Thursday, February 28, 2008

I love crock pots. Maybe it goes back to my college days when I pretty much cooked in one every day. Lots of beans and whole grains and veggies and such, of course, but also the occasional coq au vin...mmm, the thought almost makes me wish I weren't (theoretically!) vegetarian these days. But crock cooking requires planning ahead and some folks can't easily do that. No Rachel Ray 30 minute meals!

Yesterday, I did spaghetti sauce in the crock pot. It's the ideal way, I think -- let it simmer in there as long as necessary. Chili too (yeah, without meat). I don't really need to crank the oven that often. When I bake bread, naturally, and on these really cold mornings to get the kitchen toasty! And I refuse to microwave anymore. Why hurry food? That's like hurrying up having fun so you can go do something else!

Of course, if you happen to cooking alongside someone special, there's even less reason to hurry it up. Well, unless you're really in a rush to get onto that 'something else.'

You Are a Colon

You are very orderly and fact driven.

You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.

You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.

You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.

Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.

(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)

You excel in: Leadership positions

You get along best with: The Semi-Colon

Ah, yes, the colon....always the last in line...
Thought I'd post the latest newsletter from Mean Mary James here for anyone who dropped by:

Hi Everyone,

Just keeping in touch. 2008 has been a great year so far!
My TV show "Cafe Americana" looks like it might be headed to some other stations outside of Nashville. I've got some new episodes that are in post prodution right now that have some great new guests that I'm anxious for everyone to see!

I signed a one song publishing contract with Brandon Hills Music for a Christian Contemporary song I wrote. They're a newer publishing house but Marsha Brown is very excited about the song so I'm happy she's the one plugging it. My mom's agent (Terry Burns with Hartline Literary Agency) is hard at work trying to get my mom a great publishing deal on her latest novel. It's looking very much like he's going to succeed.

THIS SATURDAY (March 1st), the band and I will be in Nashville at Douglas Corner Cafe (across from Zanie's). Show starts at 9:00pm with Olivia West as a very special guest of the evening. I hope to see my Nashville friends there.

God Bless,

BTW, the Cafe Americana episode shot at the Florida Folk Festival has aired. Mary is s'posed to send me a DVD of it...eventually...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. ~ Emerson
It has not been the best of days. Last night, my mom fell and I had to get her to the emergency room at the Graceville hospital. I'm thankful that we have a hospital less than four miles away, here; if this had happened back in Steinhatchee, I would have had a 40 mile drive up to Perry.

Anyway, after the usual hours spent sitting, the x-rays, the filling out of forms and all the rest, I've got her home with a cracked rib but nothing more serious. She fell asleep sitting on the edge of her bed while watching television and tumbled over. Mom will be in pain for a while and needs to take it easy. But then, I tell her that all the time anyway.

And we will have to make sure it doesn't lead to her breathing too shallowly (because of the pain) and perhaps inviting pneumonia. All this drives home the fact that I can't really take off for very long and leave her here; being a care-giver is a 24/7 job unless I can get someone else to take the responsibility for a day or two occasionally. This is not promising in terms of going to weekend festivals and such (not to mention the whole relationship thing) but I'll just handle that as I can when it comes along.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hey, it worked! I'm now "" at this blog. Whether there was any point in changing the name is more than questionable but since I have like 500 subdomains available to use with the Insolent Lad site, why not a little vanity address here? Anyway, it will (or should!) work as before and any links are still good to go.

This sort of points out, as well, that I don't really need to install any blogs directly on my site, like the Word Press one I had there before. Doesn't mean I won't, of course. :)

Monday, February 25, 2008

MEAN LITTLE MARY -- I found another pic of a very young Mary James and decided to post it. She's about six here (judging by the missing teeth) and sitting back stage at some venue or another.

If she knew I'd put this up she would probably disown her Uncle Steve but I know she never comes by here...or I think she doesn't...


The lyric I posted last night very quickly developed into a complete song with a few lyric changes, a fairly sophisticated (for me) tune. I was playing it as a Bossa last night (probably because I was writing on a Classical guitar) but it probably won't stay Latin if and when I get to performing or recording. Though one never knows!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Letters I could never finish,
each addressed to you,
stand as a fence on heaven's bounds,
yet I start anew.
Written and unwritten, these,
unseen and unsigned,
I sought to hide myself in them,
too deep for you to find.

I would write this letter to you
Lynda, if I could
I would tell you all that I
feel now, and I should.
My heart, too full of ready words
it knows not how to say,
lets the lines fall from the page
to be swept away.

