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Welcome to PenHead.org, an oasis of uninformed analysis in a desert of educated guesswork. What is a Penhead? Do you fancy yourself a writer? Enjoy a good read? Then you may already be a Penhead yourself!

We are your source for original stories, the occasional interview with our favorite authors, book and play reviews, recommendations (of current and forgotten finds), and more.

Our Goal: World domination through the written word via the vast network of the internet. Until then, we'll be found risking what's left of our reputations here, at PenHead.org.

Keep in mind the internet's similar to the Jersey Turnpike - it's all about hits and traffic - so visit often, share us repeatedly and we'll do our best to keep things interesting. Who knows... you might even be entertained.


America's national park system is immense. Its network of over 335 properties comprised of national monuments (129), national historic parks (57), national historic sites (85), national parks (64, including Gettysburg National Military Park), have made it the gold standard of park systems for more than a hundred years. In survey after survey, America's National Park Service consistently receives the highest marks of any government agency. While Americans can't agree on much these days, it's nice to know there's one thing we can: we love our national parks.

At the time of printing, The National Parks of America: An Illustrated Guide to All the National Parks, Preserves, Monuments, Seashores, and Historic Sites of the United States of America, by James Murfin, covered all the national parks, historic sites, preserves, monuments and seashores under the protection of the National Park Service. Since then others have been added, removed or redesignated. The National Park Service is a vast agency, managing properties across 47 states, four US territories . . . more >

In Views, Washington: A Collection of Photographs, Chris Jacobson focuses his lens on the Pacific Northwest. A compilation of scenic wonders in Washington state, he covers the ground from sea stacks on the coast, to the arid eastern wheat fields of the Palouse. The pages between are filled with tranquil scenes, including the Cascade Mountains and city skylines, each reflecting Jacobson's expert eye for composition.

While not all-inclusive of the state's national parks, Jacobson's aim is true. His photos capture vistas from unusual viewpoints, revealing mountainsides, forests, and lakes from perspectives the average park visitor . . . more >

Once the scorn of serious publishers, self-publishing has blossomed into an industry accounting for over $1.2 billion in annual sales. With an increasing number of companies offering self-publishing services, and the added convenience of doing it all online, the self-publisher is a growing force in the literary marketplace. Like e-books? Then there's a good chance you've read - or will read in the near future - a self-published title.

Northwest artist Jacques Drapeau has an eye for the whimsical. A chemical engineer by trade, he is self-described as the boy who never grew up. As a child he was fascinated by trains and dinosaurs, a fascination he fortunately never lost. In 1994, at the age . . . more >

To look at Mary, We Never Knew You, one wouldn't think it was self-published. It's done professionally with all the bells and whistles of standard publishing. It even has an ISBN. If not for my having been working in a bookstore in 1982 where I met the author as he was peddling his self-published accomplishment, I'd never have known K. Pillman was a phantom.

Private Dick
Told from the perspective of Clayton Fisher, a private eye who likes to yuck it up by handing out business cards with the pseudonym "Sam Spade" (the detective immortalized by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon) printed on them, Mary is a mystery spanning the American west coast from San Francisco to Seattle. Fisher's a man's man with all the machismo of a bullfighter; a . . . more >

For many, the sixties was a decade best swept under the rug. For others, it remains a phenomenon worthy of recapturing. The former miss the point. Perhaps, so too do the latter. We've been there, done that. To look at the decade as only a period of revolt - the shattering of social norms - is to rob it of the positivity it brought to the table. It was a catalyst of not only drug experimentation (which, argumentatively, had its upside as well as down), but of changes to America's fundamental structure. It questioned what the nation stood for, and for whom its constitution served. The decade also blew up our thinking about art, fashion, tradition and music, while expanding the collective consciousness. Love it or hate it, none of us, a half-century later, would be standing where we are without the sixties.

