26 March 2011


So, this is going to be a little thing where I talk about the music from the world of THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK. You could call it a series, but that would imply a regularity that I won't guarantee and a sense of professionalism that I may be incapable of. So let's just say a new THE MUSIC AND PRESTON BLACK will pop into your Twitter feed and onto your Facebook wall every now and then. It'll be like a tick, you may not even notice it then BAM! you got yourself some Lyme Disease.

And when these posts do pop up, I suggest you grab those earbuds and jam them deep into your favorite earholes because I ain't putting forth any crap here. This is all going to 100% rocket-fueled noise from as close to the source as possible (soundboards, soundboard matrices, FM broadcasts, etc.) so your brain doesn't lose a single note.

Here's how this will work. At the top of the post I'll talk about the band and the song, maybe the venue or circumstances surrounding the show or recording, if any.

Then I'll give you a link, just like this so you can listen along. Like Picture Pages with Bill Cosby back in the day.

Yonder Mountain String Band

The song is Ruby>Follow Me Down to the Riverside>Ruby (Know to Kinfolk as a RUBYSIDE or RUBYCIDE)

YMSB is a Colorado-based bluegrass band known for their live shows. Four phenomenal musicians cover a variety of material from traditional Stanley Brothers tunes to modern stuff like The Misfits' TWENTY EYES, Pink Floyd's DOGS, Talking Heads' GIRLFRIEND IS BETTER. They also pick songs from an extensive repertoire of originals. But for somebody unfamiliar with the band I think the covers are the gateway drug.

RUBYCIDE is a blend of a cover and an original, sharing a common thread--extra points if you can guess what that thread is. I chose this version because it's fairly self contained. The > in the description above indicates a segue from one song into the next. Jeff Austin's voice can be a little hard to take at times, but when he's on, like he his here, it fits the tune like maple syrup fits a pancake. What I really like though, and what elevates this song into 'epic' territory is the way the minor key drone of the banjo in the space between verses drives the song deeper and deeper, so when the body hits the water you knew all along it was coming. The frantic pace of the staccato mandolin and call and response of '...follow me down (to the riverside) follow me down (to the bubblin'bubblin') follow me down...' is Joey Ramone for 1939.

RUBY is an old Osborne Brothers tune that's about as Appalachian as yew pines and coal mines. Of course, somebody dies. (Or has just died.) The song's so dirty you want to wash your hands when it's over.

Ruby? Ruby? Honey are you mad at your man?

I sit here in the shade I shovel with the spade,
I'm diggin' in the ground's cold mine.
Oh Ruby Ruby honey are you mad at your man?

I've done all I can do to tag along with you,
Still you're not satisfied.
Oh Ruby Ruby honey are you mad at your man?

If you don't believe I'm right just call on me tonight,
I'll take you to my shady so cold.
Oh Ruby Ruby honey are you mad at your man?

Some pretty heavy stuff from a guy who plays an instrument with only five strings, right? Just wait. Yonder tacks RUBY onto their own FOLLOW ME DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE.

...said I will take you by your hand,
lead yo' ass down to the banks of the sand.
I'll ask you one more time,
hey, sweet honey lover are you gonna be mine?
If the answer is no, well sorry honey, down, down, down, you must go...

Rivers and dead bodies. That's how I like my tragedies.

Listen to or download the whole show here. Highlights for me include the originals NOT FAR AWAY (There's a deep, dark hole in the mountain, where the devil sleeps all the time...) and ANOTHER DAY, an Adam Aijala number that shows the band's lighter side, a pair of story songs-SOMETIMES I'VE WON and DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT and the TROUBLED MIND>TWENTY EYES>TROUBLED MIND triptych.

Yonder Mountain String Band
July 26, 2007
THURSDAY AT THE SQUARE, Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY

Source: audio-technica 4041's > Segue Dogstar Silver XLR > Edirol UA-5 [Oade P-mod] > Creative Nomad JB3 [44.1]
Lineage: JB3 [usb] > PC > CDWAV > FLAC (520 MB)
Taped by: Seth Nochajski & Keith Januszak
Transferred by: Seth Nochajski


Death Trip,
Not Far Away
Another Day
Little Rabbit
2 Hits And The Joint Turned Brown
Sometimes I've Won
Dawn's Early Light
East Nashville Easter
Troubled Mind > 20 Eyes > Troubled Mind
Catch A Criminal,
Cuckoo's Nest
Ruby > Follow Me Down To The Riverside > Ruby

Damned If The Right One Didn't Go Wrong
Half Moon Rising

Photo by Jason Jack Miller, Yonder Mountain String Band, State Theater, Falls Church, Virginia, October 22, 2005.

