Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Two for One!

These Martin clones are pretty close to each other.

The "UMI" (made in Korea) has a nice balanced tone, with some real low end response. $20 at a thrift store. It had a cracked heel, but it glued up real nice.

The Samick "Greg Bennett design" GD-100SPK/N is very similar, not quite the bass response. It is a much newer guitar, it may mellow out as it gets older. It was made in Indonesia. I found it in a dumpster, with not a mark on it! It needed a little set-up work, but now plays and sounds good.

Brief YouTube clip:

Not too bad: two perfectly usable guitars for $20.

Update: Sold both at the great guitar purge for $60 each!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Last Homely House East of the Sea

The Weaver turned me on to Kate from Northumberland, whose YouTube series The Last Homely House on the Sea features her, her critters, various art projects and general musings on life. This particular one about cleaning out drawers full of bunting supplies showcases her cat’s rear end as well:

Most appropriate in light of my recent purging efforts. These are very low-key videos but I find them strangely fascinating… a sharp but slightly daft aunt prattling on about the things she loves.

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of them and more at her Patreon site.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Highway 61, Revisited

Virgil Wander
A novel
by Leif Enger
Atlantic Monthly Press
New York: 2018

This, the third novel by Minnesota native Leif Unger, is set along the north-west shore of Lake Superior in the fictional town of Greenstone, a rough composite of Two Harbors and Grand Marais with the Temperance River thrown in for good measure. Virgil is the owner of a failing cinema as well as being the part-time city clerk. As the book opens, He has accidentally crashed his car into the lake but is rescued and wakes up in a Duluth hospital. He is suffering from some brain trauma, not extreme, but affecting his relationships to the people in the town (and giving the narrative a definite air of unreliability.)

A well-developed cast of characters populates the book, each character has their own agenda (and secrets) that becomes clearer as the book progresses. The town is considered cursed by some, so much so that the city’s powers-that-be decide to hold a “Hard Luck Days” summer festival, an event that seems to be cursed as well.

Enger is a great writer and his other two novels—Peace Like a River and So Brave, Young, and Handsome—have been critically acclaimed. This book reminded me of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon novels but is more subtle and contemplative. While it does contain some elements of a mystery, it is nothing like Vidar Sundstøl’s Minnesota Trilogy. It is genial, even a little precious at times, but I think it truly captures the Minnesota North Shore mindset.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Tabula Rasa

The Flippist World Headquarters™ wall of guitars is no more:

My long-planned and often-delayed garage sale was held last weekend; ’twas a resounding success. A large majority of them are now happily residing with new owners. I still have a few guitars (the most expensive ones, naturally) but they are destined to be sold as well. The south wall of Flippist World Headquarters™ is empty for now. I’m going to leave it that way for a while; it will probably end up covered with photographs and artwork (here’s looking at you, Shoshanah.)

Jettisoning my material goods has never bothered me; no regrets, coyote.

In addition to reconsidering the role of guitars, I've been pondering where FITK fits into my life. It has never been what is considered social media. I’ve never experienced the feeling of crashing a private club from this blog that I get from Facebook™. I still follow a few Instagram accounts as they are the only option for following some people I like. Twitter, in the right hands, can be very good, but still not as satisfying as a well-written blog. My visitors are few but varied; a world-wide mix that I’m grateful for. A “digital minimalism” is probably the best way to describe my approach. There are still a few things I’d like to accomplish here, as long as I get the sense that at least a few people are getting something out of it FITK will continue.

The wall, near its peak:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Haunted Castle

A FITK summer re-run from 2009

When I was a child there existed a castle, a haunted castle full of spirits. It was a fortress which stood in the midst of an evil forest populated by strange and devilish creatures. I was a ten year-old who had no defense against such malevolence, save for my own naïveté. I had heard tell of the place, for it was spoken about in hushed tones by those neighborhood wise women who toiled as keepers of the scrolls. They spoke of its majesty, its quietude, and the mysterious wizards who trod upon the polished granite floors and climbed the wrought iron stairways. There was even talk of an Egyptian mummy that “lived” in the basement.

The “forest”: a cluster of bars, strip clubs, pawn shops and transient housing. The “creatures”: winos, drifters, muggers and hookers. The “Castle” was the Central branch of the Minneapolis Public Library. I only went in it once, for it was downtown, and a five mile bus ride. But I simply had to go. As you can see, the exterior (which hadn’t changed in 60 years) was formidable. The interior was dim and what light there was came from large globes, hanging from chains. I remember wrought iron stairs and shelves of old leather-bound books. I was there looking for Bram Stoker’s Dracula but I left empty-handed, being too shy to ask the desk librarian for assistance. I ran from the building in near terror. In a few years, a new modern library was built at the other end of downtown, with walls of glass, a planetarium, and a large museum. It was a friendly place, OK in its own way. Now it has been demolished as well, replaced by a stunning, although somewhat intimidating modern structure by a famous architect.

My childish fears of the castle were groundless, of course, but there really was a mummy!

Special thanks to Rose for her post which revived this memory.

Image from The Library of Congress, via Shorpy.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, June 07, 2019

Future Food

Actually a Kiwano melon from New Zealand.

Even more bizarre on the inside:

Tastes like it looks.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

We Are Proud Autistic Women

Many years ago one of the regular FITK correspondents was Kristín Vilhjálmsdóttir. We met over coffee in Reykjavík a few times. I found her to be articulate and sensitive with a no-nonsense attitude. Recently she has been involved in the making of the film Að sjá hið ósýnilega (Seeing the Unseen), a documentary about women who are on various levels of the autistic spectrum. It was inspired by the poem We Are Proud Autistic Women by Kristy Forbes. We had discussed many of the issues which the poem addresses so her interest in this project is understandable.

Here is a video of Kristín reading that poem (in Icelandic, with captioning)

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0