I've sewn my wounds with silent needles,
made numb the ragged edges;
stood in triumph on high places,
looked down from the ledges.
For among the sleeping stars
hide dreams of suicide;
I hear them singing, singing, singing
all the broken night.

The untied endings of the night
no longer bind the day;
too much time and far too many
letters went astray.
But I have tried, time after time,
even though I knew
that, Lynda, I could never finish
each addressed to you.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Some notes: although I was actually writing a letter to my friend Lynda when the idea for this song-poem came to me, it has little to do with that. I just liked the alliteration. There was a conscious attempt here -- at least at first -- to do something in a Leonard Cohen vein as a sort of exercise (since my stuff is usually not very LC-like) but it was bound to develop in its own direction once I got going. I reckon the second 'verse' there will function in a chorus-like manner (and I probably will develop it as a song, since it doesn't really work that well as a serious poem unless I do some serious rewriting!).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If anyone happened by my website in the last couple days, they may have noticed that it wasn't there, for the most part. The change in software brought up unexpected and ever-increasing problems so I decided to wipe the whole thing and build it all new. Steve would never change things if he wasn't forced now-n-again so this is probably a good thing.

So I'm putting up pages as I can, rather than doing it all at once -- some presence is better than a 'coming soon' or 'under construction' notice.

I'm getting increasingly miffed (I could use a stronger word but children might be listening) with my satellite reception in this recent weather. Plus the fact that my mom refuses to learn how to change channels (for fear of messing something up) and ends up watching Food Channel 24-7. I think I'm going old school soon and getting me a good antenna for the roof. If nothing else, maybe I could get Tallahassee on the radio then. I'm just beyond range with what I'm using now. And, no, I can't listen on the internet with my dial up connection!

Friday, February 15, 2008


Do you see what I see, up ahead?
It’s a pile of melons, in a truck bed!
Slow down, slow down, this automobile,
We’ve got to stop and make a deal
‘Cause it’s a roadside stand and he’s sellin’...

Anywhere from Lawtey down to Dunnellon,
You’ll see ‘em by the road with their watermelon;
Fill up the back of a pickup truck,
Sell ‘em all with a bit of luck.
We’ll take one or two, I’m easily sold,
Put ‘em in the spring to get good and cold;
when we’re done swimmin’ they’ll taste so fine,
Sweet and juicy beneath that rind.

Listen here and I’ll tell you why
I’m lookin’ forward to the Fourth of July:
All the little kids, playin’ and yellin’,
Fireworks and cold watermelon!
Full of sweet juice when they’re red and ripe,
Runs down my chin, I’m too busy to wipe;
How much is too much, there’s just no tellin’ –
Give me another slice of that watermelon!

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Yes, yet another song. They're just poppin' out lately. The music is already worked up (roughly). This grew yesterday and today from an old page with a few rhyming words and a couple phrases on it that I had put away some time back. It's always a good thing to jot those ideas down for later! The first part here functions as an intro and probably an outro as well; the verses could be broken up as desired to fit in instrumental stuff.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I must've been lying when I said I wouldn't do any romantical type stuff today, 'cause here's a song I just wrote. Well, as with a lot of the stuff I've been posting lately, it was already partly written and I finished it.


I’ve been your pal for years,
Listened to your troubles,
Shared each of your dreams,
Never burst your bubbles.
I’d give the world to win you
But it seems in the end
There’s always someone else
And I stay just a friend.

I know a friend in need
Is a friend indeed,
But I think you’ll never know
How I need you and so...

Tell me all those secrets,
The new guy in your life,
The plans you make together,
How it all ends in strife.
My heart has been long broken,
Too long to ever mend,
Yes, I’d give the world to win you
But I stay just a friend.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

BTW, I worked up a complete tune and chords for the 'Florida' song last night and have a setting pretty well in progress for 'Dawn.' Steve's been a busy buzzy bee.
A COUPLE OLDIES: as I've continued to sort through my older work, I came across these poems. The first was mostly composed in '03 but I saw that it needed an extra stanza (now the third one) and some minor wording changes. I'd say it's pretty much done now.


Dawn was a tale the sea-birds told,
Against the eastern sky;
Dawn was a song of rose and gold
That could not tell me why

The night yet lingered in my heart
While day gloried above.
Each night, in dream, I once more part
From my too distant love --

On wind-swept shores, I hold her near,
Before I leave her side;
From wind-swept shores of home I steer
To seek a siren tide.

