Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New logo, and "Meat Grinder" results are in

Jerkatorium came in 3rd place (out of 11 entries) for our entry to the "Meat Grinder" Song Fight, which sounds about right for the song.  Our entry is an eccentric piece, and not a barn-burner by any means.  It got mostly "meh" reviews on the bulletin board.  The vote margin was very small, with almost all of the songs getting 7 to 11 votes each, which might help to explain why the winning song was essentially an instrumental 'throwaway track'.  This is not sour grapes on my part; I don't think Jerkatorium deserved to win the Meat Grinder Song Fight, but I strongly believe that Glenny should have won for his inventive and interesting submission, and I believe that the winning entry should have received a much smaller fraction of the votes.

The default Jerkatorium logo/image up until now (if Jerkatorium could be said to have one) had been my self-portrait from the January 2013 Commuter Challenge:

That image was always a place-holder at best, and it has been outdated since April, when Chumpy became a regular collaborator/member of Jerkatorium.  Chumpy has been half of Jerkatorium for the past 8 months already, and having my face as the logo/image is really inadequate.  In order to spur myself to take action, I decided to update the logo as part of the "independent project" November/December 2015 Commuter Challenge.  I am still tweaking the logo, but this is the current idea:

The other parts of that Commuter Challenge were to continue to submit songs for at least half of the Song Fights (The Rat Brain, Day of the Dead, The War On, and Meat Grinder), and cover art for at least one Song Fight per month (The Rat Brain, The War On, and Fearless Love), and I/we met those goals.  So huzzah!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Meat Grinder" posted at

Jerkatorium lost the "The War On" Song Fight pretty badly, tying for 6th place out of 9 entries; it is the worst we've scored since my first Song Fight submission (the embarrassing "Grim Reality" fiasco I described in the 27DEC2014 post).  I like "The War On."  Chumpy attributes the poor vote count to the song being too political and literal.  That's a fair assessment, but I thought the vitriol of it would somehow add to its charm.  I was wrong.

One of the main references in the song is the Starbucks red coffee cup "controversy".  It is a very timely reference, and it should make the song completely outdated by Xmas 2015 (just 9 days from now) and forever after, so I went ahead and slapped together a quick slideshow video and put it up on YouTube in order to share the song on Facebook before its relevance expires (I don't know how to share music on FB without posting it as a video on YouTube).  It is not my ideal vision of what a Jerkatorium music video should look like, but I didn't have time for anything more, and the only other viable option was a single static image - this seemed like an okay middle ground:

In other news, we submitted a song to the "Meat Grinder" Song Fight, and the songs are posted at the Song Fight website for your listening pleasure (and for voting, if you like the song).

We also committed ourselves to doing a cover song for a fellow SongFighter.  This cover project was organized "secret Santa" style, so I can't blab about what the song is or who we're recording it for.  It is due January 11, and I'll post a link to the song after it's finished.  With any luck Jerkatorium will have entered another Song Fight or two in the interim.  I will keep you posted.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Jerkatorium wins "Day of the Dead" Song Fight, and "The War On" songs posted

Jerkatorium is still absolutely crushing it, this time in a super-rare 3-way tie for first place (out of 18 submissions) in the Day of the Dead Song Fight.  I like our submission a lot, but I don't think it's one of our very best efforts, so I was surprised by the win.  We did have one of the only uptempo/happy/fun entries for that fight though, and I think that may have swayed people in our favor.

We have also submitted a song for the "The War On" Song Fight, which is currently up for votes at  As always, please listen, and please vote for it if you like it.  It is our take on the so-called 'war on Christmas' nonsense.  If you're wondering in advance where we stand on the issue, I'll just point out that we had an alternate verse that didn't make it into the final cut (due to time considerations), but that verse noted that the 'war on Christmas' was manufactured and publicized in the 1920s in a series of anti-Semitic pamphlets, revived in the 1950s and 1960s by the John Birch Society and by Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist Gerald L. K. Smith, and it has regained popularity on the strength of those same xenophobic and intolerant principles.

I also need to remember to post some images in order to gussy up this blog.  My art was chosen as the cover art for the current "The War On" fight.

