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2006: Yeah, We Gotta Archive This One Too

Yeah, you know the drill; and we're seriously Late with it this time! Not that this isn't Understandable; y'all know how just how Much we enjoy this Particular activity (NOT). But it's gotta be Done; otherwise, everything in the Home Lair and the first two Archive Lairs would be terribly Squashed Together by now...

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Is There Magic That Will Accomplish Goals?

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2006: Happy New Year Upcoming, dear LairLurkers! The year in which we finally got back over to Ireland, and finally got Started on our first CD, is just about Over. The CD is still in production, and scads of digital photos from Ireland and Paris are still being Processed. Hence, here in Tennessee on vacation (more or less), I can hardly wait to get Back to Seattle to get going on the Bloody photos again.

This Coming year, I want to finish the first CD (The Soul Who Dances On), and get Started on either a) The Power Objects Soundtrack (second CD, that is); or b) our Planned series of EP (short) CDs on Various themes. I also want to tour and perform extensively in support of these recordings. In addition, I'm considering a New and Bigger apartment, and further study in Ireland, concentrating especially on upgrading my Irish language skills.

Anyway, class, on our Previous post, we discussed the question of what exactly, if anything, praying Actually accomplishes, and how it accomplishes whatever it does. We also discussed the fact that many of mine seem to get Vetoed, which begs the question of how Said vetos can be Overridden (not to mention how to prevent one's petitions from getting Vetoed in the first place). Is there a Magical method to accomplishing what you desire? Can you, like a J.K. Rowling Witch or Wizard, wave a wand and call out something in Latin that can accomplish any goal that one would ordinarily pray about? All Together now, swish, flick, "Accomplio!"

Likewise, can shamanic divination give you the Essential guidance you need to accomplish something Important to you? Can the correct application of magical oils and incenses do the trick? Does one need a group ritual with the Correct liturgy to get the Desired effect of making dreams come True? Can visualization really activate something that makes form follow thought? It would be really Cool if any or all of them worked for me consistently!

Perhaps we really do need to activate a PayPal account and request donations to get the old CD Finished already. In any case, a good deal more busking and open mic playing is absolutely Essential--both for my mental health and for my musical promotion! If any of you good LairLurkers have Other ideas for us to consider, kindly drop us an email (see Below). And don't put your subject heading in ALL CAPS, or we will presume that it came from Lagos, Nigeria, and we will likely delete it Unopened...

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Tommy, Guide Me Through the Gate of Horn

Tommy Makem in Concert

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2006: When our Irish folksinger friend Tommy Makem was Interviewed several years Ago, he made mention of a folk club in Chicago called The Gate of Horn, the name of which, he said, referred to a story in Classical mythology about two gates that a ship could sail Through and change the fate of those Sailing. There was the Gate of Ivory, which would call down bad luck or fate upon those misfortunates who sailed Through it. Hence, those who knew Better made Sure they sailed through its opposite and counterpart, the Gate of Horn, which would bestow a Beneficial fate on the ship and its crew. Tommy went on to say that since his own life and life's work had been incredibly Lucky to date, perhaps performing at the Gate of Horn club quite Early in his career had provided him a Certain good fortune.

Today, after a singularly Successful musical career spanning More than fifty years, Tommy is facing a Harsh challenge head-on in the form of lung cancer. He has defied the disease to do its worst, insisting that he will go on Performing as long as he possibly can, at the age of 74 (his birthday was this Past November 2). His attitude toward his condition is splendidly Positive. My good LairCronies, if only my attitude, and my luck, could muster Such positivity. I am so in Need of good luck, or a Positive change in luck, though my travels Abroad this spring (an opportunity for which I am, of Course, sincerely Thankful) would appear to be a result of both good luck and months of Advance planning. I need to be Shown the way to the Gate of Horn. I desire and pray for both a change in luck, and for Tommy and my Dad to be well Again. I have no idea what effect, if Any, praying for somebody has, or how exactly it works, despite all my research into spirituality and mystical traditions. Too Many people I have prayed for ended up dead Anyway; does that mean all my petitions got Vetoed, and were all for nothing? Did they just go Straight into the Divine shredder? Beats me. Whatever actually transpired, seems the prayers didn't work. What do I do to get them to work Properly? What use is it to pray for someone or something if Said supplication doesn't work in the end? I might be more Inclined to use prayer for healing if I could be Sure that it would actually accomplish something Positive.

