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Couch Guitar Straps

Part of the fun of having a blog is being able to pimp awesome things or companies that I find. This is not an endorsed advertisement. I will always tell you if I sell ad space to a company here. This is stuff I use and love enough to share.

This week I want to share Couch ( with you.

Do not let their website fool you. They don’t only make guitar straps. They mostly make guitar straps, sure, but they also make things like wallets, belts, and camera straps. All of their products are made from recycled upholstery or vinyl, and are 100% vegan. Now, that sort of thing really doesn’t mean very much to me, hell I own a leather jacket and love steaks, but it’s always nice when I can get awesome things and they’re green and cruelty free. For those of you that do care about that, well, there you go.

The quality of their products is tremendous. When I first got my Les Paul, I knew I needed to get a heavy duty strap that I would trust the safety of the guitar to (with the help of some Dunlop Straploks). I happened to see what looked like a leather strap (actually recycled vinyl upholstery) with a neat design on it via BoingBoing and was linked over to the Couch site. Being a large guy, I sometimes have a difficult time finding straps long enough to wear my guitar at a comfortable height. The Couch straps measurements looked good, so I decided to pull the trigger on it. When it finally I arrived, I couldn’t have been happier. The strap is plenty long, with adjustment room to spare. It’s exceptionally well made, and has really stood up to the abuse I’ve put it through. It’s stitched really well and made out of great, sturdy materials. Even the tabs, the bits on the ends that hook on to the guitar, are high quality. This is usually a major point of failure and cheapness on straps, even though it’s one of the most important parts.

It’s gotten to the point that whenever I get a new guitar, especially if I think I’m going to use it on stage, I immediately order a Couch strap and buy a set of Straploks for it.

Then, when my old wallet started falling apart, I decided that Couch was the best place to get a new one. One problem: I love chain wallets, and they don’t make any. I shot them an e-mail about the possibility of adding a hole for a chain to the wallet. They agreed to do it for a nominal fee (cost of labor to do it, basically), and I couldn’t be happier with the wallet. It’s a great piece of work and is standing up to daily abuse even better than I had hoped.

So, I encourage you to click over to their site and check out what they have. If they have something that catches your eye, go ahead and get it. You’ll love it. It’s a great company with great products, and I want to send them all the business I can.

- B

Posted in Guitar, Instruments, Music.

Blogenning Theme of the Week: A Letter To Me-A-Decade-Ago

Part of the fun of the Blogenning is having people get to decide what one of your posts that week should be about. Some weeks it’s incredibly easy, some weeks you have nothing to say about that subject and just have to roll with it. This week it’s my turn to choose the topic, and we’re going to be writing a letter to be delivered to ourselves a decade in the past.

Hi Brandon,

If you’re reading this you’re not going to believe who it’s from. You’ve written a few letters to me for school assignments, but probably never thought you’d get one back.

I know this letter will find you well, even if you don’t think so. This winter was pretty rough, huh? Gramps passed away and you’ve had to deal with the loss of someone close to you the first time. Well, it will be many years before you have to deal with it again, so chin up buddy.

I know High School is still a bit odd for you. A year from now you’ll start to hit your stride, and then it’s off to college in Boston! You’re gonna go through the whole deal of feeling out of place again, but for hopefully the last time. In about 5 years you’ll really start to figure things out. You’ll have made a few incredible friends, and will soon be making a whole bunch more. You’ll actually enjoy being social. You’ll be less afraid to let people see who you are and be more comfortable in yourself. Things are going to be pretty awesome, but you’re going to have to tough it out.

You’re going to lose your faith in a lot of things, but it will come back in different ways. Lots of stuff is going to change, but life will continue on.

I remember walking in your shoes all those years ago, but it feels today like you’re a different person entirely. The things that mattered then, with a few notable exceptions, no longer matter. The things you worry about will work themselves out, and your propensity to worry will go away. You’ll stop thinking about how your life should go, and start enjoying how your life is actually going.

There are a few things about yourself that you will be shocked to learn, but it will be more important for you to find those out for yourself, so I won’t go in to them in detail.

Follow your heart, and your head, and listen to your friends when they give you good advice. Don’t be scared to try and don’t be scared to fail. Be scared of not having the chance to fail.

In 5 days from when you recieve this, if this whole thing works correctly, the entire world is going to change. Something unbelievable is going to happen, and no one will see it coming. There’s nothing you can do about it. That’s not how this message-through-time thing works. Keep your head about you, and don’t get caught in the furvor. Do your best to keep an open, accepting, and loving mind. Make yourself available for those who need you, but remember to take care of yourself too.

Go and read “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” by Kurt Vonnegut. If you don’t have time, you’ll get to it in college, but there’s a passage you need to read:

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

Take care of yourself. Actually, I know you will.

- B

Posted in Personal.

Ira Glass – The Gap

Ira Glass - The Gap

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Every time I create something I think about this. I think it’s because, even though I’ve done a lot of creative work, I still feel like I’m working my way across the gap. I feel a bit like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade when he has to take the leap of faith. ( for reference) I am shimmying across a bridge I can’t see, but which is very real, very strong, and very narrow. As long as I keep working and trusting in my own taste, I will make it across. Occasionally though I stop, and when I take the next step my foot slips off the side a bit and I feel like I’m going to fall. I feel like it’s time to quit and to resign myself to never being good enough to satisfy my own tastes. Thankfully most of the time I’ve come to my senses and, thought discouraged, have carried on.

I guess more accurately I sort of feel like a multitude of  Indiana Jones clones, each at a different part of the leap of faith. A lot of them are waiting on the ledge, looking down to certain death. Some have put their foot out, and have almost resigned themselves to taking the step. The writer in me has inched a few feet out, but has stopped to catch his breath a bit. The photographer in me is a little farther a long, but has fallen off and is hanging on the narrow, invisible bridge by his fingertips. The musician in me is the farthest along, and right now he’s take sure steps in the right direction.

The important difference between Indy and myself is he could see the other side of the chasm, and I cannot. I have no idea how far along I am or how far I have to go. It’s like I’m wearing a blindfold. Sometimes I get the impression I’m getting very close, but I’m never quite sure. I guess some day I’ll be sitting around working on something creative and go “hey I really like this, this doesn’t feel lacking something.” Then I’ll know I’ve crossed the gap. For now, I’ve got more work to do.

- B

Posted in Music, Personal, Photography, Writing.

Blogenning Theme of the Week: Obsessions

Part of the fun of the Blogenning is having people get to decide what one of your posts that week should be about. Some weeks it’s incredibly easy, some weeks you have nothing to say about that subject and just have to roll with it. This week we’re talking about obsessions. I’ll let you decide where this one falls.

Obsessions are interesting things, especially in this caffeine addled day and age. I find my obsessions these days last about an hour or two, and then shift to something else. I remember days as a kid where I could sit around all day playing with matchbox cars or building things with Legos, and be completely absorbed by it for eight or nine hours. My mother would call me for lunch or dinner, and I would try to bring whatever I was playing with along with me, which usually didn’t fly. Then, as soon as I was finished, I would run right back to it.

These days, I get maybe two hours max out of my obsessions. Even at work I don’t have the same obsession all day. I become incredibly engrossed in whatever problem I’m solving, but when you break that down in to sub-problems that only take an hour or two to solve, you find yourself bouncing around a lot. I suppose it would be fair to say that for 8 hours a day I’m obsessed with programming (aside from short breaks for coffee, foosball, and lunch). I am given wholly over to it for that time. It just never feels that way. It always feel like it’s a collection of mini-obsessions in the same general theme. Push one of those smaller obsessions beyond two hours and I start to get bored and cranky.

Even with guitar, which is my current over-arching obsessive theme at home right now, I’m bouncing between writing music, researching amps, researching effects (each effect is it’s own mini-obsession), learning scales, and reading what other people have to say on technique. I may spend an hour on one of those, then take a break to eat dinner, then bounce around the others for a while. Then I’ll become obsessed with DJing on Turntable and talking to my friends. Then back to screwing around on the guitar. Then I’ll work on writing for here. Or work on another project I have going. Then back to guitar before finally turning in for the night.

I never seem to work on anything for more than an hour or two, though, lest my brain rebel and cry “go to sleep, you boring son of a bitch.”

If instead of my mini-obsessions centered definition, we want to consider obsessions as the overarching themes, I find those switch on me about every 3 months. Programming is notable exception to this, as it’s the one I can never really afford to abandon. It provides for me, after all. But if I’m really interested in music right now, in a few months I’ll be on to writing, or photography, or gaming, or maybe something completely new. That’s all I’ll want to talk about, and I’ll talk about it at great lengths. Then, just as I reach a new depth of knowledge in it, and just as you become accustomed to thinking about me as a person obsessed with that sort of thing, I’ll move on to something else.

This has been incredibly frustrating for me, historically. All of the greats had life-long obsessions with something. They were wholly given over to one thing and spent their entire lives mastering it. The closest I come to that is programming, and that’s out of necessity to provide for myself and have a career. I enjoy it, but, like I said about writing a few posts ago, it’s not really who I am at the core. The closest I come to a lifelong obsession in my heart is music, but there are too many things that get in the way.

