Financial Vampires From Hell

The wrath of God, in case you have not been keeping up with prophecy, is about to be unleashed on Capitol One (the Beast) and its unholy offspring, Alliance One (the second Beast) — the dual anti-Christ of consumer credit.

In one 24 hour period they increased my amount owed by 100% despite no activity on the card since September 2003. They had already increased it by 100% a few months earlier blaming “interest and fees” — while it made no sense to me at all, I was too exhausted from the fraud episode on the account perpetrated by the now incarcerated Frank Eiras III to hassle with it.

Before the fraud, I owed them $305. I have since paid them close to $1,000 and they now tell me that I owe them over $2,000 but are unable to explain WHY or HOW…it just IS. Now, I did mention to them that they have TWICE recognized that this is an error, and TWICE have apologized to me. I previously told them that if they ever call me again asking for money i don’t owe them, my terms of service clearly state that there is a $5,000 fee per instance. They have called four times this last week. They shall receive an invoice for $20,000, and a law suit…I’m not alone…THOUSANDS of people are suing Capitol One for pulling these stunts.

GERMAN SPAM WITH WORMS: See those emails with German words in the subject field? Delete them.
See that letter from your dear new friend in Nigeria who found a zillion dollars in a bank account and somehow selected YOU to handle it as a good deed, and you get millions? Delete it.

See the doggie on my bed? Don’t delete it. Isis, the post-felon ex-convict, frequently muzzled but never equaled doggie of mine has to be dropped off at The Kennel Club at 4:30am on the way to LAX. She is delighted, I’m sure. This time she doesn’t get the deluxe doggie condo — private suite with pics of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin on the wall, and a color TV showing “dog friendly” movies — All Dogs Go to Heaven, Old Yeller, Cujo, and Dracula’s Dog (aka Zoltan, the Hound from Hell). She will be in doggie lock down till I return on Monday, the 23rd (Declaration of the Bab).

STEALTH and SEATTLE

I’m having fun with the screenplay of the new action film, STEALTH. It’s sort of a 2005 riff on the HAL “problem” in 2001, or the android companion/lover gone hay-wire plot. It has top gun appeal coupled with a sci-fi “technology just ain’t human” edge — I wont give away more than you’ve seen in the previews, but this looks like a box office hit of the popcorn/crowd pleaser variety — the film comes out in Japan in October, and much earlier here in USA. I’m adapting the screenplay as a paperback novel for the Japanese market…no, i dont write Japanese; it will be translated. I have till mid July — figure two months — to deliver the manuscript, and there is enough diversity of characters and relationships to give me plenty to work with. I’ll start on it on my Seattle excursion, and finish it up here in lovely Santa Monica. I think Sony is giving me a sneak preview of the film — that would be nice. On THE SAINT I didn’t see a single piece of footage until long after the novelization was done, and on MAVERICK they were doing reshoots while I was doing re-writes. This time, the film is completed and I don’t expect any last minute drastic changes in plot or characters.

Tuesday the 17th is my mom’s birthday, so I am off to Seattle that morning. I’ll stay with Jordan while I’m up there. My sister and daughter are both going to be in town that week also, so I am really looking foreward to this trip. My brother, Stan, however, is off in China for ten days. With so many people already in China, I can’t imagine why they need to fly in more! (that was an element of humor).

Insanity in Santa Monica

Santa Monica is lovely,  I am surrounded my several the oddest assortment of strange ducks since I researched HEADLOCK by spending days at the McFeely Tavern in Walla Walla. In the room next to me is Elliot, former professional pool hustler, New Jersey Gin Rummy Champion, and real estate speculator. He speculates on what he could have made if he had gone into real estate.

"You know what I’m doing now," he asks rhetorically.

"Yes, you’re drinking."

Then, temporarily was the six foot five 19 year old Russian girl on her way to Seol, Korea from Anchorage, Ak. Don’t ask.

In the end room is a handsome young man sharing the bed with his mother. She is a paralegal, he insist, and not his paramour. Told him I saw The Grifters.

My ex-con canine, Isis, is going stir crazy. Our room is the size of a the new postage stamp commemorating low disc space messages. Every time I attempt taking her for a walk, my cell phone rings — it’s the manager of the hotel (i am, until tomorrow, assistant mgr) telling me that a new resident is on their way to check in. "Fax me all their information," he says. "Okay, which non existant phone line would you like me to use when I hook up the etheric fax machine?"  There is not one phone line in the entire building. I was on my way to walk the dog when it rang again — turn around, go back.  I took this gig because it gave me free rent. Management was very happy with my work! They bragged to the owner, "Burl and his adorable doggie are doing a wonderful job!"  On the good news front, I’m writing the novelization of a new action film, STEALTH. I’ve seen the previews — it looks like a cool movie…a popcorn film with good f/x etc….i think it is about a super-plane without a pilot that gets out of control and real live humans must bring it down…at least that’s what the previews imply. I’ll have the screenplay tomorrow. This will be a fun project. The most fun is the part where I make the bank deposit!

DOGGIE!??!!!??! There are no pets allowed in the hotel!! OOOOPS!

Tomorrow at 8am they pack me up and send me back to the OTHER hotel where they allow dogs and I was paying rent. I just need to put up with this until the 17th of May — then im going to Seattle to see Mom for her 94th birthday. I’ll stay with Jordan and Ida Kitty till the 23rd, then get an apartment when I return to Santa Monica.

