Month: February 2011

Tale of the Nail

First of the year I really got back into playing the banjo.  Twenty-ten was a rough year but having a short on-line lesson with Patrick Costello really got me motivated again.

I’ve been playing the banjo every spare moment I have until Friday when we had the horrible storm.  I worked like a dog in the foulest of weather.  That didn’t bother me until I broke a nail.  Don’t laugh!  I broke the nail on my middle finger on my right hand.  The nail that allows me to frail on the banjo.

At my lunch break I normally play for a half-hour, so I grabbed a sandwich and coffee and grabbed my old banjo.  It was horrible.  I tried switching to my index finger and it partially worked but all of the fun went out of it.  I needed to fix it.  That night I talked to the wife and we decided to go to a nail salon.

I got up late Saturday (due to playing poker until three in the morning) and spent the next two hours shoveling snow and ice off off my driveway.  The broken nail slipped my mind and I spent the rest of the night catching up on one of my favorite shows on BBC America, Being Human.

The next day I took the wife out for lunch and she reminded me that I needed to get my nail done.  We were in Oberlin but couldn’t find a nail salon open so we headed to the wilds of Elyria.  We found a salon and went it.  They seemed amused by me and I had to explain to each person why I needed a nail.  The woman told me the price and said that I could have color on it for free.  I declined her generosity.

I sat down and the guy started to work on my nail.  I was surprised at the softness of his hands.  He applied a fake nail using glue and after it dried he cut off much of it.  He then used a dremel type tool to rough up the nail and then applied a mixture of powder and strong smelling liquid.  He scraped off much of it and did it again.  Much shaping and buffing and work go into a perfect clawhammer frailing nail.  Finally he finished and I paid the four dollars.

I got home and picked up the banjo.  I played Little Sadie on the banjo and life was good.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Retirement Plans: Choir

This vacation is essentially pre-retirement.  I am rested and feeling great with another week off until I return for the six-month grind until retirement.  With that I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I’ve been wanting to do but unable because of work.

For a number of years I sang with a wonderful community choir, Choral Spectrum in Oberlin.  Singing with them was a true joy.   To create something so much greater than oneself was a truly spiritual experience.  Unfortunately when the company I work for went public, the hours I worked went through the roof.  I seldom got off work before 7:30pm and many times much later.  This made it impossible to go to practice sessions that lasted from 7 to 9pm every Monday.  I’m not complaining, it was just the was it was.  I hated quitting.

I’ve missed the choir a great deal and after retirement look forward to returning to it.   I just went to their website and my picture is still on the homepage.

True Grit: A Minor Review

The wife and I went out to see True Grit tonight.  It was playing at the Apollo Theater in Oberlin.  It’s a great old theater with a big screen and on Thursdays the price is only three dollars.

I barely remember the first version with John Wayne, Kim Darby and Glen Campbell.

I really enjoyed this version.  It seemed more real and the actors dissolved into the characters.  In the original John Wayne was always John Wayne but in this Jeff Bridges was Rooster Cogburn.  The young girl playing Mattie was only thirteen while filming (playing a fourteen year-old) while Kim Darby in the original was twenty.

This movie had some scenes that were gory and I found myself turning away at one scene.  The best scene is where Mattie bargains with a businessman who is stealing from her.  The dialogue shines and showed that it was a Coen Brothers film.

Afterwards I heard a lot of people compare Jeff Bridges to John Wayne.  I think the film stands on its own.  I really enjoyed it and recommend it.

H. P. Lovecraft and the Ukulele

My daughter is a big fan of H. P. Lovecraft.  Although he never did much for me she loves his work, especially the Cthulhu stories*.  She often plays a role playing game with her friends, Call of Cthulhu.  Because of this she has stuffed Cthulhu animals and even knitted a Cthulhu hat.

I was surprised to find that Neil Gaiman tweeted a picture of his ukulele.

This is probably the coolest ukulele I’ve ever seen.  Makes me want to go watch The Evil Dead series.

*I’m not sure of the right way to spell Cthulhu.  Every website I go to spells it differently.  This is the way they spell it on Wikipedia.  Good enough for me.

Ukulele Jam Session

I was surfing the vast internet and found that there is a monthly ukulele jam session at the Coventry Library in Cleveland Heights.  I just missed the last one and the next one is on February 22nd.  Here are the details.

Event Type: Adult
Date: 2/22/2011
Start Time: 7:30 PM
End Time: 8:30 PM

Bring your ukulele for an evening of strumming, singing, and generally having a good time! All levels welcome. Music provided.
Library: Coventry Village Library
Location: Coventry Village Meeting Room
Presenter: Adult Services Staff

This sounds like a lot of fun.  The only problem is I usually work long hours so I may not be able to attend until I retire in August.

Postal Anachronisim

I’ve been playing a lot of poker lately and decided to level up and enter some bigger tournaments.  The Ohio Poker Championship is coming up in a couple weeks and decided to enter.  I went to their website and found you couldn’t pay online.  You had to print out the entry form, fill it out and mail it in.  It was truly bizarre.  I am so used to paying all of my bills online.

I printed it out, filled out a check, filled in the banks, found an envelope.  I looked in my financial drawer and found a bunch of stamps and realized I hadn’t actually mailed anything in years.  The stamps had no value on them so I went to the post office.  They only had one clerk and about fifteen people in line.  I stood in line for ten minutes and finally it moved slightly.  I started talking to people and an older lady saw my stamps and said they were forever stamps.  I hadn’t noticed the word forever on it. Life was good, I could just affix one to the envelope and I could be off.

The whole process seemed so antiquated and labor intensive.  I left feeling like I had just visited an Amish community.

As I approached my car I noticed an older black guy standing next to my car.  I knew what was coming.  He said his house had burnt down and was now living in Cleveland.  He came for his check and it wasn’t there and he didn’t have gas to get home.  Could I help?  He was either lying or stupid as his check wouldn’t come on the thirty-first but both my wife and I have been in a situation like this.  I followed him to the gas station across the street and put six dollars in his tank.

I don’t give to charities as a rule.  I find it annoying that they pay their big wigs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.  I’d rather help some poor schlep every once in a while.