And one pale star, the Morning Star,
Then asked all I desired.
‘Oh, Morning Star, I would be far
Away, for I have tired

Of wandering the endless seas
With none to share my berth,
Of wandering where I may please
But finding naught of worth.’

In silence, my star faded then
Against the eastern sky;
In silence, I joined all those men
Who ask no more than ‘why?’

Stephen Brooke ©2008

A fairly strictly metered piece -- I was playing with that repeated phrase thing in first and third line of each stanza. Though not so intended, I reckon this could be set to music and may attempt to turn it into an 'art song' of sorts. The second poem is one I wrote way back in '01 as a bit of a joke for the lady I was dating at the time (a professor of English Lit). These two are about as close as I'm going to get to posting romantic poetry on this Valentine's Day.


If art were a woman, she’d leave me;
‘Wife beater,’ she’d tearfully claim.
‘He’s thrown me about in his anger,
Attacked me with sharp palette knives.
Oh, how my poor canvas has shredded!
And I only sought to give love.’
Yet ever she has returned to me,
Poor, battered muse, luggage in hand,
To tell me that I can do better,
Be my inspiration and nag.
We will fight again and again,
Then make up with passion and paint,
My brush bringing color to canvas –
The studio’s filled with our children.

Stephen Brooke ©2001

That really is about the sort of relationship I have with painting!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


vs 1.
I was in the pokey
Down in Pahokee,
The last time I saw you;
You was drunk
As a skunk
And I reckon I was too!
With too much beer
And too little fear,
There's no tellin' what you'll do;
When we left them jails
We'd fill our sails
With any wind that blew.

Have you ever wondered
How we blundered
And ended up this way?
Not that smart
Right from the start,
And often led astray.
When it came to girls
We were swine before pearls
But now I'd have to say,
We had our fun
And when we was done,
Things turned out okay!

vs 2.
I was smokin' a stogie
By Lake Okeechobee,
Tryin' to catch a crappie,
When you drove up
with a mongrel pup
In your old Ford jalopy.
You took one look
At my empty hook
And said, 'Lets go get sloppy.'
Well, I never did trust
That pile of rust,
But it got us to a bar in Ochopee!

repeat chorus

Stephen Brooke (c)2008

A song lyric (tune is floating about in my brain) -- I just couldn't think of a good title so I ended up with what I ended up with...but I don't think it's likely to get the nod as the new official state song! I'm open to suggestions for a better name. For those not from around these parts, the names are places in southern Florida, where I grew up. And a crappie, for those who don't know, is a fish and pronounced (at least by some of us) as 'crop' not 'crap!'

I had to watch the Westminster dog show the last couple nights. Yay for the beagle! Beagles are the bestest dogs! And if my friend Karen just happens to read this, yeah, pugs are nice too. ;)

ADDENDUM, Thurs evening Feb 14: Silly me; this song should, of course, be called "Things Turned Out Okay." And will be!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The Fool, in quest, must journey perilous, far lands,
Ere he return to hold The World in his hands.

Illusion masks the world The Magician seeks,
But on the day of Judgement, truth then clearly speaks.

Though as a virgin veiled, The Priestess must be won,
When given freely, is clothed solely in The Sun.

The Empress, all the fruitful day, plays mother's role;
The Moon remains the mirror of her untamed soul.

The Emperor may rule the world in his might;
The Star will ever hold sway in the skies of night.

In seeking God, The Hierophant builds high his walls,
To be enlightened only when The Tower falls.

In Eden, might The Lovers have been without sin;
The fruit of knowledge woke The Devil that's within.

All in its path must fall before The Chariot,
Till Temperance can balance fierce desire with thought.

Mature in wisdom and in Strength, man at his peak,
Knows Death and change must come to strong as to the weak.

On solitary crags, The Hermit guards his light,
For soon The Hanged Man must face an eternal night.

Upon The Wheel of Fortune, riches may be won;
Yet when it turns no longer, Justice must be done.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

This set of eleven rhymed couplets, in hexameter, is something I started on a few years ago...around four I reckon...and never got around to finishing. Indeed, I had only completed two of them. So I sat down today and did the other nine, rather quickly. That may show and I don't necessarily consider these finished nor polished.