25 March 2011

Interview time!

Heidi and I were interviewed Rosie Ugliuzza as a lead-in to the Pennwriters course we're teaching in a few weeks. You can read the interview here.

Space is still available in the class, by the way.

Writing with Authority

The easiest way to engage your reader is by using concrete nouns and action verbs. In this one-month online course, Seton Hill University creative writing faculty Jason Jack Miller and Heidi Ruby Miller will show you how to analyze your writing and use easy techniques that will increase the authority of your voice. Participants will:

* Discover how to spot passive voice

* Scrutinize their writing for generic nouns and indefinite pronouns

* Learn to avoid weak verbs and overuse of “be” in all its forms

* Practice using strong synonyms to find the best action verb

* Apply word cloud research to make their plot come alive

24 March 2011


Just so yinz know, free previews of THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK are up and waiting to be read.

Here's the one at Amazon.com. If you don't have a Kindle, download the free Kindle Reader software on the right hand side of the page below the sample. It's basically a Kindle app for your PC.

And here's the CreateSpace preview. This is where the print version of the book will end up.

23 March 2011


Got this in an email forward and figured it was food enough to post...

Next Season on Survivor

Have you heard about the next planned "Survivor" show?

Three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped in an elementary school classroom for 1 school year.

Each business person will be provided with a copy of his/her school district's curriculum, and a class of 20-25 students.

Each class will have a minimum of five learning-disabled children, three with A.D.H.D., one gifted child, and two who speak limited English.

Three students will be labeled with severe behavior problems.

Each business person must complete lesson plans at least 3 days in advance, with annotations for curriculum objectives and modify, organize, or create their materials accordingly.

They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with parents, and arrange parent conferences.

They must also stand in their doorway between class changes to monitor the hallways.

In addition, they will complete fire drills, tornado drills, and [Code Red] drills for shooting attacks each month.

They must attend workshops, faculty meetings, and attend curriculum development meetings.

They must also tutor students who are behind and strive to get their 2 non-English speaking children proficient enough to take the SOLS tests.

If they are sick or having a bad day they must not let it show.

Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, math, science, and social studies into the program.

They must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment to motivate students at all times.

If all students do not wish to cooperate, work, or learn, the teacher will be held responsible.

The business people will only have access to the public golf course on the weekends, but with their new salary, they will not be able to afford it.

There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch will be limited to thirty minutes, which is not counted as part of their work day.

The business people will be permitted to use a student restroom, as long as another survival candidate can supervise their class.

If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials before, or after, school.

However, they cannot surpass their monthly limit of copies.

The business people must continually advance their education, at their expense, and on their own time.

The winner of this Season of Survivor will be allowed to return to their job.

Pass this to your friends who think teaching is easy, and to the ones that know it is hard.

22 March 2011

Twitterly Promiscuous Week 2

The start of week two find me changing the name, yet again. I didn't think 'whore' was an obscenity. Shows you how I was raised. (My mom doesn't read my blog.)


Following: 2005 (I used justunfollow.com to unfollow 100 non-followers every 24 hours. There was a glitch one day and it let me delete, like, 500.) This is not an accurate count of how many people I followed over the last seven days.

Followers: 637 (If I was all scientific-like I'd give you a ratio of following:follower, but as I'm just a science teacher and not a real scientist, this will have to do.

What I learned: target tweeters who have list YOU want. For the first few days I was looking for other writers, then I was all, like, 'This is stupid.' So I began going after other writers' lists. Also, I learned if I stayed close to the top of the list (newest Followers), I was more likely to get followed back. New people aren't cynical to Twitter's attention-seeking ways yet. By the time they catch on I've already charmed them with my informative and witty tweets.

21 March 2011

Scott A. Johnson on Education.

From http://americanhorrorwriter.blogspot.com/2011/03/teachers-rant.html

"But one of the most horrifying things to come up recently is the closing of schools and firing of teachers, and even cutting teachers' salaries. We see commercials every day touting that we, as a nation, need to embrace math and science, and that we're falling dramatically behind as far as the education levels..."

Another perspective from somebody outside of the profession. I figure the main reason we don't hear more from parents about this (and why senior citizens are one of the most vocal groups in American politics) is because parenting is a full-time job. They're too busy to write opinions and actively participate in local politics.

Read the rest at: http://americanhorrorwriter.blogspot.com/2011/03/teachers-rant.html