A Creepy Story About Ziltoid and Zoltan

Ziltoid

Back at the end of 2005, after the success of How To Sell… I decided I wanted to take Sir Millard Mulch to the next level.

I came up with the name Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk (named after the Zebulon Obelisk in downtown Asheville, NC) and bought www.drzoltan.com.

I experimented with the concept for the next year, trying to make him into an animated Flash character, or just me in an elaborate costume with a giant beard. I went back and forth and couldn’t get anywhere because I had no resources. I was miserable and poor. Zoltan was to be “a mighty demon” who possessed Sir Millard Mulch (as explained in a 90-minute documentary Matt DeJonge and I shot in 2005 and never finished) manifesting as a time-traveling, inter-dimensional alien anti-pop-culture TV show host / cult leader that orbited the Earth in a space station. Maybe a little too complicated.

I hoped to play a separate “character.” I was having a lot of personality problems and wanted to stop being Sir Millard Mulch, because it was too close to really being me. I had a split life of Carl and Millard, and it was really messing me up. I figured inventing a third one that even I knew was fake would help. That’s a long story.

In late 2006 I moved to Los Angeles (Culver City to be exact) where I rented a room from a guy named Eric. Eric was never home (none of his many housemates ever were, except the unemployed me) so I went into his back yard with my laptop and recorded several cheap webcam videos as Dr. Zoltan. It was a lame attempt — I had no money to buy a costume (the best I could do at one point was a long haired wig), knew nothing about video, and ended up just making a lot of people mad on YouTube by making fun of popular bands. I would start each “broadcast” with “Attention, All Humans” and referred to the viewer from an alien standpoint. I tried to talk in a deep voice, but I’ve never been good at it, so in later versions I just pitched it down digitally.

In Early 2007, I auditioned for Steve Vai and failed. Out of sour grapes, I moved into John La Grou’s studio for a month (thank you again, John) and set out to record the debut album. I found out about software called Drumkit From Hell and decided to feature it on the album, hoping to be the first to show off its capabilities with my complex sci-fi rock programming.

While in the process of recording, I came across Devin Townsend’s first press release about something he was calling Ziltoid — an alien TV show host alter-ego making an album featuring Drumkit From Hell.

Punch me in the brain.

I was, of course, horrified that Devin had come up with a parallel idea (I make no petty or delusional accusation that he copied me), and would no doubt beat me to it publicly. He even created a mock radio show hosted by Ziltoid, making fun of popular bands! But I didn’t let it stop me.

When I returned to my room in Culver City, I borrowed a camera from Zeke Piestrup and shot 3 video episodes of The Dr. Zoltan Show, with a rotation Ø in the corner. I was trying to do a V From Vendetta “reveal-the-truth political broadcast” and continue to make fun of some bands while I was at it. More negative reactions from the internet. I was getting so much hate mail, I eventually just deleted the videos. I was afraid the anger I was channeling was doing physical damage to myself and others.

Seven years later, I’ve only sold 50 copies of the Zoltan CD (I gave the other 50 away at the Toontrack booth in NAMM 2010) — and Devin has just released Ziltoid The Omniscient Episode 2 — which is everything I had hoped Dr. Zoltan would become.

Congratulations to Devin for the excellent work and making it happen!

-Carl.

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Podcast Episode 013: Son Of Monsterpalooza 2014 Statues!

Monsterpalooza 2014

[ Clockwise from Top Right: Demon by Anthony Watkins, Bride of Frankenstein by Blackheart Models, Creature by Monster Caeser, and Sideshow Collectibles. ]

Son of Monsterpalooza 2014

[ Clockwise from Top Right: Andrew Martin of Monster Caesar Studios, Nathan Mansfield of Sideshow Collectibles, Anthony Watkins, and George Stephenson of Blackheart Enterprises. ]

I visited Son of Monsterpalooza 2014 in Burbank, CA and interviewed sculptors: George Stephenson of Blackheart Enterprises, Andrew Martin of Monster Caesar Studios, Anthony Watkins of AW Sculpture, Nathan Mansfield of Sideshow Collectibles.

