Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ashokan Sort of Farewell

I've been working on learning "Ashokan Farewell," by Jay Unger, as a solo instrumental on the ukulele. 

Haven't gotten there yet, but I am making progress, albeit slowly so. So I figured to spur myself on, I'd post the only vid I could manage of it that wasn't a complete wreck.

Even so, the sound is crappy, there are squeaks and squeals, and all like that. Usual excuses here.

I used to could play this piece on the guitar, after a fashion, and I thought I'd try to bring it across. It was from El McMeen's transcription in his book on Dropped-D guitar, so to keep the fingering anywhere close, I had to change the key to G. Then figure out how to lose the two bass guitar strings and still have some bottom. I think I mostly have the arrangement down, now it's just a matter of actually learning how to play the sucker. And to get past red-light fever when the camera goes on, which is always cause for immediate flubbery and a fast ride to clam-city ...

Monday, June 16, 2014


I started this blog eight years ago, plus about three days. The intent, was, as much as anything, to have a convenient place to work on a journal, and to eventually start mining whatever got laid down and to use it for books and whatnot.

That's worked out; I have several non-fiction eBooks that have mostly come from these page, to various degrees of success. And a lot of other material I can access for research or odd bits hither and yon ...

I'm not making entries lately as often as I did a year or two back. Other things have arisen, but I'm still here.

Never figured it would set the world on fire, but sometime in the next few days, the hits will top a million.

Actually, it already passed that, since I didn't keep a counter on the thing for a while, then I had to switch to a different one, and the counters used different criteria, but hey, there you go ...

Tejano Conflict Cover

Got the cover art for the final book in the Cutter's Wars series. That's Gunny.

Book is due out, I think, in January, 2015.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Milestone/Millstone ...

Only one letter is different in the two words in the title, but it makes them significantly unlike.

The millstone was a large and heavy thing used for crushing grain into meal or flour.

A milestone is a marker at that distance from another point, often another such stone.

In the case of the former, it has sometimes come to mean a thing that drags one down, the proverbial weight hung around one's neck, say.

Milestones metaphorically show accomplishment. Passed another one along the road of life, which could be good or bad, depending.

Getting rid of one might help you reach another ...

Did that yesterday. Got up at the electric blues jam at The Lehrer, stood in front of the mike, and led a couple songs. Never played the uke standing in public before. Hadn't intended to, was just going to drop round and listen, but I took the uke along, just in case. Got coaxed into it, and while I skipped a verse in one song, there were enough instrumental breaks nobody missed it. Voice was okay, even managed to get that blues rasp when I wanted it.

Another long-carried millstone put down and a milestone reached. At this rate, Carnegie Hall won't take more than another fifty or sixty years ...

Monday, June 09, 2014

Party On, Garth

Party for an old friend, me playing the original song  "Mold ..."


I used to be so young and free, hard to believe I know/
Now I can’t get it up, and it’s harder yet to go (to the bathroom)
My hair is gray, my faced is lined, my arches they are shot/
My hearing’s gone, my brain is dead, my belly’s gone to pot.


God, I’m old / Sit down in my wheelchair and get rolled/

Wrap me in a blanket ‘cause I’m cold / 

spray me down, I’m all covered up with mold.


I used to party all night long, and labor all next day/

Now I’m sleeping while I work, and sleeping while I play/

The women all would smile at me whenever I would pass/

Now the women look at me and all they do is laugh (at my figure)



I used to eat my meat half raw, and chew it all to bits/

Now I’m droolin’ in my soup, and it gives me the fits/

My back is tired, my butt is tired, my pecker, it’s tired too/

My options are all running out, there’s one thing left to do 



Saturday, June 07, 2014

Graduation Day


Oldest grandson graduated from high school today. Yay!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Bouncy, Bouncy

Youngest grandson's birthday upcoming, and his party, mostly family and a friend from school, was held early at one of those trampoline centers. If you haven't seen these, it's a big warehouse with assorted kiosks containing like twenty small trampolines, bounded by more trampolines angled up around the perimeter, pads between them. The kids can, literally, bounce off the walls. 

