Friday, September 29, 2006

Geezer ska!

Wherein weekend entertainment

Variety Playhouse presents:
Dave Wakeling of The English Beat, Lynval George of The Specials and Pauline Black from The Selector will perform their hits. Over two hours of the songs that you remember loving in your youth, live and in person.

From The BeatUK:
In honour of Pauline joining the tour and to welcome her to North America, we've even added a mini-set of Selecter hits as well, including such classics as "Too Much Pressure", "On My Radio", "Carry Go Bring Come" and more! So you'll be getting two hours of classic, top ranking ska featuring the hits of The Beat, General Public, The Specials and The Selecter!!

Someone get me my walker and porkpie hat, 'cause granpaw will be rankin' full stop.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I don't wanna classify you like an animal in the zoo

Wherein Man I love this song. Had it on a mix tape and played the crap out of it. Never played much else on the album

Pete Shelley, formerly of the Buzzcocks, had one of the truly great songs of the early 80s: Homo Sapien. Reading through Simon Reynolds' Rip it up and start again: postpunk 1978-1984, Pete Shelley gets a paragraph (though the Buzzcocks get a few pages). Shelley is mentioned in the synthpop chapter and the section on producer Martin Rushent (Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, Human League):
Rushent's first stab at electropop using these new tools was with former Buzzcock front man Pete Shelley. The sound they developed was a transitional hybrid of guitar-based New Wave and electropop, heard at its best on the superb single "Homo Sapien." Released in August 1981, "Homo Sapien" was a coded coming-out for Shelley. The single's innuendos - the fruity was Shelley enunciates "homo sapien," plus couplets like "homo superior/my interior" -- provoked an unofficial ban from Radio One. By the time the singer's solo album was released, another group had taken the Rushent electropop sound to the charts and stolen Shelley's thunder.

Don't recall ever seeing the video, so here it is:

I even enjoy the lyrics:
I'm the shy boy
You're the coy boy
And you know we're
Homosapien too
Im the cruiser
You're the loser
Me and you sir
Homosapien too
In my interior
But from the skin out
I'm homosapien too
And you're homosapien too
And I'm homosapien like you
And we're homosapien too

And I think of your eyes in the dark and I see the star
And I look to the light and I might wonder right where you are
All the gods in the sky way up high see the world spinning round
But the sun and the moon and the stars are so far from the ground

I'm the shy boy
You're the coy boy
And you know we're
Homosapien too
I'm the cruiser
You're the loser
Me and you sir
Homosapien too
In my interior
But from the skin out
I'm homosapien too
And you're homosapien too
And I'm homosapien like you
And we're homosapien too

And the worlds built of age are a stage where we act out our lives
And the words in the script seem to fit 'cept we have some surprise
I just want this to last or my future is past and all gone
And if this is the case then I'll lose in life's race from now on

In my interior
But from the skin out
I'm homosapien too
And you're homosapien too
And I'm homosapien like you
And we're homosapien too

And I just hope and pray that the day of our love is at hand
You and I, me and you, we will be one from two, understand?
And the world is so wrong that I hope that we'll be strong enough
For we are on our own and the only thing known is our love
I don't wanna classify you like an animal in the zoo
But it seems good to me to know that you're homosapien too

I'm the shy boy
You're the coy boy

I don't wanna classify you like an animal in the zoo
But it seems good to me to know that you're homosapien too
I don't wanna classify you like an animal in the zoo
But it seems good to me to know that you're homosapien too
I don't wanna classify you like an animal in the zoo
But it seems good to me to know that you're homosapien too

Then, this afternoon, something wonderful happened

Wherein New Orleans continues to rebuild

Housing updated from Poppy Z. Brite:
I needed to pick up a couple of eBay books at my old house, and my former neighbor, who'd previously expressed interest in buying the property, had asked if he could go through the house with me next time I was over there. I thought he wanted to buy the property to raze the house and add the land to his own property, and I figured he wanted to go through it to see what fixtures and such he could salvage.

Not so. He wants to save the entire house, to completely gut and rebuild it, and despite the fact that it will be a huge, expensive job, he has plenty of experience with such things and believes it can be done. I suppose I am a very poor businessman, because when he told me -- on the staircase, one of my favorite features of the house despite the pain those risers caused me for several years -- that he wanted not to tear down the house but to rehab it, I threw my arms around him and simply started bawling. Not much chance of dickering now, I suppose ... but I don't really care.

The renovation would not be for us. I don't ever want to live in that house again: it's too haunted with memories of our old lives and the irresponsibility for which I cannot forgive myself, and I want to start a new life in another part of the city, probably the Irish Channel. But for nearly a year now, it has been a knife in my heart that this beautiful old house -- built in 1919 -- would die on my watch.

Now, possibly, it won't happen.

File under funny because it's true

Wherein so it was, is, and always will be

Downtown St. Paul is a beautiful place, but no one goes there. No one ever has. According to Lileks, nothing has changed:
You’ve seen “28 Days,” where the guy wakes up from a coma and wanders around post-plague London? That’s Tokyo at noon compared to St. Paul on a Wednesday night.

Scott Hansen had one of his comedy clubs in Galtier Plaza. I remember walking out of a show around 10pm and thinking you could probably set up a card table in the middle of the road and play a game of bridge without worry of being run over.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

King of the Office

Wherein I had his website listed as Something Old, Something New for months before realizing it was ...Nothing New. Oops. Pretty bad for something I read every day.

The original, British version of The Office never did much for me. Likewise, the American episodes based on the BBC scripts I also didn't like. Then somewhere during season 2 the tone shifted and I became hooked on the show. I'd like to find that breaking point of The Office I love and the one I hate, but I'm afraid that would require viewing too many I hate. Should I completely skip season 1?

