Thursday, August 27, 2015

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs

He only drank wine: the Ballad of Stewball

Oh Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.

He never drank water, he always drank wine.

His bridle was silver, his mane it was gold.

And the worth of his saddle has never been told.

Oh the fairgrounds were crowded, and Stewball was there

But the betting was heavy on the bay and the mare.

And a-way up yonder, ahead of them all,

Came a-prancin' and a-dancin' my noble Stewball.

I bet on the grey mare, I bet on the bay

If I'd have bet on ol' Stewball, I'd be a free man today.

Oh the hoot owl, she hollers, and the turtle dove moans.

I'm a poor boy in trouble, I'm a long way from home.

Oh Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.

He never drank water,he always drank wine.

What I like about this subject is the obscurity, the confusion, and the layers of muddled meaning, with fragmentary overlap revealing possible authenticity that may go back several hundred years. We all used to sing Old Stewball ("was a racehorse. . . ") in the 1960s during the folk boom, along with Where have All the Flowers Gone and Masters of War ("And I hope that you die, and your death will come soon/They'll carry your casket in the pale afternoon"), and I used to wonder: how weird is that, that you'd call a horse Stewball. What could it mean, if anything? I just found out tonight that it means a lot.

I now see that I should have had a clue. I was a horse-crazy little girl who read everything she could get her grubby little mitts on about horses, and I am sure I had come across the term skewbald, a synonym for piebald, which means. . . to us North Americans, anyway, pinto or paint. These are black or chestnut or sorrel horses with splashy white markings. Either that, or they are white horses with black or chestnut or sorrel. . . well. Are the zebra's stripes black, or white?

They look like cowponies to me, and for some reason I never took them very seriously.

I don't associate them with thoroughbreds, because the skewbald gene doesn't seem to be very active in modern bloodlines. But if you go back more than 300 years, racehorse DNA was quite different, with fast and gracile Arabians being crossed with the muscular European horses we see rearing up in historical paintings. Skewed, they might have been, with all that genetic confusion. But from the first time the Godolphin Arabian leaped off his springboard to service the fair Lady Roxanne, some fuse was lit, giving rise to the fastest horses in human history.

The name Godolphin pops up in Stewball's fictional/factual pedigree, making me wonder if he truly was descended from that stunning foundational sire, the amazingly prolific stallion who begat Lath, who begat Cade, who begat Regulus, who begat. . . and on and on, unto Man o' War and War Admiral and even Seabiscuit. A little horse who stamps his get.

I tried to find explanatory quotes that didn't go on and on for volumes, This neat paragraph from a Gutenberg site seems to suggest there really was a Stewball, and someone really did write a song about him, wa-a-a-a-a-a-a-y back when.

The horse was foaled in 1741, and originally owned by Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin, and later sold. His name has been recorded as "Squball", "Sku-ball", or "Stewball". He won many races in England, and was sent to Ireland. The Irish turf calendar states that he won six races worth £508 in 1752, when he was eleven years old, and was the top earning runner of that year in Ireland.[1] His most famous race took place on the plains of Kildare, Ireland, which is generally the subject of the song of the same name. The early ballad about the event has Skewball belonging to an Arthur Marvell or Mervin. Based on the horse's name, Skewball was likely a skewbald horse.

I also found far too many versions of the Stewball ballad and didn't know where to start: should I throw all of them at you and let you pick and choose? I finally picked out a few that demonstrated some overlap. Songs are like fairy tales in their tendency to drift and drool and slop over into each other, but always with some essential kernel of truth, some nub of the story that has real staying power.

My source for most of this material is an extremely detailed site called Thoroughbred Heritage, which serious horse-ites should visit forthwith:

Skewball: The Ballads

In America, the Stewball ballad was "...most popular in the Negro south, where the winning horse is known variously as 'Stewball' or 'Kimball," and was apparently one of the chain-gang songs. The song was recorded by Leadbelly in 1940 (CD available via the Smithsonian Museum), by Joan Baez (album title Joan Baez), by Peter Paul and Mary, and a number of successive artists.

Skewball (Harding B-6 (54) 00668)

You Gentlemen Sportsmen I pray listen all

I'll sing you a song in the praise of Skewball

And how they came over you shall understand

By one Squire Irvine the Mell of [of] our land.

