Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Just because I can



Monday, February 26, 2007

New blog from poet Andrei Guruianu

Andrei Guruianu, whose poem "Grandfather," I really liked recently left a comment noting that he's started up his blog at www.andreiguruianu.com.

Well worth the visit if you like engaging, thoughtful poetry.

Delegate Wants to Ban Vehicle Displays of Plastic Genitals


One of those "never heard of it, and then they're everywhere things." I first heard about this on NPR Friday. Peggy and I saw our first, ah, pair, on our way home from Newport yesterday, and this pops up in my news feed.

Maryland Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. to truckers: If you've got 'em, you don't need to flaunt 'em.

As the General Assembly debates global warming and the death penalty, Myers (R-Washington) has something else on his mind: the outsized plastic testicles that truckers dangle from the trailer hitches of their pickups.

via the Washington Post

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Countdown At the Movies

Cross-promotion time again. My latest gather column is up. A free taste (to get you hooked)...

We're doing a musical movie countdown this week in honor of the 79th Academy Awards, coming to a TV screen near you this Sunday, the 25th.

As it's too easy to include musicals with great music - from Singing in the Rain to Hair, I excluded them from this list of movie songs and music that plays on an extended engagement in my Theater of Memory.



10. "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" - from The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Featured in Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his 1934 original, and sung by Doris Day. "Que Sera, Sera" received the 1956 Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was the third Oscar in this category for songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

The song has an interesting history, considering that Hitchcock initially didn't want Doris Day (she was a part of a package deal in order for Hitchcock to secure the services of Jimmy Stewart) and didn't want a song for the movie, even though the studio was pressing him to use something to feature Day's voice.

Hitchcock figured out how to get a song in the movie - in fact, it became a key plot element - and changed his opinion about Day, who he later said did a fine job. He commissioned Livingston and Evans to write something that "had a foreign title" and was to be "sung to a little boy." The two had recently seen the Ava Gardner film, The Barefoot Contessa, where the character played by Rossano Brazzi had the family motto "Che Sera, Sera." Evans and Livingston switched the Italian "Che" to "Que," apparently feeling that Spanish was more accessible in the U.S. than Italian, and came up with the lyrics.

Continuing the comedy of errors, Doris Day was not at all thrilled by the prospect of singing "Que Sera Sera." In fact, she refused to record it, until ultimately bowing from pressure by Paramount. Reportedly, she did the song in one take and walked out of the studio saying, "That's the last time you'll ever hear that."

Of course, the song became a signature piece for Day, who would use it as the theme for her television sitcom series, and sing snippets of it in several of her other movies, including Please Don't Eat the Daisies and The Glass-Bottom Boat.

Sources: Google Answers; Wikipedia

9. Theme from per un Pugno di Dollari (A Fistful of Dollars) - Ennio Morricone (as Dan Savio) (1964)

Da-da-da-dah! WAH WAH WAH! Hired by Leone for Per un pugno di dollari on the strength of some of his song arrangements, Morricone would revolutionize how Westerns sounded, just as Leone would bend the Western movie genre totally out of shape. The soundtrack's exceedingly strange instrumentation included bells, electric guitars, harmonicas, and a jew's harp, and would be repeated with variations in the two succeeding Man with No Name movies.

Source: IMDB



The Return of Muffin

via "Bertsie from Washington"

An exhaustive - and exhausting - "Trouble in Vegas" game/trip report for the Hodag Ultimate Team can be found here, written by the indefatigable Muffin, who has apparently never met a paragraph break he liked.

At this point the Hodags freaked out and with Scallet getting D’s in the air all over the place and Even Klane bombing forehands, we steal half 7-3.
I'm not sure what "Ds all over the air" are exactly, but assume it's good. I think Florida also won over Wisconsin, even though Wisconsin "nutted up, forcing Universe" which sounds painful. But on to Baton Rouge for that prize money. Go HoDags!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

And lil White Balls with Dimples in Dreamtime

In honor of Theme Time's Host's recent purchase in Scotland, Dreamtime plays at "Theme Time," with an extra-long 29-minute episode featuring music, jokes, email, and commentary all related to the theme, "Golf."

