adventures in dysthymia

Thursday, July 31, 2008

ALL the kool kids are taking this quiz so I will too...




You Are a Mango Flavored Popsicle



You are a very playful person. For you, summer is all about having a good time.

You have a nearly undying energy. You're up for anything at anytime, as long as fun is involved.



You keep active as much as possible. You don't feel comfortable if you have to sit still.

You're a true kid at heart. You enjoy a popsicle as much as a trip to the amusement park.

What Flavor Popsicle Are You?

mmmmm-MMMMMM! I love mangoes!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

THIS MORNING I turned on the faucet and nothing came out. Oh-oh...checked the breaker panel...breaker for the pump is working. So, out to the well to see if something is wrong there, while visions of spending hundreds for repair, replacement, even new drilling, go through my head.

The first thing I notice is a few ants going up and down the post supporting the electric junction box. I figured I knew right then what the problems was so I took out the screw that holds the cover on it and looked inside...yep, packed with fire ants, their little bodies shorting out the electric circuit. Spray and clean and now all is well again.

This is not uncommon in the Southeast. Fire ants seem to be attracted to electrical fields and infest transformers and so on, causing the occasional power failure. I'm glad it was nothing more serious!

* * *

I finally received my new mixer yesterday -- I've mentioned this in the Peanut Road blog. UPS lost the original shipment. It went into their Montgomery warehouse and never came out...unless it got carried out by some less-than-honest worker there.

Anyway, Carvin was good about sending me out another S16 right away when UPS finally decided it was irretrievably lost. It looks nice. I don't know how it sounds yet but we'll see (OK, hear) soon. It seemed a very good solution to getting 8 decent high-gain microphone preamps at a decent price. The built-in USB and s/pdif digital outs are a nice touch too. Not quite ideal for taking out and using as a live performance mixer because of the way the controls on the main/monitoring section are set up but it's probably going to remain front-and-center on the studio desk.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's another ninety-plus degree day in July so, naturally, I'm thinking about Christmas. Actually, I have been thinking about Christmas songs; I wrote a lyric/poem a year and a half ago called On a Night, and eventually got around to working up the music for it. It's posted at my website, not as a recording but as a midi file and also as a lead sheet in PDF form, for those who want to follow along! :D

They are on this music page with some of my other wip stuff. I most commonly write songs using my guitar and my voice and they can, admittedly, not sound very adventurous, music-wise, that way. They do suit my singing, though! This one was written at the keyboard. No, not the piano -- the computer keyboard. Which means, essentially, I wrote the music directly as notation, sans musical instrument (other than the playback from the sound card). I should do more of that...even if I can't sing the results.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEAN JAMES, SNAKE HUNTER

A video of my crazy sister (OK, we're all kind of eccentric) showing how to catch snakes. She used to do this for a living. Catch snakes, that is, not appear in videos.

I finally am posting a very few snapshots from the Florida Folk Festival, way back in May. It was not a good day for taking pictures and I only took a cheezy throw-away camera with me anyway...



At the top, a long shot of the Amphitheater on a damp Friday morning. The Enablers are on stage.


Below that, these guys were building a little log cabin/shed with hand tools, doing the whole thing the way it would have been accomplished a hundred plus years ago. Axe and adze!



I couldn't get any decent shots under the tents on a dark rainy day (and I wouldn't shoot off a flash when someone was performing) so none of that is worth posting.

AT PEANUT ROAD the pears and peaches are once again ripening. Not so many this year, especially on the little seedling peach tree. I'm sure fruit development on both trees was stunted by the trauma of last year's drought conditions but, also, the peach tree had damage to some of its branches and needed to be cut back some. So, only a few of them this year but probably more pears than I want to deal with. I'm not ambitious enough to peel, core, etc and pack them away in the freezer. Shoot, I'm not even running the freezer this year -- saving on electricity.

Here's a snap of the pear tree, out by the back fence.

And, below it, a picture of Capt. Billy Bones, cat-in-residence at Peanut Road. Bones is an unhappy feline at the moment because we now -- at least temporarily -- have a puppy here, named 'Poopy' until I come up with something better. It is descriptive enough, however. The Captain must have had a bad experience with dogs sometime in the past, for he took one look at the harmless four-pound pup and took off running like a pack of pit-bulls were after him.

