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How the iPod Saved My Christmas –

Posted in The Good Life with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2011 by chrisdurant2000

‘Tis the Season –

I love music, all types of music.  And while my tastes run the spectrum, I usually find myself gravitating towards classical, (I absolutely love the violin) soft jazz, and the occasional country tune.   Everything else becomes more of a seasonal selection.  For instance usually in the spring and summer I will primarily listen to alternative rock and upbeat country.   It’s weird, I don’t get it either. 

Whether I am driving, working out, working in the yard, work working, or just sitting at home, I will normally listen to my iPod.    This has become more prevalent to the point of noticeable, a fact I realized the other day.   There is a wonderful classical station here, WDAV based at Davidson College, that has really helped to expand my library and love of classical music.   Like most classical stations, there is very little talk, no commercials (except for the semi-annual membership drive) and what human voice you will hear is usually calm and subdued.  And this brings us to the point of this article…

I LOVE Christmas music!  Certainly I would not listen to it all year long, but there is just something about those songs that rekindles wonderful memories of Christmases past in my mind that I will always cherish.    Now, I know people who groan at the slightest thought of having to “endure” a single carol.  Not me!  For me it provides a soundtrack, the score to the season.  Not unlike the aroma of cinnamon and spices that provide an olfactory ignition announcing to the senses that “IT IS CHRISTMASTIME!!”

Like most cities, Charlotte has several radio stations that play Christmas songs, usually beginning the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas day.    So, I was very excited about listening to the radio in the car the other day when I set out to do a little shopping.  My excitement, however, was very short lived.    I found myself quickly frustrated as I clicked back and forth between the two stations.   While I would acheive a wonderful memory moment with an old Christmas classic, it was almost immediately erased by the “VOICE”.   The “VOICE” was that obnoxious radio personality.  It was the incessant commercials.  It was loud. It was intrusive to my reveling, and it roared seemingly after each and every song, almost as if attempting to create some sadistic balance between the harmonious music and ‘nails on the chalkboard’ commercialism.   After about fifteen minutes of this, I called ‘No Joy’ and switched the iPod back on.   But I couldn’t let it go.  I was pissed.  I was in the midst of my holiday spirit and yet I felt more like ole Ebenezer.   Apparently I needed a work-around.

Throughout the day as I shopped, walking through the mall, seeing others shopping, and bounding in and out of the various stores and boutiques, I would have flashes of memories.  Each was tied to a different carol and helped to bring me back into the sight, sound, smell and feel of the season.  So, with each memory I quickly added a little note into my Blackberry jotting down the song.  Later that night I even Googled “Christmas Classics” and a host of other search strings as I began to forge my very own Christmas playlist.   It was awesome and helped to elicit even more memories and remind me of songs that I had forgotten but loved.

The other day, I posted a comment on Facebook about my little Christmas creation and got several messages back asking me for a rundown of “Chris’ Carols”.   So, I’ve decided to share.  This is by no means a full and complete list, I know I will continue to add songs.  And while there are any number of different versions by different artists, (in a few cases there are even multiple versions in my playlist, yep, I downloaded them all) these are MY favorites.  I hope you enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) – Darrius Rucker

Winter Wonderland – The Eurhymics

O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman

Jingle Bells – Michael Buble’ (featuring the Puppini Sisters)

Baby it’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin

Christmastime is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio

I’ll be Home for Christmas – Rascal Flatts

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Michael Buble’

Merry Christmas Darling – The Carpenters

White Christmas – Bing Crosby

Where are You Christmas – Faith Hill

Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives

Last Christmas – WHAM

Silent Night –Enya

Winter Wonderland – Chris Botti

Carol of the Bells – Mannheim Steamroller

Christmas Canon – Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Christmas – Blues Traveler

Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt

Mele Kamikimaka – Bing Crosby

Silver Bells – Johnny Mathis

Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney

Sleigh Ride – John Williams and the Boston Pops

Christmas is now Drawing Near – Steve Winwood

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow – Dean Martin

Belluea Wood – Garth Brooks

Same old Lang Syne – Dan Folgeberg

I’ll be Home for Christmas – Michael Buble’