Episode 30 - A Good Walk Spoiled

Sirius, XM Announce Intent to Merge


PW (not my PW, but "Popular Wisdom," which seldom is) has it that this is unlikely to happen, but I hope in this case PW is wrong...

PRESS RELEASE — XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR - News) and SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI - News) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement, under which the companies will be combined in a tax-free, all-stock merger of equals with a combined enterprise value of approximately $13 billion, which includes net debt of approximately $1.6 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, XM shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 4.6 shares of SIRIUS common stock for each share of XM they own. XM and SIRIUS shareholders will each own approximately 50 percent of the combined company.

Mel Karmazin, currently Chief Executive Officer of SIRIUS, will become Chief Executive Officer of the combined company and Gary Parsons, currently Chairman of XM, will become Chairman of the combined company. The new company’s board of directors will consist of 12 directors, including Messrs. Karmazin and Parsons, four independent members designated by each company, as well as one representative from each of General Motors and American Honda. Hugh Panero, the Chief Executive Officer of XM, will continue in his current role until the anticipated close of the merger.

The combined company will benefit from a highly experienced management team from both companies with extensive industry knowledge in radio, media, consumer electronics, OEM engineering and technology. Further management appointments will be announced prior to closing. The companies will continue to operate independently until the transaction is completed and will work together to determine the combined company’s corporate name and headquarters location prior to closing.

The combination creates a nationwide audio entertainment provider with combined 2006 revenues of approximately $1.5 billion based on analysts’ consensus estimates. Today the companies have approximately 14 million combined subscribers. Together, SIRIUS and XM will create a stronger platform for future innovation within the audio entertainment industry and will provide significant benefits to all constituencies, including:

* Greater Programming and Content Choices — The combined company is
committed to consumer choice, including offering consumers the ability
to pick and choose the channels and content they want on a more a la
carte basis. The combined company will also provide consumers with a
broader selection of content, including a wide range of commercial-free
music channels, exclusive and non-exclusive sports coverage, news,
talk, and entertainment programming. Together, XM and SIRIUS will be
able to improve on products such as real-time traffic and rear-seat
video and introduce new ones such as advanced data services including
enhanced traffic, weather and infotainment offerings.

* Accelerated Technological Innovation — The merger will enable the
combined company to develop and introduce a wider range of lower cost,
easy-to-use, and multi-functional devices through efficiencies in chip
set and radio design and procurement. Such innovation is essential to
remaining competitive in the consumer electronics-driven world of audio
entertainment.

* Benefits to OEM and Retail Partners — The combined company will offer
automakers and retailers the opportunity to provide a broader content
offering to their customers. Consumer electronics retailers, including
Best Buy, Circuit City, RadioShack, Wal-Mart and others, will benefit
from enhanced product offerings that should allow satellite radio to
compete more effectively.

* Enhanced Financial Performance — This transaction will enhance the
long-term financial success of satellite radio by allowing the combined
company to better manage its costs through sales and marketing and
subscriber acquisition efficiencies, satellite fleet synergies, combined
R&D and other benefits from economies of scale. Wall Street equity
analysts have published estimates of the present value of cost synergies
ranging from $3 billion to $7 billion.

* More Competitive Audio Entertainment Provider — The combination of an
enhanced programming lineup with improved technology, distribution and
financials will better position satellite radio to compete for
consumers’ attention and entertainment dollars against a host of
products and services in the highly competitive and rapidly evolving
audio entertainment marketplace. In addition to existing competition
from free “over-the-air” AM and FM radio as well as iPods and mobile
phone streaming, satellite radio will face new challenges from the rapid
growth of HD Radio, Internet radio and next generation wireless
technologies.

