24 September 2002
Dear Santa (first in a series)

If you should somehow decide that Jesse Jackson has been nice this year, please bring him a sense of humor.

(Oh, and last year, I hung up a pair of Hanes Silk Reflections on the mantel. I really didn't expect you to fill them up, and you didn't, but if this small act of yearning landed me on the Naughty List, I do apologize.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:23 PM)
26 October 2002
A fan letter of sorts

Dear Faith:

I may be the only person in the Western Hemisphere who found little inspiration in "This Kiss", though admittedly it was one of the few songs to which I danced at my son's wedding reception, and frankly, I turned the sound down to watch the "Breathe" video. But I'm a forgiving soul by nature (please ignore those muted guffaws in the background), and when CMT decided to run the "Cry" video at the exact moment I was trying to learn all the weird control facilities on this new Sony set, I wound up darn near dropping the remote. And it's not every day I'm transfixed by something I see on CMT, believe me.

So this afternoon I spent fifteen bucks on the Cry CD — or "Enhanced CD", as it says on the back. And I'm glad I did. There are, I understand, people out there who take exception to the songs you sing and the orchestration in which they're wrapped, and to some extent I understand that, but country music has always been somewhat insular, and performers who build up a reputation outside the genre have almost always been resented. If Cry had been your first album instead of — what is this, your fifth? — Music Row wouldn't be able to deal at all with this odd admixture of Patsy Cline and REO Speedwagon. But if Cry isn't all that country, it's a fine collection, and if it's indifferent to music-industry pigeonholing, well, so am I.

I promised myself when I started this that I wouldn't say anything about how you look, and I won't. But I must say something about your Official Web Site: "You're FLASH is up to date" is no way to open up a start page. This was probably written by the same character who noted in the News section that your "hotest" new looks are complemented by "jewlery". At least they didn't let him loose on the "Enhanced" computer stuff on the CD.

Love and rockets,

Chaz

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:55 PM)
5 April 2003
We get letters

Margaret Atwood's "A Letter to America", which started out as an op-ed in Toronto's The Globe and Mail, tries very hard not to sound accusative or bitter, and for the most part it succeeds, but some of its points deserve a response.

What's being done to Iraq, she says, pales in comparison to what we're doing to ourselves. For instance:

You're gutting the Constitution. Already your home can be entered without your knowledge or permission, you can be snatched away and incarcerated without cause, your mail can be spied on, your private records searched. Why isn't this a recipe for widespread business theft, political intimidation, and fraud? I know you've been told all this is for your own safety and protection, but think about it for a minute. Anyway, when did you get so scared? You didn't used to be easily frightened.

The latter question is easily answered: 11 September 2001. However, it's no particular secret that some of our law-enforcement types have always had a wish list of things they would love to do if only that damn Constitution didn't keep getting in the way; the war merely provides an excuse.

You're running up a record level of debt. Keep spending at this rate and pretty soon you won't be able to afford any big military adventures. Either that or you'll go the way of the USSR: lots of tanks, but no air conditioning. That will make folks very cross. They'll be even crosser when they can't take a shower because your short-sighted bulldozing of environmental protections has dirtied most of the water and dried up the rest. Then things will get hot and dirty indeed.

We're definitely back in an advanced stage of Deficit Inattention Disorder, though the fact that the number of balanced budgets we've had in half a century can be counted on one's fingers without having to take off more than one mitten makes me worry just a bit less about the sheer volume of red ink. I doubt, however, that "most", or even much, of the national water supply has been rendered unusuable, and I can't bring myself to blame drought, which your standard insurance weasels consider an Act of God, on the Bush administration.

You're torching the American economy. How soon before the answer to that will be, not to produce anything yourselves, but to grab stuff other people produce, at gunboat-diplomacy prices? Is the world going to consist of a few megarich King Midases, with the rest being serfs, both inside and outside your country? Will the biggest business sector in the United States be the prison system? Let's hope not.

