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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Heartbroken and Real World Star Joey Kovar's Death

joey kovar dead heartbroken
A native of Evergreen Park who appeared in "Real World: Hollywood" and "Celebrity Rehab 3" -- was found dead this morning in south suburban Chicago Ridge, according to family and police.

Chicago Ridge police and paramedics were called to an apartment building in the 9800 block of South Sayre Avenue shortly before 9 a.m. and found the 29-year-old Kovar dead, authorities said.
Fans, friends and close family members are reeling from the news of Joey Kovar's untimely death Friday (August 17), possibly caused by a drug overdose. The news of the 29-year-old "Real World: Hollywood" castmember and aspiring actor's passing has left many saddened and in shock.

"RIP Joey Kovar my heart breaks," tweeted Kovar's "Celebrity Rehab" castmate Mackenzie Phillips. "My love and prayers go out to your family."

"Road Rules" and "Challenge" veteran Mark Long also tweeted his sadness over learning the news.

"RIP Joey Kovar #sad," he wrote.

"Sad news about Joey Kovar," added Katie Doyle, a fellow "Road Rules" and "Challenge" alum. "Never do drugs. #RIP"

Bunim-Murray Productions, the production company behind "Real World," "Road Rules" and "The Challenge," offered their sincere condolences over the loss of their friend.

"Joey was a gentle and big hearted guy and his real world family will miss him. Our sympathies go out to his family and friends," the company said via their Twitter account. "Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of Joey Kovar. RIP dear friend."

"Real World: Cancun" and "Challenge: Fresh Meat" castmember CJ Koegel also expressed his sadness about Kovar's death via Twitter and included a link to a photo of Kovar on Instagram that has the words "We lost a member of our family but he will never be forgotten" written underneath it. The photo was re-tweeted by "Real World: New Orleans" castmember Ryan Knight.

"RIP Joey way too young," he wrote.

Kovar's fans have also expressed their condolences and sympathies for the addiction Kovar suffered with publicly.

"Reading this article has left me completely heartbroken," wrote MTV reader MelindaLauren05. "I watched Joey on the Real World and Celebrity Rehab and I rooted for him to find sobriety the whole time. I can't imagine what the family is going through but I do know what it is like to struggle with addiction. I feel lucky to have overcome mine, but it still is always a shock to find out someone struggling has lost their struggle to the disease. My deepest sympathies to his family in this time of need."

"Joey was so inspirational to me," added reader DamianW. "He was so honest, caring, and motivated. One of my favorite cast members. You were and are a great dude. mad love, homey."
"Real World: Hollywood" star Joey Kovar was found dead on Friday (August 17) in his native Chicago. The reality star and aspiring actor was 29.

According to TMZ, he was found at his friend's house and it's believed his death is linked to drugs. A rep for Kovar tells the site that he was discovered by a female friend who called 911 after she saw him bleeding. Authorities arrived at the scene, where he was pronounced dead.

Kovar famously battled his addictions while on the "Real World," even leaving the show midway through the season in 2008 to enter rehab. He ultimately returned, but left again for fear that he might relapse. On the reunion special, Kovar shared that he had been sober for a year. However, he continued to battle demons, later appearing on the VH1 reality show "Celeb Rehab" in 2009 after he relapsed and began using cocaine and ecstasy again.

He sat down with MTV's Remote Control blog during his time on the "Real World" and he opened up about his struggles and his decision to move back into the house.

"You know, I guess in a way, I did feel a little bit betrayed — by some more than others," he said at the time. "It was my understanding that things would change around the house in order to help keep me on the road to recovery but, unfortunately, the very first night back from rehab, every roommate but Will and Sarah went out and got messed up. To me, that was a little messed up.

"But I am all about being positive nowadays, and I do not and will not hold a grudge on anyone for anything. At one time, I was a very negative person and held a lot of grudges — most of my life was one letdown after another. Now I'm in a very different place. The more positive I am and the more I give back, the better quality my life is and has been."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Me, Julia Child and Cooking

julia child and me
Julia Child at her home in Santa Barbara. After ten minutes of ringing the front doorbell, I timidly ventured round to the backyard to find her seated on a patio vibrant with plantings and comfy outdoor furniture. She greeted me with a hand wave and smile, gesturing that I should join her.

I came bearing gifts: an apron I'd sewn especially for Ms. Child and a bottle of champagne. Ms. Child unwrapped the apron -- all ruffles and at least 10 sizes too small -- held it up and in her distinctive voice said, "Oh, dearie, dainty doesn't do in the kitchen." Then she sweetly handed it back to me. I quickly produced hostess gift #2. Sliding the bottle from its bag, she rewarded this present with a nod and murmured notation that this gift she would not be returning.

