About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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Being in the dictionary is not a badge of honor. People aren't limited to words I've managed to capture and pin down. A dog doesn't have to be registered with the American Kennel Association to be a dog. It still fetches your slippers; it just isn't pedigreed.

Erin McKean, American lexicographer



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 12/8/2017

Totals
Posts - 2465
Comments - 2567
Hits - 2,005,851

Averages
Entries/day - 0.47
Comments/entry - 1.04
Hits/day - 380

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 1:52 AM Pacific


  11:17 AM

As occasionally mentioned here, in my copious spare time I've been plunking away at (haha) learning to play guitar. Slow going, that, but I've sorted out that you press with the left hand and strum with the right, stuff like that.

So as to have some structure for the whole bidness, I am, uh, matriculated at a guitar school, where of late I've been in a class. The place offers ensemble classes in many manners of playing -- blues ensemble, classic rock ensemble, jazz, like that. I've been doing an "acoustic rock" ensemble, which might as well be called "old guys strum songs of their youth." No kidding -- we were joking that they should have a sign that says "You must be this old to take this class."

Aside from needing to get past the image of old guys rockin' out, which was my problem, not theirs, I've had a blast. The guys who run the school are all great guitarists and fun guys. (In fact, we had a couple of them play at the wedding.) The acoustic-rock class has been fun as well. At the beginning of the class the instructor presented a list of about 50 songs that were suitable for our level(s), and while I was off larking about in Hawaii, the class settled on an Eagles tune, a James Taylor song, and -- what else -- a Beatles song. As backup we had Clapton's unplugged version of "Layla," which was held out as a kind of "if we nail the first three" sort of option. (We didn't.) So you get the idea, basically.

Last week all the classes had their quarterly performance, which Sarah kept calling my "recital." Having attended many a student performance in my day, I know this drill, and "recital" is not entirely inappropriate.

This was the first public performance for most of us, and for the guys who were singing, the first time they'd sung in public. I wasn't too sure what to expect ... I mean, I knew that we were, you know, a class. But we played, and it seemed to sound ok from where I was sitting, and more importantly, the crowd of friends and relations applauded enthusiastically after each number. Why I would not have anticipated this, I don't know; like I say, I've been to more recitals and school concerts than I can count, and that's always the way it is.

After us came the blues ensemble, which was sort of like us -- mostly first-time performers, at about our level of being enthusiastic amateurs -- and they had a blast. No, um, James Taylor for them, nossir. Then the classic rock ensemble, which was a funny mix of kids -- teens and in one case, a kid who was well below 10 years old -- and a couple of older guys. 14-year-olds playing Santana and The Kinks and Hendrix, an interesting juxtaposition, but that's what they mean, I guess, when they say "classic rock."[1] At the end, the comparatively small jazz ensemble, not surprisingly, because Jazz Is Hard. One of the guys in that ensemble also played an arrangement of a dance from The Nutcracker on classical guitar, very nice.

Anyway, all in all, it was an entertaining evening. Sarah attended, although she spared her kids the, um, pleasure of the performance. Colleague Steven and ex-Colleage Minh were there as well to show support for us beginners, which was most welcome. In fact, Minh took some pictures ... here's one:



And Steve manned my little Zoom recorder, so I can relive every moment of our performance. If you dare, you can have a listen to a clip:

Best of My Love (clip, 1MB, 1:06)

I re-upped, as they say in the Army, so I'm in for another 10 weeks of Old Guy Rock. Sarah has made a special request for the class: "No more James Taylor, ok?" For the sake of not driving the family out of the house while I practice, I've promised to pass on her suggestion.


[1] Is the game Guitar Hero spawning a generation of guitarists? (Thanks to Jeff Atwood for that interesting thought and link.)

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