The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Iranian Scientist Invents Time Machine

image from Back to the Future

image from Back to the Future

Twenty-seven year old Ali Razeghi, managing director of Iran’s Center for Strategic Inventions, registered “The Aryayek Time Traveling Machine” with his agency. He claims it works up to eight years in the future. Now, if we can just get the Mullahs to use it, they’ll see the can of Whoopass they’re about to open up with their nuclear program.

Click below for the Wired article.

Iran’s New Fake Inventions: Time Machine, ‘Islamic Google Earth’

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

Best Selling Author and Bad Boy Cat Herder Les Edgerton wrote an outstanding series offering writing tips on dialogue over at Best Selling Author Kristen Lamb’s site. A Final Word from Les Edgerton–Fortune Favors the Prepared

Interesting info Queen Cleopatra by Colin Falconer at Write on the River. Was she really Liz Taylor’s doppleganger? CLEOPATRA, the Queen Who Would Be King

French President’s Gift Camel Killed and Eaten In Timbuktu. Mali gave a camel to French President Francois Hollande. Apparently, the Timbuktu family in charge of caring for the gift got hungry. But no worries. The people of Mali found a “bigger and better looking camel” to replace it.

Join Emily Cannell and check out her beautiful pictures of Cherry Blossom Season in Japan. My Corporate Failure and Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms by Emily Cannell

Cherry Blossoms by Emily Cannell

Have you got backup? Jenny Hansen has some great tips for never getting caught without your info. H is for “Help Me Computer, For I Have Sinned”

I don’t usually go for poetry, but this short piece of Smplefy’s hit the spot the other day. The Day Begins NOW

Several of my favorite people have new books out. Check out Patricia Sand’s post for the list. It’s Stacy’s Birthday Bash!

Seriously. How cool is this? Thank you to Laura Reiser Ellis for the link.

Campaign Style Poll Daddy Question of the Week

All the best to all of you for a week of living in the day.

Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

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The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . Nude Maid Service

A new maid service in Lubbock, Texas, offers a little sompin’ sompin’ extra for their $100/hour furniture buffing. But they do send security and emphasize that while they may be nude, customers must keep their clothes on.

It will be interesting to see if the courts say this is a “sexually oriented business” or not. Perhaps they should simply wear string bikinis from the unquestionably legal local swimming pool rather than “lingerie.” Makes all the difference, right?

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

The Twitterverse holds its breath as Tyler Tarver conducts the 2012 Twitter Awards. I’m honored to be nominated in the category of “The Conversationalist” for best discussions and feedback on Twitter. I would appreciate your votes and your support for Tyler at 2012 Twitter Awards: The Voting.

Dr. Steve Wiggins’ blog, Sects and Violence in the Ancient World, is one of the first I found when I joined social media, and it’s still one of my favorites. Rule Britannia. How much is enough?

Lee Child and “The Long Game”: Lessons on Success from One of America’s Favorite Authors. This came to me via NYT Best Selling Author and Awesome Lady Allison Brennan. You can find her heart-racing thrillers at her web site, Allison Brennan.

From the cheeky mom who gives us good reason to faff about on the internet, Leanne Shirtliffe. A Parenting Dictionary: 5 British Words We Need to Adopt

photo by Will King

“Ridiculously Photogenic Guy” Picture from 10k Race Goes Viral

Great post by the lovely and humorous Julie Davidoski which was Freshly Pressed this week. Go, Jules, Go! Misfortune Cookies

Congratulations to awesome blogger, Myndi Shafer, on the birth of her adorable daughter, Alice Took. Jenny Hansen guest posts at Myndi’s and expresses how most of us feel on that blessed day when we take our children home for the first time. Holy Mother of God! That Baby is Going Home with Me??!!

Jerry Pope’s Message in a Bottle Travels 4,000 Miles from Connecticut to England

Some Big Six Publishers Refuse to Sign New Contracts with Amazon I found this one via the super smart and talented literary agent, Weronika Janczuk.

Lena Corazon captured the full length SNL skit The Real Housewives of Disney. I’ve probably gone to her blog ten times to show it to my friends. It’s a hoot!

This is my friend, Amina Salah, dancing a finger cymbal solo in which she is both dancer and musician.

Hmm. Suppose people would pay $100/hour to have women clean their houses wearing belly dancing costumes?

Would you hire a skantily clad or nude maid? Would you be one?

All the best to all of you for keeping your week covered.

Piper Bayard

Ok. I’ll Do It. I’ll Run for President.

 Okay. I’ll Do It. I’ll Run for President.

