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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Silly Searches Sustain Supercilious Security, Seriously

"So, the shoe bomber forced us all to take off our shoes now at airports....this guy is being called the underwear bomber....hum...I'm just saying.."

Thanks to Peggy from the Simple Living Network's Discussion Boards for this fine bit of wisdom.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I Was A Science Fiction Cliche - The Stolen Soul Trope

I finally got around to reading the December 2009 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.



Readers, you should have warned my that this pulp publication has stolen my identity, and possible my soul, if those soul things exist.

They stole my person hood, ran it through an auto - style chop shop, and handed out the pieces to December's authors. I can't decide whether I felt violated or secretly pleased as I read the secrets of my soul exposed to the world.


Paranoid, you say, paranoid? I say it ain't paranoid if they're really after you. I caught them red-handed, holding the stolen goods:

Starting on Page 81, "Hell of a Fix", by Matthew Hughes features an unenthusiastic actuary who refuses to sign a contract with the devil.

So what , you say, "There are plenty of actuaries who have no truck with The Evil One". I agree, but read on. . .

The major character in "I Needs Must Part, the Policeman Said", by Richard Bowes (starting on page 225) combines tumor removal surgery with unusual results and an obsession with John Dowland .

Bowes story presents a fig leaf defense that his story is really a tribute to Philip K Dick (Cry My Tears, the Policeman Said).

Bowes' weak excuse concerns me doubly:

(1) Bowes' convoluted cover story is surely evidence of the depth and complexity of this plot against the most important person in the universe (that's me, not you, BTW).

(2) It is not comforting to realize that the secrets of my soul can be so easily tweaked to look like a Philip K Dick novel. I'm not sure exactly what to think of this.

Darnit, I'm not crazy! They really have stolen my soul.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

We've All Seen This Before

I stumbled on a great list of Science Fiction cliches from the editors of Strange Horizons, an online speculative fiction magazine. The editors post a running list of "Stories We've Seen Too Often." I was amused. Among my favorites:

"Someone calls technical support; wacky hijinx ensue."

"Technology and/or modern life turn out to be soulless."

"Visitor to alien planet ignores information about local rules, inadvertantly violates them, is punished."

"An A.I. gets loose on the Net, but the author doesn't have a clear concept of what it means for software to be "loose on the Net." (For example, the computer it was on may not be connected to the Net.)"

"White protagonist is given wise and mystical advice by Holy Simple Native Folk."

"Space travel is wonderful and will solve all our problems. "

It goes on and on. Interesting the cliches taken in whole provide a pretty good description of Discworld. BTW, when the world sucks, I think Discworld is the best place to hide.

After reading that, I looked at more of the "Strange Horizons" website. I thought this fanzine might actually provide something wiotrth reading. After all, the editors seem to be aware of what SciFi crap looks like.

Alas, I was proven wrong, again. The brief descriptions of stories in their recent issues show as strange parallel to their lost of "Stories We've Seen Too Often."

For Example, A featured plot element in the December 21 issue: ". . . She hears the soft calls of the mahouts, speaking the old language that only they and the beasts understand. . . ". Sounds like the hackneyed "Holy Simple Native Folk" to me.

Now, at absolutely no cost, here's my Advice to the Volunteer Editors of Strange Horizons:

(1) If you want to publish a magazine full of trite cliches, you might want to hold back from publishing derogatory lists of the same cliches that fill your magazine.

(2) Figure out a way to move out of your parents' extra room, if you haven't already.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Clearing The Air

Just to clear the air related to a previous post,

(1)I do not advocate anyone avoiding Mary Youngblood or her music. She is entitled to her opinions. She absolutely is an asset to our community, both the greater Sacramento community and the community of local and national musicians. I was disappointed to see a letter to the Sacramento Bee suggesting that we should not listen to her music. Youngblood's music builds on a tradition that is an important part of our shared American heritage.

(2) Here's the United Nations definition of racial discrimination:

the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Interesting that the U.N. chose to not define racism. The U. N. is smarter than me!

Thanks to Wikipedia for this citation.

I'll play any flute I want to play, and I expect to be fairly recognized for whatever good or bad noises I make. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Finally,Someone Tells Leibermman to Can It!

Al Franken - finally a Democrat who knows how to make Senator Drugmoney Leiberman shut up!




That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Poetry in Letters to the Editor

The Sacramento Bee's website list of letters to the editor made a fine haiku,with only monor modification:

Dogs are running wild.
water, scheming Democrats.
Good Christmas fruitcake.

Here's exactly what the website showed:

Dogs running wild, water, scheming Democrats, fruitcake.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The Sacramento Bee Advocates Racism

As a player of "flutish" instruments and "sacred music", I felt compelled to write this letter to the local penny-stock newspaper.

I was disappointed in the Sacramento Bee's Parroting, without judgment, of the following racist statement by the otherwise excellent Sacramento Musician Mary Youngblood:

From the 12/18/09 Sacramento Bee:

"She's also become a bit of an activist. One name on the list of nominees for the 52nd annual Grammy Awards, which takes place Jan. 31 at Los Angeles' Staples Center, has her up in arms. Michael Brant DeMaria is a contender in the Native American music category for his album "Siyotanka."

"We have a situation this year," Youngblood says, shaking her head. "A non-native is nominated, and it dishonors the category. Right now the Indian community is reeling, and I'm kind of at the forefront of that. I don't mind speaking out about this not being right.

"The rules don't say you have to be native, but we have just always honored that. There are so many talented Indian people out there who live their culture, and now this. I feel pretty strongly about it. We're a small community, and it's just not right.""


Ms Youngblood is advocating that only Native Americans be recognized for playing Native music. To quote Ms Youngblood, her brand of racism "is just not right". Using her racist principle, perhaps classical music should be recognized only when created by white Europeans, and perhaps Jews should be banned from performing Wagner,etc.


This is racism in its most vile extreme and it is wrong. It is equally wrong for the Bee to tacitly approve such hateful speech.

The Bee should print an apology for tacitly endorsing such hateful racist speech.

This kind of racism needs to be left behind with the rest of the 20th century.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And Now, For Something Completely Different

As I have often said,why settle for real when surreal is so much more fun?

peta protesters
see more Political Pictures

There's got to be a story behind this. The guy in the hooded sweatshirt,holding a PETA sign, doesn't seem alarmed in the least. Actually,he looks like he's wondering if he knows chicken man well enough to bum a drumstick. I think hooded sweatshirt guy got involved in all this business With the hope of meeting some of those hot PETA girls. The dreadlocks kid looks like he's just enjoying the show.

As long as we're on the subject,you don't need to sit on your hands. you can use those well honed Super Mario Brothers skills to rescue Pamela Anderson from the Colonel. Really, I mean it.

Play Super Chick Sisters!

I haven't been able to get through level 2 so far.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Helicopter Ben Bernanke Sings His Own Praises

Now we're seeing Bernanke get Time Magazine's Man of the Year Honor, putting him in the same league as Stalin and Hitler. It'stime for every talking head to put him down.

Expect to hear every talking head from here to Timbuktu run poor Helicopter Ben down.

In order to give Helicopter Ben a fair hearing, watch this video. Don't let those nattering nabobs of negativism tell you Helicopter Ben was wrong. Why rely on the talking heads, when Ben will tell it to you straight.

See Helicopter Ben talk.
Talk Ben talk.
See Ben get it wrong, again and again.
Wrong Ben, wrong.
Can you count how many times Ben was wrong?
See The President try to reappoint Ben.
Run,President,run!



