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2 minutes or so..

January 25, 2011

hard to concentrate at the moment.. listening to some strange, dirge-like music by one of the most unusual of bands.. “godspeed you! black emperor.” why am i listening to this..?

i saw “pineapple express” awhile back. seth rogen mentioned the band in a movie, and i thought it was one of the coolest band names i’d heard in a long name.. kinda like smuckers grape jelly.. “mmm.. smuckers.. with a name like that, it’s gotta be good!”

“godspeed you! black emperor” with a name like that it’s gotta be good.

well, i thought i was weird, but i don’t think i am weird enough for this.

or patient enough..

this music is part of a genre called “post rock.” i listened to some other post rock groups – sampling 30 second bits on emusic … they didn’t sound like gsybe, but all sounded like each other.. shoe gaze, but more trippy, and no vocals.

right now, “the dead flag blues” (another great title) by gsy!be is playing… on youtube.. i can hear the whole track for free this way.. and probably don’t want to hear it again..

makes me feel sick..

anyway..

wasn’t planning on writing about this when I thought up the theme for this post.. something to start with, and go on with my usual tangents and diversions..

but instead i started with something pretty much completely unrelated to what I had planned on..

maybe the similarity between the music i just listened to (the track is much longer than 1o minutes, by the way..hmm.. now a brief pause, so i can conjure up the track after “the dead flag blues” one moment plz..)

this next track is called “east hastings..” starts with strange yelling, and bagpipes.. i have the volume rather low, because the computer is located here on the landing, and relatives are sleeping on this half-floor…

the similarity? bleakness? i suppose.. but i wasn’t feeling exactly bleak tonight.. down, sad, kinda, lonely, yeah.. but not necessarily bleak.

the title of this entry refers to the time i spent playing my low whistle in front of a microphone.. in front of people.

got tired of just playing music in my room.. not sharing it with anybody, even if i am something less than proficient, at any instrument..

was having the usual struggle in my mind… do i do this or that?

had made the decision a few days ago to concentrate on bass..

tried for weeks. had it on ebay for 2 weeks, but toward the end of each week i removed the bass from the for sale list.. less than 24 hours before the auction ended? waited enough.. changed my mind.. twice..

so it was on ebay for 2 weeks – the bass, and on craigslist for 3 weeks, and on an idaho website sort of like craigslist, called zidaho for 2 weeks, and nothing.. no calls.

tried selling the amp on craigslist.. for over 2 weeks.. some teenager and in exchanging emails and phone calls.. kept missing each other .. phone tag, too much delay between emails.. him interested in buying the amp, me thinking i wanted to sell it, him calling twice in one day.. first awaking my dad from a nap.. my dad is not the most of coherent people even when fully conscious, or what passes for conscious with him..

and having just woken up, dad was more confused than usual, told the guy on the phone he had the wrong number..

second call…

i had just gone downstairs.. phone rang. my aunt was nearest a phone, picked it up, was apparently confused. thought i had left the house, told the guy so.

i called back a bit later… several times.. busy signals..

ok..

another week of missed communication..

i guess i am supposed to keep amp and bass?

had traded the mandolin i had bought some weeks ago in for the amp, and gig bag to carry the bass, had the mandolin only a week.. or no.. it was less than a week..

liked it, but freaked out trying to play it, too much anxiety and manic frustrated feeling – typical when trying to learn an instrument and most other things as well.. arms even cramped up..

really freaked out after seeing a chord chart.

i realized today after a little more research that the chords on the mandolin are not all as hard as the ones i saw on the chart..

oh well.

thought i had put the mandolin issue behind me..

but two nights ago, some friends of the family came over..

i had visited with them last month, when i had the mandolin. turns out they had one as well.. the husband of the couple had hand-built one.. it looked glorious.. but he couldn’t play it. his wife had for awhile, but she doesn’t play it now either.

i had told them about my much more simply designed but still wonderful sounding mandolin, the one soon after i saw these people, that i traded in..

they came over here for dinner two nights ago.

the conversation was on some dark topics.. trials of our lives, friends and relatives who had passed, pains and struggles, tales of mental illness and abandonment.

i don’t know why we talked of these things.. but the conversation flowed organically, just as all good conversations do. i guess we all needed to talk about these things..

they did a very kind thing.. had remembered that i, at the time i was over at their place, was keen on mandolin playing..

two nights ago, they brought over a mandolin instructional book and dvd..

which sent my head in a spin again..

these compulsions to play music..

couldn’t get myself out of the house soon enough to do what i had planned, which was to go down to the health and welfare office, enroll with a doctor and apply for low-income housing..

