Posts Tagged Marian Call

Free Love (With Every Purchase) on The Overcast

Shortly before Valentine’s Day, my short story Free Love (With Every Purchase), which is a revised version of Valet de cœur, was featured on The Overcast. I’ve always thought this would be a fun one to read aloud; indeed, I read it myself at the Short Story Conference in Vienna in 2014. It’s exciting to have it read aloud on a podcast. I was travelling when the podcast came out, without much chance to download or listen to things, but I finally had a chance to listen to it recently. I love the way J. S. Arquin reads it. He often reads it differently from how it was in my head, but that makes it more interesting to me; I’d already ‘heard’ the version that’s in my head. You can listen to it here:

or go to the episode page to find out ways you can discuss it with other Overcast listeners, or subscribe to or support The Overcast. Indeed, do support the podcast if you can; they do pay authors, and would like to be able to pay them more. Since circumstances have prevented me from earning much recently, the fee for this story provided the bulk of my meagre income for the month it was accepted. This, of course, means that for that month, at least, I was a freelance writer by profession.

In the author’s note at the end of the podcast I mention that each leap year I write (or otherwise create) something every week, inspired by my collection of souvenir playing cards. That’s true; I’ve done it twice so far. I should have started a new cycle of it three weeks ago, on February 29th, but I was recovering from JoCo cruise and getting ready to fly to Johnson Space Center, so I didn’t quite manage to post anything. For most of the last year and a half I’ve either been away from home or busy catching up on all the things I didn’t do while away from home. I’ve been to new places, bought new playing cards, and built up a stock of half-finished ideas to work on during this cycle, though. The good thing about writing inspired by playing cards is that even if I don’t post them exactly weekly, I’ll always know when I’ve done the full 52 (or 54 if I write jokers.)

Now I’m pretty much caught up with other stuff, so tomorrow will be a rest day consisting of snack food, catching up on xkcd, processing JoCo Cruise videos, taking out my cruise braids, and an online concert by Marian Call. Marian will also be playing in Vienna on the 26th; come along if you’re in the area! At Marian’s last online concert, I tipped enough to get a custom holiday card, so I asked for one celebrating leap day, particularly since I start a new year of Writing Cards and Letters every leapday. I started writing a post including pictures of the card on the leapday itself, but had to sleep, or leave for the airport, or somesuch… if only I’d had one more minute!

Here they are now, a little late; you can designate a different day to be Bonus Day if you like. Any day when your plans are cancelled and you unexpectedly have a free day. Any day when you deliberately don’t make plans because you need a free day. A day like today.

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When the Posters Become the Post-It

You rent a room by the week.
You want to make it unique.
How do you make it ‘home’ when changes won’t fly?
Non-permanently! Non-permanently! Non-permanent-L-Y.

(to be sung to the tune of ‘L-Y‘ by Tom Lehrer)

In my continuing quest to get to visit and eventually rent an apartment in Wiener-Neustadt without being sufficiently good at speaking German on the telephone, I am currently in a short-term apartment in a building that is under construction. I actually pay by the month rather than by the week, but… well, my poetic license is in storage in Geneva at the moment [as is my heart], but I assure you I have one. Anyway, in my continuing quest to forget that I’m somewhat homeless in a town with terrible public transport, a couple of weeks ago I travelled around Europe visiting friends and going to concerts by Marian Call and Scott Barkan (who have one more show in London today, which still has room for you) and Bettens (whose tour is over for now.) It was most excellent; I saw Marian at house concerts in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and also at CERN and my favourite venue on land (not counting places such as CERN which derive most of their awesomeness from things other than being music venues) in Trogen.

For the sake of making the temporary home look more like a home and less like temporary, I planned to pick up some posters that I’d got for free from the esa tent at the CERN open days and left with a friend in Geneva. Unfortunately they only made it halfway back before I accidentally left them in a train station. But no matter! The Marian Call tour is part of her postcard tour, so at each of the concerts I picked up a postcard from a stranger at a previous concert, and wrote one to a different stranger. Since I know many of her fans from JoCo Cruise Crazy, at least one of them wasn’t even from a stranger, and I know that one of the postcards I wrote went to someone I know as well. It’s pretty neat receiving postcards from friends when you don’t have a mailing address. I also had some esa postcards (some of which I donated to the postcard tour) which I got from the same place as the posters.