Message to Ben: I'm not supporting you reappointment until you fly your money - filled helicopter over my house and let it rip. BTW, I don't live on Wall Street.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Of Hash Browns and Jelly Doughnuts

Hanukkah! That other December holiday is upon us.

The holiday where we celebrate the victory of a guerrilla uprising that freed Jerusalem from it's occupiers , and eat a lot of fried food. Seems like this is something some Palestinians would want to buy into. Discuss amongst yourselves.

In my life, I have seen some changes in the the dominant Hanukkah paradigm. Really it's just about the food. The food is important, because if it weren't for the American necessity of inflating Hanukkah so our kids don't get too confused in December, all we'd have would be candles and fried stuff. So, boichiks and madels, the food is important.

What has happened to latkes?

Latkes, which I had been taught was a nice Hebrew word for potato pancakes, have evolved into something more like caked hash browns than any kind of pancake I've ever seen. I can't extract any meaning from this, but I'm just saying.

Jelly doughnuts. All of a sudden, jelly doughnuts have become a traditional part of Hanukkah. I swear that when I was a kid, nobody except middle eastern immigrants had jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah. Perhaps this is another example of Sephardic versus Ashkenazi culture gaining more acceptance in America. That's OK with me.

I don't support jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah. In Milwaukee, Jelly donoughts are called Bismarks. No kidding, Bismarks. No way am I celebrating any Jewish holiday by eating a pastry named after a German nationalist. That's just creepy.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Our New Correspondent

Hangininsac is proud to present a guest editorial, written by our new corresponent, Arthur Le Chat.

Arthur wrote a holiday editorial that has doubled as our holiday letter.

So What, Another Year,

by Arthur LeChat

Steve and Kathleen remain in good health, and are glad to report the same for Peggie, Kathleen’s mom. They asked me to wish you Joyous Holidays and a Happy New Year.

Steve and Kathleen started the year with another momentous event; their Honda Civic hit 100,000 miles. In recognition of the car’s loyal service, Steve has taken to washing it once in a while. I’m pleased, because I hate seeing other cats’ footprints on my car.

Kathleen continues to work for the City of Sacramento. This year the City introduced monthly furlough days. Kathleen and Steve have enjoyed these days with adventures small and large. I don’t know why they don’t spend the days at home entertaining me.

Steve and Kathleen took several trips around California this year. They took some day trips in Northern California to see missions, hike in the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe, and attend Steve’s Niece Claire’s High School Graduation. They plan their trips with the eventual goal of visiting all the California missions. I think their goal should be to keep my bowl full at all times. They went away for an entire week in spring, to see flowering deserts and missions near San Diego, followed by a few days by the beach in Santa Cruz. They had a great time, while we had to settle for mere twice-a-day feedings from the neighbors. Did I mention we never get canned food?

Steve visited his parents and sister in Madison, Wisconsin for a week in the summer. The Madison relatives are going strong, and they filled Steve with cheese, bratwurst, ice cream and beer. Steve saw about 20 aunts, uncles and cousins when everyone gathered for a day in Appleton.

Kathleen has been spending a lot of time at the computer doing genealogy research while I walk in front of the screen and sit on the keyboard. Kathleen still sings and has taken on librarian duties in Schola Cantorum, her choir. Steve keeps on waking me by blowing in those noisy sticks that he calls clarinets and recorders. He plays with two early music groups in Sacramento and Oakland, as well as the Sacramento Concert Band.

That’s all the news I have to report. I will continue to spend hours a day staring at my humans so I won’t miss anything next year. Happy Holidays, and don’t forget the tuna.

That's our correspondent's story, and he's sticking to it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Day Microsoft Saved Music , I Guess

Early in 2009 Microsoft released yet another "well designed and Hell inspired" application to improve our lives, Songsmith.

Now, according to Microsoft, everybody is a musician,even if your areas schools don't bother teaching music. No music class,no problem. Just sing in your computer's microphone, and, golly gee, Microsoft does the rest. Seriously, the background music just comes out of this program. It picks the style and everything!

This totally kicks ass,but don't take my word for it. Look how awesome the Ramones would've been if they had songsmith!



It looks like everybody is getting into the act.



From looking at some tech sights, it appears that songsmith bombed pretty bad, and the only uses you can find are these japes where pranksters lift vocals from albums and see what comes out of the digital genius that is Microsoft.

Sorry, I couldn't resist this example.



For years,I tell you, years, I've been thinking that Stairway to Heaven should've been done calypso style. What I can't figure out is why the singing sounds minor key and the added backup sounds major key. WTF is that all about?

It's like Windows Vista, the Musical.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Another Virgin Mary SIghting

The Virgin mary appears to be diversifying.

After several appearences on on grilled cheese sandwiches, she has taken to appearing on pancakes.

Here's the whole story.



At the risk of sounding like a my-virgin-is-holier-than thine-virgin type, I have to say that my miraculous aapparition was a far better likeness.  Make up your own mind.  Hers didn't even havethe exploding cardiac thingy.



 That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Why Settle for Real When Surreal is so Much More Fun

Comcast will "reshape entertainment"!

Thanks to Comcast, fun will never be the same.

Yahoo! news lead today with this headline. Although I spent most of October writing a science fiction story, Comcast's marketing dweebs went way beyond my abilities in coming up with harebrained speculative fiction. Their press release was dutifully parrotted by Yahoo. Gotta love the corporate media.

That's right folks, fun will never be the same. Comcast has reshaped it.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Hubris Rules Washington

The muckety-mucks in Washington once again show their hubris by ignoring the wisdom of hanginsac.

Let's Protect Marriage Now - For Real This Time!

Those Proposition 8 supoporters in California are a bunch of weenies.

They did the easy job, they "protected marriage" from those two ladies who live around the corner and wear comfortable shoes.

Well, what about the full frontal attack on marriage we see every day, in every courthouse. How dare those law-school-elitist-liberal judges excercise their judicial rule to grant divorces, each day chipping another pebble away from the sanctity of marriage, the basis of our Jesus-loving city on a hill.

Now ,Red Blooded, Jesus Lovin' Americans in California have the opportunity to do something that will really protect marriage.

Stop this judicial attack on our fundamental values. Heed this warning! Bear the standard!



That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More From Justin's Dad

I couldn't resist sharing this gem.


"Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn't invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that."

You can see more of the same at http://twitter.com/Shitmydadsays .

Sometime Justin's dad says just what I'm thinking.  I fear to even begin to ponder about what that says about me.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


 




Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Novel Preview


Yes it is done! 50,000 words in 25 days!



Just about 50% of my regular readers have demanded to see more.

It's a challenge to balance the needs of my most obsessed fans with the rigors of the cutthroat negotiations for the movie rights.

I noticed that this novel has no female characters, with the action centered around smelly old men and Tibetan monks. I figured this out too late to do anything about it. The zombies lack noticable gender characteristics, beyond poor table manners.

The thought that there will be no role for Meryl Streep has broken my heart. I'll just have to negotiate for even bigger bucks for the movie deal. Hoping for at least a guarantee of one half dozen donut holes.

This is the last chapter, an epilogue. I passed the 50,000 word mark somewhere near the middle of this.

Chapter 38 – Time Passes

Years passed. Isaiah picked up his morning newspaper and dropped it on the table. He grabbed some cereal, and went to the features section, in search of the comics. He had developed an interest in the daily activities of talking crocodiles. Before he had folded the section open, he saw the culture column’s headline, “Tibetan Buddhist Monks from Dharamsala, India to build sand mandala, perform dances and rituals at local church.”

The article included an interview with one of the monks, whom the columnist described as having been a monk for forty years, but still speaking with a thick English accent. The monks would be available to talk with members of the public throughout the week as they worked on their sand mandala, which they would destroy in a ceremony on Friday.

