adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

APPLE

You handed me my first Braeburn
that evening, while Jim Billie played,
and maybe that is why it tasted
better than any apple I'd bit
into before, with all the flavor
of our love and a warm May night.
Each since tastes of those memories,
grown sweeter with the ripening
of six seasons' insistent passage:
you and May and the music of apples
and fireflies dancing among the pines.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

It's true, I was eating a Braeburn when I started writing this. One takes inspiration where and when one finds it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

LISA

Last night I dreamed
an alligator attacked Lisa.
Lisa being my cat.
What an alligator was doing

in my back yard, I do not know.
Well, yes, attacking cats --
I mean besides that.
It wasn't even my current back yard

but the place I used to live
and the swamp harboring the gator
was my old fire pit there.
By the way, Lisa died.

I kept forgetting I put her
in the car to take her to the vet
and would get distracted.
I don't need to be Freud

(nor even Jung) to get it.
This was about me taking on
the responsibility of aging relatives
and the stray cat in the yard yesterday

and the gator I saw on line last night
and just maybe those antihistmines
that kept me from sniffling in church.
I think I'll let my nose run, next time.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

STEVE sticks his head out of the studio long enough to wish all a HAPPY HOLIDAY. Don't overdo the cookies and eggnog! Back to work now....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

MORE ODD BITS: I was shocked -- yes, shocked -- to learn that Kraft had stopped making Postum. My great-grandfather would be turning over in his grave, except he didn't drink caffeine and is probably still resting comfortably. He did like his cup of Postum every evening after dinner and I sometimes do of a chilly evening myself. And we're not even Mormons nor Seventh Day Adventist!

Oh well, it doesn't have enough flavor for present day palettes, I suppose. But I'd take it over decaf coffee most of the time. Btw, I've nothing against caffeine and love good coffee.

On a slightly similar note (like D and Eb?), I read once again that they are planning to prohibit us from buying incandescent light bulbs in a few years. I'm all for saving energy and money, and use the florescent bulbs myself, but I hate the idea of banning something that is not, in and of itself, dangerous. If incandescents are no longer the best way of lighting, folks will stop buying them.

And I can use the warmth -- seen as wasted energy by the experts -- of the standard light bulb. I've kept plants and chickens and car engines, for that matter, warm with them on a cold night. Not to mention, powering my lava light. You can't do that with a florescent!

Of course, I could also point out that these florescent bulbs do contain dangerous chemicals that are not found in incandescent bulbs, like mercury. And that they are mostly made overseas (China e.g) whereas many of the regular bulbs come from this country. Chalk up another win for the multi-national corporations and another loss for labor.

On a very different note, this past Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Lady of Guadalupe at our church, with a mariachi band in addition to the usual choir. There's a big Latin population around the area -- mostly of Mexican background -- but they tend not to mingle at the same services as we gringos. It was good to see them there, even if the bi-lingual mass took rather a long time, as our priest had to repeat everything twice! Which is slightly boring if one understands both English and Espanol.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

DEAR CAM GIRL

Though I read the spam
about your web cam,
I'm not going to visit your page;
thanks for the invite,
not to mention the sight,
of a scantly clad girl your age.

I doubt that you're lonely
and that you are only
waiting for me to call;
so I'll save some money
and just imagine you, honey,
there in your nothing-at-all.

Oh, I don't have the time
and I can't spare a dime
that I earn with my labors;
why should I take a peep
as you eat and sleep,
when I can watch the neighbors?

So, the next time you write,
I think that you might
skip over old misers like me;
I won't pay that amount,
want my senior discount,
or, better yet, to get it free!

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I WAS on the road most of today, and the mind does wander on a long drive. This is what it wandered to (sung to the familiar tune of 'She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain):

HE'LL BE COMIN' ROUND THE ROOFTOPS

He'll be comin' round the rooftops, when he comes (when he comes!)
He'll be comin' round the rooftops, when he comes (when he comes!)
He'll be comin' round the rooftops, he'll be comin' round the rooftops
He'll be comin' round the rooftops, when he comes (when he comes!)

He'll be drivin' tiny reindeer, when he comes (on, Dancer!)
He'll be drivin' tiny reindeer, when he comes (on, Prancer!)
He'll be drivin' tiny reindeer, he'll be drivin' tiny reindeer
He'll be drivin' tiny reindeer, when he comes (when he comes!)

He'll come slidin' down the chimney, when he comes (ho, ho, ho!)
He'll come slidin' down the chimney, when he comes (ho, ho, ho!)
He'll come slidin' down the chimney, he'll come slidin' down the chimney
He'll come slidin' down the chimney, when he comes (when he comes!)

He'll bring toys for all good children, when he comes (oh, boy!)
He'll bring toys for all good children, when he comes (oh, boy!)
He'll bring toys for all good children, he'll bring toys for all good children
He'll bring toys for all good children, when he comes (when he comes!)

We'll leave him milk and cookies, when he comes (yum, yum!)
We'll leave him milk and cookies, when he comes (yum, yum!)
We'll leave him milk and cookies, we'll leave him milk and cookies
We'll leave him milk and cookies, when he comes (when he comes!)

We'll all shout 'Merry Christmas!', when he comes (Merry Christmas!)
We'll all shout 'Merry Christmas!', when he comes (Merry Christmas!)
We'll all shout 'Merry Christmas!', we'll all shout 'Merry Christmas!'
We'll all shout 'Merry Christmas!', when he comes (when he comes!)

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Feel free to sing it all you want! Or more than you want...

Monday, December 10, 2007

BOUND

To watch the stars one must first find
firm footing, lest they spin, unfixed,
in heaven, all their purpose lost.

For understanding has its cost
and even freedom is defined
in closed and well-bound dictionaries.

Yet I have been the fool who tarries
to sort the gifts, when they seem mixed;
unsure, unguided, misaligned,

I've sought the stars as one who's blind.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

MUSIC'S CHILD is the name of the James family's publishing company -- that is, the name Mary, Frank, and their mom (my sister Jeanne) use for the music they write (registered with BMI, for any who care). It was also the name of little Mean Mary's first album of music, recorded when she was six years old. Not a commercial release, by most standards, but a good start!

Here's a picture -- somewhat PhotoShopped -- of a Miniscule Mean Mary learning to play guitar from her mother. Must have all of three or four at the time. They have this pic on one of their sites, so I guess Mary doesn't mind it being public. Unless, of course, Jeanne snuck it on there without her knowing!

I suppose I should register a publishing company name with BMI one of these days. Been with them quite some time as a writer, not that I ever saw any money from the relationship. At this point, it may not be worth the fee.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

RABBIT

Time is an illusion:
God's little slight-of-hand
to keep our eyes turned elsewhere
while he pulls a rabbit
from forever.

After the show, we'll look
at each other and say
'Ah, I get it now!'

Stephen Brooke ©2007

But will we?

STUDIO B

(This could've gone in my Peanut Road blog, being recording/music related, but since it's just about my own fooling around, I'll put it here.)

I was recording in 'Studio B' last night. The 'B' standing for 'bedroom.' :) I don't actually have two different control rooms! But I did carry my portable recorder into there and set up a mike to experiment a little on some 'voice over' work (i.e. spoken word recording). I should be working on some songs, but I'll get to them soon. Really!

Anyway, the microphone I put up was a Cad M177. That's a well-regarded-but-inexpensive large condenser mike. I don't plug dynamic microphones into the Fostex recorder, as a rule, because the built-in mike preamps don't do them justice. (I can use an external preamp, but was keeping things simple this time around.) So, how did it sound?

Not bad, but not right for my voice. I could certainly see using this microphone in a number of other roles, on other voices, on instruments. It's nice and clear, accurate...too accurate, maybe. Brought out too much sibilance, exaggerated some of the flaws in my delivery (e.g. my tendency to lisp). I'll pull out a 'darker' mike the next time I try this. Most likely my trusty Oktava 319.

Well, I must be off to Alabama. Another thrilling installment later!

Friday, December 07, 2007

MARBLES

I'm going crazy
and I'm not coming back;
I have too much
of everything I lack.

I've lost all my marbles,
the entire bag;
I'm 'it' in my own
private game of tag.

I need some time off
but got caught in a recess;
I'd write myself a letter
but I forgot the address.

I'm my best friend,
we talk every day,
But I can't get myself
to come out and play.

I can't remember losing
the things I've found;
At the end of my rope,
I've come unwound.

I'm going crazy
and you can come, too;
My imaginary friends
will make room for you!

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Another piece that sat, half-finished, in my notes for a while. I guess I got myself to come out and play after all.

