Take Five

And now, a word from our sponsor: Are you a producer, a director, or an actor or actress, looking for great new scripts about subject matter never tackled before?  The same professional writer of the Other Letter, has also written six movie scripts.  You can see the log lines of the scripts I have on offer here.

Let’s spy on America, shall we?

Here are several U.S. and international web cams of restaurants, town squares, and boardwalks.  Very few there are wearing face masks, so why do we need them?

The boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland

Lots more going on in Ocean City, Maryland — without face masks

Gar Woods Grill & Pier in Lake Tahoe, California

Del Mar Beach South in San Diego County of Southern California (SoCal)

While SoCal has Ken and Barbie hanging ten (toes) over the edge of their surfboards; New England, specifically Vineyard Harbor in Martha’s Vineyard, has boating, and even, yachting.

Pompplein Square in The Netherlands

The Santa Monica pier in California

Venice Beach in California

If you long for another way of life, we have Finse Station in Norway.  In the land of the midnight sun, there’s snow on the ground in July, and no one is wearing face masks.

Mission Beach is another one of those Pacific Coast enclaves where there are very few people, but the real estate is greatly in demand, and every house sells for eight figures.  The town is occupied, but they spend all day inside.  This is the type of hamlet that inspires Twilight Zone episodes.  Where is everyone?  And tons of cash means face masks are entirely optional, if ever worn...


More web cams, anyone?

Are you just another Coronavirus shut-in looking for adventure?  Or are you a regular person needing a break from the everyday?  Then join us, won’t you, as we enjoy Southampton, Long Island, Venice Beach, California, and the Hawaiian Islands, enjoying paradise the way it should be enjoyed, via web cam.  8/13/16.


When you’re thinking Summer, aren’t you really thinking Coopers Beach in Southampton, Long Island?  See if you can spot the sharks before the swimmers do.  8/10/15.

Here is another web cam, again from the East End of Long Island, looking out to the ferry crossing from Southampton to Shelter Island.

I’ve seen ancient pilgrims and first settlers appear as ghosts floating over these waters.  Pay close attention, they are out there.  They only want our acknowledgement that the hardship they survived, has enabled the chain of life to remain unbroken, and brought us safe and sound into the 21st Century.  They are generally harmless, and typically fly below twenty feet, so they are no threat to aviation (the ghosts themselves obviously pose no threat, but their tattered rags are a threat).

While the inland waters may look placid, don’t let that fool you.  There have been many, many capsizings here along the half mile ferry route known locally as “The Ferry Passage of Death.”  Because of unusual tides and underwater rock formations, these waters are among the most treacherous of any along the entire Atlantic Seaboard.  Maybe you’ll see another Shelter Island Titanic sinking in progress!  Shelter Island itself is a quaint community of 80 people in winter, and nearly a million in summer.  To feed these hordes, all summer long, Freightliner and Peterbilt semis leave stockyards in Omaha, Nebraska to carry beef carcases to sidewalk BBQ shantys of which Shelter Island is world renowned (there hasn’t been any seafood caught on the East End since 1970, when over fishing began).  3/03/18.


Enjoy taking your turn at running a controllable web cam of Venice Beach, California — where it’s always hopping, day in and day out.  Otherwise, try San Diego or San Fran, or even Miami (this is where Taylor Swift and I had to call it quits — listen to Side B of her Reputation for clarification).

Don’t think of this as voyeurism without the sex, just think of it as being perched up on a bridge with binoculars, except no one below can see you.  It’s not much different from what the NSA sees of Times Square.  So take out the tissue box, and do some California Dreamin’ on your friends at Other Letter (while fighting back the tears, also match the four California, achievable employment archetypes with each person seen below — lower-level weed dealer, mid-level reefer supplier, upper-level cannabis distributor, and porn star).  11/02/13.


This web site has dozens of web cams strategically placed all over Hawaii.  It is proof that there is Heaven on Earth, but that Heaven itself is rather pricey.  Regardless of accommodation attainability, these resorts in paradise are hard to tell apart after awhile.  Many cams are from resorts, and include camera angles pointing to themselves with their requisite waterfalls, koi ponds, and tiki bars, many with ukulele accompaniment.  If you’re not much for water though, there may be better bets, and less expensive ones, like in much of escape-the-heat Canada.  8/11/15.
Halloween means only one thing, the return of the 10,000 Ampere Service, Ginger Bread House.  Shake off those evil spirits, it is All Hallows Eve at last.  Geez, why is there 10,000 amps going into that tiny, little, ginger bread house?  Because this is a UNESCO Heritage Holocaust Site, Long Island Division!

To pets and wildlife, roads and highways are war zones — so please, drive carefully.

If road kill is making you ill, you might try throwing a oil-stained rag in the middle of the road near where the wildlife congregate.  If it looks like a dead animal from the distance, it could get people to slow down in their cars in the future.  Don’t do this on major roads, no one needs a multi-car pile up because of your civic-mindedness.

The other approach is having a police force that regularly tickets speeders.


The next time you are at the park taking a walk, a hike, or a trudge, pick up and properly dispose of litter left behind by the pigs who got there before you, so the pigs who get there after you will be discouraged into thinking that this is their pigsty, and they can dump all they want on it.

When litter is removed, wildlife won’t choke, or be poisoned by, trash left in the woods that’s been leaching into the soil for years.

(Take note: late spring and early summer is the height of tick season.)


Save Wildlife
by Driving Safely

In the warmer weather, we have the seasons of outdoor activity.  Bikers should stay on the right side of the road, so they can travel with the flow of traffic.  This way, cyclists are not distracted by oncoming cars, the car driver has more time to react if you veer off-course; and in the event of a collision, the combined velocities are less than it would be was there a head-on.  Cyclists without helmets — especially those on traveled roads — have death wishes.

Hiking is the opposite, travel against the flow of traffic on the left.  The reason here is if a car is bearing down on you, you’ll see it, and hopefully be able to jump out of the way in time if they falsely detect you as an enemy insurgent.  Additionally, it will be less unnerving to not have cars whiz by you unseen.  Hikers generally do not wear helmets, although police get clipped often enough on the LIE, that I’m not absolutely certain why they’re not wearing them when they’re handing out tickets.

Get runway ready: On your next catwalk, let your legs do their thing, they know how.  Arms swaying, they keep the beat.  Take it easy, you’re among friends, or you should be.

(geograph.org.uk, Ashley Dace)

Star Trails around Polaris

Extended Exposure Star Trails around Polaris
The earth is turning towards the east; so the
stationary sky — or at least a sky stationary
during a single night — appears to move west.

Seventeen years of work (the OtherLetter.com domain was first registered in 2004) and I still haven’t gotten any feedback for Other Letter.  Was this a colossal waste of time, money, and effort?  Don’t answer that.
How to Capture Insects

Even tarantulas are no match against the cup-and-card method...


This is the game-changer that you’ve needed in large insect game capture.  I was up against the wall today, facing a two-inch long spider with a quarter-sized body.

Most would freak out and call an exterminator, or rush to an emergency room via ambulance, only to fight among the COVID-19 crowd milling around for medical attention and lollypops.  But I stood tall, and threw an old t-shirt over it.

No mess, no insect death, and I emerge unscathed.  When you’re thinking insect search-and-rescue, and not insect search-and-destroy, go with the final line of protection, the shroud toss.

When even the venerable cup-and-card isn’t a solution befitting monstrous insects, because it could involve prey damage, I cannot recommend the t-shirt shroud with any greater certainty...


Using this method of insect catch and release, humanity creates a far smaller footprint upon the ecology than spraying your house down with Raid anytime an ant gets inside your home.

Returning insect life to where it belongs, in nature, preserves a food supply for other wildlife, as well as not putting more dangerous pesticide into the water table.

Insects left in the house will die of starvation.  If left outside in the winter time, they might freeze to death, or otherwise hibernate where there’s rain and a potential food supply.  During other seasons, a wrong turn into your house would still mean arachnid death, unless you cup-and-card.

This is not some of the best music there is, this is the best music there is.  If you’d care to be precise, this the only music there is.
Other Letter Radio
radio tower

Link to Other Letter’s You Tube play lists.

From the Radio Page:
“EST” indicates hours from the U.S. Eastern Standard time zone.  The number of clocks indicate the amount of time I’ve listened to them.  Three clocks mean I’ve listened to them often.

  • Ramp up your Dead game, including trippy visuals.
  • Is the best Dead show, the one most critics say is the best, the Cornell Barton Hall concert from May the 8th of 1977?  Or was it this one, the January the 8th Madison Square Garden show from 1979?  Is the Barton Hall pick, the product of a lemmings, follow the leader dynamic, which ultimately effected critical judgment?  Would the Dead want to impress Ivy Leaguers more, those future captains of industry, or rank and file Deadheads, after all their major albums had been released, were well-honed, and were still fresh in their heads?  Have a listen to each, and you can decide.  1/02/19.
  • If you’re looking for surfing conditions in Southern Florida, do we ever have your ticketGreen clock EST +0:00  8/11/15.
  • Emma Stone, a friend near and dear to the Other Letter family of blogs, in an unannounced, unilateral partnership with Other Letter Radio, offers this listening suggestion (via Entertainment Weekly): Radio Nova from Paris, France.  Ms. Stone can sure pick ’em, she knows her music.  She gave an Oscar-caliber performance in Birdman by the way.  Emma, keep up the great work.  Green clockGreen clockGreen clock EST +6:00.  1/24/15.
  • The Grateful Dead heard on adult contemporary radio?  No, you are not entranced in the Land of Make Believe.  This is the CoastGreen clockGreen clockGreen clock, St. John’s, Newfoundland, in the Canadian Maritimes, the Far East of the Western World.  EST +1:30
  • At night, Americans in the Northeast, and Canadians in the Southeast, can listen in their car to 900 AM CHML.  Or listen anytime and anywhere hereGreen clockGreen clock, for another fine day in Canadian sport — even if the Habs lost, the team from Montréal that won the most Stanley Cups.  CHML is Ontario’s official broadcaster of the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger Cats (Ti-Cats).  More than sports put into play though — national and international news as well.  EST +0:00
  • Since 1949, listener supported Pacifica Radio from BerkeleyGreen clockGreen clockGreen clock, California (think NPR without corporate backing).  Wednesday 8PM PST features Dead to the World. EST -3:00
Whenever I see a “Never forget” sign, I always complete their thought, and think “Never forget the reasons why.”  I can never say why I think that, and why I think it every September, but I think that every time I see one of those signs.  10/04/13.

A new and popular — or at least, popular among the people who need it — health care reform initiative, one offering the nation the security of medical insurance, was unveiled this week.  There are definitely times when it feels really good to be a Democrat.  10/03/13...

Ever since Trump took office, he has been set on dismantling Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.  The problem that Trump has with the legislation is that it is from the Democratic Party, otherwise there is nothing wrong with it that cannot be fixed.  This has become Trump’s cornerstone “accomplishment.”

The ACA is one immense effort that Trump scuttled as well as exiting the Paris Climate Accords, and backing out of Obama’s hard wrought, Iranian Nuclear Weapons Pact.  Trump is absolutely obsessed with taking down Obama’s legacy.  To quote Trump, who is incredibly lightweight on policy details: “They are all bad, bad, bad deals.  Americans would have paid big, big, big...”  6/07/20.

The planet gets warmer year after year, so everyone needs to use less fossil fuels, so we can all save the planet from greenhouse gases.  An all-species extinction from global bake could be in the cards.  Here’s everything you need to know to join the crusade against fossil fuel consumption, which causes global-warming:
  1. This tip is brought to you by the Other Letter Laundry Center, and concerns water purity, not global warming.  Laundry detergent caps should not be filled to the top, unless the directions say so.  Typically, there is a marking inside the cap, before the top.  You can avoid polluting your own water supply by minimizing detergent usage.  If your tap water tastes like soap, this is why.
  2. When driving with the air conditioning turned on, set the air to recirculate.  This will cool your car faster, and use less gasoline in the process.  This might also be a good idea when you’re following a diesel-fueled, 18-wheeler, through a tunnel (assuming you push the recirculate button before the stench enters your car, because by then it’s too late).
  3. In early summer (or anytime really), if you can avoid turning on the indoor air conditioning by just opening a window, do so.  If a tactless neighbor complains that you must not have A/C in your house, think of how petty his life is.
  4. Install solar panels on your roof to significantly diminish your reliance on your electric utility.  With a net meter, if you provide the grid with more power than you pull off of it, you’ll actually make money with your electrical system.  Hookup industrial-grade batteries, and after a storm, you’ll have backup power when everyone else loses their electricity.  The batteries take the place of a noxious, gas-powered generator.
  5. If you own investment accounts, receive at most paper delivery of individualized, tax and fund performance statements.  Receive electronic delivery, via email links, of prospectuses, annual reports, and all else.  If everyone did this, the Amazon forest will bounce back from over-logging, as will the pine forests of the Rocky Mountains.  Okay, skip the Amazon and Rocky Mountain parts, but you get the idea.  Give Mother Nature a break.
  6. Say your name is Gwynnie Paltrow, and it’s just another day in Beverly Hills.  You’re futzing around, and then it’s time to head out to the hairdresser, the pedicurist, and the masseuse.  You need to know which sequence of stops minimizes gas consumption, and the time spent on the road.  Don’t get lost in South Central, Gwynnie.  Before heading out of your house, you need to consult trip planning web sites to minimize distance traveled.  Gwynnie, are you listening?  No?  You’re a wiseacre.  Web sites like Mapquest.com, will figure this all out for you.  Otherwise, Gwynnie, you’re traveling back and forth on Rodeo Drive wasting a tank of gas, or you’re lost in South Central where you smell something you cannot identify.  This is the classic traveling salesman problem, Gwynnie, where you minimize travel to your favorite dinner locale, the local McDonalds establishment for orally-administered cooking grease.
  7. Here is the way to save the planet today.  When you make an online purchase, don’t print out the receipt.  Just check your in box, and keep that as the receipt.  Using the printer wastes ink, and consumes paper.  We all know that producing paper fells mighty trees such as sequoias, which are nesting sites for eagles, owls, condors, ospreys, and raptors.  So just because of your wasteful ways, their hatchlings didn’t make it through fledgling season.  Shame on you!!!
  8. When you leave a room, turn off the lights.
  9. Most shower heads have a pressurizing head.  In other words, if you twist it, it will increase the pressure of the water flow.  You will get clean quicker, and the sandblasting afforded will change your skin’s complexion from pock-marked to rosy (if somehow this is not the end result, you might want to visit a dermatologist).  You will use less water, and the water table won’t be emptied nearly as fast.  This is a miracle cure of all that ails most of this Earth.  Pressurizing shower heads include the Waterpik shower massager, among others.  If you’re handy, seal the joint with silicone plumbing film/tape (and of course follow relevant instructions).
  10. Ever wonder what it’s like to drive a convertible?  Well, roll down every window, and roll back the moon-roof (if you have one), and then you’ll know what it’s like to at last own a convertible of your very own.  You’ll have the wind in your blond hair, and everyone will want to see if they can recognize which movie star you are.  The convertible and the quasi-convertible save on the gas used in powering the air conditioning.  Plus, the convertible does not have rollover protection, your newly-devised, quasi-convertible has roll bars.  You are now ready for cruising the strip, even if the strip is I-75, and you’re cruising for Ashley Judd (she may be available, we just don’t know if she is this available).
  11. Install a programmable thermostat, so the house is only heated when you are home.  Your pets might object, but giving them extra back rubs will much more than compensate.
  12. When you are finished eating a meal in your kitchen, assemble the food items that need to go back into the refrigerator in the staging area countertop outside the “fridge” door.  Then place them back in the “fridge” in one fell swoop.  A “fridge” that is open for too long, or open multiple times per meal, wastes electricity.  If your “fridge” has no staging area, you need to speak to your general contractor about building a staging area countertop.  Marble countertop is obviously best, but formica works in a pinch, especially if you are a poor person.  Just staging your food for the “fridge,” you’ll halve your utility bill, and save enough money to finally take that trip to the islands — the South Pacific ones (don’t forget your travel inoculations, and your passport!)
  13. Riders of mass transit, and those car-pooling, do much more to save the environment than those driving alone in a car.  Taking the bus, train, subway, or sharing rides, lowers aggregate hydrocarbon emissions.  Bus riders should be proud for saving the environment, not ashamed because they don’t own a gas-guzzler.
  14. When possible, use cold water instead of water heated by the oil burner.  This doesn’t apply to showering, although it might if you’re in Marine boot camp and you need to simulate combat situations.  I served in Nam in the Mekong Delta, we showered with cold water, because it made us tougher.
  15. Keep the tires of your car at recommended levels of inflation.  If you don’t want to bother, your mechanic will do this, assuming he has mechanical aptitude.  For most motorists, this alone will increase your gas mileage between 88.17% to 96.73% on every trip.
  16. You’ve done more than your share of eco-preservation, so now it’s time to shop for mega-yachts like the Hatteras.  Don’t worry, getting around by yacht is a very gas-efficient way to travel.  Every boat over 60-feet-long ships with a super model requiring minimal feeding, and moderate supervision...
  17. We’ll wrap it up with this: You want a Rockefeller’s wealth, which means you want to save money like a Rockefeller, which means you have to conserve energy like a Rockefeller, which means you have to cover your pots with pot lids.  Covering your pots with lids saves energy, and will allow you to prepay the mortgage on your house in no time, and move to a better neighborhood where every girl somehow looks like Taylor Swift.

(This section is intentionally left blank.)
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Ashley Judd and myself no longer double-date with the Cambridges

Every year, beginning in 2010, Ashley and myself double-dated with Katy and Willie Cambridge.  Typically, it was a Three-Star Michelin meal, but more often than not it was in Kensington Palace with a 4 o’clock, high tea, of toasted crumpets with strawberry jam and butter, prepared by the Royal chefs.

