The Snoozeletter @

Saguaros in bloom. The Saguaro Blossom is our state flower, and this big boy is getting ready to bust out all over, just a block away:

Saguaro Buds, by Alan C. Baird - click image for 1280x800 pixel version

[click the image above for a wallpaper-sized photo]
Computer nightmare.

You stumble out of the bedroom and hit the power button on your home computer. It whirs, but doesn't blink, like it usually does. Hm. Something is different. You yawn, you scratch your butt, you wonder what to do.

You punch the power button a second time and the whirring stops. You wait a few seconds. You hit the power button again: whirring, but no blinking.

Oh, crap.

You wonder if you are still sleeping. You pinch your butt, just to make sure.


Your stomach starts to do flip-flops. You stare at the goshdarn machine, trying to *will* it to blink.


You unplug it and drag it over to the local computer shop. A clean-cut young man goes through the same steps that you did. Whirring, no blinking. He shrugs his shoulders, smiles a sunny smile, and bids you to "have a nice day!"

How can you have a nice day, when your world has crumbled? Your source of information is kaput. Your tool for self-expression is kaput. Your link to the whole friggin' universe is kaput.

Your current house, your current car, and your current wife all emerged from this mechanical cornucopia.

And now it won't even blink at you.

[That's why yesterday's blog posting, uploaded from the Mesa Library, was a tad late. Today we have a stubborn new computer that has refused, thus far, to do things the old (easy) way.]
A Few Words in Defense of Our Country. By Randy Newman. January 2007 performance, on YouTube, features full lyrics (below). Abridged lyrics ran as a New York Times Op-Ed piece on 1/24/07.

I'd like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren't bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they're the worst that we've had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let's turn history's pages, shall we?

Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They were sleeping with their sister
Stashing little boys in swimming pools
And burning down the City
And one of 'em, one of 'em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That's like vice president or something

That's not a very good example, is it?

But wait, here's one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position
I don't even like to think about it

Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don't want their love
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend

Hitler. Stalin.
Men who need no introduction

King Leopold of Belgium. That's right.
Everyone thinks he's so great
Well he owned The Congo
He tore it up too
He took the diamonds, he took the gold
He took the silver
Know what he left them with?


A President once said,
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
Now it seems like we're supposed to be afraid
It's patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That's what terror means, doesn't it?
That's what it used to mean

[To the first eight bars of "Columbia The Gem Of The Ocean"]

You know it pisses me off a little
That this Supreme Court is gonna outlive me
A couple of young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too
But I defy you, anywhere in the world
To find me two Italians as tightass as the two Italians we got

And as for the brother
Well, Pluto's not a planet anymore either

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We're adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Hair. The best songwriter alive... other than Randy Newman.

Joshua Judges RuthI'VE BEEN TO MEMPHIS
by Lyle Lovett

The sun comes up
In a coffee cup
Waitress please, I've had enough

Lord I can't believe what I see
How could you be alone
When you could sit right here beside me girl
And make yourself at home

I've been to Memphis
And Muscle Shoals
And I love a woman
What I don't know

When the sun goes down
It's another town
Bartender please, another round

Lord I can't believe what I see
How could you be alone
When you could sit right here beside me girl
And make yourself at home

I've been to Houston
And San Antonio
And I love a woman
What I don't know

Sherry she had big ones
Sally had some too
But Allison had little ones
What hate to go to school

And I make my bed
Where I lay my head
And I wish I heard what she just said

Lord I can't believe what I see
How could you be alone
When you could sit right here beside me girl
And make yourself at home

I've been to L.A.
And El Paso
And I love a woman
What I don't know

Sherry she had big ones
Sally had some too
But Allison had little ones
What hate to go to school

And I make my bed
Where I lay my head
And I wish I heard what she just said

Lord I can't believe what I see
How could you be alone
When you could sit right here beside me girl
And make yourself at home

I've been to...
And where I go
I love a woman
What I don't know
There ain't no bad Little Feat albums. For example, I just love the cinematic storytelling that kicks off this song...

Representing The MamboThose Feat'll Steer Ya Wrong Sometimes
by Bill Payne, Paul Barrere, Craig Fuller, Fred Tackett, Richie Hayward

I was staring at myself in the mirrored sunglasses
Set on six foot five of a Texas Ranger
He hollered, turn down your radio son
I stuttered, officer wha-what have I done?
You were doing better than a hundred and one
Why ya driving like the devil's on your tail?

