November 30, 2007

Since you ask... car is still stolen. But thanks for asking; I'm surprised by the number of readers asking me about it

Here's a picture of where it SHOULD be:
Where my car isn't.

And those open windows? That's my LIVING ROOM. They literally stole the thing from under my nose.

Fortunately, I'm only 12 blocks to work, and the grocery store is only three blocks away.

November 21, 2007

GOOD morning. SMACK!

I woke up before my alarm clock this morning. I made my coffee without spilling anything. Even finished my breakfast before the first phone call came in to report one of my many daily minor emergencies. This one was really minor, a contractor confirming a repair, and I promised to meet him in an hour. Grabbed shower, poured a cup of coffee for the road, walked out my door, and then the shit hit the fan.

Where's my car?

I thought I parked it here.....keys are in my hand....did I forget that I drove yesterday? Did I walk home and leave the car in the garage at work? No, I know that I went to the grocer, and I remember parking Where it's NOT. Fuck.

Called the police. Sat and waited for a cruiser to show up. Sat some more.

Actually, he showed up in about a half hour, and I think that's a pretty good response time for a stolen car. Another half hour to fill out reports and what not. He told me that if I was lucky, some kids were joyriding, and they'd leave it in a parking lot somewhere, and in a few weeks someone would call in an abandoned car.

OR, it's already been stripped, and I'm boned.

Insurance? Sure, I have insurance; the minimum needed to legally drive it: I work in the arts, I can't afford full coverage on a ten year old car that's paid for.

I am SO boned.

The good news: I didn't leave anything valuable in it, and the fuel gage was on "E". HAH! Fuck you! I hope you get stranded somewhere remote.

Of course, if it's TOO remote, like Tamiami Trail in the glades, they might roll it into a canal. Crap.

So have a happy thanksgiving; I'm still going to my Dad's for turkey (company van!), so no worries.

Have a happy turkey day.

And lock that car and arm the alarm; there are fuckers out there.

November 16, 2007

WFOR; the "Eye on South Florida"gives Truth a Shiner - UPDATED Nov 27, 2007

Unless you're living in a cave, by now you've heard that the Writers' Guild is on strike. This is the organization that represents the men and women who write scripts for television shows and movies.

The basis of that strike is the fact that producers are making millions of dollars from digital distribution,( DVD sales, streaming media, and all those various other means that allow you to see your favorite TV show without actually having to tune in to the network during the broadcast.) and writers aren't being paid anything. Well, they make four cents on each DVD, but bupkus for the rest of it.

I've already covered this in an earlier blog, but I wanted to set a little background for this story.

WFOR's Jawan Strader put together a small story on the local impact of the strike. South Florida makes millions of dollars from various film and television productions that come here to film on location. Burn Notice is the biggest ongoing project, but CSI:Miami tapes enough footage to give their show an extremely thin veneer of Miami flavor.

Jawan Strader, from his WFOR bio

He interviewed Greg Howard, a locally based screenwriter (and a successful one), as well as Graham Winick, the Film and Event Production Manager with the City of Miami Beach.

It's what follows those interviews that sends the story awry.

When I first saw the story, it was the transcript on the website; the video footage hadn't been aired yet. And here's the paragraph that concludes that version of the story:
"The strike has also impacted some live theater productions throughout the area. And in June, Hollywood insiders say we could see another strike involving actors and directors."
The problem with this statement is that the first sentence is completely false.

You may know that I work in live theater. I've worked in professional South Florida theater for over twenty years. I know pretty much everyone in live theater down here on a first name basis, and most of them know me. We all borrow stuff back and forth, and we all use the same pool of actors, designers, and technicians.

So it's not hard to understand that I know what's going on around the South Florida Theatre Scene. I've even started a BLOG about it. Someone would have mentioned it if they had to close a show early, or cancel a production outright, because of the writers' strike.

The fact is that the Writers' Guild strike has had zero impact on live theater in South Florida. No plays have been canceled, no one is worried about losing the rights to a script down the line. You see, unlike Hollywood, we don't hire writers. They don't work for us. A playwright writes a script, and if a theater likes it, we pay them a royalty for the right to do the show. There are no issues about residuals, because we have no recordings of the shows. It's all done "live." The playwright gets his royalty fee, and often a percentage of the house. There's no union, and no collective bargaining to set rates. Often, there's an agency. But each playwright or licensing firm sets its own fee schedule. We don't dictate those rates, they are more or less set by market forces.

I was wondering where the heck anyone could come up with a piece of drivel like this. I decided to write to Mr. Strader and ask him.

He called me back within minutes. He asked when the story had aired, and I told him I'd only read the text on the website. He seemed a little confused at my questions.

You see, his report ended differently than what WFOR put up on the website.

