The Snoozeletter @

There must be a pony. Another old joke, but it bears repeating:

A set of 5-year-old twin boys had developed extreme personalities: one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist. So the concerned parents took the kids to a psychiatrist.

First, the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears.

"What's the matter?" asked the psychiatrist, baffled. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?"

"Yes," the little boy bawled, "But if I did, I'd only break them."

Next, the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands.

"What do you think you're doing?" the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist.

"With all this manure," the little boy replied, beaming, "There must be a pony in here somewhere!"

AmadeusAmadeus was directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer (adapted from his play). F. Murray Abraham stars as Antonio Salieri and Tom Hulce as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

This film is a classic. What more can be said? The court composer Salieri was so jealous of Mozart's talent that he may have destroyed Wolfgang's career.

The Director's Cut restores an extra 20 minutes, and fleshes out some of the subplots.

Immortal BelovedImmortal Beloved was written and directed by Bernard Rose.

Gary Oldman stars as Ludwig van Beethoven, Jeroen Krabbé plays Anton Schindler (Beethoven's secretary and lifelong friend) and Isabella Rossellini is luscious as the Hungarian countess Anna Marie Erdödy.

Suppose a letter is found after the mighty composer's death, a letter in which Beethoven refers to his "immortal beloved." Who was Beethoven's real muse?

LvB's music is the real star here. Discovering possible inspirations for his music is an unexpected bonus.
Freeway party: 2 of 2.

As mentioned yesterday, Anikó and I went to the Loop 202 opening event on Tuesday night. We were impressed with the organizers' attention to detail: parking was on one side of the freeway, booths on the other. They expected thousands of idiots and, sure enough, thousands of us showed up.

Of course, one of the major sporting activities at a party like this is to see who can collect the weirdest free stuff. We gave it our best shot:

1) DVD from (detailed here) - "Modern Roundabout, Innovation in Traffic Management"
2) Map from - "Regional Transportation Plan Freeway Program 2006-2025"
3) Yellow plastic hat from - Construction hardhat w/ADOT logo
4) Mousepad from - "Slow Down, My Mommy Works Here"
5) Keychains from - "Buckle Up" detachable + "Please Watch Out For Motorcycles" black cycle
6) Plastic sports bottles from - "Arizona Travel Info"
7) Bottle of water from and - "I'm There"
8) Pencil from college - "Career & Technical Education"
9) Triangular mini-toolkit from - "Mesa, The Perfect Location For Business"
10) CD cleaner from - "Mesa Rocks!"
11) Rubber squeeze toy from ? - wedge of cantaloupe: orange center, green rind, brown skin - "Eat Well, Be Well"

The rubber cantaloupe wedge is my favorite. I'm sorry I can't remember who gave it to us.

The organizers were careful to provide many bottles of water. Since the party consisted mostly of walking long distances on virgin black asphalt--smoking hot and shimmering under the summer sun--water was a must for survival. We were most impressed by the guys who scooted around with little red wagons full of ice-cold water bottles. They moved quickly when dazed partygoers stumbled off into the freeway ditch, faint with heatstroke.

Anikó on Loop 202
Alan w/swag
Freeway party: 1 of 2.

Anikó and I went to the Loop 202 opening event last night. It was pretty much as stupid as expected, but in wonderfully silly ways. We collected tons of cool free stuff, which I will enumerate later, but the most surprising piece of free crap was a DVD, entitled "Modern Roundabout, Innovation in Traffic Management."

When I was growing up in Massachusetts, a million years ago, we called these types of intersections "traffic circles," and they were considered to be deathtraps. Everybody, including the state's public roads department, wanted to replace the traffic circles with a less dangerous design, but it was an expensive proposition. The roads in Massachusetts had evolved gradually over hundreds of years, from horse paths to automobile routes, and getting rid of the traffic circles was a long-term project.

Now that I live in Arizona, it looks like state officials construct new traffic circles/roundabouts ON PURPOSE. And they spend millions of dollars handing out free DVDs, trying to educate Arizona motorists on how to use them, and to convince us that roundabouts are GOOD.

Most of the DVD is reproduced on the Arizona Department of Transportation's website. Notice how they have to explain the use of roundabouts with videos, diagrams, scripts, animations, graphics, etc. In other words, using a roundabout is not intuitive. This is a bad sign. If a driver can't figure out how to negotiate a traffic intersection just by looking at it, there will be accidents. Many accidents.

I plan to carry my DVD in the car with me at all times, so I won't get confused...
Freeway jumps on Giant Red Nipple bandwagon.

Roundin´ Out Red Mtn.The Arizona Department of Transportation has just erected its own cute and perky logo, adding to the Mesa Giant Red Nipple series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

This coming Tuesday, July 15, at 5pm, ADOT will host the Roundin' Out the Red Mountain Opening Event, celebrating the completion of Loop 202.

