Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gallery of J.R.'s Halloween costumes

At our Monday night Toastmasters meeting I gave the seventh of ten speeches toward my Competent Communication Award, titled "Dress for the Job You Want." Really, it was a thinly-veiled excuse to update and show off the gallery of my Halloween costumes.

Not counting the two photos that convey the idea but aren't actually photos of my Halloween costumes, I now have 8 photos of costumes so my photo collection is 18.6% complete. If anyone's got photos to add to my collection, please let me know.

1965 Clown 1975 Alien and alien dog 1976 Volcano 1983 Jester 1987 (approx.) Rorschach 2002 USA Gorilla 2004 Terror Alert System 2005 Gorilla French Maid 2006 Star Wars Holiday Special DVD 2007 Galactus

Update 10/31/2009:

2009 Tool (from Tool Academy)

Update 2/23/2010: My friends Laurie and Jay gave me a picture of myself as Rorschach that I now use instead of that picture of some other guy as Rorschach. Thanks!

Update 10/31/2010: Halloween 2010: Stork with twins

2010 Stork with twins 2010 Stork with twins (closeup)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Banjo versus TV: Week 40

A weekly check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s resolution to spend more time in 2008 on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 9/30/2008 through 10/6/2008.
Banjo 265 hrs, TV 237 hours

In anticipation of the short-neck banjo I'm working on, I've been creating some right-hand-only practice drills. So I've turned to the best source materials I can think of: bugle calls.

Also in the last week:

Mark your calendars: Chicago's First Annual Battle of the Jug Bands

I just got this from Arlo Leach:

Hi folks,

I just wanted to update you on Chicago's first Battle of the Jug Bands. I've now finalized these details:

Saturday, November 8
Morseland, 1218 W. Morse Ave.
$5 cover

7:00 - Devil In a Woodpile
9:00 - The Battle
midnight - open jam

Bare Hand Jug Band (Chicago)
Blue Ribbon Jug Band (Chicago)
Escape the Floodwater Jug Band (Iowa City)
Fat Chance Jug Band (Minneapolis)
Hump Night Thumpers (Chicago)
The Geezers (Minneapolis)
Strictly Jug Nuts (Chicago)

You can see our poster here:

And see our "sausage press" trophy here:


- Arlo

See you there.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Banjo versus TV: Week 39

A weekly check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s resolution to spend more time in 2008 on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 9/23/2008 through 9/29/2008.
Banjo 256 hrs, TV 227 hours

I spent a chunk of time this week on a banjo-related woodworking project: I'm shortening the neck of a banjo. I've been taking pictures every step of the way and I'll post a thorough description of the project when I'm done. Update: I finished that thorough description of the project over Thanksgiving break. Enjoy.

Here's a peek at a prototype that I carved out of balsa wood.

Also in the last week:

  • Things I took away from this week's banjo lesson:
    • Dave heartily approves of a student rewriting materials. I've done this with my chord charts and with a few pieces of music.
    • I asked the question, "Why are the inlays on the banjo neck located where they are?" Dave said that the inlays at the 5th, 7th and 12th fret indicate the position of harmonics (AKA chimes) and he had me chime a little. (Which was pretty cool.) But he doesn't know why the other inlays are located at their particular positions. I'll have to look into it further.
    • We discussed mixolydian mode, which I'd learned about during this week's guitar lesson. Remember back in week 32 when I was discussing a Sam Bush recording of Old Joe Clark and I said...
      This is a great version for me to play along with at this stage in my chord control. It's in the key of D, which if this was a I-IV-V song would mean D-G-A. That would be bad, since I'm not good on the A chord. But it's a I-IV-flatVII, so it's D-G-C. And I know a couple of C chords! (Another song like this: The Rolling Stone's Great Expectations.)
      Well, that's mixolydian mode right there.
    • We talked about my guitar lessons and how I'm coming along with my ability to recognize guitar chords by sight. I'll be posting about those lessons and that plan soon.
    • Dave had me try out open C tuning. I didn't like it much. How the heck are you supposed to make a D formation chord in that tuning?
  • Another reason I prefer the banjo to the guitar: I've never dropped a pick inside my banjo and had to shake it out.

I need a Kooky-Uke

I need a Kooky-Uke. Need it, need it. Neeeeeeed. It.

Jim Craig of Hogeye Music in Evanston, IL shows a Polk-A-Lay-Lee

Jim Craig*, who runs the (highly recommended) Hogeye Music store in Evanston, Illinois, showed me a Polk-A-Lay-Lee and in doing so set me on a quest. Some day, somehow, I must own a Kooky-Uke.

Mind you, the Polk-A-Lay-Lee is not itself a Kooky-Uke. The Polk-A-Lay-Lee – made by the Peterson Company of Ohio — is a knock-off of the Kooky-Uke brand. That's why I'm going to take a pass on any of Peterson's Polk-A-Lay-Lees or Wander-leles and hold out for an actual Swaggerty-brand Kooky-Uke.

And what is an actual Swaggerty-brand Kooky-Uke? Let's ask Jumpin' Jim Beloff*, the author of Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Beach Party.

Jim has more to say about the Kooky-Ukes, so you should buy the book. He's got pictures, too.

As you can tell from the picture with the blonde, the Trēhōlipee's long headstock has a functional purpose. You play your Trēhōlipee on the beach until somebody yells "Surf's up!" then you flip your Trēhōlipee over, skewer it into the sand and run out to ride the waves on your surfboard. And if you've got a Surf-a-lele, you grab it on your way out since it was designed to be played while riding a surfboard. No kidding. There's even a Rick Griffin illustration on the back of the Surf-a-lele to show you how it's supposed to be done.


* "Wait a minute. Jim Craig, Jim Beloff and James Robert Jenks?" I hear you ask, because I hear it whenever anyone speaks my name. "Do all ukulele players have the first name of James?" The answer is two-fold. First, yes. Second, it's pronounced OOK-oo-lay-lee.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nick Reynolds 1933-2008

A video to mark the passing of Kingston Trio co-founder Nick Reynolds.