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Friday, April 29, 2011

Light Skinned/Dark Skinned- This crap makes me MAD.

There are topics that aggravate me. And then there are topics that enrage me. Like people bringing that light skinned/dark skinned nonsense into a discussion of my book covers.

Black people come in more than one skin tone and I try to showcase that diversity in my art. I am NOT color struck!

Now I can take critiques of my work on the merits of story and literary technique. But this Light Skinned Dark Skinned hangup some black people have insecurities about really just boils my blood.

Seriously, nonsense like this light skinned/dark skinned crap makes me want to get out of publishing and quit writing for African-American audiences.

I love Black women. If sistas don’t love themselves, then that’s not my problem. Get a therapist and deal with that shit.

I am not color struck, nor do I have a preference for light skinned women. Please do not project your color issues on me. Inspiration for art does not know color, and what motivates me to design what I design can vary on any given day.

The figures I drew on four of the five covers I’ve designed come in a variety of shades of brown. Just like black people come in a variety of shades of brown. There is no single definitive color for black people. Mixing light or dark peach with my brown colored pencils can give me a variety of African-American skin tones depending on the amount of pressure applied.

My imagination isn’t colored by race.

Besides, what the audience sees when they read my stories may not necessarily be what I drew on the cover.

And the color of Black people has nothing to do with the content of their character. I base many of the characters I write on research I’ve done on actors, dreams I’ve had, or people I’ve had personal experiences with.

I’ve met light skinned men and women who were aware of their black history and heritage but were extremely conservative in their dress and mannerisms and would go out of their way to help a brotha or a sista.

And I’ve met dark skinned men and women who preached pro-blackness and wore dashikis and Kente cloth but wouldn’t piss on another Black person who was on fire on their way to talk to a White person.

For me, being Black is not just a skin color. Because skin color doesn’t make you a true brotha.* Being African-American is about the ideas, beliefs, and culture that compose a person’s values. It’s those values inside a person that create someone’s Black identity, and each identity is as unique as a person’s fingerprints.

I write to showcase the diversity of those unique identities and experiences of African-Americans. I draw covers I feel tell stories about those experiences.

That art may not appeal to many brothers and sisters in the black community, but I feel the covers I present are an alternative to the stereotypes today’s publishers present regarding the lives and experiences of African-Americans. According to today’s mainstream publishers, all Black people are thugs, drug dealers, gang bangers and whores. Oh and Maids. Maids are big this year.

I’ve studied black history extensively. And life hasn’t been a bed of roses for either light skinned or dark skinned people of color. In this world, Black is still Black whether it’s café au lait or its charcoal grey. And discrimination is still practiced against the café au lait sista in the office or the charcoal brotha on the street to this day. Seriously, all this preferential treatment many sistas and brothas see with light skinned people getting is in their heads. Light skinned or Dark, go on down to Madison Avenue and walk in a store here in New York City like I have. Apply for a job or go on an interview. Work at a job Blacks are not “supposed” to work in. Or walk around in an unfamiliar neighborhood like Brooklyn Heights. Then you’ll find out how Black you are.

Dark skinned female slaves working in the field were raped by the Slave master just like light skinned slaves who worked in the house. In fact, light skinned women were often used as prostitutes and pimped out by the white master during slave times.

Dark skinned male slaves were beaten by the master just like light skinned house slaves who worked in the house. And those house Negroes didn’t have it so great after the Civil War.

People who bring up this light skinned dark skinned crap are the color struck ones to me. Because they reek of insecurity about their own racial identity, they can’t understand how like attracts like whether its black or white. It’s the values and personal beliefs people have in common that draw people towards each other, not the color of their skin.

Instead of complaining about the color of the people on my book covers maybe they ought to take a look in the mirror and examine the contents of their character.

* A line from from the lyrics of the hip-hop song Now's the B-Turn.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pondering my options- On the fence about buying a new computer.

As everyone knows from last week’s blog, my laptop has a dead cooling fan. But until the box from the Dell Depot arrives, I’m working with it as long as I can. And if it doesn’t show up, I may just buy a fan off ebay, take a screwdriver to it and fix it myself. I am A+ Certified and know my way around a computer.
My first laptop a Dell Inspiron 2500 died in July of 2007. When that computer broke, I was stuck without a computer from July of 2007 up until about October of 2008. E-mails piled up and my writing career was on hold for over a year. I had to work from loose-leaf paper to do my revisions on old stories. I felt like I took a huge step back.
I don’t want to wind up in that situation again. Especially with two clients who want me to help them with publishing their books. I’ve gained a lot of momentum and I can’t afford to lose it due to equipment failures.
This is the second component to break on this computer. Back in October of 2010, the DVD drive died. Thankfully I replaced it via the extended warranty. Now the cooling fan is fried. And on some occasions when playing DVDs or watching You Tube, the processor mysteriously spikes to 100% and locks up the machine. I don’t know how much longer this computer has. So I’m pondering buying a replacement sooner rather than later.
To buy that new computer, Short-term I’m going to make some tough choices. My savings are getting tight. But long-term I need a reliable computer to continue getting e-mails, looking for work and writing this wonderful blog.
Unfortunately, if I buy that new computer All About Nikki is going to get postponed even further or even cancelled. I can’t afford to self-publish two titles in a year and buy a new computer too. No one is buying enough books for that to happen yet.
I hate to take a title off the queue, but I feel it’s necessary setback to keep my overall progress going.
If no box arrives, articles will be back on Saturday.

 Oh and can anyone tell me if I can use my Windows based printer and scanner on a Windows partition of a Mac?  Really would appreciate the help.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bad News

Today, the cooling fan in my Dell Latitude D830 laptop died. Thank God I bought the extended warranty or I’d be forced to buy a new computer. I’m risking my motherboard by keeping the PC on to write this but I wanted my readers to know why I wasn’t posting.

