Friday, December 31, 2010

What is Freedom Worth?

It is worth everything.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Wizard of Westwood Passes On

Sunday Verse: Yusef Komunyakaa (1947- ) Facing It

Facing It

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way—the stone lets me go.
I turn that way—I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

My 2010 Book List


Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson - Joseph L. Ellis
The Investor's Manifesto - William Bernstein
Common Sense on Mutual Funds - John Bogle
Dien Cai Dau - Yusef Komunyakaa


Flight - Sherman Alexie
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing - John Bogle
Enough - John Bogle
Liberty and Tyranny - Mark Levin
The Four Pillars of Investing - William Bernstein
The Investor's Manifesto - William Bernstein
Facts About the Moon - Dorrianne Laux
Smoke - Dorrianne Laux

Very Good

The Basketball Diaries - Jim Carroll
A Red Convertible: Selected and New Stories, 1978-2008 - Louise Erdich
The Bogelheads' Guide to Investing - Taylor Larimore
The Bogelheads' Guide to Retirement - Taylor Larimore
God's Silence - Franz Wright
The Lies About Money - Ric Edelman
Native Guard - Natasha Trethewey


Taboo - Yusef Komunyakaa
The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets - Peter Schiff
Fortune - Joseph Millar
The Book of Nods - Jim Carroll
One Foot in Eden - Ron Rash


Warhorses - Yusef Komunyakaa
Void of Course - Jim Carroll


Rich Dad, Poor Dad - Robert T. Kiyosaki

Pet Peeves: Che and Mao T-Shirts

Do the people that wear these T-shirts understand what these people really were? Che was just a small-time chump sicko killer whose one iconic picture seems to have caught the imagination of the know-nothing crowd. Mao just happens to be the largest mass murder of all time, makes Hitler look like a rank amateur. Their faces will not be adorning my body in any fashion.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Pet Peeves: Apologizing for That Which Needs No Apology

Click to enlarge image.  Sorry, but these documents need no apology or modern reinterpretation, and the country is in dire need of rediscovering the values contained within. 

Friday, October 09, 2009

Jeff Buckley - Grace (BBC Late Show 01-17-95)

Tim Buckley's son Jeff demonstrates vocal prowess equal to his father in this video. Some may find the soaring vocals to be a bit over the top, but the song holds together. Another talent that died young and stupidly, not by drugs, but drowning in the Mississippi River after going swimming fully clothed.


There's the moon asking to stay
Long enough for the clouds to fly me away
Though it's my time coming, I'm not afraid, afraid to die
My fading voice sings of love,
But she cries to the clicking of time,
Of time

Wait in the fire...

And she weeps on my arm
Walking to the bright lights in sorrow
Oh drink a bit of wine we both might go tomorrow,oh my love
And the rain is falling and I believe
My time has come
It reminds me of the pain I might leave
Leave behind

Wait in the fire...

And I feel them drown my name
So easy to know and forget with this kiss
But I'm not afraid to go but it goes so slow

Wait in the fire...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Tim Buckley on The Monkey's Show - Song of the Siren

Yes, this is from the flower power days of TV, and probably my favorite version of the song.

Song of the Siren

Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile
til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
And you sang
Sail to me
Sail to me
Let me enfold you
Here I am
Here I am
Waiting to hold you

Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was fox?
Now my foolish boat is leaning
Broken lovelorn on your rocks,
For you sing, touch me not, touch me not, come back tomorrow:
O my heart, o my heart shies from the sorrow

I am puzzled as the oyster
I am troubled as the tide:
Should I stand amid your breakers?
Should I lie with death my bride?
Hear me sing, swim to me, swim to me, let me enfold you:
Here I am, here I am, waiting to hold you

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Homage to My Favorite Film Genre

I have tried to craft this poem as a series of cinematic images that could have been lifted from some of these grainy crime dramas, though slightly more surrealistic to enhance the overall mysterious atmosphere.  You be the judge of whether I've succeeded or not.

