Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Autumn Weather

It's the first day of October, but you could never guess that from the local weather in Los Angeles. As I write this, it's 99 degrees. Yesterday I think the high was 98. It's scorching hot. The breeze, when there is one, is dry and brittle and only makes it worse. Get ready everyone, it's fire season.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pet Sitting Horror Stories

A few months ago, I was referred for a petsitting job. During my first call with the client, a German woman whom shall be referred to as CK, I could immediately tell she was quite neurotic. Among other things, I had to repeatedly ask her the dates of her trip as she would ramble incessantly about some other topic every time I asked. We finally managed to arrange a meeting.

I met CK and her dogs for a hike and then headed back to her house where she explained every minute detail of the house as if I had never lived in one before. She also had three different kinds of dry dog food and each dog received a different amount which she actually weighed out to the gram on a small scale!

Despite these odd habits, I agreed to take the job. I thought all of the arrangements had been finalized, but the week before CK left, she started annoying me with numerous phone calls and demands.

Initially, CK told me she was leaving on a Saturday night and I didn't have to be there until late that day or even the next day. As a result, I offered to comp my daily rate for that one day. As her departure approached, however, she now demanded that I meet her before she left. I had already made plans to meet with friends that I didn't want to cancel. Furthermore, she lived far away (a 40 minute drive without traffic) so driving to meet her, then back to my friends, then back to her house was not an option.

CK also wanted to “explain” to me how her SUV worked (much like the house, I knew this would be another exercise in her explaining to me things I already knew), as well as give me a CD she created with all the German commands she used on her dogs.

The more demanding she became, the more I wanted out of the job. Enter James. James had just moved back to Los Angeles and needed some extra work. I told him everything I had endured so he knew what he was getting into, but he agreed to take over for me since she would be leaving soon and couldn't bother him too much in such a short time (or so we thought).

Needless to say, James took excellent care of the dogs. Unfortunately, he had to wait until she returned to be paid. That's when the following e-mail exchange took place:

(Please note, other than removing names and personal information, I left the e-mails as is, so there is no correcting of grammar or spelling):

On Jun 9, 2008, at 4:10 PM, CK wrote:

Hi James:

please, allow me to fwd to you my "payment arrangement" with Sam . . . . the assignment included to keep the house & yard clean, occupied & maintained in its original condition while also attending to the dogs' needs of feeding and walking them twice daily for an hour each.

Please note that your / Sam's "food", "beauty items" and "entertainment" were not complimentary . . . . based on the amount (and value) of "human food items" disappearance (about $250-300), the stains on the living room carpet (requiring professional cleaning - haven't gotten neither the bill nor the carpet back, yet), the ripped railing cable around the patio (requires professional re-installation) and the usage of other items (replacement value undetermined at this point), we have to come up with a new price /payment arrangement.

You can reach me tomorrow via phone at 818-***-**** between 3-5pm and after 8pm.

Kind regards, C-

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: CK

Date: Apr 16, 2008 12:24 PM

Subject: Re: Dog - and House-Sitting

To: S-

Thank you for your reply, Sam.

We are looking forward to meeting you.

In the meantime, please confirm with me that you are available from 05/17/08 (about 7.00-7.30pm) to 05/27/08 (for the dogs' morning walk and giving them "breakfast").

Would you be willing to share some additional references I could contact before we meet upon your return? . . . . . I hope, you'll have a GREAT time!!!

Also, in order to avoid any confusion, please allow me confirm with you that the charge / your payment we discussed for these days/nights & doggy walking was $585 (considering the "late start" on 05/17/08, you expressed your willingness to waive the first night's charge) - please, let me know if that's correct.

Thank you very much in advance.

C- & the gang of "3"


On 6/9/08, James wrote:


This is the craziest thing I have ever heard!

1. I did help myself to some food items in the first few days before I went grocery shopping. Most of the items were going to expire etc., (milk, salad dressing, etc) but regardless, we're talking around $30. In the past with housesitting I have always been told to help myself, when it comes to food. Your estimate of $250-300 is nothing short of a complete fabrication. Here is a list of items I remember eating, one pack of ritz crackers, 4 starbucks drinks, pasta sauce, salad dressing and a few others.

2. By beauty items I can only imagine you mean the bar of soap and shampoo I used in the guest bath. WOW!

3. I wasn't aware of a ripped cable around the patio, but on many occasions after returning, the dogs had made a mess of the backyard, items from the garage were spread around the backyard, which I picked up each time it happened. Not to mention every two days picking up dog doo, cleaning and straightening up the garage area for the dogs.

