Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Myth is created by the poetic and misinterpreted by the prosaic.

* * *

God is infinite being striving to fill infinite emptiness.

* * *

'Common sense' is another name for lazy thinking.

Simply some thoughts upon which I may eventually expand and expound. Perhaps next year.

On the general subject of next year, I was not really expecting to still be in my caregiver role at the end of this one. Mom seemed so frail and failing last winter, yet she truly became more 'alive' once warmer weather arrived. Yes, her mental state continued to degrade but she seemed healthier, more alert.

It looks downhill again now, though, as winter proceeds. I really have to keep a constant eye on her as she will do harm to herself -- particularly, putting things into her mouth that shouldn't be there. I can only 'childproof' the place so much. Other things she may do might exasperate me at times, but are not, in general, dangerous.

For instance, this morning while I was in the next room she decided to dump the entire 'slop bucket' intended for the compost heap into the dish-washing basin. What a mess! And let's face it, I'm fussy and somewhat OC about keeping things in order. Which does help me plan for problems but also upsets me when things go off the rails.

One thing I did not accomplish -- and will not accomplish -- this year was much recording. I realize that it will not be possible to immerse myself in the studio for the near future. That goes for the art studio too, I suppose. Actually, both parts of the house are closed off for these coldest months -- I'll expand back into them in the spring. In the meantime, I fuss with a little composing via midi on the office computer, which I have temporarily relocated in my bedroom.

So, fast away the old year passes...and it was not a great year but it could have been worse. I enjoyed some music (in particularly Mary's new CD and the Tom Jones Praise and Blame -- love that album), kept in touch, after a fashion, via the internet, and, well, survived. We'll see what 2011 holds.

I guess I'll soon be getting nursery catalogs in the mail and thinking about investing in things to stick in the ground come spring!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

IT BUGS me a little that pretty much everyone (in this country) speaks of the solstice as being the first day of winter. Aside from the fact that there is no 'official' beginning of winter in the US, it should be recognized that the solstice was not traditionally considered the start of the season. That seems to have been foisted on us rather recently.

When one thinks of it, the solstice should be the middle of winter -- the 'bleak midwinter,' as the Christina Rossetti's poem goes. It should also be noted that in those nations that do have an official start of winter, it is often the first day of December.

Oh well, no one listens to my wisdom. Their loss! :)

We had an unusual late lunar eclipse for this solstice. I can remember my very first lunar eclipse, in the November of 1956. It is a particularly strong memory because it coincided with the very first migraine I can recall having, at age six. The two will be forever entwined, me lying on the couch with throbbing head watching that blood-red moon. I don't much like lunar eclipses.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I SPENT a bit of online time yesterday and today simplifying my life -- leaving message boards, deleting accounts, un-friending folks on FaceBook, that sort of thing. I figured I needed to be more efficient about how I wasted my time.

And I need to concentrate more on the creative, when possible. Not so possible at times, around here, as I need to keep a pretty constant eye on my mom to make sure she doesn't get into mischief or hurt herself. She's gotten bad about putting things into her mouth that she shouldn't.

Which is the main reason I'm not putting up a Christmas tree this year. I really do fear that she would be getting her hands onto it and perhaps harming herself. So only up-high decorations for us. It's not like she can really remember from day to day that Christmas is coming, anyway.

Back to the simplifying thing: I considering dropping the handful of MySpace accounts I maintain (barely) for different musical projects -- all pretty much in hiatus -- plus one personal page there. Went so far as to open a SoundClick page for my music but was thoroughly unimpressed and deleted it yesterday as well. So, I'll probably keep the MS pages for the nonce, despite the ridiculous changes there. Eventually, maybe Reverbnation if I start actually doing music again.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


tribal music
in the night
star-filled sky
fire light
new stars born
rising sparks
tribal music
in the dark

tribal music
heartbeat rides
primal rhythms
full moon tides
drums provoke
tribal music
deep in me

sail upon
sea of stars
Venus calls
out to Mars
lovers till
morning comes
tribal music
tribal drums

tribal music
leaping flame
voice of night
knows my name
darkness hides
right from wrong
tribal music
ancient song

Stephen Brooke ©2010

This, unlike the recent poems I have posted, is intended (and was from the start) as a song lyric. There is music in development.

Oh, and the third stanza there works as the chorus, the rest are verses. More or less.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I had a disagreement with myself
or maybe it was with my god.

We argued all night and sometimes one
got the better and sometimes the other.

Light and bird-song spoke of the new day;
on this, at least, we agreed.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Format-wise, this is similar to a sijo but it veers somewhat from the spirit of that Korean poetic form. Still, I suppose it's as good a description as any.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


The days become
a jar full of pennies
to count out on the table,
fifty to the stack.

Oh, here's an old wheat,
real copper. They don't
make those, any more.
No, not any more.

Let's put it in
another jar, a jar full
of yesterday's pennies
and roll the rest of these.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

For the too-young, 'wheat' refers to the design on the back of pennies, up until 1958. We called them 'wreath' pennies, sometimes, because the two stalks of wheat form a wreath.

Friday, December 03, 2010


The tides of the heart
follow no phases
of the moon, no
calendar of spring
and neap. They run high
when they will.
They leave the pools
of yesterday
to greet the sky,
the sky of stars
and starfish. Seek
with me there,
some night, for both.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

A rather rapidly written poem -- most of it, that is. The first two-and-a-half lines came to me a few days ago and had to wait a bit for the rest to rush to join them.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

the string stretched tight
sounds the clearest music
but breaks easily

Stephen Brooke (c)2010

a senryu-like piece

Looks like we're heading for the first freeze of the season tonight. I guess the calendar is right when it tells me it's December. We had a mild fall -- hope winter is the same. Not sure I could take another like last year, not to mention my mom. Or my truck, for that matter, which is probably on its last wheels. I'd hate to have a failure of transportation while still being a caregiver.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Work is my drug.
It helps me forget,
as all good drugs do.

That's really what you
want from that fix,
not happiness but

forgetfulness. Maybe,
just for a moment,
to leave the pain elsewhere.

Lose your self. That's
the thing, isn't it?
Work is my drug.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Most of my structured poetry is more accentual than it is metrical -- which I think is perhaps more natural for English-language poems anyway. Two accents to the line here but there is a trimeter in each line as well. So call it what you will.

Okay, all poetry is structured in some sense or it wouldn't be poetry. Even if the only structure is line breaks or such. Repeated elements, says Annie Finch are what make a poem a poem.

Yes, I do lose myself in work as another might in drugs. I like my routine, which is why, on this holiday (the official beginning of my bah, humbug season), this bit of a thought came to me. Well, you all can have your four-day weekend but I expect you to be back at work, bright and early, come Monday morning!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


God is the elephant and we
the blind men, understanding
in part but never comprehending
the whole. What part do I hold?

It doesn't matter. It is still
a part of God, even if it feels
like a piece of rope.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

My original thought was to have at least another line or two going on about how a rope can lift one, hold one, etc. Then I realized that the word rope has all those connotations anyway so there's no need to say anything else -- less is more, as usually is true in poetry.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CONTINUING to catalog and format all my poetry, I'm closing in on somewhere around six hundred poems. Added to over two hundred songs -- allowing for some overlap -- that puts me around eight hundred total. My life's work, I guess, as 'author,' though there are a handful of short stories, one bad young adult novel and a partial fantasy novel. The latter could actually stand on its own as novella (and definitely needs rewritten, expanded, and then continued. Someday.). Oh, and all those articles I wrote for bodybuilding magazines way back when...that seems like another lifetime now.

I'm not including the short-form poetry in the total. Haiku, cinquaines, etc, etc. There are quite a few and, on reading through the collection, I am quite underwhelmed by them. I do think many should be expanded into some other form. I'm definitely not a haikuist!

The one short form I do feel I've done well with is the quinzaine. It just suits my way of thinking -- more French than Japanese, I suppose. It also lends itself well to sufi-like questions. The tanka I've written are a mixed batch, a few perhaps OK. I do like my sijo attempts, for the most part, but don't include them among the short form poems.

I will eventually have another chapbook out. Now and again I complete an illustration for it. This will (almost certainly) be a collection of my fantasy-oriented stuff. I'm really held back more by the need to create art than anything else. Just can't get myself settled down and working on illustrations these days.

And, after all, I should also be working on recording some songs. Also hard to get going on these days. Oh well. I have opened an account at SoundClick to put some of my music up. Nothing but one old 'classical' piece there right now.

Speaking of classical music (or whatever one would call these supposedly serious pieces I've written now and again), I've been looking for a notation program that suits me. I mostly write in a sequencing program (PG Music's Power Tracks) but it won't print out particularly useful notation. Does lead sheets well enough, though.

I suppose if I'm serious I should go for the pricey full versions of Sibelius or Finale. Sibelius is nice if one is working with Pro Tools for recording, as they somewhat integrate (both come from Avid). Indeed, there is a light version of Sibelius included in Pro Tools, I understand. I do have a less-featured version of Finale, and have also played around with the open-source free programs, Denemo and MuscScore. They're all decent enough. None of them are very good about importing midi from my sequences so I might as well just enter the notes one-by-one.

