LOAD”*”,8,1 / LOADING / READY / RUN

I don’t want tomorrow to feel like today did, so I’m gonna try my hardest to push aside all of the bad things in my mind – and hopefully do some things that I know should be fun. It’s so strange how the past few years have kinda stolen “fun” in general from me. I’ve got two current game systems, several different cameras, that Playstation VR system I haven’t even set up yet, a couple decent musical keyboards, the C64 Mini system I got the other day… and all of it just sits here.

I think the more that bad, sad, or unfortunate things started happening to me, my friends, and my family… the less able I’ve been to allow myself to have fun. Even if I have moments where I’m not feeling bad about my own shit, I guess I sorta feel like it’s not right for me to have fun when some of my friends and family are dealing with their own bad, sad, unfortunate shit. I know it’s dumb, and I kinda know how I got here… but that doesn’t matter… what matters is changing my way of thinking and letting myself just enjoy shit now and then.

I have to just accept that some people might roll their eyes or have something shitty to say if they think I should be doing “this” when I decide to do “that” – because if I live my life making sure I make everyone else happy… well, that’s just some bullshit… but believe it or not that’s how I’ve been for a long while now.

Meh… but anyway, tomorrow has to be different. I think once I straighten up the living room a little bit I’m gonna hook up both the C64 Mini and the PSVR. Who would have thought, back in the late 80s, when Mom, Dad, and Aunt C bought me a C64C, 1541-II disk drive, Okidata 120 dot matrix printer, and 13″ color TV… that almost 30 years later I’d be so excited to have a baby version of that old computer that I can play on my 50″ HDTV. Oh, and I also have that CD of scanned slides that I still need to check out.

So many things stuck with me from my childhood. The computers, the classic video games, the nerdy interest in photography, radio, musical keyboards, and tech in general -and even a lot of the music from back then that still means the most to me… all of those started as these little seeds that were planted back then, which are still growing strong in me to this day. Well, maybe not “strong” for some of them, but I still want them to be…

Tomorrow’s gonna be different. Even if it’s just tomorrow.

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Unrelated to Adulting

Okay, now that I’ve got all that other shit out of my brain for the moment… now I can write about the other stuff from the past week or so. Let me start off by talking about a new toy that I couldn’t resist. 😊 It was only $80 shipped, which isn’t too bad… and considerably less than what the original (with disk drive) would have cost new. It’s called The C64 Mini, and while it’s not an official Commodore product, it’s essentially an entire C64 emulated on a teeny board, in a teeny replica of the original “breadbin” style Commodore 64.Β πŸ˜ƒ And before you ask, no… the keyboard doesn’t actually work… but you can plug a USB keyboard into it and use it as an actual computer – and the company intends to come out with a full-sized, completely working replica soon. 😁

I’ve yet to even power the thing on, because I’m waiting for a spell when I’ll be able to do nothing but mess with the thing… which will include upgrading the firmware to allow me to load any program from a flash drive, and loading it up with all of my favorites from when I was a kid. It does have 64 licensed games built in, but most people are like me and get it so they’ll have the closest thing to an actual C64 – but with HDMI output – for the best looking Commodore 8-bit computer ever. 😊

I suppose everyone has a “thing” from their generation that they loved when they were younger, and therefore want to have again once they’re old. 😏 Classic video games and Commodore computing are definitely my thing, the same way that HAM radio is Dad’s thing… and like me, he’s still got a few toys as well that he plays with to this day.Β πŸ€“ I’m even learning how to take a C64 disk image, open it on a Windows 10 laptop, add or remove C64 programs as I see fit, and then export the new C64 disk image for use on this thing. 😯 That’s how it is with me though… give me something I’m genuinely passionate about, and my brain will start absorbing everything that it needs to know about it.

Okay, gotta keep this entry short-ish. 🀨 Maven is almost completely done with her home-grooming, which means my bathroom and living room carpet areΒ covered with poofed hair for now. 😟 I’m lucky that she’s so cooperative though. In fact, for the most part she loves the process. Bri came for a visit right before Halloween, not only to hang out (she drew the face on the pumpkin and I carved it upΒ πŸŽƒπŸ˜) but to also distract from her mom’s deteriorating health. She’s actually had a couple of good days, so it was nice to see her have a little more energy. However, my friend Greg, his mother passed away this past week. 😒 She was having a rough time, so it’s one of those deals where you’re almost relieved.

Cassi came down to spend the night on one of her days off. Her life is so hectic, between all of the hours that she’s been putting in lately and then having her, her mom, and her (very opinionated) 17 year-old sister all there at her house, making noise at each other. 😏 So coming here, even if half of her time is spent sleeping… it really is like a teeny mental vacation for her.Β πŸ™‚ Plus she helped me out with some chores, including the whole de-flea-ing process with the sprays and the carpet powder, etc. (Plus the most important and helpful thing… getting Maven to swallow that damn Capstar flea killin’ pill.)

As we sat in the living room watching the new “Charmed” show, we also each had our notebooks and were fastidiously jotting down the things that we intend to work on in the next few days. It’s strange how just having her here “working” in the same way that I was, how it helps to settle my brain and let me get down to business without getting as easily distracted by Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube. 😡

So there ya go… just so you don’t think my entire existence is grumping and bitching. 😐 There’s always some good sprinkled in there – and even when it isn’t “good” in general, I’m thankful that I have the right kind of friends to help me through those times, and vice versa.Β πŸ™‚Β Okay, carry on…

Roberto’s Amigatized Tunes

That’s what I called my music back then… so that way when they were sold in “public domain” disk collections, they could be called “RAT” disks. I’m not sure how much they ended up spreading, but I know they ended up in at least three catalogs back then – when you still had to get things like this by ordering and receiving physical floppy disks in the mail. 😏

The videos that I uploaded to YouTube yesterday show my original tracker songs being played by Modizer, an app for the iPhone. But if you view the videos full screen, you’ll still be able to see how the whole thing works. You’ll see which track is playing the drums, which one does the vocal, etc… and that’s what got me interested in creating music this way in the first place. πŸ€“ When I can see how something works, I can almost always then use it for my own means.

