Monday, February 20, 2017

Bob Dylan and Philosophy: It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Thinking)

I've long been a fan of books with collections of essays around a theme. The public library has shelves full of books in the literary criticism section dealing with the works of famous and lesser known authors. I discovered Nobel laureate Andre Gide through one of these books. I later purchased a fairly fat Norton Anthology that was a collection of essays on Joseph Conrad's story Heart of Darkness. The books can be compared to a curated art show featuring works by different artists, except that in this case the "art" comes in a literary form.

In 2015 I purchased a book of this ilk called Bob Dylan and Philosophy. Published in 2006 by Open Court Press, it has been my current bedtime reading for the past couple weeks or so. I only recently noticed that it is numero 17 in a series called Popular Culture and Philosophy. Other topics in the series include Seinfeld, the Simpsons, The Matrix, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lord of the Rings, Baseball, Woody Allen, the Atkins Diet, Superheroes and the Chronicles of Narnia, among others. The subtitles are clever. The Seinfeld subtitle is A Book About Everything and Nothing. The Superheroes essay is subtitled Truth, Justice and the Socratic Way. In other words, there's a playfulness in their seriousness.

The sixteen essays in this book are served up as if tracks on an album. The first eight are listed as Side 1 in the table of contents. The second set is, naturally, Side 2.

I've not finished yet, but every passage I've read has been solid. The writers, who are listed as The Mongrel Dogs (a reference to a line, or concept, in "My Back Pages") have bios in the back of the book that include playful references to yet other Dylan songs. Francis Beckwith's begins, "ever since he was street legal (he) knew he had to strengthen the things that remain.

Playful as their asides might be, the essays contain seriously rich insights into the philosophical subtext of Dylan's life, drawing from not only his lyrics but also his interviews, his performances and his writings.

The first essay compares Planet Waves to Plato's Symposium. Doug Anderson proposes that the album is essentially a collection of songs with various answers to the question "What is love?"

The second essay examines the existentialism that runs through Dylan's work in an essay titled I Used to Care, but Things Have Changed: Passion and the Absurd in Dylan's Later Work. The author here takes his cues from Kierkegaard and Camus, and deftly extracts the repeated themes of existential philosophers through the past two centuries, echoed in the lyrics of a half century of Dylan. This chapter ends with a summing up that begins, "Dylan looks directly at a world lacking any clear purpose and makes an appeal that is filled with absurd faith in what is still possible. This is what may remain after a person has sounded out the depths of existential despair and come to terms with a finite and sometimes tragic life on the other side. In a universe from which all the stars have been torn down, a human being feels like a stranger. But it is not impossible to keep on living under such conditions, and Dylan shows us how it might be done."

The third essay in this book focuses on the question "Who Killed Medgar Evers?" As everyone familiar with the song knows, Dylan somewhat absolves the actual killer by saying he was only a pawn in a bigger game. This is not to say Dylan is asking the murderer to go free, but he uses the incident to point to a much more pervasive issue, institutional racism. After introducing the story, writer Avery Kolers points to other "morally charged songs" by Dylan. One of these is the story of a boxer, "Who Killed Davey Moore?" which Kolers calls a companion piece to Only A Pawn.

"Who Killed Davey Moore?" is a song about a boxer who died as a result of blows from his opponent. In the song, the narrator interrogates the suspects, and each declares innocence--the referee, the angry crowd, the gambling man, the sportswriter, and ultimately the man "whose fists laid him low."

It's interesting that in The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, which appears on the same Side B as Only A Pawn (The Times They Are A-Changing), the one who struck her with his cane is mentioned by name, along with other details of the crime. In this song, Dylan avoids mentioning Byron de la Beckwith so as to spread the blame across to the various politicos and law enforcement agencies that helped foster the culture that produced this act of senseless violence.

It's a powerful essay about a powerful song, one still relevant in our current cultural landscape.

Other themes explored include bootlegging (The Great White Wonder), the meaning of freedom, post-modernism, Christianity and Dylan's gospel influences, the Second Sex, creativity, truth, predestination and free will.

I like the cover copy on the back, which calls Dylan "the Troubador who has given English more phrases than any poet since Shakespeare." Interestingly, when Dylan was selected to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature this past fall, the Shakespeare comparisons were a-plenty.

Much more can be said but we'll close shop here. The book is a penny used or 17 bucks new here at Amazon.

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NOTEWORTHY
Plans for the 2017 Duluth Dylan Fest are taking shape. Currently you'll want to bookmark the DDF page on BobDylanWay.com. As events firm up information here will be updated here. Wherever you are, you're invited to celebrate with us here in the Northland, May 21-28.

Meantime life goes on all around you. Get into it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Local Art Seen: Pop Evolution Exhibit at the Tweed Is Worth Writing Home About

"Turning a Blind Eye" by Jerry Ott
"I am a deeply superficial person." --Andy Warhol

Sixties Pop had come of age when I was becoming an art student at Ohio University and, to be honest, I didn't like it. At the time I was immersed in the painterliness of the abstract expressionists and modern impressionists. Dada and surrealism captured my imagination, and Warhol's screen printed gaudiness did not. And I especially hated Lichtenstein's blown-up cartoon panels.

Despite my own feelings about the movement, which originated in New York with the likes of Andy Warhol (who I did feel was doing interesting things) and Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and James Rosenquist, the movement was highly influential, opening up new terrain for young artists and altering the landscape significantly by once again forcing the question, "What is art?"

All this to say that there is an exciting new exhibit in the Special Exhibitions Gallery at the Tweed Museum of Art through the end of March. The show is titled Pop Evolution, with works curated from the Tweed's permanent collection.

