Real String Quartet: Not Faking It

Sept. 10, 2010

Hello readers! It’s time to give this blog a kick in the pants and get it going again. By the looks of things I took August off, so let me say that it feels good to be back online.

Here’s a funny story to get things going again. For the last few weeks, I have been spending a lot of time at Home Depot. I’ve been to Home Depot so much, that some cashiers were starting to recognize me as “the guy who has been coming to Home Depot a lot, and is now at Home Depot now buying more things, such as he is doing today.” They re-assured me not to worry about this, as many people are apparently in the same predicament.

Now, in order for me to get the things home from Home Depot, I had to build a “system” for my car, in order to carry a specific item down the road to the house.

This specific item is drywall.

When you go to Home Depot, to buy drywall, this process is kind of like going to Safeway, to buy groceries, only you use a much “larger” cart. But, the process is the same. You push this cart all over the store, and try not to crash into anything stationary or moving, and you stand in a similar checkout line, only you have 32 square feet of drywall in your cart, and all of the other “miscellaneous items” which mysteriously adds over 15 times the amount of the actual amount that the drywall costs.

This, I have gathered, is called the “Drywall Factor.” You add the “Drywall Factor” to your bill, each time you buy drywall.

Now, I mentioned a “system” for getting the drywall home. And, believe me, if Subaru had a contest for “Best Original Un-Approved Non-Tested Roof Rack Accessory System,” I would probably win, hands down, for my yet-to-be-patented “Subaru Drywall Carrying System.”

With a deceivingly simple array of varying lengths of 2x4, U-bolts and nuts and washers, my Subaru has been transformed into a sleek Drywall Carrying Machine. Got 4x8 sheets? No problem. With my system, they stack right up there. In fact, several people (namely folks who have been parked next to me in various parking lots) have taken the time to ask me, “What is that for?” and I’ve been getting nodding looks of approval when I tell them what it can do.

I think I bought two sheets on the first test run. It worked great. There was some slight wind noise on I-84, but everything seemed pretty good.

A few days later, I decided I needed some more drywall, so I head to the Home Depot. And this time, we’re really gonna go for it – FIVE sheets of drywall. I don’t know why I picked 5 sheets. I think I grabbed 4 sheets, and said, “You know what, I think I’ll grab one more, and we’ll make it 5.”

Now, during the trial run, the overhead wind noise seemed to be dependent on vehicle speed. Makes sense. So I’m heading out of The Dalles, going along the road to I-84, and there’s a bit more noise coming from the roof than there was before. Hmmm. I know that I fastened everything down with those ratchet-tie-downs, so we’re probably OK.

I head west on I-84, and the noise picks up exponentially. I hit 55, and it sounds like an airplane is either trying to land on my roof or I’m envisioning several sheets of drywall attempting to lift the car into the air for takeoff.

I back off the speed to 50, but the noise level remains approximately the same. I start assessing the situation: Roof: Still on the car. Good. Car: Still moving forward. Good. Other cars on road: Not swerving around drywall on road. Good.

So what is going on???

A few miles later, I pull over, get out, and look. The drywall is still on the car, it’s still tied down, it hasn’t moved really, and the rack I built doesn’t seem to be moving, and the factory rack that my rack is bolted to seems OK.

I head down the road, and the same un-nerving noise level reappears.

I limp home with the flashers on, and finally drive up the hill to the house.

I unload my 5 sheets into the garage. I take another look at the drywall carrier, and can’t find a thing wrong.

Until I look at one of the nuts on one of the U-bolts.

It’s not there.

The U-bolt bracket has been vibrating on the roof, causing more noise than a 747 at takeoff.

The nut, I find, is precariously wedged in the crack between the back roof, and the hatchback.

It somehow survived a 17-mile journey.

I make a mental note to check all connections before and after any more missions, of which there will be plenty.

There is, after all, only about 1700-man-century hours left on this project.

And with my drywall skills, we’re installing it one-square-foot at a time.

The Real Vocal String Quartet will be in Hood River on Sept. 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Paul Blackburn’s House, 401 Montello, which, due to its huge size, probably has a lot of Drywall.

RVSQ - Interview

Hood River show Sept. 13

1. Hello to the band - thanks for stopping by Hood River. You'll be visiting the beautiful Columbia River Gorge - Where is your band from and have any of you been here before?

We have not been to Hood River as a band, but our violist, Dina Maccabee has a brother who lives in town and that was more incentive to visit and play a show! The rest of the group, Irene Sazer, Alisa Rose and Jessica Ivry are very excited to visit and play music for the community there.

2. Tell us a bit about the band name. I understand the "String Quartet" part, but please explain the "Real Vocal" reference.

We want to indicate that we play string instruments AND we sing too--and at the same time. It's also a play on the Jazz fake book called, "The Real Book". There's also a fake book called "The Real Vocal Book". The songs in those books contain many standard Jazz tunes.

3. You'll be playing probably one of the smallest venues in town, Paul Blackburn's Living Room. How do you adjust your playing from the larger stages to fit a house concert?

We are so happy to play a house concert. We love the intimate chamber music setting, and as classically trained string players, we appreciate a setting that allows for acoustic music. We do sometimes play amplified but in house concert settings, we play all acoustically, even when we sing. We also find that house concert audiences are real music lovers and enjoy the small, cozy environment.

4. Tell us why and how this band got together.

Irene Sazer, an original Turtle Island String Quartet member, always wanted to have a string quartet that sings. She found like-minded souls on the same musical trajectory, who also write, arrange, and improvise. It's a rich creative venture.

5. Can you give us any ideas as to what's on the setlist for the Hood River show?

Our influences are eclectic and range from Bluegrass to Jazz to music from Africa and Brazil. We also tap into our inner singer/songwriter musician and play some arranged pop music.

6. Everyone's got favorite band/musician - who do you guys look toward for inspiration?

We love Ayub Ogada, Joni Mitchell, Caetano Veloso, Dirk Powell, and Beethoven!

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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