09 April 2014

Plucking Some Tunes Again Soon, I Hope!

I'm hoping that I can find all the cables, switches, tolls, and other items I've amassed over the years in order to get back to playing my electric bass guitar. I was particularly impressed with myself during my teenage years that I was able to teach myself how to play just by listening and mimicking what I heard until I could create my own music and deep, rich sounds. I've toyed with the idea of trying out an acoustic bass this year as well. I've never played one but I think it might be a nice challenge for me by jumping to a new deep tone instrument, even though it's still a guitar. It's kind of weird that you use an acoustic bass amp for an acoustic instrument but if it brings more sound to the many than more power to it, no pun intended. I want to experiment with the string play since I often use a combination of pick, pluck, tap, and thump when I play to see how it translates acoustically. This should be fun!

Why Is It Necessary To Always Dance At Weddings?

I have a wedding to go to with my wife this weekend. It's for a friend of mine at work who I've known for over 6 years and I feel lucky that we were invited, considering the fact that he's marrying the General Manager of where we work. A definite coup for those trying to get 'in' with the boss, for advancement considerations. Socializing is paramount in the work advancement cycle. So, why did this have to involve dancing to music that I know nothing about. Looking like a fool in front of your boss does NOT help a persons advancement potential, unless you sweep the floors and want to move up to mopping them! With Latin music being foremost on the docket for the reception and me not knowing anything about Meringue and Salsa dancing I may as well have signed up for a course for Salsa dance lessons in Los Angeles, for all the good it would do me before this Saturday! In fact if I were in LA I would have the best excuse in the world for not having to be there to dance at all. Don't get me wrong, I know how to dance but these dances are for people that have slimmer bodies than we have to look anywhere near acceptable to look at. Well, LA is not an option for me and neither is San Juan or Tijuana. I guess I'll just have to suck it up and wait for a full dance floor before we get 'out there' and try to disappear into the throng! Let's see, shuffle, shuffle, move arms side to side, and laugh! Yup, that should work just fine. Especially after they all have had lots to drink!

01 March 2014

Musical What Is It.

I've heard of many things that sound out of the ordinary, especially when it comes to music and musical instruments. Before I took up the bass guitar I had never really had any experience with a fret board or a reverb pedal. My friend Josh was telling me the other day that he started learning to play the banjo, a difficult instrument to master, to say the least. However, the sound from a trained banjo player is heaven to listen to and especially watch. During our conversation he lightly tossed out that he ordered some banjo tablature. Banjo tablature? Okay, what the heck is that? I figured that it sounded like some kind of add-on to the banjo but it's just a fancy way of saying music book, and often the are accompanied with a CD as well. We used to call it sheet music or a music book but times are a changing! I can't wait till he gets good at playing so he can then entertain me with music for a change.

17 February 2014

I'm Going To Try It Again, I Hope.

I've tried several times to get a handle on my fathers cornet that he used to play in band while in high school. Band was something I never really wanted to participate in when in school but I wasn't against the idea of playing an instrument. I've played electric bass guitar, drums, Timbales, Congas, and a cute little electric organ very early on. I briefly played in a cover tune rock band till that pretty much petered out due to school and work schedules with everyone. It was fun while it lasted though. Well, I recently got my dad's cornet and figured I'd give it a try but for one thing. The mouthpiece went missing somewhere between 1975 and today! Where I live there are NO music shops or parts stores anywhere to get spares so I needed the ever present Internet. I did find a cornet mouthpiece at Guitar Center that was affordable so I sent for it, and a spare to put away in a safe place! I admit that I'm no trumpet playing Al Hirt, or Herb Alpert, but I can make noises with it that actually sound like something besides a subway train coming into the station at rush hour!

Contradictions? You Be The Judge.

Do It Yourself Shows Not Quite Do It Yourself!

I was watching this show on one of the educational channels this past weekend and they were going into how to make a steel bulkhead door for a basement. I grew up using bulkhead doors to go from the basement, up a short staircase, and out into the yard. Back then the doors were primarily wooden and heavy, especially for a 7 year old! The doors could lock from the inside and were good in the summer when you wanted to cool off by going into the cool basement for a short time. Well, I started watching this show and they were talking about getting some sheet steel and doing the measuring just the right way and making the reinforcements for the hinges but they lost me on one important aspect of the entire procedure. Where was I going to to go to go for used plasma cutters to actually make the door? I thought from the get-go that this would be a home center project on how to install a pre-manufactured bulkhead door and, I thought, that would be interesting to watch. I didn't expect to be given directions on how to manufacture one! That was an hour I'll never be able to justify wasting.

28 January 2014

Summer Vacation Plans Aren't Just For Summer!

I don't know why I'd even plan a summer vacation, living in Florida and all, while it's quite hot here. Even with the attractions and casinos and water parks it gets to be a bit much to figure out. I've been leaving the lion share of the research up to my wife, she likes to do that sort of thing and I figure the Internet is going to be the best resource for what we want, when we want it, and for how much fun we can afford. I do want to stay away this time because commuting for day trips is NOT a vacation, it's work!

