"Picnic" (1999) by Fernando Botero (Colombian artist, 1932-), oil on canvas.
I was first exposed to the paintings of Botero when "The Kids" (now all grown up) took us to a lovely restaurant high in the hills overlooking the Danube. We were confronted by these strange-looking (and often nude) overweight people at every twist and turn in the stairways and hallways leading up to a beautiful dining room with a spectacular view of Budapest at dusk. The three strongest memories I have of Udvarház Étterem are: (1) wow, that gulyás leves was tasty, (2) why is this twisted Hungarian artist painting all these fat folks, and (3) I should probably go on a diet when we get back Stateside.
Well, it turned out that: (1) Anikó's gulyás leves was just as delicious, only different, (2) Botero was Colombian, not Hungarian, and (3) my diet, like the many eating regimens I've tried before and since, was a complete bust.
89-Year-Old Learns About Birds & Bees...
#Hitchcock #TheBirds #BeeAttack http://www.buzzfeed.com/acbaird/89-year-old-learns-about-birds-bees-664g
Self-publish a book in 14 countries for under 10 bucks...
...using Amazon's CreateSpace.com! When I published a 108-page book in 2009, it cost $3.66 + $3.55 shipping to get a galley/proof copy. Then I ordered 10 copies for $36.60 + $5.08 shipping, to use at book signings. Prices are comparable today.
Paperback + e-book (Kindle/iPad):
1) US http://amzn.com/1448620805
2) UK http://amzn.co.uk/dp/1448620805
3) India http://amzn.in/dp/1448620805
4) Germany http://amzn.de/dp/1448620805/?site-redirect=de
5) Austria http://amzn.de/dp/1448620805/?site-redirect=at
6) France http://amzn.fr/dp/1448620805
7) Italy http://amazon.it/dp/1448620805
8) Spain http://amazon.es/dp/1448620805
E-book (Kindle/iPad) only:
9) Canada http://amazon.ca/dp/B003LBSJG2
10) Australia http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B003LBSJG2
11) Mexico http://amazon.com.mx/dp/B003LBSJG2
12) Brazil http://amazon.com.br/dp/B003LBSJG2
13) Japan http://amazon.co.jp/dp/B003LBSJG2
14) Netherlands http://amazon.nl/dp/B003LBSJG2
(It looks like Amazon's China site may soon offer CreateSpace books, too.)
I also published a 435-page book for a friend in 2011, which cost $6.08 + $3.59 shipping for a galley/proof copy. Then I ordered 28 copies for $170.24 + $17.00 shipping.
UPDATE: Amazon Author Pages and Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords.
So, people in my levels of access for systems administration or as an infrastructure analyst typically have higher accesses than an NSA employee would normally have. Normal NSA employees have a combination of clearances called TS, SI, TK and Gamma. That's Top Secret, Signals Intelligence, Talent Keyhole and Gamma. And they all relate to certain things that are sort of core to the NSA mission. As a systems administrator, you get a special clearance called PRIVAC, for Privileged Access, which allows you to be exposed to information of any classification, regardless of what your position actually needs.
In the end, if you publish the source material, I will likely be immediately implicated. This must not deter you from releasing the information I will provide.
My personal desire is that you paint the target directly on my back. No one, not even my most trusted confidant, is aware of my intentions and it would not be fair for them to fall under suspicion for my actions. You may be the only one who can prevent that, and that is by immediately nailing me to the cross rather than trying to protect me as a source.
My family doesn't know what's happening, they're unaware. I don't think I'll be able to keep the family ties that I've had for all my life because of the risk of associating them with this. And I'll leave what to publish and what not to publish to you guys, I trust you'll be responsible on this.
This is our country and the balance of power between the citizenry and the government is becoming that of the ruling and the ruled as opposed to actually, you know, the elected and the electorate.
So for me it all comes down to state power against the people's ability to meaningfully oppose that power. And I'm sitting there every day, getting paid to design methods to amplify that state power. And I'm realizing that if, you know, the policy switches, that they are the only things that restrain these states, were changed there, you couldn't meaningfully oppose these. I mean, you'd have to be the most incredibly sophisticated technical actor in existence.
And I'm more willing to risk imprisonment or any other negative outcome personally than I am willing to risk the curtailment of my intellectual freedom and that of those around me.
I appreciate your concern for my safety, but I already know how this will end for me, and I accept the risk. If I have luck, and you are careful, you will have everything you need. I ask only that you ensure this information makes it home to the American public.
--Edward Snowden, "Citizenfour" ~ schedule ~ website ~ IMDb ~ 6/6/2013 interview part 1, part 2
Some would say to him: "You're a traitor."
