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This from our national broadcasting corporation, or as my old friend from 6th grade use to call it – The Canadian Broadcorping Castration:
Take this, language experts!
We had a powwow with some savages. It was spooky how the lame crippled gypsy and the black sheep brainstormed how to sell their spirit animals down the river, like a first world problem. Gypped, I knew it was third world blackmail, but they had a tone deaf blind spot when it came to the tribe. If I hadn’t been grandfathered in, I’d still be In the Ghetto, like Elvis.
Every November for the past ten years I’ve sat down with typewriter and written 50,000 words (at least) about something. First there were novels, and eventually there was a memoir, then an account of my hike around Mont Blanc. Two trilogies later (one with a 4th book), a humorous philosophical tale, and a variety of things have come from my mind onto paper. I spent a year of spare time editing only one of these, and many hundreds of hours editing every last thing I have written to date. Since writing two books last year, one in November and another that followed right on the heels of that, I have had in the back of my mind that this November I would just sit down and do it again. Then it hit me that I really didn’t have to do it again. I decided to allow myself to fail. What a relief! The fact remains that at this moment I don’t have much to say. Part of the problem is that after you have written a lot of books, there comes a realization that you can do it if you want to, but there’s nothing to prove anymore. It would have been great if my books had shot to the top of the best seller list, but that only happens with the rarity of lottery winning, and from what I observe a lot of best sellers are pure crap. I don’t want the life of a professional author anyhow, running all over the place promoting their work and listening to people who don’t have a clue discussing the meaning of it.
What I am missing is the pleasure of having my Olympia Traveller on my lap and hammering out 1700 words a day, then reading what I wrote to my wife every night. One day I might write another fictional book, but my next writing project will be to finish up the book I started long ago about how to build a guitar. Now that might sell, as the world seems to be filled with aspiring guitar builders these days. Where do they all come from? Why are there so many more guitars than guitar players? Do pianists all own a dozen pianos?
So, to keep up my typing dexterity and to taste the pleasure of putting words to paper I’ve been writing poems every Friday night after the pizza. My wife writes one too, on her sole typewriter – a 1953 Oliver #4 – one of the cutest and best typewriters ever conceived (and I’ve owned 200 of them). Unlike me, she’s perfectly content with one good typewriter. I still have to restrain myself from adding to the collection however, which stands at 97 today. I have one up for sale however, which is proof that I’m not hoarding them, right? Every year we design our own Christmas card and write a poem for the inside. I’m working on that now, but the poem takes the most work. To get into practice I wrote a couple of poems off the top of my head, which will very likely not be suitable for the Christmas card, but might be good enough for this blog. Well, maybe not but I wrote them so I’m going to put them up.
Once upon a time there was a boy who lived beside a forest that was dark and smelled of skunk cabbage and was crawling with slugs that were a foot long and covered with sticky slime. This didn’t stop the boy from going into the forest because he was curious and wanted to know what was beyond the trees down the path that started where his own yard ended.
One day when his mother was busy with house cleaning, the boy took his brother who was smaller than him and they went into the forest a few steps and there they stopped to look back at their house. Then they looked down the path into the forest and back at the house again and then down the path again and they wondered what they should do. They walked back to the beginning of the path and looked at the house to see if their mother was watching. She told them to stay out of the forest but they thought that it would be alright if they just stood at the edge of it for a while and looked. So they stood and looked into the forest and wished they could go in and find out what was there amongst the tall trees where the sun hardly touched the ground because of all the leaves.
While they were looking an owl glided past their heads and silently beat it wings as it flew off down the path and into the forest. That was impossible to ignore and they started walking quickly down the path into the trees hoping to see the owl again, forgetting that they weren’t allowed to go into the forest. When they had walked for a while they saw the owl high up in a tree sitting on a big branch preening its feathers with its beak. They stood at the bottom of the tree and looked up at the owl. The owl stopped preening and stared at them.
Who who, it said, who who who.
Who are you, said the boy and his brother said it too, who are you?
The owl didn’t answer, just saying who who again, and looking at the boys with its large dark eyes that blinked slowly. Then the owl swivelled its head completely around so the boys could only see the back of it.