It is a slapdash Microsoft Paint alteration of the album cover for Rod McKuen's "Listen to the Warm", which is a reference that I imagine few people younger than 50 years old would get.  I'm still less than 50 (for a few more years anyway), and I'm not even sure how I recognize it.

I submitted that art for two reasons:  First off, I made a commitment to submit more cover art as a part of the November/December 2015 Commuter Challenge.  The (arguably) more interesting reason I submitted that cover art was that only one other artist had already submitted cover art for consideration, and that other submission was essentially a cartoon depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.  I strongly believe that should be free to display such images, but I also believe that the Fightmaster (i.e. the guy who runs the Song Fight website and chooses the art) should have alternate options if he doesn't want to display that image for whatever reason.  And if he didn't want to post that cartoon, then I also didn't want the next Song Fight to be delayed while he solicited other cover art submissions.

Weird.  A political song, political cover art (or perhaps anti-political cover art submitted with weird semi-political motives)... That's not really what Jerkatorium is usually about.  I'll try to nudge this ship back towards charming happy love songs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Day of the Dead" Jerkatorium song posted at

A quick note/update:  Jerkatorium came in second place out of 13 entries for the "The Rat Brain" Song Fight, which was a big surprise - I really thought we had no chance against Tuners Union, Here Atticus, Nick Soma, Slickitude, and maybe some of the others that had really strong entries.  I mean I'm happy that we did well, but I really thought some of those other songs were better.  The submission by The John Benjamin Band certainly did deserve to win.

The songs for the "Day of the Dead" are posted at, including Jerkatorium's entry.  Song Fight mainstay Niveous wrote lyrics for a dozen or so of the 18 songs in the fight, including the lyrics for the Jerkatorium song.  We ended up making several changes to the lyrics he sent us, but all of the ideas and much of the content of his lyrics were preserved.  Anyhow, give it a listen and vote for it (and for the other Song Fight songs you enjoy) if you like our effort. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"The Rat Brain" Jerkatorium submission posted at

Jerkatorium's submission for the "The Rat Brain" Song Fight is up at, give it a listen and vote for it if you like it.  The song turned into another last-minute effort - we were still writing lyrics 90 minutes prior to the deadline - but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  The pressure is off in terms of the competition aspect for this fight; there are so many excellent songs in this fight that I feel pretty comfortable predicting that there is a 0% chance of us winning, and that's fine.  I'll be happy if we place anywhere in the top half of the 13 entries.

A couple of the reviews have already commented that the song borders on ska, and one mentioned that he was waiting for the horn section to kick in.  Now why didn't I think of that?  I might do a different mix later and add some brass.

In other news, Andrei and I finally made the plunge and got a piano.  

Andrei has been taking piano lessons for the past couple of months.  Sharing the USB controller keyboard was a hassle, and Andrei preferred the feel of a real piano anyway, so we went on Craigslist and bought a cheap used piano from someone who could also deliver it.

Delivery was key to the choice of this piano.  There are literally tons of cheap and free pianos on Craigslist.  When someone relocates, a piano can automatically transform from a beloved instrument to a bulky burden.  Even the smaller spinet/console pianos are extremely heavy, mostly due to the sound boards, so it can be difficult to sell or even give a piano away for free if delivery is not part of the arrangement.  Depending on distance, stairs, size of piano and etc, delivery can cost hundreds of dollars.  Also, if you're getting a cheap or free piano, it is pretty much guaranteed that it will arrive at your home way out of tune, so post-delivery piano tuning is an additional expense to consider.  

We lucked out and found this small, used, handsome-looking piano, which is not in perfect tune but still sounds good ("Close enough for jazz.") and the total cost including delivery was less than $300.  

Only after buying it did I look up the Haddorff Vertichord on the internet and read about its reputation:

"As the name suggests, the 'Vertichord" was straight strung, a serious design error in such a short-scaled piano. Even a hundred years or more before that it was realized that such short pianinos required diagonal stringing. Aside from that, the 'Verichords' I have encountered have had major problems with glue failures and other structural deficits." 

