The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
How To Unwrap A DVD. (Extra Special 7th Anniversary Director's Cut Chartrooz-Ray OCD Edition)

You´ve Got Mail1) Slit the clear plastic shrink wrap with a knife or pair of scissors, being careful NOT to slit the clear plastic slipcover underneath. That's permanent... much like the long ugly slice that you just put into it, you stupid idiot. Worst Possible Case: the shrink wrap is stiff, rather than soft, and has been heat-sealed to the spine of the DVD case. If this happens, you will spend the rest of your natural life trying to scratch off the last vestiges of the plastic from the case, because every time you pick it up, you will feel little plastic remnants fluttering against your hand and they will slowly drive you batshit crazy.

2a) If the DVD case is cheap cardboard with a black plastic snap strip, you will need to use your fingernail to carefully remove the large round piece of clear plastic tape fastening the cardboard front cover to the long snap strip on the right side. Worst Possible Case: the plastic tape will rip out a large hunk of the cardboard cover image, which will drive you batshit crazy, every time you look at it.

As Good As It Gets2b) Alternatively, if the DVD case has been fabricated from molded plastic, use your fingernail to carefully scratch off the white title strip of plastic tape from the top edge of the plastic case. Worst Possible Case: if you don't painstakingly roll the edge of the title strip, just after lifting up a small corner with your fingernail, the title strip will split and force you to start again from scratch. Another Worst Possible Case: the title strip might be so sticky that it leaves a gummy residue on the DVD case, so you will need to re-apply the longest strip of plastic tape (it *has* split into many small strips, no?) to the gummy sections, and try to remove the sticky residue by quickly ripping up the re-applied strip, just like tearing off a band-aid encrusted with blood. Yet Another Worst Possible Case: the sadistic DVD companies often apply strips of plastic tape not only to the top of the case, but also to the side and bottom. In this eventuality, you will probably be left with a sticky, gummy, yucky DVD case, so please feel free to go batshit crazy whenever you like.

3) Assuming you have successfully opened the DVD case, you will now experience an overwhelming need to remove the rectangular plastic security chip glued to the inside of the case. Resist this urge. Let it go. Deep breaths. Okay, you've just slipped your fingernail under the edge, to see if it will... oh, crap. It's embedded under your fingernail, isn't it? Plus, that tender skin beneath your fingernail is bleeding, right? And when you lift up the chip, a glittering piece of foil remains stuck to the inside of the case, doesn't it? Didn't I tell you to resist the urge? Didn't I tell you to let it go? Didn't I tell you to take deep breaths?

You stubborn anal moron. You richly deserve to go batshit crazy.

Just like me.

***

Fox TV mirror / AZ newspaper mirror / Syndicated article mirror / "White hat" marketing mirror
 
Computer backup completed successfully.

Virus-checked, ad-awared, updates installed, disk defragged. I am safe for another month. I feel holy, almost. It's the same feeling that I get after a no-cav dental checkup. Or validating my HTML.
 
In eigenen Worten. Qui suis-je?

Weird. I just discovered that when you set up a profile on Amazon, the system automatically sets up mirror profiles on their international sites. Except Japan and China.

Examples: United States, UK, France, Germany and Canada.

Update: it looks like the US profile sets up CA, and the UK spawns FR and DE.
 
When The Chips Are Down...

Aluminum 24-hour Alcoholics Anonymous anniversary chip: TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE - UNITY - SERVICE - RECOVERY - 24 HOURS - God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.Yesterday, I responded to a "flash mob" IM (Instant Message) and walked out of the office at 10 A.M., to take my morning 15-minute break. It was the first time I had been invited to go on break with the Kool Kidz, so this was VERY exciting stuff. I had been judged worthy of being initiated into the highly-ritualized world of TextLinkBrokers breaks. Woo-hoo!

We sauntered nonchalantly in front of a long line of mini-mall storefronts (flower shop, chiropractic office, counseling center, etc.), then around in back of the Beer World drive-thru liquor store. As we tightrope-walked along the curb at the edge of Beer World's driveway, the wind suddenly blew cold. One of my co-workers admitted that his left nipple was erect. The women laughed. It was all very new and strange to me, this easy familiarity, this time-honored ceremony of walking to the corner Circle-K market/gas station.

