Friday, July 31, 2015

Garage sale-ling

SHERYL AND I just got back from Steve Rees' garage sale. Yes, you can garage sale. Now that I've used it as a verb, I feel dirty and violated.

There are many people who garage sale around here. To each his or her own, I guess. I don't hate garage salers. They should be sentenced to watch a season of Two Broke Girls in one sitting, a fate worse than death, but that's OK.

I'm not sure if my Dutchness was liberated from all the tremendous bargains, or if I'm just relieved we've relieved Steve of some treasured trinkets. Sheryl bought a wooden metronome, a box of yarn and all kinds of stuff in another box. She's putting it all in her late mother's curio cabinet. Her mother was a huge garage saler. She was still very cool.

I got a lava lamp for $2. TWO FREAKING BUCKS. It is awesome and makes my guitar lesson room glow with veritable awesomeness. Steve threw in a Verve Pipe CD, and I'm trying not to get emotional about it.

Steve's sale continues at Lisa Wigoda's amazing building, 835 South Eighth, all day today and tomorrow. The good stuff is going, but there's lots left. Sheryl is still looking for a Buddha statue so we can build a shrine to Steve in the store, so she might be back.

And I'm basking in the glow of lava lamp awesomeness.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Steve's big sale

STEVE REES IS having a big "garage sale" Saturday. He should call it "All The Interesting Stuff I've Collected During This Adventure Called Life" sale. It's Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at his 836 South Eighth Street address.

Look at all this cool stuff! I'm including Steve's beard, of course.
Steve does some work for us and is a fantastic musician. When we first opened Second String Music at Eighth and Washington, he came down the block from his place and said, "You guys need any stuff to sell?"

A day later, we'd tripled our inventory and had the coolest instruments for a fledgling music store - green guitars, seven-string guitars, banjos, mandolins, all kinds of stuff.

Steve runs our store when Sheryl and I head out of Dodge. He is in charge of the Open Mic Night at One Restaurant. He's The Man.

If you are looking for run of the mill and junky garage sale crap, which flourishes in Calftown, don't stop at his place. If you've got an eye for the obscure and interesting, well, check it out.

Sounds like Sheryl and I will have to make a stop before we open the store Friday morning!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Woodland recovers

IT WAS A long two weeks for the dogs while Woodland Cemetery recovered from the massive storm earlier this month. The beautiful grounds were decimated by the high winds, with tons of trees knocked down or suffering major damage.

And this is AFTER a lot of cleanup.
Angus and Tucker were bummed while the cemetery was closed. We snuck in the south side a couple of times but couldn't even walk down to the corner past the mausoleum because trees blocked the path.

Woodland reopened earlier this week. Thank you to Keith and hard-working staff for getting the area cleaned up enough to walk and drive through. Angus and Tucker are overjoyed.

Now comes the hard part - assessing the damage to the stones and grave markers. Many were knocked down and/or broken by trees. It's up to the families to maintain the markers, but many have passed on and nobody is around anymore to look after the plots.

The cemetery has worked with local monument companies to fix many stones in recent years. Now there's a lot more to do.

At the back by the bluff, the Civil War monument was sheared off. It won't be cheap to fix it, but plans are underway to tackle the project. This is one of Quincy's most treasured pieces of history, installed the year after the Civil War ended. There are more pressing issues in the wake of the storm, but I certainly hope Quincy will help in restoring the monument.

It's 95 in the shade, but the dogs and I are back into our walking routine, and grateful.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Turtle tattoo for dad

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE power of music, turtles and tattoos.

We had a young woman in the store yesterday looking at our ukuleles. Second String Music has the amazing Luna ukes, and they are extremely popular.

She was staring at our ukes when she got a faraway look in her eyes. "Oh," she said. "Look at this one. It has a turtle on it!"

She smiled and said, "Don't worry, I have a sports bra on!" Then she promptly lifted up her shirt and showed us the tattoo on the back of her shoulder. She got it to honor her father, who passed away recently. It's a turtle. And it's beautiful.

She's already enjoying the beautiful Morgan Monroe mandolin she just bought from us. She's been thinking about the uke for a while, and the turtle design cinched it.

I have a feeling her musical pursuits are helping her cope with her father's death. There are many ways to deal with stress and life's ups and downs - music is the healthiest and most productive.

