29 March 2007

CEO of Thomas Nelson posts a comment

So, sort of suprised to get the CEO of Thomas Nelson posting about my take on the how religious publishing houses are gathering strength to jump on The Secret bandwagon. Here's what he said:


I'm the CEO of Thomas Nelson. We published Breaking the Da Vinci code, which was actually the biggest book debunking The Da Vinci Code. It was on the New York Times list for several weeks.

I don't really think these books are published in order to hurt the sales of The Secret or The Da Vinci Code. I've read The Secret and watched the DVD several times. I gave a copy to all of my executive staff. However, the real purpose is to answer questions that Christians—our core audience—have about these books and how the philsophy integrates into their own.

One of the first questions that was asked of The Secret panel of experts on the follow-up show Oprah did was from a Christian woman who didn't quite understand how it fit with her faith. If you visit the Secret’s Discussion Forum, you’ll also see lots of questions from Christians who are struggling with the same thing.

I can’t speak for the author publishers, but I have read the manuscript to There’s More to the Secret. I would not describe it as a debunking book at all. It's more of a here’s-what-is congruent-with-our-faith and here’s-what’s-not kind of book.


Mike Hyatt

I responded back, via email:

Mr Hyatt,
First, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog on debunking The Secret. You're words are very kind. However...
I've been working in the book business for now going on 20 years, and I've seen these type of books come and go like waiters in a resturant. The Secret is nothing new in either philosophy or metaphysical thought process. According to Byrne -and the quotes she has complied from everyone under the sun - seem to imply the Law of Attraction, i.e. envisioning winning the lotto, will make it happen. There's no proof that it can or will happen, but like religion, it offers people HOPE.

And that’s the sticking point, from my point of view. Some one is horning in on that monopoly, and thus the need to publish such responses. I can call it a "debunking" and you can call it "here’s-what-is congruent-with-our-faith and here’s-what’s-not kind of book", but ultimately that author wants to make sure that there is only one place to find that hope.

If Thomas Nelson, any other religious publishing house,wants to publish 247 books about Byrne’s work, or The Da Vinci Code (hey, I knew it was a novel, i.e. fiction. He proposed some wild theories that went against the State, and everyone went bananas. I got to admit, I found it extremely amusing), more power to them. But if Thomas Nelson’s "core audience" cannot see what The Secret really is and take it with the grain of salt it should be, then I question validity of their education, and what their churches choose -and not choose - to impart on their flock. The smart ones are the people who shrug and say: "It's clap trap, I know it, the author knows it. And I know most Americans suffer from ADD, so something else shiny and new will come this way shortly."

Thought about adding a postscript, but then realized I was tired. That could get me into trouble, as I so want to rant on the dangers of believing in both The Secret and religion. But, that will be for another day...

28 March 2007


Cover for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is released

With 17 year-old Harry reaching for the sky -or the final batch of money, the 784 page last book in the super best selling, gets its cover debut.

Once again, look for the book to go on sale at 12.01 am, July 21, 2007.

Mika's Life in Cartoon Motion

In the age of pre-fab pop (ala American Idol), it’s nice to see a new pop artist who proved that you don’t have to manufactured to be success. His name is Mika (Me-Ka), a 23 year-old Lebanese currently living in London. A gifted man, he started to make the rounds trying to get picked up by a music label. He was turned down by all, if only because they wanted him to change everything that was him, to fit a common pop mold.

Undaunted by this, he refused to be shaped into something he was not, for a demographic that seems as nebulas as success of Britney Spears. He wrote “Grace Kelly” - and a bunch of others - to prove them wrong.

And surprise, after hearing "Grace Kelly", the labels came around and signed him on. It’s ironic, really, as the song is sort of gibe at them, with lyrics that ask:

Why don’t you like me/Why don’t you like me/ Why don’t you like yourself?/Should I bend over/Should I look older just to be put on the shelf?

