The Snoozeletter @

Locus Novus goes Anti-Twitter.

Locus NovusLocus Novus is an animated website devoted to exploring the frontiers of electronic literature and online art. This brainchild of Faruk Ulay (who authored Beneath the Shadow of Perpetual Defeat and Terra Infirma) is truly a "synthesis of text and image/motion/sound."

As before, an eMail (below) just appeared in my Inbox... so it's yet another great day!

--- Original Message ---

Greetings from Locus Novus,

Just a quick message to let you know that the site has been updated with two new works:

-- "Pop up Poptagon" by Dorothee Lang and Karyn Eisler
-- "Anti-Twitter, 6 50-Word Stories" by Harold Jaffe

Faruk Ulay
Why We Need Government-Run Universal Socialized Health Insurance.

Presenting this subject in animated form makes it seem pretty straightforward. As if it weren't before...


thirtysomethingOh, goody!

The first season of thirtysomething will be released on DVD in three days.

I love this show, especially the Rashomon episode.

I hope the creators will consider producing "fiftysomething" or "sixtysomething"...

Thaumatrope is a Twitter fiction magazine for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror under 140 characters. I sold two pieces to them when they started up, back in December.

One piece finally appeared last week.

And the second one is scheduled for publication at 8AM August 23.
Flying under the Széchenyi lánchíd.

My wife is visiting her family in Budapest this week, and SHE'S NOT PLANNING TO SEE THE AIR RACE! All the pilots in my family agree: this is grounds for divorce...

ALSO: congrats 7/31/2009 108-Way Headdown World Record! Wish I could fly half as well as these guys&gals:

Kate Miller-Heidke... is brilliant: the best thing to come out of Brisbane in years. Her operatic version of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" put me on the floor.

From Amazon: "Kate Miller-Heidke was fully trained as a lead opera vocalist -- soprano -- and was ready to go into a career of Gilbert & Sullivan roles when pop music beckoned. She has since become a piano-playing singer/songwriter in the Kate Bush mold, popular for her theatricality, mixture of folk and pop, and the touches of comic opera she inserts into her songs. As a young girl, Miller-Heidke would charge her family five cents for household performances." [more]

Curiouser: Kate Miller-Heidke
R U F*cking Kidding Me? (Facebook Song).

By Kate Miller-Heidke. Websites: + Amazon

Live version (best):
Studio version:

They say everyone should have their heart broken, at least once
And that is how you grow emotionally
Well I have been misused by many, many, many men
But nothing can compare to how you treated me

At times it really felt as though the pain was here to stay
And though it's many years ago, I feel it to this day

And nooooooooow you wanna be my Friend on Facebook
Are you f*cking kidding me?

All the memories are flooding back to me now
All the ways you stole the light from my eyes
I traveled so far just to get away from you
'Til this morning's Friend Request surprise

At times it really felt as though I'd never smile again
You narcissistic arsehole, oh you nasty, nasty man

And nooooooooow you wanna be my Friend on Facebook
Are you f*cking kidding?

I don't wanna know what kind of Cocktail you are
Or which member of the Beatles or which 1950's Movie Star
I don't give a toss if you're a Ninja or a Pirate
I suspect you'd be a Pirate
But I don't wanna Verify it

And I don't give a sh*t what your Stripper Name is
Or if your Kitty had a Litter
Look, just follow me on Twitter
I don't care about your Family Tree
And I certainly don't want you Poking me

And so you wanna be my Friend on Facebook
Oh you f*cking f*cking f*ck

Click... "Ignore"
Pan-European Picnic. 

20th anniversary of "Pan-European Picnic" to be marked this week (MTI):

A series of commemorations dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic, a landmark event that paved the way for the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany in 1989, will be held at Sopronpuszta [Hungary] near the border with Austria this week, a local council spokesman told MTI.

related: Pan-European Picnic (, in English)

The August 19 commemoration will be attended by senior politicians from several European nations, including German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Balazs Kuslics said.