Jaime at Something Old, Nothing New finds something The Office has in common with King of the Hill. Quote: of the reasons I like the American version of The Office so much is that I find it gives me a lot of what I used to find in King of the Hill. KotH in its prime years had the same showrunner, Greg Daniels, and one of its best writers was Daniels' brother-in-law Paul Lieberstein, who now writes for The Office as well as playing the part of Toby. What they've brought to The Office is very much what they brought to KotH: realistic, observational humour with a satirical edge but with genuine emotion, some dark undercurrents (on KotH the darkness mostly came from the character of Bill, the most suicidal depressed loser ever seen on a mainstream sitcom) and more story arcs and status-quo shakeups than you'd get on a normal sitcom. KotH is still on, but while it's still a good show, it doesn't have much of that any more; the episodes are less satirical, there's less emotion, and the characters have become more static and unchanging. So for what I looked for in KotH, I now turn to The Office.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Kentrivia 13

Wherein it must be Tuesday

  1. I guessed Eagles, sounded Canadian enough to me and I couldn't recall an NFL team called the Eskimos. Going with an animal was the right direction, though they decided on a distinctly unCanuck mammal. Well, it's not like they're native to Detroit.
  2. Just a few weeks ago we saw the Georgia Shakespeare's production of Treasure Island. That isn't helping. If ever in Savannah, check out the Pirate's House: it's mentioned in Treasure Island. Can't really recommend the food.
  3. Woo! I got one! Learn more about the element discovered by Martin Heinrich Klaproth, a German chemist, in the mineral pitchblende (primarily a mix of uranium oxides) in 1789.
  4. Not the correct answer, but funny. Also not the answer, but the flags of Monaco and Indonesia are the same, just different sizes. Oh, so if the Indonesian soccer team played in Warsaw, things could get confusing.
  5. Having read Assassination Vacation (recently) and visited Ford's Theater (not so recently), you'd think there'd be some bubble of recognition. You would be wrong.
  6. I went with IBM, forgetting the more obvious company -- and the company I once worked at.
  7. Something about cigars?

On appeal, the Pythagorean theorem was upheld

Wherein a large portion of people I was in line with were obviously in the early stages of their ESL classes, so there's a problem when the graphic disagrees with the text

From the Georgia DDS, it's the Motorcycle Operator Manual. It is published by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and they provide manuals and training courses for just about every state.

Turn to page twenty and review the parking directions:

Let's review our angles. Unfortunately, this came up on neither the written nor the road test, so I was not able to pedantically argue this to the point of arrest.

Almost as bad is the section title on page 21, Increasing Conspicuity. I know what they're saying, and it's clear by the context, but what an awful word. It has its place, though considering the reading levels of these manuals I'd think using visibility would be a better choice.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wind chill

Wherein twelve Minnesota winters taught me the importance of layering

In 2001, the National Weather Service redefined wind chill. The new formula
Windchill (ºF) = 35.74 + 0.6215T - 35.75(V^0.16) + 0.4275T(V^0.16)
T = Air Temperature (F)
V = Wind Speed (mph)
^ = raised to a power (exponential)

is interesting in a couple of ways. One, above 50 degrees, there's no effect. Two, the new formula is significantly "warmer" than the old; look at this NWS Chart:

Since google lists them first, this Wind Chill Calculator will dispaly old and new values.

On the bicycle I'd usually grab the leg and arm warmers for temperatures below 70º. With the scooter, and speeds around 45-55mph, it gets cold fast and a predawn ride in the low 50s had my fingers stiffening up. It's since warmed up again, but for morning I did dig out the glove liners and jacket liners making for a much more comfortable and almost toasty.

As a reminder of what to expect, here's a chart reflecting my anticipated winter riding conditions:

Friday, September 22, 2006

youtube is driving me crazay

wherein I'm still rockin in the 80s

Let's see if I can piece this together.
  1. Over at ALOTT5MA, a post with links to lots of lists.
  2. One link goes to a article exploring why everyone is covering the Gnarls Barkley song, "Crazy."
  3. I click the YouTube link and watch the video. Hey, that's pretty good! Somehow I've heard this before, at least the opening hook.
  4. Now when I hear someone say "crazy" I don't think of Gnarls Barkley or Patsy Cline. Nope, I'm thinking Jesse Johnson.
  5. Here's the Jesse Johnson wiki. I had no idea he was on all those soundtracks.
  6. For some odd reason Shockadelica is his only album that I own. I say odd, because it's one of my favorite albums from the 80s.
  7. Shockadelica is filled with great music, though it's most known for having one of the few Sly Stone performances in the last 20 years.
  8. Ignore the 80s fashions and the drum kit and just listen. This is still a phenomenal song.

More Jesse:

Music from Repo Man

Wherein partially successful

Hey, I know. I'll find videos for the Repo Man soundtrack. Oh, well; enjoy what little I found.

1. Repo Man - Iggy Pop

2. TV Party - Black Flag

3. Suicidal Tendencies, Institutionalized

4. Coup D'Etat - The Circle Jerks
5. El Clavo Y La Cruz - The Plugz
6. Pablo Picasso - Burning Sensations
7. Let's Have A War - Fear

8. When The Shit Hits The Fan - The Circle Jerks
9. Hombre Secreto (Secret Agent Man) - The Plugz
10. Bad Man - Juicy Bananas
11. Reel Ten - The Plugz

An intriguing search and a bafflingly result

Wherein now I'm curious and would like to know if there's an answer

For some unkown reason, sends a lot of search results my way. Then most of the posts linked to have nothing to do with the search query. Here's my new favorite:

Did 16th century london architecture slant out or was it straight

As of this writing, So Quoted is listed sixth. I'm sorry, anonymous person searching from the Janesville School District in Madison, WS. Not my fault you chose a crappy search engine.

I suggest researching Christopher Wren. He's actually 17th century, but oversaw much of the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire, which destroyed most of the 16th century architecture. I doubt the slantiness of the buildings affected their ability to survive a fire.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Music to wash that away that horrible image

Wherein I'm threatening a public delinking

Ms Althouse claims Wham! has a perfect pop song and video. Excuse me, I just threw up lunch from two weeks ago. That's mind. Who the hell was buying 45s in the 1980s, anyway? If you didn't buy the whole damn album, you bought the 12-inch EP.

I'm just going to spin some good music.

Chaka, rock the house:

Relax, Frankie Goes to Hollywood

You Might Think I'm Crazy won the first MTV video award in 1984. From the same year, I would've picked Herbie Hancock's Rockit; though this probably qualifies as a 1983 release:

Here's Paul Westerberg, one of rock's great songwriters, from 2004. He's singing I Will Dare from 1984's Let It Be (The Replacements). My vote for best album of the decade.

Sometimes I Wish I was a Pretty Girl, Robyn Hitchcock

Also from 1984: Art of Noise's Close to the Edit won for best editing in 1985, but wasn't even nominated for best video. Craptacular Don Henley won, beating out the following pieces of shit: Tom Petty, David Lee Roth, David Lee Roth (again), and USA for Africa -- "We Are the World" is possibly the worst song ever recorded.

