Baggage and Luggage.

Baggage. Luggage. The shit you cart around with you – stuffed in your wallet, falling out of your backpack, shoved into drawers and cupboards. That’s bad – but I’m not talking about that now.

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There’s the stupid thing you once said to somebody you cared about 10 years ago, that pops into your mind at 2AM and sets you upright, thinking how different things would be if you hadn’t fucked up … bad too, I’m not talking about that either.

There’s also the baggage that we’re blithely collecting right here, right now, weighing down you and me. The encrustion of online life. Photographs and texts and fuck knows what else the machines have pieced together about you. If you were born since the Internet then there’s probably not much hope for you, you’re in your own little Truman Show and everybody is getting a good look. You might even think that’s normal, bless you, hope that job interview goes well a few years from now.

Somehow there is a rule that goes like this: the worse the photo, the more likely it will show up in online searches. It’s true isn’t it? I spend months getting fitter and happier and yet will be forever a photo The Guardian once took of me flopped and miserable, sweating with a bad flu. You might think that’s a small thing, but consider the impact on resolution, on positive feedback – do what you want, try harder, it’s not going to change a goddamn thing in “society”.

Oh and of course I can make new hi resolution videos, put heart and soul into them… but then somebody will post an old VHS on YouTube and erase everything I’ve worked on. Improvement – personal or professional – is negated by some goddamn algorithm.

Catalyst: I recently saw this band photo again –

October 1983

October 1983

on Facebook for a gig that’s happening in 2016. Like it’s a photo from 33 fucking years ago and it’s still doing the rounds. OK, so that’s tragic, but the main thing is Simon, on the right there. He’s dead. He’s been dead for years, and there he is, still staring out of the screen, freshly dug out of the grave. For pity’s sake – isn’t it time we did better than this?

Part of the culture of indigenous Australians has to do with people who have died – it is not right to display their likeness. I feel there is some justice in that for all of us. But go further. Let all the baggage evaporate, let it fade away. Some time after the event, wipe it, wipe all of it, and if it matters so much to somebody they can place it back again.

History? History is not what happened, as it happened. History is how we falsely recall from now, refurbishing the past. History is baggage. Drop it.

Treasure Map 2

I am exhibiting a virtual world called Treasure Map 2 for Unsound Krakow. This is now in production and it’s time to go behind the scenes and see what’s coming your way late October.

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Come on in!

The first Treasure Map was part of the Rhine album – it includes 5 video ‘beacons’, a world map and a set of lyrical clues. I’m not surprised that the meanings are still hidden – life was never meant to be easy. In creating the new Treasure Map I’ve made things much more immediate – it should take you a few minutes to find your first milk bottle and start dying.

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That was some party. A real killer.

If you played HH which came with Adelaide Festival 2013, you’d recall there was an underground bunker, and a back story about a ‘princess’ trapped in there, exploited in a dream like manufacturing process. You can get the whole back story here. TM2 is a riff on this story – a side show. Let’s say much much later people started to dig up these bunkers for the explosive energy they contained. Let’s say they piped out this ‘witches milk’, put it in silos, put it in bottles to power things. And of course there’s trouble when you do that sort of thing.They desperately tried to seal it up again, left signs and barriers and scarecrows.

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A perfect place for a picnic.

But any place where there’s trouble, there’s treasure. People still come for the ‘milk bottles’, people like you who have no idea what they were once for. You can wander around the island as much as you like, see the sights. Eventually you’re going to find a milk bottle. Drink it, you may as well. Or you might find where the milk comes from. That’ll kill you too. Some things will heal you and if you’re careful you might get to drink all the milk.

It’s essentially a music album, fuelled by toxic ‘witches milk’. You drink to hear the music, then try heal yourself enough for the next batch.

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Maybe you could – but it would take you a long time to get there.

Two months out from launch the island is built, the wind blows and the water ripples. There are structures, warning signs, signs of previous visitors, who have left you some warning information. Milk vats and bottles are spread around the place, only a few have milk in them. I just scripted the effects of drinking one – impaired vision, music, a big drop in health. Once tested on a single bottle it gets copied to the rest. The healing places are not yet built. Underground corridors are in their early stages. The ‘witch house’ is made but needs much more detail, although you won’t live long enough to see much of it.

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We use only natural wind power to pump our toxic sludge.

Very likely it’ll be a version 1.0 that gets out in October, with additions later on. For one person to get this going is hard work and there’ll be bugs. But anything that gets away from playing music from 30 years ago is worth all the late nights.

Be an eBay Folk Artist for Fun and Profit.

Walking the hallowed halls of eBay you will be struck by the quantity of fine folk art on offer. Something for every taste, from UFO aliens to Ronald Reagan to What Is That Shit I Don’t Know. And the prices are pretty fine for a lazy afternoon’s work. Don’t fear your next phone bill – phone in something pricey a financial planner will cherish.