CURRENTLY READING John Culshaw's Ring Resounding, a bit of a classic book for classical music fans, audiophiles, recordists. Culshaw was a pioneer producer/engineer in the field of stereo classical music recordings. The narrative of Ring travels the road to the first complete recording of Wagner's complete Ring Cycle, but there's plenty else of interest along the way. Even though the book is from the mid-60s (and therefore somewhat obsolete as technical information), I'd recommend it to anyone who (like me) has both a bit of recording geek and opera buff in them. :)

Assuming one can find a copy, of course. It's long out of print; this one came from my late aunt's library.

I regret that I was just unable to get into reading Moby Dick as an e-book. I need hard copy that I can read of an evening, preferably in the comfort of my bed! I don't think I could take that much time sitting in front of a computer screen.

MOVIN' ON BLUES

Looked around this mornin' and you were gone
Looked all around this mornin' and you were gone
Why is everybody but me movin' on?

You know, babe, you know how much I tried
Yeah, I tried and I tried and I tried and I tried
But it ain’t enough, enough to keep you satisfied

Gave you all I got, gave it all for free
Gave it just to you, gave it all for free
How do I get by, ain’t nothin’ left for me

Used to have sunshine, now there's nothin' but rain
Where I had sunshine, ain't nothin' but rain
Looks like we're both goin' down the drain

Looked around this mornin' and you were gone
Looked all around and you were gone
Why is everybody but me movin' on?

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Yeah, one of those generic twelve-bar blues songs. Y'all know the chords already, right? Much of this was written some time back, just waiting to be finished. And now it is, I reckon.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

another of those quinzaine poems....

My life keeps coming apart.
Maybe I shouldn't
use duct tape ?

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Speaking of duct tape, do not buy the generic stuff at Wal-mart. I tried to use it to hold my extension cords down while on location this past weekend and it wouldn't stay stuck worth a darn.

I WANT to apologize to all out there that I have been ignoring by not answering correspondence or updating blogs -- haven't been in a very good place the last few days. Still not, for that matter.

But on to other stuff: I have a video up at YouTube from my shoot at Panama Beach a while back. It's at Mean Mary's account (now) but can be accessed via my own page at http://uk.youtube.com/peanutroad . It might move over to my account later, perhaps to be joined by another one or two. Please excuse the sound quality, the wind was really bad that day! (Okay, maybe my voice wasn't that great either....)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

ALL THESE THINGS

The carpenter whose house is falling down,
The chef who feeds his children from a can,
The writer of passioned-filled poems
Who forgets his woman needs her man --
All these things I have been,
All these things I remain,
Seller of dreams and confections
Whose roof can't keep out the rain.

Crown me the king of my wasteland,
Set me on yesterday's throne;
Let me spend my years counting
Possessions I never will own.
All these things I have been,
All these things I remain,
Buyer of Love's every promise
Whose heart can't keep out the pain.

The sinner to proud to confess,
The traveler who won't ask the way,
Seeking my Star of the Morning
Alone on the mountain of day --
All these things I have been,
All these things I remain,
Seller of dreams and confections
Whose roof can't keep out the rain.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

I think this is probably a song. Maybe I'll work on some music for it someday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Okay, the shelves I wanted -- needed -- were finally on sale so now I can get the books off the floor in my office. All things come to he who waits, unless he dies first.

This will be my Christmas present to myself. I'd be doing a happy little Christmas dance but I'd probably fall down. But at least it won't be because I tripped over a stack of books.

Monday, November 26, 2007

IT'S NOT TOO LATE to order all (okay, some) of your Christmas stuff from the Insolent Lad Store at Cafe Press! Astonish friends and relatives with your excellent taste in merchandise!

Btw, I'm probably going to dispense with the single 'premium' store there after the end of the year and go back to multiple (free!) shops linked to my website. I'm thinking it might actually be easier for folks to sort through the various designs that way. And I save money.

AS in years past (the last five or six, that is), I will mention and recommend the Annual Christmas Concert at Tuskegee University. That's this coming weekend, six in the evening of Sunday Dec 2. Free, as always. I'll be recording once again but I would go anyway to hear the Golden Voices Choir, not to mention the keyboard work of Dr Barr and (of course) Ms Garcia.

It's nice that Tuskegee is now less than half the distance from me than when I lived in Steinhatchee. The move to Peanut Road has proven a good decision, even if I sometimes feel like I don't really live in Florida anymore!

In other news, Mary James is still editing the footage she shot at the Florida Folk Festival for a show or two on Cafe Americana. However, she has put up a clip at her YouTube account (along with several of her own performances) -- http://uk.youtube.com/user/meanmary80

She has threatened to put up clips of me. Let's hope not...but with my slow dialup connection I don't watch much online video anyway.

Mary and Frank enjoyed their White Springs weekend and sold enough CDs to make it worthwhile. Of course, the real reason for going is to showcase and network (something socially-challenged Steve doesn't do well) and to simply have fun. They're in Tennessee right now, back to Florida soon I hope. I need to find some gigs for them down here!

This golden morning
whispers rain
through the trees,

a distance of squirrels
chasing the sun.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Sort of in the form of a tanka. 'Inspired' by the rainy sunrise this morning (I usually rise with the sun and don't worry about what the clock says.).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SING IT

Time ran out and closed
the door behind it.
Day dissolved in dark;
I could not find it.

Did I sing your song
but still not know it?
Might I then have loved
but feared to show it?

By a chance misled,
I wouldn't take it.
I lie in this bed
but I won't make it.

Blind I may have been
but now I see it.
No one else but I
could choose to be it.

Now I have a story
will I tell it?
Think I'll box it up
and try to sell it.

I become a bird
so I can wing it.
Though I learned your song
I'll never sing it.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

another song

DOWN THE ROAD

Down the road that's yesterday
I run, calling out your name;
All my straight lines curved away
Into the sands of your fame.
Ride your team of white horses,
Ride them till they come up lame.
I'll never reveal your sources;
The song can never be the same.

Bring me the milk of your herds;
Bring the winnings from my bet.
Scatter a handful of words
Into the hungry fields of jet.
The song can never be lost;
My demands have all been met.
Maybe you won't mention the cost
But how could I ever forget?

Down the road of my tomorrow
Someone else can take the blame;
I'll be oscuro to your chiaro,
Become the shadow to your flame.
Oh, ride your team of white horses,
Ride them till they come up lame.
I'll never divide my forces;
The song can never be the same.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

This is, it should be noted, a song rather than a poem. I don't think I like the title, not that it matters.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A POEM and my annual rant. Poem first:

CLIMB

God may not wait
atop this mountain
but the devil's surely
back there behind me.

Keep climbing. Keep climbing.
The air grows cold
and more clear;
the summit is not far.

Life and death have held
the ends of my rope.
Keep climbing. The wind
will sweep all clean.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Okay....it's bad enough that folks put up their Christmas stuff on or right after Thanksgiving, but the stores have been at it for a couple weeks already. Sheesh, people, let the holidays come in their own time. Of course, they'll all be sick of Christmas by the time it arrives and start taking the decorations down. And the stores will be pushing Valentine's Day, naturally.

Hey, Christmas is a season that starts on Dec 25, not Nov 15. Does anyone even remember that it lasts for the traditional Twelve Days? As usual, I will not decorate for Christmas nor put up a tree until a couple days before the actual date. Until then, I say bah! humbug! to the commercial Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Your Pilgrim Name Is

Enoch Doughty

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SNARL

Underneath,
I'm the same angry
anarchist punk rocker
I was thirty years ago.
You couldn't tell?
Maybe I should snarl
more often.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

or at least scowl occasionally...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

WORDS

You ask me who I am but my answers
only confuse the both of us.

All my letters are too polite;
I am not found among the words.

Look for me in my poems;
that's where I tell the best lies.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

yes, a return to the sijo form (sort of, anyway)

RIDE

I want music no one can dance to.
Give me five against four, man;
give me thirteen laid on eight.
That's cool with me.

Let me ride roller coaster beats
above an amusement park
of bebop horns.
Let me off the merry-go-round.

Going in circles gets you nowhere
and I've been there, man.
I've been there too many times.
I can't rock and roll anymore.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Of course, "I" (the I of my poems is not necessarily I, the writer) don't sit around listening to free jazz all day. It's a metaphor.

Friday, November 16, 2007

DANGEROUS

I'm about as dangerous
as a bowl of over-cooked pasta
but much tastier.
Just make sure I get enough sauce.

Better pour yourself
a glass of Chianti, too.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

It's been a while since I wrote this sort of short-and-silly piece, hasn't it? Maybe not long enough! :D

LIGHTS

I have written songs of love,
knowing none would hear;
I have counted stars above
as each would appear.
Counted each of Summer’s stars,
wished on every one,
and the lights of passing cars
racing toward the sun.

Toward a dawn that lies obscured
I too travel soon,
waiting only on the word
of my mistress moon.
Now arrayed in all her light,
she will be obeyed,
for I know this velvet night,
with her voice, must fade.

