adventures in dysthymia

Friday, May 30, 2008

VOYAGES

Where pass the ones we loved?
Their memory must slip
across our each horizon,
become a foreign land

where we may voyage no more.
And should we glimpse some sail
across a misted gulf,
ask not what harbor

it seeks, what lands of gold
and innocence lie there.
They are not for us;
no, not any longer.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Yep, I finally wrote something new. Just a little poem thingy...they do pop out every now n again. Off to Perry tomorrow, goof off here on Sunday. Monday is too far in the future to think about!

GHOSTS IN GRAY

Beneath the fading stars they pass, too dim for mortal sight,
Shadows moving in the mist, before dawn’s first pale light.
They have arisen rank on rank, to rejoin the fight,
And a lonely fife is playing ‘Dixie’ somewhere in the night.

From a hundred battlefields where rebel blood once flowed,
From the ruined ramparts where the rebel color showed,
Still true to their defeated cause and to their soldiers’ code,
Ghosts in gray go marching down a dusty southern road.

Some say they are not what they seem and that we are deceived,
But phantoms can be more than dreams for those who will believe.

A call to arms has wakened them from solitary sleep;
Their exiled brothers they have joined, with pledges yet to keep.
And though no man is left to morn, no woman left to weep,
They did not lie forgotten, southern mem’ries run too deep.

They have but a few hours here before they fade away,
Departing from this world with the coming of the day.
May they find the peace at last that they deserve, I pray,
And as they pass by, I salute those gallant ghosts in gray.

Stephen Brooke ©1992

Yeah, another pretty old one. I used to perform this one on occasion but hadn't played it in a while -- probably last time at a coffeehouse in Tampa five or six years ago. When I pulled it out, I found a couple words I felt could be rewritten but this is pretty much the original version.

I have no illusions about the 'Southern Cause' or anything -- I had been to a few Civil War re-enactments and just thought I'd try to write something appropriate for them. It's really a bit florid and not particularly authentic to my 'art.'

Thursday, May 29, 2008

MORE OLD songs: I thought maybe I had posted it here long ago, but this does not show up in the archives. It was an entry in the Willfest contest three or four years back (maybe more -- it was written in '02 after all). As usual, a non-placer. Anyway, as I continue to get my song files into order, I pulled out this one, rewrote a couple phrases, and am reasonably satisfied with it. Might even learn it. The first stanza is the chorus.

FLOW, SUWANNEE

Suwannee, oh, Suwannee,
flow my river, flow,
From the Okefenokee
to the Gulf of Mexico;
From the cypress overhanging
to the hills where live oaks grow,
My river, my river,
flow, Suwannee, flow.

Below the high, wild wooded bluffs
the playful otter swims;
Dark waters mirror Spanish moss
that trails from gnarled limbs.
In little wooden churches rise
those old familiar hymns,
Voices rising to the heavens
as the soft sky dims.

Upon her winding journey south,
the river must run free,
Through White Springs, where they sing her name,
she flows on toward the sea;
Warm waters are a haven there
for peaceful manatee,
The eagle holds the cobalt heights –
ever may it be.

The water’s dark, the water’s deep,
her flood is swift and strong;
Florida’s wild soul lives in
the Suwannee’s subtle song.
She speaks to me in solitude,
consoles when all seems wrong,
And tells me I have found my home:
this is where I belong.

Stephen Brooke ©2002

I do wish all the different spell-checkers would agree on how to spell Suwannee / Suwanee. Blogger likes the latter, Word Perfect doesn't like either! But my atlas has the double-n so that's what I go with.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I NEGLECTED to mention photos in the last post -- it was decidedly overcast and gloomy (and even more so under the tents) on Friday at White Springs so I didn't take many pictures. I am not one to use a flash when folks are performing. So, although I snapped a few with a throw-away camera, don't expect much when I get around to having them developed.

* * *

More and more, I find myself playing my cheapo no-name (well, actually it says 'Hondo' on it) classical guitar around here. I like the feel of the wide neck, the nylon strings, the sound -- even the sound of this plywood instrument. I think I'm going to have to invest in a better classical, probably with a pickup, to play in public. NOT one of those slim-bodied, slim-necked nylon-string acoustic-electrics; they aren't loud enough unplugged.

