Sunday, July 31, 2005

Just when you thought it was safe to look at fhb again...

... there's another "Bewitched statue" post:

July 30, 2005

A man arrested in this city while protesting a new statue that pays tribute to the 1960s TV show "Bewitched" turned down a deal to dismiss the charges and demanded a trial.

Richard Sorrel, 65, of Peabody was charged with disorderly conduct after he joined a group of protesters at the statue's unveiling in downtown Salem on June 15.

Sorrel and others said it crass and inappropriate to put a statue that honors a sitcom near the site of the courthouse where 20 people were wrongly condemned to die during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

On Friday, Salem District Court Judge Robert Cornetta denied a motion by Sorrel's attorney, Astrid afKlinteberg, to dismiss the charges against Sorrel, The Salem News reported. After the hearing, Cornetta offered Sorrel a five-month general continuance, which would end the case with a dismissal if Sorrel stayed out of trouble for five months.

Sorrel refused.

"I want a trial, sir," he said.

That trial is set for Nov. 10.

The statue in downtown Salem, donated by the TV Land cable channel, portrays "Bewitched" star Elizabeth Montgomery straddling a broom.

Police said Sorrel was elbowing through a crowd and creating a violent situation at the protest. afKlinteberg said Sorrell was just trying to move near cameras covering the event with a sign he was holding, which read "Elizabeth Who? Is she from Salem?"

Sorrel was the only person arrested at the statue's unveiling.

Thanks, Peg!

Friday, July 29, 2005

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow

Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize; Bollingen; National Book Award winner, Stanley Kunitz is 100 today.

The Round

Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.
So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
"Light splashed . . ."

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.
Photo and poem from "The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden," a book I especially commend to the attention of people who think they don't like poetry.

American Life in Poetry: Column 018


Every reader of this column has at one time felt the frightening and paralyzing powerlessness of being a small child, unable to find a way to repair the world. Here the California poet, Dan Gerber, steps into memory to capture such a moment.

The Rain Poured Down

My mother weeping
in the dark hallway, in the arms of a man,
not my father,
as I sat at the top of the stairs unnoticed--
my mother weeping and pleading for what I didn't know
then and can still only imagine--
for things to be somehow other than they were,
not knowing what I would change,
for, or to, or why,
only that my mother was weeping
in the arms of a man not me,
and the rain brought down the winter sky
and hid me in the walls that looked on,
indifferent to my mother's weeping,
or mine,
in the rain that brought down the dark afternoon.

Dan Gerber's most recent book is "Trying to Catch the Horses" (Michigan State University Press, 1999). "The Rain Poured Down" copyright (c) 2005 by Dan Gerber and reprinted by permission of the author. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005

American Life in Poetry: Column 017


Nearly all of us spend too much of our lives thinking about what has happened, or worrying about what's coming next. Very little can be done about the past and worry is a waste of time. Here the Kentucky poet Wendell Berry gives himself over to nature.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Reprinted from "Collected Works" (North Point Press, 1985) by permission of the author. Wendell Berry's most recent book is "Given: Poems" (Shoemaker and Hoard, 2005). Poem copyright (c) 1985 by Wendell Berry. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit

Review of Poker Academy

What sets PA apart is its artificial intelligence. Once a user enters his or her name under which to play (more than one can be entered if a user wants to test several styles of play), the computer will track how every hand was played. If a showdown was involved, it will record the cards played and bets made.

Once it's honed in on a player's quirks, it goes for the weaknesses. "Only a few games currently employ the kind of adaptive artificial intelligence found in Poker Academy," said Hector Munoz-Avila, assistant professor of computer senses and engineering at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.

Full article

Link to Poker Academy

A very crazy thing

Today is the anniversary of the day when Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965

Some newspaper articles claim that Alan Lomax got in a fistfight with Dylan's manager Albert Grossman over Dylan's set, feeling it an offense to traditional folk. The two did have a fistfight, but it was over Lomax's introduction to the Paul Butterfield Band, not about Dylan.

Nick Gravenites: In July of 1965, the Butterfield Band was going to play the Newport Folk Festival. After the festival, they were going to record in New York. So Paul, of course, was very excited and ready to go. When Butterfield’s band was introduced, it was almost an insulting introduction by Alan Lomax. I mean, he insulted them onstage. It was something like, "Well, they’ve got this band from Chicago. Some people feel that white people can’t play the blues, and some people feel they can—you make up your own mind. Here they are." It was like—why didn’t you just say "fuck you" while you’re at it?

Michael Bloomfield: Alan Lomax, the great folklorist and musicologist, gave us some sort of introduction that I didn’t even hear, but Albert found it offensive. And Albert went upside his head. The next thing we knew, right in the middle of our show, Lomax and Grossman were kicking ass on the floor in the middle of thousands of people at the Newport Folk Festival. Tearing each others’ clothes off. We had to pull ’em apart. We figured, "Albert, man, now there’s a manager!" We used to call him "Cumulus Nimbus"—he was such a vague guy. It was so hard to understand what he was saying. The Gray Cloud. (via "If you love these blues")

The other legendary story is that Pete Seeger looked for an axe to cut the sound cable during Dylan's set. Seeger has always denied the charge. According to an interview published in Gadfly magazine, Seeger claims he said to the person doing the sound, "Clean up that sound so we can understand the words," and they shouted back, "No, this is the way they want it." I said, "Goddamn it, if I had an ax, I'd cut the cable." (via

Theories on the crowd reaction to Dylan's set include...

1) The sound mix was so muddy that people boo'd. See above.

2) The booing was directed at emcee Peter Yarrow, who upset the crowd when he warned them that Dylan's set would be held at the standard length given to all Newport performers. Bruce Jackson's article, where that theory is propounded and includes a transcript of Yarrow's left-handed introduction of Dylan can be found here.