We're happy she's strumming away and exploring new worlds.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Less Beach? No problem ...

THE PEPPER SPRAY express just got back from the annual whirlwind Lake Michigan vacation.

Ahhhhhhhh.

For the third straight year, Frank Haxel, Adam Yates and myself jumped on pilot Tim Smith's single-engine plane and flew to Holland, Michigan, where my aunt and uncle live. We left an hour or so earlier than planned Saturday morning to beat a massive storm system, and we had perfect weather on the beach.

I gave I-84/90 a big middle finger as we zipped over the highway near Michigan City. For as many agonizing and harrowing hours as that road has given me, I thought it was deserved. It took us two hours to fly to Holland. Two hours .... driving, we'd be just leaving Springfield.

On the beach, there is no such thing as time. Great conversation, great weather, great company, great jam session on the deck Saturday night with cousins Roland and Michael. The beach itself changes every year, and there's a lot less of it right now - but still more than enough.

Sunset from the deck near Holland, Michigan.
Of particular interest were the discussions between my Uncle Peter, who is into conflict resolution, and Sgt. Adam Yates of the Quincy Police Department.

Tim and Frank slept on chairs right by the water. Tim woke Frank up at 2 a.m. so they could see the space station streak across the sky. Adam and I collapsed in a tent gracious provided by cousins Roland and Amy Hart. There is something to be said about falling asleep to the waves just feet away.

On the way back, Tim dodged more thunderstorms and the view in the clouds was amazing.

As we left, Peter said, "We'll do it again next year."

We already can't wait!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fireflies and my daughter



YESTERDAY I WAS giving a guitar lesson to one of my best students. We were listening to a song and learning how to play it. This student, a young woman, is a fabulous player and it's a challenge to come up with stuff to make her better.

I rely on a lot of common sense things to teach guitar. It's about feel, rhythm and tempo. We work on things to improve hearing and appreciating music. It doesn't matter if it's a teeny bop song, country or classic rock. A good song is a good song, and to me, figuring it out is the best way to learn.

We do work on things like tabs and scales, and learning all 12 notes in the chromatic scale. I keep the theory to a minimum, but it does help.

This approach works almost 100 percent of the time. I have many students who had teachers who did boring drills and required a piece of paper to play songs. That's not my approach, and I think it's proof there are many different ways to learn.

Anyway, in our lesson we were using YouTube and listening to a song. It got done and I forgot to click the pause button on the laptop. Lo and behold, the song "Fireflies" popped up.

My daughter, Emily, loves this song. Written and performed by the band Owl City, it's electronic music and keyboard driven, but very clever and the arrangement is way cool. The background vocals are by the lead singer of Relient K, another of Emily's favorite bands. It's quirky and hooky and I put it on my iPod playlist.

It was playing, so we learned a very simple version of Fireflies on acoustic guitar. Have capo, will travel, I always say.

Again, it's all about the power of music. I miss Emily a lot because I haven't seen her since February, and probably won't see her again in person for many months. Fireflies reminds me of her. It's that simple.

Sometimes songs aren't just songs.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Blues marches on

THERE IS STILL tons of local media coverage about last week's storm. Yes, it was cataclysmic. Yes, it was and still is a huge topic of discussion. Yes, it impacted everybody. Yes, there are still things that need to be covered by the media.

I still have a wrecked car and huge tree stump in my backyard, along with a leaning garage and destroyed shed. And a wrecked roof in the front of the house. Still, it's all being taken care of, slowly but slowly.

Brian Murphy caught
James McKinney working hard
Life is getting back to normal. The Quincy Park District and a small army of volunteers did a great job cleaning up Washington Park, and Blues in the District Friday will be a good one.

The media around here is milking the storm for all it's worth, because that's what assignment editors do. Some of the stories are quite good, like Don O'Brien's Whig article about the Quincy Park District.  I almost laughed when reading about the park district folks "not entirely sure" of the damage in South Park.

Woodland Cemetery is still closed and it could be months until it opens. The park just south of Woodland, the little-used Indian Mounds Park, is in shambles. It's way down the list of parks to be cleaned up, rightly so, and it could be a long, long time until it opens.