And if I'm going to do that, it also might be just as well to work with LilyPond, another free program that works sort of like html for music, i.e. it's text based. Denemo is actually a graphic interface for LilyPond. Oh well, it's not like I have time to fool with any of it right now.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The gals all loved Eric Dane's beard
And cried when it just disappeared.
But when he stopped shaving
They started behaving;
In fact, some of them even cheered!

Yes, a silly limerick about an actor, who plays a popular character (Dr Mark Sloan) on a popular television show (Gray's Anatomy). I've sort of 'discovered' the show since they started airing weekend reruns of the older programs, though I've occasionally watched new episodes the last year or so. Mainly because there was nothing I cared for on other network tv (which is all I get now, with a rooftop antenna) in the same time slot.

Not CSI...never warmed to the show. GA is a bit silly at times and hardly favorite programming, but it does have reasonably compelling characters. There are only a handful of shows that I do tend to watch regularly. The Big Bang Theory, which is the only comedy that does much for me. Most of it's stablemates at CBS are, despite their apparent popularity, decidedly tawdry in my view. It says something about this country when Two and a Half Men remains one of the most popular shows on the air.

But I'm not going to lament the moral decline of America or anything like that. Mostly because I don't think they've declined, we're just more open about it. That doesn't mean I'm open TO it, however.

What else do I watch? My new favorite is Castle, which is certainly the most witty show on network television. I don't know how much of the audience actually gets all the wit and in-jokes -- I'm certain that I miss some! It's considerably better than the similar (sort of) The Mentalist (which can be entertaining enough). The 'parent,' concept-wise, of both shows, Bones, remains pretty good, thanks to its characters. And the weird science, which easily beats CSI and its ilk.

Ah, but now I have a movie channel of sorts, since THIS is being broadcast from Panama City. So if there's an old Pam Grier movie on, you know what's going to be on my screen. I do have my priorities!

Monday, November 15, 2010

On the subject of tankas (see previous post), here's a tanka-like sequence I wrote ten years ago about working alone at nights. It is, I think, an OK poem but not really very much in the spirit of true tanka. Nor would I bother these days with the strict syllable count I employed here (again, see previous post).


a poetic sequence in tanka form

I vacuum this hall
in long swaths, not back and forth
as in the small rooms.
Burnt tuna smell fills the air;
I've sucked up another roach.

Dusting high and low,
my mind wanders here and there,
dreaming many dreams.
I may think I've missed something
but go back to find it done.

I find disorder
or papers in neat stacks by
pictures of children.
I never see these people
but know each one by his desk.

It's a moment's work
to clean dirty coffee cups,
left our once again.
But if I do it this time,
they will always forget them.

Each basket's emptied
into my can and replaced
to hold tomorrow.
Sometimes, an open drink spills;
then I have to rinse it out.

Take care not to bang
into furniture with mop
or vacuum cleaner.
I already get the blame
for enough things around here.

A note will be left
on this desk or that, asking
please do or please don't.
I try to remember who
wants what but usually can't.

Late at night, no one
hears me if I sing at work
or talk to myself.
My voice is good company
in the hours after midnight.

All the doors are locked
when I arrive; I keep them
locked until I finish.
I make my round carefully,
locking myself out again.

Stephen Brooke ©2000
you can imagine

as do all things
you can not imagine

SB ©2010

a thought in tanka form, sorta

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TWO more poems:

first, a new one, hot off the word processor...


One day, these days,
is very much like
another. Sunday
or Tuesday has
the same sunrise,
the same routines
and need-to-be-dones.
And they do
need to be done,
oh yes. Today,
tomorrow, next week.
I'll be there; just
don't ask me what
day it is.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Nothing special, by any means, just a bit of musing on the way my days all seem to run together now. And here's an older piece, mostly just because it was the last one I was editing.


Love is never an illusion --
a mistake, at times, but real.
A mistake. What a mistake
it can be. But we learn.

Isn't that the old cliche?
Learn from each mistake and end
wiser, sadder, more prepared
for the next attempt at love.

Stephen Brooke ©2001

Ha, I'm not sure we ever are prepared.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I still have my hair
at sixty. That's not my doing,
of course, not my
conscious doing, anyway.

None the less, it's
a point of pride.

Lost some weight lately --
not that I was ever fat,
exactly, but now I can
wear the same waist size

I did in high school.
A little more proud

of that one, certainly.
Too bad I don't have
the body-builder muscles
anymore. But I can

get them back, you know.
It's not too late.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

A new piece. Nothing very ambitious, just a quickie.

I stamped your image
on coins of base metal,
hoping to buy love
from the blind woman.

Whose picture is that?

No one. No one at all.
I only dreamed you,
some lonely night,
a summer night
of the soft moon.

Dreams buy nothing here.

Dream is my currency,
the bright and worthless
coinage of my life.
The sightless
turn them in their hands.

Whose picture is that?

Hers. Always hers.

Dreams buy nothing here.

I know that.

Stephen Brooke ©2003

Another oldie. I'll continue to post one occasionally...and maybe write some new stuff eventually.

Monday, November 08, 2010

ANOTHER oldie, revisited:


Graphite slabs of storm
rumbled their way from the south.
We breathed in the cool electricity
of our love. In nervous cages,
the doves fell silent;
your dogs huddled at our bare feet.
Did I kiss you then? I think
so. Or was it only
insistent rain making love
to the roof?

You filled those afternoons,
now further from me,
and poured them into
the softness of the night.
What stars burnt through, as we
wore each other's words!
Now, I slip into someone
else's. The fit of yours
grew loose; they fell
from me at season's end.

What storms divide us
when summer sings anew?
Your gift of clouds
lifts white hands to beg
my time. I have none.
Only the rains of memory
remain with me, climbing
a sullen southern sky.
Do you wear the weather
well, this year?

Stephen Brooke ©2003
AS I CONTINUE to organize the old poetry, here's a revised blank verse piece from a while back:


There must be passion: passion enough to leave
us trembling, leave us weary with delight.
Not need. Not friendship. These, too, can be love;
lives can be built on such, and happiness.

Am I so wrong in seeking more? Are you
then wrong to feel that something must be missing?
Two lonely fools are we and nothing more,
unready to accept less than our dreams.

Now we will press each memory of our love
between the pages of what might have been,
to find one day, breathe in the faded scent
of almost, of our something less than passion.

Stephen Brooke ©2003

Not anything special, I know -- maybe a bit boring even. It is not written about anyone or any time in particular, not 'personal' poetry but more of a story-telling poem, a portrait of sorts.

* * *

Had a not so good night with Mom. It was one of those times when she gets it into her head that someone has told her to go somewhere and do something. Exactly who and what is always rather vague. I think television is often the culprit on these occasions.

Anyway, I had to keep getting up and corralling her and getting her back into bed. Eventually she settled down and fell asleep, in the 'wee hours.' Steve is a bit sleep-deprived at the moment. Mom has been very much out of it lately, her short-term memory gets ever worse. She has to be told over and over that she is in her own home, that I am her son, etc. It does not look like a good winter for us.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

HAVING GOTTEN most of the four-hundred-plus poems organized that I already had (in some form) on my computer, it has come to the time when I get into the ones lying about the place on scraps of paper. Another couple hundred, I would guess, with the bulk of them coming from the years 2000 to 2003. And at least some of them rather poor, it seems, from first glance through the stack.

So there will be rewriting, most certainly. A job for those dismal winter days. Here's a little one I've gussied up for presentation:


I hammered myself
into you,
a square peg, snug
in your round hole.

We seemed to fit
together so well
unless one looked
closely and saw

I was broken.

Stephen Brooke ©2003

Roughly metered -- I'm not sure if it was meant to be when originally written! Like a great deal of the stuff from that time, it's depressingly lost-love-ish.

* * *

So, yesterday was largely a disappointment to all the liberal folks out there. But not a particularly unexpected one. Now we most likely can look forward to a couple years of grid-lock.

I'm not surprised that people are fed up. Too bad they can't figure out just what they're fed up with. The Tea Party followers are, perhaps, not really all that different from those like me who gave up on the Republicrats and went to the Green Party. Same frustrations, different solutions.

Maybe this is a good opportunity to get some of them to go Green, eh?

Anyway, those who have followed my writing here at all would know I'm very much an economic determinist and don't think the vagaries of politics have much to do with the flow of history. They're the eddies in the river.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I TRULY love this 'Indian Summer' weather we're experiencing right now her on Peanut Road. Just mild enough to let all the plants come back after the long, hot, DRY summer. The cannas have sent up loads of new stalks and are blooming again. Petunias are blossoming heavily.

It is still dry, however, and I have to water some every day. Some rain may finally fall this week.

And then, alas, it will turn cooler. I do not look forward to winter. I do not like cold weather one bit -- the 95 degree summer days are fine with me (I don't even use air conditioning), assuming it rains some, but I'm just not a winter person.

Oh well, at least I'm still in Florida (even if only about five miles from the Alabama border).

* * *

I've got around 400 of my poems formatted and filed now. Loads more to go. One little problem I'm running into is the overlap between the song lyrics and the poetry. Some of these songs are very much poems as well and could stand on their own as such -- that's just the way I write.