You want a perfect pop song from 1984? hero takes a fall, The Bangles

This is from 1981, Romeo Void's, Never Say Never. This ain't pop, but it's pretty near a perfect song:

My review of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Wherein you can watch the first episode in nice little chunks forcing you to watch 10 second

Smug, conceited, and condescending. There's something I felt more in this show than any other Sorkin show -- except for perhaps A Few Good Men, a movie that treated its audience and characters like idiots -- and that's when I am inclined to agree with him on certain, let's say, social issues, I just want to smack him and just generally disagree with him on the principle that his presentation is so unlikeable.

For a fuller takedown on Sorkin's prickitude, read Todd VanDerWerff Walking and talking: the quick wit and false heart of Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60

Otherwise, Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry were brilliant together and I'll stick around a little longer to watch them work.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

If you can't be funny at least have a sense of humor

Wherein remind never to accept an invitation to movie night at Peter Hyman's house

Buried deep in the Slate article Why does everyone try to be funny these days? is the following tidbit:
If you've ever been at a party where some guy trying to tap a keg chimes in with a quip about how "it's all ball bearings nowadays" (a line stolen from the most over-referenced film of all time), then you have had firsthand experience with this crisis.

Huh? Ball bearings? Most over-referenced film of all time? I have no idea what he's talking about. Sure doesn't sound like anything I remember from Stripes or Caddyshack.

According to Google, that's a reference to "Fletch." As previously discussed the "Fletch" movie sucks. No harm in mentioning that again, though.

As long as we're at, here's a humorless bit of prose:
When I hear a song for the first time, I'm weighing the technical ability of the artist, the material's emotional relevance, and how the music fits into a larger cultural and political climate.

That's from Matthew Shaer's article on music recommendation sites. Two questions:
  1. How long do you think he spent crafting what he felt would be the perfect encapsulation of his sensitivity and superiority? I put the over/under at 5 hours.
  2. What's wrong with a "it has a good beat and I can dance to it?"

how it fits into a larger cultural and political climate? I can't understand most of the lyrics to the music I listen to, so I'm not sure where that leaves me. Other than feeling like John Belushi in Animal House smashing the guitar at the party. Forget about reading his conclusions -- I don't care; Shaer is useless as any sort of cultural commentator or arbiter of taste. I, on the otherhand, would be perfect: is it good or does it suck. I'll leave it up to others to construct degrees of scale.

A question is asked and answered

Wherein I have an expert to consult

Geekpress asks Does anyone really need laser-guided scissors?

As The Wife is involved in many activities of a sewing nature, and has a degree in Textile Engineering, I posed the question to her:
I kind of get it. But don't understand why a sewer would really need them. Most garments aren't full of straight lines, and even curtains while they do have some lines, there are lots of curves and corners. And quilters use a rotary cutter and a ruler for their strips. So don't see why anyone would need it. Just another gadget.

Kentrivia 12

Wherein I point a finger and shout "J'accuse!"

Last week's #7:
Finally, a Question Seven for music fans. What do these albums have in common? Introducing the Beau Brummels, the Beau Brummels. Chopper City in the Ghetto, BG. Diamond Dogs, David Bowie. If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, the Mamas and the Papas. Party, Iggy Pop. Spellbound, Paula Abdul. This Year's Model, Elvis Costello. Each album spawned a single whose title is a single repeated word. To wit: "Laugh Laugh," "Bling Bling," "Rebel Rebel," "Monday Monday," "Bang Bang," "Rush Rush," and "Radio Radio." A whopping 116 players got this one, which validates my choice not to include Billy Idol's Vital Idol. "Mony Mony" would have made this way too easy.

I have a small problem with this. Not with the question and answer, but with the 116 people. I have serious doubts that 116 knew this question without research. My understanding is that Ken expects people to submit answers they "know" not those they looked up. I do not think that pulling up and comparing the track lists for seven albums qualifies as a correct answer. Good for you for figuring it out, but it shouldn't count and if you did count it, you are a cheat. Let's review the instructions:
So you're on the honor system here: no peeking, and only send in the answers you knew off the top of your head.

That's what I thought. Who believes 116 people knew that answer off the top of their heads? I call bullshit. I'm just writing vague crap in an obscure blog (and on my best day I have to stand on my toes to even glimpse obscure), yet I'm honest with my inability to answer these things. That so many people would submit lies to Ken Jennings hoping he might mention their name or send them an autographed book is depressing.

Let's get this week's embarrassment over with.
  1. Crap, knew I should have asked The Wife. She's half Haole and would have known this. Wait a sec, let me ask...nope, she guessed plants.
  2. Emilio Estevez!
  3. Almost went with Ghost, but didn't think it won the Oscar. Was going with Titanic and at the last moment wrote down the Stoppard movie. Ding! Looking over the 1998 Oscar nominees, I'm not too impressed with this collection. I'd be fine never watching most of these again and a couple (What Dreams May Come and Patch Adams) violently disgust me.
  4. The Kinks wrote a song about the queen not the lake.
  5. Never read it; don't think I've read any John Irving.
  6. Probably should have known this; however, since I've never cared for the band, I don't mind missing this one. The lying bastards had their first retirement tour in 1982.
  7. All had muppets named after them? Looks like that guess quickly falls apart after Grover. For some reason, I was convinced that Nelson Rockefeller died in office. At least I remembered the scandal correctly.

Three for seven.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A matter of anatomy

Wherein another quote from Helprin's "Freddy and Fredericka"

Turns out they're not the only ones confused. In this selection the Prince and Princess are having a disagreement:
"...Do not upstage the queen of England. And," he said, raising his finger, "with a bosom, no less."


"Your bosom."

"Why do you say that, Freddy? Why do you talk that way?"

"Because," said Freddy, with the urgency of a hunstman who has got his fox in a barrel, "it is a fact in brilliance that you upstage the queen, the duke, me, my brother, my sister, the monarchy itself, indeed, the whole bloody country, with--what?--a bosom?"

"A bosom?"

"Yes, a bosom?"

"But Freddy, why do you say that? You know I've got two."

This shut Feddy up like a stun grenade. "Two what?" he finally said.

"Two bosoms."

"No you don't, you've got one bosom. One, only pne."

"No I don't, I've got two," she said proudly, holding a hand up to cup one breast, and then another. "One here, and one here. Sit down, Freddy. Sit down there."

Freddy complied.

"Okay," Fredericka said, as if talking to an agitated hospital patient, "look at me."


"Now, Freddy," she said, pointing to her head, "how many heads do I have?"