Film Noir

call me the savior of moonshine
unfit to lick your Daddy's boots

call me the myths of regret reborn
the lie that always tells the truth

in the dark night of your soul
I'm the wound that opens like an eye

call me allegory of a burnt tick
jerking through your dreams
in 16mm

in mine
my words scale your body
like liana
for all the junkies to climb

call me sphinx
built by the slaves of love

I always leave the screen door unlatched
on the hottest nights
to hear the whirling of the fan
whisper your name
across the fields

call me singed hair
clinging to the bullet of a song

you're the smear of lipstick
staining the lips
of the empty bottle left on my nightstand

the alibi
for all my futures
forking perpetually through time

Nick Drake - Riverman

I love this song, the hypnotic strings, voice and guitar, and its dreamlike atmosphere. Drake was largely unknown during his short lifetime, was too shy to perform in public, and his music really didn't lend itself to live performances with his intricate and custom guitar tunings. In the 35 years since his death from an overdose of antidepressants at the age of 26, his music has steadily grown in popularity and been featured in several films and a Volkswagen commercial.

Riverman, words and music by Nick Drake

Betty came by on her way
Said she had a word to say
About things today
And fallen leaves.

Said she hadn't heard the news
Hadn't had the time to choose
A way to lose
But she believes.

Going to see the river man
Going to tell him all I can
About the plan
For lilac time.

If he tells me all he knows
About the way his river flows
And all night shows
In summertime.

Betty said she prayed today
For the sky to blow away
Or maybe stay
She wasn't sure.

For when she thought of summer rain
Calling for her mind again
She lost the pain
And stayed for more.

Going to see the river man
Going to tell him all I can
About the ban
On feeling free.

If he tells me all he knows
About the way his river flows
I don't suppose
It's meant for me.

Oh, how they come and go
Oh, how they come and go.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Glorious Dawn - Carl Sagen Remix (featuring Stephen Hawking)

I love this odd music mix from Carl Sagan's TV shows.... it's strangely inspirational, almost poetic, and darn clever, whoever put it together.
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
How many people think like that?

Quote of the Day: Blogs, Modern Day Public Square

Whatever the drawbacks and limitations of blogging, it serves, today, as our culture’s indispensable public square. Rather than one tidy ‘unifying narrative,’ it provides a noisy arena, open to everyone, for the collective working out of old conflicts and new ideas. As the profession of journalism tries to rescue itself from the wreckage of print and rethink its digital future, this is where its most knowledgeable practitioners and most creative students are doing their hardest thinking.

~Scott Rosenberg, from "Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters"

Hat Tip (Carpe Diem)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Poetry Reading: Ted Kooser

The charming and humble Ted Kooser, US Poet Laureate 2004-2006, and master of the metaphor.

Selecting A Reader

First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned." And she will.

Jim Carroll Interview on Today Show Discussing School Violence & The Basketball Diaries

In this 1999 interview, the late, great Jim Carroll discusses the relationship between violence in schools and the influence of movies and literature.

Purity means that you always have something up your sleeve, that you have something you've earned, that you have something to move toward, that your vision is intact. Purity, to me, exists within states of what would be thought of as impure. You can live within a state of total decay. You can live in that state and still be totally pure if your vision remains intact, if you know that you've go to keep moving ahead because you haven't reached that light yet, the light at the end of the tunnel.
~ Jim Carroll

LRR Summer Issue Now Live

I am pleased to say the Summer issue of Loch Raven Review is now live.

The issue features poetry by Sara Bernert, Jenn Blair, Janet Butler, Clay Carpenter, Holly Day, Nina Forsythe, Howie Good, John Grochalski, Catherine Hartlove, Chuck Levenstein, Mark A. Murphy, Constantine Pantazonis, Michael Pedersen, Erik Richardson, John Riley, S. Thomas Summers, and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub; an essay by Dan Cuddy on Baltimore poet Clarinda Harriss: A Baltimore Treasure; four poems by Bertolt Brecht translated by Jim Doss; and fiction by Danny Birchall, Elizabeth Costello, and Tom Sheehan.