I don't know if I'm keeping Poopy. He was abandoned in a nearby field with a sibling and I brought him in and fed him up. The other pup was in bad shape and I felt it necessary to have it put down -- not something I wanted to do but not the first time I've had to do what was right by a sick or injured animal. I may end up taking the puppy to a shelter in a day or two.

Y'know, I'm pretty forgiving but it's hard to feel that way toward someone who would abandon animals this way. People just don't take responsibility, don't do what needs to be done. So it's left up to others. Oh well, I guess that's always been the way of this world.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

THE HIGH PLACES

I shall climb your mountains,
stand upon the high
holy places. Will you
see me then? Will you
hear my voice ascend
the crystal stairs of heaven?

Stars and planets write
prophetic runes above:
Let me know the paths
beyond their constant paths,
learn your silent ways
through the beautiful void,

an empty universe.
Ah, this dark energy
carries every prayer
away; random angels
sleep behind my sky.
Is this enlightenment?

Are these my excuses,
my reasons to exist?
Time has no song but this,
sung on the high places.
I have learned and lost it
too many times already.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Steve goes all serious and obscure. Well, obscure, anyway.

This one took a while to write, assuming that I am actually done writing. Stuck to trimeter here, albeit a tad (and only a tad) loose. I think I've watched too many episodes of
Universe; thus the dark energy reference slipping in! I had no intention of referencing those ideas when I started writing but they showed me where the second half of the poem should go when I was at a bit of an impasse.

OK, I guess I'm now officially old. I was on the road yesterday and stopped at Burger King for a shake -- my usual travel fare, not being into burgers and such -- and the young fellow at the counter gave me a senior discount without my even asking. I suspect it's the fact that I've grown a beard since last I was in the BK and it's quite gray.

I don't think I'm going to shave it off anytime soon, if ever. It's great not having to spend the time and, after all, I am 58 so I should just take the discount and be happy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

CONCEPTS vs WORDS

I occasionally hang at online forums where songwriting is a topic of discussion, most notably the Just Plain Folks board. It would seem there are as many approaches to writing a song as there are individuals writing them! Still, patterns do emerge.

One aspect that particularly caught my interest -- and this is true in all sorts of writing and especially poetry -- is the balance between concepts and words. Some writers claim to start with a concept and refuse to budge from it, even if interesting words and phrases point them toward some other direction. Stick to it, they say, even if the language with which you end up is somewhat ordinary.

Now I am pretty much on the other side of that idea. Probably 90 per cent of the time, I start with a phrase that interests me and that will in turn lead to other words which, in their turn, tell me what the song (or poem) is about. Naturally, it is necessary to go back and rewrite -- sometimes extensively -- with this approach or it may never make any sense!

Yes, my stuff does make sense...at least to me. ;)

I see writing as a journey of discovery. If one writes only about what knows, that preconceived concept, one will never really get anywhere. Perhaps that is just as well if the whole plan is to produce a commercial product. But I like words and I think there are plenty of other folks out there who do, as well, and always have been. Why else would the word play of the great 'golden age' song writers such as Cole Porter have been so popular?

This probably has a bearing on why I am a fairly slow writer. I've never been out to tell a story (for the most part) and every word can be a path to different, unexplored ideas.

And we're not even considering the music side here, and the effect of rhythms, rhymes, repeated words and phrases -- the whole sound aspect. Some other time!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

THIS LOVE

This love I have for you
Is higher than an ant hill,
Deeper than a mud puddle,
And will last until

At least sometime tomorrow.
Not that I'm promising
I will still be here
then or anything.

This passion that I feel
Fills me, I can't deny,
With all the thrill of watching
Grass grow and paint dry,

But not at the same time.
That would be too much
Excitement, after all.
At least your lips' sweet touch

Never caused that problem,
For our love is as strong
As melted ice in tea
When it sat too long.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

I could have gone on and on here but I think this is more than enough to get across the rather thin joke.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I JUST LEARNED that one of my all-time favorite singers, the fab Shelby Lynne, will be performing in Tampa in a couple days. Alas, I haven't the time (nor money for that matter) available at the moment to go that far. So instead, here's a vid of Shelby performing the Dusty Springfield hit You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I have, on occasion, been accused of being indecisive; hence this essentially tongue-in-cheek defense:

DECISIONS

I was thinking about some body art --
A big red rose and your name in a heart.
Now you're seeing someone new;
Darn good thing I didn't get that tattoo.

I was pricing out a diamond ring,
Our future seemed a certain thing.
But you tell me go and please don't linger;
I'll have to find some other finger.

