Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hodags feed on intensity ...

One thing that has allowed our team to be so great is our drive for excellence and perfection. Our unrelenting work ethic and meticulous study of the game and ourselves as a team and individuals has shown in our accomplishments. This past weekend legitimized all the work that we have been doing it has only strengthened my commitment to the hard work and dedication I have already given. We have to be perfect from here on out to win a national championship. I guarantee this last 20% is going to be a lot harder than the first 80. I am going to work as hard as I can for you guys because I know you are going to do it for me. Riley said it best, ‘WE WIN WITH WORK.’” - HodagMatt

Muffin comes through. Full report here. Many pictures here. My favorite excerpt from Muffin's Centex report...

"I should also mention that we had a whole flock of parents and relatives on the sideline for this tournament. Keeping our expletives to a minimum was difficult and after awhile we completely gave up and they became as hardened to the swearing as the players...."

American Life in Poetry: Column 053

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Writing poetry, reading poetry, we are invited to join with others in celebrating life, even the ordinary, daily pleasures. Here the Seattle poet and physician, Peter Pereira, offer us a simple meal.

A Pot of Red Lentils

simmers on the kitchen stove.
All afternoon dense kernels
surrender to the fertile
juices, their tender bellies
swelling with delight.

In the yard we plant
rhubarb, cauliflower, and artichokes,
cupping wet earth over tubers,
our labor the germ
of later sustenance and renewal.

Across the field the sound of a baby crying
as we carry in the last carrots,
whorls of butter lettuce,
a basket of red potatoes.

I want to remember us this way--
late September sun streaming through
the window, bread loaves and golden
bunches of grapes on the table,
spoonfuls of hot soup rising
to our lips, filling us
with what endures.

Reprinted from "Saying the World," 2003, by permission of Copper Canyon Press. Copyright (c) 2003 by Peter Pereira. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Why Those of Us Who Were There Don't Remember the `60s

You think you know how weird the `6os were? You have no idea, bucko, unless you were there. By 1968, the hippie movement had so infiltrated mass culture that Hollywood was creating things like the jaw-droppingly awful Skidoo, the trailer of which I present below for your edification.



Yes, that is Timothy Leary, somewhere after the period when he was the Guru of "Turn On..." and had become a parody of himself (not a hard thing to believe if you ever met Leary), but before his Fugitive from Justice period where he was eventually placed under "house arrest" by the Black Panthers.

See? I told you the `60s were weird. And yes, that's Sammy Davis, Jr. with what appears to be a haddock around his neck. And yes, that's Jackie Gleason, and yes, and yes, that's Groucho Marx, who plays God, and yes, that's Frank Gorshin, and yes, that's Carol Channing, who Mark Evanier claims has, "the most restrained, believable performance [in the film]." And yes, there are more faces you'll recognize.

If any film ever deserved an official DVD, it's this one. As Mark says, Skidoo, its time.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Waiting for Muffin and the Hodags Report

My excited remote correspondent (and sis-in-law) Roberta called twice on Sunday to give us updates on the Hodags' Ultimate quest for glory at Centex in Austin. Hodag love won out, as we hoped it would. I'm still looking for a complete report, which apparently will eventually be supplied by Brandon "Muffin" Malicek, but here's the scoop from the Hodag Ultimate blog...

No doubt everyone's anxiously awaiting the entertaining version from Muffin, but here it is: hodags won all 8 games this weekend, including ones against Stanford (I bet you love that, Carrington), UCSD, Oregon, Texas, and Florida. Also Brown (dang those guys are having a tough year... aren't they the current champions?), Michigan, and Western Washington. Hodags didn't get to play CUT, but at least they got to beat two of the teams that beat CUT. The final sounded every bit as exciting as the George Mason/UConn game today. Thanks to Kevin Riley for the voicemail recap, but I'll let someone who was there tell the story.
As someone commented: Go Hodags! now post the damn write up so we can all bask in your projected glory!

Btw, Back in January, according to this blog...
"Three members of the Wisconsin Hodags, Ted Tripoli, Brandon "Muffin" Malicek, and Nate Hurst, rushed into a burning house this afternoon after they noticed it was being engulfed in flames while practicing their nationals-winning throws in the park by their home. They pulled from the house two fine duders completely unaware of the inferno, let alone the fact their lives were being saved by members of an team trained to kill with speed and i/o precision. Read the story or watch the hilarious footage of Muffin's interview with the news crew."
Gotta love those Hodags.



Whatever You Do...

Brief Poker Posting

Poker Haiku

Spring in New Hamster.
cats scratch at the door.
No poker today.

Actually poker, she's being fairly good to me of late, when I can convince the boys that Daddy's afternoon game is more important than Walkies. I played a 100-person turbo tourney on Sunday and ended up placing 2nd... regretting only that the $1 buy-in hadn't been $10. But, if it had, I'd probably have busted out the first hand.

I've been taking a break from the Weekly Wheaties - as the Pokester calls them - tournaments, tonight and next week included, but I'll be back sometime in early April. Tonight I'm out carousing with an old pal, and next week you'll find ricoM here...

Blogger WSOP Satellite Tourney
PokerStars - Private Tab
April 3rd
9PM EST
$30 +3
No Limit
Password: socoshot

Courtesy of the somewhat subdued of late dwarf.

