The Snoozeletter @

Waiting For Godot And My New Blog.

My Fox PhoenixIt's been exactly one week since I started the Top Write Corner blog, at our local Fox TV affiliate's website. They have featured 5 of my first 7 postings on their front page, which is a welcome ego boost. But check out my posting routine:

1) I write an article for the blog, sometimes inserting photos.
2) However, the Fox site has no Preview function.
3) So I can't see what the finished product will look like.
4) But I post the article to my blog anyway, hoping for the best.
5) 24 to 48 hours later, the Fox moderator approves it.
6) That's when I get my first look at the formatted article.
7) I then make whatever revisions are necessary.
8) I wait another 24 to 48 hours for the changes to be approved.
9) Then I repeat steps 6 through 8, as needed.

They call the site "My Fox Phoenix," but it's actually "THEIR Fox Phoenix And Don't You Forget It, Chucko."
Thank you, Julie Christie.

Upon accepting her lead-actor SAG award for "Away From Her," Julie Christie said: "It’s lovely to receive an award from your own union, especially at a time when we're being so forcefully reminded how important unions are."

Conglom NBC/Universal reports (through their MSNBC mouthpiece): Writers strike gets little attention at SAGs.

But Variety sez: WGA strike a hot topic at SAG Awards.

Who do YOU believe?
☑Tax forms and computer geeks.

The Federal computer geeks came up with a 1040 PDF tax form that allows you to save your data between hand-wringing-hair-ripping-weeping-wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth sessions. The form is simple, basic and somewhat stupid; just like the government geeks who designed it, I suspect.

We recently relocated from the Palm Springs area, so I also downloaded the 540 PDF tax form. I noticed those California computer geeks had come up with a form that lets you save your data between sessions AND reset everything to blank after you file the form, so you won't need to face those awful numbers ever-ever-ever again. It also copies your name and Social Security number from the first page to the second page, automatically. Sweet.

But our own homegrown Arizona computer geeks have created a 140 PDF tax form that is so breathtaking in its near-brilliance, I was nearly speechless. This 9-page document copies your name and Social Security number into 8 different places on 7 separate forms. But that's only the beginning: it also CALCULATES YOUR TAX, depending on the numbers you enter into the various forms. Everything works together, interdependently; it's just like installing a fancy piece of tax-prep software on your own computer. These Arizona geeks can be real geniuses, when they put their pointy little heads together.

However, I've discovered one glaring drawback: this 140 PDF form won't let you save your data between sessions.

Sometimes these nerdy Arizona genius geeks can be pretty darn dumb.
I'll manage, thank you.

The SEO (Search Engine Optimization) dotcom where I now work maintains a list of freelance writers, but I've gradually discovered that most of them are crap. And it's my job to manage these freelancers, including hiring and firing.

One writer recently submitted five short pieces of marketing material for one client, and three of the pieces contained the wrong client name. Not just a misspelling, the WRONG NAME.

Another writer had been given a thirteen-day deadline to crank out four small SEO pieces. I've found that I need two or three hours to complete a similar job, but I'm pretty slow because this kind of specialized writing is new to me. So when the fourteenth day arrived, I sent a polite, low-key eMail, asking when we could expect the material. She replied that she had been feeling "out of sorts."

Then there's Colin. I like Colin. He lives in Scotland and works at a non-writing day job. So he's not yet a professional writer, but he sure acts like one. His quality level is generally good, but there were some typo and grammar problems in the articles he had submitted for one of our British clients last month, so I wanted to get him back on track. Basically, he needed to know there was a new sheriff in town, and the new guy didn't want to work quite as hard at cleaning up his lazy prose.

So when he asked for some new assignments, I wrote an ego-boosting version of the truth: [...] a lot of things are on hold. I do know there are a few articles coming up for a drug rehab site - are you comfortable with that subject? I was impressed with the energy of your music articles, but I don't want to push you into anything you don't enjoy writing. [...] One QC note: I'm in the middle of doing the last pass on those articles you wrote and/or edited, so I'll send you a sample redline. Some of the pieces are in better shape, some worse, but I hope the next batch will involve less proofreading for me. I'm not an expert on British usage, so I'd like to leave the final pass to you.

He replied with a terse eMail saying he'd ensure that less proofreading would be required in his next batch of articles.

I suspected the redline (which pointed out his errors, along with my corrections) might have been embarrassing to him, so I quickly sent some reassurance in my response: Don't be concerned if there's a week or two delay, while we get our ducks in a row. You're at the top of my roster, and I will definitely need your services when the logjam clears.

But I wasn't really sure if Colin understood the gravity of the situation, until I saw his blog: I had a late night flurry of emails just before I logged off last night; a conversation with the new content editor for my regular client about their company restructuring. They're an SEO organisation that sell links and adverts, and in my case, they buy keyword articles to use for promoting and boosting their client's online profiles - in my case Viagogo. [¶] I thought the email exchange was a prelude to being told my services would no longer be required, but it seems they were impressed by the "energy in my articles" and that I am "top of the roster."

