Riverboat Gambler

Two months and two albums later...

I can't keep this pace up, but it has been a fun ride. Since the last day of August this year, I have released not one but three albums! Sales have been dismal, but the reviews have been good.

I signed up for a free account on Create Space and on Bandcamp. Physical CDs can be ordered from Create Space. Digital downloads can be gotten from Bandcamp. The music is all instrumental, all computer-generated, and uses the MAGIX Music Maker programs to create. It's quite a lot of fun to sit here with a blank page with which to cover in a soundscape. Some of the pieces are very simple, others are highly complex. There are not only the standard musical instrument recordings available, but also sound effects that border on radio play Foley work. I'm basically just painting with sound, as it were.

The first album is titled "Never Bank On A Learning Curve." https://www.createspace.com/2190909 is the link to the CD. This album is a selection of my solo projects from 2011 to the present day. All the songs were composed using MAGIX Music Maker, a computer program that allows me to be musically creative in a whole new way. The program uses loops and clips of recordings of various musical instruments. These can be put together like to make a complete song. There are thousands of these clips available. I put them together in a series of sequences, somewhat like composing a piece on a loop-based synth. Some pieces are simple, consisting of a mere four or five instrument voices, each with their own sequences. Others are very complex, featuring sixteen or more instrument voices, straight-up synth sequences I created from scratch, sound effects from within the program library, and even special sound effects that I created myself using other audio editing software.

The next album is titled "Second Helping." https://www.createspace.com/2196468 on Create Space. I had a few songs left over from the first album, so I got to work writing enough new ones to fill a second album. In less than a month, I was ready to go. I really burned the midnight oil to get these ready in time. As always, the mixing and editing were the hardest parts of the process. The mix of different styles is even more striking on this album. Some day I'll have to do an album in a single style, just to see if I can.

The third is titled "The Displaced Detective Suite." https://www.createspace.com/2196507 is the link to the Create Space page. Ten original instrumental songs inspired by Stephanie Osborn's first four "Displaced Detective" novels. Hearing these compositions is like listening to a film score. Each piece evokes mental imagery of the scene or scenes in the books. Stephanie and I have worked closely together on every aspect of the album from start to finish. My goal has been to create a portrait in sound of her wonderful novels. She and I agree that I have done so, and even managed to surpass her expectations. This album may just contain the most beautiful music I have yet created. Once you hear it, I think you'll agree.

There is also a bonus track included with the Bandcamp full album downloads, and as being the free preview track on the Create Space site. This isn't really part of the album. It's a unique, stand-alone piece that I wanted to do the whole time I was writing the rest of the music. I kept hearing this in my head as I put all the other music together. Finally, Stephanie and I managed to find a way to make it happen.

"Rescue At Reichenbach Falls" is an 18-minute re-edit of the instrumental track "Rescue At The Falls." It includes clips from a public domain radio play from the 1950s based on "The Final Problem" by Arthur Conan Doyle. These clips feature Sir John Gielgud as Holmes, and Orson Welles as Moriarty. And as an extra special treat, Stephanie Osborn making her voice acting debut as her character Skye Chadwick!

Only the voice acting clips are from the radio play. All the other audio SFX were assembled by myself from various online public domain sound effects libraries. Stephanie recorded her part from a script I wrote that adapts dialog from her novels.

http://danhollifield.bandcamp.com is the link to my Bandcamp page. All three of the albums can be downloaded here. Or you can listen to them for free first.
Riverboat Gambler

My First Album!

Wow, it's been nearly a year since I posted anything here! It's been a year of ups and downs. Pretty much the same as anyone else's life, I suppose.

A couple of weeks ago I released my first music album. Just my regular music, not an album of steampunk music. All instrumental, so no one has to worry about being tortured by my singing voice. It's a fairly eclectic mix of musical styles and genres, all written in my computer. It's been a lot of fun learning how to use the different music programs I've gotten over the years. It has also been a trip down memory lane for me to look back at my musical path from schoolchild band and orchestra classes, to getting my first guitar, bass, and synths,jamming with like-minded people, getting a computer and making MIDI songs, then other programs to do more. About two years ago I was gifted with a couple of programs by the company MAGIX. When I registered them, they sent me e-mails about other products they make. I got a copy of Music Maker 4 - Rock Band Edition and started making some songs that sounded very good. It was like directing an orchestra, actually. I've upgraded the program twice since then, and added many more instrument voices to the original selections. I can't nail myself down into any single musical genre as of yet. I've been told that a great deal of what I write sounds like Moody Blues, Kraftwork, Hawkwind, and some of the better synth-pop bands from the early days of MTV. There are elements of rock, orchestral, trance, electronica, and something that might even be dub-step mixed together into whatever piece I happen to be working on at the time.

