The Snoozeletter @

There must be a pony. Another old joke, but it bears repeating:

A set of 5-year-old twin boys had developed extreme personalities: one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist. So the concerned parents took the kids to a psychiatrist.

First, the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears.

"What's the matter?" asked the psychiatrist, baffled. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?"

"Yes," the little boy bawled, "But if I did, I'd only break them."

Next, the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands.

"What do you think you're doing?" the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist.

"With all this manure," the little boy replied, beaming, "There must be a pony in here somewhere!"

AmadeusAmadeus was directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer (adapted from his play). F. Murray Abraham stars as Antonio Salieri and Tom Hulce as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

This film is a classic. What more can be said? The court composer Salieri was so jealous of Mozart's talent that he may have destroyed Wolfgang's career.

The Director's Cut restores an extra 20 minutes, and fleshes out some of the subplots.

Immortal BelovedImmortal Beloved was written and directed by Bernard Rose.

Gary Oldman stars as Ludwig van Beethoven, Jeroen Krabbé plays Anton Schindler (Beethoven's secretary and lifelong friend) and Isabella Rossellini is luscious as the Hungarian countess Anna Marie Erdödy.

Suppose a letter is found after the mighty composer's death, a letter in which Beethoven refers to his "immortal beloved." Who was Beethoven's real muse?

LvB's music is the real star here. Discovering possible inspirations for his music is an unexpected bonus.
Freeway party: 2 of 2.

As mentioned yesterday, Anikó and I went to the Loop 202 opening event on Tuesday night. We were impressed with the organizers' attention to detail: parking was on one side of the freeway, booths on the other. They expected thousands of idiots and, sure enough, thousands of us showed up.

Of course, one of the major sporting activities at a party like this is to see who can collect the weirdest free stuff. We gave it our best shot:

1) DVD from (detailed here) - "Modern Roundabout, Innovation in Traffic Management"
2) Map from - "Regional Transportation Plan Freeway Program 2006-2025"
3) Yellow plastic hat from - Construction hardhat w/ADOT logo
4) Mousepad from - "Slow Down, My Mommy Works Here"
5) Keychains from - "Buckle Up" detachable + "Please Watch Out For Motorcycles" black cycle
6) Plastic sports bottles from - "Arizona Travel Info"
7) Bottle of water from and - "I'm There"
8) Pencil from college - "Career & Technical Education"
9) Triangular mini-toolkit from - "Mesa, The Perfect Location For Business"
10) CD cleaner from - "Mesa Rocks!"
11) Rubber squeeze toy from ? - wedge of cantaloupe: orange center, green rind, brown skin - "Eat Well, Be Well"

The rubber cantaloupe wedge is my favorite. I'm sorry I can't remember who gave it to us.

The organizers were careful to provide many bottles of water. Since the party consisted mostly of walking long distances on virgin black asphalt--smoking hot and shimmering under the summer sun--water was a must for survival. We were most impressed by the guys who scooted around with little red wagons full of ice-cold water bottles. They moved quickly when dazed partygoers stumbled off into the freeway ditch, faint with heatstroke.

Anikó on Loop 202
Alan w/swag
Freeway party: 1 of 2.

Anikó and I went to the Loop 202 opening event last night. It was pretty much as stupid as expected, but in wonderfully silly ways. We collected tons of cool free stuff, which I will enumerate later, but the most surprising piece of free crap was a DVD, entitled "Modern Roundabout, Innovation in Traffic Management."

When I was growing up in Massachusetts, a million years ago, we called these types of intersections "traffic circles," and they were considered to be deathtraps. Everybody, including the state's public roads department, wanted to replace the traffic circles with a less dangerous design, but it was an expensive proposition. The roads in Massachusetts had evolved gradually over hundreds of years, from horse paths to automobile routes, and getting rid of the traffic circles was a long-term project.

Now that I live in Arizona, it looks like state officials construct new traffic circles/roundabouts ON PURPOSE. And they spend millions of dollars handing out free DVDs, trying to educate Arizona motorists on how to use them, and to convince us that roundabouts are GOOD.

Most of the DVD is reproduced on the Arizona Department of Transportation's website. Notice how they have to explain the use of roundabouts with videos, diagrams, scripts, animations, graphics, etc. In other words, using a roundabout is not intuitive. This is a bad sign. If a driver can't figure out how to negotiate a traffic intersection just by looking at it, there will be accidents. Many accidents.

I plan to carry my DVD in the car with me at all times, so I won't get confused...
Freeway jumps on Giant Red Nipple bandwagon. 

Roundin´ Out Red Mtn.The Arizona Department of Transportation has just erected its own cute and perky logo, adding to the Mesa Giant Red Nipple series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

This coming Tuesday, July 15, at 5pm, ADOT will host the Roundin' Out the Red Mountain Opening Event, celebrating the completion of Loop 202.

