getcher hand outta there. you'll gum up the werks.
  hot damn, ethel. looks like it werks. and yes, mike golay lives here.
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Corndogs For Everyone
posted: 03/27/07


It's a week since I wrapped up the Half Pint Sessions. Took a lot out of me. I've rested up a bit. Not much, but a bit.

I did my best to not listen back to anything. But, of course, I did. My plan was to sit on the tunes for a week before going in and tweaking anything. But, Monday night I loaded the tunes up and listened to them, and although a number of them came off better than I anticipated, I was pretty deeply disappointed with a few. Which is, of course, inevitable. Especially when you consider that it's me we're talking about. I have a singular talent for me-disdain.

So I decided that maybe I wanted to do a second pass on two or three tunes. I was sort of wondering aloud where I might do such a thing (my place is acoustically inferior; it sounds like an armpit that has collapsed on itself). I did not want to go back to Baltimore. I would not, in fact, go back to Baltimore. No offense. It's just too much hassle. Finally I asked my good friend Brian if I might use one of his rooms in his house while he and his wife Jennifer jetted off to Italy. I was watching the pooch in the mean time... And Brian very, very kindly said yes, go to. And so I will, probably late next week and into the weekend.

So with that hurdle out of the way, I took to reconciling a few sonic problems. The first was that one of my mics truly sucks. So I ordered an AKG c4000b. It's not the best of the best, but it's considerably better than what I've been using. My Very Talented Partner in post-production, Scott, out at DragonflyEast, who has agreed to mix and master after I'm done twiddling, has been really helpful throughout, and has kindly offerred this and that. I'm grateful. I'm looking forward to working with him.

Mics done. Ordered a gross of new strings. Now. The twanger.

It's gotten cold here. It snowed. I could write about that. Everyone else has. So it snowed. There is snow outside. Big deal. If I wasn't such a laze ass I'd go skiing. Or for a hike, at least. Maybe I will. Not today.

But anyway, it got cold and snowed. And so the heat came on. Actually, it came on weeks ago. I don't mind being cold when there's a point (you know, like climbing a frozen drip... the point being... Shut Up). Otherwise, the heat comes on. So the heat's been on. And that's affected all of my guitars. A lot of people probably don't know what humidity or the lack thereof does to stringed instruments. Very briefly, it dries out the tops of stringed instruments, and they mostly imperceptibly fall. Meaning the top gets dry and sinks down lower. Maybe a few millimeters, typically. On my session I noticed my action was pretty low. By the time I got back home, my Taylor was unplayable. Now, when I listen back to a few of the takes, I can hear it. I can hear spots where the strings don't resonate, where they buzz and fight against uneven frets. You know, it's the guitar, not me.

So the next hurdle was finding a luthier who would take a look, emergency-style. Joe Latham at Latham Guitars had worked on my Taylor once before at his old shop; he had just opened a new one near where I work. I dropped in on him on a Wednesday. At the time I was concerned that I might need a refret, which is a Major Repair. Joe kindly told me to book a date some time after the first of the year and gestured to his work area, where about 30 guitars lay, awaiting doctoring. This did not bode well. I could have a great room and great mics, but without a playable guitar I was screwed. Maybe someone doesn't want me to make this thing...

I came home, dinked around with some editing on some of the tunes, realizing that as a package things really weren't too bad, though I'd still like to give a couple of tunes a second shot. I called Joe again and talked to him about a quick fix, if possible. He told me to run a humidifier (which I've been doing for two days) and leave the guitar out for a day or so, see if the top would come up. Joe also told me to come in the next morning and he'd take a look. Joe is a saint.

I brought the Taylor in and Joe looked at it and said I needed a neck adjustment (a two-day to weeklong job, usually), but that he had a slightly higher saddle on hand that he could carve down for me, and that that would raise the strings enough to "get me through the war," meaning my second session. So Joe took a razor blade and sander and carved the thing down, and it worked perfectly, and now I have a Summer Saddle and a Winter Saddle. I'm set.

Thanks, Joe. Latham Guitars, 11 W. Market St., Leesburg, VA.

I started writing a few new tunes in the last couple of days. It's inevitable, and I gotta say, a truly welcome development after working on the Half Pint stuff. Something in Open G and something in CEbEbGAD, which is a tuning I sort of came up with and stole half of from something I heard Don Ross play (in CEbEbFCD). Mine is a Cmin9 or something like that. It's sort of a minor Low-C/Half-DADGAD but not sort of thing. I think it's a really beautiful tuning. I'm feeling somewhat inspired by a few things. That's about all I have to say about that.

I'll leave you with this.

Did you have Der Weinerschnitzel where you grew up? I did. Der Weinerschnitzel was a fast food place that served hot dogs of many varieties, as well as corndogs. It's a bit odd. And the weirdest thing about Der Weinerschnitzel, as far as I'm concerned, is that all of the Der Weinerschnitzels (I pronounced it like a German, too: Veenerschnitzel) where I grew up, and the ones I've seen since, are housed in these incredibly grand, A-frame chalet buildings, impossibly high and peaked, with a huge Germanic "W" in sort of fake beaming on the front of the A-frame. Does this image make sense to you? I always thought it was a little, no, a lot funny. I think it's a bit over the top for hot dogs. And what's going on up in the peak of the A-frame? Unless there's some manager's office (with a little stone fireplace and wet bar and hot tub) up there - it's not an efficient use of space, particularly for storage - well, it's just kind of goofy. I always sort of wondered what kind of person would incorporate such a thing. I suppose the answer is here, somewhere. Or not.

I don't remember exactly when, but I think it was the early 80s, where, in my hometown, Der Weinerschnitzel (they seem to have dropped the "Der" these days) mostly closed. And the crazy thing is that the chalets are still around. I've seen them all over the nation, in my travels. And they're slightly remodeled. I've seen new restaurants, barbeque joints, various eateries in old Der Weinerschnitzel buildings. I've seen a bank. One of the weirdest ones I've seen is near Irvine, CA. My friends were telling me there was this killer sushi place somewhere or other. So we go there, and it's a freaking Der Weinerschnitzel building, only it's all Japanesed up, all Sumo and stuff, all of this neon and plush carpeting, and it has all of these additions on it. And they really tried to class it up. But me, I knew it was just a Der Weinerschnitzel.

And no corndogs, either.

Gotta go. Take care of yourself. Meal is good food.

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