ASCAP Meeting Wrap Up

Los Angeles is a cruel mistress...I finished up the ASCAP event this weekend. I have to admit I was pretty skeptical going in. I have attended other expos and conventions for different industries and they are usually just non-stop marketing. The ASCAP event was a little different though; yes, there was still a lot of marketing going on but there was a lot of really great educational events too.

One of my favorites was by Ralph Murphy, a song writer and producer from Nashville. His presentation was full of humor and useful information. I got a chance to chat with him briefly and he was a real, down to earth fellow. I am looking forward to meeting and chatting with him again.

Overall the event was pretty positive. I did get a little claustrophobia in the hallways though. The sponsors had tables in the halls so things were a bit crowded for my taste. I think if they put the booths in a exhibit space it would be more comfortable. I have to talk to industry people as part of my job and it was hard to have a conversation with all the noise and jostling about.

The bottom line question is would I go back next year. I think I would, there was enough good information that it was worth the price of admission.

 

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Los Angeles Day Two!

ASAP Main Stage Backdrop

So here we are, day two in beatafull downtown LA. Hollywood actually but whos counting. I got a ‘Tap’ card, which is the LA version of a Fast Pass, seven days for $2, less than parking and gas would cost to drive to the ASCAP event every day.

The bus stop was only about a block from the hotel so no big deal. I said ‘good morning’ to the driver as I got aboard the bus, it took him by suprise so I guess being polite hasn’t reached southern California yet… The bus ride was only about 5 blocks, then I transferred to the Metro line, the Los Angeles subway/train system. The train was a little behind schedule but no big deal. The ride to the venue was only about 10 minutes. I like using public transit, you meet really odd people and you don’t have to look for parking.

The ASCAP Expo is being held at the Loews Hollywood Hotel, right in the heart of tourista-ville. Michael Jackson was there, one of the Harlem Globetrotters, several Batmen (all in various levels of decay) and a Spider Man who looked like his web had snapped. Ah, the magic of the movies!!

I went in to the hotel, got lost, found myself (right where I had left me) and then picked up my ID badge and lanyard. I also got my swag bag. It is a nifty little thing, just big enough to hold a laptop but flimsy enough for said computer to shatter to a billion pieces when dropped. I’ll give it to my daughter, I love her…

There were tons of events to go to, and it was hard to figure out what to do first. I ended up going to the opening speech, given by Paul Williams. Williams wrote ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ and other top hit songs. His presentation was great and was a promising start to the expo.

I then went on to forum of song writers titled ‘Anatomy of a hit song’ there was lots of interesting information, but the main take-a-way was to be true to your point of view and use a web site to find rhymes. The next one was a sales pitch by one of the sponsors, selling their web design service. Even the sales presentation was a little useful so that was cool.

I went to lunch and had a $3.00 ham sandwich that cost $9.00. Great to be in Tinsel Town, where even the crappy food is a star…

The afternoon was more great events and chatting with other attendees. I would have stayed for the afternoon social events but my back was feeling shreded ( I have spondylothesis) so I went back to the hotel to lay down.

Well, that’s about it for now, that’s the life of a rock-n-roller for ya…

Los Angeles: Day One

Image

I am in Los Angeles for the ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ Expo. I write music and work for a music management company so I had to leave my happy haunts of northern California and wander down to LaLaLand. I am in town through Sunday.

I will post some updates on the Expo and food experiences here and let everyone know how things go.

I am staying at a hotel on Sunset, it was the closest place available for under $100 a night…the place is OK, but the good news is there is a lot of Thai restaurants in the area.

Blender is Fun!

Teddy Bear made with Blender

If you are like me, you enjoyed The Incredibles, Despicable Me and all the other cool movies that have come out over the past several years using 3D computer animation. The programs that are used to create this stuff is pricey, really pricey. Except one. That program is Blender from Blender.org. You can just go on and download the program FOR FREE!!

I know what you are thinking, how can a free program be anywhere close to a program that costs thousands of dollars…well, Blender is pretty amazing and there is a large community of Blender artists out there making really great animations. Plus there are tons of tutorials available on the internet.

If you or someone you know interested in learning 3D art or animation, you should check out Blender. It is a great way to get intoNapkin with Glass the world of computer animation without spending tons of money. Now, the learning curve is pretty steep but if you hang in there and stick with it you can pick stuff up and make progress at your own pace. The images on this post are things that I made while following along on a couple of tutorials.

Get out there and try it, all it is going to cost is a little time to learn.

HAVE FUN!!

What a week!

My Saturday, in a nutshell...

My Saturday, in a nutshell…

 

 

 

 

So, last Saturday I am laying in bed, a beautiful morning, thinking about stuff I was going to do. The doorbell rings…it is a neighbor. Someone smashed out two of the windows on my van. $500 and a day wasted later I was completely burnt out. Why do people do petty stuff like this?

Well, it threw me off my game a little and I didn’t post some of the stuff I wanted. Now I will try to get caught up. Stay tuned for lot’s of cool junk heading your way!