MyPhotos Piper Signing FIRELANDS at TFOB

By Your Next Commander in Chief, Piper Bayard

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m pretty disappointed in the self-serving, corporate-driven hairballs our political parties are coughing up for us these days. It’s always been my contention that, if you’re going to complain about how someone does their job, then you’d better be ready to get off your duff and do it yourself. So I will. Yes. I’m running for president.

Know up front that I refuse to affiliate with any political party. Ultimately, they are all more loyal to themselves than to the American people. The only party I will be a part of as your president is the Inaugural Ball. And since I am a dancer, I would be happy to provide the entertainment for that event in order to save you, the taxpayers, money.

MyPhotos 2014 Piper close up Bolder Boulder

As for my campaign, I am not asking for your money. I’m guessing in this economy, you need it. So how will I run? Social media. If Facebook and Twitter can make Betty White an icon among today’s teenagers, it can get me to the White House.

Know that as your president, I would not expect any remuneration beyond actual college expenses for my two children. . . .  Oh, wait. The annual $180k that the president makes would be less than that. NVM. I will happily accept the lesser amount.

Also, as your president I won’t spend your millions on my family vacations, and I will continue to shop the sales at Eddie Bauer and Dillard’s. I won’t even take the silver and furniture from the White House with me when I leave. That’s been done.

Along those lines, I will also not redecorate the White House with your money. (Unless I find some gaudy animal print lurking in an obscure corner. That will have to go.) However, I will certainly fumigate all locations where our current president smokes while tacitly approving schemes to ban the asthma inhalers people need to stay in the same room with him.

The pillars of my platform are encouragement of personal responsibility, the rooting out of corruption, and a good smack upside the head for all whiners who won’t shut up and get busy making this world a better place.

So let’s get the touchy stuff out of the way, shall we?

My race:

One branch of my family ran another branch of my family down the Trail of Tears, and a third branch married them when they got to the end. That makes my race American. Check my census form. You’ll find it written there.

My gender:

. . . Really?

My religion:

Baseball. Baseball is a forward-looking religion with no dogma and lots of hope. We adherents know that, with the last swing of the bat at the end of the season, spring training is just around the corner. People of all faiths are welcome at baseball games, as long as they behave and treat their neighbors with respect. If they don’t behave, they will be relocated near the bullpen to be used as targets for pitcher warmups.

The Cathedral of My Religion, image from Wikimedia Commons by “The Silent Wind of Doom.”

My past:

Yes. I have one. It is extensive and colorful. I learned a great deal because the person who is the same at 50 as they are at 20 has wasted 30 years. I’ve made exceptional use of my time. So you media folks just come to me. I’ll give it to you straight. And remember, great things grow in dirt and manure.

As an added bonus, unlike the current leading candidates, I am happy to release all of my tax returns, my school records, and my legal birth certificate, along with all of my fake ID’s from my youth.

My education:

Yes. I have one of those, too. It ranges from small towns to urban centers, and from the bread and cheese line to law school. In other words, I’ve got both papers and street cred. I’d say “I feel your pain,” but that one’s been done, too.

My qualifications:

I am not for sale to banks. I do not borrow money from the Chinese to give to my enemies. My retirement plan is not a Ponzi scheme, and to the best of my knowledge, I have successfully prevented trespassers from living in my home. That puts me ahead of our collective government right there. And no. I have never been president of my local PTA. However, I do manage a successful kingdom on a virtual reality game.

My stand on abortion:

I fully support retroactive abortion for all jihadis and skumbag phone solicitors. (I favor rehabilitation for any honest phone solicitors who are just trying to make a living like the rest of us.)

My stand on gun control:

I am 100% in favor of controlling guns. Aim and make every shot count.

Cabinet appointments:

As for my cabinet appointments, I don’t give a rat’s touchas about anyone’s race, religion, species, etc. I only care if they are best qualified for the job. I will not sell out my country by pandering to special snowflake organizations and appointing their love children to positions of influence.

I will appoint my writing partner, Intelligence Operative Holmes, Secretary of Defense. He has the experience and the moxie for the job, and he, like me, loves America more than he loves corporations, power, or money.

George Stephanopoulos, image from Wikimedia Commons by Tulane Public Relations

Since Holmes can’t be identified, I will recruit George Stephanopoulos to sit in his chair at all meetings. That’s because George has experience, and he’s hot. Seriously. It makes no sense to me, either, he just is. And if Stephanopoulos is not available, I will simply stand up a cardboard cutout of George Washington. Never hurts to have a little Founding Father action in the government process. Holmes will still be in the meetings, but no one will know if he is the guy in the general’s chair or the guy serving the sandwiches.

