25 February 2010

Body of actor Andrew Koenig found in park

In what can be only described as a family's worst fears, the body of actor Andrew Koenig was discovered today in a Vancouver park. His father, Walter Koenig, who fans know as Pavel Chekov in the original Star Trek TV series and motion pictures, confirmed in a press conference Thursday that... "My son took his own life."

A body was reportedly found in Stanley Park, where the Koenigs had reported on Walter's official Web site all week Andrew was last seen. The younger Koenig was suffering from clinical depression, according to the family, and was believed to have turned down a couple of jobs and either sold or gave away many of his possessions before traveling to Toronto, and later Vancouver, which he considered a second home.

May Andrew Koenig find peace in death that eluded him in life.

24 February 2010

Andrew Koenig still missing, but police suspect the actor is still in Vancouver

An emotional, unshaven Walter Koenig told a packed press conference that his son Andrew had waged a lifelong battle with mental health issues amid concerns the 41-year-old had stopped taking anti-depression medication.

"We just want to know that you're okay," he said in a direct appeal to his son. "If that means changing your life and just staying here then okay, that's okay … you don't have to come back — just let us know that's your intention."

Vancouver police believes Koenig is still somewhere in the city and has chosen to go offline. According to family, there has been no activity on Koenig's mobile phone or bank card since February 16.

It seems clear now that the former actor was planning this, as he sold what he could of his personal stuff in Venice, California. What was not bought was left for anyone who wanted it. Also, he was going to Vancouver where the Winter Olympics are currently going on. With police overwhelmed with security issues, along with half the world up there, he could easily slip in and simply vanish.

So, was he planning to vanish in Vancouver, a place he was familiar with, having lived there for a time, or was he planning to end his life?

Theoretically, I suppose, if he was planning to kill himself, a body probably would've popped up by now. Still, with so many people around the city, who knows what might go unnoticed.

Koenig, who appeared on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and played The Joker in 2003's Batman: Dead End, had most recently been working on comedy and editing movies with his friend, writer/producer Lance Miccio. Miccio told ABCNews.com that the actor "suffered with depression and "would get down easily."

"He liked to go to Vancouver because it's beautiful and quiet, it's his favorite place in nature," Miccio said. "One of the films we did together, Living the Blues, it's about a manic depressive musician who went to a spot in nature that he loved and took his own life. I'm not saying that's what happened with Andrew, but it has occurred to me."

According to Miccio, Koenig hated being known for his Growing Pains role and Star Trek connection.

"When I introduced him to people, he said, 'Never say my dad's Chekov and never say I played Boner,'" Miccio said. "He didn't want to be known as Boner his whole life. That's something that affected him."

Depression can make people do things such as this, but I still believe that people who do suffer from it still (partially) think rationally. Putting his family through this is not fair.

One hopes there will be a happy ending here.

Where are you Andrew Koenig?

22 February 2010

Actor Andrew Koenig -son of a Star Trek legend - vanishes with out a trace

Andrew Koenig, the son of Star Trek actor Walter Koenig, is missing. The last time Andrew Koenig was seen was on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Andrew Koenig never boarded his flight back to the US, and he hasn't heard from since then.

He was last seen at a bakery in the Stanley Park area of Vancouver.

Andrew is white, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 135 pounds and has shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes.

Andrew Koenig, 41, was working as the video producer on the show "Never Not Funny" as well as doing improv in Los Angeles. Best known as "Boner" from "Growing Pains", Andrew also had a role in "Deep Space Nine", and is a talented actor director, editor and photographer as well as a passionate activist. In 2008, he was arrested at the Rose Bowl while protesting China's part in the genocide in the country of Burma.

This is a serious matter that has Koenig's friends and family gravely concerned. If you have seen him, emailed him or had any contact after the 14th or spent time with him during his stay in Vancouver please call Detective Raymond Payette of the Vancouver PD at 604-717-2534.

Walter received a letter from his son Andrew, which caused his father to grow concerned about his whereabouts because of it's despondent tone. It was also discovered that Andrew sold or gave away a number of his possessions before flying to Canada; and he refused a job two weeks earlier, saying he "wasn't going to work anymore."

