Thursday, September 29, 2011

Deadline for Zoetrope Short Fiction Contest is coming up

Deadline is October 3 at 11:59pm (PDT).  There are cash prizes for first, second and third place, plus these winners and seven honorable mentions will receive consideration from major talent agencies including William Morris Endeavor and ICM.  All genres are welcome.  Entries must be previously unpublished and no more than 5,000 words in length.  The entry fee is only $15.

I've decided to take a shot at expanding my Golden Donut story for this competition.  The increase from 200 to 5,000 words will give me a lot of room to work with!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One of the greatest things I've ever seen

Everyone is eagerly awaiting hockey season.  Even this guy's girlfriend's pet ferret.

Hey there little guy!  Avs SUCK!!!  AHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Wonder if he's heading to Frozen Fury?  If so, he's going to be one hungover Sakic fan this weekend!

Okay, so apparently the Davids AREN'T included...

The infamous Hancock Park landmark hasn't sold yet, so in addition to a sizable price chop (from $2.1 million to $1.8 million) the Davids are going away: Curbed LA: You can buy a David...

In addition to the statuary sale, there will be Open Houses and as the Curbed article says, they are sure to be packed and I'm guessing there will be a lot of online coverage made available.  Personally, I can't wait.

Christmas sure will be boring without the Davids, although I'm guessing other residents of the 3rd and Muirfield Road area may not agree.

David pics snicked from Blogging L.A. and losanjealous.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How NOT to design a website and attract customers

These guys make the smartass Borders employees look like Ray "The customer is always right" Kroc.  I give you the website that won't let you see their products until after you've "joined":

I found them when their ad popped up on Facebook:

I liked the piece of furniture in their ad, so I decided to take a look.  And got this:

Apparently they require you, the prospective customer, to provide your pertinent information and join before they'll let you view a single item.  I tried escape, clicking on other parts of the page, but nothing would make the signup box go away so I could browse.  So I decided to get sneaky and just type in their address rather than going through the FB referral page, like so:

This gave me the option of logging in through Facebook without actually "joining", so I tried that.  And got this:

That's right.  They want access to my Facebook account.  This before I've had the opportunity to look at a single item on their site to see if I'm even interested in any of their products besides the one that is in their FB ad.

You know what this spells?  F-A-I-L.  Customer Service Fail at that.

I don't know who at One Kings Lane thinks this is clever, acceptable or worst of all actually makes some kind of sense, but whoever it is should be fired immediately and never employed again ever, ever, EVER.  I've done a lot of online shopping during my many years on Al Gore's interwebz and have never seen anything like this, and there happens to be a good reason for it: it's insulting to prospective customers and is possibly one of the stupidest things in the history of doing business, especially in an age where online privacy concerns are huge.

At least the Borders employees waited to burn their bridges until after they knew the end was imminent.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If These Floors Had Talked

9/28/11 Update: The results are finally online, and my story remained in the Top Ten.  It was still a huge confidence boost, as this is the first time I've made the final cut in a writing competition.  Congratulations to the winner and runners-up; their stories can be read here.

As mentioned in this post, I wrote an entry for the Golden Donut Short Story Contest sponsored by the Writers' Police Academy that ended up on their list of top 10 finalists.  Last night the winner was announced at the academy banquet, but as of now I haven't seen or received any notification of the winner.  I'll update this when they make the announcement, but for now here's the story as promised.

(Note: The rules were 200 words max (including a title, which was required) and this image had to be the main topic of the story.)
If These Floors Had Talked

“We got a warrant to search your house, Mr. Eisley.”  Smug bastard, just itching to perp walk me out of my own home.

I thought I was screwed then, but the house protected me, refused to give anything up, no matter how much they crawled around, poking and prodding, pawing through my life and belongings.  The loose, creaky floorboard stayed still under the carpet, remained silent on my behalf.

I think my jurors watch a lot of CSI.  They wanted hard evidence, or at least a body, and they didn’t get either.  All hearsay and no smoking gun makes Mr. E. a free man!  Thanks, jury!

This house saved my ass.  I wish I hadn’t had to sell it during the trial, but lawyers are expensive.  I really wish I’d had the chance to pack it up myself.  To get every last part of that heartbreaking bitch out of my home.

I’ll miss this place.  I hope the new owners love it as much as I did.  I also hope they don’t redo the floors any time soon. 