Isaiah came to see the monks on a quiet afternoon. A grey haired, pale complexioned monk stood out like a parsnip in a bag of carrots as he stood back from the mandala in progress, acting as a host to the rubberneckers. Isaiah walked up to greet him. The two men stopped and stared at each other.

Cedric began speaking, “We have taken great effort to put the few days we spent together behind us. We do not speak of those times.”

Isaiah added, “In my own way, I have done the same. I am glad to see you doing so well here.”

Cedric said, “Roit, me moits and oi, we’re a sensation, the flavour of the month where ever we go. Loverly it is. Oh, come join us for tea at four on Friday. You should stay for the ceremony to dissolve the mandala. You may learn somethin’.”

When Isaiah came for tea on Friday, he was pleasantly surprised to see Ben and Jerry. They drank their tea, ate some cookies, and talked about the life of a traveling show business monk. At four thirty, the monks put on large hats and wrapped saffron yellow outer robes over their regular orange robes. They walked into the large gallery, where several monks standing by the mandala were already filling small vials with sand from its edges.

Monks blew into long trumpets, crashed cymbals, and chanted, as Cedric swept the remaining sand off the table. He spoke into a microphone to explain the symbolism of the sweeping as a lesson in impermanence. He took a small vial from one of the younger monks and handed it to Isaiah. He said, “This is your lesson, most everything in the world is impermanent, but some things, like this vial, persist. Oh and, you’ll forever be a waynker.”

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!




Still haven't figured out how to get quotes to come out right.

Literally, That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Too Many Pigs at the Trough...

Makes for some entertaining squealing.

Apparently, the shareholders of Goldman Sacks the Working Stiffs have shown the audacity to suggest that the Goldbrick Slackers shouldn't lavish themselves with record - breaking lavish bonuses when stockholders see dividends remain flat.

The big picture, when you see a feeding frenzy, keep your hands a way from any body's mouth.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How To Run A Restaurant Real Good

I'm not an expert in this subject, but methinks the Lehigh Pub in Bethlehem PA ain't doing it right.


View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video.



BTW, are the Bethlehm cops smoking crack? that couple did seem pretty annoying, but come on, guys.

That'smy stroy and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bill Gates Reviewed My Novel!

Yes ,it's true!!! Bill Gates Reviewed (OK,really summarized) My Novel,using his very own Monkeysoft Word Autosummarize function.

Here's his very insightful summary:


Isaiah always felt close with Abe.
'Whom. . .' thought Isaiah.
Isaiah thought, 'Zombies, holy shit, zombies.
Dirty old men, always', thought Isaiah.
Moe pulled Isaiah aside.
Abe presented Isaiah with his clubs.
Isaiah began;
Abe and Isaiah joined the group.
Isaiah, Isaiah, come back here!

The work of a literary genius viewed through the lens of an evil genius's mind. Brilliant!

That's my story (in ten incoherent sentences), and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Novel Cloud

I used a cool web app to make a word cloud from the first 30,000 words.

You can click on the image to make it large enough to read.

Pretty cool, donchyaknow.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Belated Veterans Day

This fits with every story I've ever heard.



Ultra-Realistic Modern Warfare Game Features Awaiting Orders, Repairing Trucks

But seriously now, I substituted for a missing clarinetist at a Veterans Day Concert in a Pops band for a Veterans Day concert at Sun City Roseville. Besides the obligatory Stars and Stripes Forever encore,the best part of these concerts is the "Armed Forces Salute" which was written by an Air Force Band director years ago, but is actually a decent piece of music.

We were not even almost as good as these folks. BTW - This is one of life's only chances to hear three piccolos play in tune.



It's been beyond me how having hundreds of professional musicians on the payroll helps win wars. But hey,enjoy it, you already paid for it.

Note to Peace Corps: Get a Service Song already.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Halfway Point

Well,I'm cranking it out as fast as grapenuts go through a goose.


I just passed the half way point, with a 25,301 official word count.Here's the unfinished episode that crossed the boundary from the first half to the second:

(Note,WE ARE EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES - quotation marks inthe text appear as thick vertical bars here. I'll need to figure that out sometime)

Abe and Isaiah joined the group. They could see two shadowy figures walking randomly in the border area, closer and closer to entering the Golf dimension, sometimes scratching their heads as if they were trying to understand the very same strange experiences that Isaiah had when he first crossed the border in the other direction. The nervous old men crouched in a bunker by the green, as the shadowy figures entered their territory, revealing the forms of two slouching grey – skinned figures with the blue Tramlaw jumpsuits, and long and slightly unkempt hair.

The figures repeated the same nonsense phrases over and over. The taller of the two repeated,”Is this a good place, they can’t see us here, do you think?” followed by the short zombie’s reply, “Hey, what drag, what drag. It’s cool” The taller zombie said,”This’ll do. If we can’t see them, they can’t see us. Now, where is it?” The shorter zombie reached into his jumpsuit and pulled out a book of matches and a sloppily rolled cigarette. They relaxed on the edge of the green, lit the cigarette, and passed it back and forth between them, while vacantly looking at the setting sun between puffs.

“Well, knock me over with a feather”, said Abe, “Wacky Tobbacky! We’ve got a couple of slacker pothead zombies sneaking here to smoke! Life is full of surprises.”

The professor whispered in a more serious tone of voice, “They may look harmless, but they are still zombies. I wouldn’t want to be around when the get the munchies for brains”.

After the zombies finished smoking their puss - encrusted spit – soaked roach, they stared into the sunset and stopped moving. “Now’s our chance”, said the professor,”these two are hapless, we can test our weapons”. The men quietly returned to the edge of the green opposite the zombies, and gathered their weapons.

The professor produced a pen, pad and clipboard. “OK, give them what you’ve got, and I’ll document the results.”

Abe nonchalantly picked up a golf club, dropped a ball on the green, and made a perfect chip shot into the head of the taller zombie. The nearly brainless creature rubbed his head, quickly jerked his head to look left, and then right. He didn’t seem mortally wounded. He rubbed his head again, and said,”Hoo wow, it felt like something hit me in the head, what a rush. Dude, that’s good weed”. The Professor wrote, “Golf ball shot with club – long range, minimal impact”.

Shemp silently crawled along the edge of the raised green infantry style, cradling his long range high accuracy sniper grade seltzer bottle. He raised the bottle to blast the shorter zombie with a two second geyser directly to the face. The vertically challenged zombie immediately raised his torso to an upright position, as Shemp slithered away at an incredible speed for an old man. As soon as he sat upright, the dripping zombie flopped back to the ground. In an answer to the tall zombie’s asking, ”Dude, what’s going on with you?”, he answered, ”Whoa, that is good shit. I just felt paralyzed for a couple of seconds, you know, like may arms and legs just wanted to do their own thing, aah, stony.” The Professor wrote, “Seltzer spray - medium range, stuns and temporarily slows zombies down.”


What will happen next? I'd tell you if I knew.

What ever does happen, I guarantee it will happen with bad sentence structure. Just no time to deal with that in nanowrimo .

If I were to start over or when actually edit any of this, I would get rid of the stooges and replace them with more original (and less litigious estates) characters. The slapstick will stay, in any event.

Oh another addition to the list:

Stephen King, I ain't.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's a Project Without a Banner?

Although The novel itself is showing the preliminary symptoms of suckness syndrome,I've got 23,244 words down, a title, and an awesome Banner.


Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!


That's my story and I'm sticking to it,up to 50,000 words,that is.

