Wednesday, November 30, 2016

All a-twitter about sports

THIS NEW AGE media thing has passed me by. Then again, we didn't have running water or electricity when I was a cub sports guy. I actually pounded out stories on a typewriter when I worked for the Central Michigan University newspaper and yearbook in the mid-1980s.

Four years ago, when I quit my full-time reporting gig, I was frustrated by all the new-fangled technology. It used to be I'd go to game or meeting, write a story, and move on. Now it's all about posting on social media and getting video. And you can do everything from your phone. A reporter today with a college education is versed in the visual end of things, not just the written product.

I leave it to younger and better people.

All you need today in sports.
Last night I was working at The Whig, getting information on a bunch of area basketball games. In the olden days, coaches would call in results. Now they text, tweet or Instagram game statistics. This whole twitter thing is beyond me - apparently you can do it from your phone. The only thing I know about my phone is that it's orange, and a half-eaten apple appears when I accidentally hit the on/off switch.

The latest version is called an iPhone 7. I believe I have an iPhone negative-3. Actually it's fairly updated, I just haven't bothered to figure out a lot of stuff.

Last night we were emailed results of a very close game. I wanted to find out how it ended and we were having issues tracking down the coaches. So Whig Sports Writer Mat Mikesell called up a tweet from a fan, who had the end of the game recorded on his cell phone. We were able to watch the final seconds and determine how the game ended, and it made the story a lot better.

I was working with part-timer Sam Douglas. He was literally writing stories from texts on his phone, texts from coaches with a photo of the scorebook. His phone has all these thingies and devices called apps, and the picture quality is staggering.

I understand it, and I am doing my best to adapt, and not pine for the old days while getting sentimental.

After all, even an old sports guy needs to be relevant in this half-eaten apple world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Driver's license photo

I AM GOING to the Illinois Secretary of State office this morning to get a new driver's license. I'd rather stick needles in my eyes. In fact, I cracked a tooth in half a few days ago and have an emergency appointment at the dentist scheduled soon. I'm actually looking more forward to the dentist drilling holes in my face than to getting a new license.

It's usually not too bad. The people who work there are pleasant enough. Sure, I'm paying way too much to drive in a bankrupt state run by politicians on the graft, but hey, I'm in a good mood this morning. So I have that going for me.

Sheryl suggests getting google eyes for the photo. My current license picture is awful - I look like I've just committed a terrible crime. Maybe I was still working for a living back then. I look like I needed coffee really bad. I looked like I had to pee or had just figured out my tooth had cracked.

I could make a fish face, close my eyes, put my head in my hands, stick my tongue out, or look sideways. Maybe I will insist they use my latest Facebook profile photo, taken by Second String Music legend Mike Sorenson of Bad Wolf Media.

Or maybe I'll just stare at the camera and think, "I'm almost done. I might actually smile."

At least this year I'll actually get new stickers in time, instead of forgetting about it and going three months with expired tags.

I'm ready to go all the way across town and to get it over with. Wish me luck. Hopefully I'll be pretty as a picture, for the picture.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyber Monday, retail style

TODAY IS CYBER Monday, which isn't the greatest thing for a small retail business. We've noticed a lot of bigger stores offering the convenience of ordering online and then picking it up in the store, calling this Cyber Week! Let's do it.

So the way Sheryl and I figure it, you can still do Cyber Week at Second String Music. Heck, you can do Cyber Christmas, if you want.

Cyber Week for Small Business!
It's simple. Click on our website and check out our various brands we carry and pick your items. If you want to order something from us, you can send it in via email, Facebook Messenger or even by calling us. Call Sheryl at 217-223-8008 if you want something you aren't sure we carry. Contact info is easy to find on our website.

We'll order the item for you and let you know when you can pick it up. Or, if we have it in stock, we'll let you know immediately. Small business can do Cyber Week just like big box stores, give us a chance!

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend in the store and we look forward to Christmas and helping you find the perfect gift. Music is a beautiful thing and we want to make it happen for you - online or in the store. We are here for you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bright Friday

SHERYL AND I wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving. Be grateful and be safe, and if you have time off, appreciate all the great things this city and country have to offer.

