Saturday, April 30, 2005

American Life in Poetry: Column 005

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Though many of us were taught that poems have hidden meanings that must be discovered and pried out like the meat from walnuts, a poem is not a puzzle, but an experience. Here David Baker makes a gift to us through his deft description of an ordinary scene. Reading, we accept the experience of a poem and make it a part of our lives, just as we would take in the look of a mountain we passed on a trip. The poet's use of the words "we" and "neighbors" subtly underline the fact that all of us are members of the human community, much alike, facing the changing seasons together.

Neighbors in October

All afternoon his tractor pulls a flat wagon
with bales to the barn, then back to the waiting
chopped field. It trails a feather of smoke.
Down the block we bend with the season:
shoes to polish for a big game,
storm windows to batten or patch.
And how like a field is the whole sky now
that the maples have shed their leaves, too.
It makes us believers -- stationed in groups,
leaning on rakes, looking into space. We rub blisters
over billows of leaf smoke. Or stand alone,
bagging gold for the cold days to come.

David Baker's next book, "Midwest Eclogue," is forthcoming this fall from W. W. Norton.

"Neighbors in October" is reprinted from "The Truth about Small Towns," University of Arkansas Press, 1998.

This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Well, not that shaggy...

Of course I did (see below) because the idea of not knowing was more than I could bear. I once contacted the chamber of commerce of Young America, MN for no other reason than to find out why it was named Young America. And why do so many fulfillment coupons have a Young America address? Those questions had bothered me for years. But that's another story.

First, I owe Mark an apology, as the traditional two definitions of "shaggy dog story" are, "a long-drawn-out circumstantial story concerning an inconsequential happening that impresses the teller as humorous but the hearer as boring and pointless" or: "a similar humorous story whose humor lies in the pointlessness or irrelevance of the punch line." And Mark's story is neither, of course. Well, maybe long and drawn-out.

[insert smiley here]

In any case, there seems to be an ur-Shaggy Dog story that first gave that style of story its name. This is taken from Michael Quinion's "World Wide Word" site. If you're expecting a big laugh to follow, be prepared to be disappointed...

Eric Partridge wrote a little monograph called The ‘Shaggy Dog’ Story, Its Origin, Development and Nature in 1953. He said that “the best explanation of the term is that it arose in a story very widely circulated only since 1942 or 1943, although it was apparently invented in the 1930’s”...

...A grand householder in Park Lane, London, had the great misfortune to lose a very valuable and rather shaggy dog. He advertised repeatedly in The Times, but without luck, and finally he gave up hope. But an American in New York saw the advertisement, was touched by the man’s devotion, and took great trouble to seek out a dog that matched the specification in the advertisement and which he could bring over to London on his next business trip.

He presented himself in due course at the owner’s impressive house, where he was received in the householder’s absence by an even more impressive butler, who glanced at the dog, bowed, winced almost imperceptibly and exclaimed, in a horror-stricken voice, “But not so shaggy as that, sir!”
If you're still awake, Quinion notes the following as the other most cited ur-Shaggy Dog story
an advertisement [is] placed in The Times to announce a competition to find the shaggiest dog in the world. After a vast amount of effort and investigation (described in detail, after the nature of this type of story), the winning dog was presented to the aristocratic instigator of the competition, who said: “I don’t think he’s so shaggy”.
Aren't you glad you asked?

A shaggy dog story from Mark Evanier.

Note to self: Go look up the origins of "shaggy dog story."

This sounds like it could have had its origins as a gag that Mark Evanier might have written to sell to a comedian, but what the heck, it's funny...

It reminds me of a time about 15 years ago when some guy kept phoning my house and asking for Donna. I did know a Donna then, but she wasn't here and I quickly determined that the caller was passionately in love with, and desperate to talk to some Donna I did not know. Something had gone wrong between them and he was certain that if he could just talk to his Donna, they could straighten it all out and get back together and eventually marry and have kids, etc. At first, he called over and over, refusing to believe that he had the wrong number. He was certain I was lying to him and that his Donna was in the next room, avoiding him. I thought of saying something like, "Yeah, she's here but she's in the pool having sex with a bunch of midgets," but he sounded so serious, I was afraid he'd open his wrists.

I finally convinced him he really and truly had the wrong number, and he read me the number he thought he was dialing. It was one crucial digit different from mine. He apologized and hung up to dial the correct number...and sure enough, he got me again. This happened three or four more times in a row, like he was accidentally dialing not only the wrong number each time but, oddly, the same wrong number. Finally, I told him something was probably wrong with his phone dial. The two was registering as a three. He said, "No, it's this damned faulty redial button. Every time I push it, I get you."

Donna was smart to get out when she did.

Witchy Nookie


One of my guilty secrets is that a large reason behind why I'm a writer is because of a TV series.

Bewitched ran for eight years- 1964 to 1972 - roughly analogous to the period when my hormones were raging at their highest levels. I wanted to be Darrin Stephens, not because the idea of coming up with weird advertising campaigns was attractive (even though it was). And not because the idea of commuting into the city every day and then returning to the 'burbs and a nightly martini sounded cool (even though it did).

No. I wanted witchy nookie. Specific witchy nookie. Samantha Stephens. I wanted a wife who did wonderful mugging faces and double-takes. I wanted a wife who went "Welllll..." when pressed for an answer she didn't want to give. I wanted a wife who looked great in mini skirts, and even better in Capris. I wanted a wife who could wiggle her nose.

Most of all, I wanted to be married to a witch. A specific witch. Hey, Sam, you know what? Darrin's an idiot. Babes, you want to do the nose twitch thing and put us on an island in the Caribbean with hot and cold running money, I'm for it. You want to do lunch in Paris, hang on honey, let me grab my beret. You don't want to do the chores when you know with a sweep of your arms and a zing musical cue everything's done? What, do I look stupid? Do your thing, and come back to bed, baby. There's lots of little Tabithas and Adams to be making.

Give me a witchy theme and I'm a happy camper. My mother refused to allow me to rename one of our cats Pyewacket after the "Bell, Book, and Candle" familiar (the movie and originally play that Bewitched was probably based on), claiming it would confuse her and annoy the cat.

I'm probably one of the few people in the world, including the casts' mothers, who saw every episode of the very bad one-season Bewitched sequel, Tabitha.

I forced the ever-suffering Peg to sit through endless episodes of "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" starring Melissa Joan Hart as the world's longest-in-the-tooth teenager and the Woman Who is Everywhere, Caroline Rhea, because it was as close as anything I could find to Bewitched. Thanks to that show, Salem the cat's wail of "I'm just a cat," was our catch-phrase in answer to any complaint for several months.