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$400.00

It may look pretty simple. It’s not. Just being incompetent will only get you halfway. An extra spark of divine madness is needed, so best to get your Oxycontin habit up and running right now. Think of it as an investment, both for you, and the local Doc-In-A-Box.

The first step is to hoard some old bits of wood. True, you can work up some pretty fine folk art just with toilet rolls and cotton balls, but wood is the royal road to success. Old planks, toilet seats, fence posts all good. A bit of glass is OK so long as it’s cobwebbed. Never ever use a surface designed for artistic production. That’s something for city folk.

Now you are probably city folk yourself. That’s fine. All you need is to take on a hobo otherkin. No longer Royce Cigarillo of suburban dolor, you are now Betty-Hank Barnhouse, one armed midget with a career in chicken hustling. A carney ID is always a good one. Maybe a clown. Have to be from the country, have a dusty cowboy hat, and half breed. If you have some trouble maintaining this identity try adding some spirits on top of the Oxycontin. Feel your otherkin taking over. Practice a few yodels.

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$2,500.00

Get some house paint and ready to go. Slap it on. We’re going to struggle through the haze of booze and drugs to approach something vaguely resembling one of:

  • A desert scene.
  • Clowns having a laff.
  • A right wing politician.
  • Our savior Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins.
  • Self portrait of Betty Hank.
  • Aliens.
  • All and none of the above.

Do not worry if it seems to be going horribly wrong. You’re on track. Feel the divine guide you. You are the outsider. Say it. “I am the outsider”. Keep going until there’s no room left.

The paint fumes will have brought you to a place where others fear to tread (if not try huffing the fumes from a bag). You see further, higher than the rest of humanity. You also need to vomit. Quick, before the spirits leave you – take your pen and write whatever words come to mind, in round childish capital letters. Do not pause to think, or form coherent sentences or even words that other people can recognize. Just write. Throw down the pen. Vomit. You are done.

Don’t forget to date it at least 30 years ago. Put it up on eBay and wait for the acclaim that only a half-breed one armed midget clown could expect.

!B+qgLggCWk~$(KGrHqV,!gsEzr1oUH+OBN!Vv222ng~~_12

$3,000.00

Things I will miss from giving up media teaching.

maxresdefaultTim Burton.

“My character idea is called Frank Skelly. He’s kind of like a character from a Tim Burton movie. So he lives in this graveyard and it’s spooky but at the same time kind of fun, because everything is cartoonish like a Tim Burton movie. So anyway he’s going to get married to girl but she’s a ghoul like in that Tim Burton movie and … hey wait, I’m only on slide one…”

Grandmothers.

“I’m really upset at the moment, my grandmother died, I just can’t get the essay finished. No, last year was my mother’s mother, before that was my dad’s mother, this is my second stepdad’s mother. No, the one in 2015 was my adopted mother’s ex husband’s mother. Well I don’t know why they all died in exam week you are being really insensitive.”

Mothers.

“Jimmy tells me he doesn’t like what he’s studying here. He says it doesn’t fit with his aspirations. Jimmy is a very bright child, aren’t you darling, yes. He was top of his school. He needs his ideas to be accepted and positive feedback. How do you expect he will thrive if you keep being negative? He is very sensitive. I’m sure he doesn’t need to come to classes when he’s already so clever at all of this. No, Jimmy let me finish. Furthermore…”

Lectures.

“You explained it in the lecture? How were we supposed to know that? I don’t have time on that day. If only it was recorded, oh it is? How were we supposed to know that?”

Cameras.

“What sort of camera should I buy? I was thinking of a really expensive one. Yeah but I like the look of the expensive one. Yeah but Tim Burton uses the really expensive one. I’m sure I’d do more work if I had the expensive one. Why don’t we have the most expensive one in the resource center? No, that’s last year’s.”

Context.

“Why do we have to learn about the history, ideas and culture of the practice in which we hope to build our future career? Can’t we just do more Photoshop? The other degree just has Photoshop. I’m going to transfer there.”

Music.

“I got the music off a website. I got the sounds off a website. I got the dialogue off a website. I got the idea off a website. I got my entire mental process off a website”.

A series of photographs.

“I know I said I was going to stage an opera with a holographic stage setting and data collection of the audience’s hopes, dreams and wishes in real time – but I’ve decided to just do a series of photographs. How many do I have to do to pass?”

Game Culture.

“I am really into game culture, and my friends are all into game culture and I hope to have a career in games. This Level 6 Dwarf is a really important part of a cut scene in the game I’ve being playing 12 hours every day I and I don’t see why it’s ‘an insufficient major project idea’.”

Fine Art.

