The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023



Perhaps it is since I had just played at our first of several Spring concerts last evening, but as I was running this morning at the track, I kept thinking of how my hoofing around and around on the infernal track sounded almost like a metronome.  My pace was of a similar speed of one of the songs we played, and I kept hearing my part in my head as I thought through the 4/4 measure cadence.  Only 10.1 miles (~16km) this morning, as I had to get to the U early to make sure my exam was up to snuff.  

I normally do all the upkeep on my "Frankenhorn" of a Bass Clarinet and have done so for the 35+ years I have owned the chimeric beast.  I am not sure if I ever wrote about it here, but the my horn is actually composed of parts and pieces of, if I remember correctly, three different bass clarinets that had been heading for the junkyard.  Way back then, I had always dreamed of having my own bass clarinet, but their pricey cost was something I could never justify.  A great friend of mine (now, sadly deceased), who was a French Hornist, happened to somehow find out about a school that was clearing out an array of battered and bowed, heavily used and abused horns (by decades of students of various manners and proclivities).  She very, very kindly scored for me the three nearly destroyed cases containing the nearly dead remains of three battered, dinged, and roughshod bass clarinets.  I was overjoyed!  And, I carefully sorted through the mass of pieces to pull from each case the best body components, the least dented bell, and least distorted crook neck, and extracted the best, least damaged keys, key cups, and what not from them, and carefully went to work at merging what I could scavenge back together into what became my well worn, but serviceable bass clarinet that I play to this day.  Through a progression of efforts, I massaged some of the more delicate components back into service, and through perhaps less delicate sheer force, I tried with as must grace as I could muster, to force out the dents and dings in the bell.  Returning the crook neck of the beast back into a semblance of its original shape took more effort and ingenuity than I initially thought I had in me, but the whole beast came out pretty damn good overall.  I even splurged at that time and bought a reasonably solid, used case for the beast afterwards.... since the original three cases were literally each tied with packaging twine when I received them as they had literally fallen apart.  Over the subsequent decades, I have worked to maintain the beast, making various adjustments, replacing pads and corks on occasion, oiling the mechanisms, etc.  

Well, the above was a bit of a side-track.  Sorry.  I had started out by wanting to say I was considering taking my "Frankenhorn" to a good music repair facility about an hour from here..... and might do so in about three weeks after this concert series is concluded.  I have been thinking I would like a true technician to potentially work to "regulate" my horn.  Regulation means basically, running a light bar through it to check for light leaks from the pads, and to perform a whole host of small, meticulous adjustments to try to get the horn to be as well functioning as possible.  Even though my horn works, I do admit I have to wrestle with it a fair amount as I am playing to get it to do what I need it to do.  The neighbor bass clarinetist that I sit next to in our group has a damn near brand new professional level Selmer that she bought perhaps two years ago.  It is a thing of beauty.  And, she let me play it briefly (using my mouthpiece).  It was a silky dream!  It was easy and simple both above the register and below. It was so smooth that I didn't have to do anything other than "be" there as my big "bag of wind" self and I could play it with great ease. Every key sealed instantly and with nearly no effort up and down all the octaves.  I felt a tinge of jealousy.  With my beast, it is almost akin to the work of herding cattle.... lots of effort and lots of wrangling and wrestling my beast to have it do what I want.  There are three bass clarinetists in our band (quite a rarity, to have that many, actually), and I am first chair in our section as deemed by our conductor.  I am thinking perhaps a professional repairperson may be able to finesse and regulate a few things on my beast to ease my efforts a bit.  I probably *could* try to figure out ways to regulate better the beast myself, but with the limited amount of time I have of late, I suspect such plans to get into my "fussy and meticulous mode" to figure things out would only end up being a pipe dream.... I never seem to have time. I am not sure how much I will potentially need to fork over for the privilege of having a true technician do some of the work for me.  The parts of my horn are all "student grade" and are likely in the 60-70 year old range by now, having had a couple of decades being beaten to hell by a few hundred kids, and then resurrected by me for almost 40 years. So, maybe a professional glance through might be warranted.

I had a literal pipe dream last night as well!  It was rather odd as well.... I was in a room that seemed almost museum-like with its pure white, stark walls.  Yet there was no art about on the walls or floor.  I was sitting comfortably in a bean bag chair (I do not own a bean bag chair) in the center of this vast, open room.  I was dressed in my usual U attire (sport coat, snap brim hat, etc), and I was just sitting there reading a book with my owlish pair of reading glasses (owlish in that they were round lenses/wire frame) and smoking my pipe.... all in a tremendously relaxed fashion.  Nothing more happened in this dream... but it was delightful to watch myself in this well lit, open room, just "being".  

PCS = 8.  In the dream, the flavors I could taste (yes, in the dream, I was "me" in the chair smoking my pipe, but also "me" observing from afar simultaneously) the beautiful flavors of the Three Star Blue pipe tobacco I sampled while in Chicago.  I still feel rather short-changed at my loss of an adventure in Des Moines.  Chicago was such a beautiful, wonderful experience.  I keep thinking about throwing in the towel.  I know I shouldn't do so.  But, it keeps coming into my thoughts.  



Blogger Pat M. said...

Professor, there may be good reasons for you to keep on abstaining, but I urge you not to think of ANY choice as "throwing in the towel" or something you shouldn't do. I can't imagine you choosing to spend the rest of your days living at a PCS score of 8 or 9, when by returning to your pipes you could maintain a PSS (pipe-smoking satisfaction) score of 10 at all times. But that's your choice, and neither abstaining nor partaking is a "throwing in the towel."

Tuesday, 25 April, 2023  
Blogger Unknown said...

One might even say that one is "throwing in the towel" by bowing to peer pressure and people's misconceptions about pipe smoking. And would your Capuchin friends prefer to see someone pridefully persisting in a struggle to abstain from something good, or someone humbly accepting the benefit he receives from his pipes and tobaccos? Do what you feel is best, Professor, but please don't over-think the matter and beat up on yourself for your decisions (as you seem to have a tendency to do), whether those decisions keep you away from your pipes or bring you back to them.

Tuesday, 25 April, 2023  
Blogger GaP said...

You are a multi-talented gent professor...

Tuesday, 25 April, 2023  
Blogger Margaret said...

Wow, you are a master musical mechanic! I think your idea is wise yet part of me wants YOU to have a new state of the art instrument.

Tuesday, 25 April, 2023  
Blogger peppylady (Dora) said...

For some reason I would like to learn to play the harp.
Coffee is on and stay safe.

Tuesday, 25 April, 2023  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

What a horny post!

Wednesday, 26 April, 2023  

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