4. The soiled carpet was a present I woke up to one morning. I'm not sure who the guilty party was, but the dogs went out each night before bed. I cleaned the mess twice and shampooed once. But the main point is I didn't soil the rug, one of the dogs did. Your rational to charge me for getting the carpet cleaned seems unexplainable.

5. The usage of other items, I can't even think what this would be. But at this point I have to say I'm curious to know.

At this point, I don't care! I'm not going to let someone nickel and dime me after I took care of three large dogs for 10 days, including feeding (measured everyday), several walks, sleeping in a small bed with them, cleaning up and treating them great. Beyond the dog care, I laundered the bedding in the guest room and various other items, cleaned the kitchen thoroughly, dusted and vacuumed.

I don't wish to talk to you regarding any of this, you've listed your complaints and conjectures and I've listed the facts. Nothing will be solved by talking, I will not be able to explain it more clearly than above.

If you wish to deduct $50 bucks of so for food items, I won't take notice, but if you plan to jerk me around regarding the rest, I will have no choice but to list a formal complaint. At this point I'm demanding the payment be sent and received at the address provided by this Friday, June 13th. I'm not in the financial position to wait any longer without creating undue hardship.



On Jun 10, 2008, at 4:33 PM, CK wrote:

Hi James:

I am NOT talking about items that were already opened & / or in the fridge, but rather "my back stock".

Let me just refresh your memory as to WHAT you consumed and did NOT replace . . . {{with a $$}} and we'll go from there as far as deducting your service is concerned --- I did mention to you that I expect my "human / frozen food storage" to be "untouched" or "replenished" if used . . .

T-bone steaks (1 pack - $35) . . . maybe even 2 packs???

New York steak (1 pack - $35)

Salmon - $10

Tortellini (going with the sauce) - $5

Lean Cuisine Dinners 6 (8???) packs -- $24-$30

Ice cream (Breyer) - $7

Kashi cookies - $5

Sunflower Seeds - $5

Star Bucks $8 + tx

Vitamin C (dietary supplement) - $15

Laury's marinade - $8

That's about $150 - $185 in food.


shampoo (special salon shampoo) - $8 + tx

2 aroma [gift] candles burned - $20

2 extra hours my cleaning lady had to stay --$24

Professional carpet cleaning - $100+ . . . . you were supposed to walk the dogs and attend to their other basic needs, such as food, water and potty-time (hence, if you get up at 11am (!!!!) it is NOT surprising that a BIG dog goes to the bathroom if they can't get you to open the door earlier . . . . I told you, the dogs are on a 7-8am "rise & shine" schedule!! that was your responsibility!!!

Handman to fix railing cable (looks as if someone stepped on the cables, e.g.while tying shoe laces???) - $50

The "bill" is now at $350 (do I still have char coal and gas in the BBQ???) . . . . costs that were NOT included in our original arrangement (I explicitedly pointed out the faulty shut-off valve in the guest bath room . . . . it was on the tape, too . . . . yet, when I got the water bill which covered YOUR period of staying here, the water-usage was twice as high as normal . . . . I hadn't even calculated THAT in) AND ACTUALLY were supposed to be avoided -- that's why I showed you the house and explained the dogs' needs in detail.

Anyway, under consideration of the above AND the fact that you did spent time with the dogs (although my neighbors reported that they rarely saw you taking 'em for a walk . . . . which was supported by a HUGE weight gain in all 3 of them), I am willing to give you "some money" . . . . just not what you were asking for.

As a sign of my appreciation that the dogs were in "one piece" when I returned, I am offering you $300 as final payment (instead of $585 as agreed / arranged with Sam, whose assignment you took over).

Let me know if that's OK with you.

I guess, we both learned out of this . . . .

Kind regards, C-

On 6/10/08, James wrote:

Again I'm amazed and saddened by the lengths you have went to concoct this scenario of events.

The majority of items you have listed below are a complete fabrication. NO steaks, salmon, vitamin C, lean cuisine were consumed and as for the rest, are you really that concerned about a half of carton of ice cream and some cookies (I guess the answer is yes). By the way, you never said you expected the human/ frozen food to be untouched or unblemished. I would have taken notice of such an odd statement.

Water usage??? If one shower a day, filling up the dog's water bowls and running the dish washer sends the water usage to double I'm amazed. As far as the leaking toilet, I was very mindful of this during my stay.

I burned one of the many candles for a couple hours. You can't be serious about all the rest. The extra housekeeping could be directly associated to the fact that they skipped a visit during the 10 day stay. And regardless, I tided up often and I wasn't being paid to clean although I did shampoo, dust and vacuum.