New London CT Learn Where Put Corporate Interests First

I laughed when I heard the news that Pfizer has decided to pre-emptively abandon its research facility in New London, CT, before the facility was even built. Laughed so hard I thought I'd lose my lunch.

I'm not a bad guy, I don't like any burgh to lose a potential source of jobs. What's funny is that this is the very plant where the City of New London went to the Supreme Court to argue that they could use eminent domain to evict and flatten a fine neighborhood that had no blight issues. The Supreme court held in favor of the city, that if the city could possibly get more tax revenue by having their "jack booted thugs" pull good, hardworking citizens out of their houses, and bulldozing the their well-loved homes, bulldoze the houses, that is just fine and dandy. Assignment: Home ownership in New London,CT and East Jerusalem,compare and contrast, discuss amongst yourselves.

Well, in a whirlwind of poetic justice, The City is stuck with a lot of non-revenue producing land. No jobs, No tax revenue. But, they won their Supreme court case (at great lawyer fes to their taxpayers,including those to be evicted).

What a bunch of dumbasses.

BTW " Noetic Book of the Dead is up to 22,267 words, would be more if i wasn't procrastinating now.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Novel Teaser Number Two

As of last night (end of day three), I am up to the novel 8,566 words. I expect to be over 15,000 words by the end of Friday, and passing the half way mark (25,000 words by the middle of next week.

For teaser the second, I decided to share something a little darker and less sentimental than the previous excerpt. In this section, A cyberpunk venue and zombies first appear. I hate when that happens in real life.

Jacob walked down the long corridor. Very little changed as he walked. The end of the aisle was so far away that ten minutes of walking did not make the end look any closer. Shelves as high as he could see, with crate staked upon crate upon crate. No doubt the crates were full of bargain priced stuff that everyone needs. Jacob thought as he walked, and after another twenty minutes, he came to the conclusion that he knew absolutely nothing about where he was.

The longer he walked, the more he accepted that he wasn’t asleep, he wasn’t in the hospital, and, happily, he was no longer attached to a urinary catheter. Once he noticed that, more than anything else, he wanted to find a place to take a piss like a normal person.

Only moments after that thought, he found a sign with an arrow below the words, “RESTROOMS THIS WAY” He followed the arrow to a doorway wedged between two stacks of crates. The doorway lead to a short and narrow corridor with two doors, one on each side. Jacob entered the door labeled “GENTLEMEN’S” on the right side of the hall.

As Jacob walked back out the restroom door, he noticed that, in the few minutes it took him to pee and reflect on the pleasure of peeing once again, a new sign had appeared on the outside of the door. The sign said, “RESTROOMS FOR CUSTOMER USE ONLY. ALL OTHERS WILL BE PROSECUTED AS HOMOSEXUALS”.

Jacob read the sign, and looked over his shoulder. Seeing no one else, and turned to read the sign a second time. Nothing changed on a second look, he had read the sign correctly the first time. He turned back to the main corridor and began walking in the same direction, hoping he would eventually find an exit. All he wanted to do was leave this strange and spacious yet confining structure.

As he continued down the aisle, Jacob was confronted by more strange signs. He passed a table topped by an empty wicker basket, under a sign that proclaimed “SAMPLING WITHOUT SUFFICIENT INTENT TO PURCHASE WILL BE PROSECUTED”.

After about thirty more steps down the aisle, he saw a sign that said “MANDITORY COMPLIANCE ASSESSMENT, STOP FOR INSPECTION HERE”. The sign made Jacob even more uneasy than he already felt, so he increased his pace as he walked past the sign.

“YOU!” Jacob heard as he felt a heavy hand grab his shoulder from behind. Jacob lunged forward, freeing his shoulder. He tried to run as he felt a hand around his wrist yank him in a wide circle, like a roller derby queen cracking the whip. As he was whirled around, he saw four weak chinned and nondescript but slightly flabby and widely built men in blue jumpsuits moving toward him. Each jumpsuit had a patch just below the left collar bone, embossed with the phrase “Welcome to Tramlaw Where We Protect and Serve” in a nauseating shade of pink. The men looked vaguely unhealthy.

The men made a circle around Jacob, and asked several questions simultaneously, in broken phrases. As Jacob had experienced with cops all his life, they asked questions without expecting answers. ”What you here for? You not buy? You not buy, why you here? You homosexual? You here break law! You criminal! You need punishment? Want trouble you? You go prison?”

Bill Burroughs I ain't.
James Joyce I ain't.

This is becoming a great process for defining a self identity. Each time I need to exercise a different writing skill (like, y'know action, thought exposition, pathos,etc.) I find another great writer that I ain't.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Novel Excerpt

I cranked out 3,533 words on Nanowrimo day 1. I need to average about 1,667 words per day to win.

I decided to share a small sample, where a character named gramps gets introduced to the reader. Please rest assured that I do not intend to fictionalize any other relatives, unless i end up desperate. If I do need to harvest relatives for charqacters, I will try to wake the dead rather than annoy the living. My mom gave me permission to use her father, and even asked me to make sure he gets to smoke lots of cigars.

All I ask is that, as you read this, please remember that November is National Novel Writers Month. Novel Editing month does not start until December. This is raw from the netbook, typed while watching all my favorite NFL teams lose.

Excerpt from chapter 2, where a character from another world are revealed:

Of his uncountable older relatives, Gramps had always been the slacker of the family. Jacob’s great aunts and uncles worked like hell to make their fortunes in Chicago. Gramps and Grandma left that scene to move to a small city in Wisconsin. Grandpa was able to make a modest but comfortable living working as a manager in a local department store. They had dozens of good friends and a small prefab house. They had everything they needed, and Gramps was able to come home every noon for a lunch and nap. They were slackers before the word was invented,and they were damned good at it.

The more he thought about old Gramps, the more real and alive the old guy seemed. Just for a second, Jacob thought he could hear an old man’s voice in the middle of his head, somewhere near where he believed the tumor had been removed. He thought he could see his grandfather standing by the window.

Jacob wasn’t sure if his eyes were open or closed. He forced himself to open his eyes, and Gramps was still there. He closed his eyes as tight as he could, opened them again, but nothing changed.

Grandpa was still standing, nonchalantly looking out the window. He shuffled across the small room, and stood by the bed, near Jacob’s head. Gramps cleared his throat loudly, like he always did before speaking, and said, “Jacob, what’s going on here? What are you doing here? You look like a mess.” Jacob didn’t say anything, all he could do was stare, as his long dead grandfather said, “Don’t worry, Gramps knows what’s going on, that’s why I’m here”.

After reading this, I fear that jacob is at a critical risk of evolving into a Mary Sue. I need to either kill him or marginalize him as soon as I introduce a few more characters.

Dang - looks like my word file doesn't tramslate too wellinto bloggerscript. The fat vertical bars are quptation marks.

That's my story (I really mean ity this time) and I'm sticking to it.

Confucius Was a Price Gouger

My various writing projects have lead me to this unavoidable conclusion:

A picture is worth about 50 words, so any Ancient Chinese Font of Wisdom who tries to tell you it's worth 1,000 words must be trying to rip off tourists or just itching for a fight.

Hey, don't take my word for it, weigh the evidence for yourself.

At the default settings for Microsoft Word on my computer, (12 pt font, normal looking margins of 1.5 inches left and right, 1 inch top and bottom) I got about 530 words per page on average in the first 6 pages of my wrimo novel. Our one page XMAS letter,which has a 3 by 5 inch picture in it, has 479 words.

I have 530 words without a picture, and 479 words with a picture. This allows us to determine that a picture is worth exactly 51 (i. e., 530-479) words. QED.

