The best email I sent in 2012

I spent the first half of 2012 looking for a job, a period of time its marked bleakness. I sent a lot of emails, spent a lot of time getting my LinkedIn profile to 100% and generally hating the notion of working anywhere I applied.

(I also went to a pyramid scheme).

It’s that desperation that makes you excited for any callback. One such prospect was a company that sold astro turf. Position: marketing manager or social media person, I can’t remember. I applied, met the minimums and was then sent an assignment.

I’m usually wary about jobs that make you do work outside of your resume and interview, but something about the ‘think outside the box’ aggravated my sensible brain thingies and I got weird with it.

First, here’s the prompt:

Please provide a mock plan for launching a new product here locally in San Diego to homeowners & then nationally to the landscape contractor/landscape architect/playground manufacturer trades– It’s a new fiber (Read more about it here

1. press release
2. advertisements in xxx publications w/ xxx theme

Please include your thought process is for the launch items you choose. Feel free to think outside the box and present an unusual marketing plan, remember this is a position where creativity and entrepreneurial thinking are supported and expected. J

What follows is my campaign for ‘TURF WARS’.

The first term to come to mind is “Turf Wars” – a play on rivals seen in stereotypical gangster movies/TV (The Godfather, The Wire). I think the key here is to recognize that turf is an innocuous product, and by instilling that sort of aggression (of a gangster) shows that we’re self-aware, which comes off as light-hearted, funny and easy for the public to enjoy.

“Turf Wars” is also poignant in that it closes the aesthetic gap between real grass and turf. Besides the obvious advantages of turf – low maintenance, reduces water usage – the biggest drawback has been that it looks like turf. Not anymore. “Turf Wars” acknowledges that competitive edge of the new fiber.

Since campaign is based on the perception of appearances, we create a character– a gangster look-alike who moves in and unsettles the next-door neighbors with his sly behavior. Playing off the nosey-neighbor/”keeping up with the Joneses” dynamic, these neighbors see his nice car, GQ fashion and jump the conclusion that he’s a shady character. The press release and ads (placed in Lawn & Landscape, Turf, A Garden Life, etc.) would feature glossy, stylized photos of the two contrasting houses (gangster’s, turf; neighbor’s grass) and the text over Gangster’s side of the photo: “He’s not a gangster. That’s not real grass. But you don’t know that. Turf Wars.” The neighbors in the picture huddle together, unsure.

We unleash “Turf Wars” via social media by staging a facebook contest. Entrants who provide the most compelling case as to why their lawn is the worst will get free turf covering. These cases will be made by entrants posting the pictures and descriptions on the facebook page, where they will encourage their friends to “like” their entries. This will raise the spirit of competition (the “war” of the contest), encourage creativity and bring new awareness of EasyTurf from those “liking” the facebook page.

We could also build the character of the Gangster with viral videos that play into the misconception farce. For instance, the neighbor does not keep his lawn in good shape, and gangster comes by threatening to “whack” something, which plays of the hitman/gangster term for a kill. We find out that Gangster means he’s going to weed whack the yard.

When presenting the turf at outdoor events, we could facilitate patches of turf where people could rest. EasyTurf representatives would be well-dressed in suits, dresses and dark glasses and could provide umbrella-shade, water, or just overall doting that a Don or Godfather would receive. Or perhaps, this would be a privilege reserved for those who are fans of EasyTurf on facebook—which would tie the virtual campaign to a real-life scenario.


80s Movie Rap Revival: End-credit songs that retold the plot

Remember when movies had songs that retold the plot of the movie? A lot of these songs were hip-hop (I think because of the emerging genre’s straight-forward delivery and its ability to retell a narrative without stylizing vocals… but that’s just a guess).

Example: Pretty sure every kid remembers Partners in Kryme’s “Turtle Power” from the first TMNT movie: 

Anyway, four or five years ago, me and my friends Ryen Schlegel and John Schwarz thought it’d be a cool idea to form a band solely devoted to giving 80s songs the end-credit songs they deserved. The project was called 80s Movie Rap Revival and we began with The Three Amigos.

