Monday, January 31, 2005

This is the creepiest thing I've ever read

From Yahoo! news...

U.S. students say press freedoms go too far
One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today.

The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publishing; 51% say they should be able to publish freely; 13% have no opinion.

Asked whether the press enjoys "too much freedom," not enough or about the right amount, 32% say "too much," and 37% say it has the right amount. Ten percent say it has too little.

full article here

Read the First Amendment here.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Triple value

My mom and sister Patty used to joke that my brother Jimmy and I wear underwear for two days, but consider them clean just by turning them inside out.

Evidently, what they didn't reveal is that apparently the ladies can wear their panties for THREE days straight...

from M90.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Thanks Hollywood!

Sometimes, just sometimes, those wacky right wingers can be seriously funny.

According to this article, conservative advocacy group Citizens United is putting this and another image on three billboards in Hollywood for the month of February, the same month the Academy Awards will be held on Hollywood Blvd.

Its nice to know that these kinds of people think that celebrities have that much influence over people's politcal sway - because I don't know a single liberal who gives a crap what Streisand, Sheen, or Ben Affleck have to say.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

This guy rocks.

Simpleton has gone retro. For this, he's surpassed Tony Pierce as my blog hero for the week.

A few comments on the Iraqi elections

There's lots that I want to write about and need to catch up on, but work has been slamming my ass. Still, since its coming up, and I hate people who Monday morning quarterback their views on politics, I wanted to express my feelings on the impending Iraqi elections...

I hate George W Bush (or, more specifically, I hate the Presidency of George W Bush), and I believe he effectively lied to the American public to gain support for the war... but I back him 100% on his resistance to postpone the date of the elections in Iraq.

Part of my problem with the Bush plan for Iraq is that you can't impose democracy on anyone. It misses the point. But to cancel these planned elections, however incredibly flawed and inaccurate they may be, would be a complete victory for the insurgents and terrorists trying to influence voter turnout. The more frequent the violence become as we approach Iraq's election day, the more important it is that we stick to the date.

No matter what, the Iraqi elections will be considered illegitimate. But as we long as there is a demonstration of what democracy is we're much closer to turning Iraq into a free country than at any other point in a generation. Even if we pull our troops out the day after there will be millions of Iraqis who understand what an election with choices is.

Whether this was worth the price in American blood and worldwide anger is another issue.

Monday, January 24, 2005

This is just too weird not to post...

Found via Ms MacIntosh's blog Melting

Bilbo Baggins
music video
performed by Leonard Nimoy

Home Sweet Home

While I've never relished the idea of moving back to Old Lyme, CT, where I lived from October 1981 to September 1993, in the last few years I have really enjoyed being able to read local news. While it is typically dull stuff, the local paper, The Pictorial Gazette, posted a "year in the review" that provides some interesting bullet points on town happenings over the past twelve months. I'll excerpt some of it for everyone here, with commentary...

After several years of drinking bottled water, faculty and students at the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and High School can finally use the drinking fountains at the school again. Some old wells, previously used, no longer met DEP standards, but the towns had approved a new drinking water system that was now in place.

I remember the fountain water tasting like old pennies, so this doesn't surprise me. All of the fountain heads were caked with a bluish residue when I left. I still continue to urinate in blue to this day.

The Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London launched a special exhibit of the "visionary art" of Elizabeth Tashjian, the founder and former curator of Old Lyme's unique Nut Museum.
Efforts were being made in Old Lyme to find homes for 30 new bluebird boxes that had been created in Jerry Silberberg's barn.

Don Bernier, a New York-based PBS editor and independent filmmaker, presented the first public showing of his documentary, "In A Nutshell: A Portrait of Elizabeth Tashjian," founder and former curator of Old Lyme's Nut Museum, at Connecticut College in New London.

