Code Monkey Save World

April 22nd, 2013

About a week ago my friend Greg Pak and I announced a secret project we’ve been working on called Code Monkey Save World. It’s a graphic novel based on characters from a few JoCo songs, and we’re funding it through Kickstarter. Here’s the cover:

Greg Pak is an old friend from college, and a talented writer of many comics including “Planet Hulk,” “Batman/Superman,” and “Magneto Testament.” Artist Takeshi Miyazawa will do pencils and inks, Jessica Kholinne (“X-Treme X-Men”) will color, and Simon Bowland (“Incredible Hercules”) will letter.

Boy howdy, this internet thing moves fast! I was expecting a slow ramp up that would allow me to carefully compose a thoughtful blog post about the nature of crowd funding. Instead, we blew through our goal of $39,000 in less than a day, and we currently sit at around $125,000. We’ve already increased the page count from 60 to 80, kind of a retroactive stretch goal arbitrarily set at some number that was higher than we ever expected to get, and we’ve got other stuff planned for even more ridiculous numbers.

FOR INSTANCE: today we’ve announced that if we reach $130,000 we’ll increase the page count yet again to 96 pages, which means four covers, the back cover, 80 pages of story, and eleven pages of extras and goodies. That’s 32 more story pages than we originally planned. And as part of those 11 pages of goodies, we’ve enlisted Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, the creators of “Action Philosophers” and “Comic Book Comics,” to create a little two page story based on one of my songs (probably “Mandelbrot Set”).

THIS WHOLE THING IS NUTS.

Honestly, the response has blown my expectations out of the water. My sincere thanks to everyone who has already chipped in – it’s going to be an amazing thing thanks to you guys. Everyone knows this already, but it’s pretty great living here in the future.

You can check out more artwork, story details, and all the various cool stuff available to backers here at our Kickstarter project.

The Cruise Is Over; Long Live The Cruise!

February 21st, 2013

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It always takes me a few days to come down from the experience. I think I’m almost there, though I still catch myself thinking that Brooklyn is a dream, and being onboard a giant cruise ship is my real life.

First of all: holy BEANS that was a good time! This was the third year we’ve done JoCo Cruise Crazy, and we’ve learned a lot each year about how to run an event cruise. This was the best so far in my opinion. Everything seemed to run pretty smoothly, or else there were enough people shielding me from the bad stuff that it felt that way, and either situation is fine with me! I can’t thank Paul and Storm and Scarface enough for all their hard work, not to mention the army of volunteer helper monkeys who held the whole thing together. Scarface in particular was working his poor little hideously disfigured butt off while the rest of us were chilling with tropical beverages. He gets an extra ration of gruel (and once his gruel debt is paid off, he will be able to eat gruel again, so yay Scarface!).

The Sea Monkeys continue to own this thing. I say it every time, and it was truer than ever this year, but so much of what happens just grows naturally out of this huge group of wonderful people being together in the same place at the same time. The shadow cruise is where it’s at. It would be dishonest for me to take credit for ALL the awesomeness. Though I will say that we had a great lineup of performers, old and new, and in addition to the wonderful, funny, moving stuff they did on stage, their presence at all sorts of non-performative hangout type events really made it feel like a giant weeklong party. Such a great vibe.

A few favorite moments: the Double Clicks self-doubting Mars Rover song, the increasingly ridiculous Mike Phirman birthday gag, John Roderick’s debut of a BRAND NEW SONG, Hodgman’s cruise ship emergency government plan, his riffing on cylinders with Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy, Joseph Scrimshaw’s story about french kissing a bear, celebrity Artemis (one of those “I can’t believe this is my job moments”), Zoe Keating blowing everyone’s heads off and making everyone cry so that our tears became the sea and the sea was somehow INSIDE HER CELLO, Randall Munroe’s solar system physics tweaks on John Roderick’s airplane story, the incredible scene that was the Hodgman/Rees DJ Danceparty Showdown, me getting riddled with bullets during Wil Wheaton’s Robocop sitcom reading, and Storm’s apparently epic karaoke moment (which I did NOT EVEN SEE and will always regret), and most of all, my new favorite thing ever, live band karaoke with Christian and Adam and you. And that’s just the official events – it barely scratches the surface. So much stuff.

We’ve already gotten a ship for next year, and I cannot recommend strongly enough that everyone in the world book passage thereon. We’ll be on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, February 23 – March 1, 2014, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Labadee, Haiti. At the moment booking is only open to Sea Monkeys who were on JCCC3, but we’ll open it up to the general public very soon.

Thank you guys for making this trip so great. I can’t wait to see all of you again.

Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)

January 26th, 2013

This went up in the iTunes store a lot faster than I expected (nice work there Tunecore), and some of you have already found it:

iTunes: Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)
GooglePlay: Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)
AmazonMP3: Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)

I’ve released this track as a single – it should be on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play eventually if it’s not already. It’s a cover of Glee’s cover of my cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song, which is to say it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as my original version. I’m releasing this under the same Harry Fox license I used for the 2005 release, so Mix will get all the royalties due to him. I’ll donate the proceeds from all sales that happen between now and the end of February to two charities: The VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and The It Gets Better Project. (fine print: iTunes will get their cut first of course, then I’ll deduct enough to cover my licensing fees, and split the rest between the two. iTunes sometimes takes a long time to report sales, sometimes even a couple of months, so I won’t be able to do the math and make the donation until I have the numbers. But I’ll let you know when I’ve gotten the amount and made the donation.)

I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and I’m truly grateful for your support – honestly, this has been a very stressful time, and it means so much to see how many of you are behind me. I’ve been trying to figure out a positive way to channel all this energy. I haven’t asked you guys to take any specific action throughout this thing, but now I am asking: buy the track, give it some stars, leave a comment (please be civil), and tell everyone you can. Call it a form of protest, awareness raising, viral PR hackitude, whatever you like. I don’t know how big this will get, but there’s a potential to make a lot of noise this way – imagine if this thing charts! And failing that, we will create some real world impact by raising a lot of money for two great causes that are directly related to the Glee brand. There’s your win-win.

Maybe this is something that the Glee people would like to give some EXPOSURE. Though, in order to do that they’d have to make some kind of public acknowledgement that I exist. We’ll see! Maybe they’ll even want to match the gesture, and donate all their February proceeds for their version too!

I will have a lot more to say about this situation soon, most likely Monday. Stay tuned…

He's got science to do!

Check out the Store!

If you like to download your music, you can get individual songs or whole albums, either in 224K MP3 format, open OGG format or in full quality FLAC. You can also purchase downloads from the iTunes music store and other online music stores.

As for CDs, don’t feel bad, I still buy them too sometimes. You can get them on Amazon.

Baby Got Back and Glee

January 18th, 2013

This morning, someone pointed me to this:

http://glee.wikia.com/wiki/Baby_Got_Back

Admittedly it seems to be an unofficial wiki, and I can’t find any clearly FOX-based source that lists this track as a part of episode 11 of season 4. So I guess the jury’s still out on whether or not this is an official Glee recording.

If it is, I have some questions about how IP works in terms of this song. It’s a cover of a Sir Mix-a-Lot song obviously, but I wrote a new melody for it, which this recording uses. Back when I released it, I bought the statutory license to distribute my version of this song through Harry Fox. Creative Commons doesn’t come into play because it’s a cover song, and anyway my CC license specifies Non-Commercial.

A complicating factor is that, to my ears, it sounds like it actually uses the audio from my recording – not the vocals obviously, but the instruments sound EXTREMELY similar. And I could swear I hear the duck quack somewhere in the background there, though it’s hard to say if that’s just my ears expecting it.

Anyway, yes, weird. Exciting times! I’ll post any updates here.

UPDATE 1/18: No word from Glee or Fox, but I’ve seen screenshots of the song on Swedish iTunes listed with artist = Glee Cast. My lawyers are researching the copyright issues, and I am trying to figure out how to isolate the duck quack, or otherwise test the theory that some of my tracks are in there. This side-by-side comparison is crazy: https://soundcloud.com/alacrion/joco-v-glee

MORE UPDATE 1/20: Still no new info. At this point I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on, if this is really Glee, etc. We’ll know more this coming week when the episode it’s supposed to be from actually airs, or if/when FOX actually has a comment about this. Until then, while I am really grateful for everyone’s support, I would suggest that we all chill out until we have the whole story. This is the internet after all – it’s a complicated place and it gets a lot of things wrong. If you want to take some kind of action, donate to the EFF or Creative Commons, which is a good thing to do anytime.

MORE MORE UPDATE 1/25: Well, they aired it, seemingly unchanged. And it’s now for sale in the US iTunes store. They also got in touch with my peeps to basically say that they’re within their legal rights to do this, and that I should be happy for the exposure (even though they do not credit me, and have not even publicly acknowledged that it’s my version – so you know, it’s kind of SECRET exposure). While they appear not to be legally obligated to do any of these things, they did not apologize, offer to credit me, or offer to pay me, and indicated that this was their general policy in regards to covers of covers. It does not appear that I have a copyright claim, but I’m still investigating the possibility (which I consider likely) that they used some or all of my audio. I’ll write something longer and more detailed about this when I can get my head together about it probably in a couple of days. Thanks for your support, but please continue not to burn anything down.