Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ton died.

I loved Ton. You will know him from his occasional posts here and his comments on the history blog. Ton devoted endless hours to research for our history project. It gave him something to do. Ton was old. And infirm. And mentally sharp. He didn't like to be called Antonius Adrianus de Geus. He was named after Antonia, his mother, and an uncle.

He was a very sweet man.

He commiserated with me. We exchanged side messages, brief words of personal support. Now Ton is gone but "waiting in sure and certain hope of the resurrection."

I cry.

Eight hundred and eighty-eight questions – Part One

1. So, if your child asked if you picked your nose, would you lie?

2. What was the first car you ever owned? Mine was a ratty bazillion year old Chevy Bel Air.

3. What’s your biggest weakness? (Cute shoes and my pet Scotsman cross my mind; not necessarily in that order.)

4. I hate self-righteousness, but I’m probably guilty of it at least once a week. How about you?

5. Suppose you were kidnapped by aliens and taken to Pern where they lost you. What would you do?

6. You run out of coffee and tea. You want something to drink. What would it be?

7. Do you find it hard to understand the feelings of other people? Are you empathetic?

8. How many books do you read in a year?

9. Many of my friends are much older than I am. When they get really old they tend to die. I resent death and miss my friends. The remedy is to make more friends, of course. Why are most of my friends older than I am? I have theories, but no firm answer.

10. A wicked fairy is about to turn you into something else. She gives you a choice between being a cow (not a bull), a goat, or a house cat. Which would you choose?

Friday, May 30, 2014

It depresses me

That for all the visits this place gets, there are almost no coments.


Students at Hunts Hollow. About 1900.
So, I’m supposed to be writing stuff. I am, I guess. Thinking is writing too. A man named Barbour wrote a truly fake expose of a man named Paton, publishing it in his magazine in mid-1880. We’ll quote from it. We’ll reproduce the entire article. (Its very short.) 

Thing is, this short article requires an analysis. I mean Barbour lied, badly. But he didn’t. There is perhaps one sentence of ‘truth’ in the entire article. So I’m puzzling out what to say about this. My writing partner sent me his comments. They’re okay, but I think we’re missing something. Ever get that feeling? I just don’t know what it would be. 

I can’t discuss this with Paton and Barbour. I’d like to. Say… have them over for coffee and cake and get them talking. It would be fun. But they are dead. If they were alive today they’d run obnoxious web sites that I’d visit regularly. I’d shake my head over content and take notes for a book. But they are dead. 

I leave for school in about forty minutes. Annual teacher review and last class of the week are today. Summer break starts on the sixth.  

My oldest is sickish. She is also crabby. That always happens when she gets sick. She sees illness as a personal imposition. I sympathize. I do too. 

Where the heck is Anthony? Where is Roberto? 

This is a dark day for me. I’m on the edge of a huge seizure. They build up you know. I can feel them coming on. There are things to do. I’ve done them. They didn’t work this time. After school I’ll crawl in bed and stop fighting it off.

Annie wants to write a blog post. I told her she could but she hasn’t. This is the first year Annie’s been happy to see summer break arrive. It only takes one bad teacher to make a year miserable. Fortunately, said teacher is with the district no more. He’s moved on to an unsuspecting school district in Arizona 

We are losing several staff. This is a high demand school. We require excellence from our staff. Not everyone can stand the pressure. Some move on to administrative positions, having been through heck and back teaching gifted, but sometimes behavior challenged students. 

I have time to make coffee before I go. Doing that now.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

As sung by the composer

When I sleep ...

I should be sound asleep. It’s 5:42 am, and I’ve been home for an hour. I’m still sickish in my tummy. I think it’s my new medicine. I have an appointment early next week. I hate doctor visits. I may have said that before …

            So … the chapter we’re writing is developing nicely. I’m very pleased. For once, the research has been fairly easy. Oh, there are mystery names and missing details, but there always are. There’s a J. L. F. from Montrose, Pennsylvania, we haven’t identified. We probably never will. There are details we’ll never find. But the chapter tells a good, solidly researched story.

            Okay, so I stepped away for a minute. Mostly to smooch Knobby Knees and help him find his truck keys. I came back to an email from my writing partner. He says, “J. L. F. is probably J. L. Freed.” Who the heck is J. L. Freed? And where did he come up with that name! I’ll check it out later today. I still need sleep.

