All those blocks look alike

A pretty good piano player links to a story about one of the greats:

Have you ever wondered why they call it “writer’s block?” After all, non-writers get stumped and blocked from time to time, in whatever work they do. But writers get to name things, and, true to form, they named this universal affliction after themselves. That got me thinking about the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Rachmaninoff reminds us that there really are two kinds of writer’s block. One is saying you don’t have any good ideas. Another is decreeing that the good ideas you have aren’t good enough.

Traditionally, I’ve been closer to the first kind than the second, though the second is gaining credibility as I write more and discover that I’m not getting any better at it. (Which is not quite true, perhaps, but I’m not yet ready to embrace the idea that I’m the worst judge of my own material.) What’s more, I am on record as considering myself to be “non-creative,” though this might be as much a shot at Richard Florida as at myself.

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A feather in their caption

Oh, what a story this tells, without having to tell us a thing:

Jeff Foster Tired of Birds

A whole bunch more like this at Ask My Little Dashie.

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Brown paper sack

Why one employer in California will now fire you for working through your lunch break:

California has a crazy law that allows employees to collect substantial ex post facto compensation if they claim they were denied a 10 minute break every four hours or a thirty minute unpaid lunch break after five. Suffice it to say we have spent years honestly trying to comply with this law. The 10-minute break portion is less of a compliance hurdle, but the lunch break portion has caused us no end of trouble. Theoretically, under the law, the employee has a choice — work through lunch paid, eating at the job post (e.g. in a gatehouse of a campground) or leave the job post for 30 minutes for an unpaid lunch break. As background, every one of our employees have always begged to have the paid lunch because they are from a poorer area and need the extra 30 minutes of pay.

Unfortunately, it does not matter what preferences the employee expressed on the job site. In the future, the employee can go to the labor department and claim he or she did not get their break, and even if they did not want it at the time, and never complained to the employer about not getting it, the employer always, always, always loses a he-said-she-said disagreement in a California Court or review board.

Not that anyone cares, but I haven’t been paid for a lunch break in the last twenty-two years. I’ve worked through it now and then, but I’ve always made up for it the same day, and nobody says a word. Then again, I’m not in California anymore.

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Mentionables

Guys, as a rule, do not complain much about brassieres. (And when they do, it’s usually something like this.) Then again, they’re not the individuals who have to wear them. (And when they do, it’s usually something like this.) The actual customers, meanwhile, have actual complaints:

I realize that a bra is a tricky contraption to design. There are a lot of details to consider as well as conflicting needs. But here’s the thing; there are bras that get almost everything right, but just one thing is wrong and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for that thing to be wrong; it just is. Like the lightweight nylon Playtex bra that is perfect except for the elastic band. And the cotton one that was perfect before washing. I really wish I could talk directly to designers and say to them, “Why can’t you ever get everything right? It wouldn’t be that hard. Really!”

Well, sure, if you let them charge five times as much. (And when they do, it’s usually something like this.)

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If you liked it you should have put a tarp on it

I am, in general, enthusiastic about the concept of Freaking Amazing Marriage Proposals, if only because if they’re done well, they’re almost certain to draw a positive response.

This one, however, was not done well:

A wealthy Russian businessman who wanted to propose to his girlfriend decided to test her love for him before popping the question — by faking his own death.

After working with a stuntman, a make-up artist, a screenwriter, and a director to stage a phony car crash, 30-year-old Alexey Bykov of Omsk told Irina Kolokov to meet him at a certain place at a certain time so she could witness the accident.

“When I arrived there were mangled cars everywhere, ambulances, smoke, and carnage,” Kolokov told Russian media. “Then when I saw Alexey covered in blood lying in the road a paramedic told me he was dead and I just broke down in tears.”

I have to side with Christopher Johnson on this one:

I have to think that if I ever dared to attempt anything like this, the most positive response I’d receive from my girlfriend would be to get stabbed in the throat.

No jury would convict her, either.

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Talk to me after November

The browser extension Social Fixer is now positioning itself as the solution to all that damn politics on Facebook. A sample filter:

Here is an example to start with:
/politic|obama|romney|republican|democrat|election/i
(If you want details on exactly what this means, read more below.)

Now click “Move to Tab” and enter a tab name, like “Politics”. All posts that match this filter will be moved to this new tab in your Facebook stream. If you want to just hide the posts altogether, you can click the “Hide” box instead.

