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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Commission Projects

I recently finished doing my first commission job, a page layout and editing project for another author. I’ve shied away from doing these types of projects for years, fearing an appearance on The People’s Court if things didn’t go well. But to my surprise this project went very well. The client was very happy with the finished book.

Normally I work more on the creative side of writing than the technical side of publishing, but this was a very enjoyable experience to apply my skills and experience towards completing a more technical publishing project from start to finish. Page layouts and cover design are usually the last things I do when I’m putting a book together, but things on this one came together fairly quickly:
From the customer’s materials I was able to put together a very attractive cover and page layout. Having self-published my own books, I didn’t want her first book to fall victim to the series of mistakes on my first two books. This one follows the rules in the Chicago Manual of Style for front matter, has clean copy and almost no errors (I'm only human). I feel it would fit right in on a bookstore shelf.

Would I do another editing/layout job? Probably. Would I do a commission/assigned writing job? I’d be open to give it a shot. It really depends on the specs and if the client was realistic about what they wanted. I’m always open to new experiences and further developing my skills as a writer/self-publisher.

I don't find anything Precious about "Precious"

Before I saw Lee Daniel’s “Precious” I perceived it as a poorly made exploitative racist film that perpetuates the worst stereotypes about black people. Six months later and eight dollars poorer after watching Lee Daniels’ “Precious” at a matinee, I still see the movie as a poorly made exploitative racist film that perpetuates the worst stereotypes about black people. Critics hail this movie as a masterpiece of film-making, I regard it as the most offensive film since Birth of a Nation.

Adapted from the novel “Push” by Sapphire Precious is tells the story of Clarice “Precious” Jones, a morbidly obese sixteen-year old with a lot of issues. Stuck in the eighth grade reading at a second grade level, She’s pregnant for the second time by her father, a nameless man mixed among a montage of bacon grease and Vaseline. Kicked out of school, she’s sent home to her mother Mary, a foul-mouthed stereotypical Regan era welfare queen who only cares about making welfare money off her daughter and keeping her case open so she cans sit on her butt and watch TV all day.After getting knocked out by moms and in between a profanity laced argument between Mary and Precious we watch as the enthusiastic Principal (who was apathetic as she kicked Precious out of her wonderful public school) comes out in the rain (This doesn’t happen in real life. I went to public school in the 1980’s and no one came out to your house; they just pushed you to the next grade regardless of your grades) to tell her about Each One, Teach One, an alternative school where she can get her GED. Oh Precious can get an education but just not in HER school. Don’t you just love the liberal hypocrisy!

The next day (or a few weeks later can’t really tell in this movie because the transitions are so choppy in this incoherent movie)Precious over her mother’s objections (she wants her to be a welfare queen like her) signs up for Each One Teach One, an alternative school full of colorful clich├ęd characters like Stand By Me, Welcome Back Kotter, Stand and Deliver, or whatever teen movie they were pulled from so she can work towards getting her GED. The class is led by Miss Blu Rain, an attractive light skinned woman and one of many light skinned/white saviors featured prominently in this movie. We’re also introduced to Ms. Weiss, a haggard welfare caseworker, another light/white savior. While getting ready for her first day at her new school, Precious sees herself as a skinny blonde white girl. (A pitiful attempt at symbolizing her self-hate) Shawn wanted to see about getting a refund for his movie ticket but didn’t want drama. So he endured another hour and a half of nonsense, including a visual of Precious and Mom in a scene from an Italian movie she’s watching on PBS one night.

As her fellow students help Precious on the road towards literacy, and a healthy pregnancy, Problems pile up on ol’ perpetual victim Precious. In between fights, guys dissing her and tripping her up, Her mom yelling at her for not cooking the pig feet and Macaroni and cheese right, Mary and Precious and her grandmother try to pull a fast one on welfare case worker which makes home visits. There we meet Mongol, Precious’ daughter born with Down Syndrome that stays with her grandmother so she can keep the welfare duckets rolling in.
But wait a minute there’s a BIG PLOTHOLE HERE. Wouldn’t Mary want Precious to keep Mongol and take care of her herself instead of parceling her off to grammy? SSI (Supplemental Security Income) paid $400 a month for kids with disabilities back then. And SSI checks (paid for by Social Security, a branch of the Federal government) don’t count towards income on welfare cases. Also, being a parent or guardian to kids with disabilities entitles parents (and relatives) to qualify for a Section 8 voucher (another federal program) and Section 8 housing. But Mary must be one of those illiterate Welfare queens who is SMART ENOUGH TO MANIPULATE CASE WORKERS for a STATE WELFARE CHECK but DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO MILK THE FEDERAL SYSTEM FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS.