And some of the poems I've gone over could very much be songs, if I were of a mind to develop them as such. Which are they? 'Tis a puzzlement!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I HAVE not been particularly creative recently, a couple of mediocre songs over the past month or so, a couple of mediocre poems. Having finished my get-the-songs-organized project, I've coasted for a while, worked some in the yard, spent a good bit of my time on my mom's care, of course.

So now I've started the big job of organizing the poetry as I did the songs. There is, it should be noted, a small overlap between the two but generally the songs and poems are two separate groups. A certain amount of rewriting is going on -- not a lot, which was a bit of a surprise to me. When I got into my older poetry a few years ago I found myself making many changes. As I did, for that matter, with the songs (again, the older ones especially).

It does seem that most of the stuff I've written in the past half-decade calls for little or no change; it's largely a matter of copying and formatting and filing. Maybe I'll start submitting pieces again. I have not done much of that lately. One magazine is holding some of my work and supposedly will publish eventually.

Some day, it is possible that I will publish another magazine (online, naturally) myself, but almost certainly not as long as I remain a caregiver here. I will not attempt anything like that until I can give it my full attention. Priorities!

* * *

I've been working some on the fall garden and planning for the next year. Put in a couple weeping willows out in front of the carport. When I moved here, that was a mud-hole from decades of driving and parking. I've filled it some with chunks of concrete and yard waste over that past four years but it's still low so it seemed a great place to plant a willow on either side. I may or may not ever park there or even let the drive run through. Shoot, I may just dig out a pond eventually, if I feel particularly ambitious. There's plenty of room along the one side for me to drive up to the carport myself and park.

Also been continuing to expand my beds. Shortly, I'll be putting in the bulbs for next spring -- it's still pretty warm and I wouldn't want them to sprout prematurely so I'll hold off till we get some real coolness. I'll transplant more trees when it gets cooler too. Looks like we may finally get some decent rain in about a week -- I've been out with the hose watering every day, trying to keep it all alive.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


There are banjos and there are ukuleles. And then there are banjoleles, a combination of the two, originally created a century ago to give the ukulele more volume when performing. One of the most famous practitioners of the banjolele would be English humorist/musician George Formby, a very popular performer in the mid-20th century.

Those instruments were, for the most part, based on short soprano-scale ukulele necks with banjo bodies. They, as with ukuleles, have had a recent resurgence of popularity. I have a soprano uke myself, as well as a little Nechville banjo, their 'Banjovie' (no longer manufactured) which has a scale about the same as a tenor ukulele. I have switched it to nylon strings, making it, in essence, a 5 string banjolele. A definite improvement in its sound over metal strings, by the way.

For a while, I had my eye on Gold Tone's banjo-ukes, especially when they came out recently with a full set of instruments with the various ukulele scales -- soprano, concert, tenor, baritone. A couple months ago I pulled the trigger on the BUB, the baritone ukulele banjo.

Buying an instrument is always a bit of a gamble, particularly by mail order. Not this time -- I love this BUB (which I have named 'Bubbles'). It is surprisingly well made and set up, comes with a nice case, and plays well. A note -- the BUB comes with a 'plate' resonator attached to the back. It sounds way better (and is only slightly quieter) without it. Mine is permanently removed.

At a baritone ukulele scale of 19 inches it is only a tad shorter than an Irish Tenor 4-string banjo, so I've come to think of it as a true banjo, rather than a banjolele. One little surprise was that it comes with a high fourth string (the D), which I'm not used to seeing on baritone ukes (which are commonly tuned like the four highest strings on a guitar). However, I've come to like the sound of the higher string; it does give it something of a 5-string banjo vibe. The strings are, of course, nylon.

The sound is pretty good. It's not a complex sound, naturally, not like a guitar or even a decent banjo. Finger-picked, it can sound rather kalimba-like. I consider that a good thing. I could also see using it for latin sounds, not unlike the small guitar-related instruments of traditional Mexican music. It does cut through rather nicely -- shoot, I could even see using it as replacement for a mandolin.

Strummed, it can provide a useful rhythmic accompaniment, whether by itself or with a lower-pitched instrument for support. It does the traditional banjo bumpity thing pretty well, if one isn't too concerned about having traditional banjo volume (not that it's quiet, just not capable of anything like full-sized steel-string banjo loudness). It probably sounds more like a 19th Century banjo than most of the new banjos on the market. Camptown Races, anyone? I like the fact that I can hear myself sing! The BUB also is fine for anything one might do with an ukulele, though I don't suppose it would quite cut it for traditional Hawaiian music.

Naturally, it somewhat excels for that music hall sound that Formby and others created, though perhaps not quite as well suited as a higher pitched instrument.

Anyway, it is fun to play. And easy. One thing is for certain -- it is going to show up on recordings here eventually. It will also be very likely to travel with me when I once again can travel. A definite festival choice!

SB 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Open the windows. These days are cooling
like the loaf of bread, fresh-baked,
resting, waiting, on my counter.

It's cool enough to bake the brown,
fragrant loaves of whole wheat bread,
yeasty, moist beneath the crust,

and scones, full of butter and raisins
and lemon zest. Autumn follows
summer's oven; the year is cooling,

cooling, and soon we will feast.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

A slender idea becomes a slender poem. It was so hot all summer I did almost no baking -- time to make up for that!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

THE RETURN of The Bouncer -- the lyric I posted a few days ago has been tightened up a bit and a bridge was added. This is probably pretty much the finished form. Tune is in progress -- I'll have to change my thinking on it a little with the addition of the bridge!


verse 1
You can cozy up to the soundman,
Make the bartender your friend,
There's one and only one
You can count on in the end.
It's not the manager,
The waitress who thinks you're cute;
At the first sign of trouble,
They're all gonna scoot!

chorus 1
The bouncer! The bouncer!
The bouncer is the guy!
He's the one who's there
When beer bottles fly!
Compliment his muscles,
Give him a free tee-shirt,
And never treat him like dirt!

verse 2
When the crowd gets ugly
As crowds sometimes do
He's the one to watch your back
And your frontside too.
There are occasions when
You just can't avoid a fight,
And in some places I've been,
Half a dozen each night.

chorus 2
The bouncer! The bouncer!
The bouncer is the man!
Don't take him for granted,
Be his biggest fan!
Show him some respect,
Don't chat up his girl,
And be careful of your aim
If you have to hurl!

bridge (possibly following an instro break)
The night may start out right
But who knows how it ends;
Before you pick a fight
You'd better pick your friends!

repeat chorus 1

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I think I may have posted about half of this lyric five or six years ago (here or somewhere, maybe a Yahoo poetry group). Found it in my notes this morning and finished it off...sorta...


You can cozy up to the soundman,
Make the bartender your friend,
There's one and only one
You can count on in the end.
It's not the manager,
The waitress who thinks you're cute;
At the first sign of trouble,
They're all gonna scoot!

The bouncer! The bouncer!
The bouncer is the guy!
He's the one who's there
When beer bottles fly!
Compliment his muscles,
Give him a free tee-shirt,
And never treat him like dirt!

When the crowd gets ugly
As crowds sometimes do
He's the one to watch your back
And your frontside too.
There are occasions when
You just can't avoid a fight,
And in some places I've been,
Half a dozen each night.

The bouncer! The bouncer!
The bouncer is the man!
Don't take him for granted,
Be his biggest fan!
Treat him with respect,
Don't chat up his girl,
And be careful of your aim
If you have to hurl!

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

We're only a week away (Oct 11) from my mother's 92nd birthday. Quite honestly, I did not expect to be celebrating it with her -- her health, physical and mental, was not promising a year ago. But she has done pretty well, all things considered. Became more active over the past half-year, less water retention/swelling, which means I've had to step up my 'child-proofing' efforts. At times it's like having a two year old around the house.

Her cognitive abilities, of course, continue to decline and she lives increasingly in the past. As long as I can keep her comfortable and properly nourished here, I will continue to be her care-giver. It looks like we'll have another Christmas together, after all.

* * *

Well, the last of the domains I had registered with Yahoo,, will be up for renewal in a month. If I decide to keep it, I will be moving to a different registrar, probably GoDaddy. Way cheaper.

Do I want (or need) Deadman Bay? It is, theoretically, the name of my 'record label' but that alone is not a great argument in favor of keeping it. Owning the name made more sense when I lived by the physical Deadman Bay, down in Steinhatchee. Interestingly, the name drives quite a few searches to my website but I doubt that the visitors actually have any interest in what is there!

* * *

If I want to send a performers application to the Florida Folk Festival, I need to do so within the next ten days. I'm doubting that I'll be able to put together an adequate entry, with live recordings, in time, nor do I know if I would be able to perform if I were (which is unlikely) accepted. Who knows where I'll be, care-giver-wise, next spring.

I still, however, will try to get a couple good recordings to the Best New Florida Song contest at the Will McLean Festival. I have until the end of the year to accomplish that.

Thursday, September 30, 2010



Balance wearies,
ever teetering
on the edge
of despair.

Fall forward
and be done.

Fall into
tomorrow, drown
in its promise,
in its darkness.


Forget and be
forgotten, be
the meteor
that burned across

some sky and faded,
fallen, fallen.

Lose this balance,
slip away.
Fall to earth,
fall to rest.


