Tuesday, October 28, 2008


My Tupelo Honey, my Mississippi Miss,
Cute and funny, likes to kiss.
I'd love to see her today;
Why must I be so far away?
My Tallahassee Lassie, my Florida Flirt,
Sweet and sassy, pretty and pert.
I'm feeling lonely, can't be denied;
If I could only be at her side.

Gonna ring me one of those Belles,
Maybe sit with her for a spell,
In the shade of the magnolia tree;
I need someone to talk southern to me!
Goin' to a place where I haven't a care,
Where night-blooming jasmine fills the air;
Just one choice for this Southern man,
Gotta find me a girl from Dixieland!

My Myrtle Beach Baby, my Carolina Cutie,
Ain't no maybe, she's a beauty.
Loves to dance on a summer night,
Make romance by moonlight.
My Atlanta Lady, my Georgia Peach,
I'm so ready but she's out of reach;
Need to take a trip down Peachtree Street,
Taste those lips heavenly sweet.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Well...full of cliches, obviously, and maybe even sort of sexist. But hardly serious. Okay, not serious at all. I've been messing with this lyric for a while, months I guess, adding a bit now and then. Reckon it's about as done as it needs to be.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Although I most certainly possess no great degree of techie-ness I have fooled around with a soldering iron on occasion, wiring guitars and such. Actually, built a handful of electric guitars at one point -- enough to convince me I hadn't the patience for the woodworking aspect of instrument making. Wiring together capacitors and potentiometers and watchamadoodles can be fun, however. Sometimes the results actually work!

Anyway, I decide to finally tackle a diy modification of my Oktava MK319 mikes this past week. These Russian-made microphones were, at one point, one of the best deals around -- I got my pair for only a hundred dollars total, brand-new, from Musicians Friend. I lucked into getting two decent mikes; there was a lot of trouble with quality control back six years ago when I got them. MF finally stopped carrying them altogether. Now they cost more but are still a good deal and a lot more dependable.

There are those who will mod Oktavas for a reasonable fee and it does take them from being a pretty good microphone to one that borders on being great (a la multi-thousand dollar Neumanns and such). Ideally, this includes rewiring and adding new transformers; I may someday go for such (on a new mike or two) but on my existing units I went with the simple diy 'mechanical' mods. First, took off the head basket and removed one layer of wire mesh. This is the easiest thing to do for this mike and does 'open up' the sound (at the cost of increased sibilance). I'd already done this a while back.

Then, removed the plastic 'resonator disks' on either side of the diaphragm. It's not hard to do, just remove the little screws, but one must be careful not to slip and poke a hole in the diaphragm! Also, on one side there is a ground wire going through the disk so the plastic has to be clipped to slip it out. The result is a more natural and neutral sound but at the cost of possible undesirable resonances, so other damping must be added. Some glue in a bit of foam but this can come loose and/or deteriorate over time so I preferred to add a dab of silicone or acrylic on the 'floor' of the head basket. Whether I've used enough or will need to add more, time will tell. Easy enough to do later on.

Now, I'm eager to not only use the mikes in the studio (when I'm finished with the ceiling -- it's coming along) but also for live recordings of choirs, pianos, etc. That's what I originally bought them for (more on that below). They were my first good microphones back then and still among the best I have on hand.

* * *

I think I need to stop turning on Ellen DeGeneres' show in the afternoons. I found myself dancing like her this morning...

* * *

I rarely mention my on-again-off-again girlfriend (for want of a better word) here, save for the occasional oblique reference in a poem or something. She was the reason I bought those above-mentioned microphones a few years back, when she asked me to record one of her piano recitals (she teaches music at the university level). Lately, we haven't been maintaining contact very well, both being somewhat self-absorbed and having a lot on our agendas, not to mention not living particularly close to each other.

She rang me up on Sunday evening and asked if I could come and record her concert this coming Sunday. This is all too typical of her, but that's okay -- I know what to expect! Unfortunately, I had another commitment this weekend and had to turn her down. I really don't know if I'm going to do much live recording for a while anyway, with my obligations here. It's too bad, I haven't missed one of her recitals before; I may or may not be able to get up there (Tuskegee) for their Christmas Concert in early December. At this point, I don't know if I'll be requested to record it but, if I am, I just might have to turn it down this year.

a btw, later in the day: decided -- sort of -- on a color scheme for the studio/music room and ordered some burgundy insulated curtains for it today. These will fill the large arched passageway between the room and the rest of the house and, I hope, be a partial barrier to noise as well. My original plan was bright and airy, maybe a light green, but it looks like I'll be going more earth-toned instead. The walls are somewhat of a pale mud color now so I can live without painting for a while; will have to remove the remaining dark blue curtains as soon as practical i.e when I can afford more burgundy ones.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

IT WAS ABOUT TIME I got back to work on remodeling my family room into recording studio space. As my duty as a caregiver is putting travel and performing and so on at a minimum right now, this will be a primary focus for the next few weeks -- maybe for all winter. Right now, I'm tearing down the last of the old ceiling in there. It was an extremely shoddy job originally; however, the beams above it don't look bad and I intend to leave them open. Should help the acoustics.

Oh, there's some suspect workmanship up there, too, but nothing that can't be remedied sometime down the line. Mostly cosmetic, anyway. This room -- and the carport which will someday be my tracking room -- were added onto the original farmhouse (built in 1940) at some point. My goal right now is to get it working as a combination control room/live room, as well as to use it for general musical entertainment, as the piano is in there.

* * *

I didn't watch much of the debate last night, since the Phillies and Dodgers were playing. Presidents come and go but ball teams last! I did happen to catch Sen Obama use the word 'prioritize' but I'll probably vote for him anyway. Even smart people use dumb words occasionally.

And Obama is certainly smart, not that brains is a particularly important commodity in a leader. If intelligence were all it took, Herbert Hoover would have been our greatest president.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Since I brag on my Mean niece from time to time, I thought it only fair that I give Mary's brother, Frank, a little attention here. This is a pic of him when he was in LA, working as an extra on Deep Space 9. Yep, I have a real live Star Trek actor in the family!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

LAST CALL for Peripheral Vision Magazine

A mention for anyone out there intending to submit material for the fall issue of PVM: there are about two weeks left before I have to finalize things. So get that good stuff you have to us soon and then start thinking about the spring issue!

Thursday, October 02, 2008


What did the dwarfs do once Snow White
left them for good? Did they whistle
and return to their mine, hoping
to delve cheer from grudging rocks,
seek its ore with pick and shovel?

Being busy might not replace
being happy nor still their loss
but it's better that nothing and we
can't all be princes, you know,
nor even particularly charming.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

We travel with great trains of luggage,
we humans, wherever we check in:
suitcases full of monkeys, bags
with lizards and fish and worms all mixed up

inside. Sometimes the latches fail
and they spill out, crawling away
into corners, swinging from
the curtains, and the concierge

must chase them down, put them back,
lest they upset the other guests.
Slipping out, they might leave all
their luggage by the unmade bed.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Okay, not exactly full of originality nor insight. The phrase 'suitcase full of monkeys' just popped into my head and I wrote something around it. That's the way a lot of my stuff comes into being.