Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Uggla

The cover story in this week's NY Times is, FOR DEREK JETER, ON HIS 37th BIRTHDAY, an excellent article by a good writer, Michael Sokolove. (
Although he writes it in a nice way, basically he writes that Jeter is through and the people who run the Damn Yankees were idiots to pay him so much money for the next three years for so little production. Consider these two paragraphs: "Derek Jeter signed a three-year contract in December that will pay him $17 million a year through the season he turns 39. The talks beforehand were contentious, and Jeter made no secret of the fact that he was angry about how they went and was particularly upset that the Yankees invited him to test the free-agent market to see if some other team would meet his demands. “It was an uncomfortable position that I felt I was in,” he told reporters after the deal was signed. “It was not an enjoyable experience.”

Not enjoyable? Jeter’s rare burst of public candor seemed to betray a sense of entitlement and a worldview formed within a bubble shared by other highly paid athletes and celebrities. Lots of regular people, after all, would happily endure being mildly affronted before getting a guaranteed $51 million."

Speaking of a "sense of entitlement" there is this about another highly paid old Yankee: "In mid-May, Jeter’s close friend Jorge Posada, 39 years old and hitting a paltry .165 at the time, took umbrage at being slotted ninth in the batting order and refused to play one evening, even though he was not injured and the nationally televised game was against the Boston Red Sox. But he felt insulted to be hitting so low in the order. Any fan would know that a guy with that average is lucky to be in the lineup at all. But Jeter came to Posada’s defense when reporters approached him for comment. “I ain’t lying to you,” the Yankee captain said. “If I thought he did something wrong, I would tell him.”

It was a strange statement, and one that Yankees management did not appreciate. Jeter had to participate in a conference call the next morning with the team brass that included one of the owners, the general partner Hal Steinbrenner."

Sokolove compares the Jeter of today to the player in his prime a decade ago and he also compares Jeter to other middle-infielders from the past at the same age. It is not pretty. But then, was Jeter ever all that good? IWhat I mean is that, since he played in what is now considered to be the 'steroids era' he, like everyone else who played during the time of the ragin' roids is suspect. Because he plays in New York, and is known as 'The Captain', Jeter has always been over-rated. Consider this by Sokolove concerning Jeter's fielding skills: "New baseball statistics have proliferated in recent years, yielding a more nuanced view of performance than traditional numbers like batting average, runs batted in and earned-run average do. (The difference between the old and the new statistics is akin to that between an X-ray and an M.R.I. — the new ones give more information, although sometimes more than you want or need.) New fielding statistics that have come into vogue indicate that Jeter has never been as good defensively as many fans presume — that he has fielded a high percentage of his chances cleanly but hasn’t reached as many balls as the best players at his position. With age, his “range factor” has declined further from a not-so-impressive starting point; as of mid-June, he was dead last this season in both that category and another, “zone range,” among starting major-league shortstops."
What do the Yankee brain trust think about their 'O Captain, My Captain'? Sokolove writes about the Yankee General Manager: "When we talked late last month, I asked Cashman if it was based more on what Jeter had accomplished or on what the team expected he would produce in the future. “People can look at it and come to their own conclusions,” he said. “The contract got done, with Derek remaining a Yankee, and hopefully we’ll win more world championships with him at shortstop.”

Cashman repeated a comment he had recently made on the radio — that he still considered Jeter in the top half of major-league shortstops. “He’s not the same player he used to be,” Cashman said. “But I think he’s above average at that position, despite his age.”

