Blog Archives

Derren Brown vs Faith Healing

There are few things more difficult for the skeptic to let go of than their faith in their own intelligence.  After all, recognizing the untruth of something lots of people believe in (gods, psychics, bigfoots) does give one a sense of intellectual superiority.  I've certainly been guilty of a sort of mental vanity that is borderline absurd — not because I'm not smart but because no one is smart enough to overcome the inherent fallibility of the human mind.  Smart people are often just better at tricking themselves into believing whatever it is they wish to be true.

And this is why I so appreciate the work of Derren Brown, a mentalist and magician who captivated me last year when I read his book "Tricks of the Mind".  He reminds me of Stephen Fry — brilliant, funny, atheist, gay and charming — like something from an Oscar Wilde play, not of this time.  Derren's schtick is to do magic tricks while explaining why the mind falls for them — he's sort of like a psychologist of magic.  It's similar to Penn & Teller, but his tricks are less sleight of hand and more sleight of mind.  He has gotten some flak in skeptic circles because he usually has a trick or two he doesn't explain, retaining some of that appeal to mysticism that he's otherwise debunking, but it's all part of the show.

If you share with me a love of the horrifically compelling documentary "Marjoe" or the delightful Steve Martin film "Leap of Faith", or if you just hate swindlers, especially those abusing religion to take advantage of people, then you'll be interested in Derren's latest TV Special, slated to air in the UK on C4 Monday night at 9.  It is called "Miracles for Sale" which is a rather tame title considering the subject matter.

The special will follow Derren's attempt, which one assumes was successful since it's airing, to turn an average Joe from the streets into a faith healer, using only tricks of the mentalist trade.  Basically, he's going to see if people fall for obvious fraud.  Derren claims that this is not about God, but about exposing fraud, though it can't help but paint religion and the entire idea of faith healing in an intensely negative light.

Although I don't hide my own lack of religious belief, my repulsion at this scam comes as much from my days as a Christian as it does from simply being a human being observing ego- and money-driven fraud.

As a former Evangelical, Derren manages to have street cred with Christians, although many others see his de-conversion as some sort of personal insult or, typically, a sign that he was never really a Christian in the first place.  And of course he's already getting the kind of braindead responses you'd expect from the faith healing crowds.  "U say there's no proof of genuine miracle?  Where have u been looking??  I've personally SEEN the blind SEE the Deaf hear and many other miracles…" "Jesus heals people all the time.  It is not faith healing though.  When Jesus speaks to someone they get healed.  Everything he does works."

So much for helping those in need.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-O9aNl2Xrk&feature=related

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Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition, ad nauseum

Man, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even understand what he’s trying to say anymore.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/23/nation/la-na-blogger-suits-20100823

Dearest Ashley,

Action’s bring consequences, you dont live in a vacum, and I gave you some good advise.
You put yourself in this position, and I looked at imdBPro.com and saw no (added) credits for you

You’re feeling of self importance (ego) is beyond belief, to deny our relationship and try and embarass is me is not really helping you’re delusional behaviour .
You look so dumb, bottom line, IM giving you an importance you dont deserve, and to deny is ridiculous.
Publishing our private sex notes makes you look dumber then when we (well you know what I mean)
The only good thing is not many people are goiing to read it, and most people will realize it’s true, it’s as true as everything you say about me.
You have a hard on for someone, well dear ashley remember, there are consequences for every action.
You think you’re going to moan and groan about every body, and I know IM not singled out, you have many enemy’s and some people tell the truth, and somepeople dont.

On the other hand, I wish you well, however you have to accept what happens when you bad mouth someone, just because I didn’t take on your script under my terms.
If you sold your script, congratulations, why dont you mention what company, who’s attached, director, etc..Ashley you’re an editor, and IM sure a good one, you should take my advise about your blog, or stick to your knitting.

All my lovin.

Eddie
eddiekritzer.com some details

And if you’re thinking it’s just me getting these emails, here are a bunch of links

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/01/apparently-im-boring-wrinkled-self.html

http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2005/02/youd_think_anyb.html

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/4752919-another-round-with-eddie-kritzer

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32362

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090608123451AA80wfq

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition: Operation Gross Out, ctd

I should note that the reason I post all of this is to A) keep a record and B) warn others off ever getting in touch with this guy.  I have noticed that the majority of his written abuse has been directed at women, and it’s almost always sexual in nature.  I’m not sure why this is.