It wasn’t like I could leave her ring in my safe deposit box. They always look there.
The story was inspired by the real life case of Mel Ignatow, who was acquitted of the 1988 murder of his ex-girlfriend Brenda Schaefer, not so much because the jury thought he was innocent, but more because they didn't feel the prosecution had met its obligation to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Kind of like in the Casey Anthony case, the verdict of which was announced around the same time I wrote this.  The Ignatow case had come to my attention several years ago when I saw it featured on a true crime show on television.  It's also the topic of a book, Double Jeopardy.

Ignatow's "not guilty" verdict was mainly the result of a lack of physical evidence, specifically photographs of the torture/murder in progress and Brenda's jewelry, which a woman who claimed to be a witness to Schaefer's death had testified about but which was never found by investigators.  Six months after being freed Ignatow was proven guilty beyond all doubt when jewelry and canisters of undeveloped film were found at his former home (which he'd had to sell while in custody to fund his expensive legal team) when its new owner decided to do some remodeling and pulled up the carpet.  Ignatow couldn't be re-tried for Brenda's murder due to double jeopardy laws, but he was convicted of perjury because he had testified in his own defense.

As a fan of crime drama I've always found the question of whether or not it's possible to get away with murder (only fictionally, of course) to be utterly fascinating.  Did Mel Ignatow get away with murder?  Not by my definition.  Although he was never formally convicted he was eventually revealed to be a killer, so in a way he did, but in a way he didn't.  Even after being acquitted he eventually had to publicly admit his guilt.  Still, his paltry time served for perjury probably didn't give Schaefer's loved ones much satisfaction.

Ignatow died in 2008, a sickly but free man, twenty years after killing Brenda Schaefer.

The story's title is, of course, a play on if these walls could talk.
Big thanks to the Writers' Police Academy for an interesting, original and fun premise for a writing contest.  I hope they make it an annual event.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

RIP Borders...and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out

Apparently some whiny hipper-than-thou Borders employees decided to take advantage of their company's demise to let the rest of us wretched peons know what a burden we unwashed masses have been to them all this time:

If I'm an employer who's lucky enough to be hiring now, this "ode" just made me decide to shitcan any resumes I get with Borders in the work history.

On the upside, I no longer feel bad about the loss of Borders.  You want me to go to Barnes & Noble instead?  No problem!

This comment on Twitter says it all:

I'm no business major, but I'm guessing when you hold the people who pay your salaries and keep your doors open in such utter contempt, failure isn't far behind.

Customer service and the work ethic - two completely lost arts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Anything worth doing is worth doing right

Even spam.

Look at who this is from. Now look at who it's from in the signature.

Yeah. I think I'm gonna take a pass on downloading that "attachment".


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Revenge is a dish best served behind glass

One of the drawbacks of living by the beach (really the only one I can think of) is having seagulls crap all over your car.  These people found a hilarious way to wreak a small amount of revenge on the scavenging little bastards:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

LOL Goaltenders!

Goalie mask designs are always a hot topic among hockey fans and are as varied as the crazy, puck-stopping guys who wear them. They generally fall into one of three categories: Awesome, Lame and WTF?

Kelly Hrudey's Hollywood mask is an all-time favorite and legendary among Kings faithful:

Current Kings prospect J.F. Berube's mask recalls Hrudey's Hollywood nod and adds in an homage to LAX, where the Kings probably spend more time than anywhere else with the exception of Staples and Toyota Sports Center.

And then there's this guy:

Vasiliy Koshechkin (Matallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL)

I guess when you're 6"7' of solid goalie you can put as much fluffiness and Comic Sans on your mask as you want.  Who's going to tell you nyet?

It turns out that Koshechkin's name is apparently something cat-related, hence the kitteh design. But still, there was no way the comments for this story were not going to be entertaining as hell:

And my personal favorite:

Pics: Hrudey mask by Rick Stewart/Allsport (snicked from this article), Berube mask via Mayor's Manor, Lulz headgear from Top 20 KHL Masks.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

So, progress: I have made the final cut of a writing competition

No, not the Screenwriting Expo competition (speaking of the Expo, it is currently in progress this weekend) but the Golden Donut Short Story Contest, sponsored by the Writers' Police Academy.