We’d share the trials and tribulations of our varied lives.  When the conversation petered out, the men folk retired to snooker, while the girls worked on their needlepoint, and cheered us on.  This was the simple life, but a life we had all come to love.  Here, we were far afield from the annoying, and harried, crowds that demanded our time and attentions.  Catherine, especially, had a bitter distaste for the “cursed, wretched, and worthless, hoi polloi (a direct quote from her).”

The Cambridges are the biggest of big-league players, just like yours truly, and Ms. Judd.  Just recently, this all changed as the solidity of their bond was questioned.  Ashley said that Katy’s marriage was suffering because he demanded more from her than she could ever expect to give him.

They were once the lovebirds of all time.  Now, they look more like serious business colleagues, like they’re only together to close business deals: Such as a Royal sewage plant over in India, a noted, former British colony; or a brand new — and clean — vaccination station in Wesleyan-upon-Thames.

Ashley heard nothing from Catherine for quite some time, so she asked me if she should call the British Consulate again, because in the past they’ve been very up front with Ashley regarding Ms. Middleton’s current schedule, and even her mood.  I’ve found that famous people such as Ashley are offered all the dirt, including that from diplomatic channels, so I said, “Sure, Ashley, you can call the Consulate.”

The British Consulate’s communications director said that the Duchess has been overwhelmed taking care of the Royal heirs, and any time for Royal affectionate canoodling has been very, very limited, really nonexistent.  Ashley nodded knowingly, looked at me, and shoved her index finger back and forth through a loop of her thumb and middle finger, then slowly stopped.  Then I nodded knowingly, the Cambridges weren’t successfully performing, and completing, their marital duties.

Ashley said, “Well, please send along the best regards of Ashley and Other.  We’ve been concerned.”  Ashley hung up and told me, “The Consulate said, ‘We’ll send your best regards, Ashley, and shout out to your beau, Other.’”

Then Ashley looked at me, and asked, “Should we escalate this, get the American Consulate side of the equation involved?  This could easily become an international incident, especially if Russian Interpol notices British weakness.”

To which I replied, “Honey, some things are just out of our control.  The Cambridges may be less important than we are, especially internationally.  Let sleeping dogs lie.  Here’s an expression common to your native homeland of Kentucky: ‘Mind your own beeswax.’”

“I like the sound of that, because I’ve heard that saying all of my life.”

“Then we’ll have to let it go at that, at least for now.”

“But I’m still keeping the British Consulate on speed dial, just in case the need arises, and I’m sure that it will...”


Catherine Middleton is a different woman these days

If you watch video of Ms. Middleton from ten years ago, you’d notice that she’s really grown up ten years later.  Catherine was once deferential, and star-struck towards William.  Nowadays, she is her own woman, and calls her own shots, to the apparent dismay of the Prince.

You might say that I’m off base, but one easily gets the impression that the woman he wanted to marry, is not the same as the one he is married to today.  Katie is very independent now, and fully in control of her own destiny.  William may have expected an old-fashioned, Suzy Homemaker for his wife, and this isn’t who he has in the present day.


Duchess Catherine receives her first patent

Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge, was just awarded a patent from the British Office of Intellectual Property.  Her hair, those beautiful tresses of hers, are now patented.  Her wavy, soft shag, and her cascading shoulder-length style, are so prodigiously arranged that only the Duchess can display them in her singular fashion.

Catherine Middleton had this to say:

“I get such compliments for my hairdo, but my ’do was never protected from being copied.  William and I had a Royal family meeting where I laid out my strategy for patent, and then incorporation.  William didn’t buy in at first, but when I pointed out potential royalties in the millions of pounds, he signed on wholeheartedly.

“Then I pointed out that I could transform this project into a Royal initiative, one covering most of the Autumn campaign.  It would be a great example for the average British girl.  With perseverance, they too, could realize their princess dreams.  And voila!  Here’s my first patent certificate: ‘For signature coiffure, by appointment of the British Crown...’”

(I only provide this factual material, so I can help the Duchess in her efforts to make entrepreneurship accessible to anyone.  That is, anyone in Britain who can dare to dream.)


The Royal Partying Scene must be Unsurpassed

Here’s a gallery of photos where Ms. Middleton is having the time of her life.  I cannot vouch for her life today, but back then, by all appearances, she was living a charmed life.  She and William were wealthy, “fabulous,” party people, not just the toast of London, but of Britain as well.

Katy did have limits to this life of complete excess.  For instance, as soon as she caught the eye of William, she had handlers.  They decided which clubs she could go to, who she would be introduced to, and which songs she could dance to.  Catherine couldn’t dance to any double time numbers.  Any song where she couldn’t keep up because of inebriation, and be embarrassed, were verboten, so she never danced to up tempo, popular dance-tunes like Who Are You?

Not only that, the club deejays were prohibited from playing that, or anything else that tested society’s bounds, as it would challenge Catherine’s innocent view of the world.  The result was that Kate’s exposure to modern music was fairly limited.  Although she was introduced to the entire Kingston Trio catalog, which she learned by heart.

Her handlers also decided the proper diet regimen to lose yet more pounds, but not need intravenous fluids at the ER.  You may have never noticed the Duchess at parades, when she needs to be tethered, moored, to prevent her sailing skyward in strong gusts of wind.  Catherine and I go way back, so I can make offhand comments about her weight without any fear of retaliation.

Rumors, from her partying days, that Catherine dealt heroin to her squad were greatly exaggerated.  Despite denials to the contrary, Catherine’s MI6, Secret Service nickname, was “cupcake.”  Later, this was how she was called by everyone in her inner circle.

(This article was the product of a month long Q and A with the Duchess.  I’m just as surprised as you are, at how Katy has been living her life in a complete bubble.)


Is there any Royal mission?

I’ve seen plenty of videos of the Duchess with and without her husband, and they drown in good intentions.  Yet, what exactly is their function?  Are they ombudsmen and ombudswomen, working to resolve local issues?  Are they policy marketers, promoting initiatives?  Or are they putting a good face on the Royalty as part of any busy work initiative?

I look at those two, especially Catherine, and see that they could be doing a great deal more substantial work.  From my understanding of the modern British monarchy (a contradiction in terms?), the Cambridges cannot push through legislation.  So, again, what is it that they do?  Are there missions that they’re expected to accomplish?  What are their responsibilities, besides just putting on a show to bolster British patriotism?  Are they aiming to promote tourism?

Have they just become a Royal shoulder to cry upon?  Which is all well and good, but I just expected much more from two so high up the Royal British ranks.  It’s a shame, but they do seem to be trotted out as Royal, show ponies.

Even with the trappings, all this does seem to be beneath Catherine Middleton, who Las Vegas has at 20 to 1 to abdicate.  Yet to put this in perspective, early on, Kamala Harris was at 50 to 1 odds to get into the White House (Morning Betting Line).

This is in spite of the fact that Kate becoming a Windsor is generally seen in Britain as hitting Lotto.  Unlike his brother, Prince William will likely be a Royal lifer, regardless of whether or not Katy jumps ship, because of brain rust, and frustration with Royal apathy and Medieval protocol.


Kate’s 39th is Today, but Please, no Pearls

Not many know this, but Kate Middleton will not wear pearls.  She fears for the safety of the oyster stock, and for the oyster divers.  All you girls, women, and ladies, today is Catherine’s 39th birthday, so in honor, take off your pearls, as homage to the Duchess’ efforts on behalf of the oysters.

Royal staff even notify the Duchess when pearls are nearby, so she can give the startled matron a talking to.  This creates much difficulty at State dinners, because every woman wears pearls, but not Catherine.  Kate feels such tight affiliation with the biped mollusks, even British oceanologists are surprised.  I, for one, applaud her concern for ornamental shellfish.

To quote the Duchess on Britain’s World Ocean Day:

“While they do look rather pretty, oyster divers often make the trip down, but not back up.  This pulls at the heartstrings.  Just for necklaces, they perish.  It is so unnecessary.  This is why, in conjunction with my husband William, and my grand-ma-in-law Elizabeth, I am launching the Toss your Pearls Initiative.

“This is not Royal busy work, no, far from it.  Demand for pearls must be curtailed, because the pearl harvest is a killer.  This is to be my life’s work, my cause célèbre, to care for the oyster bed, so that it can be free from encroachment by man.

“How can Britain claim itself as being a just sovereign, when in sure competition with America, it allows unnecessary pearl cultivation to prosper?  This Initiative will immediately halt all cultivation per the Crown’s appointment.

“The Crown Jewels are subject to my Initiative, so all pearls on tiaras will have to be buried, or thrown back into the sea as compensation for not being fair trade.  This Initiative shall also include the inland and freshwater, golf ball-sized, Black Pearl of Niger [crowd gasps], which we all know is the epitome of inequalities between man and sea [golf tournament applause]...”


Duchess Katy Shares her Parenting Tips

Catherine Middleton has a no-nonsense parenting style.  Her three, Royal moppets are expected to adhere to military discipline, or else.  American parents often have a tendency to indulge their kids, but on the other side of the pond, nope, eh uh.

To Katy, sparing the rod spoils the child.  She’s a firm believer in the value of the paddle, and she’ll always leave the option open for spankings if anyone gets out of hand.  This isn’t any different from her years as a bachelorette...

Katy replies: “I thought we really had something, Other, but you’ve betrayed my secret...”


Ms. Middleton is Given a Tough Assignment

Catherine Middleton was given the difficult assignment of promoting Team Britannia in the America’s Cup.  While the technological proof of concepts can logically advance the United Kingdom, this promo seemed oddly out of place.  The British are really struggling, probably even more than in the U.S., and she’s the figurehead for a sport that is often seen as the height of luxury excess.

The last thing that Kate would ever want would be to make the hard up feel even worse, and there’s her dilemma.  Catherine is most uncomfortably placed between the upper and lower classes.  A day in the life of a Royal, still, this is a bit sad.


After Regrouping, the Dynamic Duo Soldier Onward

Kates and Wills look like they’re firing on all twelve cylinders again.  They are in the midst of a train tour of the Scottish Highlands, or some such.  They are on a railroad tour aboard the Royal train.  Yes, they have a dedicated train.

This is the problem that I have with the Royals: They are always hoping to better the condition of the commoners, yet they tool around in highest end Rolls Royces, and live with servants in palaces.  They couldn’t be any more privileged, but they’re supposed to exhibit moral, austere-living examples for all Britain.

I’d have to imagine that there’s an immense English contingent that is offended by the disparity between the Royals standard-of-living, and that of every other British person.

This is why the abandonment, by Harry and Meghan, of the condescending, monarchy patronage model, and their subsequent abdication, was so heartening and refreshing.  That couple could see Royalty for what it is: a mistaken distribution of wealth and power based solely on heredity.  But I’m an American, so what do I know?...

Anyhow, Catherine got back on her train.  We didn’t even say goodbye.  I had my story to write, and she had to save the British from mediocrity.  Cue: The Way We Were.  Babs, hit it!  Dedicate it to two friends who couldn’t go the distance...

This just in for all of you hopeless romantics: The Cambridges sleep in separate beds on their train trip.  Somehow British RAF engineering couldn’t fit the royal train with a double bed?  Or is their marriage on the rocks?...

Katy can do no wrong in my book, so if she wants to keep doing her Royal bit, that’s her business, and not mine...


A royalty-free image courtesy of Microsoft’s Word, a Bill Gates’ product.  Bill, this is a legal copy.


Duchess Katy grapples with the typical workplace issues, some of which are seen here.  Catherine, your constituency is also interracial.  You take copious notes to devise the perfect solution among competing alternatives.  You seek cooperation from diverse entities, including nations like Trump’s America (at least for the next two months).

When I assembled this image, Catherine, I thought of you as the lady in the blue blouse, and your prince as the gentleman in the blue shirt.  Because this is in Britain, the African British in the middle would be your boss.

Questions for Catherine Middleton concerning workplace satisfaction

I might be entirely mistaken, but is the Duchess’ heart still into her royal engagements?  Has she been rethinking how she wants to spend her life?  Is she just a cheerleader for Britain?  Is her role as Britain’s caretaker getting redundant?  Would she rather have a larger, policy role?

Or could she just do something more interesting than she does today?  Does she always find herself on the outside, because she is always among Royals, but not born one?  As the girl who brought us all the “F” in fun, are things getting to be a bit of a drag?


Duchess Catherine seems unhappy, this must stop

At today’s Remembrance Day, Duchess Katy seemed upset.  I know that I will never meet her, and there is little I can do to alleviate her suffering, but please, whoever is upsetting her, LEAVE HER ALONE!!!  As her compatriot, we must all learn to get along.  This is all I want to say: Whoever is causing her pain, leave her alone!!!  Thank you, Great Britain.  Now, I feel better.  Is France behind this?


Getting Duchess Catherine to Show Up at your Next Party

Wouldn’t Duchess Catherine make your next party or barbecue an event to remember forever?  But how to get her to stop by and say hi?  She doesn’t typically visit people’s homes outside of official functions.

There’s the famous cancer gambit: You’re dying of cancer and your last wish is to have the Duchess send you off to the next world.  She does this all the time for the sickly, but not Stateside.

I really don’t know how to get her to fly across the pond.  Any suggestions are very welcome.  We can do this, America.


When Duchess Catherine looks skyward, is she communicating with her god?

If you’ve been walking the Royal reporting beat as long as I have, you’ll notice this about Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge: She gazes skyward as though she’s thanking god for whatever is in frame in the photo.

For instance, she’ll look straight up when holding her latest newborn.  Is she thanking Baby Jesus for her brood?  Then, walking inside Kensington Palace, again she’ll look up, as in, the commoners haven’t stormed the Palace this time.  Her thought: Blessed be to the god up in the clouds.

At parties of dignitaries, she gets the sign from God herself, that she has had her measure of chitchat.  It is before midnight, so with glass slippers on her feet, her horse-drawn coach pulls up, and can take her home without incident.  God has saved her again...


Just an aside: The entire editorial team at The Other Letter continually endorses eating dairy to shore up and enhance the bosom of those girls who regularly starve themselves for that fashionable emaciated look.

Ms. Middleton, enjoy hot fudge sundaes with the ice cream varieties of your choice, send us the receipts, and our treasurer will gladly disburse checks in your name.  I’m not sure why the Crown of England would need to be reimbursed by a blogger to incentivize her ice cream treats, but the offer stands...


Duchess Catherine Needs To Call It Quits With The Preeminent Blogger

(Editor’s note: I was hacked, and I cannot delete this.  The Feds are looking into this, as are MI-6 across the Pond.  Both suspect Russian KGB operatives in a widening effort to disrupt Western governments.  This evidence will be deleted ASAP, once the truth of this missive is verified.)

[Insert dastardly missive here.]

As suspected, a Soviet operative who worked directly under Vladimir Putin, had orchestrated the whole stunt.  Fortunately, British and American agents were able to dissemble the plot before serious damage was done to Duchess Catherine’s public image.  First and foremost, Catherine’s stock with the English was kept intact.

The Duchess and her moppets were sent into the Kensington Palace underground bunker by security detail, whilst William’s whereabouts remained unknown.  Gratefully, there wasn’t any long term public relations fallout.  It was all contained, not unlike a hard-boiled egg, while the shell was still unbroken.

The operative was led to a field behind Leningrad Square where his laptop was Tommy-gunned to pieces.  He will never hack again, at least with that laptop.


This brings us to the larger issue of what is acceptable topics for her Majesty the Duchess.  I am not her subject, unless there were papers written behind closed doors formalizing dual citizenry with all Americans unbeknownst.

Regardless, am I permitted in this now gray, legal class, of praising Katy, yet also criticizing her?  Can I expect clarification of this question from the State Department, and the American Consulate in London?  My critiques can easily start international incidents with military ramifications.  Sparks will often lead to forest fires.  Just look at World War I.  Look now.

My question then becomes: Am I allowed to exhort her to stop starving herself, and to eat more foods with fat like diary, so that she may enhance her bosom?

Or is this so unbelievably gauche, that I have lost all right to pose the question to her Majesty?  I address this to the quorom-at-large.  Proceed with your deliberations.


Catherine Middleton is an Antidepressant

That’s right, clinically and chemically, Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, betters mood.  In a double-blind study, subjects were shown photos of the Duchess, and their mood was elevated.  Cognitive Psychiatrists speculate that Katy increases dopamine levels in the cerebral cortex of the brain.

Hence, the Katy buzz, as it’s become known.  The other study subjects were shown photographs of Trump.  They experienced headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

Catherine Middleton is now listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) as a video-centric cure to clinical depression.

Our wonder woman, Katy, is she just a Royal Duchess, or is she more of a British super model with good-will ambassador responsibilities?  By the way, does she ever not smile?  Katy Middleton must be the happiest woman on earth.  Catherine has such a buoyant mood, and she is such a charmer.  Catherine enlivens any get-together, among dignitaries, or informally.  I’m smitten, but so is the rest of the world.  Sigh!


Duchess Katy, where have you been?

No phone calls, no cards, no invites to Royal functions, no tony British sports cars with title in my name?  Have you forgotten all we’ve shared?  What has gotten into you, hmm?  Suddenly, making it with a blogger is not your life’s ambition?  What changed?  You did, Katy, and I don’t like it.

If you don’t call me soon, you can forget spending the holidays in this blogger’s man cave.  That’s right, forget the wonderful, American fast food I pick up for the occasion every year.  Who will be missing the fifty sliders sack from White Castle?  That’s right, you will, because I just don’t care anymore.  We got so far, but you had to leave me for that Kensington monster.

I figured I’d take you on, My Fair Lady.  I would have shown you sophistication, couth, how to scuttle your horrific, Cockney accent, but you were intimidated, weren’t you?  Well, go back to selling flowers on the street, Kate, because I am now done with you (unless you’d like to email me).


The Royal Machine is Back in High Gear

Today on Youtube’s Royal Family Channel, we followed Katy and Willie as they drove an 18-wheel lorry throughout London delivering face masks to families in need.

Then they delivered hand sanitizers to row houses in Beckingham, Lickenshire.  Families ran out to greet and mob the Duchess as she hopped off of the Royal lorry.  Katy had to push back the Londoners fighting for the sanitizing gels which were tightly rationed as is everything in Britain, pre and post WWII.