35 percent Yankee



Your Linguistic Profile:



55% General American English

35% Yankee

5% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

The Top 10 Highest Paying Google Adwords

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Kidz Stuff: Part 1

My buddy, Jill, who has a six- and two-year-old, recently challenged me to come up with a list of "top ten" cartoon recommendations, skipping over Disneyana and recent releases. I'm going to stretch her request a bit, so I can bring in some live action and Muppet stuff too. And me being me, the list is a bit eclectic, as well as including a number of items either being totally unobtainable, or available only as bootlegs.

I'm trying to keep this on a younger kid level, too, so Fred favorites like the CGI "Roughnecks" series isn't there, although I recommend it to any teenager or adult that likes science fiction, especially Heinlein, as its much closer to the spirit of Starship Troopers than the movie. As usual, these are in the order thought of, not a ranking. But, if you can't find something your kids - and you - like here, don't come and visit me, okay?



10. The Max Fleischer Superman cartoons - You can play the video above of "The Mechanical Monsters," produced in 1941, the second of the series, and one of the best (I also like "Billion Dollar Limited," "The Bulleteers," and the very un-P.C. "Japoteurs," which reflects its era). The Art Deco style is beautiful and most kids will love the nonstop action. The link will take you to the so-called "Diamond Anniversary" DVD, generally considered to be the best quality release of these public domain cartoons.

9. Dungeons & Dragons - There are rumors that this cartoon series from the `80s will be properly released on DVD sometime in 2006. As of this writing, there's nothing of Amazon about it, and I don't recommend the one episode VHS you can find on Amazon and elsewhere. Nor do I recommend the bootleg VHS/DVDs of the series that regularly appear on eBay, as a writer I like, Mark Evanier, who wrote the pilot and the Bible for the show, would get deprived of well-deserved income.

Anyway, D&D was about (quoting TVShowsonDVD.com) "the adventures of Hank, Eric, Sheila, Presto, Diana and Bobby. One day these kids go on a roller coaster ride in our own world, at a normal everyday amusement park. Before they know it, though, the ride coasts them into a world of magic, where the diminutive Dungeon Master shows up from time to time to give them guidance and direction. He also gives them each a magical weapon that they must use to get themselves out of many a scrape with the fearsome monsters of this realm. Along the way they befriend Uni the Unicorn, who accompanies them on their quests."

It was a good - sometimes a superior - cartoon, given that the above pretty much describes the plot of each episode. Most of the stories had some sort of moral, like "you can't tell a book by its cover," or the like, but they were delivered pretty gently... and there's nothing wrong with morals. If/when D&D comes out on DVD, I'll be in line for it.

8. Goldie Gold and Action Jack - Now here's one you probably haven't heard of. The '80s were something of a Silver Age for TV cartoons, and this short-lived series (only 13 episodes) was one of the best. Kind of a cross between "The Avengers," and the Indiana Jones series, GG&AJ was the story of the "richest girl in the world" who, "decided to use some of her immense wealth to publish an investigative newspaper called The Gold Street Journal. Since she owned the paper, she took the liberty of searching out and reporting her own stories.

Goldie recruited the help of a part-time adventurer and intern reporter, 'Action' Jack Travis. Each week, Goldie, Jack, and their loyal dog Nugget would take off on a fantastic adventure and eventually return home to deliver the story to their editor, Sam Gritt. At their fingertips were an abundance of gadgets, each of which seemed more impressive than the ones featured in last episode." (description courtesy of toonarific.com).

GG&AJ never got any traction, unfortunately. My theory is that the producers couldn't up their mind whether they were doing Richie Rich (which actually preceded GG&AJ) or Jonny Quest; and the show was an uneasy balance between comedy (like Richie, Goldie's enormous wealth was a running gag), or adventure. I wish they had stuck with a straight adventure plot; but with a title character named "Goldie Gold," you kind of knew that wasn't going to happen.

I'll know the promise of "any movie, any time you want, anywhere" will have been delivered when I get GG&AJ: The Complete Series on DVD.

7. Fraggle Rock - I think I may amend my earlier statement and say that the `80s were a good decade for kid's TV altogether. Much edgier that The Muppet Show, Fraggles are definitely Muppet cousins who live in a cavern behind a wall in the shop of a tinkerer named Doc.

From the Amazon synopsis, "The Rock is also home to the Doozers (who are knee-high to a Fraggle) and the Gorgs (who are giants that think they rule the Rock). One gang of Fraggles (Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, and Red), under the guidance of the all-knowing Trash Heap (Marjorie), learn about each other and their neighbors and eventually befriend the Doozers, the Gorgs--and even Doc and Sprocket. Meanwhile, Gobo's Uncle Matt explores Outer Space (our world) and sends postcards to his nephew about the Silly Creatures (that's us)."

Indeed. Songs, dancing, yes, moral instruction, and lots of fun. And sometimes the stories were heart-breakingly good. I burst into tears when I watched the final episode, "Change of Address," with its tag-line, You can not leave the magic, as close to a personal motto as I could want.

The link above is to the complete first season, a bargain, in my opinion, at around $30. This link will bring you to an Amazon listing of individual DVDs, if you want to get a feel for the Rock before committing to a complete set.

