Sunday, August 31, 2008

AT THE 1966 HUGO Awards, there was a tie between the two best Science Fiction novels of the year, Dune by Frank Herbert and ...And Call Me Conrad (aka This Immortal) by Roger Zelazny. Now Dune has gone on to achieve broad popularity, known to the non-SF audience via movies adaptations if nothing else, while Zelazny's book would be unfamiliar to most.

But it's the better novel, in my judgment. Oh, I was dazzled by Herbert's novel(s), like everyone else (well, almost everyone), but now I find them somewhat plodding and a bit pointless. Even at the time they first appeared I was bothered by the way he changed the whole ancestral memory thing after the first couple books -- the genetic explanation never made much sense. Nevertheless, there is a lot of rich detail in Dune. It's a flashy novel, one that makes a big impression on first read.

Zelazny, on the other hand, has a depth to his work. He was one of the 'New Wave' writers of the 60s -- the Science Fiction equivalent of Post Modernism -- along with such authors as Samuel 'Chip' Delany (whom I had the honor of meeting twenty-odd years ago), Ursula K LeGuin, Michael Moorcock. Zelazny is a stylist -- his prose is highly poetic and that alone would be enough to attract me to his writing. Sometimes it resembles a cross between the imagery of Raymond Chandler and the simple (but meaningful) poeticism of Tolkien.

There's more than just the writing itself, however good it may be. Roger Zelazny's fiction tends to tackle some big meaning-of-existence type questions. Often well hidden in the stories! Even his most popular and seemingly 'lightest' work, the Amber series, explores free will and how it shapes our world. Indeed, creates it. Man becoming God (or godlike) is common theme in his books -- that's a concept that has always struck a chord in me. Striving is good! :)

Friday, August 29, 2008


Wine is bottled poetry. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Wine is sunlight, held together by water. ~Galileo

No poems can please for long or live that are written by water-drinkers. ~Horace

and for those with a taste for the amber stuff:

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. ~Benjamin Franklin

Due south, across the cotton field,
beyond the cutout trees, one light burns,
harsh guardian of the neighbors' barn.

Transmuted by distance, it becomes
as another star at the window,
my companion through the night.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

I resisted temptation to make this longer, with all sorts of imagery about fog on the fields, etc, etc. Best to just get the point across, no?

A sailor without a tattoo
An actor who missed his cue
So am I today
So am I without you

A garden that never grew
A wind that never blew
Empty of all meaning
So am I without you

A tiger caged at a zoo
A lawyer with no one to sue
Counting all I've lost
These things I am too

A ship without a crew
A church without a pew
A man without purpose
So am I without you

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Not exactly a serious piece of verse (despite the oh-so-serious message!) but more a bit of play with words. This probably could have been developed in a song direction, had I been inspired to do so...but I doubt it would have been a particularly good one.
ARTISTS and Vagrants South has been the official name of my little 'project studio' here for the past year or so, in partnership with my niece and nephew who were operating A&V Central in Tennessee. Well, they've pretty much closed up shop to concentrate on other things and Mary failed to renew the domain name a couple weeks back, so I'm dropping the name and going back to my own Que Linda Music.

It will take a while for the website, etc to reflect the change. I reckon I should have gone with this from the start -- it's best to go ones own way, more often than not.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Yesterday was a song
of heat and rain
but each morning

the sun calls my name
a little later, a little
less insistently,

and seasons spin
about the North Star,
God's bull-roarers humming.

Tomorrow's tune will
carry a cold cadence,
a discord of winds,

but now I hear Summer
fading in the morning,
gently fading away.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

THE TAIL end of Tropical Storm Fay is moving out of here this morning. At last! Now all we need to worry about is Hurricane Gustav....

Fortunately -- for me, not for Texans -- the most likely track for that storm is toward the West, not North. Should make some waves down at Panama. And the school kids are out of the water now (though some will play hooky, of course) so there's room for old guys. I may actually find my way down to the beach this time.

Fay didn't cause much damage here. I was on edge last night because of tornadoes in the area but nothing came near. We actually got far more rain yesterday and Sunday, when the storm tracked back to the Northeast, than when it first passed us, headed West. Still, nothing like what they saw in peninsular Florida.

The winds did bring a large branch down on the pecan tree. Pecans are rather vulnerable to wind damage, anyway. I'll break out the chain saw when things get a little drier. Like tomorrow, maybe.

Wind was also responsible for more ceiling tiles coming down in the 'salon' (my music room / recording control room). I've written before about how ineptly they were installed by some former owner of this house. Some had come down before and I intended to take them all down eventually but now I'm busy removing them all. I'll leave open beams in that room -- I think it will look pretty good and should help the sound there too. I'll do the same in the carport when I eventually convert it into my tracking room. That will be a while! At this point, getting the salon fixed up for tracking is my main concern. More soundproofing, in particular.

In other Peanut Road news, I dug up my fire pit last week. My mom had fits every time I burnt in it, thinking I was going to catch the house on fire. It was not really that close but I'm moving it anyway, out further into the open field south of the house. Fay interrupted but I'll get back to it, in time. It's probably a better spot anyway.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Playing nylon string guitar pretty much exclusively the last couple months had consequences when I picked up the banjo today. Ouch! Sore fingertips! I didn't realize that I was losing calluses by not playing steel strings. Guess I'll have to remember to practice on other instruments occasionally.

* * *

Two deadlines coming in mid-October that I need to give my attention. One would be the next issue of Peripheral Vision Magazine. Writers and artists out there, send stuff! I need to get busy and write some essays and such myself.