On August 19, 1989 a few hundred East Germans escaped to Austria with the silent consent of Hungarian authorities under the auspices of a picnic organised by the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum on the outskirts of the border city of Sopron.

In necessariis unitas-in dubiis libertas-in omnibus-caritas

[Image: Gabriela von Habsburg (click "Large Scale Sculpture"), granddaughter of the last Emperor of Austria. Title: In necessariis unitas-in dubiis libertas-in omnibus-caritas ("In necessary things unity - in uncertain things freedom - in everything compassion")]

really small talkI once wrote a 136-word micro story (published 10/2003) (honoree 2010) (mp3 recording 2011) about my cab-driving experiences in New York City during the late Seventies:

The dispatcher in Hell's Kitchen assigns you a scummy taxicab at 4pm sharp, and you flash crosstown to catch the Mad Ave commuters. One fare wants 84th and Third, then it's down to the Bowery with an adventurous socialite. Up to Columbus Circle with a Met baritone. Across the park with a perfumed matron in the front seat who's so horny she tries to jump YOU.

After a few theater runs, you flip the Off Duty sign for lunch and remember how broke you were on that first day, six months ago. In fact, you had to sell a pint of blood, just to buy a map.

The rest of the night is hair-raising, as usual.

You drop off the cab at 4am to grab some breakfast.

You swear you'll write about all this shit.


Click to enlarge - ACB hack license

28Feb2011 Update: "Hack" is one of the 57 honorees (selected out of more than 900 submissions from 21 countries and 6 continents) to appear in the Seventh Annual Ultra-Short Competition edition of The Binnacle Literary & Arts Journal. They've been publishing the work of writers and artists from all over the world for more than 50 years.

Jean Raoux: Jeune femme lisant une lettre (Young Woman Reading a Letter)

Cover image: "Jeune femme lisant une lettre" (Young Woman Reading a Letter) by Jean Raoux. More micro stories.
Urine Luck.

The taxi assigned to me yesterday was running well, with no warning lights: an unusual occurrence.

But every now and then, I smelled a VERY bad odor. In fact, I got out of the cab a couple of times to sniff the rear seat, because I thought a passenger had urinated back there.

When I stopped the cab for a third sniffing expedition, I finally realized that the terribly pungent odor was embedded in the driver's seat. And it was not coming from the horizontal part of the seat, but from the vertical surface. How could a pee smell get up there?

It was so bad that I had to stop at a grocery store, to buy some body spray. The spray covered the smell, but only for a hour or so. I had to spray the seat four or five times during the day.

I gave it a good spray just before I turned in the cab at the end of my day, and the taxi yard supervisor yelled at me about the sickly-sweet odor: "I could smell it all the way over by the office!"

So I yelled back: "I sprayed the driver's seat, because it smells like piss!" That shut him up.

I was hoping the last-minute spray would cover the smell on my back, too. But when I got home, I sniffed the seat in my own car, and some of the piss odor had been transferred there. SH*T! So I sprayed the seat heavily.

Then I took off my shirt, and sprayed it, too. After that, I took a shower and nearly broke my arm, trying to scrub some soap into my back.

Let's face it: this job stinks.
Slow down. One of the great performances in sitcom history occurs during season 2, episode 27 of TaxiTaxi ("Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey"), when the gang takes "Reverend Jim" Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) to get a driving license at the motor vehicle department. You can also watch the video clip, and interviews with writers Glen & Les Charles and director James Burrows.

BOBBY WHEELER (Jeff Conaway - helping IGNATOWSKI fill out the test application): Have you ever experienced loss of consciousness, hallucinations, dizzy spells, convulsive disorders, fainting or periods of loss of memory?

IGNATOWSKI: Well, hasn't everyone?

ELAINE NARDO (Marilu Henner): Put "no."

BOBBY: Mental illness or narcotic addiction?

IGNATOWSKI: That's a tough choice.


IGNATOWSKI (during the written test): Pssssttt... what does a yellow light mean?

BOBBY (whispers back): "Slow down".

IGNATOWSKI: Okay. What... does... a... yellow... light... mean?

