Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poisoned Minds

I was very disturbed by a news item I read today: the father of a young soldier killed in Iraq won a lawsuit against a fundamentalist Christian group whose mission appears to be to picket funerals of soldiers who have died in action. Seems they are of the belief that we are embroiled in a war in Iraq because of our tolerance for homosexuality. (Huh?) These hatemongers go to the funerals with T-shirts and signs that say, "God hates fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers". What possesses these people?? It certainly isn't God. They are beneath contempt. I'm no fan of the Iraq War, but how dare they disrupt a somber and personal event like this to advance their own twisted agenda? The father was awarded $11 million, but he'll probably never see most of that money. At least it was a personal victory and a message to these lunatics, one would hope.

Music: One of the most buzz-worthy downloads these days is Radiohead's new album In Rainbows, which is being offered for free (or for whatever you wish to pay for it). It's legitimate and being offered by the band. Here's the link:
Also, Paste Magazine, one of the best music and video review magazines out there, is offering almost-free one year subscriptions (for as little as $1.00, or whatever you wish to pay). Each issue also includes a CD sampler of new music, which is quite good, featuring mainly "adult alternative" stuff. Here is their link:
But hurry! These are available only for a limited time! (That sounds like a "special TV offer pitch, doesn't it?)
The Radiohead CD, by the way, is quite good - much less experimental than the previous few albums - more like a cross between OK Computer and Thom Yorke's recent solo album.

'Tis the season!

Top Ten List: Favorite Halloween Songs
1. Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
2. Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett
3. Thriller - Michael Jackson (worth it just to hear special guest Vincent Price say "yall's"!)
4. Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival
5. Tam Lin - Fairport Convention
6. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker Jr.
7. Zombie Jamboree - Rockapella
8. Theme from Halloween - John Carpenter (yes, it's a ripoff of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells [theme from The Exorcist] but I find it even creepier)
9. This Is Halloween - Danny Elfman (from Nightmare Before Christmas)
10. Wolf Like Me - TV on the Radio

Poetry: I missed the annual "Harvest of Poetry" book party for the Edison Literary Review - always a nice little fete, with tasty noshes and good poetry from the new issue, hosted by editor Gina Larkin. (It was the day after I returned from Ireland, and between jet-lag and obligations that piled up while I was away, I just couldn't make it. I've missed a depressingly large number of poetry events this year.) Anyway, it's another fine issue, and my poem "Magnetism" (see below) is featured in it. Still no word from Poetry magazine, or Mad Poets Review, though I know I didn't win anything in their annual contest - there's still a chance they'll publish one of my poems, though. I've been writing some poems about Ireland, particularly the natural wonders I saw there, like Ladies View, The Gap of Dunloe, and the Torc Waterfall.


It must have been second grade,
my first encounter with hands-on science,
the day Mr. James stood in front of our class
with a large white cardboard card
littered with hundreds of slivered black bits.

What are they? we wondered.
Ants? Beard trimmings? Chocolate sprinkles?
Then, suddenly they sprang to life,
standing on end like cat hairs,
dancing in waves, circles and arcs, swooping
over the cardboard like a blackbird flock.

These are iron filings, he told the wide-eyed audience;
They make patterns in a magnetic field.
He lifted the card and revealed the conductor
of this miniature ballet: a horseshoe magnet,
red with yellow tips. And I thought,

wouldn’t it be amazing if I could attract
everything I loved in such a way?
Candies, army men, comic books,
puppies, baseball cards, a new bike.
They would arch across a magnetized earth,
dancing right up to my fingertips.
It was much later, though, that I learned
that I would be the sliver, standing on end,
doing other magnets’ bidding.

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