Stephen Brooke ©2010

Not a particularly ambitious bit of poetry -- more a formulaic exercise centered around the 'fall' metaphor. I found myself parroting Hank Williams at one point (the silence of a falling star) and had to rewrite! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Many a time over the years I have heard welfare described as 'socialism.' This is very much a fallacy; welfare is an integral part of a working capitalist system.

Why is welfare not socialism? The government is giving people stuff, right?

What it is not giving them is jobs. That is socialism -- not only providing jobs for everyone but sometimes, as in Soviet nations, requiring them to take the jobs. What welfare does is pay people not to have jobs.

And that provides a necessary relief valve in a capitalist economy. There will always be, by the very nature of the market, a certain number of unemployed and they must be provided for. To do otherwise would destabilize the entire partnership between state and economy.

Make no mistake about it, there very much is such a partnership in any modern nation (as well as most past ones). We are hardly pure capitalists -- the state is always there in some form. It prints the money, after all!

At times, it has also taken a rather active role in directing the economy. That is the basis of FDR-style liberalism. Corporatism Lite, I would only half-jokingly name it. That was a system that worked rather well in the 40s and 50s -- it really peaked under a Republican president, Eisenhower. Unfortunately (or maybe not, depending on ones views), it became a less workable model for us as international corporations and free trade pulled the rug from under our economy.

I truly do not see this country becoming particularly socialist in any near future. What we cannot permit is the loss of welfare and other programs that help mitigate the sometimes unfortunate results of capitalism. Without welfare, there would be an increasing number of those willing to work for less, effectively depressing the labor market -- another step toward Third World America, as Arianna Huffington calls it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

There is now an official Insolent Lad Emporium Face Book Page. This will replace the Lad Designs blog as a place to promote my designs and online store or to make announcements.

The page is very much in its infancy but it should grow up quickly enough (if I'm a good parent). Lad Designs, being redundant, will no longer be updated and deleted after a reasonable period of time. I'll have to go around and revise a lot of links now, I reckons.
An exceedingly silly poem, or maybe song (though I couldn't imagine actually singing it anywhere) --


If I were to die today,
Go belly up, pass away,
Would you do one little chore,
Just one, please, and nothing more...

Delete all the porn on my PC!
It's stuff that no one else should see.
I wouldn't want those pictures to be
People's last impression of me.
The eager amateurs and the pros,
The ingenues and the ho's,
Get rid of them all, for who knows
Who might glimpse them women sans clothes!

If I were to shuffle off
This mortal coil -- I do have a cough --
Check the computers before you pack up;
both of them -- I always back up...

And delete anything that's compromising;
Search each folder, be enterprising!
Some at rest, some exercising,
Some doing things quite surprising,
There are more than a few, I must confess,
In various states of undress.
Delete them all, that is unless
You want copies -- then take 'em, I guess!

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Rattled this off quickly -- a very short time time between first inkling of a concept and finished piece. Btw, there is no porn on my computer so no one will have to come and erase it. Nothing racier than Renoir paintings.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

From time to time, I work on getting my poems into order as I did with the songs. It's considerably less urgent but I'll plug along. Anyway, I may post something from the archives here occasionally. Such as this piece I reformatted this morning :

The Last Party

Scattered plastic chairs,
sterile white and gray
gone ruddy chiaroscuro
by the dying bonfire,

lay dark paths upon her lawn,
her fresh-mown fragrant lawn,
beneath summer’s stars.
Couple by lingering couple,

our guests hugged and farewelled
and welcomed me to the family
before flipping on headlights
and driving out of my life.

In the silent
emptiness of then,
I held her to me,
both of us too exhausted,

both a little too full
of Sam Adams --
her brother had brought
a keg -- to make love

that July night,
three weeks before
we said goodbye.

Stephen Brooke ©2002

* * *

Well, since I got rid of the Zino and got some money back, I decided to say the h-e-double-toothpicks with computers and ordered something I'd like: a Goldtone Baritone Banjo Uke. I'd been thinking maybe getting a tenor banjo but I think this will come a lot closer to suiting me.

I'm still not sure what my long-term plans for the banjitar will be. Maybe I'll just put it up for sale, though it is usable, in a limited way. For a guy who likes to play classical guitar much of the time, the strings are way too close together. The scale is too short, too, for the low strings to sound very good. I've taken to replacing the lowest string with a light high one making it, in essence, a six-string banjo rather than a banitar. Maybe I should just throw out one string altogether and use it as a five-string with wider string spacing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I SAT down with the lyric ('Plan') I posted a couple days ago and knocked out a serviceable tune in practically no time. Another finished song, but not exactly one of the better efforts. A little too Henry Gibson-ish, no? But I'll keep a-goin' and keep a-tryin' and maybe write better stuff.

* * *

Watched a surfing contest on the tv yesterday (it came on after the gardening show I'd tuned in) and was, as usual, disappointed by the way surfers surf the surf these days. And it was a longboard competition, where I might have hoped for something more.

I blame it in part on the proliferation and standardization of multi-fin boards since the 70s. No one surfs with power anymore -- it's all flat turns, maintaining their trimming speed, rather than loading up and accelerating out of turns. No wonder most boards have some sort of concave bottom design now also, helping them skate through their turns.

I'm old school. Roundness on the bottom, one big honking fin. Use your weight and gravity to build speed from turn to turn. Get that board up on its edge!

It should be noted that flat and concave bottoms do not really allow one to plane (usually), despite claims by the designers. Surfboards simply do not go that fast; a displacement hull, i.e. a rounded bottom, is generally faster when surfing. Not that speed is particularly important and a really round bottom would be be too unstable to ride. Note though that racing paddle boards use them.

What the concave bottom does do is make the board both looser in those flat turns and more stable in a straight line. Thus the 'modern' style of surfing.

* * *

When I eventually am in a position to get out and about again, I should probably look to playing music with others -- a duo, a group. Not easy for me as I am very much focused on my own music. It's not easy to stop being the diva and be in a true partnership. Ha, that may be why I never married. Too determined to do things my own way!

By nature, I'm the front man. Lead vocalist (couldn't sing harmony if my life depended on it). Maybe lead guitar, in a bluesy idiom. Don't expect Steve to shred! Otherwise, I just hack away at a variety of instruments and couldn't be described as particularly proficient at any of them.

Ha, and the only time I ever dance is when I'm on stage with a band. Can't help it!

I haven't done any of this in a while. Not since my duo with Karen ('Shadows on the Swanee') had to call it quits over four years ago. When the time comes, I reckon. When the time comes.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

TO BELIEVE that the WTC attack, nine years ago today, was the result of religion is both naive and simplistic. People kill people, not religions.

And people go to war and kill one another because they feel threatened. Economically threatened. Many around the world see us as enemies not because of our religion -- although that provides a convenient shorthand -- but because of the pervasive and intrusive 'Western' culture that is changing their way of life.

Which is really a world culture now and should not be particularly identified with America or Europe. At this point, even if we don't recognize it, we are as much 'victims' of this, well, new world order as anyone else in the world.

Religion can be turned to men's uses, as can anything else in this world. They will take what they want from it and ignore that which contradicts their desires. Not all, of course; some actually have learned and benefited from the teachings of their faiths over the years!

I value organized religion as a counter-balance to the 'tyranny' of government and economic power. In a world of big governments and big international corporations, maybe we need big religions (and big do-good organizations of all sorts). The concern should be that those organizations that might be on our side become co-opted by the government. This is really what happened to the labor movement in our country.

It is also what has happened to religion over and over. We owe a lot of our freedom of religion today to the long history of independence in the Roman church. Although in the wake of the Reformation, Catholicism certainly colluded with 'loyal' governments to fight the spread of Protestantism. This was the same sort of co-opting we should fear -- those governments were using religion to reinforce their own power over their people. Both sides.

Yes, religion is used as an excuse for war and misdeeds of all sorts. So is nationalism; after all, wars between nations have killed far more people that religion ever could. But nations, too, are people and people can change, learn, become better. Despite themselves!

Friday, September 10, 2010


I understand you have a plan
for everything you do,
But always knowing where you're going
gets you no place new.

You make your way, you never stray,
certain where life leads,
And keep your eyes upon the prize,
your mind upon your needs.

There's more to living than you know --
sometimes we reap more than we sow.
So don't plant all your dreams in a row;
give yourself some room to grow.

The road is long but there's no wrong
though it may twist and wind;
With every turn there's more to learn
and wonders new to find.

Don't fear to stray, you'll find the way
that is yours alone;
In the end you can depend
that it will lead you home.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

A 'simple' song (or lyric, to be honest as I've written no music yet nor do I hear any in my head at this point), with a fairly simple point. Too simple, quite possibly, but that's the way some ideas work themselves out.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Your pale wondering eyes
see only yesterday.
while I have lived in tomorrow
too long. Each day hangs
about your shoulders, shrouds you,
shrouds me so I lose
the way of every dream
I've walked. The paths remain;
I shall find them again,
later. I shall find them
there, hidden perhaps,
overgrown with time,
and take up the journey.
Now, I remain.
Now, I am here.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

A poem (well, duh) -- haven't turned out many lately. This references my current life as a caregiver; as all things do, this too will pass.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

I GAVE up on the Dell Zino. Back to Dell it went, no replacement or repair please, I'll eat the 'restock fee.' Just take the POS and good riddance says I.