I’m not about to claim I speak regex like a native, but I can generally comprehend what it’s trying to do.

Still, this doesn’t strike me as something I really need. I have FB friends to my left and to my right; I figure if they’re yelling across the aisle at one another, it might prevent me from falling into the nearest echo chamber.

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And not a single cupcake was eaten all day

I am never, of course, going to be the Great American Novelist. However, I do seem to be beavering away at the distinction of being one of the Less Absurd My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fanfic Scribes — I don’t think I want this on my tombstone necessarily, but what the hoof — by having just turned in my third story, which, in classic grind-em-out high-concept publishing style, could be considered a sequel to the first. (The second, which begins after the death of the lead character, doesn’t really lend itself to sequelization.)

I really didn’t want to revisit that first story, which ended in glorious ambiguity, but the fans — inexplicably, I seem to have drawn a handful of fans — seemed to want some sort of resolution to the tale, so I spent the weekend conjuring one up. Some of it I actually like. I wouldn’t have thought myself capable of jerking the occasional tear, but there you go.

And since I figure most of you don’t wish this sort of jerking, especially from the likes of me, here’s a scene with Ponies Being Catty:

“At least loyalty counts for something,” Dash said. “But there’s a whole lot here that nopony is telling us. Why didn’t Twilight tell us anything about this?”

Rarity nodded. “It does seem odd of Twilight not to mention something so potentially life-changing as a new coltfriend.”

“Maybe she was scared,” said Fluttershy. “If I had a new coltfriend I wouldn’t be telling everypony in town.”

“Why the hay not?” Applejack asked.

“Suppose our first date went badly and we never had another one.” Fluttershy dropped her voice to just above a whisper. “If everypony knew about it, maybe no other pony would ever want to date me.”

“Oh, that’s just silly,” said Dash. “I’ve had lots of first dates go badly. I still get hit on.”

“Have you ever had a second date?” Fluttershy asked.

Applejack roared. “She’s got you there, Dashie.”

For some reason I had entirely too much fun with that section.

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Now with less Amber

Nowadays, long after Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210, she’s just Tiffani Thiessen, still doing plenty of TV work — her current gig is voice actor for Disney’s Jake and the Never Land Pirates, a sort of post-Peter Pan Peter Pan. She probably doesn’t wear this to work:

Tiffani Thiessen

Thiessen’s side project is Petitnest, a joint venture with Lonni Paul (Design Star) that produces nursery furniture.

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Perhaps not the best mixer

Then again, you’ll probably drink it straight anyway:

A while ago, my buddy, Captain Artie told me about Van Gogh PB&J vodka, but, alas, my local liquor emporium did not have it. Artie promised to bring me a bottle on the occasion of his next visit, but my most excellent daughter beat him to the punch. Ten seconds after she gifted me with the bottle, out came two tall shot glasses for an instant tasting. The fragrance is more nutty than fruity, but it all comes together when sipped slammed down.

All I need is a bacon vodka, and my life will be complete.

Oh, wait…

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The Hardware Preservation Act

After whining yesterday about a computer keyboard that failed after a mere twenty-two years (less one month) of service, I figure I may as well remind you of some of the other antediluvian contraptions around here, including a stapler that has made it past 40.

And this:

Casio SA-53 digital watch: Purchased circa 1984. A succession of crummy bands, though the current one has now lasted ten years.

Now fifteen years, though this required me to spend approximately an hour this past weekend repairing a couple of broken links. Obviously this flies in the face of all that cost-benefit ratio stuff, but I have my rules.

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Seoul barren and dry

Bill Quick offers this advice in response to Robert Stacy McCain’s continuing mishaps with his 2004 Kia Optima:

I’ve actually roadtripped with HST and a carload of dope-addled hippies (including myself), and I can tell you that he’d rather have been stripped naked in the middle of a GOP convention than drive a Kia.

You need to get your hands on a suicide-door Lincoln. Now, that was a car.

You know who needs suicide-door Lincolns even more than Dr. Hyundai S. McCain? Lincoln, that’s who. They can’t survive long with a menu of slightly-less-Fordy Fords.

