22 June 2022

Grandfather Clock

I'm sure you have seen a "grandfather clock." maybe your grandfather had one. My grandparents had a logically named mantle clock on their mantle. So why did this tall piece of furniture clock take on the name "grandfather?"

A grandfather clock (also known as a longcase clock, tall-case clock, grandfather's clock, or floor clock) is a tall, freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock with the pendulum held inside the tower or waist of the case.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the name is a popular 1876 song "My Grandfather's Clock" which gave the common name "grandfather clock" being applied to the longcase clock. 

The song was composed by American songwriter Henry Clay Work who saw one in The George Hotel in Piercebridge, England. He was told that when the first owner of the clock died, the clock became inaccurate. When the second owner died, the clock stopped working altogether. The odd story inspired him to write the song.

Grandfather clocks are tall. Possibly as tall or taller than your grandfather. They are usually at least 1.9 meters (6 feet - 3 inches). Later, there were made clocks referred to as "grandmother" and "granddaughter" clocks, which are shorter in height.

13 June 2022

Goodnight, Texas

Goodnight, Texas plays a kind of music that might be termed today as "Americana" but is just as easily put on a shelf with folk or folk-rock bands.

Their clever and often enigimatic lyrics are up front on most songs and the instrumentation has a simple complexity that benefits from multiple listenings. 

The band is Scott Griffin Padden (Drums), Adam Nash (Guitar, Pedal Steel, Fiddle), Chris Sugiura (Bass) and founding members and songwriting vocalists Avi Vinocur (Lead Vocals, Mandolin, Guitar, Banjo) Patrick Dyer Wolf (Lead Vocals, Banjo, Guitar).

Patrick & Avi

The band's name is an actual town in Texas east of Amarillo, though neither Avi or Patrick come from there or had any connection to the place. In its earliest duo configuration, the two were on opposite coasts. Avi was in San Francisco and Patrick was in Chapel Hil, North Carolina. Looking at a map, they found Goodnight in the State of Texas to be the place between them. 

The town is named for Charles Goodnight who is often referred to as the "Father of the Texas Panhandle" and is said to have been "the most romantic man living, not only in West Texas, but in the entire West." If you watch the series 1883, Taylor Sheridan's character is Charles Goodnight.


2022 marks the release of the band’s fourth album How Long Will It Take Them To Die.

You can find out more about the band, tour dates, buy music and stream their songs on their official and strangely domained website at hiwearegoodnighttexashowareyou.com
and on Spotify

Band Photos: Brittany Powers

03 June 2022

Nautical Terms part 2

Image: Darkmoon_Art

In part one of my posts about nautical terms, I focused on terms about competency that have come from the nautical world. I also found several expressions for incompetency that come from that world.

Have you heard about someone who is over a barrel? To be "over a barrel" has come to mean to be left without choice or in someone else's power. Its nautical origin first appeared in the late-19th century. It referred to the actual situation of being draped over a barrel, either to empty the lungs of someone who has been close to drowning, or to give a flogging. in either case the person is in a helpless position and under someone else's control.

The expression has softened in meaning and now used to refer to anyone in a situation where they have little choice.

When we say that someone or something "ran afoul," we are also referencing a nautical expression. To run afoul in nautical terms means to collide or become entangled with something. One boat can run afoul of another or one small boat can run afoul of something like seaweed.

Currently, it is more commonly used to be in severe disagreement, trouble, or difficulty with someone or something, such as running afoul of the law.  

This expression originated in the late 1600s when it was applied to a vessel colliding or becoming entangled with another vessel, but it went into non-nautical usage around the same time and both senses remain current.

"Scraping the bottom of the barrel" means using something of very poor quality because that is all that is left. It has a quite literal origin from 17th-century ships when sailors would scrape empty barrels used to store salted meat to recover any remaining scraps. Away from ships, it can mean to obtain the last dregs of something or to procure someone or something that is of inferior quality.

And there are still at least 50 more nautical terms and sailing phrases that have enriched our language.