“We are excited for the many opportunities that an XM and SIRIUS combination will provide consumers,” said Gary Parsons, Chairman of XM Satellite Radio and Hugh Panero, CEO of XM Satellite Radio, in a joint statement. “The combined company will be better positioned to compete effectively with the continually expanding array of entertainment alternatives that consumers have embraced since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) first granted our satellite radio licenses a decade ago.”

“This combination is the next logical step in the evolution of audio entertainment,” said Mel Karmazin, CEO of SIRIUS Satellite Radio. “Together, our best-in-class management team and programming content will create unprecedented choice for consumers, while creating long-term value for shareholders of both companies. The combined company will be positioned to capitalize on SIRIUS and XM’s complementary distribution and licensing agreements to enhance availability of satellite radios, offer expanded content to subscribers, drive increased advertising revenue and reduce expenses. Each of our companies has a strong commitment to providing listeners the broadest range of music, news, sports and entertainment and the best customer service possible. We look forward to sharing the benefits of the exciting new growth opportunities this combination will provide with all of our stakeholders.”

The transaction is subject to approval by both companies’ shareholders, the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and regulatory review and approvals, including antitrust agencies and the FCC. Pending regulatory approval, the companies expect the transaction to be completed by the end of 2007.

SIRIUS’s financial advisor on the transaction is Morgan Stanley and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Wiley Rein LLP are acting as legal counsel. XM’s financial advisor on the transaction is J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. and Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Jones Day; and Latham & Watkins LLP are acting as legal counsel.

Conference Call and Webcast Information

The companies will hold a joint conference call and webcast on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 8:30 AM ET to discuss this announcement. The conference call can be monitored by dialing 800-573-4840 within the U.S. and 617-224-4326 for all other locations, passcode 29490052. The webcast can be accessed at http://www.sirius.com and http://www.xmradio.com as well as on their satellite radio services by tuning to SIRIUS channel 122 and XM channel 200. The webcast will be archived at http://www.sirius.com and http://www.xmradio.com.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Fred on Gather


I have so many cross-promotions going, it's getting hard to keep track of them all. :-)

But for those of you who have asked, here's the link to my Gather page, where you can keep up on my weekly column, Music You Never Forget, as well as other postings. If you're a die hard Fred fan, you can even join Gather and click on that little "Connect" button you'll find in the left column, and then get email updates whenever I post something "new."

"New" is in quotes because at least one reader expressed disappointment that I've been reworking several articles that originally appeared either in fhb or Dreamtime. And, that's true, but considering the size of my audience in both blogs, I figure I can get away with pushing re-runs out to a larger readership. Constant Readers - that would be you, O husband of Joyride - will be happy to know that yesterday's column, Somebody Say a Prayer, is brand-spanking new, although I just cross-posted a version to Dreamtime.

Between Dreamtime and Gather, I'm now writing the equivalent of two weekly columns, as well as regular posts on fhb, and let us say, only getting fully reimbursed in the spiritual sense for my efforts. But, by God, I'm having fun, and who can ask for more?

American Life in Poetry: Column 099

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

My maternal grandparents got their drinking water from a well in the yard, and my disabled uncle carried it sloshing to the house, one bucket of hard red water early every morning. I couldn't resist sharing this lovely little poem by Minnesota poet, Sharon Chmielarz. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.


New Water

All those years--almost a hundred--
the farm had hard water.
Hard orange. Buckets lined in orange.
Sink and tub and toilet, too,
once they got running water.
And now, in less than a lifetime,
just by changing the well's location,
in the same yard, mind you,
the water's soft, clear, delicious to drink.
All those years to shake your head over.
Look how sweet life has become;
you can see it in the couple who live here,
their calmness as they sit at their table,
the beauty as they offer you new water to drink.