Turns out telling a movie in rap form is really hard. We spent an entire night writing what is essentially the first paragraph of the Three Amigo’s “Plot” section of wiki.

But I went back through thousands of emails and dug up the recording. That’s Schlegel and Schwarz on vocals. Lyrics below. (Still really proud of the telegram jokes)

We are the Three Amigos

We are the Three Aaamigos

We are the Three AAAaaaaaaa…



– Goldstein Records, baby!

Mexico 1916. Check out the scene – this is where were at. Esta that and esta this. Mexico’s hot, so you better not diss.


He’s talking about Carmen.


He’s talking about Carmen!

 Carmen, yo where she from?

Santa Poco, representin’ po folk on the low-low. El Guapo’s getting loco.


 Cantina del barachos (huai!). Looking for muchachos (aye!), to help us fight El Guapo.


I’ll help you darling.


If you help me first.

 So she’s out, SCRAM, out the door. But she’s gotta have faith… [just give us some more] [scampering sounds]


What’s that from the church?


It’s a silent movie playing. Up on the screen we got three boys now—fighting and riding, pushing, singing and shooting.

They’re loving and dancing, talking, saving the children.

Yo boys! You’ll die like dog[ums]!

 Nah, son. We’ll fight like lions.

Uno, dos. Uno dos tres, Three Amigos all up in your face! [Like that.]

Amigos: Lucky and Dusty.

Amigos: Little Nederlander.

Amigos: They’re phony boloney. They’re out of a job and they’re looking for money.

Amigos: They’re fighting for cash.

Amigos: Lucky chasing that ass.

Amigos: Count em—one for the justice. Two to rock a rhyme. Three to get ready and fight some crime.

Jump to Hollywood, Californ-I-A. Phonies all around, that’s what I say. Back in the time when there were to talkies and the studios were run by a bunch of honkies. [um sir]

Yo boys, you’re great. Your act doesn’t blow.

 Well, that’s fine to hear, but no dough, no show.

I’m Harry Flugleman and that ain’t no mystery. You can’t boss me around. The Amigos are history.

 Damn Dusty, we’re out of luck. We’re stuck in the muck. Like I give a fu—


100,000 pesos [stop.] Come to Santa Poco [stop.] Put on a show [stop.] For the infamous El Guapo [stop.]

Hm. “Infamous,” what’s that mean? [stop stop stop] Nah, I’m asking you, what’s that mean? [stop stop stop]

[Stop st sto st stop stop!]

Yo, shut up with that stopping shit and tell me what the fuck infamous means.


My little buttercup, has the sweetest smile…

Baby Lucas: a 1 year-old point of view

What does a baby see? Knee caps, people picking you up, and a lot of falling down.

Lucas is my nephew and he’s just learned to walk. It’s that really adorable (and I’m sure frightening, for his parents) stage where his legs work independently from the rest of his body: once he gets going, the only thing that stops him are walls and loving embrace.

GoPro footage edited with iMovie, a program I haven’t used in about 10 years. (Also, if they haven’t planned for a sequence like this in a future Paranormal Activity movie, they should).

Ryen Schlegel: one year of drunk messages in 10 minutes

Ryen Schlegel has talent for leaving messages. There are times when I wake in the middle of the night to see he’s calling and not answer, hoping that he leaves something good to listen to in the morning.

 It’s his birthday this week, so I’ve edited the last year’s-worth of these messages into a highlights reel. (And to be fair, he’s not drunk in all of these… probably)

To the man who constantly restores my faith in beards and my closest friend for 15 years (!): happy birthday.

Corpse Paint

Peter Holslin, Music Editor for the San Diego Citybeat, wrote an article about corpse paint. For part of the story, he wore the make-up and walked around Horton Plaza and Fashion Valley malls, just to get reactions.

I came along and took pictures. Here are some of the extras that didn’t get published (I also included a mini-doc that I shot/edited – just make sure the sound’s turned down at the beginning).

Black Candies – a horror lit journal

As October looms closer, I want there to be a place where respectable artists are not afraid to indulge in their most shameless love of genre. I want it to be a place where writers scare themselves with the risks they take and the dark things they uncover within themselves. I want it to be literary and smart. Or, if that sounds pretentious, think of it like a Cronenberg film.

