684. Do It Clean

(Check out yesterday’s “future of DGC” post and discussion! I want your feedback about a bunch of things! -ctan)

We met up with Barrett and Ziggy at the WTA offices, which were on a couple of floors of a midtown high rise not terribly far from the BNC and WTA offices. Not quite Rockefeller Center but only a few blocks south of there. Their lobby had modular white leather chairs shaped like kidney beans and photos of Weiland Thomas with Mickey Rooney and Dolly Parton. Elvis. President Kennedy. They were not all his clients, but the photos weren’t labeled to tell you who was and who wasn’t.

Barrett came out to meet us himself and then led us past the cubicles of secretaries and junior agents to his office, which wasn’t a corner office but had large windows and was spacious enough to seat six around a low glass coffee table. There was a magazine in Spanish on the table with a photo of Ziggy onstage in an inset box on the cover. I resisted the urge to pick it up. Ziggy was already sitting in the chair in the deepest corner.

“Can I get you something to drink?” Barrett asked as I shuffled across to sit next to Zig. “Lemonade?”

“Uh, sure.”

“Hard or soft?”


He chuckled and buzzed the intercom, but when no one answered he went out of the office and came back with a pile of glasses and an ice pitcher full of lemonade like we were having a picnic. He poured a round and then went back out and returned with a bottle of Jack Daniels and poured a splash into his own glass.

Okay, sure. I poured a splash into my own glass because it would’ve been rude to make him drink alone. (Neither Carynne nor Ziggy had made a move toward the bottle.)

“So I hear Ziggy settled the question of who’s opening,” Barrett said as he sat back in his chair. “I’ll be honest. It won’t be glamorous to be first on the bill in these places where they’ve never heard of you like Venezuela.”

“I’m not exactly taking the gig for the glamor,” I said.

“Yeah, didn’t think so.” Barrett sipped his lemonade.

I rotated my glass in my hand, forcing myself not to drink it yet. “So what do we need to work out, exactly?”

“Contracts. Miss Handley, you’ve seen them already, but they don’t include the opening act part of the deal.”

“Carynne,” she corrected him. “Would you prefer to write a separate deal for that or add it as a rider to this?”

“Well, given that some of the terms will be negated, I think it makes sense to add it as a rider. For example, the standard opener’s deal requires the opening band to pay a lot of their own way, but obviously it would be an utter dick move to require that when if you weren’t opening for us we’d be paying your travel as staff. Although I’m sure there are some who would no doubt try it.”

Carynne’s smile showed her teeth. “I’m so glad there’s no one like that here today,” she said pointedly. “We’ve had our dramas with opening bands before.”

“So I gather.”

“I’m curious, though, how does tour support work with overseas tours? Is the South American album being released on another label? Do they make a financial committment to tour support?”

They were starting to get technical on rights issues and territories. I zoned out for a bit and when I focused again I realized my there was only an inch of lemonade left in the glass. Fortunately they had settled on some kind of understanding and it was time to talk logistics.

“The plan is for about a half-dozen South American dates, and about a half-dozen Japan and Australia, which doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s all a shakedown cruise for what we hope will turn into a major thirty or forty cities the States next year and maybe two dozen stops in Europe, too. So we’re going out with full production, a team of eight dancers–”

“I thought we said ten,” Ziggy interrupted.

“Ten if you include you and the choreographer,” Barrett amended. “And you’ll–” by which he meant me “–need to probably listen to the album and tell me who we need to hire in terms of backing musicians, but guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, for sure.”

“Horns?” I asked.

“The horns on the album are all samples but live, maybe. Backing singers? Maybe. Like I said. You tell me.” He waggled his finger between us. “Both of you.”

We nodded.

“Tomorrow the aesthetician’s in to go over some concept drawings with us. You’re welcome to sit in on those meetings,” he added.

I hated meetings, but I admitted I was curious. “If Zig’s there, I’ll be there.”

And on it went. We eventually came back around to the subject of money, various budgets were hammered on, and Barrett refilled my glass.

In the end everything was agreed but nothing was signed until we got the definite thumbs up from Bart and Christian that they were in–at least as opening band if not as Ziggy’s band. Which gave me another question to bring up about hiring.

“So is this going to be a clean crew? I’m assuming it is, but I don’t know how clean.”