The market itself was a revelation, too: plastic tubes of spicy peanuts, coffee by the bucket, fried pork rinds, chili cheese chips, petrified jerky sticks, beer, wine, sodas. The buzzing fluorescent lights were so dazzlingly hypnotic, I was tempted to buy a do-rag kerchief sporting a bright electric-orange pattern. Luckily, one of my fellow breakees snapped me out of it.

The return trek was equally magical. Another breakee pointed her toe at a quarter, lying on the sidewalk in front of Beer World. I picked it up. A few steps later, I found a larger sparkly coin, somewhere near the counseling center. I immediately fell in love with it, instantly deciding to enshrine the talisman as a treasured memento of the red-letter day that I had been accepted into the TLB break group.

Upon closer examination, the coin turned out to be an aluminum 24-hour Alcoholics Anonymous anniversary chip. After discovering the coin's true nature, I felt sorry for the poor guy who had triumphantly finished his first 24 hours of temperance and was rewarded with a shiny milestone medallion (history)... only to lose the token of his hard-won sobriety so dangerously close to Beer World.

***

Update: Uh-oh. The Kool Kidz found this posting.
 
Yet another screenplay template for Word... here: ScrW (56K, for MSWord 2002). It ain't fancy, but it gets the job done for screenwriters like us. If you try it, we'd really appreciate any feedback!

PS: Here are some other MSWord script formatting templates: 2000 and 97 + 2007. And here's an OOo Writer template, along with the Wikibooks entry on Screenplay Format, which includes a link to John August's CSS template for screenplay markup on his website.
 
Sunrise over Spook Hill, Valentine's Day 2008. I snapped a pic before driving to work today:

Sunrise over Spook Hill, Valentine's Day 2008
 
Michael Moore on the proposed WGA contract.

Michael Moore, quoted by AFP:

"This is an historic moment for labor in this country," the "Sicko" and "Fahrenheit 9/11" director told the Los Angeles Times.

"To have the writers union stand up like we did, not give back a single thing and make them give -- it was a really great moment."


Variety published this MM quote:

"There is a certain irony about the achievement. I would have thought it'd be autoworkers or ironworkers getting this victory but instead it's the people who got beat up in school for writing in their journals."

I hate to admit it, but Michael's right again. The writers dug in and came up winners, while the directors lacked the cojones to get the job done.

SickoFahrenheit 9/11Bowling For Columbine
 
Auto ba(h)n.

The current Zoetrope.com Sysop banned me for a month, in early January. It was my second ban since July. My infractions have both involved posting a controversial thread, then defending my position politely and cogently. Inevitably, some idiot decides that swearing at me is a good substitute for well-reasoned rhetoric, others pile on, and the Sysop du jour decides it's easier to ban *me* for 30 days, rather than booting the dozen or so members who used profanity.

I don't understand it either.

When I announced my return, someone facetiously asked if I had been banned for my Communist ties.

I said yes.

Communist ties
 
My car died this week.

It was a 1985 Nissan 300ZX, and I've had it since it was new. Twenty-two and a half years. One hundred and seventy thousand miles. Lots of good memories. I still remember the day I drove it off the showroom lot, back in the summer of '85. I was ecstatic. I had always dreamed of having a car like this. Here's a silly photo of Anikó in the Z, from 1999:

Anikó in Z, Joshua Tree CA

And here's a photo of Anikó taken this afternoon, in our "new" car, a 2006 VW Jetta 2.5. She has always dreamed of having a car like this. So I now drive our old car, a 2002 Toyota SUV, and she drives the new one. Her eyes shine just like those of a kid on Christmas morning. And I'm even happier than the day I drove the Z off the lot.

Anikó in Jetta, Mesa AZ
 
It's a Super-Licious week!

Today is Super Tuesday, when presidential primaries or caucuses are held simultaneously in 24 states, including Arizona. Most sane voters have a choice between a 45-year-old black senator and a 59-year-old female senator. The wackos on the other side seem stuck on the 71-year-old, Panama-born, ex-P.O.W. senator from Arizona. November's general election should be historic, to say the least.

The Powers That Be foisted Super Sunday on us this past weekend, and now it's Super Tuesday. If anybody suggests having just one more Super day this week, my head will explode.
 
Supermarket Shitpaper Super Sunday XLII. 

