Saturday, December 24, 2016

Annual Holiday Track: Angels We Have Heard On High

Merry Christmas! I am a bit late to post my annual "holiday single." This year, I decided to record all parts simultaneously, in one take. I am playing the Ebow guitar and A Little Thunder bass parts at the same time, and my lead vocal has a harmony vocal because I used a harmonizer pedal. This is actually the ninth and final take of the recording session.

You can download "Angels We Have Heard On High" (in stereo) HERE. You can download the LibriVox version (in mono) with other fine holiday performances HERE.

A funny (kinda infuriating) thing happened when I was posting my past holiday recordings on Instagram. I received a "copyright" notice for the rendition of "O Christmas Tree" that I recorded in 2010. Here's all evidence laid forth in a neat-looking collage:


The mono version of "O Christmas Tree" was released into the public domain through LibriVox as part of its Christmas Carol Collection 2010. In 2014, someone called "Jones Reading Company" uploaded the compilation to various music services so they could make some money from public domain gifts to the world. I can almost guess that the standard copyright-sniffing bot gathers its data from commercial websites, not from public domain/Creative Commons websites.

I never released the stereo version of "O Christmas Tree" to the public domain. That is the version I enjoy more, and for all intents and purposes, it belongs to me. While the copyright of the stereo version belongs to me, I make it available to download for free.

When I uploaded my video, Instagram almost-instantly took down my video of my music that I performed every note on. Angered and confused, I instantly appealed this "copyright notice." This is my music. The stereo version is mine. The mono version belongs to everyone. No one can claim copyright over what belongs to the public domain.

Thankfully, Instagram restored my video. When I uploaded two additional parts of the song, I didn't have any trouble.

For now.

I am more than happy to escalate any issues that involve copyright trolls and invalid copyright claims. You gotta fight for your right ... to party, of course!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, happy every other Winter Solstice holidays, Happy New Year, ...

... and cheers!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Just Checking In

November was a crazy month for sports fans and political sports fans alike. I don't need to repeat what virtually everyone who has Internet access already knows or disputes or whatever. Needless to say, my October rant is still relevant to me.

This week on Instagram, I have been posting photos that were shot with a 250mm zoom lens, zoomed all the way to 250mm. It's a cool little experiment because I usually default at the 35mm to 55mm range for my LEGO photos.

After revealing the winners of the October contest, I stopped posting on my other Instagram to focus on writing content on that very same account. A Terrible Realm will finally be a proper story!

I've turned my other other Instagram account into a (hopefully) fun contest. The purpose of my other other Instagram account is to repost the work of others, as a daily "feature." The first account to have seven different solo features -- one for every day of the week -- will win a small prize in a game called "Feature Bait Bingo"!

I believe that's all the time I have to write on this blog. I hope the December holiday season will be good. I probably won't post again until around New Year's Eve, so I will take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the other holidays that happen around the same time.

Cheers!

Monday, October 31, 2016

A-hole Culture Is Profitable (and other Quick Blurbs)

It's Halloween 2016. I haven't posted in this blog in about a month. I will try to keep this post short -- this will be me brainstorming out loud to post in depth later (maybe).

A$$hole culture is profitable. Who are the big stars on TV? Music? Who are the nominees to be President of the United States of America?

Assholes, that's who. If you want to succeed in modern society, be a total asshole and always undercut and subtly cheat everyone in your interactions.

You know it's sad but true.

To be civilized is to be superficial. Do you know what the standard of beauty is in this global culture? It's a mashup between Greco-Roman statues and latter-20th century fashion magazines. The sheep of society call this "aesthetics." They think "beauty" is a divinely mandated idea.

It's all propaganda.

Superficial perception is only good for about two things:  To identify health problems in others, and to communicate via body language. All else is vanity, and everything vain plays into the aforementioned asshole culture, that's so very, very profitable.

Everyone creates or adopts a complex worldview in order to pat themselves on the back. Think of all the racists and racial supremacists you know. Their worldview is just a way to pat themselves on the back for being who they are -- and they are who they are by no choice of their own. Now think of all the founders of religious orders and denominations.

Same deal. To be self-centered is to be a part of asshole culture.

The past 10,000 years (or so) of global civilization seems to be reaching a critical mass, where the jokes about mental illness (e.g., kids who meme often "joke" about suicide) and the actual occurrence of mental illness are at incredible levels -- so I've observed.