3) The band - which was essentially an unrehearsed pickup band - was terrible.

4) There was no booing at all.

Dylan at a press conference later that year in Berkeley, California, said of Newport, "I did a very crazy thing."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Women Men Don't See

Maudie followed the same trail I did from Iggy's site to "about," and apparently had about the same level of enthusiasm that I had seeing that that the reviewers-that-is over there decided to break their "best" into "The Top Ten..." and "Top Ten Women" poker bloggers. It's nice she's #2 on the distaff list, but #2 what? And if you tossed "Poker Perspectives" into the "Top Ten" list, does that mean it places #12?

"Pfui," as Nero Wolfe would say.

Maudie's closing injunction that, "I am a poker player. I'm a poker blogger. If I am ever lauded or reviled for either, I wish my gender to be irrelevant." reminded me of Alice Sheldon who, if you're a science fiction reader, you know better as James Tiptree, Jr. For reasons she never made entirely clear, Sheldon adopted the male pseudonym and successfully concealed her identity until the late `70s. Her claim that, "I was tired of always being the first woman in some damn profession..." is a bit disingenuous, considering there were several well-known women sf writers - Kate Wilhelm and Ursula LeGuin come to mind - already at work when Sheldon started her career in the late `60s .

Robert Silverberg, another well-known sf writer, penned an introduction to one of Tiptree's collections, which became somewhat infamous in the community as Silverberg, who should have known better, spent much of the introduction making the case that only a male could have written these stories. Shortly thereafter Sheldon outed herself, as curious fans had determinedly tracked the mysterious Tiptree to a P.O. box in Washington, D.C. and were hot on her trail. Silverberg, it should be noted, was extremely gracious about the whole thing when the truth came out, saying that Sheldon had fooled him completely and had "called into question the entire notion of what is 'masculine' and 'feminine' in fiction."

Hang in there. I'll get to my point eventually. Ironically, one of the stories in that collection was titled, "The Women Men Don't See," which if you haven't read, I'll forgo spoilers and tell you to go find and read. And that finally brings me to my point. If Maudie took up the screen name of RockHard69 (or maybe BeefJerkie72O, in honor of Jethro Clampett), and went into an online game, I'd put money down that her playing style couldn't be defined as "masculine" or "feminine." I'd even put money down that there's more women than any of us suspect playing online under "RockHard-like" pseudos. But frankly, I don't spent a lot of time wondering about my opponents' gender, whether its a RockHard or a TiffanyBlow. I just want their money.

And, to extend my point, there's nothing particularly feminine about Maudie's writing either. Sometimes the subject matter could be argued as of feminine interests - I'd frankly wonder if Iggy, for example, started raving on the benefits of his "comfort flannel," - but Maudie's writing is just simply good writing; which is why I read it. If there's a masculine/feminine aspect to me about poker blogging, it's that I like to go to Maudie's and Felicia's blogs to get some relief from the testosterone-infused poker blogs, where you're too often as likely to get a story about binge drinking, pole dancers and crack ho's as card stories. Not that I have anything against booze, pole dancers, crack ho's or the like, it just gets tiring to wade through the same old stuff. And that's where my comment about "where the heck are Maudie and Felicia?" came from. Glaser offered a pretty good spectrum of poker blogs with Iggy, Otis, Pauly, and the Poker Prof. But he could have done better, I think. And the "About" split of "Top 10 Poker Blogs" and "Best Poker Blogs by Women" is insulting to both poker bloggers and to women.

And finally, I agree with Maudie. The idea of women-only poker events is ludicrous. It's like telling Phil Ivey that they've decided to have a "people of color"-only WSOP event because of concern that since he's often the only African-American at the table it must make him feel nervous.

I got the horse right here...

Given, as I noted in this post, that no matter how far in cheek tongue is placed, there's always the chance of being taken seriously, I thought I should clarify something...

I'm showing my age, but the personality Iggy projects on G&P always reminds me of a character from one of my favorite writers, Damon Runyon.

My father had a liking for the horses, and I spent more time than my mother liked at tracks in Maine, New York, and California. As I was too young to bet (except when I could talk my Dad into putting a couple of bucks down for me), I also spent a lot of time hanging with the bookies, touts, and other general lowlifes that congregate wherever the Sport of Kings is being played out.

I loved `em. I loved their stories, I loved their shilling of whatever crackpot betting system each was flogging to the unwary and to the optimistic. I even loved them when one took my life savings - which I think was all of five bucks at the time - in three-card monte... and then showed me how he had done it. But he never gave me back my money, so I'd remember. And I do.

Most of all, they were a bunch of likeable conmen who make me smile when I think about them now. They might take your money, but they'd often make you laugh even when you both knew they were doing it. And they might stake you when you were broke, and might even buy a kid an ice cream cone every now and then. And if you were one of their own, they'd take care of you without a thought if you needed help.

Dour character that I can sometimes be, few things make me smile regularly anymore. Peg does, of course. Most of the kids in my extended family can; my niece in all but blood, Lizzie, did yesterday. My cats, Bob Dylan, the hawk J.D.s who are back at 8 Reeds Ferry Way are a few of the things that still make me regularly smile... and so does Guinness & Poker. In the Fred Universe, "likeable con artist," is a compliment.

Just thought I should clarify that. I mean, Iggy's got enough problems being a dwarf housewife.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Local dwarf makes good

Apparently desperate for subject matter, Mark Glaser from the heretofore respectable Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, has written a very readable, fact-filled article on poker blogging and poker bloggers, including our very own Blogfather, Pauly, Otis and the Poker Prof.

