Monday, January 31, 2005

MOJO's Top 100 Soundtracks of All Time List

Maybe it just reflects my tastes for music of the `60s (not just R&R, but anything from the `60s. I'm an unrepentent Bacharach & Davis fan, f'r instance) but I think this is one of those lists where you could simply go through it and buy each pick and be pretty much happy.

A little earlier in time than most of the picks is #4 - Miles Davis' "Ascenseur pour l'echfaud" (Lift to the Scaffold), a soundtrack to an early Lous Malle film noir that I had never heard of. I bought it on Friday, and love it.

(via BoingBoing)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

In more pleasant news

After dealing with snow, bruised trees, and crumpled cars yesterday (see below) I went back to the Web, and eventually looked at my blog stats during lunch. I had a cascade of hits -- "cascade" being many more than my usual handful of daily visits, most from family and friends, plus the usual odd visit from people looking for the First Hawaiian Bank, which shares my initials.

Almost all the hits were originating from Mark Evaniers' site, so I went to see why and found to my delight that Mark had "cribbed" (his word), my story about the Rose Marie segment on Carson, linking back to me in the process. As could be expected, not only did Mark remember the segment, he remembered it much better than I did (a little scary for me as Mark and I are the same age and I, or at least used to, pride myself on my memory), even to the point of naming the other guests that night (John Byner???). There's a bit of recursion for you. You can go to Mark's blog, back to my story, and then back to Mark's posting about my story if you follow those links.

Mark pegs the show airing circa 1969 or `70, which would have made us both between 17 and 18 and, if he's right, means I was living in a different city (L.A.) than I thought, and it was a different summer. But I was pretty much the nightbird from age 15 to around 25, when I was out of the Army, went back to college, and started keeping more regular hours, so it's possible. Anyway, as I suspected, as I've never seen that segment again, and it would have been a natural for any "Best of" special (certainly equal to the overused Ed Ames tomahawk segment), Mark thinks the show was probably one of the many that were lost, taped over, by NBC, who apparently had no sense of history at the time.

However, there still may be copies in existence. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A Winter's Tale

It's another winter in New England. Snow again yesterday, an additional 5 to 7 inches. Temperatures relatively warm, in the 20s. Peg hit a patch of ice on the way to work yesterday morning, spun out, bounced off a telephone pole and ended up in a snowdrift with the SUV's crumpled nose resting against a tree.

She called me about 10 minutes after leaving the house, so I jumped into the Mini and went to get her. She was less than a mile up the back road, the Rodeo off to the side, facing the wrong way. Peg was unhurt having worn her seatbelt, although upset, as anyone would be. But it was an ice patch on a snowy back road, and if you've ever hit one just the right way you know you have as little control as if you were on ball bearings or an oil slick. All you can do is steer, wait for traction, and ride it out. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you don't. A few miles up the road Peg might have ended up in an open field or might have ended up in someone's yard, as she later saw another car had done.

I put her in the Mini, checked out the Rodeo, and after some effort, was able to get it back out on the road. The Rodeo was still drivable... or was after I pried some stuff away from the driver's side tire.

I took it home, and Peg, conscientious do-bee she is, went on to work in the Mini. `Bout five minutes after I got back inside, Peg called me on my cell phone (hers having died right after she called me), and near-gives me a heart attack as I think she's been in another accident. But she's just wants to tell me that she's now stuck in traffic as another car has slid off the road - the car in the front yard - and they're trying to pull it out. Twenty minutes later she calls to let me know she's finally at work.

I've called Allstate and our mechanic, and brought the Rodeo into Paul's this morning to see what's what. And I need to call Allstate Claims to see if I can pin down when the claims adjuster might come to look at it past "before next Tuesday", as I was told yesterday.

My biggest concern is that they'll try to total the Rodeo rather than pay the full repair amount, given that it's a seven-year-old car with 106,000 miles on it. Yesterday I was guessing about $3-4k worth of work, but in this morning's light it looks like the whole front end, hood, and driver's side bumper will need replacement... and that's before any assessment of the famous "hidden damage." Fair value on a Rodeo with that age/mileage ranges around $6 to 7K, so I think we're going to be on the edge of being totaled. We still have payments on the Mini and I don't want two car payments if I can avoid it. But, there's no use obsessing about it yet, Fred tells his Monk-self.

Definitely an AWD car the next time around, but preferably not for this year.

