Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Fidelia Hall, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Small Town by Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine

I was going to originally release this album on May 2, 2018, but here I am to tell you that the album is out today, Tuesday April 17, 2018. I hope you get a chance to listen to the album and enjoy it. Thank you for your continued support.

I wrote a lot of this album in November/December 2017 when it was cold, grey, two ceilings of ours started collapsing in the house, pipes were freezing on a daily basis, and it was just really cold out. As I recorded the album, two fires swept through our town destroying a good section of a town already in decline and all that was in the news were stories of small town squabbles and little bits of politics that had the potential to seriously affect people’s lives. The album wasn’t born in the greatest of times, but I think that’s OK. It stands as a document for a moment in time that happened, and that’s what all albums are…they’re a snapshot of a moment.

If you’re a librarian and you’re reading this, consider this album to be the aural equivalent of my A New Career In A New Town posts. As I was writing those posts, I was writing these songs. The second half of the SMALL TOWN album is that journey towards a possible new career in a new town.

If you’d like to listen to the album, use the music player embedded in this post or visit abigailfostersphotosynthesismachine.bandcamp.com. The album is free to stream from this website. If you’d like to purchase an MP3 copy of the album, you can do so for $7 through the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Bandcamp page. If I ever sell any copies of my music, I just then take that money and buy more music stuff to record more songs.

For more information, please visit Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine on Facebook

Thank you for your continued support.

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Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Music

Small Town

SMALL TOWN.jpg

Seven months after the release of the album Prozac Is The Dam And I Am The Dynamite, the musical project known as Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine is back with another album titled Small Town. Written and recorded in the Fall/Winter of 2018, this ten song album is a firsthand glimpse at rural small town life in America circa 2018.

Everything is falling apart. Houses falling down. Pipes leaking through the walls. Abandoned lots. Lost dreams. Student loan debt crippling an entire generation. Broken and beaten down humans. SMALL TOWN is for a generation that has been destroyed by those that came before and thought they could rule the world. -JUSTIN HOENKE, April 2018

This album is the third album from the musical project known as Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine in 2 years. As with all albums by Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine, this album was recorded inside and outside on the grounds of Fidelia Hall in Titusville, PA. Fidelia Hall is the homestead of the Hoenke family in addition to being a creative space for the arts and a recording studio for music. All of the songs on Small Town were written, produced, and performed by Justin Hoenke.

  1. Small Town
  2. Give Me The Atom Bomb
  3. This Town Will Destroy Itself
  4. Frozen Pipes
  5. Let’s Go Back To Sleep
  6. Little Paradise
  7. Aeoteoroa
  8. Much Too Late
  9. Atom Bomb (Reprise)
  10. Another Day

Small Town will be available on May 2, 2018 through Arbacarba Records (arbacarbarecords.com). The album will sell for $7 through the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Bandcamp page (abigailfostersphotosynthesismachine.bandcamp.com).

For more information, please visit Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine on Facebook

Thank you for your continued support.

A New Career In A New Town, Libraries, Life

A New Career In A New Town: The Emotional Roller Coaster of a Job Seeker

If you, like me, are looking for a new job or are seeking a change in what you’re doing with your career, this post is for you. I want to get a bit into the weeds, talk about feelings, and overall connect with you on this post. Let’s swap war stories and be there for each other.

I’d say I’m happy with my current job 40-50% of the time. It ebbs and flows and some days feel much better than others. After a lot of thought, I’ve determined the root of why I’m feeling this way at my current job: my inspiration levels are at a very low point. I’m a person that craves working with others. My time in every other job up to this point (read all about those jobs at my very recently updated CV here!) found me surrounded by people who pushed, pulled, and nudged me to keep on growing and trying new things. Here at the Benson Memorial Library, I’m the boss and a lot of that work goes towards inspiring others. And I think I have done OK (these are the good things), but I’m definitely not perfect in any way. I feed off the energy that others (or in this case, one person) put off and that’s helped me in my three years here. But overall I search for more inspiration and the lack of it over a large period have time have left my reservoir all dried up.

