Friday, December 6, 2019

Christmas Music ... ick

OUR STORE SOUND system died, so we've hooked up an iPad to the Fender Passport on the stage and got Pandora playing Christmas music.

Boy, there is a lot of horrible Christmas music.

Pandora let's you skip songs if you don't like them. But after about an hour, it's still playing horrendous country and schmaltzy Christmas songs. I guess there really isn't another kind, though I wish we could program it to play the Twisted Sister Christmas album, which might be the greatest thing ever done by mankind.

So we've got a lot of vocal-only songs. Pentatonix has some decent Christmas songs, and it's not surprising there are a lot of vocal bands copying Pentatonix - it all sounds the same after a while.

Every now again a gem pops up, like Alison Kraus and Robert Plant doing "Light of Christmas". Alas, such yuletide collaborations are few and far between, but we are hopeful enough songs will play to form a decent playlist.

Or I'll say screw it and crank up Who songs.

So Merry Christmas and happy listening to Christmas music, as long as you can stand it, anyway.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Rolling in death - a family tradition

IT DIDN'T TAKE long for us to recognize Malcolm takes after his uncle and his mother in many ways. And not all of them are good.

It's been beautiful around here for a few days, good opportunities for long cemetery walks and puppy training. Malcolm is very good about staying close to us on our strolls and he's going to be a good mole-killer, too. But much like Uncle Angus, Malcolm likes to sniff out dead animals and other disgusting substances and dive into them. We call it Rolling In Death, and it's a nasty habit that runs in the family.

Jess, Malcolm's mother, lives on a farm and is constantly finding new and delightful ways to Roll In Death. You can imagine living in the great wide open and finding all kinds of decomposing carcasses laying in woods and fields. "Wait. There's something dead. Let's roll in it and have fun!" the Cowboy Corgis say.

To these kinds of dogs, the nastier and more rotten the smell the better it is, and they wriggle in it ecstatically every chance they get. Malcolm discovered a big patch of something dead yesterday and it didn't take long for him to start rolling around in it. Unlike Angus or Tucker (God rest his soul), Malcolm couldn't care less if we shriek in horror and yell at him to stop. He rolled around, ran off, came back, rolled around again, ran off, came back, rolled around again... Ick. All the windows got rolled down and I gagged the entire drive back to the house, while Malcolm just stuck his tongue out and smiled his goofy puppy smile and thought it was the greatest thing ever.

So Malcolm got his first bath yesterday, and now he smells like shampoo and puppy. He doesn't mind the water but the whole bath thing was a bit much. This morning we kept an extra close eye on him during our walk and he didn't find anything to get into.

He's a Cowboy Corgi, our Cowboy Corgi, and we love him despite his fascination and love of rolling in death.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Christmas lights don't work

IT'S TIME FOR that annual tradition of Joy To The World, Good News To All Men and Where The $%^#$# Are The Christmas Lights this year? Yup, it's decoration time at Second String Music.

The first thing we do is find the tree. It's usually in a back room or on one of the floors above. This year, it was on the third floor and there were only two or three spiders living in it, an improvement from previous years.

Bob and Anne Mays gave us this tree about 10 years ago. It is still alive in all its fake glory. The lights usually work for a year or two, and then we get new ones. I swear we got new lights last year, and when I went to plug them in yesterday, about half of them worked.

"I gotta go to Lowes anyway," Sheryl said. The good thing is that we took all the lights off and Sheryl straightened the branches so it wasn't so Charlie Brownish.

Then there's the box of decorations. There are tons of ornaments, most involving Elvis and guitars. A lot of stuff got moved in the back this past year and I had no idea where the box was, but Sheryl did and I dusted it off. The obnoxious Santa playing "Merry Christmas Baby" was quickly delivered to the coffee shop next door, and all the others seem to be intact and in good shape.

Also going up yesterday were the strands of lights below the ceiling. These lights are a few years old but they seem to all work. Putting lights up involves inventing new swear words appropriate for Christmas ("I'll tell you where to put your yuletide you #%@#$#@" was used a few times) and using a wobbly step ladder to hang the lights. Also, untangling the lights takes as long as putting them up. I distinctly remember trying to be extra careful last year when rolling them up and it did absolutely no good - they were still a tangled mess.

Anyway, we'll be putting on the tree lights and ornaments this afternoon and it will be all ho ho ho and Christmas cheer around here until I put everything away and can't find it next year. So get in here to enjoy it while you can!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Not watching the big game

THE MORAL OF this story is to never watch your Michigan Wolverines get pummeled in the annual rivalry game with that school to the south. You'll just break your TV.

We had a huge Friday in the store after Thanksgiving. Saturday morning we were expecting more of the same. So I brought my nice TV to the store with the hopes of watching the big game. It started at 11 and I figured I could sneak a few minutes here and there catching some of the action.

When I plugged it in, there was a large split going down the middle of the screen, and it never powered up properly. Not sure how I managed to break it, but I did.

So I didn't watch, and as it turns out, it was a good thing. We were busy in the store and before I knew it the game was over and the other team won. By a lot. BLEEP.

Saturday night we had to run some errands and we ended up getting a new TV, plus one for the store. So there's little chance I can break either one, though anything is possible.

Take solitude in the little things, like getting a new TV and the fact we don't live in that state that starts with an O.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Blast from the talent show past

THE OTHER DAY Marilyn and Aaron Smith came into the store, and I about fell over. Aaron was a little pipsqueak of a boy when I gave him guitar lessons a decade ago. This was before we opened Second String Music and I used to go to their house once a week. Aaron and his older brother, Brendan, briefly did lessons at our first location at Eighth and Washington before school, sports and life got in the way.

Marilyn brought up the 2010 talent show at Blessed Sacrament. Aaron wrote a song about the school being cool, and from what I vaguely recall it was a huge hit. "It's still on YouTube, you know," Aaron said.

I have another student, Madison, who is playing at the very same talent show in February. While we were in a lesson yesterday, I looked up the video, and we both laughed and laughed at Aaron and me jamming away on the Blessed Sacrament stage.

Aaron and Brendan are both grown up and away at school now, so it's amazing to see something like this. What fun! Aaron and Brendan still play guitar and love it, and I'm glad I had a small part in their growing up years.

Who knows? I may end up playing at another talent show there someday...

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Longer recovery time

Jim won the Raffle!
SO TURNING 55 was a good thing. We had another epic store gathering and our after-party, the Green Hour Lounge, was off the hook. Great music, friends, libations and laughter - you can't ask for a better time.

Probably my favorite part was seeing two former guitar students, Audra and Peyton, rocking away with us during the jam session. I was like a proud papa!

The Green Hour Lounge is the brainchild of Chris and Victoria Kelley. They used to host it fairly regularly, and basically it's just an open mic night where you can read poetry, sing a song, do a skit, present the news (Bill Miller style, it's tremendous) or be a goofball. By the time we got to the Green Hour Saturday is was a little later and most of the people had left, but for the 25 or so that stuck around, it was amazing.

What I liked the most about it was the diverse crowd. You had people from all walks of life with different backgrounds and beliefs, but it didn't matter - we were there to have some fun and appreciate the talent. One young woman in particular, Taylor, sang a couple of original songs that were just amazing, and I'm hiring her for some events next summer if she wants to do them.

It took awhile to clean up Sunday and the rest of the day was spent in recovery. But the worst part about getting older is that it hurts more two days later. It's not from misbehaving, it's from expending so much energy having such a good time.

You'd think we'd learn. Right.

We continue the not learning our lesson part of life this week with HartLyss shows both Wednesday and Friday night at Revelry in Quincy, and the annual Mays Thanksgiving feast Thursday. Saturday night is the tree lighting ceremony in Washington Park, and by Sunday it's suddenly December and we are really in the throes of the Christmas season.

So lets have fun and lets sleep when we are dead, and man, my back still hurts!

Katie painted a gift for Rodney
Paul Rockin OUT

Pete won Bedford Beer Can Bowling....