"That's ridiculous!" Freddy protested.

"How many heads do I have, Freddy?"

"You have one head, Fredericka."

"Good. Now"--she lifed her blouse, exposing her navel--"how many boutons de la ferme do I have?"

"What are boutons de la ferme?"

"That's what the French call farm buttons."

"What are farm buttons?"

She pointed at her navel.

"Since when is that a farm button?"

"It's always been a farm button. The question is, how many do I have?"


"And how many hands?"




This went on for a while until Fredericka paused dramatically, smiling because Freddy, like a circus horse, had counted flawlessly in ones and twos. "Now," she asked, "tell me. How many bosoms do I have?"

"One," said Freddy.

"You're hopeless," she said. "I have two. You used to be quite fond of them."

"You have one, and I am quite fond of it."

"Freddy, look," she said tentatively, "just look. Two. Not one. Two. Two bosoms."

"Sorry, Fredericka, but the fact is, and I know it for sure, and would stake my life on it, that you have only one."

"The hell I do!"

"Yes. You've got one bosom, two teats (spelled t-e-a-t and pronounced tit), and two breasts. And that's a fact."

"Oh, So now I've got five!"

"Five what?"

"Five bosoms."

"No, you've got only one."

Reason quotes Neal Stephenson so I don't have to

Wherein they wimp out and only paste in two paragraphs

Laguna Beach Meets Snow Crash

...yeah, you're right. I should provide a fuller Snow Crash quote:
As Hiro approaches the Street, he sees two young couples, probably using their parents' computers for a double date in the Metaverse, climbing down out of Port Zero, which is the local port of entry and monorail stop.

He is not seeing real people, of course. This is all a part of the moving illustration drawn by his computer according to specifications coming down the fiber-optic cable. The people are pieces of software called avatars. They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other in the Metaverse. Hiro's avatar is now on the Street, too, and if the couples coming off the monorail look over in his direction, they can see him, just as he's seeing them. They could strike up a conversation: Hiro in the U-Stor-It in L.A. and the four teenagers probably on a couch in a suburb of Chicago, each with their own laptop. But they probably won't talk to each other, any more than they would in Reality. These are nice kids, and they don't want to talk to a solitary crossbreed with a slick custom avatar who's
packing a couple of swords.

Your avatar can look any way you want it to, up to the limitations of your equipment. If you're ugly, you can make your avatar beautiful. If you've just gotten out of bed, your avatar can still be wearing beautiful clothes and professionally applied makeup. You can look like a gorilla or a dragon or a giant talking penis in the Metaverse. Spend five minutes walking
down the Street and you will see all of these.

Hiro's avatar just looks like Hiro, with the difference that no matter what Hiro is wearing in Reality, his avatar always wears a black leather kimono. Most hacker types don't go in for garish avatars, because they know that it takes a lot more sophistication to render a realistic human face than a talking penis. Kind of the way people who really know clothing can
appreciate the fine details that separate a cheap gray wool suit from an expensive handtailored gray wool suit.

You can't just materialize anywhere in the Metaverse, like Captain Kirk beaming down from on high. This would be confusing and irritating to the people around you. It would break the metaphor. Materializing out of nowhere (or vanishing back into Reality) is considered to be a private function best done in the confines of your own House. Most avatars nowadays are
anatomically correct, and naked as a babe when they are first created, so in any case, you have to make yourself decent before you emerge onto the Street. Unless you're something intrinsically indecent and you don't care.

If you are some peon who does not own a House, for example, a person who is coming in from a public terminal, then you materialize in a Port. There are 256 Express Ports on the street, evenly spaced around its circumference at intervals of 256 kilometers. Each of these intervals is further subdivided 256 times with Local Ports, spaced exactly one kilometer apart (astute students of hacker serniotics will note the obsessive repetition of the number 256, which is 2^8 power-and even that 8 looks pretty juicy, dripping with 2^2 additional 2s). The Ports serve a function analogous to airports: This is where you drop into the Metaverse from somewhere else. Once you have materialized in a Port, you can walk down the Street or hop on the monorail or whatever.

The couples coming off the monorail can't afford to have custom avatars made and don't know how to write their own. They have to buy off-the-shelf avatars. One of the girls has a pretty nice one. It would be considered quite the fashion statement among the K-Tel set. Looks like she has bought the Avatar Construction Set (tm) and put together her own, customized model
out of miscellaneous parts. It might even look something like its owner. Her date doesn't look half bad himself.

The other girl is a Brandy. Her date is a Clint. Brandy and Clint are both popular, off-the-shelf models. When white-trash high school girls are going on a date in the Metaverse, they invariably run down to the computer games section of the local Wal-Mart and buy a copy of Brandy. The user can select three breast sizes: improbable, impossible, and ludicrous. Brandy has a limited repertoire of facial expressions: cute and pouty; cute and sultry; perky and interested; smiling and receptive; cute and spacy. Her eyelashes are half an inch long, and the software is so cheap that they are rendered as solid ebony chips. When a Brandy flutters her eyelashes, you can almost feel the breeze. Clint is just the male counterpart of Brandy. He is craggy and handsome and has an extremely limited range of facial expressions.

Hiro wonders, idly, how these two couples got together. They are clearly from disparate social classes. Perhaps older and younger siblings. But then they come down the escalator and disappear into the crowd and become part of the Street, where there are enough Clints and Brandys to found a new ethnic group.

The Street is fairly busy. Most of the people here are Americans and Asians - it's early morning in Europe right now. Because of the preponderance of Americans, the crowd has a garish and surreal look about it. For the Asians, it's the middle of the day, and they are in their dark blue suits. For the Americans, it's party time, and they are looking like just about anything a computer can render.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

From the book of unholy style guide wars: That versus Which

Wherein I'm finding it easier to just point at pictures and grunt

For anyone who spends time battling MS Word, the back issues of Editorium newsletter provide much to read.

In a newsletter about pet peeves, there's:
My pet peeve about Word's "help" is its default enforcement of the alleged rule against using "which" to introduce a restrictive (essential) clause in a sentence. I've appended a longish e-mail (below) that I sent to a local electronic discussion group a while back explaining why the rule doesn't hold water. But the short version is that it was originally simply a mild preference expressed by H. W. Fowler in his famous _Modern English Usage_ (1926). The preference got picked up by AP and was soon presented as grammatical gospel, reproducing itself via journalism teachers all over the United States, in spite of the fact that it fails to reflect most normal educated usage.

