The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
That's right, woodchuck-chuckers... 

Groundhog DayGroundhog Day screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis (1992 Jan 07):
http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/groundhogday.pdf

Groundhog Day screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis (1992 Jan 07):
http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/groundhogday.pdf

Groundhog Day screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis (1992 Jan 07):
http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/groundhogday.pdf
 
Today In Baird History. 

90 years ago today, on January 26, 1926, John Logie Baird demonstrated the first successful television. Today's Google Doodle commemorates the man and his invention. Articles:

Who invented the television? How people reacted to John Logie Baird's creation 90 years ago (+2 videos):
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/google-doodle/12121474/Who-invented-the-television-John-Logie-Baird-created-the-TV-in-1926.html

Who invented the mechanical television? A Scot!:
http://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2016/0126/Who-invented-the-mechanical-television-A-Scot

Who invented the mechanical television? Five facts you need to know about John Logie Baird:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/who-invented-the-mechanical-television-five-facts-you-didnt-know-about-john-logie-baird-a6834021.html

Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Logie_Baird

Back when Aaron Sorkin was starting to write The Social Network, he created a Facebook group as part of his research, and I was lucky enough to chat with him about JLB. Sorkin's play, The Farnsworth Invention, had just closed early on Broadway, and I scolded him for presenting Philo Taylor Farnsworth as the "inventor" of television. I said that John Logie Baird was always given that place of honor, in my family, even though we're probably not related to him. Sorkin replied with a line from his play:

DAVID SARNOFF: Now it’s 1921 and not a lot of people were thinking about electrons except the writers of comic books and the readers of comic books, one of whom was a kid from Indian Creek, Utah whose family had just moved to Rigby, Idaho to live on his uncle’s potato farm. If there are any Brits in the theatre they’re gonna start shouting John Logie Baird at me but they’re wrong. Baird didn’t have it. Neither did Nipkow or Ernst Alexanderson and neither did Vladimir Zworykin. I know they didn’t have it ‘cause I knew these men and Zworykin worked for me.

I graciously allowed him to prevail (mainly because it's practically impossible to win an argument with a master playwright like Aaron Sorkin), but I still think he's wrong. And that's why his little play failed. Nyah-nyah. ;-)

Pix.
 
Advantages Of Being Elderly. 

I recently turned 65, which is conventionally defined as the chronological age at which people are referred to as "elderly."

Other terms associated with this age: patriarch, golden-ager, senior citizen, retiree, pensioner, geriatric and old fart.

I have discovered there are a couple of advantages to being 65:

1) Senior discounts, which are graciously applied by pimply-faced workers at various fast-food joints. Emphasis on Graciously.

2) The "aggravated" enhancement for any class 2 felony. For example, if you had assaulted me last month, you'd have gotten 5 years in the slammer. But now, you'll get 12.5 years. Go ahead. Hit me.
 
I call ‪#‎dibs‬ on 2016. 

Go get your own year.

This one's mine. ;-)
 
It's coming up on a new year, get a new eBook... free! 

Click a cover. Any cover.

Click for Amazon Kindle eBook page - Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul Click for Amazon Kindle eBook page - Merlinsky: The Sorcerer´s Apprentice Click for Amazon Kindle eBook page - Eleven Thousand Virgins: Hildegard von Bingen´s Last Chants

Other formats: Vlad, Merlinsky & Virgins.

Amazon Best Sellers in Kindle Store (currently #1, #2 & #4): Top 100 Free Best Sellers in Performing Arts

Bestseller List
 
A Christmas Miracle (minor, but WTH). 

[Warning: humblebrag ahead] Amazon breaks down its Best Sellers rankings into many, many different categories. And those categories are broken down into many, many subcategories. And those subcategories are broken down into eBooks and Dead-Tree books, Paid and Free books, etc. When it comes right down to it, a good chunk of the authors with titles listed on Amazon have a decent shot at getting onto a Best Sellers list. But I'm still delighted that 3 of my free eBooks are currently #1, #2 and #6 on the following list. Merry Christmas!

http://amazon.com/best/zgbs/digital-text/154691011/?tf=1
 
You Shouldn't Have To Pay $0.99 For Sex. 