In any case, my luck in musical work needs Changing for the better. I'm beginning to think I need a new name, a new identity; people seem to run Screaming from my Current one. All that I do, in songwriting, performing, busking, photography, computer art, writing, etc. just seems to be Ignored, Disregarded, Rejected and Declined (politely or Otherwise) for the most part. I need to change something in order to stop being Ignored. What is the antidote for the Curse of Disregard? Even this Venerable Home Lair doesn't get nearly Enough traffic. And our lovely Cafepress LairShops have gotten Little if Any notice in the past couple of years. If I myself didn't order from them Now and Again, Cafepress might pull them down Altogether. There must be something that I'm not doing, or not doing Correctly, that my creative efforts are attracting so Little notice.

I don't dare ask most people for advice about this, since most people in Mainstream society consume; they don't create things themselves. Most people I know wouldn't even contemplate developing a career in musical performance, writing, visual arts, or much of anything else arts-Oriented. I've tried asking some of them for advice Before; and they just give you this Blank, Resigned, Averted stare and mumble On about how Hard they imagine success in Such work is to achieve. They have no idea at all on HOW to go about it; if they were I, they simply wouldn't even consider going there. "Well, I'm glad you have such passion for your dreams", one of them sighed in a transparently Doubtful tone to me one time. Translation of Said tone of voice: Kiddo, these dreams of yours are just bound to crash like a jet plane sooner or later, just like they always do for us ordinary people; and you'll have no option left but to go into conventional office work just like everybody else in an ordinary station in life.

So, how to change one's luck, one's fate? How to attract (hopefully Positive) notice when Most people have utterly disregarded one's work up till Now? How to make one's living at work one enjoys and produces oneself? Why do most people ignore me? Do I need to perform under a Different identity? Tommy, where is the way to the Gate of Horn? Where is the magic to change my fortunes? Who will guide me to remake my fate in the way that I desire? And what name must I give myself that will draw a crowd to admire and purchase my Creative wares? Fellow musicians and artists, please do not simply look at me and mutter that you have no idea what to tell me that will be Helpful. You know bloody Well that you DO know what advice to give me; it's the Same advice you would give to anyone Else in my predicament, but with a Different name and appearance. Please, someone, take my hand and point me to the Gate of Horn; I am badly in need of far better luck in my work than I have dredged Up so far...

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Is A Different World Forthcoming?

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2006: LairCronies, now that I have tasted what it's like to live in an Alternate Reality, Courtesy of my roleplaying experience in the Realm of Harry Potter, I find myself wanting to move there Long-Term (if not Permanently), my own Muggle world seems that Effed-Up. Of course, Hogwarts and Vicinity is not Utopia; they need to get rid of their Death-Eaters and stop enslaving House Elves, among other things. Still, they DO have ways of getting things Done that appeal to me, besides having some brilliantly Interesting characters mulling About. I want to do things magically; I want to get things Done, overturning obstacles easily and turning barricades to dust.

My roleplaying character, Tonks, is still with me, and we have a GreatestJournal, The Confundus Conspiracy, a/k/a Youngblood Circle. Our Original characters, including Jovana Sandansky, Lule Gierran and Marja Karppinen, are also still Involved (after I got booted from the old Snarry RPG, Dark Hope Rising, my "girls" and I got Together and decided they shouldn't just disappear into the ether just Yet! Hence, the new Journal and Story). Now, if I only had more time to spend in their world! If only I could be (or become) Magical myself! If only I could shag Severus Snape into oblivion Somewhere other than in mere fantasies!

AHEM... Anyway, in the story of "Youngblood Circle", an assortment of J.K. Rowling's characters, Combined with mine, take on the current International political scene in Magical fashion. Moreover, the AU scenario Created in our old RPG still apply: Harry Potter and his friends who survived the Second War are now adults in their mid-20's; Harry and Snape are Married (they can do that in fanfiction and RPGs!), and each has a son from a previous relationship. Voldemort and his equally Unbalanced successor, Bellatrix Lestrange, are both at last Deceased. And Tonks still has her pet ferret, Gabija, and is still an Auror, albeit a more Senior one by now.

Anyway, our Nefarious Death-Eaters, now lacking a Designated leader, are at last swallowing their Muggle-hating pride, and are gravitating to where the power can be had--the Muggle governments of the United States and United Kingdom; they love the idea of the U.S. as a "Rogue Superpower". However! They are not only infiltrating the U.S. and British intelligence and Homeland Security departments and influencing policies re: the War on Terror; they are also infiltrating Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations--working at cross-purposes for the undermining of Muggle International politics! The more damage they can do to Muggle societies everywhere, the better, as far as they are Concerned.