I'd just say: "Thank you for your service."
I asked my neighbors for the name of the trees that are currently putting out white flowers around Leisure World. I received several suggestions, including:
Orchid tree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phanera_variegata
Desert willow: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilopsis
Callery pear: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrus_calleryana
, but nobody knew for sure, so I finally decided to get serious, and take a photo, which I sent to Moon Valley Nurseries. They said it was a Pyrus kawakamii, or Evergreen pear. and That's when I found this article, which has some beautiful photos.
Freeway Birthday Triple-A.
So there I was this morning, standing on a 12-lane freeway in the 6am darkness, watching the cars whiz by me, three feet away, at 75mph, and I'm singing, in my scared-sh*tless voice:
Happy birthday to you / Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday YOU MORON / Happy birthday to you.
You see, my car had run out of gas on the Superstition Freeway. Bonehead move, right? I knew the tank was getting empty, but based on the odometer reading, I calculated there were 10 or 20 miles left to go. The car had traveled at least that far before, without any problem. But I forgot to factor in the three mornings last week when the ice on the windshield was obscuring my view. Each of those times, I sat in the parking lot at work, running the heater/defroster/defogger for ten minutes, so I could see enough to drive home.
10 minutes x 3 = 30 minutes, or about 30 miles.
But I neglected to do that calculation until the power steering stopped working this morning, in the middle lane of the eastbound 60. As I struggled to get the car over into the breakdown lane, I was chanting my mantra of denial: "The gas tank can't be empty, it can't be, it CAN'T be!"
That's when the equation 10x3=30 flashed into my brain, and I began singing my very-special birthday song.
The Triple-A guy couldn't stop grinning. As he poured gas from his canister into my tank, he said, "Make sure you plan carefully. There are only two gallons in here."
Then he chuckled. Bastard.
"Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?"
I'll find out the answer to this question today.
The Golden Screw (old joke).
A couple has a baby with a strange birth defect – a golden screw stuck in his navel. Doctors assure them there's nothing to be done about it.
The boy grows up ashamed of his difference and blames it for the fact that he has no friends, can't get a date, has a crummy job, etc. Anyway, he goes to scientists and surgeons and witch doctors around the world, but he gets nowhere. He's told to just live with it.
Finally, the guy goes to a holy man in the desert, who says, "You can simply dream it away, but you probably won't like the results. Maybe you should just accept yourself as you are." But the guy insists, so the holy man instructs him on lucid dreaming.
The guy falls asleep, and in his dream, a golden archangel descends from on high, and inserts a golden screwdriver into his navel. After a few quick turns, the golden screw falls out.
When the guy wakes up, sure enough, the golden screw is gone. He's so happy, he jumps up to do a celebratory dance...
...and his a** falls off.
Did you ever wonder how much it would cost to buy everything from "The 12 Days of Christmas" in today's dollars?
Well, wonder no more. It's $116,273.
(AP/AOL) The cost of six geese-a-laying spiked considerably this year, while most of the items in the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas," saw little to no increase, according to the 31st annual PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index.
See also: Inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids and White Christmas: Berlin/McPhatter/Held and Rudolph's Revenge and Drive hammered, get nailed and Holiday Rum Cake and Christmas tree angel and A Festivus for the rest of us and Alice's Restaurant and 7,000 Macedonians in full battle array and Letter To Santa: The Ransom Note and An AZ Xmas and Christmas split.
If you've ever lived in L.A., you'll understand this story. If not: area code 818 was split from L.A.'s area code 213 in 1984, and since then, "true Angelenos" (213 dwellers) have secretly (and not-so-secretly) looked down on the "hinterlands" of 818.
My buddy Sean was born and raised in L.A., and his family has been part of the Hollywood backstage (props, camera, stagehands) for decades. His widowed mom was going downhill last summer, so Sean and his siblings sold the family house in Nichols Canyon, which his mom had designed and built, and moved her into a cottage behind his sister's house.
Sean writes: She kept watching old movies and the Dodgers, listening to good jazz and classical music and polishing up the humor that has kept the Irish from killing themselves for generations. When she bemoaned the fact--repeatedly--about having to sell the family house, I had to remind her that the money for her final years' full time care required us to do it. "And you're at your daughter's house, her hubby and son and dog are great... Jasmine, your helper, is an angel... the rest of us kids are here all the time with you... leaving the house in Hollywood was necessary and you've got it pretty nice here."
"Yes," she said, "But I just don't want to die in the 818 area code!"
Just another Ebola story...