Call me by another name;
will you still know me?
I can never be the same
once I am set free.
I have sung my songs for you
as you walked away;
I have told the stars of you
as they fled the day.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'M BACK at Peanut Road and it's time to get busy again. The first order of business, I suppose, being to transfer Ms Garcia's concert to the computer and begin editing it. I'm feeling lazy but I'll get to it soon!

Her recital (and my recording) at Tuskegee went well enough. Lynda played all electronic keyboard this year so my usual close-up recording technique had to be replaced with directional mikes up in the balcony. I think it worked well enough. If the University had a decent sound system (it hasn't really been upgraded since the Chapel was built in the 50s), she could have plugged into that and I could have taken a stereo line into my Fostex, along with a couple ambient mikes, but instead I just pointed what I had (in X/Y array) at her pair of Roland keyboard amps.

I will be going back in three weeks to record the Christmas Concert once again. More than likely I'll have to use the same technique then. The Chapel is really a very nice large concert hall and I definitely recommend the Christmas Concert to anyone who can make it to Tuskegee AL on Dec 2 (Sunday, 6 PM). The Golden Voices Choir will be performing, directed by Dr Wayne Barr (who also is an excellent organist) and accompanied by Lynda Garcia. And it's free!

The other half of my weekend was the Florida Folk Festival. Alas -- for various reasons with which I will not bore you, dear reader -- I ended up spending only Saturday there in White Springs. I snapped a few poor-quality pics of Mary and Frank playing that morning and then spent the day with them as they went about video taping performers for the Cafe Americana program. I tried to direct them toward some of my own favorites, naturally -- the Makley Family, Joey Errigo, Roseville Fair, Veronika Jackson.

I suspect that they got some other acts on tape yesterday, but I had to leave Saturday evening. But I had fun while I was there -- despite being a roadie rather than a performer :) -- and kept my perfect attendance record intact. This was the seventh one for me. Of course, I intend to be there again in May!

And maybe someday, I'll actually be able to spend some time in the campground. Preferably when the weather is WARM!

Monday, November 05, 2007

BEYOND

I'm bound beyond the fields we know -- away!
Across the hills of man I go -- away!
The horns of Faery call to me,
They tell of wonders I must see -- away, far away!

My heart knows every tale fools tell -- away!
The whispered seas within a shell -- away!
A poet gave me all his dreams,
A bag of riddles and moonbeams -- away, far away!

The scattered leaves on wild winds borne -- away!
Become my map, ancient and torn -- away!
Beyond the edges of the world
My barque shall quest with sails unfurled -- away, far away!

I'll seek where my horizons lie -- away!
Where the sea becomes the sky -- away!
To gaze upon the fabled lands
Where a mystic tower stands -- away, far away!

An elfen princess slumbers there -- away!
All robed in sheets of shining hair -- away!
A kiss to rouse her from her sleep,
To lift her enchantment deep -- away, far away!

I'm bound beyond the fields we know -- away!
Across the hills of man I go -- away!
The horns of Faery call to me,
They tell of wonders I must see -- away, far away!

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Well, Blogger's spellcheck doesn't like 'faery' nor the archaic spellings of 'elfen' and 'barque' but then, I'd just as soon a computer program didn't have a poetic soul. :) Anyone who knows Dunsany will recognize some phrases I plugged in here. It's not exactly my normal thing, of course, not the ol' Serious Poet.

This is a song, as I suppose is fairly obvious. Unlike my typical method of working, where I usually have at least some lyric written before I come up with music, this time I had a complete melody first and wrote the words to go with it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Don't know who to vote for? Take this little quiz and find out who agrees with your cherished viewpoints! My result is below; didn't surprise me one bit.

Dennis Kucinich shares a 84% similarity with your beliefs

Representative, (D-OH)
Dennis Kucinich was born on October 8, 1946. He is a Democrat from Ohio. He has served the 10th District of Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996. Prior to this he was mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. Kucinich is a self-described "Wellstone Democrat."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

CLASSIC FANTASY

I'm currently rereading Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter. Possibly the greatest fantasy novel ever written, or at least the next greatest after The Lord of the Rings. Lord Dunsany -- Edward Plunkett -- was an Irish aristocrat who more or less created the modern fantasy genre. Oh, I suppose one could go back further and look at William Morris' largely forgotten novels. If they weren't exactly 'modern' fantasy, they certainly pointed the way.

I had a rather large library of such at one time but lost them to flood back in '93, during the infamous Storm of the Century (not the Stephen King story nor the Joey Errigo song) that struck the Florida Big Bend without much warning. Morris, Dunsany, Tolkien, Eddison (another big favorite -- I just reread Mistress of Mistresses), Pratt...so many other greats and semi-greats! Slowly, I'm managing to replace the losses. Unfortunately, the surge of paperback editions of classic fantasy in the 70s is long past and some of this work is difficult to find now.

I suppose some of these novels and stories are slipping into the public domain now. Morris' work, certainly. The whole publish-on-demand thing (not to mention free e-book downloads) is giving the old books new life, as anyone can put out an edition of their own! There are new versions of Frankenstein all over.

Speaking of e-books, I think I'll go look for a copy of Moby Dick (which I read like 40 years ago) so I can read along with 'Bint Battuta' and her friends.

VIDEO

I thought I'd mention to any Fla Folk Festival participants out there (who might stumble across this blog) that Mary (Mean Mary James, that is) has been given permission to video tape at the festival and will be carting her camera about with her to shoot footage for a showing or two of Cafe Americana. So look your purtiest!

And if anyone wants themselves or their performance taped for professional use later, she'll be glad to oblige for a small fee. ;)

I guess my own appearance on CA was okay. Someone was asking who that 'eloquent Irish guy' was. I reckon that's 'cause I sang Whiskey in the Jar since I don't think I come off as very Irish otherwise! As for eloquent...well, anyone who knows me in person would know better!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ON THIS HALLOWEEN, a few mentions of this and that and the other thing:

Today is one year since I moved in at Peanut Road. I might have hoped to have gotten more done here in that time, but I'm okay with things as they are. Taking care of my mom and my business (such as it is) has taken up more of my time than expected.

Speaking of business, this may not really qualify but Peripheral Vision Magazine is now open for submissions for the spring issue. Poetry, art, fiction, reviews, what have you. No 'theme' for this first issue -- just getting it out will be enough!

With the noise Google has been making about integrating Orkut and Blogger and their various other services, I decided to go get me an Orkut page of my own. It's easy if you already have a Google mail account. Not much there at this point that really makes the place attractive (to me) but maybe eventually, so I'm going to be ready. I've read that non-members can't see the pages -- don't know if that's so, but if the link don't work, that's why.

Well, only about a week till I'll be heading over to White Springs for the Florida Folk Festival. I hope to be there midday on Thursday with Mary and Frank and hang for a while. Of course, I'll have to leave and go off to Tuskegee on Friday to record Lynda Garcia's recital. Definitely getting back over there before the weekend is over! Anyway, for those who might be interested, here is Mean Mary James' YouTube page with five videos at the moment. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ELVIS

Elvis sang it's now or never,
but it's already too late.
Julie sang cry me a river;
is it time to open the gate?

Van waited at the gates of dawn,
but all I see is black.
BB told us the thrill is gone;
can I ever get it back?

John and Paul sang love me do,
and though you don't love me,
Elvis sang I will be true
and so I'll always be.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

purely a bit of silliness!

PERIPHERAL VISION magazine is almost ready for its start-up. I'll be posting submission standards and such at the site within the next day or two. Took a while to write up just what I wanted to say, plus set up mailboxes, work out my 'look' and so on. Still a work-in-progress, of course.

I'm hoping to get the premiere issue out in the Spring sometime. Maybe at the equinox? That very much depends on the number and quality of submissions and how much time I have! I will be looking for not only stories and poetry but also artwork, reviews, essays...and I wouldn't mind a semi-permanent columnist or three if anyone out there is interested.

WHISPERS

God speaks to each of us;
alas, that old devil
is right there whispering
in our other ear.

Who is wise enough
to always know which is which?
Who can say: God told me this
or God said to do that?

You can ask the priest
and he'll have his answers.
you might ask your mother;
she'll have hers as well.

You-know-who whispers
in their ears too. Even mom's.
Ask your heart; if it
is good, it will know.

It will know the truth,
no matter how many the lies
come whispering to our ear.
It knows the voice of God.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

THIS DUTCH BOY must be pretty sick by now (he'd be pretty old too, but let's not cloud the issue with that). This is the cover of a little booklet I came across in my grandfather's belongings, a promotional give-away from Dutch Boy Paints. My grandfather, Louis Page (my mom's father) was a traveling hardware salesman at the time this was published, 1928.

It seems odd now that they were touting the fact that their paint contained lead! And to kids, no less.

