A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

20 August 2008

The New Metrotoy

I have been, on occasion, known to play the guitar. The reaction, when I play, varies. My music has been known to evoke mild amusement, and sometimes broken sobbing--particularly from people in the same room.

Nevertheless, I perservere in the face of this Philistinism. However, it has occurred to me that a few lessons probably wouldn't go amiss. Being known as "The Jack Benny of Guitar" is wearisome after a time.

However, there is a minor issue regarding lessons. It's time. Or rather, it's about time and the general lack thereof. I do not believe that Mme Metro is sincere in her threats to leave if I find "just one more" activity, but there has been a sort of suitcase-y atmosphere about the place lately.

She's really not being fair, I think. It's not as though I'm overcomitted:

1) Two to three nights a week for poker.
2) Four nights a week in rehearsal and performance (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
3) Sailing, swimming, and generally hanging around beaches.
4) Oh--and work (There are surely better ways to spend eight hours a day, but my shot at hippying around North America in a VW microbus is on hold until I have a pension because, well, I like to eat, quite frankly. And even more so if I have been ingesting certain hippyish substances, so the Doritos fund must be fed).

Mme finds most of these pursuits not at all entertaining, and has occasionally expressed an interest in me dropping one or several activities. She complains that the housework, which apparently came free with purchase of house, isn't getting done, and implies that this is my fault.

"How can it be?" I answer with my usual unerring logic: "I hardly ever have time to do any!" Furthermore, it seems to me that since I'm mostly not home to mess the place up, the responsibility for cleaning it should lie elsewhere. Not with Mme, necessarily, but I have noticed that those bloody cats mess the place up all the time, and not only do they get away clean, but I am forced to clean up after them!

However, my physician has warned that the ringing in my ears may become permanent if I advance this theory again within the hearing of my wife.

My alternate reply--that staying out of the house more would alleviate the pressure to clean it, somewhat, has not, thus far, met with diplomatic politeness.

I have explained endlessly that there's plenty of time for us to share through the winter months, when it gets too cold for the beach. I mean, it worked for Persephone, didn't it?

In any case, it seems nothing will suffice but that I limit myself to the few activities listed. Though I keep buying the odd lottery ticket, purely at random (because they tell me the winning ticket will be a random one) in an effort to spend more time at home during the day.

So guitar lessons, as an added activity, are out, rather.

So the other day Mme and I went to Future Shop to buy a digital camera (did I tell you the Kodak bit the dust two days following purchase? We bought a Canon SD1100--great little unit). And standing along the back wall was this little number:

It's a Yamaha EZ-AG. The equivalent of an instrument with training wheels. Perfect for the thumb-fingered learner (namely me). It has LED chord buttons that demonstrate where your fingers need to go. Poifect!

Price: $180 or so. On clearance. Soooo ... not. Terribly. Cheap. At a time when money is tighter than the Bush administration around a courthouse.

So the other day I tried looking it up at, hoping to find a web special. God. Help. Us. Their search engine is a search engine like Stevie Wonder is a marksman. For the vast majority of queries it tenders the reply: "Your search for "" returned no results. Please piss off."

Okay, I added that last bit. But it is a site guaranteed to try the patience of a saint (Why do people think saints were patient anyway? Most of them were so impatient to get closer to a god that they persuaded people to send them to meet him ahead of schedule in a variety of excessively nasty ways). Suffice it to say that's web lackeys have a lot of work ahead of them if they give a $#17 about actually serving the customer.

However, there's a dark cloud wrapped around every silver lining. I contacted a Future Shop lackey, after stumbling through trying to describe what I wanted. I asked him a few lame questions. Then just as I was about to hang up he said:

"if you take the demo model, you can have it for fifty bucks."

Gentle reader, the store was closing in an hour, and I live forty minutes away, plus a local construction delay. However, I secured the deal for the following day. At $50, Mme Metro was reluctantly persuaded to allow me to invest in my future rockstar status object. And so yesterday we picked it up.

Today I know ninety percent of the chord shapes for "Hard Day's Night." I love this gadget.

It came without peripherals, but the Yamaha support site seems friendly enough. Perhaps I'll post a song or two out here once I figure out the software ...

Hey! Where ya going? Come back here!

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At 12:03 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...


That's a sweet lookin' axe. Can it play any VH? Or how about Page?
Rock on, MB. Get a freakin' maid.


At 12:28 p.m., Anonymous PJ said...

Ah, housework. I keep paraphrasing Monica on Friends, when talking about my upcoming move: "At least I won't have to live with a BOY!" Boys don't see grit and grime on every surface. See this.

At 3:50 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

I haven't yet seen all the possible XF-MIDI files for this thing. It reminds me slightly of the controller for the video game "Guitar Hero" but with better control.

NO MAID! Mme's been after me to get one. I'd prefer to save my money for OUR retirement.

Hell, my mother kept house until her late fifties, and worked much of that time. And I'll bet my dad does less than I do. However, my parents also kept the house thoroughly clean and uncluttered at all times. Mme and I haven't been able to work that out.


The issue isn't about what we can see or not see. It's about what we clean or don't clean. I want things kept uncluttered and tidied away. There's a certain amount of disagreement on that.

"Boys" see dirt plenty. And when we do, then that's when it needs cleaning. Simple.

Besides, wasn't Monica the dumb one?

At 7:10 a.m., Blogger Pugs said...

Nice try on the cleaning thing. My suggestion, if you want a happy homelife, do what the wife says...or else suffer the consequences.

Now you have me thinking. I have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar and this little gadget may have solved my problem of having to find someone to give me lessons, making time for the said lessons, and saving on the gas to get to the lessons. 3 birds with one stone. I like. Please keep us posted on this one. My wheels are turning now!

At 9:31 a.m., Blogger Metro said...


Yeah, yeah: "Happy wife, happy life," and all that rot. But there are fundamental philosophical differences at work, and principles at stake here.

I've tried to write them in the comments, but it's actually a whole 'nother post.

The Yami is interesting. The 25 included songs are nice, and bieng able to play along is pretty cool. However, you need special format XF-MIDI files to have the frets light up correctly. No biggie, but those files are about C$4.50 each. It's still cheaper than lessons, and you get to keep the file, which is nice.

The transfer cable for the computer prices out at about $50. But the software's free for downloading.

I would unhesitatiingly reccomend this to someone who perhaps already owns one guitar but is limited to a couple of chords.

Of course, I got the demo axe for $50 to start with. I can buy the cord and $100 worth of tunes before I hit the price of the whole unit. But as you point out, you're saving $7-10 per session, plus gas money. You also need not buy an amp, as the body contains a speaker (a pair of $2.00 headphones works too).

It's fun, reasonably portable, and works 'most exactly as advertised for me. I find myself playing at any moment I can get a hand on it.

One small caveat--I have a moderately heavy hand, and I find the neck bends rather alarmingly when I hit an F chord. I think that if this is the guitar you start with, then you'll probably do quite well when it comes time to use an actual instrument.

Oh, and the guitar is out of production in North America--though still available. So you'd best buy any extra bits ASAP before you have to look them up on eBay Japan.

At 12:51 p.m., Blogger Lori said...

Metro, love...let's try to get one thing straight: Where you see clutter, I see clutter as well. But what you do not see is that clutter and dirt occur simultaneously.

Boys don't see dirt, except on their guitars.



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