Or maybe I'll just try to install a pickup in the one I have. I wouldn't feel bad about using it as a knock-around guitar, but I don't know if it's cost effective when I price reasonably decent new (or used on ebay) instruments.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

THE OLDEST Steve Song in Captivity

I've been trying to get my songs organized lately and came across this one. The lyric -- though it has seen some modest revision since -- goes back to my freshman year in college (1969, by golly!) and certainly reflects a certain, um, immaturity shall we say? I didn't write music or play an instrument yet so it took me twenty years to get around to doing a tune for it.

ODE TO THE THUMB

Oh, you pink and crooked thumb,
Your length from evolution come,
Separate the man from ape
Through your oddity of shape!

When first primeval man did grasp
A stick to beat the threatening asp,
Both his life and mine were saved
By your grasp upon the stave!

And were it not for you, my thumb
This guitar I could never strum;
Oh little digit, in the end,
I know you’ll always be my friend!

When broken down by the roadside,
You help me catch myself a ride;
Though this may seem strange to some,
I owe a lot to you, my thumb!

Stephen Brooke ©2008

* * *

I did manage to get over to White Springs this past weekend, but only for the Friday edition of the Fla Folk Festival. One takes what one can get, y'know? It poured rain the whole way over (though surprisingly, there was almost no precipitation back here at home) but was clearing some by the time I arrived, just before ten -- it's more than a three hour drive (Steve doesn't go over 100 normally -- kph, that is!) and with crossing time zones I had to leave here around five-ish.

So, I ran about under an umbrella for a while but within an hour it had largely stopped raining. As is my wont, I tend to go hear/see the songwriter types I particularly like -- Del Suggs, Joey Errigo, The Mayhaws (both Carrie and Sharla have good songs). Had to see my neighbors (well, almost) from Swiftwater playing down at the Gazebo. And stopped by the Amphitheater a while to listen to the Enablers. Of course, there also have to be stops for strawberry milkshakes and root beer floats. Thank goodness it was warm enough to enjoy them!

Around five, I was heading back to the parking area...oh dear, should I turn right to my truck or go left into the campground and hang a while? My conscience got the better of me so I headed home then instead of dawdling. Maybe next time...hey, who knows, I might even be staying in the campground myself next year. But I got seven hours of festival this year and that's all to the good.

* * *

Dag nab it! I still can't get a download of AVG8 without being knocked off line. And I tried twice with a downloader program that is supposed to resume for me...alas, both times when it finished the file was corrupt and I couldn't install. Oh well, probably 80% of the time I'm online with the Mac Mini where none of this matters, but occasionally I DO have to use the Windows machine on the net.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

KITTY HEAVEN

My cat has gone to Kitty Heaven,
Where all the mice are fat and slow,
And naps are never interrupted,
And shaded catnip gardens grow;

Where people stop to scratch your ears
Just long enough, not a moment more,
And never forget to buy a treat
Or toy when they go to the store.

My cat has gone to Kitty Heaven,
Where the moon is full each night,
And the Toms are handsome and virile
But not at all inclined to fight.

And she'll forget the fleas and dogs,
All the turmoil, all the strife;
All but the touch of a soothing hand
In dreams of a long distant life.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Not exactly great poetry but the thought presented itself to me so I ran with it.

R I P LISA

My kitty Lisa passed away last night. I found her lying in the yard this morning. As far as I knew she was healthy and happy but she was getting up a bit in age, being over eight years old. At any rate, there were no sign that she had been attacked or anything of that sort, though she had hemorrhaged. I rather suspect that she had attempted to jump (or fell) from the roof or a high limb on the oak tree -- something she could pulled off when a younger and thinner cat.

So Captain Billy Bones is now King of Peanut Road. Lisa had just begun to tolerate him, too. Now if he can lay off getting into fights (fat chance unless I get him fixed), he'll be around a while.

Monday, May 19, 2008

SILLY SONGS, I think, call for simple melodies; that last lyric I posted, e.g., I fitted with a rather straightforward tune. You might even describe it as generic, though, as often I do, I threw in a non-scalar chord to lighten things up. On to more serious stuff now...maybe.

* * *

It's getting pretty hot here now -- pretty much summery weather. And I'm seeing the first love bugs on my window screen right now. Just in time for my drive to White Springs later this week, though I'll probably be on the road too early and too late for them to be a problem. Not that there aren't plenty of night-flying insects to splatter my windshield.

