The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
Blue moon over AZ tonight. "This Thursday evening, May 31st, the moon over North America will become full for the second time in the month of May. According to folklore, that makes it a blue moon. But will it really be blue?" [more from NASA] [348K wallpaper photo] [Cybill Shepherd & Bruce Willis]
 
The real estate agent saga.

Last November, when we moved out here from Indio, California, we were hoping that our former home would sell fairly quickly.

But our agent's son died a month later, and he went to pieces.

We returned to Indio in March, and signed a contract with another agent.

A few days later, her brother-in-law died, and SHE went to pieces.

So now we have a third agent.

We're hoping all her family members remain healthy... at least until our house is sold. ;-)
 
Mystical music(7): Emperor of Qawwals. 

Shahen-ShahNusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997), a world-renowned Pakistani musician, was primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis (a mystical offshoot of Islam). Nusrat is credited with taking this traditional musical art form to an international level and creating a new generation of Qawwali lovers, both in Pakistan and around the world.

Traditionally, Qawwali has been a family business. Nusrat's family (originally from Afghanistan) has an unbroken tradition of performing Qawwali for the last 600 years. Among other honorary titles bestowed upon him, Nusrat was called Shahenshah-e-Qawwali, meaning The Emperor of Qawwals. Peter Gabriel's Real World label released five albums of Nusrat's traditional Qawwali performances in the West, including the beautiful Shahen-Shah.

According to one fan: "Nusrat's music invites us to eavesdrop on a man communing with his God, ever so eloquently. He makes the act of singing a passionate offering to God. But we do not merely eavesdrop. The deepest part of Nusrat's magic lies in the fact that he is able to bring our hearts to resonate with the music, so deeply, that we ourselves become full partners in that offering. He sings to God, and by listening, we also sing to God."
 
The Dick. 23-year-old Shane Kosakowski published this piece on his now-defunct Bathtub Goulash website, way back in the spring of 2003. I'm reprinting it here, so it won't be lost...

Remember when the US was cool? It wasn't that long ago, think back.

We were the fun, rich, good-looking, popular country. We drove the coolest car and had the tasty girlfriend with the big tits and the pool. We hung out with all the other cool countries, but still said hi to Mexico in the hallways (even though he smelled like a spicy sweatsuit). We were the best athlete and played guitar in a shitty band. We would get drunk and prank Russia and do coke on the away bus. We would kick somebody's ass if they fucked with our friends and we would lend money if our friends were fucked. We were a superhero in the history of the world.

Sure, we were only human. We hooked up with Panama's girlfriend while he was away at soccer camp. We got caught smoking a blunt in our basement and blamed it on Nicaragua. We felt up El Salvador's sister when she got drunk and fell asleep. We pretended to be friends with Greece, and then made fun of her behind her back (after all, that bitch did look like Snufalupagos). We did a lot of things that young, stupid countries do when they're growing up; mistakes the rest of the world could overlook. Then, I don't know, we changed.

We started picking on the band kids more than we used to. And instead of just calling them "dorks," we began to slap them around a little. When they didn't let us copy off their tests, we'd wait for them outside of class and drop their pants in front of Sweden and Brazil. Sure, we'd still help Columbia if somebody was talking shit to him, and we'd give Canada a ride home whenever she needed it, but you could really tell that we thought we were a little too cool. You could see we were getting a little too cocky to hang out with.

The DickBefore you knew it, America was, officially, the big dickhead. We went from being the fun-loving character, who would get drunk and pretend we were fucking a lamp, to the guy talking on his cell phone at the gym. Now we wear purple-tinted sunglasses inside the mall and wife-beaters to the bar (to show off our barbed-wire tattoo). Nobody likes us anymore; when the world sees our name on caller I.D., they just let it go to voicemail. Look at who we hang out with now; England. Fucking England! How long has it been since England was cool? The only chicks that call England have chipped teeth and pockmarks.

