The Snoozeletter @

My New Job: a mini-diary. Part Deux.

Arizona Tenants Advocates(This will make more sense if you've read part one.)

Long story short: me and the boss parted ways. Creative differences, yada-yada.
Later that week, I drove into Tempe to collect two paychecks from him.
#1 for the first week's pay, #2 for the truncated second week.
I rushed over to his bank, to cash them. It seemed only prudent.
The bank refused to cash #2, because he had post-dated it.
So I took it back to him and dropped it on his desk.
"You want me to... rewrite it?" he asked.
Like I was requesting the most outlandish thing in the world.
Like he wasn't trustworthy. I just stared at him.
So he sighed mightily, and rewrote the check.
I returned to his bank. They wanted to charge me $6 per check.
This is Chase Bank, by the way. Just thought you should know.

So I deposited the checks in my bank.
Arizona Tenants Advocates NSFSome days later, check #2 bounced. Non-sufficient funds.
Surprise. I was charged $35.00 for the NSF.
So I told the boss to get me a cashier's check, money order or cash.
For the amount of check #2, plus $35.00.
I warned him 3 days in advance, and then 4 hours in advance, of when I'd show up.
He emailed me, 50 minutes before I was scheduled to arrive, to wait a day.
"Better for tomorrow, when credit cards funds are arriving," sayeth Mr. High Finance.
Luckily, I checked my email one last time before making the 30-minute drive.
I guess I was subconsciously expecting to get screwed. Again.
The next day, I drove into Tempe for the SECOND time.
After hemming and hawing, he finally produced two crisp $100 banknotes.
I asked if he had just printed them up, in the back. But I was only half-joking.
So I frantically rushed around, attempting to break the bills.
You never know.

PS: Whew. Two hours of driving just to get paid for work I'd already completed. I know these are perilous economic times, but several people say he's been operating like this for years.

PPS: An old friend commented: "Sometimes a good story is dearly bought." I replied: "I'm tired of paying high prices for these stories. When does my discount kick in?"
A real twit.

banging head on computer keyboardRemember that "too stupid to own a computer" story from the Good Ole Days? Well, this guy really **is** too stupid to own a computer. Or a cell phone: Home burglarized after owner 'twittered' he was leaving town (ABC-15, Phoenix).

FYI, he runs a video podcasting business.

And now he's giddy about all the media attention.

Judging from his tweets, quite a bit of expensive equipment was left in his home by the burglars, and he's still out of town.

Go nuts.
Kavya Shivashankar. Laodicean. National Spelling Bee(The National Spelling Bee winner, and her winning word.)

Kavya appeared in 3 previous Bees, finishing 10th, eighth and fourth. She's the seventh Indian-American in 11 years to claim the title. I'm guessing that Indian-Americans are more persistent than the rest of us.

Citizens of other countries often make fun of our spelling bees, wondering why English spelling is so difficult to learn. They are amused by the fact that we turn what should be a simple task into a competitive sport. For example, the orthography of most Romance languages (like Spanish) is so regular that you can easily figure out the spelling of a word just by hearing how it sounds. [American Literacy Council demonstration.]

But the rest of the world is gradually becoming involved in our magnificent obsession. Looking through this year's list of NSB entrants, I noticed: 1 from China, 1 from Ghana, 1 from South Korea, 1 from New Zealand, 1 from Jamaica, 1 from the Bahamas, and TWENTY-TWO from Canada!

Related postings: Spell Czech and A Dutchman's paean to English and Follow the Bee.
Queen Elizabeth Snubbed: Britain Declares War on France.

Snippets from the Time article: The casus belli in the latest cross-Channel spat is the slight dealt by the French government to Queen Elizabeth II in failing to invite her to the June 6 ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the 1944 Allied invasion at Normandy. While the Queen has attended - and also skipped - various previous D-Day commemorations, this year's event seems to have been given heightened allure by the planned attendance of U.S. President Barack Obama, who remains the King of Pop on the diplomatic circuit. British tabloids have gone ballistic over what they see as French President Nicolas Sarkozy trying to hog the Obama-radiated limelight. [...] "A diminutive egomaniac, the stain of Nazi collaboration and why the French can't forgive us for saving them in the War" was Thursday's headline in London's Daily Mail, above an article filled with denunciation of the French and their leaders as cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Well, at least they didn't say that Carla Bruni wears army boots...
Follow the Bee. The National Spelling Bee, that is. On Twitter. Or on ABC-TV, tomorrow night. Or in my fevered memory. Or in a DVD:
SpellboundAkeelah and the BeeBee Season
Dad/Mom/Nerd/Rep. Brad Morse (R-MA)/Flag
Facebook a factor in Iran's election?