The dogs rarely going on walks??? We went on two walks everyday! Two days it rained and we only went on the evening hike (in the rain and mud i might add). This is perhaps the most audacious claim of all, since I spent so much time outside with the dogs.


This is the last email on the subject. I will only accept full payment minus $50 for food items. If I haven't received a check for $600 by this Friday, June 13th via mail or paypal, I will file a compliant in Small Claims Court.

Again the address is;


or via paypal at ****@***.com

I did you a huge service which consumed from rise to rest a full 5-6 hours of my day between the driving, the walks, measuring food, cleaning up, etc. Which works out to $11 an hour. I'm not going to be disrespected in this matter and have my compensation illegally withheld any longer.


On Jun 15, 2008, at 8:15 PM, CK wrote:

Dear James:

I can only imagine how angry you must feel that your financial expectations are not being met. It also sounds as if you are really furious because you spent so much time working during your time here and haven't received the appreciation that you expected. And then it seems that my complaints about the use of food and beauty items is very upsetting to you, too.

I regret that you didn't understand that we did not have an agreement permitting you to consume and use food & beauty products and other items in my home. I hear that you are very frustrated that I sent you a list of these items that are missing from my home and which were there when I left for Fiji.

I can only imagine how annoyed you must be that your need for privacy was not met here. because my neighbors aware that the dogs didn't go for their twice daily walks during your stay.

Please allow me to say that besides the consumed / used items (and the neighbors' reports), there have been some additional costs generated (such as the area rug cleaning / possible replacement and the damage to the railing) that happened "under your watch" and the prevention thereof was part of your assignment.

Under consideration of the above (and below), I am hoping that we are able to reach agreement as to the terms and amount for payment arrangements.

Please, let me know.

Kind regards, C-

On 6/16/08, James wrote:


I'm not angry about financial expectations. I'm angry about a series of falsehoods and inaccuracies, that are dragging out a clear cut case of breach of contract and delay of payment. If I knew I would be defending myself against false claims, I would have detailed every time and event. I have a duty to protect myself against false accusation, not matter how absurd or tedious.

If any damage was present on the railing it was directly related to the high winds during one of the nights, all three chairs were blown over (one leaning on the railing, which still has an exposed roll of the steel cord hanging off unfinished in the top right corner), as well as the astray and cigarette can being blown down the hill, carpets blown around the yard and several pieces of debris scattered. This is another instance where I went down the hill and around the yard cleaning up after something I did not case. The fact you're talking about replacing the railing is simply false, because the steel cords can simply be tightened by turning the mechanism on the right. Why do you continue to overstate things?

Enough about the beauty products, using a half bar of soap and five days worth of shampoo (yes I wash my hair every other day) isn't something worth bringing up. Am I to be charged for toilet paper, also? Or gas for the stove? You've already mentioned water usage. Was I to sleep in a tent in the yard?

As far as the neighbors are concerned I will gladly debate any discrepancies with them in court (which will be required if you plan to introduce their account of my times I left and returned). I have detailed information on most of the hikes and other times I left based on times phone calls were made, emails were sent and meetings were taken. If you plan to use someone's signed affidavit of the events, particularly anything proving the fact that I didn't walk the dogs, I will need to have their name/s in order to subpoena them.

I refuse to have any contract negated, no matter how small, by pieces of fiction and conjecture. Like I said in my last email, the amount due is $600 based on a $50 allowance for food, which is more than generous since the real amount of consumed food would be around twenty-five bucks.

I will be filing the necessary forms tomorrow, I would have processed them today, but I just returned to town. After speaking with a paralegal representative on Friday, the case will probably be heard around the end of July, however your evidence and witness list will need to be provided a few weeks before the date.



On Jun 17, 2008, at 11:36 AM, CK wrote:

Thank you for your reply, James.

I understand your frustration, which is all on my side as well. Our individual "facts" and "evidence" seem to be supporting our opposing points of view; except for one: there was no contract . . . . which I believe both of us deeply regret.

Please, check with SAM HAYES about my house- and dog-sitting arrangement with him, which was later assumed by you (I have a confirmation email from you); the agreed "charge" was $585 for the specified services, days and time.

I hope, you will think once more over "our differences" and the exchanged written information before filing with the SC court.

Please remember that before you mentioned "court", I wrote to you in an email that I was willing to give you some form of compensation -- just not the $600 you are requesting (which wasn't the agreed price to begin with).