These were the guidelines for the competition:

The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to announce the opening of the Golden Donut short story contest. The rules are simple—write a story about the photograph above using exactly 200 words, including the title (each story must include an original title). The image in the photograph MUST be the main subject of the story. All stories are to be polished and complete, meaning they must have a beginning, middle, and a twisted surprise ending. Again, all stories must be exactly 200 words. Not 201 or 199! So read the word count rules carefully. 

And here are the finalists:

Her Self Worth – Travis Richardson
The Keening – John Turney
The Gardener – Nancy Sweetland
Prowler Call – Dave Swords
Tiny Dancer – Rick McMahan
The House Hunter – Joseph Massucco
If These Floors Had Talked – Melinda Loomis
Buried Secrets – Ellie Oberth
OMG – Elizabeth Bryant
Fixer-Upper – Elizabeth Bryant

The winner will be announced next Saturday at the banquet for the Writers' Police Academy.  Whatever the results, I'll post the story next Sunday.

I've mentioned in the past that I think writing competitions are getting a lot more imaginative and this one certainly fit that description.  It was a fun challenge, especially with the word limit, since I love to write long.

My original post about this contest is here.

Photo snicked from article linked above for purposes of pimping this writing competition and my fellow finalists.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Attack Watch Dot Com - The gift that keeps on giving

Twitter wasn't the only one having way too much fun with the latest version of Obama's enemies list.  This went up the next day and promptly went crazy viral:

It took a few days, but the inevitable "Hitler reacts to..." video has arrived, and it was worth the wait:

Then there's this, which I absolutely loved:

It's the most interesting (and fun!) political propaganda site in the world.

And get those wallets out!  There's even an AttackWatch store!

Twitter continues to do its patriotic duty:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just another day on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

I'm guessing when this guy first hit Hollywood his goals in life didn't include parading around in a badly constructed SpongeBob costume or getting famous for being busted by LAPD for harassing tourists.  But things don't always go as planned, especially in this town: SpongeBob SquarePants Arrested in Hollywood for "Fighting in the Streets".

Twitpic by Chris Seckler, who I'm pretty sure took it from the upstairs dining room of Baja Fresh.  How sad is it that I spotted that?

This story reminded me of Elmo and Mr. Incredible in cuffs and Anger Management Batman.  Some things never change.  Maybe it's the costumes, or maybe the frustration of thwarted dreams of stardom.  Maybe it's the water in Crazytown.  We may never know.

From the Department of Things That Make Me Homesick as Hell...

Time Lapses in the City of Angels

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oh, the fun we'll have...

Seriously, how did I ever get so far through life without Twitter and the insanely awesome and creative people I've found through it?

Today came this cheery and not-at-all paranoid news: Obama Launches "Misinformation" Website, designed to counter legitimate criticism of "smears" against President Thin-Skinned Downgrade.

Once alerted, Twitter Nation wasted no time in doing their civic duty:


Of course I contributed:

Twitter.  Making sense of the insane.

Yipeee, we're going for a ride!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Death, destruction, depression and hockey

Last weekend's tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks had a local hockey connection: two members of the Los Angeles Kings scouting department were among the those who unexpectedly lost their lives that day.  Garnet "Ace" Bailey and Mark Bavis were passengers on United Airlines Flight 175, which was hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Ace Bailey/Mark Bavis memorial patch

Bailey, the Kings Director of Pro Scouting, had a lengthy NHL career that included winning two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins.  The Kings rowdy mascot, Bailey, is named for him.  Bavis was a young amateur scout who had displayed a gift for spotting talent.  Both made their homes in Boston and were headed to Los Angeles for the start of the 2001-2002 season.

The Kings annual Hockey Fest on Sunday included tributes to Ace and Mark, and an auction that raised funds for the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firefighters Fund.

Ace Bailey Children's Foundation - Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation - 10 Years Later: Memories of Kings Scouts Still Strong - Los Angeles Times: Families persevere 10 years after 9/11 took L.A. Kings scouts - As part of Project 2,996: Ace Bailey remembered by Scatterbrained and Mishigas Central - Mark Bavis remembered by Shock and Blog


Hockey's summer from hell reached its zenith last week when the Russian league KHL suffered the catastrophic loss of the hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in a plane crash.  My weekend spent reliving the horror of 9/11 and watching Ace and Mark's plane repeatedly flying into Tower Two was capped off by the news that Alexander Galimov, one of only two survivors of the Lokomotiv disaster, had succumbed to his horrific injuries.  Just after the crash his condition was being described by doctors as "beyond critical" and they gave the impression that they believed his death to be imminent.  Galimov had suffered burns over 80 percent of his body, along with significant damage to his respiratory system (had he survived, he would have required a trachea transplant).  But for a few hopeful days he defied expectations and the hockey world was really pulling for him; "FIGHT KID!" littered my Twitter hockey list in his honor.  Galimov was a veteran of Lokomotiv and scored the team's last goal.

