The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
Kanovits, Jenő: 19 October 1938 - 31 October 2010.

My wife's adult niece has now lost both parents in the space of six months. [See Kanovits, Erzsébet ("Zsike"): 11 February 1946 - 22 May 2010.]

Her father Jenő was a tough guy. Retired police detective. Heart of gold. He and I didn't speak each other's language, but that was no problem. He barely said two words to ANYbody, in ANY language. ;-) He understood that I liked him. And I understood that he liked me. I'll miss him. I hope he finds a hospitable kocsma (pub) in the sky, where he can share old cop stories with his buddies.

8 November Update: This is the song that was sung at his funeral today, in Hungary.
 
I Kissed A Girl.

Katy PerryMay 6, 2008 - Katy Perry releases the song written by her, Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cathy Dennis. Here's the official music video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLt5n0auPwM

July 30, 2008 - VenetianPrincess (Jodie Rivera) uploads her Elderly Remix parody:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IPDOB4yzzo

September 20, 2008 - MADtv broadcasts their "I'll Kiss A Girl" parody with Nicole Parker as Ellen DeGeneres and Arden Myrin as Portia de Rossi:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDIj_2cQSws

March 19, 2009 - Katy Perry duets with Ellen DeGeneres in her Bathroom Concert Series:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXU2KITCr7I

Jill SobuleJuly 23, 1995 - Jill Sobule sings her composition, "I Kissed A Girl":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4r41vPTF8k
The album was released in October, 1995. Here's the official music video (w/Fabio Lanzoni):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QaeojQLGQ8

Excerpt from Sobule's July 2009 interview with The Rumpus:

When Katy Perry's version came out I started getting tons of inquiries about what I thought. Some folks (and protective friends) were angry, and wondered why she took my title and made it into this kind of "girls gone wild" thing. Others, including my mother, were excited because they thought I would somehow make some money out of it. Unfortunately you can't copyright a title... bummer.

As a musician I have always refrained from criticizing another artist. I was, "well, good for her." It did bug me a little bit, however, when she said she came up with the idea for the title in a dream. In truth, she wrote it with a team of professional writers and was signed by the very same guy that signed me in 1995. I have not mentioned that in interviews as I don't want to sound bitter or petty... cause, that's not me.

Okay, maybe, if I really think about it, there were a few jealous and pissed off moments. So here goes, for the first time in an interview: Fuck you Katy Perry, you fucking stupid, maybe "not good for the gays," title thieving, haven't heard much else, so not quite sure if you're talented, fucking little slut.

God that felt good.
 
Season of the Witch.

Renaissance: Vanilla FudgeChristine O'Donnell said she dabbled into witchcraft.

But O'Donnell now claims she's not a witch. (2)

She says she's you. Hey, I didn't know you were a witch!

Then SNL nailed it: "I lack a sufficient number of newts." (2, 3)

Listen to Vanilla Fudge and watch Season of the Witch (from 1968, written by Donovan Leitch).
 
For the 33 guys at Chile's San Jose Mine:

Workingman´s DeadCumberland Blues [listen]
Lyrics By: Robert Hunter
Music By: Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh

I can't stay here much longer, Melinda
The sun is getting high
I can't help you with your troubles
If you won't help with mine
I gotta get down
I gotta get down
Gotta get down to the mine

You keep me up just one more night
I can't stop here no more
Little Ben clock says quarter to eight
You kept me up till four
I gotta get down
I gotta get down
Or I can't work there no more

Lotta poor man make a five dollar bill
Will keep him happy all the time
Some other fellow's making nothing at all
And you can hear him cry

Can I go, buddy, can I go down
Take your shift at the mine

Gotta get down to the Cumberland mine
That's where I mainly spend my time
Make good money, five dollars a day
If I made any more I might move away

Lotta poor man got the Cumberland Blues
He can't win for losing
Lotta poor man got to walk the line
Just to pay his union dues

I don't know now, I just don't know
If I'm going back again
I don't know now, I just don't know
If I'm going back again
 
Gunfight At The Internet Corral. 

Gunfight at the O.K. CorralLast month, Anikó and I had a very strange experience at a grocery store. I satirized the encounter in a blog rant entitled Gunfight At The Shopping-Cart Corral. But before we get into that, I'd like to tell you a story about my childhood...

I grew up in a mobile home in the backwoods of Maine. My family was poor, but I didn't realize that until much, much later. We were happy.

My father went hunting a couple of times a year, up in Eustis. I loved saying that name, "you-stis." It sounded like such an exotic place.

My father liked to hunt with his buddies, so his trips were mostly recreational. But they were also practical. Chet always brought back a deer, strapped across the hood of his car. My mom would cut it up, put it in the freezer, and we would have venison for what seemed like months. Venison steaks. Venison stews. Venison pot pies.

I eagerly anticipated the day when I would be allowed to go up to Eustis with him, and make my contribution to the family larder. With that in mind, Chet bought me a .22 rifle for my seventh birthday. We often walked into the woods out back to practice. I became a pretty good shot. Pine cones were not safe when I took out my trusty twenty-two.