That doesn't really matter to me, though.  It sounds fine and it looks good, and it's part of the family now.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Jerkatorium ties for first place on the "Leave My Brother Alone" fight

We won our third Song Fight in a row with our "Leave My Brother Alone" submission.  This time around we tied for first place with the band Thank Glenny For The Frisbee; they submitted an excellent song which also absolutely deserved to win.

Our winning streak was defamed a little bit by a Song Fight comment accusing Jerkatorium of using "social media muscle" to win.  First off, I can see the comically low number of page hits on this blog, so I know that this blog could never qualify as 'social media muscle'.  I did announce the "Deterioration" and "Fashion" submissions on Facebook (something that is not against any of the rules, and not even vaguely discouraged at, but I didn't do that for the "Leave My Brother Alone" submission (I forgot to), so the comment was unfounded, inaccurate, and out of place.

But enough of that.  Onward and upward:  Chumpy has a very short song up for the "Hot Mess" Song Fight, give it a listen and vote for it if you like it.  I played bass on the track, but the rest of it is all Chumpy.  I like it a lot, and I only wish it were much longer.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jerkatorium wins again for "Fashion". New song "Leave My Brother Alone" at

Jerkatorium won the most recent Song Fight with our song "Fashion".  It was a very last-minute composition, and it was a lot of fun.  Doing a song that uptempo was so much fun that I'm going to be reluctant to make anything that isn't 190 bpm or faster from now on.

We also submitted to the "Leave My Brother Alone" fight, and entries for that are posted at  Chumpy had the inspiration for this entry; he wrote nearly all of the words and music.  I did most of the music for the bridge, which Chumpy then improved with an additional vocal melody.  The song is nonfiction and biographical in nature, about a band named 'Dogbreath' that was only active around 1978-1979.

In an effort to continue including images in this blog (which I think is a good policy), I found this old photo of Jerkatorium from the 90s.

I can't even fit that costume over my ankle anymore, much less dance around in it.  I don't know what became of Chumpy's street organ.  Good times [sigh].

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Jerkatorium's "Deterioration" WINS! "Fashion" Song Fight songs posted.

Jerkatorium won the "Deterioration" Song Fight, and I am very happy about that.  I am not surprised though, because Chumpy wrote a great song with great lyrics.  I listen to that song daily.

Songs for the current Song Fight with the title "Fashion" have been posted at, and Jerkatorium has submitted a song for that fight too.  It was a very very last-minute composition, but I am pleased with how it turned out.  Go to and give it a listen (and vote, if you like it).  As I have mentioned before, you don't need to register for anything or pay for anything to listen or to vote; the only catch is that it only accepts your vote if you vote for more than one song.  I think that's a good idea - it makes people stick to the spirit of Song Fight, where voters should listen to the music and vote for their favorite instead of just hopping onto the site to vote for a friend.

I promised more pics to brighten up this drab blog, so here is what I had submitted for the "Fashion" song cover art.  It was not used for the Fashion fight, and that was the right thing to do because the art they went with was an original drawing by a different SongFighter (which is better than using my lazier entry, which is just a cropped photo with text superimposed over it):

Monday, September 7, 2015

Jerkatorium's "Deterioration" Song Fight entry posted at

Very pleased to announce that Jerkatorium's "Deterioration" Song Fight entry is up for votes at - please listen, and vote for it if you like it.  I am extremely happy with how it turned out, and I've been listening to it compulsively (and narcissistically) ever since we finished it.  'Narcissistic' might not be the most accurate word for me though, because the song was written entirely by Chumpy.  I did the backing vocals, piano and bass, but the great tune and the excellent lyrics are all from Chumpy.  It is one of Jerkatorium's very best songs.  Enjoy. 

In other news, we did not win the "Don't Come Here To Live" Song Fight, which was not a surprise.  Our "Don't Come Here To Live" was a very last-minute composition with minimal production, and to be honest I think that the three submissions that got more votes than Jerkatorium were considerably better than our entry.  Still we didn't do bad, tying for fourth place out of 13 entries, and only three votes short of the winners' vote count.

The next Song Fight title is "Fashion", and we're kicking around some ideas for a song submission.  I will keep you posted.  I'll also find some more pics to post (text-only posts are dull).

