2007, The Year the Music (and a Bunch of Other Things) Died

Late again...but we swore we'd get Around to this one of these days...


NEWSFLASH: 'The Lair's Eye View' Stock Photo Gallery OPEN!!

LairCronies, we've just opened an account with the stock photo site PhotostockPlus; and Now our Brand-New stock photo gallery, The Lair's Eye View is Up and Running, with seven Separate stock albums to visit! And more are most Likely on the way!

We really needed something to do with all our Irish, aerial and flowering cherry digital shots of the past couple of years, Besides letting them pile up on our hard drive! So please do go and check them out, and maybe open your own gallery or event albums while you're at it, eh?


What Do Folks Mean by "Culture of Death" These Days...?

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2007: We've all heard this by now, LairCronies: people refer to Contemporary U.S. society as a "culture of death", a "death-dealing society", as one minister I know put it Once. What is Meant by this, I've been wondering Lately? Does this mean Different things to Different people? Does death deserve the bad rap people have so Often given it? And how does one make our culture more life-Enhancing?

CONTINUING (SUNDAY, DEC. 23): Sorry about the long delay, folks; I was getting Ready to fly east for Christmas. Okay: Culture o' Death. What is Meant by this? We think the Conventional definition means a society that accepts things like abortion, birth control, assisted suicide and Paris Hilton. From certain Fringe sources, a few folks would tell me I'm a "death-worshipper" because I own several black teeshirts. In slightly less Fringey circles, some would include such things as Living Wills and "Do Not Resuscitate" requests by elderly and seriously ill people as Indicative of a "Culture of Death." A number of religious conservatives of Various faiths consider their faith community to be somehow Separate from what they label "the Culture." Sorry, folks, but that's really not True--every religious belief system changes over time within its cultural milieu. Religion is part and parcel of culture, and Always has been--never have they been Separate or Divorced in any society that I know anything about, nor have religion and secular culture ever failed to influence each other, at least to Some degree.

All contemporary references to an alleged "culture of death" carry with them the presupposition that there is something instrinsically Wrong with death; that death is not a Natural part of life and the human condition; and that it should somehow be Avoided or Prevented if at all Possible. Is any of this really True or Accurate? Some even say that both birth and death should be Regulated only by one's Higher Power, and that it's somehow Wrong to subject either to human influence. Hence, you hear of many cases of people choosing or being Made to suffer interminably, and being kept Alive by Extraordinary means, because of their or their guardians' religious or philosophical view that death should be kept at bay as long as Possible, or that the time of one's death is strictly God's business. Or something.

For the record, I consider myself pro-choice in my thinking; this does not mean I necessarily think abortion is the Greatest thing since sliced bread. I've known a couple of women who had abortions due to serious complications in their pregnancies, and I remember feeling very sad for them, because I knew how desperately they wanted children. However, I think that much of what some people consider a "culture of death" is simply a Contemporary pattern of people being Free to make their own reproductive choices, and to control their sexual and reproductive lives themselves, besides being Free to make their own end-of-life decisions down the road. It means people taking Back power from social moralists, repressive governments and Reactionary religious authorities. Any number of people resent such freedoms on the part of their neighbors, and attempt to force the latter to live according to religious teachings to which they may not subscribe. In any case, some people's "culture of death" apparently is other people's "culture of freedom and shucking off outside control of one's sexuality." Basically, it's about different beliefs, philosophies and ethical systems struggling to coexist. I believe it can be Done, but obviously not without a Certain amount of tension. And that's where we stand Now, on the eve of another Christmas Eve...


Songspell for the Deemed-Unknown (Judgment-Warning Songspell)

Words and Music © 2007 by Jovana A. Sandansky, Karelia Songspell Collective
English Translation © 2007 by Marja Karppinen, Jovana A. Sandansky, and Lule Gierran, Karelia Songspell Collective

You say that you don't know her, dear,
My Song-Sister from the Westland.

After six years and a season, dear,
You don't know your own acquaintance.

Chorus: You very well know my Song-Sister, dear;
Tell no lies to Jovana:
For any spellsinger worth her salt
Can hex as well as heal.

Would you know my Song-Sister, dear,
If she sang sorrow down on your head?