Okay, so let’s pick my favorites from the songs I’ve done…

  • Keep Feelin’ Fascination – I’m probably biased towards this song because it was one of my favorite songs from the time back then. That and it’s fairly simple, so it didn’t require much extra work to get it to sound similar to the original song.
  • Pyro! – This was a song that I created for the guy who ran the Pyro! BBS in Canal Winchester. It uses samples from other songs, to go with the pyro theme, plus it was basically just a “jam” song where I sat and came up with a few different beats, a few stolen bits of songs that I recreated… I dunno… I guess I like that it allowed me four or five musical varieties in a single songs. No rules.
  • Howard the Duck – I’m one of the few dozen people who actually liked this movie back then, and still like it today. You might have read here in the blog a few entries ago about how I gave props to Lea Thompson (on Twitter) for her musical performance in that movie and she actually replied and thanked me.
  • Obsession – This is another track that I did because is was rather simple and easy to emulate, plus it was one of my mom’s favorite bands of the moment back then – Army of Lovers. A very visual band, but the music was still good as well.
  • Mu – This is another “jam” song, where I didn’t have an idea when I started, but just sat down and started banging things out and ripping off bits of other songs to throw into this amalgamation. Experimenting with songs like this was as much about learning the software and methods as it was about creating a song.
  • Man on The Corner – Since Phil Collins and Genesis were two of my favorite artists back then, of course I had to make some attempts at covering their music. I think I actually did four of their songs in total… and I think this is my favorite mostly because of the odd beats and percussion sounds. (See also: I Don’t Care Anymore)
  • Myself – This was a track that I did after I bought my own sampling device for the Amiga 500. I wish I could remember the name of it… but imagine, back then, being able to sample my own voice and then use it to create a song. It was almost unheard of… heh… but yeah, every sample you hear in this one was created with my mouf.
  • The Best is Yet to Come – Samantha Fox was another artist I loved back then (and still do) so I actually did covers of a few of her songs. This one was simple, but it had some harmonies and I hadn’t done any slow songs, so I gave it a shot. (See also: True Devotion)

You can click here if you wanna see the entire playlist of 21 songs that I uploaded. I probably have about ten more that I didn’t upload, as they were basically my earliest practice songs or almost exclusively looped samples. But yeah, working on these songs back then, it actually helped my ear become more trained to isolate individual instruments in every song that I hear to this day. To build a song you lay down the drums, then sit and listen to just the bass in the original, then just the melody, etc. You literally dissect the original and reassemble it via the program, unintentionally learning how to identify and recreate chords, “slide” bass notes up and down, etc. In one way it could seem like a pointless exercise, but I’m glad that I did it.

I’ve got a Windows 10 tracker program, which I think can have up to 64 tracks to use, and there have been times when I’ve thought about trying to build a few more songs… but man is it hard to jump back in to something that you haven’t done for decades, and having to learn a different program to do it on top of that. (Despite the basics still being quite similar to how it was done back in the day.) Never say never, I guess.

Apes… Together… Strong

I’ve struggled these past few days. 😞 Mood was decent until my neck started acting up. Didn’t really do anything that I can think of that would have provoked it. I think it just decided that I hadn’t heard enough from it lately – so it made itself better known. 😣 So I just limited my activity, waited it out, and I think I’m coming out on the other side now. 🀞🏻

During my down-time I ended up renting War for The Planet of The Apes on Google Play (first time I’ve used that service) for which they also gave me a “free copy” of Amityville: The Awakening to watch whenever. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ But I’ve been anxiously waiting for the “Apes” movie to be available, and I wasn’t disappointed. πŸ˜ƒ Me, the computer nerd, the animation guy… you’d think that I wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy the movie because I’d only be able to see “computer monkeys” πŸ€“πŸ™ˆ but everything was rendered so authentically that I barely thought about all that through my first viewing. (Yeah, I watched it a second time the next day, even though it’s almost 2 1/2 hours long.)

The other movie… heh… it was an acceptable jump-scare movie, but not much more. No, wait… it also had way more of Bella Thorne’s ass than I anticipated. 😯 (For the record, I anticipated zero ass. πŸ˜…) Another Disney Channel kid that had to prove that she isn’t a kid anymore, I guess. And sticking to the “media” theme, today I got home from running some errands and found a new book in my mailbox. Commodore: The Amiga Years, which is a book that I backed during a crowdfunding campaign by an author who has already done a thick, hardcover Commodore: A Company On The Edge book – which I also happen to own. 😁 (Don’t ask me how much I’ve actually read though. πŸ˜• Gawd I wish I could make my brain slow down enough to actually read.)

Commodore and their computers… for better or worse, they’re a big reason that I am the way that I am today. 😏 From my first VIC-20 that Dad brought back from Hamvention for me in junior high, to my C64 setup in my high school years, then various Amiga computers after I graduated and was out on my own… so I’m hoping that one day when my brain allows it, I’ll be able to sit down and learn all the “behind the scenes stuff” that the world never knew about. Kind of like a written version of Halt and Catch Fire. (Who’d have ever thought that a network would sign off on a show like that, eh?)

All of it was a welcomed distraction.