We note the Duchess’ figure, thin as a rail.  Is she too thin?  A note to her gorgeousness, Katy, please plump yourself up for any eventual visit with the King — of blogging.  We’ve already seen proof of concept, Ms. Middleton.  You power-ate, stopped starving yourself, and ta-da, ta-tas.  Everyone in the bleacher seats are looking forward to Act II.

By the way, you and your betrothed, Willie, are the most non-demonstrative couple ever.  It’s as though you just met on the street in the height of the Coronavirus pan(dem)ic.

Onto a mosque which must be extremely sensitive security-wise.  Was there a pack of German Shepherd, bomb-sniffing dogs preceding your visit?  Were you, Willie, and the Muslims, all frisked for errantly-placed explosives?  Couldn’t a Royal couple in an Islamic house of worship be seen as a target by all manner of evil-doers?  We all know that the Islamic community is comprised solely of murderous loony-tunes.

Or Trump is the only one who has to watch his back?  You two are hard targets, you have an Army Battalion with you at every bagel shop you visit.  You’re seen so sympathetically, any one chasing you two around the mosque with a hatchet would be garroted.  (It would be a garrote, because Britain doesn’t believe in killing people with guns, unlike barbaric Trump, and the just as barbaric, Red States, spending their lives playing cowboys and indians.)


Hold Still Proves the Brits are Going Backwards as a People

The British contest, Hold Still, is Duchess Catherine’s foray into judging photographic images.  Most surprisingly, there wasn’t a single pornographic image among the top 100 “winners.”  Another disappointment: Because the British don’t yet have any mobile devices, it was decided to make the contest solely from film cameras.

At the unveiling of the photographic finalists, Katy admitted that Americans would have done a much better job, and that she was ashamed of the entire effort.  To quote Kate:

“How could we be proud as a nation?  The Americans beat us in every way, even in the photographic realm.  We suck as a people.  We really do, we suck.  We’re a disgrace.  We’re hideous.

“Americans even play better soccer.  Their pubs are better.  They play better darts.  The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, Genesis, The Who, Yes and Pink Floyd, were all lame-ass excuses for Milli Vanilli.  The Brits make me nauseous.  I had hoped that my Lilliputian exercise would bring pride to many tiny island nation, but we all blew it.  How many ways can I say that I am ashamed, so ashamed.

“Thirty-eight-years ago, Mum was thinking of having me in New York City.  Damn you, Mum.  I could have been a high-class American eating such wonderful things as the McDonald hamburger, especially the Half-Pounder with CheeseFish and chips, crumpets, are all rubbish, Mum.”

So much for Duchess Catherine’s, now disastrous, British esteem-building, exercise.  Americans, you may resume eating your Half-Pounder with Cheese.


Kate Middleton Endorses Killing Defenseless Animals
(or Just Enjoys Watching The Proceedings)

Kate Middleton went grouse hunting with her privileged brood.  Is this hunting for sustenance, or is it just “for the thrill of killing crap”?  Stateside, we are all very disappointed in the Royals, and Kate’s participation in animal cruelty and sadism.

Kate, this is why Britain is a third-rate power.  You kill innocent animals without any sense of guilt (America has laws about guns).  This is a typical Saturday for you and William: “What and where shall we kill today?...  Okay, capital idea, Hobbs’ll fit the assault rifle on the Range Rover, and we shall have a blast shooting fox, pheasant, anything and everything that moves, that we chase into the corral!!  Hardy, har, har!!”

Kate explained to me why it is so important that her offspring learn to hunt: “Our German friends across the Channel have a word for why hunting is so enjoyable.  That word is schadenfreude.  It means enjoying the suffering of others.  Of course animals suffer, but this is the joy in hunting.  I want Prince George and Prince Louis to enjoy what the Germans do, and did during WWII.  The terror in the prey’s eyes, human or non-human, is the greatest joy both we British and Germans know.

“Auschwitz wasn’t the happiest place unless you believed in schadenfreude.  Then it was wondrous, full of sadism, and inflicting pain and suffering on the defenseless.  Treblinka is my kinda place.  I want to set an example for my British Isles that I fully endorse schadenfraude and sadism.”

Catherine and I have gotten quite buddy-buddy over the last, several years, but I have canceled birthday party plans, and I will no longer be attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  You’re messing with the wrong guy, Katy.

Catherine Middleton, I’m serious, you gotta put down your rifle...


Americans are the Ones with the Inferiority Complex, Duchess Catherine

The Duchess of Cambridge, and the Great Britain that she so tirelessly and faithfully represents, suffers from an inferiority complex.  They do have a pronounced tendency in thinking that America does everything better.  Katy, ’tis true, the States have become a zoo.  The angry man at the top is an embarrassment, but you and your people already knew this.

We envy your civility and kindness which you so patently exemplify.  If you were Stateside, and our people woke up with your perpetual smile, we would all fall right in line.  Everyone would learn to respect one another pronto.  We could deliver on our promise given by our Founding Fathers.  We would not only pursue happiness, we would have it in our own hands to keep, unending.


The Catherine-Meghan Cat Fight

There has been much media speculation claiming that Duchess Catherine and former-Duchess Meghan are at each others’s throats, and this is why Meghan left the House of Windsor.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  They are not sworn enemies, they are absolutely congenial in every appearance together.  These fictions, splashing across the front page of every newspaper, are precisely why Meghan left the Crown in the first place.

If you follow Ms. Middleton like I have, you know that she is a major league pussycat, not a fighting tom for cat fights.  Katy has trouble shooing flies off of the table, assuming the Duchess actually had flies, which of course she doesn’t.


The Duchess got bigger where it counts

That’s right!  Either Catherine had them augmented over the summer holiday, or she has been downing at least a weekly, double stack of griddlecakes, with maple syrup, bacon, and eggs, at the Cornwall IHOP.  Let’s all celebrate Katy’s end of starving herself in favor of having a figure.  The best just keeps getting better.  Sigh...


Duchess Catherine’s Dark and Sordid Past

To her closest friends, Katy is known for her hard drinking, and just as hard living.  In fact, she was an exotic dancer, and cannabis supplier, in Chelsea before she landed William.  The Prince saved her from the dark side of English life, and plunked her down into a palace along with a princess, fairy-tale ending...

Or this is the story I had always heard.  The real truth is that she never abandoned the underbelly of life, its dark side.  After the kids are put in bed for the night, Katy slips away by chauffeured Rolls, to entertain Arabian sheiks with exotic dancing.  Catherine rules her weed concession with an iron fist, and deals top-end sinsemilla to the House of Windsor.

The Duchess could never afford all her haute couture dresses with just her stipend from QEII.  She must have this questionable, outside income to continue her exorbitant lifestyle.  Times just don’t ever change over at Kensington Palace.  A Royal princess must prostitute herself, and deal drugs, for silken finery, and to push the edge of the envelope in the fashion world...


Ms. Catherine Middleton is the Mister Rogers of Britain

Catherine just gave her sermon to the kids from Ms. Middleton’s Neighborhood.  The Duchess is an absolute doll at these school assemblies, at anything really.  She is so soothing, pleasant, and even uplifting.  One side note, her British grammar is different.  Regarding kids’ artwork, Katy often says, “Well done, you!...”


The Duchess (by my count, Katy is the only Duchess) recently endorsed the national launch of Tiny Happy People.  This is a BBC platform providing resources and support to parents and careers of very young children.  She called this “Gold dust for parents.”

Ms. Middleton may also appreciate another British show for toddlers from the 1990s, entitled Teletubbies.  Katy, see if you can hold back tears when Tinky Winky signs off with: “Teletubby, bye, bye...”  Stateside, conservative “preacher” Jerry Falwell tried to shut down the show, by warning parents:

“That Tinky Winky could be a covert homosexual symbol, because ‘he is purple, the gay pride colour, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle: the gay pride symbol.’  The BBC made an official response, explaining that ‘Tinky Winky is simply a sweet, technological baby with a magic bag.’  Ken Viselman of Itsy-Bitsy Entertainment commented, ‘He’s not gay.  He’s not straight.  He’s just a character in a children’s series.’”

Here’s a few episodes of Teletubbies.  You can decide for yourself if British children’s TV is aiming to make kids gay worldwide, or if Falwell and his Christianity is just a load of buzz-killing horsecrap.  (Fast forward beyond the kid cameos, because the Teletubbies are the real stars.)

Teletubbies was a psychedelic, cult classic among adults, especially college students.

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And Now, A Word from our Sponsor...

Notes from the front lines:

My Big Bonus didn’t have an outline, but what it did begin with was writing index cards for every scene using Final Draft.  This set up the story.  (Final Draft is software that facilitates screenwriting.)

My process is to start with an opening scene and closing scene.  The movie script is then the voyage from the opening to the closing.

A protagonist struggles towards reaching a goal, and an antagonist is put in his or her way.  Then set up obstacles blocking the protagonist’s fulfillment.  This presents opportunities for the hero to test their mettle.

All of the above should work towards a finale that’s memorable, if not thee most memorable scene of the script.

  1. This Made it all Worthwhile (working title, the real one might invite plagiarism)  Lorraine Bellefleur is a dedicated real estate agent from an almost Ivy League college, who deals with a villain, and her own occasional ineptitude.  The dream cast includes Emma Stone as Lorraine, and Ashley Judd as the wacky, wealthy, and famous woman.
  2. Boy Meets Girl, Boy Meets Much Better Girl (working title, real one is a giveaway)  Entirely unexpectedly, Steve finds romance, but there is a major catch.  (Kirsten Dunst, Gwyneth Paltrow, and an actor who can play gritty — maybe Sean Penn if he’s not in another super hero movie.)
  3. My Life among the Stars Ashley Southern, Gwendolyn Parker, Miriam Tomlinson, and Colette Giroux, are the hottest names in show business, or they were again, once an enterprising blogger and fan club president named Holden Miller wins Ash over, and charts a new course for their careers.  (Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Heather Graham, and Charlize Theron — I hooked up with all of them on my Batphone, they will attach to my project.)
  4. Rebel Rhythm and Blues  Will this interracial couple just be two ships passing in the night?  Or with a sign from the Heavens, and of the spirit of music past, will they be spending forever together?  (Ashley Judd, and Denzel Washington)
  5. SoCal Supper Club  Southern Californians may be known for their excess, but at one supper club in SoCal, they found real happiness with a little help from their friends.  (Justin Theroux and Michelle Pfeiffer)
  6. Their End of Days  Their end of days, may just as well be ours.  The world is suffering global economic malaise until our heroine makes a mind-blowing discovery.  (Amanda Seyfried and Bryan Cranston)
  7. Genevieve Marseille  Genevieve Marseilles once had Hollywood in hand, until the roles vanished, and she got homesick for her native Provençale.  (Dream cast would include: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Chazz Palminteri)
  8. Weighty Matters (a six-page short)  Following an electrical storm, it all got very, very heavy for Maggie.  (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who else?)

Because of plagiarism concerns, these are the marketing log lines, not the more revealing, synopsis ones.  Each of these movie scripts have been copyrighted with the Library of Congress, and registered with the Writers’ Guild of America.  If you work in cinema and have an interest in producing any of eight scripts written by a gifted writer, the one who brings The Other Letter to the world, at your earliest convenience.

 

 

Basic Screenwriters’ Library

To get an appreciation of film-making, you can read books dedicated to a particular master of the craft of filmmaking such as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Jean Luc Godard, Jacques Demy, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, or Woody Allen.  However, the books listed below will point you in the direction of the pros, and take your own ideas as far as they’ll go.

  1. Roger Ebert’s Movie Home Companion (annual editions: 1986 to 1993); Roger Ebert’s Video Companion (annual editions: 1994 to 1998); Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook (annual editions: 1999 to 2013).  Ebert passed away in 2013, but he is the still the absolute god of film criticism (Pauline Kael just rolled over in her grave).  Anyone who wants to know what a great movie does right (and why a movie is god-awful), will need to read his reviews, which are found in any of these 28 volumes.
  2. The Writer’s Journey, by Christopher Vogler  Key character types such as threshold guardians, shadows, and the various heroes, are defined with examples from film.  The journey traveled from the call of adventure to the inner cave.  (The only problem with this book is that the movies used as examples are dated, they’re from the 1990s.  This didn’t effect the readability though.)
  3. Syd Field, Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting  Anyone in Hollywood who has written a screenplay in the last thirty years has read this primer.  (Or did I read that on the jacket sleeve?  No, it is the bestseller in the field of screenwriting.)
  4. The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier  All the ins and outs of writing a professionally-formatted screenplay.  Do you know how to format a montage on your screenplay?  With this book, you will.
  5. The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking.  An Insider’s Guide to Making Movies outside of Hollywood; by Mark Polish, Michael Polish, and Jonathan Sheldon.  The inside scoop inside a film set.  Includes what every credit means at the end of every movie, and what they do: DP, director of photography; key grip and gaffer, setting up the lights, etc., etc.  Rack focus, changing focus within a shot; film stock.  Yet this is entirely readable, and not esoteric.
  6. How to Sell your Screenplay.  A Realistic Guide to Getting a Television or Film Deal.  By Lydia Wilen and Joan Wilen.  As the title implies, and covers the business end of the film industry, including contracts.
  7. Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, by Georges Polti.  Originally published in 1916, yet still available.  From classical drama unto the present day, these thirty-six (with subtopics) cover almost every possible dramatic premise.  For example: “Revenge for an attempted slaying;” or, “Revenge for a false accusation, Monte Cristo.”

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Ashley and Heather are — Groupies

“There he is, say hello to my man, Bono, the Sonny Boner.  Boner, over here.”

“Hey good lookin’, what you got cooking?  Who do I got to join me as I head for heaven?”

“Got us.”

“Heather, play it cool, this guy is the hottest in music, the dreamiest ever.”

“That I am, babelicious.”

“Boner, how about some righteous religious tuneage, about Baby Jesus doing his damnedest to save us earthlings.”

“I can do that, sure I can.  Except he falls, then gets back up.  Manger Blues, that could be my next hit.  Hey, you’re showing lots of cleavage.”

“These are my ground rules, Boner.  No public sex, but car sex is okay, as long as the car isn’t moving.  No pileups on I-64 again.  I honor most kinks.”

“Gotcha, and your name is?”

“See, name tag, Heather, always ready for action with my superiors.”

“And I’m Ashley, see, name tag.  I’m identifiable from a distance.”

“What about you, Ashley, are you in it to win it like your friend, Heather, is?”

“We’ll double your pleasure hunk o’ Boner.”

“You have never seen money like I have.  I keep it in tax-free shelters where the pitiful, dirt-poor Irish can’t get their paws on it.”

“I’m available.”

“Heather?!  Please not now!”

“I’m available.  I’m available.”

“Is she okay?”

“I’m available.”

“Well, girls, the road calls, and I answer that call.  Heather, look into injections to fix that.”

[Boner hops onto the tour bus.]

“Heather, look what you’ve done.  We had the all time rock n roll god in our clutches, but no, you had another “I’m available” fit!  Shoot up some of my Botox, that should fix you up.”

[Ashley opens her purse which contains many syringes and vials.]

“I’ve never shot up before, Ashley.”

“It’s simple.  I was once a newbie to injecting drugs.”

“That’s reassuring, Ashley...”


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Ashley Judd proselytizes Elton John

In 2008, Ashley Judd went to an Elton John concert, and managed to finagle her way backstage.  Here’s the Youtube transcript of a video taken by a surveillance camera:

“Hi, Elton.”

“You’re?”

“I’m Ashley Judd?”

“Come again?”

“Ashley Judd, Nineties damsel-in-distress?  I played damsels-in-distress in major motion pictures.”

“Hmm, sounds vaguely familiar.  Ashley, this is your name?”

“Yes.”

“How’d you get backstage?”

“I’m a big deal, Hollywood actress.”

“You say in the Nineties?”

“Well, you were only popular in the Seventies.”

“What are you doing here?  I just put on a three hour show.  Are you trying to give me a coronary?”

“No, not at all.  I’m a firm believer in baby Jesus, and well, you’re not following his word.”

“Where are you from -- which planet?”

“My point being, Baby Jesus died for your sins.  The least you could do to show your respect is to convert to heterosexuality.  It’s offensive to the Christian community that you remain a homo.”

“How will I become a heterosexual?  I mean, come on, I’m gay.”

“I could strip for you.  I’m pulchritudinous — and I’m Harvard.  I’m very appealing as a woman.”

“Right now, you’re uglier than sin.”

“You need Baby Jesus in the worst way.”

“Please, Ashley, whoever or whatever you are, please leave now!  I’m calling security!”

“You need to let me part with this advice.  If you do not straighten out and become straight, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Just think of this before I leave.  I’ve been sent to save your soul.”

“[Into his phone]  Boris, we have a breach!!”

“Gotta run, but you’ll never catch me, Elton!  I have Jesus the Christ on my side!  All Christians are holier-than-thou gays!  We’re blessed with the divine!  Onward, crusading, Christian soldier!”


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Heather Graham’s New Movie

“This better be good, Morris.  I just made Conquistador Level in Galleon Crusader.”

“No worries, Heather.  I know you’re gonna love this one.”

“Conquistador Level, Morris.”

“Here’s the premise: You’re the pilot of a jumbo jet, but it gets boring.  So you wanna get into management, and then you do, but there’s the office hunk who runs the show, and he doesn’t notice you.  You start wearing low-cut dresses, which eventually does catch his attention, except he may be gay.  You find out he’s not gay at a year-end, airline mixer.  Curtain falls with you holding his hand.  Happily ever after...”

“Who plays the hunk?”

“We’re looking to attach Cruise as soon as his current Scientology obligations end.”

“This sounds outrageously expensive, what with me flying jumbo jets, and Cruise is the most talented actor anywhere.  He does his own stunts after all.”

“And you have a co-pilot sidekick.”

“Who’s he?”

“He’s a she?  Ready?”

“Ready.”

“Marisa Tomei.”

“Cool, but has she been in anything lately?”

