Where have you gone?!

Yeah, I get it. I understand that I pretty much dropped off of the face of the earth. But, it's only because I've been doing important work. That's right, I've been making a difference, y'all.

I've been playing VIDEO GAMES!

No be fair, I've also been crazy busy with work, my old heavy new wave band (VOLUMEN) had a reunion show at the last Total Fest, here in Missoula and I still occasionally play ukulele with Jerry in our novelty act.

But, fret not, ukulele-loving folk, because Jerry and I have been making recording our Tuesday video game sessions and the results are (sometimes) hilarious. Also, each week we switch instruments to play the theme song, so there is still some ukulele up in this piece.

Here, check out the outtakes for this week's episode and you'll see me playing my Kala Pocket Ukulele while Jerry pretends to play bass.

If that tickles your fancy, you should watch the full episode. Or, if 17 minutes is too big of a commitment (believe me, you won't regret it), then check out this 7 minute episode featuring Chicken Lady!

The premise of "Who's Better?" (that's the name of the series, by the way) is that we challenge each other (and occasionally a guest star) to a video game battle. The winner gets bragging rights for the week. I designed the contest because I figured it would just legitimize all of the Jerry-bashing I already do. But... so far it hasn't been going my way.

Ok, well, I hope you join us. I promise to keep putting ukuleles up in there.

Time to hurt some feelings – Portland Man by Ukulele Guy

I'd like to consider myself as a fairly nice guy.  I mean, I'm not a totally sociopath at least.  I honestly want other people to be happy and whatnot.  But, all that said, I can definitely tell you that as I age (poorly) I find that I have less and less tolerance for douchebaggery.  Odd... for some reason my spellcheck is telling me that douchebaggery isn't a word.  Clearly this thing is faulty.

Anyway, despite all of my best intentions.  I often find myself writing "mean" songs.  Some of the oldest Volumen songs (and nearly all the PWT songs) are mean to some person or other.  I guess I just can't help being an asshole.  But, on the opposite side of it.  It never hurts to take yourself less seriously, right?  I mean, I'm more than willing to have it thrown right back in my face.

So, why all the setup?  Well, being a "weirdo" into "weird music" I have lots of "weird" friends (surprisingly enough).  Well, I love all of those weirdos and the weirdos that they introduce me into in other town. But, in my journeys and tours (especially in Seattle and Portland) I've noticed a particular kind of (slightly disingenuous) weirdo.  So, I attempted to document this character in song.  I probably should have written another verse or two, but you know how I roll.  I'd rather just blast a song out and then never look back.  So, let's blast away, shall we?

If you feel like playing along.  Here's the tabs.  NOTE:  In my head the parentheses are a call and response type of thing.  So, I'm hoping my brother will sing those parts for me if we manage to play this live ever.


Portland Man by Ukulele Guy

He got tight pants (high waters)
white belt (doesn't matter)
He got a squiggly design on his v-neck shirt
C                         D7
5 o'clock shadow and his feelings are hurt

He's got principles (I believe him)
He heard about your favorite band before you did
C D7
you read it in mojo (he already knew it)

twirly C             A
He's a..... Portland man
twirly C   F G
Portland man
He's a..... Portland man

twirly C D7
He's got lady friends (ad infinitim)
longboards (oh, he'll ride 'em)
he knows a little place that has the best soy latte
C                          D7
he's got perfect hair, and glitter on his body

He rocks facial hair (with irony)
he digs mp3 piracy
his cigarette brand? (american spirits)
you like his messenger bag? don't get near it


He's a...
C                                  E7
adorable hipster, but he's gaining weight
F                           G
because that pabst blue ribbon tastes so great

Video: Brian Eno’s Needles in the Camel’s Eye on 6-string Uke

So, I was so freaking excited after getting my new Oscar Schmidt OU-26T Tenor 6-String ukulele that I was pretty much making up reasons for putting it in a video.  Case in point, last Friday night I went to a get-together at my brother's house.  Beers and ribs were enjoyed by all and then I made my way on home with no definite plans.  Hrm.  What to do?  How bouts a hop on my old friend and enemy, Facebook.  Next thing I knew, it was 4:30am.  You see, here's the thing.  Colin, my brother, does this thing on Facebook that he calls CTV.  Basically, he drinks beer and posts Youtube videos and pretends that a) he's a DJ (which, in reality, he is) and b) that we are listening (well, sometimes we are).  Well, on Friday me posted something like "CTV is about to start!".  So, I thought it would be hilarious if I suddenly "invented" something called STV and if I pretended that I didn't know what CTV was.  Thus began a mighty Youtube DJ Battle on Facebook and my sobriety was the main casualty.

So, anyway, during the back and forth video attacks between CTV and STV, Colin's CTV posted this video.


Wherein I responded and said that I liked that song when it was called Needles in the Camel's Eye.


I considered that my checkmate.

So, why am I going on and on about this?  Hmm... good question.  Oh yeah, I remember.  You see when I picked up my new 6-string ukulele and heard those octave A strings (slightly out of tune) it popped Needles in the Camel's Eye right into my brain.  That's all the excuse I needed to make a uke video for it.  And, here it is.

This song is real easy to learn, it only has 4 chords.  Here's a quick tab for it.