Please, let me know how you decide.

Kind regards, C-

On 6/17/08, James wrote:


My only frustration is having to devote time to recovering money rightfully owed. I will NOT be providing written documentation before filing my claim. The written documentation is being prepared for SC court and they will furnish you the information once they decide. Legally a verbal contract and the implied contract based on your emails constitute as a contract. Enough evidence is available to prove a contract existed.

Sam has already been deposed regarding his conversations with you and provided signed declarations. Details include the agreed upon pay of of $65 a day ($585 is completely inaccurate since I never agreed to waive the first night, either verbally or in writing). The dogs went on a walk on the 10th day, were fed, given snacks, cleaned up after, the house was cleaned up and several little tasks were completed. Also, an interest tidbit of dialogue between Sam and you when you stated you were going the grocery and asked him if he required anything or had any requests for food. This statement has also by declared in writing by Sam. This demonstrates intent to provide or at least offer to provide foodstuffs for the house-sitter (which is quite normal in house-sitting).

I've already pulled receipts providing evidence of a total of $67.11 being spent a local grocers, and $35.62 on take out. I've accounted for my meals during my 10 day stay, I've received phone records and bank statements providing details of times in and out of the house. Also, during my stay I began a friendship with a lifeguard at Hansen Dam, who I talked with several times on the trail. I've been spending time with said lifeguard and they have agreed to sign a declaration of their time card and dates we talked on the trail.

Beyond the $650 owed, my claim will include verifiable financial hardships created by withholding of compensation, including several overdraft fees based on not receiving the funds, which directly correspond to your action of withholding. In addition, witness fees and damages. Also, I will be seeking pro rata compensation for the hike the day before you left as well as recovery of gas mileage. All filling fees will also be part of the claim. In addition, I spent roughly $12-15 on items for the dogs (carrots, cheese and broccoli) which will also be included. Whether or not these items will be awarded are unknown, but they do represent "actual" damages which is the only requirement for claims.

Regarding unreasonableness and state of mind, I think the presiding official will take into account actions prior to the stay and false claims after your return. A few include the two hikes before you left, more than two hours of combined calls before you departed, the three calls you made on the way to the airport and at the airport, satellite map, hand drawn map, audio CD, note about no open fires or parties, various emails, explanation of simple household appliances (microwave, stove, etc.), emails before leaving and your requirement to have three dogs and a 190 pound person sleep on a fold out bed. In addition, regarding your character I will introduce the scathing remarks regarding "Mexicans" at Hansen Dam, when you stated as we pulled in "all these Mexicans" "what are they doing" as you speed into the lot trying to go against traffic organized by a security official. This seems odd since you've immigrated to this country from across the atlantic, and these "Mexicans" have been living in this region for hundreds of years. All this combines to give picture of your behavior and possible instability. And finally being asked to delivery recorded conversations and hard-drives to neighbors (which I didn't do) that contained information that your ex would like to obtain while your gone, created an uneasy feeling the entire stay.

I don't want to continue this exercise, which is straining my time, but after explaining this situation to attorneys I temp for, they have agreed to prepare the information & documentation, but will not permitted to address the court.

I just want to be compensated what I'm owed, but you have on several occasions refused to pay (almost a month has passed), now we have to take time out of lives to prepare documentation, dispose and examine witnesses and appear in court. This is my last attempt at reason and I will now have to seek remedy under the law.

Regards, James

From: "C-

Date: June 18, 2008 10:51:01 AM PDT

To: James

Subject: Re: Dog - and House-Sitting / final payment arrangements

On 6/18/08, C- wrote:

I am mailing you a check for $600 via certified mail this afternoon.


James then sent me a complete forward of all the e-mails with this additional note:

check and mate!

U.S.A. 1 / Germany 0

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Memoriam: Hal Gefsky

I first met Hal Gefsky shortly after I moved to Los Angeles. A retired agent, he surrounded himself with friends, most of whom still worked in the industry. He was generous in many ways, including with his home, which he opened up to a myriad of guests, both long term and short. Actors, producers, singers, and musicians from New York often stayed with Hal if they were in L.A. for work, including his cousin, Michael Uslan (executive producer of Batman Begins), singer Marni Nixon, and actors Steve Eastin and Joe Grifasi to name only a few of those whom I was lucky enough to meet. When I needed to move out of my old guest house, Hal was kind enough to let me stay in one of the large guest rooms for just over a year.

Hal Gefsky was an icon in the entertainment community, respected and loved by friends and family alike. He will be greatly missed.