Or if she sang your voice from your throat,
Or clove your double shadow?

She can summon a hundred more, dear,
A hundred spellsingers to her side.

They will whistle up a winter storm, dear,
That you learn not to wound a spellsinger.

You who have hurt a spellsinger,
Heed the warning that tolls for you:
For a poor spellsinger she is indeed
Who cannot both hex and heal.

You very well know my Song-Sister, dear;
Tell no lies to Jovana:
For any spellsinger worth her salt
Can hex as well as heal.


Tomáisín Mac Shimidh, Bard Aird Mhacha (1932-2007)

[Tommy Makem, Bard of Armagh (1932-2007)]

In loving memory of folksinger Tommy Makem, 1932-2007

SPECIAL REPORT (FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2007): LairCronies and LairFolkies, this is one of those articles we never wish to be Faced with writing: the loss of one of our Greatest musical heroes and role models. This time, it's Tommy, he of the original Clancy Brothers quartet, and Makem and Clancy; father of the three performing Makem Brothers; grandfather of step-dancer Molly Dickerman; uncle of Peter Makem, and gosh knows how many Other musicians, poets and artists; and an Acclaimed solo folk performer and songwriter. Not to mention someone I personally loved, respected, and chatted with about archaeology, of all things. And someone we wish we had gotten to know Better. Rationally speaking, I suppose we all should be Happy for him--his suffering is at an end; he fought lung cancer with Immense bravery, vowing at the time of his diagnosis to continue singing as long as he was physically Able to; his life was Full, Rich, and jam-packed with Extraordinary musical moments; and he leaves us an Incredible legacy of a musical tradition that owes him Much for its Very survival. Still, we don't want Tommy to leave us Yet. He's been Around a long time; but it still seems too Soon for him to go.

We here at the Lair, feeling Helpless to do anything Else for him, prayed and meditated for him Often, and sent him healing energy and good wishes, both mentally and via his website's message board; but all to no avail, so it seems. None of it worked in the long run, and we want to know Why. Likewise, as we have Already ranted on our LiveJournal blog, we collectively should be much further Along in researching and treating all sorts of cancers Now, seven years into the 21st century (Given all the years and millions of dollars that have been poured into Said research); and we also want to know Why the bloody hell we're not. According to one news report, by the end Tommy had a tumor in his lungs the size of a pineapple. Why, in this day and age, should any cancer be considered "Inoperable"; or, for that matter, "Incurable"?

This morning (I'm writing this from Tennessee, where I'm visiting my folks in Blistering hot weather for just under a week), we were watching Online footage, reports and photos of Tommy's funeral Yesterday, feeling very Low and Weepy. For much of the time Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy were performing as a duo, I was growing up in Maryland, dreaming and longing to play fiddle backup with them one day. By the time I was 16, I had memorized not only most of their repertoire, but also the fiddle and guitar arrangements for most of their recorded songs. During much of my high school years, I fantasized about running Away with them and playing with them for years at a time on the road. I've always wanted to get to know them Better than I have, even though I met and spoke with them a number of times after shows and during concert intermissions (I was Shy and Nervous as hell to begin with, but calmed down considerably in their down-to-earth presence). I had wanted to send Tommy a copy of my demo CD, not for any professional purposes, but just to share a few songs. It is utterly Wrong that I won't get to do so--not in this lifetime, anyway. Perhaps I can still send one to Liam. But at any rate, now is the time of my generation to become the folk legends, and carry on the traditions of songs. We stand on the shoulders of giants, remember them with love and respect, and gain advice from them in dreams, meditations, and shamanic journeys; but now, WE are the ones Charged with singing the songs, preserving them, and disseminating them Everywhere we can. May we be up to the challenge, just as our spiritual mothers and fathers in music have been...

Makem Central: Tommy Makem and the Makem Brothers Official Site Makem Website Message Board
Tommy Makem RIP: Liam Clancy's Announcement Yahoo! News Archive on Tommy Makem RTE Audio Tommy Makem Tributes
RTE's Tommy Makem Tribute Page Foster's Online (Dover, NH): Special Page on Tommy Makem's Funeral The Session Tributes Discussion
Tommy Makem's Soul Music: Boston Globe Tribute Page Tommy Makem: Wikipedia Entry Some Tommy Makem Videos on Youtube


TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2008: Yeah, that's right, LairLurkers; we're just Now scraping out this new Archive Lair, four months into 2008! Y'all know the drill by now: until the end of June, the 2007 posts from Jan. till June go in here, and July through December remain Stuck in Archive Lair 2, yadda yadda...


