"Jolly Jolly Grog"    [ 10 ]   
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June 2016

I think I'm going to be Irish. I already am, kind of. I look Irish, though my family really doesn't, I suppose. While my mother's side hails primarily from England and Ireland, my paternal line just wandered in from the Great Plains sometime in the mid-1800's. That makes my father ¼ Arapaho Indian, which in turn makes me a full, hefty one-eighth Native American! I think all that rich cultural heritage must be tucked away in me under a fingernail somewhere like an afterthought, because.. well, look . . .

This is my Dad
 My Dad
Not an actual Dad
This is me
Not really . . but close enough

Yeah, nobody quite knows what went wrong. As a kid, I sometimes worried that I might have been secretly adopted or something, but as I have grown older distinctive physical traits unique to my father are now apparent in me .. only a lot more sun-bleached. Truth is, I would probably get speared on sight if I ever wandered too far onto a reservation. ~ On the other hand, I'd probably go over big in Killarney.

Perhaps therapeutically, I find some solace in music by crafting audio CD's for our longer family road trips. Sometimes I mix in quotes from select movies or audio clips from one of our favorite TV shows, but mostly I just knit together a carefully ordered selection from our current faves, a few older classics, and even one or two stranger tunes just to challenge my daughters' musical sensibilities. They usually cringe upon hearing our more esoteric tracks, but then come to favor those most of all! (pop-up example) Now that I consider it, we're a pretty musical bunch, what with the girls' angelic singing voices, Jessi's piano and harp compositions, and my own decades serving through music. There never seems to be any end to the sonorous surprises we discover in new favorites, such as this track I copied from one of Jessica's Celtic CD's: "Muirsheen Durkin" (Brigham Phillips). Every time this jaunty tune comes on, we all perk up and sing along.

So goodbye Muirsheen Durkin, I'm sick and tired of workin'
No more I'll dig for praties * no longer I'll be poor
For `sure as me name is Carney, I'll be off to Californy
Where instead of diggin' praties, I'll be diggin' lumps of gold!
But I didn't decide to become Irish then.

No, it happened much later... just a couple weeks ago, in fact, at Walmart.

 Irish CD

I picked up one of those $10 CD's they display at the end of the aisles. You know the kind, featuring [quote] "soul-soothing" lite jazz piano collections, or the 'best of' (meaning super obscure) R&B numbers from the 70's. This particular double-CD set boasts a stylin' cover and "30 Traditional Irish Pub Songs" featuring Brigham Phillips. I rarely snap up any sort of untried media, but that golden shamrock hit me for some reason. And the name 'Brigham Phillips' rang a bell somewhere deep in the cobwebbed corners of my mind. ~ Oh, and * 'praties' are potatoes.

"Muirsheen Durkin" is an emigration song from around the same time when my great-grandfather forsook hunting buffalos on the open plains to marry some pasty-faced white woman fresh off the boat from the U.K. (Tracing my roots back would probably uncover some awesome surname like Ascending Eagle Who Terrorizes Wayward Bears) As for Brigham Phillips.. Not only is he featured in this collection, but also on a cassette some 25+ years old that a buddy made to introduce me to some fun Ren-Fest style shanties. I recognized some of these tracks from that tape all these years later, especially for I-don't-know-what-reason, the song, "All For Me Grog":

And it's all for me grog, me jolly, jolly grog 
All for me beer and tobacco 
Well I spent all me tin on the lassies drinking gin 
Across the western ocean I must wander
 old grog

The singer goes on to complain about losing his 'noggin' socks, shirt, bed, and pretty much everything else all because he cannot turn down liquor or the company of loose women, or the appeal of staggering around drooling drunk. The Irish have a way of making all of that sound like Just So Much Fun! Then again, I suspect they could sing about anything in their fashion and make it seem like a desirable pastime. ♫ "Oh, I got a spear in me eye, but'cha know I'm doin' fine..!" Anyway, I cannot imagine how I was able to sing right along with the chorus when I have not heard this song since probably 1992. I do not find any value in the pursuits described herein — can't even stand beer . .. (Hmmm... Might have to re-think this 'becoming Irish' business) Anyway, the songs are fun to sing along with, and I also happened to learn something about grog...

 Old Grog (label)
The name 'Old Grog' dates back from the early days when the finest of Grenada's Rum was shipped to his Majesty George III England. In order to identify the king's Rum, the casks were marked G.R.O.G., which is the abbreviation for Georgius Rex Old Grenada. Old Grog rum maintains Grenada's tradition of producing the finest blend of rums.

Georgius Rex Old Granada — I'll bet you didn't know that! [You're welcome!] I haven't tried the stuff. Maybe I will. I tried some whiskey a little while ago and nearly gagged. Tasted like alcoholic snot to me. (Yeah, think that one through) I just don't care for beer or hard liquor at all - never have, really. But these songs are all so catchy! I imagine becoming a roaming minstrel across the Pond... Have Keyboard, Will Travel! Maybe go `round playing at churches, and then back up little Celtic bands at pubs while everyone there is singing and getting slop-faced. [Probably a conflict of interest there] I can just download a tonne (that's European, see, so there's an 'ne' at the end) of Irish ballads and practice me accent, and go over there and probably end up so hopelessly unemployed I would likely soon find myself in an all-nighter pub choking down some Guinness after all . ..

