Joie de Vivre

The During of 2021

Happy New Year!

I’m resuming my tradition of writing a year end post. The last one was in 2019.

It’s obviously been a strange few years. I remember thinking when work closed at the beginning of the pandemic that I might be home for two weeks. And we are rolling into year three! While this isn’t a post specifically about the pandemic, the pandemic is a delineator of our times – there will be a before and after for those of us that lived through it. What follows, then, is an account of the good parts of my “during” of 2o21.


When 2021 started, I began a challenge to make music every day. I began keeping a music “day book” where I sometimes wrote down what I did and how I did it. I created a “catalog” on my computer, which is an index of music ideas and passages.

A record turntable.

I learned a lot about Ableton Live, which I very much enjoy working in. I attended a tape hacking workshop, and learned something about modifying cassette players. I started making effects and instruments with Max for Live. I joined a surf band, alternating between bass and drums. I got to hang out with Billy Martin at his house. I released an album on Scientifically Sound Records.

A hacked portable tape player and breadboard with 4 potentiometers.

This practice of making music everyday was profound. If you want to learn something about yourself – say, as a composer, then compose music every day. I started working in my Theoretical Audio Laboratory to produce Sound Experiments, and I continued to examine my perceptions of sight and sound. I probably wouldn’t have made my discoveries if not for this self appointed challenge. I developed a process for making music with loops, found sounds and musique concrète.

Did I actually make music every day? I don’t think so. Most days, I did something. And I grew and created more as a musician in 2021 that I did in all of the previous decade. Not bad!

We also got out to see some live music. A huge highlight for me was seeing Marc Ribot and Ceramic Dog.

Marc Ribot and Ceramic Dog

Book Club

2021 was the inaugural year of a new book club that Beverly and I founded together. It’s just for two people, and we don’t have to read the same book. We do have to read at least one book a month, and then we have a nice dinner and discuss what we read. This has been delightful. This year, I read the following for our club:

  • Found Audio
  • Kink
  • The Plot
  • The Bullet Train
  • Circe
  • My Year Abroad
  • Piranesi
  • The Wrong Heaven
  • First Person Singular
  • Your Duck is My Duck
  • Just Kids
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • House of Leaves
  • Modern 12 Step Recovery
  • The Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus
  • Turn Loose Our Death Rays, and Kill Them All!: The Complete Works of Fletcher Hanks
  • Several issues of The Comics Journal
  • The first three volumes of the Wonder Woman Omnibus trade paperbacks

We also watched a lot of movies and shows, but I’ll save that for another post.


I was able to get a COVID vaccine. It was also a shot of hope, and certainly a key turning point in this time. What a gift to have protection against some ghastly doom. As I write this, I can remember the free floating anxiety and uncertainty that pervaded everything we did. In fact, as the latest variant rips through the world, that anxiety feels more acute again. I should also mention that for me, the solitude was also useful. I become more grounded and centered. I think it accelerated my recovery, and I’m very grateful.

I began to run (sort of ) seriously this year, and completed a 12 mile race, among others! I didn’t come in last, either!

My dear friends got married, which was the first “big” in person event we attended after being vaccinated.

Amy and Dusten

The cicadas visited, after being underground for 17 years, and I made some art to commemorate them. It was a long, hot summer.

Beverly and I combined house at the end of said summer, and said goodbye to the pool. The mutts will miss it!

We traveled to California again, and to Virginia and Florida.

The Benefits of Radiation picked up some awards, and was screened in person at the Sweaty Eyeballs animation festival. This was a dream realized for me. I’m very grateful.

SNF Parkway Theater in Baltimore

Both of my daughters graduated from their respective schools in 2021, and both started new beginnings. We spent some good times together this year, and even got inked together.

I made a great deal of art, which I won’t summarize here – you need only read the blog portion of this site for that.

What’s Ahead

My intentions for 2022 include new animation and exhibition opportunities, volume 2 of Music to Hear Blindfolded, and more of all the good parts on 2021. Happy New Year, dear reader. I hope you are well.