Monday, January 31, 2011

"I Know You Rider"

When I first started the Monday Morning Blues series—at its inception, a series of video performances, not mp3s—the last thing I expected was to get a song request.  But sure enough, on Friday I received a message from the redoubtable Citizen K, a longtime, staunch follower of this blog, saying that he & Roy (of the wonderful blog Roy’s World) would like my take on the old blues song, “I Know You Rider.”  Citizen K. wrote about the song on his eponymous blog that day—which you can check out here.

I knew the song, & I’d casually considered it for my repertoire, but had never really sat down to figure out an arrangment of it.  Based on a comment Roy made, I decided to look up Hot Tuna’s version—which, I admit, I didn’t know, but was able to find (of course) on the interweb.  I’d known the Grateful Dead’s version since high school days, & more recently I’d become familiar with another version of similar vintage, namely a recording by Judy Henske.  This is available on the box set Big Judy put out by Rhino Records & produced by our friend Cheryl Pawelski.  Henske does a powerhouse version of the song that I like a lot. 

But I don’t have Judy Henske’s voice & I don’t have a bunch of folks singing harmony (plus the high lonesome sound is really not my strong suit!), so I had to come up with a solo arrangement that suited what I can do.  I actually tried a few different options: banjo; slide style guitar—but finally settled on playing it on guitar in standard tuning.  So this is the Regal resonator played straight up. 

The chord progression of “I Know You Rider” is quite interesting—very different from any standard blues. I’m playing it in the key of E, & the progression goes E/D/A/E for the two repeating lines, then G/D/G/D/E for the third line.  This bears no relationship to any other tune I know & it’s fun to play. 

So, thanks to Citizen K & Roy for the request—hope you all enjoy my version of “I Know You Rider.”

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"The Alchemy of Chance"

Do you believe in serendipity?  If so, Peter Brooks’ fine first novel, The Alchemy of Chance is for you.  In fact, what better term than “the alchemy of chance” might be used to describe the principle of serendipity?  We’re struck by the magic of coincidence, the happenstance that makes us say, “there is some meaning, some force behind these events.”

Mr Brooks’ novel, the initial offering by Tangerine Tree Press, follows the paths of several young people in both France & England during the spring & summer of 1977.  They are all seekers: looking for love, family, belonging.  The narrative presents a complex weave, as the tales of these seemingly independent quests twine together to form a pattern.

At the center of this pattern, we find the story of Aurélie, a young French woman who has suffered from blindness since being in a car accident that claimed the life of her mother.  The doctors can find no cause, yet Aurélie’s world has become a blur of indistinct light.  On the other hand, her other senses have become heightened—the world of sound, smell, taste & touch are accentuated to Aurélie, as well as to us thru Mr Brooks’ considerable powers of description.  We don’t only see the landscapes of her travels: we hear them, we smell them & taste them.  Taste indeed: in fact, among its many virtues, The Alchemy of Chance is a foodie’s delight, filled with vivid descriptions of wonderful meals (I caution against reading this while hungry!), culminating in an improvised feast in a British shore town. 

Aurélie is able to adapt—adaptation being an undercurrent thru the novel, particularly in the form of improvisation, whether that involves music, cooking or solving clues to a real-life puzzle.  She develops her independence, relying both on her intact senses & her formidable memory, & is able to move around with a great deal of independence—so much so in fact, that she decides to take a journey by herself into the south of France to re-connect with friends & family & places she knew in her youth. 

At the same time, Dafydd a Welch filmmaker is traveling to the same region in search of his brother Sean, who has gone missing in France for 10 years—estranged from the family, Sean has left his trail only thru a series of enigmatic postcards, which Dafydd must try to piece into coherency—make into a map, as it were, as maps are an important motif in the novel—Aurélie is fascinated by maps & one of her prized possessions is a map of the London Underground.  Early in the novel, her father Didier converts this into a tactile map for her by inserting a push pin in each station; this action is duplicated—or twinned—later in the novel when Dafydd, who now has Aurélie as a companion & blind navigator on his search for Sean, constructs a map for her with an elaborate series of pins & wires. 

But maps, as Aurélie knows, aren’t the only guides we have in this world.  She is a gifted astrologer & has both Braille astrology books &, again with the help of her father, various tactile devices that make it possible for her to do sightless readings.  She uses this skill to aid Dafydd in his quest for Sean—despite Dafydd’s skepticism.

But it should be noted that Aurélie’s astrology is not thoroughly deterministic—to call it this would be to impose an alien logic to it—a “male logic,” as she points out to Dafydd.  It’s instead a set of opportunities, like a map—or like music.  Again the notion of improvisation which, as musicians know, is a “tangible” instance of serendipity.  Aurélie is also a musician in fact—a cellist—& we see (or I should say, hear) her skills as an improviser in a memorable scene in which Aurélie sits in with a “jug-rock band” in a Breton bar:

Aurélie stood up and stepped forward, discarding the bow, which she thrust down her waistband, and the dark glasses, which she stuffed down her white Indian shirt inside her bra.  Her legs slightly apart, her knees slightly bent, a towering six-footer on the edge of the stage in a flowing white gypsy skirt, plucking a four-foot bright white cello strapped around her neck like a guitar, she led the band into a spine-tingling intermediate cadence, minor to major….She moved her left foot forward to tease up the pedals and slowed her playing right down, this time bending the notes like a jazz sax-player.  Long and high, they soared across the room above the audience’s heads, echoed round ceiling corners and wall joints, returning to pierce the backs of their necks and shiver their spines.  Then she made a quarter-turn in the direction of the bass-player, with a silent invitation to fill some empty spaces.

I quoted this at length not only because I believe it’s a fine example of Mr Brooks’ descriptive abilities, but also because it shows his belief in the power of transformation; not only does Aurélie’s improvisation transform the audience, it transforms her & the very space they all inhabit.  But—& this is a crucial point in the novel—this transformation isn’t effected by Aurélie alone, but by her working in concert with the other band members.  In the same way, the disparate lives come together in the narrative as a whole with transformative power.

The Alchemy of Chance is vivid—although I’ve never visited the places it describes, I feel as tho I can see them in my mind’s eye as I travel thru its pages.  Its characters are vivid as well—redolent with the mixture of hope & pain we associate with young people of a certain age—mid to late 20s, say, as they are poised between the vestiges of youth & full adulthood.  They know pain & loss—real pain & loss, whether it’s the loss of sight or a brother or mother or twin sister (the concept of twinning is crucial to the narrative)—but they also exist in a world that’s open to opportunities, whether for exploration in a geographical sense or an emotional one.

Mr Brooks’ first novel is a success—beyond his descriptive abilities, he is able to navigate a rather complex & multi-layered plot with aplomb.  His characters are “real”—we feel we know them, & I would say especially Aurélie, who makes the narrative sparkle whenever she enters.  This is a novel that will move you & delight you, & I most certainly recommend it wholeheartedly.

The novel is available directly from Tangerine Tree Press at this link; it may also be purchased thru Amazon here or Amazon UK here.