I'm awaiting the big screen version of Bewitched with both fear and anticipation. Anticipation: I've read the script and I like the "What would Sam do?" theme. Fear: Nicole Kidman. Need I say more?

And, as I said, I'm the man I am today because of Darrin Stephens' job. I never got into agency work, which may be why I never married a witch, but I worked my way through various advertising and p.r. departments from copywriter, to manager, to creative director... which as far as I could tell, all of which is what Darrin was supposed to be doing in the strange two-man agency that was McMann and Tate. Actually, Darrin was an illustrator, too, but I can't draw.

There was a reason I started this rant. Ah, here it is. The Boston Globe reports that the TV Land cable network plans to honor Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem with a 9-foot bronze statue of her as Sam sitting sidesaddle on a broom.

As is usual with everything, there are both proponents and opponents of the idea. Salem's mayor and witch community is generally for it, figuring it as tourism boosterism. Opponents claim it's just crass commercialism on TV Land's part (well, duh!). The winner of the most geeky argument, one critic who is obviously another Bewitched fan notes that the series was set in Westport, Connecticut, not Salem, Massachusetts.

''The connection to Salem is tenuous at best," said John Carr, a former member of the city's Historical Commission. ''They didn't live in Salem on that show. They came here 40 years ago to film three or four episodes, and now we're going to put up a 'Bewitched' statue at one of our most visible intersections."

The Salem Redevelopment Authority will take a final vote on the plan May 17. If erected, the statue will stand in a downtown park at the corner of Essex and Washington streets.

And I'll be there for the dedication.

Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Dorothy's dress fetches £140,000.

Apparently not satisfied with just the ruby slippers, my Dottie returns for another purchase.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Second 1st Annual Blogger WSOP Tourney.

My head hasn't even stopped spinning from the last one, but it apparently was such a success that Iggy has already announced the second 1st annual poker blogger-only tournament.

Me, I think I'm going to take a pass on this one, and wait for the WPBT (writers and readers) WSOP version, which Iggy promises will be announced soon, but in the interests of intergalactic poker blogger unity, here's the dope.

WPBT WSOP Satellite Tournament
Poker Stars
May 1st, 7pm EST
$30 + 3 No-limit
One WSOP seat awarded for every 50 players
Password = the same as last time - I [Iggy] can't go thru 70 emails again.


The number of [expletive deleted]s said in any given episode of Deadwood.

Although I heard of HBO's Deadwood by rep, I had never actually viewed an episode until my writing junket down to `Bama this Spring, since Peg and I don't have HBO. Coming into the series mid-plot, semi-asleep, and concerned about Peg, who wasn't answering the phone (she had locked herself out of the house. Long story), the only impression the show made on me at that time was that the Eff Word was used in almost every sentence.

I eventually became a fan of Deadwood - which is much more than unrelenting swearing -- thanks to the god-send of the 1st season DVD release, which is also how I became a fan of 24. I'm now teasing Peg into letting me get HBO solely so I don't have to wait for Season 2 of Deadwood on DVD.

So far the answer has been "No!"

In any case, via Iggy, more proof that everything is on these here internets, including people with way too much time on their hands. Someone has gone to the trouble of counting the total number of f**ks (the word, not the act, although there's probably a site somewhere logging that, too) in each episode of Deadwood. And no, this is not WS or KF.

Monday, April 25, 2005

An Early Night.

Sunday, April 24
Poker Stars
7pm EST
$30 +$3
No Limit
WPBT WSOP Satellite

In a flash of Guinness-fueled inspiration, Iggy conceived the idea of sending at least one poker blogger to the World Series of Poker this June through a Poker Stars satellite. The WSOP $1500 buy-in meant that a minimum of 50 bloggers needed to sign up to our tourney at $30 a head (the extra $3 per is the rake for Poker Stars). 78 players eventually joined, meaning one winner of the $1500 ticket (the second place finisher would take home the cash overage).

That winner was not me. Not even close. Bob Respert, a nice guy who I've played against at a few WPBT virtual tables -- but not last night -- took #1, the $1,500, and will be playing in the WSOP come June. It should be fun to read his reports. Go do the poker blogger community proud, Bob! There was a chopped pot (money split between the players) for 2nd and 3rd, the players taking home a not unrespectable $420 each. [UPDATE: A deal was cut at the final table to chop the pot among 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, a still not unrespectable $280 each]

Okay, enough about you. How about me? As the title implies, I was knocked out early, in fact within the first half-hour, and finished 67th out of 78. The game seemed to be played at hyperkinetic speed, with players dropping by the wayside every minute (I think there were less than 50 left at the 1st hourly break). Maudie and the winner of the last WPBT tournament, GameC, were both at my first (and only) table, and both were knocked out before me.

And me?

The hand breakdown that took me out is below for poker players. For others, here's the brief. After 27 minutes of conservative play, either folding, calling or checking, I raised three times the BB to $100 with a suited QJ in my hand. I was called by one player, EasyCure, who was on the button. The flop showed a Kd Kh 4h, giving me a flush draw at this point.

Although I didn't know it (obviously), I was, in the parlance, near "drawing dead" as EasyCure with a pair of pocket 4s had flopped a full house. I threw another conservative $100 at the pot. EasyCure raised to $290, and I called. At this point I figured EC for a K in his hand, and that he had bet the set.

The worst possible card in the world for me fell at the turn, a 10 of hearts. I now have a flush, with a possible straight flush draw and an even more improbable royal flush draw.

I still haven't made up my mind -- and probably never will -- whether I made a mistake at this point. I had T1015 left in my stack, not that short after a half-hour of play. I could have checked, or made another conservative bet, and let EasyCure's next move decide me. But with a flush in hand, and two-way nuts hand draw (and there was no way I believed he was slow-playing the other two Kings, anyway) the only thing I really feared was the Ace of hearts. If EC was holding that, I didn't want him to get to the river and a possible heart. So I got aggressive, and went all-in.

EC waited, and I thought he was going to back down. In retrospect, I think he was deciding whether he believed I had pulled a better boat than he had, possibly holding a pocket K 10. Eventually, he either guessed right that I had the flush or decided to gamble. In either case, it was the right decision.

A river 9 of hearts would have given me a straight flush, and an Ace of hearts a royal flush, which would have been the baddest of bad beats for EasyCure, and I probably would have become legendary in the poker blogger community for 3 or 4 minutes, but his full house held, and I was gone.