Iranians regain access to Facebook, Twitter (CNN)

Support for Moderate a Challenge to Iran's Leader (NY Times)

Finally, here's the Facebook page for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rival: Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Last words on Death Row... from Court TV:

"I'm sorry I killed Wayne Shinn. I hope North Carolina will one day be sorry that they killed me."
-- David Lawson, executed in North Carolina on June 15, 1994

"Somebody needs to kill my trial attorney."
-- George Harris, executed in Missouri on September 13, 2000

"Go Raiders!"
-- Robert Charles Comer, executed in Arizona on May 22, 2007

executed offenders (Texas), last statements

executed inmates (Arizona), last meals

I recently remembered an actual epitaph from Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona: "Here lies Lester Moore - Four slugs from a 44 - No Les No More."

So I've been trying on tombstones @

Goose is a Nauthor! 

My old high-school buddy, Jim Gusek (Reclamationist of the Year), has a new book out, via the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration. It probably won't be in your local Barnes & Noble (later: yes, it is!), but it's gonna be required reading in some circles...

Congrats, Jim!

Mitigation of Metal Mining Influenced Water, vol. 2
In Saturn's Shadow.

This is an actual photo of the far side of Saturn, taken by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft. It makes a stunning desktop wallpaper background. Enjoy!

FYI, the pale blue dot of Earth is just above the left edge of the brighter main rings (you can see it clearly, if you magnify the larger versions). I love this shot. It makes the whole space program worthwhile.

Saturn, 9/15/2006
Hot enuff 4 ya?

Phoenix is no stranger to heat records. So it wasn't surprising to see today's 2:30pm bulletin from the National Weather Service:

20 minutes into the future. 

Max Headroom on Newsweek cover, April 20, 1987I was inordinately pleased when ABC-TV's Max Headroom series purchased my debut student film, widely hailed as "the most uncommercial piece of ____ in Michigan State's history."

But I have to admit that I got lucky, because the MH show needed lots of studio monitors in their Network XXIII set. And with so many monitors, they required lots of random footage to make the TV screens come to life. [If you remember, Network XXIII employed Max Headroom's alter ego, Edison Carter - played by Matt Frewer.] So to fill the void, MH producers publicized a "Cash For Trash" program, during which they bought my film, among many others.

Useless Trivia: 14 MH episodes were produced between March 1987 and May 1988, but ABC aired only 13 of them. I was fortunate enough to see a screening of the elusive 14th episode, when the producers invited me to their wrap party. During the festivities, Corbin Bernsen (who was starring on L.A. Law at the time) began hitting on Amanda Pays (MH's Theora Jones). He finally married her in November, when she was six months pregnant.

More Useless Trivia: Matt (as Max) recorded a dance track called "Paranoimia" with The Art Of Noise. The tune has a certain irresistible quality, something that Max calls "computer-generated swagger." [extended mix]

The Best of The Art of Noise   Update: Max is b-b-b-back!

WaterworldWaterworld (written by Peter Rader and David Twohy) dialog snippets:

DEACON (Dennis Hopper): Wanna cigarette? You're never too young to start.


DEACON: If you'll notice the arterial nature of the blood coming from the hole in my head, you can assume that we're all having a real lousy day.


DEACON: Don't just stand there, kill something!


DEACON: Let's have an intelligent conversation here - I'll talk, and you listen.


DEPTH GAUGE (William Preston): Sir? Your Deaconship? Good day! Or night. Whatever the case may be...
DEACON: What is it? I'm a busy man.
DEPTH GAUGE: I thought you should know. There's exactly nine feet and four inches of THE BLACK STUFF... [Deacon spits on the Depth Gauge's head.] Oh, thank you!


DEACON: Well, I'll be damned. It's the gentleman guppy. You know, he's like a turd that won't flush.


MARINER (Kevin Costner): I want the girl.
DEACON: You know, I thought you were stupid, friend. But I underestimated you. You are a total freaking retard! Ha-ha-ha...
MARINER: I want the girl. That's all.
DEACON: Well, what on this screwed-up earth of ours makes you think you're gonna get her?
MARINER: [Takes a flare from his belt, and holds it over a hole leading down to the Deez's fuel hold.] You know what this is. I drop it, you burn.
DOCTOR (John Fleck): We all burn...
DEACON: Now-now-now, let's not do anything rash here. I mean, are you sure this kid is worth it? I mean, she never does stop talking, she never shuts up!
MARINER: I noticed.
DEACON: So what is it, then? It's the map.
MARINER: She's my friend.
DEACON: Golly gee, a single tear rolls down my cheek. You're gonna die for your friend.
MARINER: If it comes to that. [He ignites the flare, and holds it over the hole again.]
NORD (Gerard Murphy): He's bluffing! I'll kill him.
ENOLA (Tina Majorino): He's not bluffing, he never bluffs.
DEACON: SHUT UP! [to Mariner] I-I-I-I-I don't think you're gonna drop that torch, my friend.
MARINER: Why not?
DEACON: Because you're not crazy. [Mariner smiles, lifts his hand, and drops the flare down the hole.] NO-O-O-O-O!