Seated across from one another at a small, cloth-covered table, we talked while she ate a simple lunch of an unadorned hamburger patty and sipped a pint carton of milk through a little straw. We conversed about my apron journey, the storytellers whose apron memories I'd collected and her personal apron story. In case my tape recorder failed to capture every syllable of her priceless recollection, I took down her words on a little notepad, utilizing a sort of frantic shorthand I hoped to God would later be decipherable.

Ms. Child told me that she hadn't had much experience in the kitchen and hadn't even worn an apron until she met her husband. Newly married in 1949, they moved to France, where she tasted French food and knew right then she wanted to learn about French cooking. Following the tradition of the Cordon Bleu cooking school, she began wearing the chef-type blue denim apron with a towel draped over the waist ties. "When Paul and I cooked together, he wore the same type apron, only folding the bib at the waist and hanging a towel from the apron pocket," she told me.

As soon as she began talking about her husband, sadness misted her face, and I was no longer sitting across from an icon. I was in the presence of a woman who'd lost the love of her life. "Paul and I always had breakfast and most of our meals with one another. After his retirement, we often ate at home in our kitchen. Upon his death in 1994, Paul and I had eaten together for almost fifty years." Fifty years.

Perhaps it was her sigh, or the controlled tidying of her cutlery, but in that instant she was my mother, also widowed and emotionally adrift without her prince charming. And just as quickly, my nervousness left me and for the next hour, we conversed easily, like old friends.

With Ms. Child in the lead on a shiny blue walker with handle bars, hand brakes and a basket, we walked single file from the back patio through the house. Graciousness personified, she acquiesced to my request for a photo of her in the doorway of the kitchen -- a miniature replica of the kitchen in the home she and her husband had lived in that is now housed in the Smithsonian. Tying on her apron, she perched on a stool and noted the wall-mounted microwave as more an annoyance than convenience. Kitchen chitchat with Julia Child. I was in heaven.

The digital recording of that interview has been in a fireproof box for a decade, so fearful am I of erasing it. I was elbow deep in poultry, sweating, anxious, peering at the dense page of instructions in the book laid out before me. It was the first duck I'd ever tried to bone, and I was stuck. I might have remained there indefinitely, fingers frozen and numb deep in the carcass, were it not for reading what came next. "By the time you have completed half of this, the carcass frame, dangling legs, wings, and skin will appear to be an unrecognizable mass of confusion and you will wonder how in the world any sense can be made of it all. But just continue cutting against the bone, and not slitting any skin, and all will come out as it should."

Those were, of course, the reassuring words of the master, Julia Child, contained in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" — for my money the greatest self-help book ever written, and not just for its approach to preparing food.

Julia, who would have turned 100 on Wednesday, was one of a handful of people who, starting in the early 1960s, radically changed the way America eats and cooks. We have her to thank (or to blame) for the Food Network and "Top Chef," as well as for the fact that every person who graduates from culinary school now harbors the secret conviction that she will wind up a celebrity chef.

And she also helped create a culture that takes eating seriously, that sees food as not just fuel but as craft and, sometimes, art. The fact that neither "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" nor"The French Chef"have shown up on "Mad Men" suggests that Matthew Weiner might not be the infallible master of period detail we all think he is.

Julia was her own brand of feminist, one who saw the kitchen not as a symbol of drudgery and female oppression but as a place of opportunity, no less potent than a boardroom, a place where women — and men — can exhibit rigor and individual power.

She achieved all this not with manifestoes or activism but simply by dint of the way she lived. When she found something of life-changing importance to her, she devoted the rest of her life introducing others to her passion.

Along with recipes and detailed instructions for preparing the foods she loved, Julia passed along her approach to eating. She couldn't stand "health food" and thought dieting was absurd. When asked about her "guilty pleasures," her response was swift: "I have no guilt."

Most of her advice was of the practical variety and had to do with focus and self-control: "Train yourself to use your hands and fingers; they are wonderful instruments. Train yourself also to handle hot foods; this will save time. Keep your knives sharp." But, always, centrally, "Above all, have fun." Every once in a great while she dispensed a bit of wisdom about how to live life beyond the kitchen: "Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."

It's the "keep" that makes that advice so great. This is not just the same old "follow your bliss" pablum; it is a recognition that interest, enthusiasm and joy are hard things to maintain. They require determination, pluck — courage, even. Julia knew that it's the work it takes that makes joy such a galvanizing force.
By the time Julia died, just short of her 92nd birthday, in 2004, I was trying to embrace her approach both to food and to life. The discipline, hard work and fascination she emphasized had led me, unexpectedly, to the beginnings of a career and, less unexpectedly but perhaps more essentially, to a truly beautiful boeuf bourguignonne.

Now I try to continue to be guided by her example. Not simply to follow my bliss but to hunt it down, nose to the ground, unrelentingly.