Oh yeah, and welfare case workers didn’t make home visits back then. I grew up on welfare back in the 80’s as a kid in New York City and Case workers NEVER came for home visits (TOO DANGEROUS). Every visit to welfare offices in the 1980s was face-to-face at the HRA office (sat in many a waiting room during my childhood).

After the welfare mess is settled, the movie lightens up as precious steals some chicken, (Even though this would have been nigh impossible due to all the INCH THICK BULLETPROOF GLASS in eating establishments back then in the South Bronx and Harlem Plus customers placed their orders and paid FIRST.) Enjoying her snack, precious soon gets sick, and pukes, then off to class where the labor pains kick in. We meet Precious’ dream man and the Sweathogs rally behind their classmate for some happy times.

After Abdul is born and Precious leaves the confines of the hospital and her light skinned dream man orderly, Mary welcomes her grandson home by slamming the baby to the floor and attacking Precious in a violent assault which climaxes with Mary throwing her color TV five stories down and missing her by an inch. Precious then breaks into Each one teach one with her baby and the movie starts falling apart. After a struggle with City services, (no help) Miss Rain allows the now homeless Precious to stay with her. It’s here that we find out Miss Rain’s a lesbian (not that this has any relevance to the plot, other than to reflect Sapphire’s and Mr. Daniels sexual orientation.) Big deal.

Soon after Precious finds temporary shelter at a halfway house, we get some mumbo jumbo about workfare (which actually didn’t start until 1988) and home health aide training for a minimum wage job that could stop Precious from achieving her GED, but none of this is developed or explored. This all reaches a climax as Precious is told in the halfway house by her mother that her daddy has died of AIDS and she should get tested. Soon after that we learn Precious has HIV as well. It’s not soon after this that Precious reveals things to Miss Weiss (but not before stealing her case file, and reads what’s in it with her each one teach one buddies.)

A few months later (Again, hard to tell due to the choppy transitions in this movie) in the social service office the empowered Precious who can now read and write at an eighth grade level has a confrontation with her mother where mom breaks down and confesses to all the abuse Precious has endured. Giving up once confronted by the White establishment, she hands her back Mongol and Precious goes off with her kids and we’re supposed to believe she has hope for a brighter future.

BULL SHIT.

I mean seriously WTF? WHERE’S THE HOPE? HIV IN 1987 is a DEATH SENTENCE. AZT which was STILL IN CLINICAL TRIALS hasn’t been RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC YET. (It was released in 1990 for prescriptions). THE DIVISION OF AIDS SERVICES IN NYC HASN’T BEEN ESTABLISHED YET. In reality, due to the lack of financial resources, medical resources and medical technology back then, po’ Precious would have GOTTEN FULL BLOWN AIDS AND DIED in 1988 or 1989 and her kids would wind up WARDS OF THE STATE or BACK WITH MARY WHO WOULD HAVE MILKED THE HELL OUT OF THOSE KIDS DISABILITES TO GET AL THE GOOD GOVERNMENT BENEFITS. And the most Precious would have gotten for all her hard work was a patch on the AIDS QUILT if Miss Rain could arrange it. (Remember that patchwork of thousands of AIDS victims unfurled every year in DC? It’s currently in storage somewhere at the Smithsonian while the AIDS pandemic continues to claim victims worldwide)

Precious isn’t a deep thought-provoking film. Director Lee Daniels uses exploitative images to deflect the viewer’s attention from shallow storytelling and weak character development. The viewer’s emotions are so caught up watching the graphic violence, profanity, sex, and twisted behavior of the characters that they have no idea they’ve been swindled by a con artist.

