All posts by HH

Ukulele Ace T-Shirts

Important Notice!

I started this post way back in May, but stuff happens, y’know? So just ignore the bits that mention dates, like for instance, the next paragraph, and it’ll all be good.

I’ve been mentioning (ok… teasing about) this for a month or so on Twitter. But, due to circumstances I’m going to explain here, I can’t just have folks sending money to my PayPal. This is because these shirts are the first and may be the last of them. (More on that subject later in this post.) I have less than 2 dozen of them left and I don’t want to be issuing refunds because PayPal will have already taken their percentage and I’ll end up losing money on the deal.

(I don’t mind only making a small amount after all is said and done—initial outlay for the printing, packaging, postage, etc.—but losing money kinda defeats the purpose of having them made in the first place.) :-)

They’ve been in cardboard boxes a while. They’ll be ironed prior to shipping!

The Circumstances

I designed them back in 2016 and had the first small batch ran off. These were done by hand, on high quality (Port & Company, 100% cotton) tees, not thin, flimsy, machine printed ones like you get from CafePress and other sites of that ilk, but by friends of mine (Sarah and Steve Angell of Primal Screens) who worked at the Pike Place Market. They cut me a hella good deal, just because they’re nice like that. I was, and still am, trying to keep the cost as low as possible on these. (c.f. the Restrictions section, later in this post.)

Now I’m a couple thousand miles away from Seattle and unable (cuz pandemic, a less busker friendly city, etc.) to earn any money.

I came up with a whole strategy for releasing them, starting with trying to find one of my co-ukulele phreaks of the female pursuasion to model them for ads just like this one. There was some difficulty in scheduling and time was ticking. By the time I started thinking about other ways to do the pic much time had passed. Then came the “stuff” I mentioned in my Important Notice at the top of this post. A whole bloody series of stuff. Jeez!

The Restrictions

  • You must be a resident of the USA. Postage is extreme outside those areas and would bring the cost up to more than I’d be comfortable charging. Even sending it to our Canadian friends would force me to nearly double the price, never mind Asia or Europe, etc. My apologies to all of the wonderful Ukulele Aces outside of the US.
  • You have to realize that this is a limited edition, in that I’m not sure I can find such a quality source for them here in Kalamazoo. And I simply won’t charge the same price for lower quality products. More on this subject later in the post.
  • This is why I’ve come up with The Process.

The Process

Step 1: If you’re interested in one of these, send me an email with your desired size. At the time of this update (September 25, 2021) I have 2 in 2X, 5 in XL, 4 in L, 5 in M, and 4 in S. These are the “Adult Male” sizings and style. (See the photo.) Adjust your size preference accordingly if you’re a female Ukulele Ace.

I’ll be contacting folks in the order that I receive the initial email from them.

Step 2: If I have your size in stock I’ll send you an email to that effect. You’ll have 24 hours to send me the payment.

If I don’t receive the payment in that time I’m going to assume you changed your mind (which is perfectly ok, no hard feelings!) and move along to the next email on the list that wants that size.

Step 3: Within 24 hours of your payment hitting my PayPal account I’ll have it packaged up and mailed out to you. If it happens to arrive on a day the Post Office is closed, I’ll let you know that as well, so that there’s no misunderstandings. Communication is key!

The Price

Gad! Had to edit after posting because I forgot to put this in.

I’m selling these for $35. That includes shipping and handling.

Miscellaneous Info

Regarding further availability: If I get enough response that the size(s) y’all want are already sold out, I’ll look into the possibility of having the Angell’s ship me the original screen (assuming it’s still extant), and finding a local screen printer who can do the same quality job on them.

In that case, I’ll send you an email asking if you’d like to be notified if I can put such a deal together.

Agreeing to that will not put you on any other email list. I only send emails to those who opt in, or whom I’ve already established a relationship with, not just anyone whose email I happen to have. I’m funny that way.

Regarding updates to this post: I’ll try to keep the “sizes available” info updated here so that you won’t waste your time emailing me (unless you’d like to be put on the aforementioned mailing list).

Lastly: In the immortal words of Henry Ford, “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.”

Let the hip kids know what an ace you are! And feel free to email me with any questions.