Monday, January 24, 2005

The answer is: "I'll be right back"

and the question to Johnny Carson was, "What would you like your epitaph to be?"

Pre-SNL, pre-anything except bad old movies and a revolving cast of competitors on the other channels, the chances were you watched Carson if you were watching late night TV at all. And you either said, "Johnny Carson" or just "Carson." I don't think I ever heard anyone ever refer to it as the "Tonight Show" except in commercials or Ed McMahon in the intro.

I had a summer in my life, probably around age 15, where I never went to bed before 2 a.m. and seldom got up before noon. And each night, if I was home, I watched Carson alone in the living room of my parent's house.

One of the funniest live moments I ever saw was on the Carson show during that summer -- a guest appearance by Rose Marie (of "Dick Van Dyke" fame), whose age Carson had jokingly referred to in his introduction. Another guest - whose identity I've long forgotten - mentioned the joke to Rose Marie, and compounded it by saying that Carson had claimed that when they were building the first stage, Rose Marie held the hammer.

"Ooookay," a mock-angry Rose Marie said, smiled at Carson, stood up and walked off the set. In close order, each of the other guests got up, smiled at Carson, and also left, until only McMahon was there. And then he got up and left, leaving Carson with what must have been the living embodiment of a talk show host's nightmare.

"Is it time to go to a commercial?" he asked. "Not for five minutes," came the offstage reply as the audience roared.

A desperate Carson eventually went into a stripper act, peeling down to his bare chest, as the orchestra blared out "The Stripper." And then all the male guests returned to the stage, each of them bare-chested too, as the audience went into hysterics.

Well, you had to be there. And it was funny, funny enough to me that I can still remember the details from a show I saw only once nearly 40 years ago. They cut to a commercial, and when the show came back on, Carson and the bare-chested guests were seated and he looked into the camera and dead-panned, "Welcome to Rawhide."

I stopped watching Carson regularly long before he retired, as much because I had stopped staying up late as the fact that the guests he had on were of no interest to me. But there were moments: I made a special effort to watch the show when Robert Blake was a guest, back in his "Baretta" days. Carson seemed to have a special fondness for Blake and his war against "the suits." There was once a very funny interchange between Blake and Carson when Carson had Blake interview him in the persona of a sullen actor, who eventually dropped his pants and mooned the audience.

The first time I ever saw Andy Kaufman was on Carson, as Kaufman did his "foreigner does terrible imitations and then turns into Elvis" routine to an audience that had no idea where he was going.

Truman Capote. Robert Goulet. Carl Sagan. Bob Hope -- one of the few guests that could walk on to the set, say a few words, usually about whatever special he was flogging that week, and then leave without having to stay through the full show. An enormous Orson Welles. A very drunk Peter Falk, who told an endless story about drinking with Patrick McGoohan and who Carson kept encouraging to leave. "Well I know you have to go now." "I don't need to be anywhere," Falk replied.

Barbra Streisand reneging on her commitment to appear on Carson with opera star, Beverly Sills. After advertising Streisand's appearance for a full week, Carson told the audience, "Miss Streisand called and said she will not be on the show tonight. Nor will Miss Streisand be on any other night as long as I'm host."

The death of Robert Kennedy, and Carson doing a round table to discuss violence in America in lieu of the regular show. Carson in a Nehru jacket in the late `60s. The "Johnny Carson" line of clothing, which I always thought was pretty cool.

As one could expect, Mark Evanier has a slew of commentary and links about Carson, well worth reading, especially this article that Evanier originally wrote in 1990.

The World Poker Blogger Tour...

...continues.

Feb 2nd, 9pm EST
PokerStars
$20+2 buyin, NL tournament
Password: thehammer


Currently 20 sign-ups as of today, and a $400 pool. I haven't signed up, although I'm planning to. 133 entrants the last game, and lots of fun.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Mavis Staples and Dylan a One-time "Item"

In a recent interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the 63 year-old vocalist, Mavis Staples known for such soul classics as "I'll Take You There", told of a romantic relationship with Bob Dylan.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Definition of Fred

Fred: Great coolness instincts, shitty business instincts.

I have a tendency, as Peg will tell you, to champion very cool but ultimately unsuccessful technology. I'm praying that TiVo, which I love, doesn't become another "but it was so cool!" discard on the dust-bin of Fred history (howza `bout that for dramatic overstatement, huh?). The signs aren't good, but on the other hand, I've proclaimed the death of Apple and Amazon at various times, too (see definition of Fred again above).