Yes. Sandwiches. Refer back to my stand on expenses. They can be paninis, but no steak and lobster bisque at the taxpayers’ expense unless we are hosting foreign dignitaries.

All internal disputes will be settled with dancing competitions so if you’re interested in applying to be my vice president, start practicing your moves. Carrie Ann Inaba will screen all applicants. But please understand, my first choice for vice president is General Colin Powell. Do not take that as an evaluation of either your dancing skills or his.

While I am president, Congress shall make no law that it does not, itself, live by. “Leaders” who are not subject to the laws they make are not leaders, they are rulers. There is no place for rulers in America. Any Representative or Senator who demonstrates behavioral issues will be sent to The Slapping Medicine Man.

As your president, my first and only loyalty will be to you, my fellow Americans. I have no other mission or interest but to strengthen this country and her people. So let’s all come together and prove that America really is still a country by the people, and for the people, and that our presidency does not simply go to the highest bidder. Tweet, blog, Facebook. Hey. It happened for Betty White. :)

You will find my stand on the issues below. I now open the floor to your comments and questions. One at a time, please. No pushing or name calling, and don’t say anything you can’t say in front of your mother. (My policy for press conferences.)

To join in the discussion, see Okay. I’ll Do It. I’ll Run for President over at Bayard & Holmes.

Piper for President — Doesn’t Take Crap. Doesn’t Dish it Out.

My Stand on the Issues

Foreign Policy

For decades, America has been Simba the Lion masquerading as Pumbaa the Warthog in an effort to “win hearts and minds.” No one respects a lion pretending to be a warthog. I say we’re in it to win it, or we stay home. The hearts and minds will follow. America is a lion with claws and teeth and courage. It is not a dancing, singing, farting warthog.

Middle East Policy

I have excellent reason to believe that the majority of the problems in the Middle East are caused by gender disparity. Since the Middle East has a dearth of women and an overabundance of men, and Latin American countries have more women than men, I would recruit Latinas to relocate. They would have an excellent mellowing influence, and they would foster some fantastic fusion restaurants. See How Latinas Can End Jihad.

Economy

As much as is possible, I will replace welfare programs with work programs, because imitating a kennel dog waiting for its dinner develops bad habits and is damaging to the soul. I have been unemployed, and I have received government cheese. While it’s the tastiest cheese ever, handouts are far more depressing and demoralizing than honest work of any kind.

Tax cuts and cookies for corporations that keep their jobs in America. No tax cuts or cookies for corporations that only keep their paperwork in America.

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Thamizhpparithi Maari.

Education

I will dismantle the Department of Education. Instead, I will use the nearly $100 billion it wastes every year to build more schools, hire more teachers, and provide an Educational Exchange program for troubled youths. In this exchange program, any “troubled youth” who would rather be a thug gangbanger than take advantage of the privilege of going to school would be sent to a third world country in exchange for a disadvantaged child who only dreams of getting an education instead of walking five miles every day for a bucket of water.

Immigration

America is our home. I will show the utmost hospitality to those who ring our bell and are willing to wipe the dirt off their feet before they enter.  Trespassers will not be welcomed with open arms and open wallets. However, they are welcome and encouraged to apply for the Educational Exchange program.

Health Care

I will rewrite Obamacare in a way that serves the public rather than special interest groups and insurance and pharmaceutical giants. I will also set up a hotline for reporting each and every fraud that is perpetuated by a medical culture that thinks it has won the lottery every time someone with insurance walks through the doors of an Emergency Room.

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Bayard, Holmes, Movie, No Popcorn: Black Swan

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Black Swan is a psychodrama about a ballet dancer, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), who flips out in her quest for perfection. By popular request, Holmes and I recently went to see it so we could give you a review from the perspective of an author/bellydancer and a man with experience in intelligence and covert operations.

Holmes and I agree that Black Swan puts the psycho in psychodrama. Aside from the fact that we’ve both spent a great deal of effort eliminating psychos from our lives, and sitting in a room with them for two hours isn’t something we would ordinarily choose to do, we also agree that it was an excellent movie. Beware, however. Do not take your kids. As far as this small town girl and this rather worldly boy are concerned, Black Swan stretches its R rating to the limit.