            Anyway … back to our discussion of the chapter in progress. I’ve done a huge amount of reading for this chapter. Really, it’s all re-reading. Reviewing things already read but with a new perspective is enlightening. Doing that resulted in a couple of new paragraphs. I posted some of that on the history blog. If you read that too, you’ll find it in the section on Berwick, PA. The new thought is summarized in this paragraph: 

While there was a secularization of religion in this era, there was another shift that Russell and others found as disturbing. Russell’s theology was based on Redemption doctrines. Redemption doctrine is belief in Adamic sin and consequent depravity of the human race. Darwinian evolution suggested to many that men were progressing. That human efforts were improving the race pervaded religious and secular thought. Proliferating invention, new and novel ideas (many of which would be discredited within a decade or so), gave many the impression that humanity was improving. They confused inventiveness and cleverness for improvement. This left Russell and others with conflicted attitudes. Watch Tower adherents looked for signs that the millennium had begun. Inventions provided those. They rejected the idea of progress without remission of sins, but many sought it outside of or within religious and quasi-religious movements. This manifested in a number of ways, among them Christian Socialism, the labor movement, Christian utopian and social service organizations. Conservative religious rejected the “social gospel” as contrary to the “divine plan.” 

            Now that may seem like a ‘oh hum,’ obvious thought, but it’s really a much improved perspective giving us insight into Russell’s thought that we don’t get from limiting ourselves to comments on ‘secularization’ of American society. Resolving this issue was a happy-dance moment.

            My medication has left me permanently sleepy. I fall asleep, nod off, yawn, and just generally fade out. Ever wonder what happens when you’re asleep? I do. Sometimes I know, because I find one of my daughters standing next to my chair or bed patiently waiting for my eyes to pop open. Or they rudely wake me up to ask some life-changing question … such as … umm, “Mom, Annie’s snoring and I can’t sleep. Can I stuff a sock in her mouth?” Okay I made that up, mostly … well, not entirely.

            I think this picture probably represents what happens when I fall asleep in my chair. It seems very realistic, given the nature of my household.



And how was your day?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I like blog visits and comments, but Corey J. Krawczyk should stop visiting my blog. I don't like you. I want you to go away and stay away. I shouldn't have to ask twice.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Curing a Grumpy Dragon

            I’m trying to talk Crompton into writing something for this blog. He’s a writer, an essayist. Coax him for me!

            Harry and Anthony have gone missing, and I’m worried.

            Ton, who visits all our blogs, has solved the problem of Robert Wakefield quite handily. Thanks, Ton! You’d have to read the history blog to know what that’s about. Anyway, he sent me super stuff.

            They’re re-shingling my house today, tramping around on the roof, making a huge mess and lots of noise. They should be done this weekend. It will look nice.

            I’m really sick to my stomach today. I don’t know why. I don’t feel sick otherwise.

            Remember that post (below somewhere) about the grumpy dragon? I came home this morning to find him on the phone resolving the grumpiness by firing an architectural firm. I consoled him best I could. It may have gone like this:

Me: Have some coffee with me. 

He: I made fresh. I’ll pour. 

Me: [Kicks off shoes, drops purse on floor, finds favorite chair, pulls off bits of clothing not usually seen.] 

He: [Handing cup to me] Here you go.  

Me: Bad day? 

He: Not anymore. 

Me: You fired them? 

He: [Nods] 

Me: You were really stressed. I’m sorry. [Wiggles toes, smiles] 

He: [Sips coffee, raises eyebrows.] How was your day?  

Me: Long but quiet. Did the girls get off to school on time? [Fiddles with skirt in way that would be inappropriate in public.]

He: Umm … what did you say? 

Me: Did the girls get off to school on time?

He: We have children?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The North German LLoyd Ship Columbus - About 1910

Young Girl - 1911

Peeved Dragon

I’ve been begging Uncle B for more of his story. He left me landing at Ronald Reagan with a dead man on the plane. It’s not nice to just leave me there.

A strongly held religious view shouldn’t lead you to think someone on the other side of the issue is an evil, god-cursed troll, even if some of them are.

Drinking coffee out of a cup with soap residue on the bottom is a bad idea. And a waste of perfectly good coffee.

My pet dragon is off in his cave looking at architectural drawings. He’s frowning a lot and taking notes.

I’m going to cut out about three-quarters of a sub section in the chapter I’m working on. As it is, it is annoyingly detailed. Detail is good. But there is such a thing as overload.