Highly recommended. I think that what I like most about the article is that Glaser successfully captures the personalities of each blogger - Iggy as a likeable con artist; the hyperactive Pauly; and Otis and the Prof figuring out how to make a couple of bucks from doing what they already like to do.

And quibbles:

- 10 points deducted (I'm reading the latest Harry Potter) from Glaser for using the word, "Gonzo," a term that should have been retired with HST.

- With all due respect to the above gentlemen, where the heck are Maudie and Felicia?

Today in history

via "The Writer's Almanac", and some independent rico-ga'ing research

On July 20 1875 (it says here. Other sources say 1874) the largest recorded swarm of locusts in American history descended upon the Great Plains. It was a swarm about 1,800 miles long, 110 miles wide, from Canada down to Texas.

When it came to swarms, the Rocky Mountain locust - scourge of the 1870s - still stands today as the undisputed champion of the world. Between 1873 and 1877, Melanophus spretus caused $200 million in crop damage in Colorado, Nebraska and other states, chowing down on everything green and plenty else.

Its sky-blackening swarms hold a place in The Guinness Book of World Records under the heading ``greatest concentration of animals.''

``A swarm of Rocky Mountain locusts that flew over Nebraska on July 20-30, 1874, covered an area estimated at 198,000 square miles (almost twice the size of Colorado),'' the entry reads. ``The swarm must have contained at least 12.5 trillion insects with a total weight of 27.5 million tons.''

The last living Rocky Mountain locust was seen in 1902. One theory suggests that Melanophus spretus was inadvertently - although they would have happily done it consciously - eradicated by farmers digging up their breeding grounds to plant crops. There are stories of plows bringing up thousands of eggs.

``Western agriculture and the Rocky Mountain locust collided in time and space,'' Jeffrey Lockwood, a University of Wyoming entomologist says. ``Through one of the most spectacular coincidences in agricultural history, early agriculture basically destroyed the permanent breeding ground of the locusts.''

Plowing and irrigation, along with the decimation of Indian, bison and beaver populations, all contributed to the ultimate extinction of the Rocky Mountain locust, according to Lockwood.

Today, North America is the only continent in the world without a locust.

RIP James Doohan

James Doohan, 'Star Trek's' Scotty, died at 5:30 a.m. today at his Redmond, Washington, home with his wife of 28 years, Wende, at his side. Doohan was 85.

From the CNN obituary...

When the series ended in 1969, Doohan found himself typecast as Montgomery Scott, the canny engineer with a burr in his voice. In 1973, he complained to his dentist, who advised him: "Jimmy, you're going to be Scotty long after you're dead. If I were you, I'd go with the flow."

"I took his advice," said Doohan, "and since then everything's been just lovely."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

In the "life imitates art" category...

By The Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - A movie fan had his nose bitten off outside an Australian cinema in an argument over the quality of the violent new Bruce Willis movie "Sin City," police said.

The 19-year-old victim underwent surgery to reattach the tip of his nose following the brawl Sunday night outside a movie theater in Bathurst, 125 miles west of Sydney.

Bathurst police Inspector Cameron Lindsay said the victim and his attacker got into a fight over the merits of the film, an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel about a wicked metropolis filled with tough guys and gorgeous dames. The movie has been praised by critics for its dark, computer-generated imagery and criticized for its nonstop violence.

Police were still hunting for the attacker.

"There's been an argument, apparently over how good the movie was, and then an altercation," Lindsay said.

Today in history

via "The Writer's Almanac"

It was on this day in 1954, the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy came out, The Fellowship of the Ring. It was the sequel to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, which came out in 1937. Tolkien had written The Hobbit for his own amusement and didn't expect it to sell well. It's the story of a small, human-like creature with hairy feet named Bilbo, who goes on an adventure through Middle Earth and comes back with a magical ring.

J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, "I am in fact a hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands. I smoke a pipe, like good, plain food, detest French cooking ... I am fond of mushrooms, have a very simple sense of humor ... go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much."

The Hobbit sold pretty well, partly because C.S. Lewis gave it a big review when it came out. And so Tolkien's publisher asked for a sequel. Tolkien decided the new book would be about Bilbo's nephew Frodo, but for a long time he had no idea what sort of adventure. Finally, he decided it would be about the magical ring, though the ring had not been such an important part of The Hobbit.

Tolkien spent the next 17 years working on The Lord of the Rings. He was a professor at Oxford. He had to write in his spare time, usually at night, sitting by the stove in the study in his house.

He was well into his first draft by the time World War II broke out in 1939. He hadn't set out to write an allegory, but once the war began, he started to draw parallels between the war and the events in his novel: the land of evil in The Lord of the Rings, Mordor, was set east of Middle Earth, just as the enemies of England were to the east.

The book became more and more complicated as he went along. It was taking much longer to finish than he'd planned. He went through long stretches where he didn't write anything. He thought about giving up the whole thing. He wanted to make sure all the details were right, the geography, the language, the mythology of Middle Earth. He made elaborate charts to keep track of the events of the story. His son Christopher also drew a detailed map of Middle Earth.

Finally, in the fall of 1949, he finished writing The Lord of the Rings. He typed the final copy himself sitting on a bed in his attic, typewriter on his lap, tapping it out with two fingers. It turned out to be more than a half million words long, and the publisher agreed to bring it out in three volumes. The first came out on this day in 1954. The publisher printed just 3,500 copies, but it turned out to be incredibly popular. It went into a second printing in just six weeks. Today more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Illegitimi non carborundum*

I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; -- Ulysses, Afred Lord Tennyson


Thanks Jill!

Monday, July 18, 2005

The hammer falls

I didn't play in the the WPBT 'Charlie' Tournament last night, a charity tournament in honor of a poker player blogger friend, Charlie Tuttle, but was pleased to read that over 140 people did, including Wil Wheaton.

