A Message of Peace Wednesday, Feb 9 2011 

Well, it’s taken me a few months to blog about it, but back in September, I wrote a poem. And it won a prize.

Every year, the Australian Chapter of the World Peace Bell Association, headquartered in Cowra (where Australia’s Peace Bell stands), holds a poetry competition. This year’s theme was “A Message of Peace.” This was my entry:

Silence reigns, our arms laid down, and flames now cooled to ashes,
No frenzied screams, nor violent words, nor blood to vex the senses.

Borne through desperation to tarry, eye-to-eye,
To plot conciliation and bury wounded pride,
Two men sit and weigh their words,
And watch and wait and ponder—
For neither wish to give their ground,
Nor relinquish any plunder—
Their tongues, concealed, like blunted swords,
Their brows are knots of anger,
But their armies are exhausted,
And their terms now put to paper.

With a flourish, sowed the seeds of battles yet to come,
Divided lands and chattels by means which flattered none,
For though rhetoric named them enemies, they wilfully conspire
To enact a foul betrayal, to kindle smothered fires—
As we watch and wait and wonder at the aftermath of war,
Rebuild our lives and learn to live, bereft of cannon’s roar.

Perhaps, then, comes a time for a betrayal of our own:
To smash the fears of hollow men; to tear their ruses down;
To wound their wiles with whispers; to shamelessly unite
To thwart their plans for bloodshed; to quench their flames of hate;
To raise no hand in anger, nor with heedless words condemn
The innocents of other lands to sate our violent whims;
To stand with pride and honour, and pardon past abuse;
To boldly cleave together to advance the cause of peace.

Hindsight may acquit the men—their aims may turn out faithful,
Their virtue unimpeachable, their tongues be naught but truthful—
But how great the cost, should we be wrong, our hope and trust misplaced,
Our soldiers marching back to war, our lofty ends disgraced?

No! We are better than the hollow men! The burden falls to us
To bear upon our shoulders our just and solemn trust,
For in our darkest hour, our deeds alone affirm
That amity shall rise once more, and peace, undaunted, reign.

For some arcane reason the Australian chapter of the World Peace Bell Association chooses to separate entries from its local area into a separate category (possibly *ahem* due to its close affiliation with the local Council…), which meant I couldn’t qualify for the big, Fairfax-sponsored prize in the Open category. Nonetheless the Poets Union (who judged the competition) had this to say:

Commencing with a well-constructed image of the peace-makers at the negotiating table, the poet lets us know in no uncertain term that, though enemies, these leaders ‘willfully conspire/ to enact a foul betrayal to kindle smothered fires’ of war. He emphasises the possibility of betrayal of the people by the leadership and calls on us all not to blindly hope and trust, because the result will be ‘our soldiers marching back to war’. His final triumphant stanza uses all the power and muscle of rhyme and rhythm for its persuasive strength to bring the poem to its superb conclusion.

And I won first prize in the local category. Better yet, though, were the expressions of the local National Party dignitaries as they squirmed through the obligatory reading…


More Spore Thursday, Dec 4 2008 

In which our intrepid hero transforms his rage into another couple of creatures.

Sunday. Ask friend if he and his girlfriend are available for Thursday night dinner. Friend needs to consult with his girlfriend. Advise friend that I need plenty of leadtime, as I will need to cook a day in advance. Friend promises to call the following day.

Monday. No call.

Tuesday. Receive Facebook message to the effect that friend has not asked his girlfriend yet. Reiterate need for advance warning.

Wednesday. Call several times; no response. Inform friend (via Facebook) that menu has changed, as a result of lack of contact and diminished leadtime. Request urgent confirmation as to whether they will attend.

Thursday, 3.20pm. Friend updates Facebook status, anticipating long day.

Thursday, 6pm. Still no contact. Attempt to ring friend’s girlfriend; leave message. Attempt to ring friend’s mobile; no success. Attempt to ring friend’s house; parents answer, but pretend not to speak English. Reflect that friend in early thirties who still lives with parents is unlikely to be reliable.

Thursday, 9pm. Receive call. Girlfriend had picked friend up from home at 4pm; couple had then been busy “all day”. After pressuring, friend admits that he and girlfriend will not be able to attend dinner that evening. Yes/no answer apparently requires four fucking days.

Thursday, 9.20pm. Eat dinner. Several servings left over.

Thursday, 9.33pm. Friend apparently arrives home; posts Facebook status to the effect that he doesn’t know when he’ll get to sleep. Reflect that this may not be an issue if friend would haul arse out of bed before 3pm.

Thursday, 10pm. Attempt to sublimate rage with Spore Creature Creator, with the following outcome:

Thursday, 11pm. Grind teeth.

    Spore Again Monday, Nov 24 2008 

    In which our intrepid hero inflicts another half-dozen critters on the world.

    After a busy couple of days at the Spore Creature Creator, I present several more Spore creatures:

    Incidentally, these are also available in-game via the Sporecast Orcteeth’s Plush Menagerie.

    Yes, Orcteeth. I have large, sharp teeth and an sizeable underbite. Live with it.

      More Spore Saturday, Nov 22 2008 

      In which our intrepid hero showcases a couple more of his creations.

      Fresh from the Spore Creature Creator, I present a couple more critters, based on stuffed toys in our house:

      I should’ve mentioned before—you may well need the new Spore Creepy & Cute expansion to get these to work properly. Sorry about that.

      My Name is Dave, and… Friday, Nov 21 2008 

      In which our intrepid hero confesses his deep-seated need to blog.

      When your ADSL is down for a month whilst changing providers (thanks a bunch, AAPT), your RSS-feed reading list tends to back up a bit.

      My friend Alison was nice enough to lend me a USB 3G modem, but even then, things went slow; I didn’t want to eat up her bandwidth, and in any case, it appears that I live in a 3G-specific Faraday cage.

      When Telstra finally connected my ADSL back up, I had several days’ reading ahead of me. As I flipped from blog to newspaper to blog, I fell into a very bad habit: I started posting links to my Facebook profile. In the end, my friends were probably getting two to five links a day, each with a snarky comment attached. It’s a wonder that I still have friends on Facebook at all.

      It took me a little while to realise that this sort of behaviour is perilously close to blogging anyway.

      In the meantime, however, I missed out on telling the world about the boarder we had for two weeks (until he shut one of the cats in the fridge, poured lighter fluid over his arm and set himself alight), the charity that tried to repo two of our cats, months after we’d bought them, and sundry other strange occurrences.

      So I’m back, and I’ll try to post a little more regularly now.

      In the interim, I’ve been playing a lot of Spore. In fact, I’ve been spending much more time in Spore’s creators My first few public creations are below:

      I haven’t tried this yet, but you should be able to drag each one straight from this blog and drop it into a windowed Sporepedia, if you so choose. From there, you should be able to use them in Spore.

      When not Sporing myself into unconsciousness, I’ve also slowly (as in glacially) been coming to terms with D&D 4e. I’m not really in the position to GM a game at the moment (due to player issues, mostly), so I’ve been exploring it on my own.

      I’m still annoyed that WotC hasn’t yet put up their promised fansite license, nor done much towards their vaunted Digital Initiative (despite D&D Insider moving to paid subscription).

      That said, I’m willing to concede that 4e isn’t entirely as crap as I first opined. I’m even willing to post 4e content here in the near future. Screw the license (or lack thereof).

      Anyway, it’s early morning, and Mim K/W is watching entirely too much Bridget Jones. I should probably get some rest.

      Catch you soon.

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