Other than that, this chapter is moving forward very swiftly. Ton, who comments here sometimes, uncovered a name we had only as initials. This was good.

I think (it may change) that we’re leaving the first chapter for near the end of this project. And we’re going to skip the working on the chapter that follows this one to write up the events of 1881. We’re already discussing radical changes to that chapter’s outline. We may, in fact, have less to write to finish volume two than I’ve thought.

My pet, shape-shifting dragon boy/goat boy, came down stairs, poured himself some coffee and grumbled under his breath all the way back up to his work room. I emailed him a rude photo. No answer yet.

The young family that rented gramma’s old apartment moved out. I’ll have to clean the place tomorrow, especially since we’ve already rented it. New renters are another youngish family with a boy and baby on the way. I’m charging them about half the going rate. I guess I’m soft hearted. Or just insane.

I was off on one of the controversialist web sites. I don’t know why I went back. That place is creepy. Someone posted edited covers to old religious books. They’re rude, crude and stupid. That also sums up most of those who post there. I think the mindless stupidity explains why most of them didn’t persist in their former religion.

We spent considerable money trying to get reviews for Separate Identity. Not one of those who took the book to review it has done so. This has been a huge waste of time and resources.

My meds have been increased. All that’s done is leave me lethargic.
If you’re on ebay, you should change your password.
How to distract a grumpy dragon

Monday, May 19, 2014

So ...

Other than cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen and vacuuming the front parlor, I've been in front of this computer all day. I've written new material, done stellar research, and revised older material. I've combined bits of what were going to be three chapters. Some things have gone away as un-needed. I've added others. My WP sent me bits to include. Some of that duplicated what I'd already written, but it was much better than what I had. So I dumped it into a pot, put it on high heat and melted it all together. WP says I did a good job of it.

So chapter in progress is now at 40 pages. I think that's about two thirds done (Might be an optimistic estimate.) I'm waiting on my WP (writing partner, right? You knew that.) to send me a few paragraphs on turmoil within the church over the role of women. As I see it, the believers had a split personality when it came to talented women.

I bought some envelope corners for my Germany collection. They were listed as cut out cancellations. But they're really pre-paid envelope corners from the late 1850s. I got them for cheap because they weren't listed correctly. They're now in my album.

I'm really happy to have these. I've been looking for them for ages. It's not that I can't find them. It's that I'm always out bid. I had one example of the white paper version. It was not cut square, but these are. And these are as nice examples as any I've seen. Not bad from something printed in 1858.

I've posted some mystery names on our history blog, hoping that someone can come up with a biography. It will be a near miracle if they can. I especially want to identify a W. F. Carson. We'll see.

I had a long conversation with a somewhat disgruntled adherent of one of the religions we write about. He's unhappy with his church's new financial policies, seeing them as a money and power grab that individual congregations are powerless to block. He thinks if he opposes he will be thrown out. It must be difficult to believe a doctrine but have a sense of growing corruption within one's church. I didn't have much to say. It's not my religion. Me? I'd withhold my money. Simply do not give them money. I felt sorry for him.

Now my uncle shares that religion. His view is that he contributes to God's work and he doesn't care how the money is processed as long as it goes to further God's work. That's probably a much healthier view. But I do sympathize with the other fella too.

I wonder how long it will take before someone comments on the "shocking" picture in the previous post. ....

Well... you started this conversation

So … about the comment trail for the Pixie and shape-shifting Goat-Boy picture …

            What to say? What to say …?

            I like my knobby-kneed pet Scot. He’s cute, even if he’s grown a bit oldish compared to the seventeen year old I first met. He’s still a good kisser. I think I’ve said that before. I’ve turned him into a dragon, a goat boy, any number of things. He likes my stories. Mind you that with the exception of two that I shared with someone else once, they’re private. Some I’ve written down. Some I just make up on the spot. They’re indifferent in quality, which, since they’re for fun, shouldn’t surprise anyone.

            So who wears who out? Did I really see that question? And Harry presumes I wear out goat boy! (Which might be true sometimes.) Let’s just say I get my “biblical due” on a very regular basis. We accommodate the other’s needs and preferences.