Grandaddy Page later settled down in his own hardware store in Columbus OH and lived to the pretty decent age of 89, despite smoking cigars every day and enjoying his Scotch of an evening. He was also a bit of a poet -- I'll have to organize his writing some day and perhaps post some -- and a darned good piano player.

I may have to take up cigar smoking again, too (already have the Scotch part covered).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I've hit a bit of a creative lull here; it won't last but right now I'm spending most of my free time winterizing the house, setting up the studio and so on. Hey, the better organized I get the place, the more easily I can create down the line, right?

Maybe I can get onto those illustrations I talked about in the 360 blog. Maybe I can get back to working on the song about that woodpecker! (I think my inspiration flew off and is hiding in the swamps with him.)


Another rainy day at Peanut Road. Any precipitation is welcome, of course. Time to get back to work...more later.

Monday, October 22, 2007

THE PIANO RECITAL by Lynda Garcia is back on for Nov 9, so it looks like I won't be camping at White Springs for the Fla Folk Festival after all. Maybe I'll be able to stay on Sat night; anyway, I will almost certainly drive over for the day on Sat Nov 10.

Let's face it, although I enjoy the festival and have gone every year since 2001 (when my former girlfriend introduced me to the event), the recording work is more important to me. My friend Lynda is more important to me. And I'm a sucker for classical music, anyway. It's what I listen to most of the time. Shoot, I even dabble in writing it.

So, off to Tuskegee on Friday the 9th -- the recital is 6PM and free, if anyone is interested. It will be in the University Chapel (which is actually a large concert hall that sometimes does double duty for religious services), as usual.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I PROMISED pictures, didn't I? Well, we had a problem with the Minolta so those pictures will never appear here. So, I stepped outside with the cheapo digital and snapped a couple shots just for the heck of it.



Here's the frequently mentioned firepit. The yard around it needs to be lowered and leveled; once that's done there will probably be a second row of rocks. Or I guess they're stones, now, since they're being used to build something. I won't post pics of the piles of brush and limbs waiting to be burned.








And here's the Lovely Lisa, napping on the porch. I'll try to get Captain Bones some other time. I think she's finally beginning to tolerate his presence. I don't think she's very tolerant of me interrupting her nap, however.

Monday, October 15, 2007

THE BEARD is a week old now. I think I'll keep (or I would have shaved before church yesterday). It comes in for too gray on the chin but maybe that will just make me look distinguished...

Anyway, it's nice not to have to spend time shaving. I reckon I'll keep it at least through the folk festival in November. I won't need to take a shaver along then!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ENTERING

Who am I but you?
Spark from the same spark,
we burn with one light.

In our hearts is the dawn
and the setting sun;
the wheeling stars and moon.

Be a bird and a cage;
sing until I come
to your forgotten doors.

Entering, I free you;
and in the ache of your leaving,
you bind my heart like a wound.

Who are you but I?
Standing at the roots
of time, I speak your name.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

The tentative performance schedules for the Florida Folk Festival (Nov 9, 10, 11) are out. I don't know when they'll show up on the festival site but here is when and where Mean Mary and Frank should be playing:

Fri...1030AM...Amphitheatre
Sat...1130AM...Under the Oaks
Sun....100PM...Seminole Camp
See y'all there, I hope!

ALL

All my poems are religious.
All my poems are political.
All my poems are about sex.
All my poems are about death.

But then, that's life.

All my poems are about me.
All my poems are about you, too.
Yes, my poems are about us
and the universe and God and infinity.

Even the short ones.

All my poems are humorous.
All my poems are serious.
All my poems are about love.
All my poems are about depression.

Same thing, pretty much.

All my poems are about the same thing.
All my poems are about nothing.
All my poems make people go 'huh?'
All my poems eventually end.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

HERE IS WHY I don't have a cell phone. One reason, anyway. If you have to have one, folks, get a headset so you don't have to hold the thing next to your brain.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MY FATHER'S TOOLS

All his tools are here now.

The hammers and screwdrivers,
the table saw that nearly
took my finger once.

See? Here's the scar.

There is rust: the rust
of long years' illness
and two more since his death.

They've mourned long enough.

And so, I will clean them,
shelve them, make them ready.
Who else would do it --

do this one last chore?

Stephen Brooke ©2007

RIGHT BRAIN or left brain? Here is a cute little test to find out -- just decide which way the dancer is twirling!

I have to admit, if I would look away a second she would sure enough seem to have changed direction. But I mostly saw clockwise, i.e the supposed 'right brain' response.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

USED

Pre-owned dreams here, barely used;
Why pay more for new?
We always keep a few on hand
Just for folks like you!
Not too worn, never abused:
We know where they've been.
If they don't fit, we understand;
You can trade them in.

Couldn't we entice
You with something nice;
Fixed up just like new,
Wouldn't that suffice?
There's no better price,
Used just once or twice;
Let one carry you
Into paradise!

Buy your dreams here, all marked down,
guaranteed by me;
I patch them up, make them shine,
test them personally!
We have the finest illusions in town,
With tried and trusted themes.
Why bother with your own design?
Who needs brand-new dreams?

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Again, a song lyric more than a poem...but the sort of song I probably wouldn't bother working up these days. Oh well!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

POETRY and surfing: I'd never thought of it before, but writing a poem is a lot like surfing. You sit out there and wait. And wait. Sometimes that wave never comes; sometimes it's not worth the ride (nor the write) and you kick out early, paddle back out to try again. That next wave may be just a little too dangerous -- it could kill me (or embarrass me badly).

Just the right one comes along...and it's a ride. What one does with a wave -- or an idea -- is what it's about, turning that raw material, that raw power, into a work of art, a moment of beauty. Hey, I think I need to go surfing!

TRANSLATION

I was online, looking up something else entirely, when I came upon the French text of 'The Prayer of St Francis.' This is probably the original and fairly modern version of the prayer, as there is no evidence that Francis of Assisi wrote it nor, indeed, that it existed before the 20th Century. Anyway, I thought I'd give it a go as translator; it's a pretty simple bit of French (ideal for a guy who has only bit of French) and the intent was more to go for the poetic truth than strict translation. I have in the past, fooled around with translating from Spanish and French, mostly folk songs for my own use. Figured I could shake off a little rust...hmmm, it might take a good scrubbing with a wire brush and a shot of Derusto...

PRAYER OF ST FRANCIS

Lord,
make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hate, let me bring love.
Where there is hurt, let me bring pardon.
Where there is strife, let me bring accord.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is shadow, let me bring Your light.
Where there is grief, let me bring joy.

Oh Master,
let me not so seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in losing ourselves that we are found.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are reborn to life eternal.

Amen.

trans. s. brooke ©2007

Not surprisingly, considering the relatively straightforward text, it's not a great deal different from other translations out there. Just a teensy more of my own voice in it.

Anyway, I was actually looking for versions of the Canticle of the Sun when I was sidetracked by the Prayer. St Francis has always held a special place for me; I wasn't surprised to find the parallels between his Christian mysticism and the Sufi tradition (which in turn may owe a debt to yet earlier T'ang Dynasty Taoist-tinged philosophy and poetry).

Sunday, October 07, 2007

AUGUST

Sittin' on the porch with a glass of ice water,
flickin' at the bugs with a tattered flyswatter,
watchin' the ceiling fan turn.
My dog and I are dozin' in the shade;
man, I tell you we've got it made
and there's ice cream in the churn.

Sittin' on the porch with my fishin' pole,
'Bout to head off to my favorite hole;
all the work is done.
Soon it's goin' to be September;
when summer's gone, I'll still remember
these golden days of sun.

The last days of summer are fadin' away;
seems like it was yesterday
I was watchin' the fireflies play
tag with the stars on a night in May.
Crops will be ready any day --
fields of cotton, fields of hay;
wish those summer days could stay
but the last days of August are fadin' away.

Sittin' on the porch on a soft summer night,
my girl's beside me and I feel alright,
strummin' my guitar.
Coolin' down, a bit of breeze;
ask to kiss here and she agrees --
wished it on a star.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

A song (obviously?) -- not sure just where and how often I would repeat that refrain. Twice, at least, I reckon. Should have finished this a couple months ago, eh? Oh well, better late than never and October isn't a bad time to be looking back to the summer.

This week is my mom's birthday. 89 and still going strong. Considering that my dad made it to 91, I reckon I may have some pretty good genes for longevity. Nothing like picking the right parents!

Lately I've been doing some fairly extensive revamping of the website. The Insolent Lad, that is. The fact that I've been adding new material there, such as pages for the Artists and Vagrants Studio and my literary magazine (it's coming , really!) led me to get off my duff and get to work. Well, actually I had to get onto my duff in front of the computer, didn't I?

Also, of course, having my name and website address on a television show made me realize that I needed to spruce things up there. Not that I expect hordes of avid fans to suddenly type in my URL.