I don’t mean that I feel like I’ve had to give up on my dream because it was a crap-shoot instead of a safe bet. It seems to me that most creative people who don’t work as artists seem to think that way. That’s not it for me. I like my job. The problem with considering music as my life-long obsession is that I get completely burned out on it from time to time. While it may be the thing in my life that means the most to me, sometimes I want absolutely nothing to do with it. Some days I’ve had enough of it and can’t stomach listening to music or thinking about it anymore. Sometimes that day becomes weeks, or months. I’ve always come around, but maybe one day I won’t.

As I said, it takes a life-long obsessions to become great. This is why I will never be a great guitar player, or pianist, or drummer. I can’t focus my entire life on obsession over any one of those things. I want to do them all. I want to learn more instruments. I want to learn and do as much different, interesting stuff with music as I can. Provided I don’t get burned out on it completely, this may someday mean I become a master musician, but I’m not counting on that.

No, I’ll continue to bounce around my various obsessions and see what happens. It’s the way I do things, and it’s served me well so far. It may not have given me the ability to feel like I’ve mastered any one thing, but these days I’m less sure that’s actually important. What it’s given me is a lifetime of new experiences and things to talk about. I think everyone works differently. Some people need to always be trying something new, and some people want to do one thing really well. I seem to be somewhere in the middle, which seems to be a good place to be. I hope it will continue, and that I will become obsessed with new and unexpected things as time goes on.

You can bet I’ll talk to you about them on here.

- B

Posted in Personal.

Heroes and Inspirations

This post was prompted by a certain early 90s alt-rock icon, who, last week, devolved into a transphobic 12-year-old internet troll. (Watch the video in that last link for a sincere and thoughtful response to it all by an incredibly brave woman.  FYI: she makes amazing guitar and bass effects, which I thoroughly encourage you to check out, regardless of it all.)

I know a couple of people who really look up to that guy for a number of different reasons. I suspect there are people out there who consider him a personal hero of theirs.

Well, I think the idea of having a hero is bullshit.

There is no human being on this planet worthy of being a hero to someone else. Every great person has done something terrible in their life. To allow someone to be a hero to you, opens you up to you wanting to be that person. Being that person, if even possible, means making the same mistakes as that person. That’s bullshit.

I’d rather have inspirations.

For a while, I almost considered Eric Clapton a here of mine. This is a man who had a terrible heroin addiction, stole one of his best friend’s wives, and, while drunk, made racist comments about how England should be kept white. What the hell kind of hero is that?

Having Eric Clapton as an inspiration, though, I can handle. The way he plays guitar touches something deep in my soul. I would love to be able to play like him. That is something I can strive for, without having to deal with any of the other bullshit that would go along with living a life like Eric Clapton’s.

People are amazing in their ability to be terrible and mess up their own lives. If you’re going to look up to someone, let the great things they’ve done inspire great things in you. Don’t try to be them. Cut out all of the shit they did that disgusts you, and never repeat it. Never forget they did it. Forgive them, if they seem worthy of forgiveness, sure. But in your own life, let them only inspire good things.

Forget having a hero, make them an inspiration.

- B

Posted in Uncategorized.

Front The Most

Not a long post today, but I do like ocasionally to not say very much and share something awesome.

So, if you’re a nerd, or think your might be a nerd, or just like music, and you haven’t checked out MC Frontalot, do so right now.

Then considering heading over to his site and grabbing his stuff. He has a new album out this week.

- B

Posted in Uncategorized.

On Writing

So I’m a writer. I write. I write here. I write novels every November. I like that kind of writing, but I don’t love that kind of writing. It’s not me.

I am never fully myself when writing here or elsewhere. I am creating a caricature of either myself, or the world I see, or the worlds I imagine. This can be fun an illuminating. Getting feedback on it is certainly pleasant and often yields new and interesting thoughts or conversations. In the end, though, it’s still all happening at a high level. It’s not happening for me deep down.

When I write music, that is when it clicks. I don’t have to be direct, or talk about something in specifics. I can paint a mood. I can paint the mood I’m in. I can paint the location I’m in, or where I want to be. I can show someone what is really going on in my head and in my heart in a way that’s more finely tuned to that sort of thing. Spoken language is incredibly inefficient at communicating certain things, but music absolutely excels at it.

I’m sometimes told my music is weird. Well, so am I. I’m told some of my music is angry. Well, yes, I sometimes am. I’m told some of my music is catchy. That’s because I wrote it for you. I’m told some of my music is peaceful. Well, that’s how I like to be. I’ve been happy and sad and all of these things. I can pull songs out that I’ve written that communicate just about every mood I’ve ever been in.

Most of those songs you will never hear, because those moods are something only I think I should have to deal with. Some you will, and I hope they inspire something in you.