Yeah, right. The GM is delusional. And I love it, because I HATE THE DAMN YANKEES!!!
To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, "Age makes cowards of us all." The sabermetricians, baseball 'stat-heads', ( who study these things have proven conclusively that the demarcation line for a baseball player, when it comes to time spent on the disabled list, is between 29 and 30. Years ago it was thought that the prime years were between 28 & 30, but now it is known that prime is between 26 & 28. The ages of 25 & 29 would be right behind, as a general rule. Once a player turns 30 he is on the down hill side of 'prime'. That does not mean that an individula player may not have his best year at, say, 22, or even 32. But when ALL players who have ever played the game are considered, prime is late 20's.
I am, and have been since they moved to my home town in 1966, a fan of the Atlanta Braves. I am incredulous at what I am seeing this year. Consider the new second baseman, Dan Uggla. He was born in the city in which I now reside, Louisville, Kentucky, on March 11, 1980, which makes him 31. The Braves played their 81st game last night, which is half-way through the season. Dan's traditional stats are, to say the least, ugly. While watching the College World Series Monday night, this cam over the scrawl at the bottom of the screen: Uggla .177 AVG .244 OBP Last in MLB.
At the half-way point his traditional stats are: .177/.247/.341, which is pitiful. He has always been a below average fielder and has keep the pace this year, unfortunately. One of the 'new' stats is WAR, which stands for 'Wins Above Replacement'. Read all about it at: if you are so inclined. Basically it shows how many wins the player is worth to his team above what a replacement player would be worth. For example, if you have a team full of exactly average players they should go 81-81. If you add a star player worth say, 8 games, then the team should go, theoretically, 89-73. Dan Uggla's WAR this year is -1.0, meaning he will, if he continues to perform at the same rate, cost the Braves 2 games this year. There are 584 players listed by War and Uggla is number 581. ( If the Braves were to bring in a replacement player now, they would be much better off. Why would the Braves continue to player this over-the-hill loser? Because the new manager, Freddie Gonzalez managed him at Florida and wanted to bring him to Atlanta. The General Manager, Frank Wren, signed Uggla to one of those multi-year deals worth multi-millions of dollars. To sit him down, or, better yet, cut him loose, would mean they made a terrible mistake. The LA Dodgers have just filed for bankruptcy and still owe Manny Ramirez multi-millions of dollars. Even worse, they still owe former Brave, Andruw Jones millions and he's playing for the Damn Yankees!
One of the hardest things for any chess player to learn is when to admit a mistake. Far too many times a player will make a poor move and then try to come up with a plan trying to make it work, to his detriment, in lieu of admitting the move was bad and trying to correct it. Would somebody please tell it to Frank & Freddie before it's too late?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Kind of Game Is China Playing?

I check the stats of my BaconLOG periodically and was surprised to see an inordinate number of people reading the post, Kissinger on Go and Chinese Strategic Thinking, from January 27, 2011. There also seemed to be much interest from China. Then there appeared an article in the Globe and Mail on June 10, 2011, Weiqi: The game that holds China's key to world domination, by Michael Posner. (
Mr Posner writes in the article, "It is no coincidence that China has taken its place on the global stage without a single bullet being fired (except on its own people). Its big-picture approach, as outlined by Henry Kissinger in his new book, On China, has a great deal in common with weiqi, the world's oldest and most sophisticated board game. Even the most complex board game could never replicate the intricacies of geopolitics, but understanding one can provide key insights into the other."
Then I understood the interest was because of the book. When I think of Henry Kissinger, I think of the book by Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, in which Mr Hitchens brought charges against Henry Kissinger as a war criminal. There is even a documentary film, made in 2002, of the same name. I lived through the Nixon/Henry the K era and cannot understand why anyone listens to the man. To put it in terms of the youngsters today, Kissinger is SO yesterday!
The next day, June 11, 2001, Keith Johnson wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal, What Kind of Game Is China Playing?
Both articles say China is playing Go, as it's called in the west.
Just today, former Phillippine President Fidel V. Ramos has come out with an interesting article, Deadly Chess Game: Positional Warfare (, in which he writes, "To many Filipinos and senior citizens around the world who are chess aficionados like me, China’s creeping intrusion into the South China Sea is like playing deadly positional warfare in chess that is eventually won by pushing opponents into a condition of “zugzwang” (inability to defend to the point of surrender because of loss of space and movement)."
What kind of game is China playing,Chess or Go? Inquiring minds want to know.