500 bright guineas on the plains of Kildare

I'll bet upon, Sportsmen, that bonny-grey mare

Skewball hearing the wager, the wager was laid

He said loving master, its don't be afraid.

For on my side thou'st laid thousands of pounds

I'll rig in thy castle a fine mass of gold.

Squire Irvine he smiled, and thus he did say,

You gentlemen-sportsmen to-morrow's the day

Your saddles and bridles, and horses prepare,

For we will away th [to] the plains of Kildare.

The day being come, & the horses bro't out,

Squire Irvine he order'd his rider to mount.

All the people then went to see them go round

They swore in their hearts that they ne'er

touch'd the ground.

And as they were riding this was the discourse

The grey mare will never touch this horse.

O, loving kind rider come tell unto me,

How far is the grey mare behind you said he...

O loving master you bear a great smile,

Grey mare is behind me a large English mile

For in this country I was ne'er seen before

Thou hast won the race & broken lord Gore.

This one strikes me as the most authentic-sounding, but who's to say there aren't much older versions that you couldn't understand worth a tinker's hoot because Irish people have marbles in their mouths. It has the nicest sportsmanlike, cantering rhythm to it. Skewball actually speaks in this one, which is kind of nice, and is very encouraging to his master. One element that remains the same in practically all of these is Stewball's rival, a grey mare, though her name changes from one version to another.

Skewball (Steeleye Span)

You gallant sportsmen all, come listen to my story

It's of the bold Skewball, that noble racing pony

Arthur Marvel was the man that brought bold Skewball over

He's the diamond of the land and he rolls about in clover

The horses were brought out with saddle, whip and bridle

And the gentlemen did shout when they saw the noble riders

And some did shout hurray, the air was thick with curses

And on the grey Griselda the sportsmen laid their purses

The trumpet it did sound, they shot off like an arrow

They scarcely touched the ground for the going it was narrow

Then Griselda passed him by and the gentlemen did holler

The grey will win the day and Skewball he will follow

Then halfway round the course up spoke the noble rider

I fear we must fall back for she's going like a tyger.

Up spoke the noble horse, ride on my noble master

For we're half way round the course and now we'll see who's faster

And when they did discourse, bold Skewball flew like lightning

They chased around the course and the grey mare she was taken

Ride on my noble lord, for the good two hundred guineas

The saddle shall be of gold when we pick up our winnings

Past the winning post bold Skewball proved quite handy

And horse and rider both ordered sherry, wine and brandy

And then they drank a health unto Miss Griselda

And all that lost their money on the sporting plains of Kildare

Not all these lines rhyme, obviously, but who notices with a thrilling song like this? The lines "and horse and rider both ordered sherry, wine and brandy" may be the forerunner to the strange lines, "he never drank water, he only drank wine", though it's not unheard-of for winning horses to have their water trough spiked with a pint or two.

Stewball: A Version

Source: Fiddle Players' Discussion List, Meghan Merker

Way out in California

Where Stewball was born

All the jockeys said old Stewball

Lord, he blew there in a storm

CHORUS: Bet on Stewball and you might win, win, win

Bet on Stewball and you might win

All the jockeys in the country

Say he blew there in a storm

All the women in the country

Say he never was known

When the horses were saddled

And the word was given: Go

Old Stewball he shot out

Like an arrow from a bow

The old folks they hollered

The young folks they bawled

The children said look, look

At that no good Stewball

Here the Irish roots of the thing are pretty much buried, but it's a fast-paced, exciting version, with the very strange lines, "All the women in the country/Say he never was known". Known in the Biblical sense? It may be that, as with the Black Stallion, Stewball is one of those horses that came out of nowhere, with no papers to prove himself, nothing but a supernatural capacity to set the track on fire.

Stewball: Another Version

Source: Fiddle Players' Discussion List, Meghan Merker

There's a big race (uh-huh), down in Dallas (uh-huh)

Don't you wish you (...) were there? (...)

you would bet your ( ) bottom dollar ( )

On that iron ( ) grey mare ( )

Bet on Stewball & you might win, win, win

Bet on Stewball & you might win!

