Saturday, January 12, 2008

Quote of the Week

Earlier this week, I stumbled across 41 Stories By O. Henry. Browsing through the titles, I discovered that I had read very few of them, which gives me a good deal to look forward to. (I've been a great fan of The Ransom of Red Chief from a tender age). I'm reading it in pieces. Sometimes I read a story, sometimes I just pass the time with a paragraph or two. Below is one of my favorite pieces so far, a bit from "Hostages to Momus":

"We was waked up in a yellow pine hotel by the noise of flowers and the smell of birds. Yes, sir, for the wind was banging sunflowers as big as buggy wheels against the weatherboarding and the chicken coop was right under the window."

Friday, January 4, 2008


The study of other people's studies is always entertaining. There are probably in this world, people who are not merely linguists, but who are experts on Old Irish verbs. There are probably other people (in fact, I know there are people, because I read it in a book a few months ago) who specialize in cranefly taxonomy (this is important, because there are more than 1,000 species of craneflies in North America, and somebody should be able to tell them apart). Today on the phone I met a man with a specialty that was startlingly delightful. He was an expert on bottle necks. I came away dazed with the realization that there was that much to know about bottle necks and that someone had taken the time to learn it all.
A few months ago, in an evening of deep study I myself discovered that an empty Redbridge Beer bottle produces a rather sharp F# if you blow across the top (Jacobite Ale, which comes in a fatter bottle, gives you a somewhat truer, but still slightly sharp, F#). The gentleman who called the shop this morning was also interested in the musical qualities of bottles, but from quite a different angle. He sells handmade slides for guitars; you can see them here:
Since I am in the music sales business and since I have heard the term "bottleneck guitar" applied to some types of blues, I should have presupposed the existence of such an expert as Glombecki. I did know (because, by weird and inexplicable coincidence I had to look it up just yesterday for a customer) that different players will wear their slides on different fingers; I also have been alive on this earth long enough to notice that different people have different sizes of fingers. Still, I was amazed (amazed is really too mild a word, but my brain is tired, probably from being so amazed, and I can't think of a more amazing synonym) at the expertise it takes to fit the perfect slide. Glombecki knows which brand of liquor comes in a bottle with a neck to so many sixteenths of an inch, so that if he gets a request for a custom-made piece, he can accomodate it. The story that really floored me was about a blues guitarist who called him with a request for a slide made of some extinct sort of tequila bottle--and Glombecki knew right off that it was extinct. He can dremel out the inside of a neck to make it larger, of course, but he has to keep his eyes open for bottles which might accomodate slender fingers.
Now I must admit I know more about slides than I know about how they are used, but I suppose if I sit by the phone long enough , I just may learn that too.

Happy New Year

It seems like an appropriate time to wish everyone Happy 2008. . .and likewise, since the 12th Day of Christmas hasn't come around quite yet--Merry Christmas!