CSotD: Banjos are the least of it

Too Much Coffeeman brings up the hostility some people have for banjos, which I confess I don’t understand, but which seems to be of a piece with their hostility towards bagpipes and accordions.

I’ll confess to not being a big fan of full-sized accordions — forgive me, Myron Floren — but I enjoy a well-played concertina, which, as noted here, comes in both the English and the Anglo version. As a veteran of Irish music, I greatly appreciate the instrument. The original lineup of the Boys of the Lough included a concertina and it added a lot to the group’s sound.

They also briefly had what is called an Irish bouzouki, essentially a banjo neck on a mandolin body, which mellows the sound. My Irish pub band had a fellow with one sit in at a gig and were sorry he couldn’t join us permanently.

On the other hand, any instrument played badly is hard to take. We were once booked by a bar owner who also hired a local not-so-adept piper, to my dismay. I warned my bandmates, who hadn’t heard him, and they said, “Ah, how bad could it be?”

We ended up out in the parking lot during his set because that’s how bad it could be.

However, there’s nothing wrong with banjos in the right hands, as Charles Schulz noted:

In moderately competent hands, they even have a certain savoir faire, as Richard Thompson established:

Not sure savoir faire was the exact term I was looking for …

Juxtaposition of the Day

Arlo and Janis — AMS

Guy Body

Arlo and Janis are in the process of moving to the coast to be near Gene and Mary Lou, and while the myriad things they’re looking for in a house are humorous enough, the kicker at the end is a double punchline: Arlo wants it to be affordable and Mary Lou’s father assures him he shouldn’t have any trouble.

Overpriced housing appears to be universal, Guy Body being a Kiwi and cartoons on the topic having also come from Australia and the UK. And he’s absolutely right that “affordability” now refers to things that aren’t as huge a ripoff as they were last week.

The term assumes you have a job that pays more then it should so you can afford a place that costs more than it should.

Here in New Hampshire, the average cost of a house is $479,363, but you can rent an apartment for about $1500 a month. You can find helpful information like this on-line:

As Mary Lou’s father said, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

First Dog on the Moon explains how it all fits together, to the extent that it does, which is why we have unpaid interns to explain things.

However, it’s not simply a free-for-all, and Mike Baldwin explains the rules in this Cornered (AMS), “survival” being one of those terms like “affordable” that can be adapted as needed.

Statista shows the ratio of CEO compensation to median worker pay for the 350 largest publicly owned companies in the United States from 1965 to 2022.

As you can see, it dipped a bit in 2022. We’re all making sacrifices these days!

Meanwhile, out on The Other Coast (Creators), this bear gives tips on getting into bear-proof garbage containers, though if you’ve been following YouTube closely, you’ll realize that getting in is only half the challenge.

You may have to wait for help to get back out again:

Raising the popular question of which you would rather encounter in a school parking lot: A bear, or the principal?

And speaking of unexpected encounters, Speed Bump (Creators) brings up another thing that seems to be an issue for a lot of people. Since I live alone, privacy is pretty much assumed except that the dog is everywhere I am, which is fine with me.

It’s only fair, after all. At least she only watches. It’s not as if she followed me around with little plastic bags.

Frazz (AMS) brings up the topic of summer reading lists, which my friend and best-selling kids’ author Kate Messner dealt with quite a while ago in an absolutely brilliant blog entry.

Kate taught middle school Language Arts for several years and had me visit her classroom. She’s one of the two or three best teachers I’ve ever observed, and she is certainly right about summer reading lists.

And so am I, more or less, since her entry reminded me of a column I wrote lo these many years ago that still makes me smile.

I hope both of them (and each of them) will also make you smile.

Finally today, this Christopher Weyant piece is wryly humorous, but thought-provoking as wry humor tends to be.

I was the at-home parent for most of my married life, which was a new thing back in the early 70s. You’d think the role reversal would seem normal, then, for our boys, but I guess I was their mother’s understudy.

We’d have a nice day together, with everything going well, but when their mother came home, they’d go to her with all the trials and tribulations they’d been stockpiling.

The simplistic explanation was that she was “still Mom,” but over the years I think I’ve broken it down a little more.

I was also “still Dad” and my response to light injuries or quarrels with friends was “well, you’ll be alright,” not in the sense of telling them to get over it but in the sense of assuring them that they’d by okay. Not a tough guy, but Fred MacMurray, puffing on his pipe and saying, “You see, Chip …”


Mom, by contrast, was in charge of “there, there,” which, when they were little, is what they wanted to hear. Funny thing being that we were both reassuring them, but hers translated better until they got a little older.

Looking at Google News this morning, I see that Ian McKlellen fell off the stage Monday and apparently is all right but a bit banged up. I pictured some understudy suddenly having to get into makeup and costume in the middle of the show, but they’ve canceled productions for a few days while McKellen sorts himself out.

No such grace in our family production: Understudies had to be ready to step in.

13 thoughts on “CSotD: Banjos are the least of it

  1. Richard Thompson and his cartoons are gone, but somehow, dinosaurs like Beatle Bailey still roam the Earth. Argh.

    Banjos are fine for chase scenes taking place on back roads somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon, but otherwise… 😉


      One of the best lines from one of the best comic strips ever.

  2. Thanks to whoever kept the public school library open one day a week during summer vacation.

  3. My brother, a musician, used to say, “A gentleman is someone who can play the bagpipes, but doesn’t.”

  4. I really want to know just wtf happened between 1995-2000 that caused CEO wages to skyrocket

  5. I was a stay at home Dad for most of my son’s childhood. It fell to me to be the cook, as well as the shopper and laundry duty. Mostly I set up play dates with other kids and we went to parks and playgrounds and my son wanted adventures every day.

    Of course as the main cook, I asked my wife to stir the pot while I got an ingredient, to which my son said “Mommies don’t cook- that’s Daddy’s job”.

    As to the increase in corporate executive pay was due to changes to the pension system in the 1970’s. Essentially executives could pay them selves the increasing amounts in pension funds- or even buying companies and zeroing out pensions for worker while raiding the fund for the executives. A great book that explains what happened is “Retirement Heist” by Ellen E. Schultz.

  6. We once went to one man banjo concert by Stephen Wade. It was wonderful. We even bought his CD – Dancing Home. Check it out. It may change your opinion about banjos.

  7. My favorite was the definition of “perfect pitch”. It’s when you throw the according in the dumpster and it lands on the banjo. I heard this one from the stage by renowned bassist Victor Wooten, playing with Bella Fleck and the Flecktones.

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