Though I never met Julia, she changed me, as she did so many of her other acolytes. And she did it not by writing a traditional self-help manual or a motivational seminar but with a cookbook: an exhaustive, meticulously researched, accidentally profound cookbook.

She taught me how to bone a duck, taking me step by step through an exotic new skill. And thanks to her detailed instructions, I have learned, along with an awful lot of other Americans who never would have attempted such a feat without her guidance, how to take all the meat of a bird carcass in one neat piece. And in the course of acquiring that knowledge, we've learned something else as well.

Sure, Julia was writing about the "unrecognizable mass of confusion" that invariably comes in the middle stage of boning a duck. But her advice can be applied to a lot more than butchery. In dark moments, in times of stress, in times of confusion, it's worth pausing to imagine Julia's distinct voice assuring you that, if you just pay attention and keep going, "all will turn out as it should," including the pate de canard en croute.

Zeek Rewards is currently unavailable. More information will be available shortly on this website.

zeekrewards and zeekler offline, zeekRewards shutdown
ZeekRewards and Zeekler Shutdown?
The company behind the penny auction website and Zeek Rewards has closed its headquarters in Lexington.

Three signs posted outside the headquarters of Rex Venture Group at 803 West Center St. indicate the building will remain closed for the rest of the week.  The signs also instruct visitors to check the company’s websites for more information.

As of noon Friday, both and displayed the same message stating: “Zeek Rewards is currently unavailable. More information will be available shortly on this website.”

The signs were posted on the windows of the building around 4 p.m. Thursday.  The websites themselves began featuring the notices around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

A spokesperson with the Better Business Bureau said their office began receiving complaints concerning the company about one year ago.

At least 39 complaints have been filed regarding the investment aspect of Zeekler, however there have been more than 20,000 inquires filed against the company within the past 30 days alone, the spokesperson said.

Most of the complaints have appeared in recent days, the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said those with money tied up in Zeekler may have reason to be concerned, but he could not elaborate further.

According to The-Dispatch of Lexington, the North Carolina Attorney General’s has made a civil demand for Rex Venture Group’s documents, but they have not shut the company down.

“We have not taken action to shut the company down and are currently working to get more information so we can pass that along to consumers who may be impacted by this,” the spokesperson told the paper.

The-Dispatch reports dozens of complaints and inquiries have been filed through the Attorney General’s office since February 2012.

A man who did not wish to be identified but told paper he was speaking on behalf of Zeek said the closure is necessary so the company could “answer inquiries from the Attorney General, made in the form of a Civil Investigative Demand.”

A CID is an administrative subpoena issued when the Attorney General suspects an individual or organization may have information relevant to an ongoing investigation.

On, the company stated it was canceling its ‘Red Carpet Wednesday’ event. No further information was provided in the notice other than to continue searching for updates on Zeek’s websites.

The company announced Monday on that there would be no training, recruitment or leadership calls in the coming days “while planning is going on.”

While rooted in its penny auction website, Zeek expanded in the past year by allowing users to “buy in” through an “affiliates program,” The-Dispatch reports.  Online reports indicate there are more than 700,000 affiliates using Zeek Rewards, however company officials gave the paper a lower estimate of more than 200,000.
Today is August 16, 2012 a depressing day for many when hundreds of thousands affiliates tried logging on to ZeekRewards only to find the following message “ Zeek Rewards is currently unavailable. More information will be available shortly on this website.” While the news site for ZeekRewards “” is up and actively running it is flooded with so much incoming traffic that you will more than likely be getting the “503 Service Temporary Unavailable error” As ZeekRewards has over 2 million affiliates.

Why exactly did ZeekRewards and Zeekler shutdown and should we be worried? At this time affiliates need to remain calm as ZeekRewards is doing everything they are told after being put under investigation by the North Carolina Attorney General. This is not the first time an MLM company has been put under investigation, nor is it the first time ZeekRewards has been investigated. According the the North Carolina Attorney General there has been numerous complaints on Zeekler and ZeekRewards, in fact so many that it led up another investigation to ensure that everything Zeek is doing and has been doing is legal.

We need to allow the investigation to run its course, we can’t fan the flames and set false expectations or give out mis-information. Typically we can expect a downtime of 3 or more days and we should check the Zeekrewards and ZeekRewardsNews website regularly for updates and announcements. Some concerns raised by affiliates is “Will my earnings still accumulate for these days Zeek is down?” More than likely no as no money is going into the system, we will have to patiently wait for Zeek to come back up. Many are worried if they have lost their money or if the company will even come back up; at this point and time we can’t make assumptions even though superficially it may seem like a tragedy in the day of Zeekland.

Troubles for Zeek Rewards began this week when the company abruptly announced the cancellation of all ‘training, recruitment or leadership calls ‘ on Monday. Zeek Rewards attributed the cancellation to ‘planning’ but what they were planning was not disclosed.