It has been awhile since I bounced on a trampoline, and it was, um, harder than I remembered.

Yeah, yeah, part of this is because, well, it's been a while, and I am not used to sproinging up and down for an hour. Part of it is because is actually is harder. The bedroom-sized trampolines upon which I played as a teen were more efficient; they had better (and more) springs. Back in the day, these were rubber, and they would allow for much more height.

The trampolines at the indoor center have been dialed down, so as to keep the kids from  going over the retaining walls and into low orbit. Or maybe to keep grampaw from saying, "Hey, I used to do this all the time! Watch this!" and throwing that long-gone double-back and landing on his head ...

Down the ramp from the arena in which we hopped like demented kangaroos was a large fan, blasting away. After an hour, my legs exhausted and heat coming off me as if I were a barbecue grill, I understood why the fan was there as I stood in front of it ...

There were also rope swings that let you fly and fall into a pit full of big foam blocks, and, of course, video games. You could get a drink and junk food up front, and I had a fine ole time, albeit I am passing sore two days later.

What was really fun was to see my grandchildren, only one of whom is any kind of outdoor-sports oriented, actually exercising and enjoying it. 

Six kids, with adult helpers, and a special rate, twenty bucks for all of us. Such a deal. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Musical Milestone

Went to an acoustic jam at The Lehrer. I had decided I was going to step up and do a song. I picked an old Sam Cooke number, "Bring It on Home," an easy three-chord blues. Practiced all week, felt pretty comfortable, but, you know, I've never sung a solo with my uke in a public house before, and I was thinking it would be kind of a big step ...

So my wife and I went. People started to drift in, the guy who ran it (a harmonica player) was there, there were four guitarists, a keyboard player, a flutist and a bassist. Came the time to get started, but the fellow who'd led most of the songs the previous time hadn't made it yet; another leader had car problems, and the harp player said, "Anybody sing? Can lead?"

I'd had part of a stout ale, so I said, "Uh, well, um ... I can. I got one ..."

I hadn't planned to go first, but what the hell ...

So, I wrote the chords down on the white board, did a little intro, and rolled into it. I sang a couple of verses, played chords for everybody who wanted to take a solo, then did the last couple of verses, and tagged it.

It went well. I was inordinately pleased.

A guitarist got up, led another song, but the real singers hadn't made it yet.

Harp player said to me, "Got another one?"

"Well, I can do 'St. James Infirmary.' How would that be?"

It would be great ...

Eventually, the real singers started to arrive, but meanwhile, I did two more: "House of the Risin' Sun," and "Woke Up Dead Blues," and I didn't screw up any of them.

Funny. That big step I was worried about for, like years? 

Nothing to it. It just blew right past, no sweat.

How about that?

Monday, June 02, 2014

Game of Thrones (SPOILER)

Those of you who watch the TV series but haven't read the books have had some nasty surprises along the way, and I am here to tell you, more are coming.

But a brief note to address one such surprise that aired recently. If you haven't seen the series and don't want to know, stop reading now ...

There comes a battle of champions sequence, wherein two fighters representing others undergo a trial by combat, thus allowing the gods to decide who is guilty or innocent. Makes little sense, but there you go.

The two men stride into the arena. Whereupon one of the two demonstrates a flashy form with his weapon, demonstrating how very skilled he is.

This trips Martial Arts Movie Truism #5: The fighter who offers a flashy martial arts dance to impress the crowd with how good he is always loses. The serious fighter doesn't screw around with such things, but concentrates on the upcoming match.

If you have seen a lot of such movies, as I confess that I have, there are some memes that offer clues to How Fights are Going to Go. If you haven't read the novels, such memes will help you prepare for what is to come ...