I'm experimenting with options for Peripheral Vision Magazine, in terms of how to publish each issue. I do hope to make them available in PDF format, but the current issue should also be directly accessible at the site, without having to open an Adobe Reader. I always hate having to do that in my browser. It's slow and sometimes crashes the whole thing. But then, I'm on dial-up so those using high-speed may not mind. I'll keep messing with it -- and be ready to send submissions soon!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

CAFE AMERICANA aired the show with me as guest on Tuesday night and will repeat tonight. I've seen it now on DVD; unfortunately, all the 'fun' parts (like me on banjolele) didn't make the final cut. I probably seem much more sober than I actually am. There are some nice clips of Mary on the Panama Beach on the same program.

Incidentally, thought I'd mention that Mary James (and Frank and the rest of us) is no relation to my friend Jenny James of the duo (with husband Ron Gilbert) Roseville Fair. Btw, Jenny and Ron need themselves a much better website! I met the couple when we were all semi-regulars at a coffeehouse in northern Tampa. A defunct venue now, as so many are. Missed hanging with them at their camp at Willfest this year. Had an emergency and had to leave early! Maybe next time.

Been doing some cooking today. Baked my patented low-fat oatmeal scones. Applesauce is the key ingredient. Also made hummus. Must have hummus on hand; more often than not, I use black beans rather than garbanzos. Just prefer the flavor, though both are good! I try to stick with vegetarian fare, when possible. Or lacto-vegetarian, if you will. Not for any health reasons, particularly, it's just my take on having a certain reverence for life.

THREADS

I unravel threads torn from my sanity,
weaving garments pleasing to your vanity;
now the monk's black cowl conceals a motley jester,
hides a heart of holiest profanity.
In pretense of prayer, I seem oblivious
to your whispered words, depraved, lascivious;
deep within my soul the leering ape ancestor
howls and mocks this pretense of humanity.

When a muted love speaks its ambivalence,
let me don the garb of gaudy eloquence;
choose some torn and tailored suit of my despair,
yet another patch upon my reticence.
These remain my secrets, these remain my lies;
these are sins I must keep hidden from your eyes.
Which of my fine empty rags shall next I wear,
best to clothe the silence, feigning innocence?

As unravel threads, my ill-stitched seams will fray;
I come ever to you in such disarray,
all my nakedness veiled in false modesty
tracing steps of my own decadent ballet.
For each lover will become the one in time
and, together, name the price paid for this crime;
then in penitent's robes, seeking amnesty,
shall I doff the tangled threads of yesterday.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

this'n took a while...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

DEPOSIT

God returned my deposit,
canceled my reservation;
I'll find no lodging tonight

nor shall I dine upon
moon pie and frosted stars.
Shall we be homeless together,

dancers in the darkened
alleyways of time?
Wear the red dress for me

once more; dawn will open
its doors soon enough.
You shall shine like the sun

of my new morning.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

NO BEER BLUES

Bought me an ice-cold six-pack of beer
Just bought me an ice-cold six-pack of beer
Now it's all gone, how did it disappear?

Put it away in my refrigerator
Put that beer away in my refrigerator
Put it away so I could drink it later

Someone went and stole all of my cold brew
Some thief went an stole all my ice-cold brew
Now I'm clean out and your know I'm mighty blue

Don't know who it was took my last six-pack
Don't know who it was took my very last six-pack
If he knows what's good for him, he's gonna put it back

I got the no beer blues, not a bottle, not a can
Got those no beer blues, not a bottle, not a can
Oh, have mercy, have mercy on this thirsty man!

Stephen Brooke ©2007

A somewhat silly blues that came to me as I was on the road yesterday.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'm about to take off for Steinhatchee and Perry for the day, so I'll just drop a couple of news items -- as if my life is news.

1) I wasn't on Cafe Americana this week (Channel 19, Nashville). I was supposed to be on CA but the folks at the station accidentally ran the wrong show. So it will be next week, Tues and Thurs evenings, and occasional reruns thereafter.

2) Ms Garcia is very probably going to cancel her concert in November so maybe I'll make it to the Fla Folk Festival after all. She's in the process of buying her house and piano practice time has to be sacrificed. We'll see....she might always change her mind again.

3) I've come to an arrangement with my 'sister studio' in Tennessee and it looks like I'm going to use the Artists and Vagrants name for my place. A&V South, recording and maybe video down the line. Hey, until I typed that out I never realized that A&V could stand for both 'Artists and Vagrants' and 'audio and video.' Well gosh all golly!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

MAGAZINE UPDATE

I'm working (rather slowly, perhaps) toward the launch of Peripheral Vision Magazine. At least we have a domain name now and a one-page website (a page on my Insolent Lad site, where I intend to host the magazine indefinitely). That would be peripheralvisionmag.com .

In the meantime, doing the nuts-n-bolts-behind-the-scenes stuff; mainly, writing up the policies and intents. I've been visiting other magazines to get some ideas of how they do things. Some are quite slick and some seem terribly amateurish. Reckon I want to fit into the first category -- often, there is only one chance to make a good impression on those who drop by.

I'm thinking I might try to implement a chapbook competition eventually. I definitely want to publish some more of them anyway, and not just my own stuff! We'll see about that whole world of print publication in a while.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ouch! A dilemma just moseyed up and gored me pretty good. Turns out that Fri Nov 9, the opening day of the rescheduled Florida Folk Festival, will also be the day Ms Lynda K Garcia has her annual piano recital. If I hadn't expected to camp over at White Springs with the kids (i.e. Mean Mary and Frank) this wouldn't be such a problem.

Oh well, if it comes to a choice between catching the first day of the festival or going up to Tuskegee to support and record Lynda, obviously I'm going to choose the latter. Steve knows his priorities! I don't know if I'll camp at all, then, or just drive over for one day at White Springs.

LG is considering doing an all-jazz concert this year. When I've recorded her the last four years, it's been mostly classical with a couple jazz numbers thrown in. Even got a couple of her own in the one time.

Btw, I see there will be no opportunity to apply for a performance slot at the 2008 festival, due to the rescheduling and all. That kind of sucks and not just for me. If it were up to me, in all my wisdom, I would move the event to November permanently...but for some reason, no one has asked my opinion!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What's in a name?

Okay, I removed the poll I put up yesterday and the entry concerning it, so if you blinked you missed the whole darn thing. The poll was, um, inconclusive...three different votes for three different names but offline friends have convinced me which way to go. The question was what name I should use for my recording studio and I am going to go with Peanut Road Studios. I guess it was really pretty much a no-brainer, huh?

Unless someone wants to do an informal session in the living room, the studio is not really in operation. Of course, I continue to be available for mobile recording -- never stopped doing that. I'll get the studio (and the PR website) up and running soon(er or later).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

MARCHES

I have walked the empty marches,
fading light on one horizon
blessed darkness at the other,
welcoming the wanderer.

Crossed again these misted borders,
where desire sings to dream
of my each forgotten hunger;
left the burning lands of life,

gazed upon an endless sea,
vast and black, devoid of promise
save that of eternal peace.
Ah, to sleep in those cold waves,

lulled by wordless, timeless song,
never waking, never waking.
Others drop their burdens here,
ever lost on this lost shore,

slip into oblivion.
No, not yet. I'll walk my dark
only to find light once more;
I can not deny the sun.

It will rise to find me traveling
on the marches of the day.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

maybe shoulda been longer...or shorter...

Monday, September 10, 2007

PHIL AND I went down to that Saint James Infirmary. Having a somewhat sheltered childhood, I first heard the song St James Infirmary in the late 60s, as recorded by the Animals. I'd say that's still one of the best versions out there, especially as a more bluesy take on the piece. Of course, the seminal jazz-tinged versions by Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway still hold up just fine. More locally and recently, I've heard Charlie Groth and his band do a pretty darn good job with the song. Anyway, I learned it from listening to the Animals back then. I'm a long-time Eric Burdon imitator.

So, about Phil -- that would be Phil Harris. Yeah, Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book. But a singer and big-band leader earlier on, and a definite favorite of mine. Harris recorded a version of SJI too; some of the lyrics are different from any I've ever heard elsewhere. Perhaps they were rewritten specifically for him or maybe they're just variants I've not come across elsewhere. I like Phil's take on the song in pretty much every respect and sat down and wrote out his version of the lyrics last night:

SAINT JAMES INFIRMARY

When will I ever stop moanin'?
When will I ever smile?
My baby went and left me
She'll be gone a long, long while.

I feel so blue and heart-broken
What am I livin' for?
My baby went and left me
Never to come back no more.

So I went down to that St James Infirmary
I heard my baby groan
I felt so broken-hearted
Baby used to be my own.

I tried to keep from cryin'
My heart felt just like lead
She was all I had to live for
I wish that it was me instead.