Monday, August 31, 2015

Song Fight Live pics and "Don't Come Here To Live"

Just wanted to leave a quick update - here are those pics of Jerkatorium live in concert that you've all been clamoring for:

That last photo is a pic of us performing the Song Fight Live Fight song "Don't Come Here To Live". We did not win the Song Fight Live Fight (that win went to anti-m, who absolutely deserved to win it with her excellent performance of her beautiful song), but our entry is still up for votes at, you can listen to it there.  Please note that there is a Parental Advisory for explicit lyrics on that song - it contains some gratuitous profanity.

We are still working on a submission for the next Song Fight title "Deteriorate", and it's coming along very well.  I will enter another update here when those songs are posted on the Song Fight website.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Jerkatorium wins again & Song Fight Live this Saturday

I don't see any reason to be modest about this one:  Jerkatorium won the "No Good Can Come of This" Song Fight, winning first place out of a total of eleven Songfighters and getting nearly double the vote count of any other competitor.  We won because we submitted a good, fun song.  We worked very hard on it.  Chumpy did great work on the vocals.  We were happy with the result, and I would have been surprised and disappointed if it hadn't placed in the top three.  Is it tacky to say that?

We are going to follow up our win with a potentially disastrous fiasco of a live performance at Song Fight Live 2015 on this coming Saturday, August 15 at 9pm at Mississippi Pizza at 3552 N Mississippi Ave in Portland, Oregon.  I will be playing this accordion:

I do not actually know how to play the accordion.  I have never played accordion in any live performance.  I'm more of a guitar/bass guy, but Chumpy got dibs on the guitar and I couldn't come up with a second guitar line that would complement his guitar playing, so I'm stuck wrestling with this weird contraption.  It is slightly out of tune, which cannot be corrected without some serious surgical attention (and that isn't going to happen before the show).  It is only a 12-bass accordion, so I have to compensate by playing some of the chords on the keyboard part instead of the bass buttons, and I'm just going to ignore some of the other chords.  In terms of ease of use, it is like playing a musical Rubik's cube with a bellows attached.  Still hoping to rock it; I have a few days of nonstop practicing to get it just right.

Hope to see some of you at the show.

Friday, July 31, 2015

No Good Can Come of This (the song), & Jerkatorium World Tour date confirmed

Jerkatorium did okay in the previous Song Fight for the title "No Rush", winning 18 votes and sharing third place with two other entries (out of a total of 15 submissions).  I don't mind losing that Fight to Cookie Blue, they did a great song.

Our newest song is currently posted and up for votes at, please go there to listen to our submission for "No Good Can Come of This".  If you like it, please vote for it.  As always, you don't register or pay for anything to listen and vote (there is literally nothing to pay for or buy at the website anyway), you just listen and then vote by clicking the little box next to whichever songs you like.

I am very happy with our submission for "No Good Can Come of This".  It's a good, fun song, and the lyrics to it happen to be related to my next announcement:

It's official, Jerkatorium will be doing our first live show ever at Song Fight Live 2015 on Saturday, August 15 at 9pm at Mississippi Pizza at 3552 N Mississippi Ave in Portland, Oregon.  We'll be the sixth band on the roster that night, and we expect it to be a short set (probably no longer than 15 minutes).  I anticipate a 10 minute set followed by a 10 minute standing ovation.  Ha.

Friday, July 24, 2015

No Rush posted at Song Fight, working on No Good Can Come of This

Jerkatorium's "No Rush" is currently posted at, please listen and vote for it if you like the song.  Chumpy and I tried to channel The Cars.

We are currently working on a submission for the upcoming "No Good Can Come of This" Song Fight, which is due Sunday morning 26JUL2015.  I think it's coming along pretty well.  One of the things that is really helping me with the song is this new (used) piece of equipment:

It is an Evolution eKeys 49 USB controller that I bought used, super-duper cheap.  I plug it directly into my computer and I can use it to control software instruments in GarageBand.  Before this controller I was using "musical typing" for software instruments, which involves using the computer keyboard as the controller.  To give you an idea, the interface window looks like this:

Musical typing is better than nothing, but it is clunky and far from ideal.  It only gives you one and a half octaves, it takes up space on your screen while you're trying to use GarageBand, and of course the feel of the piano/organ keyboard is completely absent.  The eKeys 49 is making things a lot easier and more comfortable for me.

