Musical Monday: Farewell Nokie

Sad news. Nokie Edwards, the lead guitarist for The Ventures, passed away on March 12, 2018. He was 82.

He had a fluid picking style that defined the surf sound of the 1960s.

The Ventures first hit was “Walk, Don’t Run,” which charted in June of 1960, but Edwards played bass. Shortly after, The Ventures’ lead guitarist at the time, switched instruments with Edwards, acknowledging Edwards’ superior playing ability.

With Edwards leading them, The Ventures went on to dominate the surf scene with many of their brilliant guitar instrumentals.

They even went on to rerecord “Walk, Don’t Run” with Edwards on lead guitar and the song again charted.

Edwards was elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Here are several songs by The Ventures to enjoy as we say goodbye to one of the overlooked guitar greats.


Wipe Out:



They were even successful remaking television themes, like Hawaii-5-O:

And Batman (I even owned the album pictured. Not sure what happened to it):

And I leave you with an hour of The Ventures 45th Anniversary. It starts of with Walk, Don’t Run. Enjoy.



Friday randomizer activated

A Friday Haiku

Its St. Urho’s Day

He chased out the grasshoppers

And saved the grape crop.

St. Urho’s Day

March 16th is St. Urho’s Day. St. Urho is the patron Saint who, like St. Patrick who drove the snakes out of Ireland, drove the grasshoppers out of Finland, thus saving their grape crop.

And like St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Finnish on St. Urho’s Day. We wear purple (although green is acceptable as well. People will just think your celebrating that other holiday early), and we drink purple beer.

And don’t forget to shout: Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen! Which means, grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!

“Is this for real?” you ask.

To which I reply, we even have statues!

So, I ask you, would anyone put up statues to a made-up Saint? I think not.

Weigh-In Friday

Nothing to see here. Move along.

I’m still above 200 pounds and nowhere near my goal of 185.

Feel free to mock me.

Trombones and me

I’m still practicing. Surprised? I’m up to lesson 4 of the YouTube series “Beginning Band with Mr. Walls.”

I’m trying to take it slowly so as to avoid the frustration of attempting to do things before I’m ready and spraining a lip muscle.

Hey, strained lip muscles are a thing!

To give you an idea of just how exciting Mr. Walls is, here he shows us how to lube our slide.

Yes, lubing our slide is a thing, too.

By the by, if ya’ll get a sudden hankering to learn a band instrument like I did, Mr. Walls also has lessons for the trumpet, alto saxaphone, ckarinet, and flute.

Saying goodbye

This week the world lost a literal genius. I know that word gets thrown around pretty carelessly to describe any schmuck who people admire, but real genious is very rare and we just witnessed the passing of one.

Goodbye, Stephen Hawking. The world’s collective I.Q. dropped significantly the day he died.

And in a world led by ignoramuses like trump, who in turn are idolized by millions of doltish trumpanzees, the loss of Hawking’s pioneering spirit and unique intelligence looms large.

Last word

Its the weekend, and a great one for excessive drinking, if that’s your thing and you do it responsibly.

Starting today, enjoy purple beers, if you can find them, to celebrate St. Urho’s Day. Then when you get up tomorrow, you get to start all over by drinking green beer in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

Its a food-colored beer party two-fer. Enjoy. Stay safe. Find a designated driver.

Here’s a song to get you started from the Finnish alternative rock band, Uniklubi:


Built not to last

No one really does long term reviews because we are such a disposible society. We’ve been programmed to ditch the old and covet the new.

Manufacturers come out with new product at least yearly because they have us trained to think there is something wrong with last year’s model, even if it’s working perfectly fine.

All this is a prelude to bashing one pair of running shoes I have. So be forewarned.

Back in 2016, when I started running again on a regular basis, I picked up my first real pair of running shoes that actually fit (I had a pair of Asics that were 2-1/2 sizes too big).

Early in June of 2016, I picked up a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 from our local (and soon to be closed) Fleet Feet in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

And no, those aren’t the shoes I’m going to bash, so don’t jump ahead of me. I used them soley for running.