Check us out at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spring 2009 Loch Raven Review Now Live

The Spring 2009 issue of Loch Raven Review is now live. The issue features:

Poetry by Bob Bradshaw, Dan Cuddy, Dawn Dupler, Liz Gallagher, Bernard Henrie, Guy Kettelhack, Larry Kimmel, Andrea Potos, Casey Quinn, Doug Ramspeck, Paula Ray, Oliver Rice, Michael Salcman, Arthur Seeley, KH Solomon, and Ray Templeton.

Fiction by Stephanie King and John Riebow.

Five poems by Ernest Bryll translated from the Polish by Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka and a story by Al Mahmud translated from the Bengali by Ahmede Hussain.

Christopher T. George interviews C.E. Chaffin and reviews Chaffin's Unexpected Light: Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008, while Dan Cuddy weighs in on Stranger At Home, An Anthology: American Poetry With An Accent, edited by Andrey Gritsman, Roger Weingarten, Kurt Brown, and Carmen Firan.

As a taster for what's in the issue here is a powerful little poem by C.E. Chaffin:


It's 4:30 AM, pitch-black and cold.
I spoon against your body
wishing there were no cotton
to separate us, not even skin.

I want to crawl up your tunnel
and hide deep in your belly
before the sun exposes me.
Let me re-gestate, please.

Maybe this time it will be better,
maybe this time I won't end up
clinging to you like a life raft
in the shipwrecked night,
forty and terrified.

If you should wake
and want to make love
I may stay inside forever.

C.E. Chaffin

Monday, May 04, 2009

How to capture and record streaming internet audio in Linux

For this exercise, lame, sox and mplayer will be used to capture audio from the streaming internet feed of Washington, DC based radio station WMAL. First, save the following script into whatever bin directory you feel comfortable with under a name such as

# Use mplayer to capture the stream
# at $STREAM to the file $FILE
# example: my_radio_show 60 mms://

DIR=/home/jim/Music/PodCasts #directory where to save the file

# Don't edit anything below this line
DATE=`date +%Y-%m-%d` # Save the date as YYYY-MM-DD
YEAR=`date +%Y` # Save just the year as YYYY
DURATION=$2 # enough to catch the show, plus a bit
FILE=$DIR/$NAME-$DATE # Where to save it

# Capture Stream
mkfifo $TEMPFILE.wav
mkfifo $TEMPFILE-silenced.wav

# The lame settings below are optimized for voice encoding
# The sox command below strips out any silent portions
lame -S -a -m m --ty "$YEAR" --vbr-new -V 9 --lowpass 13.4 --athaa-sensitivity 1 \
--resample 32 $TEMPFILE-silenced.wav $FILE.mp3 >/dev/null &
sox $TEMPFILE.wav -c 1 $TEMPFILE-silenced.wav \
silence 1 0.2 0.5% -1 0.2 0.5% >/dev/null&
/usr/bin/mplayer -really-quiet -cache 500 \
-ao pcm:file="$TEMPFILE.wav" -vc dummy -vo null \
-noframedrop $STREAM >/dev/null&

sleep 5
# get the pid of all processes started in this script.
PIDS=`ps auxww | grep $TEMPFILE | awk '{print $2}'`

# the & turns the capture into a background job
sleep `echo ${DURATION}*60 | bc` # wait for the show to be over
kill $PIDS >/dev/null # kill the stream capture
rm $TEMPFILE.wav
rm $TEMPFILE-silenced.wav

I wish I could claim this nifty little script as my own creation, but I found it somewhere on the internet and modified it to suit my own needs.

This script can be invoked using the command:

/home/jim/bin/ Ric_Edelman 120

where the first parameter is the name of the radio show, the second the number of minutes to record and the third the URL of your favorite radio stream.