            The truth is something in the middle, of course. Sometimes I feel as if there were more of him than there is of me. But that’s not always the case. When I was twelve and he was seventeen, he occasionally had a hunted, intimidated look. I remember standing in his mom’s kitchen telling her I was going to marry her son some day. She took it rather well … I think. Better than I probably would if some twelve year old said he intended to marry Liz. And she didn’t laugh at me … which was nice of her.

            You don’t need all the details of our courtship. Somewhere on this blog is an article about planning our wedding. Did I mention he’s a good kisser? We spent a fortune on long distance calls when he was at Georgia Tech and I was at WSU. And I wrote longish letters, probably one long one to his five really short letters. And Instant Messenger got a workout!

            Okay, back to the question …. As I said we like each other. So we spend a lot of time just talking nonsense. He’s one of the few people I know that let me ramble on and actually listen to what I have to say. And I can make him laugh.
            As goat-boy he can be funny. He has an imagination too. I’ve wondered why he hasn’t tried to write something (other than technical papers). He’d prolly be good at it.

Sometime there seems to be more of him than of me.
But not always. Not often, I'd say.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Pixie and her shape-shifting goat boy

I'm boring you, aren't I?

Some blog comments would be nice. .... just sayin'

From Amy Goddard!

This post started life as a reply to “an Occasional Reader's” post about the first music we bought. It got a bit long so I thought it might work better as a new post on the same topic.

The first music I bought myself was a Simon and Garfunkel cassette album in the second hand record store Kelly's in Cardiff indoor market. I must stress that it was quite considerably more than second hand.

This post does not give away my age, I was buying something by a group who had split up before I was born!

My Dad was with me and I distinctly remember him saying that the title of one song 'Punky's Dilemma’ “didn't sound very nice”! I don't know about nice but it wasn’t very good. It contained the immortal opening line “I wish I was a Kellogg's Cornflake”, not quite the poetry I had come to expect from the great Mr. Simon!

Side A was very interesting though. A musical suite (continuous piece of music made of several stand alone parts) charting the human life stages from birth to death. I wonder how many people know that the S&G hit song 'America' is the third part in this suite representing the young adult stage of life.

So, the suite track by track, as you might notice I am something of a S&G authority. Well, I've read the biographies and have every track they recorded.

It starts with birth and the instrumental of the 'Bookends' theme. A lovely lilting melody played in 6ths on a single acoustic guitar. Then, straight into “Save The Life of My Child”, a rather upbeat account of teenage suicide, no more stages of life to be charted for this character then! Actually it's very cleverly done and well worth a listen. It also includes a sample of 'Sound of Silence'. I could be wrong but I don't think sampling was widely used in recordings in1968. See if you can spot it, it's just the opening line.

(Which is rather better than the opening line of 'Punky's Dilemma', it gives me great comfort to know even Paul Simon had his off days!)

From 'Save The Life of My Child' the music seamlessly blends into 'America'. I love this song! This is Paul Simon at his best. It's written in blank verse but unless you stop to analyze it you'd never notice. It is the words of a conversation between a couple as they embark on a journey. I can almost see them and the scenery rushing by as I listen to it.

Then it's 'Overs', this is middle age and a song that I can appreciate without actually liking it very much.

It starts with the sound of a match being struck to light a cigarette. Next, the most pretentious piece of “art” in S&G catalogue, 'Voices of Old People' is just that. Voices, of old people complaining about something, just conversing. I can just imagine Arty with a portable tape recorder visiting all the old people's homes in New York. Somehow this leaves me feeling that I've been cheated out of a song.

'Old Friends' is the penultimate part of the suite and I believe it's quite well known, having appeared on several compilation albums of S&G. Funnily enough 'Voices' does not appear on any of these! 'Old Friends' was a track that grew on me. The title of the album comes from the lyric; “Old friends, sat on their park bench like bookends.” It starts simply but builds to an orchestral cacophony that is resolved with the re-entry of the Bookends theme. This time the voices join the guitar. “Preserve your memories,

they're all that's left you.” A fitting end to a most interesting concept album. In my opinion it contains some great songs and some pretentious rubbish.

I always wondered how the fact that the music was continuous worked on LP. I mean how could you see where to put the needle for the inevitability of skipping 'Voices'? As I had the cassette edition of the album I can't answer. All that and apart from 'Punky' I havent even mentioned side B. Maybe I'll leave that for someone else.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

This post is designed to make O. Reader Jealous

I’ve been reading a trial transcript. It’s interesting to say the least, though most of what I’ve seen so far isn’t relevant to the book we’re writing now. A few things are, but most things mentioned in it happened after 1890. What’s really interesting is the bits of biography. The exit of two ministers from their former churches is detailed. One is new to me, the other, a man named Sturgeon, is well known. I did not know the details found in this transcript. Because of my eyes, I’m reading this really slowly, in bits and pieces.

