheese.

Little dude helped prep the starter chimney for the grill, and mix the burgers, make some patties & check the temperature.

Tried to keep it at 250° for about an hour,

went up a few times so we played with the vents to get it right.

Slathered on some BBQ sauce at the end for a little less than 10 minutes.

The buns, which I should do on the propane side of the grill next time…

Melted some butter & garlic in rhe microwave, brushed it on the buns, put them in the oven at 375° on a pan with a roasting rack for a few minutes to toast them… pulled them put and added BBQ sauce to the bottom and a slice of Gouda and some more French’s onions to the top… toasted until the cheese was starting to melt & the onions got a little more toasty.

Not a bad dinner! It tasted like a Rack of ribs on a bun and the burgers were really juicy. It almost tasted like a rack of ribs or some brisket on a bun.

🍔

So, how do you do your burgers on the smoker? I did get advise to sear, but skipped that as they seemed done & pretty together when I checked them. Any special recipes outside of the normal? We do a mushroom and swiss melt with these onions too… sometimes I make a molten cheese ball on the inside… from regular grilling to the counter-top grill. We try to make them different that what you typically get out. I have been known to do pizza or chili cheese burgers too… but we are definitely coming back to these and trying more styles in the smoker. Maybe a bacon/cheddar/jalapeño one next?

Jamming with the Spamp+ right out of the box.


I always forget to post YouTube videos here. Here I am, reminded, and on a New Gear Day!

Got a new fun little toy, and ran it through some paces.

I ran a few of my guitars into the Spamp+ to see what’s up. Check them out: https://spamp.com & https://www.etsy.com/shop/SpampMusic

I dimed the SPICE and HEAT knobs, but left TASTE at 12:00. Why? I always dime all the knobs. I like gain and dirt and punk rock. I ran each guitar through the CHILLED, FRIED, and GRILLED settings.

I like FRIED and GRILLED, but there was a noticeable volume drop with Grilled with all the guitars/pickups. This is a super fun little amp. I may get the normal one to use as a distortion pedal… as I don’t think this headphone out is suitable to run to an amp.

I will eventually get to using a 9V & rocking the headphones. This was plugged into a 9v power supply for the video.

I did test a 9V in it, and it had the same volume drop to GRILLED. Of course I used the oil can guitar in the Spam can amp first.

The guitars…

❶ Bohemian Moonshine 🎸 https://www.instagram.com/p/B_gCZ35Dz4_/

❷ New York Pro Stargazer 🎸 https://wp.me/pwqzc-1qP 🤘 https://www.instagram.com/p/B_OMXvwjDxa/

❸ Indy Custom FlyCaster 🎸 https://wp.me/pwqzc-2z4

❹ No Name LP Copy 🎸 https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Vs6BtDLFv/

❺ Russ Lorenz Shitar 🎸 https://wp.me/pwqzc-2AJ

❻ BC Rich Dagger 🎸 https://www.instagram.com/p/B_QfM3TDnZm/

You can see what kinds of pickups they have and if not just ask me in the comments. You get single coils, humbucker/single split, lipstick, humbuckers, hot rails, and P-90-ish ones. I think the SPAMP+ sounds absolutely killer with the P90’s.

I try not to ruin my guitar/gear videos with talking.

Should I explain things for the 3 of you that watch? Lemme know what you think. Do I need the one that acts as a pedal?

Send me a pedal and I will demo it with all the knobs or almost all the knobs dimed.

Spamp+ Mini Practice/Headphone guitar amplifier.
Spamp+

@ me on teh social medias:

The Pedal Itch.


So, we all know I have a thing for guitars. I like ’em weird and I like ’em cheap. Anyone who plays & reads about guitars on the internet knows about the reality of G.A.S. and all its warning signs.

The Falcondrive guitar pedal from Rude Tech & Eaglebones Falconhawk (Ian Fowles) of The Aquabats!
Rude Tech Falcondrive

I only have a few pedals. I mean, I could always use more. Right? I think the Falcondrive sparked this most recent attack. Eaglebones Falconhawk is the renowned stringman and Fender aficionado of the insanely fun band, The Aquabats!

It’s overdrive and distortion all in one… and I like all kinds of noise. I like high gain, overdrive, distortion, chorus, fuzz… all of it.

Eaglebones sounds great, and he’s a killer player… this takes two of his older beloved modified pedals and combines them all into one package. What’s not to dig about it?

Yeah. That got my interest piqued. Then between AliExpress and Amazon, I ended up in a cheap-ass pedal deep dive. I love cheap gear. But not garbage. We’ll say inexpensive gear.

Mooer E7 | Mooer Pitch Box
RudeTech Falcondrive | Flamma FC01 Drum Loop

How do the algorithms know? They’re listening. They’re reading. They’re watching. They’re pressuring.

I have sort of always been looking at an EHX B9 or the Earthquaker Organizer (or the EHX C9, Bass9, Key9. or Synth9 really). Honestly though, let’s face it; Most of my guitars cost as much as or less than these inarguably awesome quality pedals.

I found a super cheap and entirely crappy sounding sort of competitor online, then I found a slightly less crappy but seemingly more useful competitor online… still also pretty damn cheap.

Obi Wan, doing the thing.  👋
“You want to buy the pedals.”

Behold the Aural Dream Organ Synthesis B & Organ Synthesis A. They sound like hot buttered ass.

That though, somehow led me to this, which does not sound super terrible: The Mooer E7 Synth. It is not quite as expensive as the big boys, but also doesn’t sound like a dying sound card from a Commodore 64. (Arguably, even that could be a valid fun sound to chase… but if you’re not going for that, then you probably don’t want it by accident.)