It was the night of the Hammer, according to Maudie's report (Maudie came in 5th, by the way. Congrats, but how come you've disabled permalinks?). To see the absolute, bestest hammer hand ever, go here (courtesy of Al).

Attack of the bluffing bots

Info gleaned from various places on last week's World Poker Robot Championships...

pokerprobot won $100,000 in the "Amateur Robot Poker Tournament" and in an exhibition match beat the the University of Alberta's Poki-X Bot.

The "PokerProbot" link will take you to the owner's - Hilton Givens, a 37-year-old car salesman from Indiana according to the L.A. Times - grammatically-challenged site, where a free download verson, "PokerProBot Statistics," is being offered to the first 50 people who sign up (it says here). PokerProBot currently only works with PartyPoker. I've downloaded the software, and am thinking about asking for a challenge match with a certain little dwarf who likes to flog PP.

Last Friday the Unabomber (Real name, Phil Laak. Poker players have more nicknames than superheroes) took on PokerProbot, and finally beat the bot after three hours and 300-odd hands. "It would for sure make money online," Laak said in an L.A. Times interview. At least in the simpler versions of Texas hold 'em with betting limits, "bots are better than the average person."

From "The Writer's Almanac"

with Garrison Keillor

MONDAY, 18 JULY, 2005

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Having Children" by Barbara Tanner Angell, from The Long Turn Toward Light. © Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Reprinted with permission.

Having Children

A siren goes by,
the scream cuts through me
even though my child is home.
For a moment I think...

Where am I?
In the middle of the night
a cry, dreamed
or heard, a wave washes
over the body of my child.
I have let her drown

or fall. She has fallen
from a high balcony
and I have let it happen.
Negligence. I feel
as if I'm plummeting...

Oh let this be a dream.
I'll be better next time.
I'll watch, I'll watch, I'll watch.

It was on this day in 1925, the first edition of Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, was published.

And today, the 18th of July, is believed to be the anniversary of the fire that burned Rome in 64 AD, while the emperor Nero supposedly played his fiddle. In fact, he wasn't in Rome. He was away at his holiday villa on the coast, and when he heard about the fire, he rushed back to the capital and took charge of the operations.

Full Writer's Almanac for July 18th

"In the winter it was rightly cold..."

an early review of "No Direction Home," the documentary:

No Direction Home is an astounding piece of filmmaking. Although it focuses on a seemingly compact segment of Dylan's life -- the years between 1961 and 1966 -- it's the most telling portrait yet put to film. Scorsese works best when he's obsessed by his subject -- see Taxi Driver or Raging Bull -- and he's created a compelling portrait of the enigmatic Dylan. Although it runs 3½ hours, No Direction Home goes by in a flash. Working in the documentary format, Scorsese has made his best film in a decade.

No Direction Home

The two-CD chronologically sequenced package contains 28 Bob Dylan tracks -- 26 of them previously unreleased -- comprised of rare private recordings, live concert, television and festival recordings, and 12 alternate takes of songs from his Columbia LP recording sessions in New York and Nashville will arrive in stores August 30th.

This is the companion soundtrack to the two-part feature-length film, "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan," a Martin Scorsese picture. The film will make its U.S. premiere on the Public Broadcasting System's "American Masters Series" over the course of Monday and Tuesday nights, September 26-27th, respectively.

Disc one:
“When I Got Troubles” (1959)
“Rambler, Gambler” (1960)
“This Land Is Your Land” (live at New York’s Carnegie Chapter Hall, 1961)
“Song to Woody” (1961)
“Dink’s Song” (1961)
“I Was Young When I Left Home” (1961)
“Sally Gal” (“The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” outtake, 1962)
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” (demo, 1963)
“Man of Constant Sorrow” (1963)
“Blowin’ in the Wind” (live at New York’s Town Hall, 1963)
“Masters of War” (live at New York’s Town Hall, 1963)
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (live at New York’s Carnegie Hall, 1963)
“When the Ship Comes In” (live at New York’s Carnegie Hall, 1963)
“Mr. Tambourine Man” (“Bringing It All Back Home” alternate take, 1964)
“Chimes of Freedom” (live at Newport, R.I. Folk Festival, 1964)
“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” (“Bringing It All Back Home” alternate take, 1965)

Disc two:
“She Belongs To Me” (“Bringing It All Back Home” alternate take, 1965)
“Maggie’s Farm” (live at Newport, R.I. Folk Festival, 1965)
“It’s Take a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry” (“Highway 61 Revisited” alternate take, 1965)
“Tombstone Blues” (“Highway 61 Revisited” alternate take, 1965)
“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” (“Highway 61 Revisited” alternate take, 1965)
“Desolation Row” (“Highway 61 Revisited” alternate take, 1965)
“Highway 61 Revisited” (“Highway 61 Revisited” alternate take, 1965)
“Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat” (“Blonde on Blonde” alternate take, 1966)
“Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” (“Blonde on Blonde” alternate take, 1966)
“Visions of Johanna” (“Blonde on Blonde” alternate take, 1965)
“Ballad of a Thin Man” (live at Edinburgh’s ABC Theatre, 1966)
“Like a Rolling Stone” (live at Manchester, England’s Free Trade Hall, 1966)

Archivists and researchers reviewed more than 400 hours of recordings by Bob Dylan in the preparation of "No Direction Home." The two CDs will be packaged with a 60-page color book housed in a slipcase. The book will include separate liner notes written by Andrew Loog Oldham, and Al Kooper who sheds light on the "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde" recording sessions in New York and Nashville (for which he played organ and served as musical director). An authoritative track-by-track delineation is also included.

