Showing posts from April, 2011

Another Opening, Another Show: Doug is in "Hamlet"


On Thursday, May 19th, Columbus Civic Theater's "Hamlet" will premiere at 8 p.m., and then play that Friday and Saturday, with the same schedule for three more weeks. I have the plum part of King Claudius, for which I've grown a beard (more salt, alas, than pepper). Claudius is the evil uncle who's killed Hamlet's father, then married the father's wife, stolen the throne, and has murky plans for Hamlet's continued health. All that has happened before the curtain rises.

Playing Shakespeare is an both an actor's delight and terror.

Delight: the words, the thoughts, the motivations are so beautiful and complicated, that nothing in literature surpasses them. I've done three Shakespeare plays in the past (Brutus in "Julius Caesar" when in high school, Leonato in "Much Ado About Nothing," and the title role in "King Lear" (the latter two here in Columbus), and each time I'm amazed by one phenomenon. From the s…

Life's Little (But Important) Rules

Here's my list:

1. Put Things Where You'll Look For Them

This turns out to be very useful advice. If you just put things down—willy-nilly—at some later date you'll likely stand and ponder where the hell they went. But if you train yourself to first ask "Where will I look for this?" you'll have fewer problems locating them. It also helps to have specific places in your house/office for different items: tools, boxes, toiletries, paper files, miscellaneous junk, etc.

2. Measure Twice, Cut Once

This old carpenter's law applies to much of our lives. Plan the task, then think it through and ask if the first decision was the best one or can yet be improved. This question, again, is a matter of habit. Particularly with physical tasks is it easy to just jump in and make a dog's breakfast of the whole affair. I'm myself bad at remembering my own advice here, witness "The Many Faults of Douglas Whaley" (see Related Posts below).

But this isn't re…

The Dogs in My Life

I've written before in this blog about my pets (see below), but today I want to tell you about my dogs.

I grew up in a home that always had one dog, never more, but that dog was a treasured member of the family. On the other hand, since we were an Air Force family, there was lots of moving, and frequently the dog did not go with us, so there were a number of them. I loved them all.

The first was a German Sheppard named "Wolf," who my father purchased primarily as protection for my mother and me (age 1 or 2), and then my sister Mary Beth, who is two years younger than I. This was in Jackson, Mississippi, where Mary Beth was born (allowing her to claim to be a Southerner). All I remember of Wolf is from pictures, but my parents swore that dog would grab me my the diapers to keep me from crossing the street. Alas, they had to get rid of Wolf since he was too protective of me. I've always had very curly hair that little old ladies liked to touch, making Wolf growl deep…

How To Play Craps Vegas Style


Most casinos in the world have craps tables, alluring and mysterious to the passersby. Want to step up to the table and play the best way possible? Here we go.

Look over the above picture of half a craps table just to orient yourself (the other half is the mirror image of this).  The secret to craps is to understand that some numbers come up more often than others, and the casinos take advantage of the fact that many people don't know that. Here's the same table I reprinted in a recent post that demonstrates how many combinations go into the roll of two dice:

Note that in a pyramid of these numbers we get:

7 (the most likely combination) and then:
6 and 8 (either side of 7)
5 and 9 (etc.)
4 and 10
3 and 11
2 and 12

So, as a general guide, the further the number is from seven, the less likely it is to be rolled.

The craps table is filled with sucker bets. In the top photo observe the part of the craps table layout that says "Field." If you place a bet there an…

The Payment-In-Full Check: A Powerful Legal Maneuver

Having a dispute with a creditor? One way to win it (and fast) is to send that creditor a "payment in full" check [hereafter "PIFC"] and end it things in your favor. How does this bit of legal magic work? Read on.

It's always been the law that if you and I have an existing contract, either one of us can propose a modification to that contract, and if we both agree, the contract changes accordingly. There are technical names for this. Say, for instance, that I owe you an undisputed amount of $500. I send you an email and ask if you would take my horse Dobbins is settlement of the debt, and you reply in the affirmative. My offer of something different than what was originally owed (the horse for the money) is called the offer of an "accord." Your agreement to take Dobbins is the "satisfaction." Thus an "accord and satisfaction" in our law is nothing more than a fancy name for a modification agreement. I no longer owe you $500; I owe…

I Threaten to Sue Apple Over an iPad2 Cover

I'm a fan of iPad, having had my first one for a year. In the beginning I was worried I wouldn't understand it or use it right, but that quickly changed. They'll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers to bury (well, cremate) me. So I was very pleased when iPad2 was released last month, and promptly bought one. However, that particular iPad2 had an antenna problem (it couldn't find a wifi signal, not even in the Apple Store), so Apple promptly swapped it out for a new one.

My old iPad had a hard cover that protected both the back and front, but the Apple people are very proud of the new cover for iPad 2. They shouldn't be. First of all, it only covers the front of the iPad which has a glass facing. Secondly, it's held on by magnets at one end. Seven days after I got the new iPad, it slipped from my car seat in the garage, stripping its magnet cover as it fell to the floor, creating a crack on the glass. Seven days.

I went back to the Apple Store and showed th…

Playing Blackjack With an Old Chinese Woman

I first went to Las Vegas in 1969 with my parents (I was practicing law in Chicago at the time, age 25), but we didn't do much gambling. Some slots and Keno (kissing cousin to Bingo and every bit as cerebral). Two years later Charleyne and I had just married and my sister Mary Beth herself was married soon after that same summer in Phoenix. My parents suggested to Char and I that we four go to Las Vegas after Mary Beth's wedding, and so that's what we did.

Before the trip Charleyne had a happy thought: let's read a couple of books about gambling and learn what's smart to do and what's not. That proved one of the best ideas I'd heard in my life, and saved me a lot of money through the decades. The best of these tomes was "Gambling Secrets of Nick the Greek," and, though aged, is still a first rate guide to gambling and how to play the basic games. We learned, for example, that a smart Blackjack ("Twenty-One") player has no decisions to …