Meanwhile, Tonks and assorted other Magical folks on the side of Light are pursuing said Death-Eaters, and coming face to face with the issue of Unsettled Blood and the need for Blood-Settling, in the Middle East and Elsewhere. You see, when Innocent blood is spilled and not later Settled (that is, put to rest in a respectful ceremonial fashion), the Violent energy Involved in such bloodshed remains at large, influencing future generations to violence and Needless blood-spilling. And much Blood-Settling, indeed, is now Needed in the Middle East in particular, so our heroes are Informed by two other Original characters of mine who are, sort of, still being Developed: Madame Ghazala Al-Halim, leader of a magical contingent from Iraq who arrives in Youngblood Circle (Washington, DC's answer to Diagon Alley; much of this story's action takes place Stateside) to negotiate authorization for ghosts of Iraqi and Afghan war dead to haunt our Elected officials; and Divination Mistress Finola Cumbow, a Tennessee native who helps run the Southeast Bureau of Magic (we figure the U.S. needs Multiple regional Bureaus, rather than one Ministry for Magic as in Wizarding Britain).

Well, LairLurkers, this story is still kind of in its Opening stages, as we've had so much on our plate that we've not had nearly Enough time to spend on this journal over the past Several months. But stay Tuned! If this story ever gets off the Bloody ground, it could prove to be kinda Interesting in time...

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People Are Being Tortured, Bombed and Starved, and We're Not Supposed to Care

Photo of Darth Dubya courtesy of Askmen.com

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2006: First there was the Persian Gulf War and the near-Genocidal Economic Sanctions against Iraq, starving and killing thousands of innocent civilians. With their infrastructure mostly Destroyed, Iraqis were Unable to purify their own drinking water, or to provide Adequate supplies of medicine for their people, and standard vaccinations for their livestock. For Several years, beginning in the fall of 1997, I took part in activism, protests, educational outreach and civil disobedience against this sanctions regime, up to and Including donations of money and medicine for Illegal medicine shipments to Iraq. I personally know many people who took medicinal supplies to Iraq, risking arrest, fines and imprisonment. Back then, every time we marched and attempted public outreach on this issue, a great many people, even in "liberal Seattle", simply flipped the finger at us. We were being told, Then as Now, that the sanctions were all Saddam Hussein's fault; and therefore, we should not care about how the sanctions were impacting the lives of Innocent civilians. It was as if freaking Saddam was the only person Living in Iraq. The other 26 million people in Iraq were Invisible to most of us here; and we were all but Instructed not to give a damn about them. I had to tell the same people over and over again: "Regardless of who's at fault here, starving six-month-old babies don't have any politics, never mind religion. They just want to be fed [Well, Duh...!!]."

Then came the 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S. and coalition forces (invasion for WHAT reason, again?), Darth Dubya acting unilaterally, like Saddam thumbing his nose at the United Nations and the International community (after all, God personally tells him to attack people! Who can argue with that?). Countless civilians were Killed by aerial bombing, cluster bombs, unexploded cluster bomblets, and fire from tanks and helicopters. But what the hell, they were being "liberated", so we here were told; so apparently we didn't need to care about the ones Killed in the process of "liberation", as if they didn't really need to benefit from freedom and democracy themselves. We were all but told not to care about these "collateral damage" folks; our generals said they "don't do body counts."

Now, here we are in 2006, still fighting on Multiple fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, with new fun and games apparently being Plotted out for Iran, Syria and North Korea. Civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan (women, in many cases, as well as men) are being caught up in sweeps and sold to Coalition forces by warlords and bounty hunters, and being taken into detention. Our government openly admits to torturing people in its custody; and now, via the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has decided that it will decide what constitutes "torture" and "inhuman and degrading treatment." And, of course, we here on the Home Front are being told, in so many words, not to care what happens to these people, the large majority of whom are innocent of any crime. We're not supposed to care when they are tortured, held indefinitely without charge or access to counsel, deprived of the rights of due process and tried by military kangaroo courts that admit evidence Obtained illegally under torture and duress. I mean, hell, they're just Arabs, after all. They're just Muslims. They're just Middle Easterners. And they probably hate our guts just because we're Americans, Westerners, Christians, living in a free democracy. Oh, and most of those people are not white. So who gives a crap about them? Who cares how they're treated, right?!