The other would be sending in yet another performer application for the Florida Folk Festival. One of these years, I might just get accepted. Or not. Anyway, I need to get together decent recordings of three songs I can send along. Florida songs, I think -- I've certainly written enough of 'em by now.
One voice I heard quite a bit of as a wee (and not yet very insolent nor even lucky) lad was Phil Harris. My folks had several of his old 78s; even my father -- whose idea of great music was the marching band at half-time -- liked Phil. Here's an early and rather silly movie appearance with him singing in the shower.

I'm sure hearing Harris in my formative years had consequences for my own singing much later! That and the other music I can remember from when I was five or six or so -- the Weavers, the Everly Brothers, Tex Ritter (my grandfather's favorite), Eddie Arnold and, especially, Burl Ives.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


verse 1:
Part of me doesn't know any better
Than to still be in love with you;
I've tried to explain to myself that it's over
But my heart won't believe it's true.
Sometimes it whispers in the night,
Softly calls your name,
And wonders when you're coming back,
Why things can't be the same.

There remains a part of me,
There remains the heart of me,
That believes in destiny;
It's just a part of me.
There remains a part of me
That holds onto your memory;
It is and it will always be
Just a part of me.

verse 2:
Part of me thinks I'll wake tomorrow
And find you at my side;
Sometimes I've told myself the truth,
While other times I've lied.
But the lies, those same old lies,
Are all that my heart hears,
So it won't feel the same old hurts,
Cry the same old tears.

repeat chorus and/or instrumental

And part of me has let you go
While part of me still waits and so...

repeat chorus

Stephen Brooke ©2008

A song, more or less of the Country persuasion, and still very much a WIP. Written, as are many of mine, from a phrase that took my fancy -- in this case, 'a part of me.' Serves as a hook here, obviously...I practically beat the listener over the head with the repeats!

addendum, Sunday evening: Though I thought this was a Country song, when I started working on the music I found myself jettisoning the relatively simple country-oriented melody in my head for something in a more sophisticated folk-pop idiom. Anyway, it's more or less finished, unless I choose to change some of the lyrics.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

There once was a flatulent flautist
Whose one talent made him the proudest;
To double his winds
He'd toot at both ends --
Of all flautists he was the loudest!

Stephen Brooke©2008

yeah, a dumb limerick

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


(to the tune of On Top of Old Smoky)

While goin' a-shoppin'
Down at the Wal-mart,
I lost all my money
By fillin' my cart.

I went through the checkout
And there went my cash,
For oatmeal and veggies
And bags for my trash.

Oh, shoppin's a pleasure
But payin's a grief,
And a Wal-mart cashier
Is worse than a thief.

A thief, he will rob you
Of all that you own,
But payin' at Wal-mart
Requires a loan.

Well, I'm deeper in debt now,
Life sure can be hard,
But I'll just keep a-shoppin'
With my credit card.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

LETTING GO of the past is not always easy. Perhaps never easy, at least for me.

Seven years ago this month I was going through a breakup with the one I considered 'the love of my life.' Hey, we all make mistakes. Incidentally, this was the woman who introduced me to the folk music scene here in Florida by dragging me to my first Florida Folk Festival. For that, at least, I will continue to be grateful!

Although I received little or no acknowledgement in the years since, I continued to send her birthday and Christmas cards, occasional bits of news (only the really big stuff). But I let her birthday last month go by without a card and I've no intention of resuming. It truly is time to let go.

That doesn't mean forgetting. I'll remember the good -- and the occasional bad -- forever. I'll remember her dogs (mostly now gone), the subjects of my (award-winning) poem, Dogs and Poetry. I'll remember that she rarely got my jokes. Now there was a definite clue we weren't right for each other...

Though it has nothing directly to do with her, being written way back in 1988 (when I was still primarily Country music oriented with my writing), here's an old song that reflects some similar feelings:


I carry your picture around,
It’s right here in my wallet;
A little piece of yesterday,
Reminder of another time.
Maybe it’s just foolishness,
I’m sure that’s what you’d call it;
But I can’t help remembering
That you were once mine.

I still carry your memory,
You’ll always be a part of me;
I can’t forget and I won’t let go,
You were my one true love and so,
I’ll never throw your picture away,
It’s all that’s left of yesterday.

I’ll think about you now and then,
And how it used to be;
When we were together,
I thought we’d never part.
I was so in love with you,
And you said you loved me;
But you went and left me anyway,
You went and broke my heart.

Stephen Brooke ©1988

Monday, August 04, 2008

I FINALLY pulled the plug on satellite television service here at Peanut Road. It was definitely not worth the cost. I didn't really watch that much and neither did my mom, for whom I ordered it in the first place. How much I can pick up through the air, I'm not sure -- I'll probably be investing in a tall outdoor antenna in a while but for now it will be rabbit ears.

It is true that I'm a bit far from most of the broadcast stations in the general area. Dothan would be the closest source and I can pick up signals from Panama City reasonably well. Tallahassee is just too far away. It may prove difficult to pull in a PBS station as all are at least 60 miles away; if I could get one of them to come in satisfactorily, I'd tend to keep it tuned in most of the time.

Oh, I'll miss some stuff. Sci-fi channel, of course, but I waited until the season finale of Dr Who before quitting. No new episodes till 2010! Some of the documentary stuff. And then there is pro wrestling. I admit to having been a fan (off and on) since I was a kid and to having been peripherally involved with the industry at one point, due to working out at (and working at) a gym where several minor league performers lifted. I almost ended up 'stooging' for one of them but that fell through. Probably just as well -- I don't think I had it in me to be a Jimmy Hart clone.

So, now maybe I'll get more reading in, do more writing, play more music? Well...we'll see!