Harold Gefsky, theatrical agent, dies

Worked with APA for more than 25 years

By Mike Barnes

July 1, 2008, 03:01 PM ET

Harold "Hal" Gefsky, a veteran theatrical agent who worked at APA for more than 25 years, died June 25 in Los Angeles after a long illness. He was 90.

Gefsky, a former vp at APA, represented such clients as actors Dyan Cannon, Linda Evans, Sharon Tate, Veronica Hamel, Troy Donahue, Gary Merrill, Simon Oakland, Richard Beymer, Robert Clary and Ed Nelson.

Before APA, Gefsky worked for the Mitchell Gertz Agency and had his own theatrical agency. In 1983, he was honored by the Association of Talent Agents with its career achievement award.

"Hal Gefsky will be remembered as a great agent and a true gentleman," APA president and chairman Jim Gosnell said. "It was an honor to have had the opportunity to work with him, and on behalf of the APA family, we extend our deepest condolences to his friends and family."

The native of Youngstown, Ohio, served on the ATA board of directors and was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Entertainer Mort Sahl once described Gefsky as "a person with the most integrity of anyone I've ever met."

During World War II, Gefsky was a major in the U.S. Army and served on Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's staff in Europe.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In Memoriam: Jessica Kochis-Fedeli

I lost a dear friend over the weekend. Jessica had been battling cancer for years, but despite the horrible toll the disease took on her, she always sent it back into remission. She was a warrior whose optimistic spirit was infectious.

Straight out of college, Jessica traveled to exotic parts of the world to fight for social justice and worked with troubled teens before eventually taking a job teaching.

Sometime around 1998-9 Jessica moved to New York City, a place I'm sure she would acknowledge as her spiritual home. She loved living in NYC and though she wanted to travel, she knew she would always return to New York, where she eventually met her future husband, Shawn Fedeli.

Jessica and Shawn were dating when she discovered the first signs of cancer. Together they faced the tragic loss of her leg, but were relieved to hear that the cancer was gone. It returned six months later, but again Jessica sent it into remission.

I last saw Jessica about 18 months ago. I was visiting NYC and took the subway to Brooklyn where I met Jessica and Shawn for dinner. She was healthy, happily married, and thrilled with her job teaching government and sociology at St. Saviour High School. I never would have guessed her life could take such a tragic turn.

I would like to write more about Jessica, but for now this is all I can muster.

Goodbye, Jessica. I'll forever miss you.


December, 2009

A sleepless night haunted by ghosts. My friend's mom recently succumbed to Parkinson's. I find myself reflecting on the ghosts of my past. Eventually, I gave up on sleep, pulled myself out of bed and began to drift through the ethos of the internet. I find myself looking up Jessica. I'm haunted by Jessica's demise for the simplest reason of all: she was so young. I stumbled upon the following website (below). It is a beautiful tribute to Jessica.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Afterlife Artist

It is an honor to announce the artist who will be finishing volume 2 of Afterlife: Rich Fuscia.

I started this post about a month ago and it's certainly long overdue! If you've sorted through the art that I've recently posted, then you know that choosing someone to finish volume 2 of Afterlife has not been easy. There were many great submissions and many people weighed in on their favorites. However, throughout the entire process, Fuscia's name consistently came up again and again.

So congratulations, Rich!

I would also like to give a nod to all of the other talented artists who submitted. It was such a pleasure to wake up each day and find such beautiful work waiting for me. However, of all the artists, I would like to give a special thanks to the other finalists: Joe Largent, Ethan Wenberg, and Jake Ekiss. Each of you did beautiful work and I hope that we have room to put together a pin up gallery in the back of the book to showcase your talents!

Because this post is a month overdue, I'm happy to say that Fuscia has already done an amazing amount of work and we're back on schedule with the book which is due out in September. Once we have a few finished pages, I'm sure we'll feature them here and on our myspace page:

Check back soon!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gypsy Curse

On December 23, I broke two fingers while cycling through Hollywood. I was coasting downhill on the streets of L.A., when I hit something in the road that sent me and the bike down hard. I heard the crack of bone, but during the long and painful ride home (along which I debated whether or not to go to the E.R.), I talked myself into thinking they weren't broken. It wasn't until the next night, Christmas Eve, that I realized I definitely needed to see a doctor.

I waited until Dec. 26 and headed to an Urgent Care. From there I went to a hand specialist. This bright guy put a splint on the middle finger but told me my index finger wasn't broken and I needed to keep bending it or it would get stiff. Though painful, I tried this until my follow up visit. I waited over two hours in the waiting room before he finally saw me. He glanced at the middle finger, said it was fine, and was getting ready to leave when I stopped him. I told him I was worried about my index finger since it had been two weeks with no improvement. He scheduled an appointment with his colleague.