Most recent guilty pleasure: Listening to the director’s commentary on DVD of "Vampires II: Los Muertos"

A SIMPLE PLAN

The world needs a simple plan for comprehensive restructuring. I’m sure one exists, but if implementation is accompanied by a degree of complexity equal to my sister’s difficulty in changing from Cingular to Verizon Wireless, we’re dooooooomed!
See Jan Curran Events (link over there )

I’ve had similar experiences with user-unfriendly “service” based organizations. In August of 1984 I stopped into a McDonald’s in Richland Washington for the singular purpose (non-cellular) of buying an ice cream sundae. They had two flavors: chocolate and caramel. For your money, you received a big blob of vanilla ice cream covered with TWO PUMPS of syrup. I paid my money, and asked for ONE PUMP of chocolate and ONE PUMP of caramel. “I can’t do that,” said the waitress, trembling at the very thought. “Yes you can, it’s simple.” I demonstrated the divine art of pumping the lever. “No, I mean I am forbidden by corporate policy. I am not allowed to MIX SAUCES.” I looked around furtively. “Shhhhhh We are alone I am the only customer. I’ll never tell. I’m sure they don’t do a sauce audit measured by pumps — no one will know.” She still refused. “OK, I’ll pay you twenty-five cents extra for one pump of caramel on a chocolate sundae, or one pump of chocolate on a caramel sundae.” Beads of perspiration broke out on her already broken out forehead. “Okay, but I’m not putting the sauce directly on the ice cream — I’ll put it on a little piece of plastic and YOU put it on. I’m not taking responsibility for the sauce being on the ice cream” Damn! This woman seems obsessed with the paranoid delusion that Ronald is not clowning around when it comes to his recent edict: Mix the Sauces; File for Unemployment. She pumps the caramel onto an inverted plastic cup top, and leaves it to me to get the goo onto the ice cream. So much for “we do it all for you.”
This same commitment to the diverse needs of an ever evolving customer base is best exemplified by AOL — they only stopped sending me a bill for $80 after I sent them an invoice for $5,000 — my standard fee for willful misrepresentation by a customer service representative.
My sister’s mind bending adventure with the pretzel logic of Cingular Cellular is exceeded only by my current WWE Title match with Capitol One — even a second grader knows $1,050 minus $700 does not equal $2,500. They found their error once, apologized and said “it will never happen again.” Damn right. Last week they called about the $2500 I have never owed them — when was I going to pay it? NEVER!! Now, how much can I charge THEM? My advice to my sister’s frustration with Cingular may not align with the world’s best legal advice, but I find it consistently effective: Send them an invoice for $5,000 for each individual occurrence of “Screwing with a customer’s right to peaceful enjoyment of goods and services.” (As with any such course of action, consult your doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, and Rabbi)

My Networked Dog

Isis, my gentle loving doggie — ok, she is a Sheffield/Bull Terrier mix who goes nuts at the scent of another dog, and has a marked propensity for licking total strangers as if they are her long lost relatives — apparently thought it a fun idea to eat her leash. She didn’t exactly eat it, she chewed it in pieces..two pieces. It is now useless as an old queen with a head cold. There was no way getting around taking her out for a walk — she needed excercise, an opportunity to vent her anti-poodle hostilties, and the call of nature had become a shrill shriek. I found a length of ethernet cable, and we took off on what is, to her nose, the information super-highway: Ocean Park Blvd.
"Wow," commented the owner of the computer repair store down the block, "I’ve never seen a networked dog before!"
"Yep," I replied, "not only do her jaws lock up, but as you see, she stops cold at various windows."
"Funny! What’s her name," he asked.
I couldn’t resist a little white canine lie.
"Browser."

My Blog Debut

Now, at last, I’ve joined friends and family documenting the details of our lives on-line. This is how we know (a) what our family and friends are doing, as they are too busy typing to actually tell us, and (b) how to tell them what we are doing because we are too busy typing to tell them.

I am in Santa Monica, California. It is lovely here. The sun shines and Lord only knows if they have ever heard of Lobster Thermadore. I was living in Venice — not Italy, but Venice Beach where prices are high and so are the majority of the residents — artists with cannabis sativa sensibilities. That isn’t one of my shared interests as the aroma of that particular burning vegetable makes me green around the gills.

Speaking of gills, people fish off the pier in Venice. I understand fishing in Loon Lake. The most scary thing you might catch there is a real ugly brown trout or a tinch. But in the ocean you could catch some real horrid mutant prehistoric God-Knows-What Godzilla sort of thing! I mean, nobody knows what is even IN THERE! Ask a marine biologist and even they will tell you it’s safer to fish for red meat in Kansas than drop your pole into the Pacific. You could dredge up Gorgo or Jimmy Hoffa or both at once. You probably don’t know this, but the original edit of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL had Michael Renie giving a big speech about not fishing in any body of water not bordered by railroad tracks and trailers. Trust me on that.

Lately I’ve been enjoying the company of famed Hollywood private detective Fred Wolfson. Fred has the never-ending distinction of having saved Groucho Marx’s life, as detailed in the book LIFE WITH GROUCHO. He also was the private eye who solved the mystery, "Who Sold the National Inquirer Tom Arnold’s Love Letters to Rosanne Barr?" All America was holding it’s collective breath for the answer to that one, as you assuredly recall. You don’t? Me neither. The answer, for those of you who missed the shocking revelation, was Tom Arnold.
That’s about my quota of old show biz gossip.
As for me, I’m within walking distance of an excellent Patty Melt, an OK burrito, and a decent video store. Life is good.