“Keep in mind that the budget for this flick is $80 million, on a par with Star Wars 13.  You’re right, the aircraft is the most expensive piece of this cinematic sizzle.  You’ll need to get very familiar with flight deck instrumentation.”

“Well, that’s easy.  Remember I played a NASA astronaut in Which Way Home?  Will there be product tie-ins?”

“Yes, there will be a buxom doll, Heather the Pilot, with a bisexual back-story for inclusivity.  The dolls will be promoted alongside McDonalds ads, and will be included with Big Macs for a limited time.”

“Why only a limited time?”

“McDonalds cannot continually promote a bisexual airline pilot.  They feel this would be to the exclusion of long-standing, value meals like The Hulk and The Spider Man.”

“Got it.  Tie-in royalties, and a feminist message about breaking the glass ceiling, how can I lose?  Where do I sign?”


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Folklore Pond Sessions, Unscripted Edition

As advertised, here is Taylor Swift’s Folklore Pond Sessions, Unscripted Edition.

“Antonoff?”

“Yes, Ms. Swift?”

“Ant, how about we add a rhythm track to Cardigan?”

“Yes, we can do that.  Timpani?”

“I was thinking snare.  Bum ba, bum ba, bum ba.  Sixty seconds worth.”

“Okay, okay, we can do that, although you might wanna shorten it to ten seconds.”

“Whatever, then, I come in on the piano.  What were those chords you showed me again?”

“D7th, C, F, G, which is a fairly comprehensive package for the modern musician.”

“But wait, C, F, G, you’re not telling me what this means.  I don’t have time to be a one-hundred-percent piano woman.”

“Well, what else can I help you with, what are you working on now?”

“The lyrics of the ultimate break up song.  Starts standard issue: This guy’s a womanizer.  I buy a gun, and he does something, so I have to kill him.”

“Okay, we need to know what he did.”

“Ant, I guess that he cheats on me.”

“Taylor, remember, stay within your target demographic.  We’ve talked about this—”

“Many, many times.  I sell best to ages 12 to 20.”

“Keep it teenage, youthful, and virginal.  Stay away from guns.  These are the keys to success.”

“Now, help me with these chords: were they C, F, and G?”

“Middle C.”

“What?”

“Here.  Four half steps, three half steps.  That’s a C major chord.”

“Ant, I think I can remember that one.  But I gotta get out there and socialize with my besties, and my latest hunk.  Hey, that’s a song.  Whatever, I’m girl about town.  I gotta go.”

“Taylor, we’re on tight deadline.  If we don’t record, the kids will miss out on a It’s a Taylor Christmas After All.”

“Isn’t that corny though?  Ant, I gotta spend some serious coin.  Time for more retail therapy, this time, Bergdorf’s.  Gotta stay relevant stylistically.  Hold down the fort.  Toodles.”

“What?  Toodles?!...”


to Top of Sketch Pass

 



 

Taylor Swift Caves to, and Plays it Safe for, Marketing

Here’s a Youtube rarity: Taylor Swift, and her publicity manager, Velma Whitebred, discussing the pop superstar’s cleavage permissibility on Instagram posts.

[Velma walks through ten-foot-tall oak doors of the mega-star’s mansion.]

“Oh, hi, Velma, whatcha got?”

“These are the prints for the Sunday Instagram post.  [Velma drops prints onto Taylor’s over-sized desk.]  We need to go through them to find the ones that would satisfy fan interest.  Gotta keep click through rate up.”

“Okay, I remember at the marketing meeting, we discussed cleavage in these photos.”

“But remember, Taylor, we had trouble with the Church when you showed any bosom.”

“But, if you remember, our male demographic is always below statistical norm.  I’m always playing to teenage girls.”

“Tay, you really think risking it with the Baby Jesus crowd is worth it?  Once you cow tow to the male demo, you lose Christians in droves.  I advise you in a fiduciary capacity.”

“What?”

“I would really avoid showing any cleavage.”

“How about this one?”

“Then you have a nipple-gate on your hands.  You’re playing with fire, Taylor.  Here’s one.  This is the one that marketing liked.”

“But I’m so covered up.”

“That’s what the Church wants.  Churchgoers are your core base.  Alienate them, and no one shows up at your arena shows.  The Baby Jesus lovers want prim, they want chaste.”

“Well, I’m thirty years old, I’m not so chaste anymore.  Just last year, I debuted my belly-button.”

“We spent weeks fingering blame for that breach, Taylor.”

“Alright, already, I’ll be covered up, no skin.  It’s Sunday anyhow, our research shows that it’s a very slow day of the week, boobs-wise.  It’s not Saturday, for crying out loud.”

“That’s the thinking.  I’ll get our social media team on the line, tell them the good news.  We gotta keep our core base happy.  The focus groups will love this, I guarantee you.  Stay with the path of least resistance, it’s where the money is...”


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Katy’s Whistletodde Donut Visit

“What we got today, Wills?  Hope it’s an easy one being Saturday.”

“We’re touring the donut shop in Whistletodde.”

“Wait, didn’t we visit them last year?”

“This is a sanctioned return visit.  The Crown thinks Britain has a real future in confectionery baking.  Take America head on.”

“Except then they ply us with the donuts.  How many did we get last time?”

“200, if I recall.”

“You know, Wills, a girl’s got to watch her figure.  Can we just dump them into the Thames?”

“There could be paparazzi taking pictures, and there’s an environmental risk with sugared trout.  We discussed this last year, Kates.  What’s more, the Queen wouldn’t like it if a donutery, by appointment of her regency, dumped the goods into the Thames.  No, we’ll have to secure them into Kensington Palace, then put the 200 into the trash compactor.”

“Trash compactors are so handy.”

“Americans never use them.”

“Why, Wills?”

“I don’t think they know about them.  Plus, it’s an advanced technology.  The UK is always leading edge.  Just look at the Beatles.  Anyhow, a compactor takes a hundred pounds of trash, and puts it in a convenient hundred pound bag of trash.”

“We’re always involved in some intrigue or other.  You’re like James Bond, and I’m your Bond girl.  I’m glad I married you, Wills, and joined your Royal family, I’m so glad.”

“Thank you.”

to Top of Sketch Pass

 



 

The Nicole Kidman Interview

In my interminably long career as a celebrity interviewer there was still the one that got away.  That one is Nicole Kidman.  Yet, her publicist, Maggie Gyllie, had done her research, and she knew of all the other women that my Pantheon had brought to the next level in Hollywood.  Maybe, Ms. Gyllie thought, I could help her client, Nikky, get beyond her latest slump.

Maggie quickly looked me up on IMDBPro, called me on my professional extension, and we began arranging an interview.  Nicole and I finally had that sit down interview at her mansion, on a sunny, blistering hot, July day in Nashville, where we discussed her profession as an Oscar-winning siren (her air conditioning was being fixed, but there were cold beverages a plenty).  10/10/20.


Here is the interview of a lifetime, in its entirety:

“What is acting to you, Nicole?”

“Acting means many things, but more than anything, it means process, cathartic process, with heaping helpings of vitality.  I know I say that now, but my compadres will catch me — so isn’t it engagement, too?  Engagement with the director, my fellow actresses, and you, out there watching me on television.  Acting is all about making more friends than enemies.  Sure, it’s about romances.  That’s where I met what’s his name.”

“When you say process, you must mean—”

“The evolution of thespian depiction.  I love depiction so much.  Cannot get enough.  Gives me a spring to my step.  Taking a story, and whetting the audience’s appetite with commercials.”

“It’s been said that you’d rather be on a sound-stage, then be back in reality with your family.”

“Well, let me just say, I’ll just say, I love my kids.  They’re great kids.  I don’t see them so often, but again, it’s about the process, it’s me with my community of actresses.  The kids have nannies for god’s sakes.  What do they need momma for, when she can rake in the dough doing the latest mini-series?”

“Does your husband mind your absence when you’re on location?”

“Have you ever heard of an open marriage?  What does that mean to you?”

“Well, you have options.”

“I have options.  If I wanna make it with some up-and-comer, why shouldn’t I?  Do you know how hard I work?  I’m always thinking process and engagement.  How can I not?  How can anyone in this field not think, like I do, about process and engagement, and yes, involvement?  Most think about the troika of process, engagement, and involvement, but I do it so much better.  The father, the son, and the holy spirit, is one triad, but actors know...  You know what I’m about to say?”

“I’m not quite sure what you’ll say next.”

“Process, engagement, and involvement, the holy trinity of this classically trained thespian.  Always, process, engagement, and involvement, ah, epiphany.  Thank you.  Good luck to you and your newspaper.”

“You used your name and reputation to get around Australian quarantine laws.  If your name wasn’t Nicole Kidman, you’d have stayed in a State-run hotel for two weeks.  Is this fair to other Aussies who could get infected?”

“I don’t have germs, and I have kids vulnerable to the ways of the primitive outback people, okay?  Last question.”

“What do you think about aging in this business?”

“I’m outta here.  I gotta private plane waiting out back, and it’s about to take off.  A non-stop from Nashville to LAX with unlimited bar cart, hear me?  I am that important, okay?  You just don’t understand how important I am, do you?!!  I still got it, okay???  I am still satin and lace, okay?!!  Fiery-red, me!!!  Do you understand me?!!”

“Yes, I think I do...”

to Top of Sketch Pass

 



 

Ashley Judd bonds with Trump’s Bitch McConnell

“Hi, Bitch.”

“Hey, Ashley Judd, I thought you fell off the face of the earth.”

“I’m back.  Hey, tough loss.”

“What?”

“You didn’t hear?  UConn over Kentucky in OT.  Our man, Jenkins, couldn’t connect from three-point land, but his inbound game was not to be believed.”

“I’m not a young whipper-snapper anymore.”

“I sure hear that.”

“Ashley, I’ll take you to Tokyo Joe’s, Nashville Steakhouse for drinks.  It’s the new South eaterie everyone’s talking about.  We’ll talk about the olden days.  I hold court there.”

“Aren’t you married?”

“Not so much.”

“I’m sorry, Mitch, but I went lesbo.  I’ve told everyone.  Where’ve you been that you didn’t know that?”

“I’ve been trolling for chicks.”

“Me, too.  You know, since you’re connected, speak to the debate committee about some lesbo Q and A.  Is Trump in favor of more lesbo representation?”

“Lesbo T and A, where do I sign?”

“That isn’t what I said, you rascal!  More lesbo representation?”

“No can do, Ashley.  GOP doesn’t represent your demographic.  To my party, you don’t exist.  I respect your right to exist, but my party doesn’t.”

“Dang, double dang.  Do you have any new Bible verses?  I need some church.”

“I know that feeling, Ashley.  We all need more baby Jesus in our world, except my Bible is in the glove compartment of the Rolls.”

“Me, too.”

“Hey, the State of Kentucky parade against abortion is next week.  You can scream about nasty woman stuff.  The teenage mom float will be outfitted by LL Bean.  The theme is quality jeans and motherhood.”

“I’m on the fence about abortion.  I know I had one, but my church isn’t for the murder of younger people, which is what abortion is.  I used to think I aborted a fetus, but my Methodists are right, I aborted a short person.”

“Okay, suit yourself.  Call me if you get lonely, or you want anything pushed through the Supreme Court or the Senate.”

“Oh, you mean Barrett, and Impeachment.  I’ll call, Bitch.  If I wasn’t lesbo, you’d be the one.  The South will rise again.”

“I hear you, Ashley.”

“Keep it real.”

“I do.”

“One more thing, can we make Kentucky, ‘The Hillbilly State’?  Why don’t we have visit KY ads with a barefoot family in dungarees, straw hats, and corncob pipes?”

“I never thought of that one.  It would certainly add to our tourism base.  After Senate recess, I’ll run it by my staff.  I’ll get back to you.”

to Top of Sketch Pass

 



 

Ashley Judd Teaches Sunday School

Ashley substituted for her friend, Mary, who teaches at Heavenly Asheville Sunday School.  One of her charges posted a widely-distributed Youtube of the event:

“Hi, do you know who I am?  I’m Ashley Judd?  Remember TwistedBug?  Maybe you’re not old enough to remember.  Okay, we’ll skip that.  Why are we here today?”

“Baby Jesus.”

“That’s right, we’re here to celebrate the life of Baby Jesus.  What did Baby Jesus do for us?”

“He ruined our Sundays.”

“No, that’s very wrong.  We are here on our own volition.”

“Volition?”

“Our own free will?  What are you, felons?”

“I have to go home.  I have a cold.  No, I have Coronavirus.”

“How do you know?”

“Everyone in my family has it.”

“Everyone must live in mortal fear of the Coronavirus.  This is only good citizenship, part and parcel of being an American.  Baby Jesus gave us COVID-19 so we could stay at home and reflect on our sinning.”

“Which planet are you from?”

“Simmer down.  I was given a lesson plan which we will get through.  Now, why do we love Baby Jesus?”

“We don’t.  He’s a joke.”

“But everyone loves Baby Jesus, why don’t you?”

“Because he died two-thousand-years ago, and the Church has been puffing up his memory ever since.”

“Puffing up?”

“Making him more than he ever was.”

“Teenagers don’t talk like that.  You are talking heathen talk.  Do you know where heathens go?”

“To reality world, unlike where you live.”

“That’s just plain rude.  Baby Jesus would never allow rudeness.”

“He’s a form of repression.  He tried to make everyone faggy, and with you, he succeeded.”

“I’m not faggy.  I’m on a quest for spiritual discovery.”

“Same thing.”

“You’re just teenagers, I am not accountable to you.  I’m only accountable to my Baby Jesus.”

“We thought Mary was bad.”

“When are your mothers getting here?  I’m going to have a talking to with each of them.  I will not tolerate haters.”

“My mother is going to listen to you?  She’s deep in the cups, like you will be in two hours.”

“Ha, ha!  I don’t drink!”

“My flight out of Asheville International was canceled, Ashley, I’ll take them from here.”

“They’re evil, Mary, nothing but evil.”

“Frankie, and you twins, you attacked a teacher again???  Thwap!!!!!!  Thwap!!!!!!  Thwap!!!!!!  Thwap!!!!!!”

“Is corporal punishment really necessary, Mary?”

“Oh, yeah, you betcha.  They need to learn the value of Baby Jesus in their lives.  Thwap!!  Take that, loser!!!!!  Out comes the ruler on the knuckles!!!!!  Thwap!!!!!!  Thwap!!!!!!  Thwap!!!!!!  Thwap!!!!!!”

“Sunday School was certainly different from when I was a 19-year-old...”


Mary was played by Jennifer Aniston.  The poorly behaving, atheistic teens were played by never aging Frank Muniz, and the ageless, Olsen twins.  Ashley Judd played herself.  Her inspiration for the role was her research into the verifiable, long-suffering of her Madonna.


Distribution was canceled because of lack of funding.  Movie posters cost money.  Investors complained that Baby Jesus didn’t vanquish evil in this version of the presentation...

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Ashley is in love with Baby Jesus and her Church

Through the magic of channeling first person story-telling we found this (Ashley Judd has personally authorized the recounting of this vital morality play):

“Great sermon, Deacon BluesThe Book of Deuteronomy is always my favorite.”

“Mine, too.”

“Those life lessons?  My, oh, my.  But how about we do some Mary Magdalene next week?”

“Well, Ashley, it’s Lenten celebrations, and that means—”

“Corinthians 1, I hear you.  Okay, I won’t be so pushy.”

“The birds in the field do not sow, Ashley.  Worry about the fetuses of the unborn men and women who are being slaughtered.  Ashley, remember that because of Eve, and her snatched apple, your gender is the origin of sin.”

“Yes, it is written, it is told.  I’m just on edge.  Again.”

“Blessed be to baby Jesus, Ashley.  It’s what binds us together as a people.  Never forget that Jesus died for your sins.”

“What does one have to do with the other?  I have Baby Jesus on the one hand, and my sins on the other.”

“You’re thinking crazy again, Ashley Judd.  You’ll never get into heaven that way.  You get to Heaven through me!  I can put in a good word for you, remember?  I’m much better connected than you are.”

“It took me awhile to realize this truth.  I see the error of my ways.  Deacon Blues, you’ve solved all the riddles of the universe.  How can I ever repay you?”

“Double, no treble, your giving to this year’s annual fund.”

“Sure thing, Deacon.  Have a nice day, Deacon Blues.”

“You too, Ashley.”

[Ashley bounds down the steps of her tony, house of worship.  She drives home in her late-model Rolls Royce.]

“I give tens of thousands of dollars to keep afloat what keeps me afloat, but I just wish they would try to make the Bible more contemporary.  And if they could only figure out how to feed the poor.”

[She pulls up her very long driveway, gets out of her car, and the door opens on her digital facial recognizance.  She sits down on her sofa.  Her standard poodle starts licking her face.]

“Down, Tiger, down.”

[She picks up a very large book from similarly very large books on her coffee table.]

“Tiger, this is such a Harvard classic in post-post-modernism, and it weighs in at just over a thousand pages: Brothers Kaminsky, Lives in Danish Revolt.  Time for a reread.”

[She reads a paragraph, and instantly falls off to sleep.  Tiger licks her face.]


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Only yesterday, Santana, you were lesbo, but why not today?

Gwynnie is married to Bradley Wonder-Bred, the scribe responsible for Glee, the sit-com about gays and lesbians in a glee club.  This is the teleplay of my favorite episode:

“I’m not lesbo, dammit, Carlita.”

“You were last night.”

“Well, that was last night.  Today’s a new day, and I won’t be going lesbo anymore.”

“What about the prom?”

“I can’t go lesbo to the prom.  That’s for the straights.”

“Then are you lesbo or straight, Santana?”

“Now, you’re confusing me.  Girls like me can’t go to the prom, okay?”

“The entire glee club is lesbo, and they’re going to the prom.  You should.”

“The entire club?  Every last Gleek?”

“Yes.”

[Santana looks skyward, and dreamily scratches her head.]


This won an Emmy for Bradley Wonder-bred, and another for Gwynnie in her recurring role as Holly Holliday, the substitute teacher who likes girls — a lot.