The first feature-length film biography ever produced on the artist, "No Direction Home" is narrated in its entirety by Dylan. In addition to hours of black-and-white and color archival footage and photography, it features exclusive interviews with Joan Baez, photographer John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers, Allen Ginsberg, Tony Glover, Al Kooper, Bruce Langhorne, Paul Nelson, Suze Rotolo, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Izzy Young of the Folklore Center, and many others.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi

Only several hands into heads up, the following hand ended it all. Finally, mercifully at 6:45 am, it came to an end. On a flop of 4 5 6, Joe Hachem bet out 750,000, and was raised by Steve to 3 million. Joe went all in, and Steve called. Joesph showed 3 7 for a flopped straight, and Steve Dannenmann showed A 3 for top pair, and an open ended straight draw.

Steve could only draw to a tie, but the board blanked out, and we have a new World Champion. Get used to the name Joseph Hachem....You'll be hearing it a lot.

via Poker News

Final results (via Poker Player Online)

Joseph Hachem
Melbourne, Australia
$7,500,000+ World Champion Title

Steven Dannenmann
Severn, MD

Tex Barch
McKinney, TX

Aaron Kanter

Andrew Black
Dublin, Ireland

Scott Lazar
Studio City, CA

Daniel Bergsdorf
Umea, SW

Brad Koundracki
Kingston, PA

Mike Matusow
Las Vegas, NV

Body Bags by R.S. Gwynn


Let's hear it for Dwayne Coburn, who was small
And mean without a single saving grace
Except for stealing—home from second base
Or out of teammates' lockers, it was all
The same to Dwayne. The Pep Club candy sale,
However, proved his downfall. He was held
Briefly on various charges, then expelled
And given a choice: enlist or go to jail.
He finished basic and came home from Bragg
For Christmas on his reassignment leave
With one prize in his pack he thought unique,
Which went off prematurely New Year's Eve.
The student body got the folded flag
And flew it in his memory for a week.


Good pulling guards were scarce in high school ball.
The ones who had the weight were usually slow
As lumber trucks. A scaled-down wild man, though,
Like Dennis "Wampus" Peterson, could haul
His ass around right end for me to slip
Behind his blocks. Played college ball a year—
Red-shirted when they yanked his scholarship
Because he majored, so he claimed, in Beer.
I saw him one last time. He'd added weight
Around the neck, used words like "grunt" and "slope,"
And said he'd swap his Harley and his dope
And both balls for a 4-F knee like mine.
This happened in the spring of '68.
He hanged himself in 1969.


Jay Swinney did a great Roy Orbison
Impersonation once at Lyn-Rock Park,
Lip-synching to "It's Over" in his dark
Glasses beside the jukebox. He was one
Who'd want no better for an epitaph
Than he was good with girls and charmed them by
Opening his billfold to a photograph:
Big brother. The Marine. Who didn't die.
He comes to mind, years from that summer night,
In class for no good reason while I talk
About Thoreau's remark that one injustice
Makes prisoners of us all. The piece of chalk
Splinters and flakes in fragments as I write,
To settle in the tray, where all the dust is.

R.S. Gwynn

From No Word of Farewell: Poems 1970-2000, Story LinePress, (c) 2001.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Lawn furniture

I can see Kittenish (lately renamed "Special K") and the Bear reclining on this after a hard walkie. Note: Couch may require mowing.

via Boing Boing


H.L. Mencken once noted that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people (to be politically correct, as well as more accurate, I'd amend the quote to delete "the American"). Just to show that nothing much has changed in the 80-odd years since Mencken first noted that, I provide the following example.

A few days ago, Mark Evanier posted the accompanying photo on his blog and bemoaned, "I was therefore shocked, and did not believe until I saw the photo, that [Stan Lee] has been working recently as a mail carrier. This is a sad comedown for the man who was once the most important figure in the comic book industry."

Mark later wrote, "This prompted a surprising number of e-mails -- about fifty, so far -- from folks politely (and one, not so politely) informing me that, duh, that's a still from the Fantastic Four movie and Stan is just playing a role, that of postal servant Willie Lumpkin. I also received one complaint from a mail carrier saying, in effect, "What do you mean, it's a comedown?"

I say again, sigh. I'm not quite sure how anyone who reads Mark's blog could not know that 1) he holds not much love for Stan the Man and 2) that Mark probably knows as much as what's happening in the comics field as any person alive and 3) he has a sense of humor apparently lacking in at least 50 of his readers. In any case, as Mark later noted it's well known that Lee is selling sneakers at a local Foot Locker.


World Series of Poker final nine

Final Table Chip Counts

1. Aaron Kanter $10.7M
2. Tex Barch $9.33M
3. Andrew Black $8.14
4. Mike Matusow $7.41
5. Steve Dannenmann $5.46M
6. Joseph Hachem $5.42
7. Daniel Bergsdorf $5.27
8. Scott Lazar $3.37
9. Brad Kondracki $1.18

Above: Tiffany Williamson, (or possibly "Williamsen," I've seen variant spellings in reports) an American born attorney who works in London. Tiffany spent $10 on a rebuy in a freeroll at the Gutshot Club in Clerkenwell after losing her starting stack and eventually parlayed it into $400,000 and 15th place at the WSOP; the largest amount ever won by a woman in the final event. (Photo courtesy of Las Vegas and Poker Blog):

The Final Table of the 2005 WSOP will begin at 4pm Vegas time on Friday. Some highlights from yesterday, courtesy of the good doctor and the Las Vegas & Poker Blog...