Precious isn’t inspiring, nor does it uplift. It’s an emotionally manipulative film that secretly masks a shameless cash grab by a consortium of self-hating uncle toms (Daniels, Sapphire, Fletcher) who with the aid of Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry seek to pander to white America and sell them the story about black life they’re most comfortable with. This group of sell-outs laughed all the way to the bank at the expense of Black America; thanks to this film adding to the current trend of degrading images, a generation of brothers and sisters are now going to grow up thinking the behavior in this movie is the rule for black life and not the exception.

What’s even more dangerous than the twisted visuals within Precious are the institutionally racist themes in the undertones of the message in this movie. Underneath the false messages of love and hope, is a message that African-Americans are inferior. In Precious “White” is right; Everyone who approves of Precious is either white or light skinned and without the validation and approval of these individuals she can’t overcome the odds. Dark skinned black people are seen as inhuman, savage, and violent. They only speak in profanities and act like barbarians. Without the help of the white establishment (government services) to educate blacks there’s no way for Precious to become “civilized” functional person. Only when whites love and approve of Precious her can she learn to love herself. What a load of CRAP.

Director Lee Daniels takes his self-hate to a new level of depravity surpassing the degrading images he presented to the public in Monster’s Ball. In between his clumsy and inept visuals we have the same old racist stereotypes from the Antebellum South repackaged in a brand new box. We have the big illiterate who must be saved by the great white society, the fat welfare queen mammy who only speaks in a dialect of profanities, the anonymous faceless black male who is depicted as a monster but never developed as a full character, the nappy headed child who follows Precious around, and the light skinned and white heroes who teach our hero to love herself. Ideas about what black life should be like straight from the Ku Klux Klan from a black man more dangerous to African-Americans than the KKK, Skinheads, and the Aryan Nation combined. Seriously, if Daniels could get$60 million in ticket sales out of brothers and sisters and has the influence to win international acclaim for this patronizing, self-hating, anti-black propaganda, I shudder at what else he could be capable of.

What angers me more than this movie is what transpired behind the camera. Behind the scenes, Mr. Daniels showed a lack of integrity in promoting this film. Knowing that Precious would have African-Americans seen in a negative light, he still released it at Cannes anyway as a “story of hope”. That shows malice of forethought and a depraved indifference to his brothers and sisters in the black community. I truly loathe this man and everything that he stands for. With every film he makes he sets the African-American community back a century. It doesn’t matter that he’s hurt the future of the black community with his movies, he’s got his millions right now.
There’s nothing “Precious” about this movie. It’s pornography masquerading as art.

Anyone with an iota of black pride should avoid this movie and any other Lee Daniels films. They’re TOXIC.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN!

Burn Hollywood Burn,
I smell a riot goin’ on,
Now they’re guilty now they’re gone,
Yeah, I’ll check out a movie,
But it’ll take a black one to move me.
Not anymore.

For those of us old enough to remember the old PE Jam Check it out on YouTube

The classic Public Enemy rap jam had the right idea. Hollywood needs to Burn. Burn in Hell. The recent trend in movies depicting African-Americans as po’ desperate nigras is so racist and offensive I want to head to L.A with some torches.

Seriously, movies like The Green Mile, Monster’s Ball, Precious, The Blind Side, and the upcoming Frankie & Alice make me mad.

Scratch that, they ENRAGE ME.

Why? This new trend of movies featuring images of po’ downtrodden nigras™ make me sick to my stomach. In allegedly enlightened White liberal Hollywood there seems to be a patronizing attitude towards African-Americans showing up onscreen lately. In the undertones of the films I’ve mentioned is an underlying message that African-Americans aren’t intelligent people capable of making their own way in life without a white savior. It’s a condescending view of Blacks and black life that the rest of the world should have outgrown in its media when Diff’rent Strokes was cancelled.

I thought America was moving past these types of exploitative movies when The Cosby Show debuted to blockbuster ratings in 1984 when I was 11 and filmmakers like Spike Lee, Robert Townsend and Mario Van Peebles were crafting films with more balanced images of Black life a few years later when I was a teenager.