anxiety issues and so forth, keep me inside…

not sure what i spent my time on..

but one of the things i did here at home, instead of leaving the house on time, was look through a website featuring many events in the area..

and found an open-mic night at a coffeehouse. ( i started this entry on the night of the 24th.. but finished after midnight – like i do most entries – so it says the 25th, not the 24th) .. a coffeehouse of the best kind, one that is in a renovated house, not in some square-shaped box of a strip mall) (square shaped box.. like that is an unsual thing? ever seen a circle-shaped box? i doubt it…

i felt not so nervous..

i had an inner debate…

go to downtown boise.. a drive from where i live… and travel to that music shop i liked so much, nut up again and put yet more on the credit card. buy the mandolin if it is still there, or one like it, and gig bag and strap, and continue where i left off??

or… wait a bit, leave the house a little later, and drive a much shorter distance to the coffee house where the open mic night thing goes on each monday night.

“open mic night” that’s usually a euphemism for “individual performers singing and playing covers and originals on their acoustic guitars..” that’s just about the only kind of act i’ve ever seen at open mic nights.

i don’t play guitar or sing well enough to show up with a guitar and play and sing..

and also, i want to do something different ..

show up to an open mic night, and play my whistle.. almost no one even knows such instruments exist.

you are probably just learning about it here, for the first time..

a low whistle is like a pennywhistle, except much thicker and longer because it is an octave lower than the standard pennywhistle.

simple design.. tube, 6 holes in it, mouthpiece.

my low whistle is the cheapest one i could find online.. after countless hours of research.

this is the sort of obscure instrument you are unlikely to find in any music store on the planet.. except for maybe one or two stores in.. rural Ireland or the UK.

this is the kind of instrument usually handmade, although there are some exceptions.. and don’t go for the factory-made ones because they tend not to be nearly as good, even if they cost sometimes as much as handmade ones.

mine is a rare low whistle – not made out of aluminum, which is standard, or copper, or high grade plastic of some sort, but instead.. pvc pipe.

i have some health concerns.. i am guessing pvc pipe is toxic, and not something i should have my mouth on for many minutes at a time while practicing.

if you want to hear how wonderful a low whistle can sound, go to youtube (after you read the rest of this) and type in “riverdance reel around the sun.” that is the opening music of “Riverdance” the youtube video should start at the beginning, which starts with a low whistle, brilliantly played by an incredible musician, Davy Spillane, who also plays the uilleann pipes (“uillean” is pronounced “illin” and is Gaelic for “elbow”) these pipes are bagpipes played sitting down, and one’s elbow squeezing a bellows to put the air into the pipe.. this instrument is supposed to be one of the hardest on the planet to play..

i’ll tackle that one later, maybe… a good partial set of these pipes.. handmade of course (and NOT made in Pakistan, those Pakistani-factory pipes are beyond ghastly) will cost close to $2,000 US dollars.. and be worth it.

Not the kind of money i can plop down right now for a very difficult instrument… i don’t have the money, and have had trouble with instruments which are considered much more simple..

i have this odd feeling though.. i might just be eccentric enough to be inept at the guitar after so many years of practice, but ever so strangely have a hidden knack for playing the uilleann pipes..

i might have to wait years to find out.

i am not in a rush.

so.. i took my pvc pipe whistle (mercifully, no one asked me if I made it myself.. it certainly looks homemade. the few times i’ve played for other people in their homes i’ve always been asked if i made it, and i, being a truthful person, admit that i paid 30 bucks for it – which is a MOST worthy investment, by the way, and that i am not handy at all with tools.. even though i’m a guy..)

.. and after some acoustic guitar acts.. some good, some..not so much..

i played through 3 tunes..

.. in about 2 minutes’ time.. or just a bit longer.

yeah.. i got some applause… hopefully at least some of the people were applauding because they actually liked what they heard, and not just to be polite.

i did mention i’d never performed at an open mic night before.. so i think the audience was being extra supportive.. good for them..

before it was my turn, i sat at a table, near a truly beautiful girl.

strange thing.. and this is true…

in the dream i had last night/this morning.. i dreamed of a blonde girl with short hair and brown eyes..

and here was one, looking somewhat similar to the one in my dream.

she had a hairstyle similar to one of my favorite anime characters.. i watch very little anime, (Japanese animated films and tv series -what is the plural of the word “series?” isn’t it “series?” “serieses” just doesn’t look right..)

.. but… was hooked on an anime series back in the ’80’s called “Robotech.” There was a female character named Dana Sterling, who I always thought was rather cute for a cartoon character.

This girl looked a little like her.

