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Ukulele & All That Jazz - 

Small victories

I went to the Market again today to busk. I had a very nice first set and was thinking seriously about bagging it for the rest of the day. Eddie Tenderloin -- a fellow busker and absolutely fabulous guitar picker (amongst other instruments) -- talked me out of it. I'm glad he did.

Usually on an "average" day, if I have a good first set the second set is going to be half or less of the first. Today it was only a couple bucks difference. It wasn't enough for another personal best, but that's ok. I suspect that if everyday was like that even personal bests might lose a little of their luster.

I had a number of tasks that I wanted to accomplish today in addition to the busking. Hmmm... but it's a longish story so I think I'll continue it after the break.

continued after the break...


New Personal Best

I went down to Pike Place Market yesterday to busk. Rode in with the Fallen Angel and got there before 9 am. I peeked at the Post Alley spot and there was nobody there, but I didn't want to either play that early in that spot nor leave my stuff unattended. So I headed for the Starbuck's spot.

I get there and Breeze tells me it's booked up until 1 pm... unless I want to take the 9 am spot. Nobody wants that spot, sez he, because you can't make any money.

Let me tell you kids, Friday sucked rocks in vacuum. Possibly one of the lowest days I've had in some time. I figured, hell, if I can make lunch money on the 9 o'clock set, I can do two more for "take home pay" and still be happy. So I sat down and did it.

I made just shy of $20 for my hour. I'm talking a few dimes shy. Mind you, it would have been about half that if it weren't for the fact that someone dropped a ten. But that ten was in there, freely given. Big raspberries were blown at those who said money could not be made.

Yes, I'm evil that way. 

But that isn't the personal best I'm talking about.

I proceeded over to the Post Alley spot and got in line for 11 am. I played that set -- it was so-so, not bad by any means, but nothin' to write home to mom about neither -- and got back in line for the 2 pm set.

I made just over $20 that set. And the best part?

I knew what I'd made in the first two sets and had a reasonable idea of what was in my tip bucket at the end of the third set. I figured I was just a bit short of $50. A juggler was next in line after me so I moved my stuff off to one side and packed up there. I got the uke packed and was pulling the money out of the tip bucket when this couple walked up to me and said, "Hey, we owe you. We were on the restaurant patio above here and really enjoyed your music." And they handed me a fin.

That makes three sets where I'd gotten a handful of change, a number of singles, a ten and 3 fives. I knew what that last five did for my total.

See, I've made more money busking (and in less time for that matter) but, up until yesterday, I'd never made more than $50 for a day of nothing but solo ukulele playing. I've only been coming out with nothing but uke for a few years now (out of 25 years busking).

It may not seem like a lot to you all, but it was proof to me that I haven't been wasting my time. I've been getting better and the take shows it.

I can hardly wait 'til this stinking weather clears and the full-on summer tourist season hits. And it looks (knock wood) like I might have a chance of getting a CD done before then. Having a CD greatly increases your day. Just watch my smoke. 

Ukulele rules!


One for my mom

She'll get it...

humorous pictures

...even if the rest of y'all don't.


The return of the notebook

A couple weeks ago the little update manager icon appeared telling me there was new versions of my software to be downloaded. I checked and it was a new version of FireFox, so I said ok, install it.

All went well until the next time I tried using my Google Notebook extension.

Yep, they'd pulled a Microsoft... fixed it until it was broken.

Now, most updates on FireFox tell you that it may well break some of your extensions. OK, I can live with that, especially since it's often just a CYA and the extensions I have don't get broken. But Google Notebook is one that I use extensively. I was pissed off.

The problem here was twofold. First, the people who are programming FireFox are quite responsive and all, but they're really not in charge of third-party stuff like extensions. So emailing a whine to them seemed kinda pointless.

Second, much as I like and use a lot of Google stuff, they're not exactly the most responsive folks on the planet. Emailing a whine to them would have been pointless and a waste of perfectly good 1's and 0's. Not to mention the time involved.