Way out / in California / when old Stewball / was born

All the jockeys / in the nation / said he blew there / in a storm

Now the value / of his harness / has never / been told

His saddle / pure silver / & his bridle / solid gold

Old Stewball / was a racehorse / Old Molly / was too

Old Molly / she stumbled / Old Stewball / he flew

And here are more fragments of the version I know: "now the value of his harness has never been told/His saddle pure silver, his bridle solid gold". I wonder who makes these decisions as the song morphs from decade to century, from artist to artist. Leave one detail out, add another. I'm actually quite grateful to have learned (just tonight!) that Stewball wasn't really Stewball at all, but Skewbald, with crazy skewed markings like forked lightning: a horse that could run up a storm.

Monday, August 24, 2015

We're nine-millionth in the world!

From Webstats

The Glass Character
Links Website Facebook Twitter >>
Top Keywords from Search Engines + 4 more>>



by Webstats Domain is UP and reachable, 33 minutes ago is ranked 8,997,005th in the world
(amongst the 30 million domains). This site is estimated to be worth
$1531. This site has a good Page rank (2/10). It has 0 backlinks. has 23% seo score.




LEGIT: legal

Clickety-click on the pink link below, and you'll see how we rate.

I never knew my homely old unsophisticated blogspot-blog with its simplistic outdated template could make the nine-millionth mark. Kind of makes you believe again. In what, I don't know.



What happens when you put a cell phone in the microwave (in reverse)


busy day

Friday, August 21, 2015

Like blood to chocolate: tears of love's recall

Thing of might and dread
Stays the saviour and poison to all
Of heart and head

Force of death and birth
Still lies naked when next to the truth
So spins the earth

The tears of love's recall
Like blood to chocolate fall

And love
The common salt of thirst
Runs like water that cuts through the lives
Of blessed and cursed

The tears of love's recall
Like blood to chocolate fall

The tears of love's recall
Like blood to chocolate fall

Could you?


Animated Harold: it's cartoon time!

Let's talk about. . .FEMALE VIAGRA!

What You Need To Know About ‘Female Viagra’

INFOGRAPHIC  August 20, 2015

VOL 51 ISSUE 33   Health · Science & Technology · Science ·Medication · Women

The FDA recently approved the sale of Flibanserin, a pink pill intended for women diagnosed with low sex drive; critics have questioned the pill’s effectiveness, while advocates are praising the move toward supporting both men and women with these sexual issues. Here are some of the most common questions about Flibanserin:

Q: How does Flibanserin work?
A: Women simply take the pill daily for four to eight weeks, feel no increase in happiness or desire, and then discontinue using it.

Q: Is it safe?
A: No. The female libido is a cloven-hoofed beast that must be caged.

Q: Where can I get Flibanserin?
A: From any doctor in possession of clipboards and pens with the Sprout Pharmaceuticals logo.

Q: What are the possible side effects?
A: Trial participants reported feelings of being duped, ripped off, and lied to.

Q: What are some of the proposed brand names?
A: Pink Lightning; Libido Juice; Corsoffren.

Q: How long does it take for Flibanserin to work?
A: Results vary depending on how gullible patient is.

Q: How much does it cost?
A: $29.99, but if you order now only $13.99, plus you’ll get 10 free jars of Orgasmo-Boom Skin Butter, all with free shipping and handling.

Q: Why was the drug rejected twice before?
A: Doesn’t matter now! It’s approved, baby!

Q: I’m a woman in my mid-50s in a loving relationship, but do not feel like engaging in sexual intercourse. Sometimes I feel as if my husband does not communicate how he truly feels about me or my body, and I have a hard time discussing this with him. Will this pill solve that?
A: Yes.

Q: Are there other alternatives for women?
A: Physicians have found equal efficacy in raising libido from reading The Cowboy’s Touch, Going Cowboy Crazy, or To Kiss A Texan.

Q: Will insurance cover Flibanserin?
A: Hold on there, little dreamer! Let’s work on basic contraception first.

P. S. Though there are eight links to the original article under the title, I want you to be sure where this gem comes from. In other words, I didn't write it, folks. Wish I had.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Josh Duggar: let's read that first draft!

Josh Duggar's Apology: "I Have Been the Biggest Hypocrite Ever" [Updated]
Josh Duggar's Apology: "I Have Been the Biggest Hypocrite Ever" [Updated]

Thus, the abject, Jimmy-Swaggart-esque apology written by Josh Duggar's lawyers, before yet another lawyer edited the thing. Red-pencilled are the remarks that might be considered "litigious". In other words, too close to the truth.