Why do I want a synth pedal? Because, for years when playing out in bands, one of the songs I always dug covering was “Cool Kids” by Screeching Weasel. It has two super short keyboard parts that I always just played on the guitar. I would be immensely amused by the 3½ seconds of satisfaction that would provide.

That’s how G.A.S. works, right?

That led me to the Mooer Pitch Box. I don’t even need a pitch box, but is sure sounds cool. And it’s cheap. Damnit. That just led me to the even cheaper VSN Harmonizer. And a drummer pedal! The struggle is real. The pedals have gained sentience and are conspiring.

Then, I found the Flamma FS01 Drum Loop, which looks like ridiculous amounts of fun.

Then there are the other pedals that I can’t forget. I love my Orange Micro Terror. Apparently they make it as a pedal now, The Terror Stamp. I use an A/B/Y sometimes to play through both the Micro Terror and the Fender Blues Jr. at once. It would be fun to Orange-up the Blues Jr., or to play the Terror Stamp into the Micro Terror to make the Orange even more Orange.

Gorilla TC-35 Tube Crunch guitar amplifier.

That got me to seeing about the recent Acorn Amps Solid State pedal made to emulate an old Peavy Decade amp made famous by Josh Homme. That made me nostalgic for my first amp, the Gorilla TC-35. It had a “Tube Crunch” knob, but no tubes. After I got a larger amp to be in a band setting… we used to use it as a PA at AiXeLsyD practice, and I think even at some living room and basement shows.

Gorilla Amps Logo

Is it possible to make into a pedal? I don’t have the skills. I have a soldering iron, but I am no good with it. I used to do drafting in high school, but I am lost on the schematics for electronics. It looks like at least two people have made the combo into a head (…OK, one was for bass). A schematic exists online. Someone even has a circuit board which emulates the circuits for the amp, but is small enough to fit in a pedal. Why make a $200 pedal for a $50 amp? Yes. Why? Also, why not?

I wrote all of that, and still don’t know the point. To relieve G.A.S.? I would guess it should only serve to exacerbate it.

My current guitar effects pedals:

Quinnamp Dirt & Ernie
DigiTech Trio
DigiTech FX3X
Planet Waves PW-CT-04
Ammoon Pock Loop
LiveWire Solutions ABY Box
Ernie Ball Wah
YesFX

I mean, I do have a few pedals. They’re not even on a board. I had them on the cut-off bottom of a milk crate, but then I wanted to remove one. They are fun, and they do indeed do things.

This, hive mind, is where I need your help. Do I want more pedals? Yes. Do I need more pedals? Also, yes. They are sure to spark creativity. Use your wisdom to teach me. Can anyone build me a TC-35 pedal? I can get my wife to Cricut the logo in vinyl! Ha ha. Which pedals should I go for? What would you go for? I’m looking for those people experienced with these cheap pedals all over the internet. Send me your thoughts, reviews, & opinions!

#OKBoom a.k.a. #PGHBoom


On New Year’s Day at approx. 11:25 AM or 11:26 AM EST, there was a sonic boom in Allegheny County or Washington County Pennsylvania.

Immediately, Yinzers took to social media to ask what was going on. Some armchair experts already had all the answers.

The first link shared was from a website called Volcano Discovery. It posts user reported incidents before they’re certified as seismic events before the USGS. At least it’s a url right? It’s on the internet. It must be true.

The next thing that circulated was a phone screenshot of a news story from 2010 about detonating munitions at the airport. The date was left out. No link. Just a screenshot. I saw it all over the place.

Then, the meteor theory started to come out. A blip on an image from a satellite meant to detect lightning showed a flash in an area with no discernable storm systems. A known asteroid being close by for a meteor shower to peak in our area on Jan. 3rd, my be related. I read somewhere but can’t find it now that a chunk of the asteroid most likely entered our atmosphere (now a meteor) at twice the speed of sound, and burned up… resulting in the sonic boom & shockwave.

Yinzers on social media immediately forgot elementary school science class, put on their tinfoil hats, and stated emphatically that there was no flash or no crater, so it could not have been a meteor… therefore had to be anything from top secret military testing of airplanes, to subterranean bomb testing, to nefarious manufacturing at any number of local industrial businesses, to fracking, to gas buildup in mines, to extraterrestrials, fireworks (Yinzers do love their fireworks), and of course… to flatulence related to consumption of the Pennsylvania Dutch classic Pork & Sauerkraut dish as is new year’s tradition. So many fart jokes. Some blamed themselves, some blamed their significant others, one even blamed a cat.

I’ll give you a skyquake or guns of the seneca as also unexplained phenomena (that also may be this same exact thing).

I am fascinated by the videos that people shared form their Ring/Blink/Nest/etc. It sounds like the footsteps of Godzilla. (Mad props to Foley artists everywhere!)

I’m also sort of mad that I didn’t notice it. I was apparently at Sheetz at the time. Good to know I will not see any cataclysmic apocalypse coming. I’ll be taken out before I even know what happened.

Thanks to all the credible sources that reported on this and pieced it together. Thanks to the people who shared video. Thanks to the Illumi-nutty for the wild baseless yet endlessly entertaining fart jokes speculation.

If you want to go down the rabbit hole, let me at least turn on the lights…

Then, these… These are the greatest minds of our time speculating:

I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg too.

(To be fair this is the kind of shit I post on local FB groups and Nextdoor.)

Happy New Year!

Marked Safe From Loud Boom in Allegheny County