NEWSFLASH: The Nifara LairShop is Here!!

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2007: Yep, it's Here, dear and Faithful LairLurkers!! Our own Digital Photo Print Store, the NIFARA LAIRSHOP!! With photo prints for sale in five Stunning categories, and three sizes available for Each; and all transactions Handled by PayPal!

Mind you, this LairShop is Separate and completely Independent of our Cafepress LairShops (see Above, here at the Home Lair), though some of the Same images are being Used. In any case, hop over to this LairShop at the LairLink Above; and pass the word Along to all your friends, relatives, neighbors, and in-laws of the same! We want to make some cash on the LairMistress's trips Abroad, so's she can make more of the Same trips--including concert tours, once the bloody CD is Finished, that is!!


So, Does Miss Bell Get Her Mission Trip to Tibet Now...??

Ruth and Billy Graham, 1980: photo source unknown.

Ruth and Billy Graham, 1980: photo source unknown.

MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2007: Ruth Bell Graham, life-partner of Rev. Billy Graham, passed away over the weekend at the age of 87, after a Recent struggle with pneumonia, and after two years or so of Debilitating osteoarthritis which left her Bedridden and Incapacitated. And, lest we forget, LairCronies, after sixty-some years of marriage to a man who squelched her dreams of mission work in Tibet because he thought his dreams, aspirations, and "divine calling" were way more Special and Important and Divinely-Blessed than hers. The story of Ruth and Bill Graham is a Cautionary tale for us, ladies and gents, that we not let love cause us to tolerate disrespect for our Dearest dreams, goals and wishes in this life.

Now, mind you, folks: we've no intention of downplaying or disparaging Reverend Graham's long and Illustrious career as a minister and evangelist. And some of his books and articles have been quite Helpful in my own understanding of Certain theological questions and issues. These are not our points of contention, however. What we are speaking of here is that, just prior to their marriage (According to Mrs. Graham's autobiographical book, It's My Turn), Ruth Bell tried to persuade her then-fiance to accompany her to Tibet on her long-dreamt-of mission journey; she herself was born in China to Presbyterian missionary parents. However, far from even expressing an interest in this venture, young Pastoral-Intern Bill retorted--in so many words--that his God-given vocation as an evangelist in the United States was the one he would pursue, and that her duty as his wife would be to follow and support him in Said vocation. Her dreams, goals and aspirations apparently meant nothing to him, and probably meant little to God, in his estimation. Amen, period, end of discussion. Real bloody Christian of him, n'est-ce pas?

Well, okay, you might be saying at this point; but just remember that all this happened way back in the early 1940's, when they were still college students. Well, yes; but even in the pre-feminist 1940's, Bible college students should have been Well-Versed in such precepts as the Golden Rule and "Love your neighbor as yourself." You know, treat others as you would like to be treated, right? Nothing of the sort happened in this case. Here, the future "America's Pastor" was dead Certain that only men's spiritual vocations counted for anything; a woman's highest spiritual vocation was to be Barefoot and Pregnant, and to be Lauded decades later for her Unfailing help, counsel and support, without which her man couldn't have done all the Lovely, Important Things that he did. Now, just imagine if their situation and roles had been Reversed; and if Ruth Graham had exclaimed, after decades of ministry and service in Asia, that she couldn't have accomplished all that she had without a loving, Supportive husband at her side. Their Shared story would have been just as Great and Inspiring that way; or if they had divided time more or less equally between ministries in the U.S. and in Tibet. Surely, intelligent people that they were, they could have found a way to balance work on their individual dreams and goals, while respecting and dedicating themselves to both vocations. Instead, as too Often happens, it was the woman who was Pressured to toss her own vocation into the dumpster, and resign herself to a Subordinate, Vicarious existence for the duration of her life. How Unfair, Unloving, Disrespectful, and certainly NOT Christian. And how Essential it is that we all work hard to be well Rid of this type of thinking in our own culture, in our own present and future.