Now that you know we have proven a picture is worth about 50 words, so dont pay the inflated Chinese tourist price of 1,000 words.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Psychiatry of the Zombie

As I write this I am listening to a Harvard Psychiatry professor discuss the brain function of zombies, for instance, why are they always hungry - it's an overactive hypothalmus!

On NPR's Science Friday,where else.

More grist for the Wrimo mill!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Deconstruction of Really Bad Writing

People have thought a lot about what makes really bad genre writing really bad. The Mary Sue construct in Modern Literary Criticism is a fascinating look at what happens when fictional characters become authors' wish fulfillment objects.

Hopefully, that is not my story and it won't stick.

My NaNoWriMO Preview

Two days until wrimo blastoff, and the novel has taken a very different direction than what I was thinking. The amin character's visiter is going to take him to alternate realities where zombies must be sent back to their grave. Who wants a lot of introspection, when you can defend the noosphere from invading Walmart-building zombies from cyberspace. Now, that sounds like a story, especially when your brothers in arms are a grandpa and all five of the three stooges (don't fret, the zombies kill Curly Joe early on, why am I thinking of Boromir?). When the zombies are under control, the noosphere is a paradise for the dead with free par-three golf and martinis all the time.

BTW, overexposure to coconut cream pies makes a zombie puke until brains come out and the zombie returns to dust. A squirt of seltzer isn't as powerful, but it slows them down, making them more vulnerable to a sharpened 5-iron. Niagara Falls!

Get the main character to the noosphere, kill zombies, follow them to the internet and destroy the cyberzombies and locate and neutralize the source of all this ( lluminati conspiracy). I haven't outlined these battles yet, but I suspect that certain Bach tunes become evil viruses from hell when transposed into binary. How can you stop the evil virus once it's released. If there's still not enough words, the battle will proceed to the biosphere and geosphere, with a possible love interest with Lara Croft for the YA male audience.

In this case, I can literally say, That's my story, but I can't promise I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I finished reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it, although I am not quite ready to start a jane Austen or contemporary horror reading marathon. I have to admit that adding zombies to Regency England did improve the book.

I hadn't looked at or even thought much about Pride and Prejudice since we read it in High School English class. At that time, I was very impressed with jane Austen's writing style, however I wasn't really grabbed by the narrative.
Some plot elements made absolute no sense to me at the time;

I couldn't imagine why a large military force assembled in Hertfordshire.Were they expecting a Spanish invasion of the home counties?

Why were so many officers so interested in the Bennett sisters? I think they were prettier than most local young women, but egads they were a boring lot.

How did Wickham the cad got off way too easy (beyond being stuck with Lydia)

How long can anyone read so many pages about a brace of shallow sisters talking about the next ball, egged on by their endless chattering mother? No wonder why Mr. Bennett was so tuned out all the time.

Adding a shot of zombie mayhem resolved these dilemmas nicely,I thank Jane's posthumous co-author for that.

The British army is garrisoned in Hertfordshire to battle the zombies that have infested the region(naturally!).

The sisters' mastery of the deadly shoalin arts,along with their striking good looks would make them irresistible to any man, no doubt. The officers are fascinated with the Shoalin martial arts since the more proper women in England tend to take up Japanese Ninja training. Elizabeth gets several opportunities to show the superiority of her skills, both against zombies and ninjas.

Wickham finds his end as an incontinent quadriplegic, and he’s still stuck with the brain-dead younger sister.

Battles with brain-eating zombies nicely break up the mannered bourgeoisie conversations.

As a bonus, the novel also explains the British enthusiasm for cauliflower; you can use your cauliflower patch as bait to attract brain-famished zombies!

The contemporary author really did a wonderful job of twisting and tweaking Austin's language to smash zombies and ninja violence into the plot line.


My only negative comment is that the zombie motif staled well before the end of the novel.

All said, I give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies three and one half stars * * * 1/2 out of five. Three stars for Jane and one half star for Seth.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Are You Outta Your Effin Mind?

Halflon impulse,halfon dare, I decided to sign up for this years NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. The deal is you commit to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. The best thing about this is it's all about quantity over quality, perserverence over painstaking craft,according tothe websight. The sight has a utility that keeps a running word count. if you reach 50,000 words, you have won. I figure if I don't have 4,000 words by November 4, I am probably in trouble. I'll stick to this until it isn't working, hopefully that will not be November 1. Expect to see excerpts on the blog.

Inital planning and character building is happening in my head as I type this.I'm thinking about telling the story through flashback, an internal mind-conversation (yes,I know we get way too much of this in contempory fiction) of a man who is very ill and occasionally visited by the ghosts of a long deceased relative (what would I know about that, eh?). This format seems particularly appealing because continuity and plot development will be more elastic than I would need for the usual narrative. Did I mention I'll probably start with no real determined plot line,and, so far,only two well-defined characters (one of whom is dead). I am hoping each chapter might be the development of something important to the character, as he viewed and interpreted it, which may or may not have any relationship to any objective reality.

Yep, either that or he turns into a cockroach, who knows? All I know is that it better come out about as fast as I type.

K seems enthusiastic about the project, possibly even enough to read what comes out. Therefore, the protagonist might be single, in order to preserve domestic tranquility. Maybe he'll be a celebate monk or an Imperial Palace eunich. Maybe he'll fear facing eternity locked in a room with every exwife and exgirlfriend, none of them in the mood for love, all wanting to compare notes. You never know.

He sat in front of the computer, asking himself what was left to tell the inhabitants of his shrunken world. Feeling only an awkward emptyness where he looked for deep thoughts, he typed;

"That's my story and I'm sticking to it"


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

San Francsico Swells Haight Big Box Bong Stores

I can't even begin to understand all the subsurface issues in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. I think the smaller headshop owners got the City to ban any more headshops after a "WalMart of bongs appeared at the Haight. They feared another bong superstore would "they'd drive the old incense-burning, tie-dyed head shops right out of business".

The article says it best; " You can't legislate against the poor taste of tourists. No matter what they're smoking." Or you can get Michael Phelps to be your spokesman.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harvard Halfwits Lose Milk Money

Dateline Boston...

I always wanted to use "Harvard Halfwits" in a title.

Harvard's administration is too stupid to handle their cash. Their mommy needs to give them their milk money each day,or they'll lose it and go hungry.

In a nutshell, the business geniuses (from guess what business school) in Harvard's administration lost most of their operating funds (the money used to pay current bills) by betting it on hedge funds and credit swaps.

Harvards bumkin-like stupidity appears to be rare among university administrators. For example, Boston.com quotes a Stanford University Spokesperson on the subjexct:

"At Stanford University, which has experienced a similar decline in its endowment and also undertaken layoffs, spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said it would be highly unusual for the California school to put funds from its general account into long-term investments.

“We wouldn’t take a cash account and invest it with the endowment,’’ Lapin said."

It's plain to see even P.R. flack at Stanford understands corporate finance better than harvars's CFO and treasurer.

But folks,before we cast asparagus at Harvards bumbling financial administrators, let's hear what they have to say, aghain quoted from Boston.com:

"In a statement yesterday, Harvard treasurer James F. Rothenberg said the fault for the losses doesn’t “sit with a single individual: the corporation plays a role, the university’s financial team, including the CFO, play a role, and I play a role as treasurer."

As Harvard's treasurer clearly states above, there is no single chowderhead responsible, He claims he is a chowderhead, his associates are chowderheads, and, in fact the corporation (i.e., Harvard) is a simmering cauldron of chowderheads (in so many words). I always suspected that.

That's my story,and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Senator Talks About Non- Billionaires

Senator from VT Bernie Sanders wants to talk about working folks well-being.