Unfortunately, instead of their work ushering in a new golden age of Black cinema that takes brothers and sisters to the next level cinematically and elevates the black consciousness, Hollywood is turning the clock back to the good ol’ pre-1984 days of hustlin’ jive ass-niggers, pimps, hoes, big fat loud mouth mammies, shufflin’ uncle toms and every other racist stereotype ever depicted featuring African-Americans onscreen in the past century in brand new shiny packages.

Hollywood 2010 feels a lot like Hollywood back in 1930.

It’s frustrating to watch as black people who should know better like Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey make and produce this nonsense.

It’s more frustrating to watch as film critics hail these racist movies as well-made films and laud them with praise.

It’s even more frustrating to watch as black actors and actresses proudly win industry Awards for playing embarrassing and degrading roles.

But what angers me most of all are the masses of brothas and sistas PAYING MONEY TO SEE THIS SHIT INSTEAD OF PROTESTING IT.

Is black America as a group so broken and dysfunctional that it doesn’t stand up and speak out anymore? Do black people have any dignity? Or has BET sapped it all away with its ignominious portrayals of black life?

It hurts my heart to watch as a generation of young brothas and sistas drink in the poison within narrow-minded images in these movies as a picture of what black life should be. I’m mortified knowing many will grow up believing these stereotypes and institutionally racist pathos are how “normal” black people live.

It saddens me that a generation of brothas and sistas won’t grow up like I did and be blessed to watch a Cosby Show, a Fresh Prince, a Roc, a Sister, Sister, or a Smart Guy and see that there’s a world of hardworking, competent, functional black people who don’t live in a ghetto. What’s worse is that because brothas and sistas don’t have these images in front of them they won’t come to think that anything is possible if they set their mind to it.

Almost two years after helping to elect the first African-American president, the liberal hypocrites in Hollywood refuse to promote any new, positive images of African-Americans in their movies or TV shows. Instead of “changing” of their images of blacks in media to reflect the man they helped put in the White House, they arrogantly they continue to perpetuate a blackout of African-Americans on network TV and perpetuate the most racist stereotypes in feature films and cable television.

All while stating they’re “not racist”.

Fuck Hollywood. Let’s make our own movies.

Monday, May 17, 2010

DOES ANYBODY READ THIS THING?

Okay, I have a question for everyone out there:

Does anybody read this thing?

Or am I typing into cyberspace to the chirps of crickets?

Do I have an audience of readers?

Where is everybody?

I sometimes wonder how many people actually come to this blog. Who are my readers? Where do they come from? Do they like what they read? Or do they hate it?

Over the past couple of years the comments section has been well…dead.

However, since I’ve been writing the Hollywood and screenwriting stuff I’ve been getting some traffic. A blip. Should I continue to write those types of articles? Is anyone buying my books as a result of reading this blog? Checking me out on Twitter? Facebook?

I’d love to hear more from readers. I’d like to get to know you better. Take a minute and post a comment. Let me know what you’re thinking.

Monday, May 10, 2010

All About the Kindle


All About Marilyn is now available in the Kindle format on Amazon.com. So for all the ebook readers out there, now you have the option of buying Marilyn and downloading it to your kindle, nook, ipad or other electronic reading device for the low low price of $9.99.

This is the first book I’ve published in both electronic and print versions. I’m hoping to get The Cassandra Cookbook on Kindle soon as I fix some spelling and grammar issues.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I've got a best seller - I think

I’ve got a best seller! I’ve got a best seller!

Well, for a couple of days.

I recently found out All About Marilyn was in the top 100 list of best-selling screenplays on amazon.com. Last Saturday it was #38th top seller in the Screenplay category. Is it a best-seller? Could it be a best seller? Hey, I don’t know until the royalty report comes in. I just take the good news as it comes.

I’m just pleased to have a script that competes in paperback sales with scripts by heavyweights such as Quentin Tarentino and Kevin Smith. It speaks volumes about how strong this script is and how far it's grown from it's self-published roots.

Amazon’s listings aren't the New York Times, but I’m proud to know Marilyn is doing better than any title I’ve produced in my short career. I’m hoping I can build on the momentum and get the word out about this story; I feel it’s one of the best books I’ve written.

I’m urging everyone to go out and get themselves a copy of All About Marilyn. It’s a great story and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.