But behind that elfish look, and charming smile is a young man with talent. If I had to compare him, I would say his influences cover many people and groups, including Scissor Sisters, Elton John, The Beatles and Five for Fighting. His lyrics are very intelligent and resembles the talent makes Rufus Wainwright such a delight.

And while his debut CD Life in Cartoon Motion is a huge success in Europe, the sad aspect is that he’ll never be as popular as he should -along with Scissor Sisters, I might add - because he is gay. And for weeks leading up to the UK release of the CD, many interviewers asked him about his sexuality. He was evasive in answering them, but I fear it was not because he was not ready to come out, but I’m sure there was pressure from his label to keep it down, in fear of hurting him in the US market.

However that may be changing now, as I read a interview with him about a week ago when another reporter asked him that same question. And while he once again, never said the words, he did tell them that its very obvious what his sexuality is: Just listen to the song "Billy Brown", about a married man of three children who falls in love with another man.

Besides, if there’s one thing I’m good at, is knowing family.

27 March 2007

Debunking begins on The Secret

You know, you are a nobody in publishing until spiritual authors start lining up to debunk you. Thanks to the huge success of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, not surprisingly (if you work within the book business, that is, as imitators abound), there a few authors lining up to disrepute the books claims.

Much like the months leading up to the release of the movie version of The Da Vinci Code, where there were more than 35 titles in the stores (and most from evangelical Christian and Catholic publishing houses), these new books are designed to discredit Byrne’s The Secret.

Publisher Thomas Nelson will release a title by Ed Gungor called There is More to “The Secret”, which its publisher says it was not written to attack the book, but rather “correct their misguided advice.”

okey dokie...

Then there will be The Secret Revealed: Exposing the Truth About the Law of Attraction, by Jim Garlow and Rick Marcshall. Galrow -along with co-author Peter Jones - wrote Cracking The Da Vinci Code, which turned out to be the most successful of the Da Vinci response titles. The idea of this book is to discuss the “Law of Attraction” as something “typical of many false religions and movements throughout the centuries.”


There is bound to be others, as the gravy train that is The Secret continues. However, I’m unsure what the purpose of all of this is, beyond the money that is. Religion has always found itself threatened by anyone who tries something “different.” And for some reason they think by responding to it like this - by releasing debunking books (the same way they did with The Da Vinci Code) is some how going to damage The Secret’s sales and the credibility of its author.

It never works, really. If anything, it helps the book gain even larger audience. Dan Brown’s sales did not shrink due to the many tomes that came out about The Da Vinci Code, and the movie version did well by most standards, but was really hurt by its one trick pony plot line than by anything else. And there are many who are waiting for his long awaited follow-up, The Solomon Keys, due this winter.

I’ve been in the book business way to long to be impressed by the lemming attitudes of people who think The Secret offers them a chance at happiness. And give it another month or two, and the general public will have moved on to something else -like Harry Potter 7.

So, really, it seems that most of this debunking is really about how much money you can make riding the coattails of something -for what ever reason - that makes you feel threatened.

26 March 2007

My Hidden Frontier Family

From left to right:
Andrew, Beo, Rob and Beau
me, Tim, Adam and JayTee


21 March 2007

The Wild, Wild West: The Complete Second Season

When I was a kid, growing up in Chicago, Sunday morning was for watching classic TV shows on WGN. There was Rawhide, The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and my personal favorite, The Wild Wild West. That show -and possibly the classic series, The Avengers - saw me through the worst of times, and more or less, confirmed my sexuality.

While I always thought Robert Conrad as suave secret service agent James West was a prick, he was hot looking. That tight, compact little body (and shirtless as much as possible) shoe-horned into those tight pants. But it was the late, great Ross Martin I admired. As Atremus Gordon, Martin always looked like he was having fun, especially when he got to dress up in various disguises.