Then in August, I decided to get a second pair of running shoes to alternate between. I picked up a pair of Saucony Grid Cohesion 9.

I alternated running between the two shoes, but then after running in the Saucony for about six consecutive runs without switching off, I noticed a hip pain that sidelined me for over a month. I don’t know what caused it, but to ne safe, I retired the Saucony to walking shoe status, while I continued to run in the Brooks (until March 2017, when I bought new shoes and retired the GTS16).

The Saucony I took to work to wear only for my mall walks. Usually when there is inclement weather, I wear my hikers to work because of snow or rain and then change into the Saucony.

The rest of the year, I wear either one of my many Pumas to work, or the Brooks GTS 16, in which case I don’t switch to the Saucony at all.

So theoretically, the Saucony, over the last two years have only gotten limited use, 5 days a week and only during the winter, whereas the Brooks GTS 16, have been my go-to shoe for any activity outside of work regardless of the weather (except for possible near 0°F temperatures).

In other words, the Brooks had logged nearly a full year as my principle running shoe and then a year of being my casual activity shoe, whereas the Saucony are strictly a workday shoe in the winter.

The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 look almost like new, as shown below:

Whereas the Saucony Grid Cohesion 9 are beginning to show signs of wear on both sides of the upper as the mesh tears away from the toe trim, as shown below:

And yes, I’m wearing red socks. So you can see the upper is wearing through at the point where my little toe resides.

That is unacceptable. I know, I know. It is two years old, after all. Still, that shows there is a durability concern with Saucony.

As you can see, the Brooks are still almost like new. Brooks has much more durable construction. In fact, I have a pair of 11-year-old Brooks Beasts that didn’t start thinning and separating like this pair of Saucony has for nearly six or seven years of constant every day use. They were pretty much my everyday walking, running, working, hiking, and everything else in between shoe and are probably still in better shape than these Saucony.

The Beasts are hiding under my bed and if I can find them, I’ll post a picture of them.

“But wait,” you say, “The Beasts have a wear hole by your little toe as well! Why call out Saucony?”

Why? Because the Saucony are only a little over a year and a half old, worn irregularly whereas the Beasts are 11-years-old and were worn all the time.

I not only can forgive the Beasts their flaws, I would commend Brooks on creating such a long lasting shoe.

My biggest gripe about anything I purchase is a lack of durability. I want things to last, if not forever, at least five years or more.

But many manufacturers believe in planned adolescence. They want us to spend money unnecessarily and to do that they make the old stuff so it falls apart before it should.

In this case, it was Saucony. Too bad for them because I’ll never buy another pair of their shoes again.

Another brand of running shoe I won’t ever buy again is Under Armour. I bought a pair of their shoes and they didn’t even last the summer. They fell apart so badly I threw them out.


If you know me even a little bit, you know I never throw anything out.

Yet I threw out the UA running shoes after only a few months. They were essentially unwearable, they were that shitty. As a consequence, I refuse to buy anything with a UA label on it.

If you want my business, then build it to last, dammit, or I’ll find a business that does.

Show some pride in your work.


Friday randomizer

A Friday Haiku

Daylight Savings Time

Spring ahead clocks this weekend

It’s a one hour tax.

Daylight Savings Time

Yes, this weekend we turn our clocks ahead one hour. The government continues to steal an hour from us every Spring.

When are we going to rise up and demand they stop this irrelevent and unnecessary Time Tax?

Daylight Savings Time might have made sense — to someone — at sometime. But not today. We have electricity. We have energy efficient lights. We aren’t afraid of the dark.

It also makes no sense because they have it during the summer, when the days are longer anyway. How are we saving daylight if we’re already getting more of it?

It’s time to put a halt to this primitive practice.

National Nap Day

On the bright side, Monday, March 12, 2018 is National Nap Day.

It’s your chance to defy the government and get your hour back that they stole.

Protest DST and take a nap on Monday, people!