His broadcast version ended like this:

"As far as ... plays are concerned, I did put in a call to the Carnival Center, and they said they had no comment at this time, but then they did say that the business side of the Carnival Center would not be impacted.
But according to the writers, this strike could have a secondary impact on the center, as well as other centers like the Carnival Center across the country. And in June, we could see another strike involving actors and directors."
After I read him what was on the WFOR website, he agreed that the web version drastically altered the tenor of his story. And watching the tape, he very definitely does not say that there has been any impact on theatre in South Florida yet.

Before we concluded our conversation, he said that he'd talk to the person responsible for the internet version of the report and have the live theater reference removed. "I wouldn't want anyone to reach the wrong conclusion, and what it says certainly could do that." I thanked him, and went on with my day.

Later that night, I noticed the story was "Updated!" I looked at the story, and found no change to the transcript, but only that the video clip was now available. And yes, as Jawan told me earlier, his version of the story is different than the posted version. In fact, the broadcast version is far superior to the posted text; it contains a lot more information, and a lot more quotes.

I have to say that I don't like inaccuracies in news. So I used the feedback form on the website to let WFOR know that it's reporting something that simply isn't true.

This is the letter I sent in to WFOR.

As some one who works in local professional theater, I have to inform you of a factual error in one of the stories posted on your website.

The url is

The error is at the end of the story: "The strike has also impacted some live theater productions throughout the area." This is incorrect. The Writers' Guild strike has had no effect on live theater whatsoever, and it will not have any affect in the future. Live theater doesn't use Writers' Guild screenwriters. We pay a royalty directly to playwrights or to their agents. There is no relationship between the writers' union and live theater.

I spoke to Mr. Strader about his story earlier today, and I believe this to be an editorial mistake; he maintains that he did not report any effects on local live theater, and his on-air report jibes with that. I pointed out that live theater and screenwriters have no effect on one another, and he agreed that the effects on theater would be "secondary, at best." I know a number of actors who will see a loss of income from TV and film work, but that only makes them more available to do live theater.

He also said he'd speak to the content editor about removing the erroneous claim. But the story was updated at 8:11pm and the error remains.The only foreseeable impact that the strike may have on live theater is an increase in our ticket sales as people tire of re-runs.

Please correct this story, or post some evidence to support your claims. The story is compelling enough without making stuff up.


I did receive a response this afternoon, saying they were looking into it. But here we are, over 24 hours since I reported the error, and it's still there.

Sorry, guys. I gave you a chance to fix it.

I do not blame Jawan Strader. His story was forthright, honest, and provided a great local angle to a problem rooted across the country. He even thought to check for deeper local effects by calling the Carnival Center. Of course, the Carnival Center isn't a great way to measure the local theater scene since most of its productions are national tours that come in from all over the country, but it shows incentive. I gave him some names of local producers to chat with, for next time.

Whoever is translating the broadcast footage to a written format is failing to maintain the accuracy of the story. In a fit of laziness or lack of comprehension, they changed the story from an accurate report of local impact to an outright lie, and Mr. Strader - and the management of WFOR - should be outraged. What is the point of going to all the effort to get the facts straight only to have some nameless copy editor butcher the story and make a liar of you?

UPDATED NOVEMBER 27******************************************************

I just received an email from David Game, executive producer for CBS4. Apparently someone found this blog entry and forwarded it to him, and action was FINALLY taken, only eleven days after the error was pointed out to them. The story on their website is now actually TRUE, and that's what we were after.

Mr. Game apologized for the delay in taking action; he confirmed that they received my original message, and that an email was sent to staff to look into it, but obviously someone dropped the ball.

Mistakes happen to the best of us, and certainly I recognize that they happen. No one can expect any work of mankind to be without flaw. I wasn't angry when I sent them notice of the error, and I wasn't angry when I posted this blog. After all, *I* didn't make the mistake. If anyone deserves an apology, it's Jawan Strader. He's the one who had words stuck in his mouth. I hope that whoever screwed the pooch is making it up to Mr. Strader.

Perhaps he or she can wash Jawan's car for a month or two. That sounds fair to me.

And as for Mr. Game: you've corrected your website; but how about balancing eleven days of a false story? Have Jawan Strader interview a few artistic directors, to get the real story on how the Writers' strike is affecting local theater. Talk to David Arisco of Actors' Playhouse, Paul Tei of MadCat Theater, Joe Adler of GableStage, and Ricky Martinez at New Theater. There's also Richard J. Simon of the Mosaic Theater, Kim St. Leon of InsideOut, and Antonio Amadeo of The Naked Stage. I'm not saying talk to ALL of them. But these are the people who MAKE local theatre; these are the people who knows what impact national events might have on it.

You spent eleven days telling the world that these companies have been "impacted" by the Writers' Guild Strike. Now I challenge you to give the public the real story. I guarantee that you'll find a story in it.

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November 14, 2007

Writers' Strike: You Oughta Know This

Before you get all worked up about Jack Bauer getting caught in limbo because of the Writer's Strike, you should watch this video. It's a collection of studio bigwigs commenting on how they're making money hand over fist for all these TV programs people are watching on the internet, and other digital media.

