Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writing Advice of the Week: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

My younger brother, Ron, a retired Delta pilot who lives near Atlanta, is not only an Army and Air Force vet and pilot with over 17,000 hours in command: he has undertaken guitar rehab and repair as a retirement hobby. He has always done woodworking and in recent years has turned his efforts to fixing broken guitars. He does a beautiful job, turning cracked broken instruments into beautiful guitars that play as well as they look. Recently he has been sending his projects to a program called Guitars4Vets that gives our wounded warriors a guitar and six lessons. After that, they continue with group lessons and music sharing times. Their website is

Ron is also an incredible writer, and I wanted to highlight that today. We have maintained an email correspondence for years now,and while most of the messages deal with our day-to-day activities, his posts to me are models of style and technique. Not too shabby for a Wake Forest business ad major.  Here's a recent email from him to show what I mean:

Nothing Like a Cheeseburger

... to make up for a disappointing day. The day began with the promise of good things. My Marine Gunny buddy had finally cleared his calendar to allow our meeting for lunch. An eBay buyer had sent an offer for an item that had not sold last week. And, the eBay Ovation repair project still only had my one bid for $79.

Well, my buddy called to cancel, as he had to meet a widowed neighbor at the hospital. She doesn't have local family, and has been like a grandmother to his kids. Then, the eBay buyer went quiet after I informed him that shipping to Germany for the item would be $47. I did get the Ovation, but two other bidders ran the price up to $97. But, if the German buys the item for $20, that's the difference. Weird karma today.

At your convenience, could you print out a picture of the back of the Martin guitar with the swirl wood insert? I told Dad about it, and I'd like to get his ideas on how it was done. Maybe I could e-mail Martin customer service and ask for their secret.

Now I need a extra deep throated "C" clamp to work on the Ovation. It has a minor bridge lift, along with the top crack. Nothing I have would work. Stew Mac wants $30 for one, but Grizzly has an identical one for $11. I tried my Rice's Hardware equivalent, but they didn't have one.

Oh yeah, the cheeseburger. I waited all morning for the German to reply, so I could mail the box while I was doing errands. Unfortunately, I waited too long, so I couldn't do any errands. I decided to salvage some of the day by having a decadent Longhorn cheeseburger. It's called comfort food for a reason.

Ron (Verner)

Most of this message deals with guitar repair and Ron's sales of some of the instruments on eBay. (Stew Mac is a supplier of guitar repair tools and materials, as is Grizzly. Rice's Hardware is a local old-fashioned hardware store that I blogged about last week in a post entitled "Breaker, Breaker.")  Notice the level of detail, the relaxed tone, and how he brings it back to cheesburgers at the end. Well-written, bro! And thanks for letting me post this!

1 comment:

  1. Ron's followup email today:
    The message was titled, "Luthierially Challenged"

    Hey Dan,

    I guess I can make up words now that I am an example to the Biscuit City world of what a e-mailerist should be.

    Whatever the word, I will be that and more with the Ovation that came in today. The top has a serious crack, and it will be tough to get the sides together. I put in a cleat under the crack in front of the bridge, then I'll start on the lower bout crack tomorrow. The D-16 I fixed had a similar crack, and it closed up nicely with top pressure and a cleat.

    The guitar did come with a case, and I would describe it in the manner of Gunnery Sgt R/ Lee Ermey as crapphonsic. It's a cheap chipboard brand X, that may be used to ship a G4V guitar. There does seem to be one fan of it.

    I seem to remember my pledge not to repair any more guitars. Maybe I meant no more guitars that will lose money. The jury is out on the Ovation, but it is a $1000 instrument, and it was made in the US. Besides, I have a $199 / $719 Martin showing up tomorrow. Everyone knows that Martins are worth big bucks.

    I hope crapphonsic and lutherially didn't set off your English 101 alarm. I think of it as artistic license. As if I had such a thing.


    I would just note that Ron also made up the word, "emailerist" as far as I know. I think playing with language is also typical of good writers (James Joyce, for one example).You have plenty of artistic license, bro!