All modes of civilization relies on the pyramid structure. Capitalism? Few on top, many on bottom. Communism? Few on top to make the decisions of "equality," with the masses on the bottom.

People who say they're capitalists, but don't own any significant capital are merely fans of capitalism -- sheep for the real capitalists to deceive and devour.

The same can be said about communists who are part of the party elite.

The same can be said about people who believe in the divine right of kings, but are merely peasants.

Most of us are peasants. Virtually all of us are peasants.

The second son of a second son of the king is probably a peasant -- okay, a minor noble, at best.

It is better to be a "friend" than an "equal." Friends complement each other: One can be strong when others are weak.

Ethnic slurs are either pejorative or may be a silly way to express friendship. In a just world, these words would just be a slightly mean way to be friendly.

Kindness is not profitable. Asshole culture dictates that kindness is weakness. As long as asshole culture is profitable, few people will dare to be kind.

Be kind anyway.

That's enough negativity to point out for today -- or for this month. Perhaps after the election, I can try to write some positive solutions ...

I doubt it, though.

Good luck on the elections, all of us.

Cheers.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Just Checking In

I really don't have the time to blog. Or journal. Or whatever this medium is called these days.

For the sake of writing exercise, I suppose I'll have to write something here for the almost-completed month of September. I've used up most of my creative energy posting on Instagram. For a while, I've been posting daily on four accounts:

@ryan_deramos
@aterriblerealm
@featurebait
@chorddujour

Thankfully, I think I've used up all the pre-made chord/mode/scale diagrams for Chord du Jour's Instagram, so I don't have to post there for a while, just like how I don't post at FoodBoozeTunes anymore.

So that leaves the three LEGO-oriented profiles. One is for my everyday adventures, with my sigfig and Kate's dogfig and a neat purple guitar. The second is supposed to be for a webcomic, but I think I want to tell that story in a slightly different way. The last is a feature account that is surprisingly getting some community participation.

That's all for September. My birthday is in about 10 days. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sixty Sundays: #LEGO #GameOfThrones on #Instagram

Sixty Sundays. I have been posting these Game of Thrones photos for past 60 Sundays on Instagram. Before that first Sunday, I sort of posted a LEGO photo here and there, if I had nothing else to post. I had just found the perfect head for my sigfig, but I didn't even know there was an active community of all kinds of people who take meaningful photos of timeless plastic toys.

Fifty-nine Sundays later, I have been interacting with people in the LEGO photography community on a daily basis. The pieces of plastic that I have chosen to represent my dog and myself have traveled the world, and they will continue to do so, if I can find more bubble mailers. Over the course of 60 Sundays, I find myself posting daily on not one, not two, but three LEGO-centric Instagram accounts -- one for often silly personal topics, another for a webcomic / community contests, and a third to try to give back to the community that's been so kind to the first two, by encouraging newer accounts to keep shooting, posting, and improving.

In any case, here are the final five Game of Thrones spoiler photos, until next summer, at the earliest.


In "Blood of my Blood," Samwell claimed House Tarly's family sword Heartsbane for his own, before running off to Oldtown with Gilly and baby Sam.


In "The Broken Man," we met the real hero of Season Six, Lyanna Mormont, for the first time.


In "No One," Arya Stark finally found herself, and she's either a killer ... or Batman.


"Battle of the Bastards" was the best episode ever, so far.


In "The Winds of Winter," Jon Snow was declared the King in the North! (Among other revelations and cliffhangers.)

And that's all 60 episodes of Game of Thrones.

I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all those who have joined me -- or should I say, who have graciously invited me to join them -- on this journey of smiles and high fives and LEGO. Cheers!

I don't know what to write about next month. I'll figure it out, hopefully. Cheers!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Penultimate #LEGO #GameOfThrones Post for 2016!

I started recreating still frames from Game of Thrones, in LEGO, in 2014 -- on Tumblr. Since I didn't feel like part of the community there, in any niche, that experiment lasted for about two posts.

I began to post LEGO Game of Thrones photos on Instagram right after the fifth season finale, in 2015. I re-recreated the first two episodes, previously posted on Tumblr, slightly improving the photograph quality. For the Tumblr version, I used an outdated point-and-shoot "superzoom" camera; for Instagram, I used a low-end DSLR.

I posted for 50 Sundays in a row, covering all episodes from the first five seasons of the show. I needed to fill the gap between the end of the fifth season and the anticipated beginning of the sixth. In fact, the sixth season was well under way by the time I finished the 50 episode photograph series.

