youthful sunshine

energetic, caring, sweet, giggly, girlie. courtney.


The Jig Is Up

We FINALLY got in to have Lincoln's tests done on his urinary tract and a visit with a pediatric urologist.

It seems I've been played for the fool. 

Lincoln's urinary tract is in perfect working order.  As are his little boy parts.  He has a small problem with foreskin tightness which would explain his UTIs but he is already growing out of it and it should be normal within a month or so.  It is also unlikely that all his UTIs were actually full blown UTIs as the urologist thinks that at least the 2nd one was just a bit of bacteria that could have come from under his foreskin. 

So he's all good.  He's not sick.

Which means that it's now time for a little sleep training.  It's become clear that his evening screaming fit is likely due to him refusing to nap all day and then being up half the night nursing.  I have had him sleeping in my bed with me due to his excessive nursing - which I thought was due to his discomfort from having kidney reflux... which I now know he doesn't have. 

Sneaky little devil.

The crackdown is now on.  I've been putting out my SOS's all over the internet today and also speaking to the health nurse and hopefully my midwife - looking for the best way to get him to nap during the day and to sleep through the night.  The kid is 5 months old and nearly 18lbs.  He's not hungry every 45 minutes as he would have me believe.

I know things will get worse before they get better.  We're going to hear a bit of protest from him I'm sure.  But I'll be doing him a favor.  And myself.  And Steve and Ruby too.  (And anyone else we come in contact with for that matter.) 

The jig is up, little man.  As much as I love the snuggles, I need more sleep and so do you. 

Bill Fay: a very likeable and unaffected bloke

One of the most decent men I have ever met in the record business is Peter Eden, the remarkable independent producer whose work in the late 60s and early 70s encompassed folk (Donovan, Clive Palmer, Mick Softley, Heron), pop (The Fingers, The Crocheted Doughnut Ring, The Pyramid), jazz (John Surman, Mike Westbrook, Alan Skidmore, Norma Winstone) and singer-songwriters (Mike Cooper, Bill Fay). We were having lunch a couple of years ago, and I asked after Bill, who is another truly humble and appreciative soul. Peter told me that his wife had asked the same question out of the blue a year or so earlier, during his little granddaughter’s birthday party. He was in the process of telling her that they hadn’t spoken in years when the phone rang – and it was Bill (who likes to ring you, rather than the other way around). A few minutes later my phone rang – and it was Bill. A coincidence, of course – but strangely fitting, given the enigmatic nature of the man, whose music all but disappeared for decades before being rediscovered, reissued and praised from the rooftops. I won’t rave on about Bill here, largely because he finds praise embarrassing, but thought I’d post the paltry selection of snippets about him I’ve found in the contemporary music press.

Bill’s first release was the terrific Some Good Advice / Screams In The Ears 45, produced by Peter and issued on Deram in August 1967. Accompanying its release was this small profile from Record Mirror’s weekly ‘Names & Faces’ column, which appeared on September 2nd 1967 (alongside a piece about Robert Plant!). ‘Names & Faces’, incidentally, is a great resource for info about and pictures of obscure 60s acts, and would make a terrific little book…

The disc was not a hit, though it did manage to get released in America. After its release Bill languished for a couple of years before Peter persuaded Decca to fund an album of his songs, which was released on its budget Nova imprint in February 1970. It’s a strange set that find his deeply personal ruminations set to grandiose jazz and pop arrangements. Nothing sounds quite like it, and I know several people who’d take it to their desert island. Reviewers were enthusiastic – on February 21st Disc & Music Echo called him ‘a creative young man who builds his music round his poetry, and comes up with songs that are not likely to cause a revolution in music – but the arrangements are excellent and at times the sound is suddenly full and exciting’, while on March 7th Melody Maker said the set was ‘a little reminiscent of Peter Sarstedt, though Fay’s songs are more poetic and less cynical. The arrangements, by Michael Gibbs, are really excellent’. On April 18th, Record Mirror said ‘this is what might be described as ‘improved folk’, since the normal quiet guitar has been nicely augmented by sweeping string orchestrals, woodwind and brass. His Dylanesque voice is not pretentious, in fact it is relaxing. Just the right arrangements develop into symphonic progressions, and enhance Mr. Fay’s far-from-fey lyrics,’ concluding that it was ‘a triumphant debut’.