Back in Wiener-Neustadt, I bought some poster strips to stick the postcards on the walls, and, on impulse, some felts and some Post-It notes of various shapes and colours. When I got home-ish I made this poem on the wall next to my pillow, using the words on two of the postcards and the shapes of the Post-Its:

Good morning, Moon, wake up⇧ The clouds will soon break up⇧ Take heart♥ from mottled sky⛅ it's there➮ you've got to fly.

In case you’re not sure which bits to read, or have trouble reading the small text, it goes like this:

Good morning, Moon,
wake up⇧
The clouds will soon
break up⇧
Take heart♥ from
mottled sky⛅
it’s there➮ you’ve
got to fly.

[spaceship drawn in the style of Marian Call]🚀

The next day I got to thinking about how I should do certain things as often as possible, such as attempt to contact someone about an apartment, write something, or look for a job in a city where I could more easily get an apartment. I could show my progress on this with Post-Its too; an arrow for each thing I should do, pointed down if I still need to do it, and up if I’ve done it. When all the arrows were pointing up, I’d add a heart and then turn them back down again. Eventually I’d have a life bar of all the hearts I’d earned, and also probably an apartment and a billion-dollar book deal I could work on from home. Sounds encouraging, right? But then I figured out how to cheat:

Konami code in arrow-shaped Post-Its, with 30 heart Post-Its below

So much for that.

Still in the video game spirit, the next night I made this level of some kind of platformer:

A platformer game in Post-Its, with moving clouds and some hearts to collect

with Le Petit Prince on a rocket-powered asteroid as the protagonist:


If you’re wondering why there are craters on the asteroid, it’s because that’s no asteroid; it’s a Moon space station. I originally just wanted some kind of round character on the arrow, something that wouldn’t need to change if you turned the arrow in a different direction to make it go right or jump. I decided on the Moon, since we already said good morning to it in the original Post-It poem. Of course, the Moon needed a rocket or it’d just orbit. In any case those had better be some pretty thick clouds to hold it up. So I added the rocket, but then it just looked like a ball with a rocket attached. I added craters, and it looked like a ball with circles on it and a rocket attached. Finally I realised the only way to make it look like a celestial body was to put a little prince on it. I think I’ve only read snippets of that story, but I promise I will read the whole thing soon.

The goal in this level is to collect the hearts and reach the exit. The ‘EXIT (TO SPACE)’ heart is over the place you have to push to open the wardrobe door.

Exit to Space

The door goes to space.

Space Portal

Space is full of wondrous things.


 Space and time are part of the same continuum, so space contains several scenes and characters from the xkcd Time comic.


Space is a place of great serenity, and not-so-great drawings of Serenity. Space makes you realise just how small our world really is. Space is watching you. Space close-ups

You are watching space. RosettaSpace will have more things in it just as soon as I get around to launching them. In the mean time, make up your own stories about what might happen if the assorted spaceships or asteroids or planets meet, and who might live on the lower planet, and what Rosetta has seen from the observatory.

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Ace of Clubs: The Bravest

Aces of clubs showing the Matterhorn in Switzerland, the Donauturm in Vienna, and Earthrise over the Moon, with the caption 'Earth is the third planet from the sun and its rotation period around the sun is 365 earth days. It is the only planet known to support life.'Whenever, on my personal adventure quest
I come across two paths, I know that I’ll
Inevitably find the biggest treasure chest
along the road that’s scares me wordless, worldless and worthwhile.

Now sometimes I can feel which one’s the bravest way,
like: do I vaunt my head or write my heart?
Outcome, I’m gearing up to tell you this today:
I don’t know which is bravest: leave home, leave job, or restart?

Continue as things are, I’ll have to transfer, flee
the only home I’ve made; time, brain, backbone
gone into now-familiar things that anchor me
weigh anchor, sail away to sunsets, fun fêtes and unknown.

