Monday, February 24, 2020

Beer Can Bowling champ

WE ARE PUTTING another amazing Second String Music store party into the books. What a great time! Amazing jam session with some new blood (thank you Joe Pashka on lap steel) and tons of hooting and hollering to celebrate nine years.

The semi-annual Bedford Beer Can Bowling Tournament was hotly contested as usual. Emerging victorious this year was Scott Mast with 28 points, one more point than The Mighty Adam Yates.

I knocked down all of the pins on my first throw, but then I thought, "You'd better be a gracious host and let somebody else win." Right. So I'm going to claim I deliberately tanked my next two throws. Actually, they were just off, kinda like the guy who threw the ball.

I won't mention his name, but the drummer for HartLyss didn't knock down a single pin. However, he got three bonus points for holding a beverage while throwing. "Yeah, well, I thought it was golf and the low score wins," said Lincoln.

Much appreciation to Adam Yates and Tim Smith for doing a few 1/5 & Maine songs, and for Pete Magliocco and Ted Holt for the raucous crowd. I spent a good chunk of Sunday doing nothing but recover, even though I more or less behaved. I actually made it to church Sunday morning, and it bears repeating that Tom Dickerson finished fourth in the beer can bowling, after attending an elder's meeting for most of the day.

We've put away the trophy until November. Next February is our 10th store anniversary. Maybe we will hire The Who and Roger Waters to really tear it up... As long as Roger and Roger play beer can bowling.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Malcolm the cardboard chewer

WE MAKE A weekly trip to our local recycling center just to dispose of cardboard. It's all about saving trees one box at a time and we're glad to do it.

Malcolm, however, has other ideas about cardboard. Namely, Malcolm likes to chew it to pieces. Angus does too, but not as much as his nephew.

What? Me? In trouble? Nah .....
It's not unusual for me to come out of lessons and find Sheryl helping somebody and seeing Malcolm attacking a cardboard box on the floor. At least he's not eating a guitar or chewing on somebody's leg. It gets spread all over the place and it's a pain to pick up. But it keeps him occupied and out of trouble, even though he is trouble.

By the way, happy 6-month birthday to Malcolm! He's still a puppy, he still has sharp puppy teeth and he likes to eat squirrel poop on our cemetery walks. In other words, he's rocking and rolling and has become a member of the family.

Cheers, Malcolm! We'll give you a present, a cardboard box. Chew away!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Theory and head spinning

I STARTED DABBLING with the guitar around 40 years ago. It's only taken that long to figure out a C6 guitar chord. Hooray for me!

Most students are interested in technique, learning chords and strumming to songs. Guitar isn't hard to figure out if you have the time and the interest. If you have the passion, it's incredible how much stuff there is to learn. And as long as I teach, I will learn.

When I quit my real job 7 1/2 years ago, I had to buckle down and learn more about scales and fretboard navigation. But my guitar playing didn't really improve until I started studying theory, and that's a recent development.

In the past month I've had several older students ask why things work the way they do. Basically it starts with learning a major scale, then taking the root, third and fifth notes to play a major chord.

Easy peazy, right?

Well, not really. It gets really complicated. And this circle of fifths thing is enough to drive anybody mad. I'm crazy already so maybe it's no big deal.

If you are good at math you can figure out this guitar theory thing. I'm horrible at math. But I'm trying.

Last night a student and I figured out that a G4 and G suspended are the same thing. Suddenly we can rule the world. Then we went through the scale thing and I attempted to play a C6. It was strange using a pinky finger and altering the normal fingering. Nah. That can't be a C6.

We looked at the chord book. And there it was, a C6. Turns out my guess was right. Hooray for the teacher! Maybe he can get a little star next to his name and a ribbon for participating.

It's way cool when the light goes on and it makes sense.

Just how do you play an augmented 7th flat 9th? Hold on, Let me grab my chord book, and then twist my mind into a knot. After all, you never stop learning. Ever.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Nine years Saturday

NINE YEARS AGO we opened this little venture called Second String Music. Wait. Nine years? Really? Sometimes it seems like it's flown, and other times it feels like we've been here a long time.

We are celebrating with our usual anniversary party Saturday. Everything in the store will be 9 percent off, the jam session starts at noon, Beer Can Bowling is at 3 and the live debut of 1/5 & Maine (featuring Tim Smith and Jack Inghram) will be sometime around 5 ish. Rumor has it the boys from The Availables and the much better half of HartLyss will be here too.