I went down to old St James Infirmary
All was still as night
My gal stretched out on a cold white table
So cold, so pale, so white.

Though she treated me mean and low-down
Some how I didn't care
My soul is sick and weary
I hope we meet again up there.

Let her go, let her go, God bless her
Wherever she may be
She cold look this wide world over
But she'll never find a sweet man like me.

When I die I want you to dress me in straight-lace shoes
A box-back coat with a Stetson hat
Put a twenty dollar gold-piece on my watch-chain
So the boys will know I died standin' pat.

Maybe I'll attempt learning it...or relearning it. Now if only I had a big-band to back me up! :)

* * *

STRAYS: Steve has a habit of taking in strays. Any sort. So it looks like I've added to my cat herd here. I've seen this fellow ever since I moved in (ten months ago now) but only lately has he been willing to come close and eat (and nap in the carport). Won't let me touch him yet, though! A long lean bushy gray tom cat, a bit the worse for wear. I've been calling him 'Bones' but the name might not stick. Lisa is not overjoyed about having him around...

CAFE AMERICANA: It looks like my segment on the CA television show will air next week, Tues and Thurs. That's Channel 19 in Nashville. I'm told it looks good...how I sound is a whole nuther question. There was so much wind, I couldn't whistle! I need that for my rendition of Winchester Cathedral. I had to sing 'pee-oh-dee-oh-doe' instead.

MYSPACE: Yeah, I'm back on MySpace with two accounts now. One for the magazine, one for my music. I'm not really very big on the 'community' aspect of places like that but I guess I needed a presence. Thats www.myspace.com/pvmagazine and www.myspace.com/stephenbrookemusic .

Friday, August 31, 2007

Wednesday, I spent the day at the beach. Not having fun, oh no...I was working!

Yeah, working. That's my story and I do intend to stick to it. We were shooting video for my appearance on Cafe Americana (channel 19, Nashville). Steve was there with guitar, aloha shirt and his usual abundance of wit and charm (which only shows up when I have an audience -- I am terribly shy normally -- social anxiety, really, to the point of sometimes having panic attacks). I think the shoot went well enough; there should be enough usable footage to patch something viewable together. I'll look sunburned 'cause I was by the time we finished.

Back at Peanut Road: finally got my fire pit dug and the bottom covered with the recycled concrete slabs. I'll need to arrange those rocks I toted over from Steinhatchee around the perimeter now. Reckon I'll have a bunch left over to use for something else, somewhere else. Btw, speaking of Peanut Road, I started a second blog here under that name. It's going to be music-oriented and more specifically, about recording. Mostly, anyways.

Eventually I'll post pics of some of this stuff...when I get 'em out of the camera and developed. Yep, I still use my 35 mm Minolta, in that digital cameras are the work of the devil. (Hey, they eat batteries, dead batteries are pollution, pollution is evil. Oh sure, all those chemicals used to print photos are pollution too, but we'll just ignore that, okay?)

Friday, August 24, 2007

SO...

a while back we (well, not me personally) invaded Iraq, supposedly because they had a corrupt and oppressive government and alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Now....

China seems to have a corrupt and oppressive government and certainly has more than enough WMDs. Yet, all we do (including me, sometimes) is invade our local Wal-mart to buy their shoddy goods.

Obviously...

I don't get politics. I think I'll go back to writing navel-gazing poetry.





STEVE,
SIMPSONIZED

Monday, August 20, 2007

COUNT

I have loved too little and too much,
knowing not were you my sun or moon;
craved to feel the enigmatic touch
of nightfall even at the golden noon.
Your mirror eyes tell me not whether such
be seen for visionary or buffoon;
but I, as any dream-filled fool, must clutch
at my reflection, lest it fade too soon.

My fated path is plotted on this chart,
constant to your moon's erratic flight;
hold no silent promise in your heart,
make no wish upon the eve's first light.
Who knows the tides on which our ships depart?
Who hopes to count the stars before the night?

Stephen Brooke ©2007

after that last piece, I have to remind folks that I'm a Serious Poet. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

WISDOM

When my girlfriend left me it was
the happiest day of my life;
Now if only the same darned thing
would happen with my wife.

Seems that putting things off too long
always leads to sorrow;
I need to stop procrastinating...
gonna start tomorrow

A kitchen can have too many cooks
but never enough cutting boards;
They’ll spoil the broth, cut their fingers
and cause culinary discords.

So you think you have a chance
with that girl at the bar?
Man, I reckon you’re only as old
as she thinks you are.

I could let you all believe
I worked real hard on this song;
fact is, I’m just making it up
as I go along.

Stephen Brooke©2007

notes toward another silly song...the order of stanzas is quite random

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Some words about the subject of that last poem (as always, I discuss my writing more fully at my 360 blog and generally just post stuff without much comment here). That subject being (in part) Modernism and that fact that many who consider themselves 'cutting edge' and up-to-date are mired in styles of poetry from an half-century (or more) ago. I see this quite a lot in little literary magazines, both print and on-line -- an aversion to rhyme and meter, e.g.

Well, the Modern poets pretty much explored doing away with those aspects of verse and it is time to move on, folks. No, I'm not saying poems need to rhyme! I only occasionally rhyme and that is usually in song. And although I fall into meter fairly naturally, I don't consider it essential...but I certainly don't consider it anathema, either! English is a pretty strongly stressed language and I like for English-language poetry to reflect that fact.

I suppose this sort of thing, as much as any other factor (and there are others, of course), is why I feel there may be room for me to start up my own little magazine. No, I am no great arbiter of taste, I have no manifesto to promulgate; I just feel there is room for poetry that is neither rehashed Modernism nor Romantic pastiche (I must admit that most of my stuff that has shown up in magazines falls very much into that latter category...hey, I was learning my craft!). So I intend to be very open about what I'll publish. It just needs to be good! :)

In other news: in about a week-and-a-half I'll be doing a video taping for Cafe Americana, to be broadcast on their television show. We're doing it on location rather than me going to the studio in Nashville. I'd better practice some, though a bit of editing can make even me look talented.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

PM

Modernism is no longer modern --
beat poets and abstract expressionists
seem quaint now, old fashioned, and existential
angst has learned to poke fun at itself.

We were an earnest bunch, back then; I mean,
we poets and artists, not that I
was one of them. Far too young; of a birth
with this Post Modern they all talk of now.

Post-this, Post-that; do we wane
toward the rise of our new moon, abiding,
filling the emptiness with empty art?
Yesterday's shadows are still too long.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

pretty rough and little more than a thought, really -- this was supposed to be a bit of an essay or comment but it morphed into a poem of sorts...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sheesh...I've only had the new MySpace account for a little over 24 hours and already about 30 young ladies want to be my 'friend' and show me their web cams....aren't I the lucky one?

Now I remember why I closed my accounts there before!

The fact is, I am a very visually oriented person. A visual thinker. I barely spoke until I was four or so; those of you who know me personally also know that I can barely carry on a conversation even now! I never really 'got' language until I saw it on the page, at which time I became an immediate and voracious reader.

The same is pretty much true of music. I can sit down and create music in notation on a piece of paper (no guarantee it will be any good, of course) but I am totally lost in a jam. Steve is not a natural musician, at least in the normal sense. Yet I have a head full of theory and 'understand' music better than many of my musician friends. (They play just as well without theory, naturally...but I wouldn't.)

Obviously, I prefer things to be organized, as well. The logic of a page of music notation speaks to me. The same with a well-crafted poem, an elegantly-written story. Shoot, this even applies to the programs I prefer on my computer -- I'll take a logical layout over an 'intuitive' one, anytime. The idea of 'tagging' stuff rather than organizing it neatly in folders gives me fits! :)

Does any of this matter? At this point in my life, probably not! I yam what I yam and know what works for me. More or less...

I've been trying to get all my ducks in a row but they keep waddling off. None the less, I'm finally getting near to relaunching the online magazine, Peripheral Vision. There is a 'holder page' for it at it's sub-domain at my Insolent Lad site; perhaps if it warrants it, I'll spring for its very own domain down the line. I know I swore off MySpace and all its aggravations, but I did start a space for the magazine there anyway: http://www.myspace.com/pvmagazine . More as I get around to it (and get them ducks rounded up).

I picked all the remaining peaches on my little tree yesterday so it's too late to show up with a sack. :) Loads coming on the big pear tree, though. Pecans later....

I think maybe I should put in a couple good peach trees. If it's as hot and dry next year as this one, I might as well not bother; what didn't die in the Spring drought, I'm losing in the current heat. I'm afraid my tulip magnolias are shot. Did pick some stunted butternut squash and have a few more coming and the tomatillos are doing okay. They seem to hold up better in this weather than most of the stuff in the garden. I guess I should just plant zinnias and tomatillos!