Or change things, follow heroes who have dared to quit,
start new in the surroundings I’ve enjoyed,
arrange things so this country lets me stay a bit
for study? One more contract, endless? Centless? Self-employed?

I’ve hemmed and hawed and ranked and scored and felt and thought and swung my sword, delayed, ignored, gone back and forward, and this is all it’s led me toward:
Whichever path is scary (therefore good)
The bravest cut their own paths through the wood.

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Fake Ace of Diamonds: Chemistry Live

Last Ace of Diamonds, I stalled for a week by posting a video of a poem I’d written previously. I’m not sure if I’ll have the real Ace of Diamonds done in time, so I’ll do the same again. The real Ace of Diamonds, which I will publish as soon as it’s ready, is a a sequel/prequel to the last real Ace of Diamonds, and it’s also about stalling and procrastination, which seems appropriate. This is me reading my poem Chemistry (which was the two of diamonds, and already has a video) at the open mic night on JoCo Cruise Crazy 2:

And here’s a more close-up video of it that Jason recorded:

I sure am stalling a lot this round. It’s embarrassing considering I started with something I really like that was done in time. But hey, I still have an hour till the deadline, so maybe I’ll get the real Ace of Diamonds done in time anyway. If you’re wondering why I’m onto diamonds now when I went from Spades to Hearts last time, it was simply the next card in the first deck I looked at.

In other news, here are some things that music lovers in Europe might want to do:

  • Back Marian Call’s kickstarter or otherwise support her European Adventure Quest to get Marian and her very talented guitarist Scott Barkan playing in your country or even your living room. If you want to know what she’s like and somehow find video more appealing than downloading music, you could watch my videos of her two concerts and Scott’s concert on JoCo Cruise Crazy.
  • Go see The Burning Hell if they come near while attempting to break a record by giving concerts in ten countries in 24 hours. If you want to know what they’re like, you could watch the videos I’m currently uploading of them at Viertel (my favourite concert venue on land) where they will return for the world record tour.
  • Keep an eye on Jonathan Coulton’s tour schedule, because he’ll be at Union Chapel (my second favourite concert venue on land) in London on September 20, and will no doubt visit other places in the UK and Europe. If you don’t know what he sounds like yet, you haven’t been paying attention; pick a video from my YouTube channel at random and he’s probably in it.

I know I’ll be doing all three things.

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A video, full of sound and light, signifying Christmas

Last weekend I was on my way to a concert in Lausanne when I came across a building with a light show projected onto it. I stopped to film it in high resolution with my fancy new camera. Later I added appropriate music to the different scenes, to make it a bit more interesting. Here is the result:

Most of this music is explicitly released under a Creative Commons license, and most can be downloaded for free (there are links below), and most comes from artists who generally don’t mind people using their music and don’t have labels that are likely to sue me, but there are a few tracks I didn’t make 100% sure I was allowed to use, so I hope those artists don’t mind being included.

I tried to include as many different artists as possible so that people will discover someone new. The only ones I used twice are Jonathan Coulton (well, he only got a short bit at the beginning) Jonathan Mann (I planned from the beginning to use Penguins Having a Party, not suspecting that he’d written a song in which he said ‘building’ over and over, which is the perfect space-filler in a video of a building) and The Cow Exchange (I had many possibilities for the last song, but this one followed better musically from the one before it.)

I did this fairly quickly, to get it ready by Christmas, so most of the time I just searched my music library for keywords relating to a scene and picked the first song I found that seemed to fit. There may be better matches in songs which don’t happen to have the right keywords in the title, or which I don’t have yet, or which I ignored because I didn’t know what the artist’s or their label’s policy on reuse was.

You can get most of the songs for free, but I encourage you to support the artists if you can, and if you like what they do, of course. The songs are: Read the rest of this entry »

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Video: Séjours linguistiques

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, if only because it was an excuse to make a fort out of language books. Here is a video of my reading my poem Séjours linguistiques (originally titled ‘Discours inférieur’ in order to have a tenuous link to the playing card of the week.)

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