Winter Wonderland – Andy Williams

Christmastime is Here – Sarah McLachlan

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Nike: JUST DO IT! Terminate Agreement with Vick

Posted in Michael Vick with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2011 by chrisdurant2000

Below is a copy of a letter that I sent to Nike’s, Chairman, CEO, Committee on Corporate Responsibility and other relevant officers. I would encourage everyone reading this to write a similar letter or feel free to copy and paste mine. But please, let the leaders of Nike know that we will not sit idly by as they willfully abort their corporate values by restoring Michael Vick to sports hero status with their once great brand.
____________________________________________________________________________

To: Philip Knight, Chairman of the Board, NIKE Corporation
Mark Parker, CEO, NIKE Corporation
Charles Denson, President, NIKE Brand
Don Blair, VP and Chief Financial Officer
Gary M. DeStefano, President Global Operations
Maria S. Eitel, President NIKE Foundation
Elizabeth J. Comstock, Board Member
John G. Connors, Board Member
Timothy D. Cook, Board Member
Ralph D. Denuzio, Board Member
Alan B. Graf, Jr., Board Member
Orin C. Smith, Board Member
Bert Hoyt, VP Global Category Football
Tim Hersey, VP North America Retail
Elliott Hill, VP and GM North America
David Grasso, VP Global Brand Marketing

PAT ZEEDICK, VP and GM Young Athletics

Nike Corporate Responsibility Committee Members
Jill K. Conway
Douglas G. Houser
Johnathan A. Rodgers
John R. Thompson, Jr.
John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D.
Phyllis M. Wise

Other Nike Officers
Tom Peddie, VP North America Sales
Bernie Pliskie, VP and Corporate Controller
Ken Dice, VP North America Marketing
Eric Sprunk, VP Merchandising and Product
Nigel Powell, VP Global Communications
Brad Johnson, VP North America Merchandising
Trevor Edwards, VP Global Brand and Category Merchandising

____________________________________________________________________________

Dear Sir/ Madame –

I am writing to you today to express my deep concern over your company’s decision to re-sign Michael Vick as a corporate spokesman and ambassador of your brand.

I have been a lifelong Nike customer for the last 30+ years. During that time, I can honestly say that I have never owned another brand’s athletic shoe or apparel. That, however, has changed because of your poorly thought out corporate strategy to again align yourself with Michael Vick.

In 2007, when Nike released Michael Vick, your company stated that ‘cruelty to animals was “inhumane, abhorrent, and unacceptable.”‘ To which I must now ask ‘what has changed’? Michael Vick is still guilty of barbarous acts of sadistic cruelty, torture and murder against innocent dogs. The 18 of 23 months that he spent incarcerated for “Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fight Venture” does not erase that. Nor does it fulfill in the minds of thousands of animal lovers worldwide that he has truly reconciled what he did. His public appearances and statements about his involvement are scripted, flat, devoid of emotion and lacking in sincerity. Anyone who truly pays attention can see that.

With so many other untarnished, talented professional athletes to choose from, it is very sad that corporate greed would lead your once great company to historically re-sign a man who clearly has a strong degree of unchecked sociopathology. How do you change that and more importantly how does Nike justify it? How can this possibly fit within your corporate “Inside the Lines” policies?

Nike plays such a huge role in our children’s lives through youth sports. From little league to Pop Warner football, high school and collegiate athletics the world’s young people look up to and want to emulate the sports stars they see not only play their favorite games, but also endorsing and selling a company’s products.

Your decision to pull Michael Vick back into the Nike fold is a blatant slap in the face of anyone who has ever known the unconditional love of a dog. And it sends the message to parents all over the world that “if you want your child to emulate a sadistic animal abuser and murderer of innocent dogs, NIKE HAS YOUR GEAR!”

Until Nike reverses its stance on Michael Vick, I will cease to be one of your customers. Additionally I will, through my words and my voice, make sure that everyone I come in contact with – friends, family, co-workers, social acquaintances, and strangers alike that Nike has abandoned its corporate values in pursuit of unashamed, ill-gotten revenues through its relationship with this man who with forethought and malice, intentionally and with pleasure electrocuted, drowned, bludgeoned, hung and beat to death innocent dogs who didn’t perform well in his illegal activities.