Two days later and another hour long wait in the cattle-like waiting room and his colleague shocks me with the news that I need surgery! Looking at the new X-ray, I felt he was right, but after enduring the mis-diagnosis of his colleague and feeling railroaded into the surgery, I decided to get a second opinion. Regardless, I wasn't going to let these people handle my surgery.

I asked for referrals and found a very good doctor who was also covered under my health plan. He confirmed the need for surgery, but he went over several different procedures and we discussed which would work best. I felt much better and scheduled the surgery. (Without surgery, my range of motion was only ten percent and I was in permanent point. With surgery, I should regain 70-100%. I'm hoping for the hundred.)

Two days before surgery, I got sick and had to delay for another two weeks! I finally had the surgery last Tuesday, six weeks after the initial accident. I won't lie, it was painful. I'm writing this entry very slowly with my left hand while I'm high on pain meds. Forgive the typos.

Because I splintered the bone, they had to remove the bone fragments and replace the missing bone with a piece from my wrist. So my entire hand is a grossly misshapen balloon.

Meanwhile, it seems as though everyone I know is falling under some kind of gypsy curse. One of the few things I was really looking forward to was shopping around my new horror comic that I created with artist Garrett Eisenheim. Last week Garrett informed me he was diagnosed with throat cancer.

As if that wasn't depressing enough, my friend Joe's father had a massive coronary on Monday morning. Fortunately, he was rushed to the hospital in time and is recovering as well as can be expected. Then last night Joe fell on black ice and may have broken two or three fingers on his left hand.

Also in the past two weeks: my friend Angie discovered she needed emergency root canal and my buddy Mark threw out his back.

I don't know which gods I've angered (Scientologist's demi-beingTom Cruise?), or which gypsy overseer I may have slighted, but whatever I've done, just let me know and I'll offer whatever sacrifices are needed to appease you. Only please... make it stop!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Apologies for "The Deal"

Even though "The Deal," a film I co-wrote with Nick Angelo, was filmed two years ago, I didn't have a chance to see it until last night. The film had only been released in Europe. Nick Angelo secured a copy from the UK and a region 2 player so we could have some friends over and watch it.

Let me start by saying this to anyone who's seen it: I'm sorry. I assure you, I'm a much better writer than this. I've often said, there are things you do for love and there are things you do for money. This was done purely for money.

While the script was never meant to be brilliant or even exceptional, I can assure you the original draft was much better than this. It was competent. It made sense.

Most interesting about watching the film was seeing the very bizarre flashback sequences and the new scenes that Angelo and I had never written. However, that's still no excuse. I knew that the final draft of the script was worse than where it started.

If nothing else, I will always be honest with you. If I write something that doesn't turn out well, I'll be the first to admit it. In other words, Don't watch this movie!

I'm happy to have a produced credit (important in Hollywood) and to have been paid. But I'm much prouder of my comic book projects as I have creative control over them. And, perhaps in the near future, I will get another screenplay made that ends up as a better product. When I do, I'll let you know. Until then, skip this movie.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Politcal Predictions (Super Tuesday)

This election year has seen a lot of predictions. Only a few months ago, people were saying that Giuliani would win the Republican nomination. He was in the forefront of the news cycle and then... he disappeared. During the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, Giuliani became a ghost and that's where he ended up, briefly haunting Florida long enough to concede and endorse McCain.

Fred Thomspon received a lot of hype when he announced his candidacy on Jay Leno, but his campaign had all the sizzle of a damp sparkler in rainstorm.

More recently, the media seemed convinced Romney would win Florida since McCain couldn't count on the independent voters who helped him win New Hampshire. But against all conventional wisdom, McCain still won.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was initially considered "inevitable." Obama's win in Iowa quickly changed that causing those same pundits to assume she was out of the race completely! New Hampshire had them again turning 180 degrees, thinking that Obama might have been outflanked -- until he won in South Carolina.

If this race has proven anything, it's that the conventional wisdom of the pundits, pollsters, and analysts has often been consistently wrong.

I think their incorrect predictions are caused in part because they believe their own hype. Instead of examining the (let's face it, very fickle) mood of the people, they report on polls, spin, and what they hear from their colleagues (who are reporting on polls, spin and what they hear from their colleagues).