Due to the damage to my cooling fan here won’t be any blogs until further notice. I’m hoping the Dell Depot Technicians can get my laptop running soon so I can get back to work.

Until then, poke around and read some of the older blogs, and sample chapters. Check out my books on Amazon. I'm hoping I can get this computer (or another) running so I can get back online.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Several Products That Were in a Slump then HIT IT BIG. (Part 3 of Thoughts on the Cancellation of AMC and OLTL)

The boneheaded decision of ABC Daytime President Brian Frons to Cancel All My Children and One Life to Live may come back to haunt him.

Slumps are a natural part of the Entertainment cycle. I can remember several types of media that were considered dead during a dry period but made a huge comeback when new creators came in and sparked the interest of new readers, viewers and customers. With the right writers and creative people at the helm, anything can make a comeback. So I wouldn’t say the soap opera is dead.

Think about it. The following products were on the brink of cancellation back in the day, but now are leading International franchises like:

Batman- In the late 60’s the campy “Batman” TV show was all the rage. But you couldn’t GIVE a Batman Comic book away back then. Yes, back then DC Comics was actually considering cancelling Batman.

Then DC comics editorial decided to hand the book to a young writer named Denny O’Neil and an young artist named Neal Adams who took the character back to his darknight detective roots and re-defined the character, and renewed interest in him. Since that 1970’s revival, Batman has been Warner Brothers top franchise and is a character recognized all over the world. His likeness is featured on everything from movies, to party favors.

The X-Men. Way back in 1974, X-men was one of the worst selling comics at Marvel. It was doing so poorly that editors put the series on hiatus after issue #68 and reprinted old issues until issue #94. It seemed the whitebread mostly white male team of superheroes making a commentary about discrimination and intolerance appealed to no one.

Then Editors hired a new writer Chris Claremont and created an international X-team consisting of people all over the world in 1975. With his complex, three-dimensonal stories paired with the art of Dave Cockrum then John Byrne, X-men went from being one of Marvel’s poorest sellers to its best selling comic of all time. Since that definitive run back in the 70’s, the X-men have grown into a franchise featuring Movies, three TV series, action figures and everything else.

Daredevil- Another one of Marvels poorest selling titles, DareDevil was one of Marvel Comics’ poorest sellers and was in serious consideration for being cancelled. The blind lawyer turned superhero was originally a suave swashbuckler in red. While he had an interesting rogues gallery, he never really caught on with readers.

Then writer and artist Frank Miller came in and wrote a gritter darker hero who defended Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. Sales took off and DareDevil became of Marvel’s most popular characters. So popular he’s been immortalized in several action figures and had his own movie in 2003 starring Ben Affleck.

Iron Man –A comic series that struggled for close to a hundred issues without focus or direction Iron Man was the third of several poor selling titles at Marvel Comics. In its earliest days didn’t know whether it wanted to be an action comic, a political comic, or a romance comic. With a whitebread supporting cast and cold-war communist villains the book was directionless and out of touch with readers. By the late 1970’s the title was in serious consideration of cancellation.

Then editors hired new writer David Micheline, and artist Bob Layton They re-defined Tony Stark as a man in an ivory tower who needed to be reconnected to the society he served in his alter ego as Iron man. The resulting storyline from their re-imagining of the character Demon in a Bottle, was one of Marvel’s top sellers and now considered a classic. Currently the Iron Man franchise has had two blockbuster movies, cartoons, numerous video games and is one of the best-selling action figures in the Marvel Legends Line and his own toy line.

NBC- In the late 1970’s former ABC president Fred Silverman was running NBC into the ground. By 1982, the network was on the brink of bankruptcy. Shows like Cheers, Hill Street Blues, and Family Ties weren’t doing well for the network.

Then Brandon Tartikoff took over as NBC’s president. Under his management, he slowly rebuilt the network schedule around niche audiences like seniors, children, and African Americans and turned the last place network into a first place network that dominated television for most of the 1980’s. His Thursday night lineup was #1-4 in the ratings for five straight years. And many of the shows he stayed with like Cheers, Hill Street Blues, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, L.A. Law and Seinfeld are now considered Television Classics.

WWF- Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation was the leader in sports entertainment in the for the 1980’s But in the mid 1990’s the company was in a huge slump and headed in for bankruptcy. It’s competitor WCW, World Championship wrestling was dominating ratings with its popular nWo storyline.

Then came Stone Cold Steve Austin and Austin 3:16. And by Wrestlemania 14 in 1998, The company was building new stars like The Rock, Kane, Mankind, HHH, and began the Attitude era which brought a new generation of fans into wrestling and made the WWF popular again nationally.

And the WWF’s competitor WCW? It went bankrupt and was BOUGHT by the WWF in 2001.

I’m sure if DC comics, Marvel Comics NBC and the WWF(Now WWE) had given in and cancelled their products during those slumps back then, there’d be no movies, action figures, and no billion franchises today. But those executives rode through their slumps and found a way to make their content fresh again. I feel that’s what ABC needs to do instead of cancelling All My Children and One Life to Live. Soaps go through peaks and valleys. But a smart executive finds a way to navigate through the rough periods and finds a way to sell stories that appeal to today’s audience.

There won't be a blog this Saturday out of respect for the Resurrection Weekend. Remember, this Sunday isn't about eggs and candy, but how Jesus came back from the dead and paid for all the sins of humanity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Writer Reminisces and Rambles about The Cancellation of All My Children And One Life

I had a lot of good times watching All My Children and One Life to live back in the day. Soaps were a guilty pleasure when I was in High School and College and even afterward. I’m gonna miss these shows when they go off the air in September and January.
I had a lot of great memories watching All My Children and One Life to Live. When I was a little kid I remember watching parts of the classic storylines that introduced Adam and Stuart Chandler, on All My Children, Viki/Niki and the City of Eternia on One Life to Live, and the Classic Tad Martin/Billy Clyde Tuggle battle on the Bridge. All Awesome stuff I thoroughly enjoyed and still remember fondly to this day.