We also went camping every summer, up in Baxter State Park. We climbed Mount Katahdin, and I fed the animals. Since Baxter was a nature preserve, the deer would come right up to me, and eat scraps of bread out of my hand. I loved it.

Back at our not-so-mobile trailer out in the sticks, it looked like the economic situation was getting better. I noticed that my father stopped working double shifts at the paper mill. Our food supply no longer relied on his periodic trips to Eustis. One time, he came back empty-handed. Said he missed a couple of easy shots. Funny. He never missed with that .30-06, during our practice trips into the woods out back.

One day, Chet and I took another one of our walks into the woods. He had his thirty-aught-six, and I had my twenty-two. It was a beautiful fall day. Some other hunters were down the road a piece. We could hear their faint gunshots every now and then.

Then I saw the buck. An eight-pointer was standing motionless about fifty feet away. Easy shot. I looked at my father. He nodded. So I silently brought the .22 up to my cheek. The buck was magnificent, through the scope. I remembered the deer I had fed in Baxter. But this deer was not in Baxter, not protected. So he'd be feeding me.

I couldn't do it. As I lowered my gun, Chet silently brought the .30-06 up to his cheek and squeezed the trigger. He hit a tree about two feet in front of the animal. It scared the hell out of the buck, who ran in the opposite direction. Away from the other hunters.

As we walked back to the trailer, Chet put his arm around me and said, "I think we've lost our taste for venison."

***

Chet taught me a lot about gun safety. His main point was to treat firearms with respect. He once said, "Never carry a gun in public unless it's hunting season and you're wearing an orange vest. You'll scare the neighbors. Plus, it's rude. A gun is the ultimate conversation-stopper."

***

We buried Chet more than twenty years ago, but I've been trying to pass along some of my father's lessons to my adult stepson. When he visited from Hungary a few years back, we went out to the shooting range and fired off a few boxes of ammo. He couldn't stop grinning. I still have my chewed-up target from that outing. He does, too.

***

So, when I blogged Gunfight At The Shopping-Cart Corral, I was making fun of some guy's rudeness. What kind of Neanderthal flaunts a gun when he goes grocery shopping? At a natural-foods store? At high noon in an upper-middle-class neighborhood? One of my friends commented: "He was using his gun to shoot the nectarines to see which ones were ripe. If the bullet ricochets off, the nectarine isn't ready to be eaten."

Some gun-toters found the posting, but they were not satisfied with attacking me on their own site. No, no. They were so incensed, they tracked down my blog's mirror, where they could post vicious libels that I would be sure to notice. Things quickly got out of hand, as you can see by the comment I posted just after deleting a half-dozen abusive messages and just before shutting off the comment function. After the comments were shut off, one of them even joined the site under my name, and used the private messaging system to send threats.

I thought this little episode had only confirmed my initial assessment about gun-toters as mouth-breathing illiterates.

But then, I received an encouraging email from "J." He wrote a long letter, detailing his attitude about the concept of open carry, in a non-confrontational way. I don't agree with his viewpoints, but he didn't try to shove them down my throat. He wasn't attempting to shut me up or threaten me, either. A nice surprise: a civilized gun-toter.

He said that he actually lives in this area. In closing, he wrote: "I go shooting after work about twice a week, sometimes competitively, usually just for fun. You're welcome to join me. Range time is on me, ammo is on me."

Thanks, J. It's tempting. Maybe when my stepson visits from Hungary later this year, we can all go shooting together.

Just as long as you don't wear your gun to the coffee shop afterwards. ;-)

***

11 Oct 2010 Update: After receiving a private message (at the site that mirrors my blog) containing *another* anonymous death threat (see above) and two links (1 + 2), I finally gave up. Evidently Second Amendment enthusiasts feel duty-bound to silence those of us who exercise free-speech rights under the First Amendment.

My original article satirized the concept of open-carry, and the target of my humorous rant was a fictionalized character, who didn't even have a name. At that time, the idea of concealed-carry did not really bother me. If a gun-toter was smart enough to recognize that the open display of a weapon drastically tilts the perceived power balance between two individuals, then... live and let carry. As my father once said: "You can't try to reason with a nutcase who shows his gun, you can only nod your head and back away slowly."

But these barbarians who roam the Internet and try to pick fights have now convinced me that NOBODY should have a gun. If they feel that personal attacks, libels and death threats are appropriate behaviors in the 21st century, how can they be trusted with guns? They shouldn't even be allowed to carry sharp sticks.

12 Oct 2010 Update: We bought handguns. To protect us from the gun wackos. Ironic, ain't it? We don't intend to carry them openly (it's still rude, which was my original point), but after reviewing our state's laws, all I can say is... wow. CCW (carrying a concealed weapon) without a permit. CCW in gloveboxes. CCW in airport ticket lines. CCW (w/permit) in bars. And my military discharge got me the permit. Arizona is really a Weapons Wonderland.

13 Oct 2010 Update: I forgot to mention CCW while driving on school grounds (if the bullets are outside the gun). Sigh. Arizona is just asking for trouble.