Rather than provide all the links, here's the uber-link to Mark Evanier's posting on TiVo troubles.

Comcast or Time-Warner, buy my bankrupt, evil pirate cable company soon, please.

"Damn it, sheep, stay in line."

"It's not my job to make it easy for people..." -- ABC scheduling chief Jeff Bader

Gotta love that `tude. Bader's job, according to Bader, "..is to get people to stay with [ABC] from 8 to 11." To do so, ABC and other major networks are trying to "break" TiVos and other PVRs by scheduling shows to start just slightly off the usual hour/half-hour schedule.

Shows running a minute or more over their scheduled time period for the week ending Nov. 21 according to the USA Today article, included:

- Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS)

-Trading Spouses (Fox)

-Lost (ABC)

-That '70s Show (Fox)

-CSI (CBS)

-ER (NBC)

-The O.C. (Fox)

-Desperate Housewives (ABC)

-The Simpsons (Fox)

Except for Lost, whose storyline I gave up on too, there's nothing there I watch, but I bet the trend is pissing off a lot of people. I first noticed this in action (I think more in WB's attempt to pack as many commercials in as possible rather than to deliberately foil recording), when I started to TiVO the new "The Batman" animated series, which consistently starts and ends as much as 2 minutes off-schedule.

In honor of MLK and REL

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, once remarked that God created Mississippi in order for the other Deep South states to have someplace to make fun of too. This MP3 file seems proof.

Partial transcript for those who don't want to play the MP3 file:

"You've reached the Mississippi State Tax Commission. On Monday January the 17
th the State Tax Commission offices will be closed in observance of Robert E. Lee and Dr. Martin Luther King's birthdays. Tax Commission offices will re-open on Tuesday January 18th..."

The South does not need to rise again. It's never fallen in Mississippi. (via BoingBoing)

More pieces of Dutch Boyd for sale

I think it'd be fairly easy to write an article with the general theme of, "the pissy world of professional poker", as the current scene is primarily composed of very intelligent, but generally very unsocialized, very young men who spend as much time sniping at each other as they do playing. Kind of makes you long for the days of the Texas road crews, where arguments were settled with double-ought.

Dutch Boyd's ebay auction of himself was removed by the eBay gods. According to Boyd:

"...Grrrr... so after a few days of getting bids, I got an email from eBay on Friday saying they were taking the auction down because (1) I had a link to the site and (2) I had some search terms in the title that didn't relate to the auction (WPT?). I think it's for the best... got an email from a guy who said that the Copenhagen tournament was already sold out, so I'd probably have been in a bad spot if the listing DID sell."

Uh, yes. Bad spot, Dutch. Boyd is now auctioning 1 percent stakes in any winnings he earns in the San Diego WSOP Circuit main event on February 27th. An ex-colleague, Brett Jungblut, who terms himself "2004 WSOP Omaha Hi/low World Champion, and FORMER member of THE CREW" and who doesn't appear to want to head the Dutch Boyd fan club, has posted a pseudo-auction on eBay with the description:
"As a profesional poker player and former friend and colleague of Dutch Boyd, I felt obligated to tell you that I cut off all business and personal relationships with Dutch because I felt VERY uncomfortable trusting him on any level. Since he is using my picture in his auction, I wanted to make clear that I do not support him in anyway. Winning bidder of this auction will win 1/2 hour of phone time with me, to be used for poker/life related questions. [sic]"
I'm compiling a list of suitable life-related questions for Brett, so far including:

  1. Do you need to spel gud to be a successful pro?
  2. Where can you find a good nickel cigar?
  3. When is the right time to use THE HAMMER?
  4. Can I get Shana Hiatt's phone number?



Friday, January 14, 2005

The Hammer Redux

If you check out the comments link in my previous "Hammer" posting, you'll note that both Felicia Lee (the "another blogger" of the previous entry) and the Blogfather of Poker himself, Iggy, dropped by. Nice to see them both here and I appreciate their taking the time to comment... and also neither of them tasking me on the fact that the Hammer story as originally written would have made it impossible for me to win. I've corrected the play-by-play, but in all honesty I don't remember what the cards were (chalk it up to advancing age), except that I won an all-in with a 7 7 2 2 2 full house, and it drove my adversary bonkers, as all good Hammer wins should.