He also appears to either be hoping that I’m either so embarassed by sex or by the possibility that someone would believe I had sex with him that I’ll stop exposing his scams. Basically these letters are a threat to try to defame me by saying I’ve posted everything as a spurned lover, and that the more I protest, the more he’s going to talk about me in a sexual context. At least, that’s all I can make of it.

And, if I hadn’t been previously harassed on the phone, I’d assume he was a thirteen year old troll, but he’s actually got a production office according to google:

Eddie Kritzer Productions
8484 Wilshire blvd
#205
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
323-655-5696
Producedby@aol.com

My Dearest Ashley, It’s always tough when sexual relationships end, and I know you feel bad, because I complained about your prowess as a lover, but since you’re a public figure, I knew you would understand. Please remember “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” Just because were not fucking anymore, does’nt mean you have to knock me on The Internet, however you do have a website, and you continue to love to talk about me (and anybody else you have a cause for) IM sorry you feel bad about us not making love anymore, but things do end. I notice you’re knocking my poor grammer, and punctuation, probably good points, but IM getting my message across. Just because were not fucking and sucking anymore, doesn’t mean you go on a personal vendetta about me. Please feel free to take me to court for “sexual harassment” I will explain how you were a lousy lover, and when you sucked my cock, I thought you were going to bite it off. You think you’re going to sit on your limited perch, and just say any fucken lie you want, and IM not going to respond about it, by telling the world thatyour a lowsy lay (that’s’ fuck in your terms.) I love when you write about me, and Please keep on lovin me, and think about the days when we fucked and sucked. Your’e my bitch, All my love, Eddie All my precious love PS: The pimples on your fat ass are improving the puss is much less visable

MyLover and Dearest Ashley, Got your sexy letter, IM glad you posted it my regular mail…..please dont be embarrassed. When you’re letter told me how you loved my giant cock in your hot pussy, I must admit it turned me the fuck on. Oh, by the way your “Blog” is down, it’s probably because you kept on writing about how you love to fuck and suck me off………I love it when I come in your mouth, it turned you on. Keep on writing about me in your blog, and remember (my bitch) you’re a “public (nuisance) figure” buy most of all you’re my fucken bitch…… Pleeeeeeeease let’s go to court, I can tell the judge all about our fucking and sucking, with your big fat ass……….you’ve gained a bit of weight since we last fucked. Keep on writing about me, it keeps me thinking about you and makes me want to write you our sexy escapades All my fucken love, your my bitch, Eddie copy to literary development part of the press

Dear Ashley, I hope we come to an understanding and we can be civil to each other, I think you get my point. Pllllllease remember, when you step on land mines, they sometimes blow up. All my precious love to you,” Eddie

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition: Operation Gross Out

I’ve gotten two new emails from Mr. Kritzer. Can I just say “ew”? Because ew. Can I sue him for sexual harassment?

Dearest Ashley,

Since we made love last, I cant stop thinking of you; I hope you told me the truth, and you’re on the pill.
I love children, and hope they grow up to be a successful editor, and bloger just like their mom.

All my love,

Eddie

Dearest Ashley,

I see you’re getting a little defensive, I see no credits on imdBPro.com on you, other then your little editing job
Poor little cry baby Ashley, I will give you credit for one thing, you do post everything, and for that.
I give you a lot of credit.
I know my grammar isn’t perfect, but IM not selling my grammar, IM selling shows, book, TV Shows, etc.
And yes I do require an advance, for just the reason I mentioned, I presume you think that all these aspiring, (and I use that word loosely) writers have a story to tell.
With over 125, ooo scripts registered with The WGA,,and IM sure you have a few.
However you have ZERO Credit’s that’s why you blog, you know you’re going to get published.
I notice you didn’t mention The Tiger Woods Syndrome on HCI Books….your’e just for the negative.
Again, please dont get pregnant, but if you do, I love children, and will give child support, but love making with you (again) is out for me………….

All my continued love,

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition, ctd

No update on the Kritz would be complete without a creepy email littered with bad grammar from the jerk himself.