We have good people at the Quincy Park District who care about our community. We have to be patient. Our parks will be back. It's a story worth following.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Original music

THERE'S A VERY cool event going on Saturday at Spirit Knob Winery featuring local musicians playing original songs. It's organized by Zeke Cernea and includes Katie Jean, Logan Kammerer and Devonte Clark.

I used to play original music all the time. The Funions recorded three CDs of original songs. Then I joined the dark side and cover bands. So much for the originals. I play out all the time, however. And there is a correlation.

Name the guy in The Funions who now plays drums for Fielder!
Very few bands around here can make it and have a following doing originals. Fielder, which is fronted by Logan, is a rare exception. Most everybody else does covers. When people go out to a bar or venue to hear a band, they want to hear songs they know. It's just that simple.

You have to be really good to pull off originals. The folks you will hear Saturday are really, really, really good.

Cori Lyssy and I are going to try our hands at originals. I used to write songs like mad, but now I'm so darned happy all the time, I just don't have the same motivation. That's a poor excuse.

This is going to be an awesome evening and I wish Zeke and the crew the best of luck.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Is it your birthday?

I AM TERRIBLE at remembering birthdays. Today, my brother Steve turns .... 40 something. I think.

The siblings, nieces and nephews are scattered all around the country. So I get reminded via email and Facebook about birthdays. Then I chime in like I knew it all along. Right.

My father likes to say, "I have a good memory. It's just short." Those leaves have a short trip to the ground from the tree.

Hey, I know you! But I don't remember when you were born, sorry.
About 15 years ago, my late mother was visiting and we were at the old Pizza Hut on North 24th Street. I can remember the long-closed restaurant, but that's beside point. I probably mentioned something about not knowing it was somebody's birthday.

So my mother, who signaled left but turned right, could get lost on a one-way road and once put milk on her eggs and salt on her cereal, whipped out a pen and small piece of paper. She then wrote down the birthdays of all her kids and grandkids.

I still have that note. I keep it in a desk drawer and find it every so often. Never when it's my brother's birthday or anything, but still. It's a precious memory and that's the point.

So. Happy birthday, little brother! I hope it's a good one, no matter how old you are.

Your card is in the mail. I think.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Patio party with HartLyss



MUCH FUN YET again on the KHQA Patio this morning, this time with Cori Lyssy and our little duo, HartLyss.

Thank you Chad Douglas, Tegan Orpet and Lauren Kalil for letting us hang out.

HartLyss plays tonight at the Maine Street Wine Stoppe in Hannibal from 8 to 11. It's indoors, so you won't melt, unless it's from our music.

We also have gigs Aug. 22 at the Splash Bar by Drake's in the Quality Inn, and Aug. 28 at State Street Bar & Grill. We are also playing at Cellar 21 in September, with more shows on the way.

It's Friday, thank goodness, and it's been a long week. I'm ready to cut loose. Who's with me?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

That's MY mandolin!

SHERYL'S FATHER, GERALD Collins, is getting ready to sell his house. The family has lived there 40 years, and there's a lot of stuff to go through.

He came into the store yesterday with a small case, opened it up, and said, "Where did this come from?"

It's an incredible Weber Gallatin mandolin, handmade in Montana. It's worth almost $3,000. Sheryl and her dad couldn't figure out how it sat in a closet at the house for many years. Sheryl thought maybe her brother landed it, or perhaps Sheryl's late mother purchased it without her husband's knowledge.

"You paid for everything, you know," Sheryl said to her dad.

"I know," he said, with a sigh.

Anyway, Sheryl contacted the Weber Mandolin company, and lo and behold, the owner himself answered back and gave us an instrument history. Sheryl apparently won it from a magazine contest when she lived in Wyoming a decade ago, then forgot all about it after she moved back to Quincy. It had been a very stressful time in her life and those memories are still very sketchy. Her father was only slightly disappointed.

So we have a high-end Mandolin for sale that looks and sounds like it was made in heaven. If you are interested, let us know - we've already put feelers out and will probably search out potential buyers online.

Sometimes you just don't know what you have until it's gone - or it's found in a closet before it's gone!

Specs ....