After reading the posting above, I knew that Colin and I would get along just fine. ;-)
WGA offed again.

This week, the WGA signed interim deals with Lionsgate, Marvel Studios and RKO Pictures:

The AMPTP has continued to characterize these temporary arrangements as "one-off," meaning whatever terms the WGA and alliance arrive at one day will ultimately supersede these individual deals.

The WGA has already signed "one-off" deals with United Artists, the Weinstein Co., Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Spyglass Entertainment, MRC, Jackson Bites, Mandate Films and Worldwide Pants. Let's hope the AMPTP will soon be "one-offed" into submission.
My PageRank is bigger than yours (not).

Google judges the relative importance of your webpage and assigns a PageRank, from 0 to 10, to sort its search results into a useful order.

For example, the front page of this blog is PR 2. PageRank

And our book's homepage is PR 3.

My lawyer jokes page is PR 4. People like to link to it.

But that's the highest PR we've got.

For comparison, the American Zoetrope homepage is PR 5.

And the Microsoft search page is PR 8, while Yahoo's search page is PR 9.

But the Google search page is PR 10. Of course.

PS: You can instantaneously check any site's PageRank by downloading and installing the Google Toolbar (enable the PageRank button under Settings, Options, More).
Another stoopid blog.

It was predictable.

Inevitable, really.

Yes, I have a new blog, over on the Phoenix Fox TV website.

It's weird, because everything I post (even my bio) must first be approved by them.

But it's also fun, because they've been nice enough to feature some of my ramblings on their front page (look for postings by "acbaird").

Here are my Stats so far - I don't understand that bottom-right entry, but maybe I'm not supposed to:

Views per day26.500.03
Posts per day2.500.00
Comments per day3.500.01
Total views5322.62
Total posts50.36
Total comments74.93
Comments per post1.4013.73
Japanese cellphone novels.

Thumbs Race as Japan's Best Sellers Go Cellular (New York Times):

Japan's younger generation came of age with the cellphone, and created its own popular culture by tapping thumbs on keypads.

Published: January 20, 2008

TOKYO -- Until recently, cellphone novels -- composed on phone keypads by young women wielding dexterous thumbs and read by fans on their tiny screens -- had been dismissed in Japan as a subgenre unworthy of the country that gave the world its first novel, "The Tale of Genji," a millennium ago. Then last month, the year-end best-seller tally showed that cellphone novels, republished in book form, have not only infiltrated the mainstream but have come to dominate it.

Of last year's 10 best-selling novels, five were originally cellphone novels, mostly love stories written in the short sentences characteristic of text messaging but containing little of the plotting or character development found in traditional novels. What is more, the top three spots were occupied by first-time cellphone novelists, touching off debates in the news media and blogosphere.

Jan 2008 cover of Bungakukai"Will cellphone novels kill 'the author'?" a famous literary journal, Bungaku-kai, asked on the cover of its January issue. Fans praised the novels as a new literary genre created and consumed by a generation whose reading habits had consisted mostly of manga, or comic books. Critics said the dominance of cellphone novels, with their poor literary quality, would hasten the decline of Japanese literature.

Whatever their literary talents, cellphone novelists are racking up the kind of sales that most more experienced, traditional novelists can only dream of.
DGA bends over.

It looks like the Directors Guild just agreed to take it up the butt, in their new contract. Here's the rundown by jimmy, over on the WGA's United Hollywood blog:

So let's work with real numbers here. Everyone, feel free to check my numbers.

Under the old contract, if you wrote an original episode of Grey's Anatomy, you'd get $30,823.

If they reran the show on the network, you'd get an additional $21,078.

So, that's $51,901.

If all reruns go to the internet, which is the suspicion of all the new media rollouts of Hulu, AppleTV, Netflix, etc. then the second payment would not happen.

And if you max out the internet residuals, you'd get $1,200.

So, a television writer used to getting $51,901 in compensation for normal network practices, will now get $32,023.

Old: $51,091
New: $32,023

That's a 38% pay cut for television writers PER EPISODE.

For a director, if he/she directs that same episode of Grey's Anatomy, they got $35,927 under the old contract. And an additional $21,528 when the program is rerun.

Old: $57,455
New: $37,127

That's a 35% pay cut.

Is that math right?

Did the DGA just negotiate a 35% paycut for their television directors????

If you could save close $20,000 PER EPISODE PER WRITER AND DIRECTOR by streaming the reruns through AppleTV, wouldn't you do it?

Especially since you can fill that air time with a reality or game show that doesn't cost nearly as much to fill that time?

Happy 199th, Edgar Allan Poe! 