Dearest Ashley, I haven’t heard from you in so long I was concerned that you lost your job editing, but then i checked IMDbPro.com http://imdb.com/name/nm1736719/ and saw you had no credits at all. Not surprising; most old ladies, with much to say, and little credits need a blog (i.e. Unpublished writer/no credits) need a place to cry. I also notice you personalize your blog. It has to be tough writing and never selling anything, you become frustrated, and decide to rag on anybody who’s handy. I have read your boring blogs (just to be informed) and all you do is cry, at least you consistent I do want to make sure your massive audience, (your mother, father one cousin & Me) would know the truth. When an uncredited writer (such as say Vance) submits, they may sign an agreement, but then after working on them placing them with Studios, production companies, etc, they may say, Eddie, thanks for all the help,, but I have decided that IM not going do this, thanks for the help. One Time I got The Tightwad Twins a publishing deal with HCI Books, Publishers of Chicken Soup for The Soul Series) I then booked them on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show they informed me and The Publisher that they don’t like to draw attention to them selves and decided not to do it. On several other occasions I got deals for writers at major publishers, and or at studios, and they decided against moving forward……. Dearest Ashley, since your such a driving force in our industry, I know you will get out the word as to whyI always require an advance against my commisions. People/ writers, dont always keep their word, so I need to know their serious, they get it back just like Dr. J.R. Bruns, and Dr. R. A/ Richards did when I sold The Tiger Woods Syndrome (HCI Books) As always wishing you a happy and succesful 2011 just like 2010 Your lover and still even though you just layed there, sort of like your writing. Eddie Kritzer eddiekritzer.com some minor detials I know it’s not much but we each do what we can

All I can really add to this is I’ve got over 60 credits on imdb, I’ve optioned a screenplay, sold several articles, and got over 10000 hits on this website alone last month.  And if I didn’t have any, it’d still mean that this ‘agent’ thought it was ok to bully young unpublished writers by making fun of their unpublished status.

And, just so everyone is clear, it is against wga policy for an agent to require an advance.  It is a disgusting attempt to bilk inexperienced writers.  He’s also just sort of disgusting.  Even if what he was doing wasn’t a scam, does anyone want someone who is this unprofessional to represent them?  Thank you, Eddie, for once again demonstrating your true character.

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition

This Christmas I got the gift of knowing I helped someone not get scammed! Thanks emailer!

I have been approached by Eddie Kritzer to sell my scripts. Of course, red flags popped up in the back of my mind due to the fact that he was calling my on Christmas Eve and wanted 1000.00 to execute a contract without even looking at my script. Based on your postings and my gut feelings, I’m going to stay away. I wanted to thank you for placing the postings so that someone like me won’t be duped into such an agreement.

Enjoy this holiday season.

Cinematic Appraisals: Scam or Science?

Their Site's Main Image

I’m a writer, which means that I have to spend a lot of time looking out for scams trying to take advantage of me.  There are fake agentsfake contests, and fake publishers who are all trying to get my money by promising me riches and fortune and, most importantly, an audience.  If anything can teach you skepticism, it’s trying to navigate the minefield of nearly, but not quite, professional writing.

I think you should go look at this.  It’s a “Mind Science” based analysis service for screenplays.  That seems highly unlikely to me, but here is an excerpt from the site:

Once your screenplay has been received, trained evaluators conduct an analysis using our proprietary Mind Science Method to ascertain individual scores for each line, each page, and for the screenplay as a whole. This scoring system evaluates the different criteria, story structure, dialog and action of each individual line.

Once the analysis is complete, a score is assigned that can be compared equally against the score of any other screenplay, if you have chosen to submit a second screenplay of a previously produced project.

After the initial page-by-page study is complete and individual score determined, the screenplay is then studied and examined by separate evaluators for its story structure and connection strength, yielding the second analysis based on content.

You will receive both the score and complete analysis in your final report, including a hardcopy of the screenplay with review notations.

The Mind Science score and analysis will allow you to gauge the degree of stimulation/mental connection the screenplay evokes. And, by comparing the score of a new script with the score of a script from a produced film in the same genre, you can compare its potential success apples-to-apples.

Does this sound like Scientology to anyone else?  It sounds like all they’re doing is providing detailed coverage and calling it “Mind Science”.