Gallatin F Mandolin serial # 6256701
Signed by the maker Bruce Weber
Tone braced Sitka spruce top, mahogany back, rim and neck
Unbound ebony veneer with Weber logo
Bound ebony fingerboard with 1-1/8th inch bone nut
MOP diamond fret markers
Double action truss rod
Grover tuners, cast tailpiece, ebony adjustable bridge
Faded leather color, satin nitro lacquer finish
Custom plush mandolin case
Includes all original paperwork and tools

For sale at Second String Music, 100 N. Fifth St, Quincy IL. Serious inquiries only!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Best friends

THIS SUCKS. WE still don't have power. Our roof is crushed. Sheryl's nephew doesn't have a car. The garage and shed are totaled.

I feel great.

I feel great because we had friends come over last night and chainsaw the living daylights out of The Hood. We got the tree off our front roof. We got about half of the tree in the back cut down, though the huge piece on top of Evan's car is still there - it will take a professional tree service to finish the job. Our neighbor, Don, is happy to have the tree off his garage too. We ate pizza and drank a few beers after we were done. We laughed a lot.

We are blessed.

James McKinney - chainsaw artist!
James McKinney of Pepper Spray Security manhandled the huge tree out back with his chainsaw. He'd been up since 5 a.m. helping his parents and other people with similar issues. He only drank water (I knew it was serious) and never complained. He. Was. Huge. Marines, Hoo Rah!

Frank Haxel, always in the right place at the right time, directed traffic and sawed away. Benny Lyssy did the same. Mike Baker and Greg Ellery took care of the tree in front. Greg got up on the roof and actually appeared to enjoy himself. Five chainsaws and 15 tree limb/debris helpers cleared as much as they could to get our yard and house safe again. Sheryl and others documented it all with photos.

My old Herald-Whig buddy from Hannibal, Kevin Murphy, showed up with a chainsaw and started blasting away on the branches after they fell from the main trunk.

Connie Guthrie walked up the street from her house and started dragging stuff into piles. So did Sheryl, Cori Lyssy, Lacey Davis, Amanda Waterkotte, Stephanie Boyer and Evan Boyer. The area by the alley is covered in huge piles of tree branches, and other huge piles of logs. I won't have to beg for outdoor firepit wood anymore, that's for sure.

All it cost was us five pizzas, two cases of beer, a case of water and a load of patience. Sheryl and I agree that a hundred bucks for the food and beverages was a small price to pay.

Some of the Ameren guys were in the alley and pointing at Evan's car. So he jumped up, grabbed his car keys and guess what? His car is totaled. But it still starts. He was a little excited when the engine turned on.

It was too hot and humid to sleep in the house. So we slept in the store. Fast Eddie enjoyed it, that's for sure. "Wake up, human! I don't care it it's 3 a.m. You guys are never hear this late ... let's party!" The dogs finally got comfortable and rested by the lesson rooms.

We are reviving with a Thyme Square breakfast and I will head back to the house to see if we have power. And all I can really say is .....

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dude, your car is crushed

SO WE GOT home last night a little after 6 and thought about running some errands. The trees down in the middle of the street sort of convinced us to stay home.

The sirens went off, the sky turned black and teal, and Sheryl was in a panic. We rushed inside, woke her nephew up (he is staying with us for a short time) and headed into the basement. We waited.

"The worst is over," I said, after about 15 minutes of hearing the rain pelt the house. "I'm going up."

I walked to the back door. I went outside. I stopped.

I could not believe my eyes.

This is Evan's car. Or, WAS Evan's car.
Our huge oak tree by our garage was toppled over by the straightline winds. It landed on Sheryl's nephew's car. It missed my car by two inches. It fell over not minutes after we went past it. Our garage and shed have been moved several feet and will have to be demolished.

Evan, Sheryl's nephew, stood in shock.

"Dude," I said, "your car is crushed."

Then we looked out front. It wasn't any better. The top of a tree got ripped in half landed on our roof. It busted the glass of the picture window, but thank goodness our neighbors came over and cut off the branches threatening to push in the window.

Candles were our friends last night. Who knows how long we'll be without power - one of the neighbors said they saw the transformer around the corner get hit by lightning.