Reprinted by permission of Sharon Chmielarz, whose most recent collection of poems is "The Rhubarb King," Loonfeather Press, 2006. Copyright (c) 2006 by Sharon Chmielarz. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In memoriam

better late than never. via WFMU's "Beware of the Blog"

Fox News has the best line: "Local streets were closed off to rush Smith to the hospital, three miles away. Paramedics were seen pumping her chest as she was taken from the hotel."
I keep insisting to Peggy that I'm the father, but she refuses to listen.

Maltese Falcon swiped from SF restaurant


via the Sf Chronicle:

(02-12) 16:46 PST -- It's been nearly 80 years since Sam Spade wandered the streets of San Francisco in search of the Maltese Falcon. Now, the statue is missing again.

John Konstin, the owner of San Francisco's John's Grill on Ellis Street, said someone broke into a locked cabinet on the second floor of his establishment and took a signed reproduction of the Maltese Falcon -- one used for publicity stills for the movie -- along with several vintage and signed books by and about Maltese Falcon author Dashiell Hammett.

Konstin said the theft was noticed Saturday afternoon. He guesses the theft took place sometime late Friday night or in the early morning hours of Saturday.

The black statue was signed by actor Elisha Cook Jr., a San Franciscan who played the role of Wilmer the Gunsel in the movie. He presented it to the restaurant after Konstin and San Francisco private investigator Jack Immendorf failed in their attempt to buy the original bird that was used in the movie.

Police have been summoned to the scene of the broken cabinet on the second floor of the restaurant, and Konstin has offered a $25,000 reward for return of the statue and books.

Monday, February 12, 2007

More on the Tivo/Amazon deal

Mark Evanier has some interesting thoughts on the TiVo/Amazon joint venture I blogged last week.

What do we think of this? We think it's interesting and inevitable. We also think it's going to be the subject of at least one of the nastiest labor negotiations — and probably, strikes — that Hollywood has ever seen. The Writers Guild wants a piece of digital delivery. The Screen Actors Guild wants a piece. And even the Directors Guild — that wouldn't strike if the studios made directors all wear frog costumes and hop around the set — is talking labor stoppage. (If the DGA stays true to history, they won't strike. What they'll do is make some sort of deal which, by its very construction, creates a payment system that works for directors but doesn't work for writers or actors. The studios will agree to it and then try to force it on the other two unions as a precedent.)

And over at Dreamtime - Episode 29 - Please Don't Go Topless, Mother

I'm off-topic with this episode, since Theme Time hasn't played anything sung by Troy or Bennie Hess. But, if Dylan hadn't mentioned Eddie Noack's "Psycho," I would have never discovered the God Less America compilation and would never have found this song. And as with most - if not all- songs, there's a great story behind it.

Also, a special guest appearance by Jailbait's older sister, Jailbird Joyride Jones.

American Life in Poetry: Column 098

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

A horse's head is big, and the closer you get to it, the bigger it gets. Here is the Idaho poet, Robert Wrigley, offering us a horse's head, up close, and covering a horse's character, too.


Kissing a Horse

Of the two spoiled, barn-sour geldings
we owned that year, it was Red--
skittish and prone to explode
even at fourteen years--who'd let me
hold to my face his own: the massive labyrinthine
caverns of the nostrils, the broad plain
up the head to the eyes. He'd let me stroke
his coarse chin whiskers and take
his soft meaty underlip
in my hands, press my man's carnivorous
kiss to his grass-nipping upper half of one, just
so that I could smell
the long way his breath had come from the rain
and the sun, the lungs and the heart,
from a world that meant no harm.


Reprinted from "Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems," published in 2006 by Penguin. Copyright (c) Robert Wrigley, 2006, 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.