BOBBY: "Slow down"!

IGNATOWSKI: Okay. Whaaaat... dooooeeees... aaaaa... yeeeel-looowwww... liiiiight... meeeeaaan?

BOBBY: "Slow down"!!

IGNATOWSKI: Whaaaaaaaat... doooooooeeees... aaaaaaa... (checks test sheet) yeeellll-loooowwwwww... liiiiiiight... meeeeeeaaan?
Taxi (Bryan Ferry version).

Taxi: Bryan FerryWriters: Homer Banks/Charles Brooks
Performer: Bryan Ferry

Take me to the other side of town
Just as fast you can
Before my baby puts me down
Now please, won't you hurry
See, she's got me worried
Don't want to lose her love
Cross town is too slow
Hitchhike into no no
She's all I'm thinking of.
Got some catching up to do
Like a fool I broke her heart in two
And start your meter running
Get your engine humming
Just wanna see her
Just wanna see her
Get along the meddle
Tonight I'm gonna settle
Had a seizure
And I know it grieves her
Take me to my baby's place just as fast you can
You got to get me there on time
Freeway will be quicker
No man's gonna get her
I'm going out of my mind
She is why I'm living
This is why I'm willing
Jumping red lights, stop signs
Just get me there on time.
The Snotmobile.

When you jump back into the ancient green taxi after loading or unloading several sets of heavy luggage in the 110°+ heat of Phoenix, you sweat.

It's inevitable.

And that's the exact moment you realize the time-honored baton has been passed on to you.

You feel... for the lack of a better word, let's use "proud"... to join the long line of cabbies who have embedded copious amounts of their DNA in the already-fragrant upholstery of the driver's seat.

It's a sense of tradition you can actually smell: Mexican cilantro, Pakistani curry and American Hai Karate.

Breathing through my mouth.

Keywords: humiliation, indignity, degradation, disgrace, ignominy, desperation, self-loathing.
Piano Man, by Billy Joel.

The Essential Billy JoelRe:

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin

He says, "Son can you play me a memory
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet
And I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes"

Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feeling alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's someplace that he'd rather be

He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me"
As a smile ran away from his face
"Well, I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he's talking with Davy, who's still in the Navy
And probably will be for life

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it's better than drinking alone

Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feeling alright

It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been coming to see
To forget about life for a while

And the piano sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say "Man what are you doing here?"

Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feeling alright
Cabbie Lottery Follow-up.

Re: Cabbie Lottery...

I arrived in the taxi yard at 4:02am, expecting a crowd. But there were only 6 or 7 drivers hanging around, so the dispatcher quickly gave me the key to a cab... or rather, she gave me TWO keys to a cab. I had never received a taxi keychain containing 2 keys, so I figured that one of them was just an extra. However, when I tried to start the cab, the key wouldn't turn. I asked the yard supervisor for help: he simply pulled out that key, and inserted the SECOND key.

I felt very stupid, so in order to avoid making the same mistake again, I ripped the first key off the keychain and angrily threw it into the glovebox. Please remember that detail, because it will become important near the end of this story.

A few minutes later during my checklist, three warning lights on the dashboard were lit up, so I asked about them. The yard supervisor said a lot of things I didn't understand, but the translation basically meant: "Don't worry about them, rookie." I was familiar with this kind of answer, because I had already received a similar answer to the questions I asked last week, about 3 OTHER warning lights.

I guess the general idea is to ignore any and all warning lights.

So I took the cab out. I was having a pretty good day, and had earned enough money to pay for the cab lease by noon. That was when the 3 OTHER warning lights came on. But I decided that I should ignore all 6 of them. Luckily, that was the correct decision. It seems strange to have warning lights at all, if the drivers simply ignore them. FYI: with 6 warning lights of various colors, the dashboard looks like a f*cking Christmas tree.

