Tag Archives: Art

Pomplamoose – on making a living as 21st century artists

You have to wonder how anyone could think it is possible to make a living making music. Those at the top may as well have been born there – not because they didn’t have to work hard to get where they are, but because the number of artists who have ‘made it’ is so small that it may as well be limited to the winners of the PowerBall Lottery.

Pomplamoose is duo (Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn) making music and videos (I find it hard to imagine either one without the other) and doing the occasional tour. Last year (2014), Pomplamoose put together a 28 day tour around the US and then wrote up a summary of the accounting for the tour to illustrate how difficult it can be to make ends meet even for a relatively famous band (I admit that using the word ‘relatively’ could mean almost anything).

You can find Jack’s accounting of the tour and how their net loss of about $11,000 is just the price of doing business and building a fan base here. You can also check out Jack’s other project, Patreon, where normal people, like you and me, can be patrons of the arts.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

Man on the Moon?

The legacy of Andy Kaufman, whether he is truly alive or dead, is one of a man who lived to do performance art. Because of this, rumors of his death being faked will always have some credence and will simultaneously seem like so much bull.


Holy crap! Is that Elvis?!

For years “Elvis Lives” was a great slogan and provided endless opportunities for  ‘Elvis sightings’ at every truck-stop, diner and all-you-can-eat buffet the world over. Although, given his health at the time and intense fame, it doesn’t seem likely that his death was anything of a hoax.

Conversely, Andy was much younger, had a fakable illness and wasn’t so famous that he would be recognizable anywhere. Not only that, I can see him getting tired of having to ‘be’ Andy Kaufman all the time and wanting to take time off. That’s the problem with performance art: if it consumes your life, there’s no time when you can ever really be yourself.

There’s new evidence surfacing that Kaufman may yet have pulled off his last, and greatest, prank. This week, at the Andy Kaufman Annual Award Show for young comedians Monday night in New York City, Andy’s brother, Michael poured it on thick. He said that Kaufman had planned faking his death for some time and even left a letter for Michael declaring that he would re-appear at his favorite restaurant on Christmas Eve 1999.

When Michael went to the restaurant, he was given a letter…

“It was too much pressure to be Andy Kaufman. I just wanted to be Andy,” Michael Kaufman read. “I think that’s why I got sick. I had to change completely and quickly. I’m extremely very happily married with the most wonderful wife in the whole wide world and with the two greatest kids: a 10-year-old daughter and a son who is 8.”

A woman was then brought on stage claiming to be that 10 year old daughter – now 24 years old.

CNN has the best reporting of this whole affair that I have read so far, although many others carry the story as well (and some with great posts in the comment sections). Image

ImageMichael claims that the girl shared a number of secrets about Andy and his relationship that were very convincing – unfortunately, that just leads us to believe that he, too, is part of the hoax.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Mythic Chemistry

I’m very excited that I have just finished writing my short book on the gas laws (something you learn when studying the states of matter in chemistry). This book is set in the world of Greek Mythology and teaches some simple concepts of introductory chemistry. This is the first in a series of books I am working on that will all use mythology as a backdrop for introducing a number of scientific principles. I have three more in progress (one dealing with the physics of gravity, one dealing with population genetics and another dealing with inheritance / breeding) that I am hoping to finish up at a rate of about one a week.

My work on this actually gets me back to my original purpose in setting up this blog, that is to walk through the steps of producing material for sale through Apple’s app store / iTunes.

Just like app production, making and selling iBooks requires an iTunes Connect account ( and several other hidden steps. One thing I was disappointed to find was that you can’t just use the iTunes connect account you may have set up to distribute apps. In fact, you can’t even use the same apple ID, email or address to set up this account (I believe that I mentioned this in a previous post).

You also need to download the ‘Book Proofer’ and ‘iTunes Producer’ programs to your computer. I confess, I have not used either of these programs yet, but I am anticipating problems – just because everything has baggage.

The last hidden issue I have found is that you need ISBN numbers for every book you produce. I expected this to be a free process through the library of congress, but instead, it’s a pay service through Bowker identifier service ( One ISBN costs $125, I bought ten for $250. If you are really producing a lot of books, you can get 1000 numbers for $1000 – certainly a great discount per number, but I’m definitely not going to be writing 1000 books no matter how easy it is!

by the way, I should give some recognition to my artist, Allyson Kelley, who has been a joy to work with. you can find samples of her art on her sketch blog



Leave a comment

Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ideal Gas Law Followup

Just a quick note… I put an ad on oDesk (a contractor website) for artists to do my Chemistry / Mythology project and got two dozen replies since last night. There’s a lot of variability in the work, but at least several of them have fantastic portfolios and one or two look like excellent matches.

I’d still rather have a collaborator than a contractor, but perhaps I’m going about it wrong. 

What’s more important? Getting the work out soon or finding a good collaborator?



Leave a comment

Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

Ideal Gas Law

Many years ago, as a grad student in Philadelphia, I used to tutor Biology and Chemistry in the evenings. This was my first introduction to working directly with students and I found it to be challenging, educational and quite fulfilling (and it also paid pretty well too). Although I consider myself a Biologist, I might have actually had the most fun tutoring Chemistry. This was mostly because chemistry is really just a couple of relatively simple equations that explain some neat stuff about the world.

Because the equations are fairly simple, the greatest challenge was to keep it interesting enough to be worth practicing. My solution to this was to adapt some Greek mythology to include questions about chemistry. Ever since then, I have wanted to elaborate on this idea and write it up in a way that others can use my examples to learn about science. So, perhaps seven years later I finally decided to just do it. Last night I began work on my retelling and have gotten fairly far along. I have an idea that it would make a fun animated book and I think the iBook authoring tool might just make it a snap to put together into something professional.

Now, I just need to contact some artists to work on the illustrations I want to put into it and finish writing out the text. I think I got about 1/3 of the way through the meat of the matter last night. Unfortunately, this situation reminds me a lot of the central problem of DownHouse Software, i.e. I can write the ideas out and maybe even set a decent design in place, but I don’t have the skills to create the artwork required. I’m ever in need of a collaborator… well, really a team of collaborators, to make my ideas come alive.

Perhaps this is a good project for Kickstarter?? I always wonder about using a product like that. Can I put enough of my creation out there that people will recognize the value without getting into a position of being scooped – because the whole problem is that I need others to make it happen. Maybe I’m just paranoid. But you would be guarded too if you didn’t have much else going for you professionally.


OK, enough blabbing. I want to finish my outline, flesh it out with some dialog and contact an illustrator or two. 


Leave a comment

Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,