Andrew had recently finished shooting a trailer for a feature film that he wanted to direct, and was in Canada visiting friends: first in Toronto and then in Vancouver. Andrew was very comfortable in Vancouver, having lived there for several years after he fell in love with the area while filming an episode of "21 Jump Street". Friends have reported that Andrew told them he felt Vancouver "was his true home".

It is not believed that any specific incident prompted Andrew's disappearance. "I think it’s something that has been a part of his makeup for a long time. There’s no single trauma. There’s no episode. There’s nothing of that nature," says Walter, who added that drugs were not an issue. " "He's trying to get ahead in this business and he's been working at it a long time." "I only want to say he's a really good person, a great humanitarian," Walter said. "Everyone who knew him was very fond of him."

20 February 2010

Books: The Lost City of Z by David Grann (2009)


In “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon,” David Grann tells the story of adventurer, Percy Fawcett, “the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into uncharted realms with little more than a machete, a compass and an almost divine sense of purpose.”

Fawcett is just one of many people, who since 1492, have risked life and money in search of legendary lost worlds. And before satellites mapped the planet, the only way to discover what was out there, was to go find it yourself.

But like many during the later half of the 19th and early 20th Century, the desire to explore the world was born out of boredom and not necessarily the fame and fortune that comes with it. Well, at times, but with Percy Fawcett, for him, he was merely hooked on the notion of treasure hunting in general.

Fawcett, a serial writer, kept copious notes of his travels which started in 1906 (a diary entry of Fawcett would provide Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with the idea of his novel The Lost World). With most of the world mapped, the only place that was left, was the mysterious Amazon.

In his travels, Fawcett hears stories, whispers of a long forgotten kingdom. Clues came from everywhere, it seemed, in the customs of Indians, their oral history and legendary tales. Called the City of Z -though it would morph into the classic tale of El Dorado, the fabled city of gold chased after by conquistadors since 1541.

Grann weaves two tales here, one of Fawcett’s search for the City of Z and another of his own obsession with finding out what happened to the adventurer. In between, we sort of get a screwball comedy of Grann -who concedes early in the book that he is not the typical guy to travel into the many dangerous areas of the Amazon, saying he’s “not an explorer or an adventurer. I don’t climb mountains or hunt. I don’t even like to camp. I stand less than 5 feet 9 inches tall and am nearly 40 years old, with a blossoming waistline and thinning black hair.”

A well written look into men’s obsessions and drives some people to risk their lives in search of such things as lost cities. And Fawcett, who with his son and his son’s best friend, vanished in 1925, Grann creates a gripping account of what might’ve happen to him. It does grow tedious at times, something you sort of expect from people who become obsessed with things, but all in all, a wonderful account of an Indiana Jones type of man who went over the hill and never came back.

18 February 2010

Every time a pallet does not get sorted, we lose money.

Every time a book cart goes un-shelved, we lose money.

Every time a section goes un-maintained, we lose money.

Every time we cut hours for staff, we lose money.

These are undeniable facts.

The problem is, AA does not realize this. On second thought, maybe they do. So the question is, do they care or are the executives, like Mike Edwards, just a bunch of smug S.O.B’s who continue to draw an indecent amount of pay while hours are cut on the front line - a variation on while Rome burns, Nero plays the fiddle?

Granted, these guys and gals can claim they went to college, graduated and should get this money. After all, they’ll assert strongly, they have earned this pay. And God knows, just because the company is going down in flames, does not mean they should abandon that principle cut the hours and pay of the “little people.” Besides, everyone should know, that in graduate school, the first rule is that workers will crumble in the face of adversity. Just keep hammering them on the head with more and more restructuring and they will eventually go away.

How many Borders employees on the front line have left the company, these guys, these gals, who are the bread and butter of the customer service AA says we should have. These passionate booksellers, managers, and inventory people have been replaced by people who barely understand who wrote Confederacy of Dunces, let alone suggest a title. Essentially, customers come to our stores because of the knowledgeable employees. But now they can barely find anyone on the floor, and most -a fair high amount based on the five Borders I’ve worked at - still don’t know how to use the computers. And even when they do, they still need someone to help them find the section -Borders has failed for years to create a store that can easily navigated by anyone.

