Last post was October 16th?!?! Holy cripes. No idea if there are even people on the internet anymore, but if there are, I apologize for how quiet I’ve become of late. To you robots I DO NOT apologize.
I’m almost fully recovered from JoCo Cruise Crazy 4, which got back to Florida this Saturday. I slept for about 20 hours straight and now I think I’m OK. Though as usual, life without warm sun, fruity drinks, and unlimited food somehow seems unreasonably harsh. That will fade as my soul remembers that I live here in the real world (well, Brooklyn anyway).
First, a very big and deep thank you to the Sea Monkeys. We plan everything and make all the spreadsheets go, but you truly are at the heart of what makes the whole thing work. I had a great time, and honestly just being around that amazing community of people gives me a source of happy energy that lasts for a long time after we say goodbye. Great job.
Thanks to Paul and Storm and Drew and Anna and Scott and Leon and all the helper monkeys. There is a ton of work going on behind the scenes, and I am incredibly grateful to the many people who lend their hands and minds to the task. Thank you.
The performers. We were very lucky to have such a wonderful assembly of talent this year, people who were so good that they made me look like a dumb hack, and I didn’t mind a bit (actually, it’s not all that hard to make me look like a dumb hack, but you see what I mean). And the mix felt just right: old and new, nerdy and not. As usual, I was especially gratified to see so many performers who were entirely new to our crowd be so immediately cheered and accepted. It’s a nice feeling.
I encourage you to look into more stuff that these people do when they are not on my dumb boat. Just in case you were thinking about how you had to buy that album when you got to shore and have forgotten to do so, here’s a handy list of who was what and where you can go to find them:
Ben Acker and Ben Blacker of Thrilling Adventure Hour, made a brand new piece of radio comedy specifically for us to perform. Their show is available as a podcast on the Nerdist network and in iTunes, but also go see it live if you can.
Jim Boggia is an old friend who happens to be a complete monster of a guitar and ukulele player, not to mention a great songwriter with a great voice and I am so angry at him right now. Buy his stuff, it’s all great.
Hank Green does too many amazing things for me to list them all here, and he could have his own entire cruise if he wanted. For us he did some of his songs, and you should get them here. There are also his many YouTube channels, his record label, his online video convention VidCon, his Project for Awesome charity, his crowd funding site Subbable, and why don’t you just read wikipedia.
John Hodgman needs no introduction here I trust, though I will encourage you to check out Ragnarok, his amazing Netflix comedy special, and also the remarkable artifact that is his Ragnarok Survival Kit, which comes with mayonnaise and a rather beautiful urine flask. He also plays a mean DJ set, but only on cruise ships.
Grant Imahara, who, come on, am I really going to tell you about Grant Imahara WHO IS ON TELEVISION, specifically Mythbusters as if you don’t already know? Grant was the drunkest Artemis helmsman who has ever piloted a starship through an asteroid field (several times, and at high speed). I hope his hangover is over by now.
Paul and Storm. No comment. Kidding. After a weird and wonderfully successful Kickstarter campaign, you can expect to hear their new album Ball Pit very soon, along with the eight thousand other things they promised to their backers, and which will likely take them a couple of years to finish. They played some brand new songs on the ship, and boy howdy was it nice to see them back at work on Paul and Storm songs. It’s been too long fellas. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.
Emmer effing Pomplamoose. As I failed to adequately express when I introduced them, they are so good at making music videos that people sometimes forget to notice how good they are at making songs. You may know them for their covers, but please don’t neglect their original songs, which DO NOT EVEN NEED VIDEO to make them great. Also, they are as nice as delicious pie.
David Rees, who I hope you found at least a little confusing the first time he joined us onboard as our official pencil sharpener, continues to actually DO the projects that the rest of us merely think of and say “hey that would be funny.” Forget about artisanal pencil sharpening, forget about Get Your War On (both brilliant), because this Summer, we will have his brand new television show called Going Deep with David Rees with theme song by me.
John Roderick. Can you ever get enough John Roderick? Yes, you can actually, but I don’t think that has happened to you yet. Do not miss his many amazing Long Winters records, his podcast with Merlin Mann called Roderick on the Line, and whatever other stuff he’s got cooking up this year. That kid’s going places, mark my words.
