The Signal

Format: 2014-04-19

  For several weekends in a row this past summer, downtown Baltimore was ground zero for nerd culture.  You couldn’t drive down Pratt Street without doing at least one double take, as the elaborately costumed fans of Otakon, Bronycon, and Comicon strutted their eccentric stuff up and down the sidewalks.  One fan fest you might have missed, though, happened about 10 blocks away from the rest of the action, over at Rams Head Live.

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  Most of us don’t get out to the movies as often as we might like, but we can always live vicariously through the globe-trotting adventures of Signal film critic Josh Slates.  Slates has reported from festivals at Sundance, Cannes, Sitges, and Hong Kong.  He’s just back from the Toronto International Film Festival, and he sits down with producer Aaron Henkin for the latest in up-and-coming cinema.

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  The High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music begins September 16th.  High Zero has always encouraged spontaneous guerilla street performances called ‘High Jinx.’ Signal contributor Andrew Bernstein, a member of the High Zero Collective and festival co-organizer, brings us an audio collage of memories from some favorite past High Jinx.

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  Swimming pools are closed, schools are open, and while some of us are already missing the lazy days of summer, Baltimore Fishbowl columnist Marion Winik is cheering the change of season. She joins us to share some of the highs (and lows) of her less-than-perfect summer vacation.

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  As we head into autumn, you might find yourself ducking and bobbing as you make your way around  your yard, trying to avoid getting tangled up in a maze of spider webs.  Late summer, it turns out, is mating season for the hundreds of different species of spiders indigenous to Maryland.  For arachnophobes, it can be downright terrifying, but essayist D R Belz is trying his best to be philosophical about the annual invasion.

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  “Write what you know.”  It’s the first lesson an author learns, and novelist ML Doyle has taken that advice to heart.  Doyle has spent more than 20 years serving with the US Army at deployments around the globe and stateside, so when she decided to pen a mystery book, it was only natural that the setting be an isolated military outpost in Bosnia, and that the heroine be a female Master Sergeant.

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photo by Shane CarpenterSunday evening, September 8th, Baltimore’s Roots Café is set to host Piedmont Blues harmonica virtuoso Phil Wiggins in a performance at the downtown venue, An Die Musik.

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  September brings with it Hispanic Heritage Month, and a major musical celebration is in the works in Columbia, Maryland, thanks to the efforts of a regional nonprofit called, Cultura Plenera.  The musical styles of ‘Plena’ and ‘Bomba’ are proud Puerto Rican traditions, and on Saturday, September 14th, some true masters of the genres will perform live at a Columbia venue called, The Other Barn.

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  Since 2007, fiction writer Eric D Goodman has joined us on the program with special radio adaptations from his novel-in-stories, Tracks. The book is an exploration into the private lives of train passengers, all strangers to each other, who happen to be sharing a ride from Baltimore to Chicago.

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  The War of 1812 has been commemorated in legends and stories, illustrated in portraits and landscapes, and celebrated most famously with the “Star Spangled Banner.” But the conflict has never been memorialized in rock opera form – until now. Lisa Morgan has the story.

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