6. Reboot - If you your/children like computers, videogames, pop culture references, and solid story-telling, Reboot is the toon for you. But this is one of those frustrating recommendations. The only easily obtainable Reboot DVD contains two 90 minute movies, as opposed to Reboot's usual half-hour format, but neither of them is half as good as any random selection from the series. Worse, they would probably confuse anyone not already familiar with the Reboot universe. Reboot episodes were collected haphazardly and released on both VHS and DVD. The DVDs now command premium prices, although the one-episode "Medusa Bug" VHS can still be had at a reasonable price. Bootleg sets of the complete series can occasionally be found on eBay, although it's definitely a caveat emptor offering.

From the Amazon description, "...adventures of life within a computer, as depicted in one of the world's first totally-computer-generated series. Dot Matrix and her brother Enzo, plus thousands of friendly binomes, live in Mainframe, which is plagued by viruses Megabyte and sister strain Hexadecimal. Guardian Bob is sent from the Net to protect them, and soon makes it his home. Together, they must prevent Megabyte from taking control of all the systems. As an added complication, games being played by the User invade the system regularly, and must be defeated, or else portions of the city are laid waste..."

Oh, but so much more. Someday, The Compleat Reboot will be released properly on DVD, and there will be much rejoicing in the halls of Merrimack, NH.

5. The Real Ghostbusters - "While the world wallowed in the junk being produced for Saturday morning television... the smart kids were watching The Real Ghostbusters," says the intro at Ghostbusters.net, and that's pretty much the truth. Savvy, funny, and very true to the spirit (ahem) of the first and best Ghostbusters movie. Another series that cries out for a complete release on DVD, but at present we'll have to make do with the available sets.

I now need to go into geek mode for a sec and explain why "The Real Ghostbusters" are called The Real Ghostbusters. No, there wasn't a "The Fake Ghostbusters" outfit, but there was a cartoon in the mid `70s featuring (get ready) two guys and their gorilla, who would track down miscreants playing ghost and bring them to justice, a la Scooby Doo, and this cartoon was called "The Ghostbusters," preceding the movie by several years. "Ghostbusters" the cartoon died what I expect was a well-deserved death after one season, and probably would have been forgotten except for the movie becoming a smash hit . After "Ghostbusters" was released, the cartoon came back under the title, "The Original Ghostbusters" and with the same basic plot. Unamused, the rightholders to the movie released their cartoon as "The Real Ghostbusters."

Okay? We'll stop at this point without exploring "Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters," and "Extreme Ghostbusters," both spinoffs from the original, no, I mean the real Ghostbusters.

I'll be back with my final five of in a bit.

Friday, March 24, 2006

American Life in Poetry: Column 052

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

What a marvelous gift is the imagination, and each of us gets one at birth, free of charge and ready to start up, get on, and ride away. Can there be anything quite so homely and ordinary as a steam radiator? And yet, here, Connie Wanek, of Duluth, Minnesota, nudges one into play.

Radiator

Mittens are drying on the radiator,
boots nearby, one on its side.
Like some monstrous segmented insect
the radiator elongates under the window.

Or it is a beast with many shoulders
domesticated in the Ice Age.
How many years it takes
to move from room to room!

Some cage their radiators
but this is unnecessary
as they have little desire to escape.

Like turtles they are quite self-contained.
If they seem sad, it is only the same sadness
we all feel, unlovely, growing slowly cold.


Reprinted from "Bonfire," New Rivers Press, 1997, by permission of the author. Copyright (c) 1997 by Connie Wanek. Her most recent book is "Hartley Field," from Holy Cow! Press. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mr. D. He Gone from YouTube

After seeing a comment on rec.music.dylan, and checking on YouTube, I've found that the clips I've posted here via YouTube, which includes the Johnny Cash/Dylan "One Too Many Mornings," Dylan doing George Harrison's "Something," and Clapton/Dylan doing "Crossroads" have all "been removed for copyright infringement."

Actually, the Dylan/Clapton clip was still there when I started writing this, and was just removed by whoever originally posted it. Talk about your chilling effect. If you try to play any of the clips here, nothing will happen. Or, I dunno, maybe if you wait long enough, lawyers will appear and serve you with a writ.

I'll leave the placeholders up for posterity. Pity. You can engage in the "copyright" debate until you're blue in the face, and nothing ever gets resolved. Should people be paid for their work? Of course. Does the posting of clips that are either obviously audience-recorded, or a segment from a larger work, damage the artist in any significant fashion? Personally, I'd argue, "No." People who listen to Dylan listen to all of Dylan, not simply bootlegged stuff.

On the other hand, and with these things there's always another hand, Dylan was pretty clear in Chronicles that he dislikes the bootlegged stuff, if for no other reason that it inaccurately reflects how he wants his music to sound. There's a wonderful interview with Dylan - ironically only in bootleg form - where he goes on in great detail how important it is to him to get the sound of the music right.

I dunno. But, as I said, a pity.

Ultimatt

I've been remiss about posting this. Title, picture, and commentary from my guest blogger and sister-in-law, Roberta. Go Hodags!

Matt in action against Georgia (team name: Jojah) in the final of the Terminus tournament in Atlanta last weekend.

The Hodags won the game, and, with a record of 25-2, are currently ranked second in the country. Their two losses were early in the season to number 1 Florida and their perennial nemesis Carleton. All three teams will be participating in Centex in Austin next weekend, which Ted and I will attending - I'm already nervous.

