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Two of my guitars are Gibson Les Pauls.

These guitars are iconic, they sound and play amazing and they serve a perfect coutnerpoint to a Stratocaster (my other electric guitar). They do tend to have one minor flaw, however, that proves to be an increasingly powerful headache for anyone who owns and loves one. This is that either the nut or the tuning pegs is typically flawed in some way that makes the guitar hard to keep in tune perfectly. If you strum some chords and play some jazz runs, you're fine. If you do big, Pink Floyd string bends and riff out like a stoner-rock guitarist, like I do, you're going to be having to re-tune several times in a song.

Reddit told me that using the graphite from a mechanical pencil to lubricate the nut (kinky, right?) might put an end to this. It did. I am thrilled. Otherwise I might have had to spend $150 for new tuning pegs, a graphite nut and the fee to install them. I am glad I could fix this problem for a meager $1.25 bag of mechanical pencils. I might have to re-do it every few weeks but, until I can make those expensive alterations to my axe, I am content with it.

Reddit is sometimes useful.
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So, I accomplished fuck-all on my vacation.

I mean, I did STUFF. I went to two jam sessions, one of which had over eight musicians in it and still managed to sound good, I watched movies and all of Black Books (hilarious) and a season of the X-files (which I never got to properly see), I read, I went to a party and spent time with friends and I drank what seems to me to be all the booze.

I just didn't get anything really accomplished. Maybe that's for the best. For the first two days of my vacation I was just plain exhausted. Slept too much, ate too much, vegged out. I still managed to practice and to write some poetry and basic prose exercises but the prospect of doing anything else was laughable at best.

Drunk me is like me but farther away. I have to reach just a bit to get to the me inside. The world seems to be muted and pushed back. I am warmly happy with odd pangs of melancholy contemplation. Those pangs hurt me like shards of glass shoved right in my heart for how sudden they are.

I'm at a Halloween party. I'm laughing and having an utterly grand time. Someone made some buffalo chicken dip that would be barely a cause for a raised eyebrow if I was sober but, drunk, it is the most delightful food ever. I'm in the midst of laughing when I turn and see a couple sitting on the couch. Molly and Jordan, I think their names are, are sitting right next to each other and it's obvious that they've never been farther apart.

He looks away from her, far drunker than she is, and her face is screwed up in a look of frustration and emotional hurt. Maybe he drank more than he said he would. Maybe he lied to her. Maybe she is just too damn much for him and he spoke his mind, told the jagged truth. Seeing this makes me sad. It makes me want to go over there and--- what? Do something? I don't rightly know. Drinking is strange, don't you find?

One thing about it that profoundly annoys me is people who think that because they can drink more than other people, they're better, somehow. I mean, this is coming from someone who is freely admitting he's a lightweight but boasting that you can poison yourself longer than me before you call it quits and get sick for hours just doesn't impress me. I'm happy being a cheap date, thanks.

OH! My father gave me a new guitar. He'd owned it for a while and never played it. It's a Gibson Les Paul Jr. He just waltzed up to me, plopped a guitar case down and said I could get more use out of it than he does, obviously. It looks like this:

It's not my usual style. It's very vintage and the single p-90 pickup in the bridge is a blues/country machine. Not to say I dislike either of those styles. I'm one of those musicians who actually means it when he says he listens to some of everything. From Metal to Country to Folk music to classical to Blues, I love it all. I'm going to make good use of this new addition to my guitar family. I've already managed to tune out some meanness on it that I kind of like. It's great for playing slide, at which I'm still a novice.

In other news, my to-read stack of now 23 books is in a constant battle with all the books I want to buy but don't have. If I buy them, do I read them now and ignore the stack or do I put them in the back of the rotation and do as I promised I would? Tough fucking choices, man. Let me tell you.

In the event that anybody cares, my other guitars look like this:

Neat, huh? Forgive the pictures harvested directly from Google images. I'm too lazy to actually take them out and line them up right now. I will if anybody out there actually wants me to, though.
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Autumn has begun in my city.

I can feel the familiar chill in the air, the change in seasonal energy bringing Summer's blazing green to fade into Autumn's complexities of Reds and Oranges. People have spoken on the glory of this seasonal change and, indeed, the wonders of Autumn so often that I won't bore you with the details just yet. What I will describe a bit is how it is for a person who works third shift.