Finally, thanks to Sheila Graham-Smith of Tangerine Tree Press for giving me the opportunity to explore The Alchemy of Chance.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Photo of the Week 1/29/11

Sunrise Over Indian Mountain
Indian Valley, ID
Monday 1/24

Yes, the Photo of the Week is back
A few highlights from the upcoming week on Robert Frost's Banjo:

Sunday: A review of Peter Brooks' novel, The Alchemy of Chance, a new release from Tangerine Tree Press

Monday: Yes, he takes requests!  Tune in Monday to learn who requested what song for the Monday Morning Blues!
Thursday: A review of poet Jessica Fox-Wilson's excellent book of poems, Blameless Mouth.  You can learn more about Blameless Mouth on Ms Fox-Wilson's everything feeds process blog or on the book's dedicated Facebook page.

Friday: Eberle Umbach, this month's guest on Homegrown Radio!

Saturday: Think blues, but with a twist!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Spring Ghazals, One More Time!

A happy Friday to you all!  No Homegrown Radio this week—Caroline Pond is in the midst of various music projects & I’m most grateful that she was able to make the time to participate in the series—she provided a couple of dynamite songs.  If you haven’t checked out her music yet, you can hear both the songs Ms Pond submitted here on last week’s post.  You’ll also find links to her CDs there.  Homegrown Radio will return next month—& the featured artist will be Eberle Umbach!  There will be some interesting music for sure—all solo pieces composed & performed by Eberle herself.

In other news, a surprise: The Spring Ghazals blog is back, tho with a bit different format than in the past.  Now, I know regular readers have heard about the “return” of The Spring Ghazals so often that they may picture it as like the monster in one of those 80s horror films who just won’t stay dead.  But really, this incarnation is quite different.

From here on out, I’ll be posting the actual poems from the book, two per week (I’m thinking Wednesday & Saturday as an ongoing schedule, tho this week’s poem is up today, Friday).  That means there should be posts thru July, at which point I’ll assess what the blog’s ongoing function might be.  But until then, it’ll be all poetry, all the time.  The poems will be posted in “book order,” with the first poem, “Ghazal 4/24” appearing today, & then one poem each on subsequent Wednesdays & Friday until the manuscript is complete.  You can read “Ghazal 4/24” here.

& as it will be all poems, there won’t be any explication, explanation or background material.  The reason for this is simple—I’ve decided it’s time for me to let go of “my” Spring Ghazals & let them be yours, dear readers.  Of course, I’ll be happy to field questions & comments on the poems, & I’d encourage readers to do this if the spirit so moves them.   

But although this new format is intended to let the book go out, unmitigated as it were, to the readers, it also presents you as readers with a choice.  You can read all the poems on the blog over the course of these next several months, gratis, or you can shell out actual money to have a book.  An interesting thought I’ve been entertaining recently is that books may not go obsolete as some have predicted, but instead become “premium” items.  Just as many recording artists now allow you to “pay what you want” (sometimes even without setting a minimum price) for downloadable music, but charge for CDs or, even more especially, vinyl, the future of publishing” may follow suit in some way, especially as the net allows poets & fiction writers to become independent artists, operating outside the traditional publishing models.  Time, as usual, will tell—even if it doesn’t tell us.

So, please swing on by The Spring Ghazals from time to time to read the poems! 

& now for a words from our sponsors!

The Spring Ghazals can be purchased at any of the following online outlets:

Barnes & Noble (new—& a bargain at $11.40 US!)
Amazon UK (£7.94)

Both Amazon & Lulu have the book for $12 US.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Writers Talk with PJ Kaiser

Happy Thursday, folks, & welcome to another edition of Writers Talk.  Before I introduce this week’s interviewee, I’d just like to acknowledge the fact that this post is the 1000th on Robert Frost’s Banjo!  I think it’s fitting that we’re hosting a guest for the 1000th post, because from the very beginning I hoped that the blog could feature the words & music of others, & I’ve been gratified that it’s been able to do that indeed. 

Today’s writer is PJ Kaiser, a real presence in the Twitter & blogging writing communities & a wonderfully supportive person as well as a talented writer.  It's been my observation that Ms Kaiser has a good grasp of how to utilize social media in her career as an independent writer, & I believe she has a lot to teach others who are looking to make a mark in fiction or poetry outside the traditional publishing model.

P.J. Kaiser stays at home with her two young children and finds time to write – generally in thirty-second increments. She writes mostly flash fiction and serial stories in a variety of genres. Several of her stories have appeared in print and electronic publications. Two of her stories - “The Request” and “The Foot of the Bridge” have appeared at Soft Whispers. Her story “The Turtle Dove” appeared in the anthology 12 Days 2009. “Halloween Guests” was selected for the Best of Friday Flash Volume 1 anthology. Her micro-fiction “Ditz Alert” was selected for the chapbook Dog Days of Summer 2010 – Not From Here, Are You?. She also assisted with editing the anthology 50 Stories for Pakistan, which includes her story “Arthur’s Emptiness.” In early 2010, she won the February writing challenge at Write On! Online with her story “Waiting for Spring.” She also has stories forthcoming in 100 Stories for Queensland and in Nothing but Flowers:  Tales of Post-Apocalyptic Love,  a publication of Emergent Publishing.  She can be found hanging around at her blog Inspired by Real Life.  P.J. is also the co-moderator of Tuesday Serial, a weekly collection of links to the latest installments of some of the web’s best online serials. P.J. is working on publishing a collection of her stories and is working on her first novel. P.J. lives with her family in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Don’t forget to check out PJ Kaiser’s story “Nine Ladies Dancing” on The Writers Talk blog!

When did you first realize your identity as a writer?

In high school I had an assignment to write a short story.  So I wrote the story, but I wasn’t sure of the ending.  So I kept writing.  And writing.  It was, of course, complete drivel, but I had great fun writing it and I began to think that maybe one day I would like to learn how to write “for real.”  I’ve always been an avid reader and I think most avid readers harbor dreams of being a writer.

We lived in Mexico for several years and while we were there I met a woman originally from Germany.  She told us the most fascinating stories about her life and I told her she should write her memoir.  She dismissed the idea since she had no interest in writing.  So I decided to take up the challenge.  I spent a summer interviewing her and gathering information for the book and then unfortunately we lost touch.  So the book will be fiction but very loosely based on a real story. 

I decided that I had to learn how to write properly in order to do her story justice and it’s been a fascinating journey for me.  This first novel is in very rough draft stages right now (I won NaNoWriMo 2009 with it) but in the meantime I have enjoyed learning how to write short stories and serial fiction.  I’ve experimented with a wide variety of genres, but haven’t yet found one with which I want to be monogamous. 

Describe the creative process involved in any one piece you’ve written—this could be book, a story, a poem, an essay, etc.

My most recent serial story “Rainy Rendezvous” was inspired by a friend’s Facebook update.  He commented that he enjoyed going kayaking alone because it was so peaceful.  I commented that would be a great inspiration for a story…and no sooner had I made the comment than my mind began churning on an idea and within a week I had drafted five installments of a serial story. 

Recent short stories have been inspired by seeing a woman fall on a street corner next to a crossing guard, getting a pedicure, and going swimming (not all at once ;-).  And several stories have been inspired by dreams.  Nearly all of my stories are inspired by something from my real life, even if it’s just a tiny nugget of real life.  Hence the name of my blog “Inspired by Real Life.”

Could you describe your relationship to the publishing process? (this can be publishing in any form, from traditional book publishing to blogging, etc)

My main publishing activity at the moment is blogging, apart from a few short stories that have been published.  I began writing in the summer of 2009 and my main focus at the moment is on improving my craft rather than publishing.  I am, however, beginning to pull together and polish some of my stories in hopes of publishing an e-book collection.