Needles in the Camel's Eye - Brian Eno

E         A
Those who know
E                 A
They don't let it show
E                  B
They just give you one long life
D          A
And you go, oh oh, oh oh

Goes to show
How winds blow
The weather's fine
And I feel so so-so, so

Birds of prey
With too much to say
Oh what could be my destiny
Another rainy day

Why ask why?
For by the by and by
All mysteries are just more
Needles in the camel's eye

Those who know
They don't let it show
They just give you one long life
And you go, oh oh, oh oh

Why ask why?
For by the by and by
All mysteries are just more
Needles in the camel's eye

Oodles of Mahalo Ukuleles (Ya know, for kids!)

So, I'm not sure my office has ever looked this fun before.  Dig it:

Mahalo Ukuleles for Kids
Mahalo Ukuleles for Kids

Did I really buy 8 Mahalo Ukuleles?  Yup.

Did I get a discount?  Nope.

Are all of these Ukuleles for me?  Sadly, nope.

I'm teaching a ukulele class for the kid's of our local Flagship program.  I asked them how many ukuleles they had and I think they only have like 2-3 to work with but there are going to be like 13 kids or something?  So, scrounging together my own ukuleles, I realized that I needed to buy some more.

That's what led me to 8 shiny new Mahalo ukuleles on my office floor.  I'm going to be donating these to the flagship program in the hopes that they can use them over and over again.  And, I'm going to have to admit, I'm going to be sad to see these little babies go.  They've been making me smile all dang day.

My plan for the kids is to show them a few chords and talk about having fun with music and then teach them Big Rock Candy Mountain and/or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, by the Flaming Lips.  Hopefully we can get through both.  I really wanted to tackle Livin' Thing by ELO, but there are a fair amount of tricky chords in there.

Here is the modified version of Big Rock Candy Mountain that I'm going to be using:
C - 0003
F - 2010
G7 - 0212

"Big Rock Candy Mountain" (Modified by Ukulele Guy)

One [C]evening as the sun went down
And the campfires all were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hikin',
And he said, "Boys, I'm not a-turning.
I'm [F]headed for a [C]land that's [F]far a[C]way,
Be[F]side the crystal [G7]fountains,
So [C]come with me, we'll go and see,
The Big Rock [G7]Candy [C]Mountains.

Verse 1:
"[C]In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
There's a [F]land that's fair and [C]bright,
Where the [F]french fries grow on [C]bushes,
And you [F]sleep out every [G7]night,
Well [C]all the schools are empty,
And the [F]sun shines every [C]day,
On the [F]birds and the [C]bees
And the [F]candy bar [C]trees,
The [F]lemonade [C]springs
Where the [F]bluebird [C]sings,
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.

Verse 2:
"[C]In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You [F]never change your [C]socks,
And the [F]little streams of [C]chocolate milk
Come a-[F]tricklin' down the [G7]rocks,
The [C] teachers do your homework
And your [F]parents clean your [C]room.
There's a [F]lake of [C]stew,
And of [F]soda [C]too,
You can [F]paddle all a[C]round 'em
In a [F]big ca[C]noe,
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.

Original Song: 8th Anniversary for Erika

So, here is how this happened.

Monday Night: I mention to my wife, Erika, that I'm thinking about playing some Call of Duty: United Offensive tomorrow night with the boys.  She asks, "Are we doing anything tomorrow?"  Instantly I get my sinking feeling in my gut.  What have I forgotten now?  Is tomorrow Valentine's day?  No, that doesn't make sense.... this is June.  Hrm.  So, I go ahead and hang myself by asking, "What's tomorrow?"   Yup.  You guessed it.  It was our 8th wedding anniversary.

Tuesday Afternoon: During an insanely busy day at work, I keep playing Ukulele between stabs of productivity at the keyboard.  It's time for the hail Mary pass.  It's time for an authentic anniversary love song for my baby doll.  But, more than that, it's time to deliver it on our actual wedding anniversary.  As you've seen in the past, I normally deliver these a day or so after the special event.  Come hell or high water, that was not happening this time!

So, here it is.  Four verses even!  Of course, there isn't a bridge yet, but I can work on that down the road.

If you are interested in the chords and words (Hay, maybe your life is exactly like mine so you can re-use the song for your wife?):

F# C#7 F# A# B C#

8 years ago, we got joined, in holy matrimony
then I took the band and left you while we toured around Estonia
In those two weeks I knew that I needed to be near ya
wherever you are I'll follow you and make your "there" our "here"-a

C# fiddly part

7 years ago, we told just about everyone who'd listen
that the world was too damn full for us to put any more kids in
well it turns out that we that last part wrong
you need at least 4 voices to sing our family's song (maybe just 4, eh?)

D#min B F#
C# D#min B C#7

We got engaged for all time
or at least the rest of our lives

And I'd be lying if I didn't admit
that I think I got the better deal by more than a little bit

6 years ago we got ourselves a towheaded something special
I thank my lucky stars that we weren't being careful
I can't imagine our empty lives without that tiny babe
Sure we'd get more sleep,  but we can do that in the grave

4 years ago, we decided to make our boy a brother
and even though they fuss and fight I know they love each other
who coulda guessed that ours hearts had holes inside
that our boys patched right up because they were exactly the right size