Where is everyone, their eyes seem to plead. Well, you see, we need to pay Mike Edwards his nearly $ 500,000 a year pay -God knows what the other executives are making. So to do that, Borders has cut hours to the bare minimum, all while spouting the business cliche of doing more with less (I have 2.5 million light years of work to do, but given 34 hours a week to do it. Does not take a mathematician to figure out that a lot of work is going unfinished).

They’ve essentially now use mutated mathematics, linear logic and a tight sphincter to further justify the cutting of hours and staff - all while Mike Edwards gets extra compensation for being the interim CEO.

But the DM’s and RM’s don’t want to hear this when they rattle their Ghost chains at you for not meeting sales goals or RPL compliance (or, until recently, Make Titles). They want to hear that the staff is failing, that all the front-line workers are, essentially, at fault here. That had they not sold just one more item, be it a Make title, a rubber ball, or a large coffee, Borders would not be in the position it is now. But what about the poor leadership being shown by the DM’s and the RM’s? They come into the stores like Godzilla, create a giant mess and leave, all while giving nothing in thoughtful leadership or advice -beyond get it done or be fired (or as RM Mike Steel would say, just do what your told and don’t think).

Usually, there is tension between the front-line workers and management. The real schism is now between us and the executives at AA. As I’ve said before, the staff clearly understands that AA is playing a very different game than we are, one with a different set of rules. So its difficult for us to get behind these classic ideals of “we are all in this together,” to get us motivated, to get behind AA’s goals when we know how different the stakes are for meeting those said goals are for staff and AA.

The solution to these problems is rather simple:

Give us realistic hours to achieve realistic goals. How a BSS can reach an end-of-week RPL compliance on such horrible short hours is beyond me.

Give us realistic hours to get pallets sorted and shelved (with time dedicated to making sure sections do not fall out of alpha order, which they have).

Give us qualified GM’s who understand how a bookstore works. Have the DM’s stop hiring buddies, close friends and old co-workers who clearly don’t care and don’t want to know how a bookstore works (hello, Mira Loma).

Hire someone who understands pop culture. Jebus on a pogo stick, we cater to middle age business women for what reason? Take a page from TV and movies: teenagers spend money like its going out of style. Why we’re not creating eye-appealing sections (and the INK thing does not count, as it was a failure from the word go and no one at this time has any understanding of why its there and what it does. So, if I may paraphrase Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, we haven’t gone out of our way to call attention to INK, have we? I mean, like actually telling anybody).

Give us leadership. The essential success of any large company is based on its leadership. Borders have failed to give us anyone with clear understanding of how to run a bookstore. It is not like running any other retail outfit, no matter how much you guys at AA want to believe it is. It’s unique and needs to be treated like that, and not as Target or a Wal Mart.

At the end of the day, most front-line workers still want and love their jobs at Borders. But they don’t want to be treated like dirt, which is happening now. AA has hurt the brand, and we, the general staff, are paying the price for it. By not getting product out in a timely matter (and due mostly to the cut hours), by not maintaining section standards, by forcing unwanted Make Tiltes down the throats of people (cause it’s all about the margins. Where did that get NBC?) we are basically saying to all our customers this:

“Here’s the address and directions to Barnes and Noble down the street. While the staff here cares for your needs, your wants, our people in AA do not. Interim CEO Mike Edwards needs to pay for that nice house in AA, and drive that overpriced, gas guzzling SUV. So here, take this slip of paper, go to B&N. They might not understand what you fully want, but at least you’ll get what you want. Eventually. And maybe, if I’m lucky, a Barista at B&N will die and I can get their position.”

14 February 2010

It's the bubble time on the TeeVee

The Hollywood Reporter, obviously being sadistic to actors, released a list of current tee vee shows that are on the bubble -shows potentially to be axed this May.