Bad play? Maybe, but I think I would have played out that hand to the river no matter what. I don't think I could have backed away from it.

The ever-supportive Peg had made finger food, including meatballs and bruschetta, that I could nibble on during play, which we ended up eating together at 7:30.

*********** # 1 **************
PokerStars Game #1579711850: Tournament #7037849, Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30) - 2005/04/24 - 19:27:36 (ET)

Table '7037849 2' Seat #9 is the button

Seat 1: drmullets (4305 in chips)
Seat 2: ScottMcMilla (1045 in chips)
Seat 3: ricoM (1505 in chips)
Seat 4: skitchorama (1850 in chips)
Seat 5: dnasty13 (1285 in chips)
Seat 6: heL1xx (1455 in chips)
Seat 8: good43 (1065 in chips)
Seat 9: Easycure (2295 in chips)
drmullets: posts small blind 15
ScottMcMilla: posts big blind 30

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ricoM [Qh Jh]
heL1xx said, "at least for me they are"
ricoM: raises 70 to 100
skitchorama: folds
dnasty13: folds
heL1xx: folds
good43: folds
Easycure: calls 100
drmullets: folds
ScottMcMilla: folds

*** FLOP *** [Kd Kh 4h]
ricoM: bets 100
Easycure: raises 290 to 390
ricoM: calls 290

*** TURN *** [Kd Kh 4h] [Th]
ricoM: bets 1015 and is all-in
Easycure: calls 1015

*** RIVER *** [Kd Kh 4h Th] [8d]

*** SHOW DOWN ***
ricoM: shows [Qh Jh] (a flush, King high)
Easycure: shows [4s 4c] (a full house, Fours full of Kings)
Easycure collected 3055 from pot

*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 3055 | Rake 0
Board [Kd Kh 4h Th 8d]
Seat 1: drmullets (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: ScottMcMilla (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 3: ricoM showed [Qh Jh] and lost with a flush, King high
Seat 4: skitchorama folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: dnasty13 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: heL1xx folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: good43 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: Easycure (button) showed [4s 4c] and won (3055) with a full house, Fours full of Kings

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bob Dylan to visit Taiwan

How many times must the canon [sic] balls fly, before they're forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,” said President Chen as he read lyrics from Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind to express his emotions in reaction to China’s enactment of its anti-secession law.
It may just be the translation, but it seems to be a bit problematic about whether Dylan will actually attend the Ho-Hai-Yan Rock Festival. Link.

Friday, April 22, 2005

A Remarkable Life.

On the crest of Friday night turning into Saturday morning, June 3rd, 2005

I'm not really here.


Or maybe I am, it's too hard to tell at this point. My life is getting like the movie "Primer" and I'm no longer sure what time track I'm on. I do know I wrote about winning the blogger satellite and getting my WSOP $1,500 E-ticket back in April. But the fantasy was nothing like this.

Or maybe it was.

I'm in the self-proclaimed "Longest Stretch Limo in Las Vegas." I'm sitting in the rear seat alone. Somewhere about a football field in front of me is a crew of people who I don't know, and I don't think want to get to know. Outside of several women who I greatly fear are soiled doves, I can see a trio of steroid-pumped 20-somethings, one of whom is barfing great chunks of a Harrah's buffet special out the limo window. His head is being held and the stream directed downwind by Marilyn Monroe. We picked up Marilyn and Elvis on the Strip about 20 minutes ago after the dwarf spotted them and demanded they be brought aboard.

I'm paying the freight on the LSLiLV, but the dwarf is running the show. The dwarf frightens me, as he would any rational person who hopes to live a long, quiet life into old age. The dwarf looks like a compressed version of Mick Jagger, maybe a Jagger who's been mangled in a steam press. The dwarf is wearing a top hat, silk scarf and striped low-riding pants a la a Jagger of the "Gimme Shelter" "Get Yer Ya-Yas Out" era. The resemblance ends with the dwarf's t-shirt, which I can't see in the dim limo interior lights, but I already know reads, "I'm not fucking cute."

This is all Iggy's fault. After the debacle of a dwarf no-show at an earlier Vegas live poker blogger tourney, Iggy had gone to extreme measures this year to ensure a little person would be there to "cheer on" the blogger horse.

Cheer on, Jesus. Mini-Iggy was a nightmare. He had shown up ringside 20 minutes after I had sat down at my first table, screaming so loud that play was stopped.

"What's the matter with you fuckers?" he cried. "Get the fuck out of the way, there's a little person trying to see, goddamit. Don't you have any sense of decency! I'm handicapped, you bastards!"

He was also drunk as a skunk, sloshing Guinness over assorted boat shoes and stiletto heels.

"There you are," he yelled when he had finally forced his way to the front of the crowd and spotted my WPBT cap. "God, you're an old fart, aren't you, cotton-top? I thought all you internets people were kids.

"Well, what the hell. Iggy - that's me! - says kick their ass! Floggers forever! Bonus Code: Bite Me! Reload Code: Bite Me Hard! Remember to buy the Poker Fucker Guide and take a leak or something!"

Security arrived at that point and tried to hustle the dwarf away quietly. I should have many pleasurable memories of playing in my first - and quite possibly only - $1500 WSOP tournament. But I'm afraid the image of a 250-lb man rolling on the floor screaming like a little girl as he tried to detach a dwarf biting at his crotch is the one that's going to remain when I'm older and grayer.

It took some time for things to get back to normal, and for awhile it looked like I was going to get bounced out with the dwarf, but I stood my ground, proclaimed my innocence and the Harrah Powers-that-Is finally told everyone to shuffle-up-n-deal.

And they did. And we did play, and here's the short version, `cause I want someone to pay me for the long version. Cut your throat, McManus. There's a new sheriff in town.

Part 1: The Game. I played a lot of hands. Actually, I didn't play a lot of hands. I sat through a lot of hands. The Poker Gods were amused to throw the Hammer at me four - count `em - four times in a row during one session. I didn't play them, nor did I play the Hammer at any time during the game when it showed up. What, do I look stupid? Fun is fun. Money and a shot at the Big Show is something else.

Part 2: Fred's encounter with celebrity. I didn't recognize anybody big at any of my tables, until close to my end, but I was in so much fear, I'm not sure I would have recognized Peg if she had been sitting across from me.

Somewhere in the late hours, one of our open seats is filled by Scotty Nguyen, who is seated directly across from me. Scotty is carrying what looks like a decayed tangerine which he carefully places next to his stack. He glances around the table, measuring each of us in turn, and finally stops at me. Not surprising, since I have the Scotty Nguyen bobblehead that Peg gave me next to my stack.