Visitors coming in the next couple weeks, my niece and her husband the minister in about a week and a half. Then the next weekend -- the Labor Day holiday -- there's a good chance that a whole flock of Jameses will be showing up and possibly camping in my yard. That's not for certain yet. If they do come, I hope it's not quite so hot by then!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I can hardly believe that I haven't updated the Insolent Lad site (and its associated domains) since March. Too many things have been 'on hold' lately. Anyway, I was noting the inadequacies of the Google calendar I had embedded there (like it wouldn't display what month it was!) and I apparently can't put its Yahoo counterpart on a page, only a link button, so I installed a standalone calendar app this morning and will link it in eventually. Not much hurry, since there isn't much on the agenda at the moment...probably the list of upcoming events I had on the WordPress blog there for a while works just as well, really.

I might redo that, in fact. I don't do a very good job of updating that blog (the Insolent News) either. Oh well, I'd better go change and get off to church. They need my mellifluous voice, y'know, even if I do have to sing bass this early in the day. Maybe I can be a tenor this evening.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

THE SKY IS FALLING

or maybe it's just the ceiling. It seems that a lot of my work here has been involved with repairing (or removing) the 'improvements' made by the former residents. I reckon they were trying to 'turn' the house with minimum cash outlay and the result was a rather slip-shod amateurish job.

And they ran out of money anyway so the place was foreclosed. That's why I was able to get it so cheap! At least, I own it outright so I don't have to worry about getting things done on any schedule except my own. I'll quite possibly remain here the rest of my life (at least part-time) and keep plugging away at it.

The ceiling in my 'music room' (which I suppose y'all might call the family room) has been sagging and now the tiles are starting to fall off. Cheesy stuff and someone had applied a coat of decorative stucco over them which probably made them too heavy for the little staples holding them up. Well, I looked up into space above them and the beams and roof look quite nice. I'm just going to remove those tiles altogether and have open beams in there, I think. It will probably improve my acoustics, too. That's another chore for when I have the time and inclination to tackle it.

Right now, I should probably be recording some in that aforementioned music room. It's still not soundproofed sufficiently here to do any commercial-level work but I could get some songs archived and maybe submit some to upcoming contests and such.

The peaches are getting ripe. The pears shouldn't be far behind. I'll have a load of them; not sure what to do with 'em all. I hate to let the fruit just fall and rot but I most likely won't have time to process it somehow. Ha, come by with a bag and you can pick some!

Monday, August 06, 2007

I certainly haven't been posting much this summer, have I? Not writing much in general; I suppose there are too many other things taking my time and attention right now.

Lots of work around this old house (hey, that should be a television show!) of course. Man, mowing this much property with a push mower is a never ending chore. Good for me though. I wonder if Sisyphus appreciated all that exercise.

Although we are getting some summer rains now, it continues to be drier and hotter than normal. There is a big precipitation deficit yet to make up. This spring and summer was, after all, the worst drought in the South-east since...well, since folks started keeping track. You know, if all the global warming stuff is legit (and I suspect it is) we may see more years like this.

Maybe I shouldn't have stopped here when I moved further north. Canada is starting to look good!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Yes, as suggested in the last post, the crape myrtles are indeed in bloom. And yes, I find myself quite allergic to their pollen. There's not much I can do about the ones along the streets or in other folks' yards, but I don't need to live with them in my own yard next season. I've never thought them that attractive anyway and reckon I'll be looking to replace them with something that will provide fruit and shade -- perhaps mulberries or figs.

I did a little remodeling here, doing away with the template I used the last couple years. I was bored with it even if y'all weren't. A few minor adjustments in the html and voila, a lovely...well, sorta...new look.

So the 'Spaces' at MSN are finally working in SeaMonkey (and, I would assume, FireFox). I don't know whether the change was there or in the latest version of the browser, but it doesn't matter now. Too late; I've no interest in trying to blog there again. Shoot, I can't get around to updating what I have.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

a summer cinquain

beauty
crape myrtle blooms
sneezes and runny nose
relief is one buzzing chain-saw
away

Stephen Brooke ©2007

well, that's about the way I feel at the moment...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

ART

A thief in Paris planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre.

After careful planning, he got past security, stole the paintings and made it safely to his van.

However, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied, "Monsieur, that is the reason I stole the paintings. ....

I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Check out
THE ORGASMIC SIMULATOR

Try the 'men' button first.

PIGGLY-WIGGLY

Yankees love the Piggly-Wiggly.
They want the tees with the pig,

the ones the cashiers and stock boys
wear. Red is best.

So there are always some
on display down at the local Pig,

ready for the grand-kids
back in Ohio or wherever

it is all those Northerners
live. Blue is good too.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

MY SPACE

My Space is sooo last week. There are, like, all these old people there and they all want to be your friend or something. Eeeewwwww! ~ Muffi Middrif

Seriously, some of you know or noticed or maybe didn't care anyway, but I closed down all the MySpace accounts a couple months back. Fewer of you know it was because of the spam and viruses and because I had passwords stolen (which I'm blaming on MS but it possibly could have happened elsewhere) and fraudulent credit card charges.

And, yes, I had virus and malware protection. I've increased it! But a more effective step (beyond the closing down of said accounts) may be switching to the Mac for most of my online experience and definitely for any shopping! I bought the Mini, actually, to take on the road with me (seemed more cost-effective than a notebook) but it's going into service at home now.

So, just maybe, I'll open up another account at MySpace...if only so I can see the stuff that is 'members only.' But this time I won't waste so much time there, right? ;)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

DIRT

To move a barrow or two
of earth is no great deal;
shovel it in here,
dump it over there,
wipe the grit from your brow.

The sun will be high soon –
a barrow or two of dirt,
that’s all, and then the cool
satisfaction of lemons
and ice and kitchen chairs.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

mandobanjolele

Seen the Paul McCartney video, the one where he's strumming the mandolin? It caught my attention because I've been playing around with mando myself in recent months. I'll never be a mandolin virtuoso by any stretch, but it's an interesting different sound for me, so I'll probably keep on strumming it myself.

And maybe attempt some simple lead, even. However, it won't be traditional mando because I decided I didn't need to learn to work with a completely different tuning -- not that I didn't try the standard (G-D-A-E). No, I've chosen to settle on what I would call ukulele tuning, G-C-E-A; essentially, like the four high strings on a guitar, taken up a good bit. Lets me take my guitar licks, such as they are, right over to the smaller instrument. With smallish hands, it's not a problem. I could see guys with big fingers having trouble fitting those patterns to the smaller fretboard.

Since I chose to use that tuning on the mandolin, I figured I might as well use the same for my mini-banjo (a Nechville 'Banjovie'). I had been playing it in open C, so it's really only a matter of raising the highest string from G to A. I can switch back and forth between the tunings on either instrument (and play slide mandolin, a la Bettina Makley?), if I feel the need for something different, but I suspect I will stick with the uke sound.

Yeah, I like that Vaudville vibe. I guess that's something I've in common with Sir Paul, eh? I might purchase a true banjolele one of these days and do a George Formby imitation. Or maybe see how uke strings would work on the Banjovie. In the mean time, I'm practicing 'Winchester Cathedral' on it. Need to work on the kazoo solo....

Now for something completely different: James and James news. Mary and Frank may be the Fla Folk Fest in November after all, as their other gig for that date has been canceled. Phone calls to the organizers have been positive(though they missed the official cut off point by a day) but we'll wait for the paper work to go through before making any 'for sure' announcements. If they are there, I'll probably be camping with them. If they end up not playing, I'll still try to be there!

Friday, June 08, 2007

'LIVE' SPACES ARE DOA

It's been well over a month since MSN 'improved' their Live Spaces so that folks with alternative browsers can't see them, much less work on their own pages. What good is a Space when 10% or so of the people who follow a link there can't even access the page?

Therefore, I have deleted my Paint Spattered art blog there. I don't need this. I'll find another place and put up links. One that likes SeaMonkey!

I've thought that the Insolent Lads (which of course is only me at the moment) should have a theme song, so here are some lyrics in that direction. Think pseudo-Irish. There are very likely to be revisions and/or additions to the verses and they would not be run straight through as written here; this is the sort of thing that is intended to have plenty of instrumental breaks, repeated verses and choruses and so on.

THE INSOLENT LADS

Here we are now, all together,
Our raucous flock, birds of a feather!
A band of insolent lads are we –
Ourselves is all that we could be!

We raise our voices, raise our glasses,
Flirt with all the pretty lasses,
Charm like drunken diplomats,
Sing like love-sick alley cats!

Break out the fiddles and pour the beer,
Tell everyone the lads are here!
A drink for me and my comrades,
For we are the insolent lads!

Some dangle a line for fish a-swimmin’,
Some have a line to catch the women!
We hold their hands, gaze in their eyes,
But never, ever tell them lies! (Oh, no!)