Published under the LIFE moniker by Dotdash Meredith, The Grateful Dead: The Long Strange Trip of the World's Greatest Jam Band chronicles the evolution of the infamous Bay Area band, The Grateful Dead. From its humble beginnings as a jug band, The Grateful Dead exploded . . . more >

Mark Twain is quoted as once saying "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." It's also been said he wanted his tombstone to read: "I told you I was sick." Jerry Garcia, the late great troubador who encapsulated the spirit of The Grateful Dead didn't broadcast to the world his health challenges with diabetes. He didn't have to. The world was watching, and after slipping into a diabetic coma which very nearly upended the band in 1986, there wasn't a fan out there who wasn't aware of Jerry's fragile health.

Dark Star
As for his struggle with addiction, it was a more guarded subject. In the days before social media, an organization like The Grateful Dead could control information more easily, and screen what got publicity, and what didn't. The frequent rifts between band members over Jerry's increasing opiate use, and the personality changes it wrought, fell into the latter. Today, nearly . . . more >

Published in 1977 as a joint venture between Random House and Rolling Stone Press, The Sixties: The Decade Remembered Now, by the People Who Lived it Then brings together a bevy of writers to reflect on the decade passed. When it was written, the sixties were still fresh in the minds of Americans. Events seemingly of great importance, had yet to be tested with time. The result is a hodge podge collection of essays; some standing up to the test of time, others feeling incredibly dated.

Designed by Robert Kingsbury and packed with photos, each chapter is dedicated to a single year, opening with a month-to-month calendar listing the events deemed - at the time - significant for that year. The first chapter covers 1960, a year of incredible optimism. San Francisco was experiencing a renaissance in free expression, from fashion to politics to music. JFK got elected to the White House, breaking the conservative grip of the last eight years on Washington, while bringing a sense of hopeful purpose to the national political scene . . . more >

Coffee and nicotine: two things that for many, go hand in hand. Not only is coffee and tobacco a match seemingly made specifically with Parisian cafe' society in mind, they have many things in common. Tobacco-growing regions of the world, in general, are also coffee producing regions. Whereas tobacco is grown in rich fertile valleys, often in the shadow of volcanoes, Coffea arabica is grown on their slopes, taking advantage of nutrient-rich volcanic soils. Additionally, premium tobaccos and specialty coffees are graded in similar terms, and each have been catalysts for both political and cultural revolution.

Steve Luck's The Complete Guide to Cigars: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Finest Cigars is a massive undertaking. Between its covers the author has endeavored to bring to light the history, successes, follies, trends and brands of the world's premium cigar industry. The result is a tome worthy of standing beside Guns, Germs, And Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond (Norton, $18.95), or Kenneth Davids' seminal work on specialty coffee, Coffee . . . more >

Kenneth Davids is the ultimate authority on coffee. Whether your interest lies in green beans, blending, roasting, brewing or serving, Davids has information you want. His mind is a search engine of coffee topics that predates Google. First published in 1976, Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying is Davids' manifesto on all things coffee, and is considered by many the holy grail of the specialty coffee world. Copies of his book are hoarded and jealously guarded by coffee afficionados and industry insiders alike. Among this hoard, there is a consensus that Davids, and Davids alone, can access the secrets behind the alchemy of the world's most popular brew.

Farm to Table
Davids has divided Coffee into chapters that clearly drive home specific subjects. He covers everything from the history of coffee (and corrects some misinformation out there about its orgins) to roasting your own . . . more >

If Kenneth Davids' Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying (The Cole Group, $10.95) is the last word on coffee, then Charles and Violet Schafer's Coffee: A Connoisseur's View of Coffee, Its Lore, Varieties, Brewing Methods, Equipment & Companion Foods to Perfect Your Taste is the first. Whereas Davids focuses his expertise on the subtle technicalities of specialty coffee, the Schafers lend theirs to the social aspects of it.

No novices to the food and beverage industry, they have between them more than fifty years sharing their gastronomical adventures with the world. Hyper-inquisitive, they infuse their writing with lore, history, anecdotes and practical advice. While others write for the industry, the Schafer's audience is clearly outside the business of coffee. They write (and do it well) for people not too dissimilar from themselves; curious readers looking to enrich the social experience around their . . . more >


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