"Nice," Scotty says. "Bring you luck?"

"So far," I answer.

"Good," he says. Everyone should buy one, then." And the table laughs.

Scotty only stays with us for a half-dozen hands, never playing, before he's moved again. I never see him again.

Part 3: Okay, what happened? I'll tell you about the last hand I played, the hand that ended the tourney for me. As usual, I'm short-stacked. I have about $8k of chips left. We're at Level 11 with $300 antes and $800 $1600 blinds. This means that any hand I play pass the flop I'm probably going to have to bet all or a significant part of my stack to win. I'm on the button and find a pair of 8s, which my mind uselessly tells me are nicknamed "snowmen." One person in front of me calls the BB. Everyone else folds. I raise to $3200. The blinds go away. The original better calls.

Flop is rainbow A 8 7

I've probably lost on sets more than anything else in the world. I can just tell another Ace is going to show at the turn. I check. He checks.

WtF? Does he have a small pair that's already beaten by everything on the board? Does he have a K something? Should I have bet? Why am I here? I can't even play.

Turn is another 8. I've been playing Hold `Em since 2003. This is the first 4 of a kind I have ever had. I've won the hand. My normal instinct is go all-in, but I decide to milk it if I can. He's got at least triple the chips I have. I bet $4,000, leaving me with a little under a grand. He calls, and I've got him figured for an Ace in his hand.

River is an A. Great card for me if I'm right. Maybe he has an A 7 and just pulled the boat. Even better. I go all-in. And as I expect, he calls.

What I'm not expecting is what I see when we flip our cards. He's been slow-playing a pair of Aces. My 4-of-a-kind has just been trounced.

"Bad, bad, beat," someone murmurs, and I stagger away from the table as if I just emerged from the last car of a train wreck. Someone gently guides me to the table where paperwork needs to be filled out.

Part 4 - The End: I finished in 33rd position. Winnings: $4,020. Probably will work out to around $2,500 when you figure in travel, room, expenses like the LSLiLV that I had immediately regretted being talked into hiring by the dwarf and the pack of remoras that somehow had attached themselves to him.

A bodyguard from the blogger community should have been there to protect me, but they had their own problems with the Aladdin management after the dwarf had run rampant naked through the hotel hallways, snapping a wet towel at anyone unfortunate enough to be in his way, as he howled for "Aprils, goddammit! Maudie! I need wimmins and I need them now!"

Oh, the humanity, Iggy. How could you do this to your own?

At an opportune stoplight, I boot the semi-conscious dwarf out the limo door. After a generous tip for both, Marilyn and Elvis help me unload the frat boys and hookers. Marilyn gives me a kiss, and Elvis a high-five, and I'm finally alone.

"You know where Mt. Charleston or Lee Canyon is?" I ask the driver.

"About an hour-and-a-half north," he answers. I toss him the pages I've printed from the Web. "Let's go there, now," I say.

About an hour-and-a-half north later, I'm walking up the Desert Overlook Trail in false dawn light. At the overlook, I gaze out at the Nevada Test Site, looking for Frenchman Flat, just south of Yucca Flats, where the first A-Bombs were tested. I'm here to prove a point to a fictional character.

The true dawn begins its rosy-finger stretching in the East, and I whisper, "He was right, Gnossos. It never was as big as the fucking sun."

I dial the number I know best, and wake Peg up. "Did you win?" she asks sleepily.

"Yes, I did," I say. And morning becomes electric.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

American Life in Poetry: Column 004

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

None of us can fix the past. Mistakes we've made can burden us for many years, delivering their pain to the present as if they had happened just yesterday. In the following poem we join with Ruth Stone in revisiting a hurried decision, and we empathize with the intense regret of being unable to take that decision back, or any other decision, for that matter.

Another Feeling

Once you saw a drove of young pigs
crossing the highway. One of them
pulling his body by the front feet,
the hind legs dragging flat.
Without thinking,
you called the Humane Society.
They came with a net and went for him.
They were matter of fact, uniformed;
there were two of them,
their truck ominous, with a cage.
He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
you saw his eyes. He understood.
He was trembling.
After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
Years later, you remember his misfit body
scrambling to reach the others.
Even at this moment, your heart
is going too fast; your hands sweat.

Reprinted from "In the Dark," Copper Canyon Press, 2004, by permission of the author and publisher. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: America Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

If you were born between the years of 1949 and 1964...


Sounds like one of those geezer insurance ads, doesn't it? It doesn't matter even if you're dead! For only $55.99 a month you too can purchase up to $5,000 in term life insurance!

pant, pant. Okay. Got that out of my system. If you were born between those years, and if you have as many strange enthusiasms as I have, you may want to hie yourself off to the Superboy Cover Gallery, that yes, has a scan of each cover of each Superboy issue from 1949 to `64, and finally answer the burning question, "What was on the Superboy cover the month I was born?"

Of course, we could get totally geeky here, and discuss that due to vagaries of newstand distribution the say, December 1952 edition of Superboy probably came on the stands in July 1952, but what the hell, let's not go there, and just enjoy, okay?Posted by Hello

Naked woman flushes $90,000:

Police say she tore up and sent irreplaceable Peanuts storyboard down the toilet.

Another story with a headline that speaks for itself. Link

via news from me

From Neil Gaiman

It's astonishing how much more cheerful a place the world becomes when you start to finish things.

Link

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Secret Member of the Bikini Coalition


There are many reasons to love these here internets, and one of them is the power of the many.

To your left, you'll see what was one of a set of two original photos recently up for an ebay auction (link is here, which you still may be able to see). You may recognize the woman in the background as Joan Baez. If you're a fan of the early `60s folk scene, or of Bob Dylan, or of Thomas Pynchon, you may also recognize the man in the foreground as Richard Fariña, and the woman in the bikini as his wife, and Baez's sister, Mimi. The photos were found in a flea market, and appear to have been taken in Big Sur in 1964. And to answer the first question that everyone asks: that's a capo strategically stuck in Mimi's bikini bottom.

I'm a Fariña fan from way back, his story tangled up in so many of my passions that I've long forgotten where or when I first heard of him. Pynchon? Fariña's friend in college, who contributed a blurb to Fariña's very funny, very sad novel, "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me" which has weathered well over the years. Dylan? Friend, or at least associate, of Fariña during Dylan's Greenwich Village days. Fariña would later write a biting "farewell" to Dylan, "Morgan the Pirate," which may have been Fariña's version of "Positively 4th Street." Cornell, my favorite East Coast university? Fariña went there (as did Pynchon, and as I did - kind of - one summer). `60s folk music? Fariña issued two beautiful, haunting albums with Mimi and first introduced me to the sound of a mountain dulcimer, which he played with a style all his own.