You won't see this at Fifth and Maine, unless you want to pet Fast Eddie.
We'll be closed tomorrow and back open at our regular time Friday morning, We call it Bright Friday. We are not participating in the madness and lunacy that is Black Friday. If you think it's fun jostling elbows with strangers and fighting over 50-inch televisions on sale for less than $250, well, rock on. Even better, go right ahead and wreck your Thanksgiving Day festivities by going to the many stores open on Psycho Thursday.

Can you tell I'm not a big fan? I had to write a story about Black Friday 16 years ago for The Whig and I'm still in therapy and trying to recover.

We have great prices and awesome service at Fifth and Maine. We match internet prices, by the way. You can shop in your underwear (if you can stand the cold) or kick up your game by buying a great new guitar. We are here to spark your imagination, help you play better and rock OUT!

I saw an interview this morning with the CEO of Target. He claims his employees look forward to working Thanksgiving night. Right. My fourth and fifth floors at Fifth and Maine are in good shape and my elevator is working, too. Why would I want to be at work with nutty bargain hunters when I could be at home with family recovering from a turkey coma?

Saturday is Small Business Saturday. We invite you to come downtown and avoid the Big Box chaos. Shop small, shop smart, and actually enjoy the experience. That's what we are here for!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Zeke and Paul make a CD

WE ARE ALL about original music here at Second String Music, and we support the local artists that support us. So three cheers for Zeke Cernea and Paul Wood, who have collaborated on a new CD called "Moving On." Click the link above for more info - that's a pretty good looking photo of them in front of an old elevator, if we do say so ourselves.

It's not easy to pursue your dreams of recording and performing your own stuff. Zeke is one of the few artists around here to do it, and more power to him. Paul is a percussionist and plays with just about everybody in town, including HartLyss from time to time.

Zeke wrote all 10 songs and they were recorded at Greg Fischer's Nice Guy Studios in Quincy. He and Paul are having a CD release party Wednesday night at Martini's, just a few doors down from us on Maine Street.

Zeke and Paul are loyal SSM customers, and we are grateful for their business and support. Zeke just bought a gorgeous Gretsch guitar from us and says he loves it.

We have the new CD here at the store, and it's also available online at iTunes. Best of luck to Zeke and Paul and we encourage you to pick up a copy and support two of Quincy's truly original artists.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mail, curtains and kittens

OUR KITTEN, JOSEY, loves to play in the curtains of the front room. She tears them down and romps around in the curtain heap. The curtains are right by the mail slot, so sometimes the mail gets tangled up in the curtains.

Last week my father, who lives in North Carolina, called and asked if I had received a check from him for my birthday. He was wondering why I hadn't gotten around to cashing it.

"Haven't seen it," I said.

"Hmmmm," he said.

"Don't blame me," Josey purred.

So Sunday morning, Sheryl picked up the curtains from the floor when the aforementioned piece of mail popped out. Now we can afford to pay for a looming  car insurance bill. Or new curtains. Or a door to the front room - the baby gate works for the dogs, but not a curious kitten with springs in her legs.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Deported to Canada

I HAVE CANADIAN citizenship. I was born in Philadelphia, PA, but moved to Nova Scotia before I was 2. I lived there, in Montreal and in London, Ontario, for 14 years before moving to Michigan in 1980.

The Canadian government recognizes dual citizenship. The United States does not. I have no plans to move back to Canada, unless I say something negative about our new president.

So I won't do that. I mean, it's just too easy. And Kellyanne Conway misspells her first name on purpose.

I'm sure there are many reasons I could be deported ....

1. I still occasionally say "eh."
2. I still love the Habs, er, the Montreal Canadiens.
3. I still pine for a cold Canadian beer.
4. I have a Canadian flag resting inside an empty Coors bottle on my desk. Colorado and Canada are beauty ways to go, eh?
5. I think Bob and Doug McKenzie should move here and be president and vice president. Or press secretaries.
6. At one time, I actually thought Chilliwack was a great band. That's enough to get your banned to outer space, let alone from the United States.
7. Canada's national anthem is beautiful. The "Star Spangled Banner" pales in comparison and is really hard to sing.
8. I have mixed feelings when Canada plays the United States in any sport. Especially hockey.
9. I still have a lot of family living in Canada, and they are not happy with the way our election turned out.
10. I still think football is goofy here in the United States. It isn't real football unless you have only three downs, the field has a 55-yard line, and you get a point if you miss a field goal and the other team doesn't return the ball.