Needless to say, Josh's little escapades led to TLC cancelling (after long and ratings-conscious deliberation) the wildly-popular paean to assembly-line babymaking in the Fundamentalist realm, 19 Kids and Counting.

So what will Josh do now? I think he ought to drag his sorry ass to jail for some serious time, but that won't happen. He'll twist things around so that if WE don't forgive him, there will be something wrong with us. We'll be choosing to hold bitterness in our hearts rather than surrender the whole icky mess to the Lord God Almighty and his sidekick, J. Christ.

But it's more likely TLC will choose to build another reality show around Josh. Shall we call it 19 Sins and Counting? 

Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kittenzilla 1 and 2: The Return

Facebook hacks: or, why it is so depressing to be a blogger

Well, first of all nobody buys your books anyway, even though you forced yourself to start a blog to promote the book. Which everyone told you you HAD to do.

It's all a  popularity contest based on views and followers, meaning 98% of bloggers will beat you every time.

The only really enjoyable thing is writing the posts, which is considered the least important.

But no. THAT is not the thing that pisses me off today.

At the top of my Facebook page, a yellow bar appeared today that I cannot get rid of. This yellow bar has a little triangle with an exclamation point inside it, and it wants me to give my phone number to Facebook "to help secure your account AND MORE." The "and more" is never explained.

I do not want to give my phone number to Facebook. At all. EVER. No matter how many reassurances they give me that it will be kept private, it won't be. Things are being hacked all the time, daily, things which, incredibly, are even more important than Facebook.

This post is a sad little thing. I wrote a nice fat juicily angry one backed up with lots of articles from The Guardian, etc., saying that I was right and should NEVER give my phone number to Facebook, no matter how much Facebook tells us it's all right.

Facebook telling us it's all right is supposed to make it all right, or at least make us THINK it's all right.It isn't. All right.

Phone numbers and a lot of other personal information is for sale on the Internet, and Facebook, or, sorry, no, somebody PRETENDING to be Facebook, might be selling it even as we speak. This information is being tossed to advertisers like herrings to hungry sea lions.

That's still not the worst thing. This yellow bar won't go away and is still sitting at the top of my Facebook page and has no "no" option, though it appears to. It has a "dead" x that does nothing in the corner, giving you the illusion you have a choice and can turn it down if you want to. You can't. You can't even click it away so you don't have to look at the stupid mocking piss-yellow thing any more.

But it gets even worse. In trying to write a blog post about that yellow bar and the evil it represented, that selfsame yellow bar (incredibly) transferred itself to the top of my blog home page. It was greyed out so I couldn't get rid of it or do anything with it. At all. I know it was the Facebook yellow bar because it had the Facebook "head" symbol on the left side, but no lettering on it. Then Internet Explorer told me I didn't even have a blog any more, that it had been completely wiped. I clicked around and managed to accidentally delete the post I've been working on all day. It's gone. But the grey/yellow bar is gone, too.


Like a virus, that unwanted "invitation" to give my phone number to Facebook jumped to my blog home page and destroyed a post about me NOT wanting to give them my phone number.

From the Deep Web (a sort of Twilight Zone of creepy cyberstories) to the Cloud, which may or may not actually be suspended in the sky, the internet just gets scarier. Soon it will develop consciousness, like HAL in the movie 2001, and spew astronauts out in space with no oxygen supply.

Meantime my magnificent post about Facebook's attempt to hijack and pirate my privacy has disappeared. Hey, I'M not saying Facebook had anything to do with this. But it's possible their little ghouls read my mind, or my blog, and decided to wipe the whole thing clean.

Or not. But FUCK how I hate having to reconstruct a post which I KNOW will never be as good as the original.

POST-BLOG GLOB: So here's what they told me! Facebook's "response" to my query about their request for my phone number:


Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. We’re constantly trying to improve Facebook, so it's important that we hear from the people who use it. Unfortunately, we can’t respond to your emails individually, but we are paying attention to them. We appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

If you're having any problems with your account, please visit the Help Center ( where you'll find information about Facebook as well as the answers to many of your questions.

Thanks again for your feedback,
The Facebook Team

Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!