I do not care for nor do I need a canned corporate response to this letter. I would much rather your once great organization do the right thing and terminate your relationship with Michael Vick.

Sincerely,

Chris Durant
Former Nike Customer
[email redacted]

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Even More Great Links and Resources:

1.) “Michael Vick Was WRONGLY CONVICTED!” Great facts and links to actual court documents
2.) “Through Her Eyes” – Virginia’s Tale
3.) Michael Vick Deserves a Pet… Rock
4.) Tell President Obama You Do Not Agree With Him Supporting Vick
5.) Vick’s Unpaid Dues – Why Advocates Are Not Moving On
6.) Position Paper On Vick’s Desire to Own Another Dog from the Director of Vick Dog Rehabilitation

Charles Manson Released – Working with FBI

Posted in Michael Vick with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2011 by chrisdurant2000

Breaking News – January 31, 2010

This morning, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Mueller, shocked the world with his announcement that after 39 years behind bars, Charles Manson had been released from prison and was the new spokesperson for the agency’s “End Murder” campaign.

“In the past, Charlie was responsible for some horrific acts. He knows all about murder, torture and barbarism. We could not have selected a better person to speak out and help to educate our youth on the evils of murder.” The FBI chief said.

The 76 year old Manson could not be reached for comment but was reported as being elated at his newly achieved freedom and second chance at life. Rumors of Manson adopting a child buzzed among the inmates of Corcoran State Prison in California.

Sound preposterous? Of course it does. However, a similar situation exist between admitted torturer, mutilator and murderer of dogs, Michael Vick and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Wayne Pacelle.

The HSUS stated mission is:

CELEBRATING ANIMALS / CONFRONTING CRUELTY

Now, while I can certainly understand Mr. Pacelle’s desire to combat animal cruelty on every front, I cannot understand nor can I accept his decision to use Michael Vick as a spokesperson speaking out against dog fighting. According to federal court documents Vick was personally involved not only in the dog fighting ring that was headquartered at his Virginia home, but also in the savage torture and murder of at least eleven (11) dogs – including two of his family’s “pets”. (For more information on Vick’s involvement, please see Michael Vick was WRONGLY CONVICTED! )

Many people are under the impression that Michael Vick has paid his debt to society and is fast becoming the poster child for second chances – including President Obama and HSUS CEO Pacelle. I, however, am not one of them.

Contrary to popular belief, Vick was never convicted of the atrocities he committed. Instead, he was allowed to plead guilty to one federal count of “Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fight Venture”, a victimless interstate commerce offense which is kinda like getting caught smuggling cigarettes and not quite in line with the 34 separate felony charges of animal abuse that could have been levied against him, according to court documents.

In addition to appearing with Vick at HSUS “End Dogfighting” events, Pacelle is on record as saying:

I do think that if his rehabilitation progresses and he handles the probation period flawlessly, it could be a good thing for Michael Vick’s family to have a pet at the end of that process.”

This is especially interesting because in the exact same blog article, Pacelle writes:

It’s now a well-established principle within our movement that those convicted of malicious cruelty should not be permitted to have pets, at least for a number of years after a cruelty conviction, and sometimes even for life. It’s a precautionary policy, grounded on the notion that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and that it’s just very hard to know if someone has been rehabilitated. Together as a society, we are responsible for placing animals in homes where they are loved, and where they are safe.

What could possibly cause the leader of an organization like the HSUS to utter such contradictory nonsense. His statement has created a bit of a firestorm among the group’s financial supporters, many of whom have discontinued their monetary gifts. Pacelle, however, has not been deterred. He has in essence, arrogantly fingered his nose at animal rights advocates and activists alike, people who once shared a common goal with Pacelle.

While only Pacelle truly understands his unwavering motivation for supporting Vick, his actions and his words are a direct contradiction to the organization’s stated mission. Pacelle is out of touch not only with his cause, but his supporters as well.

It is time for the Board of Directors of the HSUS to take a stand and remove Wayne Pacelle from their ranks. He is no longer an effective, nor trusted leader and must be removed in order for the HSUS to continue its work.