“The red stripe means the courage I had in high school which is opposed by the little blue squares, there’s 5 of those because I had like 5 boy friends that didn’t understand my feelings which you can see here is a bird in flight, no, not that, that’s a mountain. Well the mountain is the weight that held down my personal freedom and it’s also breast shaped you see that’s my change of sexuality that comes from when the bird comes up from this brown area here. The brown is my last break up. I’m really expressing my feelings about the whole planet here. That? That’s a cow. I like cows.”

Dear diary.

Dear diary I know I haven’t written anything here for a while but there’s been a lot going on in what we call the ‘real world’. And I should mention Facebook because I never realised how, for many people, it is the real world.

In staying away from Facebook, I’d imagined it to be like the many other social networks I have made or joined since the beginning of the internet. I felt I could judge it by technical aspects, but the difference between a small town and New York is not in the shape of buildings. If you have enough people and you influence the mob subtly, everything changes. The machinery itself stays distant, watching and silently moving the streets around to guide the parades. I have learned much about breakfasts, worldwide.

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The first distressing thing I noticed is a clock that says when people last visited. A simple thing and yet it says you just missed somebody, or they are ‘here’ and ignoring you, or that you yourself are desperately avoiding real work and were ‘here’ only a hour ago. It’s a banal evil. Twitter is much better at letting you dip in and out of the water without splashing others.

Seems the other billion users are fine with being confronted by people about whom they have old mixed feelings. I’ve not had that many relationships (I tend to the long term) so I guess it wasn’t such a feat for FB to have them all lined up in my “friends” apart from the one who died and another that it suggested I might go ahead and add to the list OUCH are you kidding me? Was I so sensitive that I found this utterly horrible, and have become so insensitive now that it doesn’t phase me to see them all there in neat order? Plus they all got fat. They think that too when looking at me.

It’s been instructive to watch Bradbury raging at the machine, trying to be as vile and angry as he could manage at the population of Pleasantville, who just smiled and waved at him as they hosed their lush social lawns. He reached maximum vomit and finally disappeared in a puff of smoke, defeated. This instruction led me to try a different kind of rebellion, a surreal mockery of their breakfasts, but that was just as useless, and so I just write whatever gibberish I feel like writing. Besides I am there to test my 360 degree videos and sell some music and that’s working.

Extruding into the real world, a message on Facebook from somebody I last met more than a decade ago. We met again, we have been meeting, and this has become that purgatory of hope and despair we all know as dating. I haven’t dated since my early 20’s and it makes me feel both young and as confused as I was back then. As there are two people involved I can’t be quite as talkative about this as my bereavement, but can I just say that I look forward to the day when I’m not driving through an endless line of emotional crash barriers.

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Let’s see, we’ve done death of parents, major financial problem, death of spouse, loss of job, new relationship… hmm, I see Christmas is on the list, let’s do that one for some more points.

Make that sound!

I’m increasingly required to reproduce music I made a long time ago. There’s a lineage of sounds based around particular equipment sets, which I can quickly summarize starting a few years in:

  • Slab Horror – MS20’s, tape.
  • Big Bigot – DX7, SH101 and AKAI Sampler
  • Bad Mood Guy – Mirage and DX7
  • Rotund – ESQ, TX81z
  • Cuisine – SY77 and S10 Sampler
  • Gigapus – MKS80, EPS-16 Sampler, Oberheim Xpander. <– expensive!

You can see why I have re-collected some antique gear: the AKAI sampler is required for Big Bigot for example, where Rotund For Success will need a TX81z. You can get away with similar gear for standard patches, the DX7 is well emulated. In some cases the sound is especially troublesome – and worst of all is that MKS80. Back then they were cheap, damn they are expensive now. Oi.

Here’s a sound I am keen to make – the first part of “Tiny Wounded Bird”.

That there is pure damn MKS80. Or is it? Surely there is something you could use to get just that, but it’s not easy. Let’s look at some of the parameters.

  • Really sharp attack – much sharper than most DCO machines.
  • Cross modulation – the metallic sheen.
  • Two layers. One of them has a pitch envelope.
  • Detuned oscillators – the MKS80 has a monophonic mode that allows it.
  • Bass boost – one of Roland’s cheat machines with EQ built in.

And being an early Roland machine it’s around the time that you could put the VCA too high. The Jupiter 8 can have this fault, but in the Jupiter 6 it’s fixed (unless like Graham Revell told me way back in the 80’s, you get it modded to be controllable.) It sounds to me like it’s too high here.

So then, which cheaper alternative would you use?

  • JX anything – envelopes too slow.
  • JP8080 – it does a really good attempt, after all, it’s a Jupiter. Turn up the bass and treble, make the two layers. Just not quite the analogue overload of the original. V-Synth is similar but still trying.
  • System 1 – it does the analogue no problem and can do most of the MKS80 bass. It’s not able to be two layers though.
  • Boutique JP08 – well actually, close. But it’s being a Jupiter 8, and so not quite the same heft.