My blog recently crashed and I am in the process of reconstructing it.  So, because it’s fresh in my mind, I can tell you that I have written 71 stories – including flash fiction and serial installments.  Twenty-four of these, by the way, will not be carried over to the new blog (or anywhere else); they are being “retired.”

How has being a writer affected your relationships?

Most of my family thinks I’ve been pursuing a strange little pastime.  That might have changed a bit when I gave each of them a copy of “50 Stories for Pakistan” which includes one of my stories. ;-)

How would you describe the community of writers you belong to—if any?  This may be a “real” or “virtual” (in more than one sense) community.

I don’t have a “real” writing community because I can never seem to leave the house without my two children.  But my virtual community more than makes up for its absence.  I got the bug to write originally from people I encountered on Twitter and my writing community has grown organically through Twitter.  I participate off and on in various Twitter chats such as #writechat and #litchat and my main writing communities come from #fridayflash and #tuesdayserial.  I can’t even begin to describe the friendships that I’ve made and the things I’ve learned from my friends in my virtual writing community – they’ve been indispensible. 

What are your future goals in terms of writing?

At the moment, my goals are very loose.  I want to keep writing short stories and serial fiction as I have bits of time here and there.  I want to continue to improve my writing by taking classes and working with editors.  Eventually I want to finish my novel.  I find that if I put too many deadlines or milestones on my plans, then I get too stressed out and I turn away from writing.  So, keeping things low-key allows me to continue to enjoy it and stay with it.

Bonus Question: If your writing were a musical instrument, what would it be?
Hmmm, I’m going to say a piano.  When it works, the sound is fantastic.  Every now and then, though, I strike a clunker that sticks out like a sore thumb.  I am just trying to work on striking clunkers with less frequency.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adams County Makes the News - Council Leader #29

The Adams County Leader
Published Every Friday by the Council Publishing Company. 
Eighty-nine per cent of the stock of the above company
is owned by F.H. Michaelson.
F. H. Michaelson Editor and Manager


Last week in hurriedly scribbling some comment relative to itch, we used the word “hell,” and one of our readers has mentioned to us that to use the word seemed rough.  Neighbor, so is the itch; and this being thus, the word served the exact purpose of emphasis for which we intended it.  In its use we had no thought of profanity.  We doubt that there is anything in scripture that even remotely infers that one should deify either the devil or his place of abode.  To us, hell is just a place; and we used the word in the same sense that one might mention Boise, or perhaps, to be more exact, Weiser, for instance.  Unless we insist upon our right to a use of fitting words, the time may come when one will be asked to speak of Council, too, with bated breath.  So far as we can determine, there is not particular reason why we should evade familiarity with the word “hell.”  Any institution that can stand the test of time and, according to much well-grounded opinion, is enjoying a near-monopoly of business is worthy of consideration.

If a lot of “us folks” had reason to believe that we would eventually reside in California, there to participate in a great and perpetual reunion of old-time friends, we might even be expected to write for advance information in regard to climate and hotel accommodations.  Somehow, we would rather like to know whether trout caught from the river Styx come ready-cooked from the stream and if it is necessary for one to use asbestos gloves when baiting a hook.  Not that we are especially interested or expect to move from Council at any near date, but because we believe that, with ourself as well as many of our fellows, a degree of precautionary familiarity is not altogether inadvisable.  Anyway, fellers, let’s not worry.  Perhaps, after all, the first thousand years will be the hottest.

February 10, 1922

Friend Editor:
There is quite a bit of discussion going the rounds, not only here in Council but all over the country, concerning the subject of supplying something warm for the school children at the noon lunch.  I have six children going to the Council school and they have a mile and a half to go.  They must take their lunches or go without.  Several times this winter their lunches have been frozen as hard as bricks before the children reached the schoolhouse.  Then the lunches were placed in the hall until dinnertime.  This did not improve them any.

Now, some persons will say that they didn’t have a warm lunch when they went to school—and that they didn’t starve, either.  Neither did I have warm lunches when I went to school, and I am surely none the better for it.  Education is not made up entirely of book learning.  The children could be taught to serve a cup of hot soup respectfully, and the knowledge would not come amiss to them in later years.

This serving of a cup of hot soup at the noon hour could be done at little cost to parents.  All material could be donated in small quantities.  Say that on each week those who are interested send in their supplies so there may be a stock on hand from which to draw.  Some can spare one thing, some another.  Even a bucket of water and an onion will make hot soup that is better than nothing.
Yours for school lunches,
H. M. Purnell

February 17, 1922

After all, perhaps real wealth may be best measured by the amount of wholesome joy one is able to get out of life—his friends and all else that he likes constitute his riches; his malice and all he hates bespeak his poverty.  On this basis of reasoning one should be more rich and happy living in Council than if he lived in on Broadway and owned three silk-lined limousines; for there, according to our observation, the world is largely artificial—and, what is more, a holiday is mostly racket rather than peaceful mountain streams with an occasional trout to bid one welcome to the wilds.  Gee whiz, June, hurry on your way.

February 17, 1922

The world is much more interested in people who try to do things worth while than it is in people who content themselves with merely trying to explain why things worth while can not be done.  Perhaps every step of progress since the time when man swung from the limbs of trees and gathered his wives with a war club was made over the carping criticism of unthinking pessimists.

As an illustration, we can recall the time when to quite a number of persons, the Mesa and Council orchards, now the county’s greatest individual asset, were considered a joke.  It is safe to assume that an attempted advancement of any other project of equal merit would meet with an equal amount of skepticism on the part of persons who pass judgment without first informing themselves. Somehow we can imagine that even the tallest pine on Council Mountain once had its troubles.  One can draw a mental picture of it when it was but a shrub, and the chipmunk, hopping from bush to bush, looked down upon it with contempt for its effort at trying to become a tree.

August 18, 1922

All schoolhouses, before school opens in the autumn, shall be entirely cleansed.  The cleansing shall consist of scrubbing the floors, and thoroughly washing windows and woodwork, including desks and seats, dry sweeping being absolutely prohibited.

Schoolhouses and outhouses should be rendered free from all defacing and obscene marks, and kept clean and sanitary at all times.  Inside toilets, when provided, shall be efficient in every particular; when these are not available, good fly-tight well-ventilated outhouses for the sexes, placed at least fifty feet apart, with screens or shields in front of each, shall be provided.  All schoolhouses shall be supplied with pure drinking water and the water supply shall be from driven well or other approved sources.  Whenever it is practicable, sanitary drinking fountains shall be provided; if not, covered tanks or coolers shall be furnished—buckets and all open water receptacles, common drinking cups being condemned and forbidden.  The above is taken from Sections VI and VII of State Board of Regulations.

O. M. Hubbard, County Superintendent

compiled by Eberle Umbach

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


[Another beautiful lyric from L.E. Leone—enjoy!]


He used to be alive, and now
Now: this. Don’t look!
Close your eyes. Some of you
Gathered here may remember how
Stirred the molecules in the air he walked through
Or used
to convey meaning.
Yes, I loved him too, and it’s hard
                  to imagine
                  the word “paisley,” for example,
                  dying with him. The way
                  that he said “paisley”—and so
                  many other words.
So many words, indeed, that it could be said that he
                  knew a language. That’s saying something!