In general, buying used electronic musical equipment is not a good idea, especially the way I did it:  this type of keyboard doesn't have speakers so there was no way to tell if it worked without plugging it in to a computer (which was not available), and the power cord (9-12V adapter) was not included so it was impossible to check to see whether or not it would even power on.  I took a gamble and bought it, found an adapter in the box from my old Fostex 4-track cassette recorder (which I'll never use again anyway), plugged everything in and it worked great.  But I realize that was just dumb luck - I cannot recommend that anyone else try the same sort of thing.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Jerkatorium World Tour 2015

Jerkatorium followed up the "Hope You're Having A Nice Time In Jamaica" victory with a sub-par vote count in the "It's Not Over" Song Fight, garnering a total of only 5 votes and putting us in a four-way tie for 7th place out of 13 entries.  It's probably my fault we were so soundly trounced; Chumpy sent me a nice, laid back song, and I turned it into gimmicky schmaltz with a punchline.

Since then work travel prevented me from doing much of anything, music-wise.  In the meantime Chumpy and Zoom submitted again as Margaret Benson and the Cheese Trio for the "Be What You Want" Song Fight, contributing a one-chord masterpiece that somehow only got three votes despite universally positive reviews on the SFBB.  Chumpy also submitted alone as Chumpy and the Bitfields to the current "Meeting Street" Song Fight, and it's clearly the best of the bunch - you should listen to it and vote for it.  I'm working from my home office this week so Jerkatorium has no excuse for not submitting to the "No Rush" Song Fight, so that will almost certainly happen.

It looks like Jerkatorium is going to be playing a short set live at Song Fight! Live 2015 in Portland, Oregon on either August 14 or August 15, 2015.  The schedule is not quite finalized yet, I'll let you know when it is.  We're hoping we get a slot on Saturday night August 15 so that Chumpy and I have some time to rehearse together Saturday during the day, but we'll take whatever they give us.  The Friday set (again, we're hoping we won't have to perform in that one) will be at Culmination Brewery:

And the Saturday set will be at Mississippi Pizza:

More specific information to come as soon as I get it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Jerkatorium Wins? What? How Did That Happen?

Somehow Jerkatorium won the "Hope You're Having A Nice Time In Jamaica" Song Fight.  Apparently we're doing something right.  Maybe.

Jerkatorium also submitted a song for the current Song Fight title "It's Not Over" and the songs have been posted, give it a listen at if you are so inclined.  Our "It's Not Over" entry is more laid back then your typical Jerkatorium song.  We hadn't intended to submit for the Fight, but Chumpy had a great idea and pulled the song together while I was doing work travel.  I slapped some last-minute backing vocals, electric piano, and bass onto the track (plus that beautiful guitar solo, so beautiful) and we sent it in.

I know the blog has been text-heavy lately.  I promise that some sort of picture will accompany the next post.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Hope You're Having A Nice Time In Jamaica" song and "Watching the Riot" vote count posted at Song Fight

By some miracle Jerkatorium won 3rd place (out of 11 entries) in the "Watching the Riot" Song Fight, with a total of 8 votes.  Stranger still, we were just one vote short of matching the vote count of the two winners who tied with 9 votes each.  It's a big surprise, considering how last-minute our entry was - after four or more uninspiring drafts, Chumpy came up with the punk version the day prior to the due date with no intention of making it our entry, and it came together within the span of the few hours we had to work on it before the deadline.

"Hope You're Having A Nice Time In Jamaica" is the current fight, please give it a listen and a vote at  It's a somewhat similar story as the story above for "Watching the Riot":  Chumpy and I were working on various different approaches and we were juggling at least four different drafts before abandoning everything and doing the song that we submitted.  We worked on it literally up to the last minute prior to deadline, so it didn't get the sort of engineering/tweaking that we would have liked to have done.  I also would have preferred to add an accordion track, some more vocal harmonies, and I don't know what all else.  But I think it's a strong entry, with excellent vocal work by Chumpy.

I was too busy working on this month's Commuter Challenge to do cover art for the Jamaica fight.  The next Song Fight title is "It's Not Over", I'll let you know if Jerkatorium submits art and/or music for that one.

