"all the news that's fit to spit"
July 06, 2002
Chiff & Fipple Just Wants to Concentrate on Our Salad
I. CHIFF & FIPPLE GREETING: ON A PERSONAL NOTE
As I write this, my oldest daughter, Sarah, age 20 is on her way to China.
Veteran Chiff & Fipplers may recall it was Sarah who went to Romania last summer and worked in a state orphanage. She is on her way to Guangzhou, China (Canton) to teach English to Chinese girls in a summer school program. She'll be there until August 23. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
Sarah in Romania, 2001
The Undisputed Dad and Sarah (who is blessed with her mother's looks, as are all 3 of my fine daughters) at 2001 School of the Americans protest.
II. NEW WHISTLE-RELATED SYNDROME IDENTIFIED
Last Christmas I bought my son a Feadog kit for learning the Whistle (had a
book and CD). I made the mistake of deciding I'd open it and play around
with it, and buy him another one before the 25th. My life was changed on
that day. My relationship with my wife, my dog and my creator changed. Life
seemed to take on new meaning, and I began to neglect the material world.
Now, 6 months later I'm trying to decide whether the new universe is the real one. Have I entered by some cosmic worm hole into a parallel but superior existence, or am I being misled by a seducing spirit? All I know is that it's different. Only time will tell whether it's an illusion. In the meantime I'll continue to enjoy the euphoria, the ecstasy, the joy. My
senses seem sharper, yet nothing hurts anymore. Can you explain this?
Formerly of Dundalk (Ireland) and Toronto (Canada).
> and I began to neglect the material world.
>Now, 6 months later I'm trying to decide whether the new universe is the
Understood. It's kinda like "The Matrix."
>Have I entered by some cosmic worm hole into a parallel but superior
>existence, or am I being misled by a seducing spirit?
Hmm.. It's kinda like both.
>All I know is that
>it's different. Only time will tell whether it's an illusion.
Well, not to "disillusion" you but, the longer I'm at it, the more confused I am.
> In the meantime I'll continue to enjoy the euphoria, the ecstacy, the joy.
What? No heartache yet?
>senses seem sharper, yet nothing hurts anymore. Can you explain this?
We call it WHistle Endorphin Euphoria (WHEE).
Glad you wrote.
III. THE WEASEL AND THE WHISTLING PODIATRIST
Dr. Paul Busman, Chiff & Fipple's legendary Whistling Podiatrist recently married (In addition to being Chiff & Fipple's Official Podiatrist, we also sometimes retain him as our legal counsel. He has no legal training but we trust him.) Paul has recently started making excellent wooden whistles. He studied with the Weasel, the great Glenn Schultz. Anyway, the Weasel attended Paul's wedding, which gives us an opportunity to publish this rare photo of the Weasel (along with Paul, of course).
That's the Weasel Under the Hat.
IV. GLENN SCHULTZ WEARS KEVLAR!
i have a dandy story to relate.
someone sent back a pvc low F whistle
in a cardboard mailing tube. i removed the whistle and recapped the tube,
placing it with my stash of mailers and boxes and tubes and stuf. i recently had use for it in shorter form, and had to saw it to length. lo! the sender had used a brand-new pair of kevlar work gloves as padding!! what a blessing! what a treasure! would that i might recall who sent it; i'd thank him/her personally and profusely. as it is, all i can do is ask you to put my thank-you in your publication sometime. someone made my day.
glenn schultz sr
V. MY FAVORITE KIND OF UNSUBSCRIPTION...
...is when somebody subscribes, gets the "welcome letter" and then immediately unsubscribes. Hehehehe.
VI. VERY SMALL BORE
By way of introduction, here's an excerpt from the March 9, 2002 newletter:
I'm ever-impressed with the people at Susato, who continue to produce some of the best inexpensive whistles on the planet and who also continue to develop their product line. The latest thing from their shops are the VSB whistles. That stands for Very Small Bore. (No jokes this time. Remember the trouble Randy Newman got into for "Short People"?)
I've not played one yet but there's been some good reviews on the message board and Thom Larson has them featured on his website. From Thom's site: The original Susato Soprano Whistle is considered a "Small Bore" whistle (the bore is the diameter of the barrel of the whistle). Susato has now answered requests for a quieter, sweeter sounding whistle for the soprano keys - the "Very Small Bore" Soprano whistle. Note that a few higher keys (Soprano F & G) are now also available.
In the meantime, I've played these whistles in D and F. I believe they are also now out in E, Eb, and high G. I've always liked Susatos. But, I think this VSB whistle is about as good as it gets among low-priced whistles. The tone is different from the other high Susatos. Some people think that the standard Susatos sound too much like recorders. Fair enough. The VSB has a more traditional whistle-tone. Sweeter and a bit thinner. The volume is slightly reduced (Standard Susatos have a bold and assertive volume--loud, you might say). The tuning is dead on. It's is solidly and reliably playable. It's got a bit of tunability if you buy the 2-piece model, which I prefer, by the way. I don't see how you could do better in an inexpensive whistle.
VII. MEGS AT THE WHISTLE SHOP
Thom Larson is selling Clarke Megs for $3 each. This ought to be interesting!
VIII. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE NEWSLETTER OF THE ALABAMA CELTIC ASSOCIATION
I've always been interested in music and I've had an interest over the years in inexpensive musical instruments. This was probably related to the time I spent in college and graduate school and had no money to buy anything except inexpensive instruments. But, I like the idea of those instruments which aren't inherently bad because they are cheap. You know, plastic recorders, kalimbas, harmonicas--that kind of thing. About 6 or 7 years ago, I heard Joanie Madden interviewed on NPR. I subsequently walked into Bob Tedrow's shop and Bob sold me a Clarke D whistle. He tried to sell me a concertina, of course, but I didn't have $2000 in my pocket. I had about $8. I stuck the whistle in the sun visor of my car (1993 Dodge Caravan--stick with me and someday you'll have a ride like that) and played with it occasionally during my daughters' soccer practices. After a few weeks, some dark, shadowy spirit of compulsion began to grow in my chest. (Actually, in retrospect, I think it may have been pollen allergies.) In any case, I got very interested in pennywhistles and started scouring the Internet for information. Finding relatively little, in 1995 or 1996, I started a modest little website which was originally called "The Tinwhistle Table." I put my email address at the bottom.
Soon I started to hear from similarly afflicted people. All were stricken with a malady which I have since dubbed WhOA (Whistle Obsessive Acquisition disorder). Many were people, like me, who compulsively collect various brands and keys of whistles as an excuse to avoid actually learning to play well. Others were very fine players worldwide, amateur and professional.
After a short time, I renamed the site Chiff & Fipple, purchased a domain name and located the site permanently at http://www.chiffandfipple.com .. It is the largest, most visited, and best known whistle website. Over the years, I've accumulated huge numbers of pages on various whistle-related topics on the website. There's also an insanely busy message board with over 1100 registered visitors and currently averaging about 40,000 messages per year. (More than 100 a day. How weird is that?) I publish a semi-regular email newsletter, also called Chiff & Fipple, which, as of today, has over 3000 subscribers. The tone of the entire enterprise is very light and there's lots of fun and humor in addition to useful information. I get about 20 whistle-related emails a day and try to respond to all of them.
Now, one of the ironies is that, to this day, I am, at my best, a modestly talented amateur. At best. Although I am a very comfortable public speaker, I have a terror of playing the whistle in public. So, I tend to remain a tad reclusive and haven’t circulated much with local Celtic music people because of this. (A few years ago, I did make Rick and Karen Cunningham cringe at the Chulrua show when I mispronounced "uilleann." In spite of that, they’ve been uniformly nice to me since.) But, I understand the whistle rather well and I receive sample whistles from all the major makers. I suppose I have 300 whistles. (I can't keep inventory because they come in and I give some away). These range from the whole catalog of inexpensive ones to handmade whistles made by fine craftsmen that cost in the neighborhood of $400. There’s a range of Chiff & Fipple t-shirts and sweatshirts available. I get CDs sent to me for review now--I suppose about one a week. I occasionally get calls from musicians who need a particular whistle in an odd key for performance or recording and I sometimes loan out instruments from my collection. It's all very odd.
About two weeks ago, on a Sunday, one of my daughters answered my home phone and told me there was a man on the line with an emergency. In my line of work, I get emergency phone calls with some regularity. In this case, the caller was a musician who was traveling through Birmingham on his way to a recording date in Nashville. He told me frantically that he plays a number of wind instruments and that he had forgotten to pack his whistles. He had called Bob Tedrow who had given him my number. I talked to him about what he needed, packed up a few candidate instruments, and met him in a parking lot off the interstate. He took a couple of Generation High G whistles with him with my blessings. It must have looked a little odd to passers-by: These two guys handing these metal tubes back and forth and blowing into them. I was sort of hoping law enforcement might come by and "check on us." That would have been fun.
IX. EL HAS AGAIN ENTERED THE BUILDING
I'm a big fan of El McMeen's fingerstyle Celtic guitar. His CDs are all excellent and I simply don't understand why you don't own every single one. Yes, I'm talking to you. The last one, The Lea Rig, featured Bob Pegritz on whistle. Now comes the latest El CD, Breakout. It's fabulous and, among other wonders, contains the hippest acoustic guitar arrangement of Motown tunes I can imagine (My Girl/Stand By Me/It's the Same Old Song). You gotta get it. El's website is here and the CD is available here.
X. CHIFF & FIPPLE's WORLDWIDE DOMINATION
Remember we're trying to get a handle on the geographic distribution of Chiff & Fipple members. Response has been good. If you haven't already:
XI. QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
"I want to focus on my salad, because that's why we're here."
--Martha Stewart on CBS's "The Early Show" trying to fend off questions about insider trading scandal
XII. Rest in Peace
Ray Brown, John Entwistle, Rosemary Clooney.
is a worldwide community of whistle-players. You may subscribe to this newsletter by sending blank email to email@example.com with the word "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line. A very active and supportive message board forum is available at http:// chiffboard.mati.ca . An unbearably extensive informational website for Chiff & Fipple is at http://www.chiffandfipple.com.
Lord, help us see how near is your kingdom.