Anyway, I watched the show as much as possible, enjoying the brilliant idea of slapping together the two staples of the mid 1960's, James Bond and the TV Western. The show was pretty wild, even for its times -even though Conrad would later say that if you watched 10 episodes of the series, you’ve seen them all. It’s early season episodes were somewhat straight laced western fair, but like the daytime TV soap Dark Shadows, once it embraced the science fiction side of its plots, the show took off. Sadly, it was cancelled after four seasons, but not because of ratings, but because of the violence (which it was, as West got beat up every week)

The show disappeared from TV for a while, only to show up on the cable channel TNT during the late 1990's, where it ran for a few years. Last year, the show’s first season was released on DVD. Out of the 28 episodes, I think I saw all of them, but it was great to see them uncut for the first time, and in glorious black & white.

Season two came out this week, and it was the first season aired in color. The show also got a boost with its guest stars that season, including Boris Karloff, John Astin, Carroll O’Connor, Victor Bono (who was also in the pilot episode) and legendary actress Ida Lupino. Michael Dunn also returned for several guest shots as West and Gordon’s nemesis, Doctor Loveless. Plus, future Superman director Richard Donner got his start on TV and directed an episode that guest-starred Sammy David, Jr. and Peter Lawford, that led him to the silver screen, thanks to Davis, Jr. and Lawford.

A great series, I my opinion. And I’m hoping that they also release the two TV movie remakes done in the 1979 (The Wild, Wild West Revisited) and 1980 (More Wild, Wild West). They were once out on video, but I don’t think they were ever issued on DVD.

Plus, the theme music rocked. Classic all around.

More Hunks

16 March 2007


Will there be a fourth season of Veronica Mars

While games shows like Deal or No Deal and American Idol continue to get high ratings as Americans tune in and turn off their brains, shows like Veronica Mars suffer the slings and arrows of bad ratings, despite high praise from critics.

Started three seasons ago on the now defunct UPN, Veronica Mars is a student, progressing from her junior year in High School to freshman in college this past season, who is also a part-time detective. The show balances murder mystery, school drama and social commentary wrapped together with sarcasm, tons of offbeat humor and pop culture rants.

The series survived for two seasons on UPN, despite low ratings -as it came in dead last each week - but the network was pleased with the fan base it was generating, plus it was also the time that the mini-network was shifting it demographic more towards women, and the show had some great girl power going for it. Series star Kristen Bell also had a similar look to Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Geller, which the series was said to be compared with tone wise.

When it shifted to the CW this past fall for season 3, the show was paired with established hit, Gilmore Girls from the WB. To help initiate a bigger fan base, series creator Rob Thomas made the show more easily accessible, as the previous two seasons had a season long, continuing mystery. But sadly, the show has not performed as well as it should, despite that the writing has remained true, with its witty dialogue and engaging characters and its stylish noir look. So, it mystifies why the show is not more successful.

And its fate might now be sealed, after the show was put on hiatus after its February 27th episode. On March 6, the mini-network aired the new game show Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, which scored a higher rating than Mars (though on its second airing, the show stumbled, losing a good chunk of its viewing audience). On March 15, E’s Kristin Veitch reported that Veronica Mars was cancelled, but it was quickly retracted by request of the CW, which says its fate remains unknown. But series creator Rob Thomas still wants his show to remain on the air and is expected to create a trailer for a retooled version of Veronica Mars, set several years after the end of season three, where Veronica is now in the FBI Academy.

But I believe its fate hangs, also, on the future of Gilmore Girls. Now in its seventh season, if the CW wants an eighth year it will need to renegotiate the contracts with the series stars, as everyone’s expires at the end of filming this April. And that could be costly.

In the meantime, Veronica Mars will return on May 1st for its final batch of new episodes. And by this time in May, we’ll also know if it will be back for season 4.