King Midas, as I recall, was just as capable of damaging his position as of enhancing it; there's a self-correction cycle built into the process. And for a "torched" economy, we seem to be doing pretty well: the war has business expansion largely on hold, but that's obviously a temporary anomaly, and some businesses are truly in trouble, but much of that trouble is due to failure to respond to public demand (the airlines) or attempting to keep a dead business model on life support (the record industry) or believing despite an utter lack of evidence that economies of scale can be derived from operations that really have nothing in common (AOL Time Warner).

If you proceed much further down the slippery slope, people around the world will stop admiring the good things about you. They'll decide that your city upon the hill is a slum and your democracy is a sham, and therefore you have no business trying to impose your sullied vision on them. They'll think you've abandoned the rule of law. They'll think you've fouled your own nest.

The world is a glass house — let's watch it with those flying pellets.

There's no doubt that we could be doing a better job of upholding our own traditions. And one of those traditions is to blow off criticism from the postmodernist and premedieval sectors, neither of whom have anything to contribute to anything resembling a world dialogue. If we claim to have the moral high ground, it's not because we claim to have video of [insert name of deity here] saying so; it's because we have the track record to back it up.

Dear Ms. Atwood: Your concerns are noted, but don't worry about us. We'll muddle through this somehow. And thanks for writing.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:59 AM)
19 April 2003
I wish to register a complaint

To: customerservice@bigmagazinepublisher.com

From: chaz@dustbury.com

Dear Sir or Madam:

For some unaccountable reason, this month's subscription copy was fitted with the wrong cover, an error which stood out blatantly. I mean, a magazine that does not have Jennifer Aniston on the cover? What were you thinking?

I expect to be mailed a copy of this issue with a suitably Jencentric photo on the cover, or, should none remain available, an extension of my subscription to compensate for the loss. I feel that this is a perfectly reasonable request; unlike, say, Ravenwood, I am not threatening to cancel forthwith.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:45 PM)
10 June 2003
Doing a perfect 360

Dear Lynn:

Do you need 5¼-inch diskettes? Let me know. I have boxes of the darn things.

And a drive, should it be necessary.

Love and segment registers,

Chaz

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:20 AM)
14 November 2003
On being photogenic, or not

Dear Lynn:

There is nothing at all wrong with the way you look. Most people's self-portraits are something less than flattering.

Of course, they say the camera adds ten pounds; on this basis, it would take thirteen people to photograph me.

(Do digital cameras add ten megabytes?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:55 AM)
17 November 2003
Dear Mr. Bezos

A couple of years ago, I bought a gift certificate from Amazon.com which somehow disappeared into the bit bucket; it took about a dozen emails to get the matter straightened out. This is, I am assured, not a common occurrence, but if it happens at all, it's too common to suit me.

So I'm wondering: Is it just me? Does anyone else ever have problems with these things? I've had no difficulties with third-party addresses or with Wish List items.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:29 PM)
1 January 2004
Notes from a cold-hearted orb

Dear whoever (if anyone) is programming 96.9 "Bob" FM:

If you're going to run a feature on Big Hits of 1972, the inclusion of the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin", a track which was recorded in 1967 and which you play entirely too often anyway, is prima facie evidence that you don't have a farging clue.

Yes, I know: the single (Deram 85023; I have a copy) was a colossal flop on its initial release, and didn't become a Top Ten hit until, yes, 1972. But you didn't play the single; you played the entire 7:41 album track, from opening orchestral flourishes through "Breathe deep, the gathering gloom" all the way to the final gong, which you then segued into "Layla".

Which, by the way, came out in 1971, though I'm willing to let that slide. (The '71 single release was cut to 2:43; the '72 reissue ran the full seven minutes and odd; nobody ever plays the short version.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:36 PM)
12 January 2004
Seven inches every time

Dear Michele:

No matter where you go, you'll find that it's the finest folks who have preserved their 45s for posterity.

Of course, posterity doesn't always appreciate our gifts, but so what else is new?

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:15 AM)
27 February 2004
Sheer marketing genius

Dear folks at CD Baby:

Wouldn't this be a great time for a $13.86 sale?