Felicia noted that closing her public blog was "because of hate mail containing lightly veiled threats", an unfortunate too often by-blow of writing outspoken commentary on-line. As I said, a pity she closed her public Weblog, although she generously (since I'm a stranger to her) gave me access to her new, restricted blog. How long she'll be willing to maintain even a restricted blog is an open question, as the problems are apparently continuing.

As to the "Hammer" debate, some more reading has left me more bemused, or confused, or whatever. Although I didn't think it a thing worth debating, I had thought Iggy's reference to the "Stripper by Night" as a "troll" was somewhat off-base. I think of on-line trolls as people who deliberately write provocative statements to generate reaction. A "Dylan has a voice like a frog and stole all his material to boot" posting in rec.music.dylan would be an example of a troll trolling.

The interchanges between Felicia and the "Stripper" (whose name, if it's real, I've forgotten) seemed more like the typical on-line feud, with various people lining up on one side or another, themselves generating sub-branches of arguments. The whole Hammer thread is a perfect example: Is it usually stupid to play, let alone raise with? Yes. Does that have anything to do with the blogger poker meme (as Iggy so elegantly puts it in his comments) that you should always raise with the Hammer, especially in a game with other poker bloggers? No.

One mark of maturity is the ability to hold two conflicting thoughts in mind at the same time.

Anyway, now I'm not so sure whether Iggy was wrong, as several bloggers are advancing the theory that the "Stripper" is a fake, and may be someone's elaborate hoax. And, just to keep the pot boiling at a fine froth, The Stripper is now claiming that her (or his) true identity has been uncovered and she (or he) is now receiving phone calls about his (or her) blog.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Hammer Strikes

Time for a poker posting, not least `cause the next Bloggers tourney is in the midst of being scheduled, (currently set for Wednesday, Feb 2nd at 9pm EST) and there’s a faction that wants it to be bloggers only. Why, only the proponents know. I suspect it's for the same reason sf fans call the general populace, "mundanes." It's an "us vs. them, that ant's the wrong color, that lamb don't smell right" sort of thing.

But thus, consider this the official poker blog of ricoM, by God, where we don’t do anything but eat, sleep, read, and write about poker. We even occasionally play. Our top subjects:

  1. All online poker is rigged.

  2. How could that idiot call me with that hand?

  3. How could that idiot have beaten me with that hand (see #1)?

  4. Sign up at (insert name here) using bonus code (insert bonus code here)

  5. I’m giving up my job and becoming a pro.

  6. The pros and cons of using THE HAMMER

Well, maybe not that last, as there has been a furor in the poker corner of the blogosphere over the past couple of weeks that was apparently first triggered by one bloggers’ commentary that raising with the so-called “hammer” (7 2 off-suit, usually termed “the worst starting hand in hold `em”) is a “stupid move.” These two words unleashed an unbelievable torrent of criticisms, counter-arguments, personal vendettas, and escalating insults in different blogs. “Unbelievable”, of course unless you’re familiar with on-line communities, where every molehill has the potential to grow into Everest.

Apparently because of this another blogger has closed her blog to all but visitors she authorizes. A pity, as I enjoyed reading her postings, although though I thought she was a tad touchy even before this incident – especially with people who disagreed with her. And I’m using “apparently” repeatedly because the arguments seem to have been conducted equally through blog postings, emails, and commentary in several different blogs, making it extremely difficult to determine exactly what everyone is getting so crazy about. UPDATE: See Felicia's note in the comments on her reasons for closing her blog.

I’m not quite sure why, maybe it’s the nature of the beast, but most poker bloggers, and most poker players come to think of it, are very opinionated about play. Very sensitive when they feel their strategy is being criticized; very outspoken about other players’ strategy… especially if they consider a play a bonehead move, and even more especially when stupidity is rewarded, which it often is.

Poker tends to reflect the real world.

As I play more, I’m coming to the belief that most of the advice or commentary I read doesn’t have much to do with what I’m doing. As it stands, I do enough self-criticism of my own play to suffice the entire Red Chinese Army, as Peg will tell you, and I’ve found trying to apply someone else’s style to my play makes me resemble the centipede who was asked how he was able to keep his legs marching in sequence… and was never able to walk again.