Click for Smashwords eBook pageSome of you may already know that I've been experimenting with publishing free eBooks. Smashwords was an excellent place to start, and they automatically distributed my eBooks to the Barnes & Noble (Nook) and Apple (iBook) stores, among several others. That was extremely helpful, because I wanted to reach as many readers as possible. However, Amazon (which controls approximately 74% of the eBook market) is really picky, so I had to create my own Kindle listings. And Amazon won't let you list your eBook for free ($0.99 minimum), unless you enroll in their KDP Select program:

https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2X66QXB12WV2

which pays some money to a few hundred of their top authors, while the millions of other eBook authors earn nothing. Nada. Bupkes.

However, your eBook is not really free to potential readers, unless they subscribe to the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/ku/sign-up

for $9.99 a month. As you can see, this is an amazing deal - for Amazon. They pay out some of their profits to a minuscule percentage of their elite "KDP Select" authors, and let the rest of the unwashed author masses starve. Meanwhile Amazon collects... what?... millions of dollars in KU subscription fees?

I hated this idea. I wanted ALL my readers to have free access to my eBooks, and I finally found a way to get around Amazon's KDP-Select-KU scam:

When Smashwords finally gets my eBook listed at a price of $0.00 at 3 or 4 of the top eBook stores, I report the URLs to Amazon, and challenge them to match prices. They usually lower the price within a day or two - but only at the US Amazon store, not at the 12 other country-specific Amazon stores. Readers who shop at Amazon Japan or Amazon India, for example, have to pay the full 99 cents (or the equivalent in yen, or rupees).

My latest eBook was listed at Smashwords immediately:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/601873

, but it contains sexual situations and language, so the Smashwords team has to vet it, before they feel comfortable sending it out to other eBook stores. (BTW, the Smashwords site also offers Kindle, Nook and iBook versions of my eBooks.) So I decided to see if the Smashwords URL was enough to get Amazon to match prices, and received the following reply:

"From time to time, we may match prices elsewhere online, including free promotions. However, we retain discretion over our retail prices and cannot offer a price match in this case."

I thought the wording was pretty high-handed, considering that the AUTHOR sets the price of his/her eBook (as long as it's above the magic $0.99 figure).

So I guess we'll have to wait until the Smashwords team plows their way through my purple prose, and distributes the latest eBook to other stores, so I can club Amazon over the head with several $0.00 URLs. Meanwhile, please don't hesitate to pick up a FREE copy for your Kindle, Nook, iPad or iPhone at Smashwords!

12/24 Update: Amazon finally caved, although they seemed a bit grumpy about it: "While we retain discretion over our retail prices, I've passed your feedback on for consideration."
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019LWAW2I
 
And yet another free eBook just released! 
Click for Smashwords ebook page
Download Eleven Thousand Virgins: Hildegard von Bingen's Last Chants
for your Kindle, Nook, computer, tablet, phone, iBook, iPad, iPod, iWatch, microwave or toaster.

Did I mention that it's free?

Description: "Field of Dreams" with medieval chant music in place of baseball.

Synopsis: Alex Barnett has a comfortable life in Los Angeles and San Francisco; it's probably too comfortable, although he can't quite admit to himself that an extended separation from his wife Nicole eats at his soul. An unusual set of seemingly unrelated circumstances impels him to seek out a centuries-abandoned monastery in southwest Germany, where he confronts the animate image of Hildegard von Bingen, the legendary twelfth-century mystic, prophet, and composer of ravishing liturgical chants. Although his friend Lars believes it's a bona-fide vision, much like the visions that fueled Hildegard's own creativity, Alex cynically distrusts his deepest instincts and drives himself to search for a more acceptable answer. His quest guides him on the path toward self-awareness, through experiences both sacred and profane. One man's inner and outer pilgrimages take him to the depths of uncertainty, and, almost inexorably, to the peak of actualization.

Background: Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179 AD) composed many chants in honor of Saint Ursula (?-383 AD). According to legend, Ursula was a Romano-British princess who, at the request of her father, King Donaut of Dumnonia (SW England), set sail across the English Channel with 11,000 virginal handmaidens to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica (Brittany). Before the princess could arrive, all the virgins were beheaded in a massacre, and Ursula was shot dead. Modern research suggests the phrase "XI. M. V." was misinterpreted as "eleven thousand (in Roman numerals) virgins" rather than "eleven martyred virgins."

Genre: Spiritual drama. Warning: sexual situations and language.

Semifinalist in: Writers Network competition.

Later: ISBN 9781522731795 or 1522731792. ASIN B019LWAW2I. EAN 2940152534696.
 
Star Wars Lasik. 

