Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How About a Little Fire, Stormcrow?

It's nearly Halloween, but the only sign of autumn is the sight of flames engulfing the surrounding hills. It's fire season in Los Angeles.

It happens every year. In fact, it often occurs twice a year; spring and fall. However, the spring fires are never as drastic as they are in autumn. By then the hillsides have had all summer to dry out. I can only recall it raining twice, maybe three times in the last six months. The rest of the time the sun beats down on the landscape, turning it to tinder.

Of course, the national media coverage during the first day would have you believe that only Malibu was burning. Isn't it great to know that our media is obsessed with all things celebrity?

About a year ago I read Mike Davis' Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster. You have to love a book that has a chapter titled, "The Case for Letting Malibu Burn." Part of the author's point is that fires are a naturally occurring event in the ecosystem, pushed west by the winds. It is unavoidable. Yet each year, more and more homes are being built in the hills. Did I say homes? I meant mansions. Take a look at the homes being threatened high aloft in those hills. I guarantee not one of them is worth less than a million.

Inevitably, there are comparisons to Katrina. I heard a newscaster today say that FEMA had learned its lesson after Katrina and that events were much more orderly. However, the real difference is that the homes being threatened (with few exceptions) are those of the wealthy (or at least upper middle class). These are the people who vote and make campaign contributions. Of course every resource was used.

Although the flames bear a certain amount of predictability, no one knew what day they would arrive, unlike Katrina. Two years later and many victims of Katrina are still displaced, still trying to collect their lives. So don't feel too bad about the family that lost their multi-million dollar home, I'm sure they'll be just fine.

(My sympathies to the middle class in more suburban areas who will be more adversely affected by this disaster.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Subject Line? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Subject Line!

After years of e-mailing and thousands of e-mails, I suddenly find myself berated for my lack of subject lines. A few months ago, my friend K.C. gave me the semi-snarky comment that my messages always stood out from the others on the list by the big empty space where a subject line should go. I was fine with that comment, but then in the course of a single week, two more people reprimanded me simply because I hadn't posted a heading. One whined that he couldn't find the file I had sent him because there was no tag. This was a legitimate complaint since we're working together and I'm sending him a lot of files of late (not that this was one of them, this related to a separate project that I just wanted his opinion on). Of course it's easier to find a message if there is an appropriate label. But I'm lazy. Really, really lazy. I mean rushed. I was rushed when sent those messages. I didn't have time to write, um, one or two extra words. Because that would have taken me, like, another second. And I have big important things to do. Like what? you ask. Well, too big and important to detail here, I assure you.

The point here is that while they may be right in their critique of my lack of subject headings, my question is this -- when did we acquire the internet police?! E-mails are the most informal mode of communication that I can think of, and nothing has contributed more to the decline of the English language. Don't believe me? then u shld thnk 2. LOL :)

(I can't tell you how painful that last sentence was to write.)

I'm constantly witnessing the decline and fall of the written language as we regress into some form of hieroglyphic codes and abbreviations just to save five seconds of typing. At least when I compose my e-mails, they usually consist of capital letters, punctuation, and complete sentences. All I'm saying is, forgive my lack of subject lines.

Of course, I am a dying breed. No doubt, as technology advances, writing will soon be done away with altogether as we simply send mini-voice mails, soon to be followed by mini-videos instead of e-mails. I'm guessing that process should begin sometime around 3 p.m. next Tuesday. Two weeks later, people might accidentally click on this blog and wonder what all those little "buggy-like" things are on the page. Don't try to explain they're letters and words. Simply point your cell phone and hit the INTERPRET button. It will "translate" the page in the "voice-tone" of your choice. Hopefully, it'll be Homer Simpson.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Safety Features? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Safety Features

I just read an article in The Economist that mentioned Russia was going to ban the import of Chinese cars. The automaker wanted to build a factory in Russia, but after the results of a crash test revealed that the car, a Chery Amulet, crumpled in a 40mph collision as if it were made of cardboard, the Russians said nyet!