As I got older they were something to watch between doing homework and research on papers. I remember scheduling my life around now classic storylines like Natalie/Janet, 15 Motives for Murder the mystery revolving around the death of Will Cortlandt, and Michael Malone’s masterpiece storyline dealing with the physical, emotional and psychological ramifications of rape featuring Marty Saybroke, Todd Manning, Powell Lord and Zach Rosen. That one storyline is one of the best in soap operas and shows how effective the genre could be at storytelling when a good writer is at the helm.

And after I graduated college, I loved watching Noah and Julia come together as a supercouple on All My Children. That was one of the best written and acted interracial romances ever presented on television, full of fire, chemistry and passion in a storyline that where I saw people and not their skin colors.

Then sometime in the late 90’s early 2000s I started to lose interest in soaps. Why? Not because of the actors, most times their performances were good.

And it wasn’t because of my busy life. I still checked in to see what was going on when I took a break from the laptop. A lot of my favorite characters were still on the show. Plus David Canary, Michael E. Knight, and Bobbie Eakes were putting on a clinic for aspiring soap writers and actors with the Babe/Adam Chandler/ Adam Jr. feud which evolved into the Adam/Babe/Tad Martin feud of the early-Mid 2000s. That was a great feud with humor, with tight writing, solid acting and excellent pacing. I’d have to say it was the last great storyline on All My Children.

No, what made me lose interest was the overall bad writing that began to plague the genre.

While some Television executives will say that it was the internet and a changing world that made soaps go out of vogue with viewers, what turned me off was the bad writing. I was tired of the gimmicks, one-shot characters, tired plot devices churned out every week. Sometime around 2002 for me, soaps devolved from programs featuring tight, fast-paced action-packed inspired storytelling to a bland formula of weekly bed-hopping, baby switching, evil twins, and paternity results.

Not to mention the attempts to insult people’s intelligence with storylines that revised forty years of history with retroactive continuity.

Story wise there was nothing excite someone about an episode of All My Children or One Life to Live after 2002. Every character on these shows was becoming rich and professional, and by the mid-2000s the show focused so much on people working in offices, living in mansions and driving luxury cars it became a turn-off. The shows’ characters and stories in Pine Valley and Llanview became out of touch with the middle class and working class American television audiences who grew up with them. Seriously, where are the guys and gals who worked in stores? The ones who struggled to pay the rent in an apartment? The two or three people who huddled up in a two-bedroom apartment just to make the rent? The angry loner watching TV after midnight? The people working to start a small business? The ones who owned a small business? The guys and gals in the entry level jobs looking for a big break? Where were the underemployed twentysomethings who had college degrees and no jobs? The kids struggling with student loans? The families struggling with debt? The families struggling with mortgages they couldn’t afford? The Dad who grew pot out of his basement? The Ex-con coming out of jail to recruit teens for the drug gang he wanted to establish Pine Valley? The Muslim Families dealing with prejudice years after 9/11? Housewives dealing with Prescription drug addiction while having an affair? Seniors who servicing prostitutes in the seediest parts of Pine Valley and Llanview? Stuff I read about in the headlines of my paper? Stuff I saw going on everyday? This is the kind of stuff that made soaps a huge hit back when I watched them regularly. The people on those soaps were people like you and me, and the stories mixed romance and adventure in with those everyday experiences to give viewers an escape from their own lives.

I have to wonder if an All My Children or One Life to Live writer has read a newspaper or watched the TV news in the last five years. Hell, have they taken a ride on the subway or walked around the block of the ABC SuperStudios? Instead of crumbling under the pressure of writer’s block sometimes a writer has to go out and EXPERIENCE LIFE. Then they can return to the keyboard inspired with new ideas and a new perspectives for a story.

Because in serialized programming like Comic books, Soap Operas, and Wrestling the bad stories from out of touch writers starts a chain reaction. Without good scripts, the directors don’t know how to motivate the actors to portray their characters onscreen. The actors have no subtext to work with so their performances don’t have chemistry or passion, and wind up stiff and wooden onscreen. Worse, they repeat themselves in the daily dialogue. The bad acting in these bad storylines causes the show to fall apart and the viewer loses interest. And ultimately, this bad writing leads to cancellation of a beloved classic program.

It was clear to me way back in 2002 that the current crop of Soap writers were burnt out, out of ideas and out of touch with viewers. But instead of searching for new writers to take the soap genre in a new direction that focused on storylines featuring issues middle class viewers relate to today like Cyberbullying, Internet Predators, being unemployed over 40, Being unemployed over 40 and having to start over, elder abuse, prescription drug abuse, (I’ll admit a great Erica Kane storyline was done about this in the 90’s) the producers continued to recycle the same crappy tired bed-hopping storylines over and over again but with more and more absurd gimmicks around them and crippled the genre.

Personally, I feel the soap opera isn’t dead. Like the Comic book, the medium is in a rut because the current crop of writers lost their connection to the middle class American audience. And when a writer loses their connection with the reader they can’t write stories the reader relates to. They don’t create characters the reader identifies with or experiences that the audience is having. And when viewers don’t see themselves living through the characters and don’t see their experiences transpiring in between the adventures onscreen then they have no incentive to buy into the program or continue watching the program. TV 101. Romance Novel 101. Film 101. Marketing 101. Writing 101.

However, when the writing is good on soaps people want to watch them and tune in to the next episode. The action is so compelling that people just can’t wait to see what happens next; people stop what they’re doing to watch it. People reschedule their lives around these shows. They plan to buy the products in the commercials.