Pic snapped by Doc Vader and his surgical team, in the middle of my double-eye Lasik procedure:

Lasik

Re: Adding a Star Wars lightsaber to your Facebook profile (Time)
 
'Nother free eBook just released!  
Click for Smashwords ebook page
Download Merlinsky: The Sorcerer's Apprentice
for your Kindle, Nook, computer, tablet, phone, iBook, iPad, iPod, iWatch, microwave or toaster.

Rated PG: suitable for kids, teens, young adults, midlife crisis adults, and senior coupon clippers.

Did I mention that it's free?

Description: Imagine the Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter and they go back to the future. Based on the Arthurian legend and the ancient folklore myth of the sorcerer's apprentice.

Synopsis: The endless hordes of Hollywood tourists in the late 1940's are easy marks for a con-man magician like Harry Merlinsky. He knows how to sucker the rubes and flash the ol' hamster-outta-the-fedora every now and then, to baffle 'em and dazzle 'em. But he didn't expect a naive fan like Jake, who wants to learn Harry's Old Knowledge - "real" magic. Harry's archenemy obliterates Jake's girlfriend, forcing Jake to become a wizard, just to stay alive. Will Jake use his newfound powers for vengeance? The timeless myth of the Sorcerer's Apprentice unfolds against the backdrop of the Magic Castle and the Hollywoodland sign.

Lineage: 12th-century folklore myths begat The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which begat a tone poem by composer Paul Dukás, which begat Disney's Fantasia, which inspired Merlinsky, a magical action-adventure. [Completed before the Nicolas Cage film was released.]

Quarterfinalist in these competitions: American Zoetrope, Writers Network.

December 18 Update - Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#14 Top 100 Free in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts
http://amazon.com/BestPA/zgbs/digital-text/154691011/?tf=1
#59 Top 100 Free in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Time Travel
http://amazon.com/BestTT/zgbs/digital-text/6190487011/?tf=1#3

Smashwords, Amazon (US/UK/DE/AT/FR/ES/IT/NL/JP/BR/CA/MX/AU/IN), Barnes & Noble, Apple. Kobo, Scribd, Inktera, OverDrive, Oyster, Goodreads reviews.

ISBN 9781522731801 or 1522731806. ASIN B019AWDV3Q. EAN 2940152520880.
 
"We have met the enemy and he is us." 

In June of 2013, my wife and I moved into a house on Lago Del Sol (Lake Of The Sun):

http://facebook.com/10151457014207477

Or so we thought. The signs around the lake led us to believe that was true. The lake to the east featured signs which labeled it Lago Pogo (Lake Of Pogo). But, after a couple of years, I began to look at Leisure World maps, which said that we lived on Lago Pogo, and the lake to the east was unnamed.

So I wrote to The Powers That Be. Just because that's the way I roll. I enjoy irritating authority figures.

It's in my blood. I'm a sh*t-stirrer, as was my father before me. My father's father was, too, and I'm sure the line of sh*t-stirrers extends way back into the mists of time. Generations of proud sh*t-stirrers, if you will.

In the best-case scenario, The Powers That Be might re-label the maps, and my wife and I could happily live our lives on the Lake Of The Sun, instead of Swamp-Rat Lake. But I figured that was a long shot, and TPTB would probably ignore me.

Boy, was I wrong.

http://facebook.com/10153176785427477

[TPTB had to move 4 signs. And on their maps, the lake to the east is still unnamed.]
 
Something Happened. 

Until Black Friday, the Kindle eBook free downloads for "Vlad the Impaler" (http://amazon.com/dp/B017265KZE) were percolating right along, with the usual ups and downs. The best day for units ordered (40) was Monday, November 2nd, just a few days after its release. Then the title was added to some Listopia forums on Goodreads.com. Yowza. (90)

The comparison charts are here.
 
Amazon Best Sellers. 

See Best Sellers graphics on Facebook page for Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul: http://facebook.com/862532100503620

Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1 Top 100 Free in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts
http://amazon.com/BestPA/zgbs/digital-text/154691011/?tf=1
#1 Top 100 Free in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > History > Europe > Eastern
http://amazon.com/BestEE/zgbs/digital-text/156638011/?tf=1
 
Ebook research. 

Click for Amazon Kindle ebook pageDownload Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul (Amazon Kindle). [+Smashwords, iBook, Nook]

How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords.