My steampunk album is still in the works. I'm still writing the scripts, and waiting for all the voice acting recordings to come in. I'll include a link to a promo page for my music at the end of this post. Not much of a page yet, but I update it whenever I can think of something else to add.

Also mentioned on the promo page are planned releases of several CDs of my time in the garage bands. In addition, I've got roughly half a CD written of music based on the series of "Displaced Detective" novels written by Stephanie Osborn. I wrote one for fun and sent her a link to it. She asked if I thought I could write and entire CD of similar songs. We even wrote up a contract for me to license the rights necessary for me to use her books as a basis for music. All nice and legal, so her publishers won't have any reason to object to anything I do. I've got a lot of irons in the fire, at the moment. I'm just hoping that I can add a few dollars per month to our household budget.

Here is the link to the promo page:
Studio-D - Music For Your Mind

See you later! And thanks for taking a look at my work. I hope you find something that you like.

Riverboat Gambler

It ain't easy...

This has been a difficult year. Lots of unhappy stuff going on. But yet there has been some good to balance out the unfortunate. The trick seems to be to focus on the good things, accept the unhappy things, and just keep buggering on as best one can. That is never easy to do, even in the best of times. You have a life. You know what kind of stuff I'm talking about. Good, bad, unfortunate, joyous, and everything in between. The strength it takes to deal with the unhappy events as well as the happy ones is inside all of us. I have confidence in you.

Be strong, find happiness, endure bad times whenever they are unavoidable. And remember-

You are absolutely amazing. Really, you are. Never forget that. In all the timelines and alternate universes over the past 20 billion years or so we can find any evidence for, there has only ever been one of you. Each of you. You are unique. Oh, sure, there might be someone sharing your name in a universe half a second to the left, but they aren't *you.* They are, as best, a sibling you've never met. There is nothing in the universe exactly like you. Your life has meaning. Your life has value. You're a miracle. Never forget that.
Riverboat Gambler

Saying goodbye is never easy...

We went to our friend's memorial service yesterday. Yes, she passed away on Halloween, her favorite holiday, within moments of the life support machinery being turned off. The hospital staff tried their utmost to save her, but ultimately they were powerless to prevent her death. The damage done to her body by a bout with cancer two years ago was just too far gone by the time it was discovered. There was nothing anyone could do, though we all tried.

Linda is gone, but her legacy lives on. She left hundreds of online friends, her husband, her sister... But also left a huge amount of love for people and pets.

She is not gone, but rather she is absent from our embrace. Linda was polite, brilliant, fun to know, and a joy to debate contentious topics with. We who knew her will miss her. You who didn't know her were cheated of meeting one of the finest people who ever strode the planet.

Do not mourn her passing. Rejoice in knowing that we were allowed to have her in our lives for so long. Every time someone adopts a pet from a shelter, she will be smiling. Every time people debate one another with respect and wit, she will be there. And when it is time for us to shuffle off this mortal coil, we will have a friend awaiting on the other side of the greatest unknown.
Riverboat Gambler


For the past week we've been worrying about a friend who was in the hospital for an operation. After making a partial recovery for a couple of days after the operation, her heart stopped. She's been on life support all weekend. Tonight, the machines will be turned off.

We can't physically be there.

Wishing for a miracle.
Riverboat Gambler

Just checking in...

Well, it's been several months since I last posted here. It's been a busy time, all in all. For example, I've spent most of the past two days working on our car. What should have been a simple job turned out to be an exercise in patience and geometry. However, after six hours taking a part off, and over three hours of putting the new part in, we now have a functioning vehicle again.

The biggest problem was that in newer vehicles, there isn't a lot of room for a mechanic to reach in and do the actual work. Many parts that aren't directly concerned with a repair job have to be moved out of the way just to make room for one's hands. Then they all have to be put back in place correctly afterward.

