adventures in dysthymia

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I've not been doing the 'social network' thing much, as I suspected I wouldn't be able to devote sufficient time to it. Yes, I've kept up blogging here -- at least some -- and I do maintain a presence at MySpace, but that's about it (unless one counts Ning, where I belong to Bonnie Hunt's group but don't really interact).

But it's worthwhile to connect with people -- especially those online friends I've been neglecting -- so yesterday I reinstated my Facebook account (may get a band page going too) and started a new Multiply (Facebook for old folks, ha ha) as well. I might even do Linked In, if I can figure out just exactly what my profession is these days...

Incredibly muggy here today on Peanut Road. I've been out digging holes and now I feel like I'm ready to be dropped into one of them. Time to get some iced green tea; more later.

Monday, July 27, 2009

OUTSIDE

There's no need to think outside
the box, if the box we're in
is large enough. Just be sure
it has room to hold your dreams.

We need boxes, you know, or all
those dreams would float away, be lost.

Poetry is a box. We fill it
with words and mail them to ourselves.
I've so many now I think
I need a box to hold my boxes.

God must have the largest box
of all. No thinking outside that one.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

A quickie poem-thing (yes, Sandburg-esque -- I seem to be doing that a lot lately). Haven't been on much, haven't written nor blogged much. Too much going on in the so-called real world (though I sometime wonder what's real and what ain't). I apologize to friends I've been ignoring.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A GLASS

A glass of wine may make me jolly
But two can turn me melancholy,
And taking three is simple folly
For I'll fall asleep, by golly!

I'll have one for my stomach's sake,
Though several seems a mistake;
Too many glasses surely make
Anybody's tummy ache!

Good food is certainly a sign
To pour another glass of wine,
So bring a bottle when we dine:
Fill up yours and fill up mine!

A glass of wine just might enhance
The mood that leads us to romance;
But sometimes we'll make an advance
When we shouldn't take the chance!

Stephen Brooke ©2009


IN FIVE ACTS

There was a Dane
in great pain;
going insane,
in fact.
An act,
it could have been.
He blamed his kin
of shameful sin;
an uncle accused
and not amused.
He could have used
more tact.
A pact,
the young prince made
with Father's shade,
debts to be paid.

But meanwhile he
could not see
a reason to be
or not.
He thought
too much, it seems,
of dark and dreams,
while Uncle's schemes
were put in play.
What can one say?
That was his way:
he sought,
he fought.
With too much rage,
too young an age,
he left the stage.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

a double dose of doggerel!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

THE PEAR tree is starting to drop semi-ripe fruit (with these hard pears, it's hard to say just when they're ripe) out back, most of it already nibbled (rabbits, squirrels, blue jays, even deer) before I get to it. There was almost no fruit within reach of the ground this year -- I blame that on the torrential rains back in the spring when the lower part of the tree was coming out in bloom. Lots of fruit up high; maybe I'll try to knock some down with a rake or the like.

Anyway, I'm gathering the pears up this year, edible or otherwise, so I can plant them and try to get some seedling trees. Like the peaches, they seem to hold up well to the heat here.

* * *
I've tried for years to get into playing my six-string banjo, but it has too many issues. Aside from the fact that the low strings pretty much always sound pretty 'plunky' on a six-string, there are the drawbacks arising from the cost-cutting measures Aria used to get it on the market. The primary problem being that they simply attached a dobro neck to a banjo pot. The scale is short-ish at 24 inches (though that's longer than a tenor) which doesn't help the sound of the low strings. Worse is the narrow string spacing -- I only have one-and-three-quarter inches at the bridge and that's mighty close together for finger-picking. Even if I only do two-finger.

So I'm seriously considering either selling it or losing a string (or two). Probably not worth much and it would be easy enough to redo the nut and bridge. If I were ambitious, I could even put on mandolin tuners and try it with eight strings. Anyway, I'm not any sort of traditional (i.e. neither 'old time' nor bluegrass) banjoist but much more inclined toward the Irish four-string sort of sound and tend to either strum in a ukulele fashion or finger-pick like a guitar. (Steve hates picks. Guitars, like women, should be caressed with the finger tips, not poked at with sharp objects)

* * *
I suppose the recording studio is more-or-less open now, but not to the public. There's just no way I could handle being a 24/7 caregiver and doing that sort of business at the same time. Shoot, considering my age and current ambitions (to get back into performing when it is once more practical), I may never go fully commercial here. Just record myself and the occasional friend, maybe. The music room (or salon, as I like to call it) is essentially finished, now that the acoustic ceiling is up and everything is in place. I will, in time, add more acoustic treatment but it's quite usable as is and a decent sized space at 22' by 14'.

And there are other suitably large rooms in the house here at Peanut Road to spread out some, if need be. Who knows when (or if) I'll ever get that carport converted to a tracking room, though. At 26' by 22', with high ceilings, it would be nice but I guess I don't really need it at this point.

Is it just me or does Sonia Sotomayor



look an awful lot like Severus Snape?


one thing for sure, she should avoid wearing black

Thursday, July 09, 2009

True art is magic.

Not the mystical stuff of fairy tales and fantasy; no, art is the skilled stagecraft of the illusionist, the sleight of hand and lateral thinking that directs our minds to see that which is not, strictly speaking, there. Art leads us to believe in real magic, the magic that lies within us.

It requires the illusions of words, of paint, of misdirection, to allow us to suspend our disbelief. Art opens us up to possibilities we would not otherwise see, that do exist yet remain so hard to recognize.

The creation of art, true art, good art, requires all the craft of the stage magician. It does not spring forth without thought or plan from the artist. The idea that it is all talent is simply part of the illusion, a mystical pass of the hands, a flip of a flamboyant but concealing cape.

Does it hurt to know how the trick was performed? Not really; if anything, it opens the mind to new ways of dealing with problems. At the same time, it is certainly not necessary to have any inkling of the mechanics for one to be profoundly affected by either art or magic. The feeling of wonder, of suspecting there are things we do not know -- but should -- is the important part.

I will now produce a poem from my hat. Chances are, you'll never see how it was done, as your eyes will be on my beautiful assistant.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

PATCHES

We are safety pins and duct tape,
Patches upon patches;
Torn and tattered rags, discarded --
No part of us matches.

We are rows of darkened windows,
Broken locks and latches;
Doors that hang from rusted hinges,
Nests where nothing hatches.

We are tunes lost on the wind,
Songs heard but in snatches;
Broken notes where every voice
Falters, fades, catches.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Okay, so I'm gloomy today. What, I'm gloomy lots of days? Oh well.

At least we're getting some rain and not-so-bad temperatures after those three dry weeks of triple-digit heat. My trees should all survive. But to balance that, I had to spend too-much-money getting the truck fixed up this morning. Heck, it has almost 200,000 miles on it so I suppose I shouldn't complain that much. The logistics of taking care of things like this while needing to stay with my mom 24 hours a day is always problematic. Not much to do about that but take things as they come.

Friday, July 03, 2009

RUMBLE

I hear their hallelujahs
I hear their marching feet
I see that gang of Mormons
Cruising down the street
Here come the Witnesses
The two are bound to meet
Some are packing bibles
Packing holy heat!

It's the rumble of the righteous
A turf war of the true
Missionary mayhem
Trouble on the brew
Those fired-up Saints are gonna
Take on Jehovah's crew
Close your doors and lock 'em
Don't come out till they're through!

There's two or three outside
knocking at my door
I pretend that I'm not home
But they're mighty hard to ignore
Wish they'd just go away
As I've wished it often before
No sooner do they leave
Than here come a half-dozen more!

It's a brouhaha of believers
A clash of oratory
Death-match of the devout
Each claiming this territory
They're passing out the Watch Tower
Or Joseph Smith's odd story
Can't say I'll read either one
This side of purgatory!

Stephen Brooke ©2009

I joked a few months back about the idea of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses fighting over their turf a la street gangs, but forgot the concept until a JW dropped by here the other morning. I was doing lawn work so I couldn't hide! At any rate, that jogged me to start writing a poem (or is it a song?). Admittedly a bit rough at this point. Should it be longer? I hate to belabor any idea, especially one that doesn't really have a lot of depth to begin with -- one simply starts rehashing the same joke, verse after verse. I've sat through too many 'humorous' songs like that! Anyway, I've tried to keep it short, simple and reasonably silly.

And, of course, no offense meant to the Witnesses and Saints out there. Not that many (any?) read this blog.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

WITH YOU

With you, I have sought
the elusive illusions
of life and love and learning,
of laughter and of thought.

With you, I have wondered
at a glory of stars
and an ache of hearts
from heaven's promise sundered.

Oh, we have been clever
yet unable to see
happiness lasts a moment,
forgetting is forever.

With you, I have fashioned
dreams from failing hope,
made our rumpled bed,
fevered and impassioned.

And with you, I've grown cold
standing in the moment,
waiting for tomorrow's
story to be told.

Oh, we have been so clever
yet unable to see
happiness lasts a moment,
forgetting is forever.

Stephen Brooke ©2009