Thursday, December 30, 2004

Zameer found!

After talking with other friends and co-workers of his, I learned that I was probably the least worried of everyone. We brainstormed a bit, trying to figure out how to contact his parents perhaps, but finally it became just as simple as picking up the phone.

His Indian cel phone is posted on his blog.

It was three o'clock Los Angeles time... I had no idea the hour in South Asia... so when he picked up the phone, he sounded more annoyed than anything. I kept it short, since his answering the phone at least let us know he was still alive. He didn't sound up to talking, but said he's in Goa, one of the few unscathed resort coastline in India.

No idea if he was there when the tsunami hit, or if he'd taken refuge there.

He said he'd tell the whole story when he returns to the States in a couple weeks.

After some deep thought...

Consisting of reading more into the issue, and waiting a little longer before issuing a kneejerk reaction, I have to recant my earlier agreement that the United States initial offer of aid was "stingy".
Common sense should have dictated that the $15 million dollars I initially read about could be all that we were about to offer. According to Colin Powell, the final amount of disaster aid is in the ballpark of ten times that amount.
That said, even at $150 million dollars, I'd still stand by the stingy statement. Heck, thats the budget for some major motion pictures.

But, forgive my arrogance, what else are we to think? Until today, the President has been busy clearing brush, riding a bike, and possibly rereading "The Pet Goat". As much as I detest Bush, he's still the leader of the free world, he's still, begrudgingly, our President. And as such, it is far from unreasonable to expect him to IMMEDIATELY, upon hearing of such disaster, to speak up - I don't think people need a whole outline. A simple "We'll do everything we can to help" would have been nice.

After 9/11, other countries were offering sympathies within hours. In return, Bush took over 72. And before he even did this, he unleashed his press secretary to basically say Bush wasn't issuing such a statement because he didn't want to be like Bill Clinton.

Indeed, I hope his actions do speak louder than words. I hope that when we reflect how this disaster, perhaps one of the greatest in human history, was handled by the United States, that we know it was the best we could do. I hope we don't measure it based on how other countries reacted. I hope that we're handling aid efforts with the same urgency, and with the expected samel efforts, of an impending terrorist attack.

Anything less is, indeed, stingy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Amazon Web-A-Thon for Tsunami Relief: $851,391.48 and counting!

You can make direct donations to tsunami relief efforts at

According to the Instapundit, the amount raised went from $112,000 to over "half a million bucks" within four hours. Bring up the page, and when you're done reading this post, click refresh - another thousand or more will likely be added.

Then Instapundit, in what can only be explained as an act of sheer arrogance, asks if thats being "stingy" - "I wonder if any of 'em were U.N. employees . . ."

With that thinking, he should ask how much money U.S. citizens would have been willing to donate, out of pocket, to the Iraq invasion.

If the Bush Admin and its apologists want to get offended when they're called "stingy" they need to put their money where their mouth is.


While complaining about the politicizing of this event is somewhat hippocritical, I just found this via Talking Points Memo, he got it from the Washington Post:

Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "

Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.

They use the press conference to take a dig at Clinton, often ribbed for the "we feel your pain" statement, and in the meantime go on to say "actions speak louder than words," while Bush is clearing brush and cycling?

Again, I'd like to reiterate and reemphasize my earlier statement: the tsunamis and earthquake in Southeast Asia will have a far greater impact on the world, let alone the U.S., than any terrorist attack has ever done.

Posted by: Anonymous

Damn that Tony Pierce. First I was going to blog about how we're having a monsoon in Los Angeles, but I see he's written an awesome post that pretty well covers it.

And then, I'd been rearing to write my own post about Anonymous posters - people who leave comments on this blog and others, without contact info - but Tony reposted his own informative guide: "How To Leave A Comment".

Some highlights:

3. ... have the guts (and) courtesy of filling in the email address or home page portion of the comment box. everyone agrees that anonymous negative commentors are pussy ass bitches whose opinons are not even worth the milisecond that it will take to delete them.

if you have the nerve to come into someone elses house and talk shit, have the backbone to identify yourself. i wouldnt accept a check without your signature, so fuck your pissy comment without a real email address.

and that goes for you democrats too.

4. but people say oh but i will get spam oh i will get spam.

a. only fools put their primary email address on the internet.
b. when they ask you your email address type it out like this busblog@g[mail].com
c. create an email account for spam...

e. a sincere commentor should want the reader to know that theyre serious about their rebuttal. the simplist way one could discount a negative comment is to say, that person was certainly kidding as they didnt even leave their name.

f. only cowards hide and snipe from the shadows, the only thing more pathetic and hopeless is someone who does it on a fucking blog on the internet.

7. much rather accept some ignorant ass with a real email address simply calling out bullshit than boring me with these fat generic lies of "you've crossed the line now pierce im never coming back here again! humph!"

just call bullshit and go back to watching your stories grampa. your votes been counted.

8. a polite, lean, direct rebutal resonates much louder than a clumsy wandering stale belch. say exactly what you disagree with, offer an alternative, provide examples.

or, call bullshit while leaving your fucking earthshattering blog's address.

9. do this everywhere you go

I can't add much, except that it amazes me how many of these anonymous posters go on the defensive as to why they can't create an email address for people to respond to. Ironically, 99% of the time the comments they leave are so arrogant nobody would even bother contacting them, so what's to fear?

Anonymous commenters are from the same cess pool as spammers, but at least spammers are out to make a buck and have to put some effort into their measures.

All for now.

By the way, did I mention its raining buckets outside?

Where is Zameer?

Last heard from, in his own words, my old co-worker/friend/headshot artist was leaving India after five months, and on to Southeast Asia.

Considering he survived two cel phone thefts, a perpetual case of Indian Montezuma's revenge, and dangerous bus rides, I probably shouldn't be worried.

Alas, I anxiously await his next post.

From his most recent entry of November 30th:

So sadly (for me and I’m sure only me), this is one of the last blog entries I will be writing. With only a few days left in Delhi and since I’m leaving next week for Southeast Asia, this is one of the final entries, so please have tissues readily available...

With the coming weekend quickly approaching, I have my Hindi final exam on Thursday and then I’m officially done with EAP. I will be in Punjab this weekend and then have to pack up my stuff, move out and depart for Southeast Asia. This last week since finishing my papers has been most enjoyable. I went sight seeing around Delhi in addition to shopping for a lot of people. Hopefully I will be able to squeeze in one more entry before returning to the states, but this I cannot guarantee. Despite my health issues and having had my cell phone stolen, my spirits remain high. I’m feeling much better now and in no time at all I will be seeing six very familiar faces in this place I have made my home. Please note my new cell phone number and I hope to hear from all of you and that you are all well…

Only $15 million?

This is a shame:

The Bush administration yesterday pledged $15 million to Asian nations hit by a tsunami that has killed more than 22,500 people, although the United Nations' humanitarian-aid chief called the donation "stingy."
-Washington Times, Dec. 28 2004

Are American people so arrogant as to not recognize that the global impact of these tsunamis is far greater than that of 9/11? While I can't answer for all of us, it appears that the Bush adminsitration doesn't have a clue. I hope that the $15 million is just a drop in the bucket for the time being...

Monday, December 27, 2004

Tsunami Help Blog

A group of compassionate bloggers are constantly updating this site on ways to help, both with specific needs and general requests.

The Tsunami Help Blog

Thanks to Radiohumper for providing the link.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Cool Bloggers Christmas Exchange - Part Two

Sorry for the delay. Here's the rest of my Christmas wishes to my favorite bloggers. Check the post from earlier this week if you think I missed you, and if you still can't find yourself, the gift may have been eaten by a reindeer.

Stupid Evil Bastard needs little more than time off to play video games and hire a guest editor to approve guest posts at his blog, and maybe a voice to text thingy so he can blog without taking a break from Halo 2. Throw a colostomy bag and feeding tube in there, too.

Radiohumper has only asked for one thing: comments. I just think she needs and deserves more readers, and I also hope that her writing continues to bring her peace and sanity. She also needs a digital camera and Buzznet account, so we can peek more into her daily life, but I'm just being selfish.

Melissa (formerly known as Butterfly Teeth) needs to be be offered the cover for the upcoming Playboy special issue called "The Girls of Blogdom". She should pose in her recently and legitimately earned nurse outfit. I'd also propose she receive the centerfold, but I don't want to alienate other possible entries such as Bunny McIntosh or Miranda.

