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Mental Chess

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Mental Chess

When it Works…

When I want to really feel humble, I play mental chess.  Software is great when it works as written, but there are those times…  Get out the chessboard!

First of All…

First of all, let’s cover a great video editing program- Filmora.  I had been using Windows Movie Maker.  It served it’s purpose when first getting the hang  of making my videos, but was outdated and I needed greater flexibility.  I’m not  the best video editor, but this thing works great!  You can download it and try it free.  I did, liked it, and bought it ($60).

Filmora has a lot of  features for video/audio formatting, effects, transitions, filters, social sharing, including direct exporting to YouTube , etc.  They have many easy-to follow videos to get one started.  You can put picture-in-picture, split-screen, fly in titles, captions, and much more into your video.  I really like it.

Sure, Filmora is not the fanciest, most expensive option out there, but it works great for me.  The learning curve was relatively flat.  This was more like playing checkers than chess.

Moving Along

So, moving along, I had a relatively minor issue with a VST plugin, and proceeded to dive in and really screw things up.  I spent a good deal of time trying to correct it.  Mental chess has begun.

Almost all computer problems can be solved by elimination.  So, you keep trying different solutions, and eliminate what doesn’t work.  This forces you to be both creative and logical.  It drives you crazy, but the process is what I call “mental chess”.   When your problem finally is solved, it’s exhilarating!

When All Else Fails…

Most of the time, I can back out of the problems, but when all else fails (as was the case here), I have to uninstall the program, then reinstall it.  It’s a pain, but sometimes there is no other choice.

Using your mind to logically solve software problems keeps you on your toes.  There’s always something to learn.  That’s what the human brain is for, after all!

©   J. Mark Witters



Gaining Perspective

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Gaining Perspective

Gaining Perspective-The Hardest Lesson

The hardest lesson for an artist is gaining perspective.  Just be happy, no matter the outcome.  Imagination can easily lead one down  an unrealistic path, and the clock is always ticking!

When you refuse to become a lemming,  you must gird for disappointment.  It’s part of the package.  Live performance provides instant feedback, good or bad.  We all crave attention, but if you are truly an artist you will have to be willing to abandon it all together for your art.  I could write a book…  Maybe I am!

How Far Have You Come?

The question of the day: “How far have you come?  In the last two months,  I’ve completely changed my website, written and produced a new song, made ten new videos,  working on my 11th blog, and learned new video software.  Not bad…

Almost nine years ago, I was diagnosed with stage-four cancer.  God healed me.  Up till then, I chased after people’s “approval” on my music.  Sure, I want folks to like it, but now, I’m just doing it for me.  Let it go, man!

Years were spent as my own worst enemy, but after cancer, I decided to be my own best advocate from then on.  It’s an isolated, yet very direct place to be.  I retired from my day job (the last one, over thirty years), and am doing this media thing.  If others like it, great, if not, oh well…  I’m doing this for me.

Look Around

If you start to get concerned about things, look around and you’ll see how blessed you truly are.  There is always someone who overcomes more and/or achieves more than you, so enjoy the ride and learn from your countless mistakes.

Just look at the Shriners Hospitals For Children commercials if you want to be inspired.  Those kids will bring you right back to earth and melt your heart.  By the way, please donate to them  here:

For a mind-blowing attitude adjustment, check out the life story of  the  highly successful creator-Jon Morrow.  If that doesn’t inspire you, my friend, nothing will!


What can you take-away from this?  The Kinks, one of my all-time favorite bands, sang “I’m Not Like Everybody Else“.   Make it your theme…   Rock it!

© 2018 J. Mark Witters

Jackson C. Frank


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Jackson C. Frank

Early Tragedy

It seemed tragedy always stalked Jackson C. Frank (born in 1943).  A school  furnace explosion took 15 of his 11-year-old  classmates.  Burns ravaged over 50% of his body,  serious damage occurred to his thyroid, and he suffered severe depression from then on. Later, he was given a guitar during his recovery,  and learned his craft.

“Catch a Boat”

Jackson would “catch a boat”  (lyric from his “Blues Run the Game“)  to England (from New York) in 1964.   He received over $110,000 as an insurance settlement from the elementary school explosion upon turning 21.  He recorded his only album, self-titled “Jackson C. Frank“,  in 1965.  Paul Simon produced it.  Art Garfunkel and Al Stewart were there, too.  Frank was so self-conscious, he would insist on being surrounded by screens while recording.  I believe it’s a  masterpiece.   If you liked the early 60’s folk scene, check it out.  Even if you didn’t, check it out!

During this time,  Jackson dated Sandy Denny (later from Fairport Convention), and convinced her to give up a nursing career for singing full-time.  She wrote the haunting “Who Knows Where the Time Goes“, later covered by Judy Collins and many others.

More Tragedy

Unravelling,  Jackson C. Frank was soon followed by more tragedy.  He settled in Woodstock, New York,married, and had a son and daughter.  His son died of cystic fibrosis, and he had to go to a mental institution for depression’s devastating effects.

Jackson was eventually treated for paranoid schizophrenia, and spent the rest of his life trying to overcome this (as well as many physical problems).  His music had degenerated into unlistenable angry confusion.

Final Years

The final years of Jackson C. Frank were filled with psychiatric institutions, homelessness, and even having an eye shot out while sitting on a bench.  His once-promising life ended at 56 years (March 3, 1999), but he was a tremendous influence on many musicians to come.

His only album is deeply inspiring.  I am grateful to have heard it.

Additional information on Jackson C. Frank.

©2018 J. Mark Witters