have a Load of Fun with Tom Swiss, February 2

Will the poet/singer/songwriter see his shadow and be frightened back into his hole, signifying a long winter? Will he be stuck living the same day over and over again? Will Brigid, muse of the poets, visit him on this old Celtic holy day of Imbolc?

Probably not, but come find out at a night of music and poetry - A Load of Poetry, in fact, from the fine folks at PoetryInBaltimore.com, on Friday February 2nd, 8 pm, at:

Load of Fun Gallerie
120 W. North Avenue (in the Station North arts district)

featuring words and tunes by yours truly, Tom Swiss. Open mic follows.

"Tens of thousands" march on D.C. demanding withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq

ABC News reports on today's Iraq war protest. They put attendance in the tens of thousands, and note that there were only about 40 counter-protestors. I've seen the number of pro-war protestors shrink at each of the three marches (pre-invasion, March 2006, and this one) that I've participated in; seems it's getting harder and harder for even the most stubborn Bush fan to believe in this war.

More details to come.

another fundable.org drive for a BrowserCam account

As I reported last year, BrowserCam
is a cool service that allows you to obtain screenshots of web sites in a number of different browsers, and even use VNC for live tests.

It is, however, on the spendy side - one day's access is
$24.95, or $499.95 for a year. But they are offering a special for a group purchase via Fundable.com: a group of 20 can get a year's access for $25 each. Way cool. Come join us!

Girl karate-kicks her way to freedom from kidnapper

ABC News reports on a ten-year-old girl who put her martial arts training to good use when an abductor threw her into the trunk of his car:

When the kidnapper stopped for gas, Marissa, who takes martial arts classes, kicked her way out of the trunk. She then walked into the store and calmly told the clerk that she had just escaped.

Marissa's instincts were right on, some observers say. Putting up a fight can call attention to an abduction, and that can make the difference between getting away and getting killed.

Zelda's Inferno, January 21

First exercise: "Block,Pillar, Slab, and Beam". write a poem in which you build or take apart something

I wasn't there when he put it up
Nor when it was taken down
But I imagine him happy putting it up, a hale man in his sixties putting up a swing set for his grandsons
Sinking thick steel tubes into the ground, angled brackets holding them together
A screwdriver, a wrench, pliers in his hands as he marked and filled space with the frame, hung the chains to make the function
(I think about how he picked out the location, sun and shade, trees and garden)

I think that frame was still up (swings and chains long gone) when I graduated college, my brother high school

Edgar Allan Poe's birthday visitor

There are certainly things about Baltimore that I don't like: murder, heroin addiction, blocks of boarded-up houses. But any city where for 58 years, someone has come the grave of a writer to leave a mysterious tribute, well, can't be all bad.

When it became clear that the Poe Toaster had arrived, and placed a half-empty bottle of cognac and three red roses on Poe's grave, the crowd rushed to one entrance to get a glimpse.

Jan 14th Zelda's Inferno exercise

Sunday's Zelda's Inferno exercises:

1)"Texas hold 'em" with a "universe deck". A universe deck is a set of cards, each with a word. "Texas hold 'em" is a poker game where some card are shared in everyone's hand, and everyone also has their own individual "hole" cards. ("Hole" is probably not the right word, technically; sorry, I'm not a big-time card shark.) The exercise: use the dealt words in a poem.

shared words: spirit bite rumbling hot
hole: green floating melody

the green spirit of spring arises early
fooled by the hot January, robins and geese return months ahead of schedule

shortwave "numbers stations": creepy spy stuff

When I was a kid, my folks got a multi-band radio that picked up not just AM and FM, but shortwave and audio channels from TV. (If memory serves, they got the radio with a big stack of game tickets from an arcade in Atlantic City.)

While we mostly used it to listen to Johnny Walker or Brian and O'Brien in the mornings, or listen in on TV shows while in the tub in the evening, every once in a while I'd fool with the shortwave. Sometimes I'd pick up a weird channel with someone reading numbers, ghostly voices reciting nonsense.

Tim Kreider on invisible Saddam Hussein

From Tim Kreider's artist's statement for last week's The Pain -- When Will It End?:

I just could not let Saddam die. I know the man was a brutal dictator and a butcher and I ought not to celebrate him as a figure of fun. Partly it’s just that perverse impulse in me that refuses to take seriously what everyone else regards as unassailably sacrosanct or taboo. I am inexplicably cheered by the idea of his surviving, Elvis-like, in our imaginations. Perhaps he lives on as a symbol of the ineradicable authoritarianism and brutality in the world, a reminder that as long as human beings are cringing hierarchical animals that defer to authority, the sociopaths among us will inevitably rise to the top. Wherever there is a country held together by fear, wherever people are raped and tortured in secret prisons and buried in mass graves, Saddam is there. Wherever we bankroll dictators and look the other way from atrocities, whenever we smile and shake hands with devils for the sake of political expediency, Saddam is there. Wherever there is misguided and hubristic American bungling, wherever we turn brutal dictatorships into chaotic bloodbaths, Saddam is there. [Saddam] is with us always.

"white noise" generator with sox for Linux

I am a light sleeper. So a while back I was thinking about getting a "white noise" generator for my bedroom.

Then I remembered that my computer sits right across from my bed. Certainly there must be a software option...

Sox is "the swiss army knife of sound processing programs". It comes standard on most GNU/Linux distributions and is available for other platforms.


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