New blogger Shabooty deserves nothing less than a threesome with the girl voted best white ass of the year, and either Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan.

Shane Nickerson, who appears to have a happy homelife with a beautiful wife, cute kid, new home, and a relatively stable job, and even quality "guest bloggers" to fill in while he's working overseas... heck, what can you give him that he doesn't already have?

Canadian pimp Tyranny deserves nothing less than his own international restaurant chain called "Tyranny's Chicken Wings", that will feature how wings rated over 1,000,000 units on the Scoville scale.

...and on a much more serious note, for anyone wanting to help out with disaster relief for the recent tsunami's, it almost goes without saying that the International Red Cross is one of the best places to donate:
You can help those affected by this crisis and countless others around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance, and other support to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

Thursday, December 23, 2004

World Premiere Video: "The Bag"

Made on a consumer grade video camera with no script, no lights, one actor, two directors, and El Pollo Loco for lunch... while I can't say I'm all out proud of this video, I can attest to having learned a lot from it, especially in editing. I played A LOT with something called "key frames", which you'll see I didn't use with any restraint or attempt at subtlety.

"The Bag" is an offbeat, music driven thriller about a girl, played by stunning ingenue Michelle Markowitz, and a bag with unknown contents. My co-director on this was Jason Sax, who has his own cut of the film I hope to show here for a side by side example of how editing can work.

Contest: Free GMail accounts to the first three people who can correctly identify the two music tracks used in the video (leave your answers in the comments).

Stuff about Jude Law, my cat Leon, and walking in on guys taking a poo...

Strange day. Here's a handful of posts...

To begin, I've been in an odd mood since I woke up. I can't tell if its some sort of underlying feeling of depression, or anxiety, or something else entirely. The building is quiet - my neighbors are mostly gone - L.A. feels a little like a ghost town. It could also be the holidays. Can't put my finger on it. Maybe I'm just still in denial over the whole "Santa's not real" thing. I still don't believe it. Anyway, as long as I don't get depressed over being depressed, I'll be alright. Until then, my best guess is that its just a chemical thing.

Then again, maybe it has something to do with seeing three movies in three days, all a bit of a let down...

Jude Law Marathon

I didn't intend it as such. But I did make a point of it to see three movies on three nights in a row this week. And somehow, Jude Law was in all three.

Monday was Closer. The trailers looked good, but maybe I was just concentrating on Natalie Portman working as a stripper. But she barely shows more in the movie. The whole cast, Julia Roberts, Natalie, Clive Owen, and, of course, Jude Law, was surprisingly strong and interesting, but all the key scenes felt like they were directly lifted from the play on which it was based. The story never left the confines of the tiny world the main characters live in, nor did any of the characters feel real enough that I could identify with choices, let alone their decisions. I'm sure that if I'd seen this as a play with the same cast I'd have loved it, but as a movie it felt two dimensional. That said, Natalie Portman does the splits and talks nasty, so I can't say it doesn't deserve a gander.

Tuesday I took Claire to see Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. The title alone would make a good summary of my week's experiences at the movies. Jim Carrey is over the top hilarious, award material, but the story is never clever enough to feel any more like an imitation of European childrens films. Jude Law, by the way, plays the narrator Lemony Snicket himself.

And just a few short hours ago, I went to see a film I'd been anticipating more than any other: The Aviator. I figured that since I felt let down by Martin Scorsese's last couple films ("Bringing Out the Dead" and "Gangs of New York"), that this could be only as good as, say, "Casino".


The Aviator just felt flat and uninspired. Like the screenwriter had gone through a Howard Hughes biography, ripped out some interesting bits, and decided that sweating over things like story arcs wouldn't be worth the effort. Scorsese also seems to have grown fond of really bad CGI effects, which killed any sense of exhilaration the flying sequences could have had. I did enjoy the sequences in old Hollywood. Coolest part for me was knowing that one key scene took place at the Chinese Theatre, a couple blocks from me now, and another main scene takes place at the Fenwick, CT estate of Katherine Hepburn (played by Cate Blanchette), just a few miles from where I grew up in Old Lyme. I could have cared less that Jude Law made a cameo as Errol Flynn.

Leon Attacks!

Our damn cat Leon ate some Easter grass that came up from storage along with our Christmas wrap. He was acting a little lethargic after Claire and we'd found little green strands with pieces of poop at the ends in the litter pan, so she insisted we take him to the vet right away.

He hated the car ride, and the moment we entered the vet's waiting room he hissed at anything that moved, or even things that stood still. Sleeping in a cage behind a thick glass window were three kittens up for adoption - Leon hissed at them and hid under some chairs.

I don't know what was going through his mind, but Leon was shaking like a leaf. Maybe he'd been watching too much Animal Planet. When he finally was let into the examining room, the vet even commented on how traumatized he was - just before she cranked open his mouth and began digging her finger around his tongue.

I felt proud of my boy cat when he seemed to calm down as he had his temperature taken rectally.

Then she slipped on a latex glove and decided to do a rectal exam. Just a little one.

Claire was holding down his front just as Leon was being raped. He decided to take a bite out of Claire's left index finger, the finger she'd nearly cut off this time last year, and spent months in therapy to make usable again. Blood was everywhere. The vet seemed more traumatized than the cat, and decided to take Claire to get a bandage. In the meantime, Leon jumped to the floor, walking in circles, bull legged, and hissing at inanimate objects. I picked him up and set him in my lap, hoping to calm him. He meowed something... I think he said, "With friends like her, who needs enemas?"

Then he warmed up my lap with a nice stream of piss.

Alas, when Claire and the vet returned, the vet suggested maybe an x-ray, and then reconsidered and suggested maybe some laxatives could do it... and save the x-ray for another day, if necessary.

He seems fine now, although I don't think its hit him yet that he's no longer a virgin. Claire, in the meantime, has a swollen, throbbing index finger thats been fully punctured by cat teeth. Tomorrow a trip to the human doctor could be in order. I'm sure I'll have nightmares tonight of her peeing on my lap.

Oh, and a couple more thoughts...

Earlier, before the movie, before we took Leon to the professional ass poker, I made a run down to Carl Jr. for lunch. On the way back, Claire called me up to ask what was happening - she'd been hearing sirens and lots of helicopters. I was driving north up La Brea, and looked skyward to see FIVE helicopters hovering near our apartment. This isn't terribly uncommon, live in Los Angeles, and especially living near Hollywood Blvd., but still an interesting visual. I guess the cops had a drive by shooting suspect holed up in an apartment. Disappointing, I was hoping for a car chase.

And, to close this on a positive note, I went to the men's room before the movie tonite and walked into an unlocked stall to see a guy on the toilet... and on his cel phone. He casually nodded to me an apologized. "Sorry, man," he said, as I ducked away. I waited anxiously for another stall to open up, so that I wouldn't have to make eye contact again with the strange man who apologized to me when I walked in on him taking a... well.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Cool Bloggers Christmas Exchange - Part One

Yeah, its a shameless way to pander for reciprocal links, but if there's anything I've learned from blogging is that shameless is always the way to go.

Feel free to join in.

Here's part one of what I'm asking Santa to send my favorite bloggers.

In no particular order:

Please send Anti a large broken wall clock, with the big hand on four and the little hand on twenty. Like most of apartment dwellers, he has no chimney, but if you call ahead he'll gladly put out his six foot bong for you to slide down.

Simpleton needs to appear on Price Is Right and win a trip to Hawaii where he'll end up finding his calling renting mopeds, rollerblades, and surfboards by day, and performing as the opening act for Don Ho every night.

Katzinjammer needs a full pardon from the great state of Georgia, a clean driving record, and a collection of Henry Miller books to remind him that on some guys, the receding hairline can get the babes.

Now that some feeling has returned to Lorenzo Benzo's left arm, she needs a second keyboard so she can post twice as much (meaning once every four weeks, instead of every eight). And if she must be constrained to a wheel chair much longer, make sure she gets one of these - actually, send it to her anyway, cause it'll make a bad ass dolly when she starts making movies.

Ridor should get a Colin Farrell blow up doll. For shits and giggles, also include a George W. Bush blow up doll. It'll balance out his testosterone.