Oh, well, that's very Unfortunate, you might be saying; but it's all "water under the dam" now. Well...no, it isn't. Now is the time to begin questioning and challenging some of the Underlying ideas that came into play during this Sad tale. The ideas, for example, that God plans everyone's life out for them well Ahead of the game (without consulting you first); that God wants to control every aspect of one's life; and that "God's plan" for one's life is Specific to one's gender, rather than Specific to each person as an individual. Shoot, it wasn't that many years Ago that a Certain official at Bob Jones University publicly suggested that Said Divine plan was Specific to one's race, for crying out loud. Frankly, I don't want anyone controlling or micromanaging my life, taking over my life, or planning my life out for me in advance without consulting me first. If such a "plan" exists, I want to be bloody Sure that I'm going to like it; I want to be actively Involved in every phase of its design and execution. Who benefits, you might ask yourself, from a bunch of us seeing ourselves as Passive little windup toys or marionettes with no power of volition, and with some Higher-Up winding us up or pulling our strings for us all our lives?

In any case, let it be Known that each individual's dreams, goals, aspirations, wishes and desires for their life are just as Valid, Important, and Worthy of respect and support as those of any Other individual, regardless of one's gender, race, age, economic status, sexual orientation, religion, etc. And let it be Predicted that, when Reverend Billy finally joins his life-partner on the Other Side, a good portion of their Next Life will Likely be spent in the Himalayas! Amen and Amen.


Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Folksinger's Life for Me!

(Reprinted from the LairMistress's Myspace Page)

MONDAY, JUNE 4, 2007: LairCronies, what is the "real world"? Is my Musical life not a part of reality? I'm not feeling overly Inspired to write Right Now, but I want to invite All and Sundry to rebel with me Against society's definition of the "real world."

You all know the Conventional definition of the "real world"--it's a place of very Narrow horizons. The Daily Grind; the job you hate; your Engrained, Typical routine. At the end of every year's Northwest Folklife Festival here in Seattle (or, I should say, at the end of Every music festival in Seattle), I hear people mumbling, "Well, back to the 'real world'", as if what we've just experienced isn't part of reality itself, is somehow "Unreal." I wish more of us would get it through our heads that our Creative endeavors, music festivals, and intensely Moving theatrical and cinematic interludes are also part of the "real world"; they are not Divorced from reality.

For me, Following in the footsteps of my heroes and role models in the folk/Celtic/world music communities is a Core part of reality. Certain people would have me think that I am Removed from reality for doing So. Others have pointed to my website building as evidence that I am "Retreating into my own Virtual world", as if it's in any way Unusual to have a website these days. Everyone and her pet iguana has a website, for God's sake. In addition to music, I also write short fiction, online fanfiction, songs and poetry; I make Ornamental items out of polymer clay, Inspired by the ceramic art of Neolithic Europe; I make overly-Long beaded necklaces in Particular themes or color combinations. I also do a lot of digital photography, some of Which I have Hanging at Art/Not Terminal Gallery here in Seattle. Now, if only I could sell some of the Abovementioned items. Most of what I put out there tends to be completely Ignored.

I am trying to focus on performing and writing music, however, which will necessitate putting some of the other stuff on the back burner for a while. As a folksinger since the age of 10 or so, I make it my business to learn songs from many Different sources, and then disseminate them as widely as Possible. My heroes and role models have pretty much all been folksingers; and to follow in their footsteps is my reality. I have my first full-length CD in production now (though I've taken Several months off from recording, after getting Discouraged at how Slow the process had become); I only fear that it will be Ignored as well, if or when it ever gets Finished. I need people to help me finish this recording, promote it, perform and travel in support of these songs, and sell them Widely, online and offline. I need connections and help in arranging performances here, in fact. I've figured out by now that I can't do all this Completely on my own. There are a lot of people I want to perform, write and record with as well; I wonder how one persuades others to take part in such collaborations? I want this to be my reality as well.