The way that he reached into his pockets
                  whenever he needed a thing that he kept in his pockets.
Keys. His wallet. Loose change.
Lip balm. Or, in earlier times, perhaps,
A comb or condom. All of these things he touched,
                  as he touched our lives.

Sometimes he said, “What time is it?”
Once, I remember, we passed
                  each other on the street. “How are you?”
                  he said. We all
Probably, have had similar encounters.
                  Have a nice day.
                  I take it black.
                  There’s room for one more.

Other examples are of shirts he wore,
Things he read on the toilet and how
The bathroom smelled afterwards.
What was for dinner? (lunch? breakfast?)
Where he sat on the bus.
Cookbooks he looked at.
A mattress on which he left an
                  imprint, changed the nature of the springs
Empty shaving cream bottles he threw away.

Or how about the little lines and specks
    that moved routinely across his eyeballs?
And who among us will ever see a shoe
    string without reflecting
    that his shoes had shoe strings.
Which he tied

Yes, my friends,  his friends,
Life is a gift, it is clear because he made it clear to us, and death
                  is the ribbon.
He’s dead. You can open your eyes now.

Our friend is a ribbon.

L.E. Leone
© 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

“Poor Lazarus”

Hope you’re ready for the Monday Morning Blues—yes, the new week is upon us already.  After a weekend off, I’m hoping to come back to Robert Frost’s Banjo rejuvanted & ready to go.

Today’s song is something a bit different—“Poor Lazarus” is sometimes described as a “spiritual,” but is more likely a “field song” or a work song that was sung by groups a capella in the midst of their daily tasks.  In fact, in 1959 Alan Lomax made a recording of the song by one James Carter & other prisoners at the Mississippi State Peniteniary; this recording was later used in the 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou.  Various versions of the song have been covered by Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, the Carolina Chocolate Drops (an a capella version featuring Rhiannon Giddens) & others.

Given the title, you might expect “Poor Lazarus” to be Biblical, but the song doesn’t refer to either of the Gospel stories involving a character named Lazarus.  In fact, the story comes from Alabama:

Another "bad man" was an Alabama turpentine worker named Lazarus. According to the legends he worked and lived in the piney wood mountains of northern Alabama working in the turpentine mills. Some dispute over pay caused Lazarus to tear up the place and "walk the table," a practice of jumping upon the dinner table at the factory and walking it's length placing one's foot in every plate. He then broke into the commissary and stole the payroll. This would, of course, cause a riot, and for this action the "High Sheriff" was called in the arrest "Poor Lazarus." The sheriff sent out his deputies and they cornered Lazarus "up between two mountains" where they gunned him down. They hauled his remains back to the commissary where they laid him out and sent for his family but he apparently died before they could get there.
from the page James "Sparky" Rucker: BULLIES, BADMEN, and the BLUES

My version is accompanied by guitar—my Regal resonator tuned to Drop D but capoed at the third fret to make the sounding key F—however, as I typically do with the drop D tuning, I tend to play the D chord as neither fully major nor minor (but definitely shaded toward the latter).  There’s also a quick jump to the A chord (again, neither major nor minor).  I had a lot of fun doing this one, but it’s a workout in some ways.  Hope you like it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Homegrown Radio – Caroline Pond – 1/21/11

Happy Friday everybody!  We’re celebrating the day here on Robert Frost’s Banjo with music from a terrific musician, Caroline Pond.  Ms. Pond has been performing & touring for over 15 years, & is the front woman for Snake Oil Medicine Show.  She also plays with an old time band called Tater Diggers & shares a band with Ami Worthen(from Mad Tea Party)  called Sugar & Spice. Caroline started playing violin at age 7 years old & has been playing ever since.  Singing & playing ukulele are also gifts that she shares across the world.

I'd also recommend checking out Ms. Pond's delightful blog, Caroline Pond's Earth Adventures.

You can find cds from Snake Oil Medicine Show & the Tater Diggers on CDBaby (follow the links on the band names). 

Let's see what Caroline has to say about today's song:
The second song is called Freedom Song written by Luc Reynaud.  He wrote it for the children of the Hurricane Katrina disaster when he was in New Orleans.  Jason Mraz discovered this song, and he sings it too—and he went to Africa for the Free The Slaves foundation and heard kids sing this song.  It's so sweet that I wanted to sing it too.

This is "just" Caroline Pond & ukulele; it's a total delight.  & as an added bonus you can check out last week's song, "Fall On My Knees" in case you missed it (Caroline singing & playing fiddle).  I'm very impressed with Caroline Pond's musicianship & it's been a real treat to have her on Homegrown Radio.  I'm hoping to feature another of Ms Pond's songs next week, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, please enjoy "Freedom Song"!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Buckets & Wishes & Crossroads #2

When I left you yesterday, Eberle & I were thinking about trips to visit the Mississippi Delta & Nevada & other points east & west.  As I explored the concept of “bucket list,” travel was a big theme.  In today’s conclusion, travel only is mentioned in the final entry, but that’s an important one.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’d love to hear comments about your own fulfillment lists or “bucket” lists as you will.  I’m also curious as to how your lists may have evolved.  I for one know there are items on the list the past two days that wouldn’t have been there a few years back—as well as items that I would have included then that don’t seem so important now.

There’s also a song by the great Townes Van Zandt at the end—the title for item 10 comes from his composition “The Catfish Song.”

6)    IT’S GREEK TO ME: In my youth, I had quite a bit of potential as a philologist, as the British term it.  I was accomplished in French, had a solid background in Latin & became absorbed in classical Greek.  I also studied Old English (Anglo-Saxon) & loved translating the poetry of both that robust language & Greek.  Sadly, I’ve let all these go completely except for French, where I can still hold my own as a poetry translator (tho I’d no longer have much capacity as a speaker).  But I’d like to get back into these languages, especially Greek—& I sometimes hear the call of the great Anglo-Saxon poets, too!

7)    'LET ME IN - LET ME IN!': I think of myself as a well-read fellow—a pretty good swath of “the great books,” as well as fairly extensive forays into some of literature’s more obscure corners.  But I suppose most of us have a weak spot, & mine is the 19th century.  I have a good grasp of the Romantic poets, & a pretty solid footing in Dickens (whose writing I love); I also have read most of Wilkie-Collins (to go a bit toward the obscure, not to say, bizarre, side), but there are a number of “big” 19th century novels that I’ve neglected—none bigger than the novel from which the quote is taken, Wuthering Heights.  Considering that Eberle read this novel annually for years, I think I must take it up, & soon!

8)    THE PIANO HAS BEEN DRINKING, NOT ME: I don’t think as much about performers as people I have to see before I shuffle off this mortal coil, but there have been performers I regret missing—Townes Van Zandt is definitely one of those, as is Dave Van Ronk.  I’ve never seen Tom Waits perform, & considering what a huge influence his music has had on my life, that’s an omission I’d like to set to rights before either Tom or I fade away.

9)    SMOKESTACK LIGHTNIN’: The railroad features prominently on this list, & not least of my wishes is to get back to the N-scale model railroad Eberle & I started in the winter of 09-10.  Right now, the project is in limbo for any number of reasons, not least of which is our current constrained economic circumstances.  But I have to have faith that this will improve, & both Eberle & I have been excited about this project.  Saty tuned!

