Last night after we went with our friends Scott and Donna to dinner at the Big Easy (my shrimp creole was fine but bland, and I will order something hotter next time) in light of Scott's impending birthday, Scott showed me how to play Neil Young's "Helpless" on my autoharp. At first he mistook the order of the chord progression, which made "Helpless" sound like a perkier "Like a Rolling Stone".
I bought my autoharp, a 21 chorder with a cool "electric" pickup installed, fifteen or so years ago from a guy who advertised it for sale in the Greensheet, our local pennysaver type paper. Ebay was of course then a science fiction dream. I remember going to get the autoharp at his apartment, and his fervent assurance that it was worth far more than the 100 dollars I was paying for it, but that he was jobless and out of money and had to sell. In hindsight, I posit that 100 dollars was probably fairly ample compensation, and he could have gotten a job at that time in Dallas pretty much by applying for one. But I've enjoyed the autoharp. I play it just a few times a year, strumming all the "simple" autoharp songs, like "Red River Valley", "Greensleeves" and "Amazing Grace". Once I went on a "learn hipper songs" kick, but the "hippest" song that I learned was not really all that hip--Elton John and Bernie Taupin's "Daniel". "Daniel" gains something from being played with dozens of strings. It is, I suppose, hipper than "Do You Believe in Magic?". As three chord songs are actually fairly easy to play on an electric autoharp, maybe my calling is to learn to play all the songs from "Rock n Roll High School" or "Paranoid". But I'm more indie than that, I think. I need to generate my own material. I love that autoharp lets me play real songs with almost no effort.
I remember the music teacher in grade school with her autoharp. We sang cool songs in music class. One, from Spain, with a name like "con el vito", talked about a Spanish lady beset by bandits. Another spoke of a holiday in a faith none of us followed, in which glowing lights and bright candles brought shared happiness. I liked the way that an autoharp and a decentish voice could open up new vistas to us.
Our town is again debating whether to join with two neighboring suburbs to build a concert hall. I like concerts well enough, but I do wonder if for a fraction of the cost the town couldn't create an endowment which paid for music teachers with autoharps at the local parks, and for drawing lessons for people who wish to learn to draw.
Scott and I have been meaning to get together and record more music. We'll do something in the vein of songs with lyrics this time. We even have a mutual friend who will come help with backing vocals. The ball has been in my court to write lyrics for some time,though. Ambivalence is the death of any creative project--part of me still wants to do a metal album with my electric kazoo doing its best "Hendrix hums" and part of me wants to do something very folkie and strummy. I am a closet folkie, I suppose, who wishes for a kind of cheesy heavy metal cred.
After initial eBay sales to electric football fans, our last album, "Vibrating Electric Fields", does not seem to move on eBay any more. Similarly, the last auction of Scott's album, the more conventional "rockin'" Meet...The Scott M Experience, also has stalled out. For that matter, my chess poem book, after a vigorous three copies sold in October,
failed to sell in two auctions. I take my eBay products as bellwethers for the economy. When the economy is strong, then people on eBay will look and say "bad chess poem book for 3 dollars? I'll take it!", but when people are worried about the economy, they buy woollen sweaters in classic colors instead. So I am concerned now that the stock market is again on a bubble, and that people aren't going to spend for Christmas. Of course, it may just be that I need to write better ad copy. All America needs, after all, is a good laugh.
I see in my Chess Life they're now asking for donations for
new computer systems for the USCF. I sure hope they pull out of their slump. Maybe I'll auction off chess poem books as a benefit for this cause. My eleven year old nephew is playing in a big tournament this weekend--I sure hope he has fun, and also gets a decentish score.
My on line chess is improving, but I never understand why
my blitz rating is 1400something, some 300something points below my USCF rating, when most kids on line have blitz ratings higher than their USCF rating. I had the same experience at the Internet Chess Club. I think part of it is that I think about moves too long, which is not good in blitz. I'll need to play some training ten minutes a side games prior to the tournament I'm running in January. I've gone back to my old Colle System/Geller Slow System against the King's Indian/1...d5/Caro-Kann repertoire, although I'm beginning to play the Center Counter Defense (Scandinavian, the Qd5 variation) much more often. I stopped playing my "e3/d3 or "e6/d6" small center system, because although my results are about the same with it, I don't feel I can improve as quickly in it. I did play the Small Center systems in my last "real live" tournament earlier this year, and scored 2 of 3 with it, but the loss was to a 1600 that I felt was not that good a player, but who squeezed the life out of my cramped position. I'm in the mood to really build my opening repertoire, and to get much more involved in tournament play again. I hope my own tournament works, as my desire is to find a core of eight to twelve people interested in playing for fun's sake, in small tournaments, rather than worry about cash prizes. Then I can run tournaments at home.
I took the poll about compatible minds, and found that I am not very similar to anyone, but pretty complementary to many.
I feel like an accessory. I forebore the "secret crush" poll, as I suspected that it would not be "secret", and sure enough, a few weeks ago LJ had that furore when the poll-runners offered to reveal the "secrets" for four dollars a pop. I managed to resist spending that particular four dollars, which I suppose is a virtue, but a pretty obvious and trivial virtue indeed. Besides, I should declare myself pretty much publicly infatuated with LJ'ers generally.
I have not taken a music poll in some time, because they always end up with my being Bjork, just as unerringly as a Lord of the Rings poll always makes me into an Ent. I do not know how to create one of those "You're Jake Gyllenhaal" type surveys, so maybe I should learn to do that someday.
But I notice I have too many things on my "hobby" to do list.
I want to do them all, and then I want to take on less, and get more done.