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 Movie Reviews Elsewhere  (fresh daily from the Web)

Cardinal game ticket winners

[JULY 9, 2001]  Congratulations to two Cardinal game ticket winners, Roger Gosda and Jim Stone. It's the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers on July 12th at Busch Stadium. To be eligible to win tickets, LDN readers were invited to respond to five questions posted Friday, July 6. The questions and answers are below.

1. What award did the Lincoln Community High School National Honor Society and biochemistry classes receive recently?

The Governor’s Home Town Award.

[Click here for complete story.]

2. According to John Fulton’s most recent article, how many pods and seeds per pod do most soybean plants develop?

Many of our soybean fields will have only about 25 percent of the flowers actually develop into pods and produce seed. Most plants in a field will have 30 to 100 pods on them, with two to three seeds per pod.

[Click here for complete story.]

3. What is the primary source of lead exposure for children?

The primary source of lead exposure for children is lead-based paint. It is estimated that lead-based paint is present in 74 percent of all homes built before 1978.

[Click here for complete story.]


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4. At last week’s meeting, the Lincoln City Council had a change of heart about developer Rod White's East Park plans. The council discussed the ordinance governing developers and subdivisions and decided they had interpreted it incorrectly. What was Mayor Beth Davis response to this? Answer with her quote.

She encouraged them to rethink the matter saying, "We can bring it up for reconsideration. We need to grow. We need to send a positive message."

[Click here for complete story.]

5. What was the name of the puppet show that Lincoln Junior High School graduates associated with HYPE (Helping Youth in a Positive Environment) performed this year?

Kristi Simpson directed "Keep Off the Grass," a puppet show presented by recent Lincoln Junior High School graduates associated with HYPE (Helping Youth in a Positive Environment). In the story Dr. Crisis and Officer Ketcham meet Dexter Dreen’s heart, stomach and brain and hear of the effects of marijuana and cocaine on them.

[Click here for complete story.]


‘The Frugal Gambler’

[JULY 5, 2001]   The Frugal Gambler." Jean Scott, Huntington Press, reprinted 2001, 240 pages.

Called the "queen of casino comps" by the new program "48 Hours" on CBS, Jean Scott is one of America’s most renowned "low rollers" and the author of "The Frugal Gambler." In her book she reveals the secrets for beating the odds at casinos, securing free lodging and meals, and how to take advantage of the myriad of services and perks offered to gamblers.


How did she become so proficient at "beating the house?" According to Scott, "Playing games has always been in my blood…to this day I remember the intense feeling of competitiveness I had as a child." This combination of gaming savvy and taking advantage of the complimentary deals (comps) offered has earned Scott the title "Queen of the Ku Pon" from the Las Vegas Advisor.

In the chapter "Slot Machines — Handle With Care," she emphasizes that you must first learn how to "read" the machines (gather information about the machines); another strategy involves going after the odds in small pot payoffs or long shots.

"Video Poker — The Meat and Potatoes" is the game of choice for Scott. Although Jacks or better is the basic video poker game, Deuces-wild is her favorite because "this is where the money is." The big secret in video poker is to find an "over 100% machine"; in other words a machine that pays back more than you put in.


The gaming experience is not limited to gambling in the casinos. Scott devotes a substantial amount of the book to the specials, offers and perks available to gamers. The chapters "Comps — Your Just Desserts," "Promotions — Casino Gravy" and "The Bump — Airline Comps" all reveal Scott’s secrets for uncovering the best deals and hidden bonuses for the gambler. Aside from the most common comp, free drinks, Scott describes how gamers can receive complimentary tickets for food, lodging, shows, gifts and gaming privileges. One caveat in earning comps: Never bet more than you ordinarily would just to get a comp.

According to Scott a little investigative work can provide a wealth of information on the casino’s promotions. Sources include the local newspapers, tourist magazines, casino marquees, in-house advertising and local contacts.


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An easy way to accumulate free airline tickets, expensive meals and luxurious accommodations is to participate in the airline "bump" (changing your plans when an flight is overbooked). The secret is to plan ahead on getting bumped; that is, to include a bump in your travel itinerary so you can take advantage of the airlines’ generosity in accommodating your travel plans.

Other chapters discuss ethics in gambling and how to enjoy yourself in Las Vegas away from the gaming life.

Perhaps the most interesting chapter is "Raining on the Casino’s Parade," in which Scott identifies and explains the seven myths associated with casinos. They are:

1.  Casinos will always make a big effort to get your business.

2.  Casinos want your name and address for devious purposes.

3.  Casinos are apt to offer comps without being asked.

4.  Casinos cater more to table players than to slot players.

5.  All casino personnel know everything there is to know about gambling.

6.  People who play a lot, especially locals, are knowledgeable about gambling.

7.  Anyone who writes about gambling is an expert and can be counted on to give 100 percent accurate gaming advice.

"The Frugal Gambler" is an interesting, time-tested approach to the gaming experience. It is apparent that Jean Scott has spent considerable time and energy developing her theories and techniques on gambling and casinos. The book contains a useful appendix on resources for the gambler (trade papers, books, guides, software and websites); there’s also a handy index. "The Frugal Gambler" is recommended to anyone interested in gambling, casino vacations or simply learning how to "beat the house."

For more information visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call (217) 732-8878.

[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]

‘The Contender’

Released on video Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Rated R     Approx 127 Minutes     DreamWorks Home Entertainment -2000

Written and directed by Rod Lurie


Jeff Bridges

Christian Slater

Sam Elliot

Joan Allen

Gary Oldman (also the executive producer)


This movie uses graphic language to describe sexual scenes and presents some nudity.

[MARCH 10, 2001]  The box said “two thumbs up” and “Thriller!”

In recent years, the "two thumbs up" endorsement has meant that I probably was going to find the movie to be a loser. "Thriller" usually means I may endure it but I’m probably not going to be thrilled with it.

However, in the case of "The Contender," both my thumbs are up too, and I am indeed thrilled.

"The Contender" is a gritty movie, a political "action" film of sorts. It is a thriller because you don’t have a clear shot at the plot until it is finally revealed for you. At the end, you look back on the film and say, "Yeah, I should’ve seen that coming."

"The Contender" is gritty because it focuses on a dirty fight between political rivals to appoint a new vice president of the United States. The president (played very aptly by Jeff Bridges) selects a woman, Sen. Lane Hanson of Ohio (Joan Allen), for the job, against the advice of party officials and his own advisers. The previous vice president died somehow in office — but "The Contender" never tries to explain his passing.

The whole plot is wrapped up in the confirmation hearings and the process of bringing an appointee to office or sending ’em off packing.

Gary Oldman plays Sheldon Runyon, the Republican chairman of the selection committee. The highly respected, powerful senator seems bent on not only denying the president his day in the sun but also destroying the very career of Sen. Hanson.


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Two things about this movie made a good impression on me.

First, the acting was excellent. Oldman plays a perfect bad guy in this film (he seems to have the bad-guy act down pat). Jeff Bridges, who I thought incapable of playing a convincing president, stepped up to the plate and delivered. Christian Slater played the part of a freshman congressman who was seeking to do the right thing on principle, and was perfectly cast for the part. Finally, Joan Allen was wonderful in her portrayal of the contender under siege.

Second, the plot was dynamite. This movie seems to make you move away from certain characters and make certain assumptions, but you find yourself making a couple of 90 degree turns before it’s done. In the spirit of "The West Wing," it is full of political intrigue and the power of the Washington scene. "The Contender" is a film about respect and dignity and the rocky road to realizing those two values.

The first hour of the movie has a single weakness: The lack of actors on the set portraying political operatives, appointees, devotees and those holding office makes you believe the story less. They needed a fuller cast to make it seem like Washington and government.

This is not a partisan film about the usual struggle between Republicans and Democrats. Instead it is a story about the dynamics of power, accusation and truth.

So, I recommend this film to you if you enjoy a good thriller, if you enjoy stories about the political struggles of this nation and if you like a good fiction about how truth prevails.

I give it 3½ stars (out of five).


LCT’s box office is open for 
‘Moon Over Buffalo,’ a comedy

[JULY 7, 2001]  Lincoln Community Theatre’s box office is open with tickets available for the next summer performance, "Moon Over Buffalo," a comedy. Performance dates are July 13-15 and 17-21 at the Johnston Center for the Performing Arts on the Lincoln College campus.

The cast of eight includes Lincoln residents Bruce Clausen, Amanda Frioli, Josh Twente, Nick King, Connie DiLillo and Allen King. Also appearing are D Ann Jones of Clinton and Mitchaleen Lowe of Decatur. The play is directed by Jerry Dellinger of Lincoln. Sets were designed and created by Max Levendel of Bloomington.

In the story, an acting couple on tour are given one more shot at starring roles, and a famous director is on his way to catch their matinee performance in Buffalo, N.Y. The setting is backstage as their daughter brings her fiance to meet her parents. Hilarious misunderstandings pile on top of misadventures, all of which are magnified by the deaf mother who manages the theater.

The box office is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and one hour before each performance. For more information, call (217) 735-2614 or visit LCT’s website at

Haiku translators, including local expert, present readings this week

[JULY 2, 2001]  Emiko Miyashita and Lee Gurga’s translation of "Einstein’s Century: Akito Arima’s Haiku," has just been released by the publisher, Brooks Books. The translators, haiku poets Emiko Miyashita of Kawasaki City, Japan, and Lee Gurga of Lincoln, will present selections from Dr. Arima’s poetry at a reading tonight, Monday, July 2, hosted in Decatur by the Highway 51 Poetry Project. Akito Arima is one of Japan’s leading haiku masters.

Reading, poetry and haiku lovers can meet at 7 p.m. in the cafe at the new Anthology Booksellers located at Franklin and East Main (above the Decatur Public Library in the old Sears building). Parking is available on East Main and in the library parking lot.

"A lot of people write poetry without ever intending to share it, but the act of writing, even though it is usually a solitary act, inherently assumes an audience," said Scott Goebel, the emcee and organizer of the Highway 51 Poetry Project. He encourages writers and lovers of poetry and fiction as well as curious onlookers to come out and see what the coffeehouse poetry phenomenon is all about. The poetry project plans to continue readings on the first Monday of every month

Comments from the introduction to
Dr. Akito Arima’s "Einstein’s Century"

"One is immediately struck by the openness of Dr. Arima’s face, his almost childlike curiosity about everything around him." — Gurga and Miyashita


"Many of the haiku here contain religious imagery. Not the Buddha’s and Patriarchs one might expect of a poetic form associated so strongly with Zen Buddhism, but Christian imagery. Dr. Arima presents these images to us with a freshness that might be impossible for those of us who grew up surrounded by these images multiplied over two thousand years. He demonstrates that religious topics can be a viable element of contemporary poetry without having to assume the extreme postures of excessive piety on one hand or irony on the other. Come and see the face of the Virgin Mary or the long nose of Jesus with a fresh eye and an open heart, presented by Dr. Arima with haiku vision of the human world as it truly is: a world of spirit that is nevertheless always at one with the world we see and hear around us. Yes, the prophesies of doom in the Old Testament are here, but in the haiku way mellowed and refreshed with snowmelt from Mt. Sinai. We believe you will be amply rewarded for your leap of faith." — Gurga and Miyashita

About Akito Arima

"A member of the House of Councilors, Japan equivalent to the U.S. Senate, Dr. Arima continues to serve both science and Japan rising international consciousness by bringing the knowledge gained in his years of scientific and poetic work to bear on the problems of the new century. He understands the necessity for international unity in the face of dwindling natural resources and increased environmental destruction, growing human population and energy demands, the need for global sustainability, and the continuing threat of nuclear weapons. He stands at the forefront of those attempting to build an international consensus aimed at securing the future of humanity and the very life of the planet...

"While Dr. Arima was pursuing his dual career as a world-class nuclear physicist and internationally recognized educational administrator, he also became an outstanding leader among Japan haiku poets and a great supporter of haiku worldwide. His haiku mentor was Seison Yamaguchi (1892-1988), one of the important disciples of Kyoshi Takahama who helped carry the tradition of haiku into the modern world. Seison dual life as professor of engineering and haiku master may have provided a role model for the younger poet-scientist." — William J. Higginson (from the introduction to "Einstein's Century")


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About the translators

Lee Gurga was born and raised in Chicago. He is a past president of the Haiku Society of America and is currently associate editor of the journal Modern Haiku and the haiku selector for the Illinois Times in Springfield and Solares Hill in Key West, Fla. His haiku have won the top prize in haiku contests in the United States, Canada and Japan. His books "In and Out of Fog" and "Fresh Scent" were both awarded the first prize in the Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards. He was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Poetry Fellowship in 1998 for his work in haiku. He lives with his family in rural Lincoln.

Emiko Miyashita was born in Fukushima (Happy Island) city in Japan on Sept. 6, 1954. The city is surrounded by the mountains that change their expressions delicately, according to seasons and the time of the day. Emiko now owns a studio on this mountainside. It was her father's oil painting studio. With her, he planted many young trees in its garden. Currently she lives with her family in Kawasaki City. She has also lived in Urbana (1959-61) and in Accra, Ghana (1969-71), where she was exposed to English language and its culture. She graduated from Doshisha University in Kyoto in 1978. She joined the Ten'i (Providence) haiku group led by Dr. Akito Arima in 1993 and became its dojin (leading member) in 1999. She is writing a series featuring English haiku in HAIKUKAI (Haiku World) magazine, published monthly in Japan. She is a member of International Haiku Association (Japan) and Haiku Society of America.


Lee Gurga and she have been working together as a translating team since 1997. In 2000 they published "Love Haiku: Masajo Suzuki's Lifetime of Love" through Brooks Books.

Haiku reading on Thursday, July 5, at 7 p.m.

They will be reading from "Love Haiku: Masajo Suzuki’s Lifetime of Love" at Barnes and Noble, 3111 South Veterans Parkway in Springfield at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 5. Masajo Suzuki’s lyrical evocation of her unconventional lifestyle in haiku poetry has caught the imagination of the Japanese public. There will be a book signing after the reading.

[News release]

New arts group re-examines
bylaws, seeks logo entries

[JUNE 21, 2001]  The newly formed Logan County Arts Association, meeting on Monday at Lincoln Public Library, set up a logo contest, continued to examine its proposed constitution and named possible early projects.

Local artists are asked to submit logo designs that include the name of the organization, Logan County Arts Association, and reflect its mission: "To enhance the quality of life by actively promoting arts dissemination, thereby making the arts an integral component of life in our community and the surrounding area." Designs must be submitted by July 16 to Logan County Arts Association in care of Lincoln-Logan County Chamber of Commerce, 303 S. Kickapoo, Lincoln. The winning logo will be used by the association.

One constitutional issue the group discussed was a privacy statement composed by Marshall Jacobs, acting president. The proposed addition to the constitution and bylaws was modeled on the privacy statement of the European Union and designed to set policy concerning personal information of people who will eventually become part of the organization’s database. The statement, which is more technical than the rest of the constitution, says there will be no unauthorized exchange of private information and, according to Jacobs, covers the association in situations that may arise years from now.

Jacobs said one underutilized program of the Illinois Arts Council supports arts education in schools, and he plans to contact county visual and musical arts teachers early in August to learn about their programs and needs. He hopes to locate possibilities for grants in time to get into the 2002 funding cycle for organizations and schools.


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Larry Steffens, a founding director of the association, recommended that the group undertake a visible project this summer, even before the constitution and other paperwork are finalized, to become an active force in the community. He suggested redesigning and painting the "O Lincoln" mural on the side of McEntire’s Home Appliance and TV at 403 Broadway.

Despite its name, the Logan County Arts Association does not limit its mission to Logan County. Jacobs said that virtually all surrounding counties have arts councils that help local arts organizations find grants and sometimes conduct arts programs. He described Logan County as "the hole in the donut" of surrounding associations; another hole is DeWitt County, which Jacobs hopes may join the Logan association. If that occurs, a name change is possible.

The Logan County Arts Association, officially incorporated on June 8, is seeking not-for-profit status. Six people attended the June 18 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Lincoln Public Library. The next meeting is planned for July 16 at the same time and place.

The association plans to contact potential members through Lincoln Community Theatre and Art Fair promotions.

[Lynn Spellman]

Lincoln Community Theatre website

Lincoln Community Theatre’s (LCT) website is up and available. The site serves a number of functions, from providing information on becoming a season ticket holder to showing what new productions are being planned. Pictures from last season's productions are also posted.

If you are interested in joining a performance or just going to see one, visit LCT’s website at, e-mail LCT at, or write to Lincoln Community Theatre, P.O. Box 374, Lincoln, IL  62656.


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