10)    YOU’LL NEED ALL YOUR MEMORIES: I’m ending on a serious note—a item that combines the possible with the unlikely.  A Facebook friend has been suggesting off & on that a few of us make a pilgrimage back to Charlottesville, the scene of our 1980s MFA adventures—“pilgrimage” is my word, not hers.  I came to the decision very recently that I do want to do this, tho again, for economic reasons, it’s not a possibility in the near future.  My time in Charlottesville was formative, & like any formative experience, it had its share of turmoil & wounds, as well as moments of creative joy.  I was part of a creative community the likes of which I won't experience again, at least in terms of people gathered together in one place. 

I returned to Charlottesville once, in 1996, but I think at the time I was still keeping the experiences I’d had in the 80s at arm’s length (at least).  For a variety of reasons, I believe I’m more prepared to be in that environment & maybe find some healing & resolution.

Related to this, there are friends from my past—some from Charlottesville & some from even further back—that I would really like to see in this world (the only world I know of).  I’ve been so fortunate over the past few years to re-connect with a number of old friends, some of whom I got the chance to see on my cross-country trip last year.  I think there’s a good chance that I’ll see more of these old friends along my road—in at least one case, I’m hopeful that will happen before too many months go by.  But there are a handful of people who have been very important to me who are no longer a part of my life.  In one case, the separation goes back to the late 1970s.  I would love to see these people, but I realize in some cases, the possibility of this is slight. 

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that one of the points of the so called “bucket list” is a sense of being “completed.”  A part of me says: "how can I be completed if I don’t somehow have a chance to see these people who were so important to me, but who left my life under problematic circumstances."  Perhaps the answer is that there is no completeness without some heartache.  At least that’s what I tell myself today—my opinion may be different tomorrow.  But the truth is, however any list does or doesn't work out, overall my life has been & continues to be a gift.

PHOTO: The Blue Moon Diner in Charlottesville—repository of many memories, both for good & ill.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Buckets & Wishes & Crossroads #1

Am I correct in assuming that the term “bucket list” entered the lexicon with the 2007 film of the same name?  I can’t say I’m a big fan of the term itself, but the concept behind it seems both interesting & valuable. 

Of course, the “bucket list” concept embraces two seemingly contradictory notions of self— one, the idea of a continual striving that maintains vitality of spirit & gives us ongoing purpose, & two, the notion that some collection of achievements will be necessary for us to believe we have completed our selfhood. 

We all think about these things, & those of us who are traveling north of age 50 may think about them in a different way than those who are a ways to the south of us, age-wise.  After all, depending on our health & other cirucmstances, we are entering a period of time when these things should be attended to—“time & tide” wait for no one. 
Last year, I got a chance to cross one thing off the list—a cross-country road trip that took me thru all four time zones in the continental US as well as thru 22 states (all told, I visisted exactly half the states in 2010 by the time all was said & done.)  I also got a chance to see some old friends with whom I’d been out of touch for years—such reunions will always be high on any such list for me.

But there are more—over the next two days, I’ll explore a list of 10 I came up with the other evening—with brief commentary.  I’d love to hear about your own wishes!

1)    TOUR SPIEL: This is probably wish #1 for me.  Because I entered the life of a performing musician in middle age, I missed the experience of crossing the country playing music at various stops on the way that so many of my friends had.  Now, I’ve undergone enough cross-country trips
to know this is not an easy thing (tho last year's journey was my most extensive in some ways, I’d already been coast-to-coast a few times in the past).  I do long to do this at least once, & this is probably something that also needs to be high on the list because of practical/logistical considerations. 

2)    WHERE THE SOUTHERN CROSS THE DOG: This next wish combines two: a long passenger train trip & a visit to the Mississippi delta region where so much of the music that I love originated.  Amtrak does swing thru this region on its City of New Orleans train out of Chicago.  This is essentially an Illinois Central route, an important line that figured in lots of old blues songs, & also, as far as the actual stretch in Mississippi goes, it’s close to the old Yazoo & Mississippi line—the “Yellow Dog” from the line about “where the Southern cross the Dog.”  If this trip could be extended to New Orleans, then two items could be crossed off—I’m chagrined to admit that I’ve never been to the Crecent City.

3)    THE LOWER 48: When I was born in 1956, there were 48 states—Alaska & Hawaii both became states in 59.  & at this point, I traveled in 46 of the “lower 48” states.  The two I’ve missed? Michigan & North Dakota.  I feel compelled to visit them both at some point.  Michigan has the added attraction of the best music store I know, Elderly Instruments in Lansing, which I’d love to see—& also some blog/Twitter friends that I’d be happy to meet.  

4)    I'LL LET YOU BE IN MY DREAMS IF I CAN BE IN YOURS: As regular readers here know, I’ve long toyed with the idea of Eberle & I collaborating on music for some of my poetry, & that’s still an item high on my list (Eberle is interested too).  This may or may not involve my book The Spring Ghazals & may or may not involve some vaguely planned & much belated “release party” for the book some time this year.  I hear harmonium myself—actually, my musical role is more unclear to me in this regard, tho I will say it’s one thing that’s kept me from selling both of my electric guitars.   I’m also thinking pretty often of writing songs, but that seems a separate project to me, one that would definitely involve new lyric material.  I think the project with Eberle would involve background settings.  Will keep you all posted when more develops!

5)    I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING, & I KNOW WHO’S GOING WITH ME: I’m cheating a bit on this one, because it actually involves three separate trips, all of which Eberle & I have discussed as excursions we’d like to take together.  Actually, we also want to take the train trip to Mississippi together, but I put that in its own category because that’s a real odyssey.  These three trips are all in the west, so I’m putting them together.  1. Tour the Idaho desert with Eberle.  Eberle has regaled me for years with stories of Bruneau Dunes, Murphy & Craters of the Moon.  Some spring time we have to make it down there for a good long weekend of exploration.  2. The Badlands: I got to visit the Badlands & the Black Hills last year toward the end of my road trip & I was blown away.  I also thought the whole time how much Eberle would get caught up in those places.  We must go! 3. The Marietta Wild Burro range southeast of Hawthorne, Nevada.  We often travel thru the ex-military desert town of Hawthorne on our way to the LA area, & we always mean to check out this wild burro range.  Next time for sure.  If the trip also included a stop in Death Valley, California, neither of us would complain!

Check back tomorrow for 5 more, & please do comment on your own if the spirit moves you.  Hope you enjoy the video too—it explains my first heading with a great song from one of my all-time favorite bands.

PHOTO: Where the Southern Cross the Dog—intersection of the Southern & Yazoo rail lines in Moorhead, Mississippi.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Will the Real Ruby Tuesday Please Stand Up?

Remember when rock music was kinda bad & dangerous?  Of course, at its best, it still can be.  But, for better or worse, much of what’s now marketed as “classic rock” has become an institution—a strange twist, because so many of the classic rockers railed against institutions.

One of the ways this change seems most apparent is the trend to use rock songs in commercials.  Now, I don’t begrudge someone trying to make a buck off his/her music—
I certainly try to do so!—but can you hear a song the same way after hearing it in an ad?  At that point, has a good song become a “jingle?”  Has it been somehow triviliazed & sanitized, or does it still retain its original power? 