At least we have added shade in the front of the house now. GUH.
The store is fine. We lost one of the metal balcony railings on the Fifth Street Side. A window got busted on the third floor, another on the fifth floor. Washington Park is a mess. But we are lucky - around the corner, a restaurant got whacked, and windows are blown out all up and down Maine Street. There is debris everywhere, streets closed, power lines down. I hear Madison Park at 24th and Maine got absolutely destroyed.

Now I'm hearing the Civil War Monument in Woodland Cemetery has been blown over. I'm gonna cry.

A word about the gawkers who drove by all night. Stay the bleep home. Stay off my street. You aren't doing any good. You are going to drive over a live power line or run into something gaping at the damage. It does you no good. I feel like I'm going to punch you in the face if you keep doing it.

It's a pain in the ass. Cleanup will take forever - you know how hard it is to get a tree service to actually call you back and come out? It's only going to be 95 degrees today, with 90 percent humidity.

But we are fine, Fast Eddie is fine, the dogs are fine. We can replace stuff and deal with the logistical nightmares.

I don't want to see any more rain or storms again this summer. Please?


Monday, July 13, 2015

Drowned at The End of the World

SO THE WORLD ended Saturday night. The official cause? Drowning.

End Of World is a great thing. It's a party just east of Quincy in more than 40 acres of woods. It's like a miniature Woodstock with camping. Join the Facebook group to get updates for next year's festival.

Pepper Spray played at 2 p.m. to kick it off Saturday and we had a blast. Fielder took the stage at 7:30 p.m. and got well into their final set when it got very interesting.

It was raining about 1 p.m. when we were setting up, but it cleared and we thought we'd get through the rest of the day. Radar showed a massive system moving north of us. We kept our fingers crossed.

But at about 9 p.m., just as it was getting dark and the crowd really starting to grow and get into it, the system suddenly veered south. We got hit, and I mean smacked. Deluged.

I have never seen it rain so hard for so long. Never. It just kept coming down and it turned everything into a muddy mess. Fortunately there were several large tents set up for people to stay out of the rain. I had a small tent set up but it got blown over and soaked right away, along with all the contents. I'm just glad I had a hardshell guitar case - they are worth their weight in gold.

Fielder ROCKIN' the crowd.
About 10:30, when it kept pouring and skies kept flashing, the final band of the evening, Tri Point Paradox, was canceled.

There is a huge field next to the wooded area for parking. We've had one of the wettest summers on record, and the already-soft ground made parking somewhat difficult. Once it started, there was almost no way you were getting out of there through the mud unless you had four-wheel drive and a big vehicle. There were huge rivets in the earth between the parking lanes.

At about midnight, as the party raged on and some folks started really feeling their beer, Sheryl and I decided to leave. "We aren't getting out of here. You'll get stuck in the mud," she said.

"No we won't," I said. Sheryl had been having too much fun. Of course she wouldn't know that I was a stellar driver in mud, ice, snow and sunshine.

We got stuck. As in, half the front tires disappeared into the gooey earth. With the car in the middle of a parking lane and no way of getting out of there, and no let-up with the rain, we called Sheryl's sister, Stephanie, and got a ride home.

Yesterday morning was scorching hot and humid. We made it back out there about 9:30 and the parking lot was a total disaster - there had to have been at least 100 cars hopelessly bogged down in the mud. A guy from one of the local towing services was trying to help, but he kept getting called away for "911 emergencies" and there were a lot of people helplessly trying to get out.

Finally, a couple of Good Samaritans in Jeeps and tractors arrived and started pulling out cars. I am grateful to the gentleman who pulled me out - about half an hour later, I saw him and he was covered in mud and sweat. You know what? He looked like he was actually having a blast.

The whole scene Sunday morning reminded me of a zombie apocalypse - people wandering around in  a daze covered in mud and wondering what hit them the night before. They were happy though. It had been a good time.

From what I heard, it took most of the day to get everybody out of there. That's what happens when the world comes to a very wet and muddy ending. Frankie Murphy Giesing can certainly organize a magnificent music festival.

It was an adventure. I'm ready to do it again, in a year.

By then, my stuff might be dry.


Katie Jean and Scott Smith at End of World in Country Village :) Wow, how I adore this woman's voice! Oh and Scott wrote this song and it was simply wonderful.
Posted by Jacqueline Kaufman on Monday, July 13, 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Music mayhem

ONCE AGAIN, THE weekend arrives and there is literally too much to do, if you want to listen to music and have fun.
Food Trucks and Blue Skies for today's music in the park!