We initially considered going out of state to a cooler part of the country since finances won't allow us to leave the country, unless it's a one way trip. I believe that Florida will be our destination of choice mostly because of cost but not to mention selection of available destinations. If we want to go to a more sedate location then we can afford a pricier hotel to stay at, but that's just a place where you sleep, bathe, and dress. Why spend a lot for a hat rack? If we go with a a pick of cheap hotels near where we want to be then we can spend more time enjoying our stay than trying to get our money's worth out of the hotel!

What I mean about balancing our budget between lodging and attractions. Most people know that Orlando area attractions are not known for being affordable to all pockets. They aren't! In fact, the major attractions in the greater Orlando area are now approaching $100 per adult per day. That would mean a five star hotel is out of the question! A 2 or 3 star hotel is a different story now, that's affordable in the trade off between bed and play. Hmmm, too bad the government didn't think like this. A discounted hotel is good enough, so long as the neighborhood is decent and close enough to the events. On site hotels are not even a consideration since we'll be digging deep just to buy a couple of days passes. We, when we can afford to go to Disney, limit our time to Epcot and MGM, but mostly Epcot. Universal is a better studio take in than MGM is, except for the Rock & Roller Coaster ride, that's a hoot! Not for the cost of admission though.

When all is said and done she'll get the best price online from a reputable company and may even be able to arrange tickets online as well. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Learning to Play the Piano Isn't the Same Anymore, the Piano That Is!

Aside from teaching, I'm sorry...instructing, band musicians at the local school part time my wife also teaches piano(I wish I had these skills) and she's been busy but not with the piano. The instrument of choice for these up and comers is the keyboard. The most popular among these student provided instruments is an Arturia keyboard because, from what I'm told, they're economical, well built, and have many features for a fuller effect. I remember the plastic organs with the fan inside to power the bellows that usually lasted until the end of the day at Christmas then died. My aunt had a big church type organ that she used to keep us up at night with that she never learned to play. Wish that one had a headphone jack! Things have changed quite a bit since my childhood but at least there are affordable options that still sound great.

17 January 2014

What Are Cities Good For Nowadays?

Different parts of the country, let alone the entire planet, are typically known for certain goods, food, trade, educational opportunities, etc. We all know of many without even taking the time to think about it at all. We have cities like Detroit MI auto industry which has been in the news since the GM govt loans and resurgence of GM as the top auto manufacturer in the world once again. Okay, lets keep going here. We also have Boston MA education, medicine, history, etc., Burbank CA television, Hollywood CA film industry, Houston TX oil, Orlando FL theme parks, Seattle WA rain, and anywhere AZ fence building. It's funny how people tend to stream and gather in various geographical areas to ply their trades. Maybe it's the climate, maybe the taxes, lack of rain, snow, cold, heat, whatever! People of a like mind will always find each other in the long run and we all have plenty to choose from.

A Little Classy Touch to the House.

I have on my to-do list, or my honey-do list some would call it, a special project that's been in the works for over 10 years. It's been ten years in the planning because I've been putting it off for ten years. Every time I see the front of my garage I think of it but when I get inside the thought somehow vanishes completely, for ten years that is. I was at my local home builders store and I bought part of the project. What's the project? My house number. On the house. Over the garage door. The house is freshly painted and a new roof is on it so I can proceed. I bought, as I mentioned above, something to start the project - house numbers. Bright brass house numbers! With the colors on the house and the roof color to consider I chose to go with a dark bamboo wood plaque, which I ordered from http://www.woodcrafter.com/, since they happen to sell some nice ones. Bamboo can withstand harsh weather and temps and mildew due to it's protective properties that are in the actual wood. That's why bamboo cutting boards are so great, they inhibit bacterial growth while regular cutting board wood will not. Now I just need to get the ambition to get my router out and make a decorative shape out of my bamboo plaque. Oval or angled, I may need to think on this awhile.

12 January 2014

Modern Music Needs Modern Gadgets

I'm going to go back about 50 years and say that music is NOT what it used to be, and then some. I'm thinking back to the days when the acoustic guitar was state of the art, still. The sitar was something that in the 60's and 70's performers like George Harrison gave us as well as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, playing an Indian veena, brought fusion music to the forefront. Amplification of these instruments was rudimentary at best and most often a microphone was setup just in front of the instrument to capture a percentage of its true sound. The mike did little to allow the audience to enjoy the performance itself by sticking out in front of the artists and their instruments. Wired, attached, microphones made a big splash by being 'out of the way' but the wire caused a few to be tripped up while playing, but was still better than having to remain static for the mike stand, not allowing movement for the audience so they could appreciate the performance fully. Can you imagine Chuck Berry having to sit down and play his guitar without moving? Jerry Lee Lewis couldn't even sit still playing the piano! Today we have items like Bluetooth devices that allow you to wirelessly control your voice and instrument audio through one unit with near perfect clarity. Can you imagine what the 60's and 70's would have been like with today's technology? Removing the restrictions from the artists and allowing broader range of their music would have kept us in that era for quite a long time. Today we hardly give it a thought.