I started pleading my case, getting no sympathy
I said, I'm in the Feat... I'm travelin' from town to town
Don't you know my face
I'm on the radio most all the time
And I didn't realize I had the hammer down
So please don't you haul me off to jail

When the Feats are on the box, the speed just slips my mind
I start to sing along, tap my toe, slap the dash in time
The Ranger laughed and said, as he looked me in the eye
Son, those Feat'll steer ya wrong sometimes

I was on my way to Puerto Rico on a 24-city run
They promised me the world and that's what I got
'Cause Texas is a world all of its own
It takes a lifetime to drive from Eastland to Van Horn
He said, didn't you hear my siren whine
I been chasing you since the Jim Hogg County line

I was thinking real hard about tenderin' my notice
But the bills came in and piled up to my chin
Paul called and said, we're on our way to Rhome
This tour's gonna save your happy home

Now we're going to:
London, Liverpool, Italy, Paris, Egypt, Dublin, Frisco, Waco,
Athens, Gouldbusk, Troy and Miami, Moody, Beaumont, Edinburgh, Lubbock,
Pecos, Deadwood, Fife, Del Rio,
Houston, Austin, all around Dallas
Texas is a world all of its own

'N if'n you let me off this time
From now on I'll keep it in mind
That those Feat'll steer you wrong sometimes
When the Feats are on the box, the speed just slips my mind
I start to sing along, tap my toe, slap the dash in time
But the Ranger said to me, as he handed me the fine
Son, those Feat done steered ya wrong this time
Those Feat'll steer ya wrong sometimes
Stories in a Bottle: behind the words.

As mentioned before, Faruk Ulay, the editor of Locus Novus, once made an audio-visual sixpack from a half-dozen of my micro stories. But most people don't know they're largely nonfiction...

1: Apuka

The Budapest oncologists recently sent my wife's father home with a large bottle of pain pills, to wait for the end. We've offered to move up our planned visit, but János is convinced he'll still be around in April.

I'm hoping against hope that he can keep his promise.

BTW: János Bartos (9 August 1919 - 29 January 2002) passed away five days after the completion of this piece. In Hungarian, the title is an affectionate name for "Father." During the war, this funny and gentle man survived six years in a Soviet prison camp. Another viewpoint.

2: Revisionist

The Czar had written at the bottom of a prisoner's death warrant:

"Pardon impossible, to be executed."

Later, the Czarina moved his comma one word to the left, and set her lover free.

BTW: Russian Czarina Maria Fyodorovna reportedly once saved the life of a man by transposing a single comma on a warrant signed by her husband, Alexander III (1845-1894), exiling the man to death in Siberia.

3: A Twisted Carol

Marley haunts Scrooge, Cratchit embezzles funds, and their legman--Tiny Tim--runs an insurance scam, so The Counting-House Gang can retire to Ibiza.

BTW: Charles Dickens self-published "A Christmas Carol" in December, 1843.

4: Under Four Minutes

Before passing the 2-1/2 lap marker, Roger uttered a single command, "Chris"... and Chataway took the lead from Brasher. During the final 230 yards, Bannister pulled away from both of them, to make history.

Today, miles are measured in kilometers, but they're just not the same.

BTW: Roger Bannister's legendary 3:59.4 mile was made possible with the help of Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, on 6 May 1954.

5: Budapest Evensong

One votive candle flickers in the advancing stained-glass shadows, while a murmured plainchant echoes faintly against the empty cathedral's altar. Behind a latticed screen, Father Mátyás waits to absolve someone, anyone.

In the ebb and flow of human woe, it's low tide.

BTW: The two weddings of King Matthias "Corvinus" Hunyadi (1458-90) took place in Mátyás Templom, a 13th-century baroque cathedral that was turned into a mosque between 1541 and 1686.

6: Why 16 June 1904 = Bloomsday

That chambermaid finally agreed to a tryst, unbuttoning me in many ways. Now that we're wed, she nags: "Why don't you write books people can read?"

BTW: This piece contains a direct quote from Nora Joyce, wife of James (who wrote "Ulysses" and "Finnegan's Wake"). Ulysses for Dummies, Bloomsday animation.
GIFilm 4: Bathroom Humor. BEWARE: this raunchy GIFilm lives up to its title, in more ways than one.

Romantic notions go right into the crapper:

Bathroom Humor

Note: the GIFilm CyberPlex was chosen for the Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum's Web Biennial.
GIFilm 3: Teaser. This GIFilm was created during the 2001 California electricity shortage.