Seriously, does anyone really use Word's Grammar check? There's some more to that discussion and a link to a longer discussion at Electric Editors; small quote:
> QUESTION: In which Anglophone cultures is this distinction still
> being maintained and for what reason?

It is still maintained among some writers and editors here in the U.S. (especially those trained in journalism schools, it seems), but by no means above all. It's interesting to see how many people consider this distinction to be a "rule" of some kind. I like the distinction myself, and I use it, but I don't require that our copy editors impose it. When, as I do, a writer tends to automatically make the distinction, his or her writing will flow around it naturally. But when a writer has not made the
distinction him- or herself, the mechanical replacement of restrictive "which" with "that" often negatively affects the cadence of the sentence or the author's voice.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I don't see foreign ambassadors visiting Oprah

Wherein first there are a couple of complications

Thanks to Throwing Things I learned about the Hungarian bridge to be named after Stephen Colbert. The Hungarian ambassador to the United States, András Simonyi, appeared on The Colbert Report with an official proclamation. Funny guy, he should get his own show.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Defeating the DRM on your old vinyl

Wherein file under interesting

How to copy a vinyl record

Neat idea, but in the comments is: as the owner of a vinyl pressing and dub cutting company I can categorically say that this will not work. The silicone would be cut apart on the first play by the diamond tipped needles you find on record players, also it would not have the necessary rigidity to have the sudden sharp peaks and troughs needed to create the proper vibrations in the needle.

Still, I'd like to try it. Not on one of my records, but that's what garage sales are for.

Scooter Chronicles, #4

Wherein the shrinking gas prices are harshing my smug

Hey, I should probably review the scooter! So far, had the 300km checkup two weeks ago, passed the motorcycle road test, I'm commuting regularly, and should be back for the 1000km checkup next week.

Here's a note I made after the first ride home (30 miles from downtown Atlanta to the suburbs):
Thought it handled very well, nice response and acceleration. Felt good in traffic. I did notice that I tended to swing wide making left and right turns; but a couple evenings practicing with cones and spinning circles in a parking lot should help with that. Once I get used to it, it'll be a lot of fun.

Quickly got over the "swinging wide." That was mostly an issue of getting accustomed to the physics of the machine. It's quite nimble and my cornering is much sharper. Probably not taking curves as hard as I could, but I'm not slow, either.

I've read that scooters handle differently from a motorcycle because more of the weight is in the back; and due to the 16-inch wheels, the Kymco handling is often compared to a bicycle. Never been on a motorcycle, but I'd agree with the bicycle comment. While I can't quite throw the scooter around the road like I can my road bike, it is very responsive requiring little more than a shift of the hips to swerve or hang in a curve. I guess if you're not familiar with a bike, it might seem "shifty," though I finding it very stable and I'm working on my track stops for short stops.

Accelerates nicely from a dead stop, definitely faster than the Honda Civic. Most of my commute is over giant suburban arteries: four lanes, either divided or with a turning lane. Speed limit is 45mph, but 50-55 is typical for normal traffic flow. The Kymco 150 easily runs with the traffic and I've even passed a few cars. On steep hills I do lose some power, though it's nothing critical. Any speeds given are approximate. Most forums I've come across say to expect a 10% margin of error with a scooter speedometer. I've experienced a variance of 5-10 mph. With The Wife trailing me in the car, when my gauge read 35mph, I was going 25mph; at 45, I was doing 35-40mph; and at 55mph, I was doing 45mph. I haven't tested this recently and think it might have leveled out. To ensure I'm doing 45mph I usually run at 55-60mph and based on traffic I'd say I'm now skewing on the high side and riding closer to 55mph than 45-50mph. Definitely due for another test. I haven't pushed it full out, though based on how it runs at 60mph, I'm thinking 70-75 is probable on flat roads -- for a "real" speed in the mid to high 60s. It's not likely that I'll need freeway speeds, but nice to know it's there. It is freeway legal, so if I ever needed to I could.

Gas mileage is still developing. I've filled up four times and so far I'm averaging 74 miles per gallon. I think if I was able to stay in the 35-45 mph range I could keep the mileage up around the 80s; however, since I'm frequently running it near the max, I'm fine with the 70s. While the gas mileage is a definite plus, the small tank has me stopping more often than the car. The tank holds 1.8 gallons, so planning on 70mpg gives me a range of 126 miles, or 200 kilometers. That's 4 days of commuting. It isn't a lot of range, then again I pass about 10 gas stations during the 15 miles between home and office. If I ever do any longer rides I'll have to be careful. I've also read that motorcycle and scooter gas gauges read "funny" because of the irregular shape of the tank. The gauge will read full for a long time, then start dropping fast. That seems to be the case. The gauge is also reading dead empty when I still around an 1/8 of a tank. Checking my notes, I'm refueling around every 170km.

Notice how I keep using kilometers? That's because the odometer is metric. I've made up a little conversion chart as a reminder, but it's easy to remember that 100km equals 63 miles and that my 30 mile round-trip commute is roughly 50km. Just requires a couple extra steps to determine my gas mileage.

My one real complaint is the mirrors are pretty much worthless. I'm still playing with the positioning, but I can barely seen anyone on either side of me and can't see a damn thing directly behind me. I need them higher and wider. It feels like I'm sitting too close to them. Checked with the shop and they didn't have anything that would be much of an improvement and they suggested I try a motorcycle shop.

A minor complaint was that the Georgia license plate didn't fit in the screw slots in the fender. The license plate is too big and I had to drill an extra hole in it. Would've been nice if the dealer had warned me about this. Or even better, provided a license plate holder.

Overall, on a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 8.5. Great ride with a couple nitpicky complaints. I'd highly recommend it. Plan is to commute on average four days a week. Basically, if it isn't raining or icy, I'm riding. I added a large Givi box, so small runs to the grocery store are doable. Stopped at the bagel store one morning and picked up 2 dozen bagels; the grocery bag fit comfortably next to bike messenger bag I use to haul miscellaneous crap.

New: Chilly ride this morning. I will need to acquire winter gloves, or at least some covers, very soon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Great TV Theme music

Rockford Files

Barney Miller

Sanford and Son

Theme from S.W.A.T.

This ain't no Ebony and Ivory

Wherein from one of the greatest television shows that ever aired

Johnny Cash sings with Flip Wilson. That's should be enough of a description, so just head over to youtube and watch it.