I am sad to say this is pretty much the first I have heard from Congress or the Executive that indicate they care at all about what is happening to We The People, the chumps who don't rate bailouts. You know,the 90% that owns the remaining 10% of everything (or at least everything China doesn't own).




That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

L.A., City of Idiocy (I mean Industry), the NFL and Pavlov

"Here we go again" Ronald Reagan

The NFL and developer Majestic Realty Company have announced their plans for a new NFL stadium in the City of Idiocy has reached the point where they will begin finding a team.

The idea is that since the City of Idiocy is willing to cough up tons of local Government moneys, it's obviously the best place to locate a NFL team. Certainly, believes the Government of the City of Idiocy, when you build a NFL team in Los Angeles, people will pay big bucks to fill your stadium and everyone will get rich.

TWO WORDS: LA RAIDERS.

What has the NFL forgotten in their analysis? They are assuming, in their arrogance, that L. A. is bursting with fans (demand) who will line up to pay rapacious NFL prices. To sit in traffic for hours so they can get to the stadium and buy $10 gourmet hot dogs and beers. It'll work out great, right. It worked out so well in the 1980s for the beloved Al Davis . Somehow, the NFL believes that it will work this time, even though they get clobbered last time.

This proves the NFL is more stupid than a dog:

You can train a dog to heel using a post in the ground called the healing post. You walk with the dog on a leash so that the post will be between you and the dog. As you approach the post, you give the command, and pull in the leash so that the dog's head clunks into the pole, until the dog follows at your heel. I am told most dogs learn the heel command after one run at the post. The only need to clobbered once.

The NFL got clobbered once in LA, and they are again speeding toward the post. Once the people of L.A. yank the leash by forgetting to drop several thousands of dollars each to buy season tickets, the NFL will get clobbered again.

Thus we see the NFL is more stupid than a golden retriever.

In the words of Yogi Berra, "No matter how hard you try, you can't keep people from not coming to the ballpark".

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Le Job Peut-Etre Kill Vous

Dateline Paris:

Mon Dieu!

Post-privatization changes in the previously Government-run and civil service-staffed French Telecom have been connected to a rash of employee suicides, although management kinda-sorta denies it all. The British Telegraph Newspaper reports the story with more than un soupcon de British nose-thumbing at their Garlic-munching neighbors. My favorite quotations:

"In an essay out next week, Eric Maurin, an economist at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, says that the French are "paralysed" with fear about losing "stable" jobs. They would rather "cling on to a job where one is unhappy rather than take a less protected post".

The suicide scandal has already impacted France Telecom's business and strategy. It has reportedly put off a plan to change the names of its French brands to Orange due to fears they be mocked as "Orange pressé"."

I guess sometimes The Idler's words are true: work kills.


That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Strike Zones, Second Guessing, and Geometry

It's MLB playoff time. This video gives pointers for advanced playoff watching.

Subject 1: The gee-whiz strike zone box. The off-center placement of the center field cameras the networks use to show us the strike zone distorts everything we see. This video shows some examples of the distortion. Maybe it's time to shut up,open another beer, and give the ump a break.



That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Blogging the Brett Bowl

20 minutes till kickoff. . 5:10 PM PDT. Listening to game coverage on AM radio, hearing Boomer Esiasen interview Mike Ditka, these guys make ESPN Sports Center sound like Shakespeare. More commercials, Holy Hominy Grits, this station has a lot of adds for "get out of debt, we'll help with your tax problems" operators. I am surely listening to this game 9in the company of life's winners.
'
Time to tune out and do a jigsaw puzzle, they're playing the same Farve interview again. "Both teams want to win". Gee, that's amazing. Time to "tune out" until kickoff.

5:30PM. Finally, the game is about to start. Nope, a break for a PSA from the WNBA and the Cancer Industrial Complex. I like the latest quote from Shitmydadsays; "Does anyone your age know how to comb their fucking hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their head and started fucking." I get a kick out of Justin's dad.

5:37 and still commercials, crap, when does the game start. Don't they know I have to leave for band practice before 7:00?

When will they stop talking about Favre?

Finally Packers return the kickoff to the 25 yd line. I hope the coin toss won't be tonight's biggest victory. Running first down, 2nd and 10. Effit. Screen for a first down! HOOHAH! Spread that defensive line. Crap, holding, how can the offensive line get beaten so badly already?
Pass for 2 yards on 2nd and 15, WTF?

Nice short pass play, 3rd and 2. False Start? CRAP!!!!!!!! Two offensive line penalties already.
Whew, another first down. They seem to be holding off the blitz so far!

Is Driver getting Alligator Arms? A crummy 3 yard run, now third and 7. . .great quick hit pass!
FUMBLE - SHIT!!!!!!! No protection. . . Two penalties on the first possession and then this. Now wasting a time out on the review, Doesn't McCarthy know I can only listen until 7:00? So rude! No way will this one be reversed.

Here comes precious Brett and the Viqueens. Peterson starts with a 7 yard rush. First two plays, the Packer's defensive line is not looking good. Every play to Peterson for a gain. The Packers have to seize the line of scrimmage. Short pass for 16 yards. If the Pack's line can't do better, I don't know. TAUNTING PENALTY Effing Moron.

The Vikings are moving like it's a walk in the park. Down to the Packers' 11 yd line.

Fourth and inches. They'll probably run Peterson right at the Packers weak line. Crap. You can't win with a crappy line.

Run to the 1 yard line. The Packers aren't a factor in the game yet. Short touchdown pass.

I think it's "GAME OVER, MAN", done with the Blog.

YES! The line blocked and teh Vikings' secondary blew the coverage! TIE GAME! Let's hope the defense wakes up. This is a bipolar game.

We are seeing the idiot Favre of the old days. Can Can possession (1,2,3, kick). Man, it looks like a different Packers offense (Let's hope they hold on to the pig this time) End of first quarter.

Second quarter, first play, sack, crap. 2nd and 17, run for 6 yds, 3rd and 11. 4th and 2, thanks to Driver. Going for it! Freak ricochet catch for a first down. Crap Rodger's first interception. He's trying to force the ball. At least the interception brought the ball near the 20 yd line.

Back to Favre and Peterson. . .A big pass for 24 yards to Rice. I remember the Pack's corners getting owned by another Rice. Hah, Farve had forever to pass, Woodson got beat so bad he had to hold the receiver, first down. Vikings on the 30 yd line. Packers have held the Vikings for 2 downs. Third and looooong. Dang, Farve passes his way out of it again. Vikings are at the 13 yard line. If the Packers can't stop this drive, I think it's just about time to say "good night nurse". They have to get to the QB. Third and long means nothing if the QB gets all day to pass on 3rd down. Dammit, touchdown pass to Rice in the middle. Packers, how can you blitz and not get to the QB. Somebody gets open if the blitz doesn't get in the QB's face. Count the bodies, do the math. Time to go to band, I can
't take any more of this anyway.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.




All I get is Favre... Shaddup!!!!!!!!!!

How many times can some talking head on TV say Favre, Favre, Favre?

I worked out this morning and watched ESPN Sports Center from about 11:10 to 11:25 and 11:40 to 11:50 PDT. OK, this takes some explanation. I watch Sports Center when I work on the elliptical trainer. Between the two sessions on the trainer I work out with weights for 15 minutes. I don't watch TV while I'm using weights, because that can give you a sore neck.

I started my workout naively thinking, "I hope they'll talk about tonight's Packers game while I'm here." I guess ESPN has taken the "all Favre all the time" format today. I tried to count the "Favre"s, but I lost count after about 35 "Favre"s in the first 10 or 12 minutes.