Seems like a fair question, especially as the boomers age & their music—60s && 70s rock—becomes a sort of cultural soundtrack.  As a cultural soundtrack, those songs have a lot of mojo, but in many cases, that mojo seems to be put to “commercial” use (pun intended).  Here’s a very short & select list of “classic rock” songs that have been put to the use of making “the man” (in the man’s guise as corporation) more bucks:

Come Together-The Beatles: AT & T Wireless    
Rock & Roll-Led Zeppelin: Cadillac    
Pink Moon-Nick Drake: Volkswagen (admittedly, a special case, as Mr Drake has been gone for a number of years—& the fact that in the month following the commercial's first airing more Drake records sold than in the previous 30 years is not a bad thing)
Young Americans-David Bowie: Fidelity Investments    
Baba O'Riley (aka Teenage Wasteland)-The Who: Hewlett Packard (this seems particularly ironic)
Sunshine of Your Love-Cream: Touch of Gray Hair Color    
You Can't Always Get What You Want-The Rolling Stones: Coca Cola  

Speaking of the Rolling Stones—like the Who, bad boys par excellence in their heyday—we also have the Ruby Tuesday chain of restaurants.  Now I actually like that song —at times in my life, the song has had meaning that is quite separate from associations with buffalo wings or burgers.  Is there any way for a song to come back after its title is used for a restaurant franchise?

Apparently so:  check out the video below, in which the late Vic Chesnutt restores heart, soul, guts, lungs & other vital organs to “Ruby Tuesday,” a song he covered often in his career.  Mr Chesnutt’s version won’t appeal to everyone, but to my mind it’s transcendent.  By the way, the volume is very low thru the first verse but comes up to normal when the whole band enters for the first chorus.

The photo of a Ruby Tuesday restaurant is by Wiki Commons user Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. & is published under the Creative Commons

Monday, January 17, 2011

“Black Snake Moan”

It’s the Monday Morning Blues!  & yes, if you have any knowledge of US roots music, you’re saying, “What gives?  This is supposed to be Jimmie Rodgers month, & he sure didn’t sing 'Black Snake Moan.'"

& you’d be right, of course.  But I claim the bloggers’ prerogative to change horses in midstream, as it were.  Fact is, while being a bit on the housebound side due to the weather conditions here in Idaho, I’ve tried to put the time to good use by concentrating on that recording project I’ve been putting off for ages.  In a way, the Monday Morning Blues songs for November & December really jump-started the project, even tho I’ll probably be using only a few of those tunes at most on the finished CD.  But the fact is, even in a full-on Idaho January, I have only so much time to record, & the Jimmie Rodgers’ songs I’d been thinking of really didn’t fit with the overall plan—I probably will use “T.B. Blues,” however.  So far, I have at least a dozen songs that I’m satisfied with in terms of performance.  I’m still working on mastering the tracks.

Today’s selection, “Black Snake Moan” is a tune by Blind Lemon Jefferson, one of the biggest blues stars of the 1920s.  He came up as a street singer, but became quite popular on the strength of 79 singles recorded between 1925 & 1929 (the year he died, aged only 35 or 36).  It’s recorded using my Goldtone resonator tuned in open D (of course) & capoed up to the key of E; no slide—just fingerstyle.

Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Music Theory for Poets #2

[This is a re-post from The Spring Ghazals blog.  Next time there will be a brand new music theory for poets post, probably next weekend.  No photo of the week today—simply put, our harsh winter weather has made it difficult to get around for picture taking.]

Ready for some more music theory?  Remember, this is for poets (non-poets welcome too, of course), so we’re making this as painless as possible!

When I left you last, we were just starting to think about the difference between major & minor chords.  In fact, we discovered a chord called a major 7 that’s a combination of a major chord & a minor chord—music can be pretty witchy that way. 

OK—most folks know do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do.  It’s a major scale—what makes it major?  Actually, there are a few considerations, but for today we’ll just consider the most basic: that’s the interval between do & mi.  If you can sing “do-mi” you are singing what musical types call a “major third.”  If you have a piano or keyboard around the house, play a C followed by an E a couple of notes above it—again, a major third.  A plain old major chord contains just three notes: do-mi-sol.  That’s it!  Here’s that major third:

  C major chord-C minor chord by rfrostbanjo

Perhaps you have a guitar around.  Actually, since you’ll just be using one string, it doesn’t even matter too much whether it’s in tune.  Pluck the low E string—confusingly enough, the “low E” is the string that’s closest to your nose when holding the guitar in any conventional manner.  The high E is the string closest to your toes.  So pluck that low E, then fret the E string on the fourth fret.  In case you’re curious, that’s a G#.  E.  G#.  Major third!  Here’s what it sounds like:

  Guitar major 3rd by rfrostbanjo

Now there are a few differences between a major & minor scale, but for today, let’s just worry about chords.  & I can tell you there’s only one note that’s different between a major chord & a minor chord!  It’s hard to explain using do-re-mi; because the difference would be that rather than singing “mi,” you’d be singing “mi-flat.”  So if you have a piano, strike the C, then strike the Eb a note & a half above it (it’s the black note to the left of E natural).  That’s a minor third:

  Piano Minor 3rd by rfrostbanjo

With your guitar, pluck the E string, then fret the third fret.  You’re playing an E, then a G.  Just a plain old G natural, not G# as you were before.  That’s a minor third.

  Guitar minor 3rd by rfrostbanjo

So the notes of a minor chord are “do-mi flat-sol.”  “Do & Sol” remain the same.  This can be expressed as a pattern of “whole steps” & “half steps,” but this is music theory for poets, so we won’t worry about that right now.  Suffice it to say that sol is the fifth tone of the scale—you can see that easily enough: do-re-mi-fa-sol.  If you’re still at your piano, you will find the “sol” for C is G.  If you play C-E-G simultaneously, you’re playing a C major chord.  If you play C-E flat-G simultaneously, you’re playing a C minor chord.

  C major chord-C minor chord by rfrostbanjo

Now back to the guitar.  We know that if E is “do,” then G sharp is “mi.”  If E is “do” & a G natural is played, it becomes minor.  The “sol” of E is B natural—that would on the 7th fret of the low E string (guitar players—the 7th fret is always the “sol” or fifth of the open string!—also true of banjos, ukes, bass guitars, mandolins, etc)  So E-G sharp-B is E major; E-G-B is E minor.

  Guitar E major E minor by rfrostbanjo

If you recall last time, I mentioned that a major 7 chord adds the tone “ti” from the major scale.  That makes sense because if you count to seven, you’ll see that “ti” is the seventh tone of do-re-mi.  Now it so happens that if you play a C major scale, you’ll hear that B natural is the “ti” note.  Now think about it: a C major 7 contains the notes C-E-G-B.  Think about the C major chord: C-E-G.  The E minor chord? E-G-B.  See how that works?