We both also thought the queasy cam effects, while reflective of Nina’s growing instability, were a bit much. By the way, queasy cam is that documentary-type, shakey image that promotes a feel of instability and makes you seasick just watching it. Holmes says it well for both of us. “Charlie Chaplin and his pals went to great lengths to develop methods of avoiding that effect, and I wonder how horrified he would have been to see such violent camera work.”

Now on to our individual comments. . . .

Bayard:

I knew nothing about Black Swan when I walked in except for what I got out of the SNL skit the other night with Jim Carrey.

As an author, I was impressed with the character development and the plot movement. With no visible back story, we know soon enough that Nina is a head case. This is well represented throughout the movie by her relationship to her skin. Also, I appreciated the smooth ebb and flow of tension, with each wave building on the last. The exception to this for me was the gratuitous lesbian love scene. That theme could have been handled with much more class and subtlety.

Everyone in Black Swan is a nut job of some variety, and they are excellent nut jobs, at that. Just the kind you’d expect in any dance company, frankly. We have the frigid, obsessed Nina, her “sexual harassment lawsuit looking for a plaintiff” artistic director, Thomah (Vincent Cassel), and, the anti-Nina in the form of uninhibited party girl, Lily (Mila Kunis), who, in the real world, would be on the Lindsey Lohan fast-track to rehab. All beautifully written and played.

My favorite whack job, though, is stage mom Erica Sayers (Barbara Hershey). She’s driven and obsessed with her daughter, yet all the while she reminds little Nina that she ruined her mother’s life. Damn near drove me crazy just watching her. I could swear she walked right out of the local PTA meeting for parents of  “gifted and talented” children.

As a dancer, I thoroughly enjoyed the performances. The dancers all have excellent posture and beautiful hands, and they manage to avoid my two major pet peeves of ballet. Their spins are vertical with no Leaning Tower of Pisa Turns, and they do not subject the audience to any Great Divide Crotch Shots. That’s where the man lifts the lady to grace the audience with the vision of her tutu framing her hoo-hoo as she splays her legs. Indeed, I’m happy to say I never once got the same view of Natalie Portman’s crotch that Mila Kunis did during their lesbian scene.

One more thing. In spite of artistic director Skumbag being a skumbag, he is 100% correct in his instructions to Nina. There is an essence to Dance that transcends perfect steps. As I always told my students, Dance is the elimination of thought between the music and the motion. Discipline gives Dance its tools of expression.

Aside from being in a room with psychos for two hours, I thoroughly enjoyed Black Swan.

Holmes:

When I was five, my first crush was my teacher, Sister Miriam. I asked her to marry me. She explained that she was already married to Jesus. I pointed out that Jesus wasn’t here, and I was, but for some reason, she didn’t go for it.

A year later, I saw my first ballet, Swan Lake, performed by the New York City Ballet company, and I found true love. You have to understand that Swan Lake holds a special place in my heart, and I don’t like to see it messed with. It’s a ballet that, because it was the first one I saw live, has outshined every other ballet I’ve seen. So when I went to see Black Swan, it was like going to visit my pristine first love and finding a drunken convict on top of her.

I thought it was a very good movie, though, and I would have seen it even without the lesbian love scene. I found that scene both unnecessary and unnecessarily brief, not to mention unrealistically dry. They could have drawn out the action there without losing my interest. However, it was a fairly predictable and pedestrian trick, and it seemed like they worked pretty hard to fit it in. In fact, I think they just threw that in to get guys to go see the movie with their wives and girlfriends. It will probably work.

I’m being overly critical here, but in terms of psychosis and neuroses and such, it was a bit muddled. If Nina was that deep into her sickness, she wouldn’t have been able to hold it together to be the prima ballerina of the New York Ballet. They are on stage every moment of their lives and have to handle intense stress. If she was that crazy, she would have broken sooner.

The style of the movie was completely operatic, with many Hitchcockian devices which effectively enhance the story. I felt like I was watching an opera about ballet, as everything about the timing, the over-dramatization, and the acting seemed calculated to be visible to the people in the “back row.” There was no subtlety in the actors’ physical movements or in the story line. Anyone who likes opera, stage theatre, or zarzuela will like this movie.

Overall, I enjoyed Black Swan, but I could have used more Swan Lake and less queasy cam.

Holmes and I rate Black Swan at a .357, or, it’s worth the prime time price if you can stand the crowd. (Click here for our ammo rating system.) We certainly recommend this movie. The acting is excellent, the story line is engaging, and it uses old suspense movie devices to great effect in conveying the psycho nature of the drama. Not quite a life changer, but definitely interesting and unique enough to be entertaining.

All the best to all of you for a week without queasy cam.