Homeless Canadians: 2, Money I'll spend: 0

Wherein we changed the channel for the last 10 minutes, it was so depressing

Rock Star: band name to be determined later because the judge won't let us keep this one ends with Lukas, the former Dungeon & Dragon master, now passing himself off as a mumble-mouthed makeup-abusing rat king troll with balance problems, winning the opportunity front a band of barely competent musicians. Huzzah!

Odd that such an inconsequential show would annoy me so much. It isn't as if I'd of bought a CD or a concert ticket if someone I actually liked -- Dilana, Magni, Toby -- had won. That's over with and I hope for next season they find a real band. And disallow homeless Canadians.

roxanne to the third

Wherein if someone says "Roxanne" I'm thinking UTFO not Sting

On Rockstar, ye olde Dilana of yore returned with a performance none could equal. Her take on the Police's "Roxanne" is the only song from this season I could see buying. Still, when it comes to Roxanne, I'll always pick "Roxanne Roxanne."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

First row is the hardest

Wherein that mound of dirt is not mine, My pile would be bigger.

The pick mattox is a brilliant tool and is absolutely needed if trying to shovel through georgia clay. Break it up with the pick, then use the shovel to transfer to the wheelbarrow. Also excellent for digging out tree roots and bushes and the flat blade absolutely cuts through roots.

Continuing work on the drainage ditch and retaining wall. A few tons of dirt, a few hundred pounds of gravel and sand, 2 thousand pounds of retaining wall stones, and 4 tons of egg rock.

Only need to dig another ten feet of trench, stack the stones, backfill, and move the last 2 tons of rock.

Kentrivia: weak 11

Wherein not mispelled, just a week joke

Last week's #7: What unusual distinction is shared by these eight U.S. cities, and no others? Boston, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Orlando, Salt Lake City, St. Paul, and Tampa.

Unfortunately this is one of those answers that is truly trivial without being interesting: those eight cities host the only North American sports teams whose names don't end with the letter 'S': the Red Sox, White Sox, Avalanche, Heat, Magic, Jazz, Wild, and Lightning, respectively. Snore.

Time for this week's list of missed answers and vague clues.

  1. I had no idea those things had names. The correct answer is not the infield for the Yomiuri Giants, winner of nine consecutive Japan Series championships (1965-1973).
  2. Ooh! I know this, it measures the density of sea anemone in the water! I did get this because I've thought about buying one of these for my kites.
  3. I've read very little Steinbeck, though this does sound interesting.
  4. First name? They even share the same middle initial. Looked it up, no points.
  5. I don't remember seeing Hurley on the flight.
  6. Starzakistan? Checking the Gallery of Flags with Stars, my eyes glazed over and my forehead hit the keyboard. Whatever, moving on.
  7. Might have something to do with album covers. Fascinating that Ken Jennings is listening to this. Find what that has in come with Paula Abdul, Iggy Pop, and a few others and you'll have this week's big answer.

This week's result: two correct. Weak.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

You had me with the banjo

Wherein I don't know if this is any good, but I like it

Flipping through the channels on the DISH Network, there's a music channel I've not seen. It's IMF, the International Music Feed. Mostly non-US videos and a lot of the music isn't available in the States. Came across a video for the band Stereoliza. Not available at or

Here's Corporate Logic:

Not bad for Ukranian hip hop. How about one more?


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mark Helprin: Freddy and Fredericka

wherein I really should read more Helprin

In Freddy and Fredericka, Mark Helprin has written a brilliant farce about the English royal family. Freddy is the Prince of Wales and he's often put out by his flibbertigibbet wife, Fredericka. In this excerpt, Fredericka's dog has run away and Freddy is the only one who can bring him back. Fredericka starts the conversation.
"You're the only one it won't bite. You have a royal way with dogs, like your mother."

"You mean, 'as does your mother,'" Freddy growled.

"Yes, that's what I mean," Fredericka averred, innocently.

"I don't like having a pit bull lick Gorgonzola off my face, if you don't mind. I also don't like pit bulls. He should have been destroyed."

"I couldn't."

"Just because his master died of AIDS?"

"He didn't die of AIDS, he died of malnutrition."

"Your nutrition counsellor died of malnutrition?"

"So?" Fredericka asked indignantly.

"He was some piece of work."

"Perhaps you would expect," said Freddy, "that someone who dispenses advice about nutrition would be able to eat well enough to keep himself alive."

"It was an accident."

"Fredericka, one does not die of malnutrition by accident."

"Oh Freddy, he was always so melancholy. It's difficult for Chinese people in London."

"But you didn't have to name the dog after him."

"If the master dies, you name the dog after the master. It makes perfect sense."

"Well, fuck him."

"No, Pha-Kew."

"Yes, I know."

A page and a half later, Freddy is looking for the dog in the neighboring village:
"Excuse me," Freddy told them, "I wonder if you've seen my dog Pha-Kew."

"No, I haven't seen your dog, and fuck you," was the answer.

"No, no, no," Freddy said. "You don't understand -- Pha-Kew?"

"But yes, yes, yes, we do understand. Fuck you!"

"The name of my dog," Freddy said, laughing, and then pausing, "is...Pha-Kew."

"If you don't want to tell us the name of your dog," the other man said, "then fuck you, too."

"But I do want to tell you the name of my dog. I've been telling you the name of my dog."

"Oh really? What is it?"


"Fuck you too, and can go to hell, you royal bastard!"

Just then, a wedding reception surged out of the White Louse, spilling onto the pavement in good suits and fine dresses. Freddy and the two men turned to see. It was lovely. The women's voices carried through the night like bells. Anyone beholding the scene would be drawn to it, as were, indeed, the two men and the Prince of Wales. But for Freddy it was more than just an attractive bevy of women, it was deliverance, for Pha-Kew poked his head from behind a bush just beyond the wedding party.

Freddy was off, runnng toward the bush and screaming at the top of his voice, "Pha-Kew! Pha-Kew! Pha-Kew!"

One of the old men turned to the other, and said, "Just pray the old lady hangs on."

Meanwhile, the men in the wedding party stepped forward to protect their women. Freddy was very big, and he ran like a commando. Though they were scared, they were prepared to do their duty. But he ran right past them screaming, "Pha-Kew! Pha-Kew!" and stopped at the bush, into which Pha-Kew had receded, like a moray eel, before anyone had seen him. "Pha-Kew! Pha-Kew!" he said to the bush. "Don't do this to me, Pha-Kew. Not again."

