The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
Icebox Rolls recipe could burn your house down: Extreme cooking.

Even better: the warning on the magazine's main page ("Urgent Safety Notice Regarding Ice Box Rolls Recipe in April issue on page 154: Potential fire and safety hazard. Click here for more information.") currently leads to a subscribers-only URL. What about those of us who picked up this rag on newsstands? Too bad, eyebrow flambé.
 
Topical haiku competition
 
Writing yourself into a corner (New Yorker cover, from a CartoonBank.com search for "writer"), Does it help publishers to know that people who buy Suze Orman books also buy a lot of salmon? (from Boox, at the NY Times) and One day at a time (from Literary Life, at the Guardian). Other lit/film/pop-culture image sites: Dribbleglass.com and BoovieToons.com.
 
Only 96 days 'til Free Comic Book Day! I'm already stoked, man.
 
Scribbling (or just reading) the wrong thoughts can limit your future in academia. Five months ago, the censors were only concerned with the diary of a high school freshman: Girl expelled for writing story about killing teacher. But now, they've expanded their scope in college: A work of art or a harbinger of violence? Grisly short story gets student expelled from S.F. academy—and costs teacher her job.
 
Critics must earn stripes: ...contrary to popular belief, a review is not simply an opinion. A review is an act of persuasion, an argument. It says, "I liked this film because of that." Or "This is why that show was bad." [¶] Therefore, "Jerome's First Law of Criticism" states: A review must earn its own authority.
 
Spring forward, Fall back (part 1, 10 time zones): Throughout most of the continental European Union, Daylight Saving Time begins tonight, at 1:00 A.M. UTC.

In the 19th century, the "Prime Meridian" (longitude = 0 degrees) was established at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) became the time standard for British maritime navigation. In 1970, the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) system was devised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Based on GMT, but designed to be a worldwide standard, the ITU felt it was best to designate a single abbreviation for use in all languages. As a compromise, UTC was chosen. Actually, GMT is measured from noon, whereas UTC is measured from midnight. However, few use the noon measurement and refer to GMT (or "Zulu") as if it were actually UTC.

Part 2 (U.S., return to 9 time zones) will appear next Saturday. Stay tuned.
 
Oh sh*t, we screwed up: (Yeah, I know it's old news, but I've been mouthing off about this stuff since the early Nineties and I'm still really ticked.) Remember that cool around-the-world fireworks show on December 31, 1999? According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, it was a year early. Don't believe me? Read The 21st Century and the 3rd Millennium and First Sunrise of the New Millennium. Okay, now let's promise each other this won't happen again in 2999.
 
Photos of the Pietà - Better Than the Real Thing? While most of New York slept in the summers of 1964 and 1965, photographer Robert Hupka locked himself up at night alone with one of world's most famous masterpieces—Michelangelo's Pietà.

Those sleepless nights resulted in not only a deeply spiritual experience for Hupka but some of the most detailed pictures ever taken of the five-century-old statue of the Madonna with the dead Christ. [...]

The problem with the "real thing" is that the closest a visitor can come to it is about five meters (yards). It has been shielded by thick bullet-proof glass since 1972, when a man who believed he was Christ attacked it with sledgehammer.
 
NaNoNaNo: Crank it out fast and furious, during November - NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Then take your epic to the next level, during March - NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month). Finally, wake up and smell the coffee, in April - NaNoReMo (National Novel Recycling Month).
 
Gotta go. Deadline's looming. We'll see you in a couple of days.
 
Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, the Moon, Mercury and the Northern Lights, from SpaceWeather.com: "This is an extraordinary week for planet watching. Step outside just after sunset and you can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter—no telescope required. Pay special attention on March 24th: the crescent moon and Venus will be pleasingly close together." Last night, Rémi Boucher of Sherbrooke, Québec took this picture of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, the Moon and Mercury. And here's a beautiful animation of aurora photos taken by Roman Krochuk near Fairbanks, Alaska on March 13.
 