I believe the concept of Soap Operas is strong. It’s just the current approach to writing them that needs an overhaul. I feel if ABC hired new writers connected with today’s audience and they wrote about problems middle class people could relate to people would get excited about watching soaps again. I really feel all it takes is one good storyline and the viewers who once abandoned the Soap opera for Reality television will be back in droves and bring their kids with them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thoughts on the Cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live

I recently read that two of my favorite soaps All My Children and One Life to Live are being cancelled in January. As a screenwriter, I’m deeply saddened for not just the actors, but the writers, producers, directors, script supervisors, video editors, set decorators, carpenters, wardrobe coordinators, tailors, production assistants, and craft services caterers and a bunch of other people who will now be out of work as a result of this management decision.

On top of those layoffs, the local economies of New York City and Los Angeles are gonna take a huge hit once these shows go out of production. For over forty years New York City made a ton of money off the production of All My Children and One Life to Live at the ABC SuperStudios in Manhattan as productions filmed from sunup to the wee hours of the morning. With the Soaps out of production, all those local businesses around the ABC super Studios are gonna feel a hit to the wallet.

When a Television production closes up shop, hundreds if not thousands of people lose their livelihoods. In a lot of cases, it may be years before they find work again. The Entertainment business is extremely ROUGH, and jobs are often few and far between.

I feel really bad for all the actors and crew on All My Children. Most of them were forced to move to Los Angeles last year to keep their jobs and now ABC just yanks the rug out from under them like this. Many of the newer performers are working actors so they don’t make the millions a veteran actor like Susan Lucci or David Canary, so this is a double whammy for them. Will they find work out in L.A? Will they even be able to survive out there?

Personally, I believe ABC’s Daytime head Brian Fons fucked up royally by cancelling the soaps, and I have a feeling he’ll soon be joining CW’s former programming chief Dawn Ostroff on the unemployment line. In my 27 years of studying television I haven’t seen a botch of a TV schedule this bad since Fred Silverman mismanaged NBC into bankruptcy in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

I really don’t believe that ABC’s replacements for soaps a food talk show The Chew and a lifestyle makeover talk show The Revolution are gonna get better ratings. From the premises, the new shows don’t offer anything special to viewers; I can catch that type of stuff done better YouTube, ION Television, ABC’s LivWell Channel on 7-2 here in New York City PBS (WLIW and WNYC here in New York run a TON of cooking/lifestyle shows) or any other Cable network. Plus, Rachel Ray already comes on a few hours earlier and will probably satisfy the foodies appetites for cooking shows. Sure these types of shows are cheaper to produce, but that type of redundant and bland content won’t help ABC remain competitive long-term.

Couple the loss of the soap operas in the afternoon with the loss of Regis in the mornings, The Oprah Winfrey Show ending this year and the 2011-2012 season looks like an impending disaster for ABC. Without a synergized schedule of distinct content to provide a flow of programming to lead into local news and prime-time later on, I’m predicting a huge drop in ratings for them. Many of the viewers who watched soaps in the afternoon kept their televisions on that channel to watch other programming like the five o’clock news, ABC World News Tonight, Jeapordy! Wheel of Fortune, and other prime time programming later on.

I truly hate to see these two classic soaps go off the air. I feel it’s a short-sighted and boneheaded decision by ABC executives to cancel All My Children and One Life to Live instead of investing money in hiring new writers and focusing on crafting better storylines. All it takes is one or two good storylines and these shows would get their audiences back in an instant.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Okay, the reason why you got no blog on Thursday was because I was working off a mad from an interview I went on Wednesday.

I’m gonna go on record to say this: City University’s Civil Service hiring system SUCKS. It’s supposed to be designed to be equal opportunity, but it’s biased, discriminatory, and downright corrupt. After experiencing what I experienced with CUNY’s corrupt hiring practices this Wednesday and over the course of the past four years I can say want nothing else to do with this dirty organization or its slimy people. Now I know why greasy people like Eliot Spitzer run to CUNY to hide out as teachers after they commit their crimes. Behind the veneer of academic intellectualism is a dirty underbelly of the seediest crooks.

A couple of weeks ago I get a letter from CUNY’s Civil Service unit telling me that they were having a mini-hiring pool for an IT Assistant position. It was an entry level job making web pages. Now the job description  given to me with the letter stated that all a person needed was six months experience and knowledge of web pages and websites and stuff like HTML. Easy stuff, stuff I do every day in the posting of this Blog. The position paid $46,000 a year, more money than I’ve ever made in my life.

I was excited. Being unemployed for two years going on three, I truly thought this was my big break. Being A+ Certified, having close to four or five years of experience working with Web pages, (yes a blog is a website, don’t let anyone else fool you into thinking it’s not) I thought I had a serious shot. I finally thought I’d be getting paid to do something I LIKED. So I e-mail my resume to the HR person and a week letter I get my call letter for last Wendesday April 13, at 2:30.

Unfortuantely, I was thoroughly disappointed on Wendesday afternoon. Instead of an interview, I got a lesson on how dishonest some employers are.

When I arrive at The Graduate Center at 2:30, I find the mini hiring pool is actually TEN people. Bad sign. Mini is FIVE. MINI is not TEN.

After the Civil Service people got our attendance and signatures, and introduce themselves, they tell us they’ll be making a decision on who’s getting hired THAT DAY and they want to take care of the paperwork that evening.

Then IT manager who is doing the interviews starts talking in technobabble (Another bad sign) and tells us he wants someone who knows PHP and SQL. Moreover, he wants someone who can work a Linux server and with Open Office software. Not in the job description I was sent.

The kicker to all that technobullshit ITdouchebag told us was the person would be creating webpages working off a TEMPLATE. Come on, Blogger and Wordpress use Templates. Hell, even MySpace uses fucking Templates. Yeah, that requires tremendous amounts of SKILL with PHP and SQL. Shawn’s wonderful HBI certified BS Filter translates technojargon into English perfectly and can understand when someone thinks they’re talking down to him.

Again, NONE of this was detailed in the three-page job description I was sent in the mail or the call letter for the interview. After re-writing the job description on the spot he goes on to tell us that anyone who wants to leave can leave and we’ll still be on the list. WTF???