If you can get Natalie Wood a house, I'm sure you can also get Tony Pierce some property for him to build Senior Vista's in Isla Vista.

BankofKev needs more liberals to visit and comment on his site, especially fans of Kurt Cobain and any leftover Deaniacs.

The Midnight Mailman needs a gift certificate from Crime Scene Clean Up to keep the set immaculate, and more importantly, to give it that rubbing alcohol smell.

If you think I've forgotten you, don't worry: I'll be adding more later today, maybe tomorrow. You're just hard to shop for. Oh, and one last note: no regifting.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A much overdue post

My fancy holiday template is being wasted. I planned on writing all about the Christmas season, how to celebrate it in L.A., and random memories from years past... but... procrastination has been my sickness of late.

My computer continues to have hiccups and burps, residual problems from the virus/spyware attack that occurred last month. I won't bore you with the details, but my conversations with Dell India customer service were a bit of a Catch 22; my CD drive wasn't working, but they still kept insisting the way to solve the problem was to back up all my files to disk, then reinstall all my software... although I need my CD drive to do both tasks. This took A LOT of explaining to do. Their solution was to send me a new CD drive, which still didn't work. I ended up doing a web search, found a message board about the problem I had, and someone posted easy instructions on how to fix it by messing with the code of your computer. Thanks Dell - that $200 extended warranty is worth every penny!

But who comes here to read about such crap?

On the bright side, on Friday I was called by the girl I'd interviewed with a couple weeks ago, and she asked if I could do some work THIS WEEKEND. The job was to do site visits/location scouts at a handful of malls for the event she's putting together. I pointed out how perfect it was, since the only plans I had for the weekend was going to malls and shopping for gifts. So, yeah - I'm a lucky bastard. I pretty much was getting paid while I shopped.

Anyway... I promise something more interesting tomorrow.

Hitler and Arafat were also picked once as Time's "Man of the Year."

The Drudge Report is currently running this picture along with a link to the story on George W. being picked as Time's Man of the Year. I like how it only shows images of two other Presidents who also received the mention, as though its only a positive honor.

That said, while I would have preferred that "bloggers" were picked as "people of the year", or even Michael Moore and Mel Gibson as "filmmakers of the year", Bush has indeed been the man most responsible, for better or worse, for the headlines and general discussion for 2004.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Tony Pierce LIVE!

I'm not the only blogger to be appearing on national TV this week.

Tony Pierce will be interviewed on G4TechTV's Screensavers... from their site:

PREMIERE DATE: 12/13/2004
NEXT AIRING: 12/13/2004 7pm ET / 4pm PT
Tony Pierce, Alan Tudyk, Slashdot Killers
"How to Blog" author Tony Pierce explains the wonderful world of blogging. Actor Alan Tudyk, who played the title character in "I, Robot," talks about the latest advances in motion capture/CGI film performances. Also, Kevin P. presents his holiday wishlist of gifts, and we look at news websites that may be "Slashdot killers."

Tony will be on to discuss and promote his new book, a collection of blog postings, that he's calling "How To Blog." This self published book, according to Tony, is selling like hot cakes. I encourage everyone to buy a copy.

By the way, the post "How To Vote" is on page 202. For newer visitors or those with short memories, I based my first Group101 short film on this blog post, which is still available for viewing anytime by going here.

Again, tune in Monday, Dec. 13th, at 7pm ET / 4pm PT on G4TechTV.

a couple other bloggers I recently stumbled across: Ridor describes his site as "the world's one and only blog reserved for the legendary Deaf Gay Militant Terrorist"... title aside,Pork Tornado is one of the funniest essayists I've ever read...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I've made the front page...

Being the film geek that I am, I recently wrote to the Aussie film site "Dark Horizons" with a few "tips".
Alas, my report and online nickname are currently being rotated on the "Dark Horizons" front page.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Oh, oh... this could explain a few things...

As I was browsing the web, with my laptop on my... lap... this came up:

Click here for the whole story...

I'm on TV tonite!

For those of you on the East Coast, in just a matter of minutes you can see me being interviewed on a segment of Modern Marvels "Engineering Disasters 15" on the History Channel, airing at 8pm and 11pm... I'm on the segment about the Sultana disaster...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Quick update... my third film, new work, et...

I know, I promised pictures and a wrap up of my visit in Ohio. My only excuse is that I had to prioritize disk space to my third Group 101 project which is keeping me from putting anything new on my hard drive. Film techies might understand, and everyone else probably doesn't care, so I'll leave it at that for now.

Anyway, I barely edited a rough cut of my third Group 101short film by the deadline. It was so rough it lacked a soundtrack, titles, and I even had to screen it from my laptop which isn't made for more than one person to view at a time. The short isn't something I'm going to include on my reel or promote like crazy, but I'll post it here when I get it finished for the sake of calling it done. Its called "The Bag", and was shot with no script, and an idea that was thought up thirty minutes before shooting began. We also ran out of daylight before we finished, so I've had to get creative in the edit to make the ending seem climactic. This was shot on a really old, consumer grade miniDV camera, and co-directed by fellow Group 101er Jason Sax, and used one cast member. Its a thriller. The bad guy is a bag. Yeah - its weird. But, a learning experience in the edit, which makes it all worth it.

Earlier today I decided I was gon=ing to quit looking for work until the beginning of January, and could just prep cover letters and such until then. The tonite, as I was heading out the door to see a screening of "The Bourne Supremacy", I got a call from an event producer I hadn't heard from in a couple years, asking if I was available January and February to run a series of events for a major shoe company. I'll meet with her and a shoe company big wig on Thursday night to discuss.

More later.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Here's the new holiday template. As usual, I spent way too much time on this.

In other news, following up my bad computer luck of the broken fan melting the motherboard, and then the virus, I have now somehow managed to lose all of my contacts and emails for my primary email account. In other words, now's a GREAT time to email me with your updated info.

Get Firefox!On the bright side, I've made the very, very wise transition away from Internet Explorer, which was the cause of the computer virus. Indeed, its true that there are websites out there that, merely by visiting them, they can get a nasty trojan into your computer. I'd been pretty lucky up until this past incident, laughing whenever my anti-virus programs detected and automatically dumped the nasty things. And if it hasn't happened to you yet, dear reader, trust me: it will happen. Especially if you use Internet Explorer.

I'm now an enthusiastic, proud user of Mozilla's Firefox browser. You've probably seen the logo and mentions of it all over the net. And, in honesty, I know that a fair number of my readers already use it. There's absolutely no reason not to try it, and here's a few why you should make it a priority:
1. Its 100% free.
2. Hackers have yet been able to create a virus that can effect your computer just by viewing a website with it.
3. On first load, or anytime later, you can effortlessly import all of your "favorites" from Internet Explorer.
and most importantly
4. Tabbed browsing. Its a catchy word that is, quite simply, hard to explain, but is such an extraordinary feature I'd have paid for the program. If you're like me and routinely visit a dozen or so news sites or blogs repeatedly in a day, tabbed browsing allows you to click one button so that all of them, or just some of them (its fully customizable), open all at once IN ONE WINDOW. While you wait for the other pages to load, you can click on the tab for an available site. In the meantime, it is listed as only one open program, so you don't have a mess of boxes at the bottom of your screen to figure out.
Enough geekdom for right now.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

It is shockingly late...

Especially considering that I'm three hours ahead, and I've got to wake up in about 3 1/2 hours.

Forced insomnia is my travel M.O. (modus operandi, for the lay folk); I deprive myself to sleep the nights before coast to coast flights, so that I'm able to sleep through the ride. This also seems to make the jet lag and time adjustment much easier, in some twisted way. Fortunately, I have no plans for Monday, so I'll likely go home and nap all day, then all thru the night, and wake up Tuesday morning at whatever time I want to reset my internal clock at.

Then, I'm back to the job hunt, and more importantly, should start working on the script for my ambitious Group 101 Films effort for the month of December. This time, I'm hoping to adapt a short story called "The Hunt" by largely unknown horror writer Richard Laymon. I'll post a rough script here, hopefully, in a few days. The hard part here is that most of the shoot takes place at night, in the woods, and without ambient light, meaning I need to rent lights to replicate moonlight, and figure out a way to shoot stuff so that it is convincingly pitch dark, but that the audience can see the action. Digital video is especially difficult to do this with. I also have a scene taking place up in a tree, which will be another potential expense, because I'll need either build a small set piece to give the illusion of our heroine up in the tree, while we're shooting just a few feet from the ground, or we'll need to risk life and limb and have a crew climb the tree, since the logistics and costs of using cranes, scissor lifts, and cherry pickers are way beyond my reach.