http://www.blackheartmodels.com
http://www.monstercaesar.com
https://www.facebook.com/AWSculpture1
http://www.sideshowtoy.com

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Creativity: Crop Rotation, Pt. 2

I’d like to expand on an old blog post called Creativity: Crop Rotation. (http://www.carlkingdom.com/creativity-crop-rotation)

Especially if you live in Los Angeles, there’s a lot of pressure to give yourself an Industry Designation. You’re supposed to decide on some narrow job description like Guitarist or Photographer — and make sure it’s clear on your business card and in your email signature for the next billion years. You’re expected to climb that ladder, work it into every conversation you have, just in case a stranger can get you a gig doing it. And never do anything else, unless you want everyone to think (know) you’re an amateur.

If you happen to love doing more than one thing, it must mean you’ve FAILED at one of them, right? Or the thing you did AFTER the other thing is because no one thought you were any good at it and you gave up.

In 2008, I took a lot of interest in programming WordPress sites and CSS. It fascinated me. So I bought some books, learned it, and did it for a living. It was extremely funny to me that a client once asserted that I couldn’t know anything about audio because I was just “a web design guy.” I didn’t bother correcting him.

Over the years I’ve studied and succeeded in graphic design, music, marketing, advertising sales, writing books, directing videos, editing, producing, photography, web programming, animation… so when someone at a party asks me what I do, I can’t give a simple answer. (If they instead asked me my favorite food, I could at least answer with one word: Burrito.)

I get good at things because I get serious. I honestly don’t think I have much talent, and I beat myself up a lot for not being good at socializing or meeting people. But what I can do every single day is study a subject until I understand it. I buy books, look up the definitions of words I don’t understand, read websites and forums, watch training videos, listen to podcasts, ask advice from experts, and go to stores & seminars where I can experience the subjects up-close. I believe I’m capable of mastering something if I just invest the time.

I master things and move on, then learn how to mix them together.

Frank Zappa called this “The Direction of Many Things.”

I have no idea what I’ll be doing in a year or five years. Hopefully something where I can keep doing many things in parallel and series, because I enjoy it.

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How To Get 1,000,000 Hits On Your Website

Here are seven simple steps, because I like prime numbers. Do them in exactly this order:

1.) “Stay home. Read a book.” -Nomeansno.
2.) Post a blog, not about the book, but about your own personality traits. Wonder if everyone will see through it.
3.) Forget about it for 3 years while no one cares.
4.) Overnight, get 23,000+ hits after being reposted on Stumbleupon.
5.) Receive sincere emails every day about how your blog made people cry and changed their lives. Try to keep up, then realize it’s not possible to sustain a genuine tone responding to that many people. Feel guilty, but instead spend your time on making more stuff.
6.) Get reposted on Wired.com and Owl City.
7.) Reach 1,000,000 views as Introversion becomes trendy at Forbes, TED, and Time Magazine.

There you have it. I never expected 10 Myths About Introverts to be looked at a MILLION times. But it’s officially the most popular / famous thing I’ve ever made. At the time I’m writing this, I’m the #3 Google Result for “introverts” — after Wikipedia and About.com.

Pretty impressive these days for something that requires reading.

For the techies:
90% Unique Visitors
Average of 5 Minutes on Page
84% Bounce

Most of those one million views took place between April 2011 and April 2012. Before that, the page was getting under 10 views per day. The biggest day was December 13, 2011: 26,000+ views.

I might seem irreverent about this topic, but it’s because the process of creating and releasing material to the public is absurd. It can’t be taken seriously by an artist. I wrote 10 Myths About Introverts in an afternoon. By comparison, I spent a whole year investing my soul in a fiction book called Cuyahoga! Sometimes people care and sometimes they don’t.

Why?

“We don’t know!” as Jim Rohn once yelled, in his Idaho farm-boy accent.

He also said: “The things that are easy to do, are also easy… not to do.”

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Why You Should Judge Your Own Work

Cuyahoga_Cover

I recently published my first sci-fi short story, called Cuyahoga!