No, seriously the WHAT THE FUCK?

When the smug ITDouche told us we had the option of leaving it struck a nerve in me. The nerve of this arrogant piece of shit. Like remaining on a civil service list means anything to me. Have some integrity. Show me some damn respect! You call my ass down here, have me get my suit cleaned, spend my night printing resumes and presentation materials, spend $4.50 to ride down on the subway to GO TO THIS FUCKING INTERVIEW and THEN YOU TELL ME I have the OPTION of leaving because HE wants to REWRITE THE FUCKING JOB DESCRIPTION AT THE LAST MINUTE?


The hubris of this fucker! He and all the CUNY Civil Service and HR People read the damn resumes; They knew what people had to offer them. They had TWO DAMN WEEKS to send an e-mail, a phone call or a letter to people cancelling the interviews so they could re-write the position detailing the actual requirements for the position. Now CUNY has cancelled hiring pools of larger groups of people before on shorter notice (a day before) for other entry level positions like the CUNY Office Assistant. It was totally unethical for them to mislead people for TWO WEEKS.

Then after seeing that no one was going anywhere after his pitiful attempt to dissuade people, (Who the hell would leave an interview in the worst job market in decades) ITDouchebag decides to start the interviews. Over the course of an hour and a half, I watch as the four WHITE MALE candidates, a black guy and a Hispanic/African candidate get interviewed. Myself, an Asian guy, and two WOMEN wait…until Around 4:30. Then the people who were interviewed start talking. I learn the five people (They made sure those White Males got their interviews) who were interviewed were CUNY students or CUNY employees. The five who weren’t interviewed were NOT affiliated with CUNY at all.

Around 4:35, The Civil Service people come out and tell us that “while we would love to hire all the candidates, we’ll be getting in touch with the individuals we want to call back. But you’ll remain on the list.” Hey, what happened to “We’ll be hiring the same day?”

That’s when the FUNK radiating from this interview process started to STINK.

So the CUNY employees and students get interviews, but the Non-CUNY employees don’t? FUCK YOUR LIST. YOU HAD ME SPEND $4.50 to COME TO AN INTERVIEW AND DID NOT INTERVIEW ME.What? My $45 FEE not as good as the $45 FEE of CUNY student? My $45 FEE not as good as the money of a White male?

But since I signed my name to your attendance list it LOOKS like you did your job. Looks like you met those EEOC standards. Everything works out on PAPER regardless of the PEOPLE you JERKED AROUND.


I guess business as usual at CUNY means doing things without any regards for ethics or integrity. Oh, it’s okay to make people PAY $45 for a civil service fee, mislead them into believing it’s a fair shot at getting a job, send them letters and a job description, have those people send you BACK resumes detailing the skills they offer, then send them letters telling them they have an interview for a  job, get their hopes up, and then when they get there, re-write the job description and try to discourage people from being interviewed, and when that doesn’t work just interview whoever you want and tell everyone to go home? What kind of organization jerks people around like this and thinks it’s okay? I mean, how do these people sleep at night?

Seriously, what I ran into on Wednesday showed me why I would never work for the City University of New York again. The actions of their IT managers in the hiring for this “hiring pool” were egregious and reprehensible. I cannot and will not work for a corrupt and dishonest employer like the City University of New York.

If this is a reflection of the ethics and integrity of the employees of the City University of New York (and I can sadly say it is from the crap I put up with from its CUNY Office Assistant hiring pools and my short time working in their wonderful Science Library) I want nothing else to do with this organization or any Civil Service position. CUNY to me is a seplechure of Public Education. On the outside it presents itself as an institution of academic excellence a while on the inside it’s a cesspool of an organization rife with nepotism, favoritism, and corruption.

If I get any more Civil Service letters for interviews for the City University of New York I know where I’m putting them: IN MY TRASH. I’m advising everyone else to do the same.

When it comes to Civil Service jobs I can tell everyone this: Instead of paying the fees for exams, just keep your money in your pocket. The money would do better if you gave it to a homeless man on the street. At least he'll get a cup of coffee or some crack out of the cash.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Filler Pic.

Don't have an article ready so the unfinished art from the Cassandra Cookbook cover is filler:

New Blog up Saturday with 100% more angry rants. :(

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

APOOO BookClub's Review of The Temptation of John Haynes

Here's the APOOO Book Club's review of The Temptation of John Haynes

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

4.0 out of 5 stars Dont Judge A Book By Its Cover!, April 12, 2011

By CHayes "Cheryl" (Bronx, NY) - See all my reviews

(VINE VOICE) This review is from: The Temptation of John Haynes (Paperback)

The Temptation of John Haynes by Shawn James

Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover!
The Temptation of John Haynes by Shawn James is not your average African-American fiction story, Mr. James takes you on a wild ride getting up close and personal with Lucifer aka "The Devil" himself. I was taken aback by the childlike cover and further intrigued by the graphic details of the characters and the intricacies of the story behind the tale. I also enjoyed Mr. James' synopsis of how the story came to be in the end.

The Temptation of John Haynes was a well thought-out book, with leading characters that were relatable, daring, trustworthy and downright scary at times. John Haynes is a vulnerable man who has lived through many disappointments and let downs only to get the ultimate chance of a lifetime as a CEO of a major company. Turning his back on his problems he jumps head in and tries to change the world a little bit at a time, while Temptress E'Steem, a well known She-Demon, is playing her role as an Executive Assistant, Temptress E'Steem is having a hard time figuring out why the Devil hates John so much and needs to claim his soul. E'Steems' purpose in this tale of strife is to convince poor John to sleep with her; securing his spot in Hell for eternity. E'Steem needs to fulfill this promise to the Devil so that she can claim the promotion she was worked so hard for. Breach of contracts and overwhelming feelings of love and devotion play a strong part in this drama-filled book where we get a first-hand look at the Devil and how he thinks and works.