Nonetheless, despite Bill’s obvious knack with a tune and lyric, Peter Eden remembers that the Decca execs deemed him too vocally similar to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and did little to promote the LP. It was fast sinking without trace when music journalist Jeff Cloves contacted Bill, with a view to profiling him for the great ZigZag magazine. The resulting piece appeared in its May 1970 issue, and seems to be the only interview Bill gave at the time:

The appearance of the piece impressed Decca enough to send the album out to reviewers and radio stations, and on September 3rd 1970 Bill was showcased on the BBC radio show Sounds Of The 70s:

Sales remained slow, but Decca miraculously allowed him to make a follow-up, this time with avant-garde guitarist Ray Russell producing. Taped in October 1970, the astounding Time Of The Last Persecution appeared in February 1971, and sounds like the work of a different artist. In place of his debut’s catchy and quirky orchestrated pop are dense, enigmatic and despairing songs with improvised, sometimes cacophonous arrangements, and lyrics packed with Biblical imagery. It was promoted via an austere advert whose chart-friendly hook was to quote from Revelation:

Perhaps unsurprisingly for such a cryptic record, initial reviews were unenthusiastic. On February 20th the NME called Bill ‘another rather tuneless singer who writes his own songs’, adding that ‘Londoner Fay is 28, and has the right sound in his voice for today’s folk tunes. He plays piano and is backed by a six-piece at times, including guitarist Ray Russell, who helped produce his second LP, which is versatile and interesting.’ A week later Melody Maker stated that ‘Bill Fay follows a somewhat predictable path. He seems to find his inspiration, in part, in Biblical accounts, and sees pollution as a symptom / cause of doomsday. He has ideas that are worthy of attention. The difficulty is that, either through the limitations of the medium or Fay’s own intellect, the critic is left with an impossible decision. Is the album intended as a series of brief sketches, or as an end product in itself? If the latter, then it is unconvincing and uninspiring.’ Record Mirror agreed, writing that ‘Bill’s private form of folk-rock has the necessary ingredients, but an emptiness pervades – probably due to the lyric content and his not-so-tuneful voice. There’s a kind of coarseness here that attractive folk-rock must measure carefully to succeed. Slightly jazzy at times, probably due to Ray Russell’s influence on guitar.’ The album sold next to nothing (originals have cleared £1000 in recent years), Decca dropped him, and he faded from view for over three decades before his renaissance began.

I have a (very!) long letter from Bill in which he sets out his personal and musical history in eloquent and touching detail. I won’t reproduce it here, for obvious reasons, but next time he calls (whenever that may be…) I’ll ask his permission. In the meantime, here’s a brief Q&A he gave me a few years back:

How would you describe your music?
My music was a product of the age I was at – being young then meant things were pretty intense. My songs reflected the world’s troubles, not mine. I wanted to write songs that were personal and comforting in one sense, but that also reflected the heaviness of the outside world. And the world at that time was heavy. So the song ‘Time Of The Last Persecution’, for example, was inspired by the student deaths at Kent State University in Ohio. The first album is a gentle affair overall, and Time Of The Last Persecution was my Slow Train Coming, I suppose. It was a very happy marriage between my songs and Ray Russell’s musical style. Biblical ideas, prophecies and so on, had started to permeate, and gradually I came to believe. I wasn’t trying to convert people, though. The record’s Christian, but hopefully not in a narrow way. I know full well that it’s a heavy album, but I stand by it. I feel there’s a therapeutic release in its intensity. It may be a bit immature lyrically, but if terrible things are happening in the world, how can you not face them and try to respond to them?

Do you know how many copies the albums sold?
Around 2000 each, I think.

What did you do when you weren’t recording?
I wasn’t a working musician. The albums only took a day each to record, so other than that I worked in various jobs. I was in a factory at one point, which I referred to on one level in ‘I Hear You Calling’. I didn’t play live, and until Ray Russell’s band came along on the second album, I had no group to tour with anyway. We did some radio sessions, though, and one concert in a town hall in St. Albans where we played straight through the entire second album. Sadly I didn’t think to tape it.