I am really starting to feel like a Good fucking German. All this is happening right under my nose, and I'm being carefully Instructed (by the Government, the Media, even my own friends, relatives and neighbors) not to give a tinker's damn. But many of us DO care. If anyone is in United States detention and custody, I want them Treated according to internationally Recognized standards of human rights and justice. I want NO "extraordinary rendition", no "secret torture" or "black cell" facilities, no deprivation of Habeas Corpus, nothing being Done under the table. I want PUBLIC trials of detainees that presume them innocent until Proven guilty of any crime. I want them to have access to counsel and visits from family members. I want a President and Government who abide by the rule of law, INCLUDING International laws and treaties, held to be the Law of the Land under our own Constitution. We want this thing Done by the book, Goddamn it, not how Darth Dubya wants to do it. Dear LairCronies, do any of you seriously believe that Arab and Afghan detainees would be treated this way in our custody if they were white-skinned Swedish Lutherans or German Catholics? Hell, No! Not in a gazillion years! As we at the Lair have written Elsewhere, Darth Dubya is not treating detainees this way because he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are all in fact guilty of terrorist acts. No! He is doing this to terrorize and bludgeon Entire Arab and Muslim societies in the Middle East and Elsewhere into submission to U.S. oil-Obsessed imperialism. And our Spineless, balls-Absent Legislature is bloody LETTING him get away with murder, and worse.

Nonetheless, LairLurkers, we remain Confident that Karmic Justice happens, is now Happening even as we Lurk. What goes Around comes Around, though the whole lot of us are likely to suffer for our Rogue Superpower government's sins. Opposition is mounting around the world, even among Darth Dubya's own conservative party members. And we will be there to witness the downfall of the Evil Imperialists. Hence, we at the Lair do not and never have suggested or advocated violence against Darth Dubya or his Corrupt Cabinet of Collaborators. Instead, we want to be there to witness their Spectacular downfall when it really gets Rolling...!! TOGETHER ACROSS THE WORLD!!

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If You Can Stand It, 'Nother One o' Those News Recap Thingies...

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2006: Well, LairLurkers, since that now-Archived Steve Irwin post has been up here for several weeks and we haven't been Struck by lightning Yet, we've gathered that the Big Bloke Upstairs has probably heard all that Before, and worse. Now, if we can just keep our courage Up to say exactly what we think of our So-Called government, whether or not we get hauled off to Gitmo under provisions of that Act just passed by Congress which we keep forgetting the name of. It ain't Pretty, folks; damn near anybody can be called an "Enemy Combatant" now, at Darth Dubya's pleasure and discretion (and bloody nobody ever accuses Darth Dubya of exercising discretion!), and be duly Stripped of human rights, Habeas Corpus and other Essential features of due process. The Supreme Court had better Damn Well nix that sucker, whatever its name is, before it actually gets Used.
[UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2006: We just discovered that the Unnamed legislative Act referred to Above is the Nefarious Military Commissions Act of 2006 (see related LairLinks at its Yahoo! Full Coverage page). For the Inevitable (hopefully Sooner rather than Later) court challenge to this Latest piece of rat dung, stay Tuned!]

Here are some more News Items to recap:

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Yet Another Reason Why Death Should Be Subject to Appeal...

Steve and Bindi Irwin with tiger cub

--Steve Irwin (1962-2006) with daughter Bindi Irwin and tiger cub mate (photo courtesy of New Idea Magazine)

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2006: My dear LairCronies and fellow reptile lovers, we at the Lair have been arguing with God/Goddess/Whoever for some time now on why killing off Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin a couple of weeks Ago was a Really Bad Move. What Earthly good did it do? What good can possibly come of it? It seems to have been (not-so-intelligently) Designed to hurt the Maximum number of people Possible in one fell swoop. Yeah, yeah, we know what y'all are thinking: Life is just not bloody Fair, and we all have to go Sometime. But Steve Irwin didn't HAVE to go just Yet! Someone posted a condolence message at the Australia Zoo Website alleging that "God had a different plan for [Steve]", etc. etc. Well, maybe So or maybe Not; but couldn't said Grand Scheme have waited till Steve and Terri's kids were Grown?

As with the deaths in 1997 of Princess Diana and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, we see Steve's Sudden passing as yet another reason why death, at least in some cases, ought to be Subject to an appeals process. Maybe not for folks like serial killers or fascist dictators; but for someone like Steve, a decidedly Untimely death should include the possibility of the event being Overturned and Reversed on Appeal. Now THERE would be a Radical development in human history all right! Maybe it's about time to send our supposedly-Intelligent Designer back to the ol' drawing board to redesign Death! There's no bloody reason why someone like Steve Irwin, who utterly exuded joie de vivre, and who was actually doing some good on this planet, should die at age 44, leaving a wife, two small children and millions of Devastated fans Behind, while mobs of old Neocon farts who are rapidly destroying our government get to live to a Ripe Old Age. We at the Lair think it's high time to work out the bugs and correct what is seriously Wrong with this picture. Steve Irwin Presente! Crocs Rule!!