Realizing where you are at in your professional career, the good and the bad things, can be emotionally exhausting. Any journey deep into your head and your heart will be this way. Added on top of that is the universal truth that change always moves at such slow pace and that new job you’re seeking may not be right around the corner. There will be more job postings you have to read. There will be more cover letters to write (heck, I need to write an entire post on the absurdity of cover letters). There will always be more tweaks needed for your CV.

What do you do when there’s so much waiting, a few rejections, and some applications that are never even acknowledged by the potential employer? You’ve got this energy sitting inside of you. There’s the initial thrill of putting together your application, then the lull as you wait, and sometimes the energy drain when you don’t get the job or just not hear back at all. It’s all so tough, and it’s all so much energy.

Personally I’ve found that surrounding myself with my family and being as creative as possible to be the way to not get down when the job hunt doesn’t go my way. Am I down because I may not have got that neat and unique job in the big city? That’s ok. Let’s all pile onto the couch and snuggle. Pajamas and pizza and a movie with the family. WHY NOT.

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I’m also hashtag blessed to have music as an outlet. Silly cover letters got me all anxious, tired, and worried? I will go over to my recording studio and work on a song or two. I may have struck out a few times on this recent job hunt, but damn have I been productive in writing, recording, and producing songs. I’ll have some new stuff to share with you soon, but for now enjoy this:

https://abigailfostersphotosynthesismachine.bandcamp.com/track/banshee

And finally, when I don’t get a job that I’ve applied for, I have this little mantra I keep in my head: “You missed out on so much. But luckily I still get to hang out with Justin. He’s a pretty good human being.” Just like Stuart Smalley…

Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Titusville, PA, Video Games

2017 Year In Review

PAST YEARS: 20162015, 2014, 2013

First and foremost, love and happiness and positivity from all of us to you.

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The collective masses seemed to have had a miserable 2016 but for some reason I felt like I was spared. But oh wait! Quickly around the corner came 2017 and with it came what I imagine to be the baggage, pain, and confusion most everyone else had felt in 2016.

It was a long year. I doubted myself a lot I spent a lot of this year confused about my place in all of this. I looked around at the world, both what surrounds me in the community where I live and what surrounds me everywhere else, and I just felt so lost and tired. At the core of all of this what I realized was that I just don’t feel the connection I had felt to the world that I had felt before. All of this is OK. Things change, people grow, and learning is a big part of the process we all go through during our time here on earth. It was a long year full of some tough moments, but instead of letting it get me down too much I’ve decided to adopt the idea that 2017 was a year of learning and growth. These two things are never tidy. They’re messy but the end result is always positive. That’s how I’m heading into 2018: with the thought that I did some hard work in the previous year and that in the new year that work will pay off.

Now that all of that has been said, here’s some stuff I did and some stuff I enjoyed in 2017:

  • Spent as much of my time awake with the amazing Aero, Finn, and Haley.
  • Continued to work on rehabbing Fidelia Hall. The plan with the space is now this: we will be moving into the downstairs space in early 2018. That space has heat and is in the process of having some electrical work done as well as rehabbing the bathroom and kitchen. The upstairs space (the chapel) will be getting a heating system installed starting on December 26 2017. Once we move over to that space, we will figure out what to do with the house. We envisioned Fidelia Hall as a community space, but have refocused and decided that it’s now more of a space for our family and our closest friends.
  • I recorded and released two albums: Either Way I’m Fine and Prozac Is The Dam & I Am The Dynamite
  • I finished my second full year as a library director. I’ve been doing this for 30 months now. I really enjoy it.
  • I listened to a lot of music and I wish I could keep better track of it, but Apple Music hasn’t done any kind of year in review recap like Spotify did this year. I hope they do that soon. I do know that as my father and I worked on Fidelia Hall we really enjoyed listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown 1970’s edition every Saturday.
  • My most played video game was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was also my favorite game this year, with Super Mario Odyssey coming in at a close second. I played a lot more Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp than I expected to play. And I finally got into Picross…The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Picross was the one that did it for me.

Love to you and all of those that you care about this holiday season from me!

Libraries, Life, Music

Why You Should Subscribe to IndiePicks

 

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You know my shtick by now: I don’t write about things on this blog that I don’t care about. I don’t write about things on this blog because someone paid me to do so. What I do on this blog is try to be represent my thoughts and feelings about things I am passionate about with words (and at least one picture per post). That’s who I am and what I do.