It starts in about an hour in Washington Park with Justin Haubrich and Ed Koch playing our noon Blues show. Then the Matt Roberts Blues Band hits the gazebo at 5:30 for Blues In The District.

Matt Roberts is a great guy and we can't wait to hear him play. He has been fine tuning his sound this year and traveling to St. Louis for gigs with other Blues greats. Second String Music is sponsoring this weeks Blues in The District so come on over and watch with us.

I'm glad The District gives a local band a chance to play and the weather is perfect.

Tomorrow is the End Of The World party east of town. Pepper Spray plays at 2 p.m. with three other amazing bands to follow, plus there's an acoustic area with unlimited jamming until all hours. Rumor has it this little duo (LIKE their new facebook page!) will be playing around 7.

There's tons of other stuff going on at the local venues, as well. Get out and support your local music scene, and have a safe weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The garden is huge

FOR THE SECOND straight year, our backyard garden has gone nuts. Well, seeds, anyway.

We haven't had to water it yet. Yesterday's monsoon ensures it won't be needing water for another week. Melons, tomatoes, peppers .... there's all kinds of stuff waiting to pop out.

The sunflower plants in the very back of our yard are magnificent. Sheryl had to rig up a grid support system so they wouldn't topple over. The sunflowers are taller than me - I'm 5-foot-19, so you figure it out. The flowers have started to bloom and you can see the tiny seeds. Yum! Harvesting the seeds will be an adventure.

We might very well be having our own little farmer's market inside Second String Music by the time this is done. If I don't eat them all first...





Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Just go next door for a suit

IT'S NEVER A good thing when a business closes. There is a clothing store down the street shutting down, but the Maine Center owner says he'll have another business in there. Click here for the Whig story about Jos. A. Bank leaving Quincy.

The chain was purchased by another massive clothing store business, which saw little need for a little store in little old Quincy, Illinois. The store apparently made money, not just a little. That didn't matter. It never does, in business.

I feel especially bad for the people who work there. They don't matter in a huge corporate boardroom. They never do.

"Guaranteed to take three strokes off
your golf game." - Jeff Schuecking
Here's the thing. Quincy is too small for Jos. A. Bank. But it's not too small for Jeff Scheucking's awesome clothing store, which happens to be right next to Second String Music. I do buy stuff from Jeff, and I'm going in there for a belt soon, since Angus The Young seems to think my nice leather belts are excellent chew toys.

Jeff is from Quincy, lives in Quincy, set up his own small business in Quincy, and is proud of his downtown store. He is also a great trumpet player and a member of the Heidelberg German Band. Musicians rock.

No wonder we like him so much!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A hero named Dirk

SHERYL GOT ME an anniversary present a while back - the complete series of Dirk Pitt adventures, by Clive Cussler. There are about 20 books and I've read many of them, but never in order.

I'm about halfway through the series. Some of Cussler's early books are glaringly offensive to women and full of character cliches. Like anything, the books take time to develop and the characters get better.

These aren't going to win literature prizes. They are action-adventure books using villians and the environment, especially the oceans, as backdrops. They work for me and Cussler has sold millions of books because he keeps it simple and to the point - evil bad guy attempts to destroy the world with a plague or environmental weapon, and super good guy Dirk Pitt defies all the odds and escaped death time and time again to foil the bad guy.

The main reason I'm glad for the books is that they've got me reading again. I spent way too much time trolling through Internet trash and watching mindless TV before we got the books. My parents instilled a love of reading into me at an early age and there is still nothing better than time and a good book.

And, of course, you gotta love a hero named Dirk. It's a good Dutch name!






Monday, July 6, 2015

The Bombing of Calftown

THE CHEESEBURGERS HAD a great time Saturday night at the Illinois Veterans Home July 4 fireworks. I couldn't believe how many people were there, and the fireworks themselves were impressive. We were tearing down as they went off, and by The Rocket's Red Glare we put stuff away.

We managed to get the trailer out of there before they were over, or else we would have been stuck in traffic forever. When I got home, before 10 p.m., Sheryl was giving Tucker another pill to combat the "Bombing Of Calftown," as she calls it.