I’d like to share a perfect case of why it’s important to not take any criticism of your work too seriously — whether it’s “positive” or “negative.” Either way, if you base the value of your work on the tastes of others, you’ll definitely be going the wrong way.

This past week, I received two personal emails from creative colleagues — both with extreme responses to my sci-fi writing. I’ve left out their names, but both of them are highly intelligent and successful in their careers. After 20 years of putting stuff out there (since my first demo cassette tape in high school with a photocopied J-card), I’ve experienced it all — love letters, praise, offers for collaboration, insults, death threats, etc. At some point you have to step back and judge your work by your own standards, Howard Roark style.

REVIEW #1

GENIUS.

I read your story. I was stuck to it like glue, laughing out loud unexpectedly, shaking my head in amazement at how your brain works, equal parts envy and pride to be an early reader of this remarkable tale.

Thank you for this gift.

There were so many moments and turns of phrase and ways of thinking / seeing / experiencing in this work, I wanted to jot them down to echo them back to you as examples of some of my very favorites, but I was too engaged to scribble notes. Overall, the story built and enticed and kept me guessing and fretting – is he paranoid and crazy or is he the only one who sees? I like him so much, I don’t want him to be crazy, but if he’s not crazy, the alternative is so depressing. How will he get out of this? Will he ever be understood? And of course, why, why, why? the first and last question asked. Amazing. I was riveted.

One of my favorite chapters was when he sat and engaged with his mom. It felt almost like a new beginning and the poetics and quiet of that chapter took me by surprise, like a moment of sudden meditation while in line at the DMV. I shouldn’t say favorite because the entire narrative engaged me and thrilled me. There was a different energy that infused me with sadness in that chapter and it was beautiful.

Submit. This. To. McSweeny’s.

Keep writing. You have it. No doubt.

REVIEW #2

Carl,

I absolutely hate to write this and I’ve been holding off on it because I don’t know how to say it in kinder words, but I really just couldn’t make it through the first 30 pages of your book. I don’t like the writing style and it feels amateurish. It might not be my kind of book, either, but I felt that I needed to give you my honest criticism here. If you like, I can probably pull some specifics. I haven’t written a review or provided any feedback because I simply lost interest as I read through it.

I generally enjoy science fiction stories, but I don’t read any of the new stuff. I think the most recent sci-fi I’ve read is Michael Crichton’s Sphere. I only get around to reading a few fiction books per year, too.

Nevertheless, let me know if you’d like to discuss it further. I hope the book is successful for you, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to finishing it. I’m quite proud of you for finishing the project and putting so much time and effort into it. And I’m hoping that lots of other readers out there enjoy it immensely.

See? People don’t know what they’re talking about.

Here’s another extreme example:

1.) For nearly THREE YEARS, I’ve worked on a project called The Mysterious Octopus! It’s a Cartoon TV Show concept. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on it so far, and released two versions of it to the public. Very few people have noticed it. I think 17 people like it on Facebook.

2.) I wrote a blog entry called 10 Myths About Introverts. I crapped it out in an afternoon. Out of nowhere, it spread all over the world. It’s now been read by over 750,000 people. I get emails about it every day, telling me how it has changed lives. Therapists and counselors use it during their sessions. I’m still waiting for one of my therapists (yes, I have more than one) to suggest I read it.

It’s insane. So don’t pay attention to how people react (or if they react at all). Don’t second-guess yourself. Just follow your own path, invite others to come along, and make what you want to make. Art Because.

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New, Taller 16:12 Aspect Ratio In Development

John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”

Dr. Zoltan, creator of the failed syndicated radio show, “Why Are You Asking Me?” has announced that he is developing a new, taller, better video aspect ratio known as 16:12.

“It is better because it is taller than 16:9,” said Dr. Øbelisk, from his top-secret laboratory that orbits the moon.

It is a revolutionary change that will mean more storytelling power for blockbuster directors. Filmmaker Peter Jackson has already planned to shoot both of his upcoming Hobbit feature films using specially-modified prototype cameras, allowing more breathtaking views of epic landscapes and mythical battles.