So where do we find ourselves? It's Friday night and we've decided to crash the party that we didn't get invited to. Iraq got a keg, a band and is charging everybody 10 bucks at the door. We've decided to walk into the backyard, beat the shit out of Iraq and only let our friends fill their cups. What will the rest of the world do? Individually speak out against us? Yeah right, we'll fuck shit up. All get together and beat the shit out of us? Nope; most of them don't like each other anyway. So what would you do to a bully who is taking what isn't his, a bully who is too big to defeat alone, a bully who must understand the repercussions of being a douchebag?

You key his car.
 
Please, no photographs. 8/2002: my stepdaughter Anita Győrfi in Morro Bay, CAA little over a year ago, during my tenure as Online Editor at Palm Springs Life magazine, I had the chance to moonlight in an under-three-line acting rôle on a TV pilot created by Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek, Scream 1-4, The Vampire Diaries). The experience was good fodder for PSL's online magazine "The Life" (Cattle call - 3/17/06, plus Moblog: undercover on location - 3/28/06, plus Hidden Palms pilot clip backstory - 6/21/06), and the series was eventually picked up for 8 episodes. However, the production company decided Palm Springs was too expensive to use as a continuing location, so they rented a cheap studio out here in the Phoenix area to shoot the other 7 episodes.

Well, my episode the pilot episode of Hidden Palms is finally scheduled to air on the CW Network (here in Phoenix: KASW, CW6, broadcast channels 61 and 49, Cox Cable channels 6 and 706), this Wednesday, May 30, at 7pm (8pm in some parts of the country). Gail O'Grady (from NYPD Blue) is one of the stars, and she has an ice-tea-sipping interlude with 2 other women on a country-club patio. Look for me and my blue polo shirt @16:21 - it plays a crucial backup rôle in that scene (9TZ, IMDb, Hulu).

Side note: The director moved me around many times, probably looking for the precisely-right combination of Gail's lovely blonde hair and the blue of my shirt: "Hey, you in the blue polo, move right a bit." After a couple of orders like that, the AD came over and asked for my name. For the rest of the scene (45 minutes of on-and-off filming), it was: "Hey Alan, move right a bit." By the end of the scene, you'll notice that I was on the other side of Gail's head. The director treated me well, for a lowly day player. I was the envy of all the other extras. ;-)

click for ACB listing @ IMDb 392x293 2005 click to enlarge show poster 512x384 2006
 
Thanks for your support! Boy, Amazon.com takes a long time to get new Shorts fully tied into their system. For example, The Avian Quartet STILL doesn't show up on their search. Despite that fact, it's currently #37 on their Hot New Releases list. It's even #81 on their main Bestsellers list! Not bad for an unsearchable title.

More importantly, that means that some folks are buying it. And if some of those folks are YOU, I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks. I know it's just a few pennies, but your support means a lot to me.
 
Mystical music(6): Estonian Shaman. 

Te Deum"The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt quit creating new works in the late 1960s, turning instead to the study of medieval music. Out of these scholarly endeavors, he developed a style of composition that he labeled tintinnabulation, taking his cue from Poe's poem `The Bells.´ Exploring the campanilian quality of each individual note, Pärt fashioned an entire genre of spiritually regenerative music that took the Soviet Union and its enslaved satellites by storm. Like the Georgian composer of cosmological music Giya Kancheli and the Pole Henryk Gorecki, Pärt developed a reputation as a shaman, a healer through music."
--Fred Kirshnit, The New York Sun

Te Deum ("Thee, O God" [we praise]) is probably the finest disc of Pärt's music yet released. It contains a sublime mix of choral solemnity and orchestral majesty, shifting effortlessly between moments of barely audible intimacy and invigorating crescendos.
 
Sorkin's "Studio 60" back on NBC. Reminder for Aaron Sorkin fans (like me): tonight's airing begins the last hurrah for his canceled show - a six-week run of new episodes filmed but never aired. Check your local listings.
 
Mystical music(5): Sybil of the Rhine. 