I was surprised on many occasions while reading this book, and had the feeling that I was part of the story as it was unraveling before my eyes. Why did Lucifer pick John out of all of the millions of people in the world to corrupt? Was John faithful to God or Lucifer: Will John believe E'Steem when she reveals her true self or is this all a dream?

Mr. James has penned a winner with the Temptation of John Haynes. He has incorporated faith, love and God with a touch of Hell, brimstone and mystery. Is there actually a book written outlining our lives and if so does the Devil also have a copy Will having faith banish the Devil Can you actually come face-to-face and defeat the Devil physically? Hold on to your seats; this is a crazy journey through Hell, Heaven and Earth. This was a well-written book, with the exception of some additional editing issues and minor typos. The Temptation of John Haynes left me thinking what if and is it possible. I recommend this book to readers of all genres; I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Reviewed by:

Cheryl Hayes

APOOO BookClub

This book was provided courtesy of the author.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Signs A Workplace Discriminates Against Employees of Color

Workplace discrimination against African-Americans and other employees of color these days isn’t as overt as employers simply stating they don’t hire black people. Instead employers implement their discriminatory practices in a much more covert fashion. But because many brothers and sisters are trying to be professional, they aren’t aware of the numerous social cues resentful co-workers and managers are expressing towards them.

The goal of these new discriminatory practices isn’t to stop African-Americans from being hired but to prevent diversity in the workplace long-term. Using the psychological tactics of resentment, resistance, and racism, today’s discriminating employers feel that if they sabotage African-Americans and employees of color, it will give them justification to terminate their current African-American and other employees of color and more justification for not hiring other African-Americans and employees of color in the future.

Some of these discriminatory tactics include:

Telling a candidate they should apply for another position. A psychological trick used to dissuade candidates of color from applying for jobs they want is to complement them on the front end and tell them they’re overqualified for a position and that they should apply for another position. Then when they apply for the higher position, it’s not available. This kind of headgame keeps candidates of color out of the company at the front door.

Discussing hiring someone else during the interview. A job interview is supposed to focus on discussing a candidate’s skills and what they can offer the organization. However in some interviews, I’ve had, employers actually discuss hiring someone else right in front of me! Talk about RUDE! If an employer is talking about hiring someone during your interview else it’s a clear sign they’re not serious about hiring you. In fact it’s an insult.

Offering a different, lower paying lower level position instead of the job a candidate is applying for. Another patronizing effort employers give to applicants of color is to bait and switch them for the position they applied for and offer them a lower paying “assistant” position or other position instead. This is racism plain and simple. If a candidate of color is qualified enough to be interviewed for a position, then they should be qualified enough to be offered that position.

Not taking care of essential paperwork. W-2’s, Federal Citizenship compliance and other paperwork are usually taken care of before a new hire’s start date. If an employer hasn’t taken care of this business before or during the start date it may be a sign they aren’t eager in hiring an employee of color and are still looking for a way to back out of the job offer.

Telling African-American candidates the job is no longer available on or before the start date. Sometimes after being offered employment and taking care of essential paperwork…The job is “phased out” or “budget cuts” cause a job to magically disappear before the start date. While it looks like fate took an opportunity away, behind the scenes discriminating employers are using the back door to duck hiring a qualified African-American for the position all the while making it look like they met the EEOC standards for diversity on paper.

Managers not introducing an employee of color to key staff. This is another covert discriminatory practice some managers do to show their employees they have no confidence in an employee of color. Behind the scenes it sends a message to key staff that the employee is not essential to the team and won’t have a long term place in the organization.

Managers not introducing an employee of color to co-workers. This is another tactic managers do to send a message to members of their team a new hire isn’t valuable and isn’t expected to be around for long. Oftentimes managers will pretend they’re too busy to introduce an African-American employee to co-workers and leave them to do formal introductions themselves.

Not being introduced to important customers/clients. Usually business owners introduce their employees to important customers and clients. Again, this passive-aggressive gesture is to show those customers and clients that an employee isn’t integral to the daily business operations and won’t be part of the organization for long.

Not showing a new hire around the office/complex on the first day. This speaks volumes. A new hire should be shown where the copy room is, the restroom and the restroom keys, the office supply closet and where the break room is. Not showing a new hire around is often a passive-aggressive gesture by resentful managers to show African-Americans they aren’t welcome in the workplace.

Telling a new hire they want someone else for the job. An employee usually is hired because they are the best qualified for the job. However, when co-workers and supervisors tell a new hire of color that they were looking for someone else, they want someone else for their position or that the new hire doesn’t belong there, it’s a open sign of resentment and hostility towards them. A statement like this is a vote of no confidence in an employee and has the impact of a fist to the jaw. Between the lines of the words is a message that the new hire is not welcome there and should take the hint to quit.

Co-workers not taking the time to introduce themselves to a new hire. Usually, most co-workers make an effort to introduce themselves to a new hire sometime throughout the first two weeks. If co-workers in the department are avoiding a new hire it’s a sign that people are resentful or racist and feel that the employee will not be there long.

Lack of support from co-workers and Managers. A workplace is supposed to be a team environment and employees shouldn’t be left at their posts with no work unless there’s downtime. However in the case of so many African-American employees, supervisors often leave them at their desks for days and sometimes weeks at a time, and make no efforts to include them in major workplace projects, then accuse them of being lazy. Again, this is passive-aggressive behavior meant to make an African-American or worker of color appear incompetent so there can be a reason for termination.

Minimal or no training. Part of learning is receiving on-the-job training. Oftentimes when first-line supervisors want to express their resentment towards an African-American employee in a passive-aggressive manner, they just show a new Black employee their desk and leave it at that. Then three to six months later, they give them a bad performance appraisal for poor performance and terminate them. On paper the employer meets the EEOC standards for diversity in hiring, and in their minds have a reason to justify not hiring African-Americans or employees of color. Not training an employee is part an insidious unwritten discriminatory policy some companies use to keep African-Americans out of the workplace long-term, and something many brothers and sisters don’t know about.

