Digital Media vs.Physical Media.


The other day I posted a Facebook status, and wanted to expand upon it here.  This is what I said:

I get that digital & cloud media are the next step. I get that ALMOST everything is available for streaming as part of a service. Anyone else weirded out by it? Some stuff… obscure or whatever just isn’t available for streaming. What happens when the companies close or the cloud’s redundant services fail? What happens if someone buys the rights to streaming movies, just to keep them from the public? What if censorship goes out of control and some committee decided certain movies are no longer available? Will they all be lost forever because no one will have physical copies? Don’t say it can’t happen… it has in the past with books.

It sparked a discussion.  Not too long after I posted that, Amazon posted this:

Announcing AutoRip from Amazon MP3: Buy an AutoRip CD and instantly get the MP3 version for FREE. Learn more: http://amzn.to/VMhFaJ

I of course shared it, and it sparked a tiny bit more discussion.

English: Photograph of Roku XDS player with re...

Photograph of Roku XDS player with remote. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like the idea of digital music & cloud storage.  I just purchased a 3TB drive, and in addition to other uses, hope to eventually rip all of my CD’s & put them on there so I can set it up to listen to all of my stuff from any browser anywhere.  Well, after I make a few decisions.

I like the idea of Digital movies & TV shows…  I love having Netflix‘s library available in an instant.  I love being able to watch a movie from Netflix or rent a digital movie from Amazon through the Blu-ray player.

I like the idea of Pandora or Google Play where there’s streaming music there in an instant.  Pandora just disappoints because of the variety of music I listen to… a lot of smaller bands that I really dig just have a minimal or even no presence there.  Google Play at least lets you upload your own mp3’s in addition to purchasing new ones.  Amazon holds your stuff in the cloud too.  I just wish all the music that I wanted was all in one place.

I have had an older external hard drive crash.  It’s not good.  I still need to get it fixed without breaking the bank.  Anything physical can be destroyed…  CD’s & Records can melt or scratch, and not too many people have 8-Trak or even cassette players any more.

My original question is as much about content control & ownership as much as anything else.  Say you purchase a ton of music that’s in the cloud… and that company shuts down.  How do you hold on to that music?  Were you just renting it?  What happens if the parent company gets into a disagreement with the management of your favorite band and their catalog is removed from your clous storage?

Cover of "Idiocracy"

“…a time when people cared about who’s ass it was, and why it was farting!”

What if you bought the movie Idiocracy and it becomes so true to life that it’s banned?  Don’t sit back comfortably and think it can’t happen.  Books are banned all the time by different groups.  No one comes & takes all of your books… yet.  What if the banned book could be deleted from your Kindle or Nook?  All In The Family would never fly on TV now, but what if it was no longer available because of its abrasive humor?

I just feel uneasy about it.

That being said, I absolutely hate cash money.  I hardly ever have it on me.  I like swiping my card for everything.  If I could use it in parking meters and pop machines, I would.  There’s a swing back towards cash though, as credit card company fees are crushing small businesses, especially if you’re making a purchase with a low dollar amount.  Is it odd that I have no problem with my money being intangible,  but when I use to to purchase an album or a movie… I need that to be tangible?

I’d like to get a good discussion going in the comments.

Inspiration from Hoke·E·Geez (My new ‘New York Pro’ Strat copy)


So, I bought a guitar this past Saturday.  I wasn’t looking for a guitar.  This guitar was looking for me.

Hoke·E·Geez | INDOOR FLEA MARKET · CRAFTS

...and SO MUCH MORE.

Some of my extended family had rented out the lodge at our church camp for the weekend.  My cousin & I were out killing time and exploring while the ladies stayed in for their main objective; scrapbooking.  When in the area with time on my hands, a trip to Hoke·E·Geez is an absolute must.  It’s located right on Route 30 in Bedford PA by the Sheetz(Sheetz is a good bright red & yellow landmark, right?)