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Would you fancy being the Queen of England, Catherine?

Catherine and William near the end of their second date as they stroll around the catacombs of Kensington Palace.


Catherine Middleton:  William, where are you taking me?

Willie Windsor:  I need for you to meet someone.  This is her office.  I’ll see you later.

Catherine Middleton:  What, what’s going on?

Willie Windsor:  Please, Kate, it won’t take long.

Constance Earl Grey:  I’ll take it from here, William...  Hi, Catherine.  I’m Constance, Constance Earl Grey, and I’ll be your Royalty intake integrator.

Catherine Middleton:  What, what are you talking about?!

Constance Earl Grey:  Please, we need you to cooperate.  William has said that you are a very cooperative, young woman.

Catherine Middleton:  What is this about?

Constance Earl Grey:  How long have you been dating William?

Catherine Middleton:  If I knew when I went out with him I’d be up for any interview, for any craziness—

Constance Earl Grey:  Five dates?

Catherine Middleton:  Well, no, this is just our second date.

Constance Earl Grey:  Good, very good.  Now, would you fancy being the Queen of England, Catherine?

Catherine Middleton:  I have never given it any thought.  What are you writing?

Constance Earl Grey:  Your answers, I cannot record this on magnetic tape, security issues.  Do you create your own food dishes, or does your staff prepare them?

Catherine Middleton:  I cook my own food dishes, who else will be cooking them?

Constance Earl Grey:  What do you like to cook?

Catherine Middleton:  For breakfast, I like bangers and mash, but I’m watching my figure, so I nixed sausage from my diet.

Constance Earl Grey:  She watches her figure.

Catherine Middleton:  Is there a candid camera somewhere?  The joke’s on me, right?  William, you’re in trouble now.

Constance Earl Grey:  What kind of car do you drive?

Catherine Middleton:  You want me to play along?  Okay, a Fiat.

Constance Earl Grey:  What model?

Catherine Middleton:  A 1992 Fiat, it’s a station car.

Constance Earl Grey:  Just answer the question, Catherine.

Catherine Middleton:  It’s a 1992 Fiat Station Master, I take it to the car park, then the tube to London town for work responsibilities.

Constance Earl Grey:  Mileage?

Catherine Middleton:  It has over 300,000 miles on it.

Constance Earl Grey:  If you do well with William, you’ll have your own Rolls Royce.  Is this okay?

Catherine Middleton:  What?  Do well?

Constance Earl Grey:  Are Rolls Royces satisfactory transport for you?  They’re British.

Catherine Middleton:  I know that they are.  Yes, give me a Rolls.

Constance Earl Grey:  How tightly aligned are you with the bohemian lifestyle?

Catherine Middleton:  I don’t really think that I am.

Constance Earl Grey:  Do you do what the lower classes might call partying?

Catherine Middleton:  Well, in your twenties, you party.

Constance Earl Grey:  Have you ever gotten sick from alcohol poisoning?

Catherine Middleton:  Is this any of your business?!

Constance Earl Grey:  Well, for our purposes, it is.  I’ll take your answer as a yes, you’ve been poisoned by alcohol.  Were there paparazzi around?  We need to know the photographers and photos that we need to suppress.

Catherine Middleton:  This is getting very personal.

Constance Earl Grey:  Catherine, you want to join the Windsor family of Royalty, do you not?

Catherine Middleton:  Well, I’m not so sure now.  Okay, there were paps nearby.

Constance Earl Grey:  Any dalliances outside of men that you’ve been seen in public with?  Any lady friends that you shared intimacies?

Catherine Middleton:  Okay, stop, that’s it, we’re done.

Constance Earl Grey:  I’ll take that as another yes.

Catherine Middleton:  What the?!

Constance Earl Grey:  You live in a flat?

Catherine Middleton:  How many questions am I expected to answer?

Constance Earl Grey:  Please, Catherine, we’re almost done.  For Britain’s sake.

Catherine Middleton:  Yes, I live in a flat.

Constance Earl Grey:  Do you clean your flat, or does someone come in to do it for you?

Catherine Middleton:  I do it.  Who else would?  I strive to be very independent.  Write that down.  I’m a very independent, young woman.

Constance Earl Grey:  Don’t worry, being independent typically won’t be to your detriment.  This is the 21st Century, the new House of Windsor is really getting hip.

Catherine Middleton:  I’m not going to be some Twiggy running around doing Willie’s bidding...  Well, Twiggy was my idol growing up.  I have a Twiggy lunch box, we all did at Saint Andrews Prep.

Constance Earl Grey:  Are you a virgin?

Catherine Middleton:  You can’t ask me that.  I have rights, you know.

Constance Earl Grey:  I’ll pass on that one for now.  How many Royal heirs are you willing to bore for William?

Catherine Middleton:  Isn’t that premature?  We’ve only been on two outings together.

Constance Earl Grey:  Good answer.  Fine.  Very good, Catherine, you’ve made it to Round Two.  I’ll escort you back to William’s suite in the Cheshire Wing.

Catherine Middleton:  What did I sign on to?

Constance Earl Grey:  You’ll make an excellent fit with the Windsor Family of Royalty.  Just keep it clean.

Catherine Middleton:  I don’t deal drugs, Constance.  Constance, was it?

Constance Earl Grey:  I am Constance Earl Grey, yes.  William, we’re done.  She is receptive to the idea of becoming the Queen of England.

Catherine Middleton:  I’m receptive?!  I made Round Two?!  What the heck is going on, William?!

Willie Windsor:  You’re being vetted by my Windsor human resources team.  We need to be sure you measure up to our standards, and so far you do.

Catherine Middleton:  I’m supposed to be happy about this?

Willie Windsor:  Why yes, you’re quality.  I bet you’ll get through the approval process, with flying Union Jack.

Catherine Middleton:  Then why do I feel like crying...

to Top of Sketch Pass

 

Discover life-saving shortcuts for your iPod/iPhone/iPad and Windows PC.  Android is Google, so no one cares about its shortcuts.

Shortcut KeyIts Purpose
iPod and iPhone
Hold down Home ButtonEngage Siri, the automated, voice-activated wizard
Hold down Home Button, speak “Play [radio station]”For instance, “Play WCBS FM” or “Play 98.1 Oldies”
On/Off switch + Home ButtonScreen capture into Photos app
2x press Home Button & swipe, then tapRetrieves recently opened apps
Press Home ButtonExit current app
(Any) Browser
ctrl + “u”See the HTML code that the browser is rendering
ctrl + tabCycle through previous browser tabs
ctrl + link-clickOpen new browser tab with the link
alt + enterOpen new browser tab with the URL in the address bar
ctrl + “t”Open new blank browser tab
ctrl + “n”Open new browser window
ctrl + “h”Open history of pages visited
Space barToggles pause and resume play in Youtubes
ctrl + “w”Close browser tab
ctrl + shift + “t”Reopen last closed browser tab
F5Browser page refresh
F3 or ctrl + “f”Browser find in page
ctrl + “`”Browser last tab toggle (accent)
ctrl + enter Adds “.com” to the end of a web site address
ctrl + scroll-wheel Browser magnify or de-magnify
General
alt + numeralSpecial characters list here
alt + tabCycle previous Windows
Ctrl + Shift + EscTask Manager
Windows key + “x” Power User Menu, Control Panel, File Explorer et al
alt + F4Close Window
alt + space bar Window manipulation (then “n,” minimizes window)
Windows-key + “e”File explorer
Windows-key + “r”Command line
ctrl + “p”Print page
ctrl + “c”Copy selection
ctrl + “x”Cut selection
ctrl + “v”Paste selection
Double-click a wordThe entire word is selected
2x-click a word, shift, then a 2nd wordThe entire phrase is selected
Triple-click a wordThe entire containing paragraph is selected
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The Food Court for Thought

Ever wonder about the meaning of life, and the answers to life’s eternal questions?  Haven’t we all tried to solve these riddles with varying success?  What follows are better answers than the Holy Bible has along with plenty of practical info not found anywhere else.  Be prepared for the wisdom of King Solomon (that may not be what you get, but be prepared for it).

(Food for Thought has been made squeaky clean for the expected visit by none other Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.  The Duchess, by the way, takes her responsibilities very, very, seriously, although no one is quite sure what those responsibilities actually are.)

beacon invisible except to web stats
  • Latest and GreatestYou don’t want teenagers to have a sex life, but you expect them to be happy.  The Vatican and their followers shudder at the thought of teens having sex.  Yet their leadership consists of virgins, who’ve never had sex in their entire lives.  Besides, they’ll do all they can to block abortions.  God has told them that fetuses are people.  Meanwhile, the denial of reproductive services paves the way for teenage moms, and unwanted children.
  • Latest and GreatestEventually, toddlers won’t be given birth certificates.  Instead, they will be given certificates of incorporation, so they can build their brand at birth.  Corporation rights activists will applaud the move as people become closer to being revenue-aggregators than being human beings...
  • Latest and GreatestBlack speak makes Whites feel like little children...  “I took out my muscle pistol and her tilt was just fine, dig?  Where’d my afro pick go?...”
  • Latest and GreatestThe mark of effective writing isn’t impressing the reader with the author’s intelligence.  It’s the opposite, that the reader is impressed with their own intelligence for readily tackling and understanding difficult subject matter.
  • Latest and GreatestThere’s no one more hateful than a Christian, one who knows the jig is up, that all of their prayer up to Baby Jesus, and all of their holier-than-thou, purity nonsense, was a sad joke.
  • Latest and GreatestIf that Harry Chapin song, Cat’s in the Cradle, really resonates with you, then try to keep in mind that one day your parents will be gone, and they won’t ever be coming back.  Make amends, or make plans, or do both.
  • Latest and GreatestWomen prefer to think of sex as beautiful love-making.  Guys have a tendency to think of it as part of an employee-boss relationship, or worse, indentured servitude for dinners purchased.
  • Latest and GreatestThere’s little getting in the way of a woman, and a romance, upgrade path.  She rightfully refuses to waste her time with an unsatisfactory, and/or incompatible, lover.  That is, unless she needs her meal ticket stamped.  Then unfortunately, all bets are off.  Stay in school, girls, and young women.
  • Latest and GreatestDoes habitual use of a psychoactive substance like alcohol or marijuana make you cool or hip?  How will it?  If you need a crutch, won’t your drug dependence ultimately make you weak, not strong?
  • Latest and GreatestThat said, only ten-percent of the population has an alcohol problem.  Yet, why get fat with the empty calories of booze (void of vitamins, minerals, and protein), or get on the road when you shouldn’t be?  Alcohol usage is habit-forming, and getting buzzed often doesn’t make for a healthy lifestyle, despite what the multi-billion-dollar vino and suds industries might claim.
  • Latest and GreatestAt the heart of every country song is this sentiment: “The farm is doing well, thank you, and all thanks go to Baby Jesus...  Girls, learn your place serving your Christian master...”  John Deere farm equipment is a common theme in ballads.  Country music is under the mistaken assumption that they celebrate America, when they really celebrate the Confederacy — except for The Judds, Miranda Lambert, Willie Nelson, John Denver, and Johnny Cash (sadly, Dolly Parton is a Christian)...  Country music has the melody and the rhythm, but the lyrics are usually hokey.
  • Latest and GreatestA mobster is an a*hole who’s turned pro.
  • Latest and GreatestKnocking up a girl, is a legally enforceable meal ticket for her, because of child support (plus the end of most of her professional aspirations), and a ball and chain for the guy.  The only escape from two ruined lives, is if the girlfriend has an abortion.  The Pope will do anything he can to prevent her pregnancy termination.
  • Latest and GreatestIn social media, everyone wants to be the expert.  Those who actually are, ruin it for those who are clueless, so the real experts are put at the bottom of the feed, where they’re never read.  Eventually, Instagram and Facebook will be exposed for all it is, as a marketing tool.  It is not a reliable source of information, even infotainment.  CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t aim to get us to see through the BS, only to get mired in it — especially during election season.
  • Latest and GreatestHopefully, post-Trump, America can rehabilitate its image, so we’re known as something besides just being greedy and rude.
  • Latest and GreatestIf nothing more significant, the homeless make us grateful for how well we’re doing.  That said, they’ve bottomed out, perhaps we can be charitable in enabling their recoveries via soup kitchens or a place like Phoenix House.  (The Salvation Army is steeped in Christ worshiping, they’d rather hand out Bibles to the poor, and proselytize them.)
  • Latest and GreatestJudge not, lest they really deserve it.  Condemn not, even when they deserve some form of condemnation?  Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven?  What if you did nothing requiring forgiveness?  Then didn’t you forgive the unworthy?  If someone comes after you, you should let them off of the hook with forgiveness?  Turning the other cheek, as Christianity implores, encourages difficult people to freely trespass against you, without fear of compunction.
  • Latest and GreatestRomances are like an auction.  The highest bidder wins.
  • Latest and GreatestWouldn’t it be great if the content of your character was worth far more than the size of your bank account?  Martin Luther King used “color of their skin,” not wealth, as the divider, but I’m White, so my perspective is different.
  • Latest and GreatestLife is about doing stuff, and leading an active lifestyle.  It’s not about lazily sitting on your butt.  That said, listening to music is doing something, as is physical exercise.  Resting after an activity has a restorative purpose, as does limited daydreaming.
  • Latest and GreatestThere should be a third political party that does a better job than the Democrats.  They’ll never get aggressive about gun control.  What’s more, why is America best in medical infrastructure, and worst in COVID cases?  The Republicans are just plain hopeless.  The lack of concession by Trump is especially embarrassing, troubling, and lawless.
  • Latest and GreatestHow do you avoid dental floss cuts, and slippage?  We asked our international panel of experts.  Their answers will both shock you, and dismay you.  You’ve got: Dental Chitchat on the Overnight...
  • Latest and GreatestFor those getting ready to watch lots and lots of porn, remember, it’s all fake and lame-brained.  The “actors” and “actresses” are not volunteers, they are being paid to perform.  Porn can lead to dependence or impotence, because it can make the real thing pale in comparison.  It can be very exploitive and abusive.
  • Latest and GreatestCan necessity inform evolution and the physical?  Is there a linkage between life’s designs and the need for those designs?  Or do miraculously complex biological processes like thought and reproduction, arrive by grossly simple, random DNA, genetic mutations?
  • Latest and GreatestDresses are ventilation and voyeurism in one, very convenient package.
  • Latest and GreatestThose maligned can prove by example that they don’t deserve being maligned, that they are beyond the aggression and the name-calling.
  • Latest and GreatestThe term, “Indian giver,” adds insult to injury.  Native settlers never gave their land away.  How can they be criticized for wanting back what was stolen from them?
  • Latest and GreatestMom’s 1930s:  “Do be a do be, don’t be a don’t be.”  “Where’d you go?  Here and there...  What’d you do?  This and that...”
  • Latest and GreatestMy Dad boxed in the Army, and a guy who helped him train had a story about title-holders:  There’s a guy out there who can really do damage to you.  And there’s a guy who can easily deck him; and a slugger who can knock that guy out in the first round; and so on, and so on forever, until you have the world-class heavyweights like Jake Lamotta...  This can be applied to most any one-on-one sport, or in a stretch, to team sports.  In other words, as good as you think you are at your chosen sport, there are plenty out there who can whup your ass but good.  These match ups are on the days that you should have never gotten out of bed.
  • Latest and GreatestWhen in doubt, follow the instructions.  They are most typically, carefully prepared for completeness.  When you’re only left to your own devices, think to yourself: “What would MacGyver do?
  • Latest and GreatestHave you ever felt that no matter how hard you try, you have completely alienated or offended everyone else?  What’s more, you are the most agreeable person anywhere?  Welcome to this blogging world o’ mine.
  • Latest and GreatestLife can often seem like a maze.  Have you run up against the same dead end again and again?  Do you know of anyone who might show you how to extricate yourself?  Think, think hard.  Ask around.  Brainstorm.  Isn’t there anyone who’s dealt with your disconnect?  Or is there a group that has the answers?  Don’t be a doomed rat perpetually going ’round and ’round in a maze.
  • Latest and GreatestSocial media is such a weak tool of communication.  Posts are typically in the form of extremely abbreviated, easily misunderstood, letters to the editor, and are only exclamation points for the latest outrage.  These policy statements by Trump (and the Left, too) comprise all of one or two sentences.  That celebrities such as Harvard grad, Ashley Judd, bother with it, when their micro-communiques say so little, makes you wonder if they’ve ever evaluated their idle Tweeting for real impact.  Is there anything said in just two sentences that’s worth saying?
  • Latest and GreatestGiven my admittedly weak market position at The Other Letter, if I’m not as loud as f*ck, or as a Boeing 747 jet engine at takeoff, I’m not doing my job.  Unlike The Times and Fox, Other Letter is not written to make powerful friends, and financial connections, it is only here to present the truth to those who run the tables...
  • Latest and GreatestIs your concern, one that a consensus of humanity often needs to resolve?  If there isn’t anyone dealing with this issue, then why are you?
  • Latest and GreatestFaith can be found in the consensus of spirits among humankind, but can never be found in the clouds over our heads.  Good will is a product of collective bonhomie, not Baby Jesus, the puppet master, pulling strings from the clouds.  A god throwing lightning bolts from a throne above us (and everywhere at once), answering our passive prayers is an impossibility; but our own efforts, our active intervention, can get real results.
  • Latest and GreatestComputer services and equipment, as well as mobile devices, were created to enhance life, not make it more difficult.  Although there are times, when you’re sure that the latter was true, that tech was sent here, straight up from Hell.
  • Latest and GreatestIn spite of widely-held opinion, zoos do have valid functions.  They have grounds that can nurse the injured of a species back to health.  Zoos preserve species against extinction in the wild.  Zoo animals cannot just be released into the wild, because any creature in a zoo is effectively domesticated, and might have a great deal of trouble reacclimating into the wild.  Just a few thoughts to consider, because a well-run zoo is not so cruel.
  • Latest and GreatestIf we were to think of life as just a game, where we were only players running around a game board, couldn’t it lighten our burden?  Instead of life and death stakes, we’d only be fighting for scorecard advantages.  The metaphor can be extended across all games.  Chess for intellectual combat.  Clue for when there’s a lightly-fought contest.  Cards have a number of analogies like the tactical gaming of poker, with hand ranks, or the completely, non-adversarial games like gin rummy.  Maybe this is really how we should view our lives, not as stressful, real-life, head-to-head fighting, but rather, as a bit of enjoyable gamesmanship.
  • Latest and GreatestBesides thinking of life as a game, think of the mean green as artificial, play money, because it is.  Money is simply an abstraction.  Paper money is without intrinsic value, it’s worthless.  Green, engraved currency is hardly worth the paper it’s printed upon.  It is a human-fabricated, abstract, store of value.  Money only has value, when society agrees it is worth something.
  • Latest and GreatestEnergies coalesce randomly to form weather patterns, or in a much more organized degree to create biological systems.  Both are manifestations of energy, although striking up conversation with a cloud may not be worth your while, unless you’re devoutly religious, and the cloud is where your god is located.
  • Latest and GreatestIn business (and probably in life), fight the battles that you have the best chance of winning...
  • Latest and GreatestGrowing up, I was taught to be tolerant, and to treat everyone equally.  There was, and remains, a tendency of some to solely gravitate towards the Aryan, All-American types.  Those dead-center centrists can be stultifyingly boring.
  • Latest and GreatestI generally don’t get too bent out of shape after writing hard-edged commentary here.  Not many read this (that I am aware), and if they hate what they read here (assuming they can read), they don’t know where I live.  Or if they do know where I live, I sincerely doubt that they want to do damage to a blogger/screenwriter.
  • Latest and GreatestWhile life can be unfair, there will always be degrees of unfairness.  For instance, anyone could be from an abusive family, instead of a stable one.  They could run away and live on the street.  Anyone could be subjected to mental illness or drug addiction, and find themselves homeless.  You are more fortunate than you will ever know.
  • Latest and GreatestSocial media is a party that everyone can crash, and always does.  If Hollywood people and anyone else, really wanted to make a statement, then they would forget asocial media, and learn to code (or hire someone to code) their own websites.  I’ve mentioned the alternative enough: Have an option to prevent replies both at the follower and at the leader level.  Today, it’s a scary, free-for-all zoo, one counting down to its own obsolescence.  You need to brace yourself if you post anything the Trump idiots won’t like.
  • Latest and Greatest
    “Son, med student.”
    “Me, med student.”