Just like when Lost starred back in 2004, all three networks tried to find sci fi shows for 2005-06 season. All of them - ABC ‘s Invasion, NBC’s Surface and CBS’ Threshold - never made it out of their first seasons. ABC, with Lost now ending, gave us two sci fi theme shows for the 2009-10, FlashForward and V. While both shows started strong, ratings dropped fast. While both shows were always designed to have a protracted hiatus due to their serial format, FlashForward seems to in more trouble, as its lost its showrunners twice. Expectations are that V will survive for a second season, if only because its storyline can easily extended.

Despite Heroes huge ratings drop off since season one, the show has always done well overseas -which means its making money. And given any normal year, this expensive show would have been gone. But the whole Jay Leno fiasco has created problems for NBC -they just don’t have enough shows to fill the timeslots. While the chances are good for a fifth season pick-up, expectations are that NBC will order only 12 episodes with the intention of tying up all its plots.

While Medium has done well since CBS picked it up, the show still airs on Friday where scripted shows are just not making any money. But with the Ghost Whisperer still doing good numbers, expect another season for that show. However, Numbers will probably be dropped, if only because its episode number was cut and series star David Krumholtz has been cast in another pilot.

When the CW saw Smallville’s ratings decline, it pushed the show to the death slot on Friday. But it appears Superman is unstoppable. While the show has never regained its early ratings success, it bloomed enough on Friday to give the CW its best ratings ever on that night. Meanwhile, Supernatural continues to play strong as The Vampire Diaries lead-out. And despite its five-year arc wrapping up this May, expectations are that both Smallville and Supernatural will return for season 10 and season six, respectively.

Despite being in a ratings decline since being moved to the very competitive Thursday night (and some might even say, creatively), Fringe, along with Bones, has given the best numbers FOX has had on that night, so expect a renewal.

Finally, Chuck. NBC’s highly popular cult show has never been the huge hit it wanted, but the show stabilized in the ratings, bringing in consistent numbers. Some people in the industry were surprised when the show was picked-up for a third season. But it was only given 13 episodes to prove itself and then scheduled to air in late winter. But like Heroes in some way, its survival can be attributed to NBC having blank slots on their schedule due to the failure of The Jay Leno Show. NBC was forced to return the show early, plus order 6 additional episodes. The show has done well, especially critically, and expectations are the show will be back in the fall.

Shows that have no real chance of survival are Scrubs 2.0, Better Off Ted (which is a personal favorite and could be saved if ABC moves it to Wednesday), The Deep End and Melrose Place, while Mercy, Trauma, The Old Adventures of New Christine, Gary Unmarried, Accidentally on Purpose, Cold Case, Human Target, The Forgotten and even 24 remain too close to call.

13 February 2010

Quote of the Day

"I don't really care for [Lady Gaga]. I know everybody think she's really great, and fashion people are happy because she's one of the few girls who will wear a look off the runway. But having grown up with people like Debbie Harry and Alice Cooper and Kiss, I just don't really see anything very original about what she's doing. I don't like her style. I find it to be very violent. She looks like Dolly Parton after a murder." -- Fashion PR powerhouse Kelly Cutrone

Books: Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore (2010)


Fifteen years after Bloodsucking Fiends (1995) and three years after You Suck: A Love Story (2007), Christopher Moore returns to San Francisco to catch up on the antics of Jody, Tommy, Abby Normal and The Emperor in Bite Me: A Love Story (to be released on March 23, 2010). Set only months after the last book, Abby Normal (who narrates a good chunk of the novel), emergency back-up mistress of the greater Bay Area, along with her manga-haired love monkey, Foo Dog must confront a growing evil taking over the city by the bay.

The city is being stalked by a huge shaved vampyre cat named Chet.

With Jody and Tommy “out of the office” (Abby and Foo had them bronzed in the previous novel) she and Foo, along with emo gay boy Jared, must begin to work out a plan to stop Chet, who is becoming more than a cat, as he seems to be able to think like a human. Well, an undead human. Along the way, Chet’s destructive ways (he ate a meter maid) brings back the Animals (Tommy’s crew at the Marina Safeway) and cops Rivera and Cavuto, along with the Emperor of San Francisco.