In what was once (perhaps obviously for people my age and older) an Ames department store, rests the one of the craziest/coolest places I have ever been.  My first trip there was in search of antiques… I collect old Coca~Cola & other glass bottles.  I had no idea what I was in for.  Hoke·E·Geez is full of …Everything. 

Stuffed Squirrel on display (& for sale!) at Hoke·E·Geez (Bedford, PA)

"Help! I'm not dead! Some redneck just stapled my nuts to this driftwood!"

It’s got crafts, antiques (from old pop bottles to the machines), furniture, a weird leather biker-jacket section, a hardware section like someone emptied a Harbor Freight in 1978 and dumped it there, of records, new stuff made to look old (think the store in Cracker Barrel), toys, tools, books, records, a section chock full of cassette tapes (mostly hair metal), musical instruments of all varieties, a stuffed squirrel that my cousin photographed with his phone, nunchucks, swords, toilets, knives, flooring, gun parts, cabinetry, pistol crossbows, stuff you’d see in a thrift store or at a garage sale, a Weinermobile pedal car, … and other scattered oddities/treasures.

Yeah, I said musical instruments.  Of course, I flock nearly immediately to the old guitars.  Hoke-E-Geez also serves as an aged acoustic graveyard.  They have several dried out yet beautiful acoustics ravaged by time & strings that pull the neck past the point of no return. They would be great as decorations, or for this…

Guiar Fail | Acoustic Guitar Recycling

Guiar Fail | Acoustic Guitar Recycling

There I Fixed It | First Smash, Then Season

There I Fixed It | First Smash, Then Season

In fact, if I ever find one for the right price, it might make a cool antique bottle shelf… with some glass shelves & a light or 2.

Back to the story at hand though…  There we are strolling through the wonderland that is Hoke·E·Geez, like a bee doing its “tell the others where the honey is” dance. We were exclaiming “Woah!”, “Look at that!”, or “What is that?” with each erratic hop to the next section.

Toy Accordion (or Button Box?)

I can already play "Iron Man" and "Happy Birthday" (very poorly).

The first beauty I spied was this toy accordion for $12 and change.  It seems ridiculous and awesome.  Maybe I’ve seen The Bloody Seamen one too many times lately.  Looking online, it seems to be a fair price… and not difficult to master. I’m not sure of the name brand.  I have no idea if it’s a Hohner, Schylling, Barcelona, First Act, or something else.  I have found a bunch online that look similar.  This doesn’t match the colors of any others exactly, and of course it has no brand/name/logo in it.  Also, it appears that I have been shorted a book.  Also, is this really an accordion, or is it just a button box?  What’s the difference?  Are the butterfly-like designs up top too girly?

The next thing of interest that I saw was this beautiful New York Pro Strat knockoff…

New York Pro - Natural Finish Strat Copy
“Psst… you, yeah you… buy me. Yeah. I know I’m not a goofy guitar, but you need me. Look at my woodgrain. It’s not fancy or elegant, it’s just ‘there’. Buy me. I probably have really crappy electronics and hardware. Buy me. I bet no one has ever heard of ‘New York Pro’ or knows where we’re made. Buy me!
New York Pro - Strat Copy

New York Pro - Strat Copy

Well, the photo to the left is the photo that I sent to my wife along with the price, asking (only half kidding) if I should buy it.  There was some other black no-name Strat copy behind it.  The body on that black POS wasn’t nearly as solid, hefty,  or well-cut.

My cousin pointed it out I believe, & remarked on the natural finish.  I was stuck drooling over the $95 price tag since the neck was straight, there were no cracks, and it was nice solid body.  This was about the time we got into a conversation with a local cat who was into weird guitars and punk rock… and actually in a punk rock band up that way.  I can’t remember the name of the band.  I need to pop stuff like that into my phone.  The guy stopped & asked if I really had an accordion in the box marked “Accordion”.  I showed it to him & he’s the one that remarked that it was a button box & not an accordion.  After talking forever about weird guitars, rocking out, and goofy venues… we moved on.  He mentioned that there were other guitars “over there” pointing to a little music store-like area within the hallowed walls of Hoke·E·Geez.

