Gee-Tar Two

After settling in with my Strat for a bit, I decided I needed a nice acoustic to keep it company.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Yamaha I owned was hard to play, so I started shopping around. I tested a number of Ovation, Takamine and Ibenez models. Each had their pros, but I had a tough time choosing one with the right combination of playabilty, looks, and price point. I wanted a certain sound; I wasn’t sure what, but I’d know when I heard it.

After several trips to a few local music shops, I had just about decided on an Ovation Celebrity CC44.

But after receiving a Guitar Center mailing, that changed. Gibson was re-issuing John Lennon’s go-to acoustic under the Epiphone brand, the EJ-160E John Lennon Acoustic-Electric.

Of course, being a huge Beatles (particularly Lennon) fan. I had to check this out. I rushed down to GC, but they hadn’t received any yet, and they only had a few ordered. The sales person I spoke to took my number, and promised to call me when they arrived. I went back weekly and checked, in case the guy forgot about me. Surprisingly, I did receive a call when their stock arrived. I went in and spent a half-hour or so playing around with it, and loved it. Felt good, sounded good, looked good, and it was in my budget. I played around with a few other guitars I had looked at to be sure the Epiphone was what I wanted, but there was no question about it. I took it home.

You’d think that, armed with a nice electric and a nice acoustic-electric, I’d be satisfied. Particularly since I’m just a hobbyist, not a working musician.

You’d be wrong.

There is a phenomenon known as GAS that we’ll discuss next time.

In the meantime, Keep On Rockin’!

Gee-tar One

I love playing guitar. I’m not great at it, but I’m OK. I started playing when I was about 14. You’d think after 45 years I should have some proficiency, but, truth be told, there was a very, very long period of time when my instrument sat, unused and forgotten, in a remote corner of the various places I’ve lived over the years.

I seem to remember that the first setup I had involved a black-and-white Sears Silvertone and a cheap amp, the brand long forgotten. I started taking lessons, but we moved around a lot, so they didn’t last long. Plus, I was discouraged, because after an hour of paying, I didn’t sound anything like George Harrison.

I’m not sure what happened to the Silvertone, but my friends Dennis and Kim gave me my first electric guitar sometime early in our (community) college careers. Again, I can’t remember the make and model; the only clear recollection that I have is that it was a white Strat knockoff, and I played the hell out of it. As life happened, I moved away, and I have no clue where that old axe ended up.

My next guitar was a Yamaha FG-160 acoustic, which I purchased from a friend who had upgraded to something better. That guitar was tough to play; you almost need two people to make a barre chord. I banged around on it for a few years, but eventually more life happened and it became a corner decoration.

Flash forward several years, and I’m a father to a son who has a penchant for video games. He got caught up in the whole Guitar Hero craze. His mom thought maybe he’d enjoy the real thing, so one fateful Christmas she bought him a Berenger starter set on eBay.

A star is born!

Long story short (too late! the reader cries), watching him play reminded me how much fun I used to have knocking around, so I picked it up again. Figuring I deserved a step up from the Yamaha, I went shopping. But what to choose?

As every member of Woodstock Nation knows, there’s only one guitar: a white Stratocaster.

OK, there are plenty of others to choose from, but I set my sights on a white Strat just the same.

So, on April 20, 2008, I became the proud owner of a Made in Mexico Fender HSS Stratocaster, Arctic White, Serial #MZ6206890.

I have so far resisted the temptation of giving it a name (no offense to Frankenstrat, Blackie and Number One), aways referring to it as simply “The Strat”.

Wanting to make it my own, I did a small mod job. I replaced all chrome and plastic accessories (except the pickguard) with their black counterparts – even the string trees. This necessitated replacing the stock humbucker with a Seymour Duncan, but all’s well.

The Strat was the first addition to my collection. Other pieces will be discussed in future posts.

In the meantime, Keep On Rockin’!

Sticker Shock



For my macular degeneration, my iDoc long ago prescribed one drop of Lumigan in my left eye every night.  Although it’s packaged in a tiny little bottle, one drop a night means it lasts me a few months. Particularly since I don’t always remember to drop the drop in my eye.

I dropped the last drop from my previous refill one night last week, and ordered a refill.