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:15 PM)
11 September 2004
A letter to a friend

Dear Mo:

Yeah, I know, it's that time again. And if it's been tough being a Muslim in the States the past three years, it's really got to be tough when the 11th of September rolls around and the calls of "Never forget!" rise from the land and all you can do is hope they forget about you.

There's just one small problem, though: you're not going to be forgotten. And it's not because of anything you did, either; it's simply a fact that entirely too many acts of heinous violence have been committed by Muslims, not just on 9/11, but as some sort of ongoing process. "What's that got to do with me?" you ask.

It's simply this: while the tides of history roll over everyone, they don't necessarily maintain an even depth. We are at war, Mo. And we are at war, not because of something you did, but because of things that were done ostensibly in your name, and in the name of your God. Until such time as we can weed out every last terrorist who claims to be doing the will of Allah, it is only prudent to assume the worst. Professional complainers call this "racial profiling"; the real world calls it "self-defense."

And really, Mo, this is an area where you can actually help. I know you don't want anything to do with those murdering thugs swarming out of the Middle East, but until you say so, how does anyone else know? There has been very little outcry from the many Muslims about the activities of the few. While it may seem unfair, silence does breed suspicion, and that makes it hard on you and on your friends. It's not that you'd be speaking out against Islam; you'd be speaking out against murder.

Sure, I still believe in "innocent until proven guilty." That's a legal construct, though; it carries the force of law in the courtroom, but it's unenforceable anywhere else. Until such time as we can put an end to terrorism committed by Muslims, any Muslim, however innocent, may be the target of some sort of suspicion. For that matter, I have roots in Syria, a place which could qualify for the junior division of the Axis of Evil; they could just as easily suspect me.

Anyway, this will pass. It may take a few years; it may take a few lifetimes; but it will pass. Let's hope by this time next year, we've made some substantial progress rooting out the terrorists. After all, you live here too, Mo.

See you in about a year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:47 AM)
9 November 2004
It's worse than that: he's not dead, Jim

Dear "Mainstream" Media:

Have you had your fill of wallowing in Arafat yet? This ongoing death-watch of yours has gone beyond tedious, beyond maddening, and is now just a few ticks this side of completely insane. It's bad enough that you've spent the last few years trying to elevate this common terrorist to the level of a World Leader, but now you fawn over him as though his departure were something of a tragedy.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Nobel Peace Prize. Believe me, Yasser Arafat's contributions to world peace are right up there with Jeffrey Dahmer's contributions to nutrition research. If prizes of this sort were required to be based on meritorious service they'd have discontinued the Emmy awards for news two decades ago.

All anyone needs to know is this: first, when he's not only merely dead, he's really most sincerely dead; and second, whether that ragtag collection of street urchins you people have been trying to pass off as a legitimate state is going to take some positive steps toward becoming less of a boil on the world's behind. And being the generous soul I am, I'll answer the second question for you: No.

You complain that the FCC fines you for "indecency." Be grateful they can't fine you for irrelevance.

(Update, 11 November, 4:44 am: He's dead, Jim.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:27 PM)
12 November 2004
Chills to come

Wx graphic from NewsOK.comDear NewsOK.com: In case you hadn't noticed, it's November, fercrissake. The likelihood that we're going to have anything recognizable as a "heat index" in the next four months or so is, shall we say, decidedly on the low side. Not that I'm looking forward to wind chills, of course.
   
Update, 2 pm: We get results:

Wx graphic from NewsOK.com


That you, Hibbard?

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:39 AM)
1 February 2005
We write to a "service" provider

Someone trying to post links to online-poker.psextreme.com has been spamming my Web site all morning; I have had to remove approximately two dozen of these annoyances.

If this subdomain is not under your control, perhaps you should see to it that it becomes so; whoever is using it is an irresponsible parasite.

If this subdomain *is* under your control, I trust you to do the right thing and put an end to this sort of activity.