I believe I have a song on my Myspace page, "Four Days a Year" (written for the 25th anniversary of the Northwest Folklife Festival in 1996), which is one of my more Radical songwriting efforts, in that it challenges the Very definition of the "real world" we've all been Force-Fed most of our lives:

"To put the music first in life, most call pure fantasy;
But it's come to life this time each year for a quarter-century.
So welcome to the real world; is it not a wondrous sight?
And our nine-to-five illusions just went out the door tonight.

And the time to put our first love first Will once again appear;
For this too is reality, these four days a year.
Let's make this very clear:
That this too is reality, these four days a year."

A folksinger's life for me! And Whatever is real for you is also part of the REAL "real world."


Okay, for Yet Another in a Long String of News Recaps...

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2007: Just so everyone is Up on what's been going on here--when I can stay Awake long Enough, that is...

Anyway, I think that's all the news for now! Once Folklife is over and done with for Another year, I need to go shopping for new sneakers and plan a trip out to see my folks later this summer! Oh, and Rev. Jerry Falwell is dead and buried. But that's Another article in itself...


The Blood of Our Sisters and Brothers...

Photo of Virginia Tech memorial vigil © by Sam Dean | The Roanoke Times

SPECIAL REPORT (TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2007): ...cries out to us from the ground. Sincere sorrow and sympathy go out from the Lair today to the community of Virginia Tech and their families as they struggle to recover from yesterday's Brutal mass shooting, said to be the Worst known in U.S. history (at least on an educational campus). In all, 33 are Confirmed dead, apparently at the hands of the same gunman. What drove him to such actions is still being Investigated.

Some people are blaming the proliferation of guns and violence in the media. Some people are blaming the "permissive 1960's", or the "breakdown of morality", or "family breakdown", even though the gunman came from an Intact family of Korean immigrants who run a small business in northern Virginia. Some people believe that there is no Possible cure for a Psychopathic mindset Short of taking a kid out and shooting him/her the first time Said kid is Discovered pulling the wings off an insect in kindergarten; we really don't want to believe this. Some say the gunman was simply Alienated from ordinary society and experienced reality only through his laptop screen. Jerry Falwell is almost Certain to blame gays, feminists and legal abortion for this somehow. Some are even pointing to the phrase found Inked on the killer's arm--"Ismail Ax" as evidence for radical Islamist sympathies or affiliations. Perhaps he was abused or molested at some point in his life, but was somehow Incapable of releasing his rage and hatred against the person or persons actually Responsible, so he exploded all over Innocent proxies on his own campus.

In any case, we at the Lair stand in solidarity with the victims, the survivors, their families, friends and community. Here are some LairLinks relating to this Tragic episode:

Website of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Yahoo! Full Coverage of Virginia Tech Shootings Google News Articles on VA Tech Shootings BBC News on VA Tech Shootings

CNN on VA Tech Shooting Christian Science Monitor on VA Tech Shootings and Safety on Campuses


Special Alert: Sorry for the Interruption...

SPECIAL REPORT (WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2007): Hello, LairCronies, and welcome us Back!! Some freakin' CyberKraken bloody-well ATE THE CODE for this Home Lair last night!! I don't know how it happened--I'm sure I didn't do anything out of the ordinary to cause this--but all the HTML disappeared from this file right after I copied a table sequence from here to study in anticipation of developing a new LairShop connected right here with the Lair!

We fired off a Panicked alert to the techies at Lycos regarding the predations of said CyberBeastie (we couldn't even paste anything in here for a while!); and they are said to be Working on the problem. Hopefully the worst of the problem has been Resolved by now--and we are really hoping to get our Original code back Soon! Let this be a lesson to us, in any case, to BACK THE FREAKING WEBSITE CODE UP on a Regular basis from now On!!


In Other news, I am Still a dual-faith Christopagan, if you missed our Previous post which got Eaten by the big, nasty CyberBeastie that ate the rest of the Home Lair's most Recent code. We're still Struggling to get back said HTML. Many blessings on this St. Patrick's Week, and on our current Festival of Lengthening Days (a/k/a Lent)!