I belong to an email list, run by Fariña fan/historian Douglas Cooke, who also runs the comprehensive Richard and Mimi Fariña web site. One of the list members found the photos on eBay earlier this week and posted her discovery on the mailing list. Doug took an early run at buying them, as did I, but both of us were outbid past our respective budgets by someone who seemed to have unfathomably deep pockets. Doug then floated the idea that those on the mailing list interested in the photos all contribute to a fund and let him take one more hack at it. If he won the auction, the Fariña web site would keep the original photos in its archives, and contributors would get high-rez scans for themselves... and well as some other Fariña-related goodies.

And the Bikini Coalition was born.

The plan was all pulled together by email with less than an hour left on the bidding. Doug took his shot in the last minutes, and the Bikini Coalition was triumphant with a winning bid of $113.51.

As much I liked the idea of having the original photos, I like even more that they'll be part of Doug's collection and that I helped put them there.

Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Crazy Jane And Jack The Journeyman


I know, although when looks meet
I tremble to the bone,
The more I leave the door unlatched
The sooner love is gone,
For love is but a skein unwound
Between the dark and dawn.

A lonely ghost the ghost is
That to God shall come;
I - love's skein upon the ground,
My body in the tomb -
Shall leap into the light lost
In my mother's womb.

But were I left to lie alone
In an empty bed,
The skein so bound us ghost to ghost
When he turned his head
passing on the road that night,
Mine must walk when dead.

-- William Butler Yeats, The Winding Stair and Other Poems, 1933

American Life in Poetry: Column 003

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

A poem need not go on at great length to accomplish the work of conveying something meaningful to its readers. In the following poem by the late Marnie Walsh, just a few words, written as if they'd been recorded in exactly the manner in which they'd been spoken, tell us not only about the missing woman in the red high heels, but a little something about the speaker as well.

Bessie Dreaming Bear
Rosebud, So. Dak., 1960

we all went to town one day
went to a store
bought you new shoes
red high heels

ain't seen you since.

Reprinted from "A Taste of the Knife," Ahsahta Press, 1976, by permission of Tom Trusky, literary executor of the Walsh estate. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

******************************

American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

The Weird World of Jimmy Olsen.

Lois Lane and Lana Lang had some pretty strange adventures too (especially Lana, who had a tendency to drink and inhale things she shouldn't have), but for pure weirdness, nothing measures up to the Jimmy Olsen stories of the early `60s, which sometimes appeared to have been scripted by writers who were themselves inhaling and eating things they shouldn't.

via Drawn

Comic Book Ads.

If you read comic books during the `50s and `60s, you'll remember these. From Sea Monkeys to X-ray Glasses. I once spent a summer unsuccessfully trying to sell Grit (no, not the Southern food) to my neighbors and parent's friends.

via Drawn

Woman beats off burglar with gnome

A story that speaks for itself. No mention as to whether the burglar enjoyed being beaten off.

Viagra ruled kosher for Passover

Continuing today's Jewish theme...

A leading Israeli rabbi has ruled that the anti-impotency pill Viagra can be taken by Jews on Passover, reversing a previous ban.
Link

via news from me

From "My Seder with Brando"

I will never forget the sight of our table in the synagogue, Marlon Brando was to my left and sitting next to him was his guest. This was during the height of Marlon's involvement with Native American causes and he had brought with him noted Indian activist Dennis Banks of Wounded Knee fame. Banks was dressed in full Indian regalia: buckskin tassles on his clothes and long braids hanging down from a headband, which sported a feather. My childhood friend Bob Dylan sat to my right, joined by his wife, my sister Sharon, and other friends.

At first the seder progressed normally without anyone in the temple noticing anything out of the ordinary. After about forty-five minutes, the rabbi figured out that ours was not your average seder table. "Mr. Brando, would you please do us the honor of reading the next passage from the hagaddah," he said. Marlon said, "It would be my pleasure."

He smiled broadly, stood up and delivered the passage from the hagaddah as if he were reading Shakespeare on Broadway. Mouths fell open and eyes focused on the speaker with an intensity any rabbi would covet. When he was done I think people actually paused, wondering if they should applaud.

Somewhat later the rabbi approached another member of our table.

"Mr. Dylan, would you do us the honor of singing us a song?" The rabbi pulled out an acoustic guitar. I thought he would politely decline. Much to my surprise Bob said yes and performed an impromptu rendition of "Blowin' in the Wind" to the stunned shul of about 300 seder guests. The incongruity of a seder, with Marlon Brando reading the hagaddah followed by a Bob Dylan serenade, would have made for a good Fellini movie. Needless to say, everyone was both shocked and thrilled by this unusual Hollywood-style Passover miracle. The entire shul came by to shake both Marlon and Bob's hands and they actually paused and spent time with everyone.
Link

Willie bringing his picnic and Bob Dylan to Fort Worth on July 4th

Willie Nelson is returning this year to Fort Worth for his Fourth of July picnic, and he's bringing Bob Dylan with him.

Texas rock trio Los Lonely Boys will perform, and about 20 more acts will be announced over the next month. Tickets will go on sale April 25 at all Ticketmaster outlets.

Link

Monday, April 11, 2005

Two from Richard Brautigan.

When I was in high school, my all-time favorite poet was Richard Brautigan who I discovered through his prose novel, Trout Fishing in America, which everyone seemed to be reading at the time.

Brautigan's cynicism, which I suspect later dissolved into full-time despair, appealed mightily to the 17-year-old reader. I can still quote most of "The Rape of Ophelia," as well as "The Horse that had a Flat Tire," even after 35-odd years, and I once ruined a perfectly good intimate moment with my then-girlfriend by reciting the title poem of "The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster" to her at an inopportune time.

When you take your pill
it's like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
lost inside of you

Like the Michelob Amber Bock commercial's character, the young Fred was literate, but not smooth.

I've mellowed, I guess, or romanticism has taken ascendancy over cynicism as I age, but I like Brautigan's more romantic, erotic poetry much better now than his semi-funny, semi-sad pieces. Two of those poems are reproduced below. I should probably note, probably mostly for the sake of my brother who may not want to explain certain things to Electra yet, that both the poems contain, ah, adult content, and may not be appropriate for younger readers. Having said that, I especially like "The Beautiful Poem," which beautifully summarizes most males' feelings, I think, after making love.