After testing to ensure everything works properly, it is time to set up the crontab entries for recording your shows. I use gnome-scheduler so I don't miss a show no matter what I'm doing:

The details of how one recording is set up:

Hope this proves useful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Inaugural Publication of Loch Raven Press at Amazon -- Sandy Lyne's In the Footsteps of Paradise

The inaugural publication of Loch Raven Press, In the Footsteps of Paradise by Sandford Lyne is now available from

Sandy Lyne worked for years as a Kennedy Center Partner in Education teaching children and writing teachers throughout the United States and beyond. His collections of poems by young people, Ten-Second Rainshowers (1996) and Soft Hay Will Catch You (2004), were published by Simon and Schuster. His Writing Poetry from the Inside Out: Finding Your Voice Through the Craft of Poetry was published posthumously in May 2007 by SourceBooks Inc. of Napierville IL. Sandy's own poems appeared in the anthology Quickly Aging Here, Some Poets of the 1970's, edited by Geof Hewitt (Doubleday/Anchor, 1969), in small chapbook editions, and in numerous journals, including The American Poetry Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry East. Sandy Lyne passed away on February 7, 2007.

I provided the following blurb on the back cover:

Guided by an inner light throughout his career, Sandford Lyne has written complex poems of the human heart in a deceptively simple, accessible language. These poems are filled with the love of plain speech, the search for wisdom and redemption, the willingness to let the sublime enter everyday life, and the belief in the sacredness of the word. As a Kennedy Center Fellow, Lyne taught poetry writing to over 50,000 young people and teachers, and influenced many lives beyond his calling. Though this book is tinged with grief, it ultimately affirms the joy of being alive and passing on the love of language to the next generation.


"I am repeatedly struck by the range of poems in this collections: the psychological range, the poetic range, the imaginative range. These are poems that could have been written anywhere and they are, in fact, written at different stages of Sandy’s life and of the different physical places he lived in. They are poems of youth and poems of maturity. They are poems of leaving and poems of arriving. They are poems of large vacant spaces in our lives and poems about the ways love fills those places. Whatever they are in the shapes and turns they take, they are always poems centered in and sung from the geography of the human heart.”
– Darrell Bourque, Louisiana Poet Laureate, 2007-2008

“Sandy’s poems surfaced from depths where words can’t go. His calling and art was to dive and live at such silent, potent depths, and to translate their soul-refreshing stillness into poems that join you wherever you may sit; that say, unmistakeably, ‘Friend.’ A fluid living calm still clings to these soulful surfacings. He wanted you to have them and here they are at last.”
– Geoffrey Oelsner, author of Native Joy: Poems, Songs, Visions, Dreams


For those who enter the weekly poetry challenges at the Wild Poetry Forum, you might remember a word-group poem of Sandy's that was used about a year ago:

Emperor Children Fireflies Moon


The emperor is in the garden.
He came there to admire the moon,
as emperors do.
His children hide there,
covering their laughter with their hands,
wishing not to be seen.
They, too, came out for the moon,
but they also came to catch the fireflies.


The moon is emperor tonight,
slowly crossing the garden
of the sky,
no children to accompany him,
an emperor alone.
Perhaps he came to play with
the starry fireflies.


How sad the emperor seems tonight,
and lonely as the distant moon.
The burdens of ruling are great,
and assassins could be anywhere.
He remembers his days as a child
when his only care
was catching fireflies in the summer night.


The emperor invites the children
to his summer garden.
They think he wants them
to admire the moon.
No, he wants them to teach him
their art of catching fireflies.


I want to grow up to be
the emperor of my life someday.
I want someone to love me, to think
that I’m the sun and moon.
But I will never outgrow
the job of catching fireflies
in the summer nights.


No moon tonight.
No matter.
Let him sleep,
that golden emperor
of the summer night.
I will be like children
happy in the dark,
their hearts made bright
in chasing fireflies.


Winter night, so cold
the emperor moon
a frozen statue
in the glistening sky.
Icicles hang from
the pagoda roof,
twinkling here and there
like summer fireflies.
Here, too, the snowman
left by playing children
to help us forget, for now,
the joys of summer days.


My father thinks he’s emperor
of our house.
His watch is ruler of his days.
He whistlers from the porch
to call me in.
It’s time, he thinks.
No moon tonight to give away
my hiding place.
I’ll come in soon, but for awhile
I want to linger—
and you can guess—
the summer night is full of fireflies!


Enough fireflies in my jar—
in the darkness of my room
they’ll replace the summer moon.
It’s good to be a child, I think,
to play, then sleep,
and be the emperor of my dreams.


I hope some of you will find this book of interest and worthy of a read.