I think it may be because my focus is on SnG’s and tournament play, or it may that I’m just not at the level yet where I can apply some strategies. Dunno. But much of the ring game strategy I read doesn’t work for those variants in my experience – or only will work in certain exceptional situations, at least for me. When you’re starting with a limited stack, and you’re gone when that stack is gone, you can’t play too aggressively or loosely. Can you raise with the Hammer and get away with it now and then? Sure, as you can in any game. But, get crazy, raise $200 with a $1,000 stack, get called, and any face card flops, now you’re faced with the decision of getting even more aggressive, with the potential to lose even more, or to cut your losses at $200.

And you’re down to $800. Make a few more loose moves, and you’re gone, unless you get lucky fast.

And before I invite my own firestorm of commentary (not from my handful of regular readers, who are a polite bunch, but if you happen to stumble across this by accident): IMO, only, `kay? Please keep your opinions to yourself. If you’re a poker blogger who has taken offense, go find me on PokerStars or Party and whup my poor little stake, if that’s your pleasure. But please keep how you think I should play to yourself, and I’ll do the same.

Having said that, here’s my personal Hammer story: I was playing in a PokerStars SnG, which is where I make most of my little money. It’s early in the game, still $10/20 blinds. I’m UTG and get 7 2 off-suit. “What the heck,” lil’ Rico thinks, and raises to $60, which I can afford to lose. Everybody folds up to the Button, who just calls me. The SB folds and the BB calls.

The flop hits 7, 2, K, and I have two pair, which ain’t bad, Rico thinks, and he bets $120. I get one fold and one call.

The turn is a nothing card, so I see how Mr. Caller feels and double up again to $240.

He calls. And the flop is a 2, giving me a full house. I go All-In… and he calls. He has two aces in his hand, which he’s been slow-playing.

The loser, who has been providing free advice to everyone on nearly every deal, goes ballistic when he sees what he’s lost to. He goes into the familiar on-line player, “You’re so dumb, how could you play that crap?” refrain where the lyrics change but the song remains the same.

I can’t resist. “THE HAMMER,” I taunt, “is Mighty!” The guy rants so much and for long that I think the Admin guys finally shut him off, at least he gets cut off in mid-rant.

In regards to another situation I recently told Peg, “The only thing better than getting money is taking money from someone you really don’t like.” That’s as true in poker as in anything else. My favorite line from the Hammer debate has been, “To be honest, if she liked me, I wouldn't like myself. While it wouldn’t end the debate, nor make anyone love anyone else better, it’d be fun to see the various parties squaring off at each other at the tables. Probably won’t happen… but it’d be fun to watch.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Nastiest Missle Ever Planned...

... may have been SLAM, a Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile, using nuclear ramjet power. The project to build the weapon's nuclear reactor was given the code name "Pluto," which ultimately became the name of the weapon itself.

"...a locomotive-size missile that would travel at near-treetop level at three times the speed of sound, tossing out hydrogen bombs as it roared overhead. Pluto's designers calculated that its shock wave alone might kill people on the ground....In addition to gamma and neutron radiation from the unshielded reactor, Pluto's nuclear ramjet would spew fission fragments out in its exhaust as it flew by."

Happily, on July 1, 1964, seven years and six months after it was born, Project Pluto was cancelled, for a variety of reasons, chief among them that Pluto would have irradiated our allies on its way to flatten the Soviet Union. Testing would also have been something of a problem. Where do you test-flight something that, "spews out fission fragments as it flies by"?

A peaceful counterpoint to Pluto was Project Orion, an atomic bomb-powered spacecraft conceived by Freeman Dyson that a group of scientists planned to use for a Grand Tour of the solar system... and reach Saturn by 1970. In some alternate, Heinleinesque, universe I hope they did it, and there is a base on the Moon, space stations orbiting their Earth, a small, growing colony on Mars, and explorers pushing out to the Asteroid Belt. It's a future I would like to have seen.

But I still have time.





Tuesday, January 11, 2005

First mention of...

Fun for geeks. Google holds over 20 years of Usenet postings -- more than 800 million messages, most of which are a waste of space -- in its Google Groups archives. Google posted a 20-year Usenet timeline page sometime in 2003, and recently re-publicized it to advertise their remake of the Google Groups interface.

If you're into productivity-busting mode, cruise on over and read such interesting postings as the first mention of Microsoft; Apple's Lisa; the first "me too" post; and much, much more.

Boxing Dylan

In a somewhat surrealistic interview, Sean Penn notes that he and Dylan used to box together at his house...