So I'm back on the Mac Mini, despite it's relative slowness, lack of up-to-date browser, etc. It can be trusted to do the job. Enough grief and wasted time. Eventually I'll get something else, probably. No hurry...I only grabbed the Zino because it seemed such a good deal. Ha.

As mentioned, I posted a text file with every finished song I've written at my web site. Revised three times since as I've been playing through stuff and finding little changes I wanted to make. Of course, I'll be writing more pieces and add them when they're ready.

Practicing more since I got them all worked up, too. I do hope to record some stuff very soon, if only live-in-the-living-room. The computer situation is making me rethink how I'll approach that now.

Cooler tonight, says the forecast. Cool (relatively speaking) is nice but rain would be nicer. No such luck for the next week or so, it seems. None the less, it is time to start setting out plants for the fall season. I've been digging out new beds and extending the old ones in preparation.

And spending time with a pitchfork turning over compost. I've taken to composting practically everything. Why flush perfectly good organic matter?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I DID finish all 203 songs on which I was working, formatted and filed. That included three songs I wrote specifically for the possible musical play, 'Piratic.' There are several other sea songs that could fit, however. I do need to write at least one piece suitable for the female lead, maybe more -- the three I have are pretty much intended for the pirate crew (Piratic, Every Pirate Loves Booty, Why Do Wenches Wander?).

Anyway, I have the lyrics for all the songs in one large text file on line. If anyone's interested at all, they can read or download from this page on my site. As noted, I also have these formatted with chords for performance but -- generally -- not with musical notation. Nor have most been recorded. I must do one or both for archiving, when I've the time.

As well as doing some decent recordings for the WillFest Florida Song Contest and maybe even for an application to the Florida Folk Festival. Not to mention, actually recording a CD's worth of material for release. As time and duty permits...

* * *

The Dell Zino continues to be a pain, with frequent 'gray screen' crashes and other mishaps. I should have read up on it more before pulling the trigger on that oh-so-attractive price and look. It seems that there is very big problem with overheating on these machines and in that I've been operating it in the dead of summer heat in a house without AC it's not surprising it has that problem. Oh well. I'll keep working with it but I won't buy small and cute computers anymore. A big roomy tower is much less likely to give me such troubles. And be easier to work on!

I'm not that big on going Dell again, either. The best/most reliable PC I've ever had (which I'm typing on at this moment) is my Gateway, running XP. Too bad Gateway is no longer Gateway, though the reviews of their new machines (and others in the line, such as e-Machines) are pretty favorable.

* * *

On the general subject of computers, it bothers me (and maybe two other people in the world) that the mispronounced version of 'gigabyte' has become standard and is even given as the 'correct' pronunciation in dictionaries. It always should have been 'Jige -a- bite' rather that 'Gig -a- bite.' It's the same root as the word 'gigantic' and really ought to have been pronounced the same way. Alas, folks would give me decidedly odd looks if I so pronounced it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'VE USED the free version of AVG antivirus for something like five years and in all that time it has never really found anything more malicious than tracking cookies on my computer(s). It makes me wonder whether AV software is necessary at all if one is careful online. Better safe than sorry though, eh?

Of course, the old Mac Mini never had any such program nor did it need it. I suspect that Windows 7 may be pretty safe too but I did install AVG. Big mistake. The program does not play well with the 64 bit platform. It was causing some crashes, apparently, and was definitely the culprit in Internet Explorer often going into a non-responsive mode.

Not that I use IE much but it is necessary for getting online with my dial-up Net Zero connection.

So I'm busy downloading Microsoft's free AV, 'Security Essentials.' I hope I'm not wasting my time, especially in that there's a fair chance I'll be reinstalling my OS to help clear up the many problems that have cropped up on the new Zino. We shall see.

* * *

In completely unrelated news, I finished working up song number two-hundred this morning. There are three unfinished pieces awaiting more work (the music mostly, lyrics are good) and, as usual, lots of fragments and ideas in my files. I do think I will place the lyrics online somewhere when I have all 203 ready. Possibly put the lead sheets online too, if only for safekeeping.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A QUOTE, to start things off:

In today’s marketplace your single is little more than a business card and your album is just a resume. Both are extraordinarily important but both are just a loss leader for your business. Recorded music is now simply a means of promoting your live show and your songwriting and producing skills. ~ Rick Goetz

All too true, I reckon, and why 'piracy' is somewhat irrelevant, unless one is a big-name song writer who expects regular payments from ASCAP or BMI. That will probably never be me.

* * *

Continuing on the subject of recording, I have a fairly decent (though not particularly up-to-date) live recording set-up here that I have not been able to use for a few years now. I'm suspecting that when I eventually am able to travel again (and take gigs) I will not particularly be interested in doing any more location recording, at least not the bigger jobs I took in the past. Setting up in someone's living room for intimate recordings might be another matter.

* * *

This most recent bump on the open internet highway, the Google-Verizon thing, does not seem as 'evil' as many are making it out to be. But then, I don't use internet (nor anything else, for that matter) over the air so it doesn't really impact me (directly). I suppose it can be argued that it would set an undesirable precedent.

Really, we already have 'tiers' on wired internet use -- dial up versus the various levels of high speed. Those of us who use dial up (whether low income and/or rural and/or just plain cheap) are second class citizens when it comes to the net. There's no denying that those who spend more money get faster internet, right?

Monday, August 23, 2010

We're drawing toward the close of the long hot summer, Florida panhandle version. It's been the worst, far too hot, not enough rain, but we seem to be in more typical summer weather now. Soon, the cooler autumn days will come. None too soon!

It's been hard on the trees and gardens here. The pear set a lot of fruit this year, as the spring was fairly benign, but they are rather small. Most of the trees and bushes saw little growth through the hottest months, if they survived at all. At least the Madagascar Periwinkles love this weather -- my 'bulb garden' is overrun with plants that came up volunteer. I've transplanted a few and will continue to so do. If you find something that will grow that readily, go with it!

And now it's time to think fall garden. I don't know if I'll do any veggies, not because I couldn't but because I may not have the time to dig beds and tend them. More and more of my time goes into my mom's care. I'm rather surprised that she is doing so well physically now, after seeming to be fading last winter. She may well be with us longer than anticipated.

But not mentally. There is continuing decline and I have to be more and more 'hands-on' in her care. I do worry about getting her to eat enough, too, so I try to get nutrient-rich foods into her.

But the garden...sent out a nursery order this morning for a few things, probably all I'll get until next spring. I've had some luck with starting plants from cuttings -- have lots of PG Hydrangeas -- so I could cross a few things off the list I might have otherwise ordered. The only trees this time are a couple of weeping willows. I do not know if I can get them to take here but I do have a low area near the carport where they may do well. I'm recognizing that I haven't necessarily chosen the very best spots for trees so far, in terms of shading the house. And if I ever get the big oaks cut down I'll have to rethink that further.

I went heavy on the bulbs this time, get them in the ground in the fall so I'll (theoretically) have them growing come spring. Sparaxis and Starflower mainly, a few Oxalis and such. More Rugosa roses for my hedging but no Robin Hoods this time; they did rather poorly over the summer and the prices have gone up a bit. Prices were too high right now for more Firethorn as well. I might, when the plants I have get larger, do cuttings.

Out front is what I think is a Lenten Rose. Can't figure it as anything else, though it seems a little larger than the descriptions. Anyway, I ordered a couple more to set out. Supposedly, they seed and spread themselves rather well. Also going to try a few Coralberries for erosion control and, just for the heck of it, got some Pampas Grass as well. I suspect it will hold up a lot better than the Perovskia I attempted this year.

Btw and completely off topic, I'm over 180 songs finished, formatted and cataloged now. Twenty some to go, assuming I don't write more in the mean time!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ZINO = ZERO? That's what I was thinking about the new (well, refurb actually) Dell Zino computer. It has been very erratic, lots of blue-screening (although the screen doesn't actually go blue but grayish). I tried various fixes, ran diagnostics on the memory which sometimes said there was a hardware problem and sometimes didn't.

So I decided to try cleaning/repairing the registry as sort of a last non-hardware fix. Many 'experts' claim this to be useless and potentially damaging; none the less, I Googled up a lot of information and ended up choosing two free programs, CCleaner and the older version of RegCleaner (which I had to run in XP compatability). It's probably a good idea to run two programs so one catches what the other misses. Both are downloadable via Major Geeks.

And, lo, I have had NO problems in the two days since running them. They cleaned out quite a bit of stuff, apparently including whatever was causing my problems. Lets hope things stay this way! I may just invest in the newer version of RegCleaner down the line but free seems to have done the job.

* * *

The song project is going more slowly as I'm doing more thorough writing/rewriting on the remaining pieces. Number 170 finished yesterday, my Going to the Springs song which had been lyrics only. If I were very ambitious I could still get it into this year's Spring Fest competition but the deadline is six days away and I can't even find an application form on their website. It's unlikely that I would get it recorded and submitted in time.