For those interested in reading more by Brautigan, including the poems I mention above, you can still buy most -- if not all -- of his works at Amazon. Selected poems are also available on-line, I guess as bootlegs, here. I tend to agree with the person running that site that it's better to have Brautigan remembered in cyberspace than have his estate's copyright fully protected. But Brautigan might not have agreed.

Richard Brautigan committed suicide at age 49 sometime between mid-September and late October, when his body was finally discovered, 1984. He shot himself with a .44 handgun as he faced the ocean.

*************

I'VE NEVER HAD IT DONE SO GENTLY BEFORE

For M

The sweet juices of your mouth
are like castles bathed in honey.
I've never had it done so gently before.
You have put a circle of castles
around my penis and you swirl them
like sunlight on the wings of birds.


THE BEAUTIFUL POEM

I go to bed in Los Angeles thinking
about you.

Pissing a few moments ago
I looked down at my penis
affectionately.

Knowing it has been inside
you twice today makes me
feel beautiful.

-- 3 A.M.
January 15, 1967

Richard Brautigan, both poems originally published in "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster"

More Ew, Ew, Ew!


I don't even want to write about this one.

ew, ew, ew.

Bear Bites Vole



Temperatures approaching 70 in the late afternoon yesterday, we took Curl and the Bear outside after spending the morning doing yard work. Fred getting one segment of the front lawn clear of winter debris and last Fall's leaves, Peg cleaning up around her rose bushes in back and the tiger lily patch in front.

Peg and I don't eat lunch during the weekends, preferring to have a light snack around 4 or 5 with our weekend martinis, retro-suburbanite couple that we've evolved into. When the weather gets nice we have the drinks on the back porch with the cats in tow, Curly allowed to wander free as long as he's in eyesight, Bear in a harness meant for a small dog and on a 12-foot leash tied off to the porch. Part of this is because Curl is 14 and semi-mellow, while Bear is 4, and like Winnie-the-Pooh can be a Bear of little brain... if Bear took off after whatever caught his attention -- or was running from something that spooked him -- I have doubts whether he could find his way back. He'd be more likely to hole up and cry until I found him. In any case we've had Bear on the harness almost the moment we brought him back from Pawstuctaway, and he's grown so accustomed to it that he'll wait patiently at the door until it's on.

While Curly had semi-decimated the chipmunk population last year, chalking up a new record of 5 caught (one kill, I was able to rescue the others, one of whom he caught twice on separate occasions), Bear had essentially ignored the various critters in our yard, preferring to chitter at the birds visiting our feeder and limiting his hunting of chipmunks to sticking one of his boondockers down the various holes that speckle our back yard.

This year, however, Bear's been fascinated by the squirrels and occasional early chipmunk, racing from one window to another to follow them. I suspected he'd be after the chipmunks who camp out under the porch and wondered how he was going to deal with being hindered by the leash.

Snack finished (a pate from Angela's, if you must know, says the ever-snooty Fred), I was enjoying a cigar (I know, I know, could I get any snootier?) and Peg had gone inside for a moment when Bear launched himself from the porch steps and pounced on something in the Hosta bed that Peg had been working on earlier. From the shrilling I figured it for a field mouse, but from what I could see of it (in Bear's jaws), it was too large, but also too dark for a chipmunk.

I grabbed Bear, who dropped it, but I dropped Bear as whatever it was scampered over my foot, and Bear grabbed it again. Yelling for Peg, who was in, ah, a compromising position in the bathroom, I gave Bear a couple of good whacks upside his head (Bear is kinda like a Missouri Mule. It takes a bit to get his attention), and finally made him drop the small brown critter, who looked in extremis by this time.

Peg came out, we got Bear inside, and she guarded the critter from Curly, who had been off to the edge of the pukka brush surrounding our property but was wandering back to see what all the commotion was about. I went to get a shovel, which is what I usually use to dispose of critter corpses in Swamp Bals next door, but when I returned, Peg said this critter was still breathing.

I've had to put various hurt creatures out of their misery at one time or another, never an easy task, especially with the soft-hearted Peg around, and I wasn't looking forward to doing it again. Happily, we saw it that it wasn't bleeding, and when I gave it a nudge, it trundled off the grass to the rose bed.

"What is it?" said Peg.

"A mole or a vole," said rhyming Bals, and upon closer examination, decided it was a vole, since it more closely resembled the picture above than it did a mole. The vole disappeared under the porch, and we went to release the Bear and congratulate him on his first catch.
Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Western Ballad

by Allen Ginsberg

When I died, love, when I died
my heart was broken in your care;
I never suffered love so fair
as now I suffer and abide
when I died, love, when I died.

When I died, love, when I died
I wearied in an endless maze
that men have walked for centuries,
as endless as the gate was wide
when I died, love, when I died.

When I died, love, when I died
there was a war in the upper air:
all that happens, happens there;
there was an angel by my side
when I died, love, when I died.

Collected Poems 1947-1980

As much as I like it, I sometimes think Howl overshadowed other, better poems by Ginsburg, such as a "A Western Ballad."

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Ew, ew, ew.

Unilateral epistaxis after swimming in a stream doesn't sound so bad, right. Wrong.

A 55-year-old Chinese woman had AN EFFING LIVE LEECH up her NOSE, WITH A LARGE PART OF ITS BODY IN HER SINUS.

Ew, ew, ew. Link

American Life in Poetry: Column 002

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Many of us have felt helpless when we've tried to assist friends who are dealing with the deaths of loved ones. Here the Kentucky poet and publisher, Jonathan Greene, conveys that feeling of inadequacy in a single sentence. The brevity of the poem reflects the measured and halting speech of people attempting to offer words of condolence:

At the Grave

As Death often
sidelines us

it is good
to contribute

even if so little
as to shovel

some earth
into earth.

Copyright 2003 by Jonathan Greene. 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.

******************************

American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

Friday, April 08, 2005

From "A Year's Changes"

In northern Manitoba
a man saw a great bald eagle --
hanging from its neck,
teeth locked in skin and feathers,
the bleached skull of a weasel. - Jim Harrison

Thursday, April 07, 2005

"Nature is a haunted house - but Art - a house that tries to be haunted."

- Emily Dickinson

Listening to NPR yesterday, I was reminded that April was not only the cruelest month, but it was also Alcohol Awareness Month, National Humor Month, National Organ Donor Month, and my personal favorite, Panda Month. Today, April 7th is No Housework Day, which I can get behind until I get my Robomaid.

April is also National Poetry Month, and thanks to Jill and synchronocity, I realized I've been posting poetry over the past week in unknowing celebration.