Meanwhile, as we send off this Proposed death-debugging, we also send our love, good thoughts and Sincere condolences to Bob Sr. (Steve's Dad), Terri (Steve's wife from Portland, OR), and Steve and Terri's children Bindi and Bob Jr. Peace, Love and Courage to them all, and to all the millions of Croc Hunter fans and animal lovers around the world who hopefully will continue Steve's example and legacy of wildlife preservation and love of all creatures. Steve made the world a Brighter and more Interesting place for so many of us; and may he one day do so Again, once the bugs are teased out of the framework! TOGETHER ACROSS THE WORLD!!

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What the LairMistress Really Wants for her Birthday...

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2006: My 42nd birthday is three days Away, LairCronies, and I am Busy doing Long-Overdue Lair Updates, including linking song lyrics pages to sound files on my Sonicbids EPK and my Stranger Band Page. Now, what I'm really wishing and hoping for is that all these Lairs and their Assorted collections will actually be Noticed by people! I'm Fed Up with being Ignored! As I mentioned to someone Recently, I'd almost take bad press over none at all any day.

Ack!! Sorry to keep y'all Waiting with Baited breath. I want to work with other people in music performance. I Still don't know exactly how collaborations among musicians come into being; but every songwriter I photographed at Bumbershoot last weekend seemed to come with a full band of instrumentalists in tow. I need something like that right Now, especially with my first CD still in production. I want to work with other musicians and songwriters as well; just how does one connect with more "Established" folkies, anyway, beyond just meeting them at their own gigs? I want to make albums with other people, including compilation CDs. I want the years of my life back in which I shut down and did nothing, thanks to listening to people telling me I'd never make it at what I wanted to do, and that I should just give up everything I ever dreamed of, and go into high-tech just like everybody else walking around downtown in business attire, briefcase and cellphone.

UPDATE: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2006: I just attended a Mighty show last night, Cris Williamson's 30th Anniversary of the release of "Changer and the Changed", featuring Cris, together with Teresa Trull, Jamie Sieber, Vicki Randle, and several other fine musicians. Everyone on stage played at top form, and together they were so good it hurt! A Mighty performance Indeed!! Now, if only I could do a Similar collaboration with several other musicians I like. And I don't want to wait thirty years to do it, either.

I want to be Involved in the filming of Mary Mackey's Earthsong Trilogy novels; plus, I want to write or co-write the scores/soundtracks for these films! I want Challenging, Professional musical work to do!! And I need to be Noticed by others in order to do So! I want to be Noticed for my writing and artwork as well! No more listening to naysayers, or encouraging people to ignore me! Problem is, I apparently need to disguise myself rather Well in order to be Noticed. These days, folks seem to ignore you if you're less than stunningly PhotoGenic. That helps me stay relatively Safe on the streets at night; but it also leads to my being chronically Ignored, and a Perennial also-ran...

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Oh, My God/dess...Things Missed and Flat-Out Forgotten

MONDAY, AUGUST 7, 2006: We found out, shortly before leaving Seattle for Colville last month, that our own World Rhythm Festival, which we thought was Canceled this year, was to be held while we were Away, on the weekend of July 15-16! We saw this on a poster hung up in the U-District Tower Records window. But for Some reason, there is nothing on their website indicating this. And the old LairLink, worldrhythmfestival.org, is Dead on Arrival; hence we had to update our Drumming LairLinks Page just now!

In a somewhat Related matter, we forgot about attending this year's From Hiroshima to Hope memorial event at Greenlake yesterday evening! The significance of yesterday's date, August 6, didn't even occur to us until footage of the lantern-floating ceremony was shown on last night's news! Drat. We've hardly ever missed that event Before...

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WE HAVE A NEW ONLINE PHOTO GALLERY!!

SPECIAL NOTICE: Yep, we finally did it, folks!! Check out our Brand-New Photobucket LairMistress Photo Gallery now, before it gets too Famous (LOL)!!

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Lena Fields Engstrom (1910-2006): From Missouri to Jerusalem, and Everywhere in Between

SPECIAL REPORT (FRIDAY, JULY 7, 2006): My grandmother, Lena Fields Engstrom, was born and raised on a dirt-poor farm near Lucerne, Missouri; but she traveled afield from Washington, D.C. to the Holy Land, and everywhere in between. She spent decades working for the U.S. Census Bureau; but was especially renowned for her candymaking and German chocolate cake. She wrote an autobiography spanning only eight pages; but could read several novels a week (and went through several audiobooks a week after she became legally blind). She traveled through many countries on tours and pilgrimages; but also did such mundane things as monitoring the fertility of her younger daughter's Black Angus herds. She stood a slight 5'1", but could pack a withering gaze that my brother and I used to call her "laser-beam eyes." She lived a long, full and fascinating life; but she finally decided she'd had enough of all that on Wednesday, June 28 when, a week after her 96th birthday, she moved on to reunite with her husband, parents, sister, grand-niece and -nephew, and numerous friends who arrived to escort her to the Other Side.