Black Candies is that place. I’m looking for a couple more stories to round out an already-exciting roster of talent. These would be short fiction stories or essays. Preferably 1000-5000 words. Visual artists are also encouraged to submit!

The (very) loose theme for this issue is “The Post Apocalypse”

If you are interested, let me know soon. I wanna have enough time to make it look good. And by that, I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from Dane Cardiel’s lit mag Manor House Quarterly. Please take a look at that sample and just relish how wonderful it looks. Now: think how it could apply to a bleak, post-apocalyptic art/lit journal filled with horror.

Please send all stories/art to and thanks in advance. I think it will be fun.

Post Apocalypse!

UPDATE: Black Candies Fall 2012 is available to order here.

blackcandies-coverUPDATE 2: 2013’s “See Through” issue is available here. 


That one time I was on 20/20

I was on 20/20, talking about the mail.

It was a pretty sudden/random thing to happen. The night before, I got an email from a producer at ABC and after we talked for a bit, he told me that he was going to send a cameraman over to my house the next morning at 6:30 am (the piece was airing that night).

The interview process was a little strange: the cameraman set up to make it look like I was talking to someone. Really, the ABC producer (based out of NY) was talking to me on a speaker phone, while I gave my answers to my light switch (my point of focus).

Despite my experience in front of a camera, I found the whole thing pretty nerve-wracking and I caught myself talking in cluster bursts of words–an annoying trait I take on whenever I get nervous. My vocabulary becomes similar to a pull-string engine that’s almost getting started. After the cameraman left, I was sure none of the footage I gave them would be usable.

Honestly, 20/20 is one of those cultural staples that I ultimately know nothing about–kind of like 60 Minutes or Dateline. As I sat down to watch the show, I had no idea how inflammatory/sensational it is (has it always been this way?). I had this short, intense fear that they were going to edit me to look like this Simpsons clip, or make me look like a crazy postal worker. I think I said so many contradictory things during that interview that they could’ve easily done that.

But they were kind with their editing… I mean, to the extent that any sort of self-conscious person can stand to watch or listen to themselves.

Take a look at it here!

The Nicest Rejection Letter

Dear Ryan and Jay,

Thank you so much for your patience and for letting us read your proposal for Clydestown Society of Mystery and Intrigue. We were knocked senseless by the intricate design, and there was even closer attention paid to your wonderfully lyrical prose. The overall idea of your project is highly ambitious, and it’s seems like the type of staggering creativity that the humdrum literary world could seriously use. But as we saw it, your project doesn’t seem to be a perfect fit for what (           ) is currently looking for. We’ve just published a memoir, so we’re currently on the search for literary, language-focused fiction. But with your eyes for poignant language and awe-inspiring design skills, we’re confident this novel will find its audience with another publisher.

We hope you continue to work on this project, as it has both energy and drive. Thanks again for submitting and bringing our attention to your intriguing work. It was truly a pleasure to visit such an innovative, starkly different universe.

Best wishes,

Honestly, this is really classy. I wish more publishing houses and agents had the decency to write thoughtful rejections. And it was a hard sell, especially when your story is a cross-platform, year-long narrative delivered on library cards, cassette tapes and through email and DVDS (among other mediums).

That said, does anyone want to publish an experimental narrative?

SD Reader Cover

We did it! I would like to take this opportunity to thank the USPS, for making this opportunity possible.

Also, a very nice blurb about the story in this morning’s edition of Voice of San Diego:

Walking the Mail Beat

San Diego Reader cover stories can be a major drag to read, but this week’s is an unusual treat: it’s a snappily written and engaging first-person tale by a young man who got a job as a temporary mail carrier.

The writer talks about, among other things, an hour-long video about dog “language” (I’d like to get the Berlitz version), the perennial threat posed by snarly Post Office supervisors (wait, all bosses aren’t delightful dreamboats?), and the rash of carriers who call in sick on rainy days (and the bounty they miss around Christmas).

Read the story here!