Hidden Frontier, the series finale wraps on Saturday

I must admit, that I'm approaching tomorrow's final shoot for Hidden Frontier a bit sadly. While it's only been a year that I've been associated with Rob and the cast and crew of the this online series, I feel that I've made the best friends anyone could ask for. And its like the last day of High School or college, while you say "see you soon", deep down you know that this will probably the last time you see them.

Oh, there is another project in the works, one in which I'll be associated with, but there is still a good chance that I'll see very little of the people I've grwon to love and respect. And that fills me with sadness.

But it has been fun, I've learned so much and yet it seems impossible that all ends after Rob calls cut tomorrow afternoon.

I wonder what he feels, beyond the sense that he'll have time to relax with man he loves for a while, before the next project gets underway.

Anyway, while tommorow is the final shoot day, we still have one brief scene to film, and that'll take place at the end of April, at UC Irving. Then its onto EB2.


14 March 2007

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows breaks record print run

In what is bound not to be a collector item anytime soon, Scholastic Books has announced a record breaking 12 million first-print run of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowlings boy-wizards series.
This breaks the old record, set by The Half-Blood Prince two years ago, at 10.8 million copies. Scholastic has also announced a multi-million dollar advertising package that will include worldwide parties the day the book goes on sale, 12.01am, July 21, 2007.
The huge print-run is fueling speculation that Harry will die in the final volume, but I'm guessing that Scholastic is anticpating a much larger first day sales than the last book, which sold 6.9 million copies in just 24 hours.

13 March 2007


Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee), is a sex therapist who's never had an orgasm, who seeks out ways to overcome her "pre-orgasmic" dilemma, which is profoundly affecting her marriage. James (Paul Dawson), is a former male escort battling depression, goes to ultimate extremes when he can't even seem to feel happiness with his loving and devoted partner of five years, Jamie (PJ DeBoy). Struggling artist Severin (Lindsay Beamish), who works as a dominatrix, seeks to have a meaningful relationship with someone – anyone.

And while the on-screen sex is real, its not there for the sake of cheap titillation. Its only part of the film which is about the human relationship.

Director John Cameron Mitchell shines the light into all the dark corners of what we consider sex and what we consider love.

I think if anyone has hang-ups about sex -in what ever for you want it, gay, straight, bi, transgendered - the answers lay with in Shortbus.

Dirty Blond

12 March 2007

Speed Racer relocates away from Indy 4

So, after looking Paramount Pictures Indy 4 in the eyes for a few weeks, Warner Bros. has decided to remove Speed Racer from potential problems battling what could be the biggest Indiana Jones film in the series.

Now the film will sit nicely between Iron Man, due May 9 and Chronicles of the Narnia: Prince Caspian, due May 23. With Speed Racer now due May 16, it opens a full two weeks before Indy 4.

11 March 2007

Fire and heat; Welcome to LA in March

It was like summer here today, as the heat came full on today, adding a mighty wind. This, appears, to be the cause of a wildfire sweeping through Orange County today, destroying two homes and threatening more.

If it start this early, were bound to have a very hot summer. And since the winter -which ends 1 week fronm Tuesday has produced very little rain, this summer could also be the worst for firefighters. As is, this winter is offically the dryest EVER.

Let's keep our fingers crossed, folks.


The Loop

On March 15, 2006, FOX debuted the new comedy The Loop, starring Grounded For Life’s (he played the dumb boyfriend) Bret Harrison. It’s the story of Sam Sullivan, the youngest executive at the corporate headquarters of a major airline. As Sam tries to find a way to cope with the demands of his career- his boss Russ is a lunatic and his coworker Meryl, a 40-something sexpot, is continuously making sexual advances towards him - the social demands of his crazy roommates seem to continue to get in the way. He lives with his brother Sully (Eric Christian Olsen) , his college buddy Piper (Amanda Loncar, and who he secretly has a crush on) and Lizzy (Sarah Wright), the sexy bartender at their local hangout.