Some skeptics point out that this discovery will require overhauling every movie theater in the world, raising not only their roofs but ticket prices.

Jeff Blake, President of Sony Pictures, in an interview at USC Film School last week, remarked: “Moviegoers are not ready for movies that are taller. Hell, we only made them wider a few years ago. Why confuse everyone?” However, both Regal and AMC chains are already planning to modify up to 90% of their movie screens by 2011 to accommodate this newly discovered technology.

George Lucas has reportedly pre-ordered a dozen upgraded cameras for Industrial Light & Magic. “Imagine how the original Star Wars Trilogy would look in this new, expanded aspect ratio. Wow.”

For more information on 16:12, visit Dr. Zoltan’s website.

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Ween Signed To Elektra Records!

“One day, a box of Pure Guava discs shows up from Elektra, and I started crying, because I was a music junkie and now we were on the same label as The Doors. Here was this record that we recorded in our apartment for not even two dollars — we didn’t even buy new tape, just taped over demo tapes bands gave us on the road — and it’s on Elektra.”

-Dean Ween, Magnet Magazine Interview, August 2000

P.S. For a full-length, incredible, amazing, fantastic interview by none other than Southwest Florida’s Ed Furniture (who still hasn’t paid his Venice, Florida office phone bill), read it.

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Study: Colored Beams Of Energy From Your Hands Can Heal You

Professor and NIH director Joie P. Jones (University of California, Irvine) has released a stunning video proving that colored beams of energy from your hands can indeed heal you. Known as, “Pranic Healing,” this discovery (which the Chinese have been practicing for thousands of years) may change the way that the world perceives and practices medicine forever. If we are able to master this art, we will no longer need to visit a doctor’s office full of advertisements for mass-produced, toxic chemicals — all of the healing powers will be present within our very hands, with no exponential, self-perpetuating side-effects. Is Western Medicine actually the pseudo-science holding us hostage? Find out for yourself!

Visit The Society for Scientific Exploration for more information on this incredible discovery!

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Musical Entertainers Vs. Musical Scientists

While it is true that, “not all things should be measured,” let us turn our attention to the distinction between Musical Entertainers and Musical Scientists. 

In one group, we have Andrew WK, David Lee Roth, and Gwar, to name a few polarizing examples. These are humans who dress up in costumes and jump around on a stage, attracting attention to their appearance. They engage the audience with their amusing antics. Most rock bands are more tame versions of this category, with varying levels of subtlety. Every performance group from Paramore to My Chemical Romance to Katy Perry is a variation of this same idea. In an instant, the listener can hum along and tap his / her foot, and much of the focus is on the personality and appearance of the performer. The music is a cheap jingle to advertise for the obnoxious dancing, which is only another superficial jingle to decorate and disguise the exchange of Wealth.

In the second group, we have master craftsmen like Morgan Agren, Marco Minnemann, and Virgil Donati. (Is it a coincidence that these are all drummers? The answer is no, as we shall see in the next paragraph.) These are advanced musicians who dedicate themselves to discovering new musical ideas and performing at a level that most non-musicians are unable to comprehend. As with other sciences, their discipline is not focused on serving an audience. The majority of their time is well-spent on the puzzling and creative world of their musical imaginations — finding new tricks, new combinations of sounds, and new ways to perform challenging patterns. Should other scientists be seduced to “dumb themselves down” for the sake of earning a living on stage? Or should they be free to study high-level theories and seek esoteric knowledge? How important is invention?

Not important enough, these days. 

An easy way to determine whether a particular individual is a Musical Entertainer or a Musical Scientist is to ask yourself, “Is the person standing up or sitting down while playing?” Perhaps if all musicians were permitted to sit down as rock drummers and classical musicians are, the science of music would advance exponentially.

Dr. Zoltan understands the internet almost as well as Seth Godin does. Visit www.drzoltan.com to be made into a really smart human.

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David Coverdale Is Taking Some Time Off Soon

In this lucid 1990 interview with David Coverdale of Whitesnake, it is announced that he is going to be taking some time off soon.

To find out more about the importance of Time, visit www.drzoltan.com.

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