Lack of patience during the training process. During the first few months of work there’s an adjustment period everyone goes through and unfortunately, many mistakes will be made as a new hire adjusts to a new corporate culture and company policies. However, when supervisors show a lack of patience with a new hire early on, it could be a covert sign that they’re resentful of them. Threats of write-ups and termination during this time are completely unreasonable. Oftentimes, when it comes to African-American workers, this behavior is a clear sign the employer is discriminating against them.

Constantly given simple tasks to do at work after years or months on the job. Another sign that of covert discrimination. Racist managers often try to minimize the impact employees of color in the workplace by assigning them light clerical/non-essential tasks and not duties in critical projects. This patronizing behavior makes it look like African-American employees are incompetent and that they’re not valuable team enough members to learn more complex aspects of the business.

Hostile/indifferent responses from co-workers.  When African-American workers are snapped at during interpersonal communications in the workplace it’s clear that there may be some resentment from co workers. These resistant responses such as sarcastic answers to questions, vague or evasive answers or ignoring requests can be discrimination if paired with other hostile actions.

Defensive body language. Folded arms, huffed sighs, rolled eyes and scowls are overt signs that someone isn’t welcome. Many African-Americans are so eager to make a good first impression that they don’t see the defensive body language people are expressing towards them in the workplace.

“Lost” memos, documents, “forgetting” to tell a worker of color about a meeting. A sign of co-worker/manager resentment is to “lose” an African-American or employee of colors memos, mail, and other workplace documents. An escalation of this passive-aggressive behavior is to “lose” presentation materials before a major presentation, or “forget” to tell them about critical meetings or reserving a conference room on a certain date. On the surface these actions look like simple mistakes, however, the goal of this sly behavior is making an African-American or minority employee appear incompetent so there can be grounds for their termination later on.

Constantly being watched/questioned. Some employees project racist stereotypes about African-American employees being criminals on African-American employees and think they need to be watched and questioned when they approach the office supply closet, enter private areas of the office or handle cash. This is one of the most blatant forms of racism co-workers and managers express towards African-Americans in the workplace and should not be tolerated. Trust is important to building a strong workplace team, and if the team doesn’t trust an employee, then they should move on.

Changing company policies. Another sign of discrimination is when company policies and rules are constantly changing. When managers have one set of rules for White employees and another set of policies for African-Americans and employees of color it’s discrimination plain and simple.

Co-workers/subordinates told to disregard the instructions/orders given by an African-American or person of color in authority. An effort to undermine African-American supervisors or those in leadership positions is for co-workers and supervisors to tell subordinate employees to disregard the instructions An African-American or supervisor of color gives them. The underlying message sent to employees is that people of color in the workplace have no authority.

Harsh discipline for minor mistakes. Supervisors who harbor hostility towards African-Americans often manipulate company policy to make African-Americans appear incompetent or as a grounds for termination. These include threatening African-American employees with reprimands over small mistakes write-ups, and threats of termination. Meanwhile, employees of other races like Hispanics and Asians who make mistakes are often forgiven and told they’ll learn things.

Supervisors telling co-workers to tell another co-worker to do something instead of talking to them directly. A strong leader in the workplace directly delegates tasks to employees and meets with an employee-face-to face to make sure that there’s an effective line of communication. However, when a supervisor constantly tells a co-worker to tell another co-worker of color to do something it’s a sign they’re uncomfortable around employees of color. This type of delegation not only shows a manager’s racism, but also shows how ineffective a leader they are.

Negative performance evaluation. Combined with tactics like lack of training and supervision, Employers who discriminate manipulate the performance evaluation process as a way to terminate employees of color.

It can be hard to prove this type of psychological discrimination in the workplace in court. Many who practice these emotionally abusive and passive-aggressive discriminatory behaviors will tell an employee of color that they’re “just seeing things”. However, the pattern and a practice of discrimination from these behaviors will become clear upon observing managers and co-workers actions over a period of time.

People of color in this situation must understand that they aren’t seeing things. If you feel like you’re being discriminated against don’t be afraid to document it. More importantly, don’t be afraid to report it to management. And if they don’t take action, report it to organizations like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Workplace discrimination is illegal and should never be tolerated in any case.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DVDs With Pages

In today’s fast-paced world books have to compete with movies, television, the internet, and social media for people’s attention. Understanding that readers are bombarded with numerous options for entertainment outside of literature, creative publishers like myself have to come up with new ways to grab readers and get their attention. My plan to make books more competitive: Give readers more content and enrich the overall reading experience.

DVDs and Blu-Rays sell because in addition to the movie readers get access to extra material like interviews, director commentary and concept art. TV series DVDs have extra material including pilots, episode scripts and other behind-the scenes material that dig deeper into the reasons why the show was made.

I want to turn books into DVDs with pages. More importantly, I want to make reading fun and get people excited about books.

At SJS DIRECT I make an effort to publish books featuring extra material like author commentaries writer interviews, and even concept art in addition to the story. I feel that storytelling is much more than front matter, story, and back matter consisting of other titles by an author. An enriching reading experience gives readers not only an entertaining story, but the story behind why the writer writes the story.

I feel bonus material makes a great story that much more exciting to the reader. Reading the author’s reasons for writing a story gives readers a deeper connection to the writer beyond the stories they write.

I also feel that the bonus material also is a great help to aspiring writers. It gives them insight into what inspired them and may give them ideas for their own stories.

Oftentimes, the only way to get this information about a story is at a book signing, convention or an interview.

So far, reception to the bonus material has been extremely positive. In All About Marilyn and The Temptation of John Haynes, readers love the author featurettes I placed in the back of the books after the story. More online readers were excited to read about the numerous Easter Eggs I revealed in blogs a couple of weeks ago.