One of my great burdens is that I was born in Toledo, best known for Jamie Farr, the drag queen from M*A*S*H and a farm league baseball team known as the Mud Hens, and then I moved to Old Lyme, best known as the home of Lyme Disease, and our best known resident was a crazy old woman known as "The Nut Lady" who once had a nervous breakdown when some squirrels broke into her home/museum and stole some prized nuts. She was on Carson a number of times, but I remember her most for the time I witnessed her shoplifting some chocolate covered cashews from the Old Lyme Pharmacy.

also in May
Many Old Lyme residents were enraged that, without any local input, the legislature passed and then Governor Rowland signed a bill that changed the name of a bridge on Route 156 from the Lieutenant River Bridge to the Thomas A. Fox Memorial Bridge. Fox apparently had summered in Old Lyme and was a friend of state Sen. Biagio Ciotto of Newington, chairman of the Transportation Committee, who had arranged the name change at the request of Fox's son.

Petitions were continuing to circulate throughout Old Lyme, asking the state to change the name of the Thomas A. Fox Memorial Bridge on Route 156 back to its original name of the Lieutenant River Bridge. Hundreds of angry residents had already signed and more were signing every day.

This silly squabble was interesting to follow for a few reasons. For one, I remember my mom thinking Gov. Rowland was a dishonest scumbag before he even took office, and I'm just sad that she passed away before she could see that he was essentially impeached and accused of taking bribes. Secondly, I agree with the residents that they should have had input on changing the name of bridge that had been used for a couple centuries, let alone changed for a guy who'd barely even spent his summers there. Finally, I think the issue ruffled more feathers because Thomas A Fox happened to be black, while Old Lyme is as white as you can get.

Dr. Robert Ballard of Lyme, the world's foremost undersea explorer, who had discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, was back home after a return expedition to the Titanic to determine how the wreck had changed over the last two decades. The Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg in 1912.

I never knew he lived there. This kicks ass.

Court TV had asked Hadlyme author Dominick Dunne to continue hosting the series of broadcasts called "Dominick Dunne: Power, Privilege and Justice" and he had agreed. Court TV would send crews to Dunne's Hadlyme home so he could host the show right from his living room.

Back to my mom again, Dunne was her favorite author, so when he moved into town and started doing local book signings, I had him personalize a couple books for her. He then started coming into the pharmacy where I worked, and eventually we had a repoir, and hearing that I was a writer invited me to interview him for the local paper. I did, and he revealed a lot of private details... but would often stop to ask that I not write about it. Ugh. Someday, if I outlive him and his son, I will reveal all...

In July, Seven Palestinian teenagers were visiting here as guests of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Then, in November Rev. David Good, senior minister of the church, had made a trip to the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank.

As agnostic and liberal as I am, I recognize and appreciate the Congregational Church continues to exemplify the good that a church can do. While my family were members of the nearby Christ the King Catholic Church, I found myself more drawn to the "Congregationalists" who had an active youth program, more focused on teaching by example than on preaching a message. They would host students from all over the world, including a South African kid sometime in the late 80s when the American public was first being made aware of apartheid. For years they've held an annual event called "No Room At the Inn", where middle and high school students would spend the night on the church's front lawn, in a box, in the middle of December, to draw attention to the homeless. And it was one of the reverand's, Charlie Harper, who I got to know during a weekend field trip to Manhattan, that introduced me to his brother Sam, a screenwriter, who ended up encouraging me to move to L.A. and took me under his wing when I arrived.

And now I'm missing the biggest blizzard to his Connecticut since 1978. Damnit.

and for more pressing news about Old Lyme, check out the online version of the Lyme-Old Lyme High Schools "Lyme Street Journal" and other student publications here.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Frank Black motherlode!

A couple news bits on my favorite all time rock star, Frank Black!

1. Frank Black as the Zodiac killer

Just saw this blurb here on Dark Horizons.

Zodiac: Frank Black (of The Pixies) is rumoured to be in talks for the role of the Zodiac killer.