I do intend to get something recorded for this year's WillFest, however. The problem now is that I actually have too many Florida songs and don't know which to choose! :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

THE FINAL round of voting for the Nashville Showcase has begun at The Alternate Root! Get on over there and cast your ballot for Mean Mary! Every day if you can! On different computers with different log ins! :)

Or if you just, for some completely unfathomable reason, don't like MM, the Mayhaws are an acceptable second choice.

Addendum, later in the day: Mary decided to withdraw from the contest so disregard. Unless you want to vote for the Mayhaws, of course.

* * *

Up to 160 songs formatted and filed as of yesterday. There are forty-some to go, some finished, some not quite ready yet, some still in development. I suppose there are poems and lyrics in my files (or on scraps of paper) that I've forgotten but might be worked up in time. Also a few parodies that I'm not counting. And I haven't even thought about the handful of instrumental pieces.

So, over 200 songs I've written (or almost written). Not a huge number, considering how long I've been at it but the majority of my ideas turn into poems, not songs.

Monday, August 09, 2010


Behold the fading of another year:
Though night grows long and dark, be of good cheer.
The celebration of his birth draws near,
The birth of he who came to end our fear.

As shepherds simple in a field once gazed
Upon the star that high above them blazed,
So we may hear the angels' voices raised
And stand with them before the one they praised.

This yuletide, take a moment to recall,
As you may trim your tree and deck your hall,
He who was humbly born in stable stall;
A merry Christmas I wish one and all.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Yes, I know it's August but I just completed this little Christmas poem, which had been sitting unfinished in my notes a good while.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The new Zino computer arrived yesterday. It would be nice to have a 'Zeno' model of PC -- a computer named after a Stoic philosopher would be a perfect fit for me.

The Zino may look like a Mac Mini but it is larger -- a couple inches each direction, for probably around three times the total volume (don't ask me to figure that out -- I could but I'm too lazy). It should do fine for an internet machine with occasional other tasks. It does not have the power of the Vista-running machine I reserve for recording, nor does it need it.

No sooner did I get it cranked up than we had a power failure -- a common occurrence here -- and it got messed up and would not boot up properly. Went immediately into sleep mode each time and would not leave it! I thought last night it would have to go back to Dell but this morning it let me start up in safe mode and everything seems to be fixed. Once I set the clock back about 85 years.

Speaking of power failures, sort of, I started up the recording computer this afternoon for the first time in months. It's a mess there in the 'salon' and I have not really had time to get in and do anything. Anyway, it ran fine for a few minutes and then shut off the video and started making continuous long beeps. I, of course, researched that on line as quickly as I could and realized the UPS I have it plugged into was the problem. Not getting sufficient power!

So I took it off the UPS and put it on a regular strip and all is well again. Whew! It seems likely that the battery was taking power that should have gone to the PC. I had never turned it on with the UPS before nor had I thought to install the software, which may or may not matter.

Oh, to my chagrin I had failed to notice that the Zino does not come with a phone modem. Never thought of it. Of course, I have to have one here so I'll be getting a USB modem shortly. Until then, no getting on line with new machine. This computer stuff is a botherment, isn't it? Maybe I should go back to writing letters on paper and recording music on tape...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

So here's another old song. I'm at about 130 organized and formatted now.


We owe it all to Linus Pauling --
He was the one to hear the calling
To carry out investigations
About our nutritional rations.
He recognized the fact that we
Need quite a lot of Vitamin C;
That it provides immunization
And gives the system stimulation.

Protects us from the common cold,
Even keeps us from growing old:
I do believe this vitamin
Could almost cure original sin!

When you feel down it well may be
Due to a lack of Vitamin C,
So don't forget ascorbic acid --
If you take too much you'll only pass it.
It always has seemed somewhat galling
That some would not listen to Pauling,
But I think that the wise man heeds
His estimates of our 'C' needs.

So healthy future generations
Should give thanks for his investigations.
Please remember Linus Pauling
And take your 'C' -- no more stalling!

Stephen Brooke ©1994

Of course, I play this song in C. Those middle four lines stand as chorus, the last four are an 'outro.' The whole thing is quite tongue in cheek...but I do take my C everyday!
FRIENDS, Family, Facebook: I have, at this moment (well, I didn't check this exact moment) 85 friends on Facebook. A manageable number, particularly in that half or so of them rarely post or interact much. Anyway, I decided to look at just who these friends might be.

A good two-thirds of them are involved in music some way, the vast majority being part (if only peripherally) of the Florida folk music scene. I know a lot of these people, some well, many not so well. Some I've seen performing but never interacted with them. Some I don't know at all, save through Facebook...but I'm reasonably interested in what they're up to. I was and still am, though rather inactive at the moment, part of that Florida Folkie community.

Almost a quarter of my FB friends are related to me. There is a small overlap with the previous group, but not much. It's a way to keep in touch with far-flung family that one wouldn't normally contact often. The same with the two former schoolmates and three former girlfriends on the list -- these latter also overlap the other lists, one being a musician.

And the other two belonging to the ten percent of friends who are artists, writers or other creative friends. The Facebook friend who lives closest to me would be my sister Carole, at twenty miles. The furthest, would be the Acoustic Eagle, a talented painter and writer in Australia. But thanks to the internet they're all the same distance away. :)

These groups of people are why I'm on Facebook, or any other social site. I'm not one to have random friends with nothing in common. Unless, of course, they're pretty girls...

(note -- I was going to attempt to post this on my Yahoo blog but it simply took forever to load and I gave up. This is one reason why I mostly stick with Blogger and Facebook these days -- they're relatively fast. Yahoo and, to a lesser extent, MySpace are way too slow loading on a dial-up connection to use regularly. Having a WordPress blog on my site was okay but it's easier to embed a Blogger page and quicker to edit or post. Any other sites just seem inadequate or too insular, like Multiply.)

* * *

I do love my big new powerful DR trimmer-mower! I can finally try to get the property here under control again. It's ideal for me, combining as it does a brush mower and a string trimmer in one piece of equipment. The only drawback is that one has to pause fairly regularly to replace the string. But that keeps me from working too hard and too long so it's all to the good!

I also am truly in love with my coffee press. I should've been making coffee this way all along. I'll save the drip maker for when I have guests and need extra coffee. Some call these little devices a 'French Press' but to me that has always been a certain movement in weight-training (basically a type of triceps exercise) so I won't use the name.

There will also be another new arrival at Peanut Road shortly (this afternoon or tomorrow) and that will be a Dell Zino computer. A refurb, naturally -- it's a better deal and, I suppose, one could say it's better for the environment to recycle the computers, eh? It's to replace my Mac Mini. The Zino looks like a Mini, intentionally.

The Mini, which is an old pre-Intel model running OS10.3.9, simply doesn't do the job on the internet anymore. It's not sufficiently updateable, using a technology that Apple has abandoned. Another reason why I'll probably never buy Apple again. It's going to be used offline mostly from now on, for writing, as a media server, whatever.

The Zino will probably become the new internet machine of choice, but we'll see just what it's capabilities are first.

Monday, July 26, 2010

morning arrived
in an envelope of fog~
no return address

A haiku-like piece. I'm not turning out much serious poetry right now, being somewhat focused on the songs. I'll get back to it, I'm sure. The song organizing project has led me into some of the poetry files too -- the two do overlap occasionally. I'll organize the thousands of poems someday!

I suppose the font thing that I wanted just right on the songs doesn't matter much on the poetry, but I am -- as with the songwriting -- saving or re-saving everything as rich text files rather than use some proprietary word processing program or another. An RTF will always be readable. While I'm getting the poems transfered I'll also choose a standard font for them, with Palatino Linotype being the front runner right now. I was a bit surprised to find out that it is installed on more computers than Times NR. Almost every computer, in fact.

* * *

It will, in as little as a couple weeks, be starting to cool down a tad. So it's time to start thinking about planting stuff in the late summer/early autumn season. I have a load of seedling peaches that came up this summer and they seem to hold up better than most trees I've purchased. Might as well get them into the ground. The Siberian Elms that had survived a year-and-a-half pretty much gave up in this last heat spell. They just aren't going to make it in the Florida panhandle.

The Robin Hood Roses aren't doing that great either. Certainly not as much growth as hoped. Surprisingly, the Rugosas -- which are not supposed to be as well suited to heat and drought -- have done better. I'll probably put in more of both this fall. Maybe more firethorn as well. It seems to hold up quite well.

As does the privet that grows wild everywhere. I have a number of volunteer plants I can move in the next month or so. If it's going to keep coming up, I'll make use of it. Nandinas, too. They'll do well about anywhere.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

UP TO song number 100 this afternoon, as I continue to get them into order: formatted, filed and, if need be, rewritten. This song was one that needed some rewriting. Originally from 1988, it does have its share of cliched thoughts but I left most of the first two verses and the chorus much as they were -- just changed a word or two, here and there.

The final verse, though, needed more and is pretty thoroughly rewritten. Whatever one might say about the song now, it can certainly be said that it is better than it was! This piece lives in Bossa land but could no doubt 'swing' across the border into jazz territory.


They say that lovers talk
late into the night
And share a thousand plans
by the stars' soft light:
Of all the things that could be
and all the things that might
In a world that is theirs
and a future that is bright.