Greg Raymer (last year's winner) was busted out in 25th place when his A9 didn't beat pocket 5s. Greg took home $304,680

Phil Ivey (my and many others favorite to win) went all in with J-J against Aaron Kantor's pocket Kings. The flop was K-4-8 with two diamonds. The turn was a diamond and Phil Ivey picked up a flush draw. He didn't catch a diamond and was eliminated in 20th place. Phil also walked away with $304,680

Tiffany Williamson (the only woman left in the tournament, and a fan favorite as a virtual unknown) moved all in with pocket 5s and Tex Barch called with J-8. Tex caught a Jack on the turn and took the lead. The river was no help for Tiffany and she finished in 15th place.
Williamson won the highest cash amount ever at the WSOP main event by a woman - $400K. You go girl!

Reading the Tao's live stream-of-consciousness WSOP poker report can be maddening, and I wish Pauly would have simply turned off his blog's comment feature rather than continually bitching about the Comment Clowns populating it. But sometimes it can be funny (and sometimes inadvertently hilarious), and its the best WSOP poker report around. However, if you prefer coherency to immediacy, I recommend the Las Vegas & poker blog.

American Life in Poetry: Column 016


There are thousands upon thousands of poems about love, many of them using predictable words, predictable rhymes. Ho-hum. But here the Illinois poet Lisel Mueller talks about love in a totally fresh and new way, in terms of table salt.

Love Like Salt

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

It breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.

Reprinted from "Alive Together: New and Selected Poems" (LSU Press, 1996) by permission of the author. Poem copyright (c) 1996 by Lisel Mueller. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What you'd get if you crossed Hello Kitty with JonBenet Ramsey

via Boing Boing, super-creepy pictures of young beauty contestants Photoshopped to "look more angelic."

Ew, ew, ewwwww.

Koreans Nix Cabbage Inside Baseball Caps

Yet another headline that can't be improved upon. The Korea Baseball Organization ruled that wearing cabbage leaves inside a baseball cap an "alien material" that may disrupt a game, the organization said in a statement.

Monday, July 11, 2005

EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers

Depending on how close you're paying attention, you may notice a new graphic in the ever-changing series to your right. The link will bring you to the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers, which I encourage you to read if you blog.

When I started seriously blogging, I set myself two ground rules, which I've more or less successfully followed in the past year...

- No posting - positive or negative - on current business relationships. I'm a freelancer, and usually have ongoing work with two to three companies at any given time. I don't talk about them or the work. Ever. Past business relationships are fair game if 1) the company is out of business as many of my ex-employers are or 2) where I'd sooner eat monkey manure then ever work for them again. Two companies fit the latter description, btw, and no, I won't name them here. If you're a regular reader of fhb, you can figure it out.

- No stuff that might potentially embarrass family/friends. On the iffy items, I either didn't bother to post or got permission, usually from Peggy.

But, as the intro to the EFF legal guide notes...

Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.

Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.

The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.

But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.

Power Google

Few people - including me - use even half the features offered by Google. Did you know that you can use Google as a calculator, for instance, or as a spell checker ( now that I use all the time), a dictionary (ditto), or for stock quotes or the latest weather.

Now, you can use Google as a currency convertor. Try plugging in "British pound."

via John Battelle's Seachblog

Wil Wheaton WSOP Wail

"Wail" is unfair to Wil, but I was going for alliteration, and it was the first thing that occurred.

Wil now has a pretty full recounting of his Day 1 WSOP knockout. The nature of blogging is such that it's better to scroll down a bit, and then read up. Wil also tells a pretty funny nerd joke, which is a little too good to be true, but who knows?

I approached, and saw her reading my "Shrödinger's Cat Is Dead" shirt.

"What does that mean?" She said.

"It's a very nerdy physics joke," I said.

"So it's not being cruel to animals?" She said.

"Well, there's a lot of Uncertainty about that," I said.

Talk about your bad beats...

via Iggy, this re-re-posting from RGP, where the WSOP tournament director defends himself from various calumnies the get-a-life on-line community accuses him of...

When I leaked that number, I told several people(including jon) that that number
was the Maximum number of entries we could account for . We had 1 death between
registration and play...

Only a hobo

The National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA is a small American history museum that has an everchanging line-up of quirky exhibitions. I think the last time we were there it was for a jigsaw puzzle show; one of Peggy's winter-time hobbies. Now on display through February 16th is one of my interests, the Depression-era hobo life.

Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression:
Materials from the Uys Family Collection

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Texas Dolly taking a shot at becoming media maven?

via the LA Times:

An investor group headed by two-time World Series of Poker champion Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson has made an unsolicited $700-million bid for WPT Enterprises Inc., owner of the "World Poker Tour" television show and online casino, WPT said Friday.
Full article

Friday, July 08, 2005

A clean, well-lighted place

No brown M&Ms here. Dylan's contract rider, via "The Smoking Gun"

American Life in Poetry: Column 015


Many of us are collectors, attaching special meaning to the inanimate objects we acquire. Here, Texas poet Janet McCann gives us insight into the significance of one woman's collection. The abundance and variety of detail suggest the clutter of such a life.

The Woman Who Collects Noah's Arks

Has them in every room of her house,
wall hangings, statues, paintings, quilts and blankets,
ark lampshades, mobiles, Christmas tree ornaments,
t-shirts, sweaters, necklaces, books,
comics, a creamer, a sugar bowl, candles, napkins,
tea-towels and tea-tray, nightgown, pillow, lamp.
Animals two-by-two in plaster, wood,
fabric, oil paint, copper, glass, plastic, paper,
tinfoil, leather, mother-of-pearl, styrofoam,
clay, steel, rubber, wax, soap.
Why I cannot ask, though I would like
to know, the answer has to be simply
because. Because at night when she lies
with her husband in bed, the house rocks out
into the bay, the one that cuts in here to the flatlands
at the center of Texas. Because the whole wood structure
drifts off, out under the stars, beyond the last
lights, the two of them pitching and rolling
as it all heads seaward. Because they hear
trumpets and bellows from the farther rooms.
Because the sky blackens, but morning finds them always
safe on the raindrenched land,
bird on the windowsill.