Friday, February 09, 2007

TiVo and Amazon.com Announce New Service Enabling Amazon Unbox Video Downloads to TiVo

TiVo Subscribers Will Soon Be Able To Watch Amazon Unbox Movies and TV Shows On Their TVs

ALVISO, Calif. and SEATTLE— February 7, 2007 — TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO), the creator of and a leader in television services for digital video recorders (DVRs), and Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), today announced "Amazon Unbox on TiVo," a soon-to-be-launched service feature that will provide TiVo subscribers with the ability to rent and purchase movies and television shows from leading studios and networks including CBS, Fox Entertainment Group, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Amazon Unbox on TiVo is currently in beta testing among a select group of TiVo subscribers and will be available soon to more than 1.5 million broadband-ready TiVo boxes.

The Amazon Unbox video download service, which launched in September 2006, offers thousands of movies, television shows and other videos for download to PCs and any Windows Media Video-compatible portable device. Now, in addition to PCs and portable devices, movies and television shows will be available to download directly to a customer's TiVo box for playback on their television set. This is the first service that uniquely allows for downloadable broadband video to be integrated with programming recorded from TV so the consumer can easily navigate all viewing options.

"TiVo is taking the best way to watch TV and making it the best way to get popular movies and television shows from major Hollywood studios," said TiVo's CEO, Tom Rogers. "Now, TiVo subscribers can rent and purchase movies and TV shows and download them to their television set — all without leaving their homes."

"By teaming up with TiVo, we are offering our customers another great way to watch their Unbox videos," said Bill Carr, vice president of digital media at Amazon. "Amazon Unbox offers customers the flexibility to watch their favorite videos where and when they want to whether that is on their PC, portable device or TV set through their TiVo box."

To activate the service, subscribers will simply log on to Amazon.com and follow a few simple steps to establish a link between their broadband connected TiVo Series2™ or Series3™ box and their Amazon account. Once the initial set up is complete, eligible movies or television shows from Amazon Unbox can be downloaded directly to the customer's TiVo box. After the movie has been downloaded, the title will automatically appear in the subscriber's TiVo "Now Playing" list with all of their other recorded shows, easily viewed with just a click of the TiVo remote.

Customers can purchase television episodes for $1.99, purchase most movies for between $9.99 and $14.99, or rent movies starting at $1.99. As an added bonus, all purchased videos are automatically stored in each customer's "Your Media Library" at Amazon.com for future access and download.

"The television is and will continue to be the preferred platform for watching video content, and TiVo is leading the charge in offering broadband-delivered content to the living room," said Tara Maitra, TiVo's vice president and general manager, programming. "By adding Amazon Unbox on TiVo, we are expanding the TiVoCast service to include movies, television shows and other premium content, giving TiVo subscribers access to the full range of video programming a consumer may want."

For more information on Amazon Unbox on TiVo visit www.tivo.com/amazon or www.amazon.com/unbox. TiVo is available for as low as $69.99, after mail-in rebate and service commitment at leading consumer electronics stores.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Top 10 Signs an Astronaut is Trying to Kill You

via David Letterman (natch):

Top Ten

10. Says, "This is a giant leap for mankind" as she tosses you off a bridge
9. You turn on CNN and see the Hubble Telescope focusing on your house
8. She promises to "Take you out like Pluto"
7. It sounds crazy, but you could swear Mars is following you
6. You were on the "Maury" episode: "I Had A Booty Call And Now An Astronaut Is Trying To Kill Me"
5. Her previous attempts to kill you have been postponed due to high winds
4. She poisons your Tang
3. Says she looks forward to being the first to walk on your lifeless corpse
2. Been getting threatening emails from Connie@International Space Station.com
1. She keeps stabbing you with a pen that writes upside down

Yes, but does she wears panties?


via Thomas Hawk:

A few hundred people packed Justin Herman Plaza today in downtown San Francisco to watch the latest incarnation of Jefferson Starship perform a public concert. Microsoft sponsored the noon-time event as part of their $500 million mega marketing push for Vista. In addition to a giant Vista logo and a huge blow up Microsoft astronaut, Jefferson Starship were joined on stage by go-go dancing orange Vista astronauts and schwag was shot from cannons on the stage into the crowd.