"Zodiac" was recently announced as being the next project from David Fincher ("Seven", "Panic Room", "Fight Club")

I'm sure everyone here remembers that David Fincher used the Pixies "Where Is My Mind?" to great effect for the "Fight Club" trailer... so I think this rumor has some level of credibility.

Per Harry Knowles of Aint It Cool News:

The film will be based upon Robert Graysmith's two books entitled ZODIAC and ZODIAC UNMASKED...

Now - you may remember that Zodiac hunted his prey in San Francisco for going on a quarter of a century. Without a doubt - the killer in the first DIRTY HARRY was a nod to Zodiac, simply by referring to him as Scorpio. Now the adaptation from the Graysmith novels will be handled by James Vanderbilt, who was the screenwriter on DARKNESS FALLS, BASIC and THE RUNDOWN...

2. Pixies on Letterman Monday night

This is a rerun of their appearance from last month, so not exactly breaking news... except for those of us who missed it the first time.

Johnny Carson moves on

Johnny Carson just passed away.

Carson was pure class. He deserves all the memorials and tributes that come his way.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Fox anchor SMACKED DOWN! and more on the Inauguration.

There's nothing wrong with the President celebrating his inauguration with pomp and majesty.

But $17 million, just for security, should have caused the White House second thoughts of rescaling the event size and budget that wouldn't be so insulting to the taxpayers of Washington DC, and the nation at large.

Almost as insulting was Bush and his team's continued lament that the inauguration was about freedom and , the people, although he kept protesters far out of sight, and charged thousands of dollars for people to join in on the some Inaugural meals. In short, the Inauguration was really only for rich people who like Bush's and his concept of freedom, which is, frankly, fucked.


Oliver Willis has a great clip from Fox News with Vanity Fair editor Judy Bachrach complaining about the inauguration ceremonies as Brigitte Quinn does a horrible job of defending the White House. Quinn almost feels like a Democratic plant she's so bad.

Some other details pointed out from American Progress (referred by Tony Pierce):

A look at this week's festivities by the numbers:

  • $40 million: Cost of Bush inaugural ball festivities, not counting security costs.

  • $2,000: Amount FDR spent on the inaugural in 1945…about $20,000 in today's dollars.

  • 200: Number of Humvees outfitted with top-of-the-line armor for troops in Iraq that could have been purchased with the amount of money blown on the inauguration.

  • $1: Amount per guest President Carter spent on snacks for guests at his inaugural parties. To stick to a tight budget, he served pretzels, peanuts, crackers and cheese and had cash bars.

  • 22 million: Number of children in regions devastated by the tsunami who could have received vaccinations and preventive health care with the amount of money spent on the inauguration.

  • 1,160,000: Number of girls who could be sent to school for a year in Afghanistan with the amount of money lavished on the inauguration.

  • $15,000: The down payment to rent a fur coat paid by one gala attendee who didn't want the hassle of schlepping her own through the airport.

  • 2,500: Number of U.S. troops used to stand guard as President Bush takes his oath of office

  • 26,000: Number of Kevlar vests for U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that could be purchased for $40 million.

  • $290: Bonus that could go to each American solider serving in Iraq, if inauguration funds were used for that purpose.

  • $6.3 million: Amount contributed by the finance and investment industry, which works out to be 25 percent of all the money collected.

  • $17 million: Amount of money the White House is forcing the cash-strapped city of Washington, D.C., to pony up for inauguration security.

  • 9: Percentage of D.C. residents who voted for Bush in 2004.

'Nuff said.

Viva capitalism!

Today is "Don't Spend A Dime Day", in protest of the Bush inauguration.

I don't get it, as much as I don't get most protesters. Actually, I'm even a little more confused over this particular form on protest.

Why should I try and weaken our economy to protest the President?

Other people are wearing all black today. I don't have a problem with that. Good test ground for my proposal to celebrate Halloween twice a year.

But withholding business from local merchants is just silly.

