The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
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.
 
Christmas split. 

First, Jean-Claude Van Damme did a split between trucks:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7FIvfx5J10

Then, Channing Tatum did a split between craft service carts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMlpiey20b8

Now, Chuck Norris does a split between airplanes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-D1KVIuvjA
 
Drive hammered, get nailed. 

With the holidays upon us I would like to share a personal experience with my family and friends about drinking and driving. As you may know, some of us have been known to have brushes with the authorities from time to time on the way home after a “social session” out with friends.

Well, three days ago I was out for an evening with friends and had several cocktails, followed by some rather nice red wine. Feeling jolly, I still had the sense to know that I may be over the limit. That’s when I did something that I’ve never done before ... I took a cab home!

Sure enough, on the way home there was a police roadblock, but since it was a cab they waved it past. I arrived home safely without incident. This was a real relief and surprise because I had never driven a cab before. I don’t even know where I got it, and now that it’s in my garage I don’t know what to do with it!

[Thx!]

***

See also: White Christmas: Berlin/McPhatter/Held and Rudolph's Revenge and Inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids and Holiday Rum Cake and Christmas tree angel and A Festivus for the rest of us and Alice's Restaurant Letter To Santa: The Ransom Note and An AZ Xmas.
 
Boing Boing bites the big one. 

Boing Boing just posted a video: "Oh my God a hawk just ripped up a pigeon right in front of me and is totally just sat there eating it."

2 videos, in fact: the full 15-minute version, and a 45-second time-lapse.

Why? Why? Why? Boing Boing advertises itself as a "Directory of Wonderful Things." This is not a wonderful thing, Boing Boing. This is an awful, terrible, horrible thing. Snuff films do not belong on the Internet.

I am not going to provide a link to the page, for obvious reasons.
 
Report: Unpublished J.D. Salinger stories leak online. 

CatcherCNN: Literary circles were abuzz after three previously unpublished short stories by American author J.D. Salinger showed up on the Internet this week.

The reported works by the reclusive writer of "The Catcher in the Rye" appeared numerous places online, including upload sites Imgur and MediaFire. They were previously only available for academic study.

The 41-page album is simply called "Three Stories." It contains these offerings: "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," "Birthday Boy" and "Paula."

[The above downloads have been removed. The PDF file may be available here, but I can't vouch for the safety of this torrent site.]
 
The Black List. 

If you are a "non-writer" (agent, manager, producer, financier, director, actor) member of The Black List--the annual list of the year's most-liked unproduced screenplays--I'd like to ask for your help. "VLAD THE IMPALER: SON OF DRACUL" is listed on the site:

https://blcklst.com/members/scripts/view/12024

for a limited time, and if you could see your way clear to downloading and rating it, I would be forever grateful!
 
Brad Pitt + Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul. 

55 Bani Romanian postage stamp from 1976: 500th anniversary of Vlad the Impaler's deathA screenplay for your consideration - "Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul."

Historical drama. An unflinchingly gruesome genre-bender, with perverse humor. Many will assume this is just another retelling of the "Dracula" vampire/horror myth... but Vlad's story is true. The Holocaust killed approximately 10% of Germany's people. Some estimates claim that Vlad exterminated more than 20% of his fellow Wallachians. [WARNING: GRAPHIC TRANSGRESSIVE VIOLENCE / based on 15th-century history.]

Download 91p 191k script: http://9TimeZones.com/s/vlad.pdf

Facebook fan page (181 Likes): http://www.facebook.com/vladti

More info: http://scr.9TimeZones.com/#v
 
Zack Snyder + Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul. 

55 Bani Romanian postage stamp from 1976: 500th anniversary of Vlad the Impaler's deathA screenplay for your consideration - "Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul."

Historical drama. An unflinchingly gruesome genre-bender, with perverse humor. Many will assume this is just another retelling of the "Dracula" vampire/horror myth... but Vlad's story is true. The Holocaust killed approximately 10% of Germany's people. Some estimates claim that Vlad exterminated more than 20% of his fellow Wallachians. [WARNING: GRAPHIC TRANSGRESSIVE VIOLENCE / based on 15th-century history.]

Download 91p 191k script: http://9TimeZones.com/s/vlad.pdf

Facebook fan page (181 Likes): http://www.facebook.com/vladti

More info: http://scr.9TimeZones.com/#v
 
Robert Rodriguez + Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul. 

55 Bani Romanian postage stamp from 1976: 500th anniversary of Vlad the Impaler's deathA screenplay for your consideration - "Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul."

Historical drama. An unflinchingly gruesome genre-bender, with perverse humor. Many will assume this is just another retelling of the "Dracula" vampire/horror myth... but Vlad's story is true. The Holocaust killed approximately 10% of Germany's people. Some estimates claim that Vlad exterminated more than 20% of his fellow Wallachians. [WARNING: GRAPHIC TRANSGRESSIVE VIOLENCE / based on 15th-century history.]

Download 91p 191k script: http://9TimeZones.com/s/vlad.pdf

Facebook fan page (181 Likes): http://www.facebook.com/vladti

More info: http://scr.9TimeZones.com/#v
 
Paul Verhoeven + Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul. 

55 Bani Romanian postage stamp from 1976: 500th anniversary of Vlad the Impaler's deathA screenplay for your consideration - "Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul."

Historical drama. An unflinchingly gruesome genre-bender, with perverse humor. Many will assume this is just another retelling of the "Dracula" vampire/horror myth... but Vlad's story is true. The Holocaust killed approximately 10% of Germany's people. Some estimates claim that Vlad exterminated more than 20% of his fellow Wallachians. [WARNING: GRAPHIC TRANSGRESSIVE VIOLENCE / based on 15th-century history.]

Download 91p 191k script: http://9TimeZones.com/s/vlad.pdf

Facebook fan page (181 Likes): http://www.facebook.com/vladti

More info: http://scr.9TimeZones.com/#v
 
Francis Ford Coppola + Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul. 

55 Bani Romanian postage stamp from 1976: 500th anniversary of Vlad the Impaler's deathA screenplay for your consideration - "Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul."

Historical drama. An unflinchingly gruesome genre-bender, with perverse humor. Many will assume this is just another retelling of the "Dracula" vampire/horror myth... but Vlad's story is true. The Holocaust killed approximately 10% of Germany's people. Some estimates claim that Vlad exterminated more than 20% of his fellow Wallachians. [WARNING: GRAPHIC TRANSGRESSIVE VIOLENCE / based on 15th-century history.]

Download 91p 191k script: http://9TimeZones.com/s/vlad.pdf

Facebook fan page (181 Likes): http://www.facebook.com/vladti

More info: http://scr.9TimeZones.com/#v