I’m going to try the Blofeld next. But somehow that’s just… Not Roland.

Damn this nostalgic madness.

Life Hacks for the recently widowed.

I am a widower. You got knocked down, but you get back up. Everybody finds their way again, and these are some ways I am doing it.

Set a deadline. I don’t have any strong culture or religion to work from so I just figured out a year is good round symbolic duration. For one year I am a widower. After that I am a millionaire playboy philanthropist. From Batman to Bruce Wayne. There will be a little re-birthday just for me.

I find the worst thing is having to re-live my loss to strangers – to the police, to the bank, to immigration officers, to co-workers. Which you will have to do sometimes, but you have plenty of other happier things to talk about as well. It’s not wrong to put your loss to one side for later, it’ll always be there, but you will be stronger. Every couple of months I get sent a newsletter about suicide. I’m sure it helps some people but I hate the damn thing, it goes in the bin.

Common knowledge is to re-arrange all your furniture. Like, if a tornado hit it. Like, you are exhausted by carrying things up and down stairs and so you sleep soundly. Like, you are on a mission that allows no other intrusive thought. Like, whatever life was lived here it’s been remixed by a bad DJ. And in your new environment you can get on with your new life.

Obviously you need to put something where you-know-what happened. If you choose something ridiculous you might find yourself staring forlornly at a novelty sock drawer, and snap out of it.

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Don’t just get a hobby. Become theatrically obsessed with something. I want to be the tedious Man Cave guy, not the dead wife guy. Particularly as my Man Cave jokes are a re-occupation of space in my home which would otherwise be sad.

Whenever you get the bad thoughts go out and walk around. Look at the world. Wear out some shoes and wear out that misdirected energy.

Sleep is key. Sleep is repair. A strategically placed pillow allows you to sleep in the same positions you’ve known for the last 25 years without your knees knocking together. It should not have an anime picture on it that’s gross.

Despite that you’re going to age visibly. Sorry. If that worries you then lay off the grog. For me grog is not a problem but not everyone is so lucky. Careful.

Time to reread your old Roman stoic philosophers. No matter what they say, everyone you know is terrified that you’re going to weep all over them and will avoid you. Fortunately for me I did so much of that when young I’ve worn it out. You might once, but you’re in charge of the tone of your friendships, and if you practice calm and acceptance then they will too. And being chill actually helps your mood.

Caution: That person at a party that reminds you of your partner has no especial insight into your loss. That’s all in your head.

You remember your partner when you and they were young. But look in the mirror, time’s moved on. I’m pleased to say I have no great desire to shack up with a 20 year old, may you also be free of such delusion.

Ghosts: There are only the ghosts in your head. If you find it hard to go to the toilet because you might be observed by angels, you could hold a cleansing ceremony. Some people use incense. I have preferred to unleash an endless torrent of belching and other biological sonic place markers of such might that no woman alive or dead would possibly share this space.

It’s OK to talk aloud to yourself. Or a cat. I can’t have a cat right now, might get a robot one, which is just as oblivious as the real thing. It’s even OK to talk to the dead, because you’re really addressing some of the wiring in your own head that needs revision.

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Media: I have a ritual of scanning and sorting photographs of the dead which I’ve done twice now. I think it’s because you look through them all and then you reach an end point where you can stop, and not have to look at them until much later.

If after a year you are healed and looking forward to new adventures then you have only done what your partner should have hoped for you. You’re a living thing not a grave marker. And at least for me, I do not believe in afterlife, nobody is watching, it’s completely up to me to make sure that life is spent well.

Facebook

I am on Facebook.

Why are you on Facebook?

Because I am leaving my job where I have had a steady wage, to go back into the wilderness. I will need to be more approachable and take up opportunities or I will starve, and that means Facebook.

You said Severed Heads were never going to be on Facebook!

No, I said: “Neither myself or ‘Severed Heads’ are available on FACEBOOK. Do not read this blog. This blog is not the fault of my employer.” This will now change; you are allowed to read this bog. Also I will not have an employer. But “Severed Heads” more then likely will never be on Facebook because all the people involved have moved on (and are Facebook anyway).

What happens to this blog?

It stays the same. I am not moving to Facebook, I am simply putting my name in the ‘phone book’ so that people can find me. All my bullshit stays here. The Man Cave stays here and I might even get time to fix the rest of it,

Can’t they find you at tomellard.com?

Apparently not. I can’t risk that any more, because of the starving bit.

Does this mean that you have given up on independent web presence?

No, it means that I have another way to get people to come here. I don’t see Facebook as my staging. It’s simply a big phone directory and being there is like listing your business there. It’s like having a FidoNet address in 1992.

Why didn’t you do this before?

Because I had a different life path planned, on a tenure track. Most people that have contacted me recently have found me by my workplace. But that didn’t allow the creative activity I need to be happy, so I am changing everything.