Tucker, our Border Collie, doesn't do well during thunderstorms. When he hears a loud noise of any sort he starts panting and pacing. Lucy used to hide in the bathtub, but we've discouraged Tucker from doing that, instead encouraging him to hunker down behind the couch or under the nightstand.

No loud noises please! And that special cheese is yummy!
Yes. We give Tucker a pill. We consulted with our vet first. Never give any animal a pill without talking to your vet first, please.

The pill helps calm Tucker down. They are given to him in doggie doses. We put them in a piece of cheese. Angus gets a treat too, so we all win.

Here's the part where I could complain about all the ignorant trash who light massive bombs off after 10 p.m. without caring about the neighbors, but those complaints fall on deaf ears.

What?

Yesterday morning Sheryl was working in the garden when a blast of fireworks went off just down the alley. "STOP IT," she bellowed. And they did.

I think the worst is over. We still heard plenty of fireworks last night in The Hood, and I'm sure there will be a few here and there. The neighbors will probably continue to celebrate until they run out of fireworks.


That's good. We've run out of cheese.




Friday, July 3, 2015

Don't blow yourself up

BE SAFE THIS weekend. Blow up stuff. Enjoy time off of work, free fireworks show at the Vets Home and other places, and finally some good weather around here. Take plenty of protection for the mosquitoes though!

I like blowing up stuff as much as the next kid. You can grow older, but never grow up, is what I say.

I think this picture was taken in Coatsburg, Ill.
But here's a few things to remember. Fireworks are dangerous and most of them are not legal in this state, as opposed to across the river. If you do let them off yourself, do it fairly early - your neighbor might just be a veteran with PTSD, or a music store owner whose wife has the same issues. This is not a fun time for them. Be considerate.

Same goes with pets. Tucker, our handsome Border Collie, is terrified of things that go boom. I sat in the backyard last night by the fire and listened to the artillery shells being lobbed, and I thought, "Be proud, Calftown." Tucker came up to me and said, "Let me inside NOW, human." He has a prescription for Xanax, only a slightly lower dose than a human. Sheryl calls it, "Giving him his Cheese."

Have a great fourth. And be sensible about the Rocket's Red Glare. Peace!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dumb questions and Cowherd clunkers

I LOVE JIM Harbaugh. I can't wait to see what he does when Michigan hits the field this fall. Harbaugh, the new Michigan football coach, rubs people the wrong way and unabashedly bleeds maize and blue. Love, love, LOVE.

Now he's making news because an ESPN radio guy ended their interview early. I don't know the interviewer, and I've never listened to him, because radio guys tend to like the sound of their own voices. We have enough school board members and politicians like that. I did listen to a recording of the interview and read some of the press coverage.

The interviewer, Colin Cowherd, said he was trying to sell the Michigan program. That's not his job. He can ask all the creative and awkward questions he wants, and certainly Harbaugh contributed to the debacle, but I think Cowherd dug his own grave here with a lot of dumb questions. Not that it really matters.

I interviewed a million people during my 24 years in journalism. Most were cordial and professional enough. The ones who didn't want to talk or were difficult, well, I dealt with it and moved on.

It's the state of our entertainment world and culture today. Who cares if an interviewer pulls the plug early? It's not about him. But it trends on our social media sites and we get sucked into the stupidity, anyway.

I'd like to say I'm going to end listening to Cowherd early, but I don't listen to him at all.

Meanwhile, Go Blue!



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cheesey Fourth

THE CHEESEBURGERS ARE getting ready for a big show Saturday at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. We are playing on the west side of the grounds by the deer park, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., before the fireworks.

The Quincy Park Band and Zeke Cernea will be on the other side of the grounds, so you can still hear your favorite patriotic music. There will be food vendors, and you can bring your own chairs, blankets and cooler with your favorite beverages to the show.

This is the first time a rock band has played at the Vets Home during the fireworks. I'm hearing we'll have a big crowd. We are ready. So let's party and make sure the fireworks are extra Cheesey!

We are also having our annual Independence Day sale all week here at Second String Music. We have 15% off all in-stock items (NOT including the few consignments items remaining). We are celebrating three years in our Fifth and Maine location. The sale is now now through July 4 at 4 pm. We are closing at 4 that day to celebrate some of our own Independence!