Jim Beloff, Musician


Cool Tools Show 097: Jim Beloff

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Our guest this week is Jim Beloff. Jim is the author of The Ukulele : A Visual History, and with his wife Liz publishes the popular Jumpin’ Jim’s series of ukulele songbooks, including The Daily Ukulele, one of the best selling ukulele songbooks ever published.

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Show notes:
Kent The Handmade Comb ($15)
“I’m sure like a number of your listeners, I was was reduced to buying the same old ACE comb at a drugstore that used to be unbreakable, but is no longer unbreakable, because as you can imagine, if it’s unbreakable then you don’t resell a lot of them. I just got really tired of them breaking and I thought there’s got to be a good pocket comb, and lo and behold, I found one. They’re made in England by a company called Kent, and I think just based on some really quick research, I think they’ve been in business for 300 years … it says handmade, it’s kind of tortoise shelly, and it says saw cut, and the code on it is R7T, and it fits perfectly in my back pocket. It hasn’t even got any kind of usage marks on it whatsoever, and I’ve been using it for the last six months, and I’m just happy as can be that I found a really good kind of lifetime comb now.”
Penguin Woven Elastic Leather Belt ($20)
“This is in the same category. I’ve lived at least half a life, or more, and I have just resigned myself to the idea that you just have to kind of burn through kind of mediocre belts with holes that are not always where you want them to be. Then really just recently I stumbled upon a belt made by Penguin. They’re just a brand name, they make a lot of sort of sportswear, but they make this weave belt, and the key to this thing is that it doesn’t have holes. It’s just an elasticized belt, and the beauty of it is that you can put the prong anywhere, so …if you’re feeling a little more relaxed, you can loosen it by the tiniest amount or you can tighten it by the tiniest amount if you’re on a diet. You don’t have to be a slave to the holes. … They’re inexpensive, so it’s like a trifecta; it works, and it looks good, and it’s cheap.”
Music Memos
“I think now it’s been maybe two years since [Apple] introduced Music Memos, and this was just a gift. It sort of dropped on our doorstep at some point; they announced it and there it was. It was kind of the answer, at least for me, and I imagine for a lot of songwriters or composers who were always on the hunt for an easy app to just capture musical ideas on the run, and this was by far the easiest. First of all, it’s free, it’s from Apple, and the presentation could not be simpler. It’s just you push it on, and there is this sort of beautiful little blue signal in the middle, and you just push that and you’re recording and you’re off to the races.”
Enjoy Sudoku
“Yeah, this is my deep, dark secret. My nephew about 10 years ago, curse him … He introduced me to Sudoku and there was no turning back. You would think after 10 years I would have gotten even a tiny bit better and I have not, but by far in a way this Enjoy Sudoku, which is an app that you can find in the app store, I have found to be the cleanest, easiest Sudoku app that I’ve ever played with, and if you so choose, it will help you, and give hints, and suggestions, and teach as well … it’s just a great game, and it’s challenging and Enjoy Sudoku is certainly the best one I’ve found.”
Additional show notes:
Mark: Jim sent me a book of palindromes that he has written. He has been a palindrome writer for years and years, and has compiled this beautiful illustrated book with palindromic sentences, and why don’t you tell us a little bit about it and read a couple examples of the palindromes?

Jim: The way I describe this is that these were my sleep aides, meaning that when I would wake up in the middle of the night for no reason necessarily and had a hard time falling back to sleep, I found that it was restful to think about sentences that can be read in both directions, read the same in both directions. Maybe that goes to sort of the same mathematical part of me that likes Sudoku, I don’t know, but anyway, I’ve been thinking about them and collecting them for at least 30 years, and always with the idea that I’d love to publish some of my favorite ones. I chose a palindromic number, I chose 44 of them, and the title of the book is Ones Reverses Reverse No, which is of course a palindrome. It’s got some short ones, like, “Same nice cinemas” or “Retro porter”. One that I’m actually somewhat known for and has been published in other wordplay books is, “Lapses order red roses pal”, and “Eli began a motel bible to manage bile,” and they get kind of odd as they get longer. “No no is I’ve let a television on.” It’s a limited edition, a number set of 250, and I’m not offering it for sale on our website, so the only way people can get it is if they email me at Jim@FleaMarketMusic.com, and it’s $25 a copy plus shipping.