Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Shall I give thanks for all
the things I never wanted,
for which I never asked?

I'd just as soon return them,
have naught, be not. Yet here
they are, these empty gifts,

unopened boxes, clutter
to fill the corners of life.
No matter; leave them there.

Leave them and give thanks.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I've long kept my eye open for a good font to use in printing out lyric-and-chord sheets for my use. Up until quite recently my choice was Humanist 521 -- looks good, doesn't take up to much space, easy enough to read. The problem was lining things up -- tabs and so on. This is exacerbated if I send a page to someone else who used a different font to view it or if I ever chose to put stuff on line.

The answer, I realized, was to use a fixed space font. Unfortunately, most of them looked bad or didn't read well. Oh, Courier is okay; after all, I typed up a lot of sheets with it long ago!

Then I came across Vera Sans Mono (aka Bitstream Vera Sans Mono). It's sort of like a fixed-width Verdana. Looks pretty good on a monitor, prints out nicely enough, not a space hog so I can (usually) get a line of lyrics across the page, complete with breaks at the bars. And, if I send it to someone as a file (I've taking to saving them all as RTFs) it can display pretty much the same in the equivalent size of Courier.

VSM can be found as a free download here and there. Google it if you're interested. Btw, if you're into programming, it's supposed to be great for writing code.

In other music-related matters, I continue to attempt to get into the studio and actually record something. It's not easy to find the time as I have to keep an eye on Mom pretty much constantly. Thank God I have Rachel, Martha, Bonnie and Ellen to help keep her occupied most afternoons! I just may have to try recording in the middle of the night when she's asleep. When I will sleep then I'm not exactly sure...

I'd been thinking of getting some mastering and/or CD burning software to use here. My old Nero is barely adequate and buggy on the newer Vista machine in the studio. The thought was something Sony, either the full Sound Forge 10 (which probably would have been overkill for my needs) or just CD Architect. Either way, I could write professional Red Book standard CDs. Then I discovered that the newer version of Adobe Audition has full mastering and burning capabilities. That would be Version 3; I have had and occasionally used Version 1 (which is essentially the old Cool Edit Pro by another name.) V1 does not have these capabilities so it had not come to mind but I find I can upgrade for about the same cost as buying CD Architect and get a lot more functionality so that's the way I've gone.

Audition might become my primary DAW from here out or I may use it mostly for mastering. I am rather fond of my old standby from PG Music, Power Tracks, largely because of its midi capabilities.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Different degrees of madness
divide us: you from me,
him from her from them.
Each has his own losses.

Each heart's an empty bird's nest,
broken, trampled where
it fell. How will we seek
the life that might have filled it?

Only in the lies
and the truth that lies
between the lies; only
in stories of our madness

are the discarded shells
of dreams once hatched and flown.
Do they nest again,
somewhere, those birds of loss?

Only the degrees
that divide us know
their song. Listen for it;
listen in the forests.

Listen in the dawn
and remember. You've heard it
before, heard its echo
in your empty places.

Listen and know they've flown
beyond your reach. Different
degrees of madness divide us.
Each has his own losses.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

I must admit that the 'nest' metaphor here came from the short stories of Maeve Brennan that I've been reading lately -- a book of her rather melancholy tales set in Dublin (The Springs of Affection). And I suspect that the entire feel of the poem owes to the same source.

The poem may not be much but the stories are good. Brennan was an excellent and concise stylist, something that I tend to appreciate. I do detest (well, maybe that's too strong a word) the long-winded authors popular today. The stories are gems of insight into the inner worlds of the characters, who manage to be both sympathetic and off-putting at once. Much like real people in the real world.

I'm not writing a whole lot lately, nor doing much of anything other than attending to my chores and duties here. My apologies to friends that I am neglecting -- I'll probably continue to do so.