Old Dominion Senior

There was a three-way tie for first in the 2011 Virginia Senior. From the website of the Chess Federation of the Great State of Virginia (
The new Senior Champion for the Commonwealth of Virginia is William Marcelino. With three players tied at 3 ½ tie, the title was won on tiebreaks over Tim Hamilton. Wayne Christensen from South Carolina also finished with 3 ½ points.
A few less people participated, 38, than last year 44, but it was within prediction and everyone seemed to have a good time. The Lincolnia Senior Center site provides a well-lit and quiet environment for some quality chess.

Check it out and you will find sixteen games to replay. While there be sure to click on 'VCF Newsletters' where you will find them going back to 1998!
This was a four round OPEN tournament with a decent time limit of 30/90 followed by G/60. As I have written, I would prefer the first time control to be at move 40, even if that means a time control of 40/90. The Legendary Georgia Ironman agrees with me on this. It just seems that, from experience, most games are decided by move 40. Two games of serious chess is enough, maybe more than enough, for Seniors. This looks like a good tournament. I am sorry to say that I was unaware of it; not that I would've played because I've had problems with my car recently. Although it's running again, I do not think I would have made the trip due to the increase in the cost of petrol.
I see there are 36 players participating in Bill Goichberg's weird 2011 World Open Senior Amateur. I am surprised that many came to play. I say that because it is open to those rated under 2010! That's right, if you are rated 2010, or higher, tuff... As I have written, I am completely opposed to excluding any Senior from any tournament.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chess Has Been Dismissed

Vishal Mehta Has posted an essay on Technorati titled: Chess Is Dying? (

I went to the USCF website and found two players named Vishal Mehta, one of whom is Vishal R. Mehta. One is from MI, and the other from CA. I have no idea if one of them is the writer. He writes,
"Chess is fast approaching a dead end one can say.
But top grandmasters with the help of chess engines..." And there it is, man and machine. What he does not mention is the fact that, with the advent of programs that are stronger than the best human players, chess fans, and everyone else in the world, will always wonder how much is man and how much is machine in the same way fans of major league baseball wonder how much was the man and how much was raging 'roids. Now that top GM's have been caught cheating using the advanced programs, there will always be suspicion.
It is always interesting to read what 'outsiders' think of the Royal game. For example, Ray Kurzweil, an American author, entrepreneur, scientist and futurist, was a guest on the show REAL TIME on HBO last week. Kurzweil mentioned to the host that he had predicted a computer would beat the world chess champion in 1998. The host, Bill Maher asked when the computer actually beat the world chess champion. Kurzweil answered by saying the computer won the world chess championship in 1998. Then he added, "Chess has been dismissed."
First of all, the program did not win the chess championship of the world. Unfortunately, since it did beat the human holding the title of world chess champion, the general public now consider it a fact that the machine became the chess champion of the world. Once something like this gets into the public consciousness, it can never be eradicated. You can thank Gary Kasparov for that fact. Why the man played the machine, especially in such a short match, is beyond my grasp. I hope he was paid well to lose the title...
I do not know how many times I have been replaying a chess game in a coffee shop when someone who knows very little about the game will come up and say something like, "I did not realize people still played chess now that the computer beat that man. What was his name? You know, the world champion."
It has reached the point where people are writing things like, "In 1997, a computer called Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Headlines triumphed about the victory of machine over man, as we humans were “conquered”, “vanquished” and, as a result of our defeat, “stunned.” The real question isn’t why we finally were defeated by a chess playing computer, but why it took so long." That was written by Gord Hotchkiss, from: Understanding The Human Part Of The User Experience. ( are no longer expected to compete with machines.
It is difficult for those involved with the game to acknowledge that chess has been dismissed. Even today you can go to the USCF website and read an article by an International Master, Greg Shahade, where he talks about trying to get chess on ESPN. Chess people are obviously in denial. ( It will never happen! The reason it will never happen is that in the public consciousness the game of chess has been dismissed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chessplayers Are Not Always Honest!