When we bought a house in this area, during March of 2007, we were at the end of a freeway. Now we're in the loop. During the last couple of years, ADOT has provided us with some mystery (H-O-V... P-I-R... M-O-U-S-E) and excitement (our own little neighborhood bridge collapse).

And now they're throwing a party on the freeway? I'm there.
A new way to play golf.

Anikó and I like to go hiking up in the Las Sendas community, just a few blocks away. The desert landscaping is spectacular, and many trails branch off the public sidewalks. In fact, "las sendas" means "the footpaths" in Spanish.

One day, we started hiking up a hill, and soon realized that the other side of the hill was right next to their golf course. It was the tricky 11th hole, and we couldn't believe the number of golf balls that had been abandoned, just off the fairway. We started enjoying our new game, out amongst the cacti and palo verde trees: "Look! Another one! Over there!" It was tons of fun, sorta like a treasure hunt.

That first day, we rescued 17 balls. Since then, we've gone back many times, accumulating dozens more. It doesn't seem to matter how often we return; there are always new balls to rescue. Although we once tied our high score of 17, we haven't broken the record.

Jolie/Kidman Deathmatch.

RoundNicole KidmanAngelina JolieWinner
1 PersonalitySpoiled, self-absorbedCharitable, humanitarianJolie
2 Tattoos0A jillionJolie
3 AwardsOscar: 2003; Golden Globes: 2003, 2002, 1996Oscar: 2000; Golden Globes: 2000, 1999, 1998; SAG Actor: 2000, 1999Jolie
4 SpouseKeith Urban, ex-drunk redneck shitkickerBrad Pitt, enlightened sensitive hunkJolie
5 Spouse AwardsGrammy: 2006Golden Globe: 1996; MTV Movie Awards: 1996, 1995Jolie
6 Offspring NameSunday, silliest name since Morticia and Gomez Addams named their girl WednesdayUnborn twins, as yet unnamedJolie
7 Offspring Pix Worth$5 million$25 millionJolie

Don't get me wrong. The news about my right shoulder is not all bad. I **am** making some gains in mobility, but the progress is so hard-won, and so painful, that we celebrate each tiny victory. Today, there were three reasons to rejoice:

1) I can now comb my hair, and
2) I can now brush my teeth, and
3) I can now wipe my ass.

It was a big day.
Haven't got time for the pain. (Re: Carly Simon)

An offhand comment from my primary physical therapist (a/k/a The Dominatrix) the other day led me to a disturbing realization. Yolanta mentioned that one of her shoulder-operation clients finished his physical therapy in a week or so. Her intern and I both looked at each other in astonishment, because I've been banging my head against the wall for five weeks, with several more months of painful rehab projected. Yolanta explained that the other client had a simple rotator cuff surgery, and that my repair was a whole lot more complex.

This was confirmed during my last visit to the doc: he said that my surgery was not your run-of-the-mill rotator cuff repair, which is why I have all this extra pain. He also admitted that he did a "tight" repair, because everything inside my shoulder was so loose before. Which means--you guessed it--even MORE pain!

Several old friends have come out of the woodwork, to share their rotator cuff stories. A couple of them have had both shoulders repaired, and both of them quit the second round of therapy. Each decided that limited mobility and strength was preferable to the continued regimen of pain. And they both had simple rotator-cuff surgeries.

I do have pain pills, but they're not very effective. They also have long-term drawbacks, so I resort to them only when my internal angst starts impinging on other people, like poor Anikó. And the recent cortisone shot helped... but only for a couple of days.

Long story short: I visit my physical therapists twice a week, 7am. They prod me into a killing round of exercises for a couple of hours. Then The Dominatrix devises some fiendishly-personalized torture for my shoulder that lasts several years (approximately twenty minutes in real time), and I drive home in a daze. For the rest of that day, I can barely complete the simplest task, because I can't remember anything for more than ten seconds. My body stays in shock for the next 24 hours, then I gradually come out of it. But when I wake up the next morning, I'm faced with a difficult choice: do I continue to self-administer the unimaginable pain of these (supposedly) three-a-day exercises, or do I put a gun to my head?

The gun is still in the nightstand. So far. ;-)

Update from the peanut gallery: Kevin S. from Colorado Springs writes, "It may be necessary to continue the PT at least until you can lift the gun to your temple."
Trente-deux films brefs sur Glenn Gould.

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn GouldThirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould is actually one docudrama directed by François Girard, from a screenplay by Girard & Don McKellar.

Colm Feore plays the eccentric Canadian master pianist with gusto.

The structure of this film is based upon the structure of the composition that Gould is most famous for playing, Bach's Goldberg Variations: 32 short pieces of music that are usually performed together.