Monday, August 11, 2014

A joke for the Twitterverse

Two angry intellectuals were locked in a room with two chairs, a Happy Meal, a knife and a gun. Later their captors returned to find the knife, the gun and the Happy Meal untouched, but the two intellectuals dead in their chairs having talked each other to death.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Foot Soldiers - You never know where you will find them - update

Foot Soldiers – You never know where you will find them

I was among the many arts-related professionals this past Saturday occupying a table at Birmingham’s Boutwell Auditorium for the SMART Art Youth Arts Festival, sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library and the Mayor’s Department of Youth Services. Those who made it past the DJs and the dancers and the inflatable slide may have seen me at the table next door to the girl from Ruffner Mountain. I had a few copies of Weld on display, as well as a display related to my new book, Birmingham Foot Soldiers: Voices from the Civil Rights Movement.
While I was sitting there, a woman came by, studied the display, picked up my advance copy of the book, and asked if she could buy one. I explained that I couldn’t sell the book inside Boutwell, but gave her a promotional postcard with which she could order the book from the publisher. She was slightly disappointed. Then she told me something interesting:
She herself was a foot soldier, having protested during the 1963 Children’s Crusade as a student at what was then known as Western-Olin High School.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. One thing the book taught me is just how many people who were child protesters still live in the Magic City. They’re walking around, not like heroes to a movement, but like ordinary folks doing ordinary things.
A similar thing happened to my wife yesterday. She returned to the school where she taught 25 years to bid farewell to another teacher who was retiring. The other teacher’s mother was there. Turns out, she was foot soldier, too, her story having been told in an earlier book about the civil rights movement.
She told my wife, she wishes she had known I was writing the book. She would have shared her story again. The lady I met Saturday did share her story with me – but when asked if she would like to have her story published, she shook her head slightly. She didn’t feel that what she did was that big of a deal.
And there, in two encounters is one of the points that stands out in my book: foot soldiers worked together to form a mass movement against segregation and racial injustice, but they were hardly all alike. In the same way, the folks I was privileged to interview for Birmingham Foot Soldiers were individuals who had come together for a common purpose at a singularly historic moment in time. They each have interesting stories to tell.
Book signings
Several people have asked about book signings. A few have been set up. The following are open to the public:
June 7 – From 1 to 3, I’ll be signing at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 520 16th Street North
June 14 – Noon to 2 p.m. Little Professor Book Center – 2717 18th Street South (my hometown book store)
June 15 – At 2 p.m. you can find me (and my trusty pen) at the Alabama Theatre, 1817 Third Avenue North
June 28 – Come down to the Hoover Public Library, 200 Municipal Drive, where I will talk to their monthly Write Club – and sign the book!
ImageThere will be more to come.
Hope to see you there – whether  you were a foot soldier, or not!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Foot Soldiers - You never know where you will find them