"Is that the Prince of Wales?" one of the women asked, "or have I had too much to drink?"

"It can't be."

"But it is. It is."

"Oh, look," the bridegroom said, "Look what he's doing."

Freddy had lain down upon the ground and put the cheese on his face. "Cheese!" he said. "Cheese! Cheese!"

And then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Pha-Kew darting onto the towpath beyond the Post Office. Pha-Kew disappeared in a white blur, which befit a 125-pound horseradish travelling in the moonlight, and Freddy realiZed that the dog would be halfway home in a trice. Still, he was so worked up that he rose, yelled "Cheese!" and began to run after the elusive Pha-Kew, calling his name many times.

As he passed he wedding party he felt strangely uncomfortable, and stopped. "What's that?" he asked a small blond woman who was pointing something at him. When she failed to respond, he asked, again, "What is that?"

"It's a video camera, Your Royal Highness," was the reply. She kept on shooting.

"Oh," said Freddy. "I see. Oh. Oh my."

The last scene on the tape was of Freddy running off into the darkness shouting, "Off with his bloody head!"

The singer sucks, the audience sucks for buying tickets, and my editor sucks for sending me to review this crap

Wherein oh to read the impolite first draft

Bernard Holland did not enjoy Andrea Bocelli. Quote:
The critic’s duty is to report that Mr. Bocelli is not a very good singer. The tone is rasping, thin and, in general, poorly supported. Even the most modest upward movement thins it even more, signaling what appears to be the onset of strangulation.

To his credit, Mr. Bocelli sings mostly in tune. But his phrasing tends toward carelessness and rhythmic jumble, and the little barks and husky vocal expletives that are the mother’s milk of Italian tenordom sound faded and unconvincing. The diction is not clear.

But this is a music critic speaking, and music critics had no business at Avery Fisher Hall on Wednesday. Mr. Bocelli’s every gesture invited warm, resounding approval. Accusing audiences of being gullible won’t wash. The music public can be conned for only a short time, and Mr. Bocelli’s success is of reasonably long standing.

It also won’t do to complain that good singers languish, while deeply fallible ones like this one get rich. There is something physical or metaphysical — something beyond music — that must draw people to Andrea Bocelli. That is a talent in itself.

Friday, September 08, 2006

You'd have to be crazy to change banks

Wherein old people are a pain in the ass. It's a big, successful company, I'm sure they know what they're doing.

The story:
In an extraordinary local parallel to the Joseph Heller's Catch 22 scenario (you can only get out of flying dangerous wartime missions if you are mad - but you're only mad if you don't try to, so you're trapped either way and have to keep flying), Edna Woolstenhulme wants to get her cash out of the Royal Bank of Scotland - but they won't let her because they refuse to believe she's sane.

It's an oddly incomplete story that seems to be missing about 1000 words in the middle. Specifically, why does the bank think Edna has lost her mind?

Oh good, the BBC is also reporting:
Miss Woolstenhulme was upset when she was first telephoned by the bank for details about her mental health after her niece Lynda Peppercorn - acting on her behalf - let the bank know she wanted to close her account in February this year.

...."Our first and foremost priority is always to protect our customer and their assets and should we have any reason to believe that this might have been compromised, we are duty bound to act, especially when any request to close an account is made by a third party," a spokesman said.

Obviously the bank personnel aren't qualified to judge a person's sanity or fitness to use money, so of course a physician's note should be required. All customers should be required to prove their fitness at all times. It just makes sense and keeps people from harming themselves and others.

I thought China was an outlier by requiring old people to need the assistance of a younger family member to use the internet. Instead, I think we're seeing the beginning of a trend. Baby boomers, you're next.

Boom box wars

Wherein I never understood the kid with the glowing eyes

From Throwing Things: Bonnie Tyler sings and the French Belgians sue.

From Waiter Rant: “‘Hips Don’t Lie’ is gonna be the Colombian version of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ Just you watch.”

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Examining the captivate workflow

Wherein failure to follow this document will most likely fuck you over. And wouldn't it be refreshing to read a manual that was that explicitly honest.

Captivate is Adobe software used to create to create tutorials and demonstrations. It's fairly simple to use, and I'm generally not doing anything that stresses the software, yet it has one major shortcoming that the documentation does not adequately warn about. That being, this is a very unforgiving application. Even though Captivate allows a number of customizations, many actions do not have an undo. Some, such as resizing, will completely destroy the project if done improperly, or in the wrong order, and force you to start over. For that reason, I've created a workflow that saves and creates multiple copies of the work at different stages.

This may look a bit convoluted and repetitive, but don't come crying to me if you ignore this advice.

I work each individual tutorial through the following stages:
  1. Raw. The initial movie creation.
  2. Edit. Working the raw frames into the final form. Depending on your project, you may have more than one Edit stage.
  3. Resize. Creates white space around the movie to keep the playback controls from overlapping the frame.
  4. Final. Completed tutorials.
  5. Publish. The final Flash files.

Each stage has its own folder:

Saving raw files
The raw file is the captured movie. This includes all mouse actions and menu navigations; basically anything that happens during the recording. This file will probably contain many screens you’ll end up deleting. Don’t worry about it, save everything. Here’s an example of a raw folder for a project with five tutorials:

I add the stage name to the file name to help avoid confusing it with other files. The numbering makes it easier to remember the files you’ve worked on. Remember, no work is done on the files in this folder. This is your backup if something goes wrong. The raw file will be edited into the final editorial, so save a copy of the file into the Edit folder.

Working edit files
Rename the raw to the edit files:

The edit file is your working file. If you screw it up, you still have the original raw movie. As you edit, Label the frames you are keeping. If you create links between slides, the link will be maintained if a slide is moved. If you do not label the slide, you will lose the link. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.

You’ll most likely have a number of extra slides that you’ll want to delete. A good tip if you’re not sure if you should delete a frame is to select Hide Slide. This keeps it in the edit project if you do need it, but it won’t appear in the final movie while hidden. And if you find you deleted a slide you now need, well, that's what the raw file is for.

Sometimes it’s helpful to copy a background and paste that background on another slide. Warning: pasting a background cannot be undone, so be careful. Maybe create a copy of the slide in question and paste into it. This is why we keep the raw file, because you can then just import a single slide. Or you could create a blank slide to paste the background on.

When editing is complete, save a copy to the resize folder.

Resizing a tutorial
Resizing the tutorial adds white space to the bottom of the tutorial so the playback control does not interfere with the project.