In order to play at Nationals Memorial Day weekend, Wisconsin must win the central regionals in April and that means beating Carleton. For some reason, Carleton has some kind of voodoo over the Hodags every year at regionals. In the past this hasn't hurt them too much, because central had two slots at Nationals. This year there is only one.

For more on the subject: http://www.collegeulti.com/

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

TiVo Clipping Shows

An article in yesterday's NY Times reports, "...Because of a software glitch in some machines, TiVo customers have been discovering over the last few months that some of the shows they had set to record were cut off before the programs ended...."

There are apparently benefits to living in power outage-prone New England. The article goes on to note that TiVo has issued an update and is in the process of getting it out to all Series 2 boxes, or, you can simply pull the plug on your TiVo and reboot. Since we do the equivalent of "pulling the plug" every couple of months, the problem has never affected us. Which is a Good Thing. I would not be a pleasant person to live with if I lost the beginning or end of 24.

April is National Poetry Month!

Two of my favs at once! Beginning April 3, PoetryFoundation.org will deliver a daily poetry podcast featuring high-quality audio recordings of poems, interviews with poets, and poetry documentaries. The National Poetry Month podcasts include a biography of June Jordan, recordings by actors Alfred Molina and Paul Giamatti, Garrison Keillor interviewing Billy Collins and Kay Ryan, and recordings by poets Jane Hirshfield, Tom Sleigh, Marilyn Nelson, and Donald Hall.

Monday, March 20, 2006

V

"At some point you're going to have to tell the Man, 'Get your boot off my neck, motherfucker,'" Stokley Carmichael once said, back when "the Man" wasn't a joke in a telephone commercial.

The Latin to the upper right translates to, "By the power of Truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe," a quote from Goethe's Faust and used, at least in the book, in "V for Vendetta." Like most of the V references in the graphic novel, the quote has multi-layered meanings; five Vs (or V V) of course. It's also a reference to a man who, as the character V notes, knew all about making deals. Part of Alan Moore's theme, which may or may not have made its way over to the movie's script, is that making deals with the devil - whether for fortune, knowledge, or security - is always a dangerous thing.

I haven't seen the movie yet; life keeps getting in the way of my plans, as usual, but soon. It's interesting while I wait to watch the different hobby horses critics are mounting as they review the movie. The New Yorker, which is usually less shrill even when throwing brickbats, calls V "dunderheaded" by word 5 (an inadvertent coincidence, I'm sure) in the first sentence. That feat is even more notable when you consider words 1 through 3 are the movie's title.

I'm not quite sure what David Denby's problem is. He alternates between attacking Moore for extrapolating V's bleak future from Britain's Thatcher government of the `80s while praising George Orwell's 1984 for "relying on actual events and situations." It's not much of an argument for or against either book. While Moore obviously was no fan of Thatcherism, I remember nothing in his introduction to the graphic novel nor in V itself that argues he thought the future of then-Great Britain would become the world of V. What he was concerned about was that he could see the seeds of V in the world around him, just as Orwell could see the seeds of 1984 in the worlds of wartime Britain and Europe. And hell, anyone who can't see those seeds taking root in today's world isn't watching very closely.

Like Denby's, most of the critical attacks I've read on the movie center on V's terrorist act of sending a subway train filled with explosives on its way to destroy Parliament. Again, what Denby and the other reviewers stubbornly want to ignore in order to make their case is that in V's world, Parliament has been perverted, as has been Justice and the Law itself. Moore takes great pains to make that clear in the book. It's hard to believe that thought doesn't get carried over to the movie. But I'm not a New Yorker movie critic with an axe to grind.

The Playmate Book - Six Decades of Centerfolds

High on Fred's "I want" list is Gretchen Edgren's updated book (warning: NWS) covering - ah, actually uncovering - every Playmate of the Month since issue number one, including Marilyn Monroe, Pamela Anderson, Anna Nicole Smith, Jenny McCarthy, and believe it or not, Miss January 1957, who a quick Google returns was June Blair, David Nelson's wife in both real life and on "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet"

David reportedly saw June in her one and only movie, The Rabbit Trap, suggested her for the show, and married her a year later. I located a picture of June, clothed, here, which I only provide because I'm a completist.

The information on June comes from a very detailed, very good review of the book in The New Yorker by Joan Acocella called "The Girls Next Door," which I commend to your attention if you're interested in Playboy, Hefner, or even just nekked wimmin.

Out of many good points that
Acocella makes is the wonderful observation, "Today, if you tried to present yourself as [Playboy's ideal] a suave, middle-aged bachelor, people will assume you're gay."

Bus driver plays GTA... while driving

via The Sun online:

A bus driver has been fired for playing computer game Grand Theft Auto — while at the wheel.

Steve Allcock was reported by terrified passengers who heard the screams of characters being butchered as he drove between stops.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash - One Too Many Mornings

Dylan in full Nashville songbird voice, with he and The Man in Black exchanging grins throughout...



Taken from Johnny Cash - The Man, His World, His Music documentary, which, if you haven't seen and like Dylan and/or Cash, you should.