R-rated entertainment for the power-hungry masses:

Running with the big dogs, Part Deux. Yes, I've read the extended version of Google's Dog Policy; thanks for your feedback. BTW, I *like* Google. I like dogs, too. It's called "satire." Later: Well, that did the trick. Google Staffing has been ignoring me for a while, but I finally received a rejection, eMailed at 11:21pm. Wait a minute. Friday night, 11:21pm?! Lyn, go home. Or go out. Enjoy life. It's just a job.
Running with the big [Google] dogs. Click for Google stock infoFrom Google's website: II. e. Our Dog Policy - Google's respect and affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We have nothing against cats, per se, but we're a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our campus would be fairly stressed out.

I recently applied for a position at Google. There's not much chance they'll schedule an interview, but I don't want to waste all the research I did on their corporate culture, so here's a fanciful version of what my first week might have been like, if they had hired me:

Monday - The wife sent me in with a laundry bag full of her lacy underthings, so I moseyed on over to the coin-free washing machines and immediately attracted a crowd of recently-matriculated code jockeys. One of 'em has a Chihuahua that keeps yapping and chewing at the laces of my Converse hi-tops.

Tuesday - The lobby was a minefield of dog droppings, and I was nearly bowled over by the daily Schnauzer-Poodle chase. As the two dogs scrambled to make the turn into Network Operations, their wildly-churning paws pelted quite a bit of crap onto the wall. Luckily, it blended right in with the Jackson Pollock painting. The yapping continues unabated.

Wednesday - My co-workers broke out the electric Razor scooters for the weekly office races. Then we all gathered in the game room for pinball, foosball and nine-ball, followed by our free massages. Maybe it's my imagination, but the yapping seems to be getting louder.

Thursday - Free food, free sodas, free snacks. I'm gonna look like a beach ball in a couple of weeks. "Don't be evil" is Google's corporate motto, but how can one avoid The Dark Side, when that &%$#@* yapping won't stop?

Friday - Every Google employee gets one day per week to work on personal projects, and today's my day. I've earned it. My first project was to purchase a Pit Bull. He's already eaten the Chihuahua, the Schnauzer and the Poodle. It's very quiet around here. Maybe I'll actually get some work done.
GIFilm 2: Ranger, Texas Walker. We were trying to keep the GIF files under 50 kilobytes, which prompted the tag line below. (BTW, does anybody still remember that Chuck Norris TV series?)

Shoot-out at the 50K Corral:

Ranger, Texas Walker
Writers like to write about writers. I can't imagine why.

Screenwriter by Charles D'Ambrosio:
[T]he head p-doc put me on Maximum Observation and immediately I was being trailed around by a sober ex-athlete who, introducing himself, put a fatherly hand on my shoulder and squeezed and told me not to worry, he was a screenwriter, too--not as successful or rich as me, sure, but a screenwriter nonetheless. He said that his name was Bob and he let it be known that he'd only taken this position on the mental ward to gather material for his next script. [more]

Workshopping "The Nose" by Pasha Malla:
Jeff: I mean, you just sort of drop this omniscient first person narrator into the story. If you're going to use a post-modern conceit like that, I suggest you maybe do it a bit more consistently, or at least justify it within the text.
Dierdre: Like have it at the beginning, too.
Roberta: Bookend the story.
Dierdre: Or as dividers between the sections, have the narrator come in and give us updates.
Jeff: No, no. Don't do that. [more]

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. [more]

The Screenwriter's Vacation by Richie Chevat:
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. That old "Your arm is on my side!" is so clichéd. With lines like that they could be anybody's kids. What they need is some kind of cute quirkiness that lets us know their backstory right away. [more]
Well... yes and no.

Well... yes and no.Anikó, my lovely Hungarian wife, became an American citizen a while back.

We visited a drugstore photo booth to take some headshots for her new passport.

I looked at her four-frame strip of film and got a silly idea...
GIFilm 1: Silicon Smiley ;-) A few years ago, I collaborated with several artists. We called the results "GIFilms."

During celluloid's early days, many scientific investigators sought to test the psychological impact of film editing. For example, when alternately pleasant and repugnant movie scenes were intercut with the identical shot of a man's impassive face, focus groups felt certain the actor's expression had changed, from delighted to disgusted. In the spirit of those groundbreaking cinema pioneers, we'd like to present the Web's first rigorous examination of a GIF file's Kuleshov Effect, replacing the human visage with an emoticon:

Silicon Smiley ;-)
How I spent my Saturday. Betsy's film (see below) was great - the audience laughed and cried in all the right places - and our little group of Zoetroupers experienced a very odd piece of synchronicity: of the hundreds of people streaming out of the theater, I asked one woman if she would take our photo. She replied, "I know you, from the Palm Springs Short Film Festival!" Sure enough, we had both worked as volunteers, back in the summer of 2004. Small world.