The strike was called to force the studios to re-negotiate residuals paid on digitally distributed material. When the current fee schedule was created back in 1988, no one had heard of the internet; CDs were just starting to appear, and LaserDiscs were already established as the successor to the 8-track tape.

Back then, the big money was made on TV re-runs; not only re-runs of TV shows, but broadcasts of cinema releases. Back then, VCR tapes of movies were sold for anywhere from $50 to $125 dollars. Blockbuster referred only to movies in theaters, and NetFlix wasn't even a pipe dream.

So the writers got pretty good fees on tv broadcasts and re-runs, but agreed to take extremely small fees on tape sales. Mostly, this was because the market was starting, and there wasn't much money being made at all.

Douglas McGrath also does a great job explaining the reasons for the writers' strike in this Newsweek article.

From the article:
A residual is like an author's royalty. We are paid them whenever our work is shown on TV. They are a key part of how a writer survives between jobs, and it is an eminently fair idea: when the network (or studio) makes money off our work, so do we.....

This is the central point that viewers should understand; writers are not asking for a random figure to be taken away from the producers; they are only asking to get a share of the show that they created for the producer.

The residual has been established practice since 1960, when the Writers Guild first went on strike for it. Before that no one was given residuals. The writers of the imperishably entertaining "I Love Lucy," a show that has run without stop, making hundreds of millions of dollars for its owners, have never received royalties for that work....

How many times have you seen I Love Lucy? It went off the air before I was born, and yet most of us can recite our favorite episodes. And every single time you see it, the producers are still collecting money on episodes that were paid in full about fifty years ago.

So we flash forward to 1988:

We had been asked by the studios to take a smaller share than we wanted because the video market was new and uncertain and our doing so would help grow the industry.
Right now, if you go online and watch a streaming version of a TV show, the company that owns that property is getting paid by the advertisers whose commercials appear at the top of it. Just like TV, but with one difference: the writers are paid no residual, not even the four cents.

Now you might be wondering, "But can the producers really AFFORD to pay these writers? After all, the studios don't make a dime on all those downloads and streams from their website."

Oh, REALLY? Well, listen to what the studio heads were saying BEFORE the strike.....

Thanks to Dusty for the heads up!

November 7, 2007

Don't Bogart That Joint...

I didn't get good grades in High School. Every other week or so I'd get lectures about "living up to my potential," and dire warnings of a future pumping gas.

Other than my lackluster academic performance, I was a good student; I never missed class, I was on time, I was clean cut, and everything a parent or teach could want in a student.

And that's where I went wrong. According to a Swiss study, I'd have done better as a pot head.

The study did not confirm the hypothesis that those who abstained from
marijuana and tobacco functioned better overall, the authors said.
In fact, those who used only marijuana were "more socially
driven ... significantly more likely to practice sports and they have a
better relationship with their peers" than
abstainers, it said.

"Moreover, even though they are more likely to skip class, they
have the same level of good grades; and although they have a worse
relationship with their parents, they are not more likely to be
depressed" than abstainers, it added.

It seems that instead of making sure I was home by curfew, they should have been sending me out with rolling papers. "Don't come home without bloodshot eyes, young man!"

I guess Hunter S. Thompson was wiser than we thought when he said:
“I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me.”

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November 6, 2007

Oh, He's HIGH, all right.....

...and I'm not just talking about his ride.


Dude, seriously. What is the deal? If this were taken out in the 'glades, or some other muddy and rugged location, I wouldn't blink. But dude. This truck has never known mud. You're parked at a downtown park. ON A SATURDAY.

Well, at least you didn't turn it into a lowrider.

November 4, 2007

Bookfair showdown

Among the many respected authors appearing at the Miami Book Fair, there are two that stand out;

Rosie O'Donnell
and Jenna Bush.

Not because they are known for something other than writing, or that their books aren't great works of literature (which I can't judge, not having read either's offering).

But, c'mon, it's ROSIE O'DONNELL and GEORGE W. BUSH'S DAUGHTER!! Am I the only one hoping that Rosie will show up at Jenna's event and heckle her?

I'm here to talk about my experiences in Central...

Hey! Twiggy! I can kick your old man's ass.

...America. Um, when I met this woman, well GIRL, really...

I mean it! I'll kick his lying Republican ASS! Wha! HEY! LET ME GO!

As I was saying, this girl who was....

G*****NED faschists! Get OFF of me! It's call FREE SPEECH, assholes!!

Sigh. I can only dream.

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Photos courtesy of Miami Bookfair International

November 2, 2007

Season of Temptation

There I was, minding my own business. Pushing my shopping cart along the dairy section, not a care in the world, when I saw IT.

Leering at me from the shelf, poised to pounce:


It's not that I don't LIKE egg nog; I love it. I love it too much. Sure, it's disgustingly sweet, and almost thick enough to need a fork. But those are its GOOD points.

Adding insult to injury, I like to use it to rinse down chocolate chip cookies; can you say "sugar coma?"

I can't believe the rat bastards put it on the shelves before Halloween.

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