But I was pretty sure the word would get out in the Linux circles. I couldn't be the only geek on Linux that was using both FireFox and Google Notebook.

Sure enough, when I logged on this evening the update manager was there, with a new version of FireFox. I installed it and my notebook extension is back.

Great job, FireFox team! 

One happy geek.


Happy Holidays

Hope y'all enjoyed the holiday today.

All you hep cats and kittens know what I mean.

I had a fabulous day busking at the Pike Place Market. I played two sets of music (one hour each) at the Bridge busking spot. Made some... well, not phenomenal, but decent, cash.

I really enjoy dancing babies, but today I had a dumbfounded baby. He wasn't dancing -- despite his parent's encouragement -- but he was completely enthralled with what I was doing. He stood a few feet away and just zoned right in on me for several songs.

So I pretty much sang to him. WTF, right? He was a great audience. Maybe the experience will sear into his little consciousness and encourage him to have hideous nightmares about the bizarre guy with the tiny guitar play music himself when he gets a little older. 

Just kidding. Geez! 

I was gifted with an old blown glass curio and a friend of mine dug it so much he offered me some more cash for it, so I took the deal and said thank you. Money's been kind of tight of late and I knew that, while he did want the curio, he was also making the offer out of a sense of aloha, just to help out his friend... me.

Don't ever forget the kindness of friends. Or strangers for that matter. 

I got to sit around and visit with fellow busker Chris (and his bird, Phineas) for an hour or so afterwards. They live in an apartment that's nearly in the Market itself.

I could use a break in the weather here. When I arrived at the Market I could see raindrops hitting the window, snowflakes blowing by, and I could hear little hailstones hitting the car. I mean, it's bad enough that it's getting to be late April and we're still having winter weather, but really, the weather needs to make up its mind. What do you call rain, hail and snow together? Snail?

Fortunately the weather had cleared by the time of my first set and the clearing lasted until after I'd left Chris's place. It actually got pretty sunny and nice for the hours I played. That's always good because it makes people more cheerful and cheerful tourists -- or even locals -- open their wallets faster. As you might imagine, this is sort of important to a busker.

Unless it's a blizzard or something, I'm going to go out and busk some more tomorrow.


Neo-Burlesque is the new Great Comedy Scare

I was here in Seattle (ok, up in Everett, but close enough) for the Great Comedy Scare of the Mid-Eighties. For a while there was a new "comedy club" or "comedy night" in a pub on every corner, much like Starbucks is today.

It was, in many ways, a clusterfuck. You had producers who suddenly got it in their heads that they were all Hollywood and stuff and you'd better behave or they wouldn't call no mo'. You had clubs, bars, etc. that were quite willing to cash in on the craze but strangely reluctant to put any cash out for it. You had stand-up comics of varying skills -- from freakin' hilarious to bloody painful -- crawling out of the everloving woodwork.

I was doing a magic act at the time and could adjust what I did to stress the comic aspect of things. I got a number of bookings to either do a set of this sort of thing or to emcee the show, doing a quick comedy magic routine between introducing the stand-up acts. 

Every night of the week you could choose from a number of comedy shows to drink your beer at. But things got shaky real fast.

continued after the break...


Full rehearsal at last

After a way too long hiatus, Snake Suspenderz had a full-on rehearsal tonight. We covered a lot of ground too. We played pretty much nothing but new stuff, that is, new to the quartet. Here's the list:

  • Sunny Afternoon
  • Wonderful World
  • Paper Moon
  • Fly Me To The Moon
  • Summertime
  • Love For Sale
  • Tiny Bubbles

On Summertime I played my new(ish) melodica. It's a Hohner Alto model (the kind with the "chiclet" keys rather than the piano keyboard). The guys seemed to like it and Thad said that some of the licks (and the key I'm most comfortable in so far) would fit with Love For Sale, so that's why we tried it out.