But it ain’t easy solving all of this, as crew also become’s the target of three vampires who’ve come to clean up the mess Elijah -who sired Jody - created in the first place.

Once again, this novel follows most of Moore’s now patented formula of relationships between men and women that usually gets screwed up (by the guy), snappy dialogue and a lot of self-referential comments. While the plot is not very complex, and I was annoyed that Moore kept Jody and Tommy apart for most of the book, the jokes come fast. Still, as with most of his books, the plot is not normally the reason to read his books (with the exception of Lamb). Got to give it to the author, as he knows away around the four letter words and many ways Abby can describe having sex with her boyfriend.

Fast moving, but not as funny as the previous two, Bite Me: A Love Story is like an old friend, nice to see every once in a while. Oh, and once again, Lily from A Dirty Job has a cameo.

12 February 2010

****DOCTOR WHO SPOILERS********

DON'T READ IF YOU DON"T WANT TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Apparently the new season of Doctor Who has spawned a large number of rumors, here are some. Of course, take them with a grain of salt, however, it will be interesting to see how much of this pans out.

We already know the first three episodes are called (05.01) The Eleventh Hour, (05.02) The Beast Below, and (05.03) Victory of the Daleks.(the Doctor battles his legendary bad guys during World War II)

Now comes the titles for the rest (from radiofreeskaro.com):

05.04 Time of the Angels (Part 1 of 2) by Steven Moffat
05.05 Flesh and Stone (Part 2 of 2)

These above episodes feature the return of the Weeping Angels featured in the third season episode Blink. Also, River Song, played by Alex Kingston makes a return to the series.

05.06 The Vampires of Venice by Toby Whithouse (creator of Being Human, and the second season episode School Reunion).

05.07 To be announced by Simon Nye (Men Behaving Badly)

05.08 The Ground Beneath Their Feet (Part 1 of 2) by Chris Chidnall (Torchwood)
05.09 Cold Blood (Part 2 of 2)

This 2-part story brings back the classic Who villains the Silurians and the Sea Devils (last seen in the 1984 Fifth Doctor serial Warriors of the Deep)

05.10 Vincent and The Doctor by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Black Adder)

05.11 To be announced by Gareth Roberts (Who episodes Planet of the Dead, The Shakespeare Code, Unicorn and the Wasp, Doomsday, Army of Ghosts)

05.12 The Pandorica Opens (Part 1 of 2) by Steven Moffat
05.13 To be announced

Once again, Alex Kingston returns as River Song for the two-part season finale. This episode was also filmed at Stonehenge.

It’s also rumored that the arc of season five will be played out almost through every episode, with all of them ending on a cliffhanger. Another classic villain, rumored to be the Zygons, are stalking the Doctor.

In DWM #418 Production notes: Steven Moffat reels off a list of hints about the new series at the beginning of Production Notes: "the dread truth behind the fifth door", "the ruins of Razbahan", "the Doctor's mistake in the maze of the dead", "the secret of Aickman Road" and "the choice of the Dream Lord".

At least half of the season will have stories set in the past.

The season opener, The Eleventh Hour, begins in past, with new companion Amy seen as a child. The Doctor then goes into his TARDIS, and comes out years later when Amy is now grown up.

Speaking of the TARDIS, regarding the new iteration of the Doctor’s time machine, Moffat says in DWM #417: "I do think the Peter Cushing police box was absolutely beautiful and I wanted to get it into the show, so ... there is a plot reason for it, I wrote in why it happens."

10 February 2010

Someone out to takeover B&N?

Despite financial issues at Borders Group, the number one book retailer, Barnes and Noble, has taken measures to prevent a potential hostile takeover of the company. It started in early 2009 when Ron Burkle, through his investment firm, Yucaipa Companies, began acquiring stock in the company. In January of 2009, they paid $67 million to acquire an 8.3% stake in B&N. Burkle, who’s other holdings is a 42% stake in Source Interlink, which distributes books, magazines and other media products to a wide variety of outlets, including bookstores and newstands believes B&N’s stock is “currently undervalued.” By November, they had upped its stake 16.8% and now have approximately 19% of the outstanding Barnes & Noble common stock which was bought in open market purchases.