Reprinted from PoemMemoirStory by permission of the author. Janet McCann's most recent book is "Emily's Dress" (Pecan Grove Press, 2005). Poem copyright (c) 2003 by Janet McCann. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit

Thursday, July 07, 2005

2004 WSOP DVD set available

NEW YORK (June 28, 2005) — The poker phenomenon is still raging and so is highest stakes game, No-Limit Texas Hold’Em. To the delight of poker fans nationwide, ESPN Original Entertainment and DVD Marketing Inc. have compiled the complete 2004 World Series of Poker’s Main Event, a six-day shoot-out between the crème de la crème of the poker world and wildcard amateurs to capture the multi-million dollar cash prize, onto an ultimate must-have three-disc DVD set.

The DVD set, packed with bonus features and more than 11 hours of poker action, will be available for online purchase as of today at and with a suggested retail price of $19.95. Availability in retail outlets will follow.

“Our fans will really enjoy the 2004 WSOP DVD collection because we’ve loaded it with four hours of bonus content,” said Victoria Stevens, vice president, ESPN. “It’s great for people who enjoy poker and dream of someday making it to the final table at the game’s biggest stage.”

A record-breaking 2,576 players, more than triple the number from last year, came to Las Vegas for the 2004 World Series of Poker. Once again, it was a virtual unknown in the poker world that would beat the poker masters and garner the top prize. Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, a patent attorney from Connecticut, parlayed a $160 online entry fee into $5 million in winnings and the coveted WSOP title.

This DVD set contains ESPN Original Entertainment’s final 10 programs from the telecast of the 2004 World Series of Poker, which earned a 1.7 rating for more than 1.5 million viewing households. Hosted by ESPN commentators and poker aficionados, Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, the DVD is presented in fullscreen (1.33:1) digital video without commercial interruption, and includes revealing interviews of star players, basic rules of No-Limit Texas Hold’Em and four hours of bonus features. Chapter points set at the key rounds allow the viewer to jump directly to the action putting them in control of every frame of video as ESPN captures the emotion, strategy and luck in route to crowning the champion of the World Series of Poker.

The unprecedented four hours of bonus features include:

* Top-10 moments from the 2004 tournament
* A Greg Raymer commentary
* A Greg Raymer All Access
* Greg Raymer’s Bio
* A Stu Unger feature
* Beyond the Felt: Poker Talk segment
* Coverage of the $1,000 Buy-In No-Limit Texas Hold’Em
* Coverage of the $2,000 Buy-In Pot Limit Omaha
* Tournament of Champions feature
* Coverage of the Kansas City Lowball event, exclusive only to the DVD

Guilty pleasures

We all have them, whether it's to moon pies, WWW rasslin', or very bad TV shows.

As to the latter, TiVo has allowed me to indulge my fascination with "The Real Gilligan's Isle," the second season of which just concluded. As you probably already know, or can intuit, "TRGI," is a reality survivor-type show loosely based on the TV sit-com. Loosely in the sense that 14 people wear clothing based on the seven GI characters (you can sing along with me here if you like: Gilligan, the Skipper too, a millionaire and his wife, the movie star, the Professor and Mary Ann [aka "the rest"]) and are placed on a deserted - deserted except for a smarmy host and never seen production crew, of course - island where they compete to win prizes and 1) to be the only version of their respective characters, and 2) to be the last contestant standing in order to get a cool quarter-mill.

Whew. In the first season the producers made some effort to match the contestants' real-world occupations with the GI character role (that is, the two Mary Anns were farm girls, there was usually a caption under the two millionaires reminding us that this one was worth $2.3, that one was worth $3.1), but that seemed to get dismissed this time around. Well, okay, Prof. Tiy-e claimed to be a professor of sexology, but that was about it.

Part of my obsession with TRGI is that I can't understand why, even for $250,000, people would allow themselves to be captured on video so noxiously. And yes, I understand that a lot of it is due to skillful work by editors... but still. I mean, Mary Ann Randi was so dislikeable that you expected her coconut cream pies to curdle. One of the many ugly moments in her 15 minutes of fame was Randi's explanation about why she had ignored one of her teammates apparent near-drowning, even though she was supposedly a lifeguard in the real world.

"I've only been trained in shallow water," she told her disbelieving castaway companions.

Well, yes.

I'm into this rant because the most repellent contestant of all, "Gilligan Shawn," was featured in a short blurb in yesterday's Globe:

'Gilligan' is back on dry land

''Gilligan Shawn" of TBS's ''The Real Gilligan's Island" is back to being Shawn Manning of Quincy, regular at various Marina Bay watering holes. In the show's finale, the former doorman at WaterWorks was runner-up to ''Skipper Charlie" -- Charlie Albert -- in a race to find the shovel to dig up the flammable materials to make the fire to light the torch to flag down the helicopter to win the $250,000. While Albert was able to light his fire by pouring kerosene on a pile of sticks, Manning says he didn't see kerosene in his kit. ''If, in fact, I didn't have kerosene, it wasn't a level playing field," he said. Manning, who's diabetic, hopes to use his newfound fame to become a spokesman for juvenile diabetes causes.
What a moreroon. Interesting that Manning 's resume highlight seems to be "former doorman." He was listed as a "personal assistant" in the show, which I never quite figured out. "Do you think that means gigolo or men's room attendant?" Peggy asked me. In any case, Manning's personality is pretty well summed up by his whining about the missing kerosene. In no particular order, Manning won a competition by virtually cheating his opponent - the other "My Mom needs a lung transplant!" Gilligan; he out Randi'd Mary Ann Randi with a stream of invective that drove her to tears (although the "Back to the water park, Randi" line was pretty funny); he was rude, obnoxious, arrogant, and in need of toilet training.