The boys walked around to the opposite side of the tree and looked up at the owl again noticing that the owl’s feet were now going the wrong way.
Look at his feet, they’re backwards, said the boy to his brother who laughed.
Then the owl swivelled its head back to the other side and once again they were looking at the back of the owl. They walked to the front of the owl and saw that now its feet were forwards and not backwards. Then the owl closed its eyes and went to sleep.
Let’s go home said the little brother, I’m hungry.
They looked for the path but when they found it they couldn’t remember which way to go because they were confused by the owl’s head going this way and that way. They tried to remember what the owl looked like when they first saw it but it was impossible to say which way the owl’s feet were supposed to go. When they looked up at the owl again it had turned its head around which made them even more confused.
I want to go home, said the little brother, I’m hungry. Then he started to cry.
Don’t cry, said the boy, I need you to help me think.
The boy went back to the path and looked up at the sky. He saw the sun and remembered that the earth turned on its axis once every day, which made the sun come up and go down, even though the sun never really moved. The boy remembered that when they had entered the forest the sun had been in their eyes. The boy had a brand new wrist watch which he got for a birthday present and he knew how to tell what time it was. Looking at his watch he saw that it was still morning so he knew the sun was still getting higher in the sky.
If the sun was in our eyes when we walked into the forest, he said, we should have the sun on our backs to go home.
They stood on the path with the sun at their backs and ran as fast as they could all the way home, where they had milk and cookies and drew pictures of owls.
49 years ago I bought the guitar of my dreams, a brand new Martin D35. In those days I was in love with Gordon Lightfoot songs, the Beatles of course, and all that music that sounded great on a big flat top guitar.
But the years passed and so did my taste in music, so 24 years ago I sold the D35 and moved on to jazz. However, the circle of life comes around like the seasons and so I recently decided it was high time I had a big “folk” guitar again. The Martin dreadnought, or D type guitar is the most copied guitar in the world, because it is like a battle ship that fears no man or woman. But it is big, a bit too big for me now that my shoulder and arm can’t take long hours of being draped over a huge guitar. I checked around and found the next best thing – a Taylor Grand Auditorium. This guitar has a narrow waist that allows it to sit lower and thus is less painful on the strumming arm. It was designed to compete with the Dreadnoughts, and by and large it can, although it’s a little smaller. The D size guitars are very large and in the opinion of many guitarists the 000 Martin is the acme of flat tops. While I tend to agree, I had already built one of those many years ago, and I wanted something different. Hence the latest guitar – my version of a Taylor Grand Auditorium, complete with the “all new, improved V bracing”.
Here is my latest guitar, #37, successor to my long gone D35, which I expect is still out in the world being strummed somewhere.
Taylor is converting their guitars to this v shaped bracing system, away from traditional x braced tops. They claim to have invented it, but it’s been around a long time in one form or another. I just copied their design however, figuring they had already done all the testing for me. I played a few examples and while they were no better than some of their x braced guitars, it seemed like an adventure to try a new design. I already made several ukuleles with v braces and I knew they sounded really good, better than the fan braced ones I had made before.
The guitar sounds great for folk music, no good at all for jazz, which is how it should be. I already have a dozen jazz guitars!
For the record: cypress top, cypress braces, African mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, ebony bridge. Tuners are Gotoh 510, 1:21, the smoothest damn tuners on earth and worth every cent of the hundred bucks they cost. Strings are D’Addario EJ15 phosphor bronze, extra light. Even with extra light strings this thing is loud. I might up the gauge when I change strings, but the trade off is more volume for more work, and I have lazy old fingers.
Body is 16″ x 20″ x 4 5/8″ deep, same as Martin D. The nut is 1 11/16″, exactly the same as my old D35, as is the bridge. Scale length 25.5″, just a tad longer than Martin’s 25.4″ scale, so it feels like a D35 in my hands. Now to go practice “Did She Mention My Name”. Today’s pop music is so banal and crappy it’s not worth listening to, so thank heavens we have Gordon Lightfoot, who is still alive! He should have got the Nobel Prize, not Bob Zimmerman… the worst performer I have ever seen. But BZ wrote some good songs. I may play one of those later.