Created by former South Park writer Pam Brady and Andy Richter Controls the Universe writer Luis Gluck, the series does push the limits, and its humor sometimes can be crude as often as it is clever. Blending broad, bathroom humor with slick satire of corporate America is hard, but the creators also have added character development to expand the sometimes stilted stereotypes of sitcom TV. It also helps that the show in single camera, forcing the audience to laugh on its own.

The gem of the show is Mimi Rogers and Phillip Baker Hall who seem to having a great time with these broad roles. Rogers Meryl is so politically incorrect, and seems to take a cruel delight in teasing him -not only as his role as this junior drone, but sexually also - that she seems to be enjoying this role immensely. And Hall has made a career out playing villains and jerks, that his turn as the CEO of the airlines -who seems clueless at times, but ruthless in giving his customers less for more money - is perfect casting.

Meanwhile, Harrison has a rubbery face and plays the straight man very well. His double takes and ability not to get silly make his character very appealing, as he tires his hardest not be what every corporate drone has been for decades. Also, Olsen’s Sully is atypical older brother seen on TV and in the movies. He’s the slacker, and actually seems to be younger than his brother. The actor is appealing and like Harrison, cute and lovable.

Plus, as a bonus, both Harrison and Olsen spend a lot of time shirtless. So its got that going for it.

The two girls, Piper and Lizzy make up the rest and while fine, essentially could be dropped. The real element of the show is Harrison, Olsen, Rogers and Hall. And then there’s Joy Osmanski as Sam’s assistant Darcy. She is bitter that she graduated from M.I.T. yet can only get a job as an assistant to a guy who’s only talent it seems, is to remember everything about the airline buisness for the last couple of decades.

The show ran seven episodes, and to be honest, I expected it not to be renewed. While the show had weak ratings, it still did well enough as a post Idol show (well, it retained a larger audience than the previous show, something called Life on a Stick). In a surprise move, when FOX announced its fall schedule last May, they had order 13 new episodes for the 2006-07, but the show would re-tooled to focus more on the workplace adventures of Sam at the airlines.

In November of 06, FOX cut back the order of 13 to 10, perhaps knowing that by the time the show premiered in the 07, their schedule was too full to rerun the seven episodes, and then 10 new ones. In late February, the network announced the show would return in June, which is after the TV season has ended, and does not bode well for it continuing. As a matter of fact, Harrison is already doing a pilot, which more or less confirms the show is dead.

On March 6, the first season was released on DVD. The best part of the watching the show on DVD is to catch all the flubs. The show is set in Chicago, but beyond the lovely camera shots of the city, and the opening credits which were filmed there, its obviously filmed in LA. Take for example the opener, which had Sam giving a birthday party to Piper. They decide to have the party at Comisky Park, home of the Chicago White Socks. Of course, as a name, Comiskey no longer exists. It’s now known as US Celluar Field or as radio DJ Steve Dahl call, the Joan (because actress Joan Cusack ptiches for the cell phone dealer). Anyway, there is a pan to the jumbo tron and if you look closely (and freeze the frame) you can clearly see that they are in Dodger Stadium, as the Los Angeles Times banner can be seen.

Plus, of course, in the meetings at the “airfield”. Through the windows, you can clearly see the hills of California.

The show quirky, with an appealing cast and while I say it was never as clever as Arrested Development, it was still better The War at Home.

08 March 2007


Yeah, if I looked like Jared Leito I walk around LA like this too.

Mysterious Skin

When I read Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim several years ago, the novel never left me. It was one of those rare books that disturb me so much, that I knew I would never read it again.

In 2004, Gregg Araki -whom until then had only directed films about the nihilistic LA youths, something that he was raised in, adapted the novel for the screen. The book was already hard to read, but could it be made for a wider audience?

The book and movie is begins in 1981, where two 8 year-old boys in the town of Hutchinson, Kansas -who play together on a Little League team - come into the orbit of their coach, who is a pedophile. Neil’s mother is promiscuous, and only pawned him off so she could go on dates, while Brian’s dad is emotionally distant, apparently disappointed with his life and son.