Relax, Kellyanne. I'm not being critical of your or our country. It's a great place to live and I pledge allegiance to it all the time. Beauty, eh?


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bob Havens and keyboard stands



IT'S NOT EVERY day a world famous musician with his own Wikipedia page buys a keyboard stand from Second String Music. So it was our honor and privilege to meet Quincy legend Bob Havens Wednesday.

In case you don't know Bob, well, he's one of the finest trombone players in the world. Yup, the world. Take Lawrence Welk's word for it, if you want proof. Click here to read more about Bob and his amazing musical career.

The recent Washington Theater concert to honor Bob was a huge success in Quincy. Now he's teaming up Jeff Schuecking and others for a Dixie Dads project - more info on that later. He's an inspiration to musicians every year, and age simply doesn't matter. Just keep blowing that horn!

Bob couldn't have been more unassuming and gracious in hour store. In fact, Sheryl only recognized him after he gave us a check to pay for his keyboard stand. We normally don't accept checks, but Sheryl had no problem taking one from Bob.

After all, anybody who played for Lawrence Welk for more than 20 years is good for it! And thank you, Mr. Havens, for humouring me with a photo.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pre-Thanksgiving bash at SSM

EVERY YEAR ON the last Saturday before Thanksgiving, Second String Music hosts a Pre-Thanksgiving Store Party. Two years ago it coincided with my 50th birthday. Fast Eddie and Angus, the party sponsors, tell us it was epic.

We do it for a couple of reasons. The most important is to remember our good friend, Pat Cornwell, owner of Vegas Music. Pat passed away six years ago about this time of year - hard to believe it's been that long. At about 6 Saturday night, we'll raise a shot of Southern Comfort in his memory and tell a few stories - I miss The Funions practicing in the back of Vegas Music. Man, those were good times!

The other reason is because we are a small business that can't really compete with all the Black Friday specials. We will have 10% off everything in the store this Saturday and that is how we thank our loyal customers and get ready for the Christmas shopping season. 

We open at 10 Saturday morning and the party starts at 9:58 a.m. We'll be jamming in the afternoon and we have acoustic performances lined up from Ted Holt and Pete Magliocco, The Cheeseburgers, The Fuller Band and more. It's kid-friendly until 6 p.m. and there's no charge, of course. Bring your own beverages, and the fridge will be open as usual.

Christmas is coming, so you may as well get ready with a Fifth and Maine celebration!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Does Walmart even have guitar strings?

WE JUST HAD an older guy come in and look for guitar strings. We should have known something was up when he said he wanted acoustic strings for his vintage 1960s Les Paul. You know, an electric guitar. He insisted on getting acoustic strings. Fine. The customer is always right.

He wasn't happy about the price of our strings. "I should just go to Walmart and buy a set for five bucks," he groused.

Now. You can do many things in Second String Music. You can question prices, or wonder about certain items being in stock, ask to consign your old cymbal, or even question the sanity of opening a music store. You can complain about cats and dogs being in the store. You can bitch about us not carrying Fenders, Martins and Gibsons. We understand.

But mention Walmart in our store? Or buying it online after trying it out here?

Nope. Nope. NOPE.

Sheryl calmly took the strings out of his hand and said, "Well, you should go to Walmart then." And that was that. He left quickly and I presume he went across town.

Does Walmart even have guitar strings? I wouldn't know. It's been a long time since I've shopped at Walmart.

We get tons of great customers in our store and we love helping them. But I could write a book about some of the more interesting people who have wandered into Second String Music. Like the guy who started cursing like a sailor when he was told our awesome Kyser capos were $20. "I suppose you gotta make a living," he grumbled.

Nah. We are just doing this for fun, and to have Happy Hour on Fridays, and huge store parties like the one we are having this Saturday. Let the good times roll, baby. The mortgage on our historic Fifth and Maine building will pay itself.

Bombs dropping in Second String Music
Then there was the young man who started a "Let's get a Guitar Center in Quincy" petition. That didn't go over very well with us, though it was laughably silly to think about - Quincy isn't big enough, and Guitar Center has trouble keeping its stores open where they are, much less in our little town in the middle of nowhere. Eventually the guy came in and apologized. Then he asked if we could make a donation to a charity he was maybe sort of possibly supporting. "Heavy sigh," I said. "Heavy heavy HEAVY sigh."

We have a lot of local musicians who have supported us, and a lot of people we've made happy with affordable instruments and great service. So that's what I'm thinking about.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta call Frank Haxel and tell him to get us some "supplies" for our big store bash Saturday. All I know is, he ain't going to Walmart for those supplies.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Room road trip



I LIVED TO tell about a road trip with Greg Ellery, which must be worth something. We headed to Michigan and then to Chicago over the weekend, and ended up at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. Greg, as you all know, had a role in the legendary cult film The Room, and he appeared in a mockumentary about The Room. He's the guy in the upper right hand corner. So he's, you know, famous.

"Wait a second ... I recognize you. You were in The Room!" Yes, this sentence was actually uttered a couple of times. On Sunday we stopped in Macomb and my daughter, Emily, said, "WHAT? You were IN The Room?" Fame has its price, I guess.

The mockumentary was very good. There were another 10 films or so, all excellent. Then there was a Q&A at the end, and Greg was in the same line as Jane Lynch, among others. She's actually taller in real life. It was awesome.

As usual, the educational aspects of the adventure were the best parts. I learned that it costs about $10 to use the Chicago Skyway. Whoever Dan Ryan was, I bet he was congested, because the Dan Ryan Expressway is frighteningly congested. Rogers Park is very cool, as is the Flatts & Sharpes music store, located across from the theater. Walking is en vogue around Loyola University, and it's easy to get lost at midnight looking for Lakeshore Drive.

And you can always, ALWAYS, get stuck in traffic on I-55. Especially when it's a few miles north of Joliet, and it's 1 in the morning, and there are guys jack-hammering concrete all over the place, and traffic is reduced to one lane. Hey! Why just have traffic jams during the day when you can make life interesting at night?

So it was a blast, and I will do it again someday, if and when Greg stars in another movie and gains even more cult status.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Affordable health care

MANY PEOPLE VOTED against Hillary and for Trump because of Obamacare, or, the Affordable Care Act. Premiums are going up. People are mad. So they voted for Trump, who says he will repeal the ACA.

If it wasn't for the ACA, Second String Music would not be in business, period. Sheryl is a Type 1 diabetic and we are not be able to afford regular health insurance. Many of the Type I diabetics she talks with online are also worried about the future of their health insurance. A lot of this is because many of Trump's ideas have no detail. Fear of the unknown can be the worst.

We got married five years ago and I put her on my Herald-Whig insurance, and the premium was not great. I am not blaming my employer at the time, I think they did the best they could to keep costs down.

In November 2013 we were able to price our health insurance through the Marketplace. We realized it was way cheaper, and had vastly better coverage with lower premiums, we jumped in. And we haven't regretted it a bit.

Yesterday Sheryl re-enrolled us. Yes, our costs have jumped. But it's still cheaper than what I was paying five years ago. A lot cheaper. And a lot better.

I am willing to give our new President a chance. But if the ACA is abolished, he and his Republican buddies better come up with something that works and is affordable.

Otherwise, there is no Second String Music. And I fear the same fate would apply to many others.

At the heart of all this is that I don't think Trump gives two bleeps about small business, I really don't.

God help us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Politics and rear ends

POLITICAL OPINIONS ARE like rear ends. Everybody has one, and there is no need to be too loud about it. Also, everything comes out in the end, or through the end.

Angus still has a cutie butt.
So this morning the sun came up and the dogs and I had a beautiful walk through Woodland Cemetery. Fast Eddie is chasing bugs, Angus is chasing Fast Eddie, and I'm excited about playing at the Maine Center tonight for the Thanks To You event.

Sheryl and I had a great visit to Grown N Gathered before we opened the store, and owner Michele made us a fabulous blend of coffee called "Thankful." We still live in the greatest country in the world, no matter how screwed up we make it.

It's going to be a veeeerrrrrryyy interesting next four years. They won't be dull, that's for sure. Sheryl and I are terrified because if the Affordable Care Act ends, there is no more Second String Music. It is THAT important to our lives.

So we'll wait and see. And it will all come out through the end.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Early voting call

DALE WAACK GREW up across the street from Woodland Cemetery in Quincy. He lives in Iowa now. He had a great Facebook post about past elections days .... so here you go, and stay outta the bars until after you vote. Although, with the way this election has gone, maybe we need to stop in the local pub for a pint or 10 to help make up our minds .... Right. Anyway, I voted this morning, and I hope you did too, and during our morning walk in Woodland I swear I heard a voice say, "Here ye, here ye. The polls are now open!"

Here is Dale's post. He lived on Monroe a few houses up from Fifth. The shed he's referring to was replaced some years ago in the same spot.

As the chaos of this campaign finally draws to a close for some reason I am reflecting back on a simpler time when elections would occur. I grew up in an old primarily German section of Quincy, Illinois, proudly designated as "Calf Town". The only thing between our house and the Mississippi River was Woodland Cemetery, a 500 foot bluff and an old paper mill right along the river. The maintenance garage for the cemetery, a quarter block away, served as the poling place for our precinct.

On election day at 6:00 AM the person in charge of the polling station would walk out to the street, ring a bell, and holler "Here ye, Here ye, the polls are now open"! At 6:00 PM the same a actions would be repeated only this time announcing that the polls were closed. Absentee ballots were for those who for real reasons were unable to vote on election day and early voting had not yet been invented.

I'm sure my parents were some of the first to vote as dad liked to do it before going to work and not have to wait in line later in the afternoon. In Illinois the taverns and liquor stores were closed on election day until 6:00 PM when the polls were closed thus preventing supporters of a candidate from buying a few too many rounds and then hauling someone off to the polls with instructions on who to vote for. (Voter fraud is nothing new.)

During my high school years I realized that next to his drivers license, the most important paper in my dad's wallet was his voter registration card, possibly from having fought in WW 2 in order to preserve the freedom to vote. Dad really valued his vote!!! Politics was not a common topic around the dinner table when I was growing up. I know dad liked Ike, but can imagine him being a pre Johnson era Democrat. Were he alive today, this may be the first election in which he would not vote as neither candidate would DESERVE his valued vote. Hmmm.......Interesting concept.


Dale Waack
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Monday, November 7, 2016

Everybody loves a parade

FOR THE SECOND straight year, our little jam band Pepper Spray played in the annual Veteran's Day Parade down Maine Street. We gathered Saturday morning at 14th and Maine, warmed up a bit, then rocked it all way to Fifth Street. Gosh, what great fun!

Joining us again was Steve Stoner, co-founder of Six String Heroes in St. Louis and a Quincy native. "I don't know any of the songs," he said. "Neither do we," I said. "Three chords and the truth, baby."

Pepper Spraying our way down Maine Street!
Thank you, Frank Haxel, for your unwavering support of Six String Heroes and for putting together the float. Thank you, Adam Yates, for the PA system and unbridled enthusiasm for playing music. Thank you, Justin Sievert and Adam Duesterhaus, for playing Saturday and for making it more fun than you should be allowed to have. Thank you, guys from Tournear Roofing, for driving us, and thank you, all the kind folks from Vancil Performing Arts, for walking with us.

Playing on a parade float is interesting, because so much stuff is going on around you, but you have to at least make an attempt to play the song and stay in the moment. I looked up and saw so many familiar faces, and before I knew it that G chord was botched into an H chord, and so forth. That's the thing about Pepper Spray - it's the original Second String Music jam band. We never practice, we never will, and we just want to play and have some fun, and it always works.

One thing is for sure - we'll never play before that many people again, until next year's parade, anyway. Quincyans lined the streets and showed great appreciation for the men and women of our military.

Adam Yates is a Marine veteran, so even I got into the Toby Keith patriotic stuff - you couldn't help it, knowing where Adam has come from, and especially because he's a law enforcement officer in a really uncertain world. Yup, even in little old Quincy, Illinois.

Sheryl was in the store and said we were really loud coming up to Fifth and Maine. It was probably because of the tall buildings forming a sound canyon. This morning I saw a local news clip of interviews during the parade, and you could barely hear the people being interviewed. But you could hear Pepper Spray belting out Folsom Prison Blues!

What a great morning, and God bless our military and the men and women who have made it happen and given so much.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Jamalama Friday

WE ARE HAVING a jam session Friday afternoon at Second String Music. We don't do them much anymore - it seems like there is always something going on and we're too busy. This is the first weekend in forever I haven't had a show, road trip or something going on.

Hogwash! We should never be too busy to jam. Here are some reasons we are doing it Friday ....

- The fridge will be wide open.
- Cubbies!
- We might have new bad country songs everybody can play. Three chords and the truth, baby. Beyonce.
- Colder weather is coming, meaning Washington Park is a lot nicer and quieter.
- We can warm up for the always-epic store party before Thanksgiving. This year it is Saturday, Nov. 19. I'm lining up some really good music and we will toast our late and great friend, Pat Cornwell and the inimitable Luckycat Vegas.
- The Vortex Of Crazy is nearly over. To put it simply, this time of year always has strange stuff going on.
- Strange stuff includes next Tuesday's election. I. Am. Tired. Of. It. Stick a sock in it, shillers and drillers. I've gone deaf and I don't care. But I'll remember who lied and who got stupid in the stretch run, and that includes the local races.
- We are celebrating my CMA Award. That's right, MY award. It's for "Having No Idea Who That Was lip-synching with the Dixie Chicks." I will polish it up and have it on display.
- It's fun! We get players of all kinds and all skill levels. Strum and hum along - we don't care. We're just ja-ja-ja jamming.
- Why not?
- Fast Eddie approves. Nuff said.

Just a few things to remember - please bring your own instruments and refreshments. This is acoustic and we generally don't plug in. Kazoos are encouraged. And no death metal medleys or emo. You can just hang out, too! Fast Eddie would love it.

See you Friday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Game 7 tonight? If I can stay awake

SO THE CUBBIES are playing game seven of the World Series tonight. Good for them. I actually watched a couple of innings last night but fell asleep after Chicago grabbed a big league.

Cubs fans, and there are a lot of them around here, are die-hards. I'm sure Sheryl's dad will be watching tonight. Cub followers have been through it all. I hope Chicago wins tonight, I really do. Especially against a team from a state south of Michigan.

If the Cubbies do win, I pray the city doesn't burn down. Thank God it's in Cleveland - if Chicago clinched World Series at home, well, I shudder to think what might happen in the city. Celebration is fine and it's a huge deal, but some people can't mix the booze and the bender. No matter what happens tonight, Chicago's finest will be busy, and I wish them more than anybody the best of luck.

So. Go Cubs Go. It's a great story, and I might watch a few innings tonight. If I can stay awake.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's not that bad

I JUST GOT back from my annual physical. Everything still works. It was a good visit, and my physician, Dr. Rick Noble of Quincy Medical Group, is the best.

I should just leave it at that. But last week, a couple of women who work at a local TV station had mammograms and decided to make it part of the morning show. I didn't see it, but it was on the internet so it must be true.

It's a good thing to get checked for breast cancer. Awareness is huge. So if they can do it, I will take this opportunity for all three people who read this blog and tell them if you are a man and you are 50 or older, get yourself checked for prostate cancer.

According to my online sources, one of the TV women's mammogram results were unveiled live on the air. So I feel entirely comfortable telling you all about my prostate exam this morning.

Actually, I don't, other than to say everything checked out and I'm fine. I kept thinking of Fletch. And I feel better about being done with the physical.

Prevention is the cure, my friends. Any of this "I don't like to visit the doctor" or "I'm not comfortable with that kind of thing" is crap. People who do that are the ones that live in regret when they find something wrong later. If they live at all.

My insurance plan means I get up to three wellness visits a year with my family physician. I'd be a fool not to take advantage of it. I've been paying health insurance premiums for a gazillion years and I'm not about to apologize for going once a year to make sure everything is OK.

BTW, if you are easily offended by watching this tremendous Family Guy clip, well. Good. You probably need to get checked out.