When we bought a house in this area, during March of 2007, we were at the end of a freeway. Now we're in the loop. During the last couple of years, ADOT has provided us with some mystery (H-O-V... P-I-R... M-O-U-S-E) and excitement (our own little neighborhood bridge collapse).

And now they're throwing a party on the freeway? I'm there.
A new way to play golf.

Anikó and I like to go hiking up in the Las Sendas community, just a few blocks away. The desert landscaping is spectacular, and many trails branch off the public sidewalks. In fact, "las sendas" means "the footpaths" in Spanish.

One day, we started hiking up a hill, and soon realized that the other side of the hill was right next to their golf course. It was the tricky 11th hole, and we couldn't believe the number of golf balls that had been abandoned, just off the fairway. We started enjoying our new game, out amongst the cacti and palo verde trees: "Look! Another one! Over there!" It was tons of fun, sorta like a treasure hunt.

That first day, we rescued 17 balls. Since then, we've gone back many times, accumulating dozens more. It doesn't seem to matter how often we return; there are always new balls to rescue. Although we once tied our high score of 17, we haven't broken the record.

Jolie/Kidman Deathmatch.

RoundNicole KidmanAngelina JolieWinner
1 PersonalitySpoiled, self-absorbedCharitable, humanitarianJolie
2 Tattoos0A jillionJolie
3 AwardsOscar: 2003; Golden Globes: 2003, 2002, 1996Oscar: 2000; Golden Globes: 2000, 1999, 1998; SAG Actor: 2000, 1999Jolie
4 SpouseKeith Urban, ex-drunk redneck shitkickerBrad Pitt, enlightened sensitive hunkJolie
5 Spouse AwardsGrammy: 2006Golden Globe: 1996; MTV Movie Awards: 1996, 1995Jolie
6 Offspring NameSunday, silliest name since Morticia and Gomez Addams named their girl WednesdayUnborn twins, as yet unnamedJolie
7 Offspring Pix Worth$5 million$25 millionJolie
July 4 is hot dogs, beer, barbecues, Will Smith...
Independence Day
...and a revolutionary document signed by a few very brave men...


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Don't get me wrong. The news about my right shoulder is not all bad. I **am** making some gains in mobility, but the progress is so hard-won, and so painful, that we celebrate each tiny victory. Today, there were three reasons to rejoice:

1) I can now comb my hair, and
2) I can now brush my teeth, and
3) I can now wipe my ass.

It was a big day.
Haven't got time for the pain. (Re: Carly Simon)

An offhand comment from my primary physical therapist (a/k/a The Dominatrix) the other day led me to a disturbing realization. Yolanta mentioned that one of her shoulder-operation clients finished his physical therapy in a week or so. Her intern and I both looked at each other in astonishment, because I've been banging my head against the wall for five weeks, with several more months of painful rehab projected. Yolanta explained that the other client had a simple rotator cuff surgery, and that my repair was a whole lot more complex.

This was confirmed during my last visit to the doc: he said that my surgery was not your run-of-the-mill rotator cuff repair, which is why I have all this extra pain. He also admitted that he did a "tight" repair, because everything inside my shoulder was so loose before. Which means--you guessed it--even MORE pain!

Several old friends have come out of the woodwork, to share their rotator cuff stories. A couple of them have had both shoulders repaired, and both of them quit the second round of therapy. Each decided that limited mobility and strength was preferable to the continued regimen of pain. And they both had simple rotator-cuff surgeries.

I do have pain pills, but they're not very effective. They also have long-term drawbacks, so I resort to them only when my internal angst starts impinging on other people, like poor Anikó. And the recent cortisone shot helped... but only for a couple of days.

Long story short: I visit my physical therapists twice a week, 7am. They prod me into a killing round of exercises for a couple of hours. Then The Dominatrix devises some fiendishly-personalized torture for my shoulder that lasts several years (approximately twenty minutes in real time), and I drive home in a daze. For the rest of that day, I can barely complete the simplest task, because I can't remember anything for more than ten seconds. My body stays in shock for the next 24 hours, then I gradually come out of it. But when I wake up the next morning, I'm faced with a difficult choice: do I continue to self-administer the unimaginable pain of these (supposedly) three-a-day exercises, or do I put a gun to my head?

The gun is still in the nightstand. So far. ;-)

Update from the peanut gallery: Kevin S. from Colorado Springs writes, "It may be necessary to continue the PT at least until you can lift the gun to your temple."
Trente-deux films brefs sur Glenn Gould.

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn GouldThirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould is actually one docudrama directed by François Girard, from a screenplay by Girard & Don McKellar.

Colm Feore plays the eccentric Canadian master pianist with gusto.

The structure of this film is based upon the structure of the composition that Gould is most famous for playing, Bach's Goldberg Variations: 32 short pieces of music that are usually performed together.

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