Thom Gunn, to rest

Thom Gunn, British writer transplanted to San Francisco, formalist poet of highly informal topics, is dead. New York Times, SF Chronicle obituaries. Neither captures the full impact of the man and his poetry.

As a young soon-to-be-ex-poet in 1992, I was blown away by The Man With Night Sweats. Such highly formal structure (rhymes, even), on such highly personal subjects. Love, AIDS, mature relationships, all through a lens I had never experienced before (at that point in my life, I didn’t know that I knew gay people), through such highly disciplined language that I didn’t understand it for years. But I already knew it trumped whatever meager potential for highly distilled language I had in me.

Keyword searches + iTMS: bliss

I switched to Safari on my Mac a while back, and I hardly miss the Mozilla platform at all. —OK, that’s a lie. I miss the rapid updates, the cool features like being able to browse the DOM tree on pages I’m developing, and most of all the keyword searches. God, I miss the keyword searches. Typing “az” + a book’s name in the address bar, and getting the Amazon page for the book, is just brilliant.

I missed the keyword searches in Safari until yesterday, when I downloaded and installed Sogudi, a free plug-in that allows you to create customized search terms that can be used in the Safari address bar. And then today I grabbed a search string from MacOSXHints that allowed me to construct an iTunes Music Store search from Safari’s address bar. Bliss.

New playlist sharing in iTunes

iTunes 4.5 is out, with support for lossless imports (via Quicktime 6.5.1), WMA import on Windows, music videos…and shared playlists. You can click any playlist in iTunes and publish it to the iTunes Music Store. You can also click any song title, album title, or artist and jump to the appropriate content in the iTMS.

I don’t have any good playlists on my work computer (mostly random shuffle things) but I have a ton at home, and will publish them in the store tonight. I’m curious to see how the feature (which appears to be called iMix) will handle tracks that aren’t for sale; probably it will just omit them.

Update: Behold, my first iMix playlist, a version of this mix. The difference is all the songs I listed as “missing” (i.e. not available in the iTMS). Vote for it, won’t you? I also noted looking at some other mixes that user submitted mix names get passed through the same profanity filter that song titles do, but that it appears to be possible to elude the filter by choosing your slang appropriately.


It was pretty nasty yesterday afternoon and evening, the first real East Coast-style wind/thunderstorm we’ve seen since we moved out here two years ago. My first clue of the intensity of the storm was a lightning strike directly outside the office across from mine, so close that I could feel the hair on my arms stand on end and my forearm muscles clench. (As my next door neighbor said, “Suddenly I don’t mind not having a window office so much.”)

The drive home was slow, compounded by downed branches. Fortunately, having recently had our trees pruned, the damage in our front yard was minimal—lots of downed leaves but only one branch. The back yard didn’t look too bad, a lot of small clusters of branches off the enormous pine tree, but as I fed the dogs I watched and heard more and larger branches fall. Then a few minutes before Lisa came home we lost power. A few minutes later the storm was over, and it still took an hour and a half to restore the power, but it was still a little adventure.