American Life in Poetry: Column 051

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Walt Whitman's poems took in the world through a wide-angle lens, including nearly everything, but most later poets have focused much more narrowly. Here the poet and novelist Jim Harrison nods to Whitman with a sweeping, inclusive poem about the course of life.

Marching

At dawn I heard among bird calls
the billions of marching feet in the churn
and squeak of gravel, even tiny feet
still wet from the mother's amniotic fluid,
and very old halting feet, the feet
of the very light and very heavy, all marching
but not together, criss-crossing at every angle
with sincere attempts not to touch, not to bump
into each other, walking in the doors of houses
and out the back door forty years later, finally
knowing that time collapses on a single
plateau where they were all their lives,
knowing that time stops when the heart stops
as they walk off the earth into the night air.

"Marching," from Jim Harrison's "Saving Daylight" (2006) is reprinted by permission of Copper Cayon Press. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Much love, Bettie Page

The LA Times has a substantial article on pin-up legend Bettie Page who happily, at age 82, is doing much better both mentally and financially than she was 20 years ago, when she was near-broke and mental illness put her into a state hospital.

Page is pictured to the right, autographing what looks like an Olivia-inspired poster of herself in her glory days. She asks that her face not be photographed these days, so guys like me can retain our memories intact.

As Mark Evanier notes, it's a little curious that while Page fans such as Harlan Ellison and Hugh Hefner are quoted in the article, no mention is made of Dave Stevens past a sentence about The Rocketeer movie "and the comic book that inspired it." If any one person was responsible for the revival of interest in Page, it was Dave Stevens.

The Curse of the Nine of Diamonds

It's referred to as "The Curse of Scotland." Is it because the ever-frugal Scots only placed nine diamonds in the Scottish crown rather than the usual ten? Does it refer to a game called, "Pope Joan"? Or because during the 16th-century reign of Queen Mary nine diamonds were stolen from the crown of Scotland by an Edinburgh freebooter called George Campbell? I won't tell you, but you can read all about it here.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Hold’em Adjustable DrinkHolder and Tabletop Saver

say that three times fast. via Cardplayer...



Nobody wants to be the guy who, after hitting his improbable two-outer on the river, jumps up and spills his drink across the crowded poker table. No, that guy is sworn at and sometimes even booted from the regular game, if it happens, say, more than once a month.

This week, a company introduced a drink holder specifically for use at poker games to prevent these accidents from occurring. The Hold’em Adjustable DrinkHolder and Tabletop Saver, which, according to company literature, was inspired during a Texas hold’em game, is here to save the day.

Link to the Hold’em Adjustable DrinkHolder and Tabletop Saver (I just like saying the name)


WPBT WSOP M.O.U.S.E. Satellite Tournament

... the "M.o.u.s.e." is my contribution. Iggy has announced what I suspect will be only the 1st of the (deep breath here) World Poker Bloggers Tour World Series of Poker Satellite Event...

March 19th - Sunday
9pm EST
Paradise Poker
$30 NL
password: email Iggy to get it (scroll down his blogroll on right to locate his anorexic email nom de guerre).

The only requirement to enter is that you have a blog, any kind of blog. Hell, they even let me in, so you can see how loose the requirements are. Winner wins a seat in the 2006 WSOP $1500 event of their choice. Minimum 55 players are needed, but I don't think that's too much of a problem. Of course, it's yet-another-site that I don't have an account at, but, since I coincidentally just upgraded my Turbo and Tournament Hold `Em software and they threw in a bonus package to Paradise (pun intended), that's not too much of a hassle. And Paradise looks better than some of the poker sites Iggy has lured me to.

One of those sites - Titan Poker - recently sent me a freebie virtual chip good for entry into any of their $10 tournaments in an attempt to get me back, or maybe to just clear away the $2.38 I had forgotten was left in my account. In any case, I sat down to a 10-person SnG game yesterday, after work, and ended up in second place, clearing $30 (in fact, really clearing $30, as it was for all intents, a freeroll for me) for my efforts. Unfortunately for Titan, in my case the lure didn't work, as I immediately cashed out my bankroll, as playing on the site had reminded me of everything I disliked about Titan, including the only $1000 starting stack, the regular freezes, and the insane play. I'm also not real thrilled with discovering that Titan puts a 24/48-hour hold on all withdrawals, which may be common in the on-line poker world, but is the first time I've run into it. I'm used to instantaneous cashouts at PokerStars and UltimateBet, the two places I do most of my playing.

I know Iggy loves loose tables, but as I think he found out, loose tables in tournaments are a two-edged sword when you can't replenish your stack. This time the fishies gave me and one other tight player all their little chippies, one-by-one, making insane all-in calls with only a wish and a draw in their hands. Unfortunately for me, the other guy had like 3/4s of the table's chips when we finally went head-to-head and though I got in front of him a couple of times, the law of averages caught up with me when I went all-in with AA and he pulled a flush at the river.

Since I'm on a poker post, I'll close by noting that I played my regular home game ("What could be better," Peggy interjects. "A 'home game' where you actually stay at home, and I don't have to clean up afterwards, or air out the house.") the WWdn Invitational, and placed 33rd, playing pretty well, I thought, but rivered finally on another flush suckout. Most notable thing about the game was Wil being knocked out for the second time running by the same player, a first.