Q: You're the reader on the audio version of Bob Dylan's "Chronicles." How'd that come about?

A: He called. You don't say no to Bob. It's the first and last time I'll do it though. It's a big job.

Q: Are you friends?

A: Friendly acquaintances. I've never known him very well. There was a period of time when we used to box together. I had a ring at my house.

Q: Who came out ahead in those matches?

A: The interest was serious, but it was just for enjoyment.

Q: No broken bones?

A: No broken bones. No trips to the emergency room.

Q: You don't want to be the guy who put Bob Dylan in the hospital.

A: No. Or have it be the other way around.

Q: You say you'd never do another one of these audiobooks, but, you know, Dylan says he has two more volumes coming.

A: Yeah, I know. (Laughs) I've changed my number. (Laughs) I think you should only read books aloud for people who are shorter than you.


The full interview is here.

The Meanest Old Man in the World Hits 100

Charles Lane really isn't the meanest old man in the world, he just has played one numerous times in films and on TV.

You might remember him as Homer Bedloe, the mean old man who was always trying to shut down the Hooterville Cannonball on Petticoat Junction, but he's usually been some mean old man in whatever show or film he appeared in, an impressive list that includes, according to Mark Evanier, It's a Wonderful Life, 42nd Street, The Twentieth Century, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Big Store, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Music Man, State of the Union and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, one of Evanier's faves, and one of mine, too (I used to live in the guest cottage on the estate where the Big W was located).

Later this month Lane will reach his 100th birthday, and Evanier is organizing a campaign to send him congratulatory emails. More info here.

Show "Random Selection" from ANYWHERE

BoingBoing has been doing a series of posts on unsecured web cams that can be accessed through a Google search.

An enterprising (is there any other kind?) blogger uses the Google API to put together a neat page that lets you easily see screen captures from various cameras from around the world. Click on an image to go to a (sometimes) live video feed.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Robin Hood of Poker...

... is a gentleman named Barry Greenstein, a self-made millionaire turned poker pro at age 36, who donates the bulk of his poker winnings to charity - over $2 million in 2004. Greenstein has a new book (as what pro doesn't) coming out this year, which I suspect will be more interesting reading than the majority of poker books. As valuable as Super System is claimed to be (and I'm in the minority opinion that I don't think it's all that good), stylistically it's almost unreadable.

You too can be a venture capitalist

Tempting. If I had a $2k poker stake - which I don't - I might consider this investment. Pro poker player, Dutch Boyd, is auctioning 50% of any earnings he wins at the European Poker Tour Copenhagen event being played at the end of this month for a current stake price of $1,825.00. Boyd is also willing to wear a t-shirt/hat with your logo, and will ...commit a couple hours to helping the winning bidder with their own poker game."

On the other hand, if I could get Boyd to wear "www.fredbals.com" gear, I suppose I could take off the cost next year as an advertising expense. Hmmmm. (via Iggy at Guinness and Poker).

UPDATE: The auction was apparently removed and re-listed. I've fixed the link (There's currently one bid).
UPDATE YET AGAIN: The auction was ultimately removed by eBay. More info here.


Winter Wonderland

Not from Merrimack, but from Vancouver, B.C. via William Gibson...


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Working with the dead

All the entries from the Best of Still Photojournalism site are worth viewing, but this stunning set of photos from the Riverside County Sheriff Coroner's office are like a mini film noir, each photo by itself could generate a complete novel. Warning, though, many of the images are very graphic and disturbing. Not workplace-safe and not for children. (via BoingBoing)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

R.I.P. Will Eisner

I was never all that big a fan of his storytelling, but I loved his art, especially his "The Spirit" splash pages. Among many other things, Eisner is acknowledged as the creator of the graphic novel genre. Here's a detailed biography of Eisner's life and accomplishments.

More signposts from the future

Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel cannot sue a Web site that published a photo of him with two women above a caption reading "You're never too old to be a pimp," a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

The term "pimp" was probably intended as a compliment, the court said.

In keeping with this line of reasoning, Knievel complimented the court by responding, "What good is law in the United States of America if five or six goddamn bimbos are going to rule against it?"

sigh. Some days you can't tell the internets from The Onion. Link

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A 5,0000-year-old comic "book"

The article calls it "the world's first animation", but Scott is right, it may be the first comic book ever made. You'll need to have read "Understanding Comics" to see why.