Anyway, when I post the script I'll likely also solicit donations, in exchange for producer credits. Yeah, I'm not counting on this working out. But if Tony Pierce can raise enough money to buy an iPod in a few short days, why can't I solicit for enough cash to maybe just pay to feed my crew peanut butter and jelly?

In the next couple days, I'll update with some pictures of my trip, as well as a hot new holiday template for the blog!

Speaking of Tony Pierce, the man just selfpublished his newest "blook", a collection of his postings called "How To Blog"... take a gander at another Atlanta blogger Miranda... my friend Zameer has been blogging from India throughout his nearly yearlong student visit...

Friday, November 26, 2004

I Stand Corrected...

Indeed, as my sister points out in the comments from the previous post, I did indeed post a photo of George W. and Osama doing the nasty.

Anyway, fellow blogger Tyranny pointed out an awesome new car commercial that puts Asstoids to shame (which isn't too difficult). Tyranny writes:

Supposedly this is a car commercial that never aired. I'm thinking that it is more probably a very good student project using Computer Graphics.

About 12 seconds into the video, notice something moving along the side of the car, like a ghostly white mist that looks humanish.

The music score is especially good, and is what makes it work, so I recommend turning up the volume a little.

Watch it by clicking here.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

I'm thankful for the wonders of the internet.

Tonite I was able to see and talk to my sister and her kids... over the internet, through some Mac technology called iSpeak or iView or iSomething.

My sister mentioned that she doesn't allow my niece to read my blog, citing, as an example, my posting of George Bush giving it doggy style to Sadaam Hussein.

Have I ever posted such a picture? I don't think so.

But, not one to disappoint (except bill collectors and many, many lovely ladies), I thought I'd better earn my reputation for being a naughty blogger and offer you the following link:

Doodie Man

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

How Not To Get A Job

The day before Thanksgiving in Toledo, OH, and its been pouring out with ice cold winds. Not the blizzard, or even light flurry, I had hoped for. Save for some freak weather pattern, this is what it will be like for the duration of my stay. Which, I suppose, is all the more to make me thankful for the great weather I have living in Southern California.

I'll perhaps post one of those silly "Things I'm Thankful For" lists later on tonite or tomorrow, but for now I wanted to draw attention to this article I found on AOL's Career Builder website. Here it is in its entirety:

Inventive Tactics Can Land You the Job

How do you get noticed in a stack of resumes? More than one third of full-time, employed workers surveyed by say they used unorthodox methods to catch a potential employer's attention and successfully land a new position.Thinking outside of the box can give you an edge in today's competetive job market. Using a creative approach to market your skills and experience not only helps you to differentiate yourself from other candidates, it demonstrates that you are someone who can bring fresh ideas to the table.Job seekers admit to employing an assortment of tactics to get the attention of the hiring manager, to stand out, and basically market themselves for a job. These can range from the conventional methods, such as networking and mass mail, to the offbeat, like advertising at a football game, to the downright unethical like lying and flirting.

It's All in the Presentation
Unique packaging of the resume proved to be an effective job search tactic for some workers. One candidate wrote his resume on a basketball to apply for a position at a sporting goods company. Another individual sent a resume in an ice-cream carton made by the prospective employer.

Going That Extra Mile
Other respondents said their willingness to go above and beyond what other candidates were offering was their key to success. One woman said she would work for free for two weeks to prove her value. Another candidate showed up to the interview with a comprehensive plan to help the company improve customer service on a global scale.

Straight to the Top
Making a direct plea to leadership gave some candidates a foot in the door. A few candidates reported sending a resume, portfolio and letter of introduction to the CEO'shome address. Another candidate invited the company owner to a baseball game to network in a more relaxed social setting.

Persistence Pays
Survey respondents also said that demonstrating enthusiasm and commitment aided them in the selection process. Respondents reported showing up to the place of business daily to see the hiring manager, some waiting up to six hours. Others called the hiring managers repeatedly to reinforce credentials and reiterate why they were most qualified for open positions.

Stay Aware of the Line
Crossing the line could kill your chances if your chances if you aren't careful. Three percent of respondents admitted lying to get a job. This included bending or cushioning accomplishments, changing birthdates and falsifying education. And, one percent said they flirted to get the job, like wearing a tight skirt or taking out the manager's daughter.

Copyright 2004 All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

I can't tell if CareerBuilder is advocating these tactics. The basketball resume thing might work if he were applying for a job at, say, a scrapbooking supply store. Note the article says that this sort of tactic worked for "some workers".

I hope that the woman who offered to work for two weeks free didn't feel guilty that she might have taken a job from someone else who actually needed the money, and instead felt proud to encourage the company to take advantage of unpaid labor in the future. I wonder if the CEO who received a resume at his HOME address fired the staffer who gave away the location of his private home to a complete stranger, a complete stranger who also likely deserved a restraining order after showing up at the place of business daily to stalk and harass the hiring manager.

Then again, who am I to critique tactics on how to get hired? I complain here frequently about not being able to find work. In Los Angeles, and most cities nationwide, there hundreds, if not thousands, of guys just like me logging onto Craigs List on a daily basis responding to the same ads. Besides a snazzy cover letter, there's little else to do to grab the employers attention. And how the hell can someone send a basketball via email?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Pre-T Day update.

I'm not the only one slacking on the blog upkeep. Katzinjammer's gone almost three weeks since his last post, when he promised to put up a video he'd made later that evening. Benzo last wrote that she was able to get around a bit more over two months ago, so we can only hope she's too busy having fun to write. Simpleton leaves a new line once a week, but always on the depressing end.

In the meantime, Ken Cowan, who'd disappeared for a few months, is posting regularly, and my old friend Kevin, who still refuses to converse with me, has a cool new blog up.

As for me, I have no excuse. Most of my time lately has been spent putting together my annual Christmas mix. This year's is called "Santa's Secret Stash" and the tracks can be viewed at Art of the Mix.

After my last post, however, I did end up working a few days on a couple different jobs. The first was as event staff on a wine tasting, food sampling event held at Paramount Studios as a benefit for Make A Wish. While it sucked being the low man on the totem pole, I got to eat an insane amount of great food, the crew I worked with was a bunch of awesome guys in the same boat as I'm in, and, more importantly, I was indeed working.

Then, more or less out of the blue, I was asked to work as a stand in on a popular TV series (not INSANELY popular, but huge for the network its been on for nearly a decade). I'd asked one of my neighbor's if she knew how I could find work as an extra, and a few weeks later she said one of the guys where she works needs some time off to work on a feature film, and said she suggested I could fill in from time to time. So, for a couple days last week I worked both as a stand in AND as an extra (or as they like to call them, "atmosphere"). Claire is somewhat bitter because after I work a third day on the show I become eligible to join the Actors Guild, which takes most actors a few years to do... and I have zero interest in acting.

And, finally, I shot my third Group 101 project on Saturday. This one I co-directed with another guy from my group, and this one is pretty experimental, shot on a consumer grade camcorder, with a storyline we came up with less than an hour before we began shooting. Both of us will edit the footage on our own, and I'll post both online for my five faithful readers to take the Pepsi challenge. The movie is about a killer bag. Yeah.

In a few hours, after I shower, sleep, and finish packing, Claire and I head out for a week in Toledo with my Dad and Judy and the rest of my wacky family. Pictures may be posted.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

An intervention.

For the past week I've been halfway through writing a blog about how poor I am, how the current work scenario sucks, and how broke I'll be for the holiday season, before dumping the post altogether. Not only was it depressing me more, but whining on my blog felt petty and boring.

But, now that I've written a preface, let me bring you up to speed.

I haven't worked a "legitimate" job since the X Games. I came off of that gig with a bit of a high from a job well done, an awesome title to add to my resume, and a nice little chunk in my bank account. Since then, the job market for freelancing dilletantes like me has been a barren wastelend. A couple great interviews, but nothing that fed my to desire to work and my need to keep cash in my pocket. Work always slows down in the fall, but this year has been overtly brutal.