Anyway, at about 1pm, I got a $26.00 fare. Woo-hoo! He paid with a credit card, and wrote in a $6.00 tip. WOO-HOO! I entered the tip into the dashboard computer by pressing 6-0-0, just as I had been trained to do. In fact, I heard the computer beep 3 times, once for each keystroke. But after I pressed SEND to finish the transaction, I notice that one of the zeroes was missing. Stupid me. I had entered a tip of $.60, instead of $6.00, thus throwing away $5.40. I explained my mistake to the customer, and told him that his credit card bill would be $5.40 less than he expected.

What a jerk I am. Next time, I must remember to examine the damn screen **before** I press SEND.

At 1:47pm, I bought some gas, and pressed the button that locked all the car doors, so I could go into the gas station and pee. When I came out, I discovered why there had been TWO keys on my keychain, back at 4:02am: one started the car, and one unlocked the door. I was holding the key that started the car, which was now quite useless without the key that unlocked the door.

Remember where I threw that extra key, at the beginning of my story? Yup, it was locked inside the car, in the glovebox.

There were frantic phone calls to the people in the dispatch office, who eventually offered to bring me a second key for $50. C*cksuckers. Then I discovered that my AAA card was in my wallet, so I called their number. The service truck arrived 45 minutes later, and the AAA guy opened my door for free. But that was the effective end to my day. I still had to wash the cab and vacuum it.

I had earned a decent wage, but I think it could have been much more, if I had not thrown away (a) $5.40, while learning that the keyboard was unreliable, and (b) two hours, while learning the reason for a second key.

Expensive lessons.

I spoke to Dorothy at the end of the day - the only friendly accountant behind the bulletproof glass in the dispatch office. She said that she had driven 18 shifts back in February and March, before she was offered the accountant job. She said that business was MUCH better back then, and that she was able to earn about twice as much as I'm earning. She also said that she had kept track of her profits, in a spreadsheet.

I smiled, and said that she looked like a spreadsheet kind o' gal.

She laughed and replied, "That's why they made me an accountant."
Taxi, by Harry Chapin.

The Essentials: Harry ChapinRe:

It was raining hard in 'Frisco,
I needed one more fare to make my night.
A lady up ahead waved to flag me down,
She got in at the light.

Oh, where you going to, my lady blue,
It's a shame you ruined your gown in the rain.
She just looked out the window, and said
"Sixteen Parkside Lane".

Something about her was familiar
I could swear I'd seen her face before,
But she said, "I'm sure you're mistaken"
And she didn't say anything more.

It took a while, but she looked in the mirror,
And she glanced at the license for my name.
A smile seemed to come to her slowly,
It was a sad smile, just the same.

And she said, "How are you Harry?"
I said, "How are you Sue?
Through the too many miles
and the too little smiles
I still remember you."

It was somewhere in a fairy tale,
I used to take her home in my car.
We learned about love in the back of the Dodge,
The lesson hadn't gone too far.

You see, she was gonna be an actress,
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off to find the sky.

Oh, I've got something inside me,
To drive a princess blind.
There's a wild man, wizard,
He's hiding in me, illuminating my mind.

Oh, I've got something inside me,
Not what my life's about,
Cause I've been letting my outside tide me,
Over 'till my time runs out.

Baby's so high that she's skying,
Yes she's flying, afraid to fall.
I'll tell you why baby's crying,
Cause she's dying, aren't we all.

There was not much more for us to talk about,
Whatever we had once was gone.
So I turned my cab into the driveway,
Past the gate and the fine trimmed lawns.

And she said we must get together,
But I knew it'd never be arranged.
And she handed me twenty dollars,
For a two fifty fare, she said
"Harry, keep the change."

Well another man might have been angry,
And another man might have been hurt,
But another man never would have let her go...
I stashed the bill in my shirt.

And she walked away in silence,
It's strange, how you never know,
But we'd both gotten what we'd asked for,
Such a long, long time ago.

You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off for the sky.

And here, she's acting happy,
Inside her handsome home.
And me, I'm flying in my taxi,
Taking tips, and getting stoned,
I go flying so high, when I'm stoned.
Cabbie Lottery.

At the taxi company where I lease a cab, the Friday and Saturday overnight shifts (4pm to 4am) are highly prized. Supposedly, a driver can make lots o' cash during those times.

