The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Together, a poem

Together

We could go out by ourselves,
together. You sit across from me
and listen to your own conversation
while I enjoy my company.

It shouldn’t be any more boring
than some dates you’ve been on, and lots
less stressful. Yes, let’s go out
together and ignore each other.

And at the end, we might nod
a friendly farewell — parting will be
neither sweet nor sorrow. But it
will be separate checks, please.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

the perfect date? :)

Addendum, next day: It occurred to me (in the middle of the night, of course) that this might be an idea for a song. Maybe I'll try to mess with that amid all the other projects taking up my time.

Not a Bad Day, a short story

Not a Bad Day

It wasn’t a bad day. Some will claim that any day at the beach is good. Those are people who don’t spend every day there.

But, again, it wasn’t a bad day. The sun shone all morning, as it usually does, and the afternoon sea-breeze brought its storms. One does appreciate those daily rains, the cooling of the air, and then the clearing into a night of stars, thrown against the black silk sky. Far below them, ankle-high waves softly whisper to the sand.

The Gulf is placid in summer. Once, life had been placid in this little town, but I had seen, had felt, things slowly change around me. When had I realized it was no longer the same? Maybe it hit me when they put in parking meters at the beach. Long before, though, access had become more limited, the trails I had walked as a boy were closed off as high-rises and golf courses and Northerners with money changed the landscape.

Never mind that most of my friends had been born up north. This was where I grew up and if I belonged anywhere, it was here.

Or had once belonged. Failure is failure, wherever one goes. Even if it is home.

I probably should have grabbed a nap. I would be tired at work tonight, sitting in a lonesome toll booth. It generally wasn’t a bad night, either, out there on the edge of the Everglades, listening to the frogs and the barred owls and, yes, sometimes the gators. It was a temporary job, I had told myself, and that was probably still true.

Wasn’t everything temporary, really?

Larry King would be on the overnight radio and I might or might not listen. Vehicles were few, and fewer as the night progressed. I would welcome the break in my boredom when I went in and cleaned the restrooms.

I might try to write. It never seemed very urgent when I was there. There never seemed much reason to focus.

There was still time to eat, time to get cleaned up. I didn’t need to leave just yet. I would listen a while longer to the little waves, murmuring their way around the pilings, before heading back to my trailer, out past the airport, past the industrial park.

Yes, there was still time. It wasn’t a bad day. Not a bad day at all.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

One of my 'Branford Perry' short stories---a very short one! I have like a half-dozen in more-or-less final form and will undoubtedly turn out more. And maybe a novel eventually. This would be set, as it is, in the fictional town of 'Genoa' around the early 80s...or the real town of Naples

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mary and Joey Aboard the Boat

I posted a music review over at the Eggshell Boats blog: https://eggshellboats.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/two-americana-albums-reviewed/

This is for a pair of Americana (more or less) CDs, one by Mean Mary and one by Joey Errigo. Two artists I rather like, so the reviews are pretty favorable. Aside from the 'Americana' thing, both have ties to Florida. I hope to continue posting reviews of, well, whatever, there and eventually actually get the magazine going!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Audience

Some well-known and well-respected authors claim that we should not write for an audience, only for ourselves. Others, equally respected, have stated quite the opposite and feel we should have an ideal audience in mind, even if it is only one person. Given these two contradictory viewpoints, I would assume it doesn’t matter much.

But I myself tend toward the write-for-the-audience view. I am telling stories and I want them heard. I have before mentioned the metaphor of the storyteller, seated in the marketplace, with his circle of listeners. This is still my idea of what and who I am — or want to be. I am crafting tales (and this includes the poems and songs) that are meant to be not only heard but also understood.

Easily understood? Not necessarily. If things were easy to understand, there would be no point to any of the arts. Our role is to help our audience see the difficult a little more clearly, to add another brightly-colored tile to the mosaic.

For we do not see reality. We see a picture of reality, a construct of metaphor. It’s the old blind men and the elephant bit. The elephant IS all the things those gropers in darkness thought him; each metaphor they created helped them to further comprehend ‘elephant.’ No one can ever completely understand that creature or anything else.

So we help them along as best we may, giving our audience a rope or a tree or whatever is needed to better understand their own elephants. And if we help ourselves in the process, well, that’s all the better.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Scat, a poem

Scat

The lounge singer’s drunken scat
has lasted too long. Someone
whisper the right words to him
so we can get on with the song.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

A little poem thingy. I suppose one could see it as a metaphor for all sorts of things. Or maybe it's just about a drunken singer.

Skinks, a poem

Skinks

A big boy skink has been
pursuing a big girl skink
all around my studio floor,
patiently but persistently.

His head is broader than hers
but both are broad-headed skinks
and I suspect that more
broad headed skinks are in the offing.