SpikeSuper Bowl Fever has hit this area particularly hard, since this year's game takes place today in Glendale Arizona, just 41.8 miles west of our home. From what I can gather, two super East Coast teams, the super Giants and the super Patriots, have made the super long trip out here to escape super snow, super sleet and potentially super-homicidal fans.

Super Sunday advertising rates are the most expensive in television; super companies spend millions of dollars for the privilege of running their super commercials during the super game. Those same companies also invest MORE millions of dollars just to produce the eye-popping, super-creative super-ads. Even though I hate football, the commercials are so interesting, it's almost worth watching the game.

Almost.

Thank gawd for VCRs.

I knew the supermarket would be full of rowdy football fans later today, stocking up for their bacchanalian festivities. So I went shopping at 8:03am, to buy some fruit and shitpaper. The two commodities seem inextricably linked in my mind: the more fruit we buy, the more shitpaper we need. I suspect our shitpaper consumption would be reduced to nearly nothing, if we could just stop buying fruit.

On my way in to the store, a guy with two beer cans strapped to the sides of his head stopped me to inquire about my Super Bowl plans. When I said I was going to tape it, he asked why. I replied: "So I can fast-forward past the stupid game, and concentrate on the commercials."

That shut him up.

The shitpaper aisle is next to the beer coolers, so I casually leaned over to inspect the store's beverage prices. Apparently, beer is an integral part of the bacchanalian celebration, and the specials looked especially good.

It was time to stock up for a month or two.

But when I took my beer, fruit and shitpaper up front, the checkout lady looked at me sadly and said that Arizona law prohibited alcohol sales before 10am on Sunday. This is a fanatically religious state (all retail businesses, even down to the Starbucks and 7-11s, have to close on Easter), and they evidently don't want drunks in their churches. So I put the sixpack back, while secretly swearing that I would drink several gallons of beer early next Sunday morning and piss on as many church doors as I could, before (a) getting arrested or (b) passing out cold.

At that point, I admit that I might have been a little testy. On my way out the door, *another* fellow shopper (wearing a Giants hat, Giants sweatshirt and Giants codpiece) stopped me to ask if I was a Giants fan.

I said, "No, I'm rooting for the Dwarves."

[Anikó, my Hungarian wife, says I have to credit her for that Dwarves line.]
 
Seppuku with a dull butter knife.

As many of you know (perhaps because of my incessant bitching?!), I've copied a few articles from this Snoozeletter into my new Fox blog, mainly to get some extra exposure for the material.

As mentioned before, I never expected 5 of the first 7 articles to be locked up and showcased on their front page. So imagine my surprise when the Fox folks selected my 8th article to get the coveted bio/photo/box/hoopla treatment for a couple of days earlier this week:

the coveted bio/photo/box/hoopla treatment

Holy crap. I had bumped one of their news anchor pitbulls out of that spot.

I quickly recognized that my 15 minutes of FAME had started ticking.

I was as happy as a pig in shit.

For about 10 seconds.

Then I realized this was Fox FAME, a twisted, depraved version of the real thing. It was "Fair And Mentally Un-Balanced" FAME. It was a distorted sort of FAME, sullied by the just-a-smidge-to-the-right-of-brownshirt-nazi political beliefs espoused by Fox's plutocrat owner, Rupert Murdoch.

At that point, a severe case of cognitive dissonance grabbed me by the throat. How could I justify accepting this FAME? My sense of ethics, honor and decency had been subverted, raped, pillaged and besmirched.

I should have commited hara-kiri with a dull butter knife, right then and there.

Yeah, the mania threatened to take over for awhile, but now I'm safely back to my normal depressed melancholy. In fact, I've decided to pretend this never happened...

PS: My stepdaughter recently asked about the blog's byline ("by acbaird from Mesa, AZ, USA, Earth"): "Is anybody in this site not from the Earth?" I replied: "Only me. But I act like an Earthling, just to fit in with everyone else."

PPS: Remember those 2 articles (out of my first 7) that were ignored? They supported the WGA strike. I'm guessing my ol' buddy Rupert doesn't care for unions.
 
Superbowling for dollars (and nipples).

It looks like the Mesa Giant Red Nipple series will never die...

Click for details about the Red Mountain Cafe