* * *

I've found my missing font for the magazine logo. What I needed was Glacier Normal, which is practically identical (at least for the P and the V) to the one for which I was looking. I may do a tee-shirt with the logo for my store. Maybe two of 'em!

* * *

I reeeeeally hate my dial up connection here. Not because it's particularly slow -- it's faster, theoretically at least, than what I had in Steinhatchee. But it's so erratic and I get knocked off line a lot. Very hard to download anything of much size, like anti-virus software. And I need the new version of AVG free! Btw, I'm going to miss their free anti-spyware program when they stop supporting it shortly. Reckon I'll have to find something else. Maybe even pay!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

ALMOST FLORIDA

Moved down here to Florida
Back in Ninety-two;
Didn't take me long
To fit in someplace new.
And now I complain about
The things the tourists do;
No, I'm not quite a native
But I've been here longer than you!

Yeah, I've been here longer than you,
I'm almost Florida, now;
Half-way to being a cracker,
Talk Southern if I knew how.
Try to take things as slow
As my upbringing will allow;
There's still some Yankee in me
But I'm almost Florida, now!

These days I'm almost Florida,
I'm close, but not quite --
Think about Ohio
When those mosquitos bite
And the bull gators bellow
On a steamy night;
But you couldn't send me back
Without one helluva fight!

So to all those Northerners,
The ones that I once knew,
You'll find me on the beach --
Come and share a brew!
Remember just one thing
and give me my due;
These days I'm almost Florida --
I've been here longer than you!

Stephen Brooke ©2008

A Florida Song from a slightly different angle -- after all, most of us came from someplace else. Even I did, though I came when I was two. Apologies to the late Bobby Hicks for appropriating and convoluting his 'I'm Florida' phrase! The second stanza acts as a repeated chorus here. I don't think this is a particularly good song -- certainly not my best stuff -- but it's ok, I reckon. Maybe needs another verse or two? That might be overkill.

Friday, May 16, 2008

STEVE'S FIRST Law of Poeticizing: Never use (or at least avoid like that cliched plague) the word like. Don't say 'it was like a cool breeze,' say 'it was a cool breeze;' i.e. use, when possible, metaphors rather than similes. Obviously, not a hard and fast rule but one that it's good to follow when possible. Besides, like is such an overused word in everyday speech!

Recognizing the importance of metaphor was my biggest breakthrough as a poet. It's so simple a concept, too; perhaps too simple and too easily overlooked. Metaphor is the magic ingredient.

On a completely different subject, I just looked at the long-range forecast for next weekend at White Springs. It's going to be hot -- lower 90s at least -- and there may be some rain by Saturday and Sunday. In other words, about the same as usual!

The performers' schedule for the Fla Folk Festival is (finally) posted. I thought Lucky Mud said they were going to be there...I guess there was a change of plans or I misread. Anyway, I do still intend to attend one day or another. Which day I'll manage, I don't know, but I won't be able to be there all weekend as in years past. Just too far away now.

It's an opportunity to catch up on some of my old favorites and find some new ones. And with 17 stages going simultaneously (most of the day) I don't have to put up with any 'filler.' :)

There are performers there that don't exactly move me. There is, for example, a certain singer-songwriter who is very popular with the Florida folk community. No names from Steve! I find her work, well, shallow, banal and boring. But then, my tastes often don't line up with a lot of other folks. I prefer some wit and depth in a song; I reckon my all-time favorite singer-songwriter type -- among artists I actually know -- would be Joey Errigo. I do wish she would promote herself more and get another CD out!

Ha, I wish I would promote myself more and get another CD out too...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The chief enemy of creativity is good taste. ~ Pablo Picasso

Maybe so...I sure haven't been very creative lately. I reckon I'll just blame it on my good taste! :)

Actually I have been writing and so on but I haven't been very satisfied with any thing I've done -- i.e. I don't consider anything finished enough to post online. Adding to that, my attention at the moment is on longer prose pieces which require time...lots of time.

And on gardening! Looks like we're back to that dry weather here, though it's not so severe as last year's drought. The day lilies are blooming, the blackberries are ripe. Not that I get to them before the birds eat them all! Darn mockers! I should -- and will -- get some mulberry trees growing here in time to distract the fruit-eaters.