So I’m here with this post to tell you one thing: You should subscribe to IndiePicks Magazine. I’ll tell you why in the next couple of paragraphs.

INDEPENDENT ARTISTS ARE WHERE IT’S AT

Just so you know, I am a contributing writer to IndiePicks. My part as a contributing writer is that I get to interview awesome musicians and filmmakers who are creating their art independent from any big publishers, companies, etc. I do this because I not only like to write but I believe in independent artists. I believe in what they’re doing. I feel and understand their desire  “go indie” with their career, whether it be out of necessity or choice. You see I believe that people should create art (books, music, movies, video games, etc) because they have something to say, not just to sell a product. Of course, all artists have to sell something in order to keep doing what they’re doing, but the common thread I see with all of the independent artists I’ve encountered is that they’re creating what they create because THEY WANT to create something. I believe in honesty above everything else in the world, and trust me when I say that when I talk to these independent artists that I see and feel and hear nothing but honesty. In a world where things are becoming more and more homogeneous and pumped out by the dozen by huge companies and conglomerates, this honesty is something that we all will begin to seek in our day to day lives. We need more honest art, be it in books, movies, music, and more, in our lives. That honesty starts with independent artists.

LIBRARIES NEED MORE THAN THE BIG FIVE

While James Patterson, the latest Avengers movie, and the new Taylor Swift albums will guarantee our libraries a lot of circulations, we all have to agree that public libraries are about more than just pumping out the latest and most popular materials to their communities. Public libraries are gateways to new and exciting things for everyone that walks through our doors. When I was a kid, for me it was being introduced to graphic novels, books about whales, and vinyl LPs from bands that I heard about on the school playground but couldn’t afford to buy.

One of the neatest things that a public library does is offer each and every community a chance to dive into something new. Imagine being in a small town, isolated from a big city where you may have easy access to all kinds of independent media. What can a library be to that person? A library can be a gateway to a whole new kind of passion, hobby, or idea for that person. I think about the people I see in my library from day to day: the people that love manga, the folks that enjoy nothing but westerns, and the people that really want to watch every movie out there. Around these parts, their options are limited. There are no book stores in our town, one big chain movie rental store (yes, they exist), and a whole bunch of not that much to do. While these people do want what the Big Five are putting out, they also want variety. They want something new. They want to experience the rest of the world out there.

Libraries are the greatest recommendation and discovery machines out there. Let’s put stuff in our libraries that gives everyone in our community a chance to learn, grow, and understand the whole world together.

WE’VE ASKED FOR THIS EXACT THING

And finally, and perhaps most noteworthy is that we’ve been asking IndiePicks for quite some time. Back in the day, we just didn’t have a name for it. For as long as I have been in this library world, I’ve seen and heard conversations about how we can get more than just the Big Five and other mainstream media into our libraries. We’ve talked about how we can do it and why we should do it. We’ve debated this endlessly. Nowhere was discussion more prevalent when us libraries were all heavily debating ebooks in libraries. In these discussions, we criticized the heavy lending restrictions the big publishers put on eBooks in libraries and wondered how we were going to get more variety in our collections through independent media when the big eBook platforms were controlled by the big publishers.

It is safe to say that we’ve really, really wanted something like IndiePicks for a while. And guess what? We now have it. (Here’s the link to Issue #1). With IndiePicks, we now have a magazine which we can go to for insight into the world of independent media. We no longer have to blindly go into this area and pick a few titles here and there. We now have a place where there are top quality reviews and opinions on independent media. We now have an amazing tool in our tool belt that we can use to bring more variety to our library collections.

The best part yet? The team is made up of librarians. You know, people like you. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a librarian. You know you can trust a librarian.