The Longevity Game: Dead or Alive?; Find A Grave; The Death Clock; Instruments of Torture; Texas Death Row Executed Offenders' Last Statements. Come to think of it, I HAVE been feeling a little depressed lately. Why do you ask?
 
Now everyone is out of the closet: Use Fundrace's neighbor search to discover those who live near you that have made presidential campaign contributions. Little-known fact: scroll down to the bottom of this page and you'll see that 1800 Avenue of The Stars (here in L.A.) is one of the top Democratic AND Republican buildings. Hedging their bets, I guess.
 
ZoBooks is a showcase for the literary folk at Francis Ford Coppola's Virtual Studio. If you have a free minute, please take a look.
 
Asteroid Flyby: On March 18, asteroid 2004 FH flew past Earth, just 43,000 km away. There was no danger of a collision, but it was close. For comparison, geosynchronous satellites orbit at an altitude of 35,800 km, only about seven thousand kilometers below this asteroid. The 14-inch SoTIE telescope in Las Campanas, Chile captured these animated images of the rock, which is approximately 30 meters wide. If this object struck our planet, it would make a spectacular meteor - after passing through the atmosphere, fragments might cause local damage, but no widespread destruction.
 
Britain's 'Lit Idol' Borrows a Page From TV: Writing excerpts from the finalists are currently online at The Book Pl@ce. I'm betting on the woman who was runner-up; she'll make a TON o' money with her X-rated prose.
 
The "Turn": La flûte sacrée des Derviches Tourneurs (The Sacred Flute of the Whirling Dervishes), by Kudsi Erguner, is one of the finest recordings of ney (reed flute) music, used in Sufi sacred dances.
 
The comic book industry has a new writer, and his name is Michael Chabon. I am SO envious. And the last quote in this article, from Brad Meltzer, speaks volumes: "I used everything I learned from one genre and applied it to another."
 
Has it been a whole year already? Wow, time flies when you're killing people: Iraq Body Count; Cost of War; Corporate Flag; The Dick (by Shane Kosakowski: Remember when the US was cool? It wasn't that long ago, think back. ...).
 
Vernal Equinox, 10:49 tonight: This is the earliest it has occurred since the year 1896. It will continue to occur a little earlier every four years until the year 2100, which will skip the leap year cycle in the Gregorian Calendar. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning "equal night." The vernal, or spring, equinox refers to the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from south to north. Tonight also marks the beginning of Ostara, the Pagan festival of renewed life. Below is a Sufi blessing which we recite before meals - this text was given to us by a friend who studies Yoga. It seems like a mindful way of acknowledging our place in the universe:

The Sufi Prayer

All life is one
  and everything that lives is holy:
  plants, animals, and beings.
All must eat to live
  and to nourish one another.
We bless the lives that have died
  to give us food.
Let us eat consciously,
  resolving by our work
  to pay the debt of our existence.   -Amen.
 
Q: "Where do you get your story ideas?"

A: Here. ;-)
 
1737 - St. Patrick's Day was first publicly celebrated in America: This holiday commemorates the death (on March 17, 461 A.D.) of the Catholic bishop who used a three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity concept to his converts. Some claim he drove the snakes from Ireland, but snakes were never native to that country. Maybe they meant politicians.
 
§§§§§§§§§ To hell with the snakes. Let's get drunk.
 
Charlie Kaufman has accomplished the near impossible -- becoming a superstar screenwriter. Related stories: Human nature of the 'Spotless' Kind; Spotlight on a grown-up mind; Chaos Plus Time: Gondry and Kaufman on Memory, Methods, and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"; Hollywood's reclusive scribe - with unusual power and influence; Ever get dumped by the love of your life? Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Updates: BeingCharlieKaufman.com
 
Surfing the Amazon on a Log: Morris Rosenthal discusses "What Amazon Sales Ranks Mean for Authors and Publishers." Related stories: Authors admit faking blurbs on 'dire' books, Authors write their own five-star reviews, Amazon reviewers brought to book. Update: Everyone is a critic: Customer reviews on Amazon and other websites can seriously affect book sales, and don't publishers know it.
 
