Archive | April, 2012

“The more things change…

28 Apr

… the more they stay the same”  (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, 1849).  How about this one:  My first car was a 1951 Plymouth Suburban station wagon which my dad and I bought in 1956 (I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday, April 20th, 1956).  I paid $300 from paper route savings and dad paid the other $300 — $600 for a 5-year-old car.  In today’s dollars: $600 of 1956 dollars would be worth: $5,042.02 in 2012 (see http://www.davemanuel.com/inflation-calculator.php). So, it was a very nice car — stick shift and in good condition.  Here’s a photo of a 1951 Plymouth station wagon…

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1951 Plymouth Suburban station wagon

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Have things changed much over the last 60 years?  Some things have, especially technology. We had one phone in our house and one small black and white television, which we didn’t get until 1952.  Also, we had electricity and running water (inside the house).  But, good design is good design and it is not confined to one era or another.  Here’s a photo of a 2010 Ford Flex station wagon…

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A 2010 Ford Flex station wagon

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Did I mention the jump in hours at Home Depot?  From 9.5 last week to 32 next week and 20 the week after — I need the bread, so I’m happy with that situation.  I’m just beginning to efficiently locate the paint base products that I need to find to mix colors.

I put together a chart of all ten bins of the Behr paint products — a storage section about 80 feet long by 10 feet high… hundreds of different products that I need to quickly locate.  In another month or so, I’ll know my way around the place and the stress levels will drop.  It bugs me that it takes me so long to find products, but that’s perfectly normal.

For example — here is page one of ten. The bins at the top store the gallon cans, then quarts in the middle and then the five-gallon buckets on the bottom.

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Bin 1 of 10 - these are Behr "Ultra" paints - paint and primer in one can

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I have a master list of all the numbers. If I need a gallon of 2754, I go to the Behr gallon section and look up 2754 — it will say 2754 – 1 – 3.  Then I go out to the first bin and look at row 3 — now I can find paint in seconds instead of minutes.  I’m going to a fair amount of trouble to put this chart together (I’m on Section 8 of 10). But, when finished, I’ll use it to locate paint quickly and then it will be one of the tools available for new people who join the paint department in the future. Everything counts (http://www.everythingcounts.com). Every effort you expend will count toward something — even lack of effort counts… everything you do either propels you forward or sends you backward. You can’t stand still.

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Here’s an interesting shot — me in my early 30s (early 70s) and Sylvia’s aunt Kathy. She and her son were visiting from Dublin.

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Sylvia's aunt Kathy from Dublin and JB

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Here’s Sylvia and her mom visiting Liam Nolan and family (her brother-in-law — married to her older sister Dymphna, aka “Dympie”). This was probably taken in the 70s somewhere — Sylvia could tell me, but she hit the sack early last night (it’s 1:15 AM).

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Sylvia and her mom and brother-in-law Liam Nolan - 70s

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Just found a photo of my ’51 Plymouth — I was camping in Sequoia. The redwood trees are so large that you can drive a car underneath — this was taken in ’56.

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My 1951 Plymouth station wagon - parked under a giant Redwood in Sequoia National Park - taken in the summer of 1956.

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That’s it for now…

Later

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brez

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New Route 66 images…

27 Apr

Here are a few Route 66 images — the original graphic is taken from a postcard. I scan the postcards, take the scan into Photoshop and rearrange the pixels to create a new image of the old postcard.

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Route 66 going through Clinton, Oklahoma - the 50s

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Granite City Garage in Granite City, Illinois - on Route 66

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Green Gable Camp on Route 66 in Hamel, Illinois

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Gas Station in Springfield, Illinois on Route 66

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Hispot Inn on Route 66 in St. Clair, Missouri

 

Toonerville Trading Post on Route 66 near Winona, Arizona

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That’s my latest addition to the Route 66 Postcard Art collection — I think I’m up to around 200 images by now.  Eventually I’ll have a website (route66postcardart.com) and I’ll sell prints of these images.  Here’s my facebook link to my Route 66 art prints: http://www.facebook.com/pages/ROUTE-66-Postcard-Art-Prints/103832802989963.

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Home Depot is giving me more hours next week — only 9.5 this week, but up to 32 next week and 20 the week after.  So, so far, that seems to be working out OK.  Jo Anne (the HR lady) is giving me an excellent schedule – usually starting around 9 or 10 and staying no later than 8:00 PM.

