Poetry in the machine, or poker in Hungary

June 12th, 2012

Sometimes chance paints the finest picture. An old barn, crumbled by gravity. The perfect arrangement of leaves fallen around the foot of an oak. The delicate wordcraft of Google translate. Take this example, from the Hungarian version of partypoker.com. I type the url into my browser and the Google translate bar pops up and asks, ‘Would you like to translate this’? I think, ‘yes, indeed. My Hungarian is a trifle rusty’. That’s when this gem appears on screen, “in the end you walk away the jackpot in your pocket”. It’s not grammatically wrong, it’s just, uh, creative. Most people would have written, “in the end you walk away with the jackpot in your pocket” or “in the end you walk away, the jackpot in your pocket”. But instead you walk away the jackpot like you’d walk a girl to her front door after a date. It’s brilliant. It’s likely unintentional, but a sunset is often more beautiful than a Picasso. Is intention essential to art? Perhaps intention distinguishes art from random beauty. I look forward to your comments, though I probably won’t ever approve them because the comment queue on this blog has 972 comments in it posted by other Central European online gaming sites.

Sometimes you walk away the winner, sometimes you walk away the wiser. When you walk away the jackpot in your pocket, you walk away the better for the deal.

Where have I been?

May 13th, 2007

Since I’ve been getting some email asking about the cancelled shows, I figure I might as well post this up here. I am recovering from back surgery out here on Boston’s North Shore. I pushed myself a little too hard this past year and ended up limping through the last several months and beating up on my spinal column a little too much. I’m going to be taking it slow for the summer, only playing a couple of shows, and recovering my strength. It was harrowing to lie there in the hospital in a morphine haze, wondering if I’d ever be able to walk again. Made me value the sunshine and fresh air and a working set of legs more than I ever have in my life.

Where Have I Been?

April 1st, 2007

I’ve been in Boston! I’m living by the sea in the town of Beverly. “The Puppet King” is done and will be released soon. I have a few pre-release copies to sell, but it’ll be a month or two before it hits the online retailers. I’m already writing more tunes and starting to think about the next record.

photo from August

October 10th, 2006

Wanda Fischer just sent me this picture of the two of us with John Sebastian from the WAMC benefit we did this August.

CD Freedom!

October 6th, 2006

Check it out, you can now buy my CD ‘Earthed’ at CDFreedom.com. There is a link to it in the “songs” section of this site. Please buy a copy and tell your friends. Proceeds help me to pursue my many hobbies including eating, maintaining shelter from the weather, filling my truck with gas and buying new guitar strings.

Cigar box debut at Slow Jed’s

October 3rd, 2006

Saturday night at Slow Jed’s I played my new electric cigar box ukulele for the first time. I played it for the whole first set! I am really happy with the pick-up that I built out of $5 of old speaker parts.

By the way, I’m in Nashville

September 13th, 2006

Will I be the next Garth Brooks? I don’t know, but I’m here in Nashville at a coffeeshop on music row hoping that over the next few days I can find a publisher who is interested in the kind of songs that I write. If anyone knows anyone in the music business in Nashville, please email me right away!

New Uke!

September 13th, 2006


I have been looking for a while for a good cigar box ukulele. These handmade instruments represent a folk tradition of making music with materials at hand. I remember, as a kid, stretching rubber bands over a cigar box to make a simple guitar. A couple of months ago, Madcat Ruth wrote down a name for me of a luthier in Ann Arbor Michegan who had made his uke. I lost the slip of paper! Last weekend I met Dan Kahn, a really cool performer from Berlin. He had a Terry Horvath cigar box uke and I realized that Terry was the builder that Madcat had told me about. A couple of phone calls later, I own this fine instrument! Now to find a case for it…

Biscuits and Gravy

September 12th, 2006

It’s morning at a Davy Crockett Truck Stop. I’m waiting for my biscuits and gravy as the Tennessee sun forces its way through the window. It is already beginning to warm up and I notice that I, with my denim jacket, am the only one in the place wearing long sleeves. Fake wood, linoleum tile and naugahyde lend creedence to the sign out front proclaiming the 30th anniversary of this noble establishment. It could still be 1976 in here. A woman with tattoos on her wrist meditates over a cigarette at the next table and the smoke fits the scene the way that wood smoke fits a log cabin in the woods. From here I can see the interstate with its endless flow of traffic rolling south toward Knoxville. This is blue jean America, the land of baseball caps and work boots, plaid shirts and pickup trucks. My breakfast arrives lukewarm, the eggs dried out. The coffee is strong. The thick southern gravy is comforting.

catching up

September 11th, 2006

OK, I haven’t blogged in a while. In that time I’ve been to Denver, Colorado, Denali National Park Alaska, played the Kantishna Music Festival in Alaska, flown to the Arctic circle in a small plane with my friend Simon Hamm at the controls, played in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Club Passim’s Cutting Edge of the Campfire Festival, bought a new ukulele, and started out for Nashville, Tennesee. Obviously I need to write about some of this stuff and share some photos. I’ll get to it- I really will.