"I guess I'll have to write more screenplays." —Response of Robert Mark Kamen (The Fifth Element, Lethal Weapon 3, The Karate Kid, A Walk in the Clouds), when told the construction costs on his new winery might exceed seven figures. [Part 1] [Part 2]
 
Beware the Ides of March: On this date in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated. Other months have ides (days which were sacred to Jupiter, in the Roman calendar), but they usually fall on the 13th—except in March, May, July and October. In Hungary, March 15 is a national holiday commemorating the 1848 revolution for independence.
 
However, thank you for your interest: Tom Payne examines the art of the rejection letter. Or, if you want to make something of it, there's always rejectioncollection.com.
 
First, we had The Vagina Monologues and Jim Carrey's talking butt. Now we have Puppetry of the Penis: The Ancient Australian Art of Genital Origami (website). Oh Lord, where will it end?
 
IMDb Me! (the dating scene in L.A., from a N.Y. point of view): "I got an e-mail from a woman whose screen name was Mrs. Dalloway, so I wrote back and said, 'Thank you for taking time off from your busy day of party planning,' and she wrote back saying, 'What are you talking about party planning, I'm a special-education teacher!'"
 
Big advances are often pure fiction: It's all a plot to get free publicity for new writers. Ask the bus driver ... Magnus Mills - always called "the bus driver" - is still widely reported to have earned a million-pound advance for his first novel, The Restraint Of Beasts. In fact, he later admitted that the true sum was around £10,000.
 
The Screenwriter's Vacation, by Richie Chevat: Saturday, July 19 - The kids fought in the car the whole trip up. Good for establishing character but seven hours is way too much exposition. Next time we have to start further along in the story. Plus, their arguments are just too generic. ...
 
Walt and Don revisit the apocalypse, with touch of jazz, funk and blues. You know what I'm talkin' about—Steely Dan's latest CD, Everything Must Go:

Attention all shoppers
It's Cancellation Day
Yes the Big Adios
Is just a few hours away

It's last call
To do your shopping
At the Last Mall

You'll need the tools for survival
And the medicine for the blues
Sweet treats and surprises
For the little buckaroos ...

—"the last mall"
 
Two hilarious classics on the pedagogy of writing: Yes, I know it sounds like a strange subject for comedy, but before attending your first (or next) writing class, do yourself a favor and read these stories. If they're not on the syllabus, they should be: Workshopping "The Nose" by Pasha Malla and The Martyrdom of Saint Ali by Andrew L. Wilson ("I thought that my story had been sensitive and intelligent, with sharp dialogue and flashes of genuine lyricism, but Ali's story made everything in it look crude, even oafish, by comparison. As Ali read, I shut my eyes, and I had a vision: I saw my words on the page, and as I looked at them, they began to blur, and Ali's words swarmed over them, and as my words disappeared, Ali's took their place.")

Wilson, along with Bob Thurber, has also created Literary Lights, a limited series of four "flash fictions" printed inside the covers of handsomely-designed matchbooks. Set your brain on fire.
 
So, you wanna be a writer? In a series of imaginary letters, novelist and writing teacher Caroline Adderson ponders a system that churns out authors who churn out books that no one buys.
 
Books Cause Dangerous Thoughts is one of the fine images at The Propaganda Remix Project, brainchild of Micah Ian Wright. WhiteHouse.org has put together some other Patriotic (not really) Posters, and more subversiveness can be found at Get Your War On, by David Rees. If you want REAL World War I & II Posters, try visiting the University of Minnesota.
 
Book Errata: "It all started with Under The Volcano... So many careless typographical errors appeared in that novel that we began keeping count of those we've spotted in each of the books that we've read since."
 
Pushing Envelopes by James Sallis: ... "Ah, another great Sallis story," a friend said just last year upon seeing something of mine in a magazine. I pointed out that the story had swum valiantly upstream 54 times before finally lodging in a bend. My record of submissions filled both sides of an index card. I'd spent $69.12 on postage alone, never mind the cost of manila envelopes, photocopies and paper. In return I received two copies of the magazine. ...
 
