Thursday, November 30, 2006

Keep an eye out for you, Stingray! Yeah!

It’s cold. Damn cold.

Thermometer says it’s 60 degrees, but I know it’s lying. That can’t be right. Of course, there is no heat to my office. Don’t need it. Yes I do. Right now. Cause it’s cold.

My Internet connection is also cold – the information is dripping through like some of the 1’s and 0’s got slushy in the pipes last night. Hope it thaws soon.

Remember me complaining about an action scene I was writing? How I wasn’t feeling inspired? I’m pouring my blood, and sweat over each word, trying to make it unique somehow. Interesting, believable even though the action adventure world requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief…

Evidently, some people don’t have the same issues I do. I wish I could take credit for having found this, but I can't. For the true heroes of discovery, check out Cracked.



Uhh, wow. The hits are going up on this blog, which only adds to the pressure of having to keep my little writing ditties updated; so here’s a few quick random thoughts. Nothing deep or insightful. My apologies. Good news is that I’ll probably remember something good the moment I put this up.

To start with, today’s entry has me a bit annoyed because the recent upgrade of has messed up the MS Word plugin I use. Now, I have to jump through a couple extra hoops when I ‘publish’ my entry. Their word, not mine. Though this upgrade added some cool stuff, I hope they work this problem out soon. I’ve come to really rely on auto-correct.

Woe is me, huh?


Luck only makes sense if you’re a superstitious person. I’m not - so I cannot, by definition, believe in luck. There is of course, randomness, and it can often seem absolutely improbable. But it’s not luck. Mathematically, the ‘lucky’ person is gonna run out of it at some point. That’s math.

The definition I did hear of luck that I like is - Luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Ah. Yes. Enough scientific reasoning. Enough sense. No need to buy a rabbit’s foot for that. And of course it’s not luck really.

So, presently, I’m hoping that preparation is about to meet opportunity. Can’t detail it more than that, but it has something to do with Diamonds… bloody diamonds.

Honestly, that’s not hard too hard to figure out, so no need to email me.

I’m listening to a pod-cast called Keith and the Girl. Damn funny Daily show from a couple out of New York. Reminds me of what I liked when I used to listen to Howard Stern - the news with Robin and their personal life stuff. Keith and the Girl are doing that very well. It’s also really nice to be able to listen on my schedule - pause when I need, repeat something if absolutely necessary... not listen at six in the morning. Hey, maybe this internet thing isn’t a fad after all. They initially got my attention with several funny riffs on the Michael Richards thing, but their absolute lambasting of Dane Cook is what really turned me into a fan. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks he doesn't have a funny bone in his obnoxious body. Besides that, their show alerted me to the fact, evidently well known among comedians, that Dane Cook has stolen some of his material. Now, if HBO would just stop wasting their precious time on him.

Okay, that’s about it for this lame-o entry. If you’re annoyed, and you want something better, check out some of the wonderful links I’ve collected. If that’s not enough, come back soon for something more. On the flip side, short entries are probably easier to get through, right? It's never my intention to write a tome when I compose a blog entry, they just tend to end up that way.

As Mark Twain wrote:
"I apologize for the length of this letter. If I had more time, it would have been shorter".

It's something that most writers can relate to, I think.

FYI - If coming back to this only to find the same entry, day after day is annoying, subscribe to the RSS feed - that way you’ll know exactly when the latest, greatest entry is up. (hint – if you have a Yahoo page – just click on the yahoo button at the top right of this page. It will take care of the rest)

Perhaps a final update on the car: We just got it back from the body shop. They did what they had to do. It's about 98 percent as good as it was before it was stolen. I think. Of course, I won't know for sure till I drive it for a while. Since the tinting had to be replaced, we now do have some nice new tinting. However, now we need two keys - the new one for the ignition, the old one for the doors and trunk, and that's a bit annoying. I also swear the front end seems noisier than it was... But hey, the car lives to see another day.

I guess we were lucky.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Just like Disneyworld

Last night, Marianne and I went into a Sharper Image store in our local mall. We were seduced by a massage seat cushion thing that I can best describe as ghostly but firm hands, trained in the basics of Shiatsu, pushing at your back from any chair you put it on. Pretty awesome. If you've never tried it, I dare you.

While perusing the store, I realized with great delight, that we are in the glory days of small remote controlled vehicles. Friends of mine have been helping me amass an empire of low cost, cars, UFO’s, an airplane and a Spider - all controlled by three or less buttons. But there are still helicopters, dinosaurs and more, still to be added. Glory days indeed.

As we were leaving the store, the soulful brown eyes of about seven “Alive” Chimpanzees, all in boxes, stopped me. The eyes were soulful, because the box told me they were.

Reading the box, I was boggled by the promises. An animatronic chimp! It could be in my office, on my desk! It could baffle strangers!
Too cool. The things I could do with an animatronic Chimp head… Of course, wondering about that is what stopped me from instantly plunking down my hard earned credit card and purchasing it.

Today, still thinking about the chimp, I went to Sharper Image online and found the page with the chimp. Complete with photos, selling points and cool box photo, it also includes a video.

Check it out and tell me – do you think the video is a good selling point?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Hand that Grabbed So Much...

Helmer Robert Altman dies

Robert Altman, the caustic and irreverent satirist behind "M-A-S-H," "Nashville" and "The Player" who made a career out of bucking Hollywood management and story conventions, died at a Los Angeles Hospital, his Sandcastle 5 Productions Company said Tuesday. He was 81.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Drive my Car

I’m done writing for the day, which means I’ll try to add another blog entry. Damn, this is a responsibility.

