Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Hawg becomes a new media mogul

FirstArkNewsYeah, that's right – my fiendish plan to take over the Internet has been launched.

Want to see the future of them Internets? Just point that browser over to and gaze at the site in wonder.

I feel just like Sheriff Buford T. Justice on Smokey and the Bandit when he complained of “decorating up the whole town at a cost of $40.” I went and spent around $60 to reserve a couple of domains and host the aforementioned site for a year. I’m amazed at how cheap things are on the Internet – if that project fails, I’m out $60 and that’s not a bad deal.

So, what is that site? It’s something I came up with after watching online publications like Fort Smith’s The City Wire thrive. I visited with some other public relations guys, some freelance reporters and a newspaper (we need a content partner, right?) as I figured a bunch of us “professional” writers from around Arkansas could have a lot of fun and offer people a statewide source of news.

I told the writers I mentioned that my newest blog wouldn’t make money for at least a year so I wasn’t going to pay anyone who worked on the blog until we have some, like, revenue to share. Amazingly, a lot of those talented folks still accepted my invitation to help by submitting articles and photos.

The site is barely a day old and I’ve already learned that, well, I’ve got a lot to learn. Maintaining your own site can be a chore. Still, I figure I’m not too far away from modifying my template to my liking. After that work is done, the fun begins.

Stay tuned…

Friday, April 16, 2010

A professional kite flyer?

Jonah Hormel, 7, (left) and his cousin, Emilee Sebesta, 5, fly a kite together Wednesday at Rainier Vista Community Park. Sunny skies brought the two children to the park for a fun Spring outing with their family.
(Toni L. Bailey/Lacey Today)

My wife was reading the Thursday edition of the Benton Courier when she noticed the first Benton Kite Festival had been scheduled for Saturday at the old airport.

You can read all about the festival here, by the way.

One thing that struck me about the event is that a special guest, Robert Lassond, will be there. The Courier identified him as a professional kite flyer and reported that he goes all over the country to events such as, well, the Benton Kite Festival.

I can’t help but feel more than a bit jealous. How do I get that gig? How does one turn the enjoyable pursuit of flying a kite into a career? Why did I spend all those years in school to sit in a dull, drab office day after day when I could be getting paid to fly kites?

Seriously – what could be better than that? Earning a living by skipping rocks across a pond? Getting paid to drink beer or drive expensive muscle cars? Making cash money by taste-testing cotton candy or traveling throughout the nation watching major league baseball games?

My hat’s off to that Lassond fellow. Anyone who can turn kite flying into a profession has to be living right.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Playing guitar in church? You’d better get a capo, bub.

KyserCapoA few weeks ago, I was invited to play my guitar regularly in my church.

I was thrilled to do so, but I learned something in a hurry – piano players just love playing in keys that are completely unnatural for guitarists.

As odd as it may seem, piano players tend to love playing in odd-ball keys such as B-flat, F-sharp and, well, just strange stuff. Guitarists, meanwhile, tend to stick to conventional keys such as A, C, D, E and G. Why? Because it’s a lot easier to grab the chords in those keys than it is in say, B-flat (unless you’re playing barre chords, but those tend to not come out real well on a 12-string guitar like the one I bring to church on Sundays).

The solution to this problem is to get a capo. Yes, they’ve been slapped with the derogatory term of “cheater” over the years, but that’s not exactly fair. A capo allows a guitarist to easily shift to those wacky keys with ease. It’s the very device that allows pianists and guitarists to get along and I use mine extensively.

Here’s an example. Yesterday, we played “The Old Rugged Cross,” which is in the key of B-flat. Rather than throwing a fit about the key, I simply slapped my capo on the guitar on the third fret and played the chords for the key of G. The pianist didn’t have to bother with transposing chords and I was able to get through the song with ease. Everyone was happy.

In case anyone's interested, I've used Kyser capos for years and have had a lot of luck with them. They last forever (the one I've got for my electric guitar is over 20 years old and still working) and are very easy to use (one-handed operation for everyone but weaklings). If you've got a 12-string guitar, you want to buy a capo specifically for one of those. A standard, common capo for a six-string is too short for that wide fretboard on a 12-string and you'll have a lot of nasty buzzing on the high "E" strings (and perhaps the "B" string, too).

By the way, I got my 12-string back in February. My wife came home with a beautiful Fender acoustic 12-string guitar that I had my eye on for a few months.

Sure, she bought that because she got tired of hearing me make racket on my electric guitar. Still, that was a pretty cool move on her part.