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Excuses, Excuses

I'm sorry I haven't written in months, but I have a good excuse. At first I was just going to use that hoary old chestnut we all used as children in school, "I was abducted by aliens." I thought that would be particularly effective this time, owing to the fact that I had my Treo mobile camera phone with me, so I actually got a picture you can see here? http://will-harris.com/alien/alien-picture.jpg

But then I thought, "People are going to think I'm nuts, or at least nuttier," and while I normally don't care what people think (obviously), I didn't want to have anything out there that, on a bad day in the future, could be used against me in a sanity trial.

So I have a better excuse, and that's all that matters. See, I've come to realize that a really good excuse is one of the most powerful things on the planet. All you have to do is look at our government officials to see how useful excuses can be.

For example, I could say, "I'm sorry I haven't written, but I've been busy looking for weapons of mass destruction." Some of you would sneer but would at least be distracted by the nonsensical nature of it. Others (like a guy who e-mailed me last week) would fall hook, link and stinker and reply, "I think their [sic] still out there buried in the sand somewhere," and yes, if you believe this I have a lovely orange bridge across the bay I'd like to sell you.

But this time I really do have a good excuse and apparently nowadays that's all I need. Whew, what a relief. For a while I thought I was actually going to have to explain myself or apologize or something, but no, I just need an excuse.

The trick is to come up with a really good one—something specific that will either tug at your little heart strings or be so outrageous no one would dream I'd dare make up such a thing.

"I was on a secret mission." People can't ask "What mission" or if they do, you only need to reply, "It's secret." Any more questions from them are just answered with a whispered, "Top secret."

So you're busy thinking of who you can use the "secret mission" excuse on, knowing it has to be someone who doesn't know you too well otherwise they'll never believe it unless you explain that you're such a good spy they never suspected and you didn't mean to mention it now and "whatever you do, please don't blow my cover like the Vice President did!" Of course, this excuse will also work if you actually are a spy and this alone sounds like a good reason to start studying for that license to kill.

Back to reality, at least temporarily...

I'm concerned I've raised your expectations too high. You're expecting me to come up with a breathtaking excuse, like, "I was lost in the Alps with only a Q-tip and a spork," after which you'll want to know if I had to gnaw my arm off and eat it, and then be suspicious when you notice I still have two arms.

I could fall back on the ever-popular, always effective, "I was chipping golf balls... no, I was napping... um... I was in the shower," but then I'd have to spend my life searching for the real killer.

Or something more believable, "I got lost in the gigantic parking lot at the mall and became disoriented and lived for a while in an abandoned Ford Fescue and survived off Skittles scammed from school kids."

But my friend Karen, who believes that lying is a competition sport, always tells me to "keep it simple and as close to the truth as possible without actually being true," so both those excuses are too complicated and lead to too many questions.

I could try to get sympathy with, "I had writer's block," but most people think that's just a bad excuse some writer made up, rather than a proven kind of creative sleeping sickness writers actually get.

Someone clearly very smart named Alan Woods said, "Blame someone else and get on with your life." Years ago I thought of starting a service called "Blame Helen" where people could blame Helen for anything, for a small donation. Somehow it just never took off... it was surely Helen's fault. "Helen" sounds too smart, like nothing could be her fault. Maybe I should try again with a new name, like "Blame Britney." Or better yet, "Blame illegal immigrants!" We need somebody to blame otherwise we might be responsible ourselves.

I could even tell the truth, always risky and rarely recommended (and much less appreciated) these days. For all I know the SchmoozeLetter's former sponsor disappeared into a black hole in the great white north, and is now frozen solid and when global warming gets worse he'll defrost in 20-2,000 years and once again be walking the earth, not paying for mailing list services.

Instead, I've decided to go simple: "I was in a coma." Short. Sweet. If people ask, "What happened?" my answer is "I don't remember," because honestly, I don't remember being in a coma. If they ask, "What was wrong?" I can once again honestly answer, "No one knows."

And besides, a "coma" could be a metaphoric, as if I was in a creative coma or something. And coma is only one letter removed from Roma which has a nice Italian ring to it.

Don't like that? Then choose any excuse that will make you happy. Space aliens. WMDs. Secret missions. Alps. Parking. Britney. Or feel free to make up your own and send it to me, I'm always open to suggestions.

The point is, it doesn't matter. As they love to say at the White House about anything that happened over 2 seconds ago: "That's ancient history." Let's focus on the future!


Read about my latest movie role (you read that right), here!

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The best graphics program. Period.

I've tried countless graphics programs, including the big ones from Adobe (and they're great), but by far the best graphics program I've ever seen, and the one I use daily is XaraXtreme www.xara.com

It's the fastest, more efficient graphics program (and I think the easiest, too) and what you see is exactly what you'll get in your final graphics. I use it for all my work, including these web sites: http://www.will-harris.com/web-dez.htm

Xara invented real-time anti-aliasing so what you see on -screen is exactly what you get in your GIFs and JPGs, live transparency that lets you blend and see through any object, great bitmap handling (easy color correction), and has web-specific features like image slicing and rollover buttons. The realistic shadow tool is amazing. You can export to all major file formats, including Flash .SWF format.

Xara costs as little as $79, a new open source Linux version is free, and a Mac version is coming soon. You can download a trial version for free at http://www.xara.com/downloads/xtreme/

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One Final Word

You know, sometimes I just have to stand up and SCREAM. Like when the bird flu pandemic is looming and the US government doesn't want to spend money on producing a vaccine that could actually save American citizens.

Why? Because they say it would be "too expensive," as if spending ten billion a month in Iraq is wise, based on what a great job the US has done there and how well things are going and how much safer we all are. Where are the priorities of this government? Why does it so often work against us? Why are our tax dollars not going towards actually protecting us from the inevitable?

It's OK if you think I'm wrong, and think that continuing a war based on lies in the Mideast is a better use of money than something that will directly save lives in the US and all over the world. But it's time for most Americans to wake up, stop accepting excuses, and start demanding that the government once again be FOR the people.



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