Naturally, the competition for cabs is intense. So the company, in an effort to avoid angry mobs and fistfights, has instituted a phone reservation system for those two shifts. Three hours prior to the shift, drivers can call in to request a cab for that night.

I called in at 1pm today. The telephone line was busy, as expected, so I started the hangup/redial process. I put a stopwatch on several cycles, and they were averaging six seconds apiece.

At 1:20pm, after approximately two hundred redials, I finally got through. The dispatcher told me that all the cabs had been leased in about seven minutes.

Have you ever had to call in to your boss, to beg him for the privilege of paying $102 for a lease plus $35 for gas, to ride around in a smelly, broken-down taxi for twelve hours, dodging psychotic drivers and traffic enforcement cameras while putting up with obnoxious customers and sweating profusely in the 114°F heat, to make somewhere between two and twelve dollars per hour? (If you're lucky - I've heard that several experienced drivers have recently had NEGATIVE shifts, not earning enough to even cover their lease fees.)

These are desperate times, my friend. At least with selling pencils, one doesn't risk bankruptcy and car crashes...

Keywords: subjugation, feudalism, serfdom, peasants, peons, smerds, lumpenproletariat, indentured servants, bondage, enslavement, helotry, thralldom, villeinage, sharecropping, yoke, globalization, downsizing, outsourcing, homelessness, Bush/Madoff/Cheney, guillotine.
Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell.

Ladies of the Canyon: Joni MitchellRe:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Είναι ελληνικά σε με.

"It's Greek to me." [This sentence was run through Babelfish, to obtain the Greek phrase above.]

[The result was then retranslated by Babelfish: "They are Greek in with."]
7,000 Macedonians in full battle array. 

During my high-school years, Dick Summer hosted an overnight radio show on Boston's WBZ, and he often played a catchy little cumulative ditty [full version] that featured these words: 1 hen 2 ducks 3 squawking geese 4 Limerick oysters 5 corpulent porpoises 6 pairs of Don Alverzo's tweezers 7 thousand Macedonians in full battle array 8 brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt 9 apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity to procrastination and sloth 10 lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who haul, stall around the corner of the quo of the quay at the queasy, at the very same time *** There's nothing quite like hearing this at 3:34am, when you're not really sure if you're asleep or awake. Jerry Lewis performed a version of the above, calling it an announcer's test. Flo & Eddie characterized their version as "The Tibetan Memory Trick" on a track entitled The Sanzini Brothers Return [clip]. But I'm still addicted to this 1962 recording of "One Hen" by The Blue Chips. Illegal, Immoral and Fattening: Flo & Eddie
1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor.

Does anyone know who produced this satirical alcohol warning ad (2.8MB MP3 file, transcription below)? I heard it on KSLX this morning, but there was no attribution:

Do you have feelings of inadequacy? Do you suffer from shyness? Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Tequila.

Tequila is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. Tequila can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything. You'll notice the benefits of Tequila almost immediately, and with a regimen of regular doses, you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live. Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past, and you'll discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living, with Tequila.

Tequila may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Tequila. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it. Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare and Naked Twister.

Warning - the consumption of alcohol:
...may make you think you're whispering when you're not. a major factor in dancing like a retard.
...may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you're in love with them.
...also may cause you to think you can sing.
Alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.
Alcohol may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.
It may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better-looking than most people.
And it may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.
Alcohol may cause pregnancy.
And it also may be a major factor in getting your ass kicked.

So what are you waiting for? Stop hiding and start living, with Tequila!
Ain't No Sunshine... by Bill Withers - from Just As I Am album - video, video2.

[I just took Anikó to the airport, for her trip to Hungary. She'll be back in a couple of weeks, but it already seems way too long.]
Some writers... spend a lifetime honing their skills into veritable scalpels, only to find out the audience has developed a taste for machetes.
No sh*t, Sherlock.

I smiled at the quirky billboard near the airport:

The #1 Place
for a #2 Problem

Unfortunately, the website was deadly serious.