Try the trombone, they said, It’ll be fun, they said

I’ve been practicing/learning the trombone for a couple weeks now. I’m learning how to read notes on the bass clef, something I haven’t done since I quit piano as a young’un. I practice scales. I’m “taking lessons” on YouTube with “Beginning Band with Mr. Walls.” He uses the Hal Leonard Essential Elements for Band, Trombone 1 book, which I have. And I’m also using a metronome to learn how to keep time as well.

I find that I have good days, like Wednesday, where I was hitting all the correct notes, blowing them strongly and accurately. I was able to play the first partial Bb all the way up to the third partial Bb. I was like, “Yeah! Now I got it!” I felt happy when I finished.

And then last night, my lips just wouldn’t cooperate. I kept double buzzing (unintentional split tones, in other words, it’s like one lip is playing one note while the other lip plays another, or so I read) and nothing I did seemed to correct it. Instead of a good strong sounding note, I kept getting this raspberry-like blaaaaap! wavering between notes.

Those days make me wonder why I bother.

It’s frustrating and I’m not sure how to eliminate it.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse

It’s absolutely amazing. Just when you think trump has reached total incompetence and he couldn’t sink any lower, he says, “Hold my beer and watch this!”

Now he’s trying to spark an international trade war by putting tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

I guess trying to get us into a nuclear war wasn’t good enough for him. Now he wants to bring economic ruin to us all as well.

And speaking of that, when am I supposed to be seeing all this winning in my paycheck from the #GOPTaxScam they passed end of last year?

All I’m seeing is a ballooning deficit, which Paul Ryan blames on entitlements — like Social Security and Medicare — and not his beloved #GOPTaxScam.

I love how the Conservatives have gone from calling welfare and food stamps entitlement programs to expanding their definition to include benefits we directly pay for!


When this regime took power last year I didn’t think it was possible for them to take away all the progress the USA has made in the last 50 years, but they proved me wrong.

But then, I didn’t think the Democrats would be complicit in rolling back all our rights and protections for workers, the disabled, minoritues, and the environment.

I had expected the Democrats to put up a fight, to obstruct and resist. But it seems they lack the backbone for that.

With such wishy-washy leaders in the DNC, I don’t see much hope in stopping the trump crime family and his evil cronies, even if the Democrats take back the House and Senate in November.

Final thoughts

And on that happy note, I wish you all a good weekend, although I don’t know how good it’ll be since we’ll all be tired and cranky from losing an hour of sleep!

As always, I leave you with a song.

Take care. Keep resisting (for all the good it’s done so far). Fuck trump.


There was a time

Back in the olden days, and I’m talking the distant past, like the ’60s and ’70s, there were these places, and they were everywhere, every street, every corner, in every town, city, and village, across this great land of ours, where people went when they needed something, anything really, and they’d go inside these places, find the thing they were looking for, hand real money to a real person, and take that thing home that very day!

I think they called them “stores.” There were specialty stores and then there were also department stores.

The specialty stores sold all sorts of merchandise, from music, to books, to musical instruments, to radios and stereos, and so on.

For example, at one time there were all sorts of stores that just sold musical instruments. One such store was called, “The Brass Bell,” and they had locations all over including within many of the malls (a mall was this giant complex filled with all manner of stores, honest).

If you were at the mall to buy a book, or a record, or a clothing item, and suddenly got a hankering for a trombone, well, there they were, all brassy and shiney, on display at the Brass Bell.

This was in a time before the Internet, before Amazon, or Wayfair, or Overstock, or eBay. Before you could order anything you wanted over your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

In fact, and here’s the really unique part, you could go into these stores and touch the items! Seriously. You could try it out IN PERSON before you bought it. Back then, when you walked out of the store with your purchase you knew it was exactly what you wanted, that it fit you exactly, that it worked exactly the way you expected, that it smelled or tasted exactly how it was supposed to.

You didn’t have to wait for your item to ship, it was in your hands already. And there were no surprises back then.

Sure, you often had to drive around town stopping at different stores until you found the item that you wanted, but you knew right then and there as you plunked your money down that that goddamned item was exactly what you wanted.

There were no hastles of trying to return imperfectly fitting garments, or items of the wrong color, or that were damaged, or anything like that because you had in your hand as you walked out that door the exact thing you had been searching for.