For those who don't recognize the symbols here, they come from the 22 cards of the Tarot Major Arcana. The first line in each couplet references the first eleven cards; the second line does the same for next eleven, except in reverse order, i.e the first couplet is cards 0 and XXI. Since the cards may be seen as a journey there-and-back-again, that order made a certain sense. Maybe only to me! Anyway, I recognize the cards as useful metaphors, rich symbols, that can be interpreted in a variety of ways (sort of like dreams!). Naturally, any attempt to describe the entire Major Arcana in 22 lines is going to fall waaaaaay short.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

HERE'S ANOTHER silly song I just finished -- most of the text was writting four or five years ago and then ended up in a stack of papers with various old poems and such. I found it a couple days ago and decided to rewrite it a bit today and add a tune. I figured it's the sort of thing that doesn't need a chorus or bridge or any of that high falutin' songwritin' stuff.


I’m gonna tell your boyfriend
You’re married to my girlfriend;
It’s something that he really oughta know.
So bring him by tomorrow,
We’ll all pile in the Gremlin
And go public on the Jerry Springer Show.

I hear you have a job now,
Strippin’ in a club;
They tell me that you do some real fine dancin’.
I’m glad you met your guy there,
Except that he reminds me
Just a bit too much of Charlie Manson.

I feel real close to you
Since I moved in with your mother,
And I guess I kinda like your daddy too.
Three is pleasant company,
But four becomes a crowd,
So won’t you tell your sister that we’re through?

Besides, she has your ex,
So lets all coexist
In a spankin’ new used double-wide.
I’m fixin’ to buy one
Soon as I sue the Wal-Mart,
‘Cause you know that’s where I met my bride

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Right now there's a lasagna and a bottle of red calling my name so I'll sign off...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

RECENTLY I haven't been blogging nor interacting online much -- busy with life and all that. I've been getting the new computer up and running, figuring out just how much of my software and hardware (I'm mostly talking the recording stuff) is going to work with Vista. Revamped the website some -- or switched to new site building software, I should say, as the Insolent Lad looks about the same right now. I'll be working on that as time permits...

Had some business over in Cross City yesterday and stopped in at Steinhatchee on the way home. I'm going to have to go over there and do some serious cleanup on the place soon and try marketing it on my own. The 'pros' haven't been very interested and with the market the way it is now, I'm not surprised. I brought home another load of rock and some trees.

The trees being sabal (cabbage) palms and cedars. Stuff that grows relatively well in the sand over there but may not be ideal for the better soil around here. We'll see. The rocks are, at this point, mostly for a low wall on either side of the drive. I finished the fire pit long ago and have been burning in it, so I don't need more rock there. At least, not right now. I have plenty more limestone rocks piled up over at the Hatch, ready to haul here when I have the time and interest. May dig up some more trees too, maybe a magnolia.

Now, if anyone out there might be interested in a nice piece of property in Steinhatchee, here's a pic from two Springs ago. It's not looking that nice now, a bit overgrown and a couple of the big oaks died in last years drought and will have to come down eventually. Perhaps on their own! The two trailers are old and of little-or-no value, but the lot is 2/3 of an acre, on a nice dry hill, lots of trees, just across the road from docks connecting to the river. It would be a great place to build that vacation home! City water and septic tank are in place and there's a well that could be cleaned out and put back into operation. We're asking $69,000 but with the market as it is....well, we might be persuaded to go lower.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Not the least surprising, I reckon...

What's your theological worldview?
created with
You scored as Roman Catholic

You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic


Classical Liberal


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Modern Liberal




Reformed Evangelical




Friday, February 01, 2008

Great writing appears to change the world but in fact what it does is to reveal more of what the world truly is.

That's a quote I lifted from one of the various manifestos and essays at the Stuckism site ( Though 'Stuckism' (and 'Remodernism') is more an art movement than a literary one, I've been aware of and somewhat in sympathy with its ideals for some time. I wouldn't call myself a Stuckist, but I suppose I'm close to it.

And I wouldn't use the label because I do disagree with a few of its tenets, such as the idea that Modernism and Post-Modernism intrinsically differ. I'm with Tom Wolfe on this one -- both are essentially based, for better or worse, on the principles of conceptualism. The Stuckists try just a little too hard to bash what they consider 'anti-art.' Most anti-art may be bad art (and sometimes is so intended!), but that doesn't mean it isn't art.

But I do agree that the time is past for the current academic conceptual stuff. It is time to rebuild, to actually paint, to actually craft art of all sorts. Yeah, it's okay to present a piece of 'objective' art and let the meaning be in the eye of the beholder. It's also rather lazy. And if you don't actually have something to say, a discovery to make and share, what's the point?