Thursday, March 09, 2006

Whoa! Google acquires Writely

I've been using the Writely web word processor for the last couple of months. Although it's got some problems, it's still pretty impressive. Obviously, I'm not the only one who thinks so.

As John Battelle says, let's just put aside any illusions that Google isn't targeting Microsoft, 'kay? Writely has closed down new registrations for the moment, probably fearing they'll be overwhelmed. But, if you're interested, sign up for the relaunch. If you're real interested, you could ask me nicely.

American Life in Poetry: Column 050

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Thousands of Americans fret over the appearance of their lawns, spraying, aerating, grooming, but here Grace Bauer finds good reasons to resist the impulse to tame what's wild: the white of clover blossoms under a streetlight, the possibility of finding the hidden, lucky, four-leafed rarity.

Against Lawn

The midnight streetlight illuminating
the white of clover assures me

I am right not to manicure
my patch of grass into a dull

carpet of uniform green, but
to allow whatever will to take over.

Somewhere in that lace lies luck,
though I may never swoop down

to find it. Three, too, is
an auspicious number. And this seeing

a reminder to avoid too much taming
of what, even here, wants to be wild.


Reprinted from the literary journal, "Lake Effect," Volume 8, Spring 2004 by permission of the author. Copyright (c) 2004 by Grace Bauer, whose new book, "Beholding Eye," is forthcoming from Wordtech Communications in 2006. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

360 Sam and Salem Virtual Tour

TV Land has finally put up a QuickTime VR walkaround of the Bewitched statue as well as a "virtual tour" of Salem.

Some Sam trivia from the page, too..

Tammy Grimes was the first choice for the role of Samantha, but asked to be released when she landed the starring role of the Broadway musical, "High Spirits."

The famous "witch-twitch" was a based on a nervous habit of Elizabeth Montgomery's.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reflections on a Golden Horseshoe

Re-Imagineering is a relatively new blog with the self-described purpose of being, "A forum for Pixar and Disney professionals passionate about the Disney Theme Parks to catalog past Imagineering missteps and offer up tenable practical solutions in hopes that a new wave of creative management at Imagineering can once again bring back some of the wonder and magic that's been missing from the parks for decades."

A noble goal, and like many Disney fans, I'd love to see the theme parks glowing again with the magic they had when I visited Disneyland in the '60s and '70s, or even when Peggy and I visited Disneyworld in the '80s.

Although you might have guessed Tomorrowland, Frontierland was always my favorite area of Disneyland, largely due to the presence of the Mark Twain steamboat which - even on rails - made me dream of steaming down the Mississippi with young Sam Clemens.

It was a running joke in my family that once in New Orleans Square, my Dad would simply hand me all the "D" tickets from the coupon books and I would head to the Mark Twain and repeated rides, while my brothers and parents would go to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion (I liked both those too, but the Mark Twain was my ride).

Another New Orleans Square/Frontierland favorite was The Golden Horseshoe Revue, a semi-burlesque - or more accurately, a Disney imagining of what a Wild West saloon/burlesque would be - that I saw countless times in Disneyland and that I took Peggy to on one of our Disneyworld trips (Peg would end up on stage with Roger Rabbit and gun-slinging cowboys during that visit).

"Merlin Jones" (great pseudonym, that) has a thoughtful and thought-provoking essay on why the Golden Horseshoe Revue worked so well in the past, and why it should be brought to life again in the future.

"With a saloon madam, her dancing girls, an Irish tenor and a cowboy comedian (and their band), The Golden Horseshoe Revue didn't try to be relevant to the times in any way, but transported guests back into another era of entertainment; to the days before movies and television when seltzer and pantaloons reigned supreme...Well, guess what? That sort of entertainment was way out of date in the 1960 too - As kids, we didn't relate to it either, or get the timely gags - - we just thought it was cool! We loved being able to go to another time and place. And those girls were great dancers with a contagious joie-de-vivre!"
And yes, that's Annette Funicello, my one-time heart-throb, pictured.

Real-life Simpsons Intro

If you follow the blogosphere, you've probably already seen this. Peggy and I caught it last night for the first time on Rocketboom (which I TiVo now, thanks to TiVo's new features), and I just watched it again through Wil Wheaton's site. It made me laugh out loud for the second time running, and deserves the promotion for that if nothing else...


I love YouTube, btw.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Something new - Amazon ads

While visiting The Anomalist, I came across an interesting thing, Amazon-described "product previews" for Amazon Affiliates. From their FAQ:

"Product previews are a portal into Amazon.com - directly on your Web site. When users hover over a preview-enhanced link, a small window appears containing valuable content and information about the product you're advertising, including an image, new and used price, average customer review and availability. It also gives your visitors the ability to add the item directly to their Amazon.com shopping cart."
Hmmm, sez I. So I decided to give it a try. I'm not expecting any serious moola from it. I think the last time I signed up as an Amazon affiliate, I made all of 14 cents. But I like the idea better than Google Ads, or even the Amazon banner below. So, if you move your mouse over a link - such as the Archibald MacLeish quote I'm using as my current signature line, you may get a little window. Or you may not. Amazon is apparently doing it as a dice roll in this beta. Some viewers get the window. Some don't. Anyway, move the mouse off the link and it goes away, so it's not as obnoxious as a pop-up, at least in my opinion. If you have a real problem with it, write me and let me know. But, if you like a poem I post, a DVD or book review and decide to buy it from Amazon, well heck, it may mean another 14 cents for me.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Statue in Salem a lure for fans enchanted by 'Bewitched' show

via The Boston Globe

SALEM -- ''Bewitched" fans are headed to Witch City in June for their annual convention, where they'll gather at the bronze statue of Samantha Stephens erected in Lappin Park last year by the TV Land cable network.