She was wearing a tight longsleeve shirt, denim shorts, long enough to roll up a cuff without looking sleazy, and boots.

amazingly cute!

.. and probably 17, if not younger.

so i didn’t flirt.

didn’t ask her her name, but, the seats were filling up, and i had a glass of water in my hand, and wanted to have a seat, and somewhere to put the glass, and there was a table next to her, so I asked her if I could sit at the table with her, and she said yes.

She was reading a book called “The Immortal Works of Poetry,” or something like that.

When I first glanced her way, I thought the book was called “The Immoral Works of Poetry.” Big difference there! I thought.. hmmm.. that’s sexy… gorgeous young woman reading nasty verse.. by the great poets of course.. Rimbaud perhaps? Baudeleire? (probably spelled his name wrong.. what’s with those French poets and writers and artists and so forth?)

I did ask her if I could see her book, she smiled and said yeah, and handed it to me.. I looked it over, and was mildly disappointed by the correct title.. but still a good book.

excellent, really… a small paperback.. same size as a mass-market novel, with tons of poems in it by the masters through the ages.. the fact that she was reading this book, even though it wasn’t really called “Immoral Poetry,” impressed me. She looked like the kind of girl that was reading this literature for enjoyment, not for a class assignment.

Asking to see her book was pretty much all the communication I had with her. I sat facing the musicians, which meant i had my back to her.

I’m just not going to flirt with a high school girl.. wouldn’t know quite what to say, even if i wanted to.. and, if at some point later, i was able to touch her… caress her, i thought to myself that i would not really feel anything.. physically i would be touching her, but inside me i would be feeling too down, depressed.. too, well…

bleak..

but still glad she was there.. and interesting to interact a bit with a brow-eyed teenage girl with short blonde hair in my dream (not exactly an erotic dream, almost never have those, but still, warm… a girl looking just like Ellen Page – or else it was Ellen Page.. was later in the dream, a nice romantic moment.. very brief but nice.. was in the dream too..)

and then, seeing this girl at the cafe. I don’t know if coincidences mean anything. i am not one to really trip out on this like some really spiritual people I have met..

and when i was playing the whistle, i don’t think that girl was even there, she returned with food right after i’d sat back down. she’d been up at the counter..

oh well..

women…

don’t want to date one my age.. they tend to have aged more than i have.. not all of them, of course, some of those who have never had kids and have never been married still are appealing. going through a bad marriage, and being a parent to one or more children.. the status of most available women my age.. that tends to age women .. not always.. but sometimes badly..

i’m young for my age.. still look younger than i am, and certainly far less mature or successful than the average 38 year old man.

That didn’t stop me from bedding a fantastic woman shortly before i moved.. but then, she was 40, not 20.

And younger women? Sometimes young is too young.. just doesn’t feel right.. i don’t want to feel creepy.. although this girl, if 18.. well, like i said, she was beautiful. i didn’t feel lust for her as much as i felt a much rarer feeling, even in my depressed an anxious state (which is how i feel almost all the time.) looking at her.. it was a sort of i don’t know… transcendent feeling? sublime? highly romantic.. wow… especially after having dreamed about someone looking like her less than 12 hours previous to seeing her.

An interesting experience. Worth the trip just for that.

But, overall, still felt my usual way.. alone in a crowd.

And a mostly young crowd.

One thing I have noticed about coffeehouses. They tend to fill up with high school kids. Kids who will migrate to bars as soon as they turn 21.

I don’t like bars. I hate being around drunk people. I don’t get drunk. A decent buzz is ok, but that is it. I have never been drunk and have never wanted to be.

Alcohol just doesn’t do it for me. The buzz soon wears off, leaving me feeling even less relaxed than how i was feeling before i had the first drink.

Drunk people so often act loud and stupid. The only people who tend to usually find them amusing are other drunk people. This is not always the case.

In early October, I was the designated driver for some drunk friends.. and they really were rather funny. One of them I’d known for awhile but had never seen (or heard) her drunk before. Startling, and quite amusing. I was laughing so hard at some of the stuff she said that I had a hard time driving properly.

But anyway.. I’m a coffeehouse kind of guy, but wish the crowd at coffee houses is more mixed.. there were a few.. older people there.. but all the cute girls looked either under aged, or .. 20 or 21 at the most.

And most of the people there knew each other.. I felt quite left out..

Can’t play guitar and sing, don’t know any of these people who know each other, and far too old to flirt with the girls who looked so good.

In an earlier blog I had mentioned living up here in Idaho for over a month, and seeing almost no good-looking women.. at all.. during that month.