I chose not to stop after episode 50. With the sixth season in progress, obviously, there were more episodes to recreate with LEGO photography. Without further ado, here are recreations from the first half of the sixth season of Game of Thrones, as spoilers in LEGO.


In "The Red Woman," the red priestess Melisandre is (1) older than she looks and (2) sleeps in the nude. Someone who uses the phrase "can't unsee this" in regards to physical appearance is almost always a superficial person. Being superficial is a very average thing do be, and I'm beginning to despise average superficial people. (Okay, not "beginning to" ... )


Jon Snow wakes up from his dirt nap in "Home." It's more of a table nap than a dirt nap. In any case, Jon was dead, and Melisandre's prayer/magic spell and ironic lack of faith did the trick. Cue the first lyric from "Days of the Week" by Stone Temple Pilots: "Monday, back from the dead ..."


We lost another direwolf in "Oathbreaker": Rickon's Shaggydog.


In "Book of the Stranger," Jon Snow reunites with Sansa Stark. He also rocks the man-bun.


In "The Door," a young stable boy named Wylis becomes Hodor, and Hodor dies while holding the door. Bran's direwolf Summer also dies fighting the White Walkers and their wights (zombies). The Three-Eyed Raven also dies, and so do Leaf and the last of the Children of the Forest. This is all Bran's fault.

I have three more episodes to recreate and photograph in LEGO, and that's it for LEGO Game of Thrones in 2016! Unless, of course, if George R.R. Martin finishes and publishes The Winds of Winter before the end of the year, I might recreate non-TV scenes from the book in LEGO form.

But probably not. I'll blog again sometime in August. Cheers!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

#GameOfThrones Season 7 Spoilers Are Not Here, Just Spoilers from 5 (and 6) in #LEGO

I never got around to blogging in June, but I am considering this my June post. I even fudged with the date and time to make it a June post.

It's July 6th at the time of this writing, if you were wondering.

In any case -- Season 6 of Game of Thrones was spectacular! I am currently spoiling the sixth season in LEGO on my Instagram, one shot from one scene from one episode every Sunday.

For this entry, we are in the second half of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Odd-numbered seasons seem to be downer seasons, in which the intended antagonists have the upper hand. Season 5 is no different. The intended protagonists are mostly down on their luck anyway, but there's something about odd seasons ...


In "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken," Ramsay Bolton rapes Sansa Stark on their wedding night, while Reek (Theon Greyjoy) is forced to watch. With LEGO minifigures, you can make caricatured renditions of on-screen characters that more-or-less reflects the personality of the character. In other words, I'm a bit proud of the cobbled-together Ramsay, who is greenish and sunken-eyed and mischievously malevolent-looking. In an earlier photo, I made Ramsay's father Roose with a vampire head. And so are the Boltons, metaphorically sad to say.


In "The Gift," Samwell Tarly tries to save Gilly from two Night's Watch would-be attackers, but he fails miserably. The direwolf Ghost actually saves the day.


In "Hardhome," Jon Snow -- the bastard who knows nothing -- finally knows something when he kills a White Walker with his Valyrian Steel sword, Longclaw.


In "The Dance of Dragons," Daenerys Targaryen rides her dragon Drogon, and ditches her crew in the process -- until sometime in the sixth season. Spoilers, I know.


In "Mother's Mercy," Jon Snow dies, assassinated by mutinous brothers of the Night's Watch, including Ser Alliser Thorne and Ygritte's killer, Olly. Don't worry; Jon comes back from the dead two episodes later. Unfortunately, in real-life time, the wait was almost a year.

I'll spoil the first half of Season 6 -- in LEGO, of course -- as soon as possible.

Cheers!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#HoldtheDoor! and other #GameOfThrones Spoilers (in #LEGO)

Spoiler alert! I'm pretty sure this blog entry will spoil not only the first half of Game of Thrones Season Five, but also details from the current season of the show (Season Six). We might as well get most of it out of the way:

Jon Snow lives!

Hodor held the door.

The Children of the Forest created the White Walkers.

Bran can time travel.

There are only two Stark direwolves (the CGI-enhanced animals) left: Ghost (who's with Jon) and Nymeria (who has been missing in the Riverlands since Season One).

RIP Tonks, err, Osha. Not to be confused with Asha, who was renamed Yara. Speaking of renaming characters, Hodor's real name in the show is Wyllis, but in the books, his name is Walder.