            My surgery is the last week in June. The surgeon tells me that I don’t need the genetic testing or the therapy that goes with it. But I will need a second surgery on my left eye. He says to put that off until it’s as bad as the right eye now is. He thinks they can restore my near vision to almost perfect vision, but I’ll need glasses for distance.

            O. Reader will email me, surmising which transcript I found. He’ll wonder if the case involved a Brooklyn newspaper or maybe one in Washington D. C. His curiosity will be overwhelming. He can bribe me with cookies or expensive rum. … Or Belgian chocolate. (Which reminds me that my sister has been remiss lately!)

            Or he can email me and beg …

            Or he can sing ….

            Or maybe I’ll be nice.

            Ask and ye shall receive …. I guess. Maybe. (You too, Ton. If you want it.)

            Anyway, it’s interesting stuff. I’ll read more before I go to bed.

            Did I mention that I’m pretty miserable today? I am.


            My children are scattered for the evening. It’s very quiet here. The quiet moments are rare. I savor them. But when the last is grown and gone, I shall miss the chaos.

            Our book continues to sell slowly. It sells in spurts with no sales for a day or so, and them a group of them.

            Okay, this has to be a short post because my eye hurts. Ta ta!

okay ... so i'm not good at keepin' secrets:


From Crompton

You have to love it ...

So, my writing partner and I write religious history. You knew that, right? We have side discussions, sometimes in person and sometimes by email. We just started a new one. I'm reading Romans. That's part of the Bible for you scripturally illiterate. I'm not sure I have any readers who don't know that, but just to be certain ... Anyway ... I wrote an email full of comments and questions. Here it is after mindnight, and he wrote back. I'm not posting it all. These exchanges are private studies. We avoid public discussions of our theology for several really good reasons. But I think some of you will find the first few paragraphs of his letter (email) intersting. This is Uncle B at work mentally. I love it!

Herewith is part of what he wrote:

Dear Rachael,

Let me address your questions.  

Paul’s salutation to the Romans followed a pattern that his audience found usual and comfortable. He defines himself, and in doing so, defines his relationship to them. He is an apostle. An ἀπόστολος is a commissioned representative, an official negotiator and spokesman. Paul represented Jesus but within the limits of God’s good news. He was to serve as the transmitter of the gospel, but not as the originator of anything. He was to be a slave of Christ, not to speak in Christ’s place but in place of Christ.

            The good news he is tasked with has a divine origin. It was promised by God through the prophets of old. He presumes that his readers (and hearers) see the “scriptures” as authoritative. The Roman converts came primarily from the synagogue and included Jew and Gentile converts who readily agreed that the prophets of old were inspired and the promises of God valid and fulfilled in Christ.

            Jesus, Paul notes, was David’s descendant, marking him as a probable vessel through which God could fulfill the Davidic Promises. But it was the resurrection, a manifestation divine power, which proved Jesus to be not just a son of David according to the flesh, but God’s son according to spirit. What does Paul mean?

            His use of “flesh” (σάρξ, sarx) drew attention to Jesus' biology. He was a genetic child of David. Sarx is the soft tissues in contrast to the boney structure, and the focus is on the more fragile parts, on what is weaker. So when Jesus is declared to be God’s son by the powerful act of resurrection, it is the strongest of certifications. It declares him God’s son according to spirit.

            Paul’s next sentence loses its direction. It’s a sentence fragment. But, as a writer, you know that while a mere fragment may in principal be less desirable grammar, it  can convey a thought with more clarity than its grammatical brothers. I am not a competent translator, but if I were translating this, I would consider verse seven (a) to be the start of a new paragraph and attach it to seven (b).

            Verses five and six are a unit. Paul, using the plural “we,” spoke again of his appointment. I, of course, had no part in translating the New World Translation, and you are right: These verses as translated are “wordy.” You asked how I would translate them. I wouldn’t. At least not for public consumption. But, you might consider this:  

Through whom we received undeserved favor and an apostleship leading, for the sake of his name, to faithful obedience among all the nations.  