The days get shorter. For me, someone who sees more night-time than day-time, this is more obvious than I thought it would be. This is my first Autumn season working nights. It's already turned out to be stranger than I thought. Being as the nights are longer and I wake up at somewhere around four pm each day, I am seeing far less daylight than I otherwise would have. It's more jarring on me than I thought it would be. It also makes me remember that, come winter when it gets dark here around five in the afternoon, I might feel as though I am A BEING OF PERPETUAL DARKNESS.

Possibly I'll get depressed. I'm really not sure. I'm kind of anxious about that possibility. I've never tried such a thing before. It'd be damned unfortunate because I've never in my life suffered from the kind of winter depression so many of my friends get. I've always watched them and felt bad but secretly a bit lucky that I love the two colder months so much.

I'll freely admit that part of it came from the fact that I am short, stocky (for a time in my early teens overweight) and until recently the possessor of VERY long hair. It was like I'd grown my own hat. I viewed the seasonal change as a blessing because it meant I could wear more layers and feel more comfortable about myself. I always felt like it was a better time of year for me. In the warmer months I'd sweat a lot, being as I've always been too stubborn to not wear all black in the summer, and I'd mostly shun the outdoors.

Tonight I spent time with some of my musician friends. I gave my friend Quentin an old guitar I had owned but hadn't played in over six months. It was one of my earlier guitars, a mexican-made Fender Stratocaster for you guitar enthusiasts out there, and I have since moved on to guitars I like better. The thing of it is, I hate to see an instrument go unplayed. The things are built to be loved, played, beaten up, taken on tour, hauled to gigs and the like. d

The thing about Quentin that I respect in terms of his musicality is that he makes a lot of good stuff with honestly shit equipment. He's self-taught but not in the way I'm self taught. I taught myself more theory and technique than he did. It seems to me sometimes like he just taught himself to punch a guitar and music eventually came out that matched that which was playing in his head. He's no lead guitarist, rather a rhythm guy who writes hooks and sings (or belts if you like) out lyrics he also writes. He's a frontman and a damn good one.

My guitar was unsellable because it has some dings and scratches that nobody wants to pay for. I figured Quentin could use it. His normal guitar is pretty much a piece of driftwood on a good day and, when it's not working (which is often) he borrows his bassist's les paul. It is now the most high quality instrument he owns. It felt good to help him out. He'll give the guitar a good home. I'm sure of it.

I am often jealous of people like him because they never fell into a musical trap I did. When I began playing seriously a few years ago I got gear-happy. I spent way too much money on things I didn't need or only used once or twice. People like him never had the money to just throw around. They had to make due with what little they had and, normally, that makes you better and more creative. I still feel like an idiot for getting stuck for longer than I'm comfortable admitting worrying over having the right bit of gear before just rushing headlong into music. I am doing it now and I occasionally worry that it's me coming to the game a bit late.

I say this knowing that 24, my current age, is by no means "old" in the current musical climate. It's changed so much that people in their thirties, forties and even fifties are suddenly making careers out of it. Hell, some of Abney park's members are in their thirties and have been since I first discovered them in the debut issue of Steampunk Magazine some... six years ago now.

I probably worry too much at that sort of thing. It's easy to tell yourself to get off your ass and start seriously beating your head against the goal and another thing to drag yourself to doing it day-in, day-out. I sat in Quentin's living room talking with him and his band He's five years my senior and has been at this band stuff for maybe two or three years. I'm leaning more towards two but I'm not sure. I've been trying to get a band to stick together for about two years with no luck. It's all a matter of timing and finding the right people.

I've always viewed the creative process, with writing and music composition, as something akin to fighting. I picture that there's some ogre of a man, seven feet tall, muscular and veiny, mouth-breathing in some psychotic rage looking down at me. I have to kill him to get to what's behind him which is anything from 1,000 words of good fiction, two minutes of decent music or a lifetime of success and joy. Each time I manage this, he will regenerate. Sometimes he's bigger, sometimes he's smarter and knows what to tell me to deflate me, sometimes he's got weapons and sometimes he's just plain meaner than he was before.

I'll be fighting him my whole life, I think. He'll kill me one day. As long as I don't give up, though, he can't win.


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January 2013

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