I also hope, that when language fails you, you’ll try to look inside and see if there’s a song forming in your heart that says it much better.

Then, learn how to get that song out, and share it with me.

That would be awesome.

- B

Posted in Music.

Blogenning Theme of the Week: Pets

Part of the fun of the Blogenning is having people get to decide what one of your posts that week should be about. Some weeks it’s incredibly easy, some weeks you have nothing to say about that subject and just have to roll with it. This week we’re talking about pets. I’ll let you decide where this one falls.

Growing up I always liked the idea of having pets. I had an aquarium for a while. I was around 5 or 6, and could spend hours watching them swim around while making up stories about what they were doing. This was years and years before Finding Nemo came out, so at the time it seemed sort of novel to me. I think at one point I even drew and wrote a short book (crayons and construction paper make a book, obviously) about what my fish were up to.

My parents both had dogs and cats around the house when they were growing up, but neither of them were really in to the idea of pets as adults. I think it was too much work for too little perceived payout for them. Eventually my mom had bird feeders out back and used to treat the birds almost as her pets, but it’s just not the same as having a furry little creature wandering around the house.

Sure our neighbors had dogs (which barked constantly, much to my dad’s chagrin), and family friends had dogs. My aunt had cats. I got some exposure, but it wasn’t until college that I really lived with one. It was a cat Ian had brought from home, and it wandered around the apartment like it was stoned out of its mind. It was generally pleasant, but it really did not care about my existence at all. Partially it feels like my fault. I never really wanted it to wander around my room because I had guitars and stuff sitting out I didn’t want damaged. It was nice to have something wandering around the apartment (aside from the mice), but never really clicked with me.

I’ve clicked most with dogs, though. Cats will endure letting me pet them, but dogs seem genuinely happy to see you. Someday if I’m with someone who wants a pet and I get a say in it, I’m going to vote for a terrier or a corgi, but until that day, I’m content not to have a pet.

Whenever someone asks if I have a pet, I tend to point out that my roommate is allergic. This is entirely a cop out on my part to avoid having to go in to a long winded explanation about my feelings on pets, which, frankly, bores me almost as much as it would the person asking. If I really wanted a pet, if it meant enough to me to turn down having an entirely awesome roommate, I’d do something about it. That’s really not it. Right now I just don’t have the time and am not home enough to not feel like I was abandoning it constantly. It’s tough enough for an animal in the city, especially a dog, to find places to run and to play. If it was couped up at home all day with no one to play with, I’d feel pretty damn bad.

So I don’t have a pet, and, you know what, that’s completely cool with me. I have pet projects instead, and those keep me plenty busy.

- B

Posted in Personal.


Experiment. Have fun. Bend the rules. Break the rules. See what something will do. Life is too short not to mess around with things and see what happens.

However, don’t hurt anyone else by doing it, and try not to hurt yourself.

Try to learn as much about what you’re about to do as you can before you do it. Then forget all of it and see what you can come up with.

Have fun. Be respectful of those around you, but have fun.

- B

Posted in Personal, Philosophy.

Blogenning Theme of the Week: Birthdays and Growing Up

This week’s blogenning theme is a little more open ended that the last, in an effort to acommodate people who aren’t about to have, or haven’t just had, a birthday. It seems a good portion of the Blogenning members have Birthdays in these next few months, myself included.

I turn 25 this year. I have been breathing the air of this world for a quarter of a century. For some reason, this is sort of a mind trip for me. It’s not a huge birthday as things go. I guess I can rent cars without paying a premium soon. It’s not like 18 (voting, porn, and tobacco products) or 21 (whiskey! beer! … and other alcohol too I guess). There’s no new level of rights and privileges to unlock this year. It’s just something about being able to think about being alive for a “quarter century” that does it.

Minor mental hangups aside, I’m still enjoying growing older. It’s sort of comforting to look back a few years and see the immature jackass I used to be, and know that I’m still the same jackass I’ve gotten a little wiser with age. I’m better at the things I enjoy doing. I’m more self-sufficient and self-aware. I may also be more tired and more set in my ways. I certainly don’t bounce back from being sick or being injured as quickly as I used to. These are minor things though, and all and all, I’m enjoying it.

All I want from this year is to be more comfortable with myself and my tastes. To not worry if people don’t agree with me. To just be who I think I should be, and try to have the grace to know when I’m wrong and need to listen.

That’s all I’ve ever wanted, I think. So far, so good.

As to the big day… well, I don’t usually bother much with it. Maybe this year I’ll host a movie night around the time. I’ll probably go out with a few friends for a few drinks that night. That seems to be working out for people.

So, thanks for a great 25 years, and here’s to many more for all of us!

- B

Posted in Personal.