Zoetrope.com is the thing more better possible: What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth between five different languages? To find out, copy/paste "Zoetrope.com is the best" into Carl Tashian's software and Babelize it. [Hint: things go a bit wonky during the Italian handoff.]

PS: It's International Women's Day. Celebrate!
 
Randy Newman may be a misanthropic satirist, but he's a goddamn genius. If you don't believe me, go listen to a few of his tunes and read some of his lyrics. How can you beat the classic craftsmanship in dripping-with-irony songs like I Love L.A., Short People and Rednecks? And can't you just imagine President Dubya singing Political Science?! Randy has been blogging from the latest European tour (in support of his new album): "The shows in Dublin and Edinburgh went very well. The audiences were great. Apparently they speak English in both Dublin and Edinburgh. I don’t know whether it helped me or hurt me."
 
Chris Baird turns 43 today: Happy birthday, Bro! Even though you're getting older, I guess you're still able to kick my butt in a Googlefight. I also noticed the Internet Anagram Server had a few interesting things to say about you. Finally, FamousBirthdays.com revealed that you share a birthday with Czech tennis player Ivan Lendl, NBC weatherman Willard Scott and PTL televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. Lucky dawg.

  Popo Chubb   ig   '
 
T. Coraghessan Boyle is not really happy... despite Chicxulub, which just appeared in The New Yorker, and in spite of Drop City, his latest novel. As he tells John McMurtrie, in the San Francisco Chronicle interview: "I have no hope whatsoever." Poor baby.
 
Escher Sketch: Yes, a hand extends from the screen of an Etch A Sketch toy, turning one of the knobs. Clever wordplay. Wonderful execution. Fascinating discussion.
 
Massive Writing Project: I lost my head and recently dove into one, dammit. Each day of butting up against this wall is a day on the Rack. Each day I avoid butting the wall is a Hot-Lead Enema. The following quotes provided momentary comfort:

"I tend to be close to Dr. Williams' idea that writing is a disease. If you can get along without it, you're really much better off. I have a hard time getting this across to other writers. When I finish a major work, I say, Thank God that's done, I don't ever want to have an idea again. I don't want to go through this ordeal again."   Paul Metcalf

"The possibilities open to one are infinite. So why not do something Shakespeare, and Dostoevsky and Faulkner didn't do, for after all they are nothing more than dead writers, members of this and that tradition, much-admired busts on a shelf. A dead writer may be famous but he is also dead as a duck, finished."   Walker Percy

"The writer is afraid of feelings that are not suited to publication; he takes refuge then in irony; all he perceives is considered from the point of view of whether it is worth describing, and he dislikes experiences that can never be expressed in words. A professional disease that drives many writers to drink."   Max Frisch [Quasi-related link: When Writers Drink.]
 
»» Magyar/Hungarian »» Sir John Bowring (1792-1872), the famous British translator and linguist, once wrote: "The Magyar language goes far back. It developed in a very peculiar manner and its structure reaches back to times when most of the now spoken European languages did not even exist. It is a language which developed steadily and firmly in itself, and in which there are logic and mathematics with the adaptability and malleability of strength and chords. The Englishman should be proud that his language indicates an epic of human history. One can show forth its origin, and alien layers can be distinguished in it, which gathered together during the contacts with different nations. Whereas the Hungarian language is like a rubble-stone, consisting of only one piece, on which the storms of time left not a scratch. It is not a calendar that adjusts to the changes of the ages. It needs no one, it does not borrow, does no buckstering, and does not give or take from anyone. This language is the oldest and most glorious monument of national sovereignty and mental independence. What scholars cannot solve, they ignore. In philology it is the same way as in archeology. The floors of the old Egyptian temples, which were made out of only one rock, cannot be explained. No one knows where they came from, or from which mountain the wondrous mass was taken, how they were transported and lifted in place in the temples. The genuineness of the Hungarian language is a phenomenon much more wondrous than this. He who solves it shall be analyzing the divine secret; in fact the first thesis of this secret: 'In the beginning there was Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'"
 
"tunnel advertising" (posted at Word Spy today): n. An advertisement consisting of a series of illuminated screens in a subway tunnel, each projecting one image from a sequence to create an animation effect as the train goes by.