I urge you to take a moment and sign the petition demanding the HSUS Board take administrative action in unconditionally terminating Wayne Pacelle’s continued employment. I would also urge you to discontinue any financial contributions to the HSUS and instead suggest you support your local shelters.

Sign the Petition Here –Remove Wayne Pacelle from HSUS Leadership

Thank you for your time and your continued support.

Chris Durant

Even More Great Links and Resources:

1.) “Michael Vick Was WRONGLY CONVICTED!” Great facts and links to actual court documents
2.) “Through Her Eyes” – Virginia’s Tale
3.) Michael Vick Deserves a Pet… Rock
4.) Tell President Obama You Do Not Agree With Him Supporting Vick
5.) Vick’s Unpaid Dues – Why Advocates Are Not Moving On
6.) Position Paper On Vick’s Desire to Own Another Dog from the Director of Vick Dog Rehabilitation

Join Chris Durant on Facebook

Join the “NO WAY Subway” Movement on Facebook

Join the “Boycott Nike for Signing Michael Vick” Movement on Facebook

Michael Vick was Wrongly Convicted!

Posted in Michael Vick with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2011 by chrisdurant2000

Michael Vick was Wrongly Convicted!

Since this past Monday and more specifically for the majority of the Philadelphia Eagles sensational season, I have heard so many people touting Michael Vick. Oh yeah, “Michael Vick has really turned it around, “ etc.

And now, Barrack Obama, the President of the United States, the de facto leader of the Free World, thought it would be a good idea to chirp in and toss a little praise his way as well by taking the time to make a phone call (while on vacation in Hawaii) to the owner of the Eagles and commend him for giving Vick a 2nd chance.

REALLY!?!?

(Here’s your class act role model Mr. President)

I think anyone who thinks that Michael Vick has paid his debt and is a reformed individual needs to take a little walk down memory lane and remind themselves just what this so-called man was engaged in and willfully perpetrated.

Here are the facts:

* Michael Vick was a REGISTERED dog breeder.
* April 24, 2007: Michael Vick’s cousin, Davon Boddie, was arrested in Hampton, Va., on drug charges, leading police to obtain a warrant to search his home (owned by Vick) for other drugs and paraphernalia.
* April 25, 2007: While serving the search warrant, police discovered evidence of an alleged dogfighting operation, including rape stands, pry bars, treadmills modified for dog training, and a blood-stained carpet. Animal-control officers also removed 66 dogs from the property, 55 of which were pit bulls.
* Vick and his co-defendants began the dogfighting operation in early 2001.
* Fights staged on the Surry County premises had purses of as much as $20,000 or more at times.
* The formation of Bad Newz Kennels and testing of the dogs began in early 2002. According to the indictment, one of the dogs did not fight well and was shot to death with a .22 caliber pistol.
* In March 2003, after a pit bull from Bad Newz Kennels lost in a fight, it was executed by wetting it with water and electrocuting it.
* In April 2007, approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in testing were killed by “hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.”

Here is what Virginia law provides in terms of sentencing for animal cruelty related crimes:


In Virginia, a first offense that does not result in the death of an animal is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of twelve months or less and a fine of up to $2500 or both. A person committing a second offense, or if the animal dies as a result of the first offense, is guilty of a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison or, in the alternative, a prison sentence of less than a year or a maximum fine of $2500 or both. In addition, the owner of a dog or cat injured or killed as a result of cruelty is entitled to a damage award for the value of the animal or the damage done.

Just so we’re clear, Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months and served 18. Hmm. Now, I am no math wizard, but that seems quite short of the potential maximum. Oh, and he did have to pay a $5,000 fine and another $100 in administration fees.

Why, you ask? Because Michael Vick was not convicted according the Virginia Animal Cruelty laws. Instead he was indicted in Federal Court and pled guilty to one (1), I repeat, one count of “Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fight Venture”. An offense that carries a two to five year sentence. I am going to say this again because it’s important: ‘Vick was sentenced to 23 months and served 18 months’. Again, not quite two years and certainly short of the five year maximum sentence. But again, this is only for one count or offense. So no Mr. President, Michael Vick has NOT paid his debt to society. But, then again, your Secretary of the Treasury is an admitted tax evader. It must be nice to view right and wrong from your perspective.