I certainly don't have any extra prescience here. However, I did correctly predict (here) that McCain would win New Hampshire when everyone else seemed to think it would go to Romney. I further explained my reasoning in a short column called Republicans Hate Romney which sparked a debate between myself and Nzingha Clarke who pointed out that Republicans also dislike McCain. While it's true that some Republicans consider McCain a "liberal," this is primarily the far right, religiously fanatic, overzealous Rush Limbaugh wing. About the only positive result of The Bush administration is that it's finally moved the party away from the hard right neocon agenda that spent eight years destroying this country.

At any rate, with the neocons out of favor the Republicans have been forced to choose from a more "moderate" list of candidates. Given the choice between Romney and McCain, I think most Republicans are going to rally behind McCain who will most likely take a solid lead tomorrow.

On the Democratic side, I'm surprised to say that it's far closer. At the beginning of the year, I felt that Republicans, having a longer list of potential candidates, would still be up in the air at this point while one of the two leading Democratic nominees would have pulled ahead. Interestingly enough, tomorrow could still find the Democrats exactly where they are today -- divided. My own prediction has gone back and forth during the writing of this column, first Obama, then Clinton. However, I think that is my prediction: tomorrow will bring us no closer as both candidates will remain in a dead heat.

Jumping even further ahead, here is my current prediction on possible outcomes in November. Keep in mind that anything could happen between now and then that could sway my opinion in a different direction. But at this moment in time, here are my match ups (and although I don't think Romney will get the nomination, I'm still going to give him the benefit of the doubt and include him):

Romney vs. Clinton - Clinton wins.
Obama vs. Romney - Obama wins
McCain vs. Clinton - McCain wins.
Obama vs. McCain - ? (This is the most interesting race.)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Afterlife Artist Quest XIV

Some very very last minute samples. We hope to make a final decision by tomorrow.

The first is by Juan Pablo Milito:And the next two are from Carlos Hernandez:

Whoops... and let's not forget Wenberg with another two page sample.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Republicans Hate Romney!

Republicans hate Romney. That's why McCain won the Florida primary, a vote many people (mostly referring to pollsters, pundits, and media analysts) felt he would have trouble winning because only Republicans could vote and much of the support that put McCain over the edge in New Hampshire came from independents. But even without the independent voters, McCain still won by a margin of five percent. (McCain = 36% / Romney = 31% / Giuliani = 15% (taken from the L.A. Times.))

Even crazier, McCain won at a time when Americans are reporting the economy as their number one concern and McCain recently admitted he didn't know much about the economy! (Although he quickly backpedaled on that one, Tim Russert dug out the quote and confronted McCain with his own words on last Sundays Meet the Press.) Romney, a successful businessman with a degree from Harvard Business School, who has successfully run several companies and outspent McCain -- still lost!

So why do Republicans hate Romney? Oh, let me count the ways. 1. He's a Mormon (when I think 40% of the base are Evangelicals). 2. They don't know if they can trust him since he's flip-flopped on some of their key "value" issues: abortion and gay rights, not to mention he's lied about owning a gun, exaggerated his hunting experience and flip-flopped again on (gasp) immigration. 3. They're very unsure if he can win against the Democratic nominee. 4. The other candidates hate him because he has such deep pockets and doesn't need to run around the country conducting fund raisers. 5. And finally, did I mention he's a Mormon?

Aside from the above points, however, I think there is a much more basic psychological component. McCain is soft-spoken, affable and looks like grandpa. We all know he served in the military and though, just like every politician, he's flip-flopped, lied, and switched positions over the years, he's still considered a straight shooter.

Romney, however, is the symbol of the slick, successful CEO that everyone hates. Yes, he's successful, trim, handsome, and surrounded by an adoring family, but Americans love an underdog (how else do you explain George W., one of the biggest losers in the world winning the highest office in the land) and Romney is too successful, too polished, his family too happy and his hair too shiny. In other words, he just seems fake.

Obviously, not all Republicans hate him or he wouldn't be doing as well as he is. But, generally speaking, Romney supporters probably aren't as excited or passionate about their candidate the way McCain, Clinton and Obama supporters feel about their candidate. Instead, he's kind of like Kerry was for the Democrats in 2004 -- reasonably competent, insanely rich, and they figure he can't possibly do worse than his predecessor.

Given the choice between Romney and McCain, my bet is that Republicans will eventually choose McCain. After all, how can you not like grandpa?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Afterlife Artist Quest XIII

I wanted to wait until the weekend was over to make sure everyone who wanted to submit could get their last minute work done. I think this is most likely our last entry. Regardless, we've narrowed the field down to five artists who will be notified by e-m. We'll then decide if we need to see any more work (though at this point I think we've seen enough excellent work from many talented artists) and pick a finalist no later than the end of the week. I'd like to thank everyone for submitting such fine work and I'm proud to display so many different talents on my blog.