    Give a doctor a notebook, and ask him or her to write ten, full pages of everything they know about medicine.  They can’t do it.  Then what are they worth, if they cannot even produce these ten pages?  Well, then they’re not worth the six, seven, or eight figure incomes they get today.

  • Latest and GreatestLet’s review: How high are the barriers of entry to getting tattoos, or doing drugs?  That’s right, the only barrier is whether or not you have the cash to blow on idiotic and potentially addictive, or even deadly purchases (addictive or deadly in the case of drugs).
  • Latest and GreatestEach of us are stewards given charge of nature and its precious resources.  Except for hunters, that is.  Their function is to heartlessly destroy and decimate woodland creatures.
  • Latest and GreatestFright is the best laxative, although dried fruit such as dried plums, or prunes, work well, too.  Fresh fruit may be even better as it’s, well, fresher.
  • Latest and GreatestWouldn’t you rather serve the greater good of humanity, or creation-at-large, than one, male God, up in the clouds?
  • Latest and GreatestTo the mosquito, you are the pest, not the other way around...  That said, the next time you swat and kill a mosquito, stop to consider what a meager life they have.  They spend all day looking for blood and escaping death (not unlike Trump).  They are probably very happy when you kill them, in the split second between swatting and life termination, that is.
  • Latest and GreatestIf you’re straight, and you get hit on by a gay or lesbian (that is, you get an unwelcome come on); then just don’t engage, look down or look away.  That should be sufficient enough of a clue showing disinterest.  This would work just as well on unwelcome straights, hitting on gays and lesbians.  Do gays or lesbians ever get beat up, simply because straights don’t know how to prevent their advances?
  • Latest and GreatestHere is a bit of guidance for those budding writers out there who want to know when to begin a new paragraph.  Add a new paragraph when there is a change in approach, or in tack, or there’s a new topic of the passage.  Do the same for aesthetics, because a very long paragraph can look ill-formed.  Otherwise, add an indent and line feed if the current paragraph is just getting too long to be grasped as a cohesive sub-element of your entire argument.

    As a general rule of thumb, verbs are conjugated with an “s” when the subject of the sentence is singular.  When the subject is plural and already ends with an “s,” the verb in conjugated without an “s.”  This prevents “s” from being used too many times, and sounding funny.  For example: The Smiths eat ice cream, Susan Smith eats ice cream.

    I say “argument,” because very often, writing is an argument, with a purpose, to convince the reader of an important, yet lesser-known, or altogether unknown, truth.  Writing for pure entertainment value veers away from this model, but even the most clever entertainment has an underlying, thematic message.

    Writing consists of having something to say, then saying it.  Words are selected, then rearranged, until the expression sounds right.  You could write the poetry or the prose of Shakespeare, but if you have nothing of any importance to say, it all falls flat, it’s without substance.

    Compact expression, with fewer words, generally works better than the wordier variety.

    Keep the person consistent.  Is your paragraph in-person, and second-person, using “you,” or third person, and not present, using “he, she, or they”?  Don’t drift back and forth between addressing a second-person and any third-person.  Introduce second person by stating the person’s name in a sentence, then as either “you,” or back to the person’s name.

    One more imperative in writing: Do not repeat words, especially within a paragraph, or in adjoining paragraphs.  Find an alternative way to describe an object a second time.

  • Latest and GreatestGetting in charge of a vice, and distancing yourself from it, or even conquering a bad habit, may be a matter of remembering why indulging in it is unhealthy; or by getting your mind off of it by doing something else entirely.  Think of all that would improve, such as improved relationships, or mental well-being, if you refrained from your indulgence.  If you need more help than the paragraph on this anonymous website, there are clinicians available, and there’s the free-of-charge, and well-established, 12-Step programs.  There are over a hundred programs based on the 12-Steps and 12-Traditions, including Alcoholics, Emotions, Cocaine, Overeating, and Narcotics Anonymous.  They all have an immensely long list of success stories.
  • Latest and GreatestThe world of rock music, as well as the country music world in the South, often treats drug usage as though it was a higher calling.  There are major risks to consider, including: damaging your mind and body; how expensive this can get; that addiction is commonplace; narcotic overdosing and alcohol poisoning is possible; prison if control is lost; and even insanity is a possibility.
  • Latest and GreatestI’ve noticed that people that get high are always hiding.  They’re hiding that they’re high.  They’re hiding that they’re going out to get high.  They hide their stash, and they hide the stash’s location from most everyone else.  Lastly, they try to hide from the police that they’re high.
  • Latest and GreatestThe ideal is to make enough money that you can sleep well, but not too much money that you can’t sleep at all.
  • Latest and GreatestA higher power (or personal standard for empowerment) can be the average of what humanity is capable of accomplishing.  If most can, why can’t I?  If others can, I can, too.
  • Latest and GreatestAnyone, alive or not, can be channeled, just as a God might.  People you know well, you might also know how they’ll respond.  The problem with channeling a God like Jesus the Christ is that he has been dead for two-millenium, and you have no prior, real-life connection with him.  (After reading Luke 24:39-41, you’ll realize that the Christ is a fraud anyhow.)
  • Latest and GreatestThe best (and most inexpensive) advertising you’ll find, is via word-of-mouth.  Product quality and service will generate traffic regardless of marketing campaigns.
  • Latest and GreatestHunting today is a carryover of hunting for sustenance from centuries ago.  Today’s hunter though, doesn’t have any respect for nature.  Armed with assault rifles, they feel that taking down wildlife, like deer and elk, is just killing crap.
  • Latest and GreatestClimb a step...  Reach a plateau and a vista...  Climb ten more steps...  Reach a plateau with a better view...  Stumble, get back up, and climb five more steps...  Get to another plateau with a different view, and in another direction...  And so it goes, on and on, navigating life’s terracing of scenic plateaus, as they’re being presented from forces often unknown...
  • Latest and GreatestWhen I search for any rhyme or reason to explain humanity’s inexplicable temperament, I can pause to consider that every person’s lineage is a product of love.  This is at the beginning of most every human life, a mother and father most often bonded in love.  Considering your neighbor was created out of love, how god-awful can they be?  (I would also tend to think that children of rapists, do not possess the brutality of their father.)
  • Latest and GreatestHaving kids with anyone, essentially makes your relationship permanent with them, whether or not you want it to be.  This is one of the reasons why reproductive rights are so crucial, and why the Vatican is so wrong about abortion...
  • Latest and GreatestPhoebe Cates of Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame, once said this: “When your firstborn drops their baby bottle, you sterilize it in boiling water.  When this happens to your second born, you wash it off in the tap.  If this happens to your third born, you have the dog lick it off.”  One interpretation being: Sanitary measures are habituated.  Over time you don’t care so much about hyper-cleanliness, if you ever did...
  • As for claims by hunters they are needed by Mother Nature for culling: there has always been Mother Nature, there has not always been hunters.
  • Words that might be worth living by: “Try not to be an a-hole, and stay away from those who are.”  That and, “Try to have a little fun before you die.”
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Deer Sighting

This is a stag (or adult buck) near my home, forty minutes from Manhattan.

Three years ago, I saw a deer on the side of my house.  This is so rare here, it crossed my mind that maybe I had seen an apparition.  The last time before this that my family had seen deer anywhere near here, was in the early 1960s, before the Long Island Expressway (the main thoroughfare) was built.

But wait, there’s more — specifically a doe that only was noticeable when they took off over the hill, side-by-side.

It’s so reprehensible how hunters see the majesty of the Crown of Creation, and they only want to put a bullet through its head.

There are Biblical references to magical appearances of a stag and a doe.  The Book of Deuteronomy 14:5 proclaims that good tidings will be soon for both the homeowner and the nation, when deer appear where they have never appeared before.

Okay, this is the Bible that should have been written, but in Deuteronomy 14:5, or the Bible that was written, “fallow” deer can be eaten.  In other words, if it’s napping, kill it.  Somehow, the writers of the Bible were given the final authority on killing animals (just as how a male virgin was given final authority on women’s reproductive rights).  Back on terra firma, poultry makes a protein-rich, not-so-evolved food source.

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Neighborhood Opossum

If you have them out back, they’ll make their presence known, then feed them dinner scraps such as four of five slices of bread daily (depending on brood size).  They are nocturnal and skittish so getting close up video is difficult.  There are “services” that will deal with your raccoon and opossum ”problem.”  But if you leave them alone, they’ll do the same for you.  Raccoons and opossums are going the way of the now extinct, Long Island frog and toad.  One day, outdoor suburbia will just be a Scotts Dura-Lawn carpet in Pantone-adjusted, phosphorescent green.

Opossum seem to have made their entrance onto Earth, and into woods everywhere, before raccoons did.  Raccoons have a strong similarity in appearance to cats, and even dogs.  Opossum don’t look like anything else from the present day.  They occupy a unique branch of the evolutionary tree.  What’s more, they are very slow walking creatures, they do not possess the sophistication of creatures that from every indication appeared much later on the scene.

In Mississippi, they hunt for raccoon and opossum.  You have to be either very poor or very sadistic before that sounds like something worth doing.  It’s too bad that the South rejoined the Union, because we could have gotten rid of these ignorant, Bible-thumping, racist hicks forever.  Eventually the South would have moved away from an agrarian, slave economy anyway, and the Underground/Overground Railroad could have brought the African Americans North.  You would have saved 600,000 lives, but you blew it, Lincoln.

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Raccoon with Bread at Night

When is the last time you fed your raccoons and opossums?  If you haven’t, are you prepared for their aggression?  If raccoons and opossums, being generally nocturnal, venture out during daylight, they may or may not be rabid — they might just be looking for handouts. As you probably already know, it is not such a wonderful idea to feed rabid animals, although there has only been one reported death ever from “raccoon rabies.”  The literature suggests that feeding raccoons will cause them to attack, although mine never have.  The hours we keep are different anyhow.  Isn’t a starving raccoon, one eyeing your calf as dinner, more of a risk to you and your loved ones, than a well-fed one?  (Coyotes are another story, they are carnivores whose diet is 90% animal matter.)

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The Long Island Grackle Invasion

I’ve Tweeted more than just a few world leaders about eradicating dogs.  Given their poop, they are the bane of hikers everywhere.  They are known, disease vectors spawning cholera, rubella, and tuberculosis.  Ashley Judd will kill me if my plan ever got traction, my plan being a mass eradication event of dogs, like through some blessed, DNA breeding, re-sequence virus “accident.”  Ashley would try to shut me down.  Yet I can always dream of the glorious day of the virus release, can’t I?  Can’t everyone?

Most every sane person would agree that the dog situation has gotten far, far out-of-hand.  With the help of concerned scientists, and current veterinary methods, we can at last deal with this menace of pooches pooping.  Dogs will at last see their end game.

If world leaders ever step up to the plate, and we at last find success in the dog extinction theater, then it’s on to the grackles.  They really serve no other function but to bother the good birds of the world: the cardinals, the blue-jays, and the chickadees.  Grackles are bird feeder thieves.  I do not like them, no one does.  Same goes for dogs, dogs are almost universally hated, except by people like Ashley Judd who find them entertaining in some twisted, perverse sense.

We have the genetic engineering technology today to reach these goals of a serene, dog-free existence.  Now, it is only a matter of getting world leaders behind my admittedly ambitious agenda.  If we can send a rocket ship to the moon and back, then folks, we can at last have a puppy end game as well.

Near President’s Day, or the third Monday of February, the Grackles show up at our bird feeder on Long Island.  And there goes the neighborhood, as they eat more than any others, so feeding returns to a daily schedule, from one every other day.

If anyone is aware of a genetic-virus solution to either my Grackle problem, or my puppy problem, please do not hesitate to reach me at my contact section.  Please, no genetic viruses that spread to other species, like HIV/AIDS.  Thank you.

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The eagle (or its backyard counterpart, the hawk) has landed.

A Hawk eating its Prey

Mourning doves are the hawks’ favorite prey around here because they’re slow and meaty, just like turkeys.  I have a few misgivings about feeding the birds, but they do seem to like it as they’re here often.  What’s more, their numbers here exceed those in the park.  We steal their habitat.  This is the recompense...

The hawk’s function is to cull the less viable of the flock, those older or weaker.  Hawks lower the number of wild birds competing for the same, limited amount of food.

To deter hawks after they have a “feeding,” stop feeding your flock for a week or two.  Also, have a brush pile and evergreens nearby, so the smaller birds can find cover.  Then, keep windows easily visible as windows, with decals designed for that purpose, or plants covering part of them.

This is not for the faint of heart.  Many, if not most, will be overcome with the viciousness of this predator.  You will likely cover your eyes to avoid the sheer horror of the act you are about to witness, but first you hurriedly leave the room for a commode, because you will be overcome with nausea...

Eh, not really, this is just the law of the jungle, or of the woods, specifically the woods in suburban Long Island.  This is his feeding time (or the he could be a she, who knows?)  It is interesting how paranoid the hawk is, he looks around everywhere for what? — a homeowner with a rake?  It’s like he feels guilt over his meal, or he’s uncomfortable on the ground when he’s mostly above it.  I would guess he caught a mourning dove, they are fat and slow, and make an easy prey.

The only problem with feeding the birds with birdseed, is that you may indirectly feed the hawks as well.  This must cull the flock, and the whole scene has been going on before man even flourished, or even before apes existed, if you look at the evolutionary tree.

After the hawk caught this bird, I’ve had to fill the feeder half as often.  Witnessing the attack must have been too rich for the blood of many of the birds feeding here.  In other words, they might have been traumatized — as far as birds get traumatized.

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If you feed your birds, I would stop feeding them by May.  If you don’t, they aren’t wild birds anymore, they are your pets.

That said, if you don’t feed the birds outside in winter time with bird feed there is the distinct possibility that many will not make it through the winter.  There’s very little for them to eat once the leaves fall.  You owe them this, because if you live in the suburbs, your housing development fully encroached on their habitat.

Blue jays are the most aggressive by our bird feeder.  Cardinals are smaller so they wait their turn.  These two larger birds hold off feeding until I leave, unlike the chickadees.  The chickadees are getting more trusting and will eat from the feeder before I even set it on its post.

The first to eat after being fed are the chickadees, then the nuthatchers.  They seem to arrive in ascending size order.  Being smaller, the Chickadees may stay closest to my feeder — they do not have the physical, avian, ability to fly far distances away from a regular food source.

Chickadees may also be emboldened by the fact that because they are not so meaty, they do not make much of a snack for a hawk.  Because of their small size, Chickadees may also be more agile, like hummingbirds, so they can evade predators.

If you really would like to ensure the survival of your flock, put up a suet cage, and fill it with a slab of fat and seed suet.  This is a high energy snack, and your visitors will thank you at Spring with returning calls and hatchlings.

Cornell Cooperative Extension has a listing of the birds that dominate (or displace) other birds at the bird feeder (scroll down for interactive display).  The blue jays are feared, but the king of the skies (or the bird feeder) is the Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Because it is so small, the Black-capped Chickadee is at the bottom of the pecking order.

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Birds at Bird Bath during Daytime

At Spring, you may notice birds that are not yet full-sized, like under-sized blue jays.  These are hatchlings.

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Football is Played by, and Enjoyed by, Robots

On February 7th of this year, the LV installation of the Super Bowl will be played (55th to those who weren’t alive during the time of the Roman Empire).  Once you understand football, you realize that the game is for player-robots.

Given that the biggest player on that commercially overblown, all-day event, is 43 years old, why does this sport matter at all?  Tom Brady could just as easily be a shuffleboard champ, so how could this sport be at all physically demanding?  (Brady’s former play-caller, Bill Belichick, was, or still is, very good friends with Trump.)