One count. This is unbelievable. Between 2001 and 2007 Michael Vick sponsored dogs in eleven fights. Additionally, he traveled to four states to purchase eleven dogs. Again, could this not be construed as 22 counts? Even with Vick’s meager sentencing this would have equated to 396 months or 33 YEARS!! And even at an absolute minimum, why was he not charged with four counts of the incredibly weak “Conspiracy…”?

But better yet, if he had been truly tried according to Virginia’s Animal Cruelty Laws he could have been tried for twenty dog fights and nine executions. SIXTY FIVE YEARS! Instead, he was again allowed to plead out (while serving out his Federal sentence) to ONE count of dog fighting (the single Animal Cruelty charge was dropped as a part of the plea agreement) and received a three year suspended sentence for time served on the Federal charges. The prosecutor (Virginia’s Surry County Commonwealth Attorney General – Gerald G. Poindexter) didn’t feel that the costs associated with transporting Vick to Virginia from Leavenworth penitentiary in Kansas was worth it. There was also another $2,500 fine which was suspended as well. Nice job, Poindexter. I am sure the good people of Surry County think you’re a real legal eagle, huh?

Some more of Chris’ great math – If Surry County had actually tried Vick they could have charged him with those 29 offenses and reaped $72,500 in fines. Another area I am not an expert in, is travel logistics, but I cannot imagine it would come any where near $72,500 to transport Vick the 1,160 miles (I Google Mapped it) – I mean, that’s $62.50 a mile!? They could have fueled an Abrams M1 armored tank (probably one of the world’s worst gas efficient vehicles) for the entire trip for a mere $3,420.

Another side note: Five of the surviving dogs rescued from Vick’s compound had to be put down. He was not held accountable for those either. But, according to Virginia law, he absolutely should have been. That would have brought the potential charge count up to 34 and another $12,500 for Mr. Poindexter’s ridiculous transportation fund.

Many of you may think I am taking the far extreme position, and I am. Let me point out a few things that should sicken even the hardest of you that may be reading this. First, as if dog fighting isn’t vicious enough, the animals that did not meet Vick and Co. standards or lost their fights were executed. Now I do not mean that they were euthanized by a simple and clean (or slightly humane) method. No, these dogs were sadistically tortured and killed (at times by Vick’s own hands) using methods that required even a slight degree of premeditation and a strong degree of sociopathology – malice and forethought: HANGING, DROWNING, ELECTROCUTING, BLUDGEONED WITH A SHOVEL, SLAMMING THEM TO THE GROUND, et al. That kind of emotional detachment is truly frightening. If Vick and the others associated with Bad NewZ Kennels had done to humans what they did to these dogs, they would be mentioned in the same breath with Dahmer, Gacey, Manson, BTK and other notorious serial killers.

Vick is reported as having experienced an adrenaline rush and euphoric like high from his participation in this savagery.

Innocent Victim

Here’s a little tidbit for you:

“The FBI considers animal cruelty a predictor for violence and continued violent behavior… and is a considered factor when profiling serial killers.”

Nice, huh?

And if you can still overlook the glaring brutality committed by and on behalf of this man, then you seriously need to get your football shaped head out of your ass and consider the situation without Vick. Vick is just a man, he is not a football god, and he is not the savior of the Philadelphia Eagles, the NFL or the sport as a whole. There are hundreds of quarterbacks between the current NFL rosters and those in the many colleges and universities around our country. Most may not have the talent level of Vick, but fortunately (to the best of our knowledge) they don’t have the violent pathology either.

As ridiculous as this is, even the Humane Society of the United States is jumping on the Vick bandwagon and is considering sponsoring Michael Vick to adopt a puppy. Vick is reported as saying it would:

“…be a big step in the rehabilitation process. I think just to have a pet in my household and to show people that I genuinely care, and my love and my passion for animals; I think it would be outstanding. If I ever have the opportunity again I will never take it for granted,” Vick told NBC, “I miss having a dog right now. I wish I could.”