That’s all for now..

Later…

brez

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32,000 visits… 50s stuff still popular…

21 Apr

The old jazz exercise videos continue to get more exposure and visitations.  The 2-5-1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg-mDGAigxE ) is over 21, 800 and the 7-9-11-13 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve5T1hxP_l4) is over 10,200.  I learned these exercises in 1954 and 55.  By the summer of ’55 I was playing for money, so they are very practical exercises to learn if you have some intention of working in the music business as a piano player.

I’ll be selling downloadable pdf’s of these exercises (and others) and also hard copies. Also I’ll be selling mp3’s of tracks from my two albums (from 1961 and 1963).  They will be sold off a new site that is still in the planning stage. I have the home page done (first draft) — here it is below:

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First draft of home page for new bresnikstudio.com site

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noaURkEc6gc&feature=related

Here ya go — some really good gospel playing — this guy is good. I’m going to copy some of this voicings.  This is one of my major dreams — to become a REALLY good gospel player. When I go on that trip next year, I’ll be spending a lot of time at churches in the south, especially New Orleans.  I have the blues down pretty well, but I don’t know the traditional gospel moves. But, once I have those, plus what I already know (blues and jazz), I should come up with a pretty good gospel style… it’s fun music.

All for now — need to put some time into a graphics project…

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later

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Johnny

aka brez

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72 years on the scene…

20 Apr

Yes, I have completed seventy-two years of living, as of today. I am now starting my 73rd year. It would take a LONG time for me to review the past 26,280 days — that’s a lotta days.  So, instead, I’ll just post a few photos and then take off — it’s late and I gots to get a bunch of stuff done later today…

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Little "Johnny" on his tricycle on Dorrington Ave in West Hollywood - c. 1945

I had a lot more hair then — don’t know where it went… it just disappeared. Must be some kind of a genetic thing.

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June 12, 1965 -- a BIG day for two young kids just getting started...

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One of my favorites -- Pauline and Peter on their wedding day in England - 2006

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I’m outta time… got to go… will get more updates done soon.

By the way — I was complaining about Home Depot cutting my hours last time — but they’re scheduling me for 32.25 hours for the week of April 30th.  One of the full-time guys in the paint department moved on to a better position and that opened up 40 hours that they need to cover. So, that’s good for me.

All for now..

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brez

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“we’re cutting hours today…”

14 Apr

On a Saturday?  “Yer kiddin me” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGeKSiCQkPw)…

I got a call this morning fifteen minutes before I was going to leave for work… “we’re cutting hours today — don’t need you to come in.”  True, it was raining yesterday and last night, but it’s clearing up now and that means people who didn’t go to Home Depot yesterday for paint will show up today, plus the regular Saturday crowd. A couple months ago I started out at around 30 hours a week. Then it was down to 20 — then down to 16 and now this week I’m at 11.  Not too good. Plus over that time I have made ONE sign — it was for a weekly sale, so it’s gone… this one:

My one and only sign made for Home Depot

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But, for me, at this point, eleven hours is better than no hours.  Be thankful for small favors… actually, they are doing me a favor — to hire a 72-year-old dude is rare and I appreciate this opportunity. I’m not making signs, but I enjoy working in the paint department. I’ve been around paint professionally since 1954, so it’s a comfortable situation.

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How about climbing Half Dome in Yosemite?  Sound good?  Sylvia and I were planning to do it with John Adler’s team (he took her up to the top of Mt. Whitney last fall as a member of his team).  He’ s taking a few people up in August.  In spite of his extensive experience as a climber (Mt. Whitney fifteen times and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa), he always climbs Half Dome with an experienced guide, so he hires the same guide every year. I’m not sure, but I think the reason he does this is that Half Dome can be very dangerous (http://articles.cnn.com/2011-08-01/us/california.yosemite.death_1_half-dome-cables-hikers?_s=PM:US).  But thousands of people do it every year, so it can be done if the conditions are good.  He depends on the guide to make the final decision before attempting the climb.  John can be trusted to arrange the safest journey possible to the summit of these famous landmarks.

As I was saying… we were planning to do this, but I have chickened out.  See below…

This is the last four hundred feet of the climb, and you’d better be in good shape before you start because you’ll need to come back down (unless you can arrange for a helicopter ride).  So, you need sufficient strength and endurance to handle this one. Considering that I haven’t been hiking for about fifty years plus my fear of heights, I have decided to pass on this one.  Some days I feel really strong and confident — the day I contemplated this project must have been one of those good days.