I am not sure I'll continue to do my own work on this car. The frustration of having a skill set related to cars built half to a quarter century ago running head-on into attempting repairs on a car less than a decade old is quite major. After working nearly ten hours to get the car running, I slept for almost sixteen hours. Sure, I saved myself a towing fee to take the car to a shop, as well as labor charges for the shop's mechanics. But I'll have to decide very carefully in the future as to whether I really want to do it myself or let a pro do it and just pay the price.

Difficult question. I suppose it will depend on what the repair actually is next time. Hopefully, the economy will be in better shape by the next time I need to do a major repair on the car.
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Riverboat Gambler

Tests of Camping / Emergency gear...

This will be a set of product reports on a pair of Kennesaw Cannon sub-caliber device barrel inserts for a 26.5mm flare gun, turning said flare guns into either a ,22 single shot pistol or a .45LC/410 gauge shotgun single shot pistol. I just disturbed the neighbors a bit. And scared the crap out of my wife and the dogs. I went out into the woods and picked a 3-foot diameter tree to test-fire the flare gun pistol & shotgun ammo barrel inserts into. I was very careful to stand so that there were no homes or farm animals in the direction I was to be shooting. Wearing proper PPE; safety glasses and hearing protection, I fired three different kinds of ammo. The test results:

Not bad. Details to follow after the break... Read moreCollapse )
Riverboat Gambler

Second Steampunk Ray Gun...

...So, during the construction of the ray gun I built for Stephanie Osborn, my wife decided she wanted one. Within a few days of finishing the first one, I began a second one. I'm almost finished with it now. Here is a photo of the two ray guns together with two real handguns, to give you an idea of their relative sizes:

As you can see, they are both the same general design. My wife's is the smaller, Compact version however. Mostly because when she was holding Stephanie's I noticed that she was treating it like a small shotgun rather than a pistol. My wife isn't a stranger to firearms, but she has had less experience with them than have I. The hand grips are also slightly different to take into account the sizes of the owner's hands. My wife is at least a foot shorter than Stephanie, with all the differences in scale that entails.

One drawback of the second ray gun is that I've used up my entire supply of the pierced brass plate that I used for the barrel shrouds and radiator shield on the barrels and steam chambers of the two pistols. I'm going to have to find something similar to use for any future constructions.

And there will be future constructions. I've gotten such a positive reaction to my little toys that I've decided to keep on making them. I've come up with several different designs and shapes, most of which are based on the shapes of real-world firearms. I also came up with what might seem a radical design that straps to one's forearm, like a bracer.

I'd best bring this post to an end, before I need to use a cut tag. I'll sign off for today with a second photograph of my wife's ray gun, so that you can see how far along the work is at the moment. This is one of the photos from last week, just before I had to put everything on hold so that I could go back to work for another week. As I'm on my days off right now, I'm hoping to finish up before I go back to work this upcoming weekend. Enjoy!

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Riverboat Gambler

Steampunk Ray Gun

I finished the project last night. The Facebook photo album shows all the major steps. This was highly educational, in some ways. I'm beginning to wonder what I could turn out if I went to Mom & Dad's and used their shop machinery.

I started on November 14th and finished up on December 26th, 2011. Around Nov. 13th, Stephanie Osborn and I were chatting. She asked if I could make a steampunk ray gun for her, since she couldn't afford the nice ones she'd seen at conventions. I replied that I could do it, but I wanted to make something from scratch rather than paint & mod a Nerf gun. I started off with a 2x4, used a band saw to make the general shape, then sanded the edges to gentle curves. I put in over 100 hours of work, from start to finish. I'm quite proud of it.


Quite a lot of fun, but not something I could do to make extra cash.

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Riverboat Gambler

The Immersion Book of Steampunk – First Look

Well, it is finally available for pre-order. The official release is later this month. I have mixed feelings about it, since after being accepted for the original line-up my story got bumped out of the anthology to make room for other stories by some favorite pro writers. But that was a business decision, and a sound one, on the part of the publisher. I'm disappointed, but not bitter. I hope the anthology sells really well! I have several friends who have stories in it and I want them to enjoy great success! It's going to be a really good book, so go check it out!

The Immersion Book of Steampunk – First Look