Among the depressing thoughts that lately crept into my head was that my "glory days" are over. For some, these glory days might be sporting accomplishments in high school or sexual conquests in their twenties. For me, I began thinking, it was my years of work with MTV, flying all over the country, chilling with celebrities, and working high profile events.

Then, my inner voice, the one that is usually reserved for soft spoken gems of wisdom always a couple hours too late, began SCREAMING at me, something about that if my so-called glory days were working for MTV wrangling club kids so they could dance on Global Groove, or bribing audience with tequila and donuts to show up and stay for early morning shoots at Spring Break Cancun, then I was a sad sack. My wise inner voice then called up a couple of its buddies, including my voice of concience, my voice of temptation, and even a couple old imaginary friends of mine for an intervention. They said, "David, your glory days are ahead of you. You are meant for great things. Your filmmaking career has only just begun. And your short film 'Asstoids' is proof of this."

Actually, this is when voice of reason cut that voice off. "Well, don't gauge your future based on Asstoids. But listen, you have four more months to make four more shorts, and if you put some actual effort into one of these, you'll build the credentials and confidence to perhaps shoot a feature film."

My old imaginary friend John Barkington, a race car driver, added, "Besides, you're sitting on a pile of great ideas that nobody will care about until you actually write them. They're cluttering our living space in here. As a matter of fact, I was looking underneath the cushions on the couch for change, and I ran across your idea for the Fantasy Football movie... along with some porn. The football idea is great... although I think you could have a career making adult films too."

Voice of temptation nodded emphatically.

Everyone gave me a big hug, and then they sent me off. I asked if I could go to rehab somewhere for a couple weeks, and they something about how rehab was basically a legitimate form of procrastination, but my problem was procrastination, and that the best thing for me was to get off my ass and back headlong back into focusing on the Group 101 shorts.

It was totally inspiring.

I then immediately went and played SOCOM 2 on Playstation until 4am.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ask your doctor about Asstoids

My second Group101Films project is complete, and in spite of the subject matter, I'm tremendously proud of the result.

"Asstoids", a fake commercial, was not only directed and shot by me, but also edited by me... the first project I've ever edited, outside of the 'ol VHS to VHS deck technique I used in high school. And I'd never touched the program, Adobe Premiere Pro, until a little less than 24 hours ago.

Writing credits go to Shannon Hilary for the product idea, me for the commercial concept, and to the actors, Scott Khouri and James Tuttle, who improvised all their dialogue. Music is an edited version of "A Little Champagne" by Kari Newhouse. And special thanks, and possibly a producer credit, goes to my girl Claire Dunlap who helped cast and light, and also provided catering.

Watch "Asstoids" by clicking here.
(or right click and choose "Save As" to download to your hard drive.

Warning: video contains grown gay men kissing. (and by grown, I mean adult)

Katzinjammer, aka Tall Guy, aka Jaily Brokenstein, has posted a couple video projects of his own... Ken Cowan's blog is back up and running... Tony's writing post-election is better than usual...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Oh, ohhhh.... say can you see, by the dawns early light...

The people have spoken, and it pretty clear that over half the people want an administration that believes in many of the same standards as the Taliban – as in, the ends justify the means, that a woman does not control her own body, that homosexuality is an abomination, and that power should only be kept in the hands of the few who can incite God whenever it is convenient for them.

But enough hyperbolic bullshit. I want to write about this great democratic process that gave us another four years of hell.

Yesterday, on election day, I hid myself from all the pundits and early election results at the only place you could do so: the polls. (heck, even people stuck in a cave, like Osama, couldn’t avoid news coverage) In addition to the “I Voted” sticker that 60% of Americans were given, I also was able to wear one that read “Election Official” as I worked from 6am to 10pm helping run a local voting place here in Hollywood.

In spite of the nationwide results, the day remains an affirmation of the beauty of our democratic process. Hundreds of people waited patiently, if not anxiously in line to cast their vote. Not surprisingly, many were first time voters, and not all of the first time voters were in their late teens or early twenties – many were new citizens from Europe and Asia, and some, in their fifties, had simply never bothered voting before.

My job was greeting people as they arrived and checking for their names on the rolls to ensure they were eligible to vote. If they weren’t for one reason or another, I steered them to out poll inspector to fill out a provisional ballot. Most of these people had only recently registered to vote, or they were voting outside of their neighborhood. And not surprisingly, a lot of people came in saying that either their absentee ballot was never sent, or that they registered at the DMV but never received confirmation.

The great thing about provisional balloting is that ANYONE can vote, although it has to be verified that they were actually eligible first (or that they didn’t vote twice). So, I only turned away one guy because he said he wasn’t registered to vote in the state of California.

The most interesting part of the day came when one eligible voter told me that if the election didn’t go his way, he was going to “kill the bastard”. I thought he was making a bad joke, and told him I didn’t want to hear about. Then he said, “really, I’m gonna kill him if he gets reelected.” I repeated, a little more loudly, that I really didn’t want to hear him talk about that. He chuckled, in a somewhat creepy manner, and said he’d already tried once before, and then walked off with his ballot to vote. If I’d heard him mention it again, I knew I’d have to contact the men in black.

Its funny – as much as I disdain George W. Bush, I’m still a patriot and would, as dramatic as it sounds, take a bullet for the man. As dysfunctional as our country is, it remains the greatest country in the world, and anyone who’d attempt to cause it harm is my enemy. And the liberals who now threaten to move to Canada were never truly American, just fair weathered fans not willing to back the team even when the management sucked ass.

And, uh, yeah. All that stuff. I’m now going to go blow up some more Ewoks.

May the force be with us.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Halloween Horrors

My computer crashed for the second time this year, and this time I'm going to need to ship it in to the folks at Dell hoping this time they'll honor my 2 year, paid, warranty. The first time I tried to make use of this, they said that my account was on hold due to "suspicious activity" on my account from over a year ago. Weird stuff... since it took them a few days to look into that, I ended up bringing my computer into a local computer tech, thus potentially killing my warranty... we'll see.

And it couldn't have happened at a worse time. Earlier today I was hired to put together a blog for a guy... which I can't do without some of the programs on my dead computer. Ugh. And even if the computer IS fixed, there's a good chance it will come back to me clean - with all the contents of my hard drive wiped away. (and yes, I'm one of those idiots who doesn't back stuff up).

To be honest, I blame it on the Bambino. The curse has rubbed off of the Red Sox, and been passed on to me. Then again, maybe it has something to do with the eclipse... which I couldn't see, because its been overcast and pouring out in Los Angeles (see, something is up).

Anyway, posting will be light for a while.

In the meantime, I rented "Star Wars Battlefront" for the PS2, which might be the greatest game ever made. Speaking of, I'm off to blast some Gungans and Ewoks...

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Offline Adventures en Espanol

Someone in Argentina just translated my blog. Muy Bien!

Yo Estoy El Unsomnambulisto.

Costume Ideas!

Because I'm uninspired to write anything tonite, here's my top four suggestions for Halloween costumes:

Sparky, the Abu Ghraib prisoner! (thanks to Sierra Whiskey for the suggestion)

Spong Monkeys... perfect especially if you're heading to a Halloween party where karaoke madness is happening(they have a pepper bar...)

Lyndie England!
Lyndie England... the perfect date for Sparky, or for any girl who wants to be a dominatrix but doesn't want to spend the money on a leather outfit.

And my personal favorite:
The Dermatophyte! Great excuse for guys who want to get on the floor and peel back toenails.

...A Small Victory has also been spending the season with Halloween topics - heres a good one about telling ghost stories... read the Grave Sights Hearse Club's History of the Hearse... This week The Midnight Mailman Show is all about fun, learning, and raising the dead...

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Grave Error

Wherein my mom tries to make contact from the afterlife.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Oct. 23, 2004In an effort to get into the Halloween mood, Claire and I headed to an outdoor screening of Rosemary's Baby Saturday night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary. Nothing cooler than seeing a movie at a graveyard surrounded by dead movie stars and producers, as the film is projected onto the side of a mausoleum, the ground is moist and moosy, and right next to us is the final resting place of Douglas Fairbanks. A non-profit group called Cinespia has been putting on these screenings twice a month since April, and this was the final night of their 2004 season.