There should be a massive public outcry calling for the immediate and unconditional resignation or simple termination of HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle. This is an outrage. I seriously hope that anyone who previously gave or is thinking about giving to the HSUS will better spend their money supporting the law enforcing ASPCA or even better their local shelter.

“Junkies want drugs and pedophiles want children.” It doesn’t mean we give them to them. Vick is no different. Vick’s sentencing prohibited him from owning a dog until 2012. This man should never be allowed to own a dog. Let him explain to his girls what daddy did and why they cannot have that cute little puppy and live with the full weight of his actions.

For whatever reason [read: greed] Vick has been afforded a great opportunity for a second chance at his life. But if he were just a regular Joe convicted of these or even far lesser offenses the President would not be so quick to applaud his second chance.
It is truly a shame that our current legal system does not provide stricter punishment for offenses like this. We tend to “rehabilitate” through lenient sentencing, counseling and half-hearted community service.

Here is a final parting image for you: (From The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant, senior editor of Sports Illustrated)

“As that dog lay on the ground, fighting for air, Quanis Phillips grabbed its front legs and Michael Vick grabbed its back legs. They swung the dog over their head like a jump rope then slammed it to the ground. The first impact didn’t kill it. So, Phillips and Vick slammed it again. The two men kept at it, alternating back and forth, pounding the creature against the ground until, at last, the little red dog was dead.”

Michael Vick, you and your fans (including the POTUS, Surry County Commonwealth Attorney General – Gerald Poindexter, Eagles Owner – Jeffrey Lurie, and HSUS CEO – Wayne Pacelle) make me sick.

Most Sincerely,

Chris Durant

SOURCE DOCUMENTS (Court Docs):
1. Department of Agriculture Investigative Interview
2. Vick Federal Indictment
3. Vick Federal Case Statement of the Facts
4. Vick Federal Plea Agreement
5. Vick Federal Probation
6. Vick Federal Sentencing (slow loading and hard to read)
7. Vick Motion to Enter Plea (in VA) via Video Conference
8. Vick Virginia Plea Agreement

*** please feel free to link to this post or copy it’s contents to your page. ***

 

THANKS FOR READING.

Other Great Stories about Vick’s Dogs –

PETITION: To Remove Wayne Pacelle as CEO of HSUS
“Through Her Eyes” – Virginia’s tale
Michael Vick Deserves a Pet… A “Pet Rock” Join the movement to send HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle Pet Rocks for Michael Vick to adopt.
Position on Vick from Former Director of Vick Dog Rehabilitation
Tell President Obama You Don’t Agree with him Supporting Vick
Vick’s Unpaid Dues – Why Dog Advocates aren’t moving on
Critter Comments
People for the Ethical Treatment of Pit Bulls

Join Chris Durant on Facebook

Join the “NO WAY Subway” Movement on Facebook

Join the “Boycott Nike for Signing Michael Vick” Movement on Facebook

“WIRED” is now Making its way through the Festival Circuit

Posted in Screenwriting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2009 by chrisdurant2000

 

 

Albert Einstein once said:  “Reality is merely an illusion…”  Georgetown student, Benjamin Roberts is now living two realities.

After purchasing an obscure book on Philosophy and Human Paradoxes, Ben finds himself immersed in a vivid nightmare that leaves him questioning his own existence and everything around him.  His only confidante becomes a psychiatrist who seems to share his fascination with the unanswerable theory.

Ben’s journey is a psychological thrill ride that takes you through the darkest depths of the brain and the epicenters of U.S. medical and military power where conspiracy theories are born and more often buried. 

Is it all just a very bad dream, or is something more sinister?

Chris Durant’s new screenplay “WIRED” brings the philosophical mysticism of the Matrix to the real world.

Submitted to several festivals, Durant is currently looking for agency representation for this and his other works.

Agencies may request a full copy of “WIRED” by emailing cdurant2000@gmail.com.

Atlanta’s “Cold Cases” get TV Treatment

Posted in Atlanta Investigations:HD with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2008 by chrisdurant2000

Chris Durant, Angelina Cortez, Hattie Lemon on the set of AIHD

This article was originally printed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and on AccessAtlanta.com.