Peter Sagal, yes THAT Peter Sagal, the one from the radio. Peter created a hilarious panel gameshow for us onboard, but you can find him more regularly hosting Ask Me Another, oops I mean Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Peter also writes books, and runs fast.
I am getting tired of typing, but Nathan Sawaya simply blew me away with the life-sized LEGO sculpture of ME that he totally surprised me with onstage. My life gets weirder and weirder. Nathan is a sculptor, but with LEGO bricks, and his stuff is simply amazing to see. Right now he’s got an exhibition in Times Square called Art of the Brick that I can recommend very highly.
Paul F. Tompkins are you kidding me? I love that guy. If you live in LA you can see him live any time you like, but the rest of us have to get by with his interview show Speakeasy, the Dead Authors Podcast, the Pod F. Tompkast, the puppet panel show No You Shut Up on Fusion, and wherever else he pops up. The man is a national treasure.
Sara Watkins, and her brother Sean Watkins were just mind blowing, as I knew they would be. They sometimes appear together as the Watkins Family Hour, but they do their own solo stuff as well (Sara here, Sean here). They will soon be on tour with Nickel Creek, and I insist that you do not miss it if they come anywhere near you.
Wil Wheaton. Look at you! His books and audiobooks, his gaming show Tabletop on the Geek & Sundry network, and who am I kidding you already know all this. But still: he is the finest captain a science officer could ask for, even if he gets a little handsy.
Now that I see all that stuff together, it’s remarkable and maybe a little irresponsible that we packed all that into one cruise. Huge thanks to all the performers this year – you guys have really raised the bar. I hope you had as much fun as the rest of us did.
OK, I’m off to do mysterious things. More blogging in another six months or so.
From the mailing list:
Hooboy, Summer is truly over isn’t it? That fact came crashing down onto my poor little head a few weeks ago as I was driving back from a weekend spent in the country, where mostly what I did was make river cairns with Hodgman. I try to take it easy on the work stuff in the Summer. The kids are out of school and ready for fun, and everybody is fading in and out with their own vacation plans anyway, so I can get away with letting the world slip into my peripheral vision a little bit. It’s good for my brain and soul (but murder on my waistline, am I right?!). Now it’s back to work, which is both a bummer and a relief, which is probably how it should be.
It’s been a pretty much nonexistent tour schedule for me so far this year, which is new and different. At the end of 2012, I did the enormous bus tour with the band and John Roderick, which felt a lot to me like it put the cap on Artificial-Heart-related touring. It seemed to me that was when Artificial Heart stopped being my “new album” and became my “last album.” (“One Christmas at a Time” is technically my last album, I know, but that feels sort of like a Very Special Holiday Episode of the JoCo TV series.) Between all the opening for They Might Be Giants and my own experiments with longer band tours, it felt like I did more touring in 2011 and 2012 than I had ever done. It was an amazing stretch of really fun shows, and I learned a lot of new things about electric guitars and rock shows and audiences that were standing up. But at the end of it I was pretty tired, and starting to feel a little disconnected from my home and family, like life had gotten out of balance. Being a rock star is great fun, but it’s always trying to take over. So I decided to take a break from touring, on purpose, to just be at home a little while and get my head together, maybe write some things.
And so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my job actually IS, based on what I actually DO on a day-to-day basis. The answer is: I do a lot of stuff. Here’s what this year has looked like for me, work-wise.
Glee happened in January, which sucked. That took up a lot of time and energy. After the dust had settled and the lawyers had talked, it became clear to me that I could either pursue a long, stressful, and expensive journey to some unknown, probably not very satisfying version of justice, or I could drop the whole thing, get on with my life, and be satisfied with the story that had thus far been told. As it stands, my track “Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)” sits side-by-side with the Glee version when you search for “Glee Baby Got Back” in iTunes. Their track has a pretty low star rating. And my track raised $5000 for It Gets Better, and $5000 for VH1 Save the Music. Anyone who has heard the story has already made up their minds about what happened and what it means. Anyone who was a part of it on the FOX side has already decided whether or not they are ashamed of themselves. I have no power to significantly change either of those things any more than I already have. So I’m calling it a victory (I don’t know what FOX is calling it).