But Dreams are fun! Come to think of it, my chicklettes & I are fascinated with Scotland in just about equal measure. But their pub songs don't seem quite so 'lyrical'.. they're more like, ♫ "Aye, we'll take yer Irish pub songs an' SHOVE `EM UP YER JACKSIE!" Besides, trying to emulate a decent Scottish accent would probably give me a hernia.

Part of this is all my daughters' fault. They have been begging me to let my hair grow all crazy-long for some years now. It gets all wavy in the back, which they think that is cooler than finding a $100 bill in their purse. Well, since I'm probably not going to have the luxury to even entertain doing any such thing with hair in just a few more years, I'm just gonna go for it! (I won't have these little lassies around forever, eh?) But it's a bit weird to sport such flowing locks in the semi-corporate world in which I work. Ah, but `twouldn't be so if I were in Ireland! Or even maybe probably Scotland..! And who knows? With my blondish-silvery flowing hair like this —( imagine Finn from 'Adventure Time', only 40 years older )— I just wonder if the lassies closer to my own age might take a shine to this single American Dad . .. might as well leverage this for something other than tangles in an otherwise perfectly good man-comb, right?

 grinning moose & Leperchaun

I can already hear some of you taking umbrage with my declaration to simply assume a new nationality. Ah, but don't we live in a world now where anyone can become anything simply by wishing it? This is rather fantastic, almost Leprechaunian... as if the entire political world has devolved into some approximation of a farcical school-time playground where someone may, if they so choose, spontaneously change gender ~ and the whole world is expected to just pretend along with them!  :-)  Isn't that wonderful? As a matter of fact, after a try at that whiskey I mentioned earlier, I determined that for a while I distinctly felt like a moose. Naturally, I would like to have used the Moose restroom at my nearest Target store, but can you believe it? They don't have the proper facilities there! So actually, this is still pretty wonderful because now I can sue the government for offending my moosey sensibilities! ~ Is this a great country or what! — Sure it's got its up's and down's... but Ireland seems greener overall, I think, and so that appeals . ..

The Irish Cultural Center (Phoenix, AZ)
 Irish Cultural Center (Phoenix)

I should probably just hang out sometime at the Irish Cultural Center located near downtown Phoenix. I took our in-house historian, Jessica, there once. Their castle-like library (pictured here at dusk, because visiting city-locked locales in the raw Phoenix sun can incinerate humans) kind of melted our desert-rat minds with all of its cultural heritage. Quite a surprising collection given how Arizona is about as far away from Éirinn go Brách as Sinéad O'Connor is from winning another Grammy. The entire time we were there, an old lady followed us around demanding that we trace our Irish heritage RIGHT NOW. I'm sure she meant well, but that sort of persistence seemed just a little bit creepy. (Maybe she liked my hair)

Besides U2 and .. and Enya, Ireland has produced all kindza world-influencing art and music .. and Riverdance .. OK, forget that one. But you know, I'm musical.. so maybe I should just learn how to play the bagpipes, and then -- wait, they're Scottish, right? ~ oh man .. It's becoming pretty obvious that I'm really going to have to give this a thorough thinking-through before hopping on over to the Emerald Isle for a Greener Life! But I keep stumbling upon such cool and excellent music, like, I just discovered Sharon Shannon! Here is my next CD purchase: "Sharon Shannon Collection 1990-2005" Want to brighten your day just a bit? Click this link and listen through even just the 30-second samples available on Amazon. Part Irish-flavored Renaissance Festival, part French &/or Cajun/Zydeco, part whimsy and experimental. The joy radiating through her musical expression is infectious! I would * LOVE * to see some kind of collaboration between her and Andreas Vollenweider! Could you imagine it?! — OK, in all fairness, I am listening through these samples as I type this and, wow, disc 2 is really different.... What started with discovering "The Blackbird" on YouTube and this collection on CD will likely end with plucking "Never Going Back" as a specific single from disc #2. That dude on the last track sounds like he's pretty well fluthered . . . Maybe I'd be better off just hunting down one of her instrumental greatest hits collections.. .

In all fairness, one has to wonder why a nation so rich in history and culture, a country so celebrated for its friendliness and sense of fun, her people as a whole seem so eager to get absolutely hammered at every conceivable occasion ~ or none at all. They sure do sing about it a lot, getting tanked to the gills and cavortin' about. (Is it the cause of their wanton ways, or the consequential effect of it?) Perhaps that's just a stereotype of yon typical Irish resident in the same way that the world at large views all Americans as cowboys and Indians. Maybe in another year or two, this particular Irish-Indian will take the opportunity to return (??) to a land where green thing grow FREELY without you having to coax it along with lots of money and a rain dance or two. I know, every nation has its good points and bad, but just LOOK at it!  ▼  (Roll over this photo for an eye-opening comparison.. if you dare!)

 Irish 'God Rays'

Any Questions?

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