All About My First Guitar

Back in the mid-70s I took it into my head that I wanted to learn how to play guitar. I can’t for the life of me remember exactly why, but there was a great chance that my about to turn 15 year old brain was thinking… “How to attract the female sorts!”

Yeah, I wasn’t alone in that then or now. Watch a lot of “history of this or that band” programs and you’ll hear many guitarists agreeing with my motivation.

So I asked my mom if I could have one for… Christmas I think, or maybe my birthday, and she went off on a classic mom rant. “Oh sure! It’ll be like your clarinet and you’ll never practice.” etc. etc.

Mind you, she conveniently forgot that she’d forced me to take clarinet in the grade school band class, when I really wanted to play drums. Being a temperamental new teen I huffed, “Fine! I’ll get one myself!”

Cue the fresh mom rant about how I couldn’t keep a part time teener job long enough to afford such a thing. Blah, blah, blah. I stormed into my room in an even greater huff, with a side of raised dander. Why? Because that’s where my comic books were!

You, gentle reader, may be thinking “Pray what, Mr. Hobbit, do comic books have to do with getting a guitar?”

Gosh I’m glad you asked! I don’t know much about today’s comics, but in them days the the back covers often had splashy ads for a couple companies that did the same thing. I only recall one of the company names and I’m not sure it’s the one I went with, but to give you an idea of what they were about the name I do recall is Junior Sales Club of America.

Both of them sent you a starter sample pack and you went door-to-door selling general greeting and/or Christmas cards. For your efforts you could either keep a percentage of the cash or choose prizes from their catalog. And right there in all their glossy comic book cover glory were pictures of a selection from said catalog. Need I mention that one of those glorious prizes was an acoustic guitar, and it came with a really cheapo nylon carry bag? It was love at first sight.

I ordered the kit and, unlike nowadays, the Post Office had it to me post haste. I started going out every weekday evening and most of the weekend days, either flogging them or hand delivering them to the customers. (No drop shipping for these folk. They all came to me.) Thank goodness for my bicycle. I covered a hell of a lot of area in my quest.

And, much to mom’s astonishment, in a little under 2 months my guitar arrived. And what a guitar it was. It was what you might call “Parlor Guitar” sized. It’s action was absolutely execrable and I had no idea that it was even possible to make it any better. (Though it might actually not have been possible with this little gem.) The finish on the extremely cheap plywood top was so rough you could run your fingernail across the grain and it would make a sound reminiscent of running a stick along a picket fence. The tuning gears made it a struggle to get it anywhere near well tuned, but I persevered.

(Bear in mind there was no such things as clever little clip-on tuners to help you with this task back then, and my ear tuning—with a tuning fork I actually convinced her to buy me—wasn’t so grand because, not to put too fine a point on it, I had a completely tin ear.)

This was a terrible disappointment to mom, as she had a terrific sense of pitch and had actually taught herself how to play the piano at a very young age. Maybe I should share that little story here at a later date.

Anyways, she’d sing a note at me and want me to sing it back to her. I could never even get in the right neighborhood, and was sometimes in an entirely different town.

In any event, I got a book of chords and some sheet music with the guitar chords on them and set to work. There was some bleeding involved before I started developing the necessary callouses.

And then—cue angelic choirs—I was watching the local PBS station and found Tracy Newman teaching folk guitar. I used to take the school bus and it would deliver me several blocks from home, from whence I ran the rest of the way because Tracy was on shortly after school let out. You can find some of her stuff on the YouTubes. She also taught banjo but I only found out about that recently.

I’d madly dash into my room, kick my little brother out, and close the door for a half hour of learning how to do this thing. Plus I fell madly in love with her.

Near as I can tell, as of about 8 months ago, she was still alive, kicking, and even touring occasionally. You go, girlfriend!

I’ll end up here with a few updates.

First, my actual dedication to learning the thing impressed mom sufficiently that the following Christmas she bought me a genuine Sears dreadnought guitar, complete with one of those extremely cheapo cardboard “hard shell” cases. Nowadays I’d consider it at best OK, but back then it was such an improvement I was completely delighted. I played it for a number of years before moving along to something a bit better. Though damned if I can remember what it was now, nearly 50 years later.

Second, while I’m still not someone you’d want to hire for your opera company, I can mostly carry a tune without having it gift wrapped.

