JFZ Today, How to Make a Washtub Bass, & Emmet Otter’s Jug~Band Christmas Part 1

275 Days until Dragon*Con 2012….

“Risin’ up, back on the street…”

Today I interpret this to mean, “Back in the JFZ after a long Thanksgiving weekend”. I never really thought of Eye of the Tiger as a song that was open to interpretation, but I guess it is. I also never really thought I would make so many open references to the Rocky movies in my life. I wish I knew how many fatshits Rocky has inspired to get into shape, and how many of them kept themselves going on a steady diet of granola and Eye of the Tiger. I also would really like to hear Beaker singing Eye of the Tiger.

Today I thought I was really doing good, but then when I went to log today’s workout into Fitocracy, I realized that I had taken a step back. Also, a quick gripe about Fitocracy: used to, when you put in your elliptical information, you could add in your speed, heartbeat, difficulty percentage, etc. All of this info garnered me a lot more points towards leveling up my fitnessing. Now, all you can put in is the time and whether this time on the elliptical was “easy”, “broke a sweat”, “moderate”, or two other ones that are harder than that. I always pick moderate, because I think what they are getting at is the difficulty ratio, and since I use the Whirly Bird at 50% difficulty, I choose moderate, because it’s in the middle. This does not get me a lot of points, so that sucks.

Anyway, today at the JFZ was no big deal. My usual routine, which I was glad to be able to do. I think I put some kind of hoodoo on my back though, because it’s hurting now. Getting old is not for sissies and I do not recommend it. I wish I could find some Tales from the Crypt way to live forever, like stealing people’s souls, or a body transfer type thing a la “Being John Malkovich”. Although Malkovich Malkovich is older than me, which means his back might be even more broker than mine. No kettlebell this week, unless things turn around, or I can find a bathtub full of virginblood to bathe in.

Speaking of bathing in the blood of virgins…

Emmet Otter’s Jug~Band Christmas!!!!

It’s a Toe-Tapping Christmas in Frogtown Hollow!

This is a dvd case. Inside this dvd case is a copy of Emmet Otter’s Jug~Band Christmas, probably one of the least-known Muppet Christmas things ever. I got this dvd on ebay a long time ago, along with Muppet Family Christmas (which is out of print). While Muppet Family Christmas goes for crazy amounts of money on the internet, you can still find Emmet Otter for a very reasonable price.

As a lifelong Muppet fan, I had never heard of Emmet Otter’s Jug~Band Christmas (EOJBC) until about 8 years ago when a band I was in was playing a show in Kentucky. We were kind of a “jug band” in a way, meaning that we played washtub basses, saws, etc.

After the show, a young gal with a Kermit lunchbox approached me (the washtub bass player) and asked, “Have you seen Emmet Otter’s Jug~Band Christmas?” I said no, and she acted like I had just taken her dreams and smashed them into kibble n bits. After getting over her disappointment that a jug band had not even heard of EOJBC, she told me all about it. She hooked me at “Muppets” and then reeled me in at “Muppets in a Jug Band”. My mission in life had changed from “Stay on tour forever” to “Find a copy of Emmet Otter’s Jug~Band Christmas and watch it asap.”

One thing I like about this release is that this copy is released by “Jim Henson Home Entertainment”, not Disney. I can’t really put my finger on why, but it sorta bugs me that Disney owns the Muppets now. I guess part of it is that I don’t like how Disney can’t come up with anything good on their own (these days. I obviously love classic Disney stuff, how could you not?), so they just buy up anything that is good (and making money) that falls under “family entertainment” (see Pixar, the Muppets, Studio Ghibli, etc.).

This is the dvd menu for EOJBC. Here we see Emmet Otter himself, with his mom, playing a washtub bass. If you have never played a washtub bass before, I can tell you that it is easy and fun to play, but can be hard on your body. Here is how to make one:

Step 1: purchase a washtub

Step 1: washtub

Go to your local hardware store and get a washtub. I think these were originally used for laundry purposes, but now they are sometimes found with the gardening stuff. If your local doesn’t have them, then go over to Home Depot or Lowe’s, because they definitely have them.

insider view of the washtub

These tubs useta be made of galvanized steel, which meant they were virtually indestructible, but nowadays they are made out of aluminum, like this one, and will tear up if you play your washtub bass a lot, and you will once you figure out how much fun it is.