What happened after Time Of The Last Persecution?
I didn’t get a new contract, that was all. Whether my manager, Terry Noon, decided I should leave Decca, or they decided they’d already lost enough money on me I don’t know. But my contract was up, and though I continued to record we couldn’t get another deal and consolidate what we’d achieved.

Its sleeve has led to a lot of assumptions about your state of mind at the time.
That photo was taken during the recording session. It was serious music, and I was concentrating. It wasn’t a set-up or a pose, but people always read meanings into things, and they assume that because I had a beard I was undergoing a drug meltdown or personal problems of some sort. I wasn’t.

How do you feel about the perception of you today?
I’m amazed by how uncannily accurate some of the reviews on the internet are about my music, but I’m not a Nick Drake figure, I’m afraid. Though I’m well aware of the other side of life, I’m lucky enough always to have had a cheerful disposition. The most touching and meaningful thing to me is that people genuinely valued my music when I thought it no longer existed.

Breathing Easy After Boise: Week 14 Thoughts

What a three days of college football it was for us on Thanksgiving.

First of all, there was THAT Auburn comeback which stirred hearts. There's nothing quite like Nick Saban getting a kick in the nuts - but it's probably more satisfying when it's Auburn fans who have done it. Their rendition of "Rammer Jammer" was a touch of genius, particularly when you can guaranteed it was repeated in somewhere ways away from the stadium and earned the person singing it a well-earned kicking.

Speaking of kicking, that's probably not the word to use around Boise State at the moment, after their kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a pair of pressure kicks that had the BCS boys thanking the Good Lord that they won't have a four-way unbeaten tie for the National Championship Game (that would be three, if Auburn and Oregon win out).

LSU's hopes of National Champions went with an inept offensive performance against Arkansas, nicely doubled with a hilarious clash of secondary players that let Arkansas in for the winning touchdown with virtually no time left on the clock. My, how the VFA laughed.

We wished we were in such good humour after events at State College, but unpredictably, Penn State lost to Michigan State 28-22, despite a spirited comeback. It was nice to see how full the student section was (not), but then again it WAS the Thanksgiving weekend and Penn State weren't exactly playing glorious ball, were they?

Minute Rice

And now I know why they call it Minute Rice....

Because I swear I only turned my back for a minute.
That reminds me... we're out of rice.

Dr. Z: A Vertigo Profile

Because it's so expensive in its original incarnation, the sole LP by Dr. Z has acquired a disproportionately bad reputation. I don't think it's great, but it's not bad, and has a very nifty sleeve. Here's what Vertigo had to say about the band and their album in September 1971:

I have found two reviews of the album, both of which can be found in my Galactic Ramble book (alongside an original press ad and a new review). The first appeared in Melody Maker on December 4th 1971, and has an especially prescient closing sentence: 'We see a couple of new Vertigo bands a month, gracing the already confused record shelves and vanishing as unnoticed as they arrived. Who picks em? Well, here’s another, a three-piece that’s roughly two years old and might really be two days… There are some interesting ideas drifting about, but that doesn’t merit a reason to make an album, put it out and expect people to buy it. I cannot imagine this selling at all.’ The other one appeared two weeks later in Record Mirror, and was a little kinder: ‘Nice concept here, and the packaging is original and well done. The only fault lies in the performance, and even then there’s nothing really wrong – it’s just that when you set your sights as philosophically high as this, you need the music to be right on. This just misses, but an extra shade of performing awareness should give Dr. Z a fantastic second LP.’ Needless to say, that never happened.

Fairfield Parlour: A Vertigo Profile

Life has been busy lately, so here's a couple of swift posts – both press releases from Vertigo for sought-after LPs. First up is the June 1970 handout that accompanied review copies of Fairfield Parlour’s sole effort. As I’m sure you know, this was an attempt by UK psych faves Kaleidoscope to break with the past and win chart glory, but it didn’t work. It’s notable that the profile makes no reference whatsoever to their former incarnation (and gets drummer Dan Bridgman's name wrong throughout).