So writes IM Greg Shahade, founder of the US Chess League and the US Chess School, writing on the USCF website, Chess Life Online. (
I could not help but think of a former chessplayer named Big Al Hamilton who said, "Everything's rigged." I read a fine book last year, The Fix Is In: The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR by Brian Tuohy, which made me say to myself, "Say it ain't so, Joe."
He writes, "There is widespread and well known cheating that occurs in chess tournaments on a regular basis. I have personally witnessed and heard about dozens of such cases, and they continue to occur regularly, including some of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, such as FIDE World Championship Qualifiers. Trust me when I say that prearrangement of results is extremely commonplace, even at the highest levels of chess."
Greg has blown the lid on a dirty secret that everyone knows, but refuse to acknowledge, at least openly. He writes, "I believe a pure round-robin (every player faces each other player once) is a dreadful format for a serious chess tournament for two major reasons": 1.Chessplayers are not always honest!
Unfortunately, there is no second reason given. It will, presumably, be given in his next article.
The main reason a round-robin is "a dreadful format" is that it is inherently unfair because some of the players will have one more game with the white pieces. For example, not to detract from Hikaru Nakamura's win in Wijk aan Zee this year, but he was fortunate to have one more game with white than some of the other contenders. The only way for a round-robin to be fair would be for each of the opponents to play each other twice, once with white and once with black, making it a double round-robin.
Greg writes, "The predominant format of chess and chess tournaments have stayed approximately the same for the last thirty years, meanwhile everyone except the very top chess players in the nation, is unable to make a living from solely playing chess. You would think that rational people in this situation would say "Things haven't been working out for a while, maybe we should try something different".
I have been saying and writing the very same thing for years and have been pilloried for my efforts. Then again, I am not a titled player...
I have suggested a simple method to alleviate the unfairness, and, hopefully, diminish the cheating. That is to have different points awarded for a win with black as opposed to a win with white. The same for a draw with black versus a draw with white. If more points are awarded for a draw with black than the points given for the draw with white, then there will not be as many 'buddy-buddy' draws. Think of it, six players tied for first place going into the last round. Would you, with the white pieces, offer a draw to your opponent? I certainly would not!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chess Lifeless

Being confined to the house recently gave me time to catch up on some chess magazine reading. The Brits at CHESS MONTHLY advertised a special of three of their recent magazines for only ten dollars and I took them up on it. All I can say is, "What a deal!" I have been purchasing them at a local bookstore for full price and even at that rate the magazine is "cheap at twice the price." By the time Borders gets them they are a few months out of date, but still worth the price. Wish I could say the same for the USCF magazine, CHESS LIFE. I usually thumb through it, and only go back and read an article if I read a comment about it in a future issue. I read an article about Ray Robson because I read a letter concerning the article on him. I see that NM Rusty Potter, in a letter in the current issue (June), heaps praise on the coverage of the passing of GM Larry Evans in the March issue. I know it's around somewhere, but I've yet to lay my hands on it. Hopefully, it will turn up... The thing is that by the time I read the best chess magazine on the planet, New in Chess, and Chess Monthly, I do not spend time reading Chess Life. Why should I spend time with a third-rate magazine when I can spend my time with much superior magazines?
I gave the June issue of Chess Life some scrutiny and what I found can only be described as pitiful. WHERE'S THE CHESS? There are seventy two pages and only eleven full chess games! Granted, there are many snippets, but I loath and detest those truncated games! I want to know how we got to the position on the board. I realize some editors prefer snippets in order to save space for other things. In this issue that would be young people acting goofy. There are far too many full, or almost full, pages of zany pictures. If you count the two pages on the new chess movie, which is mostly pictures, and the two pages of the winners of the North American Open, which could be much smaller in order to provide room for actual chess games, there are more pages of pictures than full chess games! Chess Life has turned into the 'picture chess magazine'...
Then there are the two pages of statements by the four people running for the THREE positions on the board. It seems like there are four pages in issue after issue. How many people voted last time? And how many fewer will vote this time now that a potential voter had to go to the trouble to register? What a waste of space. It is a good thing more people do not run for office. Imagine if twenty people were running...
I am old enough to remember when Chess Life was a great magazine. I also recall when it was a good chess magazine. I have lived long enough to have seen it devolve into a shadow of what it used to be. The sad truth is that it has become an embarrassment.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Instant Karma

Man collapses, dies, while raping woman...