Reminds me of some truckers who recently protested rising diesel fuel costs by parking their trucks in the middle of a Los Angeles Freeway, side by side, during rush hour. If they wanted attention, they got it. If they wanted public sympathy it would only come as a napalm Hallmark card.

So today, I've set up my office at a local Starbucks (which, by the way, is offering 1 month unlimited wireless for only $9.99 via T Mobile). Later, I'll be heading to Staples for a few supplies to complete my portable office. And in the meantime, I'm working for the most recognizable shoe brand on the planet.

Viva capitalism!

And in another case of my annoyance with liberal zealotry, Rolling Stone has declined to run an ad for the Bible citing they "are not in the business of publishing advertising for religious messages." More from

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Tiny stills from "The Worshipper"

Some teeny stills culled from the editing bay for the short film, "The Worshipper", based on a story by Richard Laymon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A hypothetical...

Just curious...
Let's say you knew a guy, a really bad man, who beat his kids, very likely even killed one, who you were told on very good authority was going to cause you and your neighbors great harm. While he'd been restricted to house arrest, had been forced to wear one of those ankle tracker things, he'd also been researching ways to unlock it, and looking into ways to get some new guns.
The police don't listen to you - they figure the guy isn't going anywhere, he's under too close a watch - but you have to protect your family, so you go and kill the guy.
However, you then learn that while maybe he'd hoped someday to hurt you, that the people who told you he was going to kill you were all wrong, they'd misheard things.

So... what does this make you? A bad man, probably better off dead, but does this justify your actions?

Still from "The Worshipper"

The Worshipper
coming February, 2005
based on the short story by Richard Laymon

Friday, January 14, 2005

A living legend.

I've had a record number of hits to my site in the last 24 hours.

The cause? Search engine results from people looking up Charlie Womack, who was killed in the La Conchita mudslide. The man must have been loved by many, many, many people.

I'm pretty sure I met him once or twice, but it seems like the other people I know, from the flower shop as well as Rodleen, didn't merely know the guy, but held him in very high esteem.

What struck me most about reading the details of his life was that he was sleeping in a teepee he'd built when he was effectively swallowed by the mountain. I don't want to disrespect the man or his memory, but I think thats pretty bad ass. People are killed in car accidents, building fires... but while in a homemade teepee? As far as ways to die go, how fitting for such a living legend?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tragic week...

I don't write much about it, as I should, but the side job I've had ever since I moved to L.A. has been at a florist in Westwood. I grew up in the flower business, as my mom was an awesome designer, working at a number of shops, and out of our home, before opening her own shop in Old Lyme when I was in highschool. When I hit L.A., I went into the first flower shop I saw and applied... and they took me in. They're great people - turnover in the past ten years has been light. Even people who quit years ago will return to help out for a few hours or a few days around Valentines and Mothers Day, just because the shop vibe is so good. As cliched as the term gets, the place and the staff are tight, and very much my L.A. family.

Zameer, who I wrote about below, is another employee, who delivered flowers before his semester in India. Sadly, a few days after we were relieved to hear he was alive, on one of the safe coastal towns, we learned that another employee's father died of a heart attack while en route to Thailand. He was going on a missionary trip, planned before the tsunami, made all the more urgent after.

Then earlier today I learned that a man who'd helped to occasional construction work in the shop, Charlie Womack, was killed in the La Conchita landslide, in a house that he'd purchased from the flower shop's owners only a few years ago.

Earlier today I received an email from Rodleen, the girl who worked with me on the X Games. She wrote that a couple dear friends of hers were killed in the same landslide - and one of them, indeed, was Charlie Womack.

As agnostic as I am, the combination of tragedy and coincidence gives me the feeling that these disasters are somehow intended, and these events not as tragic, or coincidental, as they seem to be...

From the L.A. Times...

Charlie Womack

Living in Charlie Womack's house on the back side of La Conchita was like living in the '60s.