In Still Other news, we are working on a Brand-New Online LairShop, an actual part of the Lair, in which we will sell the LairMistress's Original photo prints and Neolithic-Inspired computer art, as well as LithicStickers and possibly CDs as well! It's just not Ready to present just Yet. And it will feature the Above Angelfire background, in place of the Usual Aqua/Turquoise haze that you usually see around us here! We just wanted this new LairShop to look a little Different, that's All...


Barbaro and Molly Ivins Are Dead, and I Don't Feel So Good Myself...

Barbaro, April 2002-January 29, 2007 Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2007: Man, everyone's bloody Dying at the moment. Barbaro, the Magnificent young colt who inspired people Everywhere by his early racing triumphs and later struggle to survive, was put down on Monday, January 29, because all four legs were being Crippled with something called laminitis, which we at the Lair never heard of before Barbaro came Along. We still miss him, including the opportunities to check his progress Online from UPenn's Veterinary Medicine Program and the New Bolton Center for large animal medicine. Here is a LairLink to our Barbaro Tribute LJ Post of January 29, which includes Further LairLinks to online Barbaro tributes.

Likewise, what's up with Molly Ivins being struck Down by breast cancer, after an Incredible, years-long fight for her life, when the ever-Obnoxious walking cadaver Ann Coulter gets to live On, spouting rubbish about liberalism-as-religious-cult?! Cripes. Almost enough to make one Agnostic. Molly is the sort we actually need, especially in her Final struggle to tell it like it is about the freakin' Iraq War, and goading people with (literally) her Last bit of strength and printer's ink to take action to stop it. Here is a LairLink to many of Molly's columns. We will miss her too; already the Seattle Times is looking Not Quite the Same...


SPECIAL NEWSFLASH, LAIRCRONIES!! We've finally gone and Done Something with our FunLair, a/k/a Online Games LairLinks Page!! I don't know why this warrants a "Special Newsflash", but I'm Excited about it anyway! I didn't think I'd EVER get around to making progress on that PassionLair! Now, though it's not exactly Finished, I can at least list it in the Sitemap with a Straight face!!


So, Gang, Who Do We Get to Saddamize Next?

Photo of Saddam Hussein at his execution on December 30, 2006 courtesy of Xinhua.com

SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 2007: Happy New Year, LairLurkers! I'm back home in Seattle, enduring, with a couple million of my Closest friends, some royally Nasty weather which is near Freezing besides! And now that the Saddam Hussein Execution has been Accomplished, Released on YouTube, and probably given its own DVD release date, we at the Lair are pondering the question of just who in Darth Dubya's grandiose Axis of Evil is next on the list to be Saddamized!

I mean, heck, the whole Iraq adventure has been SUCH a Roaring success (Darth Dubya declared combat operations "finished" in May 2003, didn't he?); so, why stop there? It looks as if the Saddamizing of Iran's president Ahmadinejad (did I spell that right? I have a helluva time pronouncing it correctly) is already well Underway; after all, being a Holocaust-denying bigot with a nuclear energy program, ol' Mahmoud virtually invites Saddamization. And then there's North Korea's Dear Little Leader, Kim Jong-Il, who's a bit like Darth Dubya in that he thinks he's God, and dares anybody to do anything about his manufacture and use of nukes (Darth Dubya, on the other hand, thinks God talks to him, and dares anybody to do anything about his possession of nukes, spying on civilians, torture of detainees, warrantless wiretapping, illegal demands of travel agencies to turn over the names and contact info of their international clientele, etc. etc.). Oh, and lest we forget, Mr. Kim is Shorter than Average, has a Really Bad Hairdo, and watches American movies a lot. Just the guy we ought to be Saddamizing.

Meanwhile, there's that guy whom nobody talks about Anymore, one Osama Bin Laden. I don't think they're even bloody looking for him Anymore; he orchestrated 9/11 and is damn Proud of it, but he doesn't run any oil-rich nations: ergo, Dubya and Mob have totally shelved any effort to Saddamize Osama. Besides, like Saddam, he's good for jokes on late-night TV; no comic on this side of the pond really wants him Dead either! And then there's the fact that Saudi Arabia, the home country of most of the 9/11 hijackers, still has gazillions of barrels of oil, and damn near runs the U.S. economy (China runs most of the rest of it). So no Saddamizing for them either.

Happy New Year, LairCronies, and hold onto your hats!!



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