Stay tuned...

Erin Manga provided this take of pages 16-17:

Pedro Maldonado created two pages of his own:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Afterlife Artist Quest XII

Vidonm Medina created this detailed splash:Joe Largent comes through again with an impressive looking page 16.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Afterlife Artist Quest XI

Oz Capristo submitted the following:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I told Philipp S. Neundorf that his style didn't work for the book, but that I enjoyed the sketches he did. He put them all together in this fun collage.

Afterlife Artist Quest X

Typing the heading made me realize that if I had divided the entries up more, maybe we could have reached 30 entries, or XXX. Then this blog would appear on porn searches. Imagine the surprise of some horndog clicking the link expecting naked women and instead finding the images of horror and despair from the Afterlife. Meanwhile, back to the artwork!

Joe Largent created this impressive splash:

Rich Fuscia (see entry V) put together this scene sample:

Revised page:

And another one from Nando

WGA Rant

A friend of mine who is an animation writer posted this on his blog tonight:

From the WGA today-

In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations, we have decided to withdraw our proposals on... animation.

Not surprising. Annoying, but not surprising. Even with a President who's been involved with animation writing for the past decade, the Guild still couldn't get anything done.

Not surprised. Just annoyed.

The following was my reply:

I just saw your blog "venting" about the withdrawal of animation from the list of demands. This is just so unbelievable. Is it any wonder why no one respects fucking writers in this town?! The Guild has taken it up the ass for decades and when they finally get the balls to come forward, hat in hand, asking for a tiny pittance to buy some additional coal for the winter, we get spit on, booted, and then expected to stay on the job.

Almost every news report that I've seen covering the strike focuses on the few actors who come out to support us because no one gives a shit about the writers. I actually read a comment on some idiotic forum that said (I'm paraphrasing from memory): "Screw the writers, they make too much anyway." Maybe if this asshole was talking about William Goldman or Eric Roth, but we all know that most writers are out of work most of the time.

Of course, it doesn't help that we ask for so little. No wonder the corporations have so much contempt for us. These guys are used to negotiating billion dollar deals with equally shrewd backbiting con men willing to sell lead painted toys to make an extra buck. Then some group of disheveled, bespectacled (yes, I'm stereotyping, leave me alone) schmucks come forward saying, "Hey, we'd like a few extra cents on DVD sales and a tiny pittance if something we write gets played on the internet." No wonder they scoffed. They knew they had us from the beginning. And already, we're buckling, removing a few LONG overdue cards from the table, hoping that maybe two decades hence we can ask again (by then CGI will probably be as prominent as reality programming is today and they'll just bypass the three remaining WGA members entirely).

It's time to realize that we're the architects of this town. After all, we're supposed to be "above the line" and yet I know a lot of people below the line who make more than us. Do they deserve to make their money? Of course! But we deserve to make more! Because they don't work unless we do. Casting agents can't cast, producers can't budget, actors can't act, directors can't direct and cameras cannot roll until a script is ready. Michael Bay can't stage his 800 explosions until some form of framework is written down, even if it does only take a monkey tapping on a laptop.

If anyone can hold this place hostage, it's us. So instead of asking for pennies, let's stand tall and try to negotiate for something of substance. Otherwise, we deserve to be treated as the second class citizens that they think we are.

By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not even a member of the WGA! But I know how this town works and it's ridiculous how writers are treated here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Afterlife Artist Quest IX

Pedro Maldonado submitted the following:

Ethan Wenberg (see Afterlife Artist Quest II) worked up these two pages from the script sample:

Marco Marco sent in this one:
Gustavo Rubio did a sketch and then reinterprets three pages from the first chapter of the first volume.

Aren Manga did the following four sketches:

Juan Man. Silva did this sketch...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Afterlife Artist Quest VIII

A few artists requested a script sample (others, as you can see, came up with their own scripts!) Sarah Arai was one of those who looked over a short scene from chapter four, volume two and submitted her take on the page (we'll probably be seeing some other versions of this same scene soon). This is just the penciled version so consider it a rough draft.
This artist seems to be drawing for a different Afterlife project:
Joe Largent submitted this:
Nando created these three pics:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Afterlife Artist Quest VII

Kyle Morton created the following series of sketches and a fully grey-toned pinup.