I sure saw a lot tonight! Just .. too young..

I did do what I set out to do though, which was share my music in a public setting – play at an open mic night.

I am surprised i didn’t feel so anxious today.. less than usual… depressed, yes, irritable, yes.. but.. actually a bit excited..

i felt it would be much scarier to drive out to the music store a half hour or more away… and deal with buying yet another instrument than going up in front of people and playing my whistle by myself.

Open mic nights are good times for people who aren’t that skilled to get over stage fright and play. People performing are expected to screw up here and there, unless they are regular performers who are seasoned enough to really sound good.. as were some of the kids who played and sang tonight..

Open mic night is the time and place to start. I finally thought of this earlier tonight before leaving for the coffee house.

And i was right.

Will I perform again by myself? I am thinking.. probably not, unless someone asked me to, like the guy running it. He owns the place, and plays a 12 string guitar and sings and is pretty good. He’s closer to my age. One person I felt comfortable talking to.

I think though, that I would like to team up with at least one other musician who plays Celtic music.. a guitarist or mandolin player.. and maybe add a third member.. someone on bodhran (pronounced “borron”) the Irish frame drum.. similar in build to Native American round frame drums, but played very differently. Bodhran players use an odd wrist motion.. I sort of tried a little.. ouch.. ok. An inexpensive instrument.. and I like hand drums and frame drums.. and Celtic music, but I am not for Bodhran playing.

I’ll put another ad on craigslist before I go to bed.. seeking Celtic musicians..

Sitting there in that cafe.. hearing these teenagers.. some of them very good..

..not the best feeling.. them, being half my age, doing what I, who have practiced for as long as they have been alive.. just about.. still not being able to do what they do.. and finally concentrating on another instrument (bass guitar.. due to tinnitus, and not that much interest, I don’t make whistles my number one musical priority.. but i still practice at least a little most days) at the age of 38.. other 38 year olds have been playing bass guitar for 15 or more years..

but… i might have many years ahead of me.. not always thrilled with this thought.. but there it is..

point being… the awkwardness of being a self-taught beginner.. this phase might not last long at all, compared to the length of time in my life.. decades.. that I can spend playing the bass well.

That’s the attitude I need to have.

And I believe that I can play the bass.

I’ve tried so many other instruments. This is, I feel, my last, best hope.

Maybe I can eventually sing well… but will probably need professional coaching for that. Can teach myself bass with the right instructional materials.. awaiting a rather comprehensive bass book to arrive in the mail by the end of the week. which should be the only one i buy for quite awhile.

a reviewer of this particular bass book “Mel Bay Complete Bass Method” or something like that.. (Music publishers tend to have dudes’ names.. either Mel Bay, or Hal Leonard. Those are the two big names in music publishing) wrote something rather insightful..

he said there two kinds of people who play bass guitar – the musicians and the song learners. the song-learners just used tablature.. a numbers and lines system that is in some ways easier to read than sheet music with real dots and lines and that.. except that tab doesn’t tell the musicain.. excuse me.. song learner..the duration of the note..

song-learners.. just learn songs.. that’s it.. they don’t learn theory or how to play in any particular key.. they don’t know how to improvise.

musicians learn the theory, they learn the notes, they learn to read music, how to play in lots of keys, and can improvise.

yes.. song learners are of course musicians too.. but not nearly so much as what the book reviewer meant by the word “muscian.”

I want to be a musician.

While sitting in that coffeehouse though, i felt kind of pointless and hopeless about it.. as i sometimes feel about life.. when i start philosophizing, which is not a good idea.. i come up with emptiness, meaninglessness.. heading into nihilism.. and that is not good…

but felt kinda pointless and hopeless about trying to learn music..

However..

Once home, I did pick up my bass guitar. Just made up stuff. I cannot jam with other people and make up stuff.. not yet.. but on my own.. yeah..

this is not exactly practicing.. and i didn’t sit down as planned and learn along with the cd-rom.. which is quite tedious and not enjoyable.. but I DID pick up the bass and play for awhile.

And that is good.

I hope I am not fooling myself.

I will have a positive attitude about this even when I don’t feel positive..times when I feel down or anxious or crazy or all of the above.

Fact is.. the simple fact is..

The World Needs Bass Players..

There just aren’t enough of us.

I can play this instrument. I will focus on this instrument, and I will do it.

And eventually I will play bass with some really cool and talented people..

and you might see and hear me at an open mic night…

until then, i shall practice at home.. but at least now i know where to start once I want to perform.

.. at a coffeehouse.. even if it is filled with gorgeous young women too young for me to date..

it’s the music..

that matters.

Good Night!

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