John Lennon - Instant Karma

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead,
What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin' to do,
It's up to you, yeah you.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face,
Better get yourself together darlin',
Join the human race,
How in the world you gonna see,
Laughin' at fools like me,
Who on earth d'you think you are,
A super star,
Well, right you are.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Well we all shine on,
Ev'ryone come on.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you off your feet,
Better recognize your brothers,
Ev'ryone you meet,
Why in the world are we here,
Surely not to live in pain and fear,
Why on earth are you there,
When you're ev'rywhere,
Come and get your share.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
Come on and on and on on on,
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah-.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
On and on and on on and on.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Yeah we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The World Champion of Tournament Chess

Anatoly Karpov turned 60 during the time my 'puter, and I, was down. I reached the age of 60 last summer, so Karpov is the World Champion nearest my age group. I met Karpov, along with former World Champion Tigran Petrosian, and GM Paul Keres, in San Antonio in 1972. They were playing in the Church's Fried Chicken, Inc. First International Tournament. I had traveled there with Branko Vujakovic, a chess master exchange student from Yugoslavia. We played in the weekend tournament sponsored by Church's. Bobby Fischer flew in for the last round, which was held-up waiting for him to arrive. He had just won the World Championship. I had only been playing chess for a couple of years and there I was in company of one former World Champion, the new World Champion, and, as it turned out, the next one as well!
There was a restaurant named the Golden Egg across the street from the Hemisphere, where the players stayed and played. It was basically a glorified Waffle House. The Soviet players ate every meal there, unlike the western players, who dined at much more expensive restaurants, because they could use the per diem to purchase things to take back with them.
Branko was a very strong player, the first really strong player to play in Georgia. He cleaned up while there. I recall Branko playing speed chess with NM John Dunning, who was living in San Antonio. I remember one game Branko had two bishops for two rooks and won. An argument ensued as to whether Branko had sacked the exchange twice, or lost, the rooks! John was a strong player too. He drew with black vs Walter Browne, Mr 6-Time, in a tournament in Houston called the Space City Open after the conclusion of the Church's tournament.
Some time later a book was published by RHM press by IM David Levy, Karpov's Collected Games. I found that Branko had played Karpov in a junior match between Russia and Yougoslavia. Karpov had won the first three games and given Branko a draw in the final game although he had a winning position. How was that possible, I thought. It was difficult for me to understand how another player could beat Branko as easily as he beat me.
The field at Linares 1994 was one of the strongest ever, and Kasparov prior to the event commented that the winner could call himself "world champion of tournament chess". It must have rankled Gary when Karpov smashed the world elite with an amazing score of 11/13 (+9 =4 -0) and a record performance rating of 2985, after having won his first 6 games and leaving Kasparov and Shirov 2.5 points behind. This was arguably the greatest achievement in the history of tournament chess.
When I first began to play chess my neighbor, Larry Jones, would push his pawns in the shape of a picket fence. He could not understand why I would win every game by taking advantage of the holes in his position. For that reason I never cared for the Sonewall variation of the Dutch. But when I purchased a book written by Tim Harding, The Leningrad Dutch, and played over this game, I fell in love with the variation. I have a copy of the book now, although not the same copy. It is written in English descriptive, so I played over the game again to transcribe it and was just as astounded as I was in the mid seventies when the book was published.
Karpov-Jacobsen, USSR vs Scandinavia junior match, 1968
1 d4 f5 2 g3 g6 3 Bg2 Bg7 4 Nf3 Nf6 5 0-0 0-0 6 c4 d6 7 Nc3 Nc6 8 d5 Ne5 9 Ne5 de5 10 ef f4 11 b3 g5 12 f3 Qd6 13 g4 h5 14 h3 hg4 15 fg4 Bg7 16 a4 Qb6+ 17 Kh2 Kf7 18 Bf3 Rh8 19 Kg2 Rh4 20 a5 Qc5 21 Ba3 Qe3 22 Qe1 Bg4 23 hg4 Ng4 24 Rh1 Rh1 25 Qe3 Ne3+ 26 Kh1 g4 27 Be2 f3 28 Bc5 Bh6 29 Re1 b6 30 Bf3 bc5 31 Bd1 Kg6 32 Nb5 Bf4 33 Re3 Be3 34 Nc7 Rh8+ 35 Kg2 Rh4 36 a6 Bf4 37 Kg1 g3 38 Bf3 Rh2 39 Bg2 Kf7 40 Kf1 Rh6 41 Ke2 Rb6 0-1

Where Everybody is a Winner

In the under 1400 tournament played in conjunction with the recently concluded National Open each and every player in the section, all 14 of them, won money. I've never seen that before at any 'national' tournament. Four players tied for first place. Three of them won $1,200, while the other won only $800. Now, that's a story waiting to be told!
Check it out at:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Oldest Chess Club in the United States

I would like to bring to your attention a wonderful article that appeared today on the webpage of 7X7SF about the Mechanic's Institute chess club in San Francisco. There is a picture of the club which brought back memories of the times I have been fortunate enough to play or visit. There is also a nice picture of one of the true gentlemen of chess, IM John Donaldson. Check it out at:

Friday, June 10, 2011

International Senior Stockholm

The International Senior Tournament In Stockholm/Täby June 1 to 6 2011th took place while I was having problems. GM Juan Bellon won the event with 6 points from seven games, 1/2 point ahead of GM Victor Kupreichik, WIM Tatyana Fomina; and untitled Russian Boris Goberman. Just like the Senior PGA golf tour, sometimes late blooming players come on strong during their Senior years, while even the very best players while young find the going tough in their decling years.
The first round began at 16:30 on June 1. The next day round two was at 11:00, with the third round again at 16:30. This was the only day with two games scheduled for the same day. The round time for the last four days was 11:00. I can only hope the organizers of Senior events in the US will pay attention.
There were a total of 62 players for the event. If that many players show for the upcoming US Senior, the USCF pooh-bahs will no doubt be jumping for joy, while heartily partying down!
Check it out at:

Together Through Life

I sat down to write another post in my blog, but read the comment left to my post on Bobology. My first thought was to answer, "Because the answer is blowing in the wind," but thought better of it... While listening to my favorite radion program on the 'puter, Music From the Hearts of Space, which is free on Sunday (, I sat back and began to reflect on the question. After some cogitation, I decided to answer it as best I can, so here goes...
I thought of my mother and had to ask myself, "Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?" Dylan because from an early age I questioned anything and everything. I can recall being in the car with my father and his mother, asking, "Why?" It seemed to upset my father, who responded, "Don't argue with me!" His mother said, "He just wants to know, son. How else is he going to learn?" My father was one of those 'accepting' kinda guys. You know the type; a Southern Baptist who accepted things 'on faith'. According to him, when your country calls, you do not question, you go! The thing was, the older boy who lived across the street went, and never came back...The older boy who became the battalion commander over not just my school's ROTC, but two others as well, dreamed of joining the Army to become another General Patton, so he joined the Army. He was not drafted, he volunteered. He came back on leave, telling us to do whatever we had to do to stay out of the service because, "It's the most fucked-up situation I've ever seen!" He went back and was shot between the eyes walking point on some meaningless mission. His name is on the Viet Nam wall.
To understand 'Why Bob?' one would have to know something about the times back then. The so-called 'war' in Viet Nam, which was really just a 'police action' since Congress never declared war, was heating up and Dylan, along with others, were asking what the hell we were doing there. Bob's lyrics told me it was ok to question. These were formative years for my generation and Bob was somewhat older. There was an interesting essay in the NY Times op-ed section recently, May 23, 2011 titled, Forever Young? In Some Ways, Yes, by David Hajdu. I suggest you read this piece for a better understanding:

Bob because here was this guy singing songs like 'Masters of War' and 'With God On Our Side'.
I came of age in the deep south. I can still recall seeing a black woman walking down our street and everyone, and I mean neighbors as well, coming to their windows to watch. Everyone hated 'niggers', but no one could explain why; it was just accepted. I listened to songs like 'Only a Pawn in Their Game' and 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll' and began to think for myself. Why should I hate a person because of the color of their skin? It made no sense to Dylan and it made no sense to me. Bob Dylan's words affected me and many others of my generation as well because he led the questioning.