Third, I play a number of instruments now, to one degree of skill or another, but the guitar comes in second only to harmonica (which I’ve been playing for nearly 60 years). Perhaps I’ll relate that story here at some point.

While this post is hardly great literature, I hope you found in at least mildly amusing. Please consider dropping a tip into my Ko-fi tip bucket (the link is on my homepage) if you’d like to help support me in my various artistic endeavors.

Whether or not you can do that, please leave a comment here. I’m much more interested in relating with folks than I am with just shouting into the void.

Last, but certainly not least, thanks for reading this!

The first product of two I’m offering

This is the first, and the second one will be a limited edition. Ain’t that posh?

As you may well have noticed, musicians have been deemed “non-essential” by the powers that be.

(And don’t get me started on that one. The old saw about “never waste a good crisis” is still being practiced by the aforementioned “powers that be.”)

Personally, I believe that music and other artistic endevours are essential. Of course, I might just be biased on this view.

Meanwhile, I’m unable to earn any money. After a while one becomes weary of depending on one’s significant other to support all of one’s expenses. And, no doubt, they grow a bit weary themselves.

Luckily for me I have a former and now current ukulele student who is a “patron of the arts” (not related to Patreon.com) who has paid me (very well, thank you) for lessons in a video and document format. He has kindly agreed that I can sell them on for a lesser price, to help me survive the current crisis.

So, I am currently offering the “Two Fingered Mack” lesson for a mere $15 (or more, if you’re feeling like being a patron of the arts yourself). This is an arrangement of Mack The Knife that I was inspired to create by Sting’s version of the song, which featured a more accurate translation from the German than Bobby Darin’s watered down version, and didn’t have all the ridiculous key changes between each verse, causing you to memorize a whole bunch of chord progressions for just one song. Not to mention being able to sing in all those keys.

You can pay for this two ways. If you have a PayPal account you can use paypal.me/howlinhobbit

If you’re not a PayPal member, you can use this link (and remember, you might need to reset the default amount): https://ko-fi.com/howlinhobbit

Please realize, I’ve not been able to figure out a way to automagically send the file when you pay. I’m living in the United States Eastern Time Zone. The minute I discover the payment, I’ll send you a link to the file.

Lastly, this is a large zip file, containing two separate videos and two documents. It’s about 1/2 a megabyte. It will take a bit to download and you need to download it to a computer/device that has room for that size of a file.

It’s May And My 5th Video This Year

May’s video is Peanut Envy’s take of the Jimmy Cox tune, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out. This jazzy blues was written in 1923 and made its way into the “Great American Songbook” during the depression. I thought the current situation may well echo that era and, since was just released into the public domain this year, I decided to add it to the video selection as well as putting it into regular rotation on my live set list.

It tells the story of a fella who was doing just fine during Prohibition, but fell on hard times along with nearly everyone else as the Great Depression settled in.

Since I’m one of the surviving members of the Bongwater Horns, the solo for this is taken on the kazoo. This is exactly how we do it when Peanut Envy is busking.

This was actually recorded in the same session as March’s video, so the usual disclaimers re: video editing learning curve apply here.

(But I am learning. Slowly.)

Enough chatter! On to the video itself…

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out

Leave a comment if you’d like, but remember that Sharing Is Caring.

April’s new video (and barely under the wire!)

This is the second of the two “short story songs” I wrote late last year. You can check out the other one here if you haven’t already. It makes 4 months in a row that I’ve put up a new vid. (Though I’m definitely just barely squeaking this one in on time!)

(However, I do still have one “in the can” for next month.)

As usual, I’m experimenting with what I can do with LumaFusion. Still don’t have the color grading and such down very well, so the two cameras don’t exactly match. I suspect that better lighting will fix some of that.

I did learn that I could–after jumping through some hoops–use my 10-year old Canon Vixia cameras with LF on the iPad. That’s good because they were bloody expensive when I bought them new and I hate to have them simply hanging around collecting dust.

(Come to think on it, I had to jump through some hoops back when I was using an old version of iMovie on an elderly Mac desktop.)

The next test I do will be adding in my Zoom H2 to up the audio quality. Plus, if I want to, I can throw my phone camera into the mix and do a three camera shoot. That ought to keep me confused.

So with no further ado I present…

Hemoglobin Overload

If you like it, please share it! Sharing is caring.