In the poem “How High the Moon,” I wrote:

 “a trailer truck on Highway 95, the glass slide whooshing guitar strings, a riff existing somewhere between the major & minor modes”


“the glass slide existing somewhere between the major & minor modes”

There are a number of guitar riffs, particularly associated with the blues—& therefore by extension to rock & jazz & even country that incorporate the ease with which the guitar can move back & forth between major & minor chords, especially in certain keys.  One of the simplest is this, in the key of E: 

  Guitar major minor strum riff by rfrostbanjo

Here are a few I particularly like in the key of D (with the bass string tuned down to D):

  Guitar drop D riffs by rfrostbanjo

Of course using a slide—which regular readers of Robert Frost’s Banjo know from my Monday Morning Blues series—enables the player to move between tones (& actually even in micro-tones of the established scale) without actually pressing down the strings.  So moving back between the major & minor thirds—again in the key of D, on a guitar tuned to an open major D chord (hey, you know what that means now), sounds like this:

  JH-D slide riffs by rfrostbanjo

That’s all for now.  Next time?  Extended chords!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Ode to Indeterminacy"

[A wonderful, rollicking poem today from my good friend Jonah Winter.  For more about Mr Winter, see the blurb following the poem!]

Ode to Indeterminacy

There was a thing.
It existed.
Persons also existed
in relation to the thing.

other persons existed
in relation to the persons
connected in some way,
as yet undisclosed,
to the first thing.

Had there been a second thing,
then one would have been correct
in referring to the thing
as having been first.
Fortunately, or unfortunately,

this was not the case,
or at least,
it was not clear
whether or not it was
or was not the case.

one could not ascertain
the whereabouts
of a potentially large group of things
tumbling through a space

about which
little could be said.
To say something
would have been

And yet,
to not say anything
could have, feasibly,
been interpreted, in theory,
as unduly cautious, perhaps…

Jonah Winter
© 2010-2011

Jonah Winter’s poetry has been widely published.  In addition to his poems appearing in a number of magazines & in chapbooks, he has also published Maine & Amnesia; the latter book won the 2003 Field Poetry Prize.  Jonah has also published 20 children’s books on  subjects ranging from Roberto Clemente to Hildegard Von Bingen.  You can check out his Writers Talk
interview on Robert Frost’s Banjo here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Homegrown Radio – Caroline Pond – 1/14/11

It’s Friday—& guess what?  After a month & change, we’re back with Homegrown Radio!

I’ll tell you upfront: it’s been worth the wait to have an artist of Caroline Pond’s caliber.  Ms Pond hails from North Carolina, & is a member of a really thriving music community there—another favorite act that I wrote about on Robert Frost’s Banjo, the Mad Tea Party comes from the same town, & in fact Ms Pond counts that band’s members, Ami Worthen & Jason Krekel, among her friends. 

I first ran across Caroline Pond on Twitter & became very intrigued when she started tweeting about a cross-country road trip music tour with her mother along as companion, co-pilot & roadie.  This struck me as a truly remarkable thing, & I was fascinated to follow the tour’s progress on Twitter & on Caroline’s fine blog, Caroline Pond’s Earth Adventures

As a bio: Caroline Pond is the front woman for Snake Oil Medicine Show.  She has been performing & touring for over 15 years.  She also plays with an old time band called Tater Diggers & shares a band with Ami Worthen(from Mad Tea Party)  called Sugar & Spice. Caroline started playing violin at age 7 years old & has been playing ever since.  Singing & playing ukulele are also gifts that she shares across the world.

You can find cds from Snake Oil Medicine Show & the Tater Diggers on CDBaby (follow the links on the band names).

So, Caroline Pond emailed me earlier this week to say:

It's a snowy January Monday morning & I have time to make some music.  I happened to get my little Iphone and record 2 songs.  The first one is a traditional song called “Fall on my Knees.”  I just do it solo style, fiddle and vocals.

I know you’re gonna love this one!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Writers Talk with Caroline Hagood

It’s my pleasure to introduce this week’s writer, Caroline Hagood.  Ms Hagood is yet another writer I’ve meet in the Twitterverse—you writers out there who aren’t on Twitter, I must say you’re missing out on lots of smart & supportive folks.  Since meeting Caroline on Twitter, I’ve also begun to follow her excellent Culture Sandwich, an aptly named blog that I recommend highly.  Ms Hagood’s writerly bio reads as follows:

Caroline Hagood is a poet and writer who spends way too much time on the internet. She teaches English and writing at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She has written on arts and culture for The Guardian, Salon, the Huffington Post, and her own blog, Culture Sandwich, among others. Her poetry has appeared in Shooting the Rat (Hanging Loose Press), Movin' (Orchard Books), Huffington Post, Angelic Dynamo, Ginosko, and Manhattan Chronicles. She has also written a collection of poetry and a novel. She's always looking for adventure, the perfect slice of pizza, and new creative projects.

& now, on to the interview:

When did you first realize your identity as a writer?

As a weird little girl who thought everything should be either magical or funny, and when it wasn’t, decided to write it that way.

Describe the creative process involved in any one piece you’ve written—this could be book, a story, a poem, an essay, etc.

Whenever I’m working on anything, the equation seems to be writing with a side order of life. So my typical Sunday would look something like this: Writing with brief interludes of eating anything in the chocolate family; watching old Twilight Zone episodes; crying over little things; laughing over little things; going people-watching; reading some big book that I feel I should have read already; calling my friend to tell her something funny; and googling for entirely too long.

Could you describe your relationship to the publishing process? (this can be publishing in any form, from traditional book publishing to blogging, etc)

I should really hatch some green plan to recycle all my rejection letters into something extraordinary. Yet my relationship to the publishing process remains…hopeful. I’m certainly grateful to all the people who have agreed to publish my poems and articles.

Actually, publishing takes on a whole new meaning when you start your own blog. I remember being nervous at first, then hesitantly sending my words out into the blogo-verse. Suddenly, I got to assume all the roles in the little play of my own publication. I had a place to air my interests and found myself with more of them than ever. Having a blog is like being able to place each of your orphaned ideas in loving homes. It’s pretty powerful.

How has being a writer affected your relationships?

It’s a wonder my husband hasn’t left me. Just kidding (I think). I like to think that my all-encompassing fixation brings new things to the lives of those I love. This is true on good days. On bad days, I can be a moody one—one of those horrible writer stereotypes that’s true, in my case.

How would you describe the community of writers you belong to—if any?  This may be a “real” or “virtual” (in more than one sense) community.

At this point, it’s definitely more virtual because most of my in-flesh friends aren’t writers. Of my cyber-writing-squad, I’d say we’re an obsessive, lonely, self-deprecating, goofy, excitable bunch, in love with information and putting together and taking things apart with our minds, who can take out a box of donuts in one sitting, oh wait, that last one is just me.

There’s one blogger in particular, Hansel Castro over at Hallucina, whose blog I love. I befriended him in the first flush of my blogging life, but have never met him, at least not in that boring, real-world sense.

What are your future goals in terms of writing?

Besides taking over the writing world and reinventing language? No, but seriously, I would like to be able to complete the writing projects on my exceedingly long to-do-list, which I revise in my mind pretty much all the time, but especially while on stopped subways, in boring movies, or while being chewed out by authority figures, which happens more than you might think. It would also be nice to have those writings be appreciated by the public, but that might be asking too much.  At this point, with Manhattan real estate being what it is, I might just settle for a room of my own.

Bonus Question: If your writing were a musical instrument, what would it be?
It would definitely be a trombone. No doubt about it. I was never one for subtle.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Adams County Makes the News - Council Leader #28

The Adams County Leader
Published Every Friday by the Council Publishing Company. 
Eighty-nine per cent of the stock of the above company
is owned by F.H. Michaelson.
F. H. Michaelson Editor and Manager

LOCAL ITEMS, 1920 – 1921

To most of us this spring, sunshine is one thing that remains free, the Standard Oil

Company not having found a means of monopoly.

