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.

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!

Smokin’ Spare Ribs 🍖 (3·2·1 Style)


So, recently I got a smoker attachment for my Char-Griller grill as a gift for Father’s Day. I tried it out today and the results we fantastic. I hit up the Google machine and some non-BBQ-ing Facebook groups for advice, tips, & tricks. (I imagine that they are as intense as guitar groups and I am just not ready yet.) I kept getting advice on the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs. There are many variations of that technique. I think it went well. I tracked my progress with the #AiXeLsyDBBQ hashtag. Maybe I’ll do some more next time.

The quick and dirty of this method is…

  1. Get your coals to 225°-ish. (I used a chimney to avoid lighter fluid and it was awesome.) I added some wood chunks in the chimney, and on top once I spread on the coals. I did not soak the wood, but I may next time. Control the temp with your vents. Open a bit warms it up, closed cools it off… all because of airflow.
  2. Remove the silverskin, and put a nice rub on the ribs. I used one from the section of Walmart by all the grilling stuff.
  3. Put the ribs in the grill part if you have an attachment, or not on the heat for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the ribs out, wrap in heavy duty grilling foil, add some apple cider, apple juice, vinegar, pop, or whatever. I added some Straub. Unfortunately I made 2 racks and used the whole bottle, so I drank one myself.
  5. Put them in for 2 hours, smoking really isn’t necessary at this point if your wanna save your chunks or chips.
  6. Pull them out and unwrap them. I should have saved the drippings for the barbecue sauce on the side, but I did not. Shame on me. Do that.
  7. Sauce those ribs up. Liberally. Like, and obscene amount.
  8. Put them back on for 1 hour. (3-2-1… get it? Guys! They said the thing!)
  9. Always check with a thermometer for done-ness. They should be pretty damn done at this point, arguably overdone.
  10. EAT.

I know fall-off-the-bone isn’t competition style. A bone did pull right out of one rack, but the meat was in tact, not falling completely apart. I know the foil wrapping bit is then steaming not smoking… but, rules are made to be broken and a healthy dose of anarchy warms my little punk rock heart.

I would definitely do the ribs like this again. I may try a homemade sauce. This was pretty basic store-brand stuff from Shop ‘n Save with some dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, and Straub American Amber Lager. I may try different chips, or a smoker box, or to soak the wood. I even read some people eschew charcoal in favor of all wood once the fire is going.

I also threw on some baked potatoes, turkey legs, grilled veggies, and sauce on the attached burner.

Can’t wait to try out a turkey, pork loin, brisket, and whatever else I haven’t thought of. Mac n’ cheese? Jalapeño poppers? Meatloaf? Bacon?

What do you do in the smoker? What are your go to foods? Got any tips & tricks worth sharing? Do you click the tongs twice or three times? Before, during, or after?

Any excuse to drink beer and play with fire all day is a good excuse to me. Plus, the family was awed by my hereto unknown skills with smoked meats.

What music are you playing while you’re grilling or smoking?

This is the full adventure as told via Instagram:

New pickups for the Annihilator!


This is a copy of the Annihilator guitar developed by Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein and his brother Jerry Only of the legendary horror punk band, the Misfits.

Annihilator copy from AliExpress - A copy of the infamous guitars of Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein.

I ordered it from AliExpress. It seems to be a copy of the Oktober version. I think Jerry & Doyle originally worked with Rand to build the guitars… then Oktober made a run but Doyle has publicly and often decried their quality. Word on the street is that Dean will be making a production model. Doyle’s have been made from wood, graphite, and metal… with bolt-on sides since he can be a bit rough on them.

I had my go-to guitar guru (the inimitable Aaron Hutzel of Empire Music) recently do a setup and drop-in some Dragonfire Crusaders humbuckers. It sounds glorious through my Orange Micro Terror & a Laney 2×12 cab.

Here is a video of me playing it:

Here’s a short version of the video with annoying filters and stickers on TikTok:

I love it. I know its not “real.” I know it’s ridiculous. It’s fun. I’m too punk rock and too old to care what anyone thinks of the look, legitimacy, or irony of it all. Ha ha.

You can read about my first impressions here: My Guitars | The Annihilator Guitar

You can get one here if you have mad patience and expectations that match the sub-$200 price point: $189.0 US | Factory custom unusual shape Bat body Electric Guitar with Rosewood Fretboard, Bat inlay, Black Hardware, offer customized

Check out Empire Music if you want to see some really nice high-end Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor, & more guitars. Check out some of Aaron’s work on his Instagram, he gets to see some beautiful axes! If you’re in or around Pittsburgh, I highly recommend him for all your guitar repair, revision, and setup needs.

Check out a bunch of my weird guitars here on the blog and here on my playlist:

I may eventually set up a website just to catalog/showcase my collection. I have it, I just need to populate it. Would anyone be interested in that, or just me?

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱


This year, I had some big help in the garden! These two have been gardening since they could walk, and I think they’re enjoying it and really getting the hang of it.

The kids have their own YouTube channel now, with a little hep from some old guy that blogs occasionally. Check out their gardening how-to:

I also made a map, and decided to make a chart of the suggested harvest dates on the tags just to see how accurate they are. I have been gardening since I can remember, and don’t know if I ever paid attention to that. We just picked stuff whenever it appeared & ripened.

Garden Map & Harvest Dates 2021

We made sure to get all the tags & try to document it all. The kids are loving math & science, so why not incorporate it into the garden? We can see if the harvest dates noted on the tags are anywhere near when the plants are actually ready.

I’m excited to see how it turns out! And, yeah, we got some more jalapeño since they liked it last year… and this time we’re trying some poblano too!

Whoa, Instagram is a trip down memory lane with these kids and gardening!

