Jesse Collins, and then some.

A blog dedicated to those who would rather be at the cottage.

Archive for the 'CatchAll' Category

With a banjolele on my knee…

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

In honour of my Uncle Bert’s birthday, I had to post this great article I tripped over at

The first musical instrument I ever learned to play was the banjo-uke. My Dad’s a cabinet-maker, and one of his early projects was to make a couple of the miniature banjos for my Uncle Bert, who was an avid George Formby fan and damn good banjo player. Growing up hearing him play impressed upon me that it’s pretty tough to remain in a bad mood when you’re playing a banjo. I got my first one when I was twelve.

A banjo-uke is the near-cousin of the ukelele, which has been enjoying something of a renaissance on the internet of late. One of the weirdest, warmest and wackiest homages to the uke—as well as to music, to politics and to humour—is neatly wrapped in a “Benefit Concert for Warren Buffett”: two guys play every song in the Beatles library (164 songs, for the record—pun intended). Full details are available at this Ukulelia blog post but the best part is the dénouement. Our boys deliver a brown paper bag with bills and coins representing “hundreds of dollars” to Mr. Buffet, himself. The video of that exchange is a treat, and is reproduced below.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Bert.

The Family Virtual Christmas Card

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Hot off the hard drive, here it is. The watercolour is my first attempt at painting. An unapologetically blatant rip-off of a Tony Bennett masterpiece, it was just meant to be an exercise. His is three times as large, and a 100 times better (I can’t sing as well as him, either) but I was still pleased that mine manages to convey some of the serenity of a country Christmas. Click on the image for full-size view.

Have a Happy and a Merry, everyone.


Collins Christmas Card 2008

Collins Christmas Card 2008

My First Ride

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Murph dropped me a line about noticing a ’62 Plymouth Valiant on the road today and being struck by how ugly it was. It got me thinking about a post I’d been meaning to put up for quite awhile. A short tribute to the best car I ever owned. Flat-head 6, the last year of the 6-Volt battery and front-seat like a living room sofa: my 1954 Pontiac Pathfinder. The grill was a little dinged, and I was missing a headlight rim. Replaced that rim once from the Barrie Flea Market but hit a deer on Highway 12 and that was that the end of it.

It was a two-door coupe with a mint interior. What a beauty.

And it was also the perfect car to do bad James Dean impersonations in front of…

My First Car - 1954 Pontiac Chieftain

Wikipedia has a great entry about my first car.

Some of the more interesting optional items available for the first generation Chieftain included a radio with seven vacuum tubes, tissue dispenser, under seat heaters, and a Remington Auto-Home shaver.

Ah, those were the days!

Mind you – mine never looked this buff:

Reporter Hates Anchor. Anchor Hates Reporter.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008


Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Not a lot of people know that I have a tattoo of an anchor on my right bicep with “Carol” & “Liam” emblazoned on a ribbon wrapping around it. It is an intentional reference to very traditional merchant marine tattoos, popularized by sailors to remember their loved ones. Norman Rockwell’s whimsical painting, showing a sailor editing his loved ones names, has always been on of my favourites. High art or not, it makes me smile and I think it may have been in part what led to my interest in traditional tattoos.

A Texas photographer recently shot a series of stills that were inspired by Rockwell’s work. He recreated that famous painting, but with a subtle modern touch. See the rest of his work at his site: and read about the project. Brilliant.

Below is a series showing Rockwell’s photo that he used to create his painting; the painting “The Tattooist”; and Randal Ford’s Inspired version…

Rockwell Working Photo

Rockwell Tattoo Original

Randal Ford's Photo Inspired by Rockwell

When I haven't been fishing, I've been looking at these on the dial-up: