adventures in dysthymia

Friday, August 26, 2011

WHAT IT TAKES

In sports, I mostly sat on the bench,
in shop, they called me Mr Badwrench.
Yes, I was a nerd but I'm okay now,
I'm cooler than they should allow!

My friends got fat, they lost their muscles,
but life will favor he who hustles
and learns from his many mistakes,
so now I've got just what it takes!


If you've got what it takes, they'll take what you've got
and what I've got just can't be bought!
Some have sought and some have been taught
but they've never caught onto what I've got!

No, you don't have a shot at having what I've got
and I have a lot of what I've got!
Some I've brought along, some I've not,
but I've got what it takes, so they'll take what I've  got!


I'm  not going out of my way to impress
but it's hard to hide this air of success,
for I remember at the end of each day,
I'm the one to thank for turning out this way!

All my regards to my old schoolmates
who will never be numbered among the greats
and not have what I have, those are the breaks,
but I've still got just what it takes!

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Again, somewhat of light music hall approach to a song lyric. I consider the verses here to be essentially filler -- they could readily be jettisoned and new verses written to surround the chorus part. It could be adapted to a storyline or show concept, if needed.

Used to be, I'd make an update at Twitter, Face Book, etc. every time I posted here but with the internet so iffy over the past half-year, I don't always bother. Hardly ever use Twitter anymore -- won't load up much of the time anyway.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

THE CANNIBAL CAFE

intro verses:

The Cannibal Cafe is open tonight,
it's just the place to grab a bite.
But make sure it isn't a bite of you
and don't end up in a cannibal stew.

At the Cannibal Cafe, you're seated and then you
check that you aren't on the menu.
It seems that a lot of folks go in
But not as many come out again.

chorus 1:

Oh, I went to the Cannibal Cafe for lunch,
the nuggets looked good so I ordered a bunch,
Tasted like chicken but I have a hunch
they served me something else to munch!

The crazy waiter they had there
seemed to prefer to go quite bare,
except for his beads and a bone in his hair
and of course his boutonniere.

bridge:

Beware, beware,
you don't want to go there.
Don't dare, don't dare,
or you'll be luncheon fare!

Keep away, keep away
from the Cannibal Cafe.
Be careful if you stay,
you'll end up on the buffet!
chorus 2:

Oh, I went to the Cannibal Cafe to dine,
had me some chops and a nice red wine.
When dessert arrived, I had to decline--
those lady fingers came from a friend of mine!

You might be famous, it is true.
and well known for the many things you do.
But no one's going to recognize you
when you come to the table as barbecue!

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Another silly song in something of a music hall style. Bits of this have sat in my notes for years but once I made an effort to work it up, it came together fairly quickly. Incidentally, at one time I thought this might be a piece for my on-the-back-burner Pirate musical but it works better like this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wow, I'm online at 41.2. That's the fastest in...well, several months I think. Internet is still iffy, still erratic, still up-and-down, but it is getting better here. Until it gets worse again, of course.

It seems I bought the new PC just in time, as the old Mac Mini died. Hard drive went. Fortunately, everything on it had long since been backed up elsewhere. Being an obsolete PowerPC Apple, it had pretty much outlived its usefulness anyway. The only thing I was using it for recently was playing DVDs.

I would never buy another Apple computer nor any Apple products for that matter. The stuff is okay but overpriced and I don't much care for the company's attitude.

Incidentally, I did go ahead and invest in Corel Draw. I needed something I could depend on for graphics and it's just the right fit for my needs. Better than ever, actually, despite a few small changes in workflow that tend to peeve me. With any luck, the new version will last me ten years like the old one.

* * *

Looks like another heat wave is upon us here. Upper 90s -- and dry -- for the next week. I probably got my nursery stock into the ground too early but I wasn't really expecting it to come so soon! I'll be watering and hoping.

I wouldn't buy anything else until Spring, most likely, unless I get to a local nursery and something looks good. I've enough stuff of my own to tranplant, when it gets a little cooler and wetter. Or just cooler -- I'm afraid this drought is going to hang on a while.

* * *

Mom is getting by but it is getting more and more difficult to interact with her. I just do as I can and try to guess what's going on in her head.

Getting her to eat is difficult, at times -- I never know if she'll dig in or just stare at her food. Leaving snacks out is my best solution, though not always a good idea in hot and buggy weather! She doesn't really know her when-and-where so there's no point in trying to keep her on a schedule. All I can do is have things ready when she is ready.

* * *

I find that I have a couple of deactivated accounts at Face Book, left from abortive attempts to join in prior to opening my current account. I wonder if there would be any point in using them. Face Book never deletes them entirely so they will still be sitting there.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

COAST TO COAST

verse 1
The sun rises over the Atlantic,
sets in the Gulf of Mexico;
you can see them both the same day,
it's not very far to go.

verse 2
Right across the state of Florida,
enjoy the scenery along the  way;
The sun you greeted from Flagler Beach
will go to rest in Deadman Bay.

verse 3
The ocean is full of morning light,
meant for the eyes of a romantic;
hold your girl by your side
and watch the sun rise from the Atlantic.

chorus
Driving coast to coast,
  Florida's the state with the most.
It's long but it's not wide,
  with beaches on either side!
Driving east to west,
  Florida is the best.
All across the Sunshine State
  are treasures that await.

verse 4
Drive into the afternoon
and pretty soon you're bound to reach
a spot to watch the setting sun,
at dusk down on a white sand beach.

verse 5
After the sun has slipped away,
find yourself a good place to park,
and see stars come out over the Gulf
as the sky is growing dark.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

I consider this song lyric to be extremely rough. It's something -- a 'Florida song' obviously -- I've been dabbling at for a while. Some come easily, some don't.


Like the last lyric I posted, Ancestors. I simply sat down and hammered it out over a few hours. This one wouldn't do that and I'm still not particularly enthralled with it. Maybe I never will be. I think part of the problem was that I was never quite sure how serious the song should be -- it started out as a humorous piece but much of that is gone.

Following a quick consultation with my inner George Formby, I got out the banjolele and wrote up some music for the Ancestors song I posted yesterday. In that a song like this is totally about getting the lyrics across, simple but bouncy is the way to go.

Someday maybe I'll be able to do something with it. For now, into the files with the rest.

* * *

A while back, I posted a roughly recorded piece on a songwriters site (this was when my internet connection wasn't quite so infuriatingly bad). The thing that surprised me (many didn't get the humor, of course, and I expected that) was that some chided me for my hillbilly twang.

I guess they thought it had to have been put on. And maybe it was, some, but that twangy hillbilly is part of me. Most of the folks there were trying to write 'modern country' and I don't they think they appreciated my 'old time' voice.

I've said before that singing is acting. I'll use the voice that fits the part...though I do have to be careful not to slip into Dylan mode.

And then, I can always sing in my Elmer Fudd voice. 'Kiww the wabbit! Kiww the wabbit!'

* * *

I do think I'd better install a doggy door before the weather turns cold. I don't want to be letting the animals in and out all day (or night). Had one in Steinhatchee but that was for a couple cats. And a few cats that weren't mine. And the occasional small raccoon or opossum.

I'm thinking maybe I should invest in a good chain saw too. I can't see spending thousands (I don't have) to get these big oaks out of here. Even if I don't cut them down, I can lop off limbs and ring them deeply enough to die.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

ANCESTORS

I do descend from the King of the Cavemen,
a Paleolithic potentate;
Australopithecus rex, Leakey named him --
he saw that a crown fitted on his pate!

Homo correctus stands next in my line,
upright, of course, in every respect;
above all the other ape-men, head and shoulders,
in morals and manners and intellect!

The mightiest mammoths to ever roam
were pets for the family Neanderthals,
and then came the world's first great artist,
who drew all those pictures on the cave walls!

Oh, I've a long line of distinguished ancestors,
Some of them were kings and some were court jesters;
and if you should climb this fine family tree,
sooner or later you'll get to me!
I'll never match up to a single forefather,
So most days I don't even bother.
Just sit right here, have another beer,
we'll raise a cheer to my ancestors!

Now, these are but the most notable notables,
there may be a valley or two 'mid the peaks,
but I'll mention the gall of my Gaul forebears
who fought with, then married the Romans and Greeks!

Most oddly, my lineage includes holy men --
one became Cardinal while still but a laddy;
Or maybe it wasn't really so curious
when one realizes the Pope was his Daddy!

Hard work and wisdom made them what they were,
right from the start of my illustrious line;
generations of over-acheivers -- 
until they reached me, they were doing quite fine!

Oh, I've a long line of distinguished ancestors,
Some of them were kings and some were court jesters;
and if you should climb this fine family tree,
sooner or later you'll get to me!
I'll never match up to a single forefather,
So most days I don't even bother.
Just sit right here, have another beer,
we'll raise a cheer to my ancestors!

Yes, we'll raise our glasses and a cheer
to my ancestors!

Stephen Brooke ©2011

a silly song in a quasi-music hall style

Friday, August 19, 2011

COFFEE

God created coffee and it was good.
Then that old devil, just because he could

and, of course, was kind of evil too,
(It is the sort of thing that devils do!)

on a twisted whim, invented decaf.
Served it up to man and, oh, did he laugh

as we took each and every cursed cup,
toasted to our health and drank it up.

'Heaven in a cup, I offered man,'
God pondered. 'I'll do no more even though I can.

They have their insipid brew for what it's worth
but having to drink decaf is hell on earth.'

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Another dose of doggerel

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to hot weather after a slight respite. And more of the same for the next ten days. It would depress me if I weren't already depressed. If it weren't for those bowls of ice cream I don't think I could get by at all!

Apparently my website-building software is incompatible with 64 bit Windows 7. I reckon I'll have to keep using the older XP machine for updates or switch to a new program. I suspect that Yahoo has no intentions of ever developing it further -- it's their proprietary SiteBuilder and they seem focused on the simpler online programs now -- so maybe it is time to switch.

I've been thinking of doing that for a while anyway and not being tied to Yahoo -- though their web hosting remains a pretty good deal and quite dependable.

Although I have A Mouse Is In The House available as a PDF/ebook at my Lulu store, I doubt anyone would want to buy it in that form. Well, maybe all those three-year-olds that carry ebook readers around with them. So it is available as a free PDF at my website, The Insolent Lad. You don't get the covers but that's not a big deal. I'm not even sure if one gets them with the paid download.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weeds

I water my garden daily,
I tend to all its needs,
And am rewarded with
A vigorous crop of weeds.
To gaze on their profusion
Inevitably leads
Me to wonder why
I bothered to buy seeds.

SB 2011

The first little taste of Fall weather as a cool front slipped in today -- we may actually be in the upper 60s tonight! Wowzers! Alas, not a drop of rain fell with the front passing through so I have a watering regimen to maintain.

Spent a lot of time outside today with the nicer weather anyway. Really needed to catch up on my mowing as I missed a week waiting for parts to come in to repair the mower. Nothing major, just a new drive belt. That's the sort of repair work I can do -- I'm no mechanic!

A couple more weeks and I should be able to do Fall stuff like major transplanting. I do need to get all these seedling peaches set out somewhere. I actually got a few peaches this year on my three larger (chest to head high) trees. I have a lot of rather small pears ripening as well. As usual, I'll not have the time nor inclination to do anything with them.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Twenty and some years ago, I hand-illustrated and printed a couple of picture books for the amusement of my myriad nephews. I had not thought of them for some while but my recent work reminded of me of their existence, tucked away in my safe with other 'important papers.'

The one is quite absurd and quite unusable in any sort of updated form -- it's about the Easter Bunny fighting a vampire rabbit and was totally intended as silliness, not for general consumption.

The other, however, is Awful Alvin, the story of which I subsequently rewrote in rhyme. It could readily be turned into a book. The original pictures are not any use, as they are, but might serve as guides to a new series of illustrations.

Which might well be in color. Not sure on that one; it could certainly work as a pen and ink thing. Heck, if they are color pictures they'll probably just be drawings to which I add color anyway (comic book style).

So I'm adding it to the list of projects. Why not? It's not like I have anything else to keep me busy...

I may have posted the text of Awful Alvin sometime in the last few years I've been blogging here. But here it is again:

Awful Alvin

Some children are as good as gold,
As sweet as sugar, I am told;
Like little angels, some will say,
But Alvin never was that way.

He was the naughtiest of boys;
Sometimes he broke his sister’s toys.
He even scribbled on the wall,
For Alvin wasn’t nice at all.

He was so bad that others came
To call him by a different name;
“There’s Awful Alvin,” they’d all say
And none of them would want to play.

No, Alvin wouldn’t do as told,
Not even when his mom would scold.
It didn’t help to take time out;
He’d make an ugly face and pout.

His father told him, “When you’re bad
It makes your mother and me sad.”
But Alvin didn’t seem to care;
He threw a tantrum, then and there!

What this boy needed was a friend,
A somebody who would depend
On Alvin to watch out for him,
To be his pal through thick and thin.

His parents loved him and they knew
A boy without a friend won’t do,
So, just as Alvin’s birthday neared,
A large, mysterious box appeared.

Who knows what might be in a box?
It could be toys, it could be socks!
Then from inside, there came a yip;
He had it open in a zip.

It was a puppy, Alvin’s own,
To care for and to give a home,
To be his friend in every way
And stay at his side, come what may.

But even this small pup could see
A boy named “Awful” might not be
The kind of friend a puppy needed;
Poor Alvin knelt down and he pleaded.

“Will you be my friend? If you would,
I’ll try my hardest to be good,”
He promised and he didn’t lie;
The best that we can do is try.

The dog believed him, too, I guess;
He wagged his tail and that meant yes.
Then into Alvin’s arms he wriggled
And licked his face until he giggled!

From that day, Alvin did his best
To show the pup he’d pass the test
And so, at last, he found a friend;
His story has a happy end.

For Alvin was okay, inside,
And proved that when he really tried
He could be better than before;
He’s not so awful anymore.

Stephen Brooke ©1998, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

SARD HARKER by John Masefield ~ sort of a review

I had read Masefield's adventure novel, Sard Harker, some twenty-five years ago and decided to pull it off the shelf to give it another look. Masefield is better know, of course, for his poems, particularly the ones that speak of the sea, and the long piece, Reynard the Fox.

Although essentially a bit of adventure entertainment, Sard Harker (Masefield wrote of various and sundry members of the Harker family in his novels and stories), it also reflects the author's tendency toward the occasional romantic mysticism, as 'visions' of one sort or another play a central role in the plot.

Indeed, the entire book is somewhat about visions and dreams and the futures men and women create for themselves. For Sard, that entails a movement from a narrow vision of himself as a seaman to a new wider world of love and life ashore. It is a quest story in every sense.

The language of this novel veers back and forth a bit from Masefield's natural poetic voice to a rather hurried pot-boiler style suited to general consumption. It is by no means a great book, either in scope or consummation, but it has its moments.

It is also not a very big book. Big enough for its story and no bigger -- there is little in the way of subplot or digression from the main narrative and journey of the protagonist. I suppose, however, it is quite exotic enough with the elements it contains, the sea, Central America, bandits, dictators, Satanist kidnappers, and dreams of a long lost love.

The copy of Sard Harker on my shelf is quite old, from my grandfather's library. I don't know if the book is in print today so good luck if you look for a copy!

----

Dang! I've been knocked offline five times already this morning. I do hope to be using the new PC as my main internet machine very soon but first must finish downloading the very large anti-virus program for it. That's taking days with my slow connection, with lots of pauses and restarts. At least I haven't lost the download, though who knows if the file will be intact when I'm done!

My nursery order came yesterday. I'm busy planting stuff now. Busy with lots of stuff that came up all at once so I'm not going to be online much anyway for a little while.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The release of my little picture book, A Mouse Is In The House, could have been an occasion for release parties, book tours, all the stuff that is traditionally part of publishing. At least, it could have been staged as an 'event,' if only online. Traveling, of course, being out of the question for me right now. Even to a local bookstore.

But the world doesn't work that way so much, anymore. Whether music or books, people tend to happen onto content online these days. Search engines are way more important than release parties now! So I'm not concerned about making big announcements for this little book or any future stuff, for the most part.

On the subject of releases and books and so on, I've had the opportunity to read a couple books lately, one released a couple years ago by a friend, the other the advance copy of a novel coming out in a month or two. That latter book, Sparrow Alone on the Rooftop, is written by my sister and niece (Jean and Mary James).

One thing this book and the other, The Guitar Pin, have in common is a Christian slant. Neither is overtly religious but each deals with good and evil in it own way. Otherwise, they are rather dissimilar! D. M. Grant's Pin is a novel of the supernatural. Well plotted and thought through, I'd say, and the motivations and psychology are laid out quite nicely. It is a bit wordy for my tastes, a bit too much description, too much tell rather than show, but I recognize this is the author's style.

To my thoughts as amateur literary critic, it is a bit reminiscent of Henry James or Frank Swinnerton in its approach. The story however is quite up to date set in a quite up to date Australia. The book is really at its best when the characters are doing something; it lags a bit when we get into long descriptive passages.

The other novel, the one by my relatives (yes, Mary James is Mean Mary, the musician), is a sparer sort of book, also set in the present in Mexico and Texas. I was impressed enough by it. I was impressed by both books, honestly, even while picking at nits while reading them. I suspect that both could have profited by the attentions of a professional editor. New eyes can often see things the writer missed -- just as music that has been recorded and mixed profits from being sent out to a mastering engineer for its final polish.

Yet both are completely readable and enjoyable as they are. Both know what they want to say and get it across to their audience -- that is the ultimate criteria on which all art must be judged.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Muscatel

What's the cheapest way
to drink myself to death?
Bottles of muscatel
until my final breath?
Three or four each day
is sure to do the job;
It does go down well
and I am no wine snob!

Stephen Brooke ©2011

I decided this wasn't really worth any further development -- I had, at first, thought of making it into a song -- but will stand as a bit of light verse, as is.