An example of the Resize folder:

Warning: If you do nothing else, you should create this folder. If you don’t and you screw up the resizing on the primary edit file, there is no undo -- you will have to start all over from the raw file; and if you didn't save a raw file, you'll have to reshoot.

The following steps add white space to the bottom of the tutorial while keeping the tutorial the same size. These steps must be completed in order or bad stuff happens.
  1. From the Movie menu, select Resize Movie.
  2. Deselect Maintain aspect ratio. You must do this step before step 3. If you do not, then the resize is distorted, there’s no undo, and you’ll have to trash this file and make another copy of the edit file.
  3. Increase the height by 5% by typing 105 in the Height percentage field. You may have to test this. Five percent seems to work, but depending on your original slide size this may be off. If you have a batch of tutorials, get the ratio correct with one before doing the others.
  4. Select Keep movie the same size and fill background with color.
  5. Color is White.
  6. Position of movie is Top Center.
  7. Deselect Rescale captions, highlight boxes, and other objects. If you want to see something funny, don’t do this step.
  8. Click Finish.

Here's the window before clicking Finish:

Now you can add the playback controls. The position should be Bottom Center.

Save a copy of this file into the Final folder.

The Final folder
The final folder contains the completed tutorials.

These are the files you will use to create the Flash files (save to the Publish folder) or Word handouts (create a Word folder).

The Publish Folder
The Publish folder holds the Flash files created from the finished tutorials in the Final folder. Take copies of these files and insert them in an online help project or create a CD. If you're using the Captivate MenuBuilder, these are the Flash files you'll reference.

I like to use a worksheet to keep track of my progress. If I’m creating a project with multiple tutorials I like to work in assembly line style: shoot all the movies, then do all the editing, resizing, etc.

There you go. If I have to make edits after a review, I work off the Edit file and repeat steps 2-5. Depending on the project I have "archived" the first edit file and work off an Edit2 file. As always, whatever works.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rockstar supernova: my impersonation of Dilana

Wherein Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye

Photo "borrowed" from nasa.

Update: Just reminding myself that just a month ago I was declaring Dilana the winner and was bored with Toby. Now, Dilana is the odds on favorite to leave tonight--not making it to the final show!--and Toby is being tapped as the new frontrunner. This is why we play out the season.

And a Hindenburg picture probably would've been better.

kentrivia, week ten

Wherein E.G.Daily played herself in Better Off Dead performing at a high school dance. I'm thinking there's a trivia question by listing other bands that appeared in movies performing at high school dances. I was watching Better Off Dead last night and exclaimed, "hey, it's the girl from Pee Wee's Big Adventure!"

Last week's #7:What unusual distinction is shared by these famous folks? Lucille Ball, Joseph G. Cannon, Mia Farrow, KD Lang, John Lennon, Eddie Mathews, and Marilyn Monroe.

I guessed "they all had sexual relations with Frank Sinatra." Ken Jennings' answer is: All seven appeared on the cover of a well-known magazine's very first issue: TV Guide, Time, People, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy, respectively. Which doesn't invalidate my answer, so I'm claiming half a point.

  1. Sonofabeetch. I know this and completely blanked. Guess that means it's time to reread The Right Stuff.
  2. My initial guess was baseball bats, because you need something to kill all those birds. Researching the correct answer wasn't very fruitful; however, it looks like down for jackets might be the correct answer. If so, it's kinda stretching the concept of sports equipment.
  3. Since it isn't really a bean, it's no surprise that olive was wrong. And it has two common names. For a good use of this ingredient, I recommend the Spanish Bean Soup at The Columbia Restaurant. Our Thanskgiving dinner will be there.
  4. Point for this, though it took me a few minutes to remember what it was. Oddly structured question that places too much emphasis on color. Probably a difficult question if you don't have kids.
  5. Finally, an easy one.
  6. If you don't mind, I'll just ignore how wrong my guess was. This a forehead slapper -- as soon as you hear the answer, "Of course!"
  7. Distinction shared by eight cities and no others. Not all are capitals, three are in Florida, none on the West coast. My initial thought leans towards religious orders or missionaries, but I'm doubtful this would be limited to only these eight cities. Perhaps some sort of touring exhibit? If I remember my St. Paul history, I believe it was founded by a stinky drunk living in a cave (close enough); perhaps this is true of the other cities.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Thank god for the internet

Wherein pointless isn't necessarily bad

Just try it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday humor

Wherein I gotta go past Georgia Tech tomorrow and Notre Dame is in town. Like Peter Gent wrote, "Notre Dame, UCLA, and the Big Ten. They really put weird backspin on these guys."

"the single most unprofessional "professional" I've ever had the misfortune of working with"

Wherein passing along a warning to freelance writers

Poppy Z. Brite updates her unpleasant experience with Sacred History Magazine. See also: March 3, March 21, and April 1.

In addition to the other bad news of late, I recently received word that even the Authors Guild, arguably the most powerful freelance writers' advocacy group in North America, cannot induce Sacred History to pay me the $4000 they owe for the article they contracted back in December. Not only that, but publisher James Griffith has repeatedly lied to Authors Guild counsel, characterizing the article the magazine assigned me as "a friend of Ms. Brite [making] some sort of agreement with her." That "friend" was his own senior editor, Lisa Derrick, who repeatedly testified to the Authors Guild that there was in fact a contract, one I postponed urgent revisions on Soul Kitchen in order to honor. Griffith now refuses to respond to any further communication from the Authors Guild, and short of hiring a lawyer (which would probably end up costing me more than Sacred History owes me), there's nothing more I can do to recoup the time and effort I spent on researching and writing a piece I was once proud of and excited about publishing, but now feel like a dupe for ever having bothered with.

I'm not generally one to send out flying monkeys, but if you care to tell Mr. Griffith ( ) what you think of a "religious" magazine that cheats freelance writers trying to rebuild their lives after losing their homes, cities, and four months' worth of livelihood, or of a publisher who lies to respected literary organizations in order to save his failing magazine a few bucks, this would be a fine time to do it. And Mr. Griffith, if you should read this yourself: In a business rife with scammers, crooks, miscreants, and ripoff artists, you are the single most unprofessional "professional" I've ever had the misfortune of working with. You have disrespected me, your own senior editor, and the Authors Guild. I will continue warning writers and other freelancers against any project you are associated with in any forum available to me ... but I doubt I'll have to do so very often, because as harsh as the publishing business can be, it does have a way of weeding out liars and thieves like you.