MORTICIAN: Bring out your dead! [rings bell] Bring out your dead! [rings bell]
CUSTOMER: Here's one - nine pence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
CUSTOMER: Nothing - here's your nine pence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
MORTICIAN: Here - he says he's not dead!
CUSTOMER: Yes, he is.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not!
MORTICIAN: He isn't.
CUSTOMER: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
DEAD PERSON: I'm getting better!
CUSTOMER: No, you're not - you'll be stone dead in a moment.
MORTICIAN: Oh, I can't take him like that - it's against regulations.
DEAD PERSON: I don't want to go in the cart!
CUSTOMER: Oh, don't be such a baby.
MORTICIAN: I can't take him...
DEAD PERSON: I feel fine!
CUSTOMER: Oh, do us a favor...
MORTICIAN: I can't.
CUSTOMER: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
MORTICIAN: Naaah, I got to go on to Robinson's - they've lost nine today.
CUSTOMER: Well, when is your next round?
DEAD PERSON: I think I'll go for a walk.
CUSTOMER: You're not fooling anyone y'know. Look, isn't there something you can do?
DEAD PERSON: I feel happy... I feel happy. [mortician hits him with a club]
CUSTOMER: Ah, thanks very much.
MORTICIAN: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
CUSTOMER: Right. [hoofbeats in the distance]
MORTICIAN: Who's that then?
CUSTOMER: I don't know.
MORTICIAN: Must be a king.
MORTICIAN: He hasn't got shit all over him.
--"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975) ~ video ~ necktie
My Hungarian wife said this morning she likes her eggs "sunny upside-down."
I love the jiu-jitsu she performs on English.
Ebola Containment Suit Halloween Costume, here:
The deadly Ebola virus has landed in the United States and the crisis has reached new levels of domestic escalation. You are sure to be prepared if any outbreak happens at your Halloween party. This will literally be the most "viral" costume of the year.
Boots not included
Later: Sexy Ebola Costume (As the deadly Ebola virus trickles its way through the United States, fighting its [sic] disease is no reason to compromise style. The short dress and chic gas mask will be the talk of Milan, London, Paris, and New York as the world's fashionistas seek global solutions to hazmat couture. Ending plague isn't the endeavor of a single woman, so be sure to check out our men's Ebola Containment Costume for a great couple's costume idea.)
Time to make the donuts.
A one-armed man applies for a position as a short-order cook. The restaurant manager is not sure he can handle the job, so he asks the man to demonstrate how he would make a pizza. The guy is able to slice up the mushrooms, grate the cheese and stir the sauce, but he has to take off his shirt to flatten out the dough by pounding it on his hairy chest.
The restaurant manager is disgusted and yells, "That is the most repulsive way of making a pizza I've ever seen!"
The one-armed man replies, "If you think that's gross, wait'll you see how I make the doughnuts!"
Video: Time to make the donuts...
Big news at Leisure World.
A contract post office usually opens in the Admin Building on October 1st, when the snowbirds get here. It's only open for a few hours a day until April 30th (during the "Non-Melting Season"), but the HOA announced yesterday that the post office won't open until next Monday this year. The prevailing mood is ugly. Anikó and I haven't visited a P.O. since we got email in 1995, but we expect the bluehairs all around us will hold demonstrations and sit-ins. This place is a tinderbox.
The 20 Strangest Sentences In The English Language.
Link. For example, "I never said she stole my money" has seven different meanings, depending on which word you emphasize:
[I] never said she stole my money. - Someone else did.
I [never] said she stole my money. - I didn't do it.
I never [said] she stole my money. - I only implied it.
I never said [she] stole my money. - Not necessarily her.
I never said she [stole] my money. - She borrowed it.
I never said she stole [my] money. - Not necessarily mine.
I never said she stole my [money]. - She stole something, but not money.
Rolling thunder redux.
We've been listening to the sound of rolling thunder for about 20 minutes. It's so cool! The Internet says this rare phenomenon can come only from an elevated thunderstorm, which draws its instability from a higher-than-normal altitude storm. The cloud-to-cloud lightning strikes are longer, which means the thunder lasts longer and rolls into a more-or-less continuous rumble. It's not the sharp crack that you hear from a cloud-to-ground strike in a surface-based thunderstorm.
Previous: Rolling thunder + Lightshow.
Beat The Reaper!
To commemorate the arrival of Ebola on our shores, here's a little something from 1968, created by the Firesign Theater:
GAME SHOW HOST: He's coming around, folks! He's gonna be okay and ready to play Symptom Six of BEEEEEEEAT THE REAPER! [organ music and applause]
ANNOUNCER [hushed tones]: Last week, our Patient successfully survived the common cold, measles, pneumonia, dengue fever and the yaws.