I mean, maybe what they do is legitimate in the sense that they provide a service, but they charge, get this, FIFTY DOLLARS A PAGE to review your screenplay.  That’s $6000 for a 120 page script.

$6000.

Everyone, for 1 dollar a page, I will read and review your screenplay!  I dunno how appealing that is, but it’s certainly a hell of a lot cheaper!  I’m no one, but at least I’ve optioned a screenplay and that makes me 100% qualified to use my own Proprietary Mind Science to evaluate your screenplay’s ability to engage an audience’s interest.  For $6000 dollars, who knows what I’d do (e-mail your inquiries).

Hell, pay an 8-year-old a dollar and see how long he can sit through it before getting up.  If it’s more than 10 pages, you’ve got a winner!

If you’re going to pay money to get feedback I recommend finding someone who is a screenwriter or actually works in the business — submit to ScriptSavvy or Carson Reeves, I can personally attest to both the quality and honesty of their services.

I realize that the Cinematic Appraisals Service is aimed at producers and people who are in genuine pre-production stages of getting a film made, not just struggling writers, but, until I see some evidence that what their doing actually has any evidence behind it or is more useful than, say, reading the script with a critical eye, I’m going to have to call this one as straight up bilking people out of their money.  Especially since I can’t find any information about them anywhere else on the net.  And taking money from producers, while potentially satisfying, means that there’s less money to make movies.

Writers Beware!

Anti-Vaxers

Someone on my blogroll posted something anti-vaccine, citing the rise in autism cases as just one reason that we should “stop poisoning our bodies”.  As someone who wouldn’t be alive if not for the radical medical intervention of the 20th century, I’m incredibly skeptical of anyone who claims that we’re poisoning our bodies with drugs without also acknowledging that we also don’t typically die in childhood and the life expectancy is over 40.

There is no link between vaccines and autism and more importantly, vaccines save lives. The increase in autism is partially to do with different diagnostic conditions, the introduction of autism as a spectrum disorder — to focus on the phony and disproven and discredited link invented by a doctor trying to sell his vaccine as better than the current one is to fail to research the real causes of autism.

Again there are 0 ties between vaccines and autism. It’s just a lie. The fact remains that when children are not vaccinated they get diseases that can kill them and make it more likely that the vaccinated kids will get those diseases as well. I’d rather have an autistic child than a dead child. And I’d rather not die because people are making up reasons to not trust the good science that’s been done.

Should you believe everything that comes from big pharma? No, of course not. And should you want to treat autism and be skeptical of anything that people put in their bodies? Sure. But you should also be able to rationally look at the human costs of not vaccinating children and the motivation behind the lie that there was a connection between vaccines and autism in the first place. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

“Vaccines against tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, hepatitis B, and Hib disease are preventing 2.5 million deaths each year.” – CDC

Short blog with good graph:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/05/12/vaccines-do-not-cause-autism/

Longish on the anti-vaxers:
http://www.skepdic.com/antivaccination.html

Comic about Andrew Wakefield, the doctor of the original study:
http://tallguywrites.livejournal.com/148012.html

Longish well cited on the history and consequences:
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/09-06-03/

Advice for 2010 Grads Coming to LA; 15 things

The Bitter Script Reader posted some advice about how to survive to move to LA.  I tried to comment over there and it won’t let me, but this is what I said.

1) Get settled so that you’re as comfortable as possible — living out of boxes makes everything seem transient. Have roommates or whatever, but make sure that you’ve got a space, however small, that is yours. Spend some time driving around the city and getting to know places. Find the studios. (Have a car!)

2) I really love Glendale, it’s safe and cheapish. Frogtown is super cheap. North Hollywood is becoming a lot safer, the parts closer to the 134 are totally fine for a single girl to live in.

2) I would say you probably need at least 7k in the bank before coming out here and at least two finished scripts and some outlines for more. Basically, you need enough money that you can go several months without making much money at all and enough written that if you’re too discombobulated to write, you’ve got something to work with. I applied for internships and jobs for 6 months before I moved out and it still took me 3 months to land a part time paid gig, though I did have an internship lined up.