CRIME/TELEVISION

Atlanta’s ‘cold cases’ get TV treatment
New cable series based on true crimes filming in Roswell


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/20/2008  

The idea is to take crimes from the streets and put a fictional spin on them to produce an Atlanta cop drama that will alter the image of this city the way the HBO series “The Wire” has reimagined Baltimore.

But there are problems on the set of “Atlanta Investigations: HD,” a shoestring production that, at this moment, is shooting an episode in an abandoned gym without air-conditioning on a boiling June afternoon that makes everyone on the set feel like something in the oven for dinner.

PHIL SKINNER / AJC
Actress Angelina Cortez gets ready for shooting scenes of ‘Atlanta Investigations: HD’, a new TV series based on real Atlanta homicide investigations.
 

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The generator powering the lights just ran out of gas. Carl Millender, the show’s creator and video camera operator, groans. “I only brought enough gas to run it [the generator] two and a half hours,” he tells the actors.

He pauses, thinks a second.

“Everybody move over by the window — we’ll shoot it there.”

If there’s an instinct vital to survival in the industry of TV on the cheap it’s knowing how to adapt. Millender, 38, the owner of Alpharetta-based StarMaxx Media, has honed that instinct in nine years of trying to survive on the margins of television production in Atlanta.

“They say we’re supposed to shoot an episode on a budget of $100,000,” he says of the show, which will begin airing on The Dish satellite network Thursday. “We’re more like $20,000.”

There’s no disguising the cut corners from viewers used to watching slick cop productions such as “CSI” or “Law & Order,” which carries an average per episode production budget of $4 million.

In early episodes of “Atlanta Investigations: HD,” the lighting, camera work and sound are patchy. And for actors — who are unpaid until the series airs — the work has been a test of mettle.

“We’ve been at both extremes shooting in this gym,” says Chris Durant, 34, who plays strictly-by-the-books Detective Stephen Winslow. “In January we were freezing. The beginning of June we’re sweating our tails off.”

Yet, says Millender, “Atlanta Investigations: HD” (the HD stands for homcide division) is about more than just making a hit show.

About 90 shows and series have been shot in Atlanta in the last 35 years, most recently Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne,” but “Atlanta Investigtions: HD” would be the first dramatic series set and shot in the city with Atlanta in the name.

And that’s huge, Millender says.

“Atlanta is the Mecca of the South, and the center of the music industry, but there’s no TV show ever been based here, and there’s no TV industry here. This is what we’re trying to do. And we’ve been getting a lot of help.”

And they’ve needed it. Millender and co-creator and director Hattie Lemon know their way around the TV business. And they’re doing what they can to juice the show’s appeal, such as casting celebrity guest appearances (comic Arnez J) and hiring Michael Moore — who produced music for episodes of “The Sopranos” — to write the show’s high-energy theme.

But, when it came to running even a fictional homicide division, Millender and Lemon were complete tyros.

They asked for help in a most unexpected place: The Andrew Young Foundation. Millender got in touch with former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s brother, Walter, an Atlanta dentist who works with the Foundation, and told him he was trying to produce a cop show in Atlanta that would help solve crimes and give the city a lot of publicity.

Within two days Walter Young arranged a meeting with local police chiefs. Over dinner at the Four Seasons restaurant, Millender bounced his ideas off Atlanta Police Chief Richard J. Pennington, DeKalb Chief Terrell Bolton and former Atlanta chief and current Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell.

Bolton, for one, told the producer Millender he should change the name of the show, which was originally titled “Atlanta Homicide,” recalls Millender. “He said that wasn’t the right image for the city.”

With Pennington’s blessing, Millender met with the head of the Atlanta Police Department’s homicide division, Lt. Keith Meadows, who watched one of the early episodes and offered advice.

“I thought it was pretty good, though you could tell it was low budget,” said Meadows, who teaches a crime scene class in the department’s Citizens Academy. “But they had a lot of unrealistic parts I told them they needed to fix.”

Meadows told Millender and Lemon, who attended this crime scene class, to clean up the language — “Homicide detectives don’t talk in the kind of slang they did” — and put coats and ties on the crime scene detectives.