Football — if anyone in America cares, and they don’t — is only a military exercise.  The coach sends in the plays, and the team remembers what to do, and they do it.  There isn’t any spontaneity in football, none at all.  For most football players, their sole skill is knocking over the opposition onto their ass.  In soccer, every player is the captain, deciding how the play should proceed.

Unlike the other major sports such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), or Major League Baseball (MLB), football is best played by weight-lifting addicts, many of whom can barely run, and seem brain-dead (and with helmet injuries some are really brain-dead, or will be soon enough from cerebral deterioration).  In fact, because the Super Bowl is really just an unending commercial, one way to get through the drudgery is to count the concussions from head-on collisions.

American football players have little or no say in what they do on the field of play.  Their coach scripts their entire game from his playbook.  They pale in comparison to the “beautiful game,” or soccer.  (Soccer as its known in America; football, or futbal, as it is known everyone else).

In soccer, every player is autonomous, every player decides where they want to advance the ball, how it will get there, and if they have a good shot on goal.  Unlike in football, soccer players don’t need clearance with a sixty-year-old coach on the sidelines to decide where they should go next on the field.  Soccer “fixtures” by the best, can be three passes (or moves) ahead, just like in chess.  In football, it’s always one play, huddle to regroup, one play, huddle to regroup...

To the player-puppets on the field, led by the coach puppet-master, football is a dumb game, played by dumber player-automatons.  Is Brady dumb?  He cannot be trusted to decide his own plays, can he?

Soccer players are mostly divided into three positions: fullbacks, defense, or backfield; midfield, or transition; and strikers, wingers, or offense.  Unless a substitute is called, soccer players are on the field for the entire ninety-minute game duration (with a fifteen minute break at forty-five minutes).

Football has a kicker, and a punter, who only appear on the field to make a single kick, then they run off of the field.  Football players are only on the field for half the time of play — and the offense is in the huddle for much of the time that they’re on the field.

The huddle is when the quarterback repeats the coach’s plays to the other players on offense.  Essentially, the quarterback is the only player that matters in football, the other twenty-one are there for effect, they are window dressing.

Football, and especially the Super Bowl, has unlimited commercial breaks, soccer has none, except at half-time.  At most, televised soccer games show ads on the perimeter of the television screen.

To alleviate the tedium of memorizing idiotic commercials (for later recall at the office water cooler), football has cheerleaders falling out of their uniforms.  Yet, still, the Super Bowl is sadly the most boring spectacle in all of sport.

Commercial after commercial is debuted at the Super Bowl.  Most Americans will be watching commercials so they will be informed about key, near-term purchase decisions (like the red-and-yellow-dressed clown pushing artery-clogging, cut-rate breakfasts).  Ads are committed to memory so those who witnessed the telecast can participate knowledgeably in Monday morning, water-cooler banter.

This is even though the ads have nothing to say about the products they’re advertising.  It’s all about selling the American flag, and wholesome (White) values, to the half-drunk, American idiot.  If you drink Budweiser beer, you will love watching Clydesdale horses discuss the blue collar life at a watering hole.

In America, what matters most, to most, is staying trendy.  This is how tactical allegiances are forged, and how the alpha-male or alpha-female is crowned, or especially its red-white-and-blue variant.  Of any event in the American year, the States coalesce most around this bastardization of sport, The Super Bowl.

Soccer afficionados growl over the undeserved popularity of the incredibly lucrative, National Football League, and the weak, underfunded, American soccer program.  Yet, the World Cup is the saving grace.  Soccer’s sport-defining championship will be in November, 2022 in Qatar.  The NFL gets most of the sports dollar Stateside, so sad to say, America will not be competitive at the World Cup, we shouldn’t even bother showing up.  1/25/21...

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How-to Cut the Cable

Introduction to Saving Some Money  This TV guide is the enticement to television programming that can make cutting the cable worthwhile.  “Change Address” to your zip code and see all you’ll get free for a one time, roughly $90 investment of a digital adapter box, and indoor antenna.

(Actual results depend on how strong your reception is, which depends on antenna placement, wall material, weather, etc.)


Over-the-Air (OTA) Equipment  I bought the Mediasonic Digital Converter Box, and an RCA antenna.  On the many, good reception days, I am very satisfied with both.

The automatic channel scan gave me 45 stations, ten to fifteen of which were watchable on a given night.  Re-scan for new channels on days without much wind or precipitation, or if you’ve adjusted the position of the antenna.

Keep the digital converter box parallel to the ground, and avoid having any kinks in the well-coupled, coaxial cables.


Antenna Placement  Aim, then rescan, until you found the sweet spot.  Your antenna is best placed where there is a minimally impeded, or unblocked, broadcast signal between your antenna, and the television station broadcast tower.

The antenna works best near a window, and that window is hopefully in the direction of a broadcast tower (such as a tower of CBS, ABC, or NBC, but not Fox).  Placing the antenna in the middle of the house, probably will get weaker reception than at the ends, where the signal won’t have to travel through multiple rooms.

Antenna placement above ground works greatly in your favor, as does wood shingles, or vinyl siding.  Diminishing your reception is stone, brick, or other masonry on nearby walls.

The best reception I got by far was only in a temporary location, put there because of Tropical Storm Isaisas.  It was in a room not surrounded by other rooms, but on the far edge of the house.  On the other side of the wall away from the antenna was the outdoors.  I put it on top of a dresser bureau, it didn’t even need to be in a window.  This brought the signal to the next level.

Here’s another strategy: I mounted the antenna on a paneled wall, maybe a foot above the height of my head (unfortunately, a cement wall was on the other side of the paneling).  Tap the wall, or better, use a stud-finder, to find where to drill a hole for the mounting screw.  The antenna should be perpendicular, that is, at right angles, to your favorite network.

This worked well, this was the sweet spot for my TV in the basement.  I placed the indoor HDTV antenna atop a tall bookshelf that is nearby a window.  Position the antenna at right angles to the transmitting towers that you have an interest in getting a signal.

The antenna should not be seated on a metal surface.  Placing the antenna at the other end of a room where your favorite network is located is generally not a good idea.


Reception Considerations  Many have noticed that reception degrades in unsettled weather (for instance, on a windy day, or especially, on a rainy or snowy).  When the medium of transmission (the air) isn’t calm, the signal can be disrupted as the radio waves can be impeded.

  The nighttime most often has better reception than the daytime.

Your reception may vary.  As always, be sure to follow all instructions on the package insert.  For most anyone, this will be a very easy installation.


Cable and OTA on the same TV  I would suggest buying a coaxial, A/B switch to toggle between cable television (if you have cable), and the over-the-air antenna.  Philmore makes a heavy duty one that’s sold on Amazon for $25, and Home Depot sells a light-duty one from Zenith for just $9.

There was a remote version, which if I was not mistaken, cost $30 on Amazon.  Now, a similar remote switch on Amazon costs $130 which sounds like price gouging.  The non-remote, $25, push-button version works well enough for me.

If you have a newer television, it will likely provide source control.  With your TV remote, you can choose between HDMI (flat rectangle), and RCA plugs (white, red, and yellow) input; or cable TV, and over-the-air antenna TV.  This makes a coax splitter switch unnecessary.  Just turn off the source — set-top-box or antenna adapter box — when not in use.


Alternatives to OTA  Over-the-air reception might not be as reliable as cable reception.  It all depends on how close you are to the towers, the quality of antenna you have, the placement of the antenna, and what building materials are in the antenna’s signal path.

Another very inexpensive option is the cheapest of all, it’s a free one called Pluto.tv.  Pluto isn’t free like over-the-air, because it requires an existing Internet connection, and there are ads, just like over-the-air.  A good movie selection on Pluto.tv is Fools Rush In starring a compelling and convincing Salma Hayek; paired with Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing on Friends.

Hoopla Digital is somewhat similar although more movie-centric, commercial-free, and is offered by most public libraries.  (The only problem with Hoopla is that it won’t work with the Opera browser, which is the superior web browser.)


More Sophisticated Setups  Where this requires much more planning is if you try to put the antenna in your attic, or even outside on your roof.  Then you would use signal splitters to send tacked-down, coaxial lines around your house.  This also involves drilling holes between floors to route the cabling.  At which point, you would need a serious antenna, not the $70 variety, but the $130-plus variety, with a signal amplifier.  Your reward for crawling around your attic on your knees, is very strong reception unhindered by your house’s walls, and above any obstacles like any trees.

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Your own Private Cloud on the Internet

You went out and bought the Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS218j (Diskless) for $170 (the file server), and the Western Digital 2 Terabyte hard disk for $85.  You save your iPod files on your file server with the included Drive program (the app and desktop versions).  How else can you walk this extremely full-featured hardware through its paces?

Install DS Audio, that is, Disk Station Audio, on both your Disk Station, your file server via your desktop, and your iPod.  Then experiment.  One thing you might try is to feed the Shoutcast network through your iPod.  This is free of charge, and you get another source of audio programming, besides your radio, or the RadioUK app mentioned on the OBS radio page.

You can even keep a terabyte music library on the file server via Audio Station so you can pipe music into your limited storage iPod.  Upload MP3s into File Station’s Music Folder, then Add to Audio Player.


To maximize the security of your file server, create a secure connection so your browser shows a lock symbol when viewed by the client (your local browser).  This gets too complicated for a few paragraph explanation, but the aim is to create a domain called your_server_name.synology.me with a Let’s Encrypt security certificate.

Then point your browser to: https://your_server_name.synology.me, to access the file server’s functions.  To get an error-free certificate, your house router will need to have a port forwarding rule to allow port 80 traffic to go from your router to your file server.

This is completely free to implement (beyond the cost of the file server), but it can be daunting for those who don’t spend lots of time with computers.  Synology can answer your questions, and point you in the right direction.




A Small Sampling of What a Networked File Server Can Do

A few notes on the Synology file server: You’ll have the last versions of a document (the upper limit on historical versions of files is limited by the hard disk size.  Drive is the upgrade of Cloud Station, I can now view my backed up, desktop text files on my iPod, via the Synology server.

Network professionals can do all kinds of stuff with this: Media Server, iTunes Server, PHP Server, web test servers, advanced RAID configurations (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks).  You can scale up your basic file server into a corporate web presence (although you need to have a direct feed to the Internet backbone for that).

The Synology network storage may or may not be a challenge to get running.  A wish list solid-state, very reliable drive without moving parts, costs four times what one with moving parts does, for the same storage capacity.




Here’s How to Digitize Vinyl Albums

These are the steps to convert your vinyl albums and CDs into MP3s, or just to copy them onto a desktop, laptop, or the Synology Disk Station Manager (as I’ve been doing) as part of setting up a music server.

Beware of this common mistake: The laptop must be receiving input via Line In, not Mic.  Mic, on the other hand, is an acoustic audio signal, it’s not a direct line in from device to device (phonograph to laptop).  Plug the phono line into your laptop first, first, before launching Audacity in the next step.  This ensures that a Line-in option is available for the input of Audacity.

Within Audacity (which is open source, freeware), again select Line In, and not Mic.  Cue your phonograph, click record in Audacity.  That should allow you to digitize vinyl albums.  In Audacity, Export as MP3s to desktop, or better, to the music folder.

If the audio sounds garbled, it’s likely because Line In was not selected on your laptop, on the audio recording software, Audacity, and on the phonograph (instead of "Phono," which is the default toggle position of the switch on the back of the phonograph).

To broadcast (or otherwise distribute) your MP3 via the Synology File Server: Open a browser window with your DSM local file server interface (Disk Station Manager).  Go to the File Station app, then upload your recording from your desktop -> Music folder, into the Music folder on your file server.  Last, right-click, and select Add to Audio Player.  Open Audio Station, a free app included with the Synology network storage, and add your recorded audio to play lists, then pin for easy visibility.

When you want to play your phonograph again, flip the switch from Line In back to Phono.  Phono is the pre-amp setting.  I’m not a recording engineer (you guessed that?) but I’d imagine a needle rubbing against vinyl is not such a pronounced vibration, and requires amplification to produce a legible signal.

Ripping CDs is much easier (excuse the violent phrase, but that’s the terminology).  Open iTunes, which is free software from Apple, load a music CD into the disc tray, and iTunes will convert this into MP3s.  Then repeat the upload step above to copy from laptop or desktop in the Music -> iTunes folder to the file server.

In iTunes, the top window might say 23x compression, which means that the MP3 is one 23rd of the original WAV (typically) file format.  MP3 is lossy, a bit of musical info is lost (likely that the acoustic range is clipped).  The WAV file format, however, is loss less.  Loss less may sound slightly better to audiophiles, but it comes at the cost of huge file size.

Your vinyl records don’t have to be compressed into MP3s, but it saves lots of disk space.  Digitizing vinyl records into MP3s requires the MP3 encoder, it is not included with Audacity.  It’s anyone’s guess why the MP3 encoder is called LAME DLL, but it is, and it can be found via search engine.  Download it and when Audacity asks for the LAME DLL MP3 encoder location, give it the path where you just downloaded it off the Internet.

The reason why it’s not included automatically has to do with patent.  Audacity apparently doesn’t have the cash to pony up to package this with its audio software.  Apple’s iTunes, on the other hand, has the MP3 encoder, and you don’t have to do anything to get it, it’s built in.

Note: This procedure is admittedly not for rank beginners, or for those with heart conditions.  Per the Fair Use Doctrine, anyone can make unlimited copies of recordings they already purchased.  The trouble comes when they are given away, especially given away en masse to strangers via file sharing services.  This is my interpretation of the law, your results may vary...




Music without Parallel

Direct from Germany (they’ll never be forgiven for the camps, but they still play great music), this is your alternative to however you listen now: via any PC or Mac browser, your file server, or also via installing Winamp.
“http://meggamusic.co.uk/winamp/Winamp_Download.htm”
(The archive doesn’t use a secure connection, they use HTTP not HTTPS, so to get Winamp, this is your option.  I had no problem though.)
  Here’s the path in Shoutcast: Internet Radio -> SHOUTcast -> Decades -> ANTENNE BAYERN - Oldies but Goldies.

In Winamp, this involves more steps.  View > Media Library > Online Services will get you to station selection, then select a station that suits your tastes.  View > Visualizations > [all direction arrow button], to view the cosmic visualizations.

Or follow the Grateful Dead guide for Winamp.  For me, these are most fitting for Dead concerts, but they compliment any kind of music.

If you don’t mind advertising, there is also a Shoutcast app for mobile devices, but the three methods above spare you.

Here’s a few more Shoutcast stations you’re sure to like: San Francisco’s 70s Hits (groovy, super-groovy); 1.FM - All Euro 80’s (www.1.fm); The Big 80s Station; Heartbeat FM; and Beatles Radio.

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Your Grandpa’s Hobby still Resonates

Coin collecting, of the World’s preeminent medium of exchange, and store of value, is the hobby of history, economics, and organization.  Stamp collecting offers similar satisfaction with a sometimes less expensive pastime, yet one with a more colorful and broader canvas, along with many more commemorative issues.

To get started assembling a collection, having inherited the collection of a grandparent gives you a very nice head start.  If you weren’t blessed with an inherited collection, then check out established coin dealers, or even garage sales.  Coin dealers have both albums to mount your collection, and, of course, actual coins (or stamps).

Purchase price is determined by market factors such as the supply minted, where it was minted, and the number of buyers interested in the issue in the after-market.  The other determining factor is the quality of your particular sample.

Coin and stamp graders should be able to determine their value, as they do in estate sales.  Their job is to understand the market, as well as knowing grading criteria.  Very fine pieces can be “slabbed”, that is, submitted for grading, to the private services, PCGS or NGC.  The coins are returned in an unbreakable case which includes their assigned grade.

The best coin samples are graded on a scale from 1 to 70, with 70 being a grade of Proof Uncirculated, one having its original luster still visible.  Every coin issue has different grading criteria.  For instance, a monument or a bust have different wear stages, tresses may wear away before lettering does.

To avoid getting taken, research should be done before you buy, so at least you have a feel for prices.  Be sure to buy from a reputable dealer, especially for any bigger ticket items.  You will eventually find a denomination, quality, scarcity, and a range of decades that fit your budget.  The Whitman Red Book for coins (the free online version is not complete), and Linn’s Stamp News can help you get started.  Your local library should have the complete editions.

Very roughly speaking, collecting stamps is less expensive than collecting coins.  A major exception is the inverted Jenny, a postage stamp.  There is only one pane of a hundred of these stamps known to exist.  The “Jenny invert” features a biplane inexplicably printed upside down.  Each example is worth near a million dollars.  Find that at a garage sale, and you can pay off the mortgage on your house, and live on easy street (at least for several years).

Think future reselling down the road, and there’s less likelihood that you’ll be taken for a ride.  Could you find a buyer in a few years that will pay at least what you’re paying today?

As a rule, do not clean your coins, especially ones from the 19th Century and prior.  Inexpensive, widely circulated, 20th Century ones, can be cleaned with liquid dish soap, and a toothbrush.  Only use brillo on them if you got the coins in your divorce settlement, and this somehow evens the score with that old witch, or crazy bastard.

Coin albums are organized by year, and within year, by mint mark.  A “D” next to the year minted (or on the reverse), means it was minted in Denver; an “S” means it was stamped in San Francisco, a “CC” was a now defunct mint in Carson City, Nevada (nearby area silver mines), and “P”, or no mint mark, indicates Philadelphia.  West Coast mint marks indicate coinage that had thousands of mile to travel to get to the East Coast, and vice versa.  Generally speaking, because of population demands, Philadelphia produced significantly more coinage volume than the Denver and San Francisco mints.

With older issues, you can just imagine all the people who purchased an item with the coin.  Was it a ticket to a movie where Lillian Gish was top-billed, a spoon from a Montana mining town’s general store, a turn of the century newspaper, a malted at the malt shop in the Forties, a tab settled in Tombstone, Arizona, or to buy a dress for a Kansas barn dance?  Was the coin kept in a piggy bank for a hundred years?  As you go further back in history, money is of less currency, and less expected or accepted as payment, everyone was self-sufficient, depended on barter, or like the Amish, lived communally.