3) Apply to every job you can find, do things for free, take an internship in the industry if you can afford it and then work at whatever you can in the rest of the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s an industry job, making contacts of all sorts is important, life experience, all that jazz. I’m not super social and I don’t like to drink, but working on other people’s projects is a great way to meet people and learn useful skills.

4) Find something else you can do in the industry besides writing. Can you edit? Can you gaff? Find a way to make yourself useful. Pursue every avenue. Learn to script supe, that’s easy and low impact.  Find something you like to do that isn’t writing.

5) A lot of people would say find a writing group. I personally am not in one, but I have a large group of friends who I can get advice from. Writing groups are pretty useful if you don’t have that.

6) Apply selectively to contests, but do apply. I’ve definitely gotten contacts from agents and managers and earned some street cred by placing in contests people had heard of.

7) Mandy.com, realitystaff.com, and craigslist are your new friends. I personally don’t really like the UTA job list, but it’s out there too.

8) Figure out a way to make your commute worthwhile. A voice recorder is great if you can think outloud for writing purposes. I listen to a lot of audiobooks.

9) Do things that have nothing to do with film because people who only talk about film are boring. Read books, magazines, go do stuff that’s got seriously zero to do with film and then you’ll have something interesting to talk about. The reason Hollywood loves young blood is because they have experience outside of the Hollywood system and they haven’t quite yet been turned into normal LA people who can only talk about themselves and movies.

10) Write genre scripts that can be produced cheaply if you’re really out to make a sell.

11) Don’t ever be a douchebag. Don’t have a temper. If you talk shit online, don’t use names.  (Unless revealing scam artists!)

12) Conversely, if you’re working for free, you have the right to be treated well and to learn something from the experience. Don’t be afraid of anyone. And don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, just don’t be aggressive. Along these lines, know how much you should be getting paid, even if you’re not being paid that. This is useful info.

13) Be on the look out for scams. Not all competitions are worthwhile. Not all agents are legit. If someone asks you for money upfront to be your agent, that guy is a scam artist. (google Eddie Kritzer)

14) If you’re a lady writer with a girly name, I’d recommend using your initials. That sounds terrible, but there’s genuine gender bias out here and I’m super lucky that all the other Ashleys out here are guys. This is especially true if you’re replying to internet ad, because internet people are super creepy.

15) Give yourself deadlines so that you’re not constantly second guessing yourself and make sure they’re reasonable. I, for example, haven’t always been totally sure LA is the place for me, but I’m only allowed to seriously think about moving during the month of August. So I don’t dwell on it in general.

(I never had a problem with the tap water, don’t know what people are talking about)

Eddie Kritzer aka Andy King Cont’d

I won’t let this post of his stay where it was originally posted because it’s got nothing to do with Eddie Kritzer, but I also think people should know exactly what depths this grown man is sinking to in an attempt to score some sort of points.

So, on a relatively popular post unrelated to Mr. Kritzer, “Andy King” posted the following:

you deleted Andy Kings criticism of Ashley; Ashley, your a hooker on
Sunset Blvd, some guy told me you gave him head, and he threw up on you, and you ate it.
Ashley you are one ugly old lady

While I did delete this comment, I haven’t deleted the one he posted prior.  I sent “Andy King” an e-mail asking him to stay on topic.

Let’s do some thought experiments here.  One, let’s pretend we don’t think “Andy King” is Eddie Kritzer, why would someone care that much about someone they supposedly didn’t know?  Why would a business man whose posts link directly to his business put that sort of language out in the public under his name?  Two, if it is Eddie Kritzer, which it is because the IP address and grammar is the same, why would he continually bring himself back up on a blog that calls him a scam?  Does he not realize that every time he posts, I get a surge in hits and more people discover what he’s done to me and the people who’ve contacted me?  Does he not realize that using that kind of language and this obsessive behavior makes him more obviously unprofessional, regardless of whether he’s a scam?

He is simply vile.  I don’t take it personally, but it’s hard not to be grossed out.  Especially when you consider this is a guy old enough to be my father.  Ick.

If you’re new to the Eddie Kritzer saga just click at the top where it says Eddie Kritzer and you’ll go to all the wordpress blogs on it, which are almost all mine.  Basically, he’s a guy who says he’ll be your agent if you pay him up front, which is against the rules for agents and who has been harassing me since October 09.