I’ve only encountered two reviews of From Home To Home, by the way. On June 27th Melody Maker, evidently unaware of their history, called them ‘yet another band who emerge from nowhere with an album full of memorable songs, beautifully conceived and executed’, adding that it’s ‘a gentle, lyrical, happy-sad album, and very English, with fine harmonies floating above solid and unflashy playing.’ Disc & Music Echo was a tad less enthusiastic on August 8th, describing it as ‘lyrical music, gently and thoughtfully presented, with wild if somewhat pretentious lyrics. The lads are multi-instrumentalists and could be accused of trying to out-Moody the Moodies. However, a very pleasant album.’

Keep it to yourself

You know what you really shouldn't do?  You shouldn't pass comment on how a mother is raising her children no matter how right you think you are or how clever you think you are or how much you think you know about... whatever.   Unless of course you see someone burning their kids with cigarettes or driving their vehicle with their kids tied behind it, or something else of the like - shut up. 

No really, shut it.

Not even if you think you're being cute/funny by disguising your judgey comment as if you're talking to the kids themselves.  For example - when you see a woman pushing a double stroller into the grocery store with two little kids in it, it is inappropriate and highly fucking annoying that you just can't control your trap enough to not say this, "Oh my goodness!  You look so cold!  I hope your mommy gets you into that warm store soon so you can warm up!  Brrrrr!!!!" And then give a snarky look to the mommy pushing that stroller.

Fuck off.

For the record, my kids were both wearing socks, pants, turtle-necks, boots/shoes AND winter coats.  No, they were not wearing toques or mittens.  I don't feel the need to bundle them up excessively for the grand total of 20 seconds that they are between the warm house and the warm vehicle and then the other 30 seconds that they are between the warm vehicle and the warm store. 

Also?  None of your business, Chatty Cathy. Really.  You can dress YOUR kids (or grandkids as it may be) however you like. And I'll do the same or different with mine. 

And?  Did you perhaps stop to consider what it takes to get this whole operation out of the house, and into an actual grocery store? It takes a bit of work.  Extra work when the mom is maybe not getting a lot of sleep and the kids are a bit fussy.  So your comment?  Not necessary and really, really irritating.

After all it's not like I had them out tobogganing in their underwear.

And this has happened to me twice before.  Once a woman walked by us and said "Oh she looks so cold" and looked at me with a sad face like I was 16 and we were too poor to afford clothes.  Another time a woman straight out scolded me for not having Ruby's ears covered when there was a light breeze blowing.  That woman almost got pushed in front of a speeding car. 

What makes people think that their opinion is soooo valuable that they just can NOT resist spewing their personal thoughts and feelings to complete strangers? The only opinions that I want to hear are positive ones such as how cute/smart/funny/talented my kids are and/or what a kickass job I am doing of raising them.


a freeze crept over the valley while we slept. early morning portraits. cold. ice crystals giving way under the morning light.

mt. parnassus proof copies

kim and karen, i'll wait for your decision to send a suitable copy via email. - kerri

Conjuring Up Some Week 13 Predictions

We're entering the second-to-last week of the College Football regular season, which some fans will want to end quickly (Texas, Florida) and some will want to never, ever end (Oregon). For our Pac-10 friends, there is one more regular season game left. While for Big Ten, Big XII, SEC and ACC foes, it. all. ends. here.

The VFA gives you our thoughts on an incredible three days of college football that are upcoming. Bo Pellini translation not provided....


Texas at Texas A&M

If Texas hadn't beaten FAMU like a red-headed stepchild on Saturday, we would have been a tad worried. Heck, we're already worried about the Longhorns, who are one of the worst college football teams in Texas right now (we forsee a battle for that title with SMU). Texas A&M had 12 men on Saturday (some might argue that the title (depending on whether you root for Aggies or Huskers) goes to fans or the refs) against Nebraska, and pulled out a 9-6 victory.  PREDICTION: A&M pull it off and beat the Longhorns on the road. 