"It was a modern commune. It was the closest thing I'd ever seen to the ideal in movies like 'Easy Rider.' But it was real, it worked, it was natural," longtime friend Steve Samojeden said.

Womack's home was always open to his extended network of friends, who dubbed themselves "The La Conchita Llamas." He welcomed those in need, even turning over the house's master bedroom to friend Jimmie Wallet and his wife and three young children when they were in financial difficulty and needed a place to stay.

Wallet survived the mudslide, but his wife, Michelle, 36, and daughters Hanna, 10, Raven, 6, and Paloma, 2, were among the missing.

Womack was staying in a 40-foot tepee that he had erected in front of his Santa Barbara Street home when the cliff above the street gave way. Friends said he had been hiking earlier in the day and was probably sleeping when debris engulfed him.

Charles Womack, 51, was identified by the Ventura County coroner's office Tuesday. Authorities said he died of blunt-force chest and neck injuries.

A construction worker, Womack was well aware of La Conchita's landslide danger, friends said.

One set of houseguests were two women who had been displaced by the neighborhood's 1995 landslide. They repaid his kindness by making large, family-style meals for those staying at Womack's house.

Others there were members of Womack's contracting crew and those playing in his band, "7th Day."

He enjoyed setting up large Gidget-style beach parties that featured a stage, deejays and bonfires, friends said.

Womack grew up surfing in Oxnard and was determined to raise his four children near the beach. The three youngest, 15-year-old Tessa and sons Isiah and Orion, both in their 20s, lived with him. They were unharmed. An adult daughter, Cory, lives in Ventura.

"Within his lifestyle and means, La Conchita was what he could do," Samojeden said. "He definitely was someone who lived every day like he could die tomorrow."

David Charles Markland heading into space.

Because I'm a geek, I signed up last year to have my name put on a space probe that will crash into a comet.

Set for collision on July 4th, the rocket carrying my name and the craft its piggybacking on launced earlier today.

NASA Launches Spacecraft On Comet-Smashing Mission

Mola Ram has died

Amrish Puri, the actor best known to western audiences as Indiana Jones's nemesis in Temple of Doom, died today at a Mumbai (formerly Bombay) hospital after a long illness. He was 72.

Puri acted in more than 200 films and was one of the best loved baddies in Hindi cinema, frequently playing crime bosses or inflexible fathers preventing the heroine from marrying her true love.

Born in 1932, his career took off when he was in his late thirties with Reshma aur Shera (Reshma and Shera), a love story set in the Rajasthan desert. He was most famous for playing gang leader Mogambo in the 1989 movie Mr India.

Puri also featured in Hollywood films: he was in Gandhi but is probably best remembered as Mola Ram, the shaven-headed murderous cult leader in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. He kept the minimalist hairstyle thereafter...

Monday, January 10, 2005

Love from the Blogosphere

Wow. Comments from Shabooty, Anti, Kalipornia, Tony, and even my own Dad (pictured) in response to my latest video "test" project.

Due largely to being linked on Anti's blog, an rare honor, indeed, I've received a near record number of hits on this site in the last 24 hours. Even Shabooty tipped his hat my way by reposting my "A couple more lists" post from below.

And, best of all, Benzo emailed me with this:

i am coming to l.a. in about two weeks on the 22nd. my friend, dana, is throwing me a kind of "welcome to l.a." shindig, and she wanted me to invite my homies. so i thought to myself, "self, who totally cool enough to come to your party?" and then it hit me. david. mr. unsomnabulist. *he* is cool enough for my party. so, yeah, you and your girlfriend are totally invited if you'd like to come. all of my friends, including previously mentioned dana, are in their mid-late twenties, so it's not like some teenage college kegger thing we're talking about here. although, that does sound kind of fun. mm. beer.

All for now. The new job gives me a new excuse to blog less frequently - then again, working means tasks to procrastinate, which is usually when I blog...

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Another video wrapped...

Call this one another experiment, another chance to try out a new program. This time: Adobe After Effects.