I was happy to see him lose and my favorite in what was a pretty sleazy bunch, Skipper Charlie, win.

Burning questions still remaining about this season's "Real Gilligan's Isle"

- Contestants suffering an accident in the first day of both Seasons One and Two a weird coincidence?

- Did anyone know that Prof. Tiy-e couldn't swim? Why was host "Scott" the rescuer?

- Will there be a Season Three?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

One long cat

via Peggy, we present a link to Verismo Leonetti Reserve Red, known informally as "Leo," current Guinness Book of Records record-holder as longest cat in the world. Leo is 48 inches tall from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail and weighs 35 pounds.

Leo is, of course, a Maine Coon, and gives Bear something to strive for. Bear is encouraged by the fact that he already wears a harness very similar to Leo's.

Curly is pleased that Leo strongly resembles our very much missed Maine Coon hi dee ho, Speedy Tomato, who would have given any CFA-registered cat a run for his money.

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All Things Come...

"The Adventures of Superman" was probably one of the first things I started TiVo'ng, and must hold the record for my longest TiVo season pass. At last count I had over 40 of the 103 episodes (104 if you count the never-run-in-syndication "Stamp Day for Superman").

Finally, finally, comes news (via Mark Evanier) that the 1st season of TAoS - 26 episodes including the origin story "Superman on Earth" and concluding with the two-part "The Unknown People" (aka" Superman and the Mole Men") will be released in October. Evanier notes that the set will include "special features," although no word on what those might be.

I don't fully agree with Mark's opinion that Season 1 was "generally the best." I might argue for Season 2, but it's kinda a fanboy thing, so I'll resist. Bottom line is that I can still remember being scared spitless by Season 2's "A Ghost for Scotland Yard," whose floating ghost face traumatized the imaginative but whussy young Fred so badly that my Mom banned Superman for a week. Later bans would include Dell Comics "Ghost Stories," "The Twilight Zone," and "Outer Limits," all of which gave me many sleepless and nightmare-filled nights. Ah, youth.

The first two seasons are surprisingly noirish. Mark notes a "movie serial feel," but I always thought of them as radio shows brought wholesale into the new medium. You could close your eyes and picture the story in your mind by the dialogue and sometimes narrative better than what was on screen. Mark is also right that later seasons became increasingly pungent, possibly reaching their nadir with Season 3's "Flight to the North," starring Chuck Connors as backwoods Sylvester J. Superman, complete with mule.

Anyway, even if I already have self-recorded much of Season 1, the official release spares me the effort of editing out commercials, getting episodes into the proper order, re-burning back to DVD, et al; so like Mark, I'll have the first season of TAoS on order the day it's offered, and will be crossing my fingers that the second season will eventually see the light of day, too. Who knows, maybe "Stamp Day for Superman" will be part of the package.

One can only hope. I'm still waiting for "Reboot" and the second season of "Twin Peaks" on DVD (as an aside, the way "Twin Peaks" has been brutalized by the copyright holders is a crime). But on the other hand, I do now have Seasons 1 and 2 of "Moonlighting" on DVD now thanks to a pair of generous cats and their Momma who fronted the money.

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via Neil Gaiman:

If there is one thing worse than things that don't work it's things that almost work.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


*all sortsa disclaimers here. This is a parody. Please don't sue me, GBT, semi-employed blogging crank that I am. Click here to see original Doonesbury posting.

The blogosphere has been surprisingly quiet on the Doonesbury blogging strip, perhaps the best comment on Trudeau's relevancy these days. While not being one of my favorite blogs at all, Power Line seems to have the most detailed coverage and responses.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Friday, July 01, 2005

Short stack

And a short run for Jim McManus' blog from the WSOP...

Like most poker players, I'd looked forward to the World Series for months as the highlight of my year. Even so, on the plane ride to tournaments we play down the cold fact that 90 percent of entrants (or more) to every event lose their entire buy-in. Another 5 percent basically get their money back, with the lion's share going to the tip of the payout pyramid. In the $5,000 pot-limit Omaha event, for example, the top three finishers (2.2 percent of the field) received over two-thirds of the prize pool.

My hero

Doyle Brunson wins his 10th WSOP Bracelet (the $5,000 "short-handed" NL Event).

3:50 am... $5K Short-handed Final Table update: Doyle Brunson moved all in. Minh Ly called with K-Q. Doyle showed 10-3. Doyle flopped a 3 and his hand held up. Doyle Brunson won his 10th WSOP bracelet! He won $367,800. For second place Minh Ly won $203,715.

via Tao of Poker

It's cloudy, with an occasional ear in the grass

David Lynch, of "Blue Velvet" and "Twin Peaks" fame, is giving daily L.A. weather reports on his site.

American Life in Poetry: Column 014


Often everyday experiences provide poets with inspiration. Here Georgiana Cohen observes a woman looking out her window and compares the woman to the sunset. The woman's "slumped" chin, the fence that separates them, and the "beached" cars set the poem's tone; this is clearly not a celebration of the neighborhood. Yet by turning to clouds, sky, and breath, Cohen underscores the scene's fragile grace.

Old Woman in a Housecoat

An old woman in
a floor-length housecoat
has become sunset
to me, west-facing.
Turquoise, sage, or rose,
she leans out of her
second floor window,
chin slumped in her palm,
and gazes at the
fenced property line
between us, the cars
beached in the driveway,
the creeping slide of
light across shingles.
When the window shuts,
dusk becomes blush and
bruises, projected
on vinyl siding.
Housecoats breathe across
the sky like frail clouds.

Reprinted from "Cream City Review," 2004, by permission of the author, a writer and journalist living in Boston. Poem copyright 2004 by Georgiana Cohen. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. or information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit