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My brother (right) and me

Twenty Random Facts

1. I get spontaneous nosebleeds periodically, every couple months or so, and have since I was a child.

2. I have a well-attested high run of 81 balls at straight pool and have run over 50 many times.

3. In 1993 I won a national fantasy league baseball contest. The prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to spring training, including attending a game with Bill James, who couldn't stand me.

4. I was the first in my class to wear glasses, in fourth grade. Like all such children, I now wear contact lenses.

5. I have lived with the same woman for sixteen years. We aren't married. You can help preserve that status by asking either one of us when we plan to get married.

6. My mother and sister write a food newsletter, Dreaded Broccoli, which advocates a rather drastic diet that I do not follow.

7. I am bigoted against fat people. I've had one fat friend in my life, in third grade, and he was whiny, wheezy and, well, fat.

8. I don't write for a living but most of my good friends do.

9. Neither my girlfriend nor I can drive a car.

10. In college I once forged a check to buy liquor, not because I was interested in the liquor, although I drank it, but to see if I could get away with forgery. I did.

11. Nearly everything I know about poetry, which is a fair amount, I learned from reading Yvor Winters.

12. When people used to ask me, as a child, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "paleontologist." At about twelve I realized this required a lot of graduate school so I switched to "premier intellectual of the Western World."

13. I once took a year off of work and spent it mostly reading Russian novels and reediting Emily Dickinson's poems (the standard versions are lousy).

14. I know Geddy Lee and Neil Peart of the legendary Canadian trio Rush.

15. In the nineteen years I've lived in Manhattan I have never been mugged. I lived in Brooklyn for two years and was mugged three times.

16. I own a foul-tempered black cat with a severe overbite to whom I am irrationally attached.

17. I can type nearly 100 words a minute.

18. I was once punched in the face, deservedly, by a colleague at work. So was my brother; it must run in the family.

19. As a teenager I liked to drink vinegar straight from the bottle.

20. I have never seen, and never intend to see, Star Wars or E.T.