Council Creamery - We Manufacture the Best Ice Cream.  This creamery is an Adams county institution, established primarily for the benefit of Adams county people.  Its success is your safety.

The mutual mud throwing in the national campaign has commenced rather early to get the best results.  Like a fried egg, slander must be fed hot off the skillet if it is to be swallowed by other than thoughtless people.  If permitted long-time exposure, neither will be gulped down without salt.

The best buy yet – a combination Westinghouse toaster and stove, $11 – Adams County
Light and Power Company.

For sale- Full-blood Lincoln buck lamb.  John Ingram.

We call to mind that for months Uncle Sam has been sending out warnings to prevent owners of Liberty Bonds from being victimized out of their savings.  These warnings make special reference to oil-stock and other get-rich-quick concerns that have gathered in millions through the sale of fake offerings.

Bring Us Eggs – 60 cents a dozen in trade.  Council Grocery.

Dr. M. D. Fleming, optometrist, will be in Council on Saturday and Sunday, September 25 and 26, and in New Meadows on Monday, September 27.

Come in and let us explain why the Dodge is, above all others, the car you need.  The Addington Auto Company, Council, Idaho

Notice to Public: To all whom this may concern: My wife has left my bed and board and from this date I will not be responsible for any debts she may contract.  Wm. Pappa

Last Saturday evening, twenty members of the local Odd Fellows’ lodge went to Cambridge in autos, and visited the I. O. O. F. lodge at that place, and, incidentally, conferred the Second degree on four candidates for the Cambridge lodge.  After the lodge work had been completed, the Cambridge brothers set up a feast such as a king might envy, to which everybody did ample justice, especially the Council members.  In fact, they did so well that Bro. G. of Cambridge called Bro. W. of Council aside and told him that he could quit eating any time he wanted to, all of which brought no relief for Cambridge.

Meats - Fresh and Cured - at prices somewhat lower than conditions may seem to warrant.  Council Meat Market F. E. Weed, Proprietor

Council Grocery Company – You cannot miss the place—just across the street, east of post office.

June 10, 1921

The almost unanimous participation of the local public in the Edward Burtenshaw funeral held here last Friday, together with the numberless manifestations of sympathy and reverence will, we imagine, long be kindly remembered by the relatives of the deceased soldier.  Most of us realized that of our boys who went to France some would almost surely fail to return.  Just who would fall was a problem to be determined by that mysterious thing called fate.  As the boys departed to take up their work in the great struggle, one felt that each was his boy—not in blood but in spirit, in the cause for which he fought and in the sacrifices he was asked to make.  The war brought us all closer together, and to the public in general it will be long comforting to recall that the spirit of unity remains deep down in the hearts of all.  While other boys from this county were also lost, the body of Edward is the only one thus far brought home for burial.

April 15, 1921

We are in receipt of an unsigned communication, for publication, which begins with the statement that “all men are liars” and then in a spirit of bravery like that of a puppy which barks from behind a fence, attempts to particularize over our shoulders.  We recall having previously stated that it is a policy of this paper to refrain from publication of anonymous communications of any character.  Since unsigned letters continue to come, we would call to mind that, with particular reference to the one just received, a citizen who would abuse his neighbor over the shoulders of a little skinny county editor is as short of courage as he is long on nerve.  Neighbor, if you feel that you should abuse some person, it would be better if you go to him direct rather than ask that another peddle your spleen for you.  If you must spill your disposition, hang your coat on a fence, look up your man and say your say.  You may not look quite natural when through with the job, but you’ll at least feel less like a coyote.  It would perhaps be better for the community and for yourself if, when you feel a spell of cussedness coming on, you count a hundred before starting to abuse a neighbor.

March 11, 1921

Recently, while on the street, we heard one of our good neighbors who had been using some rather strong profanity at a time when one of our local preachers was standing near, make the statement, “Gee, I didn’t see the Parson when I was saying that.”  All of which seems to indicate a faulty method of reasoning.  Without a thought of disrespect to the ministry it would seem that if one is going to cuss at all there could scarcely be a better place to “let go” than in the presence of a preacher, rather than in the presence of children who may be impressed by bad example.  Seems to us that swearing in the presence of a preacher would be a little like breaking one’s leg in the presence of a doctor.  One would at least be near help if he felt that he needed it.  Better, far better, to be careful of one’s language near little folks.  It is to be assumed that a preacher can hear bad words without being in the least corrupted.  Otherwise he is working on the wrong job. 

But we advance this thought merely to call to mind that most of us too often regulate our conduct on a basis to avoid criticism rather than with regard to a common-sense view of right and wrong.  Anyway, if one wants to “cuss” it would seem that there are two places in particular where ha can do so with reasonable propriety—either when he is alone or with a preacher, the reason being that in either event he will harm only himself.  However, since we have invited our local pastors to go fishing with us this spring, we will mention, to allay possible apprehension, that we’ll do our best at “holdin’ in” even though our last spoon hook gets caught and we lose our entire d—d—arned line.

March 18, 1921

Why not be full of fun and humor at home—like the folks in the movie pictures are?  We imagine that when a man comes home tired from work it would be restful to pick up a custard pie and slam it is the faces of the wife and children, a la movie comedy.  Many people who attend movies laugh at such things—and so do we—and, through their approval, ask that they may be presented with regularity.  If there is a guest in the house to spend the evening, empty a bucket of scrub water over his head.  This will cause much laughter from the family and will make the guest feel perfectly at home.  Then throw a few plates at everybody in sight.  If this does not provoke enough humor, try flooding the house with water so that each person may float about the room on a piece of furniture, using a broom for a paddle a la Charlie Chaplin.  People laugh at such things when shown at a movie comedy, so why would it not be the proper procedure at home?

October 7, 1921

Commencing October 3, we will give absolutely free with each and every twenty dollars’ worth of merchandise for cash, one beautiful Havalin China Cup and Saucer.  Concentrate your buying and you will be surprised how quickly you get a full set.  Purchases from any of our departments apply, so, ladies, bring in your husbands and boys and supply their wants as well as your own, and carry away this beautiful ware.
W. T. Lampkin, Department Store, Council, Idaho
October 7, 1921


There was a meeting of the executive committee of the Adams County Red Cross held at the court house on Tuesday afternoon, at which time Miss Annie Duncan, the county school health nurse, rendered a report of her month’s work among the school children of this county.  The figures resulting from her investigations are very similar to those found in the average rural community, and, while they are unpleasant to contemplate, furnish food for needed reflection.  In fact, it is up to our people to think—and think seriously—in regard to this problem if the defects found are to be actually corrected.  Otherwise, the community must face evidence of laxity in health control.  Miss Duncan’s report covered examination of 258 pupils, representing various neighborhoods of the county, and showed as follows:

One percent mentally defective.
Two percent tuberculous, now or in the past.
Four percent have defective hearing.
Ten percent have defective eyesight.
Twenty-two percent, diseased tonsils or adenoids.
Thirty-nine percent have defective teeth and three percent of these have diseased gums.
Thirty-nine percent are anywhere from seven to twenty percent underweight.
Four percent have various forms of skin disease.

compiled by Eberle Umbach