I’ll get the Barney Fife story out of the way, so that future blog entries can be about the current things on my mind:

  1. How utterly bored I am with an action sequence I have to write.
  2. Margaret Livingston - Paul Whiteman’s wife.
  3. Halloween
  4. Unintentionally pitching an old story to a producer recently, which he loved and now causes me to either shift my thoughts, or work twice as much.
  5. Pondering whether I should start podcasting this crap – After all I have several great microphones. Isn’t that reason enough?

The Car saga

For the past (Geez, is it that long already?) month, we’ve been renting a PT Cruiser, while going through the machinations one goes through when dealing with a stolen car. Insurance, claims, trying to remember what-all was in the car, the stages of grief, etc.

Finally, with resignation, trying to figure out where to come up with the extra money it will take to buy a new car, we started thinking.

In case you think that a stolen car is not such a big deal – it sucks. It really is a pain in the ass. Somehow, it takes something out of you. You don’t want to do anything, you wanna stay home, sleep, not go out. In short – it puts you into a state of depression. Obviously, I’m not going to compare it to life-serious things, but it does its insidious work.

So, when, on November 9th, the insurance agent call you up and says, “did you know they recovered your car on October 27th?” – it really messes with your head!

Turns out the car was “recovered” three days after it was stolen!

The agent asked us if we knew. I guess she had to ask that rather obvious question – NO, we didn’t know, otherwise why would we be going through all this paperwork?

When we asked her how she found out, she said that a DMV check showed the car had been pulled off the Stolen Vehicle list, meaning it had been found.

When we asked where it was, she gave us all the info. The long and the short – and there are several days of long and short – the police department that recovered the car forgot to tell us they had recovered it. I guess it would have continued to rack up impound fees until the day they decided to mash it or sell it at auction. Since we found out, there were only (haha) 560 dollars worth. Which, of course, we have to pay.

The car was not unscathed, though it was not horrible either. I’m guessing the IQ level of the thieves to be about 85 or so. They tried, but broke the right signal light, I suppose learned their mistakes, and successfully took the left one, busted the ignition – of course, stole the Alpine CD player – but left their portable one, along with a cd, in the car (whoops).

There must have been at least three of them, cause the guy in the back was a hyperactive little bastard. It could be due to the 32 oz Big Gulp that was left on the back armrest, but since that was still full, I’m not sure. His hyperactivity came out in nervous keying of window tinting. His attempt at putting his ‘gang’ letters into the tinting was a sign of either, poor penmanship, not being able to ‘mirror write’ well, or it might have been the soda. Not sure what gang he was in, and I’m guessing they wouldn’t want to take the credit on this job. Police couldn’t figure out either. After Roach#3 got bored with the side window, he started a bit on the rear window. It couldn’t have interested him for more than a minute though because those are very minute scratches. In fact, it looks like he was trying to remove the tinting, not deface it. I admit, the tinting was old and needed replacing, but still – you stole the car, dude!

Beyond anything stolen, I am most amazed by the sheer filth. I don’t know how they did it. It’s as if they rolled around, head to toe, in road dirt and grease before sitting in the car. Head rests, seat belts, armrests, you name it – covered in grime. Smokers too. Strange in this day, in California, I don’t think of car thieves as cigarette smokes. Ashes all over the place. One cigarette burn.

They lived large, driving it till it was absolutely empty. Then, they abandoned ship. Very quickly too, I imagine, considering the personal items (their personal items) they forgot to take.

And, so the car was found in a no Parking Zone. It was towed two blocks away, and recorded as stolen.

A car is made of metal, glass and plastic. All of these things are wonderful items from which to get a fingerprint. The entire outside of the car was covered in Graphite dust, as per my original request to prosecute, if possible. Not one signal print was useable. Not one.

And there were many, many, many. The thing that made some unusable were the brush marks. The brush marks from the fingerprinter’s brush. Whoops. I guess this isn’t CSI, is it?

Additionally, there was a plastic wiffle ball bat in the back seat. Not mine. The afore mentioned portable CD player, a bucket of Chicken, and the already mentioned Big Gulp. All not mine. All of those things should have wonderful prints on them. I drove the car back to the police station to alert them to the fact that they had not printed any of these items. The detective humored me and came out with a cardboard box and, wearing rubber gloves, took them, promising to get them printed.

I’m guessing he threw them away once he got inside the police station.

Next came fears of an ordeal with the insurance company. I was worried that they’d ‘total’ the car, give us a check for a couple thousand bucks and send us on our way. Happily, Honda Accords retain their value, and are worth quite a bit more than a couple thousand. The appraiser told us quickly that he wouldn’t be ‘totaling’ the car, and gave us I think a fair, albeit aggressive, appraisal of the damage. Supposedly, if the repair costs go over, they’ll cover it. This, by the way, is AMICA. If all continues to go well, I will laud them plenty, and recommend them to all. If all does not go well, well you know you'll hear about it.

So, where are we at?

Still driving the PT Cruiser, waiting for the car to come back from the various shops. It seems our Honda Accord has lived to see another day. We’re getting over the emotional turmoil, which strangely was more intense once the car actually came back.

We made a formal complaint with the city whose police department dropped the ball. More on that as it progresses.

Oh, and I will have to buy new prescription sunglasses. The cockroaches emptied the glove compartment of all its contents, of which nothing would have been useful to them.

And the insurance doesn’t cover personal items, which figures. The one time I get really nice frames, lens, polarized tinting, etc. they’re stolen within three months.

A birthday present from Marianne.

Damn it.