The aging rockers played mostly a mix of contemporary and classic tunes including "White Rabbit" and "The Time Has Come Today," and sported Zunes while performing (just kidding about that Zune part).

Grace Slick wasn't in the line up, but they did have a younger, hotter, version who at one point flipped the audience the bird when someone said that Steve Jobs was in the crowd (again, just kidding about that last part of course).
There are so0000 many ways to rant about this that it virtually makes me speechless. I don't want a "younger, hotter version of Grace Slick." My headline, btw, for my younger readers, is a reference to the fact that Gracie in her heyday was notorious for flipping her dress/skirt up in performance, revealing that she was ah, sans culottes.

The younger, hotter thing up there, doing her best "Grace Slick flipping the bird" is probably Diana Mangano, who is the lead singer of one of the competing Starship corpses - I mean bands - with Kantner and Balin, who should be ashamed of themselves, and should go start other, new bands if they want to play music, rather than being damnable blood-sucking zombies feeding off the dead.

The Airplane was such a good band. Even the first incarnation of the Starship wasn't bad, but jesus, jesus, look what we've become. It makes you just want to scream out the Who line, "hope I die before I get old."

Why I don't play live poker - Part the 1st (an ongoing series)

Today is 2/7/07


which means it's Hammer Day (courtesy Maudie).

I still don't have any money in FullTilt, and have other obligations tonight, but soon, soon.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Be Disney and be proud of it

My pull-down blogroll to your right links to the sites I read most regularly, although I periodically give a rest to even the favorites.

One of those links is Re-Imagineering, an ongoing anonymous discussion among Disney and Pixar employees about what's wrong, and what isn't working, and occasionally what is working with the modern Disney Theme parks. If you're a fan of those parks, especially of Disneyland in its heyday of the `60s, it's fascinating, if often sad, reading.

One regular stop on my family's periodic trips to Disneyland was The Enchanted Tiki Room, a corny but fun animatronic show where "the birdies sing and the drums go boom" as the song went. While Tiki culture was still popular, and the Tiki Room's animatronics were then state-of-the-art, in the `60s, time passes as it does, and the show eventually became one of Disneyland's (and its equivalent, Disneyworld) least popular attractions - to the point where audiences were regularly walking out before the show finished. It closed for a revamp in the late `90s, and reopened with

[t]he premise that Aladdin’s Iago and Lion King’s Zazu have taken over the show because Jose, Michael, Pierre and Fritz can’t keep butts in the seats. Talk about literal storytelling.
It was a catastrophe, with the show being called, “Abrasive,” “Rude,” “Disrespectful,” “Disgraceful,” and “Obnoxious,” by offended Disney customers. The full story, which is well worth a read, is here.

The sad thing about the story - as most of the stories at Re-Imagineering are, is the writer's conclusion that the people responsible still didn't - and don't - "get" it. It's not about "being careful when updating classic attractions which visitors may have an emotional investment in." It's about thinking about what Disney was, what made Disney successful, and doing what needs to be done o ensure you're sticking to those precepts.

It's about being yourself. About being Disney, in this case. The writer concludes that in some ways Disney is like the classic nerdy kid who we all know and love, even if he is a bit of a dork. Yeah, the kid will grow up and change, but we want - from the "know and love" perspective - for that kid to become an adult version of himself, with the same qualities. We don't want him to shave his head, get a tat, and pierce his tongue.

Good advice for us all. Simple, and Disneyesque. Just be yourself.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mrs. Nowak (heart) Mr. Oefelein

via Peggy and the Noir Dame Blog (no relation):

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- An astronaut drove 900 miles and donned a disguise to confront a woman she believed was her rival for the affections of a space shuttle pilot, police said. She was arrested Monday and charged with attempted kidnapping and other counts.

"If you were just going to talk to someone, I don't know that you would need a wig, a trench coat, an air cartridge BB gun and pepper spray," said Sgt. Barbara Jones, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department. "It's just really a very sad case. ... Now she ends up finding herself on the other side of the law with some very serious charges."