This is doubly stupid, since my prediction is that Favre will not be a major factor in this game. I think this game will be won and lost old-time football style. This game is not about twinkle-toed quarterbacks. In the words of St Vincent Lombardi, "This is a game of fundamentals, it is about blocking and tackling".

I think this will be a game about two things the packers must do to win; (1) The Packer's offensive line must protect the quarterback, and (2) the Packer's defensive line needs to get penetration so they can break up running plays before Peterson finds his feet. What Favre does hardly matters, barring any crazy last minute end zone passes,which is always a possibility.

What I'm saying is that if the packers don't control the line of scrimmage about a million times better than they have so far this season, the Vikings will be able to mail it in and the Packers are screwed.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Today's Words to Live By

I resemble this comment:

"A scar ain't 13 god damned stitches. I'll introduce you to men with REAL scars, then we'll all laugh at your fucking 13 stitches together."

See this and more brilliant old guy rap
"Shit my Dad Says", the only acceptable use for Twitter I have seen.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

One Difference Between The Who and The U.S.A.

The Who won't be fooled again.

The U.S. of A. will.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Schobel Versus American Academy of Actuaries Settles

The Academy published the settlement document on their website. From the transcript of the previous hearings, it was pretty obvious the judge would not reinstate Schobel as president of the Academy, however Hizzoner's repeated descriptions of the Academy Board's behavior as "disgusting" suggested a Schobel was likely to win his suit for damages.

The game is over and the final score is:

Schobel $600,000
Academy of Actuaries $0

And, what are actuaries going to talk about after this? Maybe pension actuaries can start thinking about their shameful derelictiton of duty in the area of public pensions.

That last paragraph, I must state, is not an actuarial opinion, and anyone who sais otherwise is itching for a fight. In all other respects. . .

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Obama is Out of Touch. . .

. . .with average American families.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Something Special From Wisconsin

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, one driver in Appleton was involved in four crashes within 7 minutes. Why does weird stuff like this always seem to happen in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, back in the Big City, Madison's News3 added this shocker to the story, "The State Patrol says alcohol may have been a factor". You think? Let's see, Packers game Sunday, Appleton, I am shocked.

Actually,I'm shocked that this guy stopped after only four collisions,and he didn't hit a single deer. In Vince Lombardi's day, he wouldn't have stopped until his car crossed into the Dallas endzone. Wisconsin was different in those days, when men were men, women were women, and Ed Gein was not a musical, furcrissakes! What next, Jeffery Dahmer, the ballet?



All I can say is WTF?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Was An Historical Detective in Fairyland

Last month, DW, DMIL and I went out to Nevada County to do some on sight genealogical research about their gold-digging ancestors. While the ladies dug into the records, I took a walk around town. Downtown Nevada City still has a gold rush boom town look to it. Unfortunately, it also has authentic smells. The city is brimming with restaurants, ye olde this-and-that shoppes and hippy new age crystal and faerie gear emporia. The owner of one of the faerie shoppes allowed me to take a few photos.I have never seen anything like this before.

As you can see in this close up, the indoor trees were filled with faeries.


It was truly weird experience, and I didn't even get a chahkra-charge from the obvious beauty and good intentions of the magical creatures. Dang!

Well I made my way back up to the old library,which has now become a local historical resource. The historical library building is way cool.

I spotted one of the suspect ancestors (The Elusive Mr. Duffy) in a hand typed listing some insanely anal-retentive person assembled in the early 1990s. The listing was taken from the county's 1867 property tax assessment rolls. I showed this find to the librarian (I was bragging since everyone else was spending hours looking through records, and I found this in a few minutes). The librarian took me back into some old stacks, and she gave me the original county property tax ledger. This was so cool-looking. I felt like Uriah Heep or Bob Cratchett, squinting over the ledger open on a heavily varnished molasses-colored 19th century library table.


I found Duffy here, in the listing for some boom town that doesn't exist today:


Duffy didn't appear as a property owner, however the left hand column of the ledger listed men registered for the California Militia. Here is Himself.


Now we know where Duffy was in 1866.

We followed another trail of evidence to Washington, CA an out of the way town which is now a campground that looked pretty residential, and one street of buildings that were doing their best not to collapse. We found nothing useful in the old graveyard, however a few weeks later I read about Washington, CA in Harper's Magazine, and found out the place is a haven for small-time marijuana growers, people who grow under 50 plants per year to supply the legal medical marijuana dispensaries. It seemed like a good location. The town is surrounded by federal land lying in a canyon with only one road into and out of the valley. The road descends from Highway 20, and ends at town.

I stopped in the the town store to ask for directions, and everyone was nice, although no one offered me any marijuana. Dang. In the tradition of DW's ancestors, I didn't find any gold, again. Double Dawg Dang.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meet Your New Boss

Ben Franklin wrote that "He who goes Borrowing goes sorrowing".

Interesting to hear those words from none other than Cheng Siwei, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of China's communist party. Looks like debt impacts international relations similar to interpersonal relations.

When you owe, you are your creditor's bitch. There's nicer ways to say that, but no truer way. You have to listen to moralizing crap like this from your friendly neighborhood commie creditors. Listen to some more of Cheng's rants:

"Beijing was dismayed by the Fed's recourse to "credit easing"" "We hope there will be a change in monetary policy as soon as they have positive growth again." If they keep printing money to buy bonds it will lead to inflation, and after a year or two the dollar will fall hard. Most of our foreign reserves are in US bonds and this is very difficult to change, so we will diversify incremental reserves into euros, yen, and other currencies." "The US spends tomorrow's money today," he said. "We Chinese spend today's money tomorrow. That's why we have this financial crisis."

Too bad for Cheng that, under his watch, China accumulated so much dollar denominated debt that they can't sell out. Cheng even admitted that when they try to swap dollar instruments for gold, gold skyrockets. China is screwed as bad as we are. IMHO, it serves the Chinese elite right for hogging all the wealth their hard-working citizens created rather than spreading the wealth around and developing some markets at home. It always makes me smile to think about how cheap labor is in the workers' socialist paradise.

Mercantilism (look at Japan these days) almost always leads to the same end result; your citizens work like slaves, and once you economically "defeat"your customer-enemies, you end up with depleted natural resources and mountains of worthless currency.

My dearest friend Cheng,

I can understand how you are red with anger at your piles of likely worthless assets. Too bad for you it's too late to unload them. I say to you, in the words of Jim Carroll, "It's too late to fall in love with Sharon Tate".

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"Greasy Rider" The Return of the American Male Road Novel

I picked Greasy Rider , by Greg Melville while I was aimlessly browsing through the 10 or 20 new volumes on the New Books shelf in the local library last Wednesday. I was attracted to by the punny title, and I'm glad to say once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. I wasn't sure what to expect, I feared the book might be earnest and scolding as Melville's blog, but I was happily proven wrong.

Although Greasy Rider includes serious discussions about environmentalism and renewable fuels, most of the book is a romping return to the Great American Road Novel, told through a more journalistic than literary prose. Melville is a thirtyish married guy with with two kids, major bad communication with his controlling and scolding wife, and absolutely no mechanical ability. When he wants a second car, he buys a 30 year old Mercedes station wagon and converts it to run on vegetable oil, rather than answer his wife's nagging about the wastefulness of owning two cars. Now comes the midlife crisis that seems to hit at younger and younger ages these days.

He finds his road buddy in a recently divorced compulsive shopper friend with whom he's been pretty much out of touch since college. But, this Iggy guy is brilliant with engines and drives Melville to deepen his research and self knowledge, while often talking in a Gomer Pyle voice until Melville threatens to kill him. Is this a road novel or what?

