Gone Fishin’

It was a pretty awesome Texas day on Thursday. Highs were in the 80’s with some fast-moving clouds overhead.  So, Little NH and I headed to Wal-Mart to pick up her very first fishing pole.  She passed on the Disney Princess pole and went for the Dora the Explorer model instead.  Not a move I would have predicted but such is life as a father of two girls.

After the trip to Wal-Mart, we met Mrs. NH and NH2 for a tasty outdoor lunch at Los Cucos.  I had a margarita and enjoyed the sunny day with my girls.  Little NH2 had plenty of shade and slept through the whole meal, seemingly smug from having gained 4 oz over the last 48 hours.

After that, we all came home and took a nap as a Texas rainstorm blew in and scattered as quickly as it came.  When little NH awoke, we tied on the Dora practice plug and threw a few casts in the backyard.  With the concept firmly down, we hit the lake in the subdivision where we’re staying.  The whole family.  Yep, little breastfeeding baby and all.

Little NH is generally a lucky kid.  On her first time playing the arcade “claw” game with me she won a stuffed dinosaur.  On her first trip fishing, her luck was mixed.  She caught something on her 3rd cast.  Unfortunately, it was a turtle.  Lucky for her dad, he slipped off the hook about a foot from the dock.  Little NH was momentarily crestfallen and I was relieved.  After that expedition, we made the requisite excited calls to the grandparents and went to sleep dreaming of more fish to come.

On day two, Friday, we stacked the deck in our favor of packing a wheat bagel as bait as well as the can of corn we had used the day before.

I mentioned that Little NH is lucky a couple paragraphs above, right?  Well get a load of these numbers: 5 casts, 3 hooks, 2 weights, one bagel, one snapping turtle, one 3″ crappie and one 16″ largemouth bass.

It was an exciting 45 minutes before the sun went down, I’ll tell you.  You should have seen the way the Dora rod bowed in two as we hauled in the fat ‘ol bass.  The folks canoeing on the lake and sitting outside their houses shared in our elation by saying, “Wow, that’s a big fish!”  “It’s only the second one she’s ever caught,” I yelled back.

Much like catching the big dinosaur with the claw on her first try, this experience is going to be tough to top.  That said, I think we both look forward to a lifetime of trying.

NotHemingway Is In The Studio

I love it when I read that some of my favorite bands are in the studio.  It always brings up all sorts of high hopes for new albums that I will play over and over for weeks on end.  So, I’m jumping on this hype machine by telling you all that I’m “in the studio” working on my next Spit or Litter album.  You don’t care?  That’s fine.  I do this just to please myself.

I bought some new recording software after dumping Cakewalk’s Music Creator.  After some searching around on the Internet, I bought Acoustica’s Mixcraft.  All I can say is, home recording software has come a long way since I last dabbled in music making a few years back.  Mixcraft is a slick, feature packed, bug-free package that is really easy to use.  It’s also full of really cool effects from amps to drum machines and synths.  Little NH is a real fan of the combination of the vocorder and delay effects.  You haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” sung in a metallic robot voice by a 3-year-old.  It’s awesome.  She thinks so, too.

I’ve also brought along some newly purchased guitar effects and surprises for this outing.  I hope to give this project a little bit more attention on the lower end as well with my newly constructed bass.  Of course, I can hardly play most of the instruments I own.  That’s why my sound is always “innovative.”

I have no songs written and I have to tear my “studio” down every night before I go to bed so, speculating on a release date would be a bit premature.  I don’t even know what vein it will be in.  However, Mrs. NH, Little NH and her “Gigi” are planning a two week trip in September so I’m hoping for some really productive recording time then.

But we musicians are a fickle bunch so anything could happen.  Stay tuned.

Building a Bass Guitar – Part 3 (A Bass is Born)

I’m afraid the bass building project was not documented from start to finish like I had planned.  A combination of things that kept me from doing it that way.  I’m still coughing like a walrus, and when it came time to assemble the bass, the girls were out of the house with the camera.  So, all you get is a lovely photo of the finished product.

As for the bass guitar itself, it turned out better than I could have possibly imagined.  I had originally planned on having a shinier finish, but the conditions under which I was working and a bit of impatience made that impossible.  I had no time to sit and sand the guitar 20 times with 1000 grit sandpaper.  Also, I knew it would be next to impossible to figure out which polish to buy in the Czech hardware store to give it the proper shine.  So, I left it with a slightly duller but still attractive matte finish.  I actually really like the way the color turned out.  Attractive but in a workmanlike way – the way a bass should be.

With the chore of the painting completed, I only had to assemble the bass and string it up.  Altogether, assembly and stringing took a little over two hours and was fairly intuitive, although some important parts were missing from the instructions.  When it came to putting on the pickups, there was no mention of floating them on the included springs.  I knew just enough about guitars to go and check the Internet for some pickup installation guides.  I’m glad I did.  The pickups are now installed nicely and can be adjusted down or up easily.

To me, the finished product sounds incredible.  Granted, this is only second time I’ve held an electric bass in my hands, but it sounds just like I thought it would.  Within the first hour following the setup, I cranked up the stereo and learned the riff to U2’s “With or Without You.”  A few hours later, I tackled the iconic riff to the Police’s “Walking on the Moon.”  Boom.  Childhood dreams fulfilled.

I bought my first guitar right after September 11th.  It was in the wake of that turmoil that I decided I should definitely do everything I’ve wanted to do in life.  I’m not sure why I didn’t buy a bass then.  I’ve always been more fascinated with it than the guitar when it comes to music.  But I’m happy to say, the wait was worth it.  Making my own bass from start to finish made it all the more satisfying.  This baby is all mine.  I know all of her faults but love her just the same.

Building a Bass Guitar – Part 2 (Painting Body and Neck)

I’ve been waking up early and painting by moonlight to get this guitar properly finished.  The body coat is proving to be a real bear.  Little cans of green spray paint (I’ve gone through four) don’t cover like an air brush.  It’s kind of an awkward undertaking in the confines of my balcony as well.  There are newspapers spread all over the place, the guitar is hanging off the back of a porch chair to dry, and I’m usually in a 3M mask (originally purchased for a bird flu outbreak) tending to it all.  Yeah, it’d be enough to scare the neighbors if they looked over the wall.  I think Mrs. NH is questioning my sanity.

I’m headed to Kyiv this week so expect a break in bass progress reports.  I’m looking forward to visiting some favorite restaurant haunts.

I Bought A Bass Guitar

Yep, I did.  But it’s in pieces.  Some would call it a kit.  I call it my spring project.  It’s modeled after a Fender Precision Bass.  It’s all cut out.  It just needs to be painted and assembled.  Little NH totally egged me on last night and now I’m wondering what they call “metallic green” and “clear coat” in Czech hardware stores.  It’ll be here in a couple weeks.  Between now and then I’ll be thinking of cool basslines that I’ll probably never learn to play.  But hey, at least I kept my promise.  The picture isn’t brown.