Daenerys is fireproof.

Arya quit the Faceless Men.

Uncle Benjen is essentially a White Walker, but he's helping Bran.

No one dies in the sixth episode of the sixth season, except perhaps Dany must have fed her horse to Drogon off-screen.

Et cetera, et cetera. Let's spoil the first half of the fifth season now.


In "The Wars to Come," Mance Rayder is burned at the stake, but Jon Snow shoots an arrow to ease his suffering.


In "The House of Black and White," Jaqen H'ghar returns to the show, and begins Arya's training to become a Faceless (Wo-)Man.


In "The High Sparrow," Jorah Mormont abducts Tyrion Lannister.


It is Ser Barristan Selmy's last stand in the episode "Sons of the Harpy."


In "Kill the Boy," Viserion and Rhaegal share a Meereenese noble for dinner.

That's all the blogging I'll do in the month of May. I'll be sure to blog about the second half of Season Five (in LEGO) in June. I'll probably photograph LEGO scenes for Season Six after that! All this will first be on my Instagram, of course.

Cheers!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

#LEGOPhotography of #KateMonth, Days 29 and 30 #KateDog

We finish Kate Month with the final two days in April, the 29th and 30th. I must say that it has been an enjoyable experience "documenting" all the adventures -- real and imagined -- of my dog Kate and yours truly (et al.) for an entire month on Instagram. With my dog as a character, situations as surreal as my imagination allows, a good amount of LEGO, and a decent camera -- it's virtually impossible to have the photographer's version of writer's block.

On the 29th, plastic Kate and my sigfig traveled back to sword and sorcery times, to meet a wizard with a really cool cape. There was a pile of bones. We (they? we?) were on horses. My sigfig had a shield with the Mercedes-Benz logo. It was all ... fantastic. The story could go in several directions. I was thinking that the wizard was a necromancer, and the skeletons became animated. Kate and I would then have to battle the skeletons.


On the 30th, we finish the month with a hypercube flashback. I'm not in the flashback photo, but both Kate and my drum machine are. Both my dog and my drum machine are anthropomorphized as LEGO minifigures. The month of April was also "favorite three minifigures" month in some LEGO community circles. It's hard for me to choose my three specific favorites, but I like the characters of my dog, my drum machine, and yours truly in whatever costume.


As a bonus, I posted a similar photo of three minifigures on another Instagram profile, A Terrible Realm. I've also named the minifigure characters -- Memo the Drum Machine, Forge the Sigfig, and Katenine "K89" Farluna from the Far Side of the Moon. This particular Instagram will be more story-oriented, as it involves a cast of characters and a strange fantasy world -- A Terrible Realm.


In the above photo, the three minifigures pose as the three archetypal classes in role-playing games: Memo is a shooter of missiles, Forge is a melee fighter, and K89 is a user of magic and/or technology. I don't think the story will keep the characters pigeonholed as such, but we'll see what happens.

Tomorrow is the start of May, and at the very least I should have a Game of Thrones blog post sometime in the month. Cheers, and Happy Birthday once again to Kate Dog!

Friday, April 29, 2016

#LEGOPhotography of #KateMonth, Week 4 #KateDog

Last year, I celebrated "Kate Week" on Instagram from April 26th to May 2nd, with Kate's birthday on the 28th (her 28th in dog years, coincidentally) somewhere in between.

This year, since I decided to celebrate an entire "Kate Month," I also decided to place Kate Week as the fourth week in April, starting on the 22nd and culminating on "Kate Day," the 28th.

Kate Day was yesterday, so now I have enough LEGO photos to cover all seven days of Kate Week.

The 22nd was Earth Day. It has become a biannual (semiannual) tradition to give Kate a present for her birthday in April and for Christmas in December. Kate likes balls, specifically, the dog toys manufactured by Planet Dog. I'm sure Kate would like any old toy, but Planet Dog balls seem to stand up to Kate's relatively rough playing style. Long story short, this photo was a preview of Kate's birthday present: A Planet Dog Earth ball. Three forms of LEGO Kate Dog are presented in the photo.


April 23rd was St. George's Day, so we decided to reenact a Knight with a St. George's Cross shield battling a dragon. It's tradition, I think. In any case, I am still on a righteous crusade to make St. George's in April into an inclusive American drinking holiday, like Mardi Gras in February(-ish), St. Paddy's Day in March, and Cinco de Mayo in May.