Boy artists have been know
to pursue girl artists here as well.
I return to my canvas and hope
the broad-headed skink has more success.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Just some silliness I threw off in a moment or two this morning. And all sorts of critters roam around my place. This old farmhouse is pretty porous.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Firewood, a poem

Firewood

The tree of knowledge came down
in last night’s storm. Now I
must get out the chain saw,
cutting good and evil

into manageable lengths
of firewood. Will you
sit before that blaze
with me? It might burn

as brightly as the angel
guarding the gates of Eden.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Self-Doubt

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~ Sylvia Plath

Sylvia...would you have ever written anything without the self-doubt that lived in you? Those who do not doubt their ideas, their worth, do not become artists. Not good artists, anyway.

We must fear the words we write, be disturbed by them, doubt them; then we must give them to the world, regardless of all that. To face our doubts, to dare to explore them, is the way to creativity.

But we will continue to feel those self-doubts. Without them, our art becomes complacent. We must continue to force ourselves to step over that edge, even if we don’t know where we will land. We must ever doubt ourselves.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Invented History

When I speak of creating a thorough backstory for my novels, especially the fantasy ones, it includes working on the language and alphabets, a la Tolkien. Now, I wouldn't necessarily go as far with it as he did (not being a linguist, after all), but I recognize the need for some structure there. In my Malvern Trilogy (and the upcoming Mora sequel-esque trilogy), I mostly borrowed from Polynesian and other Oceanic languages, attempting to be fairly consistent about how the words might have changed over time (but not being too fussy about that).

However, for the second Malvern novel, VALLEY OF VISIONS, I needed a completely different language, invented largely from scratch, for the ageless sorcerer Hurasu to create for his people. I will admit that I borrowed some from ancient Etruscan for this, while trying to maintain the concept that it was a logical invented language, not an organic one. Of course, there would have been an alphabet created to go with it.

I have not gotten around to working up a definitive version of that alphabet. It may not be needed --- it certainly wasn't for the novel. I did, however, create a system of numerals that the people of the valley used. It is possible that Malvern might introduce them to the Mora people (the more-or-less Polynesians with whom he has settled). Or maybe not, but I am ready if need be. The numbers use a base-twelve system, not base-ten as we are accustomed to. There are many advantages, really, to using 12 but I mostly wanted it to be, well, a bit alien to us. Hurasu did, after all, come from another world. Here they are:


I did not need to make these up but it's kind of fun, and it makes it all more 'real' to me. If it seems more real to me, then perhaps I can convey that in my writing. The more well realized my worlds are, the better.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Foam and Fiberglass

Foam and fiberglass — that sounds like this should be post about building surfboards, doesn’t it? Something I know a bit about.

But, no, I am going to write about sound treatment for a recording space. I dabble at getting my studio into shape, but there are so many other things taking my attention right now that I haven’t been working at it as I should. Nor doing any recording, of course. One thing I have done is build some ‘super-chunks’ for my corners, to act as bass traps.

Or, I have made a start on them. They can and will get taller. These are essentially slabs of fiberglass board stacked up in the corner. I went with squares, though triangles are more common. That was a matter of space utilization. I am putting them at the floor in all four corners of my one-room space (it seems unlikely I will ever expand into the carport, as originally envisioned).

More treatment will definitely be needed. I have some fiberglass panels across the open rafters in my room (a nice large space, by the way, 14’ by 22’) to act as ‘sound clouds.’ They help more than anything else I’ve put up so far to cut down on echoes and comb filtering. I have a stack of panels to use, yet; these were originally ceiling tiles, 3/4” thick, 2’ by 4’. Not sure how best to utilize them, maybe just cut them all into squares for the super-chunks and get something else for the rest of the room.

As I can afford it, of course. Nice fabric-covered fiberglass panels are not really cheap. Fiberglass, it should be noted, is rather more effective than foam. This is not to say that foam is useless, but it would take VERY thick chunks of it to control the deep bass response of a room. And every recording space should be controlled as much as possible. This is more important than any equipment one might purchase; indeed, the only thing more important is talent!

So it is where my funds are going for a while. When I have funds. In the mean time, I shall work with what I have, finish getting the equipment sorted out (LOTS of cables to get properly plugged into the patchbays), and just maybe record something.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Interviews and Anniversaries

Chugging along, sort of, on the writing of the next novel, THE EYES OF THE WIND. I could push myself more but I have lots of things to divert my attention right now. That's okay, the plot is like a bowl of dough, slowly expanding and getting ready to shape and bake in a while. I know how quickly I can actually churn out the narrative once I am ready.

I did a little 'author interview' for a blog over at Tumbler a couple days ago: http://the-inside-story-in-33.tumblr.com/post/143109510137/the-inside-story-with-existentialcowboy --- just for fun, really. I eventually hope to interview creative folks for Eggshell Boats but right now that is yet another demand on my attention that I'm not getting to...

Today is my birthday, number sixty-six. Not a big deal and I tend to ignore birthdays and anniversaries, but two days from now is also the twelfth anniversary of this blog. Hard to believe I've been posting here that long.