Barrett and Ziggy exchanged a glance that told me they’d discussed it before. Barrett spoke. “No drugs.”

“Does alcohol count as a drug?”

“No illegal drugs, I suppose I should say,” Barrett clarified. “And that includes prescription drugs unless you’ve got an actual prescription. Last thing we need is some light tech falling from a catwalk because he took one too many percoset, you know? A little drinking, okay, but in these South American countries they’re literally fighting drug cartels in the streets for control of the government. We’re steering clear of all that. No weed, no pills, no nothing. Anyone who can’t get on board with that, we shouldn’t hire.”

“Not a problem. I was actually asking because Christian will flat out refuse to come if he thinks it’s going to be a druggy environment. I’m glad I can tell him it won’t be.”

Barrett nodded. “We don’t have to be, like, evangelical about it. But yeah, keep everyone away from temptation. I get one whiff of a roadie with a pot stash or anything and they’re gone. I know what Ziggy went through and I’m not going to chance it.”

“Good.” I felt a greater sense of relief than I expected. Barrett knew what Ziggy had been through and wasn’t going to let that happen again. That was way better than I was expecting. I was expecting a little lip service and then sweep it under the rug, leaving me and Zig to deal with it on our own. Gee, who do you think I got that expectation from? I wondered if Digger was in jail, the hospital, or the morgue yet.

The actual signatures would happen the next day on actual paper after we’d confirmed with Bart and Chris and things had been drawn up to Carynne’s satisfaction.

I still didn’t know what to call the alt prog rock trio but I figured that could be the agenda for a different meeting. Or maybe the right name would just come to me in the middle of the night.


  • Stacey says:

    Gee, I like Barrett more and more!

  • D. says:

    I am really really liking Barrett.

  • s says:

    Count me in the Barrett fan club.

    The eight dancers fan club? Now why did that make me cringe?

    Ctan and Sanders, you will be shocked to find out I found yet another Taylor Swift song that calls to mind the boys, “Wildest Dreams.” It’s one of those songs were you need to listen to it, not just read the lyrics. It’s the whole song. I’ll even set the scene: Daron and Ziggy just got their tattoos and are standing on the beach in LA. Neither really knows where things are heading and whether or not they can overcome the current episode of ‘WTF Really Ziggy.’ Now this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdneKLhsWOQ

    • ctan says:

      She’s the queen of the tortured relationship/ex-relationship-but-still-obsessed/etc isn’t she? <3

      • s says:

        Yes! After the Janessa chapter, I admit I had “Bad Blood” stuck in my head on repeat for a least a week (that’s one of the few TS songs I really don’t like, too).
        “Now we got problems
        And I don’t think we can solve them
        You made a really deep cut
        And, baby, now we got bad blood”
        I was so thankful when they started working through their shit and my mind finally let that song go! Lol

  • Lenalena says:

    I’m going to withhold my judgment of Barrett until I’ve seen the aesthetician’s designs!

    Also: Echo and the Bunnyman! Yay!

  • Ashpence says:

    “I still didn’t know what to call the alt prog rock trio but I figured that could be the agenda for a different meeting. Or maybe the right name would just come to me in the middle of the night.”

    I think I’m missing something. What’s the reason they can’t keep it “Moondog Three”? Wasn’t it part of Ziggy’s contract that they be allowed to continue using the name? And if they used this record as a Moondog Three record, wouldn’t that fulfill their contractual obligations to Mills?

    • daron says:

      You have it right. We signed over all rights to the name Moondog Three and so can’t use it anymore. I probably haven’t been good about explaining it all–it’s complicated and boring plus I hate talking about it, even though it’s important. The one good part about signing everything over to Ziggy and Mills is that our old contract is not an issue anymore–me and the band are not beholden to fulfill that last album obligation.

      If we hadn’t signed everything over, the sad situation would be that Mills would never actually accept another album from us, leaving M3 stuck in hock forever, essentially. Which is what happens to a lot of bands. (And if you want to read a really really weird case about name rights, see what happened to Poe, who couldn’t perform for money for over ten years because an oil baron bought her from her record company. Literally.)

      • Ashpence says:

        Wow, that’s just… I’m praying Mills gets his in the end. Is he still Vice Prez? I seem to remember him getting a promotion way back, but it’s been forever. Anyway, would there be any point in going over his head in the company and doing some whistleblowing, or… actually, nevermind. I forgot this is Daron we’re talking about. 😉 Also, knowing the corporations back then, Mills is probably working in full compliance.