During the afternoon, I competed in the Arizona Book Festival's Define-a-thon and won second prize (a dictionary, natch), out of 15 starters. Yep, WordBoy rides again...
Phoenix Film Fest. One of our fellow members at the Zoetrope Virtual Studio got her script made into a film, and it's screening this morning. A group of us are going, so it should be big fun...

Ten Inch Hero, directed by David Mackay, written by Betsy Morris
Arizona Premiere
Run Time: 98 minutes

Cast: Clea DuVall (Heroes, Zodiac), Jensen Ackles (Supernatural), Sean Patrick Flanery (Boondock Saints, Powder), John Doe (punk band X, The Good Girl), Danneel Harris (One Tree Hill), Elisabeth Harnois (Pretty Persuasion, upcoming Solstice), Alice Krige (Silent Hill, Lonely Hearts)

In this upbeat romantic comedy/drama, artist Piper Jones moves to Santa Cruz, California, in search of the young daughter she gave up for adoption at birth. She lands a job at a local sub shop, and quickly becomes entwined in the dysfunctional family of co-workers: Jen, shy and involved in an internet love affair; Tish, an over-sexed beauty determined to find that perfect ten; and the mohawked Priestly, who dispenses advice to everyone, but is a master at hiding his own feelings. Balancing out the mix is shop owner Trucker (Doe), an aging surfer with a crush on the new age goddess who owns the neighboring crystal store. At times heartwarming, at times sexy and irreverent, the story unfolds as the friends struggle to find love, happiness, and incomparable sex... surprises are in store for all, as they discover that sometimes the hardest thing to be is yourself.
AZ logos: Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

Click the inscrutable seal to visit their website:

Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
AZ logos: dumpster diving. Click for Mesa, AZ forecast

Many companies conducting business in this state use the outline of Arizona's map or the colors of our flag to advertise their services. For example, Weather Underground automatically generates cool clickable stickers like that one over on the right.

But I'm not too sure about the map+flag logo shown below:

Green wood, yellow flowers. Arizona's state tree is the Palo Verde (Spanish for "Green Wood") and it's blooming everywhere right now. I just took this photo at the end of our street:

Palo Verde
AZ logos: Web Devil.Wed Devil Arizona State University is the home of the Sun Devils, and their online news service is called the Web Devil.

The WD logo, an "at" sign with cute horns and a tail, seems pretty darn clever to me...
Let's do brunch, Kemo Sabe. "Waterfront casual dining with majestic canyon views" doesn't begin to do justice to the Lakeshore Restaurant, a lovely eatery just 13.1 miles from our front door, in the middle of the Tonto National Forest. We really enjoyed our meal there this morning. Their terrace offers breathtaking panoramic vistas of the Goldfield Mountains, Bulldog Cliffs and Saguaro Lake. The scenery alone is worth the price (very reasonable, BTW), but the food is actually good, too. What a great place!
Do you know the way to... Montaña Vista? Earlier this week, I put together a Newcomer Info page for our new community. Yesterday, I decided that we also needed a set of directions, complete with photos. These two pages contain all the obscure details that I wish had been made available to us, when we first moved in. Since I spent so much time gathering this information for our private use, I figured it might be helpful to share it with those who come after us.
Vexillophiles (6): Tucson. The official seal of Tucson was designed by Mary Crowfoot in 1949, and entered in a City-sponsored contest. The City's flag, adopted on January 5, 1953, is simply the seal on a white field, proportioned 3:5.

The seal is also the central element in Tucson's logo, which was created in-house by City designers. It replaced a previous logo in September 2002. There was no ceremony or referendum, just a period of transition. The following is excerpted from a memo to all City employees from City Manager James Keene:

"I felt it was important not to start from scratch in creating a new logo, but instead unify all of our various permutations through an update and standardization of our historic City seal. Our updated seal serves as the core standard logo for the City."

Tucson flag
You may call me Zimmy. Bob Dylan´s Greatest Hits Volume 3Bob Dylan sang Gotta Serve Somebody while I was standing in the middle of Studio 8H, working as an NBC Page on Saturday Night Live, so this song has always been one of my favorites:

You may be an ambassador to England or France,
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

CHORUS: But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You might be a rock 'n' roll addict prancing on the stage,
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage,
You may be a business man or some high degree thief,
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief [CHORUS]

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk,
You may be the head of some big TV network,
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame,
You may be living in another country under another name [CHORUS]

You may be a construction worker working on a home,
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome,
You might own guns and you might even own tanks,
You might be somebody's landlord, you might even own banks [CHORUS]