DiademaHildegard von Bingen, the 12th-century abbess and composer of ravishing liturgical chants, wrote music for audiences who perceived music on three levels: (1) Musica Instrumentorum, the harmony of the instruments; (2) Musica Humana, the harmony between body and soul, or singing; and (3) Musica Mundana, the harmony of the elements, of the spheres and of the seasons.

Present-day audiences understand the first two elements, and the interaction between them, but our senses can no longer grasp the Musica Mundana. This is why Vox went beyond the conventional performance of medieval music (adding computer acoustics, electronic sound spaces and digital alienation), to make the third level accessible to modern listeners, allowing us to experience the visionary character of Hildegard's music and to interpret the apocalyptic content of her texts.
 
The Avian Quartet.
The Avian Quartet
My Amazon Short
(a conglomeration of 4 "bird" stories) went live today.

It's 49¢ - only 12¼¢ per story.

Such a deal.

So what are you waiting for?

Go buy it!

Later: Amazon discontinued their Shorts program, so now there's a 99¢ Kindle edition.
 
Perth County Conspiracy.

A: Come to the edge.
B: Well uh, we might fall.
A: Come to the edge.
B: IT'S TOO HIGH!
A: Come to the edge.
C: So they came, and he pushed, and they... FLEW!
--Perth County Conspiracy [Does Not Exist] (after Guillaume Apollinaire)
 
Mystical music(4): Whirling Dervishes. 

La flûte sacrée des Derviches TourneursKudsi Erguner lives and works in Paris as a Ney (reed flute) musician, composer, musicologist, teacher, author and translator.

He comes from a family of Turkish musicians. His contact with many famous musicians from the older generation, who continually passed through his parents' house, and his involvement with various Sufi brotherhoods, whose music and teachings Erguner studied, left decisive marks on him. He received his training directly from his father, Ulvi Erguner, who was the last great master of the Ney.

Kudsi Erguner has given concerts and played in major festivals throughout the world. He has recorded numerous albums, and has worked with such well known artists as Maurice Béjart, Peter Brook (filmmaker, "Meetings With Remarkable Men") and Peter Gabriel (musician, "The Last Temptation Of Christ" and "Passion"). The sacred flute of the Whirling Dervishes (La flûte sacrée des Derviches Tourneurs) is one of his finest recordings.

Also: Rumi + Sufi Prayer.
 
ToC: LitPot. Table of Contents for Literary Potpourri Anthology #4:

Literary Potpourri, Vol 1, #4#10 - 9/2002: My Father, The Boxer, by James Simpson; The Serpentine Jasmine of the Cursed, by Hareendran Kallinkeel; Broken Biscuits, by Bunny Goodjohn; The Cursor, by Gary Presley; The Dogs of Peace, by Alan C. Baird (p.47); Cain, by Avital Gad-Cykman; Fiesta del Corazon, photo essay by James Tynes; Saugus, Embassy of the Second Muse, by Tom Sheehan; Good Conversation, by Valerie Witte; Tidbit for God, by Celia Homesley; In The Hour Before, by Jim Boring; I Went to Barnes, I Went to Noble, by Bob Arter; The Bush Dyslexicon, by Mark Crispin Miller, reviewed by Michael J. Luyckx; Cross Country, by Terry DeHart.

#11 - 10/2002: The Falls, by Beverly Carol Lucey; Ancient History, by Jeffrey Hartman; The Light of Self-Renewal, by Paul A. Toth; He'll Be There Forever, by Douglas Campbell; Black Paper, by Kenji Siratori; Choke, by T.K. Mancia; WomanWorld, photo essay by Nathan Combs; Theory of Everything, by Lalo Fox; Stop Crying & Tanka, both by Rod Riesco; The Moment, by Eric Bosse; Our War, by Ronald F. Currie, Jr.; Time for Alexander, by Jennifer Macaire, book review & interview by Beverly Jackson & Shaula Evans; Vicious Circle, by Brian Coté.