“Their investigators were wearing T-shirts and bandannas,” Meadow said. “That’s a no-no. If an investigator of mine showed up like that I’d send him home.”

The show now has a full-time cop consultant and, for script ideas, a pipeline to Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s “Rewards Office,” which offers money to help solve hard-to-crack crimes.

At the end of each episode, which are fictionalized versions of the real-life crimes, viewers are asked to come forward if they have evidence in the case.

“It’s a great show, good for the police and good for the city,” says Billy Johnson, a specialist in charge of extradition and rewards in the governor’s office who is also on the board of the Georgia Film, Video and Music Office.

The show is fictionalizing: gang-related drive-by shootings in Clayton County in 2005; a 2007 triple murder in Powder Springs; the case of a woman missing from LaFayette since 2007; and the case of a newborn found dead and abandoned in 2007.

All that will come to naught if the show doesn’t catch on with viewers, concedes Arthur Thomas Sr., VP of Colours TV, which is syndicating the show on The Dish satellite network. Locally, the show will air the evening of July 3 on The Dish at Channel 9407.

But the show’s appeal may be its lack of polish.

“It’s got a great cast, real stories, and a kind of gritty indie feel to it,” says Thomas. “If it’s a good story, people will accept the production values. And I think Atlanta is hungry for a show about Atlanta.”

Character Bio – Detective Stephen “Step” Winslow

Posted in Atlanta Investigations:HD, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2008 by chrisdurant2000

ATLANTA INVESTIGATIONS:HD – Star Maxx Media

  
 

 

Character Bio: Detective Stephen “STEP” Winslow    

    

Name: Stephen “Step” Winslow

Age:     34

Height:   6’1”       Weight:  180lbs     Build:  Athletic

Hair:     Brown     Eyes:  Hazel

Marital Status:   Single

Religion:  Baptist

Father:   John Winslow, VP with local bank

Mother:  Carol Winslow, Retired Elementary School Teacher

Brother:  Wade Winslow, Major, United States Marine Corps, Pentagon

Education:

            High School:   Pace Academy, Atlanta, Georgia

            College:           United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD

 

Military:   United States Marine Corps, Captain, Force Recon, Bronze Star, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM

Atlanta Police Department:

·         Academy – Top of his class – 6 months

·         Patrol, Zone 2 – 18 months

·         Training Group – 24 months

·         SWAT – 36 months

·         Homicide – 6 months – current

 

Background:

Stephen “STEP” Winslow grew up in an affluent, upper middle class family in the Buckhead suburbs of Atlanta.   The youngest of two sons, Step looked up to and seemed to idolize his older brother, Wade.  The boys learned their values in a firm, yet loving household.  John (a VP with a local bank) and Carol (retired school teacher) provided excellent role models for the two boys.

 

Step attended and graduated from the prestigious Pace Academy in the heart of Buckhead.  And then followed in his brother’s footsteps and was accepted into the United States Naval Academy.  After graduating from Annapolis, Step received his commission in the United States Marine Corps.  He continued to follow Wade’s lead and joined Force Reconnaissance and served five (5) years in the Corps including a deployment to Afghanistan.

 

After being Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps, Step returned to Atlanta and against the wishes of his parents joined the Atlanta Police Department.  Top in his academy class, Step went on to work patrol in Zone 2 for 18 months before moving into the training group where he served as a Firearms Instructor specializing in Tactical Pistol, Shotgun and Patrol rifle, Basic Weapons Handling as well as Taser and “Force on Force” training for officers and SWAT.  Still longing for the action of the Marine Corps, Step joined SWAT and served on the team for three (3) years before passing his detective’s exam and moving into his current role in Atlanta’s Homicide Division.

 

As the newest addition to the division, many of the other detectives are still feeling Step out.  A private person who seems to keep to himself off the job, Winslow is seen as a bit of a loner and is often thought of as arrogant because of his no-nonsense demeanor; a stereotype which has been further solidified by his refusal to take lip from ANYONE including his superiors who seem to look the other way at times.

 

His morals are beyond reproach and he is a “strictly by the book” officer/investigator.