CODE MONKEY SAVE WORLD
And then Greg Pak and I did the Code Monkey Save World Kickstarter, which was amazing. We got a lot more than we asked for, and we’re now making this incredible thing. I’ve been watching the story and the artwork come together, and it’s absolutely thrilling. The universe feels just right, like all these characters belong together. We still have an enormous amount of work to do in getting together all the various rewards, on top of finishing the graphic novel itself, and the acoustic soundtrack album, and “The Princess Who Saved Herself” children’s book. As they say, a nice problem to have. Issue #1 is now available for purchase on ComiXology, with more to come over the next couple of months.
ASK ME ANOTHER
In and among those two big sources of background noise were quite a few Ask Me Another shows at the Bell House in Brooklyn. We took a break for the Summer, but they’re starting up again this month, and I’ve just posted them all to my show calendar. It’s been so interesting to watch the show grow and change as we’ve all figure out what it is and how to do it right. For my part, I mostly get to show up and play and sing and crack jokes, which is a pretty fun job. Come and see us – this coming Tuesday our guest is Justin Long. Oh, and you kids still listen to podcasts? Because the Ask Me Another podcast is right here.
JOCO CRUISE CRAZY
And of course, there is JoCo Cruise Crazy in February 2014 – our FOURTH cruise! We’ve been quietly working behind the scenes to create another awesome experience, and we recently announced an amazing lineup of performers. In addition to Paul and Storm (and of course ME) we’ve got Jim Boggia, Hank Green, John Hodgman, Tig Notaro, Pomplamoose, David Rees, John Roderick, Peter Sagal, Nathan Sawaya, Paul F. Tompkins, Sara Watkins, and even I can’t believe this list as I’m typing it! Also there will be some kind of ball pit. A ball pit at sea. What? That’s right. It’s going to be GREAT.
We’re getting to the point where some cabin types will start to run out, so if you have your sights set on a particular kind of room, my advice is to get on it. We’ll have more information about hotels and transportation “soon,” as we like to say in the cruise business.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC!
Well, yes. I’ve been messing around. That’s very unsatisfying I know. But it’s true: I’ve been playing with knobs and computers and guitars and drum beats and synthesizers and words, in pursuit of ideas that I find interesting and fun. I have made a bunch of little bits of things all for myself, trying stuff out. I have a few musical ideas that I’m looking forward to fleshing out into actual songs. All of it will become an album eventually. What form it will take I’m not entirely sure yet. Trying to follow the muse, but as many of you know, she can be tricksy. The other day I put all these little half finished ideas into a list, and it was actually kind of a long list, and there were actually some good things on it. So I’m optimistic.
I think that’s what I got, for now. I hope your re-entry into non-Summer life was a gentle one. And I hope we don’t default on our debt and cause a global economic crisis. Fingers crossed!
I’m happy to report that the Kicktarter Greg Pak and I launched a long time ago has born delicious fruit, i.e., bananas.
Code Monkey Save World #1 is now available online through ComiXology. If you were a Kickstarter backer at the digital level or higher, you should have already received your download code (and if not let us know!). But if you missed out the first time around, you can now buy it the old fashioned way, with money.
I’m really happy with it. Greg Pak and everyone else has done a fantastic job of fitting all these different pieces together in a way that’s natural and funny and poignant and just generally awesome. Thanks to everyone who made this possible – I’m still amazed that this thing exists.
Issue #2 is mostly done, and we’ll be rolling that out to backers soon, and to the public soon after. We hope to have all four issues finished and available digitally in the next couple of months, and the physical book (and the 25,000 other physical items from the Kickstarter) done and shipping in February of 2014. I will likely have copies with me on the cruise.
We do plan to make physical copies available for sale in some way, but haven’t yet figured out how best to do that. A lot depends on how it’s received by the general public. One of the side effects of crowd funding is that you basically chop off the top of your sales curve and eat it all up immediately, and then you don’t know how much of a market there is for a thing outside your supporters. So I don’t know if we’ll have some sort of distributor, do it ourselves, or find some other solution. But do not despair: if you were not a backer and want it, we will make sure there’s a way for you to get it.
OK, stop reading and start READING.
One Christmas at a Time is BY-NC except for “Wikipedia Chanukah” which is BY-SA.
@jonathancoulton Don't forget to tell everyone that the Xmas album is BY-NC, but "Wikipedia Chanukah" is BY-SA on your website!
— Iron Curtain (8-bit) (@IronCurtaiNYC) May 8, 2013