When I stopped at the pharmacy the next day to pick it up, I couldn’t believe my good eye. When I had the prescription filled in September, the 2.5 ml bottle cost me $25. Last week, it had rocketed up to $93! Almost 300% in six months!

As the pharmacist’s assistant was performing CPR on me, she mentioned that without my insurance coverage, it would have cost me $130.

Who says the healthcare system doesn’t need to be looked at closely?

Happy 18th Birthday, Son!

Wednesday, February 9, 1994, 5:34 a.m. That’s when my life changed for the best. Not just better; I know my superlatives. Whatever was good in my life up until that moment was magnified, whatever was bad didn’t matter any longer.

You turn eighteen today, kiddo. You’ve made me proud. You’ve grown into an intelligent, compassionate, caring young man, a talented musician with a bright future, surrounded by family and friends who would do anything for you. And you’re way cooler than I ever was.

Enjoy your day.

Happy Birthday, young man!

See Ya, 2011

For me, 2011 was definitely a year of ups and downs. Probably for many of you, too, but we’re talking about me here. It’s my blog, isn’t it?

The big change in my life last year was the loss of two family members: I lost a brother to a brain aneurism at the end of March, and cancer claimed my mother’s life in October. She had been fighting it  for several years, but once my brother passed, the fight went out of her. Children should never go before their parents.

She got to the point where she needed 24/7 care, so we all (the five remaining siblings) made the decision to put her in a “retirement community”. The last time I had a real conversation with her was the night she was transferred from the hospital.

(I haven’t mentioned that I currently live in eastern Pennsylvania, while the rest of the family lives in Northeast Ohio, save for one sister who lives in Northern California.)

On October 20, she fell and broke her hip. Because of her frail state, the medicos decided that any surgical procedure to fix her hip would probably kill her, so they just pumped her with morphine to keep her comfortable. The following Saturday, I drove out, my sister flew in. As these things are wont to happen, she knew all the kids were nearby, so she passed quietly in her sleep the morning of October 23.

There was a bit of silver lining to these dark clouds (other than the obvious one that my brother and mother were no longer suffering) in that their services brought together family members (my brother’s children from two marriages) that we hadn’t seen in 15 or so years. We still keep in touch, and one of my nephews is going to work with my California sister on some genealogical research concerning the family.

I also had my usual share of medical problems during the last twelve-month, including gall-badder removal surgery, and several steroid injections to treat various shoulder and leg ailments. On the plus side, I had no real serious health issues. I’m still in pretty decent shape for an old man.

Which reminds me: I hit the big 6-0 in 2011. No big deal. As Groucho said, “Anybody can get old. All you have to do is live long enough”. But I don’t feel old, damn it. Except in the mornings after my MMA training.

Another milestone was my 17-year-old son getting his driver’s license. Passed the test first try and all that. However, his new independence came at a price: I hardly see him any more. On alternate Fridays we used to go out to dinner at various places around the area; now he prefers hanging out with his friends. I don’t blame him; I was the same way.

That’s the gist of my 2011. Not everything, of course, but you don’t have the time, and I don’t have the energy.

Here’s hoping we all have a better 2012. “Here’s a toast to the future, A toast to the past, And a toast to our friends, far and near. May the future be pleasant; The past a bright dream; May our friends remain faithful and dear.”

Fantasy Football 2011, Final Report

So the time has come to put away the fantasy shoulder-pads for another season. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve drank beer and inhaled wings for four months, all the time watching our real-life teams make themselves comfortable in the cellar until, hopefully, next season. Well, my real-life team, anyway.

Where did my fantasy teams end up?

Yahoo Teams

RTVP League: Championship Game:  Angus’ No Stars 76, Jayusmagnus’ Legion 80. Finished 2nd in League.
Chix & Dix League:  Stratoblasters playing for 9th Place in a 20 team league. Will finish 9th or 10th in League.
Purple Pride League:  4th And 10 playing for 9th Place in a 20 team league. Will finish 9th or 10th in League.
Panther Power:  Tazo Zen finished 5th Place in a 20 team league.
Pros Joes & Schmoes League:   The New No. 2 finished 9th Place in a 12 team league.

League 337126: Championship Game:  Ram Air 100.72, Green Machine 68.96. Ram Air is League Champion!
League 337241:  Tazo Zen finished 3rd Place in a 10 team league.