The forecast calls for rain today. Hope it arrives. The last promised precipitation failed to fall. However, I do hope the weather is nice next weekend. Especially in White Springs for the Fla Folk Festival.

Friday, May 09, 2008

THE CD is now in my Insolent Lad Store (at Cafe Press). We'll see how this goes -- if it's acceptable in quality and service (stuff beyond my control...well, outside of closing the store and selling elsewhere), I'll do more stuff there. Maybe even go back to a 'premium' shop.

The Wind on the Prairie, the Wind on the Sea is, I would point out, nothing special in terms of recording and performance, just some old stuff I'm using as an experiment. Therefore, I'm only doing like a 50 cent markup over my base price. I considering just giving it away but, hey, my work is worth something, no? (Maybe I shouldn't ask that -- I might not like the answer!)

As far as recording more material goes, I think I need to work on some semi-live stuff for press kit purposes at the moment, rather than a commercial release. That will come, but right now I should get a mess of them 'Florida songs' worked up. Whether I'll actually be able to get out and perform is, to say the least, questionable. Might as well hope for the best, though.

I do still intend to get over to White Springs in a couple weeks for the Florida Folk Festival, even if only for one day. Can't miss that one! And, who knows, if I submit an application again, maybe they'll finally let me play next year. :)

PS I moved the CD from one 'section' to another in my store (in the process of transitioning back to a premium shop) so the original link up there didn't work anymore -- I've changed it now.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I'M ADDICTED to fonts...yes, I'll admit it. I must have been a printer in a former life (that or a sommelier!). The temptation is always there to load down my computer with hundreds (thousands?) of fonts. I spend hours browsing typefaces online. Is there a twelve step (or twelve point) program for people like me? Do I need to go cold turkey and only use Arial the rest of my life?

Anyway, I was trying to find the font that I used in my Peripheral Vision magazine logo -- I had it on my defunct computer but not now. And I didn't remember what it was named! Searching was frustrating but I finally found a site with font recognition software and figured out that it is 'Display Intense.' Probably -- I think I've got it right. Unfortunately, it is only available as a twenty-some dollar download and it's certainly not worth that to me so I'm looking for similar (and free?). I've no idea how it ended up on the computer in the first place, whether it came original or was installed with some program or another. I've managed to find replacements for most of the other fonts I lost.

In the mean time, I found far too many interesting new fonts and I want them all!

Monday, May 05, 2008

TAKING CARE of business sometimes takes priority over taking care of my blogs, but then the blogs are, in a sense, all business-related (in that they help promote my projects, both serious and frivolous). So here I am! :)

First, the really important news: Captain Bones hurt his right front paw and has been hobbling for the past week but he's better now and putting some pressure on the foot. I think Lisa would have preferred him somewhat immobile indefinitely so she could growl at him with impunity. Or, better yet, gone permanently!

I've been working on getting the CD ready but the Linda gave me a call last week saying she needed me to manufacture a bunch of discs 'by tomorrow.' That would be of one of the concert recordings I did for her. Naturally, I can't get them done quite that quickly but I did drop everything and dedicate a day and change to getting them out to her. Steve always tries to be accommodating, especially where Ms Garcia is concerned. If my schedule had permitted, I would have driven them up to Tuskegee and delivered in person, but she'll have to be content with priority mail.

Anyway, my own CD -- I dropped the silly working title of the Surf and Turf Album in favor of the Wind on the Prairie, the Wind on the Sea. Essentially, I combined two older recordings into one, complete with all their faults in performance and recording. This is essentially a test to see how the whole print-on-demand thing works for CDs; if it's acceptable, I'll get newer material up. Eventually! The art work is all uploaded and the disc goes out in today's mail. Btw, if doing this at Cafe Press proves to be a good choice, I may well go back to having a 'premium' shop there, with all my merchandise in the same store.

And now for my grumble of the day: we're getting Turner Classic Movies free this month (yeah, I'm still on satellite, but maybe not much longer) and I happened to catch a 1965 television special, a concert by Frank Sinatra, last night. Frank still impresses. Where are the singers who can match him today? Oh sure, there are loads of beautiful-but-boring voices out there; there were during his heyday too, but they are mostly forgotten now. It takes more than flashy technique to be a great vocalist!