On the way out, Claire and I realized a few things. For one, this is the second year in a row we've been in a graveyard after dark on an October night (last year, at around 3am, we snuck into the Salem, MA cemetery where all the witches are buried). Secondly, this is the graveyard we want to be buried in - besides the film screenings, they even hold plays, birthday parties, and weddings there. And more importantly, Claire helped me put together the pieces of how my Mom tried to get in touch with us AFTER she died...

Claire picnicking at the graveyard before duskIn the week before my mom died, my brother Jimmy, sisters Patty Jo and Allison and I went to set up funeral services in advance, pick out a coffin, and in short make final arrangements. One of the details left to me was to pick an actual gravesite, and the cemetery coordinator showed me a gorgeous spot under a great oak tree on a slight hill, near a crossroads in the graveyard. When I returned to visit my mom at hospice, I was excited to tell her I couldn't have handpicked a more perfect spot. She was so happy that later that night she woofed down a couple chili dogs from Tony Packos. (actually, I don't think she cared too much about the grave, but she was quite contented with the chili dogs).

A couple days later, my mom passed away, an on that same day I received a phone call from the cemetery coordinator to tell me he'd made a mistake - the plot I'd picked for my mother had already been reserved for somebody else, and he'd only learned this when he saw that someone was being buried there.

I'd call it a "grave error". (ha, ha... yeahhhh.)

Two days later was my mom's funeral. While everything else went according to plan, including playing Elvis gospel tunes at the viewing, I had a small pit in my stomach knowing that she wasn't going to be buried in the gorgeous plot that I'd told her about before she died. The funeral procession moved on to the church for the service, and on the way out our cousin Bobby, a pall bearer, tripped and nearly spilled the coffin. Everyone giggled, knowing that if our mom were still alive, she'd have laughed at the moment the loudest.

Finally, everyone ended up at the graveside at a plot far less glamorous than the one I had hoped for and bragged about. I told myself that she'll never know the difference, because if there is an afterlife, I bet she's in a much better place than a graveyard in Toledo, Ohio. Of course, as the priest was saying one last prayer, in the midst of a private moment, a ringing cel phone disturbed the peace. My mom's best friend, Pat Sahadi, looked confused as she fumbled for the phone in her purse to turn it off before the service could wrap up.

At the wake afterwards, she said that she didn't know who it was - the caller ID said the number was unknown, she'd only gotten the phone a few days earlier and the only people who had the number were at the service. The joke, of course, was that it was my mom, likely calling to laugh at everyone freezing their asses off in the January chill.

I now know better. She was calling to complain that her grave was moved.

Nickerblog writes about celebrating the Halloween season California style at Mr. Bone's Pumpkin Patch... there's a recipe for Pumpkin Bread at the Vegeterian Recipes blog... and I found another mention of "How To Vote" by Freeker at California Dreaming...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Busblog Birthday

My weekend began on a very unscary note as I crashed Tony Pierce's birthday party.

Very cool to meet my favorite blogger - I'm sure similar in some ways to meeting a favorite author. But, Mr. Pierce is too down to earth and humble to make anyone feel less than comfortable in his presence. I was able to meet Karisa and some of the other "characters" in his blog, and all I can say is that his motto "nothing in here is true" is, quite simply, false.

One wall of his pad is lined with "XBI Helicopter Pilot of the Month" certificates, a framed tennis racket with matching panties signed, "To Tony, With All My Love, Anna", and photos from his wedding with Moxie. The girl to guy ratio at his party was extraordinarily high, and anyone who peeked into his bathroom would have easily mistaken his bed with Prince's, with lit candles all over the place and three (count them, THREE) gorgeous lesbians making out on his double wide king sized bed. I have a girlfriend, so I couldn't pay attention to such things, so instead I chatted with John Woo about "The Goonies", Karisa about the Red Sox, Karisa's boyfriend about "How To Vote", and with everyone else about how fine Tony is (it was his birthday, and I just met the guy, so how was I to argue?).

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging...

Someone named The Mighty Yog says to watch "How To Vote"...wanna read something really scary? Try a blog written from the inside of a prison by the Corrections Officer Mom... and while I'm trying to keep my political comments to a minimum here, I'm still contributing to the Edge of Allegiance blog.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ghost of Halloween S'Carols

How To Make The Ultimate Halloween Mix, Part 2

With your Halloween songs chosen, and pared down to enough to make a reasonably lengthed CD (or tape, old man) you only need to...

4. Choose the order of the songs. I always think it best to start with something short that screams Halloween... sometimes even clips from horror movie themes, or Toccata & Fugue... or even use "Trick or Treat" which I've offered for download below. If you read Nick Hornby, most of his rules on how to make a mix tape certainly apply...
The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.
But really, you just want flow... don't just simply go from the loud, heavy metal tunes to slow instrumentals. Its much better to have a little ebb and flow between chunks of songs. But don't worry too much - Halloween mixes are few and far between, so for the moment, your friends will love anything they get that doesn't have "Monster Mash" on it.

With that, you should be pretty much done... but here's some more ideas that I'll call "advanced tips"...

5. Spice up the CD by adding sound effects between a few songs. Short clips of clock towers ringing midnight, witches cackling, chains rattling, wolves howling, and so on are always a cool addition. If you can get ahold of the old Disney's "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House" albums on CD, all the better - some of the tracks are mini stories, and cheesy as hell, but these instantly remind the listeners of their own childhood Halloweens.

6. If you have space on your CD, fill it with a secret, unlisted track. "Old Time Radio" shows about ghosts are a great choice, as are renditions of "The Raven" by Christopher Walken, James Earl Jones, or Dave Matthews. I only mention these because they're readily found on file sharing sites.

Finally, I should mention that with any holiday themed CD, its best to start weeks before the actual holiday to allow for time to get it all together, then copy and distribute to friends while allowing some time to enjoy before the actual day but... too late for that. Since I listen to Halloween songs year round, it doesn't make a difference to me.

Following are a few more S'Carols to help get you going (and if you end up with some awesome songs that I haven't mentioned, please let me know.)
Halloween, Heywood Banks... a perfect Halloween S'Carol, very tongue in cheek with lyrics including
Spider Baby, Fantomas... an ultimate Halloween S'Carol in lyrics and tone. Perhaps too scary for a church Halloween party... then again, I've known some cool priests who might dig this song too.
Goblin Girl, Frank Zappa... silly stuff, but good for the kids.
DOA, Bloodrock... a first person account of a dead guy in a morgue.
The Skeleton In The Closet, Louis Armstrong... satisfy the old folks by including this classic Satcmo track on your Halloween mix.
Flyswatter, The Eels... not sure what this song is about... something to do with an exterminator getting rid of rodents... but the music is damn eerie and worth inclusion.
Thriller (cover), The Stone Roses... a very low tech cover of the always cool Michael Jackson song still retains the creep factor, even if it lacks Vincent Price.
Nature Trail to Hell, Weird Al Yankovich... yeah, I know. But this Weird Al entry is entirely original, super-clever, and pretty damned catchy, if not just plain moody. But admit it - Weird Al still makes you laugh.
Trick or Treat, from the Disney short "Trick or Treat", this one can't find ANYWHERE - trust me - because it was never released as a single. I desperately wanted this for my mix, so I had to record assorted clips of it from a VHS tape, toss it into a cauldron, and convert to mp3. Don't tell the folks at the Mouse House, but if you right click and "save target as" you can sneak a copy onto your computer...

I found another "How To Vote" fan at Land of Ghosts... get spanked by "How To Vote" dominatrix Linda Santiman... and I found the site that mine could only hope to be:

Ghost Droppings

Friday, October 22, 2004

A political side note...

The following ad should be force fed to every pro-Bushie to make them understand, for even a moment, why so many Americans disdain George W. Bush:

Win Back Respect ad: "He Just Doesn't Get It"

Via Talking Points Memo:

It's a rough, jarring ad. But that's appropriate because it portrays a rough reality.

The ad is built on a stark contrast. In late March, at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, President Bush did a pre-scripted comedy routine about looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

It had pictures of him looking under the furniture in the Oval Office, poking around the grounds, and so forth, with him saying over and over, 'Those WMDs have got to be around here somewhere', or something to that effect. He chuckled as did the assembled DC bigwigs of press and politics.