"Truck" by Warhol
What's impressive about the Tweed show is that it shows how widespread the Pop Art influence became. The superstars of this movement may have been the ones with top billing in New York, but the streaming colorwheel of their influence flowed everywhere. The ubiquitous Andy Warhol may have been the ringleader, but he hardly acted alone. Artists like Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg and Larry Rivers may have helped pave the way by knocking down some of the fences, but art wanted to be free... free from constraints, and to a large extent free from the galleries. (Warhol's art today is hardly free, though. Van Gogh, Picasso and Warhol works are among the most expensive a billionaire collector can own.)

When one reads about Pop Art today, the art history books make reference to the subject matter being one of its hallmarks. That is, instead of being about important subjects, the lens of the artists' eye was focused on the mundane, the ordinary, and in the case of soup cans or Brillo boxes, commodities. This later led eventually to installation-type shows that the general public would have yet greater difficulty appreciating or understanding. At least Warhol's Marilyn was interesting, even if gaudy. But what does one make of a dozen railroad ties lying in the middle of a gallery space?

"Love Cross" by Robert Indiana
Two pieces by Mildred Howard on collaged found papers.
"Sitting Bull" by S. Patricia McMahon
The dada movement that preceded Pop was anti-art and anti-capitalist. Andy Warhol emerged from an ad agency background that had Capitalism written all over it. In some ways Madison Avenue and Warhol's Factory were two peas in a pod.

Pop Art was in many respects a mirror of what was happening in the broader culture as values of all kinds were being brought into question. Here are some links about Pop Art that you may find informative:
What Is Pop Art?
Pop Art -- The Art of Popular Culture
The Emergence and Evolution of the Pop Art Movement

Pop Evolution is just one reason to get up to the Tweed. There's plenty more to see in the museum's various galleries. If you have not been there in a while (on the UMD campus) then you owe it to yourself to find a way.

EdNote: Bill Shipley, who spent most of his career in the Big Apple art scene, will be giving a gallery talk about this exhibition on March 11, from 2-3 p.m.

Jerry Ott, "Turning a Blind Eye"
Art is exciting, and there's a lot of it happening here in the Twin Ports. This Thursday will be the closing reception to the Duluth Art Institute Member Show and opening for Carla Hamilton's Gezielt (Targeted) and Elizabeth Kuth's "Rooted Expression." Also on display will be the Emerging Photographers exhibit in the corridor gallery.

And this coming Saturday the DAI Art Film Series begins, eight art films with discussions afterwards. The first film is "Frida" with UMD's Jamie Ratliff leading the post-show discussion. The films begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Zinema. (Admission is $5)

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Emerging Artist Christie Carter Eliason Shares Her Journey

She's been an artist all her life, at heart. But like many of us, life gets in the way of living that artist dream. Through March and April, her work will be on display at the Red Mug Coffeehouse in Superior, her first public show. The opening reception will be Saturday, March 11, from 2 - 4 p.m. and I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Birds can be endlessly fascinating, hence the abundance of bird feeders and bird watching in our country. I've painted birds myself on occasion, but thought first of Ann Klefstad's paintings of birds from the crow/raven family. When I saw the invite to Christie Eliason's upcoming "Inside A Raven Conspiracy" exhibition, I was immediately drawn.

EN: When did you notice you had skills as an artist? Did you draw better than other kids in school? How did that come about?

Christie Carter Eliason: I remember as a young child sitting in my mother's studio and drawing or painting. My mother was an artist and she nurtured my interest in art. She saw to it that I never went without a sketchbook and pencils. She was always enrolling me in classes. The first class I can remember was at the Memphis Academy of Art in Memphis, TN, where my artwork was chosen to represent the youth exhibit. I was very young, maybe 6 years old. In addition, my mother took me to many art galleries to see art of all sorts. Because of her encouragement, I have always been able to see myself as an artist. What a gift to know that about myself so early on in life.

I decided to pursue a career in teaching and set my sights on becoming an art teacher. However, life happened and I temporarily set school aside for marriage and children. When I returned to college, I was going through a divorce as a single mom and faced with making myself as marketable in the work force as possible. I pursued elementary education instead of art. I have never regretted this choice. I love children and I love teaching.

EN: When you were younger you had a desire to be a children's book illustrator. What turned you on to this idea?

CCE: I have always felt a great love and appreciation for children's picture books, so much so, family and friends would give them to me as gifts, even in my teenage years. I admire the way a picture book succinctly conveys so much with so few pages. I love the way that the illustrations and words collaborate to provide multi-layers of a story. This inspired my artwork. I dreamed of creating my own picture books. I attended many workshops, conferences and classes revolving around this aspiration. I developed characters and wrote stories.

EN: Your career has been in teaching and your life taken up with raising a family. What prompted you to get back into art and why painting?

CCE:  I got back to making art because I have always known I'm supposed to make art. It is very much a part of what makes me who I am. I guess I can't NOT make art. It was just a matter of freeing up my time and space. I was chomping at the bit to get back to it. Why painting? I have dabbled in a number of mediums, but there is something about seeing paint strokes on a surface that draws me in.

However, in addition to a teaching career, my life was full with parenting four children alongside my second (and favorite😊 ) husband on our small family farm. I found little time, energy or space for making art. As my children began to launch themselves into the world, I was able to shift some of my focus back to making art. For whatever reason, I felt mental roadblocks when I considered my dream to illustrate, so I put myself on a different path, at least for the time being. My commitment was to paint often and to put my work out into the world.

EN: What is the backstory on your current show at the Red Mug? Why "Inside A Raven Conspiracy"?

CCE: We paint what we know, or love, or want to better understand. I started with painting my dogs, then other peoples' dogs, then wildlife such as foxes, bears, moose and birds. I painted a raven and suddenly found myself digging a little deeper to find what lies beneath the surface. I tried to imagine how they might appear to one another. I wanted to paint portraits of them, as if seen through the eyes of another raven. Of course, I am limited by my own humanness. I found myself comparing and contrasting myself with them. My mother said it is like a metaphor for what is happening in the world around us. As we attempt to better understand those who seem unlike us, we end up learning more about ourselves. And I suppose she is right. In the process of exploring corvids, I found myself again as an artist. There will be new explorations in my future, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for crows and ravens.

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 Meantime, art goes on all around you. Get into it

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Incident That Triggered My Book on How to Teach Writing

“Since attention follows interest, it is folly to attempt to gain attention without first stimulating interest.” -- John Milton Gregory, The Seven Laws of Teaching

Like many American boys, I grew up playing baseball, football and basketball. We had pickup games throughout the year and intramurals at school. Many of us even earned our varsity letters in one sport or another. Soccer was not one of them.

With the exception of California it seemed there were few, if any, organized soccer teams--high school or otherwise--when I grew up in the Fifties and Sixties. So it was an interesting experience becoming a soccer coach when my son took an interest in this exhilarating sport at age six or seven. His first attraction, I believe, was the international character of the game. Soccer cards depict every nationality and the corresponding flags of a multitude of nations.

Though I'd only a modest relationship with soccer, I accepted the responsibilities of coaching and determined to excel at it. To do this I did what I usually do: I visited our local library and found books on the game. I studied the drills and exercises to develop my players’ skills. And I learned the rules.

At one point I also attended a clinic for coaches conducted by Buzz Lagos, head coach of the Minnesota Thunder professional soccer team. It was from Mr. Lagos, or “Coach” as he preferred to be called, that I learned what I consider to be the most important principle for writing teachers.

During the clinic we spent most of our time playing various games designed to teach soccer skills and develop our awareness of key principles. At the end of the evening we then gathered for a question-and-answer period.

During this Q&A one of my fellow coaches asked a question that was undoubtedly a burning issue for a number of us. “Sir, what skill level should my kids be at when they are 10 years old?” Here it was. What are the benchmarks that our boys and girls should aspire to as they advance in age? How deft should their ball handling be? How strong and true should they be kicking? How skilled in passing and receiving? How effective their ball control and other maneuvers?

Coach Lagos stunned me with his answer. He said, “Don’t even think about it. Only one thing is important, that they enjoy the game.”

Interesting answer.

We all know it’s true. The key to success in any endeavor is motivation. And that’s how our kids are going to become better writers, not by being forced to write but by wanting to and learning to enjoy it.

Your student or child will write more if she enjoys it rather than hates it. Think about this as well. The more they write, the more sentences and words you’ll have to grade or edit. You’ll also gain insights into your child's thinking. You’ll receive glimpses of who your students and children really are.

Though I created the exercises in my book to be fun, their aims are serious. Kids will learn not simply to write in sentences. Rather, they’ll learn some of the methods professional writers use to create interesting sentences. Kids will learn how to use the tools that help professionals become better writers.

Good writing is more than simply writing technically correct sentences with proper verb tense and punctuation. Good writing is writing that engages readers.

I strongly believe that learning how to communicate by means of the written word is a key component of any successful career. Kids who learn to write well will obtain more career opportunities and find more open doors than those who neglect this vital skill.

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Writing Exercises: How to Teach Writing and Prepare Your Favorite Students for College, Life and Everything Else is available here at Amazon.com.

Find information on all my books at Eds-Books.com.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Quitters Never Win, Winners Never Quit

"Quitters never win, and winners never quit."

That's the way it is. Without persistence, we are guaranteed to fail. The reverse, however, isn't necessarily true. Sometimes we persist, we finish the race, and yet we don't get the prize. This can be a hard nut to swallow.

I love the verse in Ecclesiastes that says, "The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong... but time and chance happen to them all." (Eccles. 9:11) Why do I love this saying? Because it gives us a much needed reminder that things don't always work out. That's reality.

For example, there are no guarantees that if I say all the right things I will "close the deal" in business. Or get the job. Nor am I guaranteed to win the big race at the track meet if I prepare better this year than last. Nor am I guaranteed to become a famous novelist by writing lots of books. In all of these examples there are many factors outside of our control. Illness, strong competition, a car accident, even death - the list of things outside our control is limitless. As we all know, none of us is God. We are finite creatures with limited capabilities.

Nevertheless, there is one thing that is in our control. We can choose to give up, to quit, or we can choose to keep going. Those who quit pursuing their goals or dreams are certain never to reach them. Those who keep going, who persist, will find that the dream inspires and strengthens them.

Whether we reach our dreams or whether we don't, we can be an inspiration to others to pursue their own dreams. This is why we continue to the end. In this way we can finish the race with our heads held high.

Twin Ports Arts Happenings: Highlights for the Next Four Weeks

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" -Dr. Seuss

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There's plenty happening in the Twin Ports arts scene, both above and below the treetops. If you have a visual arts or spoken word event coming up soon and you don't see it listed here, feel free to add it in the Comments so we can all learn about it.

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Tonight is Spoken Word Open Mic @ Beaners. Linda LeGarde Grover is the featured poet this month. The even begins at 7:00 p.m.

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Submit a Living Lab project proposal
You are invited to transform an unused space on the UMD campus into your own sustainable laboratory by submitting a Living Lab project proposal. Campus grounds and buildings are not only a backdrop of campus life, but can be used as a medium for innovation, testing, demonstration, and learning. Selected proposals will receive campus space and assistance with the facilitation of an approved project. Application Deadline: March 20.  Details Here.

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Anishinaabe Kwe @ the Holden Fine Arts Center at UWS

Here's an opening to look forward to. Local Native artists Sarah Agaton Howes, Ivy Vainio and Leah Yellowbird will have their work on display March 1 - 31 at the Kruk Gallery, Holden Fine Arts Center, UW-Superior. (1805 Catlin Avenue) This oft-overlooked space has had numerous really excellent shows and this one will be equally stimulating. Looking forward to it. The Opening Reception is slated for Tuesday, February 28, 5-7pm. Will I see you there?

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Steve Boyyi @ the AICHO Galleries 
The first week of March Ugandan artist Steve Boyyi will be showing his work at the AICHO Galleries in Trepanier Hall in Duluth. Here's a story on this remarkable young man. More details coming soon.

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Christie Eliason @ The Red Mug
I owe the Dr. Seuss quote at the beginning of this blog post to Christie Eliason, who is having her painting displayed in her first public exhibition next month at the Red Mug in Superior. She has a great spirit in my recent correspondence with her and I look forward to sharing her work here in the next few days. The show is titled Inside A Raven Conspiracy, and there's plenty to see and like. The opening reception will be March 11, a Saturday, from 2:00-4:00 p.m.

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Adam Swanson @ Pizza Luce
Next time you get a chance, grab a lunch or libation at Pizza Luce and check out this month's featured artist, Adam Swanson. Swanson's paintings give any room a lift, which is my you may want to own one of your own someday. You won't have to wait till your next show to enjoy it. You can get that pick-me-up every time you come home after a rough day, for the rest of your life.

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Book Club at Tweed Museum of Art 
There's a new book club formed, meeting once a month at the Tweed. I can't imagine a better location for an art-themed book club. But the books aren't what you'd expect, so if you're looking for a new book club, this one has some lively fans of the written world. Next Tuesday Claire Kirch is the moderator and the book they are discussing is an art sleuth novel about Abstract Expressionists and the drama of World War II. Free and open to the public. The book is The Muralist by Barbara Shapiro. Here are the details about when and where they're meeting.

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CALL FOR ART
Seeking artists to contribute to a Dylan-themed art show during Dylan Fest 2017 in May. Here is the original announcement... with more details coming soon. We have secured a location for this year's Duluth Dylan Fest art show: the Zeitgeist Atrium.

ALSO, we're looking for artists to do more paintings for some of the windows at The Armory. Would you like to paint a panel or two for public display. Next time you drive by (down on London Road across from Valentini's) check it out... Then reach out to me via PM on Facebook of ennyman3 AT gmail DOT com.

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DAI Opening Reception for two exciting artists, Carla Hamilton and Elizabeth Kuth is Next Thursday, Feb. 23. This will also be the closing reception for the Member Show. ARTISTS: Don't forget to pick up your work the following day.

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EdNote: If your event is not listed and you want others to hear about it, share your details here in the Comments.

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EdNote: I now have links to all my books listed in one place. Check out Eds-Books.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Recent and Miscellaneous

Cowboy Angel Blue @ the Kom-On-Inn. A former drummer with Steppenwolf
was in the crowd that evening.
Friday, February 24 Cowboy Angel Blue will be performing at VIP in Superior. 
Proceeds above expenses for the band will go toward the 2017 Duluth Dylan Fest. 

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Get into it. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Watered-Down Love: Dylan Contrasts Agape With Its Lesser Kin

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."
--I Corinthians 13:1-3

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Last night I saw a trailer for a film in which the main character is trying to work out whether he really loves this person with whom he is in a relationship. There's a snippet in which he is hashing out this question with his mother. The dialogue reminded me of the Young Rascals' song, "How Can I Be Sure?" If you recall the lyrics, he sings, "How can I be sure, in a world that's constantly changing, how can I be sure... with you?"

One of the more famous songs in Fiddler on the Roof begins, "Do you love me?" (The song begin with an inquiry by Tevye, to his wife Golde, whom he wed in an arranged marriage.) This story, too, revolves around meanings of love.

Hollywood love, rock 'n roll love, carnal love, erotic love, brotherly love, All You Need Is Love... Love comes in a whole range of flavors. The Greeks recognized this and used different words to describe four distinct types of love -- storge, philia, eros and agape -- which C.S.Lewis wrote about in his insightful volume The Four Loves.

On the fifth track of his album Shot Of Love (1981), Bob Dylan shares his own insights on this topic in a song called Watered-Down Love. Here are the lyrics, with alternating colors identifying earmarks of a higher love and what it is not. It's an interesting literary device, clarifying what something is by contrasting it with what it is not.

Watered Down Love

Love that's pure hopes all things
Believes all things, won't pull no strings
Won't sneak into your room, tall, dark and handsome
Capture your soul and hold it for ransom.

You don't want a love that's pure
You want to drown love
You want a watered-down love.

Love that's pure, it don't make no claims
Intercedes for you 'stead of casting you blame
Will not deceive you or lead you to transgression
Won't write it up and make you sign a false confession.

You don't want a love that's pure
You want to drown love
You want a watered-down love.

Love that's pure won't lead you astray
Won't hold you back, won't mess up your day
Won't pervert you, corrupt you with stupid wishes
It will not make you envious. It won't make you suspicious.

You don't want a love that's pure
You want to drown love
You want a watered-down love.

Love that's pure ain't no accident
Always on time, is always content
An eternal flame, quietly burning
Never need to be proud or loud, nor restlessly yearning.

You don't want a love that's pure
You want to drown love
You want a watered-down love.

Copyright © 1981 by Special Rider Music

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From June 10 to November 21, Dylan performed this song 41 times in 1981.

What is love? It takes a lifetime to learn... and part of that time is learning what it's not. When we think about life's big questions -- like, Why am I here? -- this is one of the big ones. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) -- Dylan Sets The Hook

This is the song that locked me in. That is, when I was a kid living through that convulsive cultural concussion that included Kennedy assassinations, a war in Southeast Asia that made no sense, cities burning and ongoing black oppression despite the new laws that had been passed --- and television escapism that entertained and diverted everyone's attention but did nothing to feed the soul -- this is the song that told me someone was out there who understood what was rattling around inside my head... or soul.

Arrows have barbs for a reason. Bow hunters from ancient times to the present understood that arrows needed arrowheads or barbs to embed them in the sinews and keep them from falling out.

Fish hooks likewise have barbed tips for the very same purpose. No matter how that fish squirms and shakes, waggles and flops, that hook is only going to penetrate deeper, tangled in the sinews.

So it is that a song's lyrics can penetrate ever so deeply into unprotected, unarmored tissue, the soft underbelly of the soul.

I wasn't the only one to be pierced.

What I remember from my youth is hearing that "the drug problem" was only a problem when it wasn't contained in the ghetto. That racism wasn't an issue as long as it stayed in the Deep South. Books like Steinbeck's Travels With Charley, a first person account of a road trip with his dog, caught many readers off guard when he wrote frankly about the last leg of his journey, through our southern states, and what he saw there.

Hollywood's Easy Rider was also a road trip story. Hippies were also not welcome in the Deep South. This song accompanied the soundtrack from that film, and produced the most profound effects upon its hearers, at least those like me whose hearts were experiencing disillusionment with the way things were. Were we living the American Dream? How could we have so much and feel so empty?

It's Alright, Ma is a song about innocence lost.

* * * *
The elements of existential philosophy are all here. The sense of the absurd. Disillusionment. The tragic sense of life. But when you reach the end Dylan's response is not resignation. As the narrator goes kicking, upside down inside handcuffs, he kicks his legs to crash it off. 

The existential sense of living within an absurd world becomes a recurring theme throughout the decades with Dylan. His music took root because we ourselves felt it, understood in some inarticulate way. His songs put into words the nebulous things we were feeling. You can especially feel it in his Grammy-winning Time Out Of Mind. "I've been down to the bottom of a world full of lies, I ain't lookin' for nothin' in anyone's eyes," he sings. "Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear... it's not dark yet. But it's getting there."

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It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
Person crying

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only

Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music

Who but Dylan wrote songs like this? I know not one.




Meantime, life goes on all around you. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What Is A Writer?

What would you say if you were asked this question? While going through a box of junk and stuff I found these two short answers to this question people ask from time to time.

What is a Writer?

A writer writes.
A dancer dances.
Romantics like to live romances.
A fighter fights.
A singer sings.
A player plays.
A stringer strings.
A skater skates.
And maters mate.
A rater rates and daters date.

Performers like to put on shows
and pray no dozers are there to doze.

A painter paints.
A saint, he saints.
(Though some, I've noticed, really ain't.)

A thriller thrills.
A killer kills.
(And when he's your neighbor it gives you chills.)

A cook cooks.
A looker looks.
A bookworm plows through piles of books.
A cock crows.
A crow crawks.
A rose is a rose, it isn't rocks.

What is a writer?
I know you knows.
A writer writes.
That's how it goes.

* * * *

What is a Writer?

We know that satirists satirize,
that theorists tend to theorize.
A speciliast tends to specialize
and a publicist will publicize.
Eulogists verbosely eulogize
while economists economize.
Does  galvanist galvanize?
A Calvinist calvinize?
What happens when socialists socialize?
How do botanists botanize?
Just what does a pianist pianize?
In what manner do botanists botanize?
What do realists realize?
And what do idealists idealize?
You seldom see chemists chemize,
though makers of idols oft idoliz.

As for writers, I dunno...
When they're fertile they tend to grow.

* * * *

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Snaps: Book Reviews of Five Recent Readings

A handful of recent reads that I found stimulating.

Doc by Dwight Gooden

Doc is the story of Dwight Gooden, a phenom pitcher whose career was sidetracked by cocaine. I remember how Gooden and Darryl Strawberry made headlines both as prospects with promise and hugely self-destructive as a result of their personal struggles. This is Gooden's story and it's offers real insight into the challenges of success and the importance of character. More than once he would have been able to sing Dylan's "I threw it all away."

The story begins with Gooden's account of the Mets winning the World Series, but he himself missing the ticker tape parade that followed because he'd chosen instead to get coked up at a connection on Long Island. Instead of something beautiful, it proved to be indicative of more than two decades of living the pendulum life of promises and lies. Ultimately a good read.

Available here on Amazon.com.

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

More than 25 years ago a client of mine introduced me to Michael Lewis' exposé of Wall Street shenanigans, Liars Poker. I don't know how far this book gained recognition in the popular culture, but I do know that his Moneyball achieved this and more, ultimately becoming a Hollywood big screen feature starring Brad Pitt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Flash Boys is another meticulously researched book that zeroes in on the current state of Wall Street, especially as it pertains to the dark underbelly and the new phenomenon of high frequency traders.

The book is exceedingly well written, but it made me curious what prompted Mr. Lewis tell this story.  The subject is high frequency trading (HFT) and my guess is that very few people really understand that way things work on Wall Street enough to even be aware of this new twist in the game. It's a good read, especially if you have investments. I imagine that it's possible there are folks who will lose sleep after reading this. At the end of the day it feels like background for a story yet to be told.

Available here on Amazon.com.

Fiasco by James Robert Parish

There's something compelling about watching a train wreck, especially when it's massive in scale. Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops is a compilation of detailed snapshots of massive Tinsel Town disasters, from Cleopatra to Waterworld and more.

I remember when Ishtar, starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, came and went. For most of us, our bad decisions seldom make the tabloids. Unfortunately, this debacle could not be hidden from the light of day. It's one thing when the stars coalesce to make art art film that has little pop appeal; it's totally other when these folks roll the dice on a 200 million dollar mess that has "blunder" emblazoned on its forehead.

Other familiar films skewered by James Robert Parish in this book include Cleopatra, Cutthroat Island, The Cotton Club, Showgirls and, among others, Popeye. This latter was indeed a dud, and no doubt an embarrassment in Robin Williams' sensational resume. What Parish brings out for readers is the backstory. How did anyone believe this could be pawned off as entertainment? When you consider the piles of cash at stake, and the egos involved, the real surprise might be that there aren't more such fiascos.

This book is here on Amazon.com.

The Letters of John Lennon

Whatever your take on John Lennon of the Beatles, The Letters of John Lennon is an insightful and intimate look at one of the profoundly influential people of our (Baby Boomer) generation. How ironic that I'd just finished reading this book when I was introduced to the notion that the Illuminati wrote the Beatles songs through a philosopher named Adorno. Get real, people.

The book is essential an overview of a life that we were familiar with publicly, but pretty much failed to understand in its complexity. Naturally we are all complicated, and the light only shines on the outer shell. The personal letters reveal much more. I listened to the audio version of this book, so I missed the illustrations and doodles that were part of the original volume. The author provides context for all, and it's a very special book, especially for those who appreciated the direction he went after the breakup of the team.

You will find it here on Amazon.com.

Hombre by Elmore Leonard

One of my favorite writers of the past 35 years, Elmore Leonard got his start writing Westerns. As a story teller the man is golden. I was introduced to his novels by Joe Soucheray over lunch at a writers conference in Mankato. He was attempting his own first novel and at the time was stuck in chapter six. In describing his malaise, he asked if i'd ever read Leonard and I acknowledged that I had not. At this point in time I've probably read 30 of his 60+ novels. When he passed away last year he was declared by some to be the "best writer of crime fiction of all time."

Hombre later became a film starring Paul Newman. His heroes are uncommon men, and memorable. I've seen the film twice and read the book twice as well. Here's what one Amazon.com review wrote regarding this book:

Elmore Leonard is not nearly as well known for his Westerns as his hardboiled crime dramas, but in fact he is one of the finest writers in the genre of the past fifty years. This is partly because he is simply one of the finest American writers period. He is famous for writing some of the hardest hitting, purest prose during his lifetime.

Hombre is a book about integrity in a world where people are afraid to a stand. In this sense, it is more inspirational than Western drama. Leonard is a master at crafting characters and placing them into settings that reveal what they are really made of.

Here is where you can find it. And see if you can find the movie as well. It's worthy of the story.

* * * *
Meantime... happy reading.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Note About Typing Skills

My first manual typewriter looked like this.
My mother told me there were three things she never learned while young that she wanted to make sure her four boys learned. They were: how to swim, how to drive and how to type.

I'm especially grateful that she had me take a typing class in high school I received my first typewriter as a graduation present. Even if typewriters are dinosaurs now, mine proved invaluable when I attended college. To this day I love the QWERTY keyboard.

There are many ways to tell one's life story. One way could be to follow the thread of one's relationships to their typewriters. Mine began with that first cool blue Smith Corona.

When I was in Bible school eight years later I did an internship in Puerto Rico and did not bring my typewriter. A classmate named Maggie Godward, who was doing prison ministry here in Minnesota, said there was a fellow there who would benefit from having a typewriter because he wanted to write his life story. So it was that my Smith Corona went to prison. (Ironically, when I got to Puerto Rico, I was invited to help do some prison ministry there, at the Bayamon Prison outside of Old San Juan.)

My Olivetti looked like this.
When I returned from Puerto Rico for my senior year at Bethany, the Bible school, I acquired a typewriter for the year from another student who was leaving for his internship. (Thank you, Ray Heath!) When he returned I bought a used Olivetti manual typewriter that was so flat that it could be slid under the front seat of my car when we went to Mexico after graduation. I loved that Olivetti. It was so compact, a well-engineered machine.

But manual typewriters had certain limitations, and eventually I bought a Brother electric typewriter as I became more serious about my writing. This was the 1980s and though we were on the threshold of the digital we weren't quite there yet. In 1987 all that changed. I acquired my first McIntosh, a 512Ke. That is, a small box with 512K of computing power, and 1 MB of temporary memory. With no hard drive to write to at all, one had to have a second disc drive to save your work to a floppy. This was 30 years ago, but that Mac still works to this day.

* * * *

Typing Skills Still Matter

There was a time when literacy was not a necessary survival skill. In today's world, however, reading and writing skills are assumed. Job postings often outline the software programs now required for these openings.

What about typing skills? I recently heard someone say that with the advent of voice-recognition software, typing will become a thing of the past. I'm willing to wager that this won't happen in my lifetime, and it may not happen in your children's either. In a country where we have difficulty even feeding a large swath of the population it is hard to imagine a day when everyone will own computers with voice-recognition software.

It takes time to learn how to type well, but there's a payoff. The ability to type well is empowering. Good typing skills means more than just being a fast typist. Accuracy is essential.

For home school teachers who want to help their children become faster and better on a keyboard, there are plenty of software programs that can assist. Do a little research first, though. Make sure it's compatible with your operating system. And, if available, read reviews of others' experiences, especially with tech support if a complication should come up. There are also free online tutorials that don't require a download.

* * * *
Some of the information on this blog post was excerpted from my book Writing Exercises: How to Teach Writing and Prepare Your Favorite Students for College, Life and Everything Else. Writing Exercises was written to help homeschoolers teach the important skill of writing. The books is $7.95 and I promise that any homeschool parent who applies its principles will see improvement in their children's writing skills.

Meantime... life goes on. Have a great weekend and stay warm.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I've Got News For You: Fake News Is Nothing New.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
~ Edward Bernays, Propaganda, c. 1928

“We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of… It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.” ~ ibid.

* * * *
In addition to Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, one of the big stories of 2016 revolved around Fake News. People are alarmed by how quickly erroneous stories pass through the masses via social media like Facebook. Yesterday over lunch I read an interesting article about how much of the fake news is designed to feed pre-existing fears.  The article cited how even Octavian, who went on to become the first Caesar, used "fake news" to defeat Antony and Cleopatra. (Interesting.)

This is Throwback Thursday, so I pulled this post from 2008 because there's another word for fake news, a word that went out of vogue due to its association with certain people who ultimately mastered it.

Propaganda

I have finally obtained my own copy of Edward Bernays' ground breaking manual on mass manipulation. The irony is that the word propaganda was a good word back then. When this book was written, the liberal elite liked the idea of controlling the masses without having to resort to guns.

Unfortunately for the mind-shapers and benders, a not so nice guy across the seas liked these ideas so much that our first mental association when we say the word Propaganda these days is Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda who made the famous statement “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Quite naturally, after the war American proponents of values shapers and manipulators could no longer call what they did propaganda. Thus was born the public relations industry. Today, it is PR that rules the world. No elected official in high office could exist without spin-masters at his or her right hand. Spin…. organizing today’s massive quantities of information into a tool for massaging minds, controlling perceptions, creating a pseudo-harmony that enables our complex society to function as a somewhat cohesive whole.

Heaven forbid, however, that people should read between the lines and think for themselves. What’s really going on here? What’s really happening in America today? How much of what is really happening do we see in the papers… and how much is spin?

This is a theme that I will undoubtedly return to…

* * * *

We tell ourselves that we are more informed because we have the power of the World Wide Web at our fingertips, but are we? Do we use the Internet to become a more informed public? Or are we simply more gullible?

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Open your eyes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Opening Reception for Three Exhibits, February 23 at the DAI and More

The opening reception for the triple exhibition of Carla Hamilton, Elizabeth Kuth and UMD Student Photography is rapidly moving into view. Just over two weeks from today this is a show I've very much been looking forward to. Here are some notes to get you motivated.

“Gezielt (Targeted)”

Feb. 23 – April 9, 2017

"Ghost Fathers" from her show Durch Wasser rennen.
If I remember correctly, DAI director Annie Dugan lives in Wrenshall, as does popular local author Lucie Amundson. Carla Hamilton grew up there in the small rural community and then left the region to spend nearly 18 years in Germany, where she studied classic art techniques at the Freie Kunstschule. Hence the German titles of her shows and much of her work.

Hamilton returned to Minnesota in 2012 and turned from traditional painting techniques to mixed media, employing repurposed objects in her work. This current series comes from an “experience of walking while black.” In spring 2015 she was stopped by a cop and accused of bothering her two white friends. She states: “My fear from the incident spurred me to request mediation and body camera footage. The mediation process was a great exchange—the officers saw me as more of a person and I saw them as people, too. This work comes from processing both the original experience as well as the productive aftermath. We can’t ignore the things that happen and in order to move forward we have to talk.”

Her initiative fostered learning opportunities. The dialogue proved helpful not only for Hamilton but also for the officers as well. Bringing her art to the Duluth Art Institute is another step toward bringing understanding as regards police/community relations. "You don't have to do anything wrong to get arrested," Carla told me last summer. "I get stereotyped all the time." Her life in Germany taught her that what's happening here in the Northland could be better.


“Rooted Expression” 
Feb. 16 – April 9, 2017

There's much anticipation to see the new paintings by Elizabeth Kuth. I myself love her painterliness and the ways she uses paint to evoke subconscious, childlike forms. Her textures and surfaces can dramatic. Kuth’s work conveys her search for meaning and purpose.

In December she exhibited work from 2014-2016 at the new Studio 3 West Gallery where she also talked about her paintings. Kuth, who said she paints from the gut, explained, "I learn about myself as I paint," noting that it's a very determined process for finding out more about yourself.


UMD Student Photography
The Corrdior Gallery at the DAI will exhibit photography by University of Minnesota-Duluth students. This annual exhibit showcases their learning in photo theory as well as digital, analog and hybrid techniques mastered by the region’s post-secondary students. This year’s photographers are Katie Bertucci, Keegan Burckhard, Liz Huninghake, Wilson Johnson, Sammie Lundberg, Kaitie Sauer, Eric Soderberg and Emily Theisen. This exhibit, which will be on the walls outside the DAI office and board room, is curated by the DAI Artist Services Director, Amber White.

The reception is free and open to all, with live music by Emanuel Eisele.

* * * *
There are a number of programs taking place in March that relate to thes exhibits. One of these is a Wiki Edit-a-Thon for Arts & Equality, March 5 at the Lincoln Center DAI. There will also be a forum addressing art, race and community policing (with panelists including Hamilton, City of Duluth Human Rights Officer Carl Crawford; Chief of Police Mike Tusken; and local NAACP president Stephan Witherspoon). And Studio 3 West is hosting a feminist art opening in March called Wtf. It's apparent that the DAI is expanding its Duluth footprint.

February 23 is the first date of note, though. Will we see you there?
 
Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tech Tuesday: The A.I. Poker King and Watson's Ever Improving Tax Preparation Skills

This past year AI achievements have been stirring imaginations. So far the best chess player and best Go player have been beaten by "smart machines," and now the best poker players have fallen. What makes this story fascinating is that poker is a game that involves psychology, not simply logic. Can a machine really learn to bluff? Cade Metz's Inside Libratus, the Poker AI That Out-Bluffed the Best Humans* tells the story on Wired.com.

You might say we've been living in the "machine age" for quite some time, if you begin with the Eli Whitney's cotton gin. All throughout modern history machines have stirred both awe and insecurity. At the center of many of the fears is that the machines will take our jobs, or worse... replace the human race altogether. Nevertheless, as this story explains, we're fascinated by the strides they have made.

The computer in this instance had been developed by Carnegie Mellon. The high stakes game that 28-year Kim Dong, a world champion poker player, played in Pittsburgh was Texas Hold 'Em.

About halfway through the competition... Kim started to feel like Libratus could see his cards. “I’m not accusing it of cheating,” he said. “It was just that good.” So good, in fact, that it beat Kim and three more of the world’s top human players—a first for artificial intelligence.

To beat top Jeopardy players last year, Watson had to understand syntax and the words used in questions. For Google's DeepMind to win at Go it analyzed millions of players' moves before using this info to develop its skills by playing against itself. Libratus used a still different set of skills here. The article explains:

Libratus didn't need an ace up his sleeve.
Through an algorithm called counterfactual regret minimization, it began by playing at random, and eventually, after several months of training and trillions of hands of poker, it too reached a level where it could not just challenge the best humans but play in ways they couldn’t—playing a much wider range of bets and randomizing these bets, so that rivals have more trouble guessing what cards it holds. “We give the AI a description of the game. We don’t tell it how to play,” says Noam Brown, a CMU grad student who built the system alongside his professor, Tuomas Sandholm. “It develops a strategy completely independently from human play, and it can be very different from the way humans play the game.”


This was only part of the process it used. In addition to learning everything it could about poker before the match, Libratus also learned from the game itself. Perhaps a little like a good poker player who plays enough hands to learn his or her opponents' tells before moving into the big money plays.

What makes poker interesting, though, is the psychological aspect. Sometimes you raise a bet when you have no good cards in your hand. Sometimes you try to make the other player believe your bluffing so they stay in the game when you have four kings. Calculating odds is one thing, but getting inside the other players' heads is another.

What's next for Libratus? Wall Street? International trade negotiations.

Sunday evening a commercial in the Super Bowl showed us what Watson, the IBM A.I. will be up to this year. Watson's going to work on tax loopholes for us.


Meantime, life goes on...

* Read Inside Libratus, the Poker AI That Out-Bluffed the Best Humans here.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Super Bowl For Once Lives Up To Its Hype

Well, there was a real football game this year. That helped. The commercials ran the usual gamut from clever to "O.K.". And the half-time entertainment... over-the-top as necessitated y the occasion. In short, Super Bowl LI was good to the last drop.

You have to really be a fan to watch all those hours of pre-game, and I missed most of it, but I did catch the one segment about how the Falcons brought in Navy Seals to teach the players the meaning of teamwork. Back in the 70s, sports psychologists were in vogue. The Seals and others of their ilk definitely embody the insights of psychology as they build team morale, motivation and resilience.

Bill Belichick's Patriots have been the embodiment of the word "teamwork" for a decade, so their competition is required to do what it takes to catapult their game to another level.

The Coin Toss
Wheelchair bound George HW Bush gave it his best shot, with Barbara standing over his shoulder. He didn't look comfortable. The flip left his hand and rolled into the midst of the Falcon players. Patriots called head. The coin read tails.

The Commercials
Normally I watch the commercials in advance when possible and read the teasers. USA Today provides plenty of pre-game coverage of this important segment of the Big Show. As usual the commercials proved to be a mixed bag, from memorable to quickly forgotten. I liked the Avocados from Mexico spot with the secret society (Illuminati?), though I do not know what the point was. The Skittles spot was funny, with no secret messages. Hollywood has films they want us to see including Logan and A Handmaid's Tale. The Honda spot with celebrity yearbook photos talking was engaging. I'd buy a Honda after watching that. The Fabreze spot was perfectly timed to remind you that when everyone takes that mid-game bathroom break, their product will be put to good use. (Noteworthy: There were numerous commercials with a political theme. This may require a second blog post. Timely and sensitive. Coca-Cola is an international brand.)

The Game
These two high powered offenses had one difference. The Patriots have been to the big dance numerous times and the Falcons were seriously lacking in experience as regards the pressures of the big game. Nevertheless, that Falcons defense -- which has been defined by speed more than size -- tore into the Patriots like cheetahs hunting down gazelles. Speed kills, and amped with adrenaline the Falcons weren't messin' around. The Falcons flew into the face of Tom Brady like air through a wind tunnel, tossing aside linemen like paper dolls.

The Patriots, however, appeared to hamstring the Falcons in the same manner and rather than a rout it started to appear that this would be a defensive battle. Until the dam broke. Suddenly the Falcons were up 14. Then 21. And as the half ended the Pats settled for a lame field goal to get on the board.

You can read about the comeback elsewhere. By the end of Lady Gaga's halftime show I imagine that some folks believed the drama was over and that it was time to channel surf. If you gave in to the temptation you missed a dramatic and memorable second half. In fact, I can't seem to recall the commercials at all. The second half was all about the game. Tom Brady achieved his fifth Super Bowl ring. Bill Belichick affirmed his legacy.

The Pepsi Halftime Show
I know at least one fan from Clear Lake, Iowa who couldn't give two figs about the game itself. How did Lady Gaga do? "Awesome bananas!! Loved the patriotic lead-in and the rooftop leap!" (A former president from Iowa talking.)

I watch these massive choreographed halftime shows and wonder who puts these things together. Does some outfit approach lady Gaga and suggest sets. "Back to the drawing board, team." This one had shades of Michael Jackson written over it... Leaping into the stadium from the rooftop, she proved she not only has pipes but athleticism. Cirque du Soleil has nothing on Lady Gaga. Fireworks and spectacle, lightning and wonder.

At the end of it all, the Patriots succeeded in producing a thrill ride for their fans. Falcons fans cringed as the game went into overtime, another Super Bowl First. The Pats won the toss, and several plays later... Game Over.

* * * *
Most dramatic Super Bowl ever? Certainly one that will be talked about for a long time. At least until the end of the dayTuesday.