Their mission is to drive from his home in Vermont to a vegetable oil filling station in Berkeley, California, using vegetable oil he finds along the way for fuel (actually, the greasecar system uses a small amount of diesel fuel at the beginning if each drive to heat the vegetable oil to about 80 degrees F. Melville used four gallons of diesel on his cross country trip).

The trip is a series of misadventures from mechanical issues, summoning courage to ask restaurants for their used grease, and visits to various renewable energy high points. In between the road stories, Melville describes what he learned from visiting various renewable energy hot spots. His visit to Al Gore's place (actually looked around the gate because he wasn't asked in) was great.

What I liked best about the book was the rhythm of misadventures, I always wanted to know what these two chowderheads were going to get into next.

I give this book 4 stars.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Manhattan Through the Bard's Eyes

The Mannhatta Project is on of the coolest Internet "gee whiz gizmo's" I have seen in a while. The project gives you an interactive map of Manhattan today, Manhattan in 1609, and the ability to superimpose the two aerial views. For some blocks, you get bonus material including a photo of what the area probably looked like in 1609 from the ground level and lists of species. Brooklyn and Bronx aren't included, isn't that how these things always work?

OK, really this is Manhattan through Shakespeare's eyes if he would have spent the last years of his life traveling with Henry Hudson. BTW, wouldn't that have made a better movie than "Shakespeare in Love"?

At least give me credit for not gratuitously mentioning John Dowland,who was probably crying his eyes out while Hudson was out seeing this. Did I ever mention I need to get a life? But c'mon, how cool was the Elizabethan period (provided, of course, that you were better at managing Herself than was Sir Walter Raleigh). How cool with pirates, a New World to explore (provided of course, you weren't an Indian), and the occasional spectacle of "hanged until almost dead and drawn and quartered". Oh those crazy Brits with their warped sense of humor.

What the heck was I talking about? Oh, yeah, take a look at the Mannhatta sight. Take time to enjoy all the dense graphics, and you'll find out how fast your Internet connection really is.


That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


I'm Not Saying Actuaries are Disgusting. . .

I'm not saying anything, anything at all. Not Anything. Not A Thing. Period.

I will let the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan, United States District Judge speak for himself, from the transcript of September 15, 2009's ruling in Bruce D. Schobel v. American Academy of Actuaries.

"It's really unfortunate that what's put into motion the series of the sequence of events since July is the undisputed fact that the terms of a confidential arbitration agreement were revealed. That's really -- really unfortunate. It's unseemly. It's disgusting, but that's -- that's why you folks are all here, and I think that when the final chapter is written in this book, I think the world is going to know more about the American Academy of Actuaries than it ever wanted to learn and know about."

"This is a case that cries out for settlement. I said that the first day,you know,and the tears are even louder now. It cries out for settlement,but parties haven't seen fit to settle it,and that's fine. Then I'll settle it and let the chips fall where they may."

"So I guess the crying goes on for another day. Parties are excused."

That is not my story, and anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I've Become A Commodity

Once of our Hangininsac roving reporters found this in a butcher shop near Los Angeles. I am speechless.


engrish funny steve flavoured
see more Engrish

I guess that's how my story ends, and I'm sticking to the pan.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lars and the Real Girl

We just rented this 2007 film at Friend E's recommendation. We were skeptical, since she tends to like rather mushy films, and our local film club (K, neighbor and I) tends to degenerate from time to time into a Werner Herzog angst-in-expressionism slugfest.

Check out the trailer, yes, this is a movie about a relationship with a "love doll". But it was great, and had both female members of the film club grabbing for sob towels by the end.



My advice is to see this movie as soon as you can. It was great,5 Stars, two thumbs up and all that! Given the "blurb synopsis", I have to admit I was expecting pure crap. But this movie was absolutely hilarious,although not in the laugh-out-loud way, but in a kind and understated way, gently calling out our delusional tendencies and that Scandinavian outlook and behaviour that is endemic in the northern Midwestern States.

All I can say is, "See this movie".

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dammit, I Want My TARP Mansion Too

Lots of folks have been asking just what our bankers have been doing with their $ Gazillions of TARP funds. Looks like the L.A. times has found the answer, with some help from vigilant neighbors in a tony beach side housing development.

Apparently, our Government's TARP funds have allowed banks to hold onto properties for their Executives to use as party shacks. Don't trust me on this one, ask Wells Fargo Senior VP Cheronda Guyton, I'm sure she'll be glad to talk to you, unless you're one of the poor saps fighting to save your home from a usurious Wells Fargo loan. You can visit our dear friend Cheronda at her LinkedIn page. She must be lonely, she only has three contacts.

I am really bugged by the several repossessed houses in my neighborhood that the vampire bankers haven't put on the market. Sometimes it feels like they want to see these undead houses (their property) slowly rot from poor upkeep. I could see keeping a house off the market to have a personal party shack, but no Bank VP would be caught dead partying in my neighborhood.

I understand the overly permissive and screwy accounting practices that allow banks to forestall losses by keeping houses unoccupied. Once a house is put up for sale, the value of the house must be written down to a market value, that's what you could sell the house for right now. However, current American accounting standards allow the bank to value the house above market value if the house is not currently on the market.

That's what I call CPA, Crazy Postmodern Accounting.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Substitute Clarinetist, and the Money versus Effort Paradox

In the meantime, it’s that part of a hot summer day when I want to pretty much shuts down until later in the afternoon. Although I washed the car this morning, tonight will be busier.

The substitute clarinetist


I am going to a band rehearsal tonight to prepare for a concert on Sunday. The twist is that I’ll be substituting for the principal second clarinet in another band. The place to bee at 6:00 PM Sunday night will be Gibbon Park, with the Capital Pops Concert Band. That’s always a fun thing to do, since I’ll be able to read through the music once with the band tonight, run through and mark up music at home, and then play in the concert. That’s about as close as I get to playing like a professional musician. Good thing there normally aren’t any solo passages for second clarinets. The papers claim this week’s heat will break Saturday. Otherwise, the concert will be outside in 100 degree heat.

Sorry, no link fir this event. It looks like the Capitol Pops Band must have forgotten to pay their url registration fee or something to do with those dadburned interfernalnets. In any event, their website is in the thrall of a cyber squatter.

Washing the car - money versus effort

I washed the car this morning. The car always gets covered in a layer of brown dust during our hot and dry summers. The car washes here cost about $20, and a few years back, I figured out with driving back and forth and waiting at the car wash place, it takes nearly an hour to go to the car wash. Oddly enough, it takes about 45 minutes to wash the car myself in our driveway, and it’s fun in a strange way if you don’t do it too often. I have to admit my car wash technique isn’t quite up to Paris Hilton’s level, so don’t say I told you so.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Actuaries are WAY More Interesting Than You'd Think

Thus spake the New York Times:

"Removal of Leader Stirs Anger Over Dealings of Actuary Group "

This article is worth reading. For maybe five minutes reading time you'll enjoy enough juicy stuff to fill a racketeer-style mystery novel. These gems are just a small sample:

"the public face of a behind-the-scenes profession.. . in disarray"

"trying to conceal . . . an unpleasant secret from his past"

"a onetime convicted felon"

"his opponents had tried to use unflattering and irrelevant information to blackmail him"

"Angry and incredulous actuaries. . . proposed a coup of sorts".

Gadzooks, people, you can't make stuff like this up. Trust me, there's even better stuff in the times. I will not reveal any more information here, but the NYT gives you the stark naked details.

Who'd have thought "Actuaries in the News" could be so exciting?

All I can say is, "What a wacky way to run a profession!".

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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