That’s my take on Paul’s intent and on the Greek text as we have it. “Eis hupakoen pisteos,” is subjective genitive. That means that the obedience Paul seeks springs from faith; it is the natural result of faith. So Paul saw himself commissioned to build faith in God and his Christ.

Let’s note again his use of the plural “we.” I sometimes use this in discussion with Trinitarians to show that a plural does not always mean one is discussing multiple personalities.

Monday, May 12, 2014

This one's from me ...

Isaac Watts is one of my heros. He wrote this:

One of my constant blog readers ...

One of my most constant blog readers sent this to me. He's read my blog since it was new, but in all those years has posted less than ten times, maybe much less, and then only as Anonymous.

I like this too, so here it is:

The Pixie and her Pet

Because it made me smile (and not may things do these days ...)

From O. Reader

My First Records 

What were the first recordings you ever bought?

It is probably a reasonable guide as to your age. The music we first chose for ourselves tends to fit a fairly tight age group – depending on surrounding social mores and whether we had older siblings who introduced us to decadent teenage stuff a little early.

I’m afraid my venerable age takes me back to the tail end of the era of 78s. In fact, for many years I belonged to a club of grumpy, elderly people who scoured boot and garage sales for the glorious sight of shellac – as long as it hadn’t been played with a knitting needle or left out in the sun to warp with interesting consequences for the music’s tempo. I still have the bottom of cupboards and floorboards creaking under heavy discs. And I keep threatening to take them out, crank up the phonograph, and disturb the neighbors. There is no volume control on the 78 rpm machine, other than stuffing something down the sound horn – hence creating a well-known phrase this side of the Atlantic – “put a sock in it...”

There was one 78 my parents had that probably introduced me to “folk music” - Delia Murphy warbling “The Spinning Wheel.” It was recorded in 1939 and became a world-wide hit. Murphy wasn’t a professional singer, she was actually the well-heeled wife of an Irish diplomat, who ended up in the Vatican during World War 2, and later became the Irish First Ambassador in Australia, Canada and Washington. The song actually benefits from having the amateur voice of an older woman on the recording. I keep on stressing this when Mrs Occasional sings it at folk clubs, but somehow in that context it is never quite the right thing to say...

But MY first 78 – I can remember to this day, going to the record store with my mother and my pocket money and listening in the booth and then coming home with 10” of heaven. Yes – Mel Blanc singing “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat” – a spin-off from the Warner Brothers’ Sylvester and Tweetie Pie Cartoons. Yes, you could tell at that early age how I was destined for a life of sophistication and good taste... Or something like that...

But then vinyl came in – very quickly indeed, singles and EPs (extended players with usually four tracks) and of course the magical LP (long players) – which soon settled on 12” in size and could play up to half an hour on a side! Wow!

And I remember the first two albums I bought with my own saved money. The very first was a classical LP that I still have in the attic somewhere – Rossini Overtures. It was a cheapo label that specialised in repackaging older recordings so that the worthy poor (which included me at that stage of life) could still get a bit of culture.

I liked Rossini. I like the way he started quiet and slow and then built up until the orchestra was having a positive fit by the end. I liked the fact that he wrote the theme tune for The Lone Ranger. And as I learned more about him, I like the fact that – unlike all these serious driven composers who produced great art – his main concern was getting a hit and making money. He was forever recycling the best bits of his operas, and there are far fewer overtures than operas because he was lazy and just re-used some again and again, even though it often meant that the music bore no relation to the opera that followed. He wrote arias to deliberately annoy certain singers – who found the high notes unreachable – and one overture required the violinists to tap their bows against their music stands at regular intervals, damaging all the varnish on them. Yes – a man after my own heart...

And the second album was pure pop. (My first EP was folkie – Pete Seeger whooping it up with audience and Wimoweh at Carnegie Hall – but the first long-player was pop). Buddy Holly. I could write a long post about Holly. The man with glasses and a Tex-Mex drawl, who wrote his own songs – with a limited range that meant we all could sing them. The man whose last tour was such a disaster – his drummer, Carl Bunch, got frostbite on the bus and had to be hospitalised – which indirectly saved his life – when Holly then charted a plane to get himself and band to the next stop in time for sleep and to get some laundry done... The rest became as Don MacLean sang “The day the music died.”