So I think I'll continue. There was a day when poets were rock-`n-roll stars, and vice versa. Those days are gone, but the poetry still remains. Here's one...


Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it
You said you'd never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And ask him do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain't it hard when you discover that
He really wasn't where it's at
After he took from you everything he could steal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
But you'd better lift your diamond ring, you'd better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone? -- written and recorded by Bob Dylan, NYC June 16, 1965

Link

Robomaid - $10 Robot Cleaner.

I've always been fascinated with the idea of the Roomba, whose manufacturer, iRobot, isn't that far away from us. But at circa $150, the Roomba has always been a little too pricey for me, especially since there's no way of telling how well it would work in our home which has a combination of wood floors and rugs.

Kevin Kelly over at Cool Tools reviews an alternative -- Robomaid, a low tech, very cheap version of the Roomba cleaner. At $10, I might give it a try. If nothing else, it would amuse Bear and the Curl.

The contradiction of casino poker.

I was disappointed with the Foxwoods poker room when Peg and I went there last year. I'm not usually a ring player, preferring the mini-tournament Sit-and-Goes. There were only a handful of SnG tables at Foxwoods, cramped into a dirty corner outside the main poker room, and the general atmosphere was of benign neglect.

Even during the weekday the main tables -- all 81 of them -- are usually filled, and there's usually a wait for an hour or more if you want to play Hold `Em. According to some of the players I talked to, you can forget playing on the weekends unless you get lucky, are willing to wait several hours, or can buy in to a seat at the high-stake games.

According to this article, Foxwoods is planning on adding more tables and is actively flogging its poker rooms. On the other hand, Mohegan Sun, a few miles from Foxwoods and its main competitor, closed its poker room last year and changed it over to slot machines.

"...despite its popularity, the balance sheets show that poker remains a gamble. It steadily accounts for less than 1 percent of Nevada gaming revenue. With just five slot machines, a casino can match a poker table's earnings without paying a dealer or a support staff...."
Look at me. I buy in to a $60 SnG. Foxwoods takes a piece of that, say $10. So, they make a $100 from a 10-person table, and that's the last money they're going to see from any of us for an hour or so. You can pump $10 into a slot in less than 10 minutes. The rakes at the ring tables are more profitable -- and constant -- of course, but still nowhere near the money hose that a slot machine is.

The converse of the argument is that poker draws in people -- like me -- who usually won't go to a casino. "If a basement poker player visits a casino, spends three hours at a table while his wife plays the slots, has dinner and leaves, poker has done its job. If he tries other games or gets a hotel room, even better," as the article states, which pretty well summarizes Peg and my occasional trips to Foxwoods.

I think from a profit standpoint, the on-line casinos have a better chance than brick-`n-mortar. There will always be traditional poker rooms, of course, but I don't think they're ever going to be that big in casinos.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Saul Bellow and a Delmore Schwartz story.

Saul Bellow died on Tuesday, another major loss during a week of the passing of popes and princes.

One of my favorite Bellow novels is "Humboldt's Gift," a fictionalized account of Bellow's relationship with poet Delmore Schwartz, "Von Humboldt Fleisher" in the book. I think I may have been assigned to read "Gift" while a senior in high school. In any case, the book introduced me to Schwartz, and for a brief period I became obsessed with both the man and his works.

Many years later, the obsession burned out but the embers still flickering, I was visiting the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, a hole-in-the-wall that has my vote as the best poetry book store in the world, and was amused to see a bumper sticker reading "I Brake for Delmore Schwartz," a promotion for a small press book by Richard Grayson.

I bought the sticker and subsequently put it on the rear bumper of the vehicle I was driving at the time, a Chevy pick-up truck. Periodically, I'd get comments on the bumper sticker, mostly either questions about Schwartz, or jokes about that only Fred would have such a bumper sticker -- which was probably true. I never saw another one.

I was driving home from Digital one evening, pulled into our driveway, and saw in the rear-view mirror that another, ramshackle pickup had parked right behind me. A man in his late 50s or early 60s who looked as weathered as his truck jumped out and hustled up to me.

"You know I've been following you all the way from Nashua?" he said.

Nashua was about 20 miles back. Had I cut him off or otherwise pissed him off with my driving so much he had chased me home? "Okay..." I said warily. "How come?"

"Where you'd get that bumper sticker?" he asked and I told him the Grolier's story. "I was a pretty good friend of Delmore's," he said. "Or drinking buddies, at least, I guess. Anyway, I think about him a lot. I miss him. I thought maybe you were a friend of his too. But you're too young."

I was probably in my mid-40s at the time. "Well, he's one of my favorite poets," I said. "It's why I bought the sticker."

"Nobody remembers him anymore," the guy said sadly.

"I do," I said, but I don't think he heard me. He walked back to his truck and drove off.

I never even got his name.

Below is one of my favorites from Schwartz...

I Am a Book I Neither Wrote nor Read

I am a book I neither wrote nor read,
A comic, tragic play in which new masquerades
Astonishing as guns crackle like raids
Newly each time, whatever one is prepared
To come upon, suddenly dismayed and afraid,
As in the dreams which make the fear of sleep
The terror of love, the depth one cannot leap.

How the false truths of the years of youth have passed!
Have passed at full speed like trains which never stopped
There where I stood and waited, hardly aware,
How little I knew, or which of them was the one
To mount and ride to hope or where true hope arrives.

I no more wrote than read that book which is
The self I am, half hidden as it is
From one and all who see within a kiss
The lounging formless blackness of an abyss.

How could I think the brief years were enough
To prove the reality of endless love? -- Delmore Schwartz

Victoria & Albert's.

One of the best restaurants Peg and I ever ate in was in Disney World, a location not usually associated with haute cuisine. But if you like food, and money isn't an object (at least once. Think honeymoon, anniversary, other special occasions), think Victoria & Albert's, in the Grand Floridian.

Modeled after a Victorian dining room (all the waiters and waitresses are dressed as maids and butlers and all are known collectively as Victoria and Albert), the restaurant offers various choices, including a fixe prix menu, a Chef's Table, and what Peg and I enjoyed - although we both got slightly snockered - a wine pairing. If you have that one, be forewarned that the wine - a different selection during a six-course meal - is poured with a very generous hand by Albert.

Unbelievably, it's been over a decade since we ate there, since I'm pretty sure my father was still alive and he passed away in 1994, but the prices look like they've held. Here's a detailed review of Victoria & Albert's. If you don't want to go there after reading it, I don't want to go dining with you.

via The Disney Blog

"It's expensive, but worth every penny."


DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Hunter S. Thompson's ashes will be blasted from a cannon mounted inside a 53-foot-high (16.15 meter-high) sculpture of the journalist's "gonzo fist" emblem, his wife said Tuesday.

Although it holds no particular attraction for me, the thought of having your ashes shot out of a cannon as a final celebratory act seems to draw a lot of people, including the essayist, Sarah Vowell's father. One of my favorite Vowell stories is "Shooting Dad."
I've given this a lot of thought — how to convey the giddiness I felt when the cannon shot off. But there isn't a sophisticated way to say this. It's just really, really cool. My dad thought so, too… The cannon was so loud and so painful, I had to touch my head to make sure my skull hadn't cracked open… (Dad) lights the fuse again. The bullet knocks over the log he was aiming at. I instantly utter a sentence I never in my entire life thought I would say. I tell him, "Good shot, Dad."

... I'll do it, too. I will have my father's body burned into ashes. I will pack these ashes into paper bags. I will go to the mountains with my mother, my sister, and the cannon. I will plunge his remains into the barrel and point it into a hill so that he doesn't take anyone with him. I will light the fuse. But I will not cover my ears. Because when I blow what used to be my dad into the earth, I want it to hurt.
Link to Thompson AP story

Link to "This American Life Segment with Vowell's "Shooting Dad"

Only for babes want to have alternate harmony.

Erotic solicitation spam which has a certain poetic bent to it over in a semi-defunct BoingBoing readers' forum.

I will help you to feel a complete women from head to toe. I am looking for girls/women to have free sex from any where any age. Only for babes want to have alternate harmony. First I am not sure if you going to get this mail. In case, if you do I would like to say Hello first. I am decent working man. I am very open-minded looking for a open minded person. I am looking for a person who is understanding and likes to explore the fantasy of life.

Have you ever wanted to explore your fantasy? Have you ever thought about having a wild erotic experience of wilderness? This is only for woman seeking erotic experience head to toe and feel the aroma of life. This change is to fulfill your inner desire & feel complete women. Explore the unsaid of life. Please have an open mind. I would prefer you to mail me. If you desire some thing that you want to experience, please write to (deleted by fhb).

I will surely come over to your dreamland.

Link

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The air-brushed woman.

An interview with May Pang, John Lennon's one-time lover during Lennon's infamous "lost weekend" period. Sometime it's bizarre (Pang relates she was given a small statue of John by the Liverpool tourist information office on a recent visit), sometimes just sad - Pang repeatedly uses the "air-brush" metaphor to describe her feelings that she's been edited out of the "official" Lennon history.

Pang has a web site, where she sells a jewelry line called the "May Pang Feng Shui Jewelry Collection," pricey stainless steel necklaces. She also says she's working on a photography exhibit about Lennon. With the same kind of weird feeling as the interview, her FAQ is also worth a read... a personal "Frequently Asked Questions" that's all about someone else.

Monday, April 04, 2005

American Life in Poetry: Column 001

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

We all know that the manner in which people behave toward one another can tell us a lot about their private lives. In this amusing poem by David Allan Evans, Poet Laureate of South Dakota, we learn something about a marriage by being shown a couple as they take on an ordinary household task.

Neighbors

They live alone
together,

she with her wide hind
and bird face,
he with his hung belly
and crewcut.

They never talk
but keep busy.

Today they are
washing windows
(each window together)
she on the inside,
he on the outside.
He squirts Windex
at her face,
she squirts Windex
at his face.

Now they are waving
to each other
with rags,

not smiling.

Reprinted from "Train Windows," Ohio University Press, 1976, by permission of the author, whose most recent book is "The Bull Rider's Advice: New and Selected Poems." This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. via American Life in Poetry

American Life in Poetry

American Life in Poetry, a web site under the auspices of our current poet laureate, Ted Kooser, provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: America Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture...

Great idea. I've signed up, and fhb will be publishing Mr. Kooser's columns.

Thanks, Jill!

Poker Sitcom Casts Janeane Garofalo as Annie Duke


3 April 2005

Rumors that Janeane Garofalo has been picked to play poker celebrity Annie Duke on NBC's upcoming sitcom have been confirmed. The new series, "All In," will portray Garofalo as a single mother of three, who also plans to play poker professionally. Before Garofalo was named to play the lead role of Annie Duke, skepticism still surrounded the project, with a number of people believing that NBC would not go through with the poker-themed show.

The show will possibly make poker even more palatable to the general public than it has already become. After all, you can't get more mainstream than an NBC sitcom. Whether the show will be a hit among the poker community, however, remains to be seen. It is likely that the world of poker depicted in "All In" will be a far cry from the real poker circuit.

Garofalo's film credits include "Reality Bites," "Dogma," and "The Truth About Cats & Dogs." The actress/comedian has also been on the cast of "Saturday Night Live" and "The Larry Sander's Show."
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Felix the Bear

Wil and the rest of Felix's staff* said goodbye to his Bear last Wednesday.

It's never easy to let a pet go... but it's part of our job. Curly and our Bear say "Thank you, Wil!"

*"Dogs have masters. Cats have staff"

Call me Fishmeal



If you hang out at book stores as much as I do, you'll eventually hear all these questions... and worse. Speaking of the last panel of the strip, while I'm not (usually) so geeky as to bring someone to task on the difference between a fantasy and sf author, I do have a well-worn rant about employees in bookstores (especially the large chains) knowing less and less every year. Books, CDs, videos, burgers, hey man, it's just another gig, right?

But I'll resist.

Our favorite independent bookseller, The Toadstool Bookshops uses a questionnaire to measure prospective employees' knowledge on pop and traditional literature, mostly a "who wrote what?" test, that I found quite hard when I took it... and I think I probably know more about books than the average bear. Posted by Hello

Backspace - The Writer's Place:

looks like a useful resource for writers, and those who wannabe. Short, informative articles from people (agents, writers, publishers) in the business. One example is Pam Claughton's "Demystifying the Query Letter," giving the basics on a task that most new writers find extremely daunting.

via Neil Gaiman's Journal

Saturday, April 02, 2005

So what are you up to these days, Bob?

A red-faced BBC apologised for requesting an interview with Bob Marley, the Jamaican reggae legend who died 24 years ago.

In a statement, the BBC said: "We are obviously very embarrassed that we didn't realise that the letter to the Marley Foundation did not acknowledge that Mr Marley is no longer with us."

A BBC press officer, contacted by AFP in London on Friday, confirmed that the gaffe was not an April Fool's joke