Full AP story here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

WMPS Good Guys Welcome the Rolling Stones

one long strange trip for a striped shirt

Take a look at the far right corner of the iconic Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band cover and you'll find a Shirley Temple doll wearing a shirt reading, "Welcome the Rolling Stones."

The obscured full inscription actually reads, "WMPS Good Guys Welcome the Rolling Stones."
WMPS was a Memphis, Tennessee AM radio station and in 1965 held a contest where one lucky fan would get to meet the Stones. Mary Anne May, a senior at Immaculate Conception High School, "bought a kids striped shirt at the dollar store, because Mick Jagger was wearing striped shirts a lot onstage then." She stitched the inscription on the shirt, sent if off the station.

And won.

During intermission, Mary Ann went backstage. Jagger spotted the shirt, asked. "Is this for me?" and that's the last Mary Ann ever saw of it until it appeared on Sgt. Peppers. The Shirley Temple, doll, incidentally, belonged to the art director's son. The Stones would later return the plug by having the Beatles images hidden on the cover of Their Satanic Majesties Request.

Rumors are flying that Apple's "special announcement" during today's Super Bowl will be the release of the Beatles entire catalog on iTunes, which will please more than one fan, including this one.

Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

Eric Von Schmidt 1931-2007

via AP - Guitarist and painter Eric von Schmidt, a player in the Northeast's blues and folk scene in the 1950s and 1960s who influenced Bob Dylan, has died. He was 75. Guitarist and painter Eric von Schmidt, a player in the Northeast's blues and folk scene in the 1950s and 1960s who influenced Bob Dylan, has died. He was 75.

Von Schmidt began playing guitar when he was 17, and said he was inspired when he heard bluesman Leadbelly on the radio. He said he listened to many folk and blues recordings at the Library of Congress, where his father — Harold von Schmidt, who was noted for his illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post — would drop him off during trips to Washington.

He went to Italy in 1955 to study art on a Fulbright scholarship before landing in Cambridge. His first album, The Folk Blues of Eric von Schmidt, was released in 1963.

One of his better known songs was Joshua Gone Barbados, which has been performed by several other artists. The ASCAP Foundation, which promotes music education, gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. He also painted album covers for Baez and other folk musicians.

You can see some of Von Schmidt's art at his official site.

American Life in Poetry: Column 097

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

Though parents know that their children will grow up and away from them, will love and be loved by others, it's a difficult thing to accept. Massachusetts poet Mary Jo Salter emphasizes the poignancy of the parent/child relationship in this perceptive and compelling poem.


Somebody Else's Baby

From now on they always are, for years now
they always have been, but from now on you know
they are, they always will be,

from now on when they cry and you say
wryly to their mother, better you than me,
you'd better mean it, you'd better

hand over what you can't have, and gracefully.


Reprinted from "New Letters," vol. 72, no. 3-4, 2006, by permission of the poet. Copyright (c) 2006 by Mary Jo Salter, whose most recent book of poetry is "Open Shutters," Knopf, 2003. 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.

American Life in Poetry: Column 096

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

Grief can endure a long, long time. A deep loss is very reluctant to let us set it aside, to push it into a corner of memory. Here the Arkansas poet, Andrea Hollander Budy, gives us a look at one family's adjustment to a death.


For Weeks After the Funeral

The house felt like the opera,
the audience in their seats, hushed, ready,
but the cast not yet arrived.

And if I said anything
to try to appease the anxious air, my words
would hang alone like the single chandelier

waiting to dim the auditorium, but still
too huge, too prominent, too bright, its light
announcing only itself, bringing more

emptiness into the emptiness.


Copyright (c) 2006 by Andrea Hollander Budy. First published in "Five Points" and included in her book, "Woman in the Painting." Reprinted by permission of the author and Autumn House 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.