Auburn at Alabama

It's hard not to breathe in a bit when these two get together. Especially right now, when the No.2-ranked Auburn walk into a wall of hate in Tuscaloosa. Cam Newton has been brilliant this season, but against the country's 3rd-ranked defense, he's definitely going to struggle. On the other side of the ball, if Nick Fairley's well-blocked, then Mark Ingram's going to have all the time in the world to convert small runs into acres. Oh, and bad luck to Greg McElroy, who's not going to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. PREDICTION: Alabama takes Auburn to school, and ruins their rival's National Title chances.

Arizona at Oregon

This game would have been the game of the day had Alabama-Auburn not been rescheduled on the Friday to fit in with some CBS producer's wedding day/ long-weekend/NFL schedule. But this game is still big. Arizona comes in stumbling a bit, having lost two straight to Stanford and USC. Oregon was untidy in its victory over Cal, but won all the same. Our call? Oregon wins by 14 in a game closer than many - including Vegas - anticipates. 

Colorado at Nebraska

If the Huskers win, they go to the Big XII North title game. If they lose, they get laughed at by just about everybody. We think Nebraska will win. By the size of one of those cornfields.

West Virginia at Pittsburgh

Two words for this Big East match-up also known as 'Bedlam'...... Who cares? West Virginia wins this, for what it's worth. 


Michigan State at Penn State

The traditional end to the Big Ten season is a fantastic match-up that we hope will continue long into Nebraska's presence in our beloved conference. It's nearly always good - if you're a Penn State fan- because Penn State normally wins. This year Penn State has the chance of scoring a monster upset by beating the Spartans, who have been running to stand still lately  - particularly as they should have lost to Northwestern and Purdue this year.  PREDICTION: Michigan State wins, but only after they've spotted Penn State a 14 point lead.

Michigan at Ohio State

Altogether now...."We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan". Defensively, Michigan couldn't give a damn either. We think this game's going to be fun until the fourth quarter, when Ohio State pulls away and 100,000 crazy red-clad nutjobs go nuts.

South Carolina at Clemson

The good news for Stephen Garcia and Kyle Parker is that their teams don't depend on them for victory. Parker can't wait to hit the baseball season and Garcia can't wait for a haircut. Clemson's not a bad team, and Jamie Harper's quite a weapon to have. Be afraid, Clemson fans, of Marcus Lattimore, who's going to grind you to the floor. This one's going to be a war, folks. PREDICTION: Clemson wins in the upset. 

Georgia Tech at Georgia

Both sides have had seasons that they've rather forget. And while Paul Johnson probably won't get fired at Georgia Tech, we'll make the prediction that Mark Richt's going that way after the season has ended, unless he manages to keep AJ Green for another year in Athens. After the off-season madness when Green was found to be a little shirty and subsequently banned for four games, it's the least you can do for those pretty co-eds, AJ (plus the NFL's not coming back for the 2011 season, so why should it matter??). We're calling for a monster AJ day, and a Georgia win. 

LSU at Arkansas

Les Miles should write a book this season entitled: "How to avoid a season-ending trainwreck and keep my job". After his escapades this season, people would do well to buy it. We're not buying the fact that LSU will beat a pumped Arkansas, though.....

Florida at Florida State

In seasons of Tebow past, this game used to be important. Not this year, folks. Florida's offence has been awful (their win on Saturday was like polishing a turd) this season. Unlike its hated state rival FSU has been a Floridian success story, and it would be fun to see the trend continue. PREDICTION 'Noles punch holes in Steve Addazio's coffin.

Northwestern at Wisconsin

Northwestern has an horrific running defense. Wisconsin is a great rushing team. Can only spell three words: Wisconsin. Victory. Roses.

Notre Dame at USC

I nearly vomited when Lou Holtz said how Matt Barkley's injury was "only fair" to Notre Dame, who'll be playing this match-up with a back-up quarterback. Makes you want to put the old geezer down. PREDICTION: USC's back-up's better than Notre Dame's, and wins by 28.

Mississippi State at Mississippi

It wasn't a good week for Mississippi, who saw three men shot at Southern Miss and - although this matters far, far less - two of its major teams lose in fairly heartbreaking fashion. This year's the Egg Bowl's going to be one of the underrated, best games of the week, with added bragging rights and heartbreak to go with it. PREDICTION: Ole Miss wins by a touchdown.

the proper care and feeding of the self...

involves time out for play with other big girls of craft and creation. second soldering class with julee hermann. once the portrait season somehow ceases (like that alliteration julee?) i sense a solderfest coming on. tangerine is, just, ginalicious. looking forward to the handbound journal class. next time i shall remember my tea and slippers.  

tangerine goodness... 