Bob because I can still hear the eruption of the crowd at the Omni when he sang the line from the song, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" about the POTUS. Keep in mind this was during what is now called, 'The Watergate era'. Bob delivered these words with what seemed venom that night: "But even the president of the United States
sometimes must have to stand naked."

I recall being with my friend, the Legendary Georgia Ironman, at a bar named Spondivits after a sports memorabilia show when a song from the first Travelling Wilburys album, one of the all time great recordings, "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" came on the music system. We began to sing along with everybody else in the joint. When it ended, Tim looked over at me, saying, "Bacon, I've never been in a bar before where EVERYBODY started singing a song!" Neither had I...
Another time I was riding along with the Ironman when a DJ had some nasty things to say about Bob because he played a song that was different from the version he had come to expect. This idiot seemed to think Bob should sing the same song the very same way every time he sang it. I was infuriated and began a diatribe against the ignorant DJ about how monotonous it must be for an artist to have to sing the same song the exact same way throughout his entire life and how this chowder-head typified how difficult it had become for true artists to satisfy fans who only wanted to hear what they had heard previously. It culminated with my saying the jerk should play nothing but "Sail Away' by Dobie Gray! When I stopped, Tim said, "Don't hold back, Bacon. Tell me how you really feel!" I've always appreciated the fact that Tim would put up with my impassioned rants.

Then there's this wonderful woman with whom I spent hours listening to 'Blood On The Tracks', a great album by any measure. And the time I must've had one too many because I got up on open mike night, feeling mauldin, and recited the words to 'I Threw It All Away', and received a standing ovation...

The Rainbow Warrior, aka, The Dude, took a look at my cassette collection during a weekend swiss and said, "That's a real impressive Dylan collection you have." I had to point out the fact that I did have a couple of tapes by the greatest rock & roll band of all time, The Band. I learned what a big fan he was of The Band and later gave him the book, This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band by Levon Helm and Stephen Davis

I like Bob because I've heard that "Beauty is in the imperfections." Unlike other artists who overdub over and over, laying down track after endless track, searching for 'perfection', Bob is known for going into a studio and laying down one track, and one track only. It may be a little rough, but it contains beauty. Dylan may not have the best voice, but there is a beauty to it, if one listens to what he sings, and the way he sings it.
Because Bob Dylan's music has been with me together through life.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I have been down with a health problem. Then the 'puter went and when I tried to go to the library to get on the 'puter there, the car conked! I have spent my time reading and watching. At first I kinda missed the internet, but then actually enjoyed NOT spending time on the 'puter. Yesterday I watched two movies that I had not seen by one my favorite actors. 'The Two Mrs. Carrolls' with Humphrey Bogart and my mother's favorite actress, Barbara Stanwyck. Then came 'Conflict' with Alexis Smith, who was also in the former movie. They were on TCM and I noticed that Alexis was in another movie later with another of my favorite actors, Paul Newman. Ok, if I had to chose, I would hafta go with Humphrey because he played chess! I read a biography of him once and was disappointed in how little mention his chess playing was given. I read 'Duchamp: A Biography' by Calvin Tomkins in order to better understand why Duchamp turned his attention to the Royal game, finding chess given little mention. I recently purchased 'Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess' by Francis M. Naumann, Bradley Bailey and Jennifer Shahade from my friends at the St Louis Chess Club and have begun to read it this week.
Last night I had a choice of watching the Red Sox play the Damn Yankees, or the NHL finals. The baseball game is between American League teams and therefore use the Dreaded Hitter, so I decided against watching. As I contemplated watching the hockey game, I recalled what the sage Rodney Dangerfield said about the time he went to a fight and a hockey game broke out, so I flipped back to TCM and watched a wonderful documentary on Dave Brubeck, followed by the movie Thelonious Monk: 'Straight, No Chaser'. With films like this, who needs the internet?