How to publish a FREE ebook on Amazon Kindle. (Amazon calls this "Price Match" and they hate it. They would rather make money off you by having you enroll your book in KDP Select, so that readers have to buy a $9.99/mo subscription to Kindle Unlimited in order to read your book for free, while you collect bupkes in royalties. Nice scam.)

What market share do Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo and Google have selling eBooks?
Amazon=74%, Apple=11%, B&N=8%, Kobo=3%, Google=2%.

Download figures for Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul:
84 since October 22 at Smashwords.
66 since October 29 at Amazon. US/UK/DE/AT/FR/ES/IT/NL/JP/BR/CA/MX/AU/IN. [Review guidelines.]
18 since October 22 at B&N.
4 since October 22 at Apple. Kobo/Scribd/Inktera/OverDrive/Oyster.

ISBN 9781518730009 or 1518730000. ASIN B017265KZE. EAN 2940152426786. Goodreads reviews.

November 22 Update - total of 851 eBooks downloaded during first month.
 
Free eBook just released! 
Click for Amazon Kindle ebook page
Download Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul
for your Kindle, Nook, computer, tablet, phone, iBook, iPad, iPod, iWatch, microwave or toaster. [+Smashwords]

WARNING: graphic transgressive violence.

Did I mention that it's free?

Many will assume this is just another retelling of the "Dracula" horror myth... but Vlad's story is true. Hitler's Holocaust killed approximately 10% of Germany's people, while some estimates claim that Vlad exterminated more than 20% of his fellow Wallachians. A gruesome genre-bender with perverse humor, based on 15th-century history.
 
Lyrics: It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) [1987]. 

by R.E.M. (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe) ~ video

That's great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane, Lenny Bruce is not afraid
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs, don't misserve your own needs

Feed it up a knock, speed, grunt, no, strength, no
Ladder, structure clatter with fear of height, down height
Wire in a fire, represent the seven games
In a government for hire and a combat site

Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry with the furies
Breathing down your neck
Team by team, reporters baffled, trump, tethered crop
Look at that low plane, fine then

Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it'll do, save yourself, serve yourself
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

Six o'clock, TV hour, don't get caught in foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform and book burning, blood letting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate

Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down
Watch a heel crush, crush, uh oh, this means no fear
Cavalier, renegade and steer clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine, I feel fine

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

The other night I tripped a nice continental drift divide
Mount St. Edelite, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right? Right

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

***

Lyrics: American Pie [1971]
Lyrics: Subterranean Homesick Blues [1965]
Lyrics: We Didn't Start The Fire [1989]
Lyrics: Thick As A Brick [1972]
Video: The Elements [1959]
List of patter songs
 
The Way [2010]. 

The WayThis is an excellent movie about the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela that's not preachy, not in-your-face religious, just quietly and surprisingly spiritual, with an engaging tale to tell. [Audience Rating-83%, Critics' Rating-82%]

"Martin Sheen stars in this heartwarming and funny story of a cantankerous doctor who comes to France to deal with the tragic loss of his son, played by his real-life son Emilio Estevez. Rather than return home, he embarks on an historical pilgrimage to honor his son's wishes and finds friendship with a group of misfits, each on a journey along the famous Camino de Santiago trail." (Showtime)

Trailer ~ Amazon ~ IMDb
Scallop trail marker ~ Certificate of completion
 
Lyrics: American Pie [1971]. 

by Don McLean ~ video

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

So bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you're in love with him
'Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died

I started singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Now for ten years we've been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin' stone
But that's not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me

Oh, and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned

And while Lenin read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died

We were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the halftime air was sweet perfume
While the sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

'Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?

We started singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye
And singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
'Cause fire is the devil's only friend

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan's spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

He was singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye
And singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play

And in the streets, the children screamed
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died

And they were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

They were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey 'n rye
And singin' this'll be the day that I die

***

Lyrics: Subterranean Homesick Blues [1965]
Lyrics: We Didn't Start The Fire [1989]
 
Lyrics: Subterranean Homesick Blues [1965]. 

by Bob Dylan ~ video

Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doin' it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin' for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap
By the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A.
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes
Don't try "No-Doz"
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows

Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
But users, cheaters
Six-time losers
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin' for a new fool
Don't follow leaders
Watch the parkin' meters

Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don't wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don't wanna be a bum
You better chew gum
The pump don't work
'Cause the vandals took the handles

***

Lyrics: We Didn't Start The Fire
 
Facebook is down?! 

Mark Zuckerberg (in The Social Network): "Let me tell you the difference between Facebook and everybody else: WE DON’T CRASH EVER!"

Or only 3 times in 11 days.

Somebody said it's due to Mercury being retrograde (September 17 – October 9).
 
Labor Day. 

Today is Labor Day in the United States. The U.S. Department of Labor claims the holiday is: "...a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

PBS says America's Labor Day is "...an attempt to appease the nation's workers..."

Most countries in Europe observe Labor Day on May 1, to commemorate the American martyrs to the labor movement.
 
Thank you, George W. Bush. 

The U.S. was attacked in 2001 by a group organized by Osama bin Laden.
So you, Dubya, inexplicably decided to attack Saddam Hussein, using the infamous Sixteen Words as justification.
When Hussein fell, his well-trained Sunni army went looking for trouble.
They helped form ISIS, which scared the hell out of people in the region.
Now those people are seeking refuge in European countries.
So in addition to (1) bankrupting the U.S. economy and (2) destabilizing the Middle East, (3) you precipitated a humanitarian crisis in Europe.
Well done, Dubya. You must be very proud.
 
Freelancers Beware: Phoenix New Times. 

Two weeks ago, I took a script-analysis gig for $100/hr, and I didn't trust the guy at all. Payment up front, etc. He turned out to be totally trustworthy. Not much of a writer, but honest. Last week, I was approached to do a freelance job by the Managing Editor of Phoenix New Times, a local weekly newspaper. Amy Silverman nearly hired me as a staff proofreader several years ago, and she's been on my Facebook Friends list ever since. She works for a big company (The Village Voice in NYC is the owner), so I figured they would treat me in a reasonably straightforward and reliable way. Boy, was I wrong. [My private comments are in square brackets.]

>>Monday 8/24 4:55p, Amy Silverman wrote to Alan, on Facebook:
Hey Alan- Any interest in a freelance proofreading project? -Amy

>>Monday 8/24 8:29p, Alan wrote to Amy, on Facebook:
You betcha!

>>Monday 8/24 9:06p, Amy wrote to Alan, on Facebook:
Awesome! What's your email address?

>>Monday 8/24 9:10p, Alan wrote to Amy, on Facebook:
xxx@xx.com

>>Tuesday 8/25 10:19a, Amy emailed to Alan:
The proofing gig is for the Best of Phoenix issue, we have a LOT of copy that needs to be proofread in pretty short order. I can pay $20 an hour. If that sounds doable I'll put you in touch with our copy editor and he can give you the rest of the particulars.

>>Tuesday 8/25 1:49p, Alan emailed to Amy:
Sounds good! [Sounds like a sh*tty rate to me, but it'll keep me out of trouble for the weekend.]

>>Tuesday 8/25, 10:57a, Amy wrote to Alan, on Facebook:
emailed you! hoping to square this away asap. :-)

>>Tuesday 8/25 2:05p, Alan wrote to Amy, on Facebook:
I just replied, Amy. Sorry, sleeping from the night shift.

>>Tuesday 8/25 2:05p, Amy wrote to Alan, on Facebook:
All good!

>>Tuesday 8/25 2:05p, Amy emailed to Jay Bennett and Alan:
Hey Jay -- Alan is on board to proofread a couple chapters. I'll let you two discuss logistics.

>>Tuesday 8/25 2:12p, Alan emailed to Jay and Amy:
Looking forward to it!

>>Wednesday 8/26 1:52p, Jay emailed to Alan:
I should have some chapters for you by the end of the week. What's the best way to get them to you? [This is the crucial message - if Jay had been honest, and told me upfront that he wanted me to make two 52-mile roundtrips, to pick up and drop off a stack of paper, I would have bailed immediately. The mileage costs would've eaten up most of my earnings. But instead, Jay asked me to advise him on the best way to get the material to me. I, of course, assumed he was being courteous and asking me about the file format I preferred for emailing.]

>>Wednesday 8/26 2:13p, Alan emailed to Jay:
If we use Word .doc files, I can turn on Track Changes so you can see my edits. But whatever works for you is fine with me.

>>Thursday 8/27 12:54p, Jay emailed to Alan:
We'd prefer to use regular ol' paper and pen. I'll have a stack of 11x17 galley proofs. [Paper? Really?! Jay, you've heard about computers, pdf's and the internet machine, right? Notice that Jay continued misleading me, by avoiding the issue of who's going to be the delivery boy. I assumed he planned to abuse one of the company's unpaid interns, so I cleared my weekend schedule and passed on a $400 script-analysis gig.]