I’ve received and read different accounts of what exactly went down at Zeek HQ today, but from what I can gather around 2:30pm local time someone was seen changing the locks of the office with Zeek Rewards, whilst Zeek employees were observed leaving the office via the backdoor and carrying boxes of office supplies.

Supporting these observations, unconfirmed reports that Zeek Rewards employees were fired have also emerged:

    Charles Marsh – Anyone know why they closed the doors, fired their employees and changed the locks this afternoon at 2:30?

    Zeek posted a note and said they would update affiliates on their website but I haven’t found anything yet. Anyone have any idea what is going on? Presently there is no access to the official ZeekRewards Facebook page, however there are other fan created Facebook pages with a plethora of comments and links. We need to be cautious about the information that users are putting out there, no accuracy can be 100% guaranteed unless it’s coming from the company itself.

Troy Dooly has been following Zeek for sometime (see video above) here are some of the comments and updates we have from him: I myself personally dialed into a conference call with Troy, they are doing everything they can to make sure the company is protected.

Update 9:22am August 17th, 2012 – Zeek Rewards have just pulled the plug on their company Facebook page. No explanation has been provided.

Update 10:08am August 17th, 2012 – Troy Dooly has surfaced in a new video claiming that the changing of locks at Zeek HQ is only evidence of an “administrative investigation of some kind”.

Dooly also claims that employees carrying boxes out of Zeek offices means ‘there’s not any type of criminal investigation going on’ and that the Zeek Rewards and Zeekler websites being pulled offline is a ‘good indication has told Zeek (Rex Venture Group) that “you’re not taking in any new money, period.”‘

Despite claiming just a few days ago that Zeek’s Red Carpet day was going ahead as planned, Dooly also claimed Zeek cancelling the event “was expected”.

He confirms that as of yet he has heard nothing back from Zeek Rewards management on today’s events.

Update August 17 11:24 AM, Attorney General confirms demand for Zeek records:
The North Carolina Attorney General’s office confirmed Friday that it has made a civil demand for Rex Venture Group’s documents. However, officials say they have not shut the company down.
What Typically Happens in an Investigation?

Zeek is very strict with compliance and legalities which is why when an investigation is underway the first thing that needs to happen requires the website to be shut down so no further money can be brought into the system. Zeek of course did comply, secondly everything will have to be thoroughly investigated to ensure that Zeeks compensation plan is legal and everything they have been doing is legal as far as the revenue brought in by both Zeekler and ZeekRewards.

Once everything checks out Zeek will be brought backup online, once again I can’t give out an exact time frame unfortunately. Please keep posted to the official sites of ZeekRewards for the latest news and updates. Please leave any comments or questions you may have.
Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns:

Q: Is ZeekRewards really shutdown and will it be coming back up soon?

A: Please check only official ZeekRewards pages regularly such as: ZeekRewardsNews, ZeekRewards and Zeekler

Q: If I sent off money recently to purchase bids what should I do?

A: Once again please stick to official updates and be a bit patient, It’s normal to be worried but we can just make a bunch of assumptions just yet.
My Passion and Experience with ZeekRewards:

My name is Chris Groves (from Utah) and I am a ZeekRewards affiliate and have been promoting it since February of 2012. I figured I would share my personal experience as I have worked very hard like many of you have in the business. Zeek is the company the brought one of the most unique business models to the MLM and Network Marketing Industry, a lot of buzz has been created from the company that showed us how pennies can make people money.

Zeekler is the penny auction site which we promote on a daily basis. ZeekRewards has done nothing wrong in my opinion, we are actually nothing more than an advertising platform- a rather fast growing one if I may add. Affiliates post one ad per day for Zeekler, which may not seem like a lot of work; however with millions of affiliates working together we drive real traffic to the penny auction site which eventually turns to revenue and profit sharing rewards.

A concern some people have had that I know of include how can a company that grows so large sustain itself? For one we are talking about advertising, it is a check and balance system: More advertisers equate to to more expsoure to the site which converts to more traffic and ultimately more profits.

How is ZeekRewards any different then Amway or USANA? When somebody is sponsored you earn a commission. The only difference is we are talking about a virtual product or bids. Bids can of course be used on Zeekler and as affiliates we do get bids (that’s what are monthy subscription determines). ZeekRewards I can assure you is within compliance, especially since their compensation plan has been analyzed across the board.

Unforutantely to this day ZeekRewards has received a numerous amount of complaints which ultimately led to the investigation. I feel very positive that ZeekRewards and its sister sites will be back up and running, it’s hard to tell when, even if it means Zeek has to move office locations.

It’s nice to see all the support of the affiliates. I have made some really great friends in ZeekRewards and I plan on making many more, i’m sure many of you have the same experience.


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