Nota bene: Although it's slow, be sure to watch the video animation. Link at the end of the article.

More signposts from the future

Her name is Dylan, she's 11. She's the youngest video blogger in the world. She's famous.

"My sister said she felt like she was going to pee in her pants after she saw it."

Signposts from the Future Department

From BoingBoing...

Futurismic's publishing some amazing science fiction and this story doesn't disappoint. It's a great 10 minute read, perfect for the Web.
Can "it's a great 10-second read, perfect for the iPod" be far away?

Red Sonja & the Savior of Comics

In the early `70s, the comic book industry was on its last legs (the comic book industry tends to get wobbly legs on an average 10 year cycle. It’s going through another down period as I write this). Mark Evanier has an interesting article about Phil Seuling, probably one of the most influential people in the industry that you’ve never heard of, who near-single-handedly convinced the major publishers that the direct market would be far more efficient than the traditional news stand distribution.

Seuling was right, Marvel and DC eventually bought into the idea, and now most comic fans go to a specialty comic book store rather than the corner drug store (sorry, Jill).

The photo in the link shows Seuling on the set of the Mike Douglas show with Douglas, Jamie Farr, and Wendy Pini(!!) costumed as Red Sonja. If you’re a comics fan, you know Pini as the co-creator of Elfquest, one of the first independent comics. I tend to forget how many authors and artists started as fans – not that surprising when you think about it.

I had an “I’m getting old” moment while reading Evanier’s teaser to the full article, when he found it necessary to explain exactly who Mike Douglas was. Since M.A.S.H. is still in re-runs, I’m assuming Mark was just covering the bases when he also felt the need to explain who Jamie Farr was. I hope, at least.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Things to do in 2005

I don't believe in making resolutions, as my "resolve" usually falters quickly. Instead, I've come up with a list of things I'd like to do in the coming year... some that I'm fairly certain I'll get to, others more problematic. In no particular order:

Return to the Birmingham-Southern College Conference "Writing Today" conference in March and see my `Bama family again. Last year was a little wild as my friend Jill's mother was in the hospital undergoing cardiac bypass surgery (she's now fully recovered), but a Saturday barbecue at her sister Leigh's house still remains as one the highlights of 2004 for me.

Go soaring. Think I'll try the Greater Boston Soaring Club first when spring comes. If they're not around in Sterling anymore, maybe a day trip up to Franconia to check out the Franconia Soaring Association.

Entice Peggy to the top of Mt. Washington for the MAMA Minis-on-top rally.

Win a "big" Texas Hold `Em tourney. I'm still working on the definition of what I think qualifies as satisfactorily "big", but the PartyPoker.com Million tournament is definitely on that plane.

Related to the above, I've been playing No Limit Hold `Em for a little over a year now, mostly on-line, and just recently for money. I think I’ve improved my game over the year, mainly by moving away from the on-line free-roll* tournaments (which have as little in common with real Texas Hold `Em poker tournaments as an Ashlee Simpson performance does with a real concert) and focusing on cash Sit-n-Goes.* I’ve tripled my stake (although it’s been recently been beaten down by my losing attempts at the progressive jackpot at Party Poker – a subject that deserves a post to itself), finished in 8th place in a 133-player money tournament (the October Poker bloggers tourney), and tried my hand at a live tourney.

In 2005 I want the same steady progression. I want to be comfortable with bigger buy-ins… and I want to make some money not just from poker but from writing about poker.

We’ll see if I have anything interesting to say.

*“free-roll”: A tournament that doesn’t require money to enter. Most on-line free-rolls will get you an entry into another, often money, tourney if you place high enough. On-line free-rolls are characterized by high number of entries – several thousand isn’t unusual – and loose, often extremely stupid, play, especially in the first hour. Part of this is due to the theory that the best way of winning a free-roll is to build a large a stack as possible in the first hour. Most of this is due to the fact that many people playing free-rolls are bored, looking for action, and don’t care whether they win or lose.

**“Sit-n’-Goes”: a.k.a. SNGs. SNGs are mini-tourneys of 9 or 10 (or more) people. The name comes from when a table is filled, play begins. I do better at SNGs than I do at any other type of table. I suspect this is because I tend to lose my focus after a couple of hours of play, especially when the cards aren’t coming.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

Back

A new year deserves a new epigram. This one's from Jim Harrison's valuable memoir, "Off to the Side." More tomorrow.