I have few memories of our first year, other than it was a short walk from the house to the 8th and Washington location, and we were amazed when we had store gatherings that first year. Today when we drive past the old store it's a bit sad - it sat empty for many years, then was purchased by a seemingly ambitious construction worker. He tore out the main floor and started putting up studs for walls, but for some reason he gave up and there's been no activity in there for maybe a year.

Sad. It's a great building with a ton of history (not all of it good) and it would be nice to see brought back to life. Then again, we have enough of a challenge right here at Fifth and Maine. Ironically we have the plumbers here right now fixing some issues in the basement - cha ching, cha ching, cha ching.

I poked through some old store videos and a lot of the memories came flooding back. Geesh. Warren Riley and Orange Amps! The good old days ....

So come on down Saturday and we'll have a lot of fun celebrating nine years, and who knows how many more years!


Monday, February 17, 2020

Sam's Club low sugar lounge

DID YOU KNOW Sam's Club in Quincy has a special area where you can recover from low blood sugar? Not really. But you go where you can when it hits.

Many times over the last 12 years we've gone to Sam's and Sheryl gets low blood sugar. We aren't really sure why. The bakery stuff is way in the back corner, though there are all kinds of anti-low carb diet stuff everywhere. Sheryl is a Type 1 diabetic, which means her body doesn't manufacture insulin, meaning she has to inject herself with insulin. There is no reason to believe her body is suddenly interested in making a huge amount of insulin. It can't.

Low blood sugar is anything below a normal level of 83. It makes Sheryl dizzy, weak and unable to think clearly. The last few times we've gone to Sam's she's been hit with it about four aisles past the door, and five minutes later she's cussing with a death grip on the cart and asking to be guided to a chair.
Emergency Glucose

Fortunately Sam's has a small furniture display area where she can sit down and recover. I usually do the rest of the shopping and meet here there, and we both can sit down while her glucose tabs do their thing and get her blood sugar levels back up. It is frustrating for her since she really does want to wander and shop in the store, not just the furnace filter aisle.

It's humorous when people you know come up and ask why you are sitting on the display furniture. It appears we are just lounging or maybe interested in a new chair or couch. We aren't. But we tell them our furniture has been eaten by dogs and cats, and you really can't tell what a good couch is like unless you give it a good 20-minute sit. All true!

So we survived the trip and made it back and Sheryl eventually felt better after too many glucose tabs and a soup lunch. We still can't figure out why walking into Sam's gives her low blood sugar, and until we do, Sheryl has come up with the perfect solution.

"We'll make a list and you'll have to go yourself," she said, "I will go buy bacon at HyVee."

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Finding dog toys

IN THE HART Calftown Manor, dogs and cats rule. We have Josie and Coco the cats, and we have Angus, Genie, and Malcolm the dogs. For some reason, we have five litter boxes - one upstairs, four downstairs. They all get used. I don't ask questions.

We have pet toys everywhere. In the morning, Angus insists on playing ball, which means Sheryl throws a small rubber spiky ball and it careens around the living and dining rooms, and Angus runs after it. Then Malcolm steals it. Then there's a bunch of barking and baying and singing. Ouch. Then the cycle of fun starts all over again.

Beware of dog toys in Calftown. And Fifth and Maine!
This morning Sheryl says, "You need to look for balls." This resulted in lifting couches and chairs and getting down on all fours and looking under beds, counters, and tables. And not being able to stand up. "I counted. There are 15 toys here," I said. "That's all?" Sheryl said.

We found four more toys in Malcolm's kennel, which serves as his bed. Josie the cat sleeps there more than Malcolm does. Perhaps that's why we found them in the kennel. Sneaky cat!

You know how it hurts when you step on a toy like a lego? It hurts just as much and twists your ankle when you step on a plastic bone. Especially when the end of the bone has been chewed and the shards of plastic dig into your foot.

There aren't quite as many toys at Second String Music, but you still have to be careful when you walk in the store. Angus and Malcolm tend to fight more over a toy apple in the coffee shop next door, for some reason. But when you reach for a guitar and discover a doggie ball under the guitar stand, well, it's par for the course.

Our 9-year store anniversary is coming up, which means Beer Can Bowling, which means Angus' rubber ball we use is safely tucked away on a ledge next to the trophy. Sorry dogs. Your toy has been appropriated for much more important activities.

We'd love you to show up at the party! Just don't step on any animal toys.