I guess it wouldn't be August without a heat wave or two, would it? Pretty bad out there, almost as hot as a month or so back but more humid. Well, it could indeed be the worst we'll see the rest of this summer. Or so I'm hoping.

Though it would be nice if we didn't see anything this bad next summer. That's probably a little too much to hope!

Still stuck here at Peanut Road most days, rarely going further than the three miles to Graceville for groceries. Generally in off hours -- for the last year and a half or so I have avoided being in crowded stores as much as possible. The last thing I want to do is catch a cold or worse and bring it home to Mom.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Flame

I am the same, the flame that danced
once on this candle. I burn more brightly
now, burn more steady. Ah,
but what a fine flickering

I made before. I was full
of shadows, then, and wore the night
in my eyes. The light slipped through
my fingers, leaving only smoke.

I guttered toward my desires,
once, on each breath of wind, in storms
of fitful flame. I faded before
the morning sun's insistent truth.

I have become the day, the burning
song of life. I hold it cupped
within  my heart, the flame that is
yet I, this fire that danced once.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

So, it's about...what? It could be seen perhaps as someone who was once depressed and now 'all better' but that would be too narrow a reading. Any reading that one could put it into prose would be too narrow, for that matter. That's why we have poetry.

I've been sketching ideas (once again) for illustrations to use in 'The Contrary Fairy.' I'll probably go with my typical pen and ink stuff though, theoretically, a gray-scale drawing or painting might work -- and possibly be easier to pull off.

From the start, I had these little characters pictured in my head. Getting them on paper -- in an interesting set of illustrations -- is another matter. We'll forget for the moment that I originally envisioned them as going quite naked. That isn't going to work for a children's book.

I did know right away that the title Fairy, Marjoram, looks just like Samantha Fox. Okay, maybe not the body but the face. Fairies, after all, if they follow the natural laws of proportion, would have relatively bulbous bodies and spindly limbs, like any other small creature.

You've no doubt seen vintage portrayals of Brownies and they have just that look. Whether I should be 'realistic' enough to do all the fairies like that is a question I'll need to answer.

Speaking of Brownies, the twins Hob and Gob are just such little people. In that they are, well, brown, I decided early on that they should look somewhat African. That also helps make the Fairies, and the book, more 'multi-cultural.' Hey, it can be a selling feature and why shouldn't little African-American readers have Brownies that look sort of like them?

Aside from the aforementioned bulbous bodies, of course!

I did consciously choose to make the little girl protagonist/narrator of 'A Mouse Is In The House' somewhat ethnic, i.e. Latina, in appearance. That may or may not go over the readers' heads but it doesn't hurt any.

The Fairy book is going to be smaller format so the illustrations will have to be suited to that too. Instead of a rather large square, I will probably go with 'Trade' size, 6x9. That's the size of my 'Moon' chapbook and I think it's a good compromise.

Arizona Road by K Page Brooke
Another project I think I want to get onto is photographing (or scanning) my mother's art work. That's one of her paintings I've posted here, in low fidelity form.

I do believe that she was more of a natural artist than I could ever hope to be. Who knows what might have come had she pursued an art career? Aside from a short stint as assistant/office girl with a commercial art studio, she never did. Maybe that experience soured her on it.

Anyway, I'd like to put some of them up online or maybe even in a photo book: 'The Art of K. Page Brooke (that's how she like to sign herself). That's not high on the list of to-dos but it's there.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A MOUSE is in the house! She came in today's mail.

Yep, my printed copy of the Mouse book arrived and it looks great! Maybe not really that enticing for a wee one with its black and white pics but this was a bit of an experiment in book-making. No, not the kind where you bet. But you can put some money down at my Insolent Lad Media store at Lulu.

As long as I was ordering a copy of my own book, I also got my Aussie friend Donna's book, The Guitar Pin, and will try to get through that rather thick volume. I was interested not only in reading the story but also in seeing how Lulu did on printing out a larger novel. Looks good enough.

Now I need to finish the little song that goes with the book. I've laid down the backing tracks but need to add voice and some sort of lead. Maybe I'll just whistle. I whistles purty good.

* * *

After the debacle of the non-functioning Dell computer last year I finally decided to get another computer. This time a bulky medium-power Gateway that offered an excellent deal. I don't need compact, I need something that works and is trouble-free. I've been using this Gateway XP machine for nearly ten years without problem.

Yeah, I know the company has different owners now but the new ones have a reasonably good reputation too. It should become my primary web machine but also serve as a general purpose PC. Especially when this one finally dies.