That summer, Neil is abused by the coach, and on one raining night, Brian is taken by the coach and raped.

But while Neil, more or less, accepts this situation that summer, he grows up to be a gay hustler, but Brian believes that he was abducted by aliens that summer night -and again that Halloween. As he grows up, his dreams of that night set him off looking for other people who have been abducted by aliens. As his obsession grows, he realizes that there is a connection between him and another boy named Neil and sets out to find him.

The opening scenes, where the boys are being abused is hard to watch, and I suppose that was the intention. But according to the director, he filmed those scenes in such away that the young actors where unaware of the sexual content.

The films stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who after hitting success with 3rd Rock From the Sun, has set a film career the see’s him choosing films that most young actors would avoid. Like his role in the teen film noir Brick (2005), he takes on the role of Neil with such gusto, and gives another bravo performance. Brian is played by newcomer Brady Corbet, and delivers a quirky performance as a teen who has to discover what happened to him when he was 8.

It’s a tough film to watch, and its not for the timid. But the performances are fabulous and Gordon-Levitt reminds me so much of Johnny Depp. In the sense, that is, that after TV success, Depp choose a film career out of the mainstream. Starring in small, independent or low-budget features where characterization and plots were more important than tent-pole films of the big studios.

01 March 2007

Just a little Jake to pass the time

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

Mark Twain once said. It seems this is the world my sister lives in.

Well, nephew is back at Little sisters house.

I'm so unsure about all of this. Whilel nephew created all of his financial issues, I don't know how he's going to pay off all of debt, plus pay for all the things that the house needs repaired so LS can sell it working part-time at $7.00 an hour. Plus, crazy girl has nephew sign an agreement that he cannot get help from any family member, or she'll kick him out. This also means, at this time, I cannot even call my nephew -or can he call me - without threat of being homeless.

It astounds me that LS thinks all of us are crazy, including non-family members who know the whole deal. It seems, she believes she is the only sane one in the entire universe. Well, at least the family anyways.

Big sister spent time with (along with LS) at the psychologist on Feb. 19. Apparently, LS said that the entire family has never been for her, while she always puts 100% into everything. Plus, we never call. Well, when we do, she never answers (because I'm guess she gets a lot creditors calling her, but that began ages ago), and if we do leave a message, she never responds back.

Too busy getting on with her life, I guess. Hello, irony is knocking on the door.

BS has said she no longer wants to talk to LS anymore, and since I have not spoken a word to her since early January, I'm assuming she does not want to talk to me. Which is fine, because there is nothing to talk to her about. She has chosen, like she did 20 plus years ago, to cut the family out of her life. She see's it differently, of course. She thinks we've abandoned her.

My LS lives in a tiny world, caught on a stage in which she is the only clear headed thinker. She has basically taken away her kids from the rest of the family, using them as weapons in the imagenary battle she has created in her mind.

Nephew is stuck at home until he pays off his debt, but I'm sure he does not want to leave his little sister there all by herself, with such an unstable person that is my sister. I fear for them both, I really do.

But I swear, if anything happens to either of them, my sister will pay. Even as I write this, save it and post it, I don't care what happens to me. I will hurt her so much, knock her into next week so hard that it will take a major operation just to get Wednesday out of her ass.

She is lost to me, and the only sadness I have left, is for niece and nephew. Stuck with this bitter women, this jealous husk of pig, I fear for their lives.

And, if they can survive, I also fear for their mental health. Living with LS is bound to damage them, bound to ruin what ever chance they have at success.

As much as I cannot forgive my uncle for his verbal abuse while growing up, I cannot forgive my LS for the shit she is currently pulling.

Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice -well, I won't let her. She is dead to me, as dead as my father is.

My only hope is that, by the gace of God, someone will rescue those two kids.