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Watching The Riot" song(s) and "Unsubscribe" vote count posted at Song Fight

Jerkatorium's "Unsubscribe" did pretty well for that Song Fight.  After submitting, Chumpy and I decided we'd be happy if we were among the top 50% and we were, coming in at 5th place out of 12 entries.  That's pretty good, especially considering we were only three votes short of matching the vote count for the winning bands; we got 9 votes and the two winning bands tied with 12 votes each.

Not that the vote count matters all that much.  I think the feedback we get in the review threads is more valuable, and from recent comments it looks like I need to spend a little more time mixing and engineering the tracks prior to submission.  I guess that means I should try to learn a little bit about sound mixing and engineering.

Jerkatorium's entry for "Watching the Riot" is posted at Song Fight right now, give it a listen and a vote.

More deserving of a listen and a vote is the entry by Margaret Benson And The Cheese Trio.  Chumpy and I worked on various different ideas for "Watching the Riot" from the time the title was announced through the morning of submission and ended up with several different versions, and none of those versions really thrilled either of us.  The day prior to submission Chumpy emailed me a first draft of the mashup that eventually became Margaret Benson And The Cheese Trio's entry.  I think he was half joking about it, but I liked it much better than any of the individual versions we'd been working on.

In addition to cutting and pasting the previous versions together, Chumpy had recorded some new clips and incorporated them into the mashup.  The new punk clip he'd added was so good that we worked to get that into shape as a separate song, and that became Jerkatorium's entry.  Although it is strongly recommended that bands only submit one song per fight, Chumpy got permission from the Song Fight fightmaster to submit the mashup version too.  The Margaret Benson And The Cheese Trio entry is mostly Chumpy singing, but my voice is unfortunately in there too (from an old, discarded draft), and Dr. Zoom's charming vocals figure prominently throughout.  I hope to work with Dr. Zoom on future songs too.

They used my submission for the "Watching the Riot" cover art.  My submission was just a cropped copy of Brian Raiter's December 2013 Commuter Challenge entry with words added (used with permission of the artist).  His original collage is epic and you should take a look at it by clicking this sentence.  The cropped version I submitted is below:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"Unsubscribe" Song Fight up, and Deep Sub-Reddit vote count posted

The "Deep Sub-Reddit" Song Fight is over and the vote count has been posted.  Jerkatorium did very well with a third-place finish out of eleven entries.  As noted earlier, it is Jerkatorium's best song to date and the vote count clearly reflects that, and it's all thanks to Chumpy.  I still catch myself humming Chumpy's earwormy Deep Sub-Reddit melodies throughout the day.

Jerkatorium also has an entry for the "Unsubscribe" SongFight, and those songs were just recently posted at  As always, please give it a listen, and please vote if you like it.  We used more actual instruments than usual; the only 'software instruments' are the drums and organ tracks.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Deep Sub-Reddit Song Fight song posted

This post is a little overdue:  the "Deep Sub-Reddit" songs have been posted at Song Fight, including Jerkatorium's entry.  Check it out at, and if you like it then please vote for it.  Again, you don't need to register or anything - I think the only condition is that you have to vote for at least two songs.  It's a good group this time around, and well worth a listen.  If you are a fan of MC Frontalot and know his song "Yellow Lasers", then you might get a real kick out of Abjure's entry this week too.

The next Song Fight title is "Unsubscribe", and Chumpy and I are working on a song for that one too.  The due date is coming up pretty soon and I have conflicting work travel, so I should be on GarageBand right now instead of updating this blog.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

CoverFight: Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode

Okay it's been a while, but it's been busy and there are things to show for it.

First off, the Depeche Mode CoverFight songs have been posted at:

I think Jerkatorium's entry for "Enjoy the Silence" turned out pretty good.  Other than the guitar and vocal parts, it is entirely composed of computer instruments and loops.  Best of all, I didn't sing on it. Okay I sang the backing vocals, but the lead vocal talent is Chumpy.  

As I understand it, the CoverFight is not really a "fight".  There is no voting or anything, just listening and enjoying, and (for the SongFight participants anyway) harshing each other on the boards.