About a month later, Brooke Campbell's brother, Sgt. Ryan Campbell was killed in Baghdad during the on-going search for weapons of mass destruction.

The ad starts with the president's yuck-yuck routine and finishes with Campbell talking about her brother.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Burn, Halloween, Burn! update

Check this out:

ABC News: School Says Halloween Disrespectful to Witches

The newest reason to ban Halloween? In Puyallup, Washington:

The district said Halloween celebrations and children dressed in Halloween costumes might be offensive to real witches.

"Witches with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion and so we want to be respectful of that," Hansen said.

Halloween S'Carols

How To Make The Ultimate Halloween Mix, Part I

Every year I make a Christmas music CD, and last year I made the first of what I hoped to be an annual Halloween S'Carols mix. Alas, while there's an insane amount of Christmas tunes to choose from, good Halloween songs are hard to find. And by good, I mean not the overplayed "Monster Mash" and "Werewolves of London" crap, or songs with Halloween titles without substance, like the Edgar Winters Groups "Frankenstein" or Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious". By good, I mean stuff with a scary feel, or about Halloween or the supernatural in some substantial way.

So, for your trick-or-treating pleasure, I offer you some advice on how to put together a creepy, moody, and cool as pumpkin guts mix for Halloween.

1. As with any themed mix, listen to as many songs that fit your theme as possible. Make lists of songs you already know, and start hitting the internet for other lists. Search terms like "halloween music mix" or "scary music" work well. I found an overly exhaustive list at the Nightmare City page that archives all the tracks they've played on their annual Halloween radio show for the past 25 years, for starters. Below I also offer a dozen ideas.

2. Now its time to start finding the songs. I use those illicit music sharing services like Kazaa... actually, less because its free than most of the songs I want aren't available on iTunes, MusicMatch, or any other online service. The other advantage to Kazaa (or Morpheus, or Limewire), is that you can also enter in vague search terms such as "scary" or "haunted" or "Halloween", and then download the songs that sound interesting. You can also search for the songs on eBay, or at your local music store (in L.A. Amoeba is an awesome local source). Never worry about downloading too many options... just go as far as your time and money will take you.

3. Now, listen to your collection, over and over. If a song becomes annoying, discard it immediately - you want a mix that will last through multiple listenings, and one bad song can kill it no matter how cute or clever it is. If you're able, listen to the songs on "shuffle" play, take note of any songs that play well against one another. Eventually, you'll need to whittle this down to a 60 minute mix, or some reasonably lengthed CD, so be prepared to discard a lot of stuff based on the fact that it just doesn't blend in right.

Part two in a couple days... for now I'll leave you with tunes that appeared on last year's Halloween mix...

Trick Or Treat, Nekromantix... from the awesome Rob Zombie produced compilation "Halloween Hootenanny".
Witch Doctor, David Seville... an underplayed classic that, for better or worse, encouraged Seville's creation of the Chipmunks.
Halloween Spooks , Lambert Hendricks And Ross... almost annoying, but surprsingly catchy.
The Headless Horseman, Bing Crosby... from the hard to find big band/jazz CD "Haunted House".
Til The Following Night Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages... the king of Halloween music.
Haunted House, Gene Simmons... an oft covered tune, this one is best, but no, this isn't the guy from Kiss.
Halloween Is, Tom T Hall... even a country singer can turn out a good s'carol.
Haunted House Blues, Bessie Smith... very, very hard to find, but the bad quality of the scratched record dub I finally found made it all the spookier...
Boris The Spider, The Who... the coolest song ever from Daltrey and company.
Jack The Ripper Screamin' Lord Sutch... I usually avoid using the same artist twice on the same mix, but Sutch had too much good stuff to resist.
Grim Grinning Ghosts Barenaked Ladies... yeah, my most unfavorite group of Canadians actually do an awesome cover of this song from the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.
Gingerbread Coffin, Rasputina... perhaps my favorite unexpected find for this mix, these chick rockers/violinists sing a song that would give Wednesday Addams the chills.
The Halloween Dance, Reverend Horton Heat... another track from "Halloween Hootenanny".
Graveyard Rock, Tarantula Goul... a Monster Mash-like rarity that can be found on the CD "Horror Hop".

...since being bitten by a wolf-like-animal, new Blogger and video store clerk Kirk has been experiencing some changes... vintage Tony Pierce: Halloween web-cam girl photo essay... an on a seperate note, Kenna likes "How To Vote"...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Burn, Halloween, Burn!!!

I have to admit, maybe Halloween should be relegated to an underground festival, a holiday that people celebrate in private, an annual celebration with a stigma of being evil, a day to celebrate the devil and speak with the undead. With that in mind, I have mixed feelings when I hear about efforts to stop Halloween celebrations in this country even today.

According to an article in the Pictorial Gazette, over near the town I grew up (Old Lyme, CT established 1666)...

An East Hampton elementary school recently banned the school's popular Halloween parade - a tradition for decades - citing "safety concerns." School officials said they feared a masked intruder could harm or even snatch a child.

I think journalist Erik Hesselberg commented on this perfectly:

Are they thinking of the Osama Bin Laden costume that was the hottest item in Halloween sales a few years back?

(The Hartford Courant has an in depth article on the subject.)

This year, Halloween falls on Sunday. The sabbath. Not surprisingly, some Christians have become upset about this, and have either tried to outright cancel Halloween... or at least reschedule it for another day. Common logic would indicate Saturday night, right? Heck... maybe even the day after, Monday?

Down in the Baton Rouge Louisiana area the Mayor has announced it will be moved to Thursday night.

"We moved it to Thursday because of all the activity in the city, to give the children a chance to go out and Trick-or-Treat."

Rideau said Thursday was chosen by the Baker City Council because of church services on Sunday, college football on Saturday and high school sports on Friday night.

Uhhh... do they have evening masses on Sundays in Louisiana? Have they ever attempted to reschedule professional football games held on Sundays? And, by the way, haven't they had Halloween on the calendar longer than any of the college or football games they now have to schedule around?

There are other ridiculous efforts to ban Halloween. At Lyme Consolidated Elementary School, where my nephew Drew terrorizes, also in Connecticut, doesn't celebrate Hallowen because they consider it a "Pagan" holiday. To be fair, they don't celebrate ANY religiously tainted holidays, including Valentines Day. Says Drew's mom, my sister Patty:

Instead of having Halloween activities, and dressing up for Halloween, they may dress up as one of their favorite characters in a book. Most kids get creative enough and figure that whatever they want to be for halloween IS somewhere in a book. Like Drew, he is going to be Spider Man. We know there are Spider man books! You do get your occasional geeks who dress up as Mark Twain. They can have a FALL party, equipped with pumpkins and leaves, but aren't supposed to do much with witches and skeletons.

So they're allowed to celebrate the season of Autumn... isn't this considered a little Wiccan?

This article is already bastardized with links for outside reading, but here's two more: The History Channel has a great article on Halloween... and if you think Halloween is a religious holiday, you might want to look into this religion.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Trick or Treating

For my one or two Los Angeles readers, I wanted to offer some ideas on places to go, besides Knott's Halloween Haunt, to celebrate Halloween...

The Hallowed Haunting Grounds is an annual haunted house (this is the 32nd "manisfestation") a Studio City man puts together on his own front lawn. Go to his site, check out his image gallery, and you'll see why this place already creeps me out... Thursday, Oct. 28th thru Sunday, Oct. 31 starting at 7pm.

Hollywood Hellhouse at 4774 Hollywood Blvd, is a straight adaptation of the Christian hellhouses put on through the bible-belt and beyond that feature the REAL horrors of modern life, including homosexuality, promiscuity, and abortion. I want to go wearing my shirt depicting Satan holding the bible with the caption: "Read any good books lately?"

I've heard about Spooky House in Woodland Hills for a few years, and the reviews have also been that its much scarier, albeit smaller, than Knotts Scary Farm Halloween Haunt. Spooky House features three themed "mazes" this year, The Realm of Lost Souls that they claim is the largest haunt in California, an evil hotel known as Dead & Breakfast, and the zombie infested Blood, Bath & Beyond - the title alone is reason enough to go.