This is where we happened upon some beast, made by a local cat that goes by Merle Kegg or Merle R. Kegg.  One of his custom-built axes had the letters “M R K” on the headstock.  The first one I spotted was a doubleneck… one 6 string guitar & one mandolin neck.  Yeah.  You read that right.

Merle R. Kegg - Guitar/Mandolin Doubleneck

Merle R. Kegg - Guitar/Mandolin Doubleneck

I apologize for the horrible quality cell phone photos, but I’m sure you get the point.  I find it an odd placement for the pickups… but then again some people like that neck pickup sound.  I generally stick as close to the bridge as possible.  The custom cases are pretty cool.  Then I came upon this one…

Merle R. Kegg - White Guitar

Merle R. Kegg - White Guitar

It caught my eye, and I believe the price was only $64 or $65… but I didn’t even take it out of the case once I got a closer look.  If there was a Regretsy-like site for homemade guitars, this may top them all.  I mean, I love the shape… and I respect the intent and the labor that went into this beast, but… wow.  The placement of the bridge directly up the neck’s ass is crazy.  The pickguard looks like flooring or wall tile.  I’m hoping this cat is Amish or 97 years old or has 7 fingers total or something.  I hate to be so harsh, but when I think a guitar is ugly, we have a problem on our hands.  There was no attempt to smooth out the edges or anything… the paint is applied like it’s the side of an outdoor shed… not a guitar.  Wow.  I’d like to see more of his work, maybe these were the odd ones out.  If you know anything more about his work, please post in the comments!  There were some other cool guitars (not made by Merle), ukuleles, mandolins & other stuff in that section.

I still hadn’t received a reply from the wife.  I got the accordion, my cousin picked up a few things, and off we went.

When we got back to camp, I asked my wife if she had seen the text with the photo.  She hadn’t.  She checked it out & liked it.  She asked that if I got it I could place it on the stand in the living room instead of my Batman Logo guitar.  She liked the wood (which I have since come to learn is mahogany).  We talked it over and she suggested that I go get it.  I told her it would need new guts, but she was still behind the idea.  After lunch, my cousin went to a nearby farm to hunt coyotes, and I went back to Hoke·E·Geez to hunt that guitar.

I came back with my prize:

New York Pro - Stratocaster Copy

New York Pro - Stratocaster Copy

I also managed to stop by the Bedford Banjo Shop.  It was small but very cool and reasonably priced in there.  They had banjos, guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, & more.  They were also very friendly and quite busy.  I tried to stop by another store nearby, but they were closed as it was after 2:00pm.

I have plans for this guitar… GFS Lil Killer rail pickups, some wooden knobs, a leopard-print pickguard, black hardware (& bridge & tuners), and I guess a leopard-print strap.  As soon as I put away some money, I hope to get all this stuff & have it all set up nice & pretty.  My go-to guitar guy has been Aaron at Lawrence Music lately.  He helped set up the Batman Logo guitar… and dropped in my Seymour Duncans.

Oh what I'm gonna do to this guitar...

Oh what I'm gonna do to this guitar...

You didn’t think I’d leave it alone did you?  It needs something in order to fit in with my other guitars.

I’m still at a loss with any concrete information about the New York Pro brand.  I’m not sure if it’s pumped out of a Chinese factory that puts many different brands on the same guitars?  They do have an odd cut in the top of the headstock that seems to be on every NY Pro guitar I’ve seen online.  I’ve seen them as kit guitars, for $99, for $149.99 and for $279.95.  Maybe they’re made by Galaxy Guitars and the same as their Starfire line?  It looks like they might call it the “Galaxy New York Pro Star Gazer”.  They may be distributed by Lou Capece.  I may have to write to them for more information.

If you have any comments/stories about Hoke·E·Geez, any information about the accordion/button box, any info on that other guitar store in Bedford, any information about the New York Pro brand, or any comments/suggestions about my plans for the guitar… I’d love to hear ’em!  Please share in the comments below!