I really like Sunny Afternoon (big Kinks fan) but I don't think I have it quite down yet. It's a superior ukulele tune.

Wonderful World, Paper Moon and Tiny Bubbles are all songs that I used to do but sort of let lapse. I've been working on bringing my old list back up to speed as well as working on new stuff.

It just occurs to me that we did one that we already had down... Mack The Knife.

We also talked about a couple upcoming gigs and some other "biz" talk. It was a good rehearsal, but we need to do a bit more regular ones.

And more gigs wouldn't hurt my feelings either. But what else is new?


A little good press at last

This past Wednesday I was busking down at the Pike Place Market when I was approached by a (quite lovely) young woman who identified herself as a reporter for the PI (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and asked if she could video me a little bit and come back at the end of my set to interview me. I said sure.

Those of you who know me well know I'm an old dawg and I don't turn down opportunities to chat with lovely young women. Or lovely older women for that matter.

The rest of you, please don't bother chiding me for my political incorrectness. You'll just be wasting your effort as I'm quite unrepentant about it.

But I digress...

Her name is Monica Guzman and she came back as promised and interviewed me for a while. She's one of the PI's online reporters/bloggers and she told me that she was doing a series of articles profiling the buskers at Pike Place as we "ramp up" for the upcoming tourist season. She also told me that before she posted the blog entry she'd call and make sure that she had all the quotes and facts straight.

True to her word, I got a call from her Thursday evening. We chatted a bit more and she made sure that things she was attributing to me were what I actually said.

Since I've been interviewed twice over the years by another reporter from the same newspaper, and both times he's managed to mangle what I said so badly I caught all sorts of shit from my fellow buskers, you can imagine how pleased I was that she took the extra time and effort.

Hey, PI! Give the nice lady a raise. She's a genuine journalist. They seem to be somewhat thin on the ground nowadays.

Here's the amusing part. She told me she was going to post the thing right after she buffed it up a bit but, due to it having to go through an editor's paws, it probably wouldn't show up until early Friday morning. OK.

I got up Friday morning and did my usual morning routine. Made some coffee. Checked out the news a bit. Did my morning crosswords (it's a weekday, so there are four of them), and then fired up my RSS aggregator to check any new posts from the blogs I follow.

Second on my list is Al Wood's Uke Hunt (sorry about that... Brit humor). That's right, he posts from his home in England, way far away from Seattle, WA. He had his usual Friday Links feature and boy was I surprised to find a link that said "seattlepi interviews Howlin’ Hobbit."

It linked, of course, to the interview I hadn't even seen yet called Cool cat, little instrument.

That boy is fast.

So check it out. A nice little interview and a brief video of me madly strumming my ukulele and singing Wanna Be Like You from Walt Disney's The Jungle Book

I checked out the rest of her series and in all cases she treated the buskers with respect. That's really rare.

Thanks, Monica!


A mini-rant about certain MySpace people

If you're going to hold the comment for approval anyway, don't make me fill out the fuckin' capcha!



Zippy's Java Lounge

My friend Zach Michaud arranged a couple gigs for he and I to play. Last night was the first of them, at Zippy's Java Lounge in Everett, WA. They were intended to be solo ukulele gigs for me, but life doesn't always work out the way you plan. Sometimes it's better.

Perhaps I should tell you the whole story...

continued after the break...


Happy extremists on TV

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

— Thomas Jefferson

Check this out, courtesy of my friend Sal's blog.

Or you can watch it here if the embedded video doesn't work for you. 

And the quote above is from the sidebar of Nobody's Business which, in a fit of wonderful synchronicity, had this alarming report about extremist beliefs today. 

I've got a great idea! How about we just start questioning what we hear from, oh, just about anybody in the so-called "positions of authority?" Politicians, main stream media folk, priests, pastors and other such shamans. Pretty much everybody.

Instead, let's maybe think for ourselves or take advantage of these here intartubes and talk to other people, all over the world, and ask them what's actually going on?

I'm just sayin'...


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