For the upcoming All About Nikki teleplay book I’m planning a paperback with the content of a DVD box set. I’m hoping the extra material gets people excited about writing their own teleplays and making their own YouTube Videos.

Long-term I see the line between books and other media blurring. Readers want more content, and I’m eager to share more about my stories to get them reading.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Where Does Black Cinema Go after the 2011 Oscars?

A couple of months ago I blogged about why there were no Black nominees for the 2011 Oscars and how all the African-American films of 2010 were poor quality. With last year behind us, the question is: Where does Black Cinema go from here?

It’s clear Black Filmmakers, Black Directors, and Black actors have to step up their game. But where do they have to make adjustments?

I feel Black filmmakers have to focus strongly on two areas behind the camera if they wish to improve the quality of their films: Story and Cinematic Craft.

When it comes to screenwriting, quality has really declined in Black cinema. Filmmakers like Lee Daniels and Tyler Perry have abandoned storytelling in their scripts over the past decade. Films like Precious, Monster’s Ball, Why Did I get Married Too, and For Colored Girls often relied heavily on shock and gimmicks to manipulate the emotions of viewers. The Daniels/Perry story model often uses extremely graphic sex and brutal violence to distract viewers from seeing the numerous flaws in their films stories such as underdeveloped characters, missing story details, plotholes and an uneven or incomplete storyline. It’s only upon closer examination of these films during repeat viewings that it’s clear the writing lacks structure and form. Perry/Daniels model films often have stories with beginnings but no middles, or in most cases no end. This led to movies that were entertaining in spots, but not satisfying overall because there is no organic progression or conclusion to the story shown onscreen.

If Black cinema is to survive, Black Filmmakers must move past the Daniels/Perry style of shock storytelling  and return to the traditional model of comprehensive storytelling where plot and character development are the primary focus of a film. Black screenwriters must craft scripts featuring storytelling with a heavy focus on structure and form. With a solid structure to form a sequence showing the events transpiring, the viewer will be provided with an entertaining film that is satisfying and enjoyable from beginning to end.

Plot wise Black screenwriters are going to have to get out of the box and get creative. The days of Black films about the the Po’ miserable downtrodden Black woman are over. That story premise has run its course along with the comedy about the the cross-dressing black male and the ghetto comedy about the barbershop or the beauty salon. It’s all tired as is the story of the single, successful black woman who just can’t find a man. I feel it’s time to see some originality from black screenwriters, time for them delve deeper into the Black experience. More Black Screenwriters (the few of them out there) are going to have to write something truly unique like Drumline, ATL, or Pride to get apathetic audiences excited about going to see black movies again. Personally, after a decade of darkness in black cinema, I feel it’s time for a brighter black film, something a bit more positive and uplifting. Maybe someone could write that black romantic comedy, a human drama about black males in the inner-city, or that African-American fantasy film. Even that Black Superhero film.

Cinematic craft has fallen apart over the past decade in Black Cinema. When it comes to things like production values like set decoration, costumes, many black films are just a MESS. Cinematography on black films are often uninspired, with bland camera work that tell the most basic of stories in pictures. Combine this dull camera work and weak production values with sloppy writing and flat acting it leads to a finished film that is often hard to follow and harder to understand because none of the elements synergize to give the story a heart and soul all its own.

Production values on black film are often poor. Story often takes a back seat with production values in black films and that shouldn’t be. There’s often more a focus on putting actors in designer clothes and luxury cars than on set decoration, backgrounds, locations, or props that can enhance and enrich the story being filmed. These kinds of extravagant costumes and props distract the viewer from the main subject in the shot and take the viewer out of the story. When production values don’t come together the viewer no longer sees characters, but celebrities dressed up.

Cinematography and editing has been a bane to black film over the past decade. Many black films with fairly decent screenplays and acting are often ruined with terrible shots of the action transpiring onscreen. Oftentimes scenes aren’t framed properly and then these poorly shot scenes are edited together with sloppy transitions from one frame to the next. This kind of sloppy camera work and film editing detracts from a story and keeps a series of shots from coming together into a cohesive film.

On top of this poor camera work, the visuals of most Black films are just plain. Many black films feature basic camera shots, nothing creative. Over the past decade, no cinematographer for Black films has really emerged to create their own distinct visual style the way Ernest Dickerson or Doug McHenry did with Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, New Jack City, or Jason’s Lyric. One look at those films and the viewer immediately knew who made them.

Due to this poor craft in Black films, it’s often hard to tell a $20 million dollar moderately budgeted Tyler Perry film from a $3 million dollar low-budget independent film. Worse, it’s often hard to tell a $50 million production like Oprah Winfrey’s Their Eyes Were Watching God from a $3 million dollar low-budget independent film. All of them often look the same regardless of the money spent. That shouldn’t be. A creative filmmaker should be able to make a unique film that stands out visually and has a distinct feel all its own from first shot to last.

Creatively, black filmmakers are going to have to get out of the box on craft. Developing a visual style isn’t about money. It’s about imagination. With $3 million dollars Filmmaker Scott Sanders along with Byron Minns and Michael Jai White made Black Dynamite which was visually distinct and had a style all its own. Spike Lee movies have a signature look and feel all their own from the first frame to the last. As do John Singelton films, Kasi Lemmons films Denzel Washington films, and Mario Van Peebles films.

Can Black Cinema bounce back from a disappointing 2010? I believe it can. I feel the lack of Award nominations for the 2011 Oscars for black films were a wake-up call for black filmmakers, black actors, and black directors who have become lazy and complacent. While Black actors, writers and directors enjoyed critical acclaim and awards for their individual work in Black films, the movies themselves weren’t solid overall. I’m hoping that this decade black filmmakers will focus more on improving quality of Black cinema with a renewed focus on story and craft. I know Black cinema can take itself to the next level this decade if Black filmmakers are willing to make an effort to get out of the box and start taking risks.