Both teams in ESPN leagues performed miserably. They’re both playing in the consolation ladder this final week, but I couldn’t care less about the outcome of either.

Fox Sports Public League 29622Martini Time finished in 8th Place in a 10 team league.

One League Championship out of ten teams is a bit disappointing, but, hey! There’s always next year!

Fantasy Football 2011, Week 15

The season’s about over (for my Browns, the season is over; after a masterful first series led by backup QB Seneca Wallace resulted in a quick touchdown, we ended up losing to the Cardinals 20-17 in OT). Some of my fantasy teams will be watching the playoffs on fantasy TVs, while a couple are going for the gold.

Let’s see where we stand, shall we?:

Yahoo Teams

RTVP League: (Semifinals) Angus’ No Stars 70, Wild Hanlons 52 – Advances to League Championship game
Chix & Dix League: (Consolation Quarterfinal) Stratoblasters 207.48, SeverStal 139.68 – Advances to Consolation Semifinals
Purple Pride League: (Consolation Quarterfinal) 4th And 10 195.89,  Howlers 174.25 – Advances to Consolation Semifinals
Panther Power:  (Championship Quarterfinal) Tazo Zen 165.57, BONECRUSHERS1 188.91 – Advance to 5th Place Game
Pros Joes & Schmoes League:   Season Over – Did Not Make Playoffs

League 337126: (Playing in Championship Semifinals) Ram Air 122.84, Nevada-PHD1 103.96 – Advances to League Championship Game
League 337241: (Playing in Championship Semifinals) Tazo Zen 83.56, SEAHAWKS 120.30 – Advances to 3rd Place Game

ESPN’z #1 League: ( Playing in Consolation Bracket) Lehigh Valley Genesis 174, Team Eger 117 – Continue in Consolation Bracket
Football Paradise League: (Playing in Consolation Bracket) Vodka Martinis 123, MainePatsFan 187 – Continue in Consolation Bracket

Fox Sports Public League 29622: (Season Over – 10th Place) Martini Time 65.5, The Grizzlies 75.5

Two League Championship games this week! w00f!

Fantasy Football 2011, Week 14

Why can’t we ever generate some good headlines? We lost to the Steelers, but what were the headlines coming out of the game? That it wasn’t the rout that was expected? That our defense kept us in the game? That we showed a little spark on offense? How about the toughness Big Ben R showed after one of his linemen fell on his ankle? No. What’s still making the news is Colt’s concussion, and him playing through it. It must be that the Cleveland medical staff was uncaring in this close game, and threw the quarterback in to continue playing because the win was more important. Or that they were incompetent in their diagnosis.  Couldn’t possibly be that Colt showed no signs of injury after getting leveled by It’s-Not-My-Fault Harrison, could it? Naw.

Playoffs have started/continue in many fantasy leagues as the season winds down.

Let’s see where we stand, shall we?:

Yahoo Teams

RTVP League: (8-6 – Playing in Championship Semifinals) Angus’ No Stars 83, Cassi’s Revenge 63
Chix & Dix League: (8-6 – Playing in Consolation Quarterfinal) Stratoblasters 206.89, SeverStal 215.23
Purple Pride League: (8-6 – Playing in Consolation Quarterfinal) 4th And 10 148.32,  flashers 172.71
Panther Power:  (8-6 – Playing in Championship Quarterfinal) Tazo Zen 191.73, Cat Scratch Fever 192.20
Pros Joes & Schmoes League:  (6-8 – Did Not Make Playoffs) The New No. 2 121.21, Hanlon’s Revenge 176.24

League 337126: (8-6 – Playing in Championship Semifinals) Ram Air 109.38, Rebels 73.34
League 337241: (9-5 – Playing in Championship Semifinals) Tazo Zen 109.60, Man of Steel 72.50

ESPN’z #1 League: ( Week 1 Playoffs, Playing in Consolation Bracket) Lehigh Valley Genesis 81, Team Eger 60 (In Progress)
Football Paradise League: (Week 1 Playoffs, Playing in Consolation Bracket) Vodka Martinis 48, MainePatsFan 93 (In Progress)

Fox Sports Public League 29622: (Week 2 Playoffs, Playing in Consolation Bracket) Martini Time 75.54, Lost Gonzos 101.98

Four Championship playoff games in progress!