I know, right? Crazy.


Writing Wednesday

I’m nearing the finish line for my current work-in-progress.

I’ve gone through most of my list of things to watch out for and words that need to be replaced, like too many buts, passive voice, overused adverbs, and things like that.

Now I’m reading and rereading each scene for voice, flow, and continuity errors.

I’m also adding little bits here and there to add foreshadowing or give more depth to the characters’ personalities.

When I’m done, which might take another few weeks, I can spell check it one last time, then start in on the fun stuff.

By fun stuff, I mean the query letter and synopsis.

And by fun stuff, I mean excruciatingly painful torture.

Then, when those two pieces are presentable, and if they haven’t driven me mad, then comes the truly fun part: sending out the agent queries!

Whoohoo! The good times just keep on rollin’.


Trombone Tuesday

In last week’s Trombone Tuesday, I hinted that the trombone is the Rodney Dangerfield of musical instruments. It gets no respect.

But it should. From Trombone Technique by Denis Wick: “The trombone has been described as the only perfect wind instrument.” That “claim refers to its capacity for perfect intonation by means of the infinitely variable tube length of the slide.”

Today, I’d like to present a little history. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt and there won’t be a quiz.

Throughout the history of popular music, there have been gifted musicians who were able to elevate their instrument from simply sharing duties with their section in the band to bringing it front and center, thrilling audiences, and influencing generations of players to come.

The fiddle had Nero, for example, who didn’t merely bring the house down when he played, but all of Rome. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

The trumpet had Louis Armstrong, the saxaphone had Sydney Bechet, the guitar had Django Reinhardt, the piano had Franz Liszt (seriously, Lisztomania was a thing long before Beatlemania, replete with screaming women tearing at his clothes), and the trombone had Jack Teagarden.

Teagarden is called the Father of Jazz Trombone and is regarded as one of the most innovative jazz trombone stylists of the pre-bebop era.

Largely self-taught, he developed a widely imitated style that featured unconventional alternative positions and unusual special effects. He was also considered one of the best white male jazz singers of the era, with a singing style as improvisational as his trombone playing.

His career spanned the Swing era of the 1920s and the New York Jazz scene until shortly before his death in 1964.

His music might be much too old school to be appreciated today, but Swing was the music of the kids of that day; it was their rock & roll.

Here is a wonderful sample of his innovative style, a solo from the song, “Lover,” complete with transcription. See if you can follow along:

And here is a great example of what Swing was all about, a lively rhythm that gets the feets to tappin’ and the heads to noddin’.

Teagarden’s style had a huge influence on popularizing the trombone and raising it to lead status.

Without him, we probably wouldn’t have James Pankow (how’s that for a seque?).

Who? Someone asked.

James Pankow, one of the most enduring trombonists in rock music. He’s a founding, and long-tenured, member of Chicago and has played with such acts as Toto, Three Dog Night, Earth Wind and Fire, The Doobie Brothers, and Bee Gees.

He has composed most of the brass arrangements for Chicago and wrote many of their songs over the last 50+ years, including such hits as “Make Me Smile,” “Just You ‘n’ Me,” “Colour My World,” “Old Days,” “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long” and “Alive Again,” and he co-wrote (with Peter Cetera) the popular hit, “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”

Here’s a random sample of songs from Chicago.

Here is “Beginnings” that features a short solo by Pankow beginning around 4:15.

Here is “Wake Up Sunshine” live from someone’s cellphone. Pankow has a solo that begins around 1:39.

And lastly, “Liberation.”

Another brass rock band that also formed in 1967 was Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Dick Hallogan played trombone on their first album, but when lead singer and bandleader Al Kooper left, Haalogan abandoned the trombone and switched to keyboard and flute. No accounting for taste.

Here’s an example of their sound from that first album.

And here, just to throw an unrelated curve, is a clip from the Foo Fighters.

“Wait,” I hear someone say, “There are no trombones in the Foo Fighters.”

That you know of! Watch this!

If Dave Grohl thinks trombones are cool, who are we to argue?