In short, I thought it would be relatively easy to replicate the look of that cool HP commercial that uses the Kinks song "Picture Book" (click here to see the original ads).

Alas, while I'm sure with a little more time I could have figured out some advanced tricks to nearly perfect the effect, I still think the end result is still fun to watch, if only in an amateur way.

The only professional thing about the clip is the use of my girlfriend Claire Dunlap, who had the patience to sit through dozens of takes as I tried to coach her on the blocking that I made up as we went, along with specific gestures I needed her to make so I could actually do the effect.

Here it is:

"Pictures of Lily"
music by The Who
starring Claire Dunlap

In the meantime, I'm meeting with my actors tomorrow night to have a quick read thru of the shoot rescheduled for next Saturday. Katzinjammer commented that "postponing filming usually means never filming," which I would have to agree with. In this case, in means that I can get some extra help as I'm shooting on a weekend, and my d.p. is also available. This also gives me a little more time to storyboard. Best yet, if my first check for the new job arrives by the end of the week, postponing, in this case, means that I can rent a boom and mic for better audio, and feed my cast and crew something better than El Pollo Loco (like Barney's Beanery).

By the way, while I originally recheduled out of fear of rain, last Thursday was the only day this week Los Angeles didn't get a drop of water. Of course, now we're being pummelled with rain that even Forest Gump would be astonished by - somtimes I think it's raining upside down.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A couple more lists...

Alas, work has come my way. A crazy month of events I'm production managing for a shoe company. Malls, nightclubs, college campuses. Six weeks of work, to start.
I planned on shooting a short film, but postponed it until a week from Saturday due to the erratic rain in L.A. Which means I have to shoot something else, wing something else, to have to present to the Group 101 folks on Sunday night...

On a more substantial note, I bring you a couple links to distract you from the Tsunami coverage and the endless "best of" lists that rape and pillage the media this time of year...

The Top 20 Nude Scenes of 2004 (found through Alexis, our favorite New York escort). Of course, this only means female nude scenes, bless their souls, and includes screen grabs so you can decide for yourself if its worth putting these movies into your Netflix queue.

The 100 Most Annoying Things of 2004 at Retrocrush is better than an episode of VH-1's "I Love the 00s".

Monday, January 03, 2005

They say there's gonna be a resolution...

Happy New Years and all that crap.

Now that we have that out of the way, I wanted to point out some resolutions I think everyone should make, in general. But since New Years resolutions tend to last little longer than a bad fart, I think penalities are appropriate for people who break them.

This is, by no means, a complete list. But we have to start somewhere...

1. All radio dee jays will be given term limits - like four years. Starting with morning zoo "jocks". (this means you, Kevin & Bean, and Mark & Brian)

2. Any publicly displayed clock, like those on billboards, on banks, on clocktowers, need to be correct more than twice a day. Property owners or leasors will be fined $1 per minute that clocks are wrong or broken, with said funds going to needy retarded crippled homosexual children.

3. Pedestrians who begin crossing once the flashing red hand begins waive all rights to sue vehicles that him them. Likewise, vehicles that pull to a stop over clearly marked crosswalks are fairgame to be kicked and keyed by pedestrians that need to walk around them.

4. If you end up with a shopping cart with a faulty wheel, the grocery store permits you to "accidentally" barrel into one display of any size. Any items that land in your cart you get for free.

5. Groups of people who walk more than two side by side on narrow walk ways, crowds, or sidewalks will be immediately drafted as minesweepers to help with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

6. News channels will immediately reduce the amount of on screen graphics (chyron, bugs, tickers, etc.) by 50% and resize all video footage so none is obstructed by said graphics. Or they can choose to purchase all of their viewers large screen TVs.


7. Americans who claim that George W. Bush is not "their" President will be sent to a mandatory, month long, naked "love in" with Americans who claim that Bush never lied. Upon return to society, everyone will be sanitized with a mild disinfectant.

Feel free to join in.