The Snoozeletter @

The book that took 40 years to write. 

Norman Maclean was born in 1902 and eventually became an English professor at the University of Chicago. He wrote very little - one book of military instruction and two scholarly articles - then retired in 1973. He finally published "A River Runs Through It and Other Stories" in 1976, at the age of 74.

A selection committee nominated the book to receive the Pulitzer Prize in 1977, but the full committee did not award a Pulitzer in that category for the year.

Robert Redford later bought the film rights, and directed the movie starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt and Tom Skerritt. In 1993, it was nominated for three Oscars, and won one.

Maclean died in 1990.
Good deeds never go unpunished. 

Someone left a shopping bag near one of our cacti this morning. It was folded over, and we couldn't see inside, so we became a little nervous. Maybe it was paranoia, but in the post-9/11 world, it's better to be safe than sorry. That's when we called the Security office for our development. A nice young man soon arrived, but neither one of us was brave enough to look inside the bag. Long story short, 9-1-1 was called, and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office sent a Deputy over. He said it was against protocol, but he held his breath, opened the bag...

...and found that it was full of tiny cacti. Someone had seen all the cacti my wife has been planting, and wanted to add to our collection. A really nice gesture... which nearly brought out the Bomb Squad.

So we wanted to express our thanks to the anonymous benefactor, for providing a bit of excitement in our otherwise humdrum lives. If there is a next time, please leave a note so we can thank you!

(Or have you arrested. Just kidding.)
The winnah of the 2015 Bulwer-Lytton Awards. 

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. Here is this year's winner:

"Seeing how the victim's body, or what remained of it, was wedged between the grill of the Peterbilt 389 and the bumper of the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT, officer "Dirk" Dirksen wondered why reporters always used the phrase "sandwiched" to describe such a scene since there was nothing appetizing about it, but still, he thought, they might have a point because some of this would probably end up on the front of his shirt."

Article in The New Republic about a Twitter discussion that sprang up last week:
"All Work and No Pay"
Writing is rarely considered a serious occupation. Why?

Some of the best tweets:

-So? Are you still writing or are you working now?
-You're a writer, so here's some stuff of mine to proofread!
-It must be so nice to have time to write. I'd love to give up work too.
-Yes, we pay our staff. No, we don't pay our writers.
-People always tell me my life story is a book. I thought maybe you'd want to write it.
-Just think of the exposure!
-Anything. Don't talk to writers. Don't feed writers. Do not make eye contact. Keep moving. You'll be safe.
The Guinness Surger. 

We ran into this device at several pubs during our recent trip to Scotland. The lights were very impressive (see video at 0:15), but nothing seemed to happen to the Guinness inside the glass, and the barkeeps couldn't explain how it was supposed to work. So when we returned home to the States, we did some research and found that the Surger device and the special "Surger" cans of Guinness are available in the UK... but not in America. They evidently help pub owners avoid the expense of installing nitrogenated taps.

About 30 years ago, Guinness introduced cans and bottles of "draught" stout, which included a plastic capsule of pressurized nitrogen. When the can or bottle is opened, the nitrogen is released and produces waves of bubbles that rise through the stout, which also releases nitrogen that was absorbed into the liquid during the pressurization process. The bubbles eventually settle on top, in a thick, creamy head.

The Surger is an an electrical device which sends ultrasonic pulses up through the stout, to release the nitrogen and create the creamy head we all know and love. It allegedly produces a pub-worthy head in seconds, but you have to use a special kind of canned Guinness that’s had more nitrogen forced into it.

The video shows how it's supposed to work. Again, we have never seen it operate successfully. But our Guinnesses were still pretty tasty. Especially after the second or third round.
Spelling Bee dirt. 

I've already told the story of how I sat next to Ben Bernanke (#18) at the 1965 National Spelling Bee. Ben became the Fed chairman about 40 years after the '65 Bee.

But I just heard the shocking story of Larry Fishman (#45), from Maryland, who sat two rows behind me (#19).

Larry murdered his father and shot his mother about 15 years after the '65 Bee, according to the FBI.

So I guess Larry wanted to get famous a lot sooner than Ben did...