The Movieland Murder and Mayhem Tour: Hollywood Roosevelt Edition originally caught my edition because it was called a "walking tour", and the Roosevelt, a classic hotel two blocks from my apartment, used to be a frequent place Claire and I would sneak into to use the pool... until the closed the pool for renovation at the beginning of this summer. Anyway, the whole show is an improv/comedy thing being held at bang Improv on Fairfax. Still, a ghost themed show, based on one of my own favorite haunts, sounds like a lot of fun. Saturday at 8pm in October.

And most importantly, since I'm a featured segment of it...

The Scary Election Show, a mix of Halloween and political madness just in time for the election, will feature "How To Vote" which they call "The most kick ass PSA you will have ever seen!" At the Empty Stage Theatre, Thursday Oct. 28th, 9pm, $10 admission.

...For those of you who just can't get enough, I've also posted the original, rough cut of "How To Vote" ... Roborants and My Single Mom Life loved "How To Vote" enough to urge people to watch it... and Simply Saidy gets extra special attention because every visitor to her site is forced to watch "How To Vote".

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Sixth Sense

I don't believe in ghosts. But I wish I did. I TRY to believe in ghosts. Every once in a while, when I hear someone telling their own story of ghost sightings, I'll get that chill across my neck. And, on even rarer occasions, I'll have trouble sleeping without making sure every door is locked, every closet empty... and even then jump into bed so nothing grabs my ankles from underneath...

So, maybe there's hope.

I did have one potential sighting, way back when I was eight or nine. I only say "potential" because I don't believe in such things.

I was at my Aunt Peggy and Uncle Stanley's house in Maumee, OH. I was staying over, sharing my cousin Steven's bed. His two sisters, Mary and Jenny, shared a room just up the haul, right across from their parents room. I was a scaredy-pants and wanted to keep the hallway light on and the bedroom door ajar, while everyone else had their doors shut.

I have no idea what time it was, but after everyone had fallen asleep, I awoke to pee. For a second I thought someone else must have still been up, because I saw the shadow of, well, somebody in our room coming from the hall. I called for it...

"Jenny?" No answer.

"Mary?" No answer.

"Uncle Stan? Aunt Peggy?" Nope. No answer.

Then, I watched the shadow walk along the bedroom wall, as if it was coming deeper into the room before disappearing... I was frozen stiff. I waited, and hoped, to hear a bedroom door open and shut... but heard nothing. For a while I waited and stared, scared to death, forgetting that I'd needed to pee.

Finally, I slowly got up and looked down the hall, hoping to see another door ajar - something to explain that whatever I saw was a resident of the house. But... no. Every door was shut. I ran back into bed and his my head under the covers.

Maybe not the creepiest ghost sighting ever, but its the one I remember vividly.

If you want to see something really creepy watch the trailer for the new movie "White Noise" (be sure to turn up the volume, and turn down the lights)... check out the 100 scariest movie scenes ever at Retrorush... listen to Halloween tunes year round at Cobwebs In The Closet.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Ghouls on Film

My older sister Patty Jo writes: you know anything about "orbs" in pictures? 'cause, as you know, living in this OLD house, I have one room in particular that often has an "orb-fest" LOL. Bring that Ouija board to CT and see if you can drum up some of those orbs and make them dance. I will take pics, you can do the creepy part and talk to a cardboard game board. Heck, maybe Mom will spring out one of her "OOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEOOOOO's" and make us wet our pants!

As a matter of fact, I know a little about orbs. But, as with all things supernatural, I'm a total skeptic, which most people wouldn't believe if they saw the number of books on ghosts and the occult that I own.

Orbs are the glob like things that you see on photos as the result of dust reflecting from the flash or lens imperfections. Some people like to think that orbs are disembodied "spirits". Regardless of what you believe, they are mostly found in photos taken using flashes, and usually by low grade cameras.

You can read more about orbs at the Shadowlands website. They also have a fun page dedicated to orbs and other "spirit photography", so you can decide for yourself - ironically, perhaps, they even have a page of "fake" ghost photos, so they must know what they're talking about.

Incidentally, the photos I've included here are the first ghost photos I ever saw, and are what first started my infatuation, and eventual skepticism, in the subject. At the very top is the Greenwich Ghost, supposedly the ghost of a monk walking up some stairs, and the second photo is of the infamous Brown Lady. Nonetheless, both photos still give me slight case of the shivers... so maybe I'm not a complete disbeliever.

Shortly before my mom died, while she was in hospice, I asked her to please make a point and come back as a ghost and creep me out sometime. So far, I've had a couple nightmares where this has happened... but nothing in my waking life. Maybe this is for the better. After all, if there's nothing better to do in the afterlife than to scare the crap out of your family, maybe there isn't much to look forward to.

Then again... I think that maybe I saw a ghost or two in my life... more on this in the next post.

Katzinjammer broke out of prison and posted four days in a row, once about "How To Vote"... Mist dropped the video a mention... Stupid Evil Bastard indulged me with a guest post to plug "How To Vote"... my older sister's favorite message board, Planet Sark, and somefans of some Canadian band called The Unicorns have even talked about it... even writers blocked Simpleton dropped word...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Trick or Treat!

For the duration of the month, I'm going to avoid politics for the most part and focus on items a little less scary.

Out of all means of divination, the Ouija board is my favorite. To begin with, its the only tool meant to conjure spirits that is manfactured by a large, respectable company... Parker Brothers. Of course, they dismiss it as a mere toy display it along with other kids games like Monopoly and Chutes & Ladders.

There there's the rules. Everyone has their own, but some of the more "common" rules include:

Never play alone!
If the planchette repeatedly makes a figure eight, it means that an evil spirit is in control of the board.
The board must be "closed" properly or evil spirits will remain behind to haunt the operator.
Never use the Ouija when you are ill or in a weakened condition since this may make you vulnerable to possession.
Always be respectful and never upset the spirits.
Never use the Ouija in a graveyard or place where a terrible death has occurred or you will bring forth malevolent entities.
Ouija boards that are disposed of improperly, come back to haunt the owner.
A Ouija Board will scream if you try to burn it. People who hear the scream have less than thirty-six hours to live. There is only one proper way to dispose of it: break the board into seven pieces, sprinkle it with Holy Water then bury it.
NEVER leave the planchette on the board if you aren't using it.

Of course, I don't believe in any of this crap. So, one time I actually tossed a Ouija into a fire. Nothing happened that I know of. I used the same Ouija previously in the Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme... again, nothing happened (at least that night... freaky place).

Once my mom told me that before I was conceived, and after a doctor told her she couldn't have more kids, she was playing with a Ouija board at a friend's place and asked how many children she had. The board said three, when at the time she had two. She thought it was bogus, until she found out she was pregnant with me. I should also mention that she sometimes believed that I was conceived with help of aliens who'd abducted her one night.

Which isn't to say weird stuff doesn't occur with Ouija boards. I'll occasionally hear a story that creeps me out (if you have one of your own, I encourage you to leave on in the comments).

But, I do believe for them to work well, there is a basic formula:

1. Only two people can play with a Ouija at once.
2. The two people should be of the opposite sex, or gay. There's something about the physical connection between the people using the plachette that makes it work.
3. Set the mood. Others can be in the room, but quiet. Low lights, maybe some candles. However, I'd avoid music... the planchette might start spelling out lyrics from a song.
4. Its always best to bring out the board after people have been telling ghost stories or talking about other creepy subjects. It opens the mind a little.
5. Don't ask for a sign that the spirit is there. This is silly. Start with simple "yes or no" questions, or questions that can be answered with single digit numbers (ie how many children did you have), to get the planchette moving, and then move on to questions that would require the "spirit" to spell stuff out.
6. If the planchette repeatedly lands on "Goodbye", the two people at the board should take a break and let someone else have a turn.

It's always best if you're in an old house, and that you don't try and get in touch with somebody in particular. And make sure someone is taking notes (or if only two people are there, write down the questions and answers immediately after finishing).

Now, I'm off to carve a pumpkin.

Raspil, aka Bluecad, says "How To Vote" "is not preachy, it is not insulting. it is hot, clever, smart"... Psychotic Normalcy dropped word on "How To Vote"... RadioHumper, the Unwashed Depressive, says she linked to "How To Vote" before anyone else, but Blogger ate it...