#12 - 11/2002: Out Of The Universe Endlessly Calling, by Tom Sheehan; The Man With The Blue Throat, by Gary Cadwallader; The Debt, by Rebecca Marshall-Courtois; Lady Godiva Showers In The Dark, by Emily Gaskin; Satisfaction Guaranteed, by Mike Whitney; Lulling, by Margetty Coe; The Children of Gambia, photo essay by Danny Verhasselt; Blue Raven, by Michael Spring; Everything Is All Set, by Zev Levinson; A Woman, Standing Still, by Ward Kelley; chevy, by l.a. seidensticker; Dogged Poem, by Greg Bauder; Through Me Tell The Story, by Carolyn Holdworth; Half Of A Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

#13 - 12/2002: Following The Star, by Jim Boring; Pupa, by Julia Ravenscroft; Inside 553, by Michael Davidson; Replacement Parts, by Gail Louise Chagall; Cherry On Top, by Katherine Grosjean; Dog At The Park, by Mary McCluskey; WoodWatching, photo essay by Richard Peers; oakland, by l.a. seidensticker; too many, by Carrie Berry; If Caskets Spoke, by Janet I. Buck; December, by Andrew Nicoll; Following Your Departure From The Physical, by David Miller; What Came Last, by Idra Novey; Day Lilies, photo essay by Joan Coleman; Thomas and Frost at Dymock - August 1914, essay w/photos by Andrew Harold Morton; Four Sonnets (Morning Song, Love's Contraries, The Hunt, The Pause), by Richard Jackson.
 
'Twas a night to remember. David was very gracious last night, autographing my old CD and taking a few minutes to chat... and it was a memorable experience for both Anikó and me to listen--from just a few feet away--to the amazing things he has learned to do with his voice.
 
Tonight: music of the spheres. Tickets still available - click here for driving directions. See you there!

David Hykes in concert

[If the image above displays poorly, click this link to pop it into another window.]
 
Mystical music(3): Chartres. 

ChartresDuring 1988's summer solstice, Swiss violinist Paul Giger was allowed to enter the crypt and upper church of the cathedral at Chartres, France to record one of the finest... well, I can't write enough superlatives about Chartres. But other people can:

"Henry Adams wrote half a book about it: `Chartres [cathedral] expressed, besides whatever else it meant, an emotion, the deepest man ever felt - the struggle of his own littleness, to grasp the infinite.´ But you could listen to Chartres blindfolded and be impressed by the ancient/pagan power of Giger's raw bow scrapes, madly-fiddled chords, high uninflected long notes, and didgeridoo-like droning. He taps something deep, elemental, and emotional, beyond or beside the brainbusting computations." --City Paper, Baltimore

"Giger's music is undisciplined to the extent that it sounds more like improvisation than a written-out composition. In the range of its references it is unashamedly eclectic; the naive and the rhetorical rub shoulders; traditional, experimental and psychedelic happily cohabit; everything is embraced from organum to Penderecki, from folk-fiddling to the song of the humpbacked whale. Nor is a single trick of the violinist's craft missed. Harmonics, glissandos, multiple stops, devil's trills, fancy bowings, the noises of wood and horse-hair, all have a place in the design. This may sound unpromising, but in fact Giger's spectacular technical control of his instrument saves the day. In virtuosity he far outclasses many concert violinists, and his resourcefulness and assurance breathe vitality into the work. At best, in the concluding `Holy Center´ (much indebted to La Monte Young and Stockhausen's Stimmung), there is a marvelous sense of a man totally at one with his violin, voice and instrument simultaneously lost in contemplation of the marvels of natural harmonics." --J.M. Gramophone
video
Paul Giger @ Chartres
 
David Hykes in Scottsdale! This morning's posting prompted an eMail from Mr. Hykes himself - woo-hoo! David has been a hero of mine since I first discovered his unique music, back in the 1990's. As synchronicity would have it, he's giving a performance about 20 miles away from here on Saturday night. He says this is an "under-the-radar" event, so you can still visit TheCasa.org to arrange for tickets:

David Hykes, Harmonic Singing - Saturday, 5/19/2007, 7pm
Franciscan Renewal Center, Casa de Paz y Bien, 5802 E Lincoln Dr, Scottsdale (Paradise Valley) AZ
$20 per person, (480) 948-7460 [Monica, ext.157], (800) 356-3247, casa@thecasa.org

Composer and singer David Hykes brought a new dimension to music in 1975 with his "throat singing" and harmonic chant. His performance brings together the meditation sounds of the East with Western sacred vibrations. The result is a universal prayer sound that encourages inner healing and deep peace. This evening promises an authentic musical and spiritual experience, resonant with the warm breath and healing vibration of deep musical listening. He has contributed music to films like "Dead Poets Society," "Ghost," and many others.
 
Mystical music(2): Solar Winds.  

Hearing Solar WindsThe Harmonic Choir was formed by David Hykes in 1975. An accomplished experimental filmmaker with a deep interest in traditional and sacred music, Hykes had already acquired broad familiarity with the music of West and Central Asia when he first heard the Hoomi singing (literally "throat singing") indigenous to western Mongolia, and the overtone chanting of Tantric Tibetan Buddhism.

This musical technique draws subtle harmonics from the human throat, creating the high tones of a flute and/or bassoon-like growls that rumble sympathetically in the listener's chest. Hearing these sounds for the first time can be a revelation, illustrating that a single voice is really capable of producing chords. Aficionados of throat singing will certainly enjoy Hykes; he has extended the range of these ancient art forms, and performs gymnastics with his voice that impress Tuvans, and even Gyuto monks.

Hearing Solar Winds (à l'Écoute des Vents Solaires) was recorded inside a small 12th-century Cistercian monastery (l'Abbaye du Thoronet) in Provence. Put on some headphones and listen to samples. DH sites: English+French.
 
ToC: Glory. Table of Contents for Glory - A Nation's Spirit Defeats the Attack on America:

Glory: A Nation´s Spirit Defeats the Attack on AmericaForeward, by Janette Barber; The Biggest News Story in the Country, by Erin Schulte; With the Help of Total Strangers, by Donald L. Nicholas; Outside Directly Across the Street, by Dan Marino; Eyewitness Account from the Pentagon, by Lt. Col. Hugh G. Gray; I'm Safe, September 12, 2001, by Susan Craig; OK Here, September 12, 2001, by John Allen; Witness, 9/11, by Eileen Charbonneau; Thanks For Your Concern, by Talia Carner; The call for "Medic" ran through the air..., by Debi Ryan; I Can't Even Describe The Damage, by Chris Mac Kenzie; Man's Best Friend A Rescuer in New York, by Monica Zech; Let Me DO SOMETHING!, by Sarah Sills; Am I ready? Will my training be sufficient?, by Rene Nurse; Canal Street was the Dividing Line..., by Shelly Westerman; The Other Casualties, by Karen Riehl; The Gift of David, by Deborah Garcia; Now It's Personal..., by Elise Sereni Patkotak; I Agree With You..., by Geoffrey St. John; It Was With Fear..., by Richard Yokley; Humanity Lost, One Man's Heroism in the Face of Tragedy, by James Campion; A Canadian Perspective on the Attack on America, by Lynn and Mario Balzan; Liberty Unites, by Bill Simon; Rain of Any Kind, by Ted Burke; Mugs, by Rusty Fischer; Ground Zero, Day One, by Tony Anthony; A Writer's Job in a Time of Crisis, by Wynne Brown; What Are We Going To Do About It?, by James Campion; The Day The Planes Stopped Flying, by Alan C. Baird (p.142); On The Beach, by M.J. Rose; Stranded In London, by Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell; Writing - A Powerful Healing Tool, by Shelly Mellott; Fall of the Towers, by Lance Vargas; A Long Time Before I Feel Better, by MaryAnne Johanson; Let Loose on the Streets of the USA, by Talia Carner; The City Reminds Me Of A War Zone, by Megan Price; We Must Not Let Terrorists Win!, by Gina Cianfarani; Friends Without Faces, by Wendy Ogden; What If?, by Joseph M. Faria; A Fish Story, by Julian I. Taber; Alone, Together, by Richard Devin; Your Father Was A Hero, by Michael Mark; Americans are not marching in the streets..., by Cynthia VanRooy; Thank You, bin Laden, by Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero; But This I Can Do..., by Elise Sereni Patkotak; United in Shock, United in Grief, by Antony Davies; What Can We Do?, by Moira Allen; The Day America Cried, by Bea Sheftel; Overcome, by Marc Duane Anderson; First Star Board WILL Meet 8:00 a.m., by Peter Samuelson; God Has Already Blessed America, by Dr. Lynda Fones; Life Is Going On..., by Debbie Nathin; Aftereffects of September 11 & The World Reacts to the Terrorist Attacks, by editors; Get Rid of Guns, by Ryan Gabrielson, 12; Rid the World of Racism, by Kenny Radcliffe, 12; To That One Person I Am Helping, by Breanna Larsen, 14; Teach Others About Terrorists, by Jonathan R. Locke, 8th grade; Show Appreciation, by Jackie Benthuysen, 14; Make Better Choices In The Future, by Rachel Morgan, 8th grade; Treat Others Like You Want To Be Treated, by Alan Gabrielson, 14; I want to make a difference!, by Ashley Young, 8th grade; I will never give up, by Harrison Tanne, 14; Changes Need To Begin Individually, by Janniese Marie Mulch, 8th grade; I like to help out in my community, by Justin Pleiss, 11; I Wish The World Was A Safer Place, by Kelsey Gabrielson, 8; Generation Peace, by Angela Nguyen, 13; I will not physically fight those I disagree with, by Mikaela Dubin, 8th grade; Look For Ways To Be Supportive, by Lindsey Gabrielson, 16; Small Contributions Make Big Differences, by Alena Lowery, 8th grade; If We Put our Heart and Soul..., by Kristen Faiferlick, 13; kidd millennium, by Ron Callari & Jack Pittman; Epilogue, by Diana Saenger and Sandy Scoville.
 
Mystical music(1): Taj Mahal. 

Inside the Taj Mahal I & IIOnce upon a time, Paul Horn made a journey to India, to study with his new-found spiritual teacher, the Maharishi.

While Horn was touring the Taj Mahal, he noticed that it had an exquisite echo and wondered what it would be like to play his flute in the royal chamber. He returned later that night with a Nagra recorder and the guide from earlier in the day, who had demonstrated the resonant qualities of the Taj by singing long, extended notes for tourists to experience.

The Inside recording was released a year later, and Horn ultimately made history with his after-hours improvisational session.
 
Fave wallpaper(8): New Franklin. This 1896 typewriter is part of Richard Polt's collection. Isn't it sexy?

New Franklin typewriter - click image for 934x584 pixel version

[wallpaper instructions]
 
"You're spending too much, you're out of control, and you're lazy." Found this on the Phoenix craigslist. Tempting.

CASTING FOR A&E SERIES!!

Love to shop? Can't resist buying something new every day? Is your closet full of clothes that have never been worn? Go to make a return, only to come home with your car full of bags? If you feel things have gotten out of control and you don't know what to do, maybe we can help! NorthSouth Productions, producers of A&E's new financial makeover series, Big Spender, is looking for you. Our experts may be able to help you get your life on track. If you are ready to make a change and finally start reaching your financial goals, we want to hear from you.

The ideal candidates are outgoing and fun couples (spouses, roommates, business partners, etc.) who live in Phoenix, with debt that is not allowing them to meet financial goals and is putting a strain on their relationships.

My buddy Bettina replied: "Wait, isn't that the definition of an American relationship? Er, um, or have I gotten it wrong all these years?"
 
Kronos Quartet, Short Stories.
Short Stories, by Kronos Quartet
Sure, the avant-garde music (by Kronos Quartet) is very good.