You will find you have dupes, or duplicates, that your coin book cannot accommodate.  Either you will need a second album for that denomination’s time frame, or if there is room, extras can just be placed at the end of the album.

These days, everyone lives for social media, but is that ever relaxing?  Numismatics, or coin collecting, and philatelics, or stamp collecting, are both interesting, educational, and even profitable pastimes, ones that are much more relaxing than Facebook ever is.

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(The Wizard of Oz,
© 1939, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
via www.gonemovies.com)

Did you ever notice that Dorothy Gale, and the Witches of the North and of the West, who were of course all female, were the only ones that had anything on the ball in Oz?

Dorothy Gale and Good Witch Glenda have a heart-to-heart.

Glinda, the Good Witch of the North:  Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?
Dorothy:  I’m not a witch at all.  I’m Dorothy Gale from Kansas.
Glinda:  Oh.  Well, is that the witch?
Dorothy:  Who, Toto?  Toto’s my dog!

[The audience can clearly empathize with Dorothy’s confusion and consternation.  Dot wonders if this sprite is okay, she has been through such hell in Oz recently.  Or will Glinda just prove to be another heart wrenching liability, just like every woodland creature has been?]

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(The Wizard of Oz,
© 1939, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM))

The screen of the Wizard of Oz pulled back by Toto.

The most important statement in all of cinema, is that more often than not, even the Mighty Oz had no clue, and that even he knew he was only faking it.  (By the way, you’re really looking at the Pope, and Coronavirus “authorities,” such as New York State Administrator Andrew Cuomo, and Trump.)

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If there is no problem with the signal to the outdoor sensor, put the indoor receiver/display near the coat closet for jacket selection.

Indoor/Outdoor weather station, 5 degree weather on February 13th, 2016.

Indoor/Outdoor Weather Station on February 13th, 2016.

I live South of New England and far South of the Canadian Maritimes, yet this is the weather here on Long Island today.  The reading above is from 10PM, it will be colder still here before dawn (at one point that night, it did get down to one degree).  My concern is the water pipes and the raccoons out back.  The varmints have survived millennia, before the Native Americans were even here.  So I am fairly certain, that while cold, this weather is not going to, well, kill them off.  (By the way, it looks as though the groundhog was a bit off base when he predicted an early spring this year.  The groundhog tends to base his prediction on the current week’s weather, which on this Groundhog Day, was uncharacteristically balmy.)

If you do not have a weather station, in all honesty, this is a great one.  Buy it today.  I’ll wait until you get off the phone with Targét.  This is probably the best piece of electronics I have ever purchased, and when I bought it, it was just $85.  Now I don’t mean to brag, but I also own an eight-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain refracting telescope made by the same manufacturer, Celestron.  They make exceptional high-end electronics, and as seen from the image above, this has sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset, as well as moon phase, barometer, hydrometer, time, calendar, and indoor and outdoor temperature — plus, barometric, temperature, and humidity trends.  I am not making a dime plugging this, but this is a seriously great thing to have.  Just thought you should know.

Technical Note: To get accurate barometric pressure, go to Weather.gov, enter your zip code, and get the current reading for your area.  Hold down the Relative/Absolute button for three seconds then keep pressing ‘+’ until your weather station reads true.  The station ships with absolute pressure which incorporates your elevation above sea-level, but you need to adjust it for relative pressure, that is, benchmark, regional, sea-level pressure.

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Weather done right.

Ambient Weather weather station display

A weather station that does it all, the Ambient Weather WS-1002-WiFi

The unit displays graph able wind, wind gust, and direction; indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity; wind chill, heat index, UV index, dew point, and barometer; sunrise and sunset, moon phase; and rain accumulation, by the hour, the day, the week, the month, or the year.  As seen above, this also broadcasts your weather onto the Internet via Wunderground.com — the Weather Underground.


I upgraded from a WS-1001 Outdoor Sensor Array to the WS-1002.  My weather station kept getting bumped off of the Weather Underground grid because of overestimated temperature readings as well as generating a jagged temperature line on the monitor.  After I installed the WS-1002, this is no longer an issue.  I know because I calibrated the array against an environmentally-safe, outdoor glass thermometer.

The difference between the two models, is that the newer one has a capacitor to store solar energy during the day, and runs off of non-rechargeable, lithium, AA batteries at night.  The older one was constantly recharging the batteries, and apparently this was not the most efficient way of providing a constant current for transmitting to the monitor.


This is the monitor.  The colored bells indicates that audible alarms are set by the user, then triggered when a threshold is exceeded, such as three inches of rain in one day.


There are many, many ways of mounting this, and some of them involve ladders.  This way is relatively unblocked by the roof, and allows easy access without a ladder, but here you need a deck.

Outdoor sensor perched atop a mast. Outdoor sensor seated atop a mast.

Outdoor sensor itself, mobile app or compass-oriented to North. Outdoor sensor itself.

Outdoor sensor mast brace, with crumpled aluminum foil to reduce wind vibration
which might throw off the rain gauge. Outdoor sensor mast brace.

Mast pinning screws, the one in the middle holds it towards the deck post,
the one on the left stops the mast from turning. Mast pinning screws.


I later found Davis has a similarly-priced model that I could not review by press time.  Davis can get super expensive though.  The advantage of owning any of this is that when the farmer’s daughter sidles up to you at the State Fair asking for all kinds of profound weather insight like: “When should Daddy plant his corn?  Is it time to irrigate?  Daddy is getting older, he wants you to run his million acre radish farm, are you our man?”  You now can make the farmer’s daughter’s dreams come true.  Other than that, if you decide to jettison your current career, you may have a future as a meteorologist.

I got this on Amazon for under $400 including mast kit and mast kit extension.  Final words, plan well ahead for dimensions, and placement.  Really helps if you are handy, or are from a family that is (you own a portable drill, for instance), you are good at following directions (Ambient Weather’s, not mine), but if you can follow the example below, then that’s all you might need for planning.

(I would get the WS-1001-WiFi console upgrade instead of the WS-1200-IP alone with its earlier generation, Internet box.  For me, the WS-1200-IP had connectivity issues requiring an exchange to the WS-1001-WiFi.  The WS-1001-WiFi connects to the Weather Underground with no issue whatsoever.)

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Suburban Archeological find of the Millennium

These were all found in my backyard in a suburb of Long Island.  The one in the middle is the best example of the Native American hunting skills as seen, well, at least on my block.  This is not quite Navajo or Sioux country, but they made a livelihood by hunting deer just around my house.

The notch in the middle arrowhead (indicated with the blue line) shows incredible skill, and had to be used to well-position, and provide a notch for wrapping the arrow tip over and over with saplings between the arrow shaft and the arrowhead.

Up where the Expressway is now, in the early 1960s, there were deer in the suburbs, but no more.  All that remains of an apparently vibrant native way of life, at least for this neighborhood it seems, is what is seen here.

Three framed arrowheads, the middle is the prime example

If I had better photography skills, they would all look even more like arrowheads.

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Backyard Nature Watch

Just being attentive to your surroundings, you can find all variety of wildlife, even in your own woods.

 

Western Suffolk County doesn’t have Frogs

Riddle me this: For a new species to emerge from the firmament, one genetically mutated specimen must mate with a second.  Then, and this makes no sense whatsoever, these two give rise to that species reproducing most anywhere else on this earth.

A 2-inch frog with 3 bright, blue arrows, pointing at it.

A very unusual local toad, yet there is now, another larger bull frog, in the thrush.

There is a bullfrog in our yard.  My town in Western Suffolk does not have bullfrogs.  It sounds vaguely like a cricket, but they don’t show up until August.  Did a bird gobble up frog eggs miles distant, then drop them here?  If you ask me, that sounds very far-fetched.  For one, the bird would digest the frog’s egg.

There are two other explanations, that the bullfrog had no ancestry local to my home, and was a genetic mutation of another amphibian almost always unrelated to bullfrogs, such as a slug or a salamander.  The problem with this theory is that my locale has no amphibians that I’ve ever seen.

Are there any other possible explanations?  Well, the one I favor stands against long-standing genetics theory.  Geneticists claim that every species is derived from a prior, simpler organsism.  But what if this bullfrog leap-frogged far up the evolutionary tree in a kind of spontaneous evolution?

Then what if there is a species, a branch on the tree of life, that is ready to be filled, where the branch will be occupied once it can easily thrive in fortuitous circumstances?  With advantageous climate, as we are experiencing the last three months, is there a natural tendency for this branch, this evolutionary rung on the ladder, to be filled spontaneously?

There may very well be a natural propensity for a life form to exist.  Its amino acids comprising the DNA blueprint are readily available to organize this basic life.  Then what is preventing this organism to exist without thousands of genetic trials and errors of which there isn’t any fossil record?

If the standard issue possessed the providence to exist, why can’t the spontaneously evolved do the same?  Put less abstractly, if the crucible exists in Creation for this frog to take its place in the animal kingdom, why does it need to take eons of time to fill it?

There is one more explanation which I cannot honor as it puts me in the tinfoil hat camp: That karma, Creation and its greater forces, found our locale somehow advantageous, so the bullfrog was situated here.  As incredibly far-fetched as Creation-intervention may seem, I had a deer on the side of my house two years ago, and we do not ever, ever have deer here in suburban, Western Suffolk County.  5/25/20...

Humanity expects nature to exist in a set fashion, but nature does not have any obligation to live up to our expectations.  5/27/20...


I ran into this toad in the woods.  The amphibian didn’t move for minutes, he (or she) seemed as interested in me, as I was in him (or her).  Like a Hollywood starlet, the toad seemed to welcome the photo op.  As I hadn’t seen one in my town for at least a decade, I had thought toads were extinct on Long Island, or at least, Western Suffolk County.  Toads were once everywhere here.

Then how did this particular toad get here?  What would account for this apparent species reintroduction?  Is there a global predisposition in creation for toad life to pop up into being?  Why can’t there be a genetic and evolutionary shortcut outside of evolution from protozoa — and could this method be generalized across other families of life forms?

Can an extinct species be brought back to life, just like it was initially brought into life millions of years prior?

In other words, can ladder rungs of evolution be skipped?  Does genetic change have to occur in extremely minute increments?  What is preventing the hitting of a genetic jackpot, that is, a species having a huge sustainable, evolutionary leap?

All species are said to derive from prior ones, did this specimen evolve locally, and instead of evolving over millions of years, did it take a few quick hops up the evolutionary ladder over just a few summers?

Might there be a species force of will, one shuffling the DNA deck outside of incremental random mutation?  Can a species express itself at a genetic level?  It expresses itself at dozens of biochemical levels, why can’t do so at the reproductive level?

I didn’t see any nearby toad mating partners.  Does life ever arise from Creation without a sperm cell impregnating an egg cell?  Is a fertilized egg always required to generate a mature specimen of every species?  Is there enough genetic information in one gender of a species to create a living being, just as an amoeba would?

The “missing link” of the title was a hypothetical, more intelligent ape that bridged humanity with the lower apes.  There’s an unaccountably wide chasm in the evolutionary record here as well in Western Suffolk County.  The missing link re amphibians may bridge our understanding of spontaneously generated life that re-grow evolutionary tree branches from ones that had become extinct; or ones left dormant in biologically stable eggs for decades.  Otherwise, it may just be part of a knot unseen by anyone in this part of Long Island.

Local university primatologists are already comparing my find to the discovery of Lucie in Africa’s Cradle of Civilization (which is just a bike ride away from Charlize Theron’s childhood home).  Current dogma from the biological sciences would suggest that a bird ate a toad egg from, say, the ponds of Connecticut, with its next stop being Long Island.  It didn’t digest in the bird’s stomach, and then it was excreted intact, here in Western Suffolk County.

The bird-ingesting-toad-eggs, miraculous birth theory denies the fact that toads and frogs only develop in open air and water..  If anyone corners you asking if you’re buying in to any miraculous birth, don’t, because next thing you know they’ll want to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn, or have you join their church...


I crossed paths with a toad in the woods, and that has made all the difference...  —paraphrasing Robert Frost

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Bird Watching find of the Century

I’ve spoken to several area zoologists and they all are certain these feathers are from what is likely a bird, and one prehistoric in origin.  That particular pattern is created when a pigment is infused circularly when, well to be honest, they had no clue how to achieve that pattern via biological systems.  Please contact me if you know exactly what type of bird this is.

Two feathers off of a common feather.  Two large, black dots at the end of the feathers.
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Opossum snow prints

The arrow points to what is likely opossum snow prints.  Opossum’s feet do not face forward like the faster-moving raccoons.  Red-tailed hawks are also common to this area, but their talons face forward and back as well, and hawks do not hop sideways, back-to-back, in unison (or at least the ones around here don’t).  The smart money is riding on the opossum.

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Illusion of a frog that also looks like a bicycle on a pedestal

Balancing Act or Bespectacled Frog
© Other Letter

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Call your travel agent, and book a stay with our number two advertiser today.

Leafy Pines Village town sign, Wherever particular people congregate, incorporated 1984, A good town to live in ...

Or where to spend some time away, maybe drop a few bills — and it’s not such a horrific place to raise your family either.  LPV is a breeding ground for all manner of fascinating insects, most non-life-threatening.  It is a bit of schlock, but we have learned to call it home.

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What the historic, world-changer that the discovery of E=MC2 was to Physics, the Crucifixion Eclipse will one day be to all of humanity, and not just Christians.  If The Other Letter was known for one thing in its run, it will most likely be the Crucifixion Eclipse.  Much of this startling discovery is from a few almost unknown and weakly researched chapters of the Bible — specifically the New Testament’s Book of Luke, Chapters 23 and 24.  (The text that accompanies this is in the Nature section of OtherLetter.com.)

(The outside links are so milquetoast, that they are
a complete waste of the ten minutes you’d spend watching them.)

 

Do we live in a multiverse, occupying one of a myriad of overlapping universes?  Or do we live in a bi-verse?  There is the universe that we all know and exist in today.  But can there be another plane of spiritual existence that any mortal may never fully know or cross into, but is only passed into if we surmount challenges presented in the universe into which we are born?

This later universe is invisible to mortals, and dismissed as being incredible by our scientists.  It’s dismissed because our sensory apparatus — our eyes, our ears, and our electronic instrumentation — have never penetrated into this next domain.

This unknown universe would have all the powers the doubting have always speculated as being possible.  Evolution of Creation would derive from forces outside of random molecular collisions.  Given the incredible sophistication and majesty of Creation, how can random chemical activity account for the development of human consciousness?  How can the spirit be so mysterious, never locatable nor definable, unique to each person, never destructible and seemingly permanent?...

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This is from my Dinners even a Bachelor can cook portion over at the main operation, OtherLetter.com.  These practical recipes were created to have everything cooks want most — taste, nutrition, and easy preparation.  These have eight ingredients or less.  More than that many, and time you should spend enjoying your creation, is instead spent at the markets hunting for novelty ingredients such as fennel and anchovies (anchovies may actually be fine, I tried them once, and to be honest, it tasted like a salt lick might, was I a horse).

Easy Raspberry or Blackberry Smoothies, and now, with Strawberries or Blueberries

I haven’t been counting, but if I were to guess, I’ve made this particular recipe over forty times.

Be sure the berries are fresh.  Blackberries seem to last longer in the fridge than raspberries.  Blackberries have a richer flavor, raspberries a more subtle, nuanced one (you’ll see what I mean).

Raspberry and Blackberry Smoothies should be poured through a sieve into the glasses after blending, as they will have small seeds.

Two cups milk
Four tablespoons maple syrup (two tablespoons if including banana)
EITHER An entire 6oz. package of fresh, rinsed raspberries, or blackberries;
OR 3/4, or 12oz., of a 16oz. package of fresh, rinsed strawberries cleaned of stems and blemishes with a paring knife — and optionally, one half of a banana;
OR Half of a pint of fresh, rinsed blueberries;
OR Half of a banana without strawberries.

Dust off and wash blender.  Pour ingredients into jar — pour milk first to have the blender function as a measuring cup.  Without the banana, use four tablespoons of maple syrup; with half a banana, two tablespoons of maple syrup.  Cover jar, run at purée, or smoothie setting, for 45 seconds (60 seconds for strawberries).  Makes two drinks (although you may like to double the recipe).  That’s all there is to it.

Key to the Blueberry Smoothie Recipe found!  Instead of taking an entire, 6-ounce package of blueberries and adding it to the 2 cups milk like you would in the new raspberry and blackberry recipe, add just 3 ounces, or half of a package of blueberries to it.  Because the blueberries are fully diluted by the milk, that blueberry sludge issue you’ve all been reporting is avoided.

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Stick-to-your-ribs, Hot and Spicy Chili

This is a supper that will have you hosannaing this recipe, just as it will have you feeling fully nourished.  Defrost a half pound of hamburger meat overnight in the refrigerator, or, assuming any pets can’t get at it, leave it out on the kitchen counter two hours before preparation.

Half pound, lean ground beef
Entire can of dark kidney beans, drained (15 oz.)
One and a half cups of marinara sauce
One teaspoon of chili powder (not chili pepper)
One to three garlic cloves (optional)

In a large frying pan, brown ground beef at medium-high heat.  In the sink, pour off the grease into a tin can or a coffee cup; or if you prefer, the fat of the ground chuck, or chopped sirloin, can be kept in the frying pan for flavor.  If you like garlic, use a knife blade to crunch a few cloves, and remove its husk.  Then dice it and sprinkle it over the ground beef (approximately five cloves to a bulb, many people prefer no more than one clove).

Lightly cover marinara sauce over ground beef (a cup and a half works for me).  Then pour a can of dark kidney beans into the frying pan.  Sprinkle in a teaspoon of chili powder, or just shake the spice container lightly a few times over the pan.  Stir constantly, reducing all ingredients at medium-high heat for five more minutes, or until you feel heat radiating off the chili onto your hand, and the very liquid consistency has become a very moist paste.  Serves two.

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