We used to be such lovers,
we used to share such dreams;
We would spend the hours
painting future scenes.
But those nights are long over,
we wasted them it seems,
On empty words and wishes
and on useless schemes.

The night is for sharing dreams and desires
the passions that burn within us like fires,
But we share nothing but a silent bed;
could it be our passions are dead?
Why is it nothing is said,
why is it nothing is said?

Now we say nothing
when we are near;
We seem to listen,
yet never hear,
Our feelings safe behind
a familiar veneer.
Why don't we talk;
what do we fear?

Stephen Brooke ©1988

So, a hundred down. Lots more to go! Then I should probably sit down and do quick recordings of each for archiving, as I'm unlikely to work out the tunes in notation anytime soon. Maybe oughta-should have backup copies online too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

MORE SONGS from the archives: as I continue to get them organized, I'll occasionally post something here that hasn't been posted before. This one's from way back in '91:


Feel so down, what could the trouble be?
All my friends been avoiding me
'Cause I'm such bad company.

Maybe it's me, maybe it's the season,
Somedays there just ain't no pleasin';
Feelin' down for no good reason.

Went to my mama, asked her what to do,
She said 'Boy, there's no hope for you;
Do believe you was born blue.'

Time for a change, time to get away,
Can't hang around here another day;
Kill me sure if I gotta stay.

Too much hurtin' here inside,
Stay down no matter what I tried;
Get in my car and start to ride.

Gonna leave, no more hangin' round,
Get myself out of this town;
Come back when I'm not so down.

Stephen Brooke ©1991

A 12 bar blues, though without the typical repeated lines, and based around a descending chord sequence (possibly played with a slide). It's an ok song, I s'pose, as a song. Also as a case study in depression!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Here's your chance to vote for Mean Mary to get a showcase! I think you need to register for the site but there's no other obligation. Vote frequently!

* * *

Darn, it's hot here! I'm counting on it not getting this bad again till next summer (if then). Statistics are on my side anyway -- July 10 through 20 have the highest average temps of the year. It's been way too hot to work much outside, except early in the morning or in the evening and those, of course, are the times I need most to be taking care of my mom indoors.

The lawn (okay, it's a field really) is very shaggy. I've given up on trying to keep it under control with my little reel mower and ordered a powerful high-wheel mower-trimmer. Yes, gas-powered. It should be here in a week or two. I'm hoping it will be cooled down to mere mid-90s temperatures by then so I can get out and use it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

YOU MIGHT know that I tend to avoid topicality in my songs and poems. Not entirely, of course -- sometimes a subject comes up that just can't be ignored. Especially if it can be turned to humor. But I do prefer to try for timelessness, universality and all that. Lately, I've even moved away from the word play I enjoy so much because I realize it may not mean anything to anyone in a few years. Much less to someone who speaks a different language.

That's certainly something I've learned from trying to read Symbolist poets in the French.

I've also eschewed politics and protest but, again, not completely. I really am more interested in the soul of mankind, the core of existence, than in who did what to whom in today's news. Having said that, here is a sort of 'protest song' I wrote about eight years ago. Note, though, that it does not name names nor place places.

Not Today

Do I stand tall? Am I proud?
Not today. Not today.
Will I cheer another war?
Not today, not tomorrow.
My weapons I have cast aside
Some yesterday, some long ago;
I will not pick them up again,
Not today, not today.

Who is the foe? Whom must we kill?
None today, none today.
Who will go? And who will die?
None today, none tomorrow.
Hide the truth while you can,
It will be seen someday soon;
I will not believe the lies,
Not today, not today.

I will stand tall, I will be proud,
Comes a day, comes a day.
When we all can live in peace,
If not today, then tomorrow.
Let my brother take my hand,
Let my sister stand by me;
I will not call them enemies,
Not today, not today.

Stephen Brooke ©2002

Just another song from the archives, as I continue to get them into order. Performable? Recordable? Maybe...
REMEMBER the Wobble Board, the home-made instrument created by Australian musician/painter Rolf Harris? It was used on his big early-60s hit, Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport. That song -- and the Wobble Board -- was everywhere in 1963. In the US, that is -- it was big earlier in other parts of the world.

Maybe I'll try making myself one. Plenty of scrap hardboard around this place.

Anyway, what brought it to mind was that I came across my lead sheet for the song this morning. I learned the piece a while back but, by an odd bit of timing, did so in the days just before the untimely death of Steve Irwin. Though intending to trot out the song in public performance that weekend, I decided it might not be appropriate and put it away. Quite forgotten now how to play it. Perhaps it's time to refresh my memory.

The reason I came across it is that I've been organizing my songs. Mostly getting my own stuff in order is the idea right now but there is a lot of other music in my files, both copyrighted and public domain. I'll keep working on getting all my songs finished and formatted and listed in a database.

That would be an Open Office database. It seemed the best way to go as OO will probably be around for a while. And, of course, it's free. Having learned the basics of it, I'll probably use it for other purposes, such as mailing lists.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

OF FONTS and Peanuts: I've been once again (or still, perhaps) messing about with fonts. I decided I had far too many installed, at close to 700, although I was not noticing any problems to speak of. So I did a thorough uninstalling job and will try to keep myself at less that 200 henceforth. A good third of those are foreign characters and other special fonts that I probably do not need.

Of course, I kept most of my uninstalled font collection and have been trying to organize them somewhat. A collection does become unwieldy well before it approaches the thousand font mark. I'm noting some redundancy, the same font under more than one file name -- I'll get those sorted out in time, I suppose.

Assuming I don't keep finding new and interesting typography online and adding it!

One thing to which I've been giving my attention is monospace (fixed width) fonts, in particular as they apply to getting my songs all typed and printed out, both as lyrics and as text-plus-chords lead sheets. A fixed width type is very useful for getting the bars lined up without having to use tabs, therefore making the pages easy to share between people and computers and still look right. I decided a while back to use Vera Mons for this, as it was about the nicest looking and easiest reading mono I'd found, but most people don't have it installed. The widths may look alright in another font but the heights will be off (i.e. page breaks).

But Courier is installed on like 98 percent of all computers so it's the obvious choice. It looks...okay. And it is quite readable. Also slightly shorter characters so I can fit more on a page!

Therefore it is decreed that all song writing shall be in Courier from this time forward.

Naturally, after I made that decision I found a lovely fixed-width serif font online, called Elite (designed by Bob Ostrander, if you feel like Googling for it). Would that it were widely installed -- I'd use it in an instant!

On the second subject I mentioned, Peanuts: the Peanut Road site is up and all but there is very little there yet. In time, in time. I've also started a Peanut Road blog for announcements and news. Yes, I had a blog by that name before, where I mostly talked about recording. With any luck, I'll be talking about actual goings-on here at the house on Peanut Road eventually.

Friday, July 09, 2010

There have been reports the last couple days of tar balls -- lots of tar balls -- coming ashore in the Cocoa area. That's on the Florida Atlantic coast, for those who never watched a space launch. Or 'I Dream of Jeanne,' for that matter.

Do they come from the BP Gulf oil spill?

I started taking surf trips to Cocoa back in '68 and, even then, there was always plenty of tar on the beach. We carried cans of gasoline in our cars so we could clean our feet after leaving the beach. Motels did the same, leaving gas cans by their outside showers. They wouldn't do that now, too many liability considerations!

So it's nothing new and it might or might not be coming from the Gulf. But if the oil does get into the Atlantic, I think it's a sure bet it will end up on Cocoa beaches. The Gulf Stream does bring the refuse of shipping from all over and often drops it there before turning further out into the ocean at Cape Canaveral. I'm sure that tar I used to see came from many ships and many places, including the channel right there at the Canaveral Jetties, with navy, coast guard and cruise ships coming and going.

The Cape is a bit of a divider. Water remains somewhat warmer in the winter to the south of it, thanks to the Gulf Stream's proximity. It also moderates the big winter swells that come with cold fronts, taming the waves as they wrap around and come into the beaches. It may be completely out of control and unsurfable down at Sebastian Inlet but very ridable up at the Jetties.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

AROUND THIS TIME, nine years ago, I was coming to the end of a major relationship in my life. Perhaps the major relationship (so far!). It was not at all a happy time for Steve.

But it was certainly a watershed in my life, for a variety of reasons I do not wish to explore nor enumerate right now. It also led to an outpouring of songs and poems, mostly sad, mostly bad. I do think the experience of writing them made me a 'real' poet (oh, there's part of that watershed thing). Nothing like practice (practically immersing myself, actually) to improve one's craft.

Anyway, I reckon I'm over it by now! Well, mostly. We're even friends on Face Book these days. Not that I would ever have been in a relationship with anyone I didn't like well enough to be and remain a friend.

One of the really bad songs I wrote shortly -- like a week or two, I think -- after the breakup was 'Sunshine and Shadow.' I pulled it out a few days ago and decided to attempt a rewrite. I'll be honest, rewriting a not-so-good song is a lot harder than creating a new one! I do think I've improved it from Truly Awful to Merely Mediocre.


For a few days in my life,
all too brief a span,
One ray of sunshine fell upon
an empty, lonely man.
Heaven's light broke through my clouds,
as you took my hand,
showed me the way to happiness,
a stranger in that land

And there were summer nights I lay
beside you in the dark;
I would just listen to you breathe,
the beating of your heart.
I asked for little more from you,
but I hoped from the start
That our love might be forever,
that we would never part.

