Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not Dead Yet

Reason #1 I haven't been blogging: I've been obsessively practicing mandolin and learning new tunes.  Tunes I've learned since the beginning of November:

OK, I confess, I'd played Banish Misfortune before, but not memorized it, so maybe that one's a lie.  Still, not bad all told, if I do say so myself.  And most of them, I know well enough to play at the local Irish session, without toooo many stumbles.  However, the list of commonly played tunes they gave me when I first started attending is sixty tunes long, and it seems like people toss out new ones every week, so this list is a drop in the bucket.  I still have a lot of work cut out for me.  Fun work, though, for the most part, with the exception of Lark in the Morning Jig.  Don't ask me why, but I developed an instant antipathy for that tune.  Maybe I'm not as much of a morning person as I thought I was.  But I'll beat the Lark yet.

Reason #2 I haven't been blogging: I've been sucked down the e-reader rabbit hole.

Quite a number of family members have obtained Kindles over the past few months and all have been raving about them.  And these days, you can borrow library books on them, which knocks down one of the mental barriers I'd set up against them.  The selection of library e-books isn't great, but it's growing.  And Kindles have come down a lot in price.  A few years ago, they were what, $350?  Now, they're under a hundred. 

I got to play with my sister-in-law's new Kindle Touch for awhile over Christmas, and then when I was at Target on New Year's Eve, they had a returned one marked down to $69.  Plus I had a Target gift card.  Plus I am weak.  It came home with me.  Ended up having a bad USB cable, but my phone uses the same cable so I could charge it straight off, and Amazon customer service was happy to send a replacement for the original.  Good deal.

I have to say, I'm smitten.  There is much to be said for the ability to carry many, many large, heavy books in one bitty package, and the ability to request any classic (and a lot of other stuff) for free at the touch of a coupla buttons, without even getting off the couch.  Also, it's lighter and more comfortable to hold than a lot of big books, lays flat, and I can lazily turn pages with one hand whilst eating lunch or what have you.  I haven't bought much yet, aside from Mr. Speegle's short story collection, and Life of Pi, which I've been wanting to read for awhile and which I got for a dollar as one of the "special offers."  But I've gone through half a dozen library books with more in the queue, plus have a bunch of classics and out-of-print goodies waiting in the wings. (First up, some lighter reading: lotsa PG Wodehouse and a smattering of Mary Roberts Rinehart mysteries.)

It doesn't replace real books by any means.  There are still an awful lot of things not available for Kindle, for one thing, and I'm still likely to drag home large stacks of cheap used books, which isn't an option for e-books.  Still, I'm seriously pleased with the little thing.

Anyhow, between reading and music, I've barely had time for things like, oh, bathing, let alone blogging.  What did I miss?  Are we there yet?


Bill M said...

Welcome back! Nice list of newly learned music. I like the mandolin, but never took time to even attempt to play one. Enjoy your Kindle. I have a Kindle on my wish list so I can read all the neat old books that are digitized without being tied to the PC. I look forward to hearing you on a mandolin audio post.

notagain said...

I love mandolin. I hope I get to hear you play some day.

Cameron said...

Great to hear from you again!

You've been wonderfully busy, with worthwhile pursuits.

You & I seem to live in parallel universes; a friend has just lent me an ancient rounded-back Neapolitan mandolin, and I am starting to learn how to play it this week.

And just last week, I finally downloaded the Kindle for Mac app and have started to read eBooks.

(cue Twilight Zone music...)

Please post a recording of yourself playing the mandolin -- would love to hear it!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you've been happily busy. The last of 2011 seemed to be a time to learn more music for many of us. Besides continuing with guitar, I started up with recorders, tin whistle (delightful, affordable and more versatile than expected), and bowed psaltery.

Beware of the e-reader. They are dangerous, like a siren call that lures you. My downfall is the free download of classic stories and other materials. I have the complete works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, several books by Smollett, translations of Greek and Roman philosophy, and much more. I would include Wodehouse and E.B. White if I didn't already have most of their books on the shelf. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Good to hear from you again.

Jeff The Bear

Little Flower Petals said...

I'll take a stab at recording something again one of these days. I just got a nifty little digital recorder that makes it very easy to record MP3s...though it does nothing for the way my hands turn into an odd combination of wooden blocks and jello whenever faced with a microphone. I hate that.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the typosphere has the makings of a really interesting band! We have guitarists of various stripes, at least one drummer, mandolin, tin whistle/recorder, a professional horn player, and...I lose track. More all the time!

@Jeff: yeah, I keep thinking of more and more out-of-print or classic books I'd like to read or re-read. I'm mostly sticking with fairly light reading for the time being, I think, until the novelty of this thing wears off and I'm not grabbing books left and right. Burroughs might be fun...also want to read and/or re-read some H. Rider Haggard. Maybe later I'll get brave and tackle Dostoevsky again. I've started The Brothers Karamazov a few times over the years, but haven't ever quite finished it.

Mike Speegle said...

Good to hear from ya! Yes, despite their soulless electronic nature, e-readers are handy as all get out.

Plus, where else can my dreck rub shoulders with the greats?

Oh, and of you were to release some mandolin music on the interwebs, I'm sure it would be well-received!