So, here’s the plan… Sylvia is still going to attempt it (you don’t have to do that last four hundred feet — it’s OK to turn around and head back down the switchbacks).  And, her niece is planning to take my spot. So, the two of them will give it a go.

Then, the day after Sylvia returns from that trip, she’ll leave for another trip — to spend three weeks with our daughter in London. Then to Dublin in January of next year to celebrate her older sister’s 80th birthday.  My travel plans for the rest of the year are not as ambitious.  We’re going on a camping trip to Twin Lakes in Sequoia National Park in July. I may go back to Brooklyn and Ellicott City to see Johnny and Angie… perhaps in the late summer, but it depends on the bread situation.

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I gots to keep goin here… supposed to be at work at 10:00 AM (unless they call and cancel me out again).

later

brez

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jb

… and it’s all because of you…

11 Apr

Here are the lyrics of one of my all-time favorite songs — the best version for me was on the album “Pancho and Lefty” that Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard released on October 21, 1983 (see http://www.amazon.com/Pancho-Lefty-Merle-Haggard/dp/B0045DO888/ref=sr_1_fkmr3_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334128584&sr=8-1-fkmr3)

My Life’s Been A Pleasure

Recorded by Willie Nelson
Written by Jesse Ashlock 

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I still love you as I did in yesterday
     D7                                             G
Many years have gone by though it seems just like a day

It's no wonder that I love you  you have been so kind and true
           D7                                      G
There will never be another it will always be just you

             D7                   C
We've come a long way together to prove our love is true
A7                            D7
My life's been a pleasure and it's all because of you
G
And to me you'll always be just as sweet as flowers in May
    D7                                    G
And I'll still love you as I did in yesterday

             D7                   C
We've come a long way together to prove our love is true
A7                            D7
My life's been a pleasure and it's all because of you
G
And to me you'll always be just as sweet as flowers in May
    D7                                    G
And I'll still love you as I did in yesterday

    D7                                    G
And I'll still love you as I did in yesterday

......................36 years ago...
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Here we are at 36 years old - 36 years ago

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Yes… so far, “my life’s been a pleasure and it’s all because of you…”

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Home Depot is cutting back hours for part-timers. When I started, a couple months ago, I was at between 26 and 31 hours. This week will be 19.5 — then next week at 16.5 and today the new schedule was posted… I’m scheduled for 9.5 hours for the last week of April.  Happy Birthday…

Yessir — another birthday coming up next week… #72.  Old age is creeping up slowly.  I’m not “old” yet, but I think it’s around the corner.  I noticed a BIG change when I left my 60s and got started with the 70s.  The change has been a combination of emotional and physical. Emotionally, you’re aware that this could be the last decade, or maybe the last day, but there’s no way of knowing.  Just the thought of things winding down is quite disturbing, so I don’t think about it.  I used to have a terrible fear of dying in my late 30s, but now the fear factor has subsided somewhat, although if I dwell on it, it do be scary.  Physically, I don’t have the endurance I used to have — when I’m riding the bike, I can’t “push” for very long… get tired quickly.  Dang it.  This is not good  : (

But, I still have PLENTY to do — the list is very long… very long.  No end in sight.  So, that’s good.

In fact, I have so much to do that I’m not sure where to start. Rather than picking one project and sticking with it until it’s done, my style has been to start a few projects and then jump from one to the other. It works for me — I like that style because if I lose interest in one, or determine that it’s not worth pursuing, then I haven’t put a lot of time into it.

That’s an option for you … you don’t have to do what you think your parents want you to do — I didn’t, and my life has turned out very well (for instance, my parents did not want me to marry Sylvia — they missed that call by a mile.  Marrying Sylvia was the best thing that ever happened to me).

Parents aren’t as smart as they think they are.  They make mistakes – they get things wrong.  I’m a firm believer in “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).  They do their best and try to make good decisions, but they make mistakes.  We followed Proverbs 22:6 as well as we could and I think our kids are doing quite well — they have their problems, but, the big picture is pretty darn good, and I’m very grateful to the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob for his many many blessings over these past 72 years.