Example Citation:

Submedia's tunnel advertising technology is based on a 19th century English toy—the zoetrope—which makes images inside a revolving cylinder appear to move, and passengers would view the illuminated ads as a train goes by.

—Anthony Tran, "US operator animated on moving picture subway ads," The Standard, October 6, 2003
 
Photography exhibition at Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris: Born in 1965, Edouard Levé is an artist: his work is primarily photographic and includes several series (Homonymes, Angoisse, Rêves reconstitués, Actualités, Pornographie). In 2002 he published his first book, Oeuvres, which consists of very precise descriptions of 533 unrealized works. [His Série Pornographie has been ripped off as Safe For Work Porn.]
 
Read and release: Free Your Books! For nearly three years, BookCrossing has been encouraging people to turn the whole world into a public library. As the Book Magazine article says: "Part book club, part behavioral study, part note-in-a-bottle exercise, it's a concept entirely made possible by the interconnectivity of the Internet."
 
World Book Day 2004 (according to the website) will "take place on Thursday 4th March in the UK and Ireland." So it's not really a WORLD book day? Or maybe the UK and Ireland are The World? Or perhaps World Book Day occurs on some other date for the rest of Earth? I'm confused.
 
Baseball cards in a literary milieu: Since 1994, The Booksmith (a San Francisco bookshop) has been offering free author trading cards of writers who appear at the store. On the front is a picture of the author, and on the back are "stats"—pertinent information about the writer and his/her book, as well as the in-store appearance date/time. More than 650 different cards have been issued since they began the series.
 
Context is everything: Forsaken, the little nonfiction piece that was recently honored at www.the-phone-book.com (see my insufferable bragging on February 29), is very close to our hearts because it was written during a sad journey back to Budapest, just after Anikó's father had passed away. My mother-in-law called this afternoon, and Anikó finally worked up the courage to tell her about the minuscule story which commemorates her grief in a language she'll never understand. Anyuka was quite touched... and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. I had waited two years for that particular feedback, and it was more precious than a Nobel Prize.
 
Joseph Young is a master of flash fiction, and his latest two (Heartbreak and Falls the Shadow), in Eleven Bulls, only confirm that reputation. If Alan's math is correct:

      Eleven Bulls ÷ two flashes = 5½ Bpf (Bulls per flash)
 
Your reality check has bounced: Publishers are in a feeding frenzy over the new Jessica Simpson book project. She could have been the next Gracie Allen, but it's not an act; Jessica actually thought her buffalo wings were made from a real buffalo.

In related news, Paris Hilton recently met Jackie Collins and asked if she was the writer Collins or the actress Collins (that would be "Dynasty's" Joan Collins). When told it was the author, Hilton said: "If I could read a book, I'd definitely read one of yours."

Finally, the number 666, which many Christians recognize as the "mark of the beast," is appearing on movie tickets for The Passion of the Christ at a Rome, Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers. The computer-generated coincidence is not very noteworthy, but the following quote was kinda disturbing: "one person who was uncomfortable having 666 on her ticket asked for a pass to be substituted"...

I hate to admit this, but R.E.M. was right: It's the End of the World As We Know It.

Addendum: Pamela Anderson, woman of letters. No comment.
 
Bored of the Rings: (1) Enough already. And will someone please lend a comb to Peter Jackson?

(2) Yes, that Lost in Translation, translated scene was pretty good on the page—and would have been better in the film, had we known what the hell they were saying—but lots of my friends still think Sophia's daddy bought her the Oscar.
 
Lyle Lovett is not your typical country & Western singer/songwriter, and Alec Wilkinson profiles him for The New Yorker: "Lovett is smarter than most people he meets, but he conceals it."