HOST: And now, the big question: are you ready to go up?
PATIENT [delirious]: Wha...where...?
HOST: He's ready! [organ music and applause]
ANNOUNCER [hushed tones]: Our topless nurse Judy is wheeling our Patient into the isolation ward.
HOST: Can you hear me in there? Okay, let's shoot him up. [sound of hypodermic needle] Now Patient, you have ten seconds to tell us what you've got, and BEAT THE REAPER! [clock ticking]
PATIENT [delirious]: I... I'm shaking... feverish... my hands are all... I'm turning yellow... my God, I've got jaundice!
HOST: Jaundice it is! Give him the antidote, Judy. [organ music and applause] Well, that's six of six. And now, you've reached the final threshold. Here's the question: are you ready for Symptom Number Seven, longer than any Patient has ever survived before?
PATIENT [delirious]: I want to go home.
HOST: Only one way to do that. Doctor, bring in the super shot.
ANNOUNCER [hushed tones]: Now, for the first time on Beat The Reaper, we're going for the big disease! The icebox is being unlocked by the president of the Armenian Medical Association, under whose strict supervision these toxins are being administered.
PATIENT [delirious]: Ah...
HOST: This is it! Doctor, give him that really big disease! [sound of hypodermic needle] Now Patient, can you hear me? You've got ten seconds to tell us what you've got, and for the last time, BEAT THE REAPER! [clock ticking]
PATIENT [coughing]: I feel... I think I feel... I don't know... whatever it is, I want to die! [clock stops, buzzer sounds]
HOST: Oh, I'm terribly sorry, that's not correct. You didn't Beat The Reaper. Doctor, bring the Patient out and show the amphitheater audience, and all the folks at home, just what he's contracted.
DOCTOR: According to my careful prosthesis, this man has The Plague.
HOST: Thank you, Doctor!
DOCTOR: You're welcome.
HOST: You've got The Plague. [organ music and applause] Well, isn't he a good sport, folks? We'll be back in just a moment with our next patient, but first...
AUDIENCE: The Plague! He's got THE PLAGUE!! [pandemonium and contagion ensue]
The Kindle version of my facebookworm book will be free today, 8/1, for 1 day only.
Free reading apps for iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac, etc.:
PS: [Hint] Click "Buy now with 1-Click" for $0.00, not "Read for Free" with Kindle Unlimited. Unless you've already paid for Kindle Unlimited, in which case you can do whatever the heck you feel like doing. :-)
Update: During the one-day promotion, a total of 32 units were ordered @ $0.00, which placed the eBook at Number One on the Amazon Best Sellers in Screenwriting (Free) List. Overall Amazon Best Sellers Rank of #5,993 Free in Kindle Store, with #3 in Movies and #93 in Entertainment. Thanks for your interest! If you like it, please consider writing a nice review. If you hate it, well... at least it was free!
Three elderly men are comparing notes about who has the worst health problems.
The seventy year old says, “Every morning I get up at 6:30 to urinate, but I have to stand at the toilet for an hour because my pee barely trickles out.”
“Heck, that’s nothing,” says the eighty year old, “I get up every morning at 7:30 to take a crap, but I have to sit on the can for hours because of my constipation. It’s terrible.”
The ninety year old says, “You guys think you have problems! Every morning at 6:30, I whiz like a racehorse and at 7:30, I crap like a pig.”
The eighty year old looks at the seventy year old, then looks back at the ninety year old incredulously and asks, “So what’s your problem?”
The ninety year old replies, “I don’t wake up 'til eight.”
Bruce A. Blake (24 Aug 1941 - 5 Jun 2014).
My cousin Bruce recently died. He became one of my heroes when he lived with my family for several months during the Sixties.
BRUCE A. BLAKE
MILFORD, N.H. - Bruce Allen Blake, 72, resident of Milford, died on Thursday, June 5, at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, N.H., surrounded by his loving family. Bruce was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend to many.
He was born in Oakland, Maine, on Aug. 24, 1941, a son of Edith (Baird) Blake and the late Ralph Blake, of Norridgewock, Maine. Bruce was raised and educated in Norridgewock, Maine. He moved to Milford in 1970, where he settled and raised his family. He was involved in the Milford Community Athletic Association (MCAA) as a booster and a Little League coach. He loved all sports and especially loved watching his children's and grandchildren's sporting events and activities.
Bruce had been employed as an engineering assistant for Sanders Associates in Nashua, N.H., for many years.
