adventures in dysthymia

Thursday, September 30, 2010

FALL

Fall.

Balance wearies,
ever teetering
on the edge
of despair.

Fall forward
and be done.

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

Fall.

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.

Fall.

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) --

LAST REQUEST

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

PLAN

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

HERE

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.