But you were sunshine, I was shadow,
now you shine no more;
And the sky is dark and empty
where we once would soar.
Only shadow has remained,
as it was before;
Sunshine, my Sunshine,
why do you shine no more?

We shared so many lovers' dreams,
all that we might do;
I wasn't one to hide my thoughts,
I'm sure you always knew
That if you asked me I would try
to give the world to you
And if you chose to go away
my heart would break in two.

I never sat and held you close,
as the sun rose from the sea;
There didn't seem to be enough
time for you and me.
What choice had I but to accept
that what must be will be?
I could not hold you anymore;
I set my Sunshine free.

For your were sunshine, I was shadow,
now you shine no more;
And the sky is dark and empty
where we once would soar.
Only shadow has remained,
as it was before;
Sunshine, my Sunshine,
why do you shine no more?

Stephen Brooke ©2001/2010

Would I ever perform -- much less record -- this song? It's doubtful, partly because over the past nine years I've recycled some of the phrases and ideas here in other pieces, and partly because I simply have better stuff.

Also, there's always the chance it would start me crying if I played it in's just so darn sad!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I am the wall built brick by brick around you;
I am the army raised up to surround you.
I am this net of spells cast to confound you,
illusions that will dazzle and astound you.

I leave you with no option but surrender;
I hold you fast, oppressor and defender,
become your lover, terrible and tender,
beneath such nameless skies my dreams engender.

I am the priest who hears your each confession;
I am the penance paid for each transgression.
I am your darkest secret and obsession,
the whispered lie, unspoken indiscretion.

I sell myself to buy you as my slave,
condemning all that I would hope to save.
Fall on the altar laid within your nave;
I take away more than you ever gave.

I am where you shall be and you have been,
I am where you shall end and must begin.
I am the game you can not play to win,
For only I absolve you of my sin.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

It would be tedious to go into the personal mythologies and metaphors behind this bit of poetry, so I won't. Suffice it to say that the 'I' and 'you' here could be as much internal as external. Good old pentameter used on this one. I suspect that with the addition of a bridge -- could be a quite simple and short one -- this could be an artsy metalish rock song. No intentions of doing that at the moment.

Btw, tried out Blogger's 'new' editor and it took forever to load for me, like so much other new and improved stuff on the internet (mail programs, in particular), so I'm back to the old familiar one!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

THERE WAS a time in my life when I labeled myself an agnostic. Never an atheist; indeed, even when I was calling myself agnostic I was really more in the deist camp. I certainly wanted to believe there was meaning to my existence.

Agnostics are really sort of half-empty glass sort of people, being somewhat focused on what we don't know rather than what we do. I guess atheists say the glass is completely empty! But I came to realize that we do know things. The glass actually is half-full.

Or at least there's a little something in the bottom to slake our thirst. The universe, God, 'everything' is far from being completely knowable but we do have glimpses of what is. We can understand in part. That makes it no less true.

The problems arise when we claim to know it all, when we become dogmatic.

What we seek, after all -- or what I seek, I should perhaps say -- is meaning, purpose. Belief in an afterlife, in heavenly rewards, is all well and good but I maintain that it does not matter. Choosing to do what is right, to act as though life has purpose, is the thing. It is the true reward.

And what is the meaning of existence, o wise one?

Existence does not have meaning: it is meaning. It is purpose where there was none. I believe in being. That is why I am no agnostic.

So, I'm back to the Catholic Church these days. For quite some time, actually, as I always appreciated the mysticism implicit in Catholic doctrine and liturgy and recognize that we are, moreover, social creatures and naturally organize things -- religion included. I certainly don't buy every dogma; I reckon I'm pretty much the heretic but they don't burn us anymore so that's okay. Religion is ultimately metaphor and the Romans have a pretty good handle on that concept.

Stephen Brooke ©2010
ELECTRICAL problems continue to plague me here at Peanut Road. I've pretty much concluded, however, that the root of my troubles is a bad breaker going to the pump. For one thing, I've used it far too frequently to turn the pump on and off and quite possibly have worn it out. I've lost power to the pump three times in the last couple weeks; the first two times, simply flipping the breaker off and on brought it back but this time it took longer to restore.

Anyway, it was definitely interacting with the four circuits that have been intermittent. Arcing would seem likely -- I'm hoping they don't need replaced as well but, if so, I'm capable of changing out breakers. I'll get a new one in for the pump as soon as I can and see how things go. The four troublesome circuits are turned off until I do the replacement.

Of course, I'll check out what I can when I pull the old one, look for signs of burns or arcing under it, clean out any debris, etc. Replacing any or all breakers is one thing -- replacing the entire box I would have to leave to an expert elctrician, I think.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FOGGY DEW, part two

As mentioned a couple post back, I was looking at various versions of The Foggy Foggy Dew. And boy are there a lot of them! Having the internet available for research is both curse and blessing.

I found myself drawn to a certain story line (one of several and some of them quite contradictory) in which the couple in the song end up more-or-less happily married, though with a bit of a wink at the end. Did she, well, trap the young fellow and end his days of following the 'roving trade?' And did he willing collude with her? This variant I provisionally (though probably pretty much what I'll stick with) put together is slightly more graphic than the Burl Ives version but either one is really meant for an adult audience.


When I was a bachelor, young and alone,
I followed the roving trade
And the only thing I ever did that was wrong
was to court a servant maid.
I courted her all the summer long
And part of the winter too
Till the one cold night when I held her in my arms
To keep her from the foggy, foggy dew.

One night she came to my bedside
When I was fast asleep
She lay her head upon my breast
And did begin to weep
She wept, she moaned, she tore her hair
She cried what shall I do?
This night I must surely come to bed with you
For fear of the foggy foggy dew

All of the first part of that night
Was filled with lovers' play
And through the latter part of the night
She slept in my arms till day
When the daylight did appear
She cried I am undone
Oh, foolish girl, the foggy foggy dew
has gone with the morning sun

I loved that girl with all my heart,
I loved her as my life;
I took that girl and married her,
She became my lawful wife;
I never ask her of that night,
Nor ever intend to so do,
But every time she winks or she smiles
It reminds me of the foggy foggy dew.

arrangement by Stephen Brooke ©2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: Mean Mary - Walk a Little Ways With Me

"I’ll rush into the new day like a penny candy store," Mean Mary sings in 'Shepherd's Hill,' one of ten original tracks on her brand-new CD release 'Walk a Little Ways With Me.' This album is one tasty candy store -- I recommend rushing in at the first opportunity.

'Mean Mary' James, a Florida native now based in Nashville, has been performing since she was five. A multi-instrumentalist, singer and song-writer, 'Walk' is the work of a mature talent. On this outing, she tends toward the country side of the Americana spectrum while staying true to her roots in traditional music, with plenty of hot picking on banjo, guitar and fiddle. Well, fiddling on fiddle, not picking.

One of the highlights for me -- not that it was easy to choose just one -- is the instrumental 'Joy,' a Dueling-Banjos-meets-Beethoven romp on the banjo. Mary's more-than-able accompanist/partner here on guitar is her brother, Frank James. Mean Mary's playing is bluegrass-inflected yet maintains an 'old time' charm. And is, to say the least, virtuosic.

On the other nine songs, all self-penned or co-written by Mary, her vocal abilities are on display as well. This young lady has a strong, confident voice, as sweet, rich and full-bodied as sorghum syrup. It's a voice equally suited to the bluesy 'Rose Tattoo' or the pure countrified exuberance of 'Big Red Barn,' where she sings 'Love's never gonna knock on these barn doors.' Keep it up, Mary, and a lot of folks are going to come knocking.

Mean Mary deftly shifts gears to sing the plaintive almost-a-spiritual 'Choctawhatchee Waltz.' Her voice is every bit as much at home on ballads as it is on the up-tempo songs.

Ultimately, though, it the playing of Mean Mary James that truly dazzles on 'Walk a Little Ways With Me.' There is a competent group of musicians backing her up on the album, plus the presence of her highly talented brother, but Mary is the one doing the lead work on banjo and fiddle, and most of the guitar. Her playing can be fast -- very fast -- yet musical. No technical playing here just for the flashiness of it; Mary's choices always make sense, musically.

If there are weaknesses with the album they are with the songs themselves. By and large, they are good, solid pieces of work but I admit that some are not memorable. That does not keep them from being an enjoyable listening experience.

The title song also features the guest vocals of Bob Arnold, making for an intriguing duet.

Mean Mary is asking you to "just walk a little ways . . .with me." I suggest you take a little trip down that road with her by visiting the Mean Mary James website at . 'Walk a Little Ways With Me' is available both there and at CD Baby.

addendum, Dec 1, 2010: I've listened many times now to this CD and I'm still pretty impressed. There are little things I didn't pick up on at first, such as Mary's mandolin work. Very tasty.

One thing that has bothered me a bit, though, is the over-hot mastering job. Too rock and roll, too little dynamics. It becomes, well, tiring after a while. I suppose, in that I listen mostly to folk and classical for my own pleasure, this doesn't sound right to me. Not what I'm used to.