During nearly four years of living in this state, I felt relatively safe. Then I saw my first OC (open carry) a month ago, and things went downhill. After satirizing the incident using dramatic devices like exaggeration, hyperbole and caricature, I received death threats from people who didn't understand the humor. It's fine if they don't get it; my writing is not meant for every taste. But threatening to kill the author because he mocked a nameless caricature? That seems a little excessive to me. I was reminded of the Ayatollah's fatwa against Salman Rushdie. My fellow countrymen were acting like Muslim extremists.

All those bloodthirsty people claimed to own guns for protecting their families and their homes, so obviously they don't feel safe in Arizona. Unfortunately, their attacks infected me with their fear. I now feel that *I* need to own a gun to protect *my* family and *my* home. From the gun nuts. Fear spreads like a virus. It's a sad state of affairs. I want to feel safe again... but that bell can't be unrung.

target
 
A quirky, personal review of "The Social Network."

The Social NetworkMy initial experience with Facebook was more than four years ago, on the first day it opened to non-students. This was a few months before it reached 12 million users. I was the Online Editor at Palm Springs Life magazine, and I was looking for new ways to promote the website.

Facebook did not impress me. It was like walking into the middle of a panty-raid-slash-kegger. I had a lot of fun during my university days, but I really didn't want to relive them. So I posted some photos and logged off for a year. I did the same thing at MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, Bebo, etc., etc. I think I was waiting for one of them to reach critical mass.

Then I began getting Facebook Friend requests from people I hadn't seen in nearly thirty years. The early adopters seemed to be folks from the entertainment industry, people I had worked with during my days as an NBC Page. It was great to catch up with them: seeing snapshots of their kids, learning about the Emmys they had won, turning green with envy, etc.

More old friends followed. Old co-workers, old college chums, old high-school buds. Browsing through their photos was tons o' fun, and I began to see the value in online social networking. I made some new contacts, too. As my network of Friends grew, the more effort I put into sharing stuff with them, trying to entertain them.

Then Aaron Sorkin signed a contract to write "the Facebook movie," and he asked his researcher to set up a Facebook Group for him. I discovered it soon afterwards, in the latter part of 2008. Interacting with Sorkin was a real treat. He had been one of my heroes for years, and now I had access to the great man himself. I could ask questions, and he would actually answer them. I made some jokes, and he laughed. I didn't care if he was just being polite, the creator of "The West Wing," "A Few Good Men" and "Sports Night" was laughing at my jokes! Woo-hoo!!

Aaron posted updates about the script for members of the Group. We agonized with him, when an early draft leaked, in the spring of 2009. (I, of course, quickly downloaded a copy.) We rejoiced when David Fincher signed on to direct. We wished Aaron luck on the first day of principal photography. We went through the ups and downs of the shoot with him. We were sad when the producers couldn't get permission to film at Harvard, and had to use Johns Hopkins instead. We were happy when the long shoot approached its final day.

facebookworm: dispatches from a social networking junkieIn the midst of all this interaction with Aaron, I wrote and publish a book about the Facebook experience. I had become a Facebookaholic.

Then something happened. In early 2010, a woman from Aaron's past joined the Group and began making trouble. A famous actor posted some snide comments. And Aaron abruptly shut down the Group, in February. It was like going cold turkey. No more Sorkin fixes.

A few weeks later, I started a job at the U.S. Census. I thought it might be fun to create a Facebook Group for the people who worked with me. Bad decision. The powers-that-be took a dim view of the whole enterprise (secrecy was a big part of that gig), and I was threatened with termination. So they forced me to close the Group. I secretly swore it would make a comeback.

A few weeks after that, I won a Census-sponsored trivia contest, and the powers-that-be were forced to give me the top prize: two free movie passes. I secretly swore I would use them to see the Facebook movie on opening day. F*ck them and the horse they rode in on. I thumbed my nose at their silly anti-Facebook policies.

Several months later, the Census project ended, and I reopened the Census Facebook Group. We all laughed about the one-day suspension it had cost me, back in February. But my laugh was not as genuine as it might have been; I was still pissed off about the day's pay I had lost.

When trailers for "The Social Network" began appearing, I was very excited. I reread my bootleg copy of the script, and remembered just how good it was. I even applied for a press pass to the World Premiere at the New York Film Festival. My new job involves writing for a radio network, so the festival organizers actually gave me the pass. But the coup was a little bittersweet, because I knew I couldn't afford to fly to New York just to see a movie.

In short, "The Social Network" and Facebook itself have both been big parts of my life for quite a while now. Obsessions, you might say. I knew my expectations for the movie were WAY too high, so I expected a huge let-down when it was finally released.

I just watched TSN tonight with my wife and a close friend, and... it was even better than I hoped it would be.

+++

Update 1: At the end of the movie, I had to laugh: Darkened theater. Credits roll onscreen. Galaxies of little lights appear in the audience. Moviegoers are switching on their cell phones. Thumbs start busily keystroking text messages. Let the tweeting begin. Word-Of-Mouth is now Word-Of-Thumb.

Update 2: There is one thing that bothers me about this film. It was made by people who have all admitted they are largely ignorant about the uses of Facebook. They're members of the mainstream media establishment, which means they are, in effect, dinosaurs. The only things they really understand about social media are the billion-dollar valuations.