Five Cool Things - Plastic Guitars, My Favorite Restaurant, Buddha Machines, More


Nov. 20, 2018

Welcome to Shane Speal's little place of happiness.  Today, we explore more everything from yard sale guitars to the greatest restaurant I've ever visited in my hometown.  If you like simple pleasures, this little corner of the internet is here for you.  

THING ONE:  1970's Emanee Tiger plastic guitar, scored at a yard sale for $15.   As you can see in the photo above, the finish of this toy guitar is remarkable.  The swirling maroon and black plastics make a fantastic finish that modern guitar companies would pay big money to replicate using paint and lacquer.  But this is just a simple, beautiful toy guitar.  

It still plays fine, but the nylon strings and completely plastic body (probably designed by famed guitar maker, Mario Maccaferri) delivers a rubber band tone.  However, it's fantastic to look at, and in my opinion, is a perfect piece of artwork for the living room.  I love looking at this.

THING 2:  The Best Restaurant in York, PA.   Pho Soup from Pho Bistro, York PA.  I credit my wife, Melissa for pushing me to try many different foods and to choose things that are light, yet flavorful.  The dish above was my lunch today, and it's from my all time favorite restaurant in my hometown, Pho Bistro.  

If you've never had pho soup (a Vietnamese dish), don't be afraid of it.  This is the greatest bowl of noodle soup you will ever eat in your life.  It starts with a beef broth that has an explosion of depth and flavor.  Next is the noodles and thin cuts of steak inside.  The soup is served to you with a side dish of fresh basil, fresh bean sprouts and jalapeño peppers.  You add those to the soup to give it an even fresher taste, along with Sriracha hot sauce, if you prefer.  This is the food of legend.  Seriously.

I've eaten at many fine restaurants in York, PA, and Pho Bistro wouldn't be put into any "fine restaurant" category.  It's about one or two steps up from a "hole in the wall" joint... but don't let that stop you.  It's the best restaurant in town, bar none.  If I could eat there everyday, I would!

Pho Bistro is at 887 E. Market St, York PA.  Here's their Facebook page.  If you don't believe me, ask Ben "Gitty."  

THING 3 - The Buddha Machine

As I sit here writing this blog, I have a little rectangle thing (above) playing a looped sound in the background.  It's called the Buddha Machine and it was created by two musicians in China, known as FM3, as a unique way to distribute their music.  The box has short loops of their atmospheric music that you can chose from using a side button.  A top knob allows you to speed up or slow down the loops and another knob is for volume.

I could easily just dial in some Youtube channel with background noise, but this little box is one of those simple devices that makes me enjoy my work time just a little more.   I bought this many years ago and it still works great.  (I have no idea if they're even still making them!)

Here's a short documentary on the Buddha Machine.  

Their official website is

THING 4 - Circus Giant Ring from Coney Island.

I've written in the past about my fascination with sideshow freaks and the handmade rings that circus giants would sell as souvenirs.  (See "Circus Freaks & the Rings of Giant Kings."). In my collecting of these little trinkets, my favorite one of all has to be the Coney Island ring.

This golden pot metal ring has the stamping placed sideways on the ring and only designates DREAMLAND CONEY ISLAND on it without mentioning any circus performers.  I've sent pictures to the Coney Island Sideshow Museum and even they don't know it's origins.

It's just one of the few non-musical things I collect.  It makes me happy to look at them and reminds me of simpler entertainment that used to fill America.  

THING FIVE -  The Gumbo Stubby Slide, handcrafted from a spoon by Ron Hall.  I love short slides because they allow me to burn up and down the neck of a cigar box guitar faster than long ones.  My search for various "stubby slides" inspired me to create, the world's first store specializing in cigar box guitar slides.     

There's something about Ronnie's spoon slides that completely embraces the "simple beauty" aesthetic.  You know it was a former spoon when you pick it up, but you're inspired to see where it takes you on the guitar neck.  

Here's a little demo video I did.  Isn't it a fascinating little curved piece of spoon?  

I just got a new batch in from Ronnie.  You can find them here:  GUMBO SPOON SLIDE AT STUBBYSLIDE.COM

Until tomorrow, 

Shane Speal

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