        Oh! And FYI, I know my comments are probably all over the place. I recently red the last ~50 chapters where I left off during last summer. And now I’m rereading everything from the beginning over at Wattpad… which is kinda odd when I think about it since I *should* just dig up my “Kindle for PC” and read the epub copies I bought. >_<

        • ctan says:

          But it’s fun to read and comment at different places, no? I do wish I cold get more wattpadders to hop over here, but wherever people are enjoying it is cool. 🙂

          And yeah, Mills is pretty much par for the course in the music industry. I don’t know what the stats are now, but back in the 80s the numbers were pretty stark. 80% of bands who signed a major label deal ended up in debt to the record company after one album and never worked again. (The individual musicians might have had careers but the bands as entities, no.) Four out of five bands who thought they “made it” by getting that major label deal were dead in the water within 2 years. (At least in book publishing, where 80% of the books don’t earn out their advances, you don’t end up owing the publisher money if the book doesn’t sell!)

          • Ashpence says:

            Speaking of the 80’s (well, 90’s really), a lot of this is giving me flashbacks to my childhood. My dad was a drummer, so I remember getting to watch him from backstage during music festivals. He claims to have once opened for… Queen, I think… before I was born and before he joined the Army, though I can’t remember what he said his band name was.

            Naturally, he was my hero and I started drumming in middle school. Reading about Daron (and especially Christian) always makes me regret I never made the transition from single percussion instruments to the quad or a full kit.

            • ctan says:

              It’s never too late to learn? My partner always wanted to be a drummer but his parents didn’t want the racket in the house so he ended up in bassoon and didn’t start on drums until he was in his 20s. He started with hand drums and single percussion for years and then finally sat down with some books and “learn to” videotapes when he decided to start a band. Took a few years for him to get decent, and now that he’s in his 40s he’s actually quite good…

              I on the other hand will never get good at piano.

          • Ashpence says:

            “I do wish I could get more wattpadders to hop over here, but wherever people are enjoying it is cool. 🙂

            This comment made me stop and need to think for a while. After all, why aren’t I reading it on the main site? Well, for me, there’s three main reasons: resolution, load times, and liner notes.

            I don’t know if everyone’s screen is like this, but atm this site only fills up half my screen. (I’m running 1280×1024, which is pretty much minimum nowadays for anyone who uses a flat screen monitor. My husband’s screen is even bigger and his resolution is even higher.) Yeah, I can zoom in, but that resets each time I wipe my cookies, which is almost every time I shut down my browser.

            The second thing is load time. Wattpad can have some crazy server lag, but it’s nowhere as bad as here on the blog. (Sorry!) I think most of the issue is the chapter list on the right side. Everytime I hit the next chapter, those have to be reloaded again. Sure, it’s only takes a minute, but sometimes it takes longer to load the chapter than it takes to read it. I think if those links had their own dedicated page and only showed the last five, it wouldn’t be so bad.

            The last thing is the liner notes. Don’t get me wrong, I love them. However, they can completely interrupt my immersion when I’m rereading and hitting next… next… next… several times in a day. With sites like Wattpad, you’ve put them all at the end so they aren’t interrupting the story. I’m not really sure how you could change that unless you tagged everything… I think?

            Please take this all as constructive criticism, though, and not just criticism! I <3 this site and plan to follow Daron and the gang for as long as you continue writing about them.

            Two other things, while I'm on the subject, though. 😉 I know you're wanting to bring in more readers so, um… It would make me easier to promote if there were more promotion buttons than just Flatter. I only use Facebook for social media and I know some people who only use twitter. It'd be nice if there were buttons to share easier. Also, I'd have written all this in the forums if I could figure out how to register. 😉 Or is that staff only?

            • ctan says:

              Thank you for the comment! It’s super-helpful to get feedback like this. And yes, I take it as constructive criticism. 🙂 I hope we can figure some of this out.

              Hm, that’s interesting about resolution. I’m running a 2560 x 1600 display. The site takes up the same width of my browser window (about 3/4 of the way from the far left edge) regardless of which machine I look at it with–I’ve got several monitors to try it with although they are all different resolutions (just tried it with the 1440 width one and the 1280×1024) it looks the same on all of them. So, hm. It definitely shouldn’t be as narrow as you describe. It *should* be somewhat narrow though, given that the design is meant to but run as a column of text of fixed width (just like Wattpad, and like a book, for that matter) because it’s very difficult to read very long strings of text going across very wide monitors because your eye can’t easily find the beginning of the next line down once you move your eye all the way back to the left. So I’m not sure what to do about that. The design is also meant to be easily readable on tablets in portrait mode from the regular web browser without having to use the mobile theme. (There’s a separate theme/design that comes up as default for mobile devices but people can switch from it and the browser should remember from one session to the next.) Since the majority of my readers on Wattpad seem to be on mobile, though (according to Wattpad stats it’s over 65% of readers), I don’t think the non-mobile theme here can be what’s deterring that 65% from reading here.

              Regarding liner notes versus story posts, they’re a separate category of post and also don’t appear in the table of contents, so people who want to skip them should be able to never see them, depending on how they navigate through the site. As I’ve learned over the years, there are several different ways people read & navigate and I can’t make assumptions about any of them. One of them is the table-of-contents list that runs down the sidebar. Once or twice that plugin has broken and there’s been quite a hue and cry from those who read and keep track of their “last read” chapter by number or by which link shows as last accessed in that list for them, while others use the automatically generated “next post” button at the end of each chapter and keep paging through, and others use the search function, and so on. This is also why I’d be hesitant to get rid of the table of contents plugin, given that there’s been protest whenever it hasn’t worked in the past (i.e. right after a WordPress update until it was fixed). I do wonder if a solution might be as you suggest a dedicated TOC page which people could load only when they wish–or could keep open in a separate tab perhaps if that’s their preferred method of moving through the story? I’ll have to poll users to get more input about that but I would guess that *most* would prefer a faster load time…

              FWIW, load time is much much faster for me than it seems to be for you. It’s been slightly slower for me since the last WP update and the security hardening we just did about two weeks ago, but by which I mean it went from an instantaneous load to 3-5 seconds per page. It definitely shouldn’t be taking you that long to load each chapter and I’d really like to see what we can do about fixing that. But it might be kind of hard for me to test if load times improve as I change things, since it’s not appreciably slow for me to begin with. Maybe some night I’ll ask you all to come in the chat room in real time while I mess around with the site and you can give me feedback?

              Oh! And regarding promo buttons. I used to have Tweet This, Facebook This, Share on Delicious, Etc etc buttons but they kept breaking and I got rid of them. Flattr is actually a fundraising thing but it doesn’t seem like it’s caught on so I should probably get rid of it. Probably time for me to see if there’s a better, faster “Share This” plugin now that its been a while, though.

              Regarding the forum, if you register for the site you automatically register for the forum. I don’t require registration for people to leave comments–anyone can just enter any name and a fake email and if it’s spam the spam filter kills it–but like all WordPress-based sites you can formally register. I just updated the Chat Room How To page to be the Chat Room and Forum How To page with links and instructions how to register. https://daron.ceciliatan.com/chat-room-how-to

              Now to see if this comment is too long for WordPress to handle…!

            • ctan says:

              Update: added a “share” plugin so all the common share options appear on every post. Here’s hoping it doesn’t slow loading!

              • Ashpence says:

                Maybe my zoom issue is browser related? I’m using Firefox. As for the speed, it’s entirely possible it’s a local issue, though I have the same issue on hubby’s computer and when I use wifi on my phone. I suppose that could mean it’s a router issue, but I swear I had this same lag last year before I stopped reading to “save up” chapters and I’ve upgraded both my router and my modem since then.

            • daron says:

              Coming back to this to report some findings — we haven’t been able to reproduce the screen resolution problem anywhere else. Meanwhile I’ve been trying some experiments with the table of contents plugin, to see if that’s what causes the slowness, and far as I can tell if it creates any lag time it’s only 2-3 seconds. So whatever creates the slowness isn’t that. Also the slowness seems to be intermittent — the same page that I’ve timed taking 20 seconds to load has sometimes only taken 2 seconds to load when not previously cached. My guess is that we go through bursts of spam and login attacks from outside malware and when those are happening or being processed (spam comments are filtered out) the site is slow, but in the increasingly rarer times when there’s little of that activity, it speeds up.

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