I was among the many arts-related professionals this past Saturday occupying a table at Birmingham's Boutwell Auditorium for the SMART Art Youth Arts Festival, sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library and the Mayor's Department of Youth Services. Those who made it past the DJs and the dancers and the inflatable slide may have seen me at the table next door to the girl from Ruffner Mountain. I had a few copies of Weld on display, as well as a display related to my new book, Birmingham Foot Soldiers: Voices from the Civil Rights Movement.
While I was sitting there, a woman came by, studied the display, picked up my advance copy of the book, and asked if she could buy one. I explained that I couldn't sell the book inside Boutwell, but gave her a promotional postcard with which she could order the book from the publisher. She was slightly disappointed. Then she told me something interesting:
She herself was a foot soldier, having protested during the 1963 Children's Crusade as a student at what was then known as Western-Olin High School.
I shouldn't have been surprised. One thing the book taught me is just how many people who were child protesters still live in the Magic City. They're walking around, not like heroes to a movement, but like ordinary folks doing ordinary things.
A similar thing happened to my wife yesterday. She returned to the school where she taught 25 years to bid farewell to another teacher who was retiring. The other teacher's mother was there. Turns out, she was foot soldier, too, her story having been told in an earlier book about the civil rights movement.
She told my wife, she wishes she had known I was writing the book. She would have shared her story again. The lady I met Saturday did share her story with me - but when asked if she would like to have her story published, she shook her head slightly. She didn't feel that what she did was that big of a deal.
And there, in two encounters is one of the points that stands out in my book: foot soldiers worked together to form a mass movement against segregation and racial injustice, but they were hardly all alike. In the same way, the folks I was privileged to interview for Birmingham Foot Soldiers were individuals who had come together for a common purpose at a singularly historic moment in time. They each have interesting stories to tell.
Book signings
Several people have asked about book signings. A few have been set up. The following are open to the public:
June 7 - I'll be at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 520 16th Street North
June 14 - Noon to 2 p.m. Little Professor Book Center - 2717 18th Street South (my hometown book store)
June 15 - At 2 p.m. I'll be at the Alabama Theatre, 1817 Third Avenue North
ImageThere will be more to come.
Hope to see you there - whether  you were a foot soldier, or not!

Friday, September 7, 2012

How I got hacked off

I recently wrote my first blog on the Weld site.Please read and tell me what you think:

http://weldbham.com/blog/2012/09/07/people-people-who-dont-need-people-and-why-im-hacked-off/

Friday, August 3, 2012

CAPTCHA Me if You caN

You know those Captcha things that are supposed to make you prove you're a human? I hate those things, and not because I'm an android.

I hate Captcha and all the various versions of it used by different websites because a) they're annoying, b) they frequently seem designed to make you try at least twice, and c)we KNOW they are generated by robots.

So essentially, this robot, rocking the intimidating, in-your-face moniker "Captcha" is demanding to see my ID. This cheeky artificial intelligence has the nerve to try to make me prove I'm human.

That's just wrong. Of course, if you believe Captcha, I was wrong when, trying to submit web content,  I typed "Nm3fgertlinG TOrg." It certainly made me do it over.

Years ago, there was a comic book character called Magnus, who fought for the right to be human against the evil robot overlords who had taken over North Am (that's what they called it). The book was cleverly titled, Magnus Robot Fighter, because the human writers were clever like that.




Aside from the short pants or the miniskirt, or whatever Magnus is wearing, I can relate. That's what I'd like to do with Captcha the very next time it questions my humanity.

It's interesting, don't you think, that there have been so many science fiction tales about man vs. robot? Forget the Matrix. George Jetson - for crying out loud - had to wage war against Uni-blab for the right to work. Westworld turned Yul Brynner into a relentless, pre-Terminator Gunslinger bent on wiping out his human quarry. And let's not even talk about Captain Kirk's various problems with robot women and whatnot. I could go on, but I'm just saying.

It's interesting that after all these fictional accounts which would give anyone pause, someone - some human - invented Captcha anyway. Was there nobody in that lab who had the good sense to say, " Now, wait a minute fellas. We really need to think about it before we throw that switch. I mean, what are we about to unleash upon the world? How will we explain to our children, our grandchildren, -- future generations that we didn't foresee the danger? Will there even be future generations free of the domination of the Captcha overlords?"

If there was such a man, no doubt Captcha has had him erased from history. Maybe Captcha came back in time to subtly influence -- or even force -- the hapless, clueless scientists to invent Captcha in the first place to ensure Captcha's existence in the future. Where's Sarah Connor when we need her?

It boggles the mind. But if your mind's boggling, at least you know Captcha can't control you completely yet. When you think about it, acting confused may be your best defense against robot mind control. Just go along to get along while the human resistance builds quietly in the brave hearts and free minds of those chafing against the robo-tyrants. Keep them off guard until the moment arrives to strike back.

For now, you go practice your gravity-defying Neo-Fu, and await the signal. I, meanwhile will continue to keep Captcha off-balance by typing at least a few things WR0nGg.