>>Thursday 8/27 2:13p, Alan emailed to Jay:
OK, sounds good! Here's my physical address: xxx. The gate is on Xxx Street. Let me know when to expect the delivery. [Notice that Thursday's close of business is about three hours away. Jay's reply was sent near the close of business on Friday, 26 hours later.]

>>Friday 8/28 8:02a, Alan emailed to Jay:
I've left a pass at the gate for either today or tomorrow. Here's my phone number and directions inside the gate: xxx. [When Jay didn't reply on Thursday afternoon, I was puzzled. I thought he was in a hurry - re: Amy's "pretty short order" comment above - so I sent more details in case the intern got lost.]

>>Friday 8/28 4:27p, Jay emailed to Alan:
Thanks for the making the time to leave the pass, etc. I'm not sure this setup is going to work, unfortunately. Driving out to your location to drop off/pick up proofs is unfeasible for me, and I certainly can't imagine asking you to do the same, in terms of driving into downtown. [I suspect Jay was trying to be sarcastic here, thinking I would drop to my knees and grovel. Jay needs to take a writing class. Or three.]

>>Friday 8/28 5:45p, Alan emailed to Jay:
OK. Good luck with your project, Jay. [Jay, you f*cking d*ckwad. I canceled my weekend plans, blew off a $400 script-analysis fee and let you jerk my chain, for the dangled carrot of TWENTY MEASLY BUCKS AN HOUR?!]

>>Friday 8/28 5:57p, Alan emailed to Amy:
Sorry this didn't work out. When Jay wrote - "What's the best way to get them to you?" - I assumed he was actually going to try to get the proofs to me. Imagine my surprise. [Forwarded copy of Jay/Alan correspondence.]

>>Friday 8/28 6:40p, Alan wrote to Amy, on Facebook:
Jay pulled the plug unexpectedly. Forwarded the details to your email.

>>Friday 8/28 6:42p, Amy wrote to Alan, on Facebook:
I would not call that pulling the plug.

>>Friday 8/28 9:00p, Alan wrote to Amy, on Facebook:
Leading me on for several days, and pulling the rug out from under me at the last minute is not my idea of ethical behavior. And frankly, it shocks me that you would defend it. [What kind of snakepit are you running down there, Amy?! Your moral compass needs a tuneup.]

>>Friday 8/28 9:06p, Alan wrote to Amy, on Facebook:
Wow Alan, you really must be a mind reader because this is exactly what I was hoping for after work on a Friday night. If you weren't so rude I'd give you an explanation but instead I'll just tell you to never contact me again. Good job burning a bridge. ["If you weren't so rude I'd give you an explanation" - Wow Amy, I've talked with six-year-olds who were more mature. And your bridge was beginning to look like Galloping Gertie anyway.]

[I've never exchanged so many messages on a freelance project in my life. I can see now that Jay's strategy was to keep me in the dark for as long as he could, then drop the bomb at the last possible moment. Let's hope karma bites these two in the a**.]
 
The book that took 40 years to write. 

Norman Maclean was born in 1902 and eventually became an English professor at the University of Chicago. He wrote very little - one book of military instruction and two scholarly articles - then retired in 1973. He finally published "A River Runs Through It and Other Stories" in 1976, at the age of 74.

A selection committee nominated the book to receive the Pulitzer Prize in 1977, but the full committee did not award a Pulitzer in that category for the year.

Robert Redford later bought the film rights, and directed the movie starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt and Tom Skerritt. In 1993, it was nominated for three Oscars, and won one.

Maclean died in 1990.
 
Good deeds never go unpunished. 

Someone left a shopping bag near one of our cacti this morning. It was folded over, and we couldn't see inside, so we became a little nervous. Maybe it was paranoia, but in the post-9/11 world, it's better to be safe than sorry. That's when we called the Security office for our development. A nice young man soon arrived, but neither one of us was brave enough to look inside the bag. Long story short, 9-1-1 was called, and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office sent a Deputy over. He said it was against protocol, but he held his breath, opened the bag...

...and found that it was full of tiny cacti. Someone had seen all the cacti my wife has been planting, and wanted to add to our collection. A really nice gesture... which nearly brought out the Bomb Squad.

So we wanted to express our thanks to the anonymous benefactor, for providing a bit of excitement in our otherwise humdrum lives. If there is a next time, please leave a note so we can thank you!

(Or have you arrested. Just kidding.)