But one of the best things about this CD is the cover photo of a burning-typewriter sculpture by Leopoldo I. Maler.

I first saw "Hommage, 1974" at the Hess Collection Winery in Napa, California:

[Maler's] uncle, a well-known Argentinean writer, is believed to have been killed for the inflammatory content of his political essays. The old Underwood typewriter that now emits flames in the place of words is of the same style that Maler's uncle used during his esteemed career.
 
Fave wallpaper(7): Sombrero infrared. This image of the Sombrero galaxy (Messier 104) was stitched together from several photos made by NASA's Hubble and Spitzer telescopes during May and June of 2003:

Sombrero galaxy by Spitzer - click image for 1280x800 pixel version

[wallpaper instructions]
 
Fave wallpaper(6): Sombrero galaxy. This image was stitched together from several photos made by NASA's Hubble telescope during May and June of 2003:

Sombrero galaxy by Hubble - click image for 1280x800 pixel version

[wallpaper instructions]
 
Honor among thieves?

NHS logo - Character, Scholarship, Leadership, ServiceDuring my high school days, getting inducted into the National Honor Society (run by the National Association of Secondary School Principals) was a big deal. Our school gave us free pins, free membership cards, and the freedom to leave campus during study hall periods. It was great.

But these days, profit-hungry organizations like the National Honor Roll, the National Society of High School Scholars, and Who's Who Among American High School Students have sprung up to fleece many gullible students by offering bogus honors and recognition... for a price.

Even though some of these outfits claim that the student is being selected because of his or her grades, the groups usually have no idea whether a student is getting straight A's or flunking out. The reason is simple: Schools do not give out grade-point averages.

And in many cases, students can nominate themselves.
 
Fave wallpaper(5): koffi courtyard. The best darn coffee shop in the whole wide world is koffi, in Palm Springs, California. They make a superb Latté Freeze, but their finest feature is the sculpture-filled courtyard out back: stunning views from every angle. I captured this image last summer:

koffi courtyard, by Alan C. Baird - click image for 1024x640 pixel version

[wallpaper instructions]
 
Flaming Arrows/Drama/Romance! Yesterday afternoon, we had a lovely time... wandering around a quaint ghost town, driving through the spectacular Superstition Mountains, and chomping chili fries, topped off with prickly pear ice cream and homemade fudge, at an old stagecoach stop.

Mammoth Steakhouse & Saloon: Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ 480/983-6402
Superstition Restaurant & Saloon: Tortilla Flat, AZ (mile marker 213) 480/984-1776

Both of these great places are located on the historic Apache Trail (State Route 88), and I just discovered several cool things about this scenic winding drive: (a) it's America's oldest roadway, (b) there are some colorful vintage postcards here [and here], and (c) best of all, it features "Flaming Arrows!", "Flaming Drama!" and "Flaming Romance!":

Apache Trail film (1942)Southern Pacific tourism poster
 
Fave wallpaper(4): Mars ice. This photo was taken by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft on July 28, 2005, confirming the presence of (frozen) water on Mars:

Mars ice - click image for 1280x800 pixel version

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Fave wallpaper(3): Tower of Babel. "The Tower of Babel" was painted by Pieter Brueghel the Elder in 1563:

The Tower of Babel - click image for 1280x800 pixel version

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Fave wallpaper(2): 1000 Palms Oasis. I loved making photographs at this oasis, in California's Coachella Valley. Paul Wilhelm, a desert writer and naturalist who owned the land, generously ensured that it would be made available to the public, just before his death in 1994:

Thousand Palms Oasis, by Alan C. Baird - click image for 1024x640 pixel version

[wallpaper instructions]
 
Fave wallpaper(1): Saturn aurora. This photo was taken by the Hubble telescope on January 28, 2004:

Saturn aurora

[Click the image above for a wallpaper-sized photo, 1.6:1 format (1280x800 pixels). After the larger photo appears in a second window, just right-click on it and select: "Set as Background."]