We’ll never back down from a fight,
But we prefer to dance all night!
Either way, just bring it on –
We’ve hours yet until the dawn!

Break out the fiddles and pour the beer,
Tell everyone the lads are here!
A drink for me and my comrades,
For we are the insolent lads!

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

LEAK

Today, the hole in me
is a slow leak.

I await the hour
when nothing is left.

Cup your hands for me
as I seep out.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

So...the Fla Folk Festival has been rescheduled for November. I reckon I'll try to be there one way or one day or another. Unless a recording gig comes up -- that's the time of year I tend to be busiest. Unfortunately, Mary and Frank have a prior engagement for that weekend so they are opting to take a spot next Spring instead.

On the subject of folk music and such, I'm hoping eventually to do house concerts (or at least musical get-togethers) here at Peanut Road. I certainly have the space, a sound system, I'm reasonably near to some urban centers. My wrap-around porch would be a good stage, too. We'll see. But I definitely need to work on the plumbing here first!

I am getting the place more livable -- and workable -- all the time. My office/art studio is finally set up and usable. No excuse not to get some work done now. Next up is the recording studio/music room. That will be a somewhat larger undertaking, in terms of getting it fully set up and professional. I can work in it right now, though, for editing and such. Probably I'll have to get (or build, more likely) some sort of isolation booth for recording in the immediate future. Gee...do I work on the plumbing or the booth first...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Steve is very, very sad. The Florida Folk Festival has been canceled due to the wild fires. I remember going over to White Springs for the festival a few years ago when it was quite smoky, but it is worse this year -- and probably too dangerous. Dang, there went my perfect attendance record!

And I was finally going to get to camp this year...oh well. So what's to do over a Memorial Day weekend?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Despair is a mortal sin.
Could Zoloft get me
to heaven?

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Haven't played with the quinzaine form for a while...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Having spent two years at My Space, I've finally gotten fed up with the aggravation and general cheesiness of the site. Therefore, I have shut down my accounts -- yes, all five of 'em -- and will blog and attempt to promote myself elsewhere. Like here and 360 and IAC.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

SINK

There are no tides upon the sea of time,
where swimmers stroke the blind still water, dark
caresses carrying them on in stark
insistent acts of purposed pantomime.
Who spoke to us this languid liquid rhyme
of life that takes some drunken diver’s arc
into the deep and leads each to embark,
to journey onward, seeking the sublime?

There rise no tides upon the silent sea;
no subtle currents seek to sway the course
we choose, as destiny is proved to be
only the shadowed mirror to our force.
See how the moon is drowning! Are you free,
oh swimmer? Sink; sink slowly to your source.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Don't ask me what it's about. I only wrote it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

WHITE SPRINGS

It's back to normal here at Peanut Road, typical Spring weather, i.e. warm and dry. I hope the Summer pattern sets in soon and rain starts falling. Heat, I don't mind.

I took a jaunt (well, it's 175 miles, more'n a jaunt, I reckon) to White Springs on Saturday for the 'Cracker Coffeehouse.' At least that's what our MC of the night, Tallahassee story-teller Kate Taluga, called it, though I thought the name had been quietly dropped a while back as not quite PC! All the info I've seen on it recently just calls it the First Saturday Coffeehouse.

Not that it matters, of course. Smallish crowd and mostly pretty amateurish performers. I knew that a lot of the folkie community would be off to St Augustine this past weekend for the Gamble Rogers Festival. But I came to give my typically scintillating performance and regular Lance Lazenby showed up as well. As far away as it is, I don't suppose I'll make it more than a couple times a year anymore; when I was 65 miles away in Steinhatchee, it was a different matter.

Decided to do some Irish songs this time. Whisky in the Jar, which I perform fairly regular, and The Parting Glass. I'd never done TPG in public before but I've long intended to make it my regular closing number. Did some of my own stuff too.

In less than three weeks, I hope to be back over there for an extended weekend at the Florida Folk Festival, along with my niece and nephew, Mary and Frank James, who will be performing (I'm not). There are some questions as to whether I can work out the logistics for that here at home, but I'll try! I may have to settle for just driving over for one day.

Well, it's getting into later afternoon and cooling down a tad. I think I'll go crank up the lawn mower.

Monday, April 30, 2007

RHYME TIME

A couple or so years back I discovered the Analog X free rhyming dictionary on line and passed the link along to some of my friends. I downloaded it and have been using it ever since, despite some shortcomings. It does well enough.

Anyway...while visiting the folk music site/discussion board, Mud Cat (I drop by most days), I ran into a link for another free rhyming dictionary -- of sorts -- at the Brian McGill site. Some of you may know of McGill; I won't say anything one way or the other about him or his work. So I downloaded the software.

First, it's a pretty big download. What do you get after an hour and a half waiting on a dial-up connection? A rather bloated version of Note Pad with an integrated rhyming dictionary and thesaurus. The rhyme part seems okay. The thesaurus is inadequate by my standards (no antonyms, far as I can tell) and definitely a lot slower than having a decent print version sitting on your desk. Too bad the rhyming dictionary is part of the 'Verse Perfect' editor and not stand-alone. As it is, I'll probably delete the program and stick to my regular word processor (which has far more features), use the Analog X dictionary, and keep the good old Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus in easy reach.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

STRAY

If I am not one to stray,
it is not that I am better
nor more moral than some other
man. Oh no, I am but one
without longing for the new,
no desire to change my way.
There is nothing I more cherish
than this well-worn ease of us.

Fully, would I know you, yet
who could, in a lifetime, hope
to explore another’s soul,
all that lies behind the mask
of familiarity?
A lifetime and more, I ask,
to complete such welcome work,
knowing for this was I born.

If I am not one to stray,
it may simply be that I
came to focus, vision tunneled,
seeing nothing else and seeking
nothing else. You’ve set my way,
bound it with the woven pattern
of your fingers, slowly, gently,
tracing paths from here to there.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

I'm not sure if this is a finished poem (in terms of length, that is...I'm never done finagling with 'em) but I have an aversion to 'running on' and perhaps repeating myself. Better too little than too much!

Friday, April 20, 2007

A pair of poems on the occasion of my 57th birthday:

TITI

When the titi loses
its fragrance, it means
only that gardenias
will soon bloom.

Today resents not
tomorrow’s arrival
nor do the seasons
regret their change.

The titi tree may be
taller next year
but its flowers will be
just as fragrant.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

The titi (pronounced tie-tie) is a small tree fairly common here in the Florida Panhandle. Right now it is loaded with small fragrant white blossoms.

FLOATS

Root beer floats are de rigueur
at the folk festival,
although I prefer a Coke
over my ice cream, usually.

Oh, yes, it will hit that proverbial
spot, halfway between
the Seminole camp and the Suwannee.
That’s a long walk,

on a Memorial Day weekend,
a long hot walk toward Summer
and the music of fireflies
in the Florida twilight.

I’ve walked it more than once
or twice, a lover at my side;
the lovers have walked on
but not the remembering.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

This poem references the Florida Folk Festival. I've been there...what, six times? Yeah, I counted 'em on my fingers. Number Seven coming up soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Enough with the wintery weather in April! We can bring back Spring now, okay? I need more beach time! I think I need me a new surfboard; all mine are pretty deteriorated after the several years they sat while I did the caregiver thing...but they cost more than a decent computer!

Which is understandable, considering the hand work involved. I built a dozen boards or so in my younger days and can appreciate the effort shaping and glassing requires. Maybe I'll try my hand at it again some day. Like I have the time!

I do intend to make time to get over to White Springs on May 5th. Yes, I'll really make it this time...I hope. It's been a mighty long time since I dropped in at the First Saturday Coffeehouse. Now that I've announced it all over the place, I guess I have to show, right?

Speaking of White Springs, it's only a little over a month till the Florida Folk Festival once again rolls around. I intend to be there for all three days (May 25-27) if I can swing it i.e. arrange for someone to look in on my mom while I'm gone. Trying to take her along to Willfest was a bit of a disaster and we had to leave early...anyway, I intend to be traveling and camping with my niece and nephew, Mean Mary and Frank James, who made the cut as performers this year (and, of course, I didn't). They're part-time residents here at Peanut Road and part-time up in Tennessee.

Incidentally, Mary is getting married next week! Congrats Mean Mary and Johnny. Should I call him 'Mean Johnny' now? And while we're on celebrations...my birthday is this Saturday! I was already officially older than the hills so I don't worry about adding years anymore. Y'know, once you get past a certain point, you almost want to flaunt it! But not around young ladies, of course...then you shave a few years off...

A bit of news about my store -- Cafe Press, which powers the shop, apparently had some problems with their storage and lost a bunch of people's images, including some of mine. They say they'll get 'em back. I hope so, don't want to have to reload images and redo the stock. I'll probably have some more designs up before long -- I tend to do it in 'fits.'