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan PoeMystery Man's Annual Visit to Poe Grave, by Ben Nuckols

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Undeterred by controversy, a mysterious visitor paid his annual tribute at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe early Saturday, placing three red roses and a half-filled bottle of cognac before stealing away into the darkness.

Nearly 150 people had gathered outside the cemetery of Westminster Presbyterian Church, but the man known as the "Poe toaster" was, as usual, able to avoid being spotted by the crowd, said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum.

The tribute takes place every Jan. 19 -- the anniversary of Poe's birth.
Stop DUI AZ.

I drive past this billboard every morning, and the potential-outing idea behind it seems really great...

Stop DUI AZ billboard

...but then I continue a few blocks south, and wonder if this is where a shamed DUI offender can find liquid solace in "one for the road":

Beer World sign
Golden Globes Press Conference Diary... from Time Magazine:

[...] 6:23
Presenter Mary Hart thanks her agent and hails Viggo Mortensen's "scary naked fight scene" in Eastern Promises. This news conference is becoming the best proof of the need for writers the WGA could hope for. [...]
Golden Globes scrapped. It's the latest awards show to be affected by the strike. Earlier this week, the People's Choice opted for pre-tape, rather than face WGA picket lines. What will happen to Grammy® and Oscar®? Will their ®egistration marks save 'em?
Strike begins to pay off. Tom Cruise's United Artists and The Weinstein Company signed interim deals with the WGA this week. Let's hear it for Harvey Scissorhands and TomKat!
Starting a new job today! I'm the new Content Manager for a successful dotcom. Blogging may be sporadic while I get up to speed. We'll see how it goes.
It's my birthday!

The Very Best Of Kool & The GangCelebration
by Bell/Kool & The Gang

Yahoo! This is your celebration
Yahoo! This is your celebration
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)

There's a party goin' on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times, and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you

Come on now
Celebration - let's all celebrate and have a good time
Celebration - we gonna celebrate and have a good time

Takin´ the ol´ Heinz 57 pickle up the wazoo...It's time to come together
It's up to you, what's your pleasure
Everyone around the world - come on!

Yahoo! It's a celebration

Celebrate good times, come on!
It's a celebration
Celebrate good times, come on!
Let's celebrate

We're gonna have a good time tonight
Let's celebrate, it's all right
We're gonna have a good time tonight
Let's celebrate, it's all right

We're gonna have a good time tonight (Ce-le-bra-tion)
Let's celebrate, it's all right
We're gonna have a good time tonight (Ce-le-bra-tion)
Let's celebrate, it's all right
Yahoo! Yahoo!

Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on!
It's a celebration!
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)

Come on and celebrate, good times, tonight (Celebrate good times, come on!)
'Cause everything's gonna be all right
Let's celebrate (Celebrate good times, come on)
(Let's celebrate)
Scabs: Leno and Huckabee.

WGA On StrikeThe night before this week's Iowa caucuses, Mike Huckabee sold his soul for 16 minutes of face time on the Tonight show. He said he didn't realize he was going to be crossing a Writers Guild picket line, but he was warned--well in advance of his trip to California--by the WGA itself. The logical question to ask: if Mike was unaware of a picket line, what else would he miss, if he became our President? An incoming ICBM?

Tonight show host Jay Leno was no better. He's been writing his own monologues, blatantly flouting the strike rules of his own guild: the WGA. He's also been knifing his fellow guild members in the back, with his scabbing behavior. If you've got friends like Jay, you don't need enemies.

The result: I'm ashamed to say that my fellow countrymen have made these two scabs into winners. Huckabee came out ahead in Iowa, and Leno is beating David Letterman (who signed a deal to resolve the labor dispute with his writers) in the TV ratings war.

I'm hoping against hope that America will climb out of this evil pit very soon.
Time to transubstantiate!

Tom Lehrer: That Was The Year That WasThe Vatican Rag
written and performed by Tom Lehrer

First you get down on your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!

Do whatever steps you want if
You have cleared them with the Pontiff.
Everybody say his own
Kyrie eleison,
Doin' the Vatican Rag.

Get in line in that processional,
Step into that small confessional.
There the guy who's got religion'll
Tell you if your sin's original.

If it is, try playin' it safer,
Drink the wine and chew the wafer,
Two, four, six, eight,
Time to transubstantiate!

So get down upon your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!

Make a cross on your abdomen,
When in Rome do like a Roman;
Ave Maria,
Gee, it's good to see ya.
Gettin' ecstatic an' sorta dramatic an'
Doin' the Vatican Rag!
Wir sind die Champignons.

Queen: News of the WorldWe Are The Champions
written by Freddie Mercury
performed by Queen

I've paid my dues
Time after time
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I've made a few
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I've come through

And we mean to go on and on and on and on

REFRAIN: We are the champions, my friends
And we'll keep on fighting 'til the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions of the world

I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
I thank you all
But it's been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain't gonna lose

And we mean to go on and on and on and on