I found the footage on youtube which you can watch by clicking the link below:

As I watched the impact, I kept waiting for the car to finally stop... but it doesn't! Not until it hits the crash test dummy, which I think is the only thing that finally does slow down the vehicle!

Just think, if it wasn't for Ralph Nader, American cars wouldn't be much different. Maybe they wouldn't crumple like this, but instead you'd be impaled by your steering column. What fun!

Geeks of Doom Review Afterlife

I am not a fan of myspace. I came to the site kicking and screaming. However, it has been occasionally beneficial. Case in point, that's how the Geeks of Doom ( found me! They were kind enough to review Afterlife. Below is the review, minus the first two paragraph summary. For the full review, you can always go here.

Creators Stormcrow Hayes and Rob Steen have reached into the deepest and darkest recesses of the minds of the human collective and brought to the surface the awful and horrible truth about what is waiting for us after we breathe our last breath on Earth. What they have to offer us is a mind-numbing nihilistic view point, that given credence by the wrong people, could spell the ruin for everything that has been created since the dawn of man.

What is even more disturbing perhaps, is that even as Hayes and Steen set out to destroy every single religious viewpoint and every single justification to lead a moral and righteous life, they have in their own twisted way given birth to yet another faith-based religion that matter-of-factly offers all the answers. Yes, there is a soul, yes there is an afterlife, and no, nothing you’ve ever done — good or bad — and nothing you’ve ever accomplished matters. And if there is a Creator, it certainly doesn’t care and has left a long, long time ago.

Afterlife is being published by Tokyopop, known as one of the premiere importers and translators of Japanese manga for the English speaking world, while maintaining the original digest-sized format of the Japanese originals. Even though Hayes and Steen are both American, their creation fits in remarkably well with the attitude of their Japanese counterparts. Rob Steen’s black and white artwork in particular falls in line with the manga style, and is filled with deep blacks spreading to infinite, speeds lines during the actions sequences, and bizarre panel layouts that make each page an eye-popping adventure in themselves.

Clocking it an 180 pages, in Afterlife, Hayes and Steen offer quite a lot to take in, and by the final page your entire outlook on life could very well be changed forever. A careful reader will be able to decipher just what has been brought to the page, for this is no mere comic book, but both a warning and lesson that must be learned before it is too late and one finds that the only thing waiting in death is emptiness and nothingness forever, and ever, and ever, and ever…

Monday, October 1, 2007

What's "The Deal?"

I sold a screenplay originally titled "Deal with the Devil" to a production company several years ago. As the script went through rewrites, it became, well, let's just use Orwellian doublespeak to say ungood (which is better than double-plus ungood).

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the cast which included Penelope Ann Miller ("The Relic," "Carlito's Way," "The Freshman"), Henry Thomas ("E.T.") and Dean Stockwell ("Quantum Leap," Battlestar Galactica" and so much more).

Needless to say, I'm ambivalent about watching this film. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about it yet. Despite the movie wrapping production over a year ago, it still hasn't appeared on DVD.

Until now.

I recently discovered the film has been released in Europe. Below is the cover art:

I'll admit our title (the infamous Nick Angelo was my co-writer) was far from original, but we would have gladly come up with something more interesting than their shortened, bland version of just "The Deal." "The Deal" sounds like a documentary on business practices with your host, Donald Trump.

At any rate, I discovered on a site that seems akin to Netflix (here is the official link: (, two viewer comments. Here they are:

Worth watching
Didn't know any of the cast so was pleasantly surprised. the opening 5-10mins has you wondering what it's all about but in a good way. Good film well worth watching as little bit different.

Obviously made for syndicate USA and Spain - bad acting and even poorer script/story line non existent. Give it a miss.

Of course, I haven't seen it yet, but I'm more inclined to believe the latter. After all, I was there for the rewrites - eight drafts, each one slightly worse than the one before.

If you haven't guessed, I do not endorse this film. However, I am proud to have a produced film under my belt. Sound hypocritical? Welcome to Hollywood.