DEPTH GAUGE: [Sees Mariner's lit flare about to fall on the oil. An end to his miserable existence.] Oh, thank God! [Kaboom.]
President Apricot.

According to Wikipedia:

Barack, pronounced "BUH-ruhtsk", is a type of Hungarian brandy (Pálinka) made of (or flavored with) apricots. The word barack is a collective term for both apricot (in Hungarian sárgabarack, lit. "yellow-peach") and peach (in Hungarian őszibarack, lit. "autumn-peach").
Obama comes to ASU.

6:10p - the prez dashed off AF1, and hustled into the Phoenix airport terminal. You can't really blame him, with the current temps busting a hundred. People waiting since 2:30 for his commencement address in Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium have been dropping like flies. There have been at least 95 heat-related incidents so far, with several people being rushed to the hospital.

7:12p - the best part of the pre-speech entertainment was Phoenix resident Alice Cooper, singing "School's out for summer, school's out forever." Out here in the wilds of Arizona, subtlety is not our strong suit.

8:02p - Michael Crow, ASU's president, was the guy selected to intro Obama. He went on and on, WAY too long. You could tell things were getting out of hand, when all the Secret Service snipers started aiming at him.
Spring has sprung.

Recent Phoenix temps: Wed=100°F, Thu=102, Fri=105, Sat=103, Sun=102, Mon=103, today=101. And it looks like we can expect 101 degrees or better for the foreseeable future.
History isn't written by the winners OR the losers; it's written by the writers.
My New Job: a mini-diary. 

Arizona Tenants AdvocatesDay 1: Something ain't right. The boss made two emergency trips to the bank today.
Day 2: A sad-looking woman from the office next door is hanging around, and the boss keeps saying, "I'll get it to you right away!"
Day 3: Turns out the sad-looking woman is our landlord. We sublet our half of the building from her. She hung around today, too.
Day 4: More hanging out by the sad-looking woman. Plus, a disgruntled ex-employee came in and screamed about getting paid. It rattled some of the clients.
Day 5: Our part-time bookkeeper threatened to quit, because she presented her paycheck at the bank twice, with no success. The boss paid her cash, and sweet-talked her into staying for another month.
Day 6: The sad-looking woman finally got paid, after the boss made several more emergency trips to the bank.
Day 7: Our Internet connection stopped working. Then it got really quiet, and the boss realized the phones had been disconnected. He sent us all home at 10:30. If I didn't have skin in this game, it would be hilarious. But even so, I still feel myself being drawn back inexorably, like a rubbernecker to the scene of a grisly car crash, or a fly to a pile of sh*t.

UPDATE: Part Deux.

Eagles: On The BorderOn The Border, Eagles:

Already Gone
Written by Jack Tempchin, Robb Strandlund
Well I know it wasn't you who held me down
Heaven knows it wasn't you who set me free
So oftentimes it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key

Elton John: Honky ChateauHonky Chateau, Elton John:

Honky Cat
Music: Elton John, Lyrics: Bernie Taupin
You better get back, honky cat
Living in the city ain't where it's at
It's like trying to find gold in a silver mine
It's like trying to drink whisky from a bottle of wine

I am finally realizing, as I slip from late middle age into senility, that with advancing years comes the Regimen Of Pills: pills for coughs, pills for sneezes, pills for farts, pills for wheezes, pills for crapping AND non-crapping, pills for staying awake, pills for sleeping, pills for couchpotatoing--just barely conscious--on a Sunday afternoon, pills for headaches, pills for muscle aches, and pills for the existential ache of being human.
Saddle up.

Anikó and I drove up the saguaro-studded Apache Trail yesterday, past Superstition Mountain and Goldfield Ghost Town, and through the Tonto National Forest, to Tortilla Flat (an old stagecoach stop), for some tasty chili fries, chilly cervesas and prickly pear cactus candy. Real saddles serve as bar stools. Yippie-kai-yay, motherf***er!
Photo Enforcement.

"You say I was going 49 miles per hour in a 35mph zone? I don't think so. Oh, you have pictures? Crap."

49 in 35

UPDATE: They also have video. I hate technology.

I'm currently trying to master the Hungarian word for "Thursday." When pronounced correctly, it sounds like you're trying to strangle a chicken with your tongue.
Maxfield Parrish's "Daybreak."

In 1922, Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) completed an extraordinary painting entitled Daybreak which featured his daughter Jean, an artist in her own right, and Kitty Owen, the granddaughter of William Jennings Bryan:

Daybreak, by Maxfield Parrish

I'm shopping for a house that features this view from the front door...