When I Grow Up

'When I Grow Up Stories' by Nancy Lee, 1921 'Policeman

‘When I Grow Up Stories’ by Nancy Lee, 1921 ‘Policeman’

 

 

So, a long time ago I bought these children’s books. They were the ‘When I Grow Up’ series, written by Nancy Lee and published in 1921 by Stoll and Edwards. There are four books in the series: Policeman, Fireman, Banker and Farmer. The stories are about what these four professions do and how the Little Jerry wants to grow up to be just like them.

I have had the books about 20 years now. They have been pretty   much just sitting on my shelf in plastic sleeves. One day I was looking for something to do on CorelDraw so I decided to draw the covers of the books using tools in Corel. As you can see by the original scanned image, the covers are a little rough. The Fireman book even has the top part torn away.

After scanning I brought the original into Corel then started tracing. I have used CorelDraw for a long time but I am still FAR away from being an expert, I would rated myself as and ‘Advanced Novice’. When I re-draw something I try to break it down into elements. For these pieces there is a black background and then colors laid over the top. I traced the outlines then worked with the node tool to line everything up. The tracing and adjusting took the longest, about 2 hours or so per image. It is funny how you get dialed in to working on something like this and you forget time.

When the tracing was done I started coloring in the images. Then using the diffuser I would give a fade to the edges of shading. The Fireman is still a work in progress, I need to add some more detail and finish off the image. I am pretty happy with the Policeman, he has a lot of the details and looks kind of stylized a bit. I think I will print this on a t-shirt or poster or something…

Anyhow, I will post all four covers once I get the project completed. I just started working on the Farmer and still need to wrap up the Fireman cover. Thanks again for reading, I hope this inspires you to go out and try tracing and painting your own vintage piece.

Have fun, and please feel free to comment or ask questions. Cheers!!

Melting Pot #5

My Wok

Carbon Steel, Wood Handle and a simple eye-bolt to hang it up.

Carbon Steel, Wood Handle and a simple eye-bolt to hang it up.

I had been living in San Francisco for a couple of years and I had finally decided to get a wok. It was 1983, I was doing a lot of artistic metal work, playing music and generally just having fun. I realized it was time to settle down and start behaving like an adult. To me that meant cooking utensils.

I lived a few blocks from Macy’s on Union Square and had gone to the Cellar to check out their kitchen stuff. A lot of their basics cost more than I made in a week so that was out of the question. I remembered my Mother’s pots and pans: All old, dented and still useful. So I decided to look for more practical pieces that wouldn’t break the bank. Since I was (and still am) a bit of a germaphobe I couldn’t bring myself to buy used stuff at Goodwill. So I took the 38 Geary down and then hopped on the 30 Stockton to Chinatown.

In Chinatown there are the touristy places, where you can buy kung fu shoes, kimonos, dolls and other trinkets. But if you explore the side streets a little there are stores that sell the things that people really use in everyday life: Clothes, Furniture, Food (including back then live chickens, fish and turtles) and household items. I wandered around until I located a place selling kitchen items. The old lady behind the counter just gave a slightly annoyed look, I was probably one of those dumb tourists who took a wrong turn…

I picked up a plastic shopping basket and started browsing. I found a cleaver, some cooking chopsticks, a strainer and a nice spatula. A spatula for wok cooking is a little different. It has a slight curve to the front to match the side of the wok and the edges and back are raised slightly to help scooping things out. At the back of the store the woks were stacked up, face down with craft paper between each one. There were many different sizes and shapes some with round bottoms and some with flat. I chose one with a flat bottom and a nice wood handle. I liked it because you could see it was spun out of a single sheet of metal, the ridges from the spinning were still visible. After I had paid for everything and was on my way out, the lady said: ‘Enjoy your friend.’

It was a strange thing to say, but she was right. I have become friends with my wok, it always stands by, waiting patiently to be used in the creation of something delicious. When the wok was new the color was light grey and metallic. Over years the wok is now fully carbon black. The outside is nicely crusted with 30 plus years of burnt stuff. The inside is smooth and black, a natural non-stick surface.  I use the wok not only for cooking meals, but also to heat up left overs, it is my main cooking utensil and my microwave.

I protect my friend too. When I came home and a roommate had used my wok to cook tomato sauce, and had taken the patina off the inside from the acidity I kicked him out. When I got divorced, the wok was the only kitchen item I kept. The wok is 12 years older than my daughter. When I die it will be the one thing that I leave her that I KNOW she will truly value. My wok cost just $25 in 1983, it is priceless today. All the other items I bought that day have been lost or have worn out and been sent to the recycler. My wok is still there.

Today there is Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Emeril, Martha and all the rest selling their stuff on QVC for hundreds of dollars. All supposed to be unique but all made in the same factory in China, they are stamped out, sprayed with non-stick chemicals and then divided into separate lines to receive the proper chefs logo and marketing materials. My wok was made by hand, in some small shop, by a person who had been making woks one at a time for years. They learned their craft from another person, who had learned from someone before them. Now I cook, teach my daughter and know that she will share the wok with her children and grandchildren. Not as glamorous as a TV chef, but real. Go out and find your own friend and start a tradition that can last another 100 years.