Follow IndiePicks on Twitter: @IndiePicksMag 

 

 

 

Family, Life, Music, Three Things

THREE THINGS 2017.5

OPINIONS ON THE INTERNET

On the day before Thanksgiving my family and I did our traditional “half day of work so that means we go to a movie matinee” event. We saw Justice League, a film that we were all pretty excited for despite the kind of average/negative reviews on the internet. And guess what? All four of us really enjoyed the film. It’s no life changer that’s for sure, but we enjoyed a lot of the moments, the characters (especially Flash and Wonder Woman), and the overall story. It got me thinking about the internet these days and how, even though it still has great moments, mostly a place where people come to have opinions, fight with others, and yell about things. It has become one giant drama filled clique, with people coming and going from conversations and every day a new topic for us all to post our opinions on. And I think that is very tiring. What can be changed? What can we each individually do to disrupt this trend? My plan is to be kinder, to think before I post, or to post less or maybe not at all. All in all, these things that we feel like we need to yell about on the internet are not all that important in the great grand scheme of things.

LOSE IT

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About two months ago it just *clicked* in my head that a big reason why I didn’t feel that great and that I wasn’t all too happy mentally may have something to do with how much I eat. I have always understood that what you eat can affect you, but I never thought about how much you eat affecting you. I’m of the mindset that I wanna eat what I wanna eat….and you know what sometimes I just really want Taco Bell. And that’s cool. I just can’t eat Taco Bell more than once a week, and if I do have Taco Bell I should be getting one maybe two things from the menu.

The LOSE IT app has really helped me. I got the free edition and I don’t ever plan on buying into the system. I use it to track my day to day weight and count my calories. This has worked well for me, as it has given me a better understanding of what I eat and how much I eat. Knowing these two things has increased my mindfulness when it comes to all this stuff. It has worked for me. I’ve lost 10 pounds and overall I just feel better and more alert.

HOLIDAY 2017

https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/holiday-2017/pl.u-J3oZsob7YR

Click on the link above for our 2017 HOLIDAY playlist. You’ll find a lot of the same stuff we put on there every year, but that’s because we love it! My all time favorite is still THE VENTURES CHRISTMAS ALBUM, which you can listen to below!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays to all.

Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 10/14): Everything Will Be Alright In The End

weezer-everything-album

Released: October 7, 2014
Recorded: January–July 2014
Studio: The Village, Los Angeles, California
Length: 42:24
Producer: Ric Ocasek

Sometimes you have to hit bottom before you can get back to the top. In Weezer’s case, if Hurley and Raditude were the bottom, the next two albums will represent something similar to the top. While Everything Will Be Alright In The End (EWBAITE for short from here on out) isn’t ever going to be the “best” Weezer album out there (I think the first two have those spots locked up for the long haul), you’ve gotta recognize that EWBAITE is a damn fine album and if The Blue Album and Pinkerton didn’t exist that this would be at the top or number two on Weezer’s best of list. Packed to the brim with great songs, amazing performances, and an all around feeling of great inspiration, EWBAITE is a gem that should be listened to many and recognized as a great rock record.

AIN’T GOT NOBODY

Songwriting: Great lyrics, great melody, and overall just a nice chord structure. It feels like there was inspiration behind it.
Arrangement: Nothing special, but it fully emphasizes the rock and it brings it to the masses.
Production: This song does a great job of establishing the EWBAITE sound, which is clean enough for radio yet a bit rough for the fans that want something loose.
Performance: The band is on fire on this album. It is good to have them as a fully functioning unit.
SCORE: 8

BACK TO THE SHACK

Songwriting: A great riff at the beginning that never fully takes off and instead goes into a pretty standard and boring rock song with lyrics that really only die hard fans may understand. Writing songs about your career arch and relationship with fans seems a bit weird.
Arrangement: Heavy rock emphasis.
Production: More of the EWBAITE style and it fits for the song.
Performance: I like the playing on this one, especially from Scott who really nails the low end down.
SCORE: 5

EULOGY FOR A ROCK BAND

Songwriting: OK so I just bashed the last song for being weird and referring to your career arc. This does something similar but it is unclear who the band Rivers is singing about really is. No matter what, the chords and melody of the song are so fabulous that you just focus on that. The song has a great energy.
Arrangement: Perfect. A nice mix of pop song in the chorus mixed in with some dissonant rock in the verse.
Production: Nice touches with the keyboard in the verse.
Performance: Pat’s drumming is amazing on this tune.
SCORE: 9

LONELY GIRL

Songwriting: A simple song that just brings everything to the table and is a really good listen from start to finish. Rivers writes these kinds of tunes well.
Arrangement: It starts and it never lets up. Every note in its right place.
Production: I love it. Crunchy enough to refer back to The Blue Album sound.
Performance: The “I know you’re scared” verse near the end is perfectly placed and both the guitar and Rivers’ voice sound perfect.
SCORE: 8