In other news, this morning Jerkatorium submitted an entry for the "Deep Sub-Reddit" SongFight.  The songs for that Fight won't be posted for at least another few days, and I'll let you know when that happens.  99% of the Deep Sub-Reddit submission was by Chumpy; all I did were a couple syllables of backing vocals, a little bit of computer instrument work, and some level adjustments.  I do not say that to distance myself from the song, but rather to give credit where credit is due.  Deep Sub-Reddit is Jerkatorium's best entry to date, and it's mostly Chumpy.

I submitted art for that Fight.  I'm not sure if they're going to use it or not, but here it is:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lost Weekend results in, Fever Dream art too late.

In Song Fight, my submission for the "Lost Weekend" title got 18 votes, and I'm pretty happy about that.  Things are heading in the right direction:  Grim Reality got 3 votes (a 3-way tie for 10th place out of 16 entries), Three Stars got 7 votes (9th place out of 15 entries), and Lost Weekend got 18 votes (5th place out of 11 entries).  If I continue to improve at that rate, and if I keep submitting at least once per month, my December 2015 Song Fight entry should get over thirty thousand votes (which will still only be 812th place out of 1439 entries).  I might need to re-check my math on some of that.

The Song Fight after Lost Weekend was "Fever Dream", and I did not submit a song to that fight.  I was going to submit art, but in the couple of hours between the time I started the drawing and the time I sat down to email it in, they had already posted the Fever Dream songs and someone else's art.  I've learned my lesson about submitting early.  Here is what I was going to submit:

Another exercise in crosshatching, it is my freehand attempt at re-creating one of Henry Fuseli's Nightmare paintings.  Actually it's not completely freehand: I did the "FEVER DREAM" text in the upper left-hand corner white by printing it out on the drawing paper in very very light grey and then just not crosshatching over that section, and then I decided that technique was too much hassle to repeat for the "SONG FIGHT" text at the bottom so I just added that text in MS Paint after the fact.

If I'm keeping to my goal of submitting to Song Fight at least monthly, then I should really turn something in for the next Fight, entitled "So Much Universe".  I will post information about that here if I get it completed in time.

In addition to (or maybe 'instead of', if I run out of time) the "So Much Universe" Song Fight, I have committed myself to submitting to a Depeche Mode sidefight/coverfight.  I will keep you posted on that too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"Lost Weekend" Song Fight Entry Posted at

Long time no post.  No real excuse this time, except that I saw no reason to post before I had anything new to report.

As noted earlier, the Long-Form Commuter Challenge ended up being a bit of a bust except that it got me making music, and it taught me a lot about my own abilities and limitations.  It was also the kick I needed to get me submitting to  My goal is to submit entries for at least one Song Fight song per month.

The title for the Feb 10-20 Song Fight was "Lost Weekend", and I went ahead and submitted a song for it.  They just posted the songs tonight, and you can check them out at .  If you listen to my song (band name Jerkatorium) and like it, please vote for it - again, you don't need to register or anything, just click the boxes next to any/all of the songs you enjoyed and then click the vote button.

After composing the instrumental parts of "Lost Weekend" I was extremely happy with the sound of it, but then I had to add my own sub-par vocals.  Still, I think it's my best effort to date.  Breadbox provided the main ideas for the Lost Weekend lyrics (he suggested the '99 bottles of beer' reference, the 'bottle top/glottal stop' rhyme, and the weekend/weakened wordplay), and I wouldn't have been able to complete the song without his inspiration.  He is, of course, in no way to blame for my vocals.  I just need to find a regular collaborator to sing for me.  Given my compose-as-you-go Song Fight songwriting modus operandi, any such collaboration might be nearly impossible.  It's certainly something for me to think about some more.

Also, last week the folks at sent out a general call for art for the Lost Weekend fight (anyone can submit art for the individual upcoming Song Fights within their guidelines), because I guess no one had supplied any yet.  I rushed out this drawing (with some color and headers added), but they didn't use it:

It is essentially an exercise in crosshatching.  It's my freehand stab at Peter Weller's pose after injecting bug powder into is foot in the movie Naked Lunch:

It could be that they didn't choose my drawing because with the size reduction plus the added color and headers it ended up looking like this:

The final image has to be 150x150 pixels, so a lot of the crosshatching gets lost in the lower-res mush.  Also I probably shouldn't have bothered with the color.