In rare good news, the only other survivor, flight attendant Alexander Sizov, is expected to recover.

A few days ago the KHL announced that although Yaroslavl is done for the season, the team will live on.  The plan is for Lokomotiv to be rebuilt and return to the league next year.

 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl memorial patch


As to why I decided to write such a depressing post, well, first, on a personal level my Dad died earlier this year and I'm still trying to wrap up his estate, a trying experience that has forced me to put my life (and a chance to properly mourn him) on hold and has kept me from home for most of the summer and now going into fall, so I've been depressed about that for a while.  On top of that, reliving 9/11 all weekend after summer's hit parade of hockey tragedies just left me feeling so sad last night, especially when capped with the late night news of Alexander Galimov's passing.  With the exception of my Dad, who was 70 and had cancer when he died, every person mentioned and/or linked to in this post died young and tragically.  It almost seems like somewhere along the way there was a swap and now it's the norm to die young and the exception to make it to a ripe old age.

I'm just ready for bad things to stop happening to good people.  I'm tired of good people losing their lives and their loved ones, tired of bad guys trying to destroy us for no good reason whatsoever and tired of tragic news breaking our hearts.  I want everyone to be able to live and thrive.  I'm ready for some good news for a change, for myself and everyone else. 

I just want something to cheer about.  And that's where the greatest game on earth comes in.  Hockey is like being at a party with your favorite team, an open bar and 20,000 of your closest fellow fans and it is fun.  I just hope I get back to L.A. before the NHL's annual party starts next month without me.  At the rate I'm going that may or may not happen.  But either way it gives me something to look forward to instead of something to dread, and I could really use that right now, even if I end up being a bit late to the party. 

I guess what all this means is that I'm tired of being sad, I just want things to feel normal again, and that I'm really grateful that having this blog gives me a rambling outlet to say so, however awkwardly.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bushisms...Democrat style!

This has been up on Harry Reid's (Idiot-NV) Twitter feed all damn day:

Blah, blah, blah.

Here it is in sequence for your viewing pleasure:

Lip service, with typos!

The only positive I can draw from this is that even though we stupidly reelected Jerry Brown here in California, Nevada (whose economy may be even worse than ours) reelected Harry Reid.  Way to make us look good Silver State!

Seriously, what a careless, easily corrected insult to the American people (all 57 states of them).

Project 2,996: Remembering Evan J. Baron on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

This post originally appeared on my previous blog, Rose Parade, on September 11, 2006.  It is reposted and updated as part of the ongoing Project 2,996 and to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Remembering Evan J. Baron

EvanbaronBefore he went to work at the World Trade Center five years ago today, this was Evan J. Baron:

He was a 38 year old resident of Bridgewater, New Jersey and was a successful energy futures specialist for Carr Futures on the 92nd floor of the WTC.

His wife was Jeannine. When they met she was a shy receptionist who flaked out of their first date.  He was a not-so-shy floor trader who persevered.

Eventually they married and had two children, Ethan (now 11) and Julia (now 7).

Evan was a devoted family man of whom his own father said, "He never lost sight of family as the most important thing," Irwin Baron said. "I was in awe of how he grew up -- a wonderful father and a wonderful husband." His sister considered him a dual blessing: "He wasn't just my brother; he was my best friend," Julia Driscoll said.

He loved guitar and golf and was a cigar and scotch buddy to Michael Spinella.  He was a treasured friend and business associate to many.

Evan lived to age 38, and from what little I’ve been able to learn about him, when I say he lived to age 38, he lived to age 38.  I don't doubt that he has been missed terribly for the past five years, because people like this are just not not missed.

Today I am honored to honor Evan J. Baron as best I could as part of the 2,996 Project.
Update (9/10/11):

Evan Baron from Portraits of Grief.

Evan Baron on and Guestbook.

This was pretty much all I could find in my attempts to update my post about Evan.  He would have been forty-eight had he not been killed.  His children are now sixteen and twelve.  I hope they and Evan's other family and friends are doing well.