Time for another photo — I love photos…  how about this one:

Sylvia's home in Dublin, Ireland

Here’s a history of that part of Dublin:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabra,_Dublin

This house on the left is where Sylvia spent most of her early years (I think — have to check on the details… you would think I’d know that by now). In the early years, that garage was not there, so the Bergin family lived in that small (believe me, it’s small) 2-bedroom house… mom, dad and seven kids. Things were really rough in the 40s and 50s — she has many scary stories to tell of that era. But, at the age of 17, the family moved to Southampton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southampton). She said she thoroughly enjoyed that year in England and didn’t want to return to Dublin.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons she left Dublin in 1961 to work in Germany. I’m glad she made that decision because I got to meet her in 1963.  Amazing how things work — that’s another one of my favorites:  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Speaking of getting called… I’m getting called to stop for now and get some shut-eye.

Until later…

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Johnny

aka John aka JB aka Brez

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The piano man…

7 Apr

Yep… still playin… started taking lessons 61 years ago.  I should be really good by now, but I’m not the hot shot I thought I was going to become, as a youngster playing in the late 50s and early 60s.  My problem is diversity. Yes, diversity is a great concept, but it leads to meandering — you can’t get good at anything if you keep diversifying.  It’s a time thing.  To get really good at anything, you need basically two components:  a very high level of interest and a sustained focus, over time.  No jumping around from one thing to another… like I did.  But, I console myself with the saying — “jack of all trades and master of every one of them.” I’m not really a master of every one of them, but I have become quite good at several “trades.”

I recently posted a hymn that I’ve been playing for years: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”… Easter is on Sunday, so this is an appropriate subject for today, as we approach the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from his grave. That one event, according to history, is what sets Christians apart from non-Christians. I know… there are tons of religions out there, but I’m convinced in my mind and emotions that the Christian gospel is true truth.  So, I’m one of those “born-again” Christians you’ve heard about.  I’m also one of those “once saved, always saved” Christians. Again, many Christians disagree with that concept.  But, that’s their problem.  I’m going to be kickin the bucket one of these days, and I’m going to see Jesus right after the ticker stops… that’s what I believe, anyway. And, Jesus said — “”It shall be done to you according to your faith.” (Matthew 9:29).  So, we’ll see.

Anyhow… back to the hymn. Here’s the link to the YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P24Zacw5uOg.

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Here’s an encouraging comment one viewer offered:

John, your arranging style is both beautiful and masterful! You have the mark of a true seasoned professional. As a fellow jazz pianist, your work is very inspiring to me. I am putting a jazz hymns project together myself, so your ideas are very thought provoking and helpful.

pianoman192000 1 day ago

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Nothing like some positive input to cheer a guy up — life gets very complicated and it’s always nice to get some encouragement.  It seems to come just when you need it the most. That’s what Jesus does — he moves people to move us…  just at the right time.  There’s nothing comparable to the power of Jesus in your life — he is the source of everything we need.  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).  Fantastic.

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Here are some cool random photos I found in my collection — I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of great shots — imagine taking photographs of every significant event over a period of sixty-three years… my dad bought me a Brownie Hawkeye camera when they came out in 1949 (63 years ago) and I’ve been shootin away ever since. So, here are a few… (I didn’t take this first one – son Rob sent it to me).

Here's son Rob and his daughter Skyler with Hilary Swank at Legoland a couple years ago.

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Sylvia and her buddy Brian up in the High Sierra's (this was taken by Brian's wife Liz, who is a great photographer)

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Here's a combo wood sculpture and drying rack I made last year

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This is an inclined bed I built a few years ago -- great way to sleep

I stumbled across this very significant concept a few years ago – “inclined bed therapy” — the head of the bed is six inches higher than the foot.  Many, many benefits for you when you sleep on a five-degree angle. I’ve been sleeping for decades, and this is THE WAY to go…  Google it and find out what it’s all about.  It has been promoted by Andrew Fletcher (he lives in southern England)… http://andrewkennethfletcher.blogspot.com/ — this is his blog address. It’s worth a look — you can change you general health for the better by sleeping at the five-degree angle.

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Pete Ferran playing tenor - me on piano -- Army days - 1964

He normally played clarinet, but  doubled on tenor now and then ..

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It’s 2:30 AM and I’m pooped…  off to the races…

Have fun out there…

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Johnny

aka Brez

aka Johnny Boy

and aka John

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