If not, well, there are laws....cgh

(Sent to: exmail@psextreme.com, Dimension Publishing, 1175 Chess Drive Suite EM, Foster City, CA 94404, US, Phone: 650-372-0942)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:05 AM)
15 February 2005
Nor is it Guthrie, these days

Dear Howard Kurtz:

Tulsa is not the capital of Oklahoma.

Sincerely,

C. G. Hill
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (which is)

(prompted by Michael Bates)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:18 PM)
22 February 2005
A letter to a state legislator

To: treborworthen-at-okhouse.gov
From: chaz-at-dustbury.com
Subject: A plea for some action

There's not much chance of Democrats acting on a bill like HR 1429, but since the GOP was wise enough to bring up the topic in the first place — Marion Cooksey introduced the bill into the House, and Randy Brogdon is sponsoring it in the Senate — I hope you and your fellow Republicans on the Rules Committee will see fit to push it along and give the full House a chance to consider it. The 1974 ballot-access laws in this state are unworthy of a Third World hellhole; it's time to give the people of Oklahoma a chance at some serious democracy. With a small d.

(Sent 6:20 pm, 22 February 2005)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:28 PM)
4 August 2005
How to deal with plagiarists

Dear Sir or Madam:

An extremely nice writeup on [fill in subject]. In fact, I thought it was nice when I wrote it on [fill in date].

[Link to original]

Thanks for reading....

(This has always worked for me. Your mileage may vary.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:13 PM)
Dear Kate

I'll just bet it's getting easier to smile every day.

(It has to be tremendously gratifying to see all her friends, even the ones she didn't know, putting their money where her mouth is.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:38 PM)
3 October 2005
The Ambassador needs a new suit

The Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau has, shall we say, a serviceable Web site; it's not particularly cluttered, which is good, but it reeks of 1999. (Which is to say, there's nothing on it that I, with my decidedly-limited portfolio of mad Web skillz, couldn't have done.)

Others take a dimmer view of it. This letter was sent by the techier-than-I Gerard Morentzy to the OKCCVB, and is reprinted with his permission.

Dear Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, I was shocked to go to Oklahoma City's Visitors website at www.okccvb.org and see the site that promotes your growing city. I simply couldn't believe this is your introduction to your town. I was told I need to visit Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City in particular. I went to the site and saw this distorted picture of your city at the top of the page. What's that about? The picture size doesn't fit the space. The Oklahoma City 'logo'?? My god! That looks like something from 1975 — it's horrible! Bottom line: I was surprised at all the good things I am hearing about Okla. City and then see this horrible website. I travel often and visit many Visitors Center sites. I wonder if you realize how awful your site really is? For comparison in your region, I visited — and you should too:

I would hope that all the progressive things that I hear are happening in your city will eventually make its way to the Internet gateway to your city — the Convention and Visitors pages on the web are considered just that. You have much work to do.

Respectfully,
Gerard Morentzy

And while we're on the subject, a URL that might actually stick in the mind would be a useful thing to have. (They own visitokc.com, but I don't remember seeing it promoted anywhere.)

Why Topeka rates a (!), I don't know, unless it's because of that CSI episode.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:51 PM)
15 October 2005
Letter to an overly-avaricious bank

Twenty-two point four nine percent? Not with me, you don't.

The proposed new terms of the Cardmember Agreement are rejected herewith; please cancel this account. Any existing balance will be paid according to the terms as they currently exist.

It's been a good ten years. I was looking forward to ten more, but not at this price.

Yours sincerely,

[signature]

Charles G. Hill

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:40 AM)
7 December 2005
White flags from the Blue Oval

Dear Bill Ford:

GLBT counts for a hell of a lot more in the marketplace than AFA.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:06 PM)
17 January 2006
Dear Mr. Mayor

I think it's a swell idea that you're going to run for another term.

I think it's rather less swell that you're flirting with the idea of running for the 5th District Congressional seat 90 days after the election.

And a couple of your predecessors seem to agree.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:12 PM)
23 January 2006
Not quite at 15:00 yet

Dear Amanda:

Thanks for the kind words.

(If you're wondering what's up, said kind words — and she really said them — were prompted by my comment to this edition of Rocketboom.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:43 PM)
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The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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