My first Holly LP was actually the “Buddy Holly Story Volume 2.” They found a stack of self-penned songs on his tape recorder – never intended for release – and hastily dubbed in backing and released them. He remained a hit recording star in Britain through the 1960s, long after being virtually forgotten in the States. And those self-penned songs... I must have spent a fortune in small coins putting them into the juke box on one vacation to keep on hearing “Learning the Game” while gazing into the calf-eyes of G. Aaah. I just had to save my pennies and get the LP.

It was followed by all the other Holly LPs, and me joining various clubs and writing articles (as was my wont) and castigating published biographies that got the details of Holly’s career and music wrong (as was also my wont – still is, in another context). In fairly recent times, my daughter tracked down the ultimate bootleg of 10 albums of everything but everything Holly ever did – including a raunchy number recorded by wire when he was 12 - and produced them as a classy CD box set as an anniversary present. And she and I actually saw Holly’s band the Crickets, when they backed Nanci Griffiths back in the 1990s. Highlight? Sonny Curtis (lead singer and famed songwriter in his own right) announcing that the next song was written by our drummer (Jerry Allison) about his “first ex-wife...” (pause) “She gave him some of the best weekends of her life...” Then wham, bam – straight into “Peggy Sue!!”

So that’s my little excursion into history. So what were your first records or purchases? And were they shellac, vinyl, cassette, CD, mp3 or iPod download..? Be warned - you are bound to give away your age by your answer.


The Two Pittsburghs

Pittsburgh, Texas - About 1880

Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Part of Pittsburgh Since 1908
About 1880

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Pixie's advice for someone traveling to the US

When do you leave for the US?

Do you feel safe?

Bring a body guard!

Don't sing on the subway. Bad idea.

Keep five dollars handy.

People in NYC are rude even when being polite.

Visit the Metropolitan Museum

Photocopy the Storrs papers


Don't chew gum with your mouth open. Some American’s do, but it's still impolite.

Don't copy the gum chewers.

New Jersey stinks. Avoid it even if it's called the Garden State.

Don't drink the water.


Have a pastrami sandwich. With slaw and a pickle.

Don't look the crazies in the eye.

Don't give money to panhandlers.

Don't let anyone wash your windshield

Hide your money except for the five dollars in case you're mugged.


Send post cards home.

Take photos.

Leave a tip for your maid every day.


Watch your bills carefully. Some places charge you for a tip and you've already left one.

Complain to the manager unless there is a clearly stated policy.

Look at your sheets before you crawl in bed.


Buy disinfectant spray. Use it.


East coasties aren't civilized no matter what they claim.

Ignore shouting.

Carry a big club.


Buy a baseball cap.

Don't eat Nerds. That's one nasty candy.

Eat more apples. Buy at least one red-candied apple.


If you drive up to Patterson, bring a translator for stops along the road. They think they're speaking English, but they're not.


Don't eat Chicken Nuggets.

Ignore stares. Most New Yorkers have yet to meet civilization on a regular basis.

Don't visit Central Park without a body guard, preferably someone young and strong


Don't swim in the Hudson River. It's a very bad idea.

Trip to the top of the Empire State Building is a waste of time.


Eat Turkish food just once.


Avoid China Town unless you have police escort.


Don't talk to the horses. They won't answer anyway and the officers won't like it.


Buy ear plugs.

Don't sing along with street performers.


I'll think of more helpful hints later.

I have no permission to post it, but ...

Where I am in Uncle B's work in progress ...

            Detroit airport is huge, over a mile long. I looked down its length, looking too at Nanna’s carefully written instructions:

            “Your connecting flight is at gate seven. It leaves at 1:06 pm, assuming everything is on time. That gives you almost an hour to get something to eat and find the gate. Ask for help if you need it. Don’t be shy.”

            “Gate seven,” I mumbled.

            “It’s that way,” Gaunt Man said. I had been unaware of his presence. I thought he’d walked away. “You’re going on to D. C.?” he asked.

            I nodded.

            “So am I. You hungry?”

            I was and said so.

            “Me too. Best place is there.” He pointed. I noted both the place and the implication that he flew often. He was a frequent flyer. “My treat,” he said.

            My mother warned me about strangers. Didn’t yours? Don’t talk to them; don’t take candy from them. If she’d thought about it, she probably would have said, “And don’t let them buy you lunch.”

            I smiled. He was likeable. “I can pay for my own,” I said.

Crompton's Trip