The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
818 Blues. 

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!"
 
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]
 
Free eBook! 

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.:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000493771

Enjoy!

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!
 
Old Joke. 

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:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=769695379728890

Alternatively - or in addition - you could Retweet this message:
https://twitter.com/BugWeedMarts/status/474285716755607552

They tell me a Retweet is as good as a Like - or a Share - so thanks for your clicking efforts!
#creepiestscorpioncontest

Update: Spoken-word performance (:69 mp3 546k):
http://www.zoetrope.com/files/pri/71061/scorpion.mp3
 
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. 

ChinatownJake 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 help and IMDb help. 

Changing an Amazon page or IMDb page can be difficult at best. The workers who are supposed to help in the updating process often ignore you. I've spent literally months trying to correct the information on some of my Amazon pages: http://amazon.com/author/acb

And, as you can see, my luck with IMDb hasn'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: http://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: http://sellercentral.amazon.com

Or an Amazon Associate: http://affiliate-program.amazon.com

Or an Amazon Author: http://authorcentral.amazon.com

But Amazon still prefers to overlook or change corrections, even if you can prove the corrections are accurate.

I decided to post the above URLs here, because some of them are hidden, or just not well-publicized.
 
Dirty Words. 

For me, the best part of exploring a new language is learning the taboo words, the words that carry an unnatural amount of power... the dirty words. It's fun to chat with a group of foreigners and drop a carefully-timed expletive into the conversation. They all look at you like you're a... well... a foreigner, and marvel at the fact that even though you don't know how to say "sorry" or "excuse me" in their language, you DO know how to say "motherf*cking c*cks*cker" with exquisite pronunciation and perfect inflection. Most of the time, they will laugh. But even if they don't, it's okay. Nobody wants to hang around a bunch of prudes, anyway. So acquiring a healthy vocabulary of swear words has always proved to be a very useful exercise, even if it just filtered out the tight*sses. When I married Anikó fourteen years ago, one of the first things I asked her to teach me was how to curse in Hungarian.

Pacific Life Open, March 2006In 2006, Palm Springs Life magazine sent me to cover a tennis tournament at a large stadium near our office. According to the program, one of the competitors was from Romania. However, I was almost sure that he was mumbling to himself in Hungarian. I imagined that he came from a long line of proud Székely warriors, who had suffered under Romanian oppression for nearly a century. As the match wore on, and his performance started going from bad to worse, he shouted a single filthy word in Hungarian. It was unmistakable. When I heard it, I let out an involuntary laugh. Judging from the silence all around me, I was the only spectator in the 16,000-seat stadium who understood what he was saying. After the next point--which he lost--there was another Hungarian profanity. I laughed at that one, too. He smiled up at me. But the match was turning into a disaster for him, and he started yelling many different, colorful phrases. I marveled at his creativity, and laughed every time. The referee couldn't understand the words, so he didn't stop the guy. But the crowd began to catch on, and every time I laughed, they laughed, too. At the end of the match, the player walked over to my part of the stands, and held out his hand. I walked down to shake it, and to offer my condolences. He said the loss was not as painful as it might have been, because he had enjoyed expressing himself freely, so far from home, in front of a guy who clearly understood his frustration.
 
Taste of Hungary. 

See you there! 11:45am-10pm
http://google.com/maps?daddr=1822+W+Vogel+85021
http://HungarianChurchPhoenix.org/
http://facebook.com/phoenixi.egyhaz
http://facebook.com/218263965042450
http://facebook.com/180199621991291
 
Writing in the snow. 

Now that the Sochi games are nearly over, it might just be time to write your name in the snow...

http://pee-mail.com
 
#NameDay. 

I submitted this proposal to Facebook late last night:

I suggest that you add a Name Day feature, similar to Birthday. It would need a date selector, plus a text box to specify the name, which may be slightly different than the person's given name. In many European and Latin American countries, name days are very popular, often celebrated as much as a person's actual birthday. Here's some background:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_day

Let me know if I can help in developing this feature!
Alan C. Baird

***

After my kids got to know me, they thought it was strange that I didn't have a Name Day, so they selected one for me - Árpád, December 11. Thanks, Anita and Jenő!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Árpád
http://www.hungarianreference.com/Hungarian-name-day-nevnap-magyar-névnapok-nevnapok.aspx

[Twitter]
 
Deep Thoughts. 

The photo on the left below is from 1989, and shows the Bro and me after a day of diving in the Keys. The bar was in Islamorada, I think. From what I can recall, the snapshot's fuzzy focus was pretty well matched by the fuzzy focus in my brain.

We had just finished a wreck dive, and by the time we found the bar, I was feeling the effects of too much sun and too little beer.

So we started making energetic progress on the beer front. As the evening ripened, we noticed other scuba divers at the tables around us. They were doing what divers do best: telling tall tales to the waitresses and hoping to get lucky. We overheard some outrageous lies, passed off as authentic dive adventures. So we began to parody their macho conversations, making up exaggerated stories of our own:

"A 10-foot barracuda tried to turn my arm into a snack, but I ripped out his jaw and made it into a lamp."

"Did I tell you about the time I killed a 20-foot moray eel with my bare teeth? Chewed him up and spit him out. Tasted like chicken."

"That's nothing. When a 30-foot great white bit off my leg, I used my air hose as a tourniquet and chased the sucker. After I retrieved the leg, it was sewed back on by a Key West hooker."