Every decision I didn't make
Kept me from one more mistake;
Before we do, we should think things through,
Slow it down, put on the brake.
All those decisions can lead to regrets,
Like placing too many losing bets.
Get it wrong and remorse is long:
Broken hearts and unpaid debts.

I was thinking about making you my spouse,
Putting a down payment on a house.
Now you're living with another guy;
It's a good thing I couldn't afford to buy!

Stephen Brooke ©2008

It's just a silly song, of course. Or not even a song yet, in that I haven't even thought about music (if I bother at all). I do admit, I reckon we'd all be better off if our 'leaders' were a little less inclined to make decisions and just let us all muddle along on our own.

Friday, July 11, 2008

SWEET ONIONS are one of the great joys of summer. Loves them Vidalias! Yes, fresh, ripe, 'home-grown tomatoes' are great too, and watermelon and sweet corn....well, summer eatin' is good all around! But I do especially love onion sandwiches, though I may not get much love after consuming a couple. Just a nice thick slab of Vidalia on the bread of your choice -- that would probably be French bread in my case, possibly self-baked. Butter, if you must, but I feel that any fat of that sort masks the sweet onion taste. Salt is okay but I usually skip it. A slice of tomato...now that's a nice addition! :)

CAN YOU KAZOO?

Not being the most skillful of musicians on the more traditional instruments, I have an affinity for the kazoo. I have a bucket of 'em here, purchased from Kazoobie, in a rainbow of colors. Reckon I have one to match each of my aloha shirts.

Lately, I've been playing around with making my own, using PVC pipe. Yeah, I know that cardboard tubes are the more traditional homemade kazoo, but I like the durability and ease of the plastic and I can put sections of it together and break them back down quickly. Aluminum foil for the resonator, though wax paper is fine too. There IS a difference in sound but the foil is more durable, easier to form and I slightly prefer its tone. But, as I was saying, it's easy to change things quickly with the PVC. I have me a big 'bass' kazoo I've been playing with but, really, how high and low one can go is more a function of ones own voice than the size of the kazoo and resonator. However, a bigger kazoo seems to have a better tone down low, as well as more volume.

* * *

Played up at Landmark Park in Dothan last night. Much bigger crowd that I had anticipated, over 500 in attendance. Quite a bit different than performing for a half-dozen at some coffeehouse open mike. I guess I did okay though my allergies were getting to me and I pretty much croaked my way through my last song. The semi-new guitar sounded decent too, so I've no reservations about using it as my main instrument from here out.

When I'm not playing kazoo, that is...

Friday, July 04, 2008

THE FOURTH is a holiday, I know, but I'm not inclined to get out and do stuff today. Shoot, I'm not inclined to do that any day! So I'm working on my own little projects at home, baked some banana bread (not bad if I do say so myself), and added two new blogs here at Blogger.

Yep, two of 'em. They'll be linked up in time; for now they can be reached through my profile but they aren't at all interesting right now so don't bother! One of them is the replacement for my spam-infested guest book at P V Magazine. I reckon I can post news there and folks can comment if they really want to. The other is Lad Designs, an adjunct to my online store. News about what I have for sale and so on. I may or may not attach these to subdomain addresses at my site later on. Depends on how ambitious I feel.

Hmm, I hear another slice of banana bread calling so I'll sign off for now.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

MUSIC

A mention of the CD I intended to offer, The Wind on the Prairie, The Wind on the Sea, on a print-on-demand basis through our Cafe Press shop. This has not worked out well; CP is fine for printing tee-shirts and such but they can't seem to get their act together when it comes to CDs. We will -- soon, we hope -- be offering it directly from our site, along with more music!

BTW, I'll be doing a couple or three songs in Dothan at the Landmark Park on the Tenth (next Thursday). Show starts at 7:30 though I don't know when I'll go on. And admission is free.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I've had it with trying to fight spam at the Peripheral Vision Magazine guest book and have therefore deleted it. My thanks to everyone who stopped by and left comments. I may put in a Yahoo guest book (or some other alternative) in its place -- something that will let me moderate posts beforehand. Of course, that would be just as much work as deleting spam posts, wouldn't it?

Really, though, what is the point of spamming a guest book? It seems an exercise in attracting ill will toward oneself.

I can't play the hand I'm dealt.
Should I fold and leave
the table?

Stephen Brooke ©2008

every now and again, a passing thought gets poeticized into the quinzaine form.