I’VE HAD IT UP TO HERE

Songwriting: The verse and the chorus don’t seem to match up but in the end it works. The bridge is a great example of how amazing Rivers was at writing bridges starting in this period of his life.
Arrangement: Great soft/loud pop rock dynamics. The bridge breakdown is amazing and is followed by a wonderful solo.
Production: Wonderful. I love that guitar sound in the verse.
Performance: The band is on fire on this album and this continues it.
SCORE: 8

THE BRITISH ARE COMING

Songwriting: An interesting oddity with lyrics that are not expected but work really well. The chords and guitar parts are fabulous.
Arrangement: It has a great flow to it and everything works.
Production: Weezer does a great job of blending acoustic and electric guitars here.
Performance: Solid all around
SCORE: 8

DA VINCI

Songwriting: A pretty good song that sometimes tries way too hard to be a single. You can tell Rivers was pushing for that with this one.
Arrangement: Great pop rock arrangement that is pretty typical.
Production: Sometimes the chorus sound a bit too loud for me. The outro though? Perfect. And I am glad they added the whistling to the tune.
Performance: Pretty solid.
SCORE: 8

GO AWAY

Songwriting: A simple he sings/she sings boy girl pop song. Nothing more, nothing less.
Arrangement: Simple and to the point.
Production: I really enjoy the guitar sound.
Performance: It isn’t bad and it isn’t great. It just is.
SCORE: 7

CLEOPATRA

Songwriting: A brilliant verse into a really simple yet amazing chorus with some weird time signature skipping in there. The bridge (which is in two sections) is amazing! Then you top it off with a great solo and BOOM! You have one of the best Weezer songs ever.
Arrangement: It all works from beginning to end. Don’t change a thing!
Production: Crunchy guitar mixed with acoustic guitar and some harmonica. I will take this any day of the week.
Performance: One of my favorite performances from the band. All around a winner.
SCORE: 10

FOOLISH FATHER

Songwriting: Heavy on the emotions, but this is something Rivers is great at. A great chorus to sing along to with an outro for the ages.
Arrangement: The chorus and outro work, but for some reason the intro and first verse let me down.
Production: More of the EWBAITE style of production.
Performance: A nice performance. Not the best on the album, but one that is good.
SCORE: 8

THE FUTURESCOPE TRILOGY: I: THE WASTE LAND

Songwriting: A great morose melody with some nice backing music behind it.
Arrangement: Everything fits really well. A great overall structure to the song.
Production: It takes a nice bleek turn here and I think it fits really well.
Performance: The band should really do more of these Weezer prog rock esque instrumentals. They’re pretty damn good at them.
SCORE: 8

THE FUTURESCOPE TRILOGY: II: ANONYMOUS

Songwriting: Almost like a mantra, it builds and builds and builds until it all reaches the point where it needs to explode.
Arrangement: The piano really moves it along.
Production: Every four bars builds the song and the production really helps give it an “epic” feeling.
Performance: Great playing all around.
SCORE: 8

THE FUTURESCOPE TRILOGY: III: RETURN TO ITHAKA

Songwriting: A wonderful instrumental that is epic and pretty perfect in every way.
Arrangement: Not much to talk about with an arrangement, but it works so we will leave it be.
Production: The sounds of the guitars and drums just works so well for this kind of tune.
Performance: I think the band really enjoyed playing this one. What great rock.
SCORE: 8

THE FINAL WORD

EWBAITE is a fantastic album full of great songs, great themes, and great ideas. I feel like it could be better without “Back To The Shack” and “Go Away”, but then again those are the two singles so there must be something in there. As an album this is a great one to listen to from front to back, with my only very minor complaint is that it seems like it is a bit too long (13 tracks on the album feels like a lot for Weezer) when I listen to it these days. Don’t write off post Pinkerton Weezer as a band that may have a few good songs here and there. EWBAITE proves that this band can, if they want to, make a really solid rock album. I wish they’d keep this focus in the future.

TOTAL POINTS: 103
AVERAGE SCORE: 7.92