So, how do I make money at this art thing?


I’m a lazy artist.  I always have been.  I generally make art for fun, and give it away.  I made a ton of cool stuff in art class in high school and even in my time at WCCC, now I only have a fraction of it.  I’ve never had an interest in making money from any of it, perhaps because I felt it wasn’t perfect or even “good enough” to sell.  Perhaps it was because I’d feel “dirty” making money from art.  I’m also lazy in that I have a lot of ideas that don’t make it to fruition.  (You should see the AiXeLsyD and Gasoline Dion “almost” song piles… and that Yup-punk band idea…)

I also went through a phase of drawing a bunch of comic book stuff… and it was always my understanding that Marvel didn’t want me selling my Wolverine art, and DC didn’t want me to sell my Batman art.  Somehow the Airbrush guy at the mall makes money on pretty much any popular character out there.  (Exactly who’s buying white T-shirts with airbrushed Mickey Mouse and Garfield on them at a mall kiosk in 2011 is a subject of another blog.)  Is that guy bootlegging?  Is he paying royalty fees?

With the advent of sites like Etsy (and more so Regretsy), I can see now that my art is certainly acceptable for sale.  I’d like to think it’s a few grades above what’s considered acceptable for sale.  The question remains on copyrights though… I see all kinds of people selling Superman, Batman and Spider-Man stuff with images clearly ripped from elsewhere.  Not that I want to sell comic book-art, but I never know what mood will strike me.  My flyer art is mainly bastardization of existing images… so I’m sure I can’t sell any of that kind of stuff.  Again, I think I’m veering toward the subject matter of an entirely different blog.  Back to the insanity at hand…

I’ve been drawing mazes for what seems like forever.  I started them when I was a kid & was in the hospital for a while.  I remember my pediatrician saying I ought to look into getting them published.  I obviously never have.  I have through twitter found another cat on the internet who draws mazes… he sells them online & at art shows and has used LuLu to publish some books.  Is that a good avenue to explore?

I have an idea for what I think would be an amusing photo book… but how does one go into execution of such an idea?  Do I even have time for something like this?

Would I use something like deviantART to set up shop?  How do I get prints made from original artwork?  Should I settle for a Cafe Press or Zazzle store?  Ha ha.  I’d like to put photography in the mix too, eventually.  Every once in a while I capture some stuff that would look great on someone’s wall.  How do I sell the stuff online without the seller site making most of the money, or without breaking the bank in setting up a site & paying any maintenance fees while not selling anything… therefore eventually losing money?

People have also told me that I ought to get paid to write.  I must confess, I would most likely be an editor’s nightmare.  I jump tenses like hopscotch, and my grammar & typing can be quite poor… even though I can differentiate between you’re and your and the apparently difficult they’re/there/their.  (Is it just me, or do they all sound totally different if you’re pronouncing them correctly?)  If you would like to pay me to write, I will certainly take your money.

I don’t think I do well with deadlines or commissions though.  I don’t work well with others’ ideas.  I’d like to make my own mazes, drawings, paintings, photos, etc. at my own pace.  Although, I aim to be productive with art, & maybe buy some more camera accessories, or a new amp, guitar, or some other new goofy instrument or piece of equipment.  (Because I apparently can’t make any money as a musician unless I join/form a human jukebox band – and let’s face it; I’m a poor guitarist.  Ha ha.)

As you can see, I’m all over the place.  I need focus/direction.  I guess I’m just looking for advice beyond the “you should publish a book” or “you should sell your photos” or the “you should write for someone” point.  I get that, and accept that… but how?  I’m looking for specifics here.  I’d like to hear “I use such & such & it’s fantastic, and works like…” and not “I think my cousin’s uncle’s mother’s neighbor uses blah blah blah, …I think.”  Are you an artist?  How do you sell your work?  Hit me with your wisdom!

A.J. Jacobs – The Year of Living Biblically


While browsing the humor section at Borders the other day, I had more than a few books in my hands, and kept putting them back.  Then, I went over to the general reference section.  I also had 3 or 4 books in my hand there.  Then I put them back.

Generally, I’m a sucker for books filled with useless information in short bursts.  I like to read before I go to bed, and I generally find it hard to put down something that has a continuous story.

Do Ants Have Assholes?: And 106 of the World’s Other Most Important Questions is one that is definitely in my mental checklist of books to grab on one of the next few trips.

I finally wt back to humor & picked up The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.  I’ve had it in my hand before, but I’ve always put it back.  My friend Joel visited while we were at camp and actually recommended that I get my hands on this one.

Boy, am I glad that I got this one.  I’m not too far in, but so far the imagery that Jacobs puts forth surrounding his quest (or struggle?) is hilarious.  I have a feeling that not only is the book going to get even more funny, but I think there will be a warm-fuzzy feeling at the end.  Ha ha.

From the book itself:

Everyone – family, friends, co-workers – had the same concern: That I’d go native. That I’d end up as a beekeeper at a monastery or I’d move into my ex-uncle Gil’s spare room in his Jerusalem apartment.

In a sense, they were right to worry. You can’t immerse yourself in religion for 12 months and emerge unaffected. At least I couldn’t. Put it this way: If my former self and my current self met for coffee, they’d get along okay, but they’d both probably walk out of the Starbucks shaking their heads and saying to themselves, “That guy is kinda delusional.”

As someone who was brought up in church, but who also appreciates things like logic… this book really hit home with me.  Around Jr. high, I started driving some more straight-laced ministers insane with questions.  Not long after that, I found the ones with a healthy sense of humor and realism that helped me see where religion can fit into an everyday normal existence without being overbearing or ridiculous.

A.J. comes at the subject as an agnostic but with a  healthy respect for the process.  He recognizes the good in religion along with the insanity.  He points out the insanity and makes it humorous without mocking.  That has got to be a difficult thing to do.

His visits with an Amish family, and we learn that some Amish have deadpan humor down to a science.  He has an Orthodox Jewish clothing fiber inspector come to his house to make sure that his clothing isn’t made of mixed fibers.  (Yeah, that’s actually in the bible.)  I’m anxious to see who we visit next.

I can’t wait to finish this book, and already recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered about all those crazy rules… or all those crazy Christians/Jews/[Insert religion here].  I’m definitely going to pick up Know it All soon too.

Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Giveaway!


Yeah, I’m entering a contest via this blog post.  You ought to enter the contest too.  What is it?  It’s a giveaway from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.  I’ve blogged about them before, so I’m sure you’ve picked up one of the plethora of books available from the BRI already.  If you haven’t, you now have no excuse, you can enter the contest and get one for free!

In all seriousness, this is my book of choice… before bed, to relax, while waiting for something, and of course on the throne.  I love how they’re broken down into short segments of information… sometimes in story form, sometimes like a nice little history lesson, always with a touch of humor.

May times I have leared about something in a Bathroom Reader, then gone right to Google & Wikipedia or the bookstore to learn more.  I highly recommend these books!

Uncle John's Endlessly Engrossing Bathroom Reader

Top 10 Bathroom Reads (Listverse)


Ha, I have #1 on this list from Listverse Top 10 Bathroom Reads

It’s quite interesting & hilarious.  Here’s an excerpt…

Ring of Fire Poo [What's Your Poo Telling You?]

I’m gonna have to pick up #8, or ask the wife to get it for me for Christmas or my Birthday… ha ha ha.  I love it based on it’s tag-line… “How America is Shaped by its Grossest National Product” — Genius!

I am disappointed however, that the standard by which all bathroom-reading material should be held was sadly absent form the list.  What about Uncle John?  I have nearly all of their books, and can’t wait until the new ones come out!  I was even recently duped into buying an Armchair Reader instead of the Bathroom Reader that was not by Uncle John or the BRI.  They’re not written nearly as well, nor are they as informative… yet the covers look eerily similar.

By the way, with all this talk of poop… watch out for El Caganer this year!