GADGETS AND ACCESSORIES
Timex Weekender with Antique Watchband
Pulp Fiction. Dir. Quentin Tarantino. By Quentin Tarantino. Prod. Lawrence Bender. Perf. Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman. Miramax, 1995. Pictured: Christopher Walken
Pulp FictionPictured: Maria de Medeiros
My Timex Weekender
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the Timex Weekender is the Chuck Taylor of watches: it’s cheap and looks good with just about everything. And if that’s not enough to make you want to go out and buy one right now, how about the fact that it looks remarkably similar to the dime store watch from Pulp Fiction that Bruce Willis’s dad hid up his ass during the war. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you were probably homeschooled and you need to get off my blog and go take a crash course in pop culture or you’re going to have to suffer through me basically writing in an entirely different language.
I bought my first Weekender about 5 years ago at Walmart for right around $20 and lost it a year or so later during a bachelor party while doing backflips jumping off a trampoline into a giant pit of foam cubes with a hot girl in little more than yoga pants and a tank top. (Totally worth it.) Weekender II (above) was given to me as a gift the following Christmas, and last summer I finally found the perfect band for it at an antique shop close to where I live. There was a bucket full of silver watch bands selling for a dollar each. I couldn’t turn this one down. I’d give you the name of the shop, but it recently went out of business. Now just how hip is that?
Dunlop Trigger Capo and Tortex Picks
Image from sixstrings.com
Image from Amazon.com
After years of ending up in impromptu jam sessions completely unprepared, I decided to add these to my everyday carry. Do I gig every day? No. Do I play music outside of my house every day? No. But when I reach for them a pick and it’s not there, I feel like the guy who showed up to the date without a condom. I don’t always need a capo and pick, but I’m not about to miss an opportunity if the occasion arises. And it always arises when you’re least prepared.
Stolen Writing Utensils
From Flickr. Photo by Stephen Lilley.
I don’t steal many things. For years my pen of choice was a 0.5mm Pilot G-2 for writing and a 0.5mm mechanical pencil for music theory and aural skills homework, but recently I’ve been prioritizing things a little differently. I’d rather buy a few more groceries and swipe a pen than be hungry with the exact pen I want. Priorities change, and people complain less when you steal pens than when you steal food. Sounds backward to me, but that’s the world in which we live.
In case I lose a contact lens, I can still look somewhat sophisticated, and at just under $30, it’s no big loss if something happens to these glasses.
NOTEBOOKS AND BOOKS
I write. A lot. And one of these days someone is going to find all of my writing, and if this person somehow finds the patience and perseverance to sort through all of it, they’re going to find out how crazy and weird I am and it will probably ruin whatever legacy I have managed to leave behind. But hell, I have thoughts, ideas, and plans, and if I don’t write them down, they start to loop around in my head like a Maroon 5 song, and I can only stand that for so long.
Premier Legacy Lesson Planner
I’ve been using Google Calendar for years and I love it, but it’s just not the same as an analog planner, so I usually have to use both. This one’s not the prettiest I’ve ever had, but it’s formatted better for my life than any other. The front section has a monthly calendar where I can write my most important to-dos and appointments, and at the end of each week there’s an empty box where I can write my weekly goals and semi-long-term projects. There are only about 8 lines per day, but I’ve found that this keeps me from planning too many things and feeling overwhelmed. The rest of the planner features various teaching aids including an hour-by-hour lesson planner where I can write wonderful notes about my students as the day progresses.
Pentallic journals are half the price of Moleskine, and for my purposes, just as good. Maybe it’s just me, but when I buy a cheaper journal, I feel less picky about what I write in it because I can afford to fill more of them up. By buying something that’s inexpensive, but still high quality and pretty, I encourage myself to writer more often. Pentallic helps me do both and encourages me past two of my worst blocks in writing. I like to use my journal for random thoughts, song ideas, and problem solving. I like to write my thoughts in order to solve my problems. I sometimes think of a journal as an ear that opens and closes on demand and never tires of hearing my words no matter how strange they are. It just runs out of space, and then I get a new one.
The newest addition to my everyday carry. This one features lined paper on the left side for lyrics and staff paper on the right for simple lead sheets. I like that it also gives me a songwriting template by dividing the lines and staff into verse, chorus, and bridge sections. Song forms are easy to memorize, but visually filling out a template makes the writing process feel exponentially easier. As soon as I started compiling my ideas in this book, I realized that many of the lines I had written were already part of well-developed songs. This book is perfect for giving my songs just enough shape to play them, but helps me keep the ideas loose by only allowing me to write so much information. I love it!
Found this specific journal at Palouse Books in Moscow, ID. It’s pocket-sized and it’s the best way I’ve found to keep track of my practice and progress. Lately I’ve been dedicating at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week to learning and practicing new skills. I break my practice into 10-20 minute chunks. I set a timer, start the metronome when applicable, go until the timer stops, and record observations about my performance before moving on to the next thing.
That Book I’ve Been Meaning to Read
My girlfriend recommended this book to me about 6 months ago, and as much as I’m enjoying it, I can’t seem to find the time to sit down and finish it. During my lunch hour I’d rather blog or read articles that I can quickly pick up and put down. In the evenings I like to cook, socialize, practice, record, and write songs. I do much better with audiobooks, and I had a lot more time for them last year when I was working at the greenhouse 10-20 hours a week (see “The 47 Books I Read in 2015”). That being said, the chapters in Perfume are mostly short, so if I’m sitting in a waiting room and tired of looking at my phone or I’ve gone through all the articles I’ve saved on Facebook, it’s nice to have a backup, and I can usually knock out a chapter before an appointment–as long as no one interrupts to ask what I’m reading.
To keep a regimented practice routine, stay performance-ready, and keep a record of my songs, I like to keep the following apps in the songwriting folder on my home screen.
Best guitar tuner I’ve found in the app store, and next to my Boss pedal, it’s my very favorite. Visually mimics an analog chromatic tuner with two wheels. One wheel shows the general pitch while the smaller wheel on top shows how close you are to the actual pitch. Very accurate and simple. Saves me the trouble of digging around in my guitar case.
Because it’s important to be on time. Especially when playing music. I honestly struggle with playing to a metronome to this day. I’d much rather play to a drum beat. Even electronic drum beats are preferable when it comes to keeping time, but if you want to improve your timing, there’s nothing more true than the constant click. This specific app makes it super east to change tempo either with the wheel or by tapping the beat. You can also change time signatures, subdivision, and which beat is accented. You can even set it so that none of the beats are accented. This app is better than any real analog or digital metronome I’ve ever used.
For timing practice sessions as mentioned above. 10 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, but once you start the click, the clock slows way down. A timer helps me to stay on task the entire time and keeps me from checking the clock every 30 seconds. With
Music Theory Pro app, Notes app, Voice Recorder app, Bose headphones from Costco, red Hydro Flask travel mug from HyperSpud Sports, Schrade pocket knife, Neff backpack from TJ Maxx