He was a U.S. Air Force veteran.
In addition to his mother, family members include his wife of 48 years, Donna (Quinn) Blake, of Milford; his son, Timothy and his wife, Heidi (Lindquist) Blake, of Stratham; his daughter, Janna (Blake) Mellon and her husband, Michael Mellon, of Alton Bay; his five grandchildren, Jasper and Liam Blake, and Haley, Hannah and Hayden Mellon; two sisters, Donna (Blake) Mickewich, of Manchester, Maine, and Diane Blake, of Norridgewock, Maine.
There are no visiting hours.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. June 20, 2014, in the First Congregational Church of Milford, UCC, 10 Union St., Milford.
Donations in his memory may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Northern New England Chapter-NH, ME, VT, 114 Perimeter Road, Unit G & H, Nashua, NH 03063.
Arrangements are in the care of Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please go to www.smith-heald.com.
Sitting On A Scorpion, Or Pooping My Pants.
Can you help my silly scribblings advance into the final round of a scorpion themed micro-story contest? Just click "Like" and/or "Share" on this Facebook photo/story combination:
Alternatively - or in addition - you could Retweet this message:
They tell me a Retweet is as good as a Like - or a Share - so thanks for your clicking efforts!
Update: Spoken-word performance (:69 mp3 546k):
Alien wife swap.
A Martian couple and an Earthling couple have just met and they eventually start discussing sex.
"How do you folks do it?" asks the Earthling guy.
"Pretty much the same way you do," the male Martian replies.
The couples finally decide to walk on the wild side, and swap partners for the night. The Earthling woman and the male Martian go off to a bedroom where the Martian strips. He’s got only a tiny member, very short and very narrow.
"What can you do with THAT?!" exclaims the woman.
"Why?" he asks, "What’s the matter?"
"Well," she replies, "It’s nowhere near big enough."
"No problem," he says, and slaps his forehead with his palm. With each slap, his member grows wider and wider.
"Well, okay," she says. "But it’s still pretty short."
"No problem," he replies again, and starts pulling his ears. With each pull, his member gets longer, until it's quite an impressively length.
"Wow!" she exclaims, as they fall into bed and make mad, passionate love.
The next day, the couples rejoin their normal partners. As the Earthlings walk off together, the guy asks, "Well, was it any good?"
"It was really wonderful," she replies, "How about you?"
"Well," he says, "It was the weirdest thing. All night, she kept slapping me on the forehead and pulling my ears."
Chinatown dialogue excerpt.
Jake Gittes [Jack Nicholson]: So there's this guy Walsh, do you understand? He's tired of screwin' his wife... so his friend says to him, "Hey, why don't you do it like the Chinese do?"
So he says, "How do the Chinese do it?"
And the guy says, "Well, the Chinese, first they screw a little bit, then they stop, then they go and read a little Confucius, come back, screw a little bit more, then they stop again, and then they go out and they contemplate the moon or something like that. Makes it more exciting."
So now, the guy goes home and he starts screwin' his own wife, see. So he screws her for a little bit and then he stops, and he goes out of the room and reads Life Magazine. Then he goes back in, he starts screwin' again. He says, "Excuse me for a minute, honey." He goes out and he smokes a cigarette. Now his wife is gettin' sore as hell. He comes back in the room, he starts screwin' again. He gets up to start to leave again to go look at the moon.
She looks at him and says, "Hey, what's the matter with ya. You're screwin' just like a Chinaman!"
Amazon and IMDb help.
Updating your listings at Amazon or IMDb can be difficult at best. The workers who are supposed to help in the editing process often ignore you. I've spent literally months trying to correct the information on some of my Amazon book pages: http://amazon.com/author/acb
And, as you can see, the results with my IMDb listing - http://imdb.com/name/nm6248253 - haven't been any better: http://www.imdb.com/board/bd0000042/thread/227813780
IMDb is owned by Amazon, so I suspect the high-handed attitude is part of their corporate culture. To get a response from IMDb, I first followed their suggestion, and posted a message on this third-party site: https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb
When that didn't work, I posted a message here: http://www.imdb.com/board/bd0000042/threads
And when THAT didn't work, I sent them a private message: http://resume.imdb.com/helpdesk/contact
Getting Amazon's attention is easier if you're an Amazon Seller: https://sellercentral.amazon.com
Or an Amazon Associate: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com
Or an Amazon Author: https://authorcentral.amazon.com
But Amazon workers still prefer to overlook or change your corrections, even if you can prove the corrections are accurate.
I am posting the above URLs here as a public service, because some of them are hidden or buried on the respective websites.