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride,
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side,
You may be workin' in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair,
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir [CHORUS]

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk,
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk,
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread,
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed [CHORUS]

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy,
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy,
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray,
You may call me anything but no matter what you say [CHORUS]
A tuck in the Airedale. Monty Python´s Flying Circus, Ep. 10Pet Conversions sketch, by Monty Python's Flying Circus:


MAN (John Cleese): Good morning, I'd like to buy a cat.
SHOPKEEPER (Michael Palin): Certainly sir. I've got a lovely terrier (indicates a box on the counter).
MAN: No, I want a cat, really.
SHOPKEEPER (removing box from counter and then putting it back, pretending it's a different box): Oh yeah, how about that?
MAN (looking in box): No, that's the terrier.
SHOPKEEPER: Well, it's as near as dammit.
MAN: Well what do you mean? I want a cat.
SHOPKEEPER: Listen, tell you what. I'll file its legs down a bit, take its snout out, stick a few wires through its cheeks. There you are, a lovely pussy cat.
MAN: It's not a proper cat.
SHOPKEEPER: What do you mean?
MAN: Well, it wouldn't meow.
SHOPKEEPER: Well it would howl a bit.
MAN: No, no, no, no. Er, have you got a parrot?
SHOPKEEPER: No, afraid not actually guv, we're fresh out of parrots. I'll tell you what though... I'll lop its back legs off, make good, strip the fur, stick a couple of wings on and staple on a beak of your own choice (taking small box and rattling it). No problem. Lovely parrot.
MAN: How long would that take?
SHOPKEEPER: Oh, let me see... er, stripping the fur off, no legs... (calling) Harry... can you do a parrot job on this terrier straightaway?
HARRY (Graham Chapman, off-screen): No, I'm still putting a tuck in the Airedale, and then I got the frogs to let out.
MAN: No, I need it for tomorrow. It's a present.
SHOPKEEPER: Oh dear, it's a long job. You see parrot conversions... tell you what though, for free, terriers make lovely fish. I mean I could do that for you straightaway. Legs off, fins on, stick a little pipe through the back of its neck so it can breathe, bit of gold paint, make good...
MAN: You'd need a very big tank.
SHOPKEEPER: It's a great conversation piece.
MAN: Yes, all right, all right... but, er, only if I can watch.
Expanding after contraction. The Essential RumiThe Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks. Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-1273) was a Sufi mystic and teacher from Anatolia (now Turkey) who formed the ecstatic Mevlevi sect - their delicately beautiful, turning meditations have resulted in the "Whirling Dervish" nickname. The following passage is from his Mathnawi, Book IV; it's a sample from one of the lyrical prayers which Rumi places at the beginning of each book:

This is the fourth journey toward home, toward where the great advantages are waiting for us. Reading it, mystics will feel very happy, as a meadow feels when it hears thunder, the good news of rain coming, as tired eyes look forward to sleeping. Joy for the spirit, health for the body. In here is what genuine devotion wants, refreshment, sweet fruit ripe enough for the pickiest picker, medicine, detailed directions on how to get to the Friend. [...] Here is the way to renew connection with your soul, and rest from difficulties. [...] A full moon and an inheritance you thought you had lost are now returned to you. More hope for the hopeful, lucky finds for foragers, wonderful things thought of to do. Anticipation after depression, expanding after contraction. The sun comes out, and that light is what we give, in this book, to our spiritual descendants. [...] As the Andalusian poet, Adi al-Riga, says,

I was sleeping, and being comforted
by a cool breeze, when suddenly a gray dove
from a thicket sang and sobbed with longing,
and reminded me of my own passion.

I had been away from my own soul so long,
so late-sleeping, but that dove's crying
woke me and made me cry.
Praise to all early-waking grievers!
Red Mountain, Salt River. I took this photo after driving less than five minutes from our new home...

Red Mountain in Mesa, Arizona

[click the image above for a wallpaper-sized photo, or click here for a perspective from space]

Mount McDowell (commonly known as Red Mountain) and the Fort McDowell reservation were both named after General Irvin McDowell, a Union officer in the Civil War.

Red Mountain (2,830 feet) is at the confluence of the Verde and Salt Rivers (**not** salt water, BTW) on private lands owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The mountain is protected and off-limits to climbers and hikers.
Great People, Quality Service! 

We just moved into our new home in the Red Mountain district of Mesa, Arizona.

On our way into the city, we noticed a disturbingly-cheerful sign (below).

Have we unwittingly become employees of the Greater Mesa Gas Station?

Fill `er up? Check the tires?