Get an A-Maze Mug! c[_]


Hey, we talked about it before… No one, not two, but three times.

It’s finally here! Get an A-Maze Mug from Ci3! How cool is that? Each mug comes with a dry-erase marker so you can solve the maze, both in a nifty box covered in mazes!

A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13
A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13

More cool maze-related merch coming soon. What else would you like to see? Socks? Masks? T-shirts? Books? Puzzles? Mirrors? Tiles?

I haven’t ever done anything to make my mazes available for any kind of sale, so this is exciting to me. What do you think?

I am eternally grateful to Mike Copen for the nudge and the opportunity. It’s so cool for artists, designers, entrepreneurs, & creative types to support each other.

Of course, I think they’d make great gifts for friends, family, teachers, co-workers, or even anyone that may be hard to buy for. Who doesn’t like a nice warm beverage? Solving the maze with the dry erase marker is a good opportunity to kind of zone out in a zen-like state, to help you regain focus to start the day or even decompress at the end of a long day! I know that’s the drive behind drawing them.

These would be great for coffee, tea, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, ramen, or one of my soup recipes.

Please, share the link if you’re so inclined. I’d like to see how far these can go. Thanks in advance if you plan on making a purchase!

Merry Christmas 2020 – From the Carroll Family!


Our church put out a call for video submissions for the Christmas Eve streaming service. Here is what we contributed.

I threw it together into one video and added some cheesy effects and titles.

This is…

  • The Christmas Carrolls performing “Away in a Manger”
  • Molly reading The First Christmas Night by Keith Christopher
  • Ian doing some prayers on the fly – take 1 & take 2. (We only sent take 2 to the church.)

Check out live & archived videos from the church here: https://www.facebook.com/hillschurchexport/live

Finally set up a place to rock.


I finally got a permanent place set up to rock. All my guitars, ukes, amps, pedals, and even an electric kazoo are easy to quickly access and just start rocking when inspiration hits.

AiXeLsyD13's Guitar Room
Axetopia? CBGB’s (Carroll’s Big Guitar Bunker)? The Guitarmory?

I have talked about it, or even blogged about it for years.

It still needs a name. I haven’t officially decided. I have been calling it “the music room” or “the guitar room.” Both of those seem boring. Maybe this? I find it amusing but clunky.

I may make some videos of guitar shenanigans as a creative outlet. Not sure what direction they’ll take. I’m not a particularly good or technical player, but I can demo some gear or do some fun silly stuff. I do already have a YouTube playlist started for my guitar-related videos.

The Postitive Grid Spark amp & app have really made jamming quick and fun… they have a cool in-app video feature, but it’s not much different than recording straight-up with the phone’s camera.

I have been having a blast playing along to stuff on YouTube… from stuff from my old bands, to Black Sabbath, to Snuff, to the Ramones, and my new favorite song to play along to; “Bigger than Kiss” by Teenage Bottlerocket.

More setup inspires more setup. I need a way to store my physical media (mostly CD’s) so it’s easily accessible. I have a lot. Too many probably. I need to build some shelves and the stuff I’m finding online seems painfully expensive and not quite a fit. And I’d like to dump that all on a personal media server. I have a lot of stuff not available on Amazon or Spotify.

The next itch I can already feel will need scratching is some kind of recording setup. I’d like to layer stuff I can hear in my head, without the aid of a looper. I miss the days of a Tascam 4-track with a cassette tape. Maybe I’ll delve into a nice simple digital version of that.

The kids have guitars, ukes, and a keyboard too… and now we almost need drums and a bass or too, right?

At any rate… it’s important to have a creative outlet. Live isn’t conducive to me jamming regularly with a band right now. I only seem to do mazes when the inspiration hits, and I blog pretty randomly. Music is one more option for expression, creativity, and constant learning/exploring. I hope to foster the kids’ musical expression and drive home how important it is to remain creative themselves and appreciative of art in general.

Keep watching the blog, social media, and YouTube if you’re interested in the musical stuff.

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Train your miscreants young.

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Making progress.

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Gonna need more walls.

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👽

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Green LED's! #AllMyAxes

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'MURICA. 🇺🇸🎸🤘 #SparkAmp

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So, I’ll take your suggestions in the comments!

  • What should I officially call the axe-cave?
  • Where can I get cheap media shelves for over 1500 CD’s & other assorted media?
  • What do you want to see in guitar videos?
  • What’s a good cheap recording solution?

Share your space to create in the comments too!

MazeMugs? A-Maze Mug? Something else? Ci3 & I need your feedback.


Mike Copen of Ci3 Sublimation had the idea to put one of my mazes on to a mug, and I agreed that it would indeed be fun. We need your feedback to help make this something that people may be interested in buying?

Here are some images that Mike worked up;

Do you like the names? Feel free to comment your own.

☕✍

I would also appreciate comments here on this blog post, or on my social media posts;

You can comment below without needing to login to WordPress. I believe it will let you comment via Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail logins among others.

We have gotten some great feedback so far, and I dig it!

I really appreciate Mike helping take my mazes to something other than doodles on paper piling up here at the house, or floating out there in the cyberspace ether unnoticed.  Ha ha.  I am unable to determine the correct path on how to go about making a book and if there would even be an audience for just mazes.  I’m really not into making a theme other than “here are some mazes” outside the occasional inspiration for something else that’s goofy(Or on something that’s goofy.)

Maze Mugs (or A-Maze Mugs?) Possibly Coming Soon!


My friend Mike is helping make my mazes a bit more interesting!  This is a prototype.  Please, let us know what you think!

Check out Ci3 Sublimation on Big Cartel and Etsy for all kinds of cool products from Mike.

I think you know you can find my mazes here.

Would you like a maze mug?  Would you like a maze on anything else?  I think the dry-erase thing is super cool.