Only about 25 diehard fans are expected to visit Salem June 24-30 to celebrate the 1960s show starring Elizabeth Montgomery, which filmed a few episodes here in 1970.

Still, fans from as far as Florida and British Columbia will be toting cameras, wearing favorite ''Bewitched" T-shirts, and carrying dolls, lunch boxes, and other collectibles, organizer Mark Simpson said. ''We're just really big 'Bewitched' fans," said Simpson, who runs the website www.thebewitchedcollector.com, where people can register for the convention. ''The magic of that show is just amazing . . . It's really not something I can explain."

Simpson, an accounting clerk from Tacoma, said the group plans to rent a big-screen television to watch the episodes filmed in Salem and visit the historic sites where the show was shot. ''Salem has its own magic," said Simpson, who grew up in Maine. ''I think a lot of people will come."

The group, which regularly meets online, considered attending the unveiling last June of the Bewitched statue, which drew thousands. Instead, the group gathered in Los Angeles to celebrate the premiere of the ''Bewitched" movie starring Nicole Kidman.

The fans traipsed around the facade of the original ''Bewitched" home on a Warner Brothers back lot. Casey Rogers, the actress who played Louise Tate, signed autographs. But there was one disappointment.

''Mrs. Kravitz wasn't home," Simpson said, referring to Samantha Stephens's nosy neighbor.


Friday, March 03, 2006

An, ah, unfortunate optical illusion...


photo via BoingBoing. Click for a larger version

Disclaimer via The ByranBryan*-College Station Eagle


"...To read the photograph any other way is, in my mind, incredibly wrong and based on illogical assumptions. To think otherwise is to assume that the player was not wearing black spandex shorts, which he clearly was as evidenced by the picture; that he was not wearing an athletic supporter, which we'll assume he was; and that he was intent on flashing Reed Arena, which he was not..."

* correction thanks to my eagle-eyed anonymous reader

American Life in Poetry: Column 049

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

This fine poem by Rodney Torreson, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, looks into the world of boys arriving at the edge of manhood, and compares their natural wildness to that of dogs, with whom they feel a kinship.

On A Moonstruck Gravel Road

The sheep-killing dogs saunter home,
wool scraps in their teeth.

From the den of the moon
ancestral wolves
howl their approval.

The farm boys, asleep in their beds,
live the same wildness under their lids;
every morning they come back
through the whites of their eyes
to do their chores, their hands pausing
to pet the dog, to press
its ears back, over the skull,
to quiet that other world.

From "A Breathable Light," New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2002, and first published in Sou'wester. Copyright (c) 2002 by Rodney Torreson and reprinted by permission of the author. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

Google Uber Alles

Brin: "We are currently not planning on conquering the world."

(Be careful, Sergey, [Eric] Schmidt said.)

Blow-by-blow CNET reporting of Google analyst meeting.


It's Officially Silly Pictures Day!

via PeterDavid.net

Peter's site reinforces my opinion that the better the writer, the crappier-looking their site, although Neil Gaiman has managed to reverse that perception with his new blog. On the other hand, there are George R.R. Martin, John Varley, Ken Kesey, and Dan Simmons' sites. On the third hand, none of them have an official invertebrate either, so maybe I should just be quiet now.

Cat tricks

via Neil Gaiman:

Russian clown Kuklachev has a troupe of cats who do handstands, crawl along high wires and balance on balls and he says the secret to training them is realizing that you can't force cats to do anything.
By extension then, Bear would be a master acrobat, as he definitely can't be forced to do anything.

Link

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dylan postpones debut on XM Satellite Radio to May

via The Detroit News

...instead of premiering in March, Dylan will now be making his radio debut presenting a weekly one-hour show on XM channel 40 starting in May...Details of Dylan's show are still being worked out, but we know he will play some of his favorite music, chat about the music ... and interview some of his famous musician friends....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Upson Downs - Mr. Rico in WWdN #16

Don't ask me about the title. I just like the assonance.

Lil Rico placed 18th in a field of 91 last night in the weekly Wil Wheaton invitational, ten slots out of any money (9th place would be taken by Iggy, who I shared a table with before getting busted out).

While money is always highly desirable, I thought I played better - and in fact, had a better time - than last week when I snuck into 8th place. One reason was the cards I was getting which, in the early part of the tournament, were ridiculous, to quote my favorite 21-year-old. I even pulled quad 9s at one point, although they were wasted on a relatively small pot.

In Hand #3 I busted out Sir Waffles. But I'll let him tell it. I'm the "he" he refers to...

I went out second in the WWDN. Thanks to Weak for going out first! I misplayed my hand HORRIBLY. I basically turn a set of sevens, check, because I assume he is going to bet, then when he makes the straight on the river. I have a feeling I am totally beat. Instead of calling his 120 bet I raise him, and then when he pushes all in, I call. umm.. Ya. Way to go Sir. I was kind of thinking he had two pair but no, he rivered the straight.
Which goes to show that in poker you have your good nights and your bad nights. Waffles won the whole shebang in WWdN #14.