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The “nuke them from orbit” option

Because sending checks won’t do the job:

I grew up in Detroit. A couple of million dollars to a car company (that borrowed even more tax dollars to “pay their loan back”) isn’t gonna save a city that has more crack houses than able-bodied workers, and more wild dogs than new ideas. Detroit has suffered from half a century of poor leadership, from jerks who bulldozed functioning black neighborhoods in the sixties in favor of project housing, to Coleman Young who spewed so much anti-white hatred at the suburbs they kept moving the borders further and further out, to mid-90s car companies so convinced that gas-guzzling SUVs were the wave of the future that they made deals with union devils that paid 95% pensions and $30 an hour for workers to sleep. Detroit isn’t going to be rescued by hope and change.

An atom bomb that forces the population to scatter and the city to rebuild, maybe, but not an empty suit with platitudes about glowing days ahead. Bears are moving back into the city. You can buy a house for less than it costs to buy a car. In the public school book depository, the books are turning back into trees.

In which case, we may not need the nukes: just let entropy run its course. Same result, lower initial expenditure.

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Say goodbye to my little friend

My IBM Model M keyboard is old enough to drink, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t liquid that killed it.

Underside of IBM Model M keyboard

Actually, I haven’t pitched it out yet: there are a few more drastic cleaning methods I want to try. But damn, I was hoping for at least 22 years out of this keyboard, and my spare El Cheapo unit lives up to its name.

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Putting himself to the fullest possible use

Lyricist Hal David often seemed to be joined at the hip to composer Burt Bacharach, so when David passed away this weekend at ninety-one, I decided to hunt down a song with David’s words and somebody else’s melody.

Fortunately, there are plenty of good examples of such, and this one is among the best:

The melodist here is Sherman Edwards, who spent several years in the Brill Building writing stuff for Elvis before he got sick of the whole scheme — or of Colonel Tom Parker, perhaps — and dropped everything to create a Great American Musical. Edwards died in 1981, by which time his 1776 had long since acquired classic status.

As for Sarah Vaughan, she was never all that fond of “Broken Hearted Melody,” deeming it “corny” — but she was happy to sing it for the fans. And if we must have a Bacharach-David song here, let’s have this one:

My personal favorite, except when it’s this.

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Another serving of Rice

Yours truly, a few months back:

Former Democratic state senator Andrew Rice, probably the only politician in this state’s history ever to name-check Antonio Gramsci in an interview, regularly got an A from the National Rifle Association. As did his opponent, most years. (Rice has since left the state, to allow his wife to do that career-advancement thing. Sounds vaguely bluish to me.)

Apparently Mrs Rice’s new position didn’t work out, because they’re back in town:

Rice will be in charge of raising money and awareness for Variety Care, Oklahoma’s largest community health center that operates 13 part-time and full-time health care locations in Oklahoma.

Rice, 39, and his family moved to Nashville to support his wife’s medical career, but he said her job there wasn’t what she had hoped it would be.

Such is life. Rice says he’s not looking to resume his career in politics: “Right now, I’m happy to be out of elective office and really don’t have any desire to go back to it at all.”

I don’t at all blame him for that. Rice replaces Marsha Funk, whose landing place I have yet to discover.

Addendum: Variety Care sent me this:

I wanted to let you know that Marsha left us to pursue another opportunity. We’re thrilled to have Andrew on board and look forward to a great year ahead.

Fair enough.

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Strange search-engine queries (344)

It must be admitted that this is rather a curious sort of feature, inasmuch as it requires making responses of a sort to individuals who have long since departed this site and will likely never read them anyway. I might as well be talking to a freaking chair.

staple attraction:  I think it’s those short but perfectly straight legs.

alderaan modification station:  How much modification do they need? They’re a peaceful planet. They have no weapons, except for the odd staple gun.

“14, 40 or Fight!”:  This was an overresponse to the Oregon boundary dispute that led some misguided souls to reconnoiter over Mount Vesuvius.

Pantyhose Teens At school:  Surely not summer school. Too hot.

a hoof in two worlds:  Contrary to popular belief, this was not the working title for The Sparkle Chronicles (q.v.)

Hello kitty small ironing board:  I expect anything Hello Kitty to be small by default.

superwoman overpower sex:  Yeah, you wish.

sam presti like thabeet:  Well, he says he does, anyway.

executive rotation:  “Sir, with all due respect, sit on it and spin.”

decision making simplified:  I keep a decision-making module in my pocket. There’s an engraving of George Washington on one side of it.

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