I just wanted to make another cutesy hypercube flashback photo for April 24th. This photo also highlights the difference between a rawhide treat for dogs and a candy bar for humans.


I tried to create a pun-filled photo for April 25th. My anthropomorphic drum machine is dressed similarly to the old Late Night with Conan O'Brien character Pimpbot 5000. In this scenario, he runs an animal shelter full of female dogs, felines, and a hen. He also threatens my signature minifigure with a switchblade, saying, "I'll cut you, fool!"


On April 26th, Kate Dog the Skate Dog hung out with her new punk rock girlfriends -- Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie and the Skater Girl minifigure who probably influenced the design of Wyldstyle.


April 27th was "Where's Ya Wiener? Wednesday." Kate and a bunch of other dogs want some hot dogs ... and perhaps dudes in hot dog suits.


April 28th was Kate Day. She turned 35 dog years yesterday. The LEGO characters in the photo try to emulate the images in the flashback hypercube. Direwolf Kate sniffs a blue sphere, like real Kate sniffing her new Planet Dog Earth ball. Ninjago Kate wears clothes that are similar to real Kate's Kong harness. My sigfig in a denim jacket has an open mouth like yours truly in a denim jacket. My Ninjago sigfig is also ready for the Weekend Whip.


April 29th and 30th are basically bonus days in the context of Kate Month. I'll post those last two photos for the month on either the 30th or May 1st. I'm certain that Kate had a wonderful 5th birthday, and I hope to celebrate Kate Month / Kate Week / Kate Day again for many years to come.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

#LEGOPhotography of #KateMonth, Week 3 #KateDog

It's Kate's birthday today. She's 35 dog years, as of today -- 5 Earth years.

Anyhow, all April long, I've been posting Kate-related LEGO adventures on my Instagram. I call this month, "Kate Month." I've blogged about the first two weeks of the month; now, we're in week number three.

April 15th wasn't Tax Day this year -- it was on the 18th. I continued my binge-obsession with Ninjago, with another Mortal Kombat mash-up of sorts. I've been slowly developing how my sigfig (signature minifigure) would look if he were a ninja. He'd wear fancy clothes and wield a Weekend Whip.


My Instagram account hit 500 followers on April 16th.  I commemorated that milestone with various iterations of my sigfig, as well as of Kate.


I continued the Weekend Whip joke on April 17th, with a commentary on the weekend fun vehicle versus the daily driver.


There was more Ninjago-Mortal Kombat on April 18th. Here we have Kai as Liu Kang versus Nya as Kitana or Mileena.


On April 19th, I made another hypercube flashback to Kate's puppy days. Apparently she was obsessed with chewing on my hair back then.


In the LEGO community on Instagram, Wednesday is both "LEGO Horror Wednesday" and "Where's Ya Wiener? Wednesday." On April 20th, I tried to do both simultaneously, with a Yakov Smirnoff-attributed "Russian Reversal": In Soviet Russia, hot dog eats you!


Prince died on April 21st.


Tomorrow, I'll share the photos from Kate Week!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

#LEGOPhotography of #KateMonth, Week 2 #KateDog

Here are the Instagram photos from the the second week of April, or what I call "Kate Month."

Just to briefly summarize what I'm blogging about: My dog Kate's birthday is on the 28th of April, and I have been photographing a bunch of random adventures of a dog and her human in LEGO form.

On April 8th, I bought a dozen (or so) donuts. My favorite donut is the glazed twist. For me, twists taste better when they're about a day old. Freshly-made twists are good, too. I've kept the food-related posts to a relative minimum in the month of April.


April 9th further commemorates my binge-watching of Ninjago. It seems that Ninjago is basically Mortal Kombat for the kids of the kids who played the original Mortal Kombat in the arcades. Ninjago is basically the bloodless Super Nintendo version. Here, Kate presides over a death match between Sensei Wu (as Raiden) and the brown ninja Dareth (as Johnny Cage).


April 10th was "National Siblings Day," so I photographed minifigures of my brother and me, as well as an extra large direwolf Kate and her litter of Kates. In reality, Kate's spayed. (See what I did there?)


April 11th was "National Pet Day," so I reenacted a photograph of a dog and her human.


April 12th depicted a skateboard race on a Hot Wheels track between Kate and a mutated fly Bart Simpson.


April 13th was Kobe's final game. This photo was taken before the game, where he scored 60 points.


We had pizza on April 14th.


Tomorrow, I'll post photos from the third week of April.