In November, B&N -fearing a hostile takeover bid - adopted a shareholder rights plan that will make it extremely difficult for any outsider to get control of the retailer. Also known as a “poison pill,” the rights plan would kick in if “a person or group,” without board approval, acquires 20% or more of B&N's stock. The plan will also go into effect if a person or group already owning 20% or more of B&N stock acquires additional shares without board approval. A poison pill is defined in Wikipedia as when a bidder tries to “obtain control of a company, either by soliciting proxies to get elected to the board or by acquiring a controlling block of shares and using the associated votes to get elected to the board. Once in control of the board, the bidder can determine the target's management.”

Also, according to Wikipedia this “shareholder rights” they adopted will now gives B&N to issue “rights to existing shareholders to acquire a large number of new securities, usually common stock or preferred stock. The new rights typically allow holders (other than a bidder) to convert the right into a large number of common shares if anyone acquires more than a set amount of the target's stock (typically 15%). This dilutes the percentage of the target owned by the bidder, and makes it more expensive to acquire control of the target. This form of poison pill is sometimes called a shareholder rights plan because it provides shareholders (other than the bidder) with rights to buy more stock in the event of a control acquisition.”

Essentially, the goal of this shareholder rights plan is to force Burkle to negotiate with the target's board and not directly with the shareholders.

This has not set well Burkle, who in late January sent a letter to the Barnes & Noble board of directors. In his comments, Burkle was “surprised” at the poison pill initiative because he had spoken to Len Riggio, the chairman and CEO of B&N, prior to his company purchasing the stock and made sure “he understood our views and concerns as an investor.”

“The fact that the Riggio family,” Burkle wrote, “and other Company insiders own over 37% of the outstanding stock, and that over the past 3 years Len was allowed to increase his personal stake by approximately 10% of the outstanding stock (to over 30% of the outstanding shares), in my view shows that the Board and its Chairman endorse two sets of rules: one for the Riggio family, and one for the rest of the Company’s shareholders. I believe the poison pill allows Len and other Company insiders to exert effective control over the shareholder franchise, while at the same time Len has taken a great deal of money off the table by selling his textbook business to the Company, thereby reducing the Company’s liquidity and burdening the Company and its shareholders with significant debt to finance that purchase.”

Burkle believes these new rules has a “coercive effect on the Company’s other shareholders and gives the Riggio family a preclusive advantage in any proxy contest.”

Burkle pointed out in his letter that he was concerned about how the poison pill is applied to Riggo and his family. “Are shares held by Stephen Riggio or Leonard Riggio’s other family members considered ‘excluded shares’ under the poison pill? If that is not the case, then Stephen and Leonard Riggio could collectively own approximately 50% of the outstanding stock without triggering the poison pill. Yet, neither we nor any other shareholder can own more than 20% of the Company’s shares. Please explain the Board’s intended interpretation of the poison pill and any justification for allowing the Riggio family to acquire without triggering the pill up to 50% of the Company’s shares, but to cap all other shareholders at 20%.”

Without any changes or waiver’s, Burkle argues to the Board, that if the Riggio family is allowed to acquire more stock, it would “create a near insurmountable barrier to us (or any other non-Riggio shareholder) in waging a successful proxy contest.”

And things got a bit more interesting, when it was revealed today that Aletheia Research & Management now owns more than 10 million shares of the retailer, giving it a 17.5% stake in B&N. Aletheia acquired nearly 2 million shares of B&N in the January 21 to January 29 period, paying more than $41 million for the shares. In all, the firm has paid more than $210 million for its B&N stake.

Why Burkle feels the B&N stock is “undervalued” is not clear, as his real intention of acquiring so much of its shares. Is he attempting a hostile takeover, or is just trying to pump up the stock?

I guess to be continued would be the answer here.