Several beers later, the stories became much more interesting. Wish I could remember them.

Bar - click to enlarge 726x509 C-card - click to enlarge 240x321
 
1745 years ago today. 

Valentine's Day probably originated with the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia. During Rome's early days, fierce wolves roamed the nearby woods, so Roman citizens called upon one of their gods, Lupercus, to keep the beasts away. A celebration to honor the god was held every February 15th. One Lupercalian custom for young Romans was name-drawing: on the festival's eve, names of eligible girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man drew a slip, and the chosen girl would be his sweetheart for the year.

Legend has it that a priest named Valentine was trying to spread the new religion of Christianity in Rome during the reign of Claudius II. The Emperor decreed that his soldiers were NOT to be engaged or married, reasoning that men who were romantically involved would prefer to stay at home with their families, rather than fight his wars. Valentine defied the edict and continued to perform marriages in secret. When Claudius found out, he ordered that Valentine be put to death.

While awaiting execution, Valentine fell in love with his jailer's daughter, a young woman who visited him in prison. Before his beheading on February 14, 269 AD, it is said that he wrote her a letter and signed these words: "From your Valentine."

After his martyrdom, Valentine was canonized (declared to be a saint). As the Church gained more power in Rome, the holiday was moved from the 15th to the 14th - St. Valentine's Day. This was in keeping with the Church's usual strategy of eliminating pagan feasts by co-opting them (Yule to Christmas, Beltane to May Day, etc.), so the modern celebration honors Valentine instead of Lupercus.

[Factoid 1: Valentine's Day is also known for the infamous 1929 massacre orchestrated by Al Capone. Factoid 2: the Greeting Card Association estimates that women purchase more than 80 percent of all valentines. Duh.]
 
The Photo Stolen By Amy Smith Wexler. 

Be careful if you have any online dealings with Amy Smith Wexler. She has been identified by Facebook as an Intellectual Property Thief. Details here.

Later: after some research, it seems that Amy is becoming pretty successful at fundraising. $275 in October, and now, $2,400 in 9 days. I'm not saying these are scams. No, I'm not.
 
Music City flashback. 

1981 - Nashville, Tennessee - directing episodes of a music TV series ("Country Days, Nashville Nights") in a mobile control room. That's me, on the left.

Alan C. Baird in Nashville
 
IMDb Quiz for ACB. 

So, I've finally established a beachhead on the Internet Movie Database with some of my tired, old, dinky credits, and I discovered that the website has generated a quiz about me.

Isn't that cute?!

So I took the quiz and scored a big, fat goose egg.

What a revoltin' development this is...

[crib sheet]
 
Maricopa "No Burn" day? 

At this moment in time, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department says no burning (with a date of 2013 instead of 2014), but it contains a link to www.CleanAirMakeMore.com, which currently says: "It's OK to Burn Wood Today."

Update, 4 hours later: finally corrected (but the year is still 2013).
 
Beware IRS phone scam. 

These calls originate from 415-230-2734, claiming to be the Internal Revenue Service. They say you owe money and need to pay it immediately, or you will be arrested and jailed.

Note: IRS doesn't call. They send delinquency notices in the mail. So don't get sucked in. Just tell them you will call the police, and hang up.
 
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

--(1951) by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
 
Auld Lang Syne. 

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine.
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot
since auld lang syne.
CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine.
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS

--(1788) by Robert Burns (1759-1796) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_Lang_Syne
 
French Equivalence. 

Here's what you need to fly in France (below, left). During my Year Of Failing Miserably at running a rag-tag teeshirts-to-the-tourists enterprise on the Côte d'Azur with a crazy Danish business partner, I thought it might be fun to do some flying in Fayence, one of the famous hotbeds for soaring (glider) world records. I had no car and very little money, but I just wanted to be able to say I had flown there once and had taken the controls for a few minutes. So I hitchhiked the 41 miles from Nice to Fayence. They told me I had to (1) get a French license equivalence, because my American pilot license wasn't worth sh*t, and (2) learn the specialized vocabulary, by reading a soaring book written in French. So I hitchhiked the 24 miles from Fayence to the Cannes Aerodrome and wangled the validation certificate shown here. Then I hitchhiked the 21 miles from Cannes back to Nice and searched all over town, looking for aviation books. Not easy. Then I read "le vol à voile," cover to cover.

Even less easy, for someone who had not progressed very far beyond his introductory français-pour-étrangers courses at the Université de Nice. Then I again hitchhiked the 41 miles from Nice back up to Fayence. Even though I proudly presented my shiny new validation certificate and demonstrated my freshly-acquired vocab, they changed their minds and said I would have to start my ever-lengthening path to the cockpit with an absurdly-expensive class on the ground. F*ckers. I could barely scrape together enough cash for one flight, so raising the money for weeks of ground instruction was out of the question. But I now have a nice souvenir certificate to bring back these misty water-colored memories of the frustrating runaround those jerks put me through...

PS: The crazy Dane and I later used the money I saved to buy a dirt-cheap Citroën nicknamed "Blueballs." But that's another story.

Equivalence - click to enlarge 910x540 Ma and me in Tehachapi, CA - click to enlarge 599x420 FAA licenses - click to enlarge 581x720

PPS: The Last Lesson - a story about my first flight instructor, my father.