We're nearly at the end (sob!): Week 13 thoughts...

We're nearly at the end of the college football season. Until September goes, Saturday's not going to be a wonderful highlight of my evenings anymore. I might have to do something else - like go to bed.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the Top 25 for the BCS fellas. Dammit boys, in 2011 give me a vote, will you??

  1. Oregon - Didn't play, didn't matter.
  2. Auburn - So, who's excited about THAT game against Alabama? Me, for a start...
  3. Boise State - Beat the living crap out of Fresno State. Praying for an Oregon or Auburn loss.
  4. TCU - Didn't play either.
  5. LSU - The rationale for the Tigers being above Wisconsin is this: Les Miles beats shitty teams with 30 seconds to go. Brett Bielma beats them by 82. Les' version is more fun.
  6. Wisconsin - Victory on the road to Michigan proves nothing - apart from the fact that Michigan sucks ass.
  7. Ohio State - Tough victory on the road at Iowa. Terrelle Pryor - enjoy the trip to New York in 2011.
  8. Stanford - Andrew Luck is a fantastic QB. Period.
  9. Alabama - Take this from us: Alabama will beat Auburn in Tuscaloosa next week. 
  10. Michigan State - The struggles to win over Northwestern and Purdue drop this team down a bit.
  11. Oklahoma State - Can't wait for the OU-OSU game. Should be a whole lot of fun. Gameday's there too, by the way.
  12. Arkansas- By the way, the MSU and OSU, UA slots are interchangeable. Arkansas is a fine football team, and should knock off LSU this weekend.
  13. Virginia Tech - After Tech's fantastic win at Miami, the James Madisoners are making Boise looking better and better each week.
  14. Texas A&M- Probably shouldn't be this high, but let me speak. Wins over OU and Nebraska is great news from the best fans in the Big XII.
  15. Oklahoma - Hammered Baylor and proved that they aren't a bad team. Having said that, they aren't that good, either.
  16. South Carolina - The win over Troy was nothing. But the victory over Florida still sticks in the mind. Clemson, here we come...
  17. Nebraska - Horrible loss at Texas A&M won't mean much: they'll win the Big XII North this year.
  18. Missouri - Not a bad team, but not going to win the Big XII. 
  19. NC State - Dealt with a dangerous UNC team, and a good ACC team. If there is such a thing...
  20. Arizona - Dangerous Pac-10 team which has a monster game with Oregon lined up. We're quite excited.
  21. Nevada - Still the third-best non-BCS team. Will be out of the Top 25 after Boise State deal with them - we promise.
  22. Florida State - Strangely, if the Noles lose to Florida, it'll be considered an upset.
  23. Iowa - ANOTHER sickening kick-in-the-balls loss for the Hawkeyes. How many has it been this season, again?
  24. West Virginia - The Big East is horrific, so why not?
  25. Mississippi State - The loss against Arkansas was a tough one. If they lose to Ole Miss, it'll be even tougher.
Things to note 1: Florida, Texas and Penn State still aren't in the Top 25, despite going 3-0 this weekend.
Things to note 2: Utah lost to Notre Dame, and therefore shouldn't be in ANYONE's Top 25.
Things to note 3:  VFA Heisman Race 1) Cam Newton, our favourite running, throwing (of ball and laptops) quarterback. 2) Andrew Luck (Because this kid's ready to play on Sundays NOW, while Newton reminds us a little too much of Vince Young (NFL version (ie not a compliment) 3) Kellen Moore - Fantastic young quarterback who has kept Boise's title hopes clicking along.

hampered by rain

love rain. just don't enjoy taking family portraits in it. it dampens the spirits, distracts everyone. this may have been the fastest family photo shoot ever. unfortunately, it also is not one of our favorite results. even starting out extra early @ 7:30 and changing locations, sometimes you just don't get that certain something.


variations in color scheme...8, 9, or 10?