A few hands later I busted out a player, "Villainiss"," when his/her 10s didn't hold up against my pocket Kings. And by Hand #16 I'd have 4190 in chips. Then my luck she went quiet, and I spent more time exchanging good-natured barbs with two players I've enjoyed going up against over the last few tournaments, dsheep - who accused me of unnatural acts midway through the game - and the always dangerous wwonka, who was in the money again last night, taking 3rd place this time. I finished slightly ahead of my archnemesis, dsheep, who placed 23rd. I think honor is not going to be satisfied until I can take out both the wonk and the sheep, preferably at a final table.

It was also kind of fun to see wonka get one of the Up For Poker crew crazy when he paired an Ace at the river to beat U4P's pocket Qs. U4P had a slight meltdown, still babbling away about it several hands later, and a few hands down the road would surrender the rest of his stack to wonka.

As I said, I got to sit at the table with Iggy, admiring his stack going up-and-down like a feral yo-yo. Iggy would go all-in on a hand and lose most of his stack. On the next hand he'd go all-in again, recovering it and more. And so it went. Iggy was apparently shielding me with some of his luck, as immediately after getting moved to another table, I'd meet That Night's Doom, this time at the subhuman hands of The SubHuman, who would place 6th for the night.

Hand #170, Lil Rico with a respectable 3635 in chips. We're at 200/400 blinds with a $25 ante. I pull a Ac Js. We get four limpers - including me, because I'm in middle position and I've gone down too many times with AJ off-suit. But maybe a mistake in retrospect.

The flop is 8c 3d Jc, giving me high pair as well as an Ace kicker. The SubHuman, who has about double my chips, bets out 1500, scaring off the the other caller. It only makes sense to re-raise with my hand, so I go over-the-top at Mr. Sub and all-in. He calls my 1710 raise, and I'm relieved to see that he's got nothing except a pair of 3s and a club draw, holding the 2 and 3 of clubs(!!!).

"I'm going to double up," I think for about three seconds, because then another 3 shows on the turn, giving ol' Subbie a set, and knocking me out of the running.

What did I say? "In poker you have your good nights and your bad nights." And sometimes you're going to get beat out no matter how you play. Can't fault the Subhuman. He had my stack covered, and you don't get to the final table without some gambling. But I had some fun, and all in all, it was still a good night.

Samantha's fans planning 'Bewitched' convention

via the internet-challenged Salem News which apparently can't be troubled to check links.

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

SALEM - She arrived in Salem on a broomstick, and the bronze image of television's most famous sorceress, Samantha Stephens of "Bewitched," is already working magic on fans of the 1960s TV comedy.

Plans are afoot to bring the show's devotees to Salem for a weeklong "Bewitched" convention this June, giving them a chance to see the TV Land statue of Samantha erected at the corner of Essex and Washington streets only last year.

But don't adjust your schedule to avoid the crowds - this won't be like October's Harry Potter Convention. Organizer Mark Simpson, 47, an accountant from Tacoma, Wash., said the plan is "tentative," and he isn't promising huge crowds. Last year's "Bewitched" convention in Los Angeles - to observe the release of the movie version - drew only about 25 people.

"But every year it gets bigger and bigger," Simpson said.

Born in Portland, Maine, he is very familiar with everything this region has to offer students of the late actress Elizabeth Montgomery and her occult alter ego, Samantha.

"We'll do the sights of Salem and all things that have to do with 'Bewitched,'" he said.

Parts of several "Bewitched" episodes were filmed in Salem in June 1970. Conventioneers want to revisit the places where it happened - the House of the Seven Gables and Hammond Castle in Magnolia.

"We'd love to stay at the Hawthorne," Simpson said, noting that the show's cast and crew stayed there during their visit. "But I don't know if we can afford it."

Gloucester's famous fisherman statue and Fall River are on the itinerary, too. The statue was featured in an episode of "Bewitched." And after she hung up her broom, Montgomery picked up an ax, appearing as Fall River's Lizzie Borden in a 1975 TV movie.

"She was never in Fall River," Simpson said, instead taking her 40 whacks in a Hollywood studio.

Above all, visitors will want to see Samantha in bronze, riding her broom over a crescent moon in Salem's Lappin Park.

"I've only seen pictures," Simpson said. "I was kind of blown away. From what I saw, it looked just like her. Amazing."

He speaks in hushed tones when Montgomery's name comes up. Asked if he ever met the actress - who died in 1995 - he pauses. "I never got to meet Liz. And that makes me really sad."

Unmarried, with no children, he lives with a friend and devotes leisure time to his favorite television show by running a Web site - www.bewitchedcollector.com "The Bewitched Collector" - a kind of electronic attic where he can show off thousands of photos and other memorabilia from the show.

"This show has been my ideal since I was 6 years old," Simpson said. "My mother would say, 'Don't you ever think of anything else?'" He didn't and isn't apologizing for it. "For a long time, I thought I was the only one." His Web site - one of many "Bewitched" sites - draws 150 hits a day.

"I've been able to meet and get e-mail from all over the world," he said. "I feel like a celebrity."

Simpson is hoping to bring some surviving "Bewitched" cast members to the convention.