Step 2: knock a hole in the middle of the washtub

This is for the rope that you will eventually put through it, as seen here:

You will notice that the hole is not much bigger in diameter than the rope I have used. That is because there is a knot on the other side of this hole. The knot keeps the rope from pulling through while you are playing your bass.

Step 3: Put a rope through the hole and tie a big knot in it on the other side, like this.

The knot keeps the rope (string) from pulling through when you are thumping on your bass.

Step 4: Purchase a dowel and make a notch in one side and a hole in the other.

I made this notch using a drill. This notch will sit on the lip of the washtub and keep the stick from flying around while you are playing. Use the drill to drill a hole in the other side of the stick.

Step 5: Tie the rope TIGHT through the hole in the other end of your dowel/stick/neck.

I use nylon braided rope for my washtub basses, but I know people use all kinds of stuff. You’re going to want something that is easy on your hands, so don’t go getting that prickly rope stuff.

Nylon braided rope stretches out, so after a few times of playing your bass, you will need to re-tie the knot on the dowel to keep it tight. It is the tension, obviously, that makes the sound of the bass.

I tie my rope tight enough so that, at rest, the dowel is at about a 50 degree angle to the tub. That way, when you set the notch into the lip, and pull the dowel up tight, the neck/stick will be at 90-degrees to the tub and the string will be taut.

Step 6: Play it!

Easier said than done. Put one foot on the tub to hold it down and use one hand to pull the dowel up tight and the other to thump the string. The different tones come from tightening and loosening the tension on the rope, plus a lot of people “fret” the rope, as in move their hands up and down to increase or decrease the tension.

You may also want to wear heavy-duty work gloves, as you will definitely get some serious blisters from rope burn, if you have soft nerd hands like I know all of you do.

When finished, your washtub bass should look much like this:

Note that, without someone pulling on the dowel, it is at an angle to the tub.

Now that you have your washtub bass, you can play along with Emmet Otter at home! Also, by having a washtub bass that you made yourself, it is easier for you to understand one of the main plot points of EOJBC: that Ma makes her meager living by doing the neighbors’ laundry, but Emmet needs to put a hole in the washtub if his Jug Band is to win a big prize at the local talent show.

Which reminds me, I was gonna break down Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas today, but now I think I’ll save it for tomorrow. Putting together this washtub bass is a great prologue for it, anyway. Muppets, if you ever re-release this on dvd, I’ll gladly make a “special feature” about making your own washtub bass at home to enjoy with your friends! Call me up. We’ll make lunchtime happen.

Like I said, now that you have your very own washtub, it’ll make the full breakdown tomorrow of EOJBC that much more enjoyable.

Stay tuned tomorrow. Until then, here’s a preview:

This entry was posted in About Fitness, About Media, General dorky shit. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to JFZ Today, How to Make a Washtub Bass, & Emmet Otter’s Jug~Band Christmas Part 1

  1. 1148BucksX2 says:

    The notion that we have to show improvement each and every workout is nothing more than a macho fantasy, so don’t let an off day at the gym get you down.

    Back on the horse, dood.

    • The horse jacked my back yesterday. Today I figured out what the culprit was when I did it again: improper form on Step 1 of the ToT: the simulated benchpress. No more of those for a few days.

  2. 1148BucksX2 says:

    While I can’t even fathom a guess as to how many folks Rocky Balboa has inspired, I can tell you that you can cruise the Ben Franklin Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at any hour of the day or night, and odds are there’s at least one individual in a sweatsuit making their way up those steps.

    • I’ve been to Philadelphia a few times, but have never been to The Steps. I will one day though, hopefully when I’m in good physical condition and can sprint up them with no problems, complete with victory hops at the top, hands in the air.

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