One more item of note:  The March 2015 Commuter Challenge will be to compose and perform an original song in the style of blues, gospel, or field holler.  I will probably try for a twofer, something that will fit both the Song Fight title (maybe the just-announced "Fever Dream" Song Fight, due March 13) and the Commuter Challenge requirement.  But we'll see how that goes.

Anyway, I'll continue to update this blog whenever I have something new, so you can expect around one entry per month to announce each Song Fight entry, and maybe some other entries if I ever get those EP songs improved enough to share.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Back From Vacation, Three Stars at, and EP Not Posted

This is my first post in almost a month because I was vacationing in the Philippines from December 31 through January 18 and didn't have a good way to access this blog.  I hadn't mentioned the planned vacation in any previous post because I'm under the impression that it's a bad idea to announce that your home will be empty for three weeks in a row.  I apologize for the lack of updates during my absence.

This blog isn't really meant to be about my personal life or travel, but I'm still going to share one aspect of the trip - we were on this flight for the Guam to Manila leg of the trip:

We were over the ocean, more than an hour away from any land, when the right engine of the plane crunched to a stop and then started coughing fire.  It's hard to discuss the experience without sounding a bit melodramatic, so I'll just note that in over 13 years of very frequent air travel (for work, mostly), I have never had a more terrifying experience in my life.

Our time in the Philippines was pretty great though.

Anyway, I finished the fourth song as another SongFight entry for the Three Stars fight, and last time I checked it's still up for votes at  At heart it's a three-chord song, a simple-to-construct song of the type that I mentioned in a previous post.  I got over my distaste for loops, samples and sound effects:  I used a portion of a piano loop from Garageband, with an added lick I generated manually on the computer and then copied and pasted repeatedly throughout the song.  The vocals are heavily pitch-corrected, and that short accordion bit in the bridge has an added chorus effect.  The final mix turned out a little quiet, and I'm not sure how to fix that.  All in all, it's nothing I'm particularly proud of, but at least it's done.

The rest of the Commuter Challenge aspect of the project was officially completed, but the final product is disappointing.  I re-recorded the vocals to "Butterfly", only vaguely improving them.  I never added any lyrics to Demo #2, so for the purpose of the Challenge it is currently, officially, and disappointingly an instrumental.

I unsuccessfully tried to fix "Grim Reality".  I believe that I will have to re-record the whole thing if I want to make it presentable.  Listening to that recording is depressing now; it's surprising to me how bad the vocals are, and I can't believe that I ever thought it was in any shape to submit to SongFight.  I suppose that I was so focused on the small details and various slight embellishments that I lost sight of how bad the thing sounded altogether.

The EP CD cover art:

As mentioned in earlier posts, I'd wanted to do a painting instead of the altered Durer above.  The altered Durer looks pretty simple, and it was much simpler than the painting would have been, but it still took a long time - I had to remove the central figure (a kneeling penitent lashing himself) from the center of the image and fill in all the crosshatching by hand.  Yet it looks like an easy, underwhelming photoshop job.

The final EP has not been posted at the Commuter Challenge website.  Upon returning from vacation, Brian and I were both unsatisfied with our own progress on our respective projects, so we're still in talks about how to approach this.  We may make the January 2015 Commuter Challenge a "Improve the Long-Form Submission" Challenge with the intention of posting the results by January 31, or we might continue work on the projects indefinitely and post them when we're happier with the results, or we might post them as-is and move on with other things.

If nothing else, this project has kick-started me into making more music and submitting songs to SongFight.  It has helped me to get at least a little more experienced and comfortable with GarageBand.  Perhaps most significantly, it has brought me down to earth with respect to what I am able to do as far as music is concerned:  For a long time I'd had this notion that I was capable of amazing things if I'd just put a nominal amount of effort into recording some music.  Now I see that if I put a ton of work into it and continue to produce and practice, I might eventually be able to make a neat ditty or two.  It's hard to explain why, but that sort of reality check is actually pretty cool - some pressure is off, I'm free to experiment a little more, and I don't have to stress out about any of it.