Most likely she had no idea that she would outlive her husband, retired D.C. police officer Alvin T. Engstrom (1908-1966), by forty years; but living into one's nineties was not exactly something she recommended. For her, a strong-willed, independent-minded woman, it meant, unfortunately, becoming legally blind and hard-of-hearing, along with a host of other health issues and short-term memory difficulties. She often wondered aloud why she was "being kept around for so long."

Hers is the one branch of my family that have been in this country longer than a century or so; the other three, from Norway and Sweden, have only been here since the 1890's or later. My mom and various other folks are still trying to figure out exactly where the Fields family originated (outside of colonial America in the 18th century), and when they first arrived in then-colonial Virginia and North Carolina. Their origins are variously said to be Northern English, Scots-Irish or Ulster Protestant; and various other folks with Anglo-American, Irish and German origins married into the family. Some of us have features that resemble Native Americans as well (or, in any case, a number of my mother's relatives do not look completely white); unfortunately, we have not yet figured out what group or tribe to credit with this part of our ancestry. Cherokees in Missouri, perhaps?

Her branch of the family, moreover, is the most musical of the lot; both her father and her father-in-law were well-known traditional fiddlers in their communities. Today, I am a folksinger-songwriter, guitarist and fiddler; my mother is a trained alto soloist, violist and violinist; my brother is a clarinetist and saxophonist; and my aunt is a guitarist and singer. That branch of the family is also less-well known for their visionary and other intuitive talents (more on that Later, perhaps). At any rate, we bid a fond farewell to this branch of a musical and creative line; and commend her to the care of the Creator and our ancestors. They, in turn, await our coming and watch over our contributions to our world and the web of the Cosmos! Ar dheis Dé a h-anam...

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What We May Possibly Be Doing This Coming November, If We Can Get a Ride...

Fourth Annual AGHOST 'Spooked in Seattle' Conference

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Never Mind 6/6/06--Yesterday Was the Feast of Epona!


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14, 2006: Greetings and Welcome to "Update the Lair Already" Day, Cronies All!! For some reason, a number of people with religiosity issues were getting rather Riled Up last Tuesday, June 6, merely because the date abbreviated to 666 with an Extra zero in the middle. Therefore, they (pardon the expression) "reasoned", the Antichrist was Scheduled to ride into town and start nuking churches and major government buildings, or something. We at the Lair have news for them: the Antichrist is currently occupying the White House, and he just popped over to Baghdad the other day to check on the progress of his cool new puppet government. Murky Word.

Two much more Interesting dates (to us) have occurred in the past week and a half. This past Thursday, June 8 marked the 1213th anniversary of Lindisfarne Day, when some of my Viking relatives launched their first-ever raid of a Scottish monastery, on the island of Lindisfarne, on June 8, 793 A.D. And yesterday, Tuesday, June 13, was the international Celtic Feast of Epona, the Gaulish name for the Celtic horse goddess. Epona is associated with the Welsh goddess Rhiannon, and the Irish goddess/Tragic heroine Macha. Perhaps we should pray to this triad to stampede the Antichrist back to Texas before he invades any more countries.

IN OTHER NEWS: We have been very Concerned of late for the well-being of Oscar Wilde's grandson, Merlin Holland, who got badly Roughed Up during his participation in the Ill-Fated Gay Pride festivities in Moscow, Russia on May 27. We understand that he got repeatedly kicked severely Enough to (possibly, we're not sure) require treatment at a hospital. We are still trying to find out how he is doing. However, we are fairly Certain that Oscar himself is proudly watching over his grandson...

IN STILL OTHER NEWS: The hopelessly Road Rage-Addled Ann Coulter really should have been the one cast as Bellatrix Black Lestrange in the next Harry Potter film (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, now in production). That role would have fit her to an Acid-Inked T. Someone should slip some marijuana into her crême brulée (whenever she eats Next, that is); it might calm her down and make her slightly more Sane. We're betting that Podge & Rodge would love the Scrawny tart--especially as a guest! Ballydung Manor or Bust!!

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Only Thing Wrong with This Trip Was the Homecoming...

MONDAY, MAY 8, 2006: I'm home, LairLurkers! And I've been sick ever since I got home! What's up with that? Am I being punished for having loads of fun in Ireland and Paris for a month? Bah.

Kind of Funny, that. I hiked, bused, ferried and taxied all over Ireland (mainly along the coast), and spent a very Fine few days in Paris visiting Oscar Wilde's tomb and doing a combination bus/riverboat tour; and my health held up just Fine until I touched down in Seatac on April 25! Granted, I could tell I was wearing myself out; by the time I reached Dungarvan on the 20th, the kind host of Cairbre House could tell I was "completely whacked", as in totally Exhausted. But I wasn't Prepared to be hit with a cold, bronchitis, pneumonia and a cough-related torn muscle in my ribcage all at once, no Sooner did I reach home! Hell, I was hoping to get back to busking right off the bat once I'd gotten home and unpacked!

Well, I guess I'm gradually improving, even though my throat is feeling a bit Raw again, even now. And very soon, I'll be taking off Again, this time to Tennessee for my Mom's 70th birthday. Just hope I don't catch anything new while There; my immune system seems to have crashed like a jet plane Lately. Meanwhile, I'm going through hundreds of digital photos, and trying to catch up on LiveJournal trip postings, fanfics and the "Youngblood Circle" gynocentric Harry Potter fanfic series that I'd been outlining prior to departing across the pond. Now, if only I can find a Comfortable posture to sleep nights, what with the rib muscle injury...

In any case, more detailed accounts of the trip can be found on our LiveJournal, even though we're a bit Behind on writing about some of our megalithic and musical adventures...

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Ah, Well, Not to Give Y'all the Wrong Impression Here...

Inishmore, Aran Islands, March 31, 2006

--View of Inis Mór, Aran Islands, March 2006.

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2006: Now, folks, I don't want the Above rant to give anyone the notion that the trip itself wasn't Enjoyable! On the contrary, it far exceeded my expectations on nearly all fronts! The weather was Better than Expected (even though the climate closely mirrors Seattle's); most of the accommodations were Lovely; and the prehistoric sites I visited were made more Accessible than Expected by the services of Numerous small taxi businesses found throughout Ireland. They helped fill in the transportation gaps left by BusEireann and the Irish Railway System.

Paris was another Pleasant surprise, all by itself. Even though Charles de Gaulle Airport was a generally DisOrganized mess (but the less said about that, the Better). The weather was fine the whole time I was there; but more importantly, I felt quite accepted and welcomed by most of the people I encountered. Perhaps it was because I made the best stab I could to converse in French (even with English speakers), even though I read French considerably better than I speak it. Here in the U.S., I've picked up a Steady diet of stereotypes about rude, arrogant, stuck-up French people (especially the waiters, of course); but most of the folks I met in Paris (including the waiters!) were very Friendly and Hospitable, and surprisingly Patient with my stammering, broken use of their language. As I commented on our LiveJournal, Parisians seem to appreciate it if you at least make the effort to use whatever French you know, even if you tend to butcher it. In any case, I managed to get around quite Well once I'd more or less gotten the hang of the Métro, and it was a great pleasure to practice a sort of combination French/bilingual conversation with a variety of Kind, Hospitable Parisiens (to whom I often introduced myself as "l'américaine au français affreux"). Anyway, to the good citoyens of the great city of Paris, I would like to say, "Merci de votre bonté et patience vers cette américaine au français affreux!" And I hope to come back very Soon, for a longer stay next time...

Here's also hoping for a much longer visit in the Near future to the Gorgeous Aran Islands (and I will buy an Aran pullover next time Around!), to the Cool historical cities of Dublin, Galway, Cork and Derry (especially to play more great trad sessions with mixed European crowds), and visits to all the Neolithic sites I couldn't quite fit into the schedule this time! Must see Newgrange again next time, at any cost. Must also spend more time in Dublin with Rosamond and family, and whomever I can locate from the old School of Irish Studies crowd. I'm already tossing around ideas for more Irish language studies over there Somewhere! Must also see more Podge & Rodge episodes! Besides, it was such a Huge relief to be out of Darth Dubya's jurisdiction for a while, even if the lying gobshite started plotting to nuke Iran in my absence...!!

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Well, Folks, It's Coming Down to the Wire...

TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2006: LairCronies, we start Off Monday next, on the Adventure of the past 21 years! We will be traveling as Light as Possible; but we will, of course, be Armed with digital camera, digital and nondigital voice recorders, and a travel alarm clock, with lots o' batteries to match!

We will try to stay Connected via Internet cafes as Often as we can, but there's no guarantee that we'll be Online every day. More often than not, we hope to be sharing live music with other LairFolkies, when not hiking around in chilly temps and all kinds of weather! And, of course, there are Oscar and Robbie to visit!

But in any case, wish us Well! And hope and pray to God, Buddha, Aphrodite, or Whomsoever that we don't sleep through the Freakin' alarms next Monday! We will, naturally, have them all set to go off at Once...*eg*

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Sorry, Everyone; This is Long Overdue...

Coretta Scott King, 1927-2006; photo courtesy of the newspaper St. Louis Today.

Coretta Scott King, Civil Rights Leader (1927-2006). Photo courtesy of St. Louis Today.

SPECIAL REPORT (FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2006): There was a Dreamer, and there was a woman who picked up the Dream and ran with it after the Untimely loss of the Dreamer she married. Coretta Scott King passed away a few weeks Ago, shortly after celebrating her husband's birthday one last time, and all too Soon after the passing of fellow Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks. We at the Lair have been sadly PreOccupied Lately; but we invite all LairLurkers to join us, Nonetheless, in celebrating our Brave and Beautiful friend who embodied and fought for Liberty and Justice for all--for women, LGBT people and religious minorities, as well as for people of color--even when it meant opposing some of her own family members and in-laws in doing So. Coretta Scott King honored and fought to sustain Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream and memory for the past four decades since his death; and Now, we trust, they have been happily ReUnited!!

Some LairLinks in tribute to Coretta Scott King:

The King Center Website Yahoo! Full Coverage Page: Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King: CNN Tribute Compilation MSNBC Tribute Page

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I Can't Believe We Didn't Hear About This Sooner...!!

R.I.P. FARRUKH FATEH ALI KHAN (1952-2003)

SPECIAL REPORT (SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2006): Dear LairCronies, Qawwali vocalist and harmonium player Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, younger brother of Nusrat and father of Rahat, passed away on September 9, 2003 from complications of diabetes, and we only just found out about this a week Ago!! Two and a half years after the fact! And to make this Shocking situation all the more Outrageous and Bizarre, we found this out from one Sparse sentence in the liner notes of a CD we purchased Recently! What's more, we can't find any Online news items about Farrukh's passing (though we're still looking at the moment). Surely Nusrat's Beloved brother warrants more than a sentence in the liner notes of a CD to commemorate his passing, especially considering the number of times we enjoyed his company at dinner parties and concert intermissions. He of the Amazing elastic voice, Fiery harmonium licks and classical acumen was only about 51 or so. The last time we saw him, at Rahat's return to Seattle in July 2001, I noticed that he didn't look totally well; but we couldn't have predicted that this would be Farrukh's last visit here.

I don't know why no one ever tells us these things in a Timely fashion!!...GodSpeed and Salaam, Farrukh Sahib; may you and Nusrat be reunited now in Peace, Love and Joy!!

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Hmmm...So, What Will We Talk About Today..??

TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2006: Well, LairCronies, lotsa stuff has been happening, and we, as Usual, are notoriously Inconsistent about keeping up with it. For example, in Recent news:

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Going Gently Into that Good Night...

SPECIAL REPORT (FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2006): What a hell of a way to start a New Year. Twelve strong West Virginia miners, with well over a century's mining experience among them, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in a mine known as Sago, most Likely due to scores of safety violations left UnResolved. Many of these men had to work over the holidays even--not even one last Christmas for their families to remember them by. There is one survivor, Randal McCloy, a slender youth who wanted out Anyway, now in a coma with an inflamed lung in a Pittsburgh hospital. Several of the dead left behind farewell messages assuring their next of kin that they were dying, but not suffering. We will survive their loss, LairCronies, but with the Sickening thought that they need not have perished in the first place.

Here, in honor of the hard-working Departed, are full-coverage pages on the tragedy from Yahoo! News, Google News, and CNN.com...

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However, Dear Cronies, All Is Not Bad News...

FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2006: ...In fact, while vacationing in Tennessee, we ran across a Hitherto-Unknown (to us) new tribute site for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan!! The (relatively) new site is called NusratForever.com! And they are also reprinting the LairMistress's Nusrat Tribute article, The Heart and Soul of World Music: Remembering Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997). They also have audio and video LairLinks, forums and a whole lot of other features; hopefully they will also soon have song lyrics and translations, and maybe a News Update page with, among Other things